We can all agree that when despair and distress strikes, we should empathize and be moved to action to better the conditions of those in distress as quickly as we can. In this lies the disappointment many felt towards the government, especially the National Disaster Management Committee. Granted the chief executive was indisposed at the time of the floods up country. A statement of solidarity and reassurance from a representative, preceding any action geared towards relief efforts should have been forthcoming nonetheless; this many felt was unduly delayed and rightly so.
It is refreshing though, to see that a day after their return, a high powered executive delegation made its way up country with needed aid to help the victims of the flood, who no doubt were greatly appreciative and grateful of the assistance.
The greater tragedy though is people jumping on the incident as political opportunists and parading the narrative that the government does not care about the plight of the suffering people. To use a people’s state of despair and distraught for political gain is tragic. This does not amount to failure on the part of the government and certainly is inadequate as a yardstick to measure other aspects of governance as some would like us to.
Having acknowledged the not so rapid response from the government, we should also acknowledge the response and show of solidarity by individuals and groups that came to the aid of our fellow citizens in despair.
What we must all condemn without ambiguity is the attempts at politicizing a tragedy for political gains; that is despicable and insulting to the suffering citizens of the affected regions. National unity should be demonstrated at its highest during such times by having all rally around one thing; bringing relief to those in need. Moments like that should be devoid of politics and partisan praise. But sadly these days, it seems everything is done with the aim of sanctifying some and bedeviling others based on political affinity. We shouldn’t be looking to enthrone some on the seat of saints while making villains out of others, a new obsession it seems in the New Gambia.
When Mama Kandeh responded with much needed aid, some high ranking surrogates; party assigned or not, took to social media praise singing him and mockingly calling out to other political parties and their heads as being absent from the scene with the aim of projecting him as the savior we need.
“Congratulations Mama, we hope and encourage other citizens to emulate this kind gesture to bring much needed help to the victims.”
“We expected a more prompt response from the government, and hope and pray such tragedies are few and far between, but should they strike again, we hope the government has learnt valuable lessons here and will respond better next time.”
Wouldn’t that or something along those lines have sufficed? These are responsible positions we expect within our new political dispensation, but it seems we can’t help ourselves but be overly dramatic and sentimental bordering on condescension.
Trying to gain political capital on the back of people’s misery is the classic definition of dirty politics. Beyond that, it is disgusting and I sincerely hope we can learn an important lesson; that in times of disaster and despair all that is asked of us is EMPATHY and SUPPORT.