AN OPEN LETTER TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE GAMBIA
The President of the Republic of The Gambia
Banjul, The Gambia
Dear Mr President,
I write to you with utmost sincerity spirited on humility as a concerned citizen.
At first you said; you belong to no tribe, you then said you have Fula and Serahuli relations. Today you’re saying you’re a mandinka. I bet tomorrow or someday soon you might pronounce yourself belonging to another tribe. You’re already becoming a reminiscent of #Jammeh. May I remind you that, your predecessor started like this; he once claimed he was a mandinka, and that he had relatives in Illiasa (North Bank Region) in Mama Tamba Jammeh’s family tree. Then all of a sudden, he becomes the furious anti mandinka (I’m sorry, I don’t mean to be tribal), this gave birth to tribalism in his regime. Here again, it is creeping into the statehouse – hence it is happening all over again. I though we say ‘adieu to tribalism’ why would want to bring back memories that only remind us of division, acrimony and insolence. The Gambiand that voted you in office 2018 are living in dire economic poverty, lack of jobs and expensive living conditions. Think about that and lament about that.
Clearly, your ultimate goal as a president is nothing other than staying longer into that office, even though you cannot do the job. But please sir, be real with yourself, be honest with Gambians and just leave office by 2021.
Mr President, you should be using your time to learn; research, read and think innovatively rather than spinning around tribal sentimentalism, provoking the devil and waking the dead. The Ģambia as we speak is already divided; on ethnicity & partisan politics this trend you’re nurturing Mr President is a potential danger to our existence as people bound by common socio, cultural and political beliefs. What is the significance of your tribal identification? Thus, it is ridiculous, childish, disgusting and uncalled for in the #NewGambia. There is a plethora of burning issues to be addressed and resolved, are those not worthy of your thinking indulgence?
You already demonstrated your true colours;
You are very insecure and anxious, and you’re like soaked in the love for power falling which is not the expectation. Clearly, your ultimate goal as a president is nothing other than staying longer into that office, even though you cannot do the job. But please sir, be real with yourself, be honest with Gambians and just leave office by 2021. Because it is obvious that you cannot do the job, you’re not the kind of leader Gambia desperately needs and want… I suggest you leave 2021 while there will be little popularity and regard accord you.
You cannot say you forget so soon that we are healing from the wounds of tribalism. Uttering such remarks is inflammatory, and so low of a president of this century to be flying with such wings. I intend neither to advice nor criticise you- but simply reminding you of your moral obligations from a citizen who’s tax pays you. And excuse my explicity, the intention is to prick your consciousness as to the magnitude of havoc you could potentially spark with this statement “I am a mandinka”. Your Excellency who feels it knows it, thus the average Gambians are living in deplorable conditions; with endemic poverty, hospitals without drugs, towns and villages with poor road networks, most importantly our education system remain sub-standard. Address these crisis and stop the divide and rule politics.
Take for example Rwanda, they had went through worst, despite Rwanda is abled to ironed themselves together after cruelly killings of one another on the basis of tribal conflicts. And no one dare to speak about tribe in Rwanda. Infact it is banned, everyone go by the identification ‘Rwandans’. This should be your embargo not this unwelcoming tribal rhetoric.
On a final note, your Excellency sir, and with due respect make yourself available for advice of a third party; i mean seek advice from outside the state house and certainly outside your own faculty of thought. Because as appears that, you lack the right guidance and advice as a president of a transitional government. You’re so immersed into the prestigious lifestyle of presidency but lacks the simple art of leadership, and this keep exposing your incompetence, lack of integrity and charisma. What this country need is selfless leaders, honest, pragmatic and development driven. As many likeminded Gambians will conclude, [Gambians need attitudinal change] but how do we transform the subordinates when the leadership is rotten? I therefore humbly seek your attention to reshape the trajectories of your leadership, hence there is lot at stake.
“Although, the internet in Africa is limited by a lower penetration rate when compared to the rest of the world, as measurable parameters such as the number of ISP subscriptions, overall number of hosts, IXP-traffic, and overall available bandwidth all indicate that Africa is way behind the digital divide” Gambia inclusive.
We are being robbed daily by the very institutions that claimed to be serving us. Internet is quite expensive in Gambia yet weak in reception. Ask the consumers using mobile data for internet services; calls and other communications. As stated in the AU Declaration on Internet Governance that “ less than 20% of Africans are online, that the majority of those not connected are in the rural areas, notably women and the poor, and that the average cost of fixed line and mobile internet exceeds 50% of average per capita income”. A quintessential plight of average Gambians; and not only those living in the rural areas in our context as Gambia’s poverty rate remain relatively the same since 2016 to date. Thus, our right to freedom of expression and access to information is use as a business hike in our need for access to internet connectivity. It is obvious that we cannot go a day without logging in to our social media account, even though it accumulate little bandwidth, we pay extensively for data connection.
Today, in the Gambia consumers are at the mercy of the big businesses such as our internet providers because there is not a single tool for accountability in internet provision in the Gambia. Consumers usually complain of poor internet services and expensive mobile data but it only begins and ends there.
Studiously, this article seeks to address the accessibility and affordability of internet services as well as the accountability of internet provision for Gambian consumers. As a consumer, it is not hysterical to think that we share the benefits, the opportunities but also the unearned sufferings and nihilism of vulnerability to structures that undermine our rights, ergo it is our common interest to speak out against such a structures.
On this premise, it is about time consumers begin to hold telecom companies to account as they provide us internet services; hence, business does not only have to be about profit making but safeguarding the welfare of the people who consume and benefit from their goods and services. After all, consumers are the reasons businesses exist; thus, their rights to fair trade, affordability and accessibility to quality products and services is as fundamental as their significance and influence in the market.
Induced by government’s slow commitment to improve infrastructural development compared to the growing demand for internet services, is enough a concern to raise this alarm. notwithstanding, all consumers are entitled to the protection against big business organisations, monopolies and multinational enterprises. Hence, an equal bargaining power between the enterprise/companies and the individual consumers is the missing ingredient in consumer protection as far as internet consumerism is concerned. Today, in the Gambia consumers are at the mercy of the big businesses such as our internet providers because there is not a single tool for accountability in internet provision in the Gambia. Consumers usually complain of poor internet services and expensive mobile data but it only begins and ends there.
The internet is an instrumental element in the realization of AU 2030 Agenda, yet consumers in this country, in particular the poor masses (who struggle to buy megabytes for their social media needs) undergo a terrible ordeal in browsing which they would not be face with under normal circumstances. If this does not compel government to consider intervening in the way internet services are rendered in this country, enforce laws and regulations for internet governance in Gambia, consumers will continue to be exploited with deceptive advertisements, weak internet coverage and expensive internet services. As the globalization with the attendant internationalisation of trade, increasing privatization of business and public utilities coupled with complexities of modern products and services – due to the advancement of technology have combine to put consumers at a precarious situation where state protection is inevitable.
The degree at which our young people are in love with certain lifestyles is worrying. Recently, a handful of young people are into all kinds of fantasies; smoking, drinking and arm robbery. Most of our youths have found a kind of sanctuary in these indulgences; some believed it abate their displeasure of the inconvenient and unwanted situation, for others claim it relishes their stress while others just find ecstasy in taking these substances. For whatsoever reason, smoking seriously damages health, although life can be interesting and overwhelming sometimes, especially for those in their prime. As youths, there is too much energy and passion for doing the things we often find enjoyable and exciting, hoping that these excitements never end, which is human – [to crave]. Unfortunately, the excitement in question do more harm than good to us as young people; it is a deadly fantasy. Smoking shisha is detrimental and can post serious non-communicable diseases (NCDs). It is heart-aching knowing majority of our young people, both men and women are into smoking shisha with the simple bases that they find it sophisticated and fantasizing.
Shisha smoke; also called hookah, water, or Hubble bubble smoking – is a way of smoking tobacco, sometimes mixed with fruit or molasses sugar, through a bowl and hose or tube. The tube ends in a mouthpiece from which the smoker inhales the smoke from the substances being burnt into their lungs. You will be amazed to see young people in bars and clubs inhaling this smoke coming out from the shisha hose or tube. The shisha pipe use tobacco sweetened with fruit or molasses sugar, which makes the smoke more aromatic than cigarette smoke. Popular flavourings include apple, plum, coconut, mango, mint, strawberry and cola. Wood, coal or charcoal is burned in the shisha pipe to heat the tobacco and create the smoke because the fruit syrup or sugar makes the tobacco damp.
It is appalling to see how some of our youngsters are been carried away by this deadly fantasy. As a consumers, I found this quiet tormenting and unhealthy, especially the young men and women – the posterity of this country.
In Gambia, shisha is smoke mostly in the night clubs, Bars and Restaurants as these are the places where most young people converge. It is appalling to see how some of our youngsters are been carried away by this deadly fantasy. As a consumers, I found this quiet tormenting and unhealthy, especially the young men and women – the posterity of this country. Some youths actually have it in their possession and use it with colleagues at their home ghettos, all you have to do is buy the flavour you desired and then burn it on the hookah while you inhale the smoke through the hose or tube. This indulgence is conceived a hyped-life and ecstasy. Many researchers and scientific studies including British Heart Foundation, discovered that “When you smoke shisha, you and anyone sitting near you are breathing in smoke which release toxins including carbon monoxide and heavy metals – reducing your body’s ability to carry oxygen around in your blood.” this is phenomenally harmful to our health as it can cause serious tissue damages, brain damage, miscarriage, or at worst death.
Further more, i had a conversation with a Public Health Officer (who works on non-communicable diseases) told me that “Shisha is just the materials – the hookah and the tube but tobacco is the what being smoked with the mixture of the sugar molasses in flavourings”. So shisha contains cigarettes tobacco; like the cigarettes it contains nicotine, tar, carbon monoxide and heavy metals, such as arsenic and lead. Hence, shisha smokers are at the same risk as cigarette smokers, such as heart disease, cancer, respiratory diseases and problems during pregnancy. “It is difficult to ascertain exactly how much smoke or toxic substances you’re exposed to in a typical shisha session. People smoke shisha for much longer periods of time than they smoke a cigarette, and in one puff of shisha you inhale the same amount of smoke as you’d get from smoking a whole cigarette”. As discovered by British Heart Foundation. Now imagine having a bunch of young people inhaling shisha smoke from mid-night till 4:00 am.
“The average shisha smoking session lasts for an hour and research has shown that in this time you can inhale the amount of smoke as from more than 100 cigarettes”. in Gambia, a typical shisha smoking session can last for three hours. mostly it is in a club or bar, where there is intense partying; such moments are pretty much compulsive, you can join the show and ride with the flow no matter how innocent you’re. what baffles me more is when some of us [young people] we continue to mistakenly perceived shisha smoking ‘not addictive’ because the water used in the pipe can absorb nicotine. “In reality, only some of the nicotine is absorbed by the water, shisha smokers are still exposed to enough nicotine to cause addiction”.
Aware of the fact that we have poor systematic healthcare delivery in the Gambia, consumers in this part of the world should be their own guiding mentor to healthy lifestyles, to prevent an emergency of epidermic of non communicable diseases (NCDs). state by begin by putting a ban on it as many other African do; Rwanda, Zambia, Tanzania and Ghana.
Already much has been said about the 37 youths case which is why I keep reserving my comments and follow the updates from News and colleagues until yesterday I decided to visit the kanifing court to witness the unfolding scenes on their case, to my dismay I saw nothing other than the unchanging oppression and repressive approaches by the police towards detainees. I wanted to see for myself how these 37 youths are treated by the police as they’re detained (one may expect they will practice the best code of conduct which is respecting and treating detainees fairly human since it’s a public domain and in order to maintain a good name) but like ever before, the PIU is so immerse in brutality that they just can’t help it but to assault a detainee before everyone in the court premises…. This is sad and rather unfortunate in this new dispensation.
More disgustingly, had not the kanifing Magistrate Court knows they have no jurisdiction to hear such crimes? This is absurd and completely fallacious that they are becoming aware of this just now – dragging and prolonging the case of the 37 youths, like premeditated is justice delay which automatically means justice denied. We demand the government of the day to critically examine this case before things could go out of hand. You cannot make youths the enemies of the same state they whole heartedly contribute in building, that will be an expensive mistake. Imagine jailing people who didn’t even step a foot in the July 24th serekunda protest; talkless of commiting arson and demolition of buildings, imagine the acrimony, the stress and the nihilism they’re faced with.
We are the youths, the prime of this nation We are the youths, the strength of this nation We are the youths, the future and present prospect of this nation We are the pride and posterity of this country…….
I therefore entreat the State to;
Stop brutalising us
Stop jailing us
Stop discriminating us
Stop suppressing our fundamental freedoms
Stop treating us like criminals…
And mind you, if the state fail to address this case with utmost care, integrity, justice , under the spirit of rule of law, respect for human rights and democracy; the worst can happen. This is not as trivial as some already think – these are our youths, the very electorates who put this government into office, the youths who are to take up from you old, greedy and unscrupulous authorities….
The law is for us, not against us [youths]
The law is for protection not for victimisation
The law is suppose to be just, fair and not bias and selective
The law is suppose to be guiding principle as a democratic state and not a tool for misdemeanour
We are the youths, the prime of this nation
We are the youths, the strength of this nation
We are the youths, the future and present prospect of this nation
We are the pride and posterity of this country…….
I therefore entreat you [State] to;
Stop brutalising us
Stop jailing us
Stop discriminating us
Stop suppressing our fundamental freedoms
Stop treating us like criminals…
How can you forget so soon when Killa Ace and others were denouncing dictatorship, putting their lives on the line while standing up to despot Yahya Jammeh?
How can you forget so soon when youths filled up Bufa Zone to attend your rallies [then Coalition]?
How can you forget so soon when youths filled up Westfield to welcome you?
This is betrayal, injustice and tyranny. We want to remind the IGP, the Interior Minister, the Artoney General and the President that the world is watching, we are recording and we’re not relenting in our quest for fair play.
To the skeptist, hypocrites and people of the inferior complexity, we hear you, we see you, we know your stance but you do not matter – because either you stand by these youths or not… This system is against all of us already, probably you are not yet a potential victim. So mind you!
Ardy’s dreams of becoming a renowned educated man becomes his only motivation in pursuing his goals. He finished college & became a teacher in the city. As a breadwinner, he works in the city and fends for the family in the provinces. He had a dream, an ‘Urban Dream’ to come to the city, got educated and become successful as an elite. Even though he is dedicated, hardworking and responsible he will have to adopt to the tough life of no mum, no dad or siblings and relatives. ‘At some point I have to sit and ponder if there will ever be any place like home, because what i know as home in the provinces and what is called home in the city are of great difference both in shape and shade. A quintessential of “fankung fankung” is what I am living. Urban life teaches you a whole different life, be it the school life, the social life and the personal life. ‘i sometimes have to adopt to belong to by becoming an ‘urbaner’ [city boy] because I am considered and stereotyped as a village boy or JJC, ‘Journey Jst Come’ the pride vested in some of these city boys and how overweening they’re atimes is irritating. It is not sometimes intended for jokes but provocation’ Ardy complained. Nevertheless, I do enjoy the jokes more often, particularly when we are at a social function; partying or watching a football match, it adds spice to our convo – the humor…’ he added.
I found passion as something one admire with so much dedication & excitement. Ardy’s passion is to be a public figure [politician]. Politics for Ardy is to add value to life by being a beacon of transformation and development but not to be powerful, authorative, greedy or arrogant.
However, Ardy is sensitive to issues and wouldn’t allowed to be carried away by fantasies and ostentatious lifestyles of his peers. Consistently, he reminds himself of his mission and purpose as a breadwinner in pursuit of a greener pasture. This isn’t ofcourse the easiest thing to do. As life in the city can sometimes be overwhelming without focus, you can be easily astrayed. He was conscious and cautious of peer influence. Also, Uncle Buchie never let Ardy to be too idle with friends and colleagues, since he was Ardy’s elderly friend and confidante in the city where Ardy resides. Uncle Buchie is a season civil servant and very professional in conduct with a sense of humor. He inspires Ardy and oftenly he takes him out to important places; usually during weekends when both are not at work.
Growing up in the city as a young brilliant, outspoken & passionate learner, Ardy continue pursuing what he called ‘my passion’. I found passion as something one admire with so much dedication & excitement. Ardy’s passion is to be a public figure [politician]. Politics for Ardy is to make great changes by being a beacon of transformation and development but not to be powerful, authorative, greedy or arrogant.
‘You cannot be a leader if your arrogant, because you would not respect your subordinates thus the tendency for you to abuse their rights is 99% probability’ Stated Ardy. And to me, to be successful in politics is not about your personal accomplishments but your overall achievements in delivering for the masses. How have you served?. Uncle, I want to be a leader but not any other leader, I seek to make a record and leave a legacy’. He told Uncle Buchie.
‘As success maybe sometimes overrated because it is a generally desired goal & everyone wants to be successful..✍ But success can take different forms among any of which is still success; either wealth, position or accomplishment’ Uncle Buchie give it a thought as Ardy is brewing Chinese Green Tea.
‘But the success my people are accustomed to & must valued is the success of ample money and assests; cars, houses and healthy bank accounts. Certainly, success is much more than money and assests accumulated, as not all accomplishments can be weigh in monetary aspects. People with knowledge that can create & innovate is a success, people who use their resources; heart and energy to support the less previleged are accomplishing major strides in adding value to life, thus i term that success. Also, people in high positions & business tycoons can be considered successful. Notwithstanding, the well established skilled entrepreneur is successful. All the above are successes categories people may register at a point in a lifetime’ Ardy speaking….
Hard work and success are not as the source and the beneficiary. So technically, You can be hard working but yet unsuccessful’ Ardy concernedly asked Uncle Buchie. ‘Yes, but it doesn’t mean you won’t be successful, perhaps your time has not arrived yet
‘Uncle Buchie, i don’t know what is your definition of success, but in my humble view; success is when you achieved a desired goal of a lifetime accomplishment’ Ardy engaged Uncle Buchie in a conversation.
‘Yes ofcourse, that’s what success is; when we set goals & achieved them we can conclude we have succeeded; for life is but dreams, choices and goals we set’ responded Uncle Buchie. ‘ Sometimes we can have very ambitious goals which on the long run might be unattainable, meaning even at the stage of setting the goals one has to be realistic or you will keep blaming circumstances when you the created the problem in the first instance’ Uncle Buchie added.
Ardy brewing Chinese Green Tea “Attaya”an indulgence that gives taste to social life. Attaya is widely loved as a stimulant. It has the unique power to gather individuals in a spot chatting and throwing jokes at one another and it is an enforcer of socialisation.
Ardy contunues as he served the tea. The first brewed. [“Attaya” is brewed thrice.]
‘So in a sense, when people set goals & failed to achieved them, perhaps their fault or not, does that qualify they’d failed to succeed? thus are unsuccessful? ‘Not necessarily neph, people can failed severally before succeeding, & in fact oftenly, people who had experienced failures are tend to garner more sustainable success. For experience teaches the best lesson’
‘So in essence, it is not a certainty that you will succeed because you work hard, or because you’re smarter; mostly success come as luck’ Uncle Buchie renders tution to Ardy. Talking to Uncle Buchie about life gives Ardy foresight about life. Hard work and success are not as the source and the beneficiary. So technically, You can be hard working but yet unsuccessful’ Ardy concernedly asked Uncle Buchie. ‘Yes, but it doesn’t mean you won’t be successful, perhaps your time has not arrived yet’. Uncle Buchie responded…
Hashtag IamToufah (IamToufah) has spread all over the social media to mobilise support and solidarity with victims of rape (not only Jammeh’s victims) but for all the other victims of sexual violence.
Social movements are not positive or negative agents of history, of modernisation, or of the liberation of mankind, rather they act in a given type of social production and organisation. Like the #Metoo movement which arose in 2017 October; a movement against sexual harassment and sexual assault and began to spread virally as a hashtag on social media campaign in an attempt to demonstrate the widespread prevalence of sexual assault and harassment, particularly in the work place. Thus, this was followed by sexual abuse allegations against Harvey Weinstein. Similarly, the hashtag #IamToufah movement is promulgated by the story of a former Beauty Queen Fatou Toufah Jallow[Toufah] about her how she was raped by former president of the Gambia Yahya Jammeh.
In her story, she narrated how Jammeh sexually took advantage of her on the pretext that he was going to sponsor her education[as the winner of the 2014 22nd July Beauty Pageant]. This was in 2015 following her rejection of the president’s proposal to marry her. Which she believes had infuriated Jammeh that he even denied her the proposed scholarship that comes with the trooohy of a beauty queen. This is as disgusting as if the whole idea of the beauty pageant was to fish for his intractable desire for s**×. Obviously, there were another victims like toufah who also gave account of their experiences at state house while appointed as protocol officers. This is heartwrenching and more than mind boggling to have a president who used his office to abuse young women. That’s morally, ethically and legally unacceptable. As Toufah’s story was released in an interview with BBC, followed by Human Right Watch and other international NGOs and media outlets, it inspired myriad other victims of sexual violence particularly rape and sexual assault. Hence, social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter suddenly become smeared with hashtag (#IBelieveHer, #IamToufah). Thus it became the movement that inspires hope and courage to stand up and break the culture of silent on rape and other sexual violence which have been perceived as ‘taboo’ to talk about more or less to try to address it in Gambian setting, even though there are good and powerful literatures to bank on. As a result of this ingenuine syndrome, for far too long sexual violence has alway been swept under the carpet – letting perpetrators work free. Our young girls and women never have the opportunity to hold these culprits to account because society keeps them safe on the pretext of “Sutura”(a local rhetoric to keep things quiet and unaccounted for), inadvertently rapists and sexual predators continuously persist because they’re covered by the society.
Advertently, this promulgated Toufah Jallow and her colleagues to stand up with resilience and courage to press for legal and social reforms to eradicate it. Hashtag IamToufah (IamToufah) has spread all over the social media to mobilise support and solidarity with victims of rape (not only Jammeh’s victims) but for all the other victims of sexual violence. Already, #IamToufah is popularised by activists, civil society, NGOs, the media and even the international community. Certainly, there would be justice as we speak, as the quest for justice for these rape allegations are a public outcry, already trending in the social media with many other victims are coming out with their stories.
Just as Alyssa Milano(an American actress) did with the #Metoo campaign on twitter in 2017 October when she encouraged victims to tweet about sexual harassment in a bid to show and tell people the magnitude of the problem; thereof, a number of posts, response and comments emerged from famous American celebrities, Gwyneth Paltrow, Ashley Judd, Jennifer Lawrence, Uma Thurman and others. Therefore, Toufah Jallow speaking up about being raped is not just the story of a former beauty queen but a striking hope for all other victims of Jammeh’s sexual abuses. As Toufah blew the trumpet, two other women confessed that Jammeh sexually assaulted them. After this revelations, over 19 other victims also speak up about being sexually violated – among these include rape allegations against a top senior government official, now on smeared social media campaign hashtag #SurivivingMelville, this is spearheaded by a poet, a women right and youth activist. She, Fatoumatta Sandeng and others are as determined as Toufah to bring their perpetrators to justice. Their zeal for and commitment to stand up for their fellow women and young girls is empowering. The #IamToufah movement is motivated by the need to end sexual violence against women and to break the culture of silence on sexual violence, while giving the younger generation a shoulder on hope, strength and dignity as a woman in a patriarchy society. In her words to BBC Toufah said “we want to create an atmosphere where women feel safer to talk about rape and sexual assault”. “And when many women speak up it becomes safer and safer”, she said.
It became vivid that #IamToufah movement is envisioned to give voice to the women and young girls to speak up about sexual violence and to stand up to bring the perpetrators of sexual violence to justice, vitally to break the culture of silence.
This is not strange but an interesting and a progressive step towards inculcating the culture of democracy in the Gambian society – the camaraderie, zeal, courage and energy demonstrated by these brave young ladies is astonishing.
Like they said, actions express intentions better. 28 June 2019 #IamToufah had their first press conference with civil society organisations and prominent human rights activists in the Gambia at TANGO conference hall, (TANGO satnds for: The Association of Non – Governmental Organisations) an umbrella body for civil society organisations and NGOs in the Gambia. This press conference became the turning point as other women also narrates their experiences from sexual assault and harassment, it magnifies their objective to bring their perpetrators to justice first by speaking out and loud about sexual violence, break the culture of silence on sexual violence, expose culprits and quest justice for victims.
Notwithstanding, entreat state to implement the laws protectin women; the sexual offence act, the domestic violence act and the women act – together with regional and international instrments respectively.
Action has been exemplified by the match pass on 4th July 2019, when youth and women activists, civil society organisations of different facets converged in Africel Junction, Kairaba Avenue to show solidarity to victims of sexual violence and to send a message to the perpetrators that they’re have not escaped justice for they will come for them in her words “we are coming for you” “No means No” “we match, we speak no more silence” those were the slogans during the procession – something i haven’t seen in the Gambia for a long time. These young people were robustly speaking up in procession against sexual violence, rape in particular. It is definitely unprecedented in the history of women rights activitism in the Gambia, decades ago. However, is not strange but an interesting and a progressive step towards inculcating the culture of democracy in the Gambian society – the camaraderie, zeal, courage and energy demonstrated by these brave young ladies in speaking up against this social menace is astonishing.
sharing common cause with others in response to the crises that affects all of us brings forth incredible feelings of solidarity, camaraderie, empowerment, and joy.
Equivocably, this might be the #metoo for Gambia, as social media campaign is taking center stage in fighting sexual violence. The courage, zeal and enthusiasm indicated by these young women and other few men who had been actively demonstrating against injustices for the pass few years, and having men in the middle of this made things much befitting and speaks volume of unity and solidarity. Unity is important in forging a common identity among activists – and advocates in a movement. That’s why, it has to be men and women in solidarity against what’s wrong that will render us justice and combat injustice. At the end of the day, sharing common cause with others in response to the crises that affects of us brings forth incredible feelings of solidarity, camaraderie, empowerment, and joy.
The shared conviction that arises from standing up against what is plainly wrong is tremendously positive and sustaining experience, it is without doubt the most effective remedy to feelings of hopelessness, despair, surrender and stigma. Besides, unity builds a movement in many ways, such as the drawing of boundaries between ‘them’ and ‘us’ focuses the fight, generating energy, enthusiasm and passion.
And the fact that society has shortcomings to address sexual violence, because it is patriarchy society activists are appalled by victims stories and touched by their unpleasant ordeals obtained from being sexually violated or assaulted. The love for human life and regard for women dignity become the fuel to this movement. As a promise, #IamToufahmovement shall embark on nation wide awareness raising holistically on sexual violence against women.
In all said, the most important thing I concluded on is that, our people [Gambians, youths in particular] shall never sit back and watch their fundamental freedoms, basic rights, dignity and sovereignty be dwindled and do nothing about it. Gone are those days! To be optimistic, this movement could be ‘Gambia’s Me Too’. Looking at the participants, many of them prominent human rights activists who had good track record in the activism.
It would be human enough to acknowledge that perfection is God’s only, yet we have to do our bits to add value to life. Abusing women, disrespecting women and taking advantage of their vulnerability should not be entertained, nor condone at any level, of any kind. In a society like Gambia, it is prudent to always look out for our women. Do not beat your wife, do not take advantage of young girls. Particularly those in high positions, must not use their position and influence to take advantage of girls and young women. Lets speak up and talk about rape, domestic violence and women abuse where ever you see it happened. Together we can put an end to these babaric acts.
Mango fruit inhibits special qualities and renders various benefits to our bodies, both in health and nutrition. Among these include; heat beater, remedial measures, taste, ingredient to various other yummy recipes like the pickle, mango salsa, mango desserts, mango cupcakes and much more. Speaking from a personal experience, myself i eat mangoes alot and i enjoy this extraordinary fruit. The pulp when peeled with a well sharped knife, keeps me craving in for a bite, “for it is a bite that sparks life” Almost i eat one or two mango fruits daily and won’t get enough of it. Nutritionally, it is very powerful, healthy and beneficial in many forms. Some called it the ‘King fruit’ while others give it ‘the super fruit’. I just called it the “The fruit of life”. Because mango is widely liken and thus provides a whole of benefits to human growth and health.
“The word “Mango” the fruit came after various transpositions. As it was originated in India-Buryma border where Sanskrit language was predominant at that time, it’s first name was “Aamra-Phalam.” Its transformation in Hindi language became “Aam-Phal.” Synonym of Phal in Tamil is Kaay, so Tamils called it by the name “Aam-Kaay” which gradually became “Maamkaay” due to differences in pronunciation. Malayalam people from India changed it further to “maanga.” When Portuguese people came across this fruit, they told about it to Britishers who again due to pronunciation differences changed it to Mango. And now it is called “Mango” world over”. Source: skymetweather.com, image: i.ytimg.com
In the Gambia, mango season comes twice a year; from mid February to early May. Obviously, if you live in the provincial area of the Gambia, you will enjoy an exuberant taste from mango fruits. During this time, mangoes are found in abundance in the backyards, in the gardens, at the mangoe ranges (where mango trees are grown in a large proportion) and in the markets as well. In this part of the country in Gambia, young people barely run to home for meal in a mango season, as the season begins they’re always in the mango gardens with their small knifes.
some major towns in Gambia, particularly the south side [South Gambia] mangoe season ushers from early May to June. And they’re the areas that produces the ‘big-typed’ mango fruits.
I can remember as a teenager we were once caught in a mango garden and threatened to be well punished. We were worried, scared and frightened as hell. Fortunately, we were released unharmed. It is because of these nonchalant attitudes of some young people in the provincial towns and villages; usually there is a band laid on the mangoes until they’re maturely ripe and ready for consumption; thus, to prevent stubborn children from ingenuinely destroying and dismantling the fruits prior to their ripen stage. Although, the mangoe species found in the villages are mostly the ‘small-typed’ ones, somestimes orgainsed into porridge, this is another diet which is obtained from the super fruit.
Most importantly, people are involved in selling these fruits in markets to earn a living, thus it becomes a source of employment to them. However, like banana fruits, raw mangoes can be kept in a place and chemicalise for it to ripe – usually this is done to the big-typed spicies of mangoes. It’s amazing how these fruits are displayed in the town vendors; along the high ways, the “Sandikaa” at Serekunda market etc. It attracts enzymes – just as you starred at the fruit.
because of the palatability and jucious nature of the fruit, people peculiarly discover the health benefits obtained from eating mango fruits.
Further more, these ‘big-typed’ mango fruits can be turn to juice or prepared like fruit salad – what an exuberant taste, rich in vitamin, jucious with other health benefits. Imagine a manufacturing company centralising in turning mango fruits into juice in a country like the Gambia that produces so much mangoes twice a year, the economic dividends would be tremendous. Like the Baobab, mango tree has a long life span, thus researches have shown that, some mango trees still bear fruits after 300 years.
Few Among the many Benefits obtained from eating Mango fruits include;
“It provides 100% of a daily requirement of Vitamin C. Besides Vitamin C, Mangoes are rich in Vitamin A, Vitamin B, and other antioxidants, which aid in keeping your immune system strong, fights cancerous cells, cholesterol control, and vision care”. Also, it contributes to weight loss because the fruit contains calcium and vitamin D.
In addition, Though mango peels are said to be dermatitis prone because of the latex and peep scattered on its surface, mangoes are rich in phytonutrients namely carotenoids and polyphenols. Besides this, it also helps in preventing constipation, arthritis, dysentery, piles, and indigestion. So, next time, don’t just throw away the skin of mango but clean it properly so as to remove its peep and latex and then enjoy this delicious fruit; a bite that sparks life. Like the Baobab, mango tree has a long life span. researches have shown that, some mango trees still bear fruits after 300 years old.
Development in the Gambia will remain a gloomy future withouth the reinventment of the Gambian as a person; and unless we realised how important that is in shaping this country’s future, we shall barely prevail and reach our full potentials as people and as a nation. Attitude; 👌is a fundamental trait in shaping a human being; it is the fulcrum of humanity; in one sense, our attitude tells people who we’re and the view we represent. Attitudes, like characters define our behaviours…
The Gambia needs a change of attitudes to reach our goals as a nation; thus, an economically stable nation, an intellectually empowered nation, a politically independent nation and a socially cohesive society cannot be actualised if we have a citizenry which is not patriotic but soaked in mediocrity and selfishness; a citizenry which is uninformed and put authorities to account and a citizenry that is united on the wings and caprices of patriotism and nationalism.
Let’s call a Spade a Spade I would not even blink an eye or say this with a sigh; and let’s call a spade a spade. The personalisation of offices with vested pride and arrogance have become so immersed in our public offices; This attitude is almost possessed by three – third [at most 65%] of our public servants. There is little or no regard for tax payers and their plight in this country. As we occupied the helm of affairs, we personalised these offices to an extent that nothing works in the absence of the so-called bosses… and the so-called boss will only report to work nothing earlier than an hour after the normal working hours commences, yet we expect to develop like silicon valley, Singapore, Rwanda etc. Time has come to plày honest to ourselves, such attitudes in our public sector only retard us as a nation.
If we only work for and in our governemnt, because of individual benefits; we will continue to get salaries, allowances and per diems while the future of this country hangs on an uncertain branch of tree somewhere in the Amazon forest. The notion and attitude that we are into public office to get rich, gather affluence and influence only perpetrate corruption and deceit, is found almost everywhere in the public sector; the attitude that, we are in public office to help our family members, close affinities and trusted allies, will only perpetrate nepotism and favoritism, while compromising competence and efficency in service delivery.
in precision, we don’t respect tax payers if we’re at the helm of affairs, thus we personalised these offices to an extent that nothing works in the absence of the so-called boss… and the so-called boss will only report to work nothing earlier than an hour after the normal working hours commences, and we expect to develop like silicon valley, Singapore etc
As sad as it looks, it is the reality we’re faced with in this country. The amount of selfishness and corruption being entrench in our public services delivery excerbate daily. This is no assumption, we live this reality everyday. We have become so accustomed to these ill attitudes that, even at home we teach our younger generation the same traits, so there continues the vicious cirlcle. When are we going to change?
Disgustingly, it irritates me that, a Gambian can feel so excited and proudly admissible to steal, looth or syphon public resources – either build a storey building, buy cars, and own myriad other lands. And the society weave first to glorify them before scrutinise them (if done at all) Thus, if you succeed in looting your government,(no matter how small that success is) you’re praised, celebrated and even admonishes for being a trumphant indigene of their land…While, empowering treachery and romanticising corruption. Yet we wonder why our political leaders and presidents [who come from the same society]loot us. The problem is within, so is the solution. Ergo, first to begin with; change must come from within
It is only through attitudinal change, Gambia can be a civilised society…; Street dumping, reckless driving, poor public service delivery,corruption, nepotism and deceit leadership are attitudes and characteristics we have nurtured, they’re not natural; and can be unpossed. No one is immune to change, people are only reluctant and afraid of change. Attitudes define a person as society makes a man.
Family is the first institution we are exposed to in this life. It is an institution established by socio religious functions [marriage]. Hence, family is found as a result marriage, as marriage is the institution that gives live to family. This is the cult which we all emanates from; be it black, be it white, rich or poor. The essence thus, lies in knowing that we all come from a society, since family makes a society and society makes a man.
Fact of the matter
The fact of the matter is that, to a great deal we are shaped by our societal norms, customs and values as people. It is the society that determines the kind of life we may live, even though not everyone succumbs to societal norms and teachings, especially in this generation. In a nutshell, society is our origination.
Although, society may not be as important as i may put it, but it is instrumental in shaping our growth and development – as an individual and as citizens.
But it’s unchangeable, as well as undeniable that, we are products of society. Hence, society give us names, it give us identity, it gives us purpose, role and hope.
Inadvertently, society could frustrate us, depress us, divide us and disintegrate us. For instance if society labelled you bad in our world, you’re bad wholly – despite the great and good things you had done. Likewise the opposite. – That’s society determining your personality. Thereby, isolating you from the rest.
But who are the society?
People are the society. We make our people who they’re, or what they’ve become. It’s a matter of questioning as to how we treat people; at home, work, or in the streets.
It’s important to mind how we treat the guy next door. It is important to observe how often do we think and talk to other person with plane objectivity and without prejudice or discrimination of any kind.
Because, our condemnations aren’t enough to build a vibrant society of assests, rather it will only increase liabilities. Therefore, its a collective interest for us to empower our societies, support them, amplify their voices and create an environment for self realisation.
The sad reality
I’m concerned, worried and interested as to how some children [youths] are left loose in the streets – adopting scanty and criminal lifestyles. They’re born and brought up in the same society that stereotypes and stigmatises them not knowing, this inturn spikes their indulgences. Society paint them evil, and they’re absorbed by it. That’s the sad reality a sad reality! This is how we [society] some times forsake our owns, on the pretext ‘he is a [black sheep]’.
Evidently, when a society like the Gambian society accepts nudity as fashion and modern trend of life, where is the customary significance of belonging to a culture? Why has ‘Rappa’ (an African attire) become extinct by half-naked clothing? Because, society deemed it relevant and accepts it as a code of dress. Hence, society makes the rules.
Change is the only thing certain
Despite the challenges, possibilities are inexchaustible. We must design our societies in a way that commensurate with our norms, values and customs to live honorary as people. It shouldn’t be a society fit for others and unfit for others. It shouldn’t be a society that’s culturally alienated, and of cause, it shouldn’t be a society that discriminates but promotes tranquillity and comradeship.
“For it baffles me how is the African not so proud of the unaltered beauty and glory of her culture, customs and endowments; like the African “Rappa” but extincts it for an indecent flashy wear”
We can all make it better
We must not therefore, only envision but institute a society of inclusiveness and tolerance – of solidarity and honesty. Becoming each other’s brother’s keeper, unite in diversity. To think global yet stay true to the local.
Intrinsically, transformation of a society presupposes that we ought to recognise each other’s capacity, value each other’s effort, and weave first to elevate each other before self. We can all therefore make it better.
Unity, is the catalyst for collective progress and sustainable development. As when people are willing to keep their differences aside and forge a strong alliance for common interest, there’s to no limit what they can achieve. Unity is power, and a united society is a harmonious society one which guarantees tolerance, peaceful coexistence and social justice. A homogenous society like the Gambia, we are more intertwined than separated, united than divided.
Although, truth and fact are relatively the same, yet to be honest and trustworthy is by far the hardest thing Gambian elites and politicians can uphold. More over, the Gambian indigenous society does not question, gauge, or critically analyse but weave first to celebrate. What? [Atmost we do not know] but sentiments compel us. So truth is mostly dress in colourful attires like ‘assurance’, ‘hope’ and ambience.
Meanwhile, Gambia is the smallest country in mainland Africa, with a population less than 2million people. We’re surrounded by Senegal except in the coast [Atlantic Ocean], which safe us from being extinct ‘per se’. Thus, among the reasons we are called ‘The Smiling Coast of West Africa’ include our geography, [Gambia at the mouth of the Atlantic Coast]. Notwithstanding the sociable nature of Gambians, is a daring experienced, thus it’s irresistible to be an extrovert in the Gambia.
Noting all the above;
why must it be difficult for native Gambians to be united? Why are our tribes becoming the diving line between us? Why can’t we united in diversity? Why does our politics divide us more than it unite us? why do we let our social differences determine our objectives for national development?
For far too long, our politics have been a means to exploit, extort and deceive the masses. Deception, divide and rule, nepotism, corruption and thievery. As a result, everyday we breed a new wave of hatred, acrimony, sentimentalism and tribalism. We have rather become our own foes, castigating and provoking one another just because we share a different view on politics. We argue on sentiments rather than facts, subjectivity rather than objectivity – this vicious circle of ignominy and selfishness is retarding our development as a nation and our growth as people.
Some times, i ask myself this question, are Gambians seriousabout “Change and Transformation”? Because seeing citizens and particularly intellectuals normalising the status quo of this country amid the growing greed for power and political supremacy is an intellectual dishonesty, thereby promoting monopolistic propagandas. This is extremely deceitful.
Mind you Gambians… we owed it to ourselves as citizens, [especially intellectuals] to speak in a bid to amplify voices, resonate change, exemplify good practices, inspire hope, condemn authoritarianism and de facto dictatorship. Hence, promote truth, justice, equality and accountability. But not to speak in a bid to appease a political party, a politician or the presidency. More or less to let your conscience be clouded by sentiments rather than truth. It is prudent to be civil yet critical as citizens, [particularly today] as this is our country – owned by no individual person,party or tribe, but every Gambian, home and abroad. And our societies are founded and operated on the auspices our behaviours, attitudes, reactions and in-actions, values and mindsets.
To speak the obvious, the Gambian society needs not a political saint to be unified, tolerant, economic stabled, developed, peaceful and just society. We needs an honest, selfishless, focused and pragmatic leader to deliver us a ‘transformed Gambia’. And there’s no magic to achieving this, but a total re-invention of the Gambian, i.e. a complete change and transformation of the Gambian in it’s entirety – from the leadership to the citizenry must take effect right away. It’s about us, for us and up to us.