Alagi Yorro Jallow

When you are running for your life from a lion, you don’t stop for a minute to look back and see what color of a lion had been chasing you. You just run forward as fast as you can for your own safety”

(JollofNews)- Identity politics, also called Identarian Politics refers to political positions based on the interests and perspectives of narrowly defined social groups with which most people are familiar with or with whom they can personally identify.

Identity politics includes ways in which a person’s politics may be shaped by aspects of their identity through “loosely” correlated social organizations often based on ideology about differences.

It is divisive at its core. Examples include social organizations based on age, social class, culture, dialect, disability, education, ethnicity, language, nationality, gender identity, generation, occupation, profession, race, and religion.

For identity politics to work in your favor there must be a state of victimization in place. The identified group must perceive a treat to their way of life or an advantage that can be taken over others for their identified group (a self-centered view). It is a narrow view of the world; one that has been reduced by the necessary qualification to be within that small narrow group. It is separatist. Identity politics is not inclusive but it is in fact often sexist, racist, tribalism, paranoid and phobic.

Campaign against identity politics
To remedy the malady of identity politics, a holistic approach is proposed, taking into consideration all stakeholders. Leaders, firstly, must make it a priority to lead the campaign against identity politics. Their seriousness or sluggishness in how the issue is tackled can exterminate or aggravate the problem.

Again, the media have the responsibility of making sure that they are very circumspect in their reportage. It is not every inciting speech that must be aired, no matter how ‘exciting’ it makes the program to be. This is important because the inconsequential pleasures derived from such ‘excitements’ cannot be compared to the problems associated with incitement.

Every citizen must understand that freedom of speech can lead to loss of freedom when it is abused. This is because freedom of speech cannot guarantee freedom after speech. It is better to give up your freedom to speak than allow it take away your freedom. So, the citizenry must encourage seasoned speeches from homes to the streets.

Finally, we must encourage unity in diversity. The strength of every nation is how united her people are. Our diversity must not be used as a tool to bring about adversities in the country.
Rather, it should help us see each tribe as unique and learn from each other.

When we see each other as unique, the sense of superiority, which accompanies tribalism, will be destroyed to keep ourselves as one people and one nation. The Gambia is not lost yet, so she can be saved. But her salvation is in our hands of every patriotic citizen.

By Alagi Yorro Jallow 

The author is founder and former managing editor of The Independent, the Gambia’s only private newspaper before it was banned by the government in 2005. He was a Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy, a 2007 Nieman fellow and is the author of Delayed Democracy: How Press Freedom Collapsed in Gambia published in 2013.