Chei Gambia, some of us are really too thin skinned, too irascible, too overtly sensitive, too serious with politics, too holy with life. What is life without humour, without taking some jibe and dig here, without acting the jester and the fool, without the laughter and the stories. Even love becomes dry and drib and unloving if we take it too seriously…
We read too deeply into the words of others, identifying nuances for ridicule and criticisms. Words and statements take on meanings and interpretations different from the original intent of the speaker or writer.
If words and statements have meaning often within the context of which it is said, and the antecedents of the one who have said them, then what Mayor Rohey Lowe has said about “Baddibunkas and Jarrankas” as being those who make Banjul dirty is, for me and my understanding of the context, humour or jest only and not intended to accuse, malign or cast aspersions on their honour and good name. “I told them to go home since politics is over but they refused. I told them to go home and when another elections come I will give them fares to return” (paraphrasing part of her speech in the audio doing the round)…. This statement can only be some humour injected in speech about the serious sewage problem of Banjul, the dirt which define Banjul. That is the context. You can say the humour is tasteless and colorless, and may be inappropriate for the occasion. But certainly, to me, not insulting or tribalistic, whatever that connotes in Gambian politics. It demeans me not; it doesn’t promote the superiority of any one tribe over the other. May be flippant, careless, carefree and tasteless, but certainly not tribalistic.
“Tribalism” has taken a whole new definition, twist, meaning, connotation and interpretation in this country. Often what I hear are careless, flippant, uncouth, tasteless statements about other people which borders on silliness and unexplainable fear mongering but not tribalism. In such a highly charged sensitive environment, we miss tribal undertones and practices and fry the small fish.
For tribalism, look to the statements and practices of the State and its duty bearers or public office holders and private sector. If we see them, let’s expose them and drag them to court. Look out for nepotism, cronyism, clientelism, misuse of public property, political favouritism, bureaucratic corruption. From private individuals, let’s call them out; let’s name and shame them. Against these I would hold Rohey Lowe the Mayor. Until then, I stand with her.
Truth is becoming a casualty in our discourses. Or rather difficult to say now. Political correctness is replacing honesty, the truth. And truth is so painful….
By Njundou Drammeh, human rights activist and a social commentator