Alagi Yorro Jallow

(JollofNews) – “All men are born free and equal but are found everywhere in chains”. These are the words of Jean Jack Rousseau, a French scholar and political writer with a very humble beginning and an interesting biography to explore.

His writing greatly influenced the formulation of the American Constitution in 1787, the French revolution in 1789, and the various articles and principles on which the United Nations was established.

All true comrades, activists and revolutionaries knows that what really drives them is not the commendations of the people they are fighting for but the inescapable pain they feel whenever they see oppression or injustice in the society. That is why the force behind activism is patriotism: and this must be clearly distinguished from blind loyalty to individuals rather than the state.

Sycophancy/blind-loyalty is to place individuals (President, Governors, Ministers, National Assembly members, Mayors, Chiefs etc.) above the state and refuse to criticize them constructively simply because you want to be loyal to them. On the contrary, patriotism is placing the state and its interest above any individual including the occupants of its offices (President, Ministers, Governors, Chiefs, etc). And a dangerously prevalent trend. Let’s not fall prey to it.

Arm Chair Activist: One who sits in their armchair or desk chair and blogs or posts activists issues on Facebook without ever really doing anything about said issues or exercising any form of activism as it would require that person to leave the armchair. If this is well understood then a responsible citizenry and true patriotism becomes inevitable.

Every patriotic citizen is an activist in some ways. It is time to convert your pains to solutions of problems in the society. Let us begin to speak up when things are not done rightly regardless of who is involved.

Let the activist in you arise!

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.