The Idea of a Sense of ‘Oneness’ is an Anathema to the Gambian Mind.

By Alagi Yorro Jallow

Fatoumatta: Gambians are locked in a political deathtrap. Resentment. Venom and Hate. I had come to the sad conclusion that ‘Gambianess’ or One People, One Nation. The idea of a sense of ‘oneness’ is an anathema to the Gambian mind, does not exist for Gambians in the diaspora; that the only mark of identity is tribe.

Picture: Alagi Yorro Jallow
Photo credit: Author

A people who sincerely can’t stand each other. A diaspora Gambia too broken to fix. There’s nothing left to fight for out here. Stay in your own diaspora cocoons and keep thriving in your separate unwelcoming tribal domains. Those of you with ethnic numbers so small you can’t even start a tribal church, mosque or even a progressive ‘Attaya vous’ of five members in one region. You’re on your own. Just stop pretending there’s one Gambia, one People and one Tribe, out here.

Fatoumatta: All you need to do is look at commenters on social media. Generally, our names betray us. You know in a political debate, if one even calls it that, on which side certain names will line up. Fatoumatta, Gambians are notorious tribalists. It doesn’t matter our level of education. We are all in the gutter together. The university professor is as rabidly tribal as the village idiot. We might be worse than Rwanda or Burundi, two countries that have been convulsed by genocide. We sit on an evil genocidal cliff – the only question in my mind has always been when we tip over and the demon consumes us. The world knows we have the cancer of tribalism.
Fatoumatta: Instead, the Gambian present looked impish. Yet we keep on telling the lie that we are one country. No – we are not. We only share a passport, the Gambian Dalasi, voter ID and national ID. Nothing else. Even abroad – in America – Gambians congregate in tribal cocoons. Most attend ethnic congregations. It’s really stunning that Gambians have imported their notorious tribalism to the United States and in Europe. In political lexicon, we think of ourselves as Waa Banjul and those from the village or belonging and identify to political party colors. All side blames each other for treating each other as second-class citizens and casteism in certain quarters.
The government of President Adama Barrow knows it’s sitting on an angry volcano that could explode any minute. But political myopia born of tribal nativism is a blinding intoxicant. I’ve seen it elsewhere – Egypt and Burkina Faso come to mind – just before a cataclysm. Fatoumatta: I blame us all. Our citizens must shoulder the blame. Joseph de Maistre, a philosopher and a scholar said that “in a democracy, people get the government they deserve.” Common Gambians are inclined towards fascism. I’ve seen them beat “thieves” to death in what is euphemistically called “mob justice.” They allow themselves to be intoxicated with tribal sentiments out by the malignant political class. Fatoumatta: I blame the political class. It’s a thieving, lying, ravenous political elite that bestrides the Gambia like colossi. They have a chokehold on the state. They’ve driven us into the ditch. The stew of a fascistic citizenry with a malevolent elite is our collective national damnation. Gambians must embrace virtue of tolerance and diversity. Our whole country will become a slum if both the elite and common citizenry don’t forsake tribalism and embrace virtue of coexistence and love for one People, one Nation and no to Tribalism.

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