The Gambia is blessed with a multitude of men and women with lofty mental faculties such as public intellectuals and so-called proclaimed activists, employed in government agencies, private entities, or the world of politics where they are given a seat of esteem and power.

Ergo, it is only right to conclude that our country is equipped with trusted sages whose economic ingenuities, leadership dexterities and spiritual differences​ could gladly put our country at the peak of moral and socio-economic progress in a way where equity and equality transcends according to the “rule of law,” which is the very foundation of democracy.

Our tragedy is the racket in the public domain of worthless opinions urged by respectable voices who are in truth nothing more than prostitutes recommending the lies of their current clients as truth. That civic noise of intellectual vandals drowns out the few, authentic voices of reason and pushes nations towards the precipice of destruction.

Every day, self-proclaimed activists without causes, a multitude of thinkers, reporters, writers, so-called public intellectuals, mentors, take to the media to sell their ethnic interests as national, to argue the virtues of some politicians over the other.

In suing for sympathy for their candidates, the most honest argument they can genuinely make is often ‘My thief is better than yours,’ but no: for self-interest, common thieves are dressed up as statesmen and presented as messiahs to deluded nations that see blood plainly and drink it as milk.

A clear case of those who are willing to be lost falling into the hands of those willing to sell them out, which is why the pimping of intellect is the public intellectual’s high crime.

However, sad to say, those so-called public intellectuals and human rights activists-turned-politicians become political gamblers and power freaks since the Gambia became a democracy.

In the politics of the Gambia, there is no allowance for neutrality. During Yahya Jammeh’s crisis of rule, anyone who announced that he belonged to no political party was branded a ‘fence sitter’ – the alias for a traitor.

A lame must be seen crawling. You cannot claim to be lame and be seen limping. The blind must be completely blind and – because the African folklore would insist the one who is incompletely blind will eventually stoke a war and wreck the community with strifes.

One is either a patriot fighting for his people or a traitor working for the enemy; there is no fence at the frontline for anyone to sit on. One can see that the African folklore concept of colour recognises only three: white, black, and red.

Others have no name. White is fresh, right, and pleasant; Black is dark and foreboding; the third option, Red, is what it universally is – it means danger, war, and blood. When one combines all the colors, in dress and character, one has become that crossroads god to be worshipped with doubts and suspicion.

There is a creature in the African folklore animal farm that joins birds to fly at night and also does what rats do in the daytime. It represents unclearness, double identity – and one wonder if that is why it is a bird of the night and a primary ingredient for malevolent sacrifices and other ritual acts.

Those benevolent and malevolence political activists turned political gamblers; they commit themselves to accrue their campaign losses through the clever use of illegal resources to become echo-chambers and agitators for extrinsic rewards as heroes and heroines.

They take advantage of slandering and persecuting their inimical political foes, which is the by-product of sham empathy and fraudulent performances​ in public service.

In time, their credibility and integrity have been placed under deplorable criticism because of their grotesque acts of authoritarian control, that is, a despotic shift leading to the “rule of men.”

Furthermore, when we say the rule of men, we mean “tyranny, or despotism, or oligarchy, that is a government of the few.” Any means they use, however unlawful, maybe justifiably employed to maintain a stable government, which is characterised by political cunning or bad faith.

Now, by carefully observing how the new government works today, the question is as follows: Are we under the reign of the “rule of law” or under the “rule of men?”.

Moreover, which of the two is the most reliable system for delivering a safe, secure, and progressive Gambia? Remember, “prudence lies in knowing how to distinguish the best between the degrees of justifiability in judging things and in choosing the least justified!”

Human Rights activists and groups to advance human rights have long been hijacked by self-appointed guardians of the “truth” whose definition of free speech is censoring, shouting down, or even physically assaulting those who might disagree.

Actual, military generals from Alexander Hamilton, Ulysses S Grant, Arthur MacArthur Jr., and George S. Patton were known to choose their battles. Nevertheless, they never refrained from any war that captured the expediency of the moment, and they never wavered waspishly like hypocrites do when power speaks to the worst impulses of man.

Equally valid, that man evolves with time because the only change is change itself. So, a man in his evolutionary mode must study his environment and adjust to survive.

However, does that survival mean the selling of one’s conscience for body and soul to be at peace? When a man’s conscience is sold to the highest bidder, what else is left? Integrity, what integrity?

Today, one is an activist, and the next day he or she authored a sycophantic parody of a certified rogue. Yesterday, he or she was badmouthing corrupt men from the crocodile-infested swathes of the society, and today, he or she is dining with suspected rogues from the croc-infested regions in rented chic five-star hotels, drinking fine wine, gulping down “Benachin, Super- kanga, Ebbeh,” beautiful Jollof gals, rubbing shoulders with murderers, bank robbers, and politicians who wire billions from the collective till to the Bank of America in plain “error”!

Tell me, how does Jaliba play fine, Kora? Of course, with a fine Balafon and Djembe. We know, beautiful parodies will be accompanied by creative prose and eloquent narrative to die for a godfather, but will it include all the missing links in the jigsaw puzzle?

Will the reader enjoy a moment with social media darling, Aljazeera giving State House some vibes? Will the metaphor stay true to its hype?

Hardly surprising that there is a growing backlash. The tragedy, though, is that the values of genuine human rights activism have been degraded by these, some malicious, some misguided pretenders. Human rights are not left-wing or right-wing; they are universal.

Everyone is entitled to freedom from torture, slavery, and has the right not to be imprisoned without a fair trial. We glad there are organisations and brave individuals who challenge human rights violations wherever they occur irrespective of political tribalism.

By Alagi Yorro Jallow

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