downloadfile_20150203092927649An Analysis Short on Intent and Muddled in Hypocrisy

By Sulayman Bah, “ Torodo Shephered”.

Reading SuntouTouray’s piece “Of Gambia`s Down to Earth Politicians”, one is left wondering what his objective was. From one angle it seems the author’s intent was to single out President Jammeh as the odd one out among Gambia’s political leaders. At the same time however, the reader is left to deal with innuendoes and jibes that cast doubt and raises questions on the true characters of some of the personalities mentioned in the article. In essence, one could conclude that Suntou’s attempt at drawing a comparative look at Uruguay’s Jose Mujica is amateurish at best.
Suntou’s article can be looked at as an attempt for a semiological analysis of Gambia’s political leadership class drawing lessons from Mujica. But the author ended up producing a bad job that makes even his chosen political star Ousainou Darboe, look not good enough. This is even as is suspect, that one of the undertones of his article to cast aspersion on the characters of the political personalities he dislikes.
But first, Suntou and the coterie of Gambia’s online media operators need reminding that despite being on the web their primary audience are still Gambians and that digging into the private life of individuals is an anathema. Comedians and Praise Singers do make fun of politicians and other people but never do they venture into their private lives. It is a duty on the online media to set examples of the type of media the Gambia of the future requires. The choice is yours to make.
On the social status and outlook of Gambia’s current political crop, the author exposed his lack of knowledge of Gambia’s social and class structures in one hand and confusion in the other, in what category to place each of the individuals he featured. Perhaps Mr. Touray needs reminding that all the individuals he featured came from almost the same social conditions and the only difference is their place of origin. All except two are from rural farming or peasant communities while the others are from the urban area.
Also, in the Gambia, apart from the dying social classifications of bygone years of the nobility down to the slaves, the post-colonial society we now inherit groups Gambians in two major social classes. The farming/peasant class and lumpen proletariat/working class. Among the lumpen class are the petty bourgeoisie and elitists.

So if Suntou’s intent was to place each of these leaders in a particular social status he should have been clear enough to state it. Every Gambian that ever encountered any of these individuals knows for themselves what class to place each one of them. Here I intend to speak for only those whom I am associated with while allowing the readers to draw conclusions and do same for the rest if they wish to.

Halifa Sallah, Sam Sarr and Sidia Jatta belong to the class of people who could have achieved the highest level of elitist standing in the Gambia if they wished to. But they chose to commit a class suicide to remain close to the people. The trio belong to Cabral’s league of individuals who abdicated their social standings to maintain a heartbeat in unison to that of the suffering masses.

For the author to state that Halifa was “fed from a silver spoon” and Sam Sarr belonging to a “land owning family,” is the most erroneous in his article. I doubt if there is any Gambian that grew up in the sixties who can claim to have been “fed from a silver spoon.” If there is any it is very few and Halifa is not one of them. That Sam originating from Banjul and the semi-urban metropolis to come from a land owning family makes me wonder where that land is located. Is it in Basse, Sukuta or Kafunting?

If we are to investigate the simplicity, approachability and humility of Gambia’s opposition politicians, the results will include that, all of them are open to people of all ages, class or status in society and only two of them are usually accompanied by a body guard, while the is occasionally spotted in restaurants with expensive “main course “meals.All of them including Jammeh rub shoulders with some of the world’s poorest people. It will also reveal that among them you will find those that have rendered selfless service to people and community without expecting reward.

Also, the closest signifier to the pictures of the politicians displayed is their ideologies, which is completely different from their social origin and family life.
Among Gambia’s current crop of opposition politicians one will find those with the age old mansa/burr (Monarchy) mentality still aiming to lord over the people. There also exist among them those with an elitists and bourgeois mind set.

It is also worth noting that the author’s use of Mujica’soffer of a ride to a “Hitchhiker” as a yardstick to humbleness and simplicity,is not an alien thing in the Gambia. The author must have lived away from the Gambia for a very long time. For his information Sidia Jatta and Halifa Sallah’s vehicles are always packed with “riders” seeking to reach their destinations especially along the Banjul-Serekunda highway. Just check with Students and civil servants that seek for rides on that highway. Also, Sidia is still an active farmer and usually spend time with women rice growers in the muddy rice fields. I hope this is a good example for you.

This is not an “academic and/or professional media battle” with Suntou on hiss hallow and not researched analysis of the personalities of Gambia`s opposition leaders. However, we the younger generation are duty bound to gather our facts whenrelating the stories and legacies of our politicians who operates in a very hostile political environment.

Gambia`s online media is awash with unprofessionalism not making the new media platforms reliable sources of information for foreign governments, international institutions and research agencies.

“One of the principles upon which democratic societies are based is that people should be free to express their opinions, contribute to debates, scrutinise their politicians, adore and criticise their celebrities, be free to tweet on Twitter, post on Facebook, blog and generally interact as individuals within their society, (Bradshaw&Rohumaa 2011)”. This fundamental principle must be exercised with foresight and responsibility, whilst ignoring personalities of our politicians. Our reporters, journalists and editors should be focus on the policies and programmes of political parties, and should not succumb to weighting political personalities in the struggle for a free democratic country.

Suntou needs to state his facts sufficiently or clearly, and desist from calling people whom he doesn’t know, “My buddy. That is clandestine political communication and it does not add any weight to our present political predicament.

The legacies of these great men shall be accurately written and narrated sometime, somehow and somewhere in The Gambia.

Ends

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