Under my UmbrellaIn our daily lives, we use several different objects that perform certain functions to make life easier. We use a vehicle to drive to places, a phone to make calls, and a pen to write. What happens when a phone stops performing the function of making calls? Should we still consider it a phone or something else? What happens when a vehicle is now sitting on blocks in the middle of your compound and kids are using it for driving simulation? Should we still consider it a vehicle or a toy for the kids?

It’s been raining here and I’ve been using my umbrella to protect me from the rain. My umbrella performs the function of keeping me dry to a degree when the rain is pouring. When opened, the umbrella’s metal spokes forms an anchor for the waterproof material attached to them to protect me from the rain. In sum, my umbrella performs the function of protecting me from the rain.

But if the waterproof material is ripped off from my umbrella leaving the handle and frame, should I still call it an umbrella? If I open the spokes, put my umbrella over my head, walk into the rain, I will surely get drenched. Should I continue to call this object that can no longer protect me from the rain an umbrella?

Generally, we all do. We may say that the umbrella is broken, but we will still call it an umbrella even though it’s no longer performing the function of an umbrella. Granted it was once an umbrella, but it has now ceased to function as one. Then what is it now? It’s definitely something.

When Jammeh came to power through a coup in 1994, he claimed to be this “huge umbrella” that can stretch from one end of the sky to the other; promised to protect Gambians from the “rains” of corruption, abuse of power, and everything else that the former government was doing wrong. He called them rats, arrested them, and confiscated their properties. He assured Gambians that he was the “Umbrella” for them and they will never be drenched by corruption again.

But when the storms came, Gambians found themselves drenched in blood from the torture and killings, shaking like a leaf from fear, and getting washed away into the Atlantic Ocean by the flood waters. As it turned out, that “huge umbrella” covering the sky from one end to the other, never had a waterproof material attached to the spokes. It has been just the handle and naked spokes all the while. How come the majority never took a second to look up?

Fast forward to now, that umbrella is being collapsed on Gambians and the spokes are violently poking their skulls. Every aspect of their lives is being altered on a daily basis. Day has become night and right has become wrong. God has become man and religion has become a tool. Fundamentally, things are in reverse order. But it is forbidden to talk about it or attempt to address the issues. A functional umbrella is the doctor’s order, if Gambians want protection.

By Momodou Ndow