Njundu Drammeh

I miss my tapalapa but I stand with the bakers (not the bakery owners)

“I disagree with all what you”, Voltaire shouted, “but I will defend to my death you right to say it”. This is supposed to be the true attitude of a democrat or a believer in human rights. Respecting, not accepting, the other person’s actions or opinion however disagreeable we may find it.

Not so such an attitude when I look at the presence atmosphere, characterised by derision and ridicule, within which we have situated the strike by the bakers. It is “us” vs “them”; tragic, especially that the “them” are an integral part of “us”. The “them” aren’t your bourgeoisie: they are workers, the lumpen proletariat who live on a wage while other eat off the sweat of their brows. Unfortunately, the “us” see the “them” as the villain of the piece, the deniers of their breakfast.

Thus, it weakens the bond, and in the long run the ability to hold duty bearers accountable, when right holders, regardless the right being fought for, do not have fellow feeling for each other, are unwilling to hold the fort for the other, cannot see the greater struggle and picture in the other’s mini struggle, cannot appreciate the rationale of the other struggle. It gives the duty bearer a sense of triumph and the upper hand when right holders chide, ridicule, lampoon, belittle, minimalise, undermine and castigate each other for standing up instead of closing ranks and supporting and encouraging. And we wonder why other right holders look askance when we take on the power that be.

The chiding and ridiculing the bakers are receiving from consumers, fellow right holders, is mind boggling and piteous. Their protest is being belittled because the greater majority is suffering by their action. We are all looking at the effect; none or very few are considering the cause, the “why” of the strike. And the “why” is unimportant to us because we are affected. But must it be? Must it not be that we band together and ask that the Government reconsiders its decision because some people’s livelihoods are being affected, a right to survival or rather freedom from want?

The One Dalasi reduction might be very insignificant for one to cry over but a whole family of six might have their livelihood hanging on that dalasi. A child’s education, health, clothing, survival might be hanging on that dalasi. A whole life might be dependent on that dalasi. So we ought to tread careful. The justification for the strike might be laughable to us but it is someone’s justification, to be respected from that person’s perspective. We can decide not to support their cause; but to lampoon would be out of order.

Come to think of it, if a group of people are downing their tools just to recover a dalasi,.then there is very much significance to that dalasi. It shows we should pay attention to this sector, to the conditions of the workers there, to the wage the workers receive.

True, man does not live on bread alone. But truer still bread is not prepared or baked from flour alone.

I stand with the bakers, because them and I are part of the same class, right holders, whose lives are tied to the same strand. If I don’t stand with them, who will stand with me when the State ride roughshod over my rights?