By Dauda Buanie Sheriff
The ‘We against Them’ has been an existential issue from the days of Jericho as recorded in the book of Joshua (Chap. 5:13) to the time you are reading this work. I am pretty sure it is happening in your current environment.
In the Qur’an, Surah 109 (”Al-Kaafiroon”) is one of the Surahs that can be justifiably identified to have categorized certain people against others. Ayat 6 reads “Lakum deenukum waliya deeni (For you is your religion, and for me is my religion).”
Moreover, the synoptic Gospels in Mathew 12:30, Luke 9:50 and Mark 9:40 respectively attribute the following quote to Christ “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with Me scatters” (Mathew 12:30), as well as its contrapositive, “Whoever is not against us is for us” (Luke 9:50; Mark 9:40).
Wikipedia defines these expressions as “political communications.” The expression, “You’re either with us, or against us,” and similar variations are used to depict situations as being polarized and to force witnesses, bystanders or others unaligned with some form of pre-existing conflict to either become allies of the speaking party or lose favor. The implied consequence of not joining the team effort is to be deemed an enemy. An example is the statement of the former US President George W. Bush , who said after 9/11 at the launch of his anti-terrorism campaign in the form “Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.”
The statement generally is a descriptive statement identifying the beliefs of the speaker(s), and thus states a basic assumption, not a logical conclusion. It may also be interpreted as a speech act. Sometimes, it is interpreted as a splitting or a false dilemma which is an informal fallacy.
Some see the statement as a way of persuading others to choose sides in a conflict which does not allow the position of neutrality. Only when there are no alternatives like a middle ground does the expressions hold validity as a logical conclusion. The expressions are a form of argumentation.
The practical definition of this expression according to this work is, a fallacy-alike statement made with the intention to influence the decision of someone for the purpose of gaining ethnocentric, socio-economic and political favor from persons of all walks of life.
As being mentioned in the brief historicity with focus on religious grounds, many political propagandists have from the time of Julius Caesar to now made this statement to win people at all cost to buy their political philosophies.
Domesticating this expression to Sierra Leone, with some examplification, it can be reasonably justifiable to say the “we against them syndrome” is a reason for most or almost all the socio-economic and political brouhaha in Sierra Leone.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Report opines grievance of the provincial people feeling being left out of the governance system in the country was a critical factor that was responsible for the eleven-year-brutal-war that led to the lost of many human resources and valuable assets.
I am not going deep into Professor Joe A.D Alie’s history of Sierra Leone books that validated a Portuguese to have founded Sierra Leone when our predecessors where already inhabitants along the coastal lands. The reason I am going to avoid those history books is for my elders not to tell me DSB you were not formed in your father’s testicles during the days of the Margais, Siaka Stevens and Momoh.
Most of my references are going to be contemporary because if it is being challenged by professionals or self-styled academics, I would be in better footings to defend pragmatically or balance “Joesomatically” (tactically).
Contemporaneous political tensions in this country cannot be disassociated from the beliefs of this ‘we against them’ syndrome. After the 2018 or in fact before the 2018 Presidential and parliamentary elections in Sierra Leone, members of the traditional Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) and the All People’s Congress (APC) had already seen each other as ‘target’ hence manufacturing ethnocentric and socio-economic and political grievances in minds more especially when South-Easterners had already felt been left out of the limited socio-economic and political equation of the country. Similar or very close to similar thing that the TRC Report captured after the insurgent.
The manifestation of “we against them syndrome” was almost everywhere in the country. Even the 2018 political slogans (PAOPA and TOLONGBO) are testimonials. The grudge after the elections finally gave births to violence sporadically across the country with my Kenematonians on the spotlight. The Kenema people throughout the President Koroma’s (erstwhile) era were felt marginalized from getting a stake in the country’s economy to a point of almost losing its ‘third capital city’ status. They also believed that AIG Caro Kamara was assigned against them to suppress their fundamental rights. The post elections victory parade of ‘SLPPiers’ in Kenema that also led to destruction of assets and allegedly reported that people were asking for the AIG Caro Kamara’s head was sardonically comical. What was more interesting to me is that, Caro Kamara is a Sunny Boy of Holy Trinity Secondary school, Kenema.
It was fantamagloriously (don’t dash for your dictionary; it’s a “Gbatimarian” compendium of fantastic, marvelous and glorious) interesting to hear from Andrew Lavalie of Institute of Governance Report (IGR) that their latest findings have proven that Kenema District is more appreciative of the current modus operandi of the Sierra Leone Police than any other part of the country. What?! Wow! My people are superb.
I have stayed not much in the provinces for the past four-five years. I have enjoyed the “we against them syndrome” in the capital city of Sierra Leone more than all my years I spent in Kenema before gaining admission into the Nevada Summit of Admiration traditionally known as Fourah Bay College (FBC) for tertiary education. It is in Freetown that I have felt harsher tribal discrimination. I have been given notice at a particular domicile because I’m not their tribal person. My guys, have suffered alike circumstances up to three times at different places. Freetonians can quickly identify you to be with them or against them from your name and even their krio pronunciation. Interestingly sardonic! Shaking my head.
This expression has caused more problems than good in Sierra Leonean lives but it’s almost always becoming greener. The Pademba Road attempted Prison break, Tombo riot, Lunsar riot and the recently Makeni electricity power generator relocation cantankerous that reportedly led to lost of lives and destruction of properties are all logically consistent with the bitterness that this expression brings to minds of more especially the gullible people.
Residents of these various destinations are superficially identified as fanatic APC supporters. It’s inarguably true that they are almost always aggrieved nowadays simply thinking ‘theirs’ is no longer in power and thus, it would be less likely for the Government to consider them in the disbursements of the limited socio-economic resources of the country even though the government is trying harder to enhance equity in the distribution of the state resources.
The “we against them syndrome” has narrow-mindedly affected elites to stop thinking beyond their comfort zones. This expression has eaten into the socio-economic and political developmental fabrics of many good deals. Even the Civil Rights movements are victims of this circumstance. Some of our Civil Society Organizations are emotionally attached to the political doctrines of these two Political Parties to a point that their modus operandi in advocacy works have been perceived by critical minds as opposition against government civil society activism.
It will be more than a PhD-alike-thesis to write on the negativity of the “we against them syndrome” on Sierra Leone. As one of the thinkers who think beyond their normal thinking capacity, I want to seize this opportunity through this medium to talk to the ‘youth-ship’ of this country to embrace constructive radicalism and to ditch all form of negativism that have been existential impediments to our individual and country’s growth respectively.
It is high time we proved to those who think we should be future leaders that we are now ready to lead. Accepting being future leaders has justifiably been a reason for our slow growth and leadership in this country.
It should not be me or we against you or you against me, it should be I am here because of you “Ubuntu” and it should be for Sierra Leone, the land that we Love.
Reach Gbatima at firstname.lastname@example.org or +2327628189