If these pictures attached herein are used to send messages that in fact there is unity and brotherhood on the ground, it points to the fact that there is need to dispel a contrary notion; which sadly is what one is wont to believe going by online engagements.
It has been stated time and again that virtual (online) Gambia in so many ways does not reflect the actual Gambia. Regardless though, it says a lot when we cannot seem to accept our fellow countrymen and women (online) because of their political affiliations.
If one follows online discourse, a few engagements/exchanges leave one to conclude that people’s attitudes, for the most part follows thus;
If it does not include me, it must be against me; therefore I am against it. Because I am not affiliated, I will attempt to tear it down. Because it does not appeal to me, it has no inherent good; at least not one to be acknowledged; so much for tolerance and respect for each other.
This is more prominent in the political sphere especially, but it cuts beyond that. Take religion for example, more and more we are witness to people insulting their fellow countrymen simply because they subscribe to different spiritual ideologies. There is nothing more insulting than an ignorant person trying to educate you about yourself and the ideals you uphold. But guess what; they call it critiquing or asking probing questions, which it is not. It is a confusion of terms. Something you are disinterested in, have convinced yourself it is wrong and senseless, what more probing questions will you have in that regard?
Promote your culture/language; some other ignorant folks tag you a tribalist; we are one Gambia they say. So what happened to unity in diversity then?
And then there is the political aspect of it, there is diversity in opinion and then there is condescension and utter disdain for another’s ideology. The latter is what tends to be more common place in our case.
Politics is about ideology, and if one is sincere and willing to step out of one’s comfort zone, new information/knowledge comes to light. The positives within such new information are embraced by the sincere of heart; this fact is what causes a change in people’s perspectives and ideologies. One can be a Christian today, then a Muslim the next day or vice versa; a conservative today, a progressive tomorrow and vice versa; etc. This is one reason why people switch allegiance among other factors.
It seems our ego is a big impediment to helping us see things from another’s perspective. That in and of itself may not be an issue, but if it gets to a point that we want to be the master of other people’s ideologies and how they see things, then it becomes a problem. The saying that “walk a mile in my shoes before you judge me” comes to mind. Our experiences – the most crucial factor in what shapes our ideology and perspective in life are different, ergo we cannot see issues from the same angle. Why then trivialize my experience or the approach I choose to have my expectations met?
This sadly is our narrative. Take for example our ‘stress free’ CDS Bargie showing solidarity with candidate Bensouda (who himself is being victimized); people have started calling him all kinds of names already. Our darling just a few months ago has suddenly turned into a villain; reason? “He is now UDP.” The ultimate crime in the New Gambia! But is he really though, or is he just in support of Bensouda’s candidacy and out to show his solidarity and support? That cannot be confirmed or denied by his mere donning of a yellow T-shirt. Not speaking to CDS Bargie’s character as a person or what he may or may not have done in the past, so far we know he is not accused of any crimes by the law and so his citizenship rights take precedence.
A similar case can be made for Ebou Jallo. Here is the thing though;
It is one thing for a person to be affiliated with one party/ideology, then switch allegiances and start making allegations or claims about where his former loyalties. When that happens, of course it is natural that the accused comes out in defense of their name and reputation, which sometimes may take the form of a counter attack. We can have our qualms about that, but at least we understand the justification for it.
It is a completely different thing to attack a person, especially one you have been cozy with or one whose actions never bothered or concerned you just because they now showed loyalty or support to someone/group you’d rather they did not.
Every citizen has a right to association, something we tend to overlook just because their choice of association is one we do not approve of.
Part of the reasons our debates turn into arguments is simply that; the insincerity of the positions some of us hold. Some assume a sanctimonious disposition always spewing condescension towards those they disagree with and make every effort to make them feel insulted and inferior. Then we turn around and complain that they lack tolerance for criticism; again a confusion of terms. Criticism is neither insulting nor demeaning.
And then there are those whose blood boils at mere satirical swipes towards those they hold in high regard. Of course here too people have a tendency to go overboard and complain about the other person’s intolerance for jokes when in fact they are sneering at the other person.
Maturity, respect and consideration are the only way forward. And that cannot be attained if we trivialize actual issues or avoid them completely and focus on personalities and trivialities. Substance gets sacrificed and animosity brews.
We can do better, let’s do better.
Photo credits: Kemo Bojang and Mola Kambi.