Alagi Yorro Jallow

(JollofNews) – Today is the last day of a year and we shall rejoice and be glad. Why not? For as Robert Schuller challenges all Gambians, “tough times never last but tough people do, and tomorrow is January 1, 2019. It should ordinarily be a day of celebrations. But, 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 2019, can piece together our shattered civic norms. We can re-tie the bonds of unity that cynical politicians have went for their own gain. We can recommit ourselves to a path of empathy and justice. So, what were the most indiscreet, absurd, ridiculous and dam foolish statements of 2018? Men and Women wearing lipstick and powder are the same as activists, political party surrogates and 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 intolerance is the question 2018 leaves behind. The answer will come loud and clear as 2019 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.

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. But these divisions inevitably come at the expense of the long-term health and welfare of the nation.

If we live in a democracy, we have more than just a chance, we have a real opportunity to build a more perfect country. I understand that it can seem that our democracy is under attack from within, and indeed in many ways it is. But we have seen an outpouring of energy and activism swell for real change from Gambians of all walks of life since Gambian decided in 2016. 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 strong and well-financed. They are fueled by an unfair and entrenched political system. But 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 food and dress cultures—Incredible Gambia. Will the incredible retain its glory?

Happy New Year to all my friends, colleagues and family-A fresh start is a moment of hope and great expectation, may all of you begin 2019 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.