Gambia

There is More to Democracy Than Freedom of Expression

The right to life and its preservation is the first and most fundamental of all rights, it reigns supreme above all other rights; for without life, what need is there to be free express anything?
Nothing in this life is free, absolutely nothing. Something as natural as breathing has a price; every breath you take is a breath towards that final breath. Every being has rights, and as citizens those rights need safeguarding, but with rights come responsibilities.
Our actions, our utterances, our conduct as citizens and members of societies are matters of choice but the general welfare and the greater good overrides any individual or group rights. That needs to be borne in mind anytime we act or utter a statement. Our individual choices however, are not so sacrosanct that when our shared values are potentially at risk, one’s actions or utterances should be ignored because it’s ‘their right.’
Irresponsible behavior and utterance by definition negate the duty of responsibility that comes with the rights one has been assured as a citizen or a member of the community. That responsibility is a promise every citizen made when they claimed membership of that community; when that promise is broken, through any act of irresponsibility, the culprit needs to answer for it because it is breach of the social contract that every member of the community is party to.
It seems we are currently so focused on our individual rights that we fail to take into account the potential ramifications of our utterances and actions as individuals or within a group. May be that is not such a bad thing in the case of ordinary citizens like you and I, but even in our case the very least that can be said of our irresponsible acts and utterances is that they are selfish and amount to a breach of the social contract that we must all uphold. The worst breach occurs when citizens who command support and loyalty set a course for potential catastrophe by being irresponsible, and that demands swift and urgent action.
The pseudo intellectualism we see being brandished all over the place seems to have lost sight of the fact that politicians do not get a free pass to set us on a trajectory aimed straight for doom and gloom in the name of freedom of expression. If the advocacy is for a kind of multi-party political environment is one in which anything goes, then maybe we are not ready for it, but I’d like to think different.
The claim that Mama Kandeh or Fabakary Tombong Jatta are being politically persecuted by the police is a flat lie and a dishonest analysis by all who claim such without exception. Is it a case of amnesia or blind hatred that we seem to forget the situation we are dealing with as country; the thorny path we are trying to navigate away from the toxicity that Yaya created? We are not the American or European democracy we keep getting thrown at us. Even the deaf heard Yaya loud and clear when he made his hateful utterance and did not stop there but acted to create clear divisions of favoritism and hatred amongst us based on ethnic identity.
The situation was so bad that most observers feared reprisals post Jammeh, not just towards those prominent in his administration but by extension towards those he shared the same ethnic background with. That fact was on the ground for all to see, but true to nature the pseudo intellectuals are never in touch with reality as far as the daily lives of our poor kin are concerned; badgering us with long incoherent monotony on their walls and blogs is the one thing they excel at.
Post Jammeh, our fears were allayed by a unified nation and political leadership who set out to immediately mend fences and build bridges as is expected of any responsible leadership. If today, Fabakary Tombong Jatta can use his position and influence to stoke the fuel of sectarianism and make people feel marginalized and targeted for want of political gain thanks to the free space we now enjoy that he and his ilk, including Mama Kandeh denied us as members of the national assembly the pseudo intellectuals are telling us to let them be; that it is their right?
What if the other parties start making similar utterances, each appealing to a sizeable constituency; where then are we headed? It is one thing for those who identify themselves as sympathizers of one party or the other to make such outlandish utterances, but it is entirely a different kettle of fish if a leader that wields influence makes similar claims, they carry a heavier weight.
So while you fight to preserve your well cherished freedom of expression that you have been denied for so long, remember the average Joe who’d suffer should tensions build up and boil over due to such irresponsibility. We get it, being gagged for so long and then having the gag removed makes you gasp for air, but for goodness sake look at the bigger picture here. See the potential for turmoil and join the people in preserving the fragile peace we have. Don’t be so obtuse that you fail see the impending disaster that we are headed for should the likes of Fabakary Tombong Jatta be given the space to spread their toxicity. Politics of issues is one thing but politics of ethnic baiting cannot be justified in any way, shape or form.

 

When it is said that “let us join hands and build the nation” or “let us all do our quota in nation building”, this is one such occasion. This is one such occasion where we join forces and in one unified voice condemn such blatant divisive politics; there should be no tolerance for it, period.
Bissi waay!

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