By Dr Alhagi Manta Drammeh, Associate Professor of Islam and contemporary Studies at the Muslim College London, Researcher at the University of Dundee and London Islamic Cultural Centre
The Gambia is a blessed nation endowed with great mercy, compassion, bounty and blessings of the Gracious Almighty God. What has transpired in the Gambia over the past months is a testimony to this claim allowing us to reflect and pause profoundly. No wonder, The Gambia has produced great saints, savants and many pious people. The virtues and piety of those pious before and now have showered upon the Gambia. No doubt, their good prayers and supplications will never falter or fail. The Gambia is great not in size but in resilience, magnanimity, compassion, patience, forbearance, self-restraint and love. It is both great and blessed producing great and blessed people. The Gambia is great in that the collective wisdom of its people averted a looming socio-political and military catastrophe. With the great blessings of Allah and the prayers of all, a military confrontation was averted.
Now that the old regime is gone and a new Administration has dawned, efforts should be geared towards establishing institutions and structures that are geared towards promoting lofty human values, human rights and the rule of law. It is no time to revenge but to establish mechanisms for strengthening the justice system and enforcing the virtue of forgiveness and reconciliation. It is time to build and not to destroy. It is time to contribute and not to stand by. It is time for collective wisdom and endeavour. It is no time of egoism and individualism. It is no time for arrogance and bigotry. It is time for self-reflection, humility and sense of solidarity. It is no time to undermine but to support, guide and counsel each other for our common good. It is no time for partisan politics. Rather it is time to entrench Gambian values and Gambianess. It is time to go beyond narrow partisan ideologies and develop and contribute to developing policies that will rescue our lovely Gambia from its economic, political and social decadence perpetuated for decades. Let us not allow tribalism kill us. Tribes are there, as one of my wise educators noted, a reference points. Indeed, this what the Qur’an alludes to as that we are created into clans, tribes and nations so that we know each other and not despise/scorn each other. Tribal diversity should be used as a source of strength for the Gambia. It should be used as a source of blessings and not divisiveness. In fact, ethnic and tribal plurality is a reality around the world that should not only be tolerated but celebrated. This rich diversity of the Gambia should be maximally utilised for the nation-building and reconciliation. I believe this has been the case in most of the Gambian recent political history. However, there is always a handful who are bent to spoil that rich diversity by appealing to the ugly face of tribalism in their politics and rhetoric. Let us not be afraid of opposition. I believe that is another good manifestation of good governance. We should encourage vibrant opposition and constructive criticism for our vital national interests. None should shy away from the national conversation to move our country forward. The whole world is watching the Gambia from Dhakka to Dakar. What has transpired in the Gambia is a test for the vibrancy of democracy in Africa. Its success in the Gambia is success for Africa. Reversely, its failure in the Gambia will be a failure for Africa and the world at large. The world waited to see the outcome of the peaceful and silent Gambian revolution. It was a revolution that ended one of the worst regimes in the world without any bullet being shot, blood shed or life lost. It was beyond anyone’s imagination. Let all hands-on deck to support this young budding democracy in the Gambia. Let all of us strive for the common good of our dear nation. Let us stop insulting or demonising each other. Let is promote Gambian fraternity. Let all of us struggle against tribalism and divisiveness. Let us transcend tribal affiliations and promote Gambianess. Let us all work for the common good of the Gambia as one nation-state with different ethnicities. Let us promote collective wisdom and not individual self-centred myopic claims. Let us promote meritocracy and discourage mediocracy. May the Almighty God bless the Gambia.