Maslaha, Yallah Baahna, Ndogali Yallah la – the three retrogressive phenomena in The Gambia

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All these phrases are rooted in religion, Islam in particular [though people of other faiths also use them] but the context in which they are used in the Gambia is not Islamic at all. I am no scholar of religion, far from it, but one thing I’m is an avid reader. I’ve read very widely on religious books of Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Zoroastrianism and others; but nowhere have I seen religion promote laziness, impunity, nepotism, corruption, cronyism and the other evils.

If this is the case, isn’t using one’s religion to hide one’s corruption, incompetence the height of corruption and disgusting in itself? We find people do evil things of their own volition and when the consequences come, they say ‘Ndogali Yallah La.’ What crap! A few weeks ago I wrote a price entitled The Gods Are Not to Blame after a particular unfortunate incident occurred here. But the problem is very widespread indeed. One encounters these phrases everywhere and I can assure you, Islam is the least cause in most cases.

For instance, on the issue of Ndogali Yallah La, once a man came to the Prophet without securing his camel, claiming to have left it with God and His Messenger. The prophet told him to go and secure his camel then leave it with God.

Besides, on the economic and development front, the Prophet of Islam has made very instructive pronouncements. For instance he has said the upper hand (the one giving) is always better than the lower hand (the one receiving). The Holy Quran outright forbids begging. The Prophet said one who keeps begging will appear faceless on the Day of Judgment (only bones will remain on his face). Everyone can understand that he is talking about the lack of, and/or eroding of dignity of this despicable act.

He said it is better for one to go to the bush, cut firewood and sell it in order to feed his family than to beg. So all this tells me is that the people who use these phrases have their own motives; selfish greed.

Once a criminal was to be punished but he was very well liked by some companions. They sent someone to go and appease the prophet so the man would be forgiven. The prophet was angry that they could even think that he would violate the law because of sentiments. He swore to God that had his own daughter violated the law, she would be punished according to law. So, no impunity.

We see therefore that in all areas, religion cannot, should not be blamed.

What then is the problem?
The main problem that we face in the Gambia is that most Gambians are hypocrites. Many there are who simply aren’t patriotic; many there are who are selfish and would go for personal benefit over national benefit. The cause of all the above is ignorance.
So the solution has to be multifaceted, aggressive, constant, measured and sustained. To start with, we have to educate our people [and by educate I am not talking about passing-exam-education] I’m talking of real education which inculcates patriotism, honesty, hard work, sacrifice and the preference of nation to self. This can be done partly by teaching and promoting what is/was good in our history, who were our great ones, who sacrificed everything for our country among other things.

While that is happening, there should be a massive campaign for civic education by all and sundry. The religious preachers [because religion is part of the problem] must educate their congregates. Their preaching should not be only about Prayer, Zakat, and others; let them preach about the other Islamic values. For instance, the Prophet forbade praising a person in his presence to avoid the person become self-aware. This will apply to most of them seeing how their constant praises made Yahya Jammeh think that he was invincible.

Mothers and fathers should stop perpetrating corrupt practices in front of their children; that is just teaching them to be worse than yourself. Stop looking for corruption in the other person and look inwards. You will find it lurking somewhere within. Exorcism is needed in most cases. It is tempting but we have to try.
Everyone must make a constant effort to move this country forward. We must be better, we must do better, we must uplift ourselves and be proud of our country. Oh my people! How I wish I can impress this in all hearts!

May God bless the Gambia.

Author: Musa Bah

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