Alagi Yorro Jallow

Fatoumatta, who are these puppeteers and puppets causing stress and anxiety to the people. Almost every issue of the Gambia comes with a fusillade against the ways identity politics threaten civic discourse. Identity politics is a means of political exclusion. Identity politics threaten democratic debate when they become a means of shutting down any comment that does not grow entirely out of experience.

Critics of identity politics are right that zealousness in protecting identities can itself become repressive. Identity politics become dangerous when they become an argument for exclusion.

Fatoumatta, thoughts, expression and questioning are now more likely to be silenced in the excess of identity politics, where group-think declarations have replaced class as the key political dividers.

The primary identity of politicians in our system is their political party and view of Gambian identity, cloaked in the language of patriotism, by an emphasis on values, as if these are both self-evident and distinguishable from more universal values of political and civil rights.

Fatoumatta, sometimes other identities will seem more important, as values are based upon multiculturalism, which acknowledges that contemporary society is a mosaic of different and overlapping identities and communities. It is possible to argue that respect for human rights is a universal value, while ignoring the question whether the Gambian law treats all citizens values equally, – which goes far beyond the views of their party

Yet one of the worst examples of identity politics came from National Assembly Question and Answer appearances of State Ministers to clarify fundamental national affecting the Gambian people before Parliamentarians.

Unfortunately, the most dangerous examples of exclusion come from those who clam to speak for “the people”, a term which itself depends upon a certain version of identity. The populists who attack identity politics do so while creating their own, limited image of national identity, Fatoumatta.

Fatoumatta: Another act of somersaulting in glass houses? We, Gambians pronounce before thinking; act before thinking – before contemplating the ‘trajectory’ of action-reaction; reaction-counter-reaction.

Was it Sir Isaac Newton who said, ‘for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction”? Why the saber-rattling? What explains current over-reactions to actions? Democracy – without ‘democrats’? Contempt; for the rule of law and public policy? A catastrophic failure of strategy? It used to be said, so very often: ‘people who stay in glass houses should not throw stones’. Unless they have carefully thought; action-reaction? We are locked in a political deathtrap. ‘There is an epidemic of anxiety and despair upon our country. Fatoumatta !!!