Alagi Yorro Jallow

Everywhere you turn to on Facebook these days, there are folks arguing for ignorance as the most strategic pathway to Gambian people distinguished scholar Niyi Osundare once published a sarcastic essay on the uses of ignorance. It may be time for Prof to dust up that essay again for those so-called Facebook clicktivists who are intellectually challenged and suffer from intellectual menopause to stop romanticize ignorance and anti-intellectualism.

The argument in support of ignorance is simple. It erroneously divorces practice from knowledge. So, the narrative goes that intellectualism is an alienated beast that has and should have nothing to do with the life of the people – especially in the grassroots and in our villages. Such narratives conclude with a romanization of ignorance which they disguise as practical knowledge of the terrain, connection with the folks, as opposed to alienated and disconnected intellectualism. See part two of my essay on the beautification of Ignorance.

Let me state this from the get-go: No one has a monopoly on intellect; on knowledge or on access to historical facts and figures. Let me also repeat an uncomfortable fact: History is no longer written by the victors/status quo or those connected/beholden to the status quo thus with access to social and traditional media. Technology and the internet have given persons previously “hunted” the ability to outwit the erstwhile “hunters” and do so much quicker and with an aplomb that leaves said “hunters” flat-footed and lashing out in anger and frustration!

History is a combination of the good, the bad and the ugly that humans are capable of doing. Calling out the bad and the ugly is not an attempt at “stoking bad memories….” – even though it may be for some – their cross to bear.  Similarly, defaulting to the “good” that’s predicated on half-truths, mischaracterizations and/or incomplete information – at the expense of easily-accessed counter-narratives simply exposed one to ridicule – present politicians included.

Characterization of any society’s history – good, bad and/or ugly – is a function of where one stands and their choice. Taking the Gambia back to Yahya Jammeh and Adama Barrow “golden era” means something entirely different to Gambians as it does to so-called Facebook activist, bigots, sexists, tribalists, misogynists, so-called feminists, and xenophobes. This same logic applies to Africa.

To wit: Not everyone thinks of African founding fathers as the “all-conquering founding father who ‘fought’ and/or ‘led’ Africa fight for independence; for example, Leopold Senghor was a despot and as well as all other politicians are in over their head – all these my opinions!

Aside from offering common courtesy, basic civility and factual non-libelous and/non-slanderous characterizations, I don’t owe anyone anything when I choose (and it IS a choice) to write a counter to something they’ve posted in the public domain.

 I am on record pushing back, oftentimes acerbically, against political leaders and others with public domain profiles i.e. opinions and thoughts in the public domain.

I don’t remember anyone coming to my wall and asking me “to what end” – my rebuttals are – or offering that it “would have been prudent to first engage (fill in name of author/writer) before publishing a rebuttal….” No one!

Michelle Obama’s “BECOMING” was the subject of concerted and sustained pushback by some of the same people now castigating critics concerted and sustained questioning of writers whose views these same critics of Obama are now fawning over.

I say hypocrisy! Last I checked, no one owns any “lanes” on social media so the idea of telling who to “stick to his or her lane” is just silly.

 Finally, I have no “malice” towards someone whose works I have questioned – or having “more than just citation beef” with a person whose views are in the public domain is not only truthful, it is disrespectful – of me and what motivates me to write. It is also absolutely rude and classless – to plagiarized or lift someone’s work without proper citation for political expediency.

– It is beyond strange, but more importantly, revealing when someone has to create a pseudo account to engage their critics. – It is equally telling when that same person sees an exchange involving patently false and inaccurate information – about an incident they are intimately familiar with – being peddled – yet chooses to remain silent even as the falsehood continue to be peddled!

– There is a level of vindication when someone (“blocked”) chooses to “unfriend” and/or” block” someone, not because of a disrespectful epithet-laced exchange; but because of fundamental differences of opinion and importantly, facts, including questioning an assertion or claim the “blocked” cannot counter! Can you say weak?

– If one is good at what they do, they should not be worried if someone challenges their works. If anything, tis this relentless public scrutiny, peer review if you may, that makes one better – at least makes me better. As I’ve repeatedly pointed out:  – My lane is on my wall – and on any topic I feel compelled to write about or comment on – including topics I happen across in the public domain.

 Questioning the veracity of someone’s (public) works is not only necessary, it is the right thing to do. – If you come at me, have your facts straight because you know me, I will call you out without blinking an eye – especially if you spout half-baked argument.