President Barrow’s nominees to the National Assembly have barely settled down in their new roles than the naysayers pulled their rattlers (noisemakers) from their duffle bags to start making noise about tribalism – a subject we have addressed numerous times before and republished blog posts many times over since 2013 in an attempt to dispel a false and insidious claim for political purposes.
What we observe during election campaigns, when emotions are high and a few opportunistic politicians and their energised supporters seize the occasion to display their individual prejudices, driven more by insecurity than hatred for their fellow man, is not tribalism. This type of behaviour is commonplace, especially among those crazy uncles of ours and a few knuckleheads from both ends of the tribal divide.
Are there a few tribalists among us? Of course. There isn’t a country without these type of people who believe in the superiority of their own race, class or clan in varying degrees. Although in the case of The Gambia, the malaise is negligible and inconsequential, it does not deter some elements in our society from exploiting it particularly during election campaigns atmosphere for reasons best known to them.
Let us say this one more time – Gambia does not have a tribal problem. Trust me. I can name several countries in Africa where tribalism is manifested in a blatantly disguised form that drives official public policy. Thankfully, Gambia is not one of those countries and we will continue to do everything we can as citizens to ensure that tribalism never takes hold in our country.
Politicians like Barrow, Darboe, Halifa and other political leaders and their supporters must also help in reassuring the country that tribalism will never be allowed to take root in The Gambia because is a backwards idea that goes against Gambian values.
Uneven regional development and personal income disparity are the most pressing issues facing the country which, if left unattended, will certainly be a potential breeding ground for factionalism and, other types of stereotypical resentment, that can threaten the social cohesion so essential to the economic, social and cultural development of the country.
Electioneering is over. It is time to get to work and stop fanning the flames of tribal sentiments for
By Sidi Sanneh