By Janko Camara
Our common mistake as Gambians is to expect the entire world to be interested in a tiny and resources-starved Gambia.
Suntou, your article was very clear and well argued. I don’t think anyone else could have said it any better. I am, however, tempted to react to some of the comments posted.
Our common mistake as Gambians is to expect the entire world to be interested in tiny and resources-starved Gambia. As a result we expect them to be au fait with the Gambian situation. Therefore, non-conformity with this strait-jacket and backward thinking is (and should be) subject to condemnation. This is an expectation too far-fetched and it typifies an extremist tendency.
The Gambia may be important to us Gambians but not to everybody else that walks on surface of this globe. As a matter of fact, why should they be interested if we Gambians have not shown enough interest in our own plight? I was very much taken aback by Nyancho’s flawed reasoning and his resultant reaction when he wrote: “This doctor should not honour an invitation by our people’s killer” and went on the rampage against the revered preacher. I want to ask Nyancho: Did you, at any time, take to the world podium to bring to the fore the Gambian situation? Or to be specific, did you or your emissaries ever approach Dr. Naik to educate him and his followers on the happenings in The Gambia before they embarked on their journey? Let us stop being too sentimental about people or things that have nothing to do with our plight.
The truth is, what is happening in The Gambia is the handiwork of Gambians (you and I) who have remained hypocrites either out of sheer cowardice or out of our own selfishness. We need to be honest with ourselves. Yahya Jammeh may be linked to all the political killings in The Gambia, but did see him pointing a pistol at anyone’s head to kill? Did you see him personally torturing anybody in the dark dungeons of the NIA? Yet the very Gambians doing these dirty jobs for him are the ones who will reveal all these only when they fall out with him. Or they reveal the dirt whilst doing it so when tomorrow comes, switching sides can become much easier. How sincere are we? If we only cared about ourselves instead of the collective polity, why should we condemn a simple preacher coming to Gambia on an invitation of a bonafide Gambian?
I was a student at St. Augustine’s High School in the early 90s when the late Pope John Paul II visited the Gambia. The afternoon he visited St. Augustine’s High School, I was there as a Muslim welcoming the head of the Christian world. Again, as a Muslim, I did not make any meals out of it, so were all other Muslims in The Gambia. In fact, at the Banjul International Airport, our venerable Imams were there to welcome the Pope to The Gambia. This is the Gambia we have known and inherited – a Gambia where Muslims and Christians intermingle freely without any hesitation. I have my Christian friends who, until I left the shore of The Gambia, have made it a duty to provide me my share of the Naan Mbuuru every Easter. I have also made it my duty to give them their share (note the emphasis) of my Tobaski ram every year and I was happy doing it. It only cemented our relationship over time.
The truth is: a good Christian and a good Muslim will never have any problems sharing and caring for each other. This is because our various scriptures preach this same message every day. Let us stop the hypocrisy (by fanning trouble where it does not exist) and focus on the real issues confronting us.
Reacting to Patrick Mendy’s comments especially about Saudi Arabia, I would like to say this: We should always be sure of what we write before putting pen to paper. This is because the ramifications of what we write (when it is false) are just too great to imagine. By writing on subject matters we have very little knowledge about, we risk exposing our ignorance. I have been to Saudi Arabia four (4) times (once for Hajj and the remaining 3 for business). The truth is: I am a regular visitor to the Gulf by virtue of the work I do. I will state the Saudi reality in this simple lines:
Saudi Arabia is an Islamic state, meaning governance is not only supposed to be in accordance with Islam, but also the laws are based on Sharia, the Islamic Jurisprudence. In such a country, you do not expect to see churches, temples and other religious paraphernalia other than the state-recognized one. Therefore, the argument that Saudi would (or does) not allow churches is hollow and redundant and should never have formed part of your argument. Your comparison of Saudi Arabia to the EU and the US is also like comparing apples to oranges. Whilst the former has openly professed to be an Islamic state, the latter have professed to be “Secular” although heavily skewed towards anything but Islam. If I wanted to build a Masjid in any secular state (so long as the action does not infringe on the rights of others) and the state refused, I have the right to legal action because the state has openly professed to be secular.
Patrick, you have conveniently decided to ignore the open persecution of Muslims in Burma (Myanmar nowadays) by not only killing them and burning their houses, but also declaring them stateless by a Buddhist Burma? Why is the whole world silent about this? God created us all in various communities and localities and then one man just gets drunk one morning and declared me stateless; that I should leave my community and locality? What nonsense. You see the world is treating it as a non-event presumably because Muslims are the victims in this instance and not the perpetrators. But is this enough justification for me to condemn Buddhism as a religion? Come on Patrick! Be open-minded.
When I first visited Saudi on a business trip in 2003, I was able to interact with a selected few mainly in Riyadh, the administrative capital. The very first lesson I learnt was that Islam is not the same thing as Saudi Arabia, meaning that Islam is meant for us all whilst Saudi Arabia is a country with people, culture(s), establishments, etc. The mistreatment of Philippinos you have sighted is by individuals like you and I who claim to be Muslims and Christians yet our comportment is anything but Islam or Christianity. In fact, the mistreatment is not only limited to this group of people but also to all other Asians and even Blacks, except you carry a passport from a so-called First World country. Therefore, these individual traits cannot be used to vilify a whole religion.
In conclusion, I would like us to revert to The Gambia where both Muslims and Christians have preached and practiced their religion yet we lived cordially amongst ourselves. This is the kind of Gambia at least I knew as a young man growing up in the Greater Banjul area. Let us stop fanning trouble where none exists and stop the hypocrisy. Yahya Jammeh has remained in power mainly due to the Gambian hypocrisy. When shall be change? Have our people not suffered enough?
Pope John Paul was also a Head of State who was meant to be given state reception under the various International Protocol. Zakir Naik does not have any such status and that means people should stop comparing the two people or their various trips in The Gambia. The state of The Gambia which is a secular state? Cannot treat the two people the same way and have a valid justification for it.
Manjou, both Zakir Naik (Muslim scholar and preacher) and the Pope (representing Christendom) were state guests, although invited by different governments and at different epochs. They may not be on the same pedestal but the common denominator here is that both were state guests. This is the last thing that should have caused any confusion in a country like The Gambia.
yes Janko. I understand that. All am saying is that while it is permissible for Pope John Paul to be a guest of the state of The Gambia. It is not permissible under our constitution or justifiable under any international protocol for Zakair Naik to be a state guest at the expense of the tax payer and in contravention of the constitutional principle of the secularity of the state.
All I am saying is that the hypocrites are making a wrong comparison. Pope John Paul is not just a Christian leader. He is also a Head of State.
As far as I know, the Pope’s visit was not even initiated by the Jawara’s government. The Pope was on an official visit to Africa and some prominent Christians lobbied for Gambia to be included in the trip. International protocols demand The Gambia govt be informed about that since the Pope is a head of state too.
Once he was in The Gambia territory, The Gambia govt also owe him some responsibilities as a head of state including reception and security. Zaikir Naik is not owed any such responsibility. He should have been treated like a normal visitor or tourist.
Janko, i believe that much has already been said about this topic and I do not want to over flog the topic. I just want to reveal to you that I have personally worked and stayed in two countries that is governed by Sharia law for a cumulative period of 7 years. I am definitely not a textbook expert and I have my own personal experiences and I do not need a lecture on issues regarding religion and religious tolerance especially living under Sharia system as a non Muslim and now living in the predominantly Christian West where Muslim are allowed to worship and preach their religion freely and not excluded from entering places and or areas because they are non Muslims. Period
I cannot overemphasize how much I agree with this statement “As a matter of fact, why should they be interested if we Gambians have not shown enough interest in our own plight?”
A nation that is full of educated citizens coupled with diaspora that is full of educated people cannot figure out how to stand against an uneducated tyrant, divided in some many countless groups doesn’t deserve to be taken seriously by international organizations.
There lies the problem, everybody wants to be the leader of so and so group. Selfishness is the Gambian EBOLA.
A-grade piece Janko. Don’t mind D-grade Lafia and C-grade Paddy. “Hypocrisy” and “Selfishness” mentioned. Have you all noticed how those PDOIS F-graders never come out to PRAISE? They only come out to condemn others in defence of the PDOIS-TRIBE! I should let sleeping dogs lie – lol.
You want praise singers.? Try the “twin brothers'” camps…APRC and UDP…There’s plenty there…PDOIS F – graders only engage in constructive dialogue…and to put the records straight. ..No room for praise singing in public office…That should belong to a different era, but the “twins” can’t do without it…..For very obvious reasons…Have a nice evening…
Dida lol! I think I am in agreement with Janko for almost all the parts but I felt it necessary to highlight an important distinction.
The PDOIS F graders are getting impressed and soon they will announce their conversion to the common sense camp.
I wonder where the PDOIS F graders got their inspiration from when it comes to their overt tribalism. People of all tribes can come on a forum and criticise Ousainu Darboe and that is ok because he is a public figure. The only thing UDP supporters do is to register their strong disagreement. But when it comes to Halifa, and a mandinka decides to have a go, he is called a tribalist. Bit silly isn’t it?? What they failed to realise though is that people like myself are no longer ready to accept any Mandingo bullying or insults.
2016 election will be very interesting should Halifa Decides to run as a spoiler once more.
How did your turn this into a UDP and PDOIS debate. This is the reason we are where we are. The article is brilliant in my opinion.
Mbacke, blame Dida Suun Gangi. He is a trouble maker lol!!
Just trying to wake Bax & Co from their sudden slumber (lol)
My-in- law…I’ve said “my own” about the Dr Zakir Naik affair when the issue first started, so I’ve not been in any “slumber”…
This article is a good piece, though I’m not sure whether Saudi Arabia is an Islamic State in.its true form…Certainly, not in their manner of selecting a head of state, as this would be earned, rather than inherited, by blood line, in an Islamic State based on the principles of Islam, and known practices of the generation of the Prophet (SAW).
I think Saudi Arabia is the perfect example of a modern autocratic state that has used religion effectively, to protect the interest of the ruling class and entrench a dictatorial and brutal monarchy, where even criticism of the monarch, could attract the death penalty…
This is in contravention of the Qur’an, which encourages (even makes it a duty) to speak out against tyranny and injustice…How can it be just, that between 10-25% of the population of a mega rich oil producing nation, whose leaders live the most extravagant lifestyles, struggle to live a decent life…That is NOT an Islamic State based on the principles of the Holy Quran and the practices of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAW ). .
However, the criticisms levelled against Saudi Arabia with regards to being a state that does not allow the building of churches and other houses of worship is unjustified because Saudi Arabia (Macca, Madina and surrounding tribes) being the cradle of Islam, is probably entirely inhabited by Muslims…So there is no need for churches and other places of worship…
Non Saudi nationals, who are resident in the country and want to practice their religion, are free to do so in the privacy of their homes, though overzealous religious police sometimes interfere with these practices, which is against Islamic Teaching…
There is an element of.hypocrisy here as we do not see the same level of criticism against the Vatican State, which is a Christian State….Like the late Sheikh Ahmed Deedat used to say…
“The whole of Saudi Arabia is to most Muslims, as the entire Vatican, is to most Christians. ..”
Any non Christian, who asks to.be.allowed to build a house of worship in the Vatican, is a trouble maker….And so any non.Muslim, who asks to be.allowed.to build a house of.worship in Saudi Arabia, is also a trouble maker…
Finally, there are many predominantly Muslim countries in the world, which are secular states and guarantee Freedom of worship…Some.of.the oldest, non.Islamic sects and places of worships, are found in predominantly Muslim majority countries…Indonesia, the largest Muslim in the world, has Christians as the 2nd largest population of that country…
Using Saudi Arabia as an example of Islam’s “intolerance” of religious freedom is, at best ignorance, and hypocrisy, at worst…Almost all Western countries have ceased to be “Christian”..Many don’t even believe in a God, much more organised religion…
So let’s stop.pointing to the West as “Christian countries” that allow Muslims freedom of worship…People of.faith, including Christians, are under siege in many Western countries today, where faith in a Divine God, is disappearing faster than the icebergs.. ..
You see Tuti? Bax is so intelligent – when he talks free of that PDOIS mental imprisonment – (lol)
Lafia, did I hear you say “WE”!!! I am a fellow tribesman of Halifa Jallow-Sallah, so expect me on the other side when the Mandingo Warriors go to war!
Dida, Halifa is our idol and defending him deserve praise. Leave us alone.
Tuti, we know that already. That’s why we keep winding you up with our objective and fact based criticisms.
Keep it up.
Dida, well Mandingos are not at loggerheads with any tribe neither am I against any tribe in The Gambia. It is the low self esteem mandinkaphobics who will bully, threaten and even insult mandinkas that I am against and I have always made this absolutely and abundantly clear.
I also hate mandinkas who insults or are complicit in the insulting of the mandinka tribe. That’s why I can’t forgive Momodou Sabally. There is no reason which mandinkas should continue to tolerate such grotesque behaviours and the mandinkaphobics need to understand that.