False News – Gambia’s New Nemesis

By Suntou Touray

A handful of people still do not underscore and highlight the reality that the Gambia came out of a very terrible dictatorship that has left our country virtually on her knees. But no one must downplay the bravery of Gambians from all strata of life: market vendors, women gardeners, farmers tilling the land and the resourceless politicians. Concerted efforts gave freedom to our people. It was a freedom that no one can brag of being the sole winner. Freedom everywhere should be managed with care and responsibility, ours being no exception. But ours is on the edge of being taken over by irresponsible agenda-peddling people bent on de-estabilising a country we all come home.

Foreign Minister Ousainou Darboe’s wife’s extended family too was among the United States deportees. Without any quest to verify stories, pompous haters with sinister goal suddenly feel false news is fair game. Why is fake news and lying hitting our country at an unprecedented scale? This is a question that deserves soul-searching.

In our new found democracy, we expect public officers to prepare for criticism and false propaganda engineered by a handful of agenda-peddaling folks who hide behind the social media fanning hate, chaos and instability. A society whose social fabric is left in tatters by two decades of brutal dictatorship needs everything but hateful social media freaks bent on spewing seeds of discord. Gambians need to build bridges and not walls. Our ultimate goal should be how to repair our damage and heal the deep wounds caused by Yahya Jammeh and his hateful bandits.

Lying and fabricated news take the rounds for days before being debunked. The overdoing of simple acts of making a point becomes regular. Suddenly, glory seeking folks jump into the show they understand anything about. They want to take credit for anything and become the first prophet that announces the incoming doom for the government. Simple bravado and notoriety cannot be attained on a silver platter. Bravery for sale at Serekunda market!

In 2016, we encountered a group of junior doctors striking outside the U.K House of Commons while we on our way to protest against the murder of Solo Sandeng and the eventually jailing of Lawyer Darboe at 10 Downing Street.

I was drawn to the Junior doctors’ protest because the famous BBC economic reporter was covering it. The junior doctors were striking for pay. However, what is significant is that all the shifts are fully covered during strike. Due to the vitality of their job, striking doctors make sure picket lines were held.

Overdoing anything defeats the purpose of an action, a fact developed democratic country activists understand and master. But in our unique case, professionals are behaving like loose canons, becoming very lax in the ways and manners they get involved in social, academic, political, professional and other rights discourses.

One senses that people are looking for a champion wrestler. The drum beat is on…the resident global country reps in the Gambia are enjoying it all.

The new freedom seems to open the doors for highly educated and grounded academics to opt for quick attention seeking overtures. The public on the otherhand is baffled, with people wondering who actually is suppose to show a practical good example. The situation is so dire that one wonders whether the country ceases to priduce role models.

Young minds have a huge task at hand. Globalisation and its open door policy in idea dissemination requires filtering. My advice to young people is very clear: avoid swallowing any view too readily, after all, wisdom lies in analysing and vetting thoroughly before consuming. We must not only be comfortable with being consumers.


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