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Stop Mocking OJ: It is Immoral to Talk Negatively About a Dead Person

“Oh Muslims Becareful About the Death of OJ Jallow: Was He A Muslim Nuh, Do Not Exchange Your Deen With Anything Else.”

Fatoumatta: Indeed, in the Gambia, there was a country. There was a country full of stability, peace, and unity where the citizens were patriotic, tolerant, united, and respected everyone irrespective of all sorts of differences. However, unfortunately, the situation seems to be worsening daily to the extent that everything is now being viewed along Muslim-Christian and Fula. Mandinka, Jola, Serere, Wolof, and Sarahule’s points of view. That is not pleasing everyone is exploring ethnic-religious reasoning and perspectives.

I am unsurprised, for the country’s situation has prompted ethnic and religious nationalism claims and motivations. This morning, I checked on messages on a particular Whatsapp forum to read and listen to updates. To my utmost bewilderment, the audios of Abdoulie Fatty and the comment section were so irritating and surprising that I had no option but to close WhatsApp for a while; perhaps, I might recover from the shock. The malicious comment, bigotry, hatred, and the rain of abuses were so unbearable.

So many people, instead of sympathizing with the man who had sacrificed his whole life to the service of the Gambia until his death. A man whose life reminds us why we value sacrifice, a man dubbed a Gambian hero for his public service and vibrant political career, and vivid life when the whole of Gambia is honoring and praising OJ so much for his sacrifice and patriotic duty to the country and its challenges over the past two decades. OJ gave his life for the most authentic ultimate good of the Gambia so that we enjoy peace and freedom in the Gambia. However, today, some people believed to be educated in Islamic theology or “Ulemas” were raining curses upon the honorable gentleman Omar Amadou Jallow (OJ). Is there a need for that?

Fatoumatta: That is not good. If you can not sympathize with the passing of OJ, then you should keep mute. I feel for us as a nation. OJ’s hands are clean. His hands are not stained with blood. He was a good man who contributed immensely to democratizing the Gambia and offering office opportunities amongst his critics and haters. He was not miserly or “eating alone” while in government. He is a hero. He is not a villain. This vilification must stop. OJ was a visionary leader that is fully appreciated when he is no longer with us. This is not fair at all. Let no one play God. Alhaji Omar Amadou Jallow was a success and an achiever by all standards. He is a lucky man. May God save us from us.

Fatoumatta: People grieve in many different ways over someone’s death and mourn the dead the way they like when someone dies. It is usual for people to mourn every death, but the living must draw the proper lessons from the lives of those who have passed away. That makes our society progress and builds peace in our community. An English saying urges us never to talk ill of the dead. Unfortunately, some make people feel like they have to open their mouths with their itchy fingers on the keyboards spreading hate speech and hurting loved ones after death. We are here to say it is okay to keep processing and talking about these issues if necessary. You may want to choose your audience wisely.

However, you can draw positive lessons from the deceased’s life and history. Depending on your situation, friends or family may not be the best people to support these types of conversations. It would be best if you were not gloating over someone’s death. Decent human beings do not gloat when your enemy falls; when they stumble, do not let your heart rejoice, or the Lord will see and disapprove and turn his wrath away from them.

When someone is removed physically from our lives, there is an impact, no matter how we feel about them. It changes the relationship and can impact our understanding of the past and future. However, even if the hole left in your life is a hole you believed you always wanted, that does not change its emotional impact. You can deeply miss someone you had a complicated relationship with, so permit yourself. The human heart is funny that way.

It is sad for anyone to die, and you speak poorly of them with malign influence. You may have imagined that all those complicated feelings would somehow get resolved once the person died or was entirely out of your life. Nevertheless, there is a good chance that the problematic emotions are still there, even though they are not. You would not be the first or the last. The reality is that the pain of an inappropriate relationship does not die just because a person has died. History is recording files saved for posterity.

You must not care about what kind of divinity, religion, or belief system we ascribe to in death times. In the circumstances such as a death of a patriotic Gambian, the point here is that a senior citizen and former public officer served his country with honor, dedication, and distinction. It would be best to have decorum and countenance during this mourning period, Alhagie Omar Amadou Jallow (OJ), irrespective of your beliefs. Instances like mourning the quintessential senior citizen and political leader provide moments for inner reflection on the frailties of human life. Understanding that, at one point, we may find ourselves on the same path, irrespective of our Islamism, Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Atheism, or any other isms we have fashioned for ourselves.

It is politics, stupid. Furthermore, people make dumb comments. The postings and broadcasting on social media made negative comments about him, his religion, and his politics at OJ’s death. It would be best if you had, and not so much for the optics of gloating on his death. You talk about optics — how something will look to those around you. That does not look right, we say. Think about how that will look to the rest of the world, we say.

As I attempted to move on, I stumbled upon one man’s take on OJ’s passing. A stranger to me, he had broadcasted on social media criticism of OJ. This is certainly not the first time those haters wished badly and gloated to death. For example, they did it to journalists the late Alhagie Sarjo Barrow and the Late Inspector General of Police Alhagie Mamour Jobe. They were seriously pillorized after their death and may not be the last. Moreover, certain political party members dislike their professionalism and political ideas.

Fatoumatta: It is immoral to talk negatively about a dead person. There is a saying: “You become what you associate with.” So if we are talking about the bad qualities of someone, there is just a matter of time before those same bad qualities may creep into your character. Usually, people after death can harm us, and it is a general culture not to speak evil about them.

Can you imagine this WhatsApp message: “Oh Muslims Becareful About the Death of OJ Jallow: Was He A Muslim Nuh, Do Not Exchange Your Deen With Anything Else.”

However, the WhatsApp message and audio from Abdoulie Fatty’s voice broadcasted on social media when Gambians were mourning OJ. It hit me hard and other Gambians. I did not ignore it. We envisioned a life without someone still larger than life. I was sad and did something I rarely do: reply to a stranger’s post.

‘That is awful,’ I wrote. ‘No matter how you lean politically, OJ is someone’s father. That is awful.’ It is a joke. Someone wrote below me. It is satire. You cannot, in turn, celebrate a dead man’s tribulations and say, “Let your disbelief heal you.” Alternatively, “let your belief heal you.” As moral human beings, you can only offer goodwill, empathy, and the hope that things will improve.

You may disagree on many fronts, including religion, politics, form and manner of worship, prosperity gospel, the existence of a divine being, etc. Still, it would be best if you never turned into empty animals that celebrate the dead or illness, for we are all mortal beings. It would be best if you also acknowledged that belief is deeply personal. You cannot impose your beliefs on others nor pretend that what you believe is better than others think. That is what the Atheism of these people is attempting to do. Your Atheism must not seek to be “better” than my religion and vice versa. The belief is deeply personal. Your Atheism must remain yours, my faith, or lack thereof, mine.

Fatoumatta: You can debate the demerits of miracles, prayer, etc., if you take the liberty elsewhere, but not framed as against the tribulations of a dead man and his family. In this instance, I must submit that the people spreading hate speech are exemplary idiots. Wishing someone dead is never a joke. There is nothing satirical about wishing the ultimate grief upon another. So do not expect someone dead. That is never fun. Alhaji Omar Amadou Jallow was a hero. He was not a villain. This vilification must stop. OJ was a visionary leader that is fully appreciated when he is no longer with us. This is not fair at all. Let no one play God. Alhaji Omar Amadou Jallow was a success and an achiever by all standards.

He was decent, and May Allah grants him Alijannah Firdausi.

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