Njundu Drammeh

“Suulu-war ko ning suuwar ka kuu daameng faanoo faanang kaa keh warlehto, aadangmaa teh maalula” Mandinka Proverb (The wolf says if dusk and dawn happens simultaneously, he won’t be the only one to hold his head in shame)

How true a statement from Mr. Wolf, who in Mandinka mythology has never done anything good.

A society which eulogies corrupt men and women and corruption itself, the number onr enemy of development, has found it nice to condemn a young girl for an act it considers wrong but less grievous than corruption.

A people who have remained mute in the face of 22 years of tyranny and at most feigning neutrality because only “unpatriotic citizens” dared oppose who Allah had anointed as “leader” are all over the placing casting aspersions on a young girl they dont even know but could not condemn Yaya in his “life time”. Yaya Jammeh and his cohort, including administrators, professionals and religious and traditional leaders, committed far greater sins and we indulged them. We praised them at the height of their fame; we prayed for their long lives. And here we are, posturing a holier-than-thou attitude.

Yaya gave millions to schools just to party at the beaches and school authorities organised these events without a pang of remorse, when their schools lacked basic facilities and learning materials for quality education. And even MoBSE found that very okay- it never publicly spoke against it as far as i know. Yes, “school authorities could not have said no or suggested some other more beneficial ventures. Their hands were tired.” Spare me that moth-eaten, trite excuse.

MoBSE organised beauty pageants at the expense of the State, and when some schools do not have labs or better libraries, and MoBSE found that very ok. At least it never publicly spoke against the waste. Yes, some students gained scholarships from the competition. But the competition itself was out of sync with our “culture” just as you think this young girl’s dance was out of tune with our culture, whatever is the shape and content of that elephant in the room.

What actions do most schools take when students are sexually harassed by teachers, a sort of a quid pro quo sexual harassment, or even made pregnant by them? What do the rest of us do? What do we do when we know of sexual harassment at the work place or an underhand dealing or misuse of public funds?

And here is a young girl who, in a moment of overjoy, acted otherwise, and us and Gambia High think she deserves expulsion, not a second change. Teachers have made students pregnant and all they got was support from school authorities and transfer to another school. Am sure if you GHS puts a mirror to its face, it would not like what it will see.

What this girl has done is not any great sin for which she deserved to be roundly condemned by adults. I think if every adult puts a mirror to his or her face, they would not like what they see. If every adult reminisced over his or her teenage period and youth and even adulthood we may see a lot of scenes, mental pictures, we would be ashamed of. When i recall my school, at High School or Uni and those of others i know, chei Allah. I and they were lucky we weren’t caught or thanked God we were given a 100th chance. Just recall your youthful period at that party, passing out ceremony, at that vous, at that beach party, in the dark along that street path or things you do now in the “dark”, things society frowns upon or prohibited by your religion and tell us if you will sit on your high horse and pontificate and judge. Who isn’t a sinner seeking forgiveness and doing repentance daily? Who amongst us is without sins? Who?

This young girl, i dont know who she is and where she comes from but i want her to know she has my support and understanding and in me a campaigner for her cause. She has fallen victim to a bully of a society which is sexist and double standard in matters it sees “immoral” when committed by men and women. She has already suffered enough for a mischief which is out of proportion to the public opprobrium. Yet the school isn’t satisfied with this punishment- it is destroying a young girl’s future and her dreams.

By expelling this girl from school, whose interest truly is the school authorities protecting? What greater good will it serve? Whose good? Will it prevent similar aberrations by the students? Will it not drive the issues underground and to more dangerous levels? Is expulsion from school the sanction for going beyond the social pale? Is the school pandering to Facebook condemnation or so concerned about its imagine because a particular dance was done in its uniform? Would it have reacted similarly if she was in her casual wear? Has the dance done any serious dishonour to the school’s name that it is in total disrepute, irreparable and irretrievable? Is there anything to lose face about?

Get this Gambia: children learn what they see, feel and hear in their environment. Look at the environment closely, both the private and public environments, and tell me if you like what you see; if it could give us otherwise. Why blame children. Look thoroughly inside.

I stand with this innocent girl.