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As a neighbor it is only right that I congratulate you on your 54th independence anniversary from French colonial rule. Nothing is more worthy of celebrating to me (The Gambia) in April more than 04/04, not April fool day, not world autism awareness day, not world health day, not earth day, and not even world malaria day, but April 4th, the day my dear neighbor attained self rule I will also like to congratulate you for your breakthrough in March 2000 from a pseudo-democracy to a electoral democracy that produces a surprisingly free and fair election and the defeat of the ruling Socialist Party after 40 years in power.

 As your best buddy from childhood, we have shared the same food, culture, lifestyle, and sometimes even the same family. I am so proud of you like a father feels towards an archiving son.

But something seems ironical my dear neighbor, there are overwhelming evidence of correlation between the economic development and democracy in Senegal and the lack there of in the Gambia. It seems like the more troubling and backward I become the more prosperous and progressive you become.

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Is this a coincidence or what? Please do not take this personal, I am not jealous nor envious of you at all, ok that’s a lie, I am envious of you just a little bit, but no hard feelings it is all in good faith. You and I are practically one, you are me and I am you, sort of, right? Meaning my struggle is your struggle and your success is my success, right? Now you see why I may be confused by our current state in time.

 I am struggling, and you are progressing and neither of us is feeling the residual effects of the other party’s situation. But like I said, no hard feelings, I am very much happy for you. I heard that you and your family are having a BBQ to celebrate your independence and freedom but I didn’t get an invitation. I can even smell the delicious food and the flavor drinks. I think it is because you may have missed typed my address and the mail man sent my invitation to the wrong address…Right? That is it, or maybe the mail man stole my invitation, I never trusted that fool, I don’t like the way he looks at my younger daughter.

Either way I don’t believe that you will intentionally leave me out of your guest list especially during these times of difficulty in my household. Which reminds me, my house has been attacked by arm rubbers and they set it on fire 20 years ago and the smokes/flames are still burning. Amnesty International and her children even stopped by to assist. And UN also sent her oldest son to come and check on me. But you my dear neighbor, I didn’t see you.

I thought to myself maybe you didn’t know about it or saw the smoke. I am just giving you a heads up that one of the patios in your big mansion (Casamance) also caught some of the fire. I have a feeling that you are too busy with your own household problems that you barely notice what is happening on my end. But this is not about me; this is about you and how far you have come since childhood. You inspire me every day I wake up in the morning and look over to your house.

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I am very proud of how your musicians, wrestlers, entertainers, religious leaders and political prostitutes are always granted invitations to my back yard by the same gang leader who holds me and my family at gun point for 20 years. They receive gifts (both material and financial) worth lots of money from Babili Mansa. Do you remember that chic with the big loppy juice? I think her name is Ndey Gaye, yep that is her name, she reported some time ago that her and her colleagues were given lots of millions for shaking it for the gang leader. I think that requires a special recognition because I and my children are starving.

 Our medical system is a failure. Our educational system is a shame. Our energy company is a disgrace. Our religious leaders are getting jailed. Our oppositions are getting intimidated. Our economy depends on western union. But for some reason, you my dear friend and your family have successfully manage to come to my back yard and collect money in lump sums all the time.

Your tourism industry seems to be booming as more western countries label my house as a dictatorial household and avoid it for security reasons. Many businesses are leaving my house and coming to establish their businesses in your house. Major NGO’s and donor institutions are now choosing Senegal over the Gambia. All this things left me wondering if I were you, will I ever be interested in the development of my household? Hmmmmm…scary thought. But again, no hard feelings, it is not your fault that I cannot put my house in order. It is simply opportunity cost. You are such a good neighbor after all.

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends”. In this case I will very much remember the parties and the booty shaking competitions taking place in my own house that I am not invited to, but you my dear neighbor and your family are always listed on the VIP list. That deserve an honorable mention and once again congrats.

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If my neighbor’s house is on fire I should not just sit around and say it is not my problem, my neighbors have to put out his/ her fire. A good neighbor will pick up his/her garden hose, plug it to his/her hydrant and help put out the fire. But he/she will not used the opportunity of a neighbor’s house on fire to BBQ and Grill his/her chicken wings and prime ribs. There is a saying that one man’s meat is another man’s poison. No truer statement describes our current relationship right now.

 I am not asking you to put out the fire in my house for me, I am only asking you to borrow me your garden hose and may be lend a hand. And if you cannot do any of that, please I am begging you for the sake of my young children do not grill your meat from the flames flying out of my house. That is not neighborly at all. And I repeat, I am not asking you to put off the fire for me nor am I saying that it is your obligation to lend a hand. What I am asking you to do is that if you cannot help put out the fire in my house and get rid of the arm rubbers, please do not come to my house to grill your meat with the gangsters who set my house on fire.

While you and your children are enjoying your chicken legs and lamp ribs, I and my children will be starving here and busy working to put out the fire. Once again, happy Independence Day and may God continue to bless Senegal and her children.

Sincerely Your Neighbor

The Gambia.

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