Opinion: Is The Culture of Dependency And Begging Retarding Our Development?
By Musa Bah:
In almost every home in the Gambia, particularly in the urban areas, one can observe up to four or five young men (sometimes women) who are not gainfully employed. They depend almost entirely on the family head who is the sole breadwinner in the family.
These young people are mostly not engaged in anything gainful and would spend a large part of the day either brewing attaya or arguing about politics, Europe or simply how rich the next door neighbor or his son is.
When such a person passes by some of them will ask him for something or the other; mostly to buy attaya for them. If he gives them something (no matter how small) - and they often give - they are grateful and will sing his praise for long.
If on the other hand he happens to be as dry as a Jarranka, they rain insults on him - perhaps not to his face - but he would certainly be the subject of ridicule for that day. They will narrate how rich; but, how wicked he is. He becomes the target of scorn.
This attitude is sometimes a time honoured practice. From early on in the lives of our children, some parents do not teach their children the culture of independence and being satisfied with what they have. When the children beg, they are given; and as such. They take it to be good or at least normal. This ends up eroding their dignity and self-respect.
Some of our cultural and traditional practices also encourage this. For instance when it is Eid (Tobaski and Koriteh) children go round asking for 'Salibo'. In the past, this was for people you know, relatives, family friends and wellwishers. The focus on those visits then was on the cementing of societal connection and not the little amounts of money given.
This goes on to an extent that it is firmly imprinted in the psyche of the children and they grow up with that mentality. Begging becomes the norm and every other person is seen as a potential source of earning money.
As it is clear that governments or governors are products of (an extention of) the society they come from, this same mentality is transfered to the national level with the result that our governments and governors go around the world to beg.
Every other day you hear of one of the industrialized nations holding summits with African leaders. As Almammy Taal said recently, it is unacceptable that they all just look at Africa as one whole entity (a sick person) who needs help.
China-Africa Summit, Japan-Aftica Summit and now Russia-Africa Summit. These nations use Africa to do a number of things which are more for themselves than they are for Africa.
The amounts of money they announce are mostly returned to them within a short space of time. Or, when their conscience pricks them (that is when their population start lambasting them) they rush to cleanse their souls and the best way to do that is by coning to Africa and showing how much money you have been giving to them to feed the poor children.
Unless we change this mentality and inculcate the culture of self-esteem and dignity in our young ones, our development will be slow, if it comes at all.
Editors note: Views expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Gunjur Online. Got an opinion article? send it to us at GunjurNewsOnline@gmail.com