Opinion: The Bane of Divisive Politics
By Musa Bah:
In a radio talkshow on King FM yesterday to which I was invited along with Mr Papa Njie, Leader of the People's Progressive Party (PP), the host played an audio which purported to say that President Adama Barrow had invited an association of the Fula community called Tabbital Pulaagu to mobilize three thousand Fulas for a meeting at the State House in Banjul.
Without hesitation, I condemned this move if it is found to be true. This is totally unacceptable in a democracy especially in a country like ours where society is so interconnected and interwoven that there is hardly any citizen who does not have relatives or loved ones in other ethnic groups.
Besides, the Constitution has stipulated that no political party shall be formed on the basis of a tribe, region, religion or indeed anysectarian consideration. The intent of this law is clear: to avoid division and sectarianism in the country.
At a time when many countries are struggling with tribal, ethnic and other divisive problems, this provision of our Constitution is progressive and should be fully implemented.
In the eyes of the spirit and letter of the Constitution therefore, the subtle luring of a particular ethnic group by the democratically elected president is an aberration which should be condemned by all and sundry. This type of politics creates more divisions and has the potential to lead us into chaos.
There is hope in the fact that a section of that Association has come out to reject this move and condemned it wholly. They have pointed out that being a particular ethnic group, they recognize the fact that they do not - and cannot - live in isolation. They pointed out the fact that almost all of them have relatives and friends among all the other ethnic groups. This is the reality of the Gambia.
All political parties in the country must vociferously condemn this act of President Adama Barrow if it is found to be true. They should not stop at condemning it this time but must also seek to sensitize their people to know that we cannot go the tribal way. We must seek what unites us - the nation rather than what divides us.
It is said that a good citizens rises above the immediate need to self-preserve or self-serve and seek to serve the greater good. The desire for a quick fix or a shortcut to political success must be kept in check at all times so that we can collectively build our country and make it something to be proud of. If we fail to do that, we would be bequeathing a polarized and underdeveloped country to our children which they will not be proud of. History will judge us harshly.
For a long time, African leaders have shamelessly used this ethnic division to create an 'us' and 'them' situation sometimes leading to fatal consequences in the continent. The case of Rwanda comes to mind. The post election violence in Kenya is still fresh in the minds of the people of the world. Why would we then allow nose-led politicians to promote this ignorant and dangerous way of doing politics that divides us?
We must work to make sure that the country is seen as one nation with one destiny!