Saturday, May 4, 2013

Gambia: The new mind of a people and the color of betrayal ...

Mathew K. Jallow

Mathew K. Jallow

To digress from the nastiness of politics for a moment, this focus, instead, on human nature in Gambia, is a fundamental component of the changes in our cultural landscape. This plunge into the complexity of human nature attempts to contextualize the enormous lapses in judgment to which many Gambians have become willing victims. And, this is not in reference to theoretical psychology, but on the facts of our lives that respond to our moral groundings. It is our lived experience, groomed by society?s norms, and distinguish our capacity to rationalize from the other forces in nature; animals. At one critical level, our countrymen and women?s fickle minds lend themselves to fall into the dreadful entrapment of the promises of power and prestige, but perhaps the most significant motivating factor is the power of economics; the bottom-line.

In short, it is purely an issue of self-preservation dictated by a need for political power and economic self-protection, and over the past eighteen years, it has devalued our concepts of society, but even more importantly, our perception of our fellow countrymen and women is hopelessly entangled between the clearly opposing contradictions of moral obligation and our Darwinian primordial instincts for survival. The most recent intense public castigation campaign and moral marginalization of Nana Grey-Johnson, typify the stark division among Gambians; a division explainable primarily by simple environmental factors. I was tongue-tied, of course, during Nana?s ordeal, not because of an innate desire to protect a friend, but rather because of the awareness of how economic conditions at home provide a powerful force for malleability and utter indifference to moral rationality.

Clearly, Nana Grey-Johnson deserved the loud criticisms too, for failing the moral test, but, with that story now behind us, Nana Grey is not unmindful that he is wedged between the dangerous company of Imperial King, Yahya Jammeh and the unforgiving indignation of the vocal Gambian minority. Today, Gambia is in the grip of an intellectual degradation unlike anything Africa has experienced since the seventies, and the customariness with which many Gambians have fallen victims to Imperial King, Yahya Jammeh?s power and the lure of political status is an object of ongoing debate among Gambians.

The long list of Gambians deserving case studies to provide empirical evidence in understanding the cruelty of Gambian ?politics under Imperial King, Yahya Jammeh, include, but is not limited only to; Sarjo Jallow, Nene Macdolle, Fatoumata Tambajang, Nana Grey-Johnson, Bala Garba-Jahumpa and Mbemba Tambedou, all relatives and close friends, among the other eighty cabinet appointments under Yahya Jammeh. But, this failure of moral obligation to Gambians has a religious dimension, further complicating the enormous challenges of moral uprightness.

The fact that so many Gambians choose to disregard the failure of leadership under Imperial King, Yahya Jammeh, is itself stunning, but that so many of them can endure the indignities of arrests, tortures and recycleing back into the system, is mind-blowing and absurd. But, what obsesses the Gambian mind most is the calculations of accepting temporary appointment in any position under Yahya Jammeh even while Gambians continue to be murdered, to disappear and to be reduced in their aspirations and limited in their freedoms.

Intellectual uprightness dictates the assumption of moral superiority in our patriotic obligations to our fellow citizens, but the utter failure to live up to that ideal, will compel my friend Nana Grey-Johnson and all the others to endure the cloud of bitterness and indignant distaste likely to hang over their heads in the coming years. That said, the complete collapse of the moral moorings of fellow citizens back home; from the senior cabinet positions, to civil servants and to other levels of society, more than being tantalizing, is slowly reconfiguring the psyche of our people and changing the values inherited for our noble past. And for now, Gambians still disappear; the murders still escalate; prison once an anathema, is now almost a rite of passage; executions still concealed by the darkness of night, and the terror of a people speaks loudly in its silent eloquence. Still, Gambians, from cabinet appointees to senior civil servants and political activists, remain unbothered by the tremendous criminality of the regime, but most specifically, of Imperial King, Yahya Jammeh.

The unflattering nature of the regime typify a loss of credibility that borders on illegitimacy and the reduction of an entire society into a permanent underclass signals the saturation our endurance and the inevitable need for political change. But, whether Imperial King, Yahya Jammeh will move out by his own freewill or by the devastating force of cold lead through his brain, is another matter altogether. The suffering people of the Gambia have time on their side. For, even the longest nightmare has its day of freedom, and the Gambia is no different. As it is, the new Gambian mindset lacks the basic tenets of morality, and Nana Grey-Johnson, like other who serve Yahya Jammeh, speaks to that moral deficit and that color of betrayal.



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