By: Imran Darboe
I remember listening to Louise Farrakhan once, when I was 14, and hearing him say to his fellow African American audience, “we are the only people who love everyone except themselves”. Somehow this comment had stuck to me and as I grew up, in Africa, Gambia, surrounded by poverty, a corrupt government and (pardon my bluntness) selfishness and egotism, I could not help but think that Farrakhan’s statement is quite apt for us Africans, we Gambians too.
Now here we are, 2015 and our beloved Gambia is in a state of ruin and downward spiral. There is no organized system, no structure to the core departments of state that would enable meaningful development. Most of us would agree we are a nation held hostage by a tyrannical leader/government. It is therefore no surprise to see us on social media and many other fronts, making efforts to spark a revolution that will liberate the nation from the grips of evil government. I have not seen us succeeding just yet and there is a reason for that. I believe OUR LEADERS ARE A REFLECTION OF US (as a people). It takes disunity to exert control over an unwilling people and as a result of our bickering, egos and selfish scurrying for favours at the expense of each other, we have allowed our own subjugation by an iron fisted leader.
Leo Tolstoy said that “everyone thinks about changing the world, but no one thinks about changing himself”. This is where we are at right now. We want to get rid of the bad government in Gambia, but the world we live in is a result of our thinking, it cannot be changed without changing our thinking. There has been many revolutions/freedom fighting platforms by us in various media platforms nowadays, thanks to the success of the so-called Arab-spring. However, recently it seems we are more interested in mud-sling at each other than servicing the shared goal of inspiring a revolution. It seems we have chosen a model without carrying with it the ethical and moral obligations that must inherently go with it. As a matter of journalistic ethics I think we do not need to make up false stories, drag people’s names through the mud of social media, or air people’s dirty laundry without proof or consideration. Nor should we project people to be guilty just by association (to government) without giving them the benefit of the doubt. What I am advocating here, is responsible journalism. Consideration, priority must be given to how we can unite Gambians around the world towards the common good, even those we consider to be sleeping with the enemy. We must take a different approach if we are ever going to inspire change. Let us turn the negative campaign into a positive one. Instead of castigating a failed government, let us educate the masses. Like Nelson Mandela said, Education is the most powerful weapon with which to change the world. Why can we not start by asking ourselves how we can fix our education system, inspire the people to discuss ways to improve our health care system? Sell the concept of unity to those who do not see its vital necessity. As a people, we are good at finding the problem, seeing the faults and assigning blame, but the more pertinent issue is finding solutions and the solution cannot come without unity. Government will never be worried by the tantrums of disorganised and bickering groups, the only way a government can be forced to change or desist is through a unified voice. Let us therefore shed the egos, criticism and slander. Let us embrace an effort for self-change, seeing good in others and focus on enticing positive change from our fellow compatriots.
In Conclusion, this article is a plea and a reminder (myself included) that our stations within social media comes with some moral and ethical responsibilities. We have a platform and followers, let’s bring them together, educate and inspire each person initiate change personally before aiming to bring change for our nation. To quote Rumi, Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself”. I challenge you to try to do the same first and then we will try to honour our national pledge by working towards “the common good”. Only this way can we get rid of or change the current predicament of our beloved Gambia.