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Sovereignty, What Sovereignty? By Alagie Barrow

I have seen many Gambians take umbrage at the joint statement issued by the various Western embassies in The Gambia. Ordinarily, I too would have taken exception at the supposed meddling in the internal matters of our nation but I can’t. In fact, I welcome it.

I hope the supposed meddling serves to remind us that until we get our house in order, others will continue to tell us how to do so. Our elders did say that “If your mouth is in someone else’s kitchen, it cannot get its independence.” Never mind that globalization has eroded whatever sovereign concept willfully poor countries in Africa still lay claim to. Our mouths are still in the kitchens of the Global North!

The Gambia depends on others for its very survival. Someone remind the very honorable members that the house they meet in was also donated. There is not a single national effort we can realistically point out to and say it’s Gambian initiated, Gambian funded, Gambian executed and successfully maintained! I hearken back to the euphoria that greeted our government when they went hat in hand to Brussels and came back home with a pledge of a little over a billion. It was painful to see how the descendants of a once proud people, who have since divested themselves of such pride, lined up and welcomed our chief beggars as they grinned in accomplishment! We look down on the beggars on the streets and even regard some of them lazy but somehow, we miss our own begging and inability to do anything on our own. We were so happy that our begging was successful!

Sovereignty is defined as the ability of a nation to determine its own destiny without any meddling from outsiders. It means you have total control over your own affairs! There’s not a single aspect of our lives in The Gambia that we have total control over. So what sovereignty are my people claiming? Again, forget that whatever little sovereignty we could have laid claim to is mired in, and wired to internationalism and globalization. When you disaggregate the concept of sovereignty itself, we certainly have little political, legal or economic, and as being painfully demonstrated by a few parliamentary renegades, popular sovereignty we can realistically lay claim to.

I wish I too could tell other nations to bite the dust and stay out of our business but I look around and realize that our business is their business because our very survival is in their hands! As opposed to being pissed, I’m ashamed that I cannot tell them off because my mouth is in their kitchen. Only if we had listened to our elders. If I had my way, our collective umbrage would be channeled into seeking ways to take our mouths out of their kitchen so we can be truly sovereign. But alas, my friend Njundu insists shame hasn’t died, but I hope we can meet halfway and agree that shame is in a vegetative state in The Gambia!

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