May I response to the comical and the illusionary statement of President Jammeh, that, “I am going to ban English in public schools”, and his further description of Queen Victoria as the bloodiest person ever to live on the face of the earth?
Sir, it is obvious that imperialism is one of the worst atrocities ever to be committed by man against man. With the discovery of the New World, European powers were eager to make a vast land, a dream which couldn’t turn real at the time without the exploitation of our human and natural resources. David Diop, a Senegalese poet once described the imperialists as “The Vultures”, which depicts or connotes barbaric and ruthless consequences inflicted on Africans (during the human enterprise), on whose sweats and blood, the imperial world was undoubtedly built upon! This was followed by colonial bondage which has also deadly retarded our development progress.
Sir, we are aware of the damage of what imperialism has done to us and no amount of compensation or apology could be used as reparation. However, some of the western values or ways of lives have gone so far into our societies or lives that it becomes practically impossible to take off those values away from our societies. Education and language fall in this category.
Furthermore, any attempt made to ban English language in The Gambia will slow down or derail our paste of development. This is because we need time, effort and resources to invent our own alphabetical letters and numerical or mathematical numbers, so as to translate all our syllabuses from nursery or primary to university into one or all the major local language(s) for official use. This will further bring in the question of which language (s) will be the official language(s) and failure to achieve unanimity, may bring tribal feuds in the future, may God forbid! It is a utopian ideology or thought to establish a perfect Gambian or African language(s) as official language that would be taught in public schools which is expected to be practiced further to our offices. Sir, has the president forecast the international trade, his bilateral or multilateralism, and other protocols that cannot be operational more widely in our own dialects. Thus I interpret this statement as utopian or a mere wishful thinking of reaching perfection or cajole meant to prick the side of the west, whose eyes are fixed staring at the point of higher heights.
On the other side, Queen Victoria is presumably not rank as the most wicket or ruthless person or ruler ever to live on earth. The average life expectancy he was talking about is not as a result of slavery or colonialism. This was a problem that affected the whole world especially the third world countries where medical facilities were not available and if there was, it was at its lowest ebb. It was due to the lack of these facilities and on large scale science and technology did not marched to the rapid population growth. Robert Malthus had to prophesise that if the world population is not checked before, the year, 2000, it would be reduced by war and famine. However, the unexpected growth of science and technology turned the dream of Malthus unreal.
Hitler and Stalin killed vast amounts of people before and during WW II, and in terms of sheer numbers, these two would score highest. The systematic killings of the Holocaust and the Stalin’s purges were responsible for tens of millions of deaths, as well as those caused by starvation as a consequence of their policies.
Communist China has probably caused even more deaths under Mao, though these are mostly due to starvation as a result of incompetence and mismanagement than deliberate killing. North Korea’s Kim Jong Il is also guilty of this.
Finally, how about the president himself, who has killed hundreds of people in cold blood, only by way of expressing their freedom of speech and their political rights? He claimed to have come for our redemption and to salvage us from poverty, which was an outcome of bribery and corruption but today his tyrannical administration is built to defend his despotism and corrupt practices which cost the lives of many innocent Gambians and non a like. Would a pot call a kettle black?
In a nutshell, the president’s statement about banning English is utopic and mythical. It is better for him to focus on more robust development issues and restoration of democracy in our country rather than pricking the side of the West by disguising or hiding behind Pan-Africanism.