Alagi Yorro Jallow
In his essay, “How tribalism overrules reason and makes risky times more dangerous,” Professor David Ropeik at Harvard University writes, “Tribalism is pervasive, and it controls a lot of our behavior, readily overriding reason. Think of the inhuman things we do in the name of tribal unity. Wars are essentially, and often quite specifically, tribalism. Genocides are tribalism — wipe out the other group to keep our group safe — taken to madness”.
The racism that lets us feel that our tribe is better than theirs, parents who end contact with their children when they dare marry someone of a different faith or color. What stunning evidence of the power of tribalism!
When people become super-normally invested in tribalism, they become capable of committing all sorts of hideous acts in the name of the tribe, which they otherwise would not have committed, including posting irrational nonsense on social media.
Most Gambians are trained and conditioned to attack other names, not ideas or reasons. If, for example, Mamudu says “Kube Jarro” is right for your health, Sambujang is likely to feast on it without a second thought. If another example, Fatoumatta, says “Tabanaani plant” is edible, Yerro is expected to eat it with glee. No questions asked.
Sambujang for Mamudu and Yerro for Fatoumatta will inundate you with nauseating and nonsensical points of view if you insist that both “Kube Jarro” and “Tabanaani plant” are not fit for human consumption. Who are you to challenge established tribal order?
You can predict, with almost pinpoint precision, how someone is likely to react to criticism of the opposition or government, just by taking a glance at his or her other name. There are very few exceptions to this norm.
In a severe political debate, say about the price of essential commodities, Yerro will be on Sambujang’s neck, not canvassing issues, but reminding Sambujang that “Mamudu think he is the only person to be President” as if Sambujang’s livelihood depends on the generosity of one Mamudu. Yerro will also insist that Sambujang is a “perennial loser.” The real Sambujang is probably a fisherman in Niumi, who has never participated in any election, including that of a village Kabilo, as a candidate.
In the same vein, Sambujang will vehemently castigate Yerro for stating a known fact – that there is no democracy in the party he supports. Instead of countering Yerro’s assertion with a well-grounded defense, Sambujang will accuse Yerro of being a “thief” that has “eaten” with former President Yahya Jammeh. Sambujang will insist that Yero’s kin has caused all the problems in the Gambia. All the sins of the government will be thrust on Yerro and his community.
Besides his unfounded hatred for Sambujang, Yerro has another problem. The vain imagination that if Mamudu becomes president, he will also automatically morph into an institution of government – “Political- Ethno Chauvinism.” The very disease that has afflicted Mamudu for years now – the “Political- Ethno Chauvinism” fallacy.
In the meantime, Sambujang is just another ordinary Gambian, who has never seen Yerro in person, doesn’t know the directions to State House and is struggling like everyone else, growing cabbages and carrots somewhere in Bakau. Their only connection to politics is on Facebook.
The problem with Sambujang is that he communicates, he speaks and writes as though he is some “official spokesperson” of the entire kinship. His statements will begin in “we,” “us,” and “our people have decided….” He pretends to be the custodian-in-chief of Mamudu’s party more than Bamba and Saikou combined.
If Sambujang were truly smart, he would have been Gambia’s envoy or protocol officer to Iceland. Just because some of his kin are appointees of the Mamudu, does not “effectively” mean he is government. You are government by giving support, blind or otherwise. That is where your participation ends.
I now understand.
Alagi Yorro Jallow