Running Away From Shadows


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“Don’t worry, nothing will happen to her; I’m a genuine taxi driver,” a taxi driver said to me at 5am this morning when I went to see my wife off. I had opened the car door for her and peeped inside to see whether there was space.

The driver had thought that I was checking to see whether it was that driver who is accused of kidnapping women in the urban areas these days. In actual fact, that was far from my mind. I just wanted to check for space.

The comment however brought back to me the fear that has permeated Gambians recently. There is bottled-up fear, anger, frustration and indignation in many citizens. This is borne out of successive failures of governments, society, and… just everyone.

I was then reminded of the horrible incident that happened in Busumbala a few days ago. This was a mob attacking two gentlemen they mistook for Nigerian child traffickers. One of the men tried desperately to explain but his pleas fell on deaf ears. He was mercilessly beaten and is currently hospitalized.

What has happened to the ‘peaceful’ people of the Gambia? A people that was so proud of the cliché ‘Gambia no problem!’ Perhaps it is that ‘no problem’ which is landing us in trouble now. But, diagnosing the malaise of the Gambian society doesn’t have to go far. The people have been so battered by a repressive government till they mustered the courage to change it only to land on the laps of an impotent one.

Their cries for justice, redress, protection, safety, and security have been like one who is beating a dead horse. Many have lost hope and have become afraid. They live in constant fear. You know what happens when people keep their fear inside for too long? They become violent and very aggressive.

It’s like a child who has suffered for too long at the hands of a bully. Any day that child musters the courage to stand up to (and it doesn’t have to be the bully; it can be anyone, call it transference) s/he may cause a lot of damage or harm to that person.

I do not know much about psychology my “PhD” was not on that; my PhD was on…. never mind, it doesn’t matter lol… But I trust that Alagie Saidybarrow and Mariama Samateh can help on this. What is the correlation between fear and aggression or violence?

You see, I am afraid, I am angry, I am worried, I am concerned, I am pessimistic in the future. All these feelings mixed up so much that I can’t describe my condition anymore. I think I should simply say that I am lost.

I always ask myself this question, who is to blame for all this? My answer mostly starts with self… what have I done to make the situation better? Did I do enough? Have I left something unsaid when it could have served a purpose? Or, have I said something that exacerbated the situation? Is there something I could have done better to have more impact?

Then my mind goes on to encircle the main actors: the GOVERNMENT. You see, sometimes, I think the government is way over their heads. They seem to have no clear cut idea how to resolve some of the many issues happening in the country.

This is a dangerous situation because when someone is lost like that, they may lash out and whoever is unfortunate to be within striking range, you are gone!

I do believe that we need help urgently to calm the situation down with some soothing balm; how that will be, I haven’t the fuggiest. I just know that the need has never been more urgent!



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