The Impact of Language on National Reconciliation…



The Impact of Language on National Reconciliation…

There is no doubt that language is not only the vehicle of culture, but of ideas as well. As we know that ideas rule the world in the ultimate analyses, it is important therefore to couch our language(s) whenever in a way that promotes cohesion, unity and reconciliation. The idea that languages play a fundamental part in shaping a society’s outlook towards a particular issue (or even people) is not farfetched. One has only to look at the recent history of the world to see that language plays a key role in either causing great harm; or, averting it.

Friedich Nietzsche, recognizing the power of language, once wrote: ‘Governments that seek absolute power over the groups they control use language as a principal support…’  In democratic societies, those in power maintain a duty of care towards the public, which amongst other things, include using language fairly and prodigiously, choosing words that unite and bridge communities rather than incite hatred and division. In the same vein, the use of vile language by a group of individuals – be they religiously inclined or otherwise – has the potential of causing a lot of harm to society. That is why the government of the Gambia, while protecting the rights to free speech, must seek to manage the way in which the media is used.

Political rhetoric like that of Marton Stride, member of the Swedish far right party forced to resign last month after referring to Muslims as not being ‘fully human’, is the antithesis of the principles of human dignity and civic virtue whereupon secular ideals have been constructed. We must be cautioned against the growing tide of hateful rhetoric lest semantic spur violence against vulnerable groups within society. We must also seek to manage the way our own ‘Marton Strides’ speak on our airwaves and prevent them from inciting violence.

Within this context, the news that your Cabinet in a meeting urged the minister of Information, Communication and Communication Infrastructure to engage the regulators and owners of radio and other media outlet to come up with mechanisms to ensure that no one uses their platform to incite hatred and violence is indeed commendable. Follow-ups should be made so that this does not only remain a rhetoric but is actually implemented. We must inculcate the culture of tolerance and reconciliation to move on. We must progress collectively.

Have a Good day Mr President…

Tha Scribbler Bah

A Concerned Citizen


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