We are born into the world with hopes and dreams. We have a spirit, a soul and a physical body with form. We don’t determine how we look, how tall we grow, the language we speak, which part of the world we are born or the colour of our skin. All these are predestined and unknown before we are born.
Yet, there are other unknowns, which happen upon us as we travel through life, undetermined by us and sometimes unacceptable to us. Things like our ancestry, our lineage, our family. We readily accept these things with time because there is nothing we can do to change them. Again, we become willing participants in a plot of life, with limited influence over how that very life pans out.
Sometimes we hope, the hope is fulfilled in whichever manner or form. Sometimes we dream, and the dream is realized. We perceive someone worthy of our recognition, who is covertly guiding our dreams, our ways and our lives overall. We seek to define Him, to know Him and even to find Him, wherever He is.
Our lives are the better for His guidance. To acknowledge that He exists and that we are not alone in the world that continues to fill us with unanswered questions, becomes the reason for hope. And we are imbued with the audacity to hope. We call Him God, Lord, gods, and nature, according to an atheist friend of mine. When I asked him who created nature, my friend did not seem very pleased with my line of enquiry so I ceased to prod further. Whatever He is called, He is the Perfect Planner.
Take this example; when a girl child with all the hope in the world accidentally falls pregnant along the way, the entire family is disappointed in her. Worse happens when she is the first born. The fear that her siblings would emulate her act and perpetuate her shame, is foremost in the minds of her parents. For that very reason, their instant reaction is to punish her. They may send her away to the village to stay with her grandparents and if they don’t have a village, as most city folks don’t, they would send her somewhere distant to live among her other relatives to conceal her disgrace, at least from the sight of peering neighbors.
As unexpected as any unplanned pregnancy, the girl child is confronted with the worst vicissitude of life, that of losing hope. In all aspects, she may appear normal to put up a face. Yet due to her pregnancy, she is the bane of society. Judgment is passed freely, and without consideration to whatever feelings there are in her. She is pushed to the wall as the object of condescension, scorn and mockery.
Her dreams fade in the distant fields of fertile imagination with no hope to nourish them. She made a mistake, and she can rightly afford to, because she is young. Yet society will pounce at her, in naivety and insularity. We never stop to ask who is in control. That even the promiscuous amongst us, do not will themselves to be pregnant outside of wedlock. That the girl child is not in control of her life and neither are her parents. She is merely fulfilling her destiny.
And then her infant grows up with the stigma of her birth hanging over her head. People, including her own family, seize upon her every wrong move. They remind her in no subtle ways about her inferiority. Ruthlessly, they tear her apart even without meaning to sometimes. Emotionally and psychologically, she is the walking dead-devoid of human feelings.
Ashamed by the circumstances of her birth. Encouraged by her fallen mother. She works hard, endures stigmatization, humiliation and ridicule by society. She becomes somebody someday by God’s will. Then, she is everybody’s child. Her proud mother is queen after being rebuked by society as a bane. She is virtuous and exalted. She basks in her glory, that God through her daughter, had answered her prayer. All because the daughter turned out to be prosperous and ‘very damaged’-if I may add. What ignorance?
What about the multitude others who have been so stigmatized and traumatized by that stigmatization that they turn to be the very bane of society their mum was once called. What is the measure of prosperity? Is it wealth in abundance or is the content of one’s character as Martin Luther King once asked to be judged by? What effects our ignorance and little mindedness bears in God’s larger purpose and will for us all?
The word of God is just even if most people are unjust. We don’t program our lives. We don’t make things happen. We cannot design our future, allocate our sustenance, will ourselves to succeed. In short, we don’t have any control over our lives. Hard work is most laudable but it is not the only recipe for success.
We cannot succeed by dint of our efforts, by our intelligence, by favor or by cunning-even if it appears that way to some. It is not contingent on that. It is banal and erroneous to think that way. We succeed because Someone out there programmed our lives and willed us towards success by our associations with people, by our circumstances in life, dire as they may appear to us at first, and of course the opportunities that come our way. Simple!
Everybody wish for a good life. A peaceful, untainted, prosperous life. Everything but the contrary. In order to live our lives and not just exist as a humans, we must ask the questions why? Why were we born? For what reason, to do what, and achieve what? etc… But in order to succeed in life, we must never ask God why? Because His Knowledge is beyond us in capacity and clarity. As we trudge through life, each misstep is a guiding step towards the next level, each success is meant to increase our humility, each failure is an opportunity to do better next time around and each milestone is phase to the next milestone. Till we meet our death…
The call for justice my son, is the core of our existence as human beings. There can be neither peace nor progress or prosperity without justice. Probity, accountability and transparency are key to any justice system. These are all creeds we aspire towards and they formed a fundamental part in the tenets of our nation for both the first and second republics. Yet we cannot seek justice without seeking to find Him. When we seek God in our words and in our actions, concurrently, we seek the nucleus of justice, for He is Just!
A thief may steal his way to riches and perpetual affluence. His success story may herald glad tidings to the weak ones amongst us, enticed by the glamour and glitz of a flamboyant lifestyle. But what is affluence where there is no peace. The bedrock of peace being a clear conscience- a clear conscience, a thief does not have!
And what is peace without justice? Hence a thief is forever a thief. Even amongst his progeny, he is a thief. His name stays…
Thus where lies hope, when the hearts are so weak. When overnight riches is what we seek. When hard work and toil is the least of our dispensations as we plan and scheme to yield the most, with limited exertion. How many are there who work for international organizations and even for mere stores in the advanced world who complain about ‘too much work’, or nag about, ‘toubab mom lum la feye dina la koh ligaye lor’.
What is this carp about ‘harliss dunj kor ligaye, denj kor lijanti’?
We continue to hope that our lives are free from anxiety, from distress and from the evils of the world. We hope that when we work hard enough, when we are cautious enough with money, with people and with our health, for example, that we would not be visited by pain, shame, distress and ill-health to name but a few. That we would live a stress-free existence guided by the simplistic notion of good and bad karmas. That we would live in a just society where effort is recognized as most laudable, where hard work pays hard money, where good people are given due recognition and where the criminals are barred from existing with humanity.
“Money can’t buy your life” were Bob Marley’s famous last words. We don’t have to reach the ends of our lives’ journeys to arrive at such an ordinary truth. All we need do is let the Just One guide us in justice through our words and our deeds, as described in our national anthem, “Let justice guide our actions towards the common good, and join our diverse peoples to prove man’s brotherhood!” Finally, we never ask God Why? For we are not meant to know! This is just a simple soliloquy…
by Rohey Samba
Rohey Samba is a Gambian writer and publisher of three anthologies of poems namely, Mother Gambia…Beats, Behind My Back and Heart Songs.