The question as to whether it is proper or improper to use a pseudonym cannot be given a straight, cogent answer such as “yes” or “no” without elaboration. Therefore, I deem it fitting to do some analysis and make comments in my attempt to answer it convincingly.
First and foremost, I would like to point out that I have never used a pseudonym, neither in the social media nor in the press. I have been using my name and photo since I started writing as a novelist and feature writer in 1997. I have taken this stance for the simple reason that I want to assume responsibility for my writings and do not see the need to use a pen mane.
Nonetheless, I understand and respect the position of some of those who have chosen to be anonymous in their activities. It is common knowledge that some writers, freedom fighters and activists have used pseudonyms and contributed immensely to political and socio-economic development. The renowned, reputable politician Nelson Mandela and the prolific British writer Eric Blair, the author of the famous novel Animal Farm can be cited as examples in this regards, among many others. They have used the pseudonyms David Motsamayi and George Orwell respectively. Is it reasonable and fair to disregard or ignore the meritorious services they have rendered to humanity and denounce them for merely using pseudonyms? Certainly not! It is an open secret that many Gambians have used the online media pseudonymously for long time before coming out of their closets to openly champion democracy, justice and respect for human rights. It is also a well-known, irrefutable fact that some contributors in our crusade have always been anonymous, doing a wonderful job. It can be argued that this category of people use pseudonyms for security or other reasons that are not malicious. Thus, they deserve commendation and cheers, not condemnation and jeers.
However, many people hide behind pen names to bully, harass, malign, intimidate, detract, distract or frustrate those they perceive as enemies, rivals or opponents. These people are big cowards. Pure and Simple! They are undesirable elements, for they pose a threat to peace and retard development by using pseudonyms maliciously.
To recapitulate, I would say that using a pseudonym can be proper just as it can be improper, depending on the purpose for which it is used. Hence, there shouldn’t be blanket endorsement or denunciation on the issue. Those who use pseudonyms with good intention shouldn’t be condemned, nor should they be frightened off. If we are really interested in liberating ourselves and creating a just society for the benefit of all, as we claim, we should encourage them to continue contributing their quota in the noble cause of combatting dictatorship, or at least leave them in peace. Those who use pseudonyms to discourage, scared away or neutralize freedom fighters are doing more harm than good to themselves and their compatriots in general, as no one is safe or secure under a dictatorship. Anybody can fall victim anytime in a society where injustice prevails. The earlier those ill-intentioned, misguided people realize this and desist from their obnoxious, detestable acts and join the bandwagon of the crusaders, the better for us all. They have been brainwashed, and they have remained in their deep sleep for too long. What a pity!