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WHERE ARE WE HEADING TO? By Omar Cham



The Gambia is among the few Africans states that have tasted the sweet fruits of sustainable peace within its borders despite its diversities in ethnic groups and religious beliefs. However, tribalism, which is a prevalent practice in the recent Gambia, is serving as a catalyst for disunity. It is not a hidden practice nowadays. Although there are exceptions, it is very easy to know one’s political party by simply knowing one’s tribe. In this article, the issue of tribalism will be discussed, its consequences and what we should do to unite and develop our country.

The title of this article is a question that we, Gambians, should ask ourselves. It is unarguable that every country in the world wants development. As a matter of fact, the destination we want to see ourselves at, as Gambians, is a DEVELOPED GAMBIA. Unfortunately, tribal politics is serving as a thorn, puncturing our wheels. It is sad and unbearable seeing the great intensity of tribal affiliations linked with our political arena. Under normal circumstances, politics should be based on the battle of ideas and good manners; having great ideas for development is what should serve as a criterion to vote for a candidate. The sad reality in The Gambia is this: many people have less interest in the manifestos of politicians, they are content with knowing their tribes.

It is indisputable that tribalism does not only stop within the frameworks of our political arena; it has equally touched other walks of life. Some Gambians are so concerned with tribal supremacy- the feeling that one’s tribe is superior to others. To them, it is manifested by the number of important figures they have in the society. They will, therefore, support people with whom they are from the same tribe and can degrade others just because they are not from the same tribe. There are people who waste their time just to know the tribe of a musician or a footballer. It is perhaps understandable when an unlettered thinks this way because it might be caused by illiteracy. On the flip side, when a lettered has any form of tribal affiliations, his/her education is questionable. Sadly, we have most of our lettered indulged in tribal acts.

People need to understand that some of the politicians are not fighting for the interest of the people; they are fighting for themselves and they can do whatever it takes to win elections. They will enrich themselves when the people suffer in destitute and abject poverty. So, why do we have to vote for them just because we are from the same tribe after all they do is to disappoint us?

Tribalism has no good effects; it leads to disunity and can even trigger civil wars. The 1994 genocide between the “Hutus” and “Tutsis” in Rwanda should be a good lesson to all African countries. Watching the documentary led me to tears as the intensity in which Rwandans killed one another was overwhelming. Within 100 days, hundreds of thousands of people died.

Development seldom occurs in countries where tribalism exists and one can purport that it is one of the reasons some African countries are left behind. When people are employed based on tribal affiliations and not merits, efficiency is at risk. The nation will continue to suffer because of incompetent people. This is one of the major effects of tribalism in African countries. The right people are not put in the right jobs. Just imagine how fragile some African economies are, then imagine not having the right people to make the right decisions by investing in what the country needs, making contracts that favour the country and its citizens, etc. JUST TAKE A SECOND AND IMAGINE THAT!

We must change if we want to reach our dream destination, A DEVELOPED GAMBIA. Now that we understand the destination we are heading to is not where we want to be, we can now focus and discuss the way forward to our dream destination.

In order to live in a DEVELOPED GAMBIA, we must instil the spirit of cohesion in our hearts and know that a single tribe cannot develop a country; it must be the combination of efforts from everyone irrespective of your tribe. So, as said in our national pledge, we must stand together as one people with one goal and move forward as one nation. In doing that, we must not see ourselves as jolas, mandinkas, fulas, sarahulehs, manjagos, sereres or wollofs; we must see ourselves as GAMBIANS.

In order to reach the dreamed destination, A DEVELOPED GAMBIA, we must put the interest of the country first, in whatever we are doing. We must not be so concerned about our jolahood, fulahood, mandinkahood, sererehood, sarahulehood and manjagohood in electing our leaders.

We must have our thoughts and actions directed towards nation-building. Poor education, transport, health care and agricultural systems are some of the problems Gambia is facing, so coming together and finding their solutions should be our priority and our concern as Gambians.

The Gambia I dream of is a country where tribal politics do not exist. Leaders will be elected based on merits, the seven tribes will all unite and work towards one common goal and everyone will live in utopia, a perfect society in which people work well together and are happy.

The Gambia I dream of is a poverty free nation, a nation where education and health facilities are standard, free and available for every Gambian.

It is possible to make The Gambia a developed nation. Rwanda is doing great despite the destruction caused by the 1994 genocide. We need to unite and work towards development. It should start right now with us; you, me and every other Gambian. Let’s educate ourselves. Not just the formal education we all believe in, but education on how to change our mindsets. Let us take the time to connect and love one another. Just imagine how amazing a society is if the people live in fraternity and unity! The Gambia can be one of the most beautiful and peaceful places if we only realise how insignificant tribal affiliations are when it comes to nation-building.

GOD BLESS THE GAMBIA!


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