By Janko Camara
This morning, my attention was caught by the above captioned article tempting me to react. In doing so, I would like to make it abundantly vivid that I do not feign any mastery of the processes and procedures that gave rise to the CORDEG Executive, the subject of this polemics. Therefore, what I am about saying should neither be considered as an endorsement of CORDEG, nor an attempt to degrade the author of the article or his opinion. Rather it is an attempt to re-direct our discourse to matters of higher priority in the present scheme of things.
Considering the events of the recent past, I have come to accept the sordid fact that our biggest obstacles to unity as a people are Ethnocentrism and Tribalism. A few weeks ago, I sent a rejoinder to an article not so much about the UDP but more importantly about the article’s tribal undertones and the likely effect such misguided and tribally charged statements could have on our efforts to unite our country and people. However, it appears there is no end in sight to articles with tribal sentiments. Unlike the first article which was a direct attack on a particular tribe, the author of this article took a rather different approach but still beating home the tribal sentiments. The thrust of this author’s message, based on my understanding, is: Tribal considerations should be factored in national matters.
Whilst on the periphery, this argument may sound intelligible and convincing, beneath is a venom most lethal to any nascent nation or country. Should the ethnic or tribal card be the one to put first when it comes to matters of national concern? I do not think so, more so for a small country like The Gambia with under 2 million people.
Let us step back a bit and hear what The Creator of the universe has to say about Ethnicity/Tribe and nations in the Qur’an 49:13 “O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted”.
Clearly being Wollof, Mandinka, Fula, Jola, Serahule, etc, is just for us to be able to identify and “know one another” and nothing more. In the sight of Allah, what clearly takes precedence is righteousness in all its ramifications. Therefore, even though the composition of CORDEG, in terms of ethnicity, may be questionable in some quarters, I think in taking a cue from the above Quranic verse, what should be our basis of assessment are:
1) “How righteous are they jointly and severally; and in dealing with the public”?
2) “Considering the enormity of the challenge at hand, can they deliver i.e. can they rise above all vested, parochial, tribal and myopic interests and/or considerations to deliver the goods”?
I am not here to defend CORDEG or any similar body. However, (and without attempting to guide anyone’s thought process) I sincerely think the question that should be given premium should be: How does CORDEG members fair as far as the above two parameters are concerned? Whilst I am a strong advocate of accountability and the fact that any person and/or entity that seeks to represent Gambians and Gambian interests, including CORDEG, should be ready and willing to subject itself to scrutiny, the basis of such scrutiny, however, should not be their tribe as that has very little to do with their honesty or ability to perform.
On a final note and as a reminder, when our all-knowing Professor Jammeh came to power in 1994, he had a lot of unsolicited advisers willing to offer free advice. Some of these so-called advisers were purely motivated by tribal sentiments and perhaps “vengeance” against perceived enemies – real or imaginary. However, 20 years down the line, which tribe in The Gambia can confidently say the man they helped to create has not turned to become their nemesis, in addition to looting the meagre wealth of the nation? The lesson to learn here is that the decision to throw one’s weight behind someone’s candidacy should not be based on their tribe but rather how righteous they are, considering the task at hand. So let us endeavor to move beyond tribe and put The Gambia above every other ephemeral consideration. Remember we shall all be accountable to some authority either here or in the hereafter.