In The Gambia we do hesitate to boast of being one nation, one people or one family. To my view, this is true and fantastic, and rarely seen in many parts of the world. The problem with this catchphrase is, it is true until we are challenged to speak out the truth when it comes to our family members, relatives or friends. The courage of going against a family member, a relative or a friend when it comes to the point of telling the truth, no matter the consequences is a very difficult task for many. This is where the theory of our one nation, people and family comes to the test. This theory must be seen to stand the test of time when it comes to telling the truth with regards to our own family member, relative or friend. We must never shy away from telling the truth. Otherwise the theory cannot stand. In that case it must be thrown in the dustbin. What I am trying to convey here is that we have to be able to tell the truth even when our own family members, relatives and friends are wrong or guilty of wrongdoing. Equally so when our family members, relatives and friends are right.
As one nation, one people, one family, we should not be subjective in our verdict when we are confronted in making judgement or telling the truth no matter the outcome. These are the pillars of a strong, vibrant and just society. A society where everyone lives in peace. When these values are unconditionally achieved, that is when the theory of our once as a nation of one people can be true and justifiable. Selective truth-telling will not strengthen the values of any society because it leads to a situation where falsehood becomes acceptable. You either tell the truth or you tell falsehood, there is no in between. Sad to say, but some politicians and to an extent ordinary citizens, believe it is normal not to tell the truth or even to an extent of defending falsehood. We, as people are very quick to go on defensive immediately when it is time to tell the truth with regard to telling truth our own family member, relative or friend.
If we build a common social value we are guaranteed of building a strong nation. Without a common social value our nation will be a weak nation. We must all endeavour and accept to tell the truth even if it is our father, mother, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, nephew or anyone. An ordinary home, community and compound cannot stand strong on the premise of not telling the truth let alone a nation. Let us make The Gambia a nation of truthtellers and be each other’s keepers. Only then can we truly call ourselves one people, one nation and one family.
Sweden, a well-developed Scandinavian country is a country where truth-telling and upholding of the rule of law is part of the school curriculum – from kindergarten to higher education level. Swedes are very bad in telling lies. The threshold for telling lies is very low because the majority of society abhor telling lies. When one grew up in such a society, loyalty to one’s conscience becomes paramount than anything else. Here is a Swedish true story where the father of the former Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt was arrested by Swedish Traffic Police for driving under the influence of alcohol. He was arrested at his home in his kitchen room after a witness tipped the police. He (The father of the Swedish Prime Minister) was above the mandated limit for alcohol intake. The following day some Swedish journalists rushed to the Prime minister’s office for an interview. When asked about the incident concerning his father, without hesitation, the Prime Minister said his father has broken the law and therefore should face the consequences of his own behaviour. What is important and interesting in this narrative is that the journalists who ventured out to the Prime Minister’s office did so for one reason: to examine the full strength and state of the Swedish democracy. The journalists were simply trying to see if the Prime Minister will interfere with the justice system. He didn’t despite the involvement of his father in a crime. This indicates that no one is above the law – not even the father of the Prime Minister.
In another driving incident, one of the daughters of the Swedish King drove her car on a driving lane reserved by the Swedish traffic law only for buses and taxes due to busy traffic congestion. The Princess were immediately chased by the traffic Police for violating the traffic law. With their blue siren on, the Police forced the Princess to stop aside not knowing that she was the Swedish Princess. The Princess soon claimed immunity as soon as the Police confronted her. The Police made an instant inquiry on who in the Swedish Royal family is covered by immunity. It turns out that only the King and the queen are covered by immunity and not their children. The Princess was therefore fined with a ticket on the spot for traffic violation.
Another interesting case is the story of a young, dynamic Swedish Education Minister who lost her job for merely taking one glass of wine in the neigbouring Denmark. He was stopped by Swedish traffic Police for going beyond Denmark’s mandatory alcohol intake of 0.5 promille. Driving alcohol limit in Sweden is 0.2 promille. Therefore, the Swedish minister broke the Swedish traffic law, but not the Danish traffic law. For that trivial incident the minister voluntarily resigned her portfolio the following day. Her resignation was accepted by the Swedish Prime. Again this is an indication of how democracy works in a legal community and that not even a minister is not above the law in a Swedish democracy. I hope there is something good for The Gambia to learn from these three true Swedish legal stories.
May God Bless our new-found democracy.