by Alagi Yorro Jallow.
Fatoumatta: Today is the last day of 2020, and we shall rejoice and be glad. Why not? Because we live in a very precarious world. Not everyone who will shout ‘Happy New Year’ on January 1 will see December 31, 2021. Hundreds of thousands who have fallen so far celebrated the dawn of 2020 on the first day of the year. The Coronavirus pandemic aborted the survival dreams and wishes of many; COVID-19 and its economic sorties also poured in their troops for a devastating mop up.
It has been a horrible year that demands very sober reflections. We should not be heard insulting the memories of the dead with indecent, indecorous outbursts. If 2020 has been a year of the howling of battle, the winking 2021 should be of victory songs. May the new year be of success and celebration for us all. 2021 will heal and rebuild all of us. Happy New Year. Compliments of the season.
Fatoumatta: As Robert Schuller challenges all Gambians, “Tough times never last, but tough people do, and tomorrow is January 1, 2021. It should ordinarily be a day of celebrations. However, for us in the Gambia, it will be more than a New Year Day. A year of despair can beget a year of hope. Gambians in this new year, 2021, can piece together our shattered civic and political norms. We can re-tie the bonds of unity that cynical politicians have gone for their gain. We can recommit ourselves to a path of empathy and justice. So, what were the most indiscreet, absurd, ridiculous, and dam foolish political statements of 2020?
The year 2020 has been an unpredictable ride through the Covid-19 pandemic, but we all should accept that one should leave behind the bad memories and mistakes with every passing year. We should vow not to let the negative times affect us in looking forward to the future and working hard to achieve our dreams and ambitions. So, let us all embrace the new year with much-needed hopes and happiness. Happy New Year 2021.
I wish you all a blissful new year. I hope that joy and success follow you in every sector of life.
Fatoumatta: Men and women wearing lipstick and powder are the same as intellectual activists, political party surrogates, and social media pundits. Political, religious, and tribal rapidness being the fashion of the times, men and women in power took action that would otherwise have been irregular. Will the Gambia get out of intellectual power arrogance, obsequious sycophancy, and intolerance is the question 2020 leaves behind. The answer will come loud and clear as 2021 gets into stride. Threats to citizens with different opinions will either become the rule of life or a thing of the past, depending on how civil we all become in our politics go from now.
Fatoumatta: There is this story of a little boy who visited the village store with his father. On their way out after shopping, they encountered the store owner who offered the little boy some free candy. “Get a hand full of candy,” the store’s proprietor said to the boy. Nevertheless, rather than act as directed and scoop the candy, the boy just stood there looking up at his father. Thinking the boy did not get his message, the owner repeated himself, “Son, get a hand full of candy; it is free.” Again, the boy did not move as he continued to look up to his father. Finally, the father reached into the jar and got a hand full of candy and gave it to his son, who beamed with smiles. However, as they walked back home, the father stopped and asked his son why he had to rely on him rather than scoop a handful of free candy by himself. With another big smile on his face, the boy looked up to his father and said: “Because I know that your hand is bigger than mine.”
Fatoumatta: Whatever may be the challenges we face in 2021, for those of us who believe in the Almighty Allah, we must learn to place them in His hand. Because “His hand is bigger than ours.”
Fatoumatta: A new year calls for stocktaking and projections. It will be nice to start 2021 by carrying the cake of one’s charity from home to an orphanage home; thousands of children live without one or both parents, putting them at risk of dropping out, falling ill, and being malnourished, and suffering from other effects of Covid-19 and poverty. This new year, 2021, should define so many things and so many people at goal setting. This new year will tell if the Gambia will ever work for the Gambian people, the hoipolloi, or an oligarchy.
Fatoumatta: 2021 will also be momentous in the politics of the Gambia. Somehow, we feel that the Gambia will work only if Gambians work to explain our new year standpoint or resolutions. When we hear desert encroachment, our minds race to the arid North and its geography. However, desertification is much more than having rainless years and unfertile soil. Can’t we see the political and fiscal choices made in the past? Has the Gambia become a veritable desert in politics and economics?
Fatoumatta: Power tussles garnished with dangerous politics reign in this country. There is a thick plume of intolerance in the air. Independence of mind and critical evaluation and critical thinking of issues used to mark out the Gambian people. However, they are capital offenses today among the so-called progressives. The Gambian people must be warned against Gambians getting bogged down by the pettiness of power addict politicians, fake patriots masquerading as democrats who were already showing their faces even in those early days of the regime changed in the 2016 Presidential election.
Fatoumatta: What we witnessed in 2020 is careerist and power addicted politician and political parties masquerading as big and small, herd their sheep from one brown pasture to another. To them, politics has become an end in itself; fulfilling election promises and making life better for the people are distantly secondary. The desert is approaching, encroaching. Should those who claim leadership of the race is seen fighting personal battles when the real enemy is advancing? When the desert encroaches on the fertility of our existence, what do you do? We were taught to stop it, whatever it takes. This strain of the encroaching desert will take much more than ceremonial tree planting by effeminate emperors to conquer.
Fatoumatta: A divided people cannot confront a determined enemy. They will lose their present and their future. I hope someone listens — before it is too late. According to doyen Journalist Dan Rather’s best-selling book, ‘What Unites Us: Reflections on Patriotism, eloquently stated that “empathy is not only a personal feeling; it can be a potent force for political and social change.” The veteran journalist further scribed that “the suppression or denial of empathy is a deliberate part of a cynical political calculus.” Dividing people and stoking animosity can pave a path to power. This has been well known since the time of the ancients. However, these divisions inevitably come at the expense of the long-term health and welfare of the nation.
Fatoumatta: If we live in a democracy, we have more than just a chance; we have a real opportunity to build a perfect country. We understand that it can seem that our democracy is under attack from within, and indeed in many ways, it is. However, we have seen an outpouring of energy and activism swell for real change from Gambians of all walks of life since Gambian decided in the 2016 Presidential elections. We are pushing back the tides of prejudice, small-mindedness, and bias. This task will not be easy. The forces arrayed against the majority will of the Gambian people are healthy and well-financed. An unfair and entrenched political system fuels them. However, they can be defeated. They feed off fear. As President Roosevelt famously exhorted, “we have nothing to fear but fear itself.” We have only one Gambia, the Gambia of multiple faiths, multiple languages, multiple foods, and dress cultures—Incredible Gambia. Will the incredible retain its glory?
Fatoumatta: Happy New Year to all my friends, colleagues, and a family-A fresh start is a moment of hope and great expectation; may all of you begin 2021 with boundless joy, joyful spirit, and abundance of Allah’s favor. My greatest desire for all of you this New Year is success, courage, and prosperity.