I could not stand the temptation not to respond to Ousainou Mbenga´s article on Freedom Newspaper dated October 26th, 2017 titled Gambia: No Agenda Can Remain Hidden Forever. United Democratic Party Hegemony Declared!
I disagree fully with Ousainou Mbenga on his description of the Gambia`s UDP (United Democratic Party) as Hegemony and with a hidden agenda. This to my view is an unfair description and obvious effort on the side of Ousainou Mbenga to misled the Gambian population. Since its initial beginning, the UDP has never and will never ever contemplate on harbouring a hidden agenda against the Gambian people and certainly the party is never a Hegemony in the context of Ousainou Mbenga. What Ousainou Mbenga failed to tell his readers and the Gambian people is that there is Hegemony per se and there is Cultural Hegemony. The concept hegemony and especially cultural hegemony, which to my view, Ousainou Mbenga is confusingly pointing to, has been used by Marxist Antomio Gramci as a theory on how the governing party maintains its power on the oppressed.
Fellow honest Gambians, is this really happening in today´s Gambia? Certainly not. I believe Ousainou Mbenga´s comments are very serious, disturbing and misleading. It is clear without a minimum of doubt that Ousainou Mbenga perceives UDP´s position today in the Gambia as a political party oppressing the Gambian population. That is exactly what he meant by his quotation labeling UDP as Hegemony. Yes, Ousainou Mbenga has all rights to disagree or dislike the policies of the UDP, but to label the party as hegemony (cultural hegemony) is very unfair and a calculated ploy to discredit the UDP as a party.
Someone saying or mentioning at a New York Town Hall meeting that “this is a UDP government” should not in any way be taken literally unless one heard it from H.E. President Adama Barrow or Foreign Minister Honorable Ousainou Darboe. To my knowledge and to many honest Gambians, neither President Barrow nor Ousainou Darboe has ever uttered a sentence where they mentioned UDP as the government of the new Gambia. It has always been a coalition government from this two gentlemen whenever they talk about the current government.
A UDP government will surely come to be in the Gambia in the nearest future but not yet, and there is no rush to that. Right now what we should call for is nation building. I want Ousainou Mbenga to stop fooling himself because what makes him a Gambian is his tribe. Whether he acknowledges it or not, he is born to a tribe first and then a Gambian second. This is what makes us all unique as Gambians. Our tribes are our identities and our identities are our tribes. In the Gambia, tribe has never been our problem or our obstacle but those who can´t accept us or accept our tribes are our problem. This is where Ousainou Mbenga fits in. Don’t switch labels. The New Gambia needs genuine revolutionary transformation but not the one Ousainou Mbenga and his groups are calling for. The people know exactly what you mean by that Ousainou Mbenga, and for your information the Gambian people will not buy it. The Gambian people, and I mean the majority of the population, are today enjoying the fruits of the change and transformation they have courageously fought for. Period.
I read that RANT too Mr. Touray. Brought Raila to mind. Maybe Mbenga will be declaring a “National Resistance Movement” in the Gambia against “UDP Hegemony” soon! Please don’t bring Gramsci into this Primary School level rant!
Mr Mbenga’s views that UDP hegemony has been declared, whether rightly held or not, are widespread, and everyone who can, should take measures that will assure those concerned that they are mistaken. Attacking him, as is often the reaction when ever someone criticises this administration, will only strengthen this belief. But that’s all politics.
What worries me, more than the political wrangling, is the view of Alhagie Touray that “tribe” is more important than “nationality”, because according to him, you are (your) tribe, FIRST and Gambian “SECOND” and that your identity (in this day and age) should be defined by your “tribe” and not your NATIONALITY. This is what worries me and I hope that he is alone.
Bax, I hope that he is alone too. Alhagie Touray’s view that “tribe” is what defines us more than our nationality as Gambians is worrisome for the simple fact that when the Gambia became a nation-state, either under colonialism or as a republic, all people who occupied the geographical space that is the Gambia were defined by an instrument that govern the relations that existed between all the tribes.
This instrument is a constitutional monarchy under the British. And a republican constitution under a republic. These are two types of instruments that define every Gambian regardless of your tribal origins. The former as British subjects and the later as sovereign citizens.
I belong to a tribe. I was born into a tribe but that does not define me. What defines me is what transcends my tribal belonging and is common to all other tribes that share the same geographical space that we call the Gambia.
This sense of national belonging is what molds the character and value system that is integral in the building of a cohesive society that respects and celebrates the diversity that is reposed in our different tribal affiliations. Thus we are Gambians first before we can identify with our respective tribal belongings.
What we need is a sense of nationalism to identify with our country the Gambia, first, before we can identify with our different tribes.
In Senegal they all identify themselves as Senegalese. Very rarely do you meet a Senegalese who tells you that I belong to a particular tribe. They are Senegalese first before they belong to a tribe. Not that they do not belong to a tribe. They do.
Semantics my in-law. Tribe IS Nationality and Nationality is Tribe. All Mr. Touray is saying is that your tribe points to the Family you were born into, brought up in and the language you speak. That does not mean you hate the Families who are your neighbours – on the contrary. What worries me is that PERPETUAL POLITICS is the BIGGEST ENEMY of PEACE and DEVELOPMENT – look at Kenya where they have had politics for one full year. Let us stop politics until the next election and get on with developing the country – or else, like Trump, we achieve nothing.