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Who Protects Gambian Consumers like Passengers?

Drivers like businesses capitalize on the increase in demand for transport and adjust fares for consumer passengers unjustifiably. Most businesses in The Gambia are run by foreign merchants, however, commercial transport is predominantly Gambian drivers and Gambian car owners, yet fares are indiscriminately increased just because the demand rises. This is injustice and fall short to safeguard consumer protection rights as stated in Gambia Consumer Protection Act 2014, section (b) subsection (6), (11) (k) making false or misleading statements of fact concerning the reasons for; the existence of, or amounts of price reduction; or (i)engaging in any other conduct which similarly creates a likelihood of confusion or of misunderstanding for consumers. This is the reality on the ground and Gambian consumers continue to be at the mercy of the drivers and businesses alike.

It has become a norm, a tradition, and a culture in this country. Annually, at the eleventh hour of the feast for both Koriteh and Tobaski – prices are hiked. Ranging from basic goods that are highly on demand during these moments to fares of public transportation as consumers prepare for feasts. The magnitude of exploitation they undergo each year is indescribable. Drivers like businesses capitalize on the increase in demand for transport and adjust fares for consumer passengers unjustifiably. Most businesses in The Gambia are run by foreign merchants, however, commercial transport is predominantly Gambian drivers and Gambian car owners, yet fares are indiscriminately increased just because the demand rises.

This is injustice and fall short to safeguard consumer protection rights as stated in Gambia Consumer Protection Act 2014, section (b) subsection (6), (11) (k) making false or misleading statements of fact concerning the reasons for; the existence of, or amounts of price reduction; or (i)engaging in any other conduct which similarly creates a likelihood of confusion or of misunderstanding for consumers. This is the reality on the ground and Gambian consumers continue to be at the mercy of the drivers and businesses alike. There are government-approved tariffs for commercial transportation but somehow, drivers in the Gambia are not subjected to these tariffs each year at this time of the season. They reinvent their own tariffs with rigidity, arrogance, and sheer contempt. The Gambia Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (GCCPC) is mandated to administer this act, however, issues such as these are considered trivial even by the government because ‘they are not affected, so why care!’ So if not the government, not GCCPC, who protects Gambian consumers like passengers from misleading trade in commercial transport?

To put it bluntly, The ‘Gambian’ can be a very mean compatriot. This country lacks patriots, nationalists, and genuine citizens that are compassionate and empathic towards their fellows. So long there is no authority looking over them, each can do the most dubious thing to their colleague while vulnerable. Hence, it has become barely doable to put this country into its right shape. Many a time, we cast blames on the authorities, and the government, while it is ourselves that are inflicting certain unearned sufferings on us. And often, we’re not oblivious of these facts, because it has not been denounced but accepted, and normalized by ourselves – the exploited. Others would argue that most Gambians are not informed of their consumer rights or where to seek redress when these rights are abused, which is true to some extent but also the nonchalant attitudes of many of us made it easy for businesses, and service providers to take us for granted. We have the purchasing power, and there’s no business that can thrive without consumers, until and unless we are conscious of this, we would remain at their mercy.

Consumers can choose to buy or boycott a service or product if such products and services fall short to protect their rights and safeguard their welfare. In essence, consumers can hold businesses and service providers to meaningful accountability without relevant authorities- by simply wielding our purchasing power. This suggests that Gambian consumers ought to acquaint themselves with consumer protection rights as enshrined in the CPA 2014. The power lies within us, ‘We The People’, but so long we are unable to wield this power, our rights would mean nothing, more so, we would remain at the mercy of service providers and businesses.

Similar Process, Different Objective: South Africa’s TRC and Gambia’s TRRC

As South Africans were divided and ruled on racial lines by minority whites South Africans with the aid of other South Africans, The Gambia’s dark days began after a few disgruntled armed men took it up themselves to overthrow a legitimate government, and later ruled the country with laws they deemed fitting to themselves with the help of lawyers, technocrats, security apparatus, and religious leaders. This later became a one-man show – who manipulated, monopolized, and perpetuated dictatorship to serve his ultimate individual interests at the expense of the masses.

Early 1900 witnessed horrific violent conflicts in Africa; from civil wars, genocide, apartheid to dictatorships. The underlying causes for these conflicts varied as the conflict occurs when forces behind people’s interest are pulling in different or opposing directions, these interests are divergent, ranging from over recourses, overpower, over identity, over status, or overvalues. The aforementioned are all recipes for conflicts. While South Africa’s case presented a stark racial injustice between minority White South Africans and Black in South Africa. The former was the ruling party that subjugated the latter in collaboration with few South African Blacks. Blacks in South Africans lived in hell on earth in their own country; they were marginalized, terrorized, and terrified by minority white South Africans who happened to be the ruling party at the time. This marked the era of apartheid in South Africa. It started between 1948 and 1990 when the ruling government institutionalized racial injustice, land segregation, deprived black South Africans of their civil liberties, political rights, and freedoms.

In defiance to this, there was resistance from the South African blacks, some South Afrikaans, and other non-Afrikaans. This was confronted with police brutality, massive arrests, detention, torture, abductions, and muzzling of freedom of expression with intimidations. (US Institute for Peace 1995). As this continued, several international sanctions were made to the ruling party, hence negotiations ensued between the government and African National Congress (ANC). With the increasing internal dissent, international pressure, and the collapse of the Soviet Union, the apartheid government was forced to enter into negotiations with the ANC. This saw the collapse of apartheid and the ushering in of democratic rule in 1994 (South Africa History Online). The democratic elections were held in 1994, and an interim constitution was passed, the Truth and Reconciliation were set up by the newly elected parliament, The Promotion of National Unity Act.

Comparatively The Gambian citizens were basically ruled by presidential decrees after the seizures of power through a so-called bloodless coup. Henceforth, Human rights, dignity, and fundamental freedoms became a privilege only a few enjoyed in the country. The right to freedom of expression, the right to freedom of assembly, political pluralism all were stifled. The media was censored and opposition leaders were attacked, persecuted, detained, and enforcedly disappeared unjustifiably. As South Africans were divided and ruled on racial lines by minority whites, with the aid of other South African Blacks, The Gambia’s dark days began after a few disgruntled armed men took it up themselves to overthrow a legitimate government, and ruled the country with laws they deemed fitting to themselves with the help of lawyers, technocrats, security apparatus, and religious leaders. This later became a one-man show – who manipulated, monopolized, and perpetuated dictatorship to serve his ultimate self perpetuated leadership interests at the expense of the masses. This persisted all through the 22 years of his reign, (which most only came to light to Gambians during testimonies of witnesses during the commission’s public hearing). Until December 2016 Presidential Elections, which consequently gave birth to newfound freedom in the Gambia – democracy.

The following year, 2017, The Truth, Reconciliation, and Reparation Commission Act was passed into law by the newly elected National Assembly of the Gambia. Mandated to provide historical, comprehensive, and impartial records of human rights violations and abuses from July 1994 to January 2017. The creation of the Gambia’s TRRC is not only to bring Gambian people in harmony with their horrific past but also recommend institutional reforms which include but not limited to ending impunity. Herein lies the sharp difference as far as the goal of South Africa’s Truth and Reparation Commission and that Gambia’s TRRC is concerned. The former was solely and wholly created to promote national unity as stated in the act. A year after Nelson Mandela’s election as South African president, this debate shaped and reshaped the legislation – The Promotion of National Unity and Reconciliation Act – that authorized the TRC’s creation and charged it to administer a public amnesty process, attend to the interests and needs of victims, and create as “complete a picture as possible of the causes, nature, and extent of the gross violations of human rights” that occurred between 1960 and 1994 (Wikipedia).

While South Africa’s TRC was aimed at restorative justice rather than retributive justice – The Gambia’s model aims to achieve total reform anchored on transitional justice which includes deterring the repetition of such dark days in the country’s history. It is the worst history Gambians had ever lived since they gained independence. Thus, December 2016 Presidential election became the death kennel when the dictator regime got defeated in the most credible election throughout twenty-two years of dictatorship in The Gambia. The TRRC is expected to provide closure to enable the Gambia and Gambian people to move past the horrors of dictatorship. Similarly, South Africa emerged from the shadow of apartheid and confronted the question of how to deal with a bitter legacy of violence, social-political division, and material inequality. However, the goals of the two may differ, but there process are the same and one.

The South Africa TRC was divided into three commissions; Human Rights Violations Committee, Amnesty Committee, Reparation and Reconciliation Committee; Likewise The Gambia, the commission was divided into four special committees; Human Rights Committee, Gender & Child Sensitive Committee, The Reconciliation Committee, and Amnesty Recommendation Committee. Also, both Commission’s made public hearings to hear testimonies of witnesses which are televised and broadcasted worldwide. Although, South Africa’s TRC revelations were more terrifying, horrific, and heart-tearing compared to Gambia’s, the magnitude of pain, distress, and trauma of truth commissions’ revelations are pretty much very insidious. How power and authority had been misused and abused by our compatriots with indignity and impunity is a bitter pill to swallow.

However, It is important to note that, one must fundamental concern of truth commissions worldwide is that, their recommendations are often partially implemented. A bright example is South Africa’s TRC, in which over three hundred apartheid-era-related crimes such as deaths, abductions, sexual assaults, and enforced disappearances remain unsolved decades after its recommendations were submitted to the government. Gambians must be wary of such, and make sure that does not become our fate. This ultimately rests on the shoulders of the government to implement the recommendations to the letter, most importantly the Gambian citizens, especially members of the civil society must hold the government accountable in ensuring the full implementation of the TRRC recommendations for a meaningful transition to take effect.

The Raw and Unscripted: Pt.2

In the classroom, everyone is equally treated, but of course there is always ‘an apple eye’ of the teacher amongst the student folk. Like a herd, the teacher is the shepherd of the class. But even in the jungle, the herdsmen do not dwindle the welfare of the bulls, and the grazing of cows. The former for protecting the herd and conjugal duties, while the latter for milking. Inevitably, there are always those that will lead the class in exams, in tests and even in disturbance, the important thing is not be caught on the wrong footing all through your time in school.

In reaction to this incident, the entire class revolted on their colleague for being so indiscipline. “You must leave this class, and apologize to the teacher” the class prefect vehemently told him. Henceforth, the teacher enjoyed a full-blown respect from the entire class, but also neither absent nor late for that class. After all, his insolence paid dividend. To be rude doesn’t really benefit, but to be critical does. The student might had acted rudely but he was being critical too. Perhaps he should had done it politely. Often, teachers and school administrations are overlooked, overrated, and seldom hold accountable for their shortcomings. Reasons for this may varied but an unchecked leader is prone to legion of failures. “Our Headmistress is an iron lady,” one of the student told his colleagues from another school. “She reprimands teachers for lateness and undue absenteeism” he continued. “Likewise the students, she never hesitate to send you home to call your parents” interesting narratives as students gathered to gossip about the earlier incident in their class. The moment students approach Upper Basic, Junior School as popularly known – everything changes. As students become more exposed, more inclined, and more studiously curious, their lives are stuffed ranging from what they’re passionate about to what they find important.

“I can recalled, my first day at Junior school, I was a total stranger, everything and everyone look so different, and new at the same time. But, all of a sudden I belonged, and never have I ever dream of today, that everything would come to past”. Teacher told some students who where all newly intakes into the seventh grade. “You will make friends, foes, families and love ones too, probably. And It will be a long ride, sometimes smooth, other times hard like a rock, and most times interesting and worth the while. Like all of us, you would be face with challenges, disappointments, and failures – as well, there would be blissful moments and exciting ” She added. “Now it would be your ultimate task to remove the chaff from the grains, and whatever that means to you”. She concluded her speech. Although, students in the city do have constraints just as those in rural setups. E.g. some students in the city struggle to secure transportation to school, particularly children of the middle class, while those in the rural areas trek to their schools, except for those lucky to own bicycles, more like a dichotomy. Thus, stories untold, the raw and unscripted life of students in this part of the world is overwhelming. Learning is a fulfilling experience, but a bitter sweet journey too for many that undertake it. You ever wonder why people who are so learned seldom pompous? because true knowledge calms you; you become collected, thoughtful, and less of a talker.

Students in the seventh grade may still be a little premature compare to those in their tenth grade. But just as a recruit in a military, you remain the subordinate to those that senior you, in the case of the school system, the seven is subordinate to the eight, nine, eleventh and twelve grade. At this stage, you’re more like a baby, who is being nurtured into becoming an adult until such time that you’ve also climb the ladder. You will be bullied, discriminated, made foolish, and maybe unsolicited to sit with your seniors. “I got chased away the moment I sit beside them, in fact, anytime I sit beside them” a student complained to a fellow in the school. However, these discriminations, the biasness, and all that in between is not insidious, neither belligerent nor prejudicial but an antic of school life. The anti school subcultures; the stubborn, the wild, the rude, the aggressive, and the self-upright students are like ingredients that spicy up the raw life of a student – as it brings out the worst in students.

In the classroom, everyone is equally treated, but of course there is always ‘an apple eye’ of the teacher amongst the student folk. Like a herd, the teacher is the shepherd of the class. But even in the jungle, the herdsmen do not dwindle the welfare of the bulls, and the grazing of cows. The former for protecting the herd and conjugal duties, while the latter for milking. Inevitably, there are always those that will lead the class in exams, in tests and even in disturbance, the important thing is not be caught on the wrong footing all through your time in school.

All that matters through all the years spend from Lower Basic, Senior Secondary, to Tertiary level, boiled down to how much a student score in a test or examination, which remain the sole target of our teachers, and the students, rather than preparing students into becoming real life problem solvers. Hence, the search for knowledge mostly become significant to most students when we’ve become matured learners. i.e. when we begin tertiary education, as it is when we realize our individual potentials, carrier goals, strengths, and weaknesses. It is the target at Lower Basic (primary level) qualifying to Upper Basic. Likewise at Upper Basic and High school, although there are few exceptions, those that will be left behind for numerous reasons, those that would always fail, those that would always dropped out, and those whose parents are constrained to meet their financial commitments. In hindsight, no matter the size of your dreams as a student, often your goal is trimmed down to a passing grade to the next level. Notwithstanding, there are students, who would not settle for less, who like to win enormously, and excellently. Just as in real life, there are those that aim at wealth accumulation, and they would hustle and struggle for every penny and dime to make that million. Tertiary education provide an opportunity for students to horn their career goals and prepare for the changing world ahead. At this stage, most of the students already approach growth, puberty, and maturity with a carrier ambition. Suffice it to say, most students now days realise the significance knowledge, and its centrality to their livelihoods, upon enrollment at a tertiary institute.

However, tertiary education, for example university, is the highest learning institution in any country. Students at this level of their education are expected to be matured, responsible, and more proactive towards education. To be enrolled into university education is one thing, and to graduate is another. Some attend university to grab a certificate for promotion at work, others go to university to become a graduate, a specialist, or an expert in their domain, while others are just entice by the hype (even though that’s little among the lot who sign up for University education) of University life. For whatever reason, life at university is a more complex, demanding, and multitasking endeavor in the entire educational cycle of any. You would meet your father’s agemate, some your agemates, and others older than you – all struggling to get a degree in a bid to elevate their selves and their close affinities. “I do not get it what these old folks are going to with a university after they’d exceeded their prime lives” a student engaged his friends in a discourse. “You’re not okay, these old folks as you referred to them, are more conscious of what they want than you probably did”. A colleague responded swiftly. “Some of them have wealth of experience in their domains, they’re here for the paper – the certificate, and not to compete”. He added.

Learning is stages, and the younger you’re, the more vibrant you’re able to learn, more over, this world is a mysterious place. Also, nature is diverse, we all may have similar goals as far as education is concern, our stories are unique as per each individual’s reality. Thus, you’ll do yourself a great deal of good when you ceased to be judgmental, bias, inconsiderate and proud. “Be a bridge and not a wall; be hospital, upright, courteous and discipline at all times and towards everyone you meet in here, because tomorrow is mystery, and only divine power can ascertain the future”. Another colleague admonished him. They retired to their class to attend the final lecture of the day. By end of the day, they were given a group assignment, fortunately for them, the assignment was related to the work of one of their elderly student. Sooner than later, a student realised how he had been arrogant towards that guy. So now, he was forced to either swallow his pride and work with the man or exit the group, he was literally unhinged. It occurred to him that he is neither an island nor an omniscient.

The Raw and Unscripted: Pt.1

At school, various and all kind of life exist, and there is never an equilibrium, things have always work one’s favor in one way or another. You see children come to school rough, tired, hungry and sometime unfriendly. Yet ambitious, brilliant and focus. While others come with flashy shoes, stuffed with school materials, and appeared all civilized and neat, yet reckless, non-challan, and dull. More over, the dissent in class, between, among classmates and schoolmates is terribly exciting. Students tease each other on things such as who’s more of a eater, more of a slumber, more chaste or more of the opposite.

To have been there, seen it, feel it, and liven it, is the wholesome of any experience. Going through school, one could not be oblivious of the raw, ugly, beautiful, the dark, the light, the passionate, the petty, the kind, and the cruel life of it. School life is an interesting, exciting, and important endeavor in a lifetime. At most, everyone in our generation have one way or another do some school life. while many may have it on a silver plate, many others have it the hard the way. “I recalled I brought my own table and chair to school at my first grade, it may sound weird today but it was a fulfilling experience.” An old man said to a school going boy by the road, dressed neatly, and smart In a light blue shirt and dark short trouser uniform. The boy smile at the old man and say “things have changed Dad” the school boy responded with a soft speech, and his head bowed down as he walked passed the old man.

Conventional schooling used to be a forbidden fruit in provincial African societies. Today if you are not schooled, and educated in the rigorous ABC and 123 , you’ll probably be an outcast or some sort in their midst. Despite, It’ll amazed you to learn that lessons are taken under the shade of mango trees or on marts with school children sitting with legs stretched on the marts like traditional initiates in rural setups. Unlike most schools in the city, they’re electrified, classrooms have fans fixed on the roof blowing on the students as lessons are on, grotesque of inequality, poor governance and centralized development. A persistent flaw in leaderships of our governments yet unable to rid-off, and like a cancer it continue to eat at us. Conventional schooling was reserved for the privilege, and particularly male children in the 1960s towards the 1990s. Girls, women and females were limited to household chore, neat into boxes of kitchen and mothering. Until the 21st Century, when boys, girls, men and women wear skirt, trouser and tuck in their shirts, and bore their bags.

At school, various and all kind of life exist, and there is never an equilibrium, things have always work one’s favor in one way or another. You see children come to school rough, tired, hungry and sometime unfriendly. Yet ambitious, brilliant and focus. While others come with flashy shoes, stuffed with school materials, and appeared all civilized and neat, yet reckless, non-challan, and dull. More over, the dissent in class, between, among classmates and schoolmates is terribly exciting. Students tease each other on things such as who’s more of a eater, more of a slumber, more chaste or more of the opposite. Unequivocally, unpleasant notification of hunger in frequency is annoying, and very discomforting for everyone but exceptionally especially for school going children. Fortunately, many children in rural Gambia haven’t experience much of the aforementioned, school feeding has been here since the early 1990s. Yet, few still suffer this predicament in some part of the country due to poverty and bad governance.

The uniform symbolizes uniformity and equality in the school system, hence the pupils/students are like park of wolfs, with different strength and weaknesses but the same objective. School make us accommodating, tolerant, and human enough to appreciate and treat a colleague next to equal. One among many good values school inculcate in you; is to learn to unite in our diversities. It build us into better social beings, transformers, change makers, problem solvers, and leaders. Notwithstanding, beyond uniforms live characters, morals and values. As pupils/students come from diverse communities, homes, and families. Each with their flaws, morals, beliefs and values that define us. Some are insolent, arrogant, and outspoken. Some are shy, respectful, and reserved. It was on a Wednesday morning, pupils were all in class, and the teacher walked in. He was late, and quickly apologize for been late. Suddenly, a student asked “why are you late?”. The teacher was shocked as no students has ever ask him such a question. “Well, it’s personal” he tries to be gentle, linear, and polite. “I think I deserve to know, after all is our school fees you’re being paid with, we basically pay you” the boy added. “Leave my class please, now!” The teacher asks him out, to his dismay, the student refused.

_To be continued.

Pride meets Wisdom In Glory

Pride chose to never return to school since then, and even though the committee had not decided any verdict on his case. “He just couldn’t let go of arrogance. He lacked the fortitude for humility. That is what pride does, it consumes you alive, arrogant, and made many loss it all in their endeavors”. Remarked Wisdom.

Once upon a time, there lived an old man named Wisdom in a small village called Glory. He was seventy years old. Each day during the summer, he spent his days at a school if not at the farm working. Glory was a very populated village despite its size. Every morning, people trekked to work as it was about seven hundred meters away from the main high way. Likewise school going children, except for those privileged to own bicycles, they had to woke up as early as 6:00 am to avoid being late for school. Until Glory had schools. Wisdom was a caretaker at that High School where Pride was a student. He had four children, three female and one male. His boy, the eldest is a lawyer and a state council. His other two daughters are masters degree holders and owned a charitable foundation that sponsor needy children. But Wisdom never wanted to be a lazy man, hence he refused to resign from that caretaker work where he had spent almost his entire life alongside farming. “I was not lucky to underwent conventional school, because at the time we weren’t fortunate to had schools here. Not anywhere close either. He told Pride.

The young man was sincerely shocked how eloquent wisdom spoke, and that made him listened somehow for a brief moment. “I was enrolled into a school called home and graduated at a university called the Farm.” The old man told Pride upon their encounter at the school gate when Pride came late to school and found Wisdom at the gate and it was locked. Then he called on wisdom to open it. In a very insolent manner, as he peeped through the small opened window. “Hey old man, won’t you open the gate? In fact why do you have to lock it?” This was exactly how he addressed the old man. Wisdom calmly opened the door without uttering a response to him. He again rudely entered the school without even greeting the old man, walked straight to his class and sat. All of a sudden, the class teacher entered and asked to go and kneel down in front of the class. He couldn’t imagined the magnitude of shame that he was about to be subjected to. Because, he was famous both in the school and in the entire village as brilliant, handsome and rude. On this very day, he tried to exhibit his arrogance to Wisdom. But he had wished he never did.

During break time, he came to the old man’s spot and started yelling at him, literally insulting him because he was punished for being late. Then Wisdom grabbed him by the wrist. He continued speaking, “While at Farm, each day I had learned what it means to be patient, discipline, hardworking, honest and most importantly humble. Notwithstanding, your father never go to farm, was schooled in the conventional school system but he was not only knowledgeable, he has wisdom, a humble man. Not as if he wasn’t brave or some sort but he was very respectful and patient. He was going to the market to help his father in his textile shop where his school fees was paid from.” He scolded him now and made him subdued. “And it is because of him, in as much as I felt seriously violated and disrespected right now, I cannot do anything but to advice you” he concluded. Pride tried to misbehave but he was man handled by the old man. “You know nothing about my father, old man” he responded swiftly. “If your father was just as impatient, rude and arrogant like you are apparently, he may not have even live this long to have a chap like you insulted me” Wisdom told him as he lessen the grip on him.

Intermittently, he jumped on himself and started shouting, then all of a sudden, the entire school gathered at the gate post of the school campus. It was already a scene. Pride started screaming and the old man let loose him. And he was all over the place. “I will tell this to my father, you will know who you are messing with” he ran, took his bag and left the school. In the following morning, he came to the school with his father. As the father stepped into the school gate and saw Wisdom, he ran to embrace him and both exchanged pleasantries. Then Pride realised he had screwed up big time. And thus, the beginning of another story. Wisdom was later called to the Administration to discuss the issue of the boy, Pride.

Interestingly, It turned out that the old man was the chairman of the disciplinary committee. He was a very respectable man in the community and in the school, in particular. Besides that, he was part of the pioneers of the school in Glory. Most importantly, his daughters’ foundation were sponsoring over thousand students in that school. “I am truly sorry for this gross indiscipline” said the father of Pride while addressing the meeting. He furthered asked Pride to especially apologize to Wisdom. Yet, he refused and decided to walked out of the meeting. Pride chose to never return to school since then, and even though the committee had not decided any verdict on his case. “He just couldn’t let go of arrogance, because he lacked the fortitude for humility. That is what pride does, it consumes you alive, arrogant, and made many loss it all in their endeavors”. Remarked Wisdom as the meeting ended. Thereof, Pride went to enrolled into a private school.

After four years down the line, one day, he was called to answer to a job interview. As he entered the office, he sat and waited to be called in. He dressed majestically smart as he was a handsome young man. “Next” from the receptionist, then he stood up and walked in. Before he could take his seat, one of the interviewers called him by his name. He looked up and realised it was one of his classmates – one he had an unpleasant history with. “Hi Humble, how are you man”? he greeted the interviewer. “Hi Pride, I am fine thank you. Welcome to Key Enterprise, please take a seat”. He sat down. The panel of interviewers began to introduced themselves.

Suddenly, Pride abruptly left the interview room and went straight home. “I cannot imagined, Humble is the Chief Executive Officer of that company that called me for interview earlier today, Mother.” He sat with his mother and jealously told her this. “Okay, that is a great news then, consider that job yours”. The mother responded gladly. “Mom, are you serious right now? I will never ever work under that family member, no matter what. I rather stay unemployed than work for or under Humble or anyone associated with Wisdom. Unbelievable! listen to yourself. This is the only reason you are still unemployed. It is not only about your knowledge Pride, your character too matters my son. You have always been egocentric and if you do not get rid off that trait, I’m afraid you might remain like this for a lot while than you could ever imagined.” His mother stated to him vehemently. “Maybe you needed to be told the truth about Wisdom and his family. When we first came to Glory, that old man assisted your father in several endeavors and ever asked nothing in return. His daughters even paid your school fees; from your Junior school to High school.” The mother paused and hugged him. She continued, your father’s first appointment was facilitated by him. Pride, you meet Wisdom in Glory. So get yourself together and give his family their due regard.” his mother concluded and walked out from him. “I am heading out, your sister shared the lunch and yours is on the stove, help yourself whenever you wish. See you, bye”.

A Sunday Read: Life Evolves around Change

Change often sounds trivial and easy-to-do but it can be precarious; as in becoming a better version of anything, it is a must to be fiercely zealous, unapologetically determine and brazenly ambitious. More so, to extricate a system for a better version is a necessity that requires will power. After all, the world is a combination of good and evil, new and old, peculiar and common, strong and weak. And in much as these realities are unsolicited, they are the building blocks of our societies and our lives evolves around them daily

Change they said it is the only certainty in life. Notwithstanding, it is one of the most difficult and rather complex a choice man and the world by large is often confronted with. Either a change of personal life; change of government, a change of job, a change of environment, norm or culture. Change occurs in different perspectives and in all walks of life. Often, rather than not, we cling too formidably to our past or existing conditions that we seldom consider change. This has disproportionately disadvantaged some and left many a people and country indecisive of their fate as these phobias for change persist. Little did we know, we cannot be what we need to be by remaining what we are. This is evident of the fact that, life is a changing cycle – nothing on the face of the earth remain ever the same. If we can remember who we were and where we were ten years ago, compare that to present day, then we ought to know better. Because, everyone grows – as the true nature of life. Governments, institutions, people and even school syllabuses undergo changes – in hindsight, change is the only certainty. So it heartens to witness a generation of leaders and systems downplay change as per their greed and thirst for power.

If there is anything important in change, it is the opportunity to break away from the norm, dismantle shackles of oppression and barriers to seek freedom and embrace the courage to be challenged. It is the zeal to pursuit relentlessly goals and settle for nothing less. Although change can be either good or bad, in all dynamism, man must seek good and positive change. As positive change brings out the best in everything; It exterminate existing limiting forces to growth and progress, while negative change will bring out the worst in everything. It is the kind of change no men of good conscience desire; it is unfulfilling and ruins before it mends. Beside, life is made up of series of experiences that continuously shape our realities as we grow. These are neither obstacles nor threats but hurdles to be crossed. They’re are necessary part of the journey of life, just as how the dictators, the tyrants and despots are important expendables for eradicating poverty, injustice and bad governance.

Change often sounds trivial and easy-to-do but it can be precarious; as in becoming a better version of anything, it is a must to be fiercely zealous, unapologetically determine and brazenly ambitious. Likewise, to extricate a system for a better version is a necessity that requires will power. After all, the world is a combination of good and evil, new and old, peculiar and common, strong and weak. And in much as these realities are unsolicited, they are the building blocks of our societies and our lives evolves around them daily. Because seekers do not rest on the laurels of imagination and procrastination but persevere consistently in their quest. Meaningful change requires us to be consistently bold, brave and willing. As when we seek solutions to our problems such as; who become our president? Who become our parliamentarian? what kind of government can do the needful? or What kind of education do i want for my children? What kind of impact do we seek to make in the world? they remain an imagination, a thought and a dream until will, effort and perseverance is disburse into it. That’s until we’re willing and committed to change, then we will realize how life evolves around change.

FOUR YEARS GONE WITHOUT MAJOR REFORMS: GAMBIA AT 2021.

I hope we reflect and reason as election approaches. Because it’s our fate that hangs on the balance. Our children lack quality education, our pockets are often empty, our roads are horrible, hospitals lack equipment as basic as ventilators, oxygen machines and even gloves. This is appalling to say the least. In the autumn, we’re the judge in our own case. So how do we want the verdict to be?

The goal is to transform from what all men of good conscience detest & dispel, of whom all patriotic Gambians stood up to – a dictatorship, tyranny and authoritarianism. With the objectives of mending a broken system that rendered Gambian people helpless, hopeless and some homeless. Inspired by the need for change, democracy and development. Today, the aforementioned goals, objectives and inspirations don’t reflect any actions of the reigning government but the exact opposite of December 2016 elections aspirations.

In the course of this four consecutive years, we as a nation and people hold on to this single intrinsic human strength ‘HOPE’ for reforms, system change and a rebirth of Gambia for better. But only for these hopes to remain beautiful promises and assuring verbose speeches. Ubiquitously, major reform agendas potent of system change and the lifeblood of a progressive nation have been but disregarded – dwindling the entire transitional process. Critical is to not be oblivious of the fact that 2021 is the year that marks the end of one social contract and the commencement of another. The year we would make another most important decision by electing the next president, install the next government and certainly it is the year of reckoning for the incumbent.

Let’s take a brief review of this tenure so far so good. To begin with, at 2021 the Janneh Commission’s recommendations remain unimplemented to the letter. At 2021, the Security Secotor Reform is still without results, at 2021, the Anti-Corruption Commission is yet to be instituted and at 2021, the maiden Constitutional Building project trashed. Clearly, this government derail all the reasons it was voted into office for. Shamelessly, the same government keeps allocating itself unearned credits, claiming appraisals and bragging about its gross incompetence. Thus, this 2021 December elections, results not rhetorics we must vote for – ideas not sentiments. And importantly, merits not personalities should inform our choices. As I speak, voter registration for the 2021 December elections has been “postponed until further notice” according to an official statement released yesterday 4 January 2021 by Independent Electoral Commission(IEC), yet another setback. The salty thing is, reports have it that the postponement is a result of logistics problem. How flimsy an excuse is that? It is therefore undeniable that our president is more interested in consolidating power and prominence than doing the needful – the reason he’s voted into that office.

Finally, i would like to draw our attention to the pandemic. An unprecedented crisis that have the world most giant economies reeling and overwhelm health facilities across the globe. Thus, it affects the entire world in one shape or another. Notwithstanding, the pandemic has exposed structural deficiencies, dysfunctional leaderships and systematic corruption by governments and public officers alike. Gambia in particular has been tested and proven weaked in the face of this crisis. Monies had been pumped in to curb the adverse socioeconomic effects of the pandemic. As in April alone IMF and the World Bank had approved millions of dollars to the Gambia Government. Added to that were the subsequent emergency relief packages approved by our parliamentarians. Ironically, three third of the masses neither see nor feel the impact of these monies. Does this government earn our trust and loyalty? I bet you of all people know the answer to that.

The situation of our health sector is dire; dilapidated infrastructures and unequipped hospitals. A serious government in a third world country like ours would have thought of judiciously using these monies to improve the existing myriad challenges facing our health care sector, since covid-19 hasn’t hit our health sector that hard compare to other nations. Rather they do the obvious, squander everything. But what more to expect from a government that pride itself in power grabbing, gross incompetence and sheer guile? I hope we reflect and reason as election approaches. Because it’s our fate that hangs on the balance. Our children lack quality education, our pockets are often empty, our roads are horrible, hospitals lack equipment as basic as ventilators, oxygen machines and even gloves. This is appalling to say the least. In the autumn, we’re the judge in our own case. So how do we want the verdict to be?

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‘On the Eve of His Marriage’: An Ode by Sly

This poem renders so much to its readers than the poet could even imagine. It depicts an exquisite friendship between two people. And after years of riding, grinding and thriving together, and now that one of them is getting married – the poet could not but compose an Ode, a succinct and thoughtful piece – a genuine effort to bid his best friend and confidante farewell into couple life. The title of the poem ‘ON THE EVE OF HIS MARRIAGE’ depicts the exact circumstances in which in was at the time he writes the poem.

This poem renders so much to its readers than the poet could even imagine. It depicts an exquisite friendship between two people. And after years of riding, grinding and thriving together, and now that one of them is wedding – the poet could not but compose a beautiful, succinct and thoughtful poem, a genuine effort to bid his best friend and confidante farewell into couple life. The title of the poem ‘ON THE EVE OF HIS MARRIAGE’ depicts the exact circumstances in which in was at the time he writes the poem. The poem opens:

“It’s over a decade since our friendship blossomed

Sinking and swimming together, in joy and boredom

For our connection was ready made from God’s kingdom

Through thick and thin, we appreciated our “nonkon”

Always saw each other through, unabandoned” ……….1-5

In the first three stanzas, the persona is gratified by their friendship and made an exponential account of it as you read through the successive line in these stanzas. They lived like brothers of the same parents, in public so does in private as the poet writes: “We were each other’s keeper, In the open, in the dark, far and near” (line 6 and 7, stanza 2). As friends, both coexisted harmoniously as brothers – interestingly, at some point, they’d been thought to be twins as a result of their unfettered loyalty to each other all through. The persona indicates in explicit how strong and unbreakable a bond like their friendship is, a quintessential of true friendship and staunch brotherhood. The poet writes;

“We were thought to be twins

For we were always together like a single wing

Moving around closely in line and ring

With the objective of having history written

As the best friends ever living” ……… line 11-15, stanza 3.

The second line of the stanza above, the bard uses simile to describe as united and undividable they’re “for we were always together like a single wing” thus, they’re close confidantes and nothing could possibly separate them with the ambition of making history as “the best friends ever living”. Quite astonishing, intriguing yet fulfilling. Such poems go far and beyond the corridors of mere felicitation, they seek to establish the true of the matter about real friendship – build on trust, loyalty and understanding.

Meanwhile, in the last two stanzas, the poet admonishes his friend, offer advice and guidance as well as counselling to the wife with a vote of confidence about this friend’s zeal, strength and fortitude to run a matrimonial home. The poet knows marriage is a level in life that all men and women must inevitably reach at, some point in their life. Notwithstanding, marriage may be an extraordinary relationship that may require extraordinary skills; however, the persona holds no iota of that his friend is willing and able as a husband. The poem reads:

“Now you heading to a new life ration

With Mariama, you will build an institution

I know you are capable of making it function

For you have a good heart and good intentions

Very kind and gentle in all indications” ………… line 16-20.

Unequivocally; often in most cases our friends, confidantes, colleagues and compatriots know us better than our own parents and families due to the nature of their relationships. The poet in this poem represents such a figure to his friends. He’s genuinely honest, devoid of figurative language or unconscious bias. Furthermore, in the final stanza of the poem, the bard deploys some humour, through a synecdoche in line 16, stanza 4 (“ Mustapha’s problem is his stomach, Mariama”) and symbolism in line 18, stanza 4 (“They will tell you he is like ant hill of the savannah”,) in a didactical form that is vey relevant to the subject and tie the knot to the title of the poem with an allusion at the bottom, line 19 and 20, Take care of that and forget his grammar, Then you will forever live like Michelle and Obama”. The poet concludes:

“Mustapha’s problem is his stomach, Mariama

Ask Sol, Essa, Yankuba, and B Sama

They will tell you he is like ant hill of the savannah,

Take care of that and forget his grammar

Then you will forever live like Michelle and Obama” ….21-25

Author/Poet: Sly, is a graduate from the University of the Gambia with a degree in English Language. He's a season English language teacher in The Gambia and have authored many poems and short stories.

Analyses of Lenrie Peters Poem ‘We Have come Home’

This poem celebrates African students who have returned to their country after overseas study. To overcome all manner of prejudice and hardship in a hostile environment to get an education and return alive, was like surviving a war. Dejected, sad, humiliated, yet they were proud they were victorious and made it home in all good pieces. Their souls have been destroyed through indignation; they have been educated out of their culture and almost brought up to look down on themselves.

Lenrie Peters was born in former Bathurst, present day Banjul The Gambia in September, 1932. He was educated in the Gambia, Sierra Leone and England, where he eventually qualified as a surgeon. A talented man, he has always been interested in literature and has written plays, poems short stories and a novel, The Second Round.

Many of Lenrie Peters poems bear the mark of his profession in the use of anatomical and psychological imagery. Even the contexts within which he explores specific ideas relate to his training. Apart from writing, which has become for him a passionate pastime, he also sings and broadcasts. Peters was also the first Gambian chairman of WAEC. Today, he is best honoured as the father of Gambian Literature. He died May 27, 2009 Dakar, Senegal.

His early poetry is very much concerned with Africa, its destiny and especially its political, moral and cultural health. He was also concerned about the image of Africa in the eyes of the world. His poetry is sophisticated, even when his diction is simple, and this sometimes requires quite some intellectual effort to appreciate.

He has published volumes of poetry such as the Satellite, Katchikali and Collected poems. In studying his poems, i realized how relevant most of his works still are, and how much more there is that our generation of poets and emerging literal laureates could learn from. This is an early poem Peter had written soon after he returned home from his studies in Britain.

One of the fundamental concerns of Peter’s in his early poetry is the destructive effect of colonialism on the Africans. For the African, subjugation by colonial powers and the several changes this had through into his life, left him in a state of nihilism like many African elites, of spiritual and psychological conflict.

WE HAVE COME HOME

we have come home

From the bloodless wars

With sunken hearts

Our boots full of pride –

From the true massacre of the soul

When we have asked

“What does it cost to be loved and left alone” … 1-8

This poem celebrates African students who have returned to their country after overseas study. To overcome all manner of prejudice and hardship in a hostile environment to get an education and return alive, was like surviving a war. Dejected, sad, humiliated, yet they were proud they were victorious and made it home in all good pieces. Their souls have been destroyed through indignation; they have been educated out of their culture and almost brought up to look down on themselves.

The poem depicts how colonial powers claimed to came out of love to enlighten the colonized. Thus, in view of the defects of colonialism, the persona would wish Africans had been left alone to make their own choices, mistakes and take charge of their destiny.

They should not have been indoctrinated and brutalised in such a manner that has left Africa barren, stripped off her dignity. Meanwhile, from line nine to fifteen (10-15); the poet find no pride in his western education and all that it may encompasses seems only an ornament as returning students would need less of what they’d learned to integrate back into their respective communities.

“we have come home

Bringing the pledge

which is written in rainbow colours

Across the sky…..

To lay wreaths

For yesterday’s crimes” 11-17

Although the students are proud that had successfully completed their studies with flying colours but returned home with consternation in their hearts, minds and spirits as their earlier experiences abroad and the uncertainties that await them at home.

We have come home

“When the dawn falters

Singing songs of our lands

The death march

Violating our ears

Knowing all our loves and tears

Determined by the spinning coin” 25-31

These lines depicts the unforeseen realities they find home; as to falter is to move or walk unsteadily as through fear. The persona is disturbed as states in line 28 “violating the ears” meaning the grill on the ear is quite an unpleasant sound to endure

Homecomings are meant to attract jubilation but it is the contrary in the persona’s experience as their fate remain murky despite the white man’s papers; in line 31 “Determined by the spinning coin”. Figuratively, to spin a coin is to determine something by chance. In hindsight, Africa do not have control over their fortunes which are determined by the fancies of others – the colonial powers.

“Of warm and mellow birdsong

To the hot beaches

Where the boats go out to sea

Threshing the ocean’s harvest

And the hovering plunging

Gliding gulls shower kisses on the waves” 35-40

The repetition of progressive tenses such as hovering, plunging and gliding depicts sounds of birds, qualifying the use of onomatopoeia. Moreover, there is a feeling of dismay as the poet is distressed in view of the circumstances. However, in spite of the deplorable situation the poet is determined to never give up with all the worn-out body and diminished spirit – through perseverance, he refused to be weaken more or less die while demanding to be dignify.

“The sudden spirit

Lingers on the road

Supporting the tortured remnants

Of the flesh

That spirit which asks no favour

Of the world

But to have dignity”. 45-51

The persona also indicates how painfully aware they are for the fight needed upon their immediate past and present situations. This incubation atmosphere is established in the first few lines which also underpin clearly at the sad and deeply reflective tone of the poet. The sense of foreboding in the poem is heightened by the symbolic use of time (evening and dark). For it is night now and it is not the beautiful moon that shines but the dark sun.

Editor’s pick: A Tribute in Honor of George Floyd and Black Lives Matter Advocacy.

With the onslaughts of widespread uprisings across the globe recently all precipitated by the brutal killing of a brother in humanity by some miscreant derelicts that represent a repressive system, here I put a knee down and raise my hand high in the air to not only celebrate the victory but urge everyone to be a rejecter of bad conduct.

As we’ve reached to a more or less escalation in the fight against racism, injustices and police brutality on the people of colour in everywhere around the world, there’s unprecedented hope for bigger changes anytime soon. With the onslaughts of widespread uprisings across the globe recently all precipitated by the brutal killing of a brother in humanity by some miscreant derelicts that represent a repressive system, here I put a knee down and raise my hand high in the air to not only celebrate the victory but urge everyone to be a rejecter of bad conduct. What the future holds remains promising and part of this assures one that this bad depriving system against the black race and other minorities is peering towards its doomsday.

We, as man- and woman-kind, continue to mourn George Floyd. His demise is deeply painful but it is one that marks the beginning of an end to centuries of racism and injustices meted out on minorities profound of whom are blacks. The trio savages pinned him down and eventually took his life but he is not dead. His flesh and born are covered in deep yonder the earth but his spirit is right here amongst our midst (the people of conscience, reason, and empathy) of which the sensation can be felt in the hearts of those with one. Well, everybody has a body but not every body has a heart. His name shall forever be remembered in world history henceforth. My 21-gun salute fired in honour of King George!!!

Fast forward, King George Floyd cried and begged for only one thing ‘I COULDN’T BREATHE’ until his life was taken. One thing that is as small as a second yet he was deprived of it until he is no more. What an utter wickedness shown here! It can’t get off my mind and since then, my being is grossly affected. It makes me scared of not the police but the system all around the world. This ain’t only about George Floyd, the three ex-police officers, racism against blacks or the United States anymore. It goes beyond that limit. This bizarre scene is found in everywhere on the globe. It is a global phenomenon. One more lethal than Covid-19, HIV, and other diseases that kill people in more than twos and threes. All the time, governments and their respective institutions subtly propagate and administer such wickedness on the people. This is all they do: killing innocent harmless people.

Cinemagraphically, the killer ex-police officer represents the bad governments we have, the other two police officers, the allies of oppressive regimes in this case, are the internal institutions like the Justice Department, Mr Floyd, the victim, is the poor people, and the bystanders who prefer taking videos and avoid being convicted of assault over saving a goddamn dying harmless man are the International Institutions like WB, AU,ICC, IMF, Ecowas, etc.

This was done on Mr Floyd. Nevertheless, thinking that we are likewise not pinned down on the ground and being suffocated is a mortal sin. Yes, we are all in the same shoe as Mr Floyd. In the same victimised shoe of oppression, marginalization, corruption, crookedness, and servitude. He is just part of a bigger group that can’t breathe to a system that keeps suffocating them. The struggle and fight for BLM, black consciousness, and racial discriminations lives on and on within us until changes do not only occur on the workplace, the streets of USA, or in the law books but also in everywhere else in the world and in every aspect in society .

The struggle continues until and unless crooked and corrupt governments, leaders, bad institutions, and legacies of tyrants and tyranny are stopped, dismantled, discredited from wining and dining from our sweat, blood, and flesh. Until then, avenging the lives of George Floyd, Dr King, Elhaji Malik Al-Shabaab, Thomas Sankere, Bob Marley, and millions of others brutally and unjustifiably taken remain far from realization.

To be continued…

Author:

Alhagie Lowe alias Elijah is an Essayist and a Social Commentator. He holds a B.A in English language and Economics from the University of The Gambia (UTG). He’s also a contributing writer at The Liberal Post

Gambia: Youths must not allow to be Political Pawns

No wonder Bakary Badjie came at this eleventh hour as youth minister, once known to be an ardent youth empowerer, to galvanise youth support and votes for the presidency

Unequivocally, it is a given that young people of the country have been sidelined for far too long in both political participation and decision making in this country. For over five decades on, youths in Gambia have been only a tool for amplifying political entourages, supporting and rallying behind politicians and what they represent – in the fury of ambience and fanfare. Young people consistently render support to parties to gain victory. In return, all we get are assurances and verbose promises of empowerment – but seldom are those promises kept beyond deceptive campaign manifestos.

Reality Check: Our youths are left to languish in mile 2 for cannabis, arm robbery or burglary because man has to put food on the table or man has to fill the stomach when employment is scarce. Youths are working for businesses and companies (the Lebanese and the Indians) and they’re being exploited beyond measure, yet they’d to endure – as there isn’t much of a choice either. Youths gain them momentum & victory – like Jammeh had used them to advance his political career and garnered their support, their votes and their loyalty: The Green Boys, whom of most ended up in our security.

Barrow came and introduced a similar trend; Barrow Youth Movement and Barrow Fans Club. After a while, realizing that young people of this country, especially those eligible to vote are gaining political consciousness by day, hence large chunk of Gambian youths aren’t the least impressed by his presidency. He has indicated determination to explore myriad ways of canvassing youths support. His government is not a government of, for or by the youths.

Gambia is predominantly a youthful population, yet young people of this nation are the most disadvantaged; face with a deeply rotten education system that produce few assets and many liabilities, limited employment opportunities, centralised job market coupled with poor wages.

The common adage that “there are no permanent friends in politics, only permanent interests”, it’s alive and kicking. Hadrammeh, the predecessor of Bakary Badjie wasn’t a youth and not as if Barrow cares until he does. Informed that most Gmbaian youths have confident and trust in Bakary, he seized the opportunity to use him entice youths’ support for him, come 2021 election. Clearly, he’s determine, no matter the cost, to stay president for the next term and beyond. And that should be youths utmost responsibility to dispel, and stand against such an act by our minister.

Truth of the matter: Apparently, he’s using the youth’s minister to get to the youths because, Barrow is desperate, power agitated and willing to device any means, just stay in power come 2021. No wonder Bakary Badjie came at this eleventh hour as youth minister, once known to be an ardent youth empowerer, to galvanise youth support and votes for the presidency. To this effect, we are utterly disappointed in Bakary Badjie of all people – in going so low in propagandizing for President Barrow, instead of focusing on youth development and empowerment as a youth minister which Gambian youths direly desired.

We need a non-partisan and development driven youth to protect youth’s interest at national level (highest echelons of decision making). Bakary Badjie is not the kind Gambian youths can trust to promote and protect their interests without being compromised. So youths must not allow to be political pawns.

On a final note: Gambian youths must not get into politics in a bid to secure an opportunity, job or status. There’s no job as sacred as that of a public office job, yet it is the most difficult and unlucrative business for anyone haunting treasures. Thus, be it Bakary Badjie or any youth into politics who’s sole aim is to grab opportunities, political and economic upliftment – you’re not fit into our public office, for you’re not genuine.

Gambia is predominantly a youthful population, yet young people of this nation are the most disadvantaged; face with a deeply rotten education system that produce few assets and many liabilities, limited employment opportunities, centralised job market coupled with poor wages. And we bear the brunt of this sufferance, Gambian youths.

Power Play: A Tale of two distinct characters in a Familiar world.

Scandals affect companies in an adverse way that could erode the good reputation of such a company. As a result stockholders can retract their investments which is just bad for business. All these are amongst the legion of reasons why UPI cannot afford a scandal, especially from the CEO. Marshall Weston now found himself in a dilemma, a hot soup. The options are; to choose Liz, his family and the corporate wife that supports him and standby him in times of both hard and smooth, the one he legally married or to choose the girl of his dreams; the young Californian damsel Ashley Briggs. A young pretty lady in her prime and emotionally vulnerable. The young beauty he’s passionately attracted to, irresistibly in love with her as he claimed but spent eight years procrastinating to marry her, while enjoying the intimacy, the cuddling and the romance she renders.

Book Review: Power Play

Author: Danielle Steel

Chapters: 27

Page count: 337

Power Play is a thriller, a love story and a family affair. It is a book that will keep you at it. As you read, you got immerse in it unimaginably. The book is themed on power dynamics and what some people do to secure positions, authority and reputation. It is a given that power like wealth is never enough for many that has taste it. The character of Marshall Weston has proven this to be a fact. He is the perfect type of guy who uses his power and position to live a double life. A mistress and a family. And weave first to pay a bimbo off the moment his clandestine one night stand was divulged, in a bid to avoid a scandal. His wife, a law graduate who threw her degree into the bin, stayed home, and be his corporate wife, support him on his career and be a mother to their children has become the victim of a liar, a cheat and man who’s always involve in sex scandals.

Unlike Fiona Carson, a female CEO, a single mother to two – who lives a decent, admirable and reserved. She spend her valuable leisure time with her children. Everyone who knew about Fiona would had come to her. She was divorced a long time ago and have since remain single for six consecutive years until Logan Smith showed up. A New York Times writer, who won series of Pulitzer for his interviews including the one he did with Mandela in South Africa. He’s brilliant and handsome a gentleman. A reporter with vigor and valor that he had turn-on Fiona’s six years shutdown emotion that lit up till the end. And made her worthy of love and life outside the corporate walls.

However, there seems to be some unconscious biases in the book with regards to how Danielle Steel portrayed men in power in contrast to women in power. Presenting Marshall Weston as a man who could not be faithful to his wife and trustworthy to his children. That female leaders do better than male leaders. The author crafted Fiona’s character as a modern woman, educated, intelligent with a well composed personality. She’s down to earth, hardworking and leaves nothing to be criticize for. She’s like the Thatcher of her own world when she had to fire Harding William, a male board chair who got involved with a journalist lady and eventually divulged the company’s sensitive information to her. violating his oath of secrecy.

Harding has never respected Fiona simply because she’s a woman, but more so because Fiona is a leader in a man’s world. The CEO of a multimillion dollar company with over thousand employees under her. The Author reminded us that, even in most difficult jobs of the word, women are eligible and can perform incredibly well as men – or even better. Fiona Carson had always faced bullies and unsolicited criticism from Harding William’s and sometimes receive personal attacks from him, even during board meetings. But he knew her strength when he’d gotten compromised and Fiona had her shot at him. She was yet respectful and professional as always.

Men like Marshall Weston are accustomed to scandals. His infidelity was attitudinal. How he lived a liar for over eight years, and has a method of surviving scandals (by paying off the ladies involved) and had worked for him until it does not anymore. It is fair to conclude that, most men in power has always turned deceitful, cunning and unfaithful as love partners. Marshall lived a double life, one in Washington with Liz and another with Ashley at California to the extent of having two babies out of wedlock. And he lived that reality for eight years. As in chapter 7-16, when his double life became clear to UPI Board, led by a female Chair Connie Feinberg. Marshall was compelled to make a choice between his mistress at Malibu or his corporate wife at Tahoe, in San Francisco (the immediate family of three).

At this juncture, Marshall had a plan but doesn’t know how to execute it. He either goes to California end things with the mistress and compensate her, as he always does. For him, flinging around was another business for him that he takes care of, like he does with corporate work, incase of an emergence of scandal. But Ashley wasn’t just any woman in his life. She loved him for eight years and gave him twins besides that and had been living with a hope that Marshall will marry her. Scandals affect companies in an adverse way that could erode the good reputation of such a company. As a result stockholders can retract their investments which is just bad for business. All these are amongst the legion of reasons why UPI cannot afford a scandal, especially from the CEO.

In chapter 18 – 22, Marshall Weston now found himself in a dilemma, a hot soup. The options are; to choose Liz, his family and the corporate wife that supports him and standby him in times of both hard and smooth, the one he legally married or to choose the girl of his dreams; the young Californian damsel Ashley Briggs. A young pretty lady in her prime and emotionally vulnerable. The young beauty he’s passionately attracted to, irresistibly in love with her as he claimed but spent eight years procrastinating to marry her, while enjoying the intimacy, the cuddling and the romance she renders. Marshall initially intended to lay off Ashley and continue with his family. But all these became impossible the moment he arrived in Malibu and made love to Ashley.


Intermittently, everything went alive once again. Hence, he resorted to Liz, the wife. After reaching home, he didn’t hesitate. He concluded that, Ashley is younger yet romantic and suited his needs as a CEO with untamed zeal for sexual life. But one cannot have it both ways, Ashley too does not trust him anymore. She’d known better and seen it all from Marshall when he made it crystal to her that his career was challenged because of his double life, and that he initially thought of leaving her instead of Liz. This served as a waking up call for her. For over eight years Marshall could not make the hard choice of divorcing Liz until now that his job is at stake. Similarly, now that Ashley’s childhood lover showed up, and they had started going out and have kissed twice, she begins to feel herself again. Unlike with Marshall, where she’s only a mistress for nights pleasure. She endured, until she could not.

Simultaneously, Marshall has already made his attempt and told Liz about Ashley and that he’s divorcing her for her. He never think for once how the other parties may be affected by the whole matter. His decision seems to be just for his only sake and anyone else. The children, both the mistress’s and the immediate family are already taken care of as he called it. His will has did that for him. Only the kinds of Marshall Weston would care little or nothing about the psychological and lifelong repercussions of breaking up a woman’s hearts, who had gave you forty years of marriage. And such kinds are everywhere; far and beyond America.

Ashley cast-off the chains and liberated herself. It was one day, as Ashley over thought the issue once again, she went nuts and go straight to UPI and blew it on Marshall’s face right in his office. She rant and vent to him that she’s not a back up plan or a family wrecker as he’d supposedly assigned her to be. It was hard for her but she went ahead with it and took the bull by the horn. After all, it became vivid that, Marshall didn’t love her in as much he claimed. Since Ashley did that, he never called or came around again to Malibu. Ashley went heavy hearted those days, but she finally got over it with Geoff around, the childhood lover.

Marshall got it all wrong, his believed in power and his successes made him made all the wrong decisions about life outside the corporate walls. All he had cared and loved was himself and his career and how to secure that. And whatever threatens that, it had to be crushed away. This time around, his position at UPI as CEO was massively threatened. It was later hard for him to stay after that he had an handsome offer at another company called Boston Technology, though a smaller one than UPI yet with parallel benefits or even more than he was receiving at UPI. He lost Liz, Ashley and his children to secure power and maintain his reputation as an invaluable CEO of his time.

Here’s where I got off foot with Danielle Steel, why must Marshall Weston, after all these misdemeanors in the corporate world, rise and shine again like a phoenix to gain such an offer from BT? His personal and moral conducts to me must matter as much as his professional conducts do. Marshall had been faulted morally, to had been involved in two sexual scandals; one is Megan Wheeler’s sexual harassments and then the double life with his mistress. To me, Marshall only deserves a dismissal and not a job offer.

Back cover of the book: Power Play

By contrast, Fiona is the humblest kind of CEO portrayed in Power Play. She doesn’t fancy spotlight or publicity. Yet works very hard behind the scenes to scale up the NTA’s stocks. And she’s never involved with a man for six years. All her time is dedicated to corporate work and family. She’s by far and large an exceptional CEO in ‘Power Play’. Except to Harding William, the Chair of the Board of NTA who disapproved of her capabilities – because of his gender biasness. He’s a misogynist and a bully. Yet, she remain focused and ever determined to get the work done. Thus, there was no room for her to be involved in any scandal or some sort. The company’s board respects him so much and her reputation proceeds her in the corporate world. She is a well respected CEO in the corporate world as a matter of fact, many reporters, like Logan and her own sister admire her personality, and often quote her as an exemplary leader comparison to her male counterparts.


In spite of how she felt about Logan Smith and how intimately attracted they’d became off recent, she didn’t hesitate to confront him when she saw her picture in Wall Street Journal next to Marshall Weston, an article written by Logan. Because he thought Logan violated their rule “not to use her as a source, ever” because that was how they initially met. As Logan was looking forward to writing a book about male CEOs being berserks than female CEOs. Then they eventually became friends, as Fiona refused to be a source. But she read the WSJ paper for that morning. As they’d been spending nice times together as lovers. Which was for the first time in six years after she’d divorced.

Fiona saw her words verbatim in Logan’s bylines and got mad instantly. She waited for the man to come and she went raged on him unknowing that a source from UPI gave Logan those information about Marshall Weston. But one of the reasons Fiona confronted him was she was compared with Marshall. Which she doesn’t like. She doesn’t want to be on publicity. For the same reason she stayed in the shadows without an interview or alike. Unlike many male CEOs. Fiona is humbled even though a CEO cannot be unnoticed, but Fiona managed to keep a low profile. Such is a rare type of a leader. Often people view female leaders as arrogant, pompous and inconsiderate. Fiona Carson beat that.

As you left the pages of Power Play, you’ll concord with me that, female leaders tend to be more cautious, proactive, productive and humble at the helm of affairs. Some of the themes displayed in this masterpiece are intriguing, fulfilling, educational and didactical. Love is sometimes overrated, and power is a wheel, like a car the custodian is the driver. So the reality of power depends on how we wield it. Likewise, success is not only about accumulating wealth, but how such a wealth is spent. The character of Fiona teaches that powerful and successful people can yet be morally decent, professional mannered and humanly humble depending on the persona they seeks to depict for self. If there is anything to learn from this book, includes but not limited to power dynamics in the corporate world. And lifestyles of certain capitalists.

Another lesson is that how power is wielded by some of them. Through gender dimension, Fiona the female CEO, proved that if men can be CEOs, women can be too, even much better. That gender equity is workable. While Marshall the male CEO and Harding Williams depict men who use power to deceive women, especially young women and often got involved into sexual scandals. With their power and status, often feel untouchable and sexually flamboyant. As Ashley Briggs was once a staff of UPI where Marshall had been CEO; and that tells you as much as you need to know about their latter relationship. And Harding William was the Chair of NTA Board but never approve of Fiona Carson as CEO. And was cheating his wife with a reporter to whom he disclosed sensitive company information. This is a tale of two distinct characters in a familiar world. Lot to learn from!

P.S: I recommend this book for anyone interested in thrilling stories; of romance, love, family and the stakes involve in securing power at all cost.

Gambia: Time to Reflect and Reason as Election Looms Pt.1

The series of promises the president makes to Gambian people during the 2016 campaigns and the terrain of the government apparently, are two opposite realities. Unequivocally, they were meant for political gains, pre-meditated and intended to canvas votes. Thus, this only shatter hopes at the end of the day. Therefore, Gambia, is time to reflect and reason for whom to entrust power to again come what may in 2021.

I have concluded that there cannot be anything as sacred as honesty as far as leadership is concerned. Honesty is a commodity most of us claim to possessed, in reality only few can purchase this hard-earned currency. Being honest in any situation is a hard-choice many people find intrigued in making. Yes, it is, because apparently in Gambia we have people as significant as our leaders who cannot be honest. If our leaders can say anything while they seek our votes, and retrieved it upon getting into office, or act in contrary then ‘being honest’ is indeed a hard-earned currency – and our leaders cannot just afford it. Just as Oscar Wilde put it, “the truth is rarely pure and never simple”.

The series of promises the president makes to Gambian people during the 2016 campaigns and the terrain of the government apparently, are two opposite realities. Unequivocally, they were meant for political gains, pre-meditated and intended to canvas votes. Thus, this only shatter hopes at the end of the day. Therefore, Gambia, is time to reflect and reason to whom we entrust power to again 2021.

Time and again, they make promises they can ever fulfill, introduce policies that aren’t the least realistic, what follows are embezzlement – While Gambian people extantly suffer in poverty, pain, agony and distress from the political and economic class; those entrusted with state power, authority, resources and integrity. They are the “ambassadors of poverty, who’s heads, are abroad and anus at home, the corrupt masters of our economy”. We must not repeat the same mistake of voting out of desperation – we must make an informed decision 2021. We have seen the traitors, the demagogues and the political impostors. Their ungrateful beings and greedy wings are hard to unnoticed as they ‘grab while their time last’ with no remorse, shame or morale.

President Adama Barrow, sometime in Janunary, 2017

It therefore begs these questions, why must we continue to vote for such inconsiderate human beings and cunning elites? Why must we continue to ride with these politicians on the pretext of lies and deceptive policies? When our miserable lives of poverty, injustice and inequality deteriorates. This is neither inherited nor destined but invested in us by our so-called politicians. Don’t we learn? Should these continue to define our reality as a nation? NO! it shouldn’t. We need a meaningful change; by this, not only a change of leadership, government or regime. But a change that will transform the system and institutions of the state. To begin with, we must first teach ourselves, peers, colleagues and most importantly our children about patriotism and core values of a civilized, liberated and informed citizenry – homes, schools, traffics, market and in the streets.

The Invincible Foe: A Lethal Virus that Stroke Humanity|Covid-19

A lethal virus has stroke humanity while left us imagining our world anew. It is the world’s newest threat and most ferocious enemy – ravaging three third of the world’s population. A potent mass murderer that has claim thousands of lives, jobs and restrict normal life. As heart-rending as it sounds, global poverty is expected to increase for the first time in more than two decades. According to recent analysis from the World Bank, “about 49 million people from Sub-Sahara Africa and South Asia will be push into poverty”. These is one among legion of impacts this invincible foe has cause humanity.

An Excerpt of my Submission to the Covid-19 Short Story Competition held June/July 2020 organised by Writer Association of the Gambia (WAG) and National Center for Arts and Culture (NCAC)

For the first time in a long time, the entire world shut down for months. Approximately one hundred and sixty days, three thousand six hundred and fifty hours, twelve thousand nine hundred and sixty seconds, the world remain under lock down. Businesses halt, normal life interrupted, economic and social activities disrupted. This is the story of an invincible foe. This foe referred to here is a virus, a highly contagious and deadly virus.  According to World Health Organisation – Regional Office for Africa, “Corona-viruses are a family of viruses that includes the common cold, SARS and MERS. The most recent outbreak involves a new strain that previously had not been identified in humans”. The emergence and spread of this virus is unprecedented and quite catastrophic. The first case was reported to WHO Country Office in China December 2019 as a pneumonia of unknown cause detected in Wuhan. Subsequently, in 11th February 2020, they announce a name for the new corona-virus disease: COVID-19, little did we know we are face with a mortal enemy of 21st century, until 11th March, 2020 when it was declared a global pandemic.

A lethal virus has stroke humanity while left us imagining our world anew. It is the world’s newest threat and most ferocious enemy – ravaging three third of the world’s population. A potent mass murderer that has claim thousands of lives, jobs and restrict normal life. As heart-rending as it sounds, global poverty is expected to increase for the first time in more than two decades. According to recent analysis from the World Bank, “about 49 million people from Sub-Sahara Africa and South Asia will be push into poverty”. These is one among legion of impacts this invincible foe has cause humanity.

The social impacts of covid-19 goes beyond the social distancing intricacies; the restrictions has stop the economic activities of daily income earners in the informal sector. Social distancing has forced companies and job industries to embrace virtual working spaces; working remotely from home. Meanwhile, it close schools, football fields and markets.

Furthermore, it has triggered economic crisis and financial fall-outs across the globe. Since the onset of the pandemic, thousands of jobs are lost, unemployment escalates – especially in the informal sectors. While thousands are ask to work from home or shift duties at work in observance of social and physical distancing, informal workers are left in dilemma in a debacle. According to International Labour Organisation, “about 1.6 billion workers have suffered massive damage to their ability to earn a living”. In hindsight, just as covid-19 attack populations, so does it to the economy. Job industries such as tourism, airlines and hotels are the most affected, as they’re left are at a standstill for more than three months. Economists and analysts have argued that, the world could be witnessing the greatest financial depression since 2008.

More disturbingly, food insecurity has threatened third world countries if the lock down is not ease for economic activities. World Food Program (WFP) has warn global leaders, that 2020 would bring the “worst humanitarian crisis since world war two” as already, an estimated 135 million people face starvation globally. In Gambia, food scarcity is expected to ensue if the lock down continues without stimulus packages for consumers, especially those in the informal sectors. This invincible foe has affect lives and livelihoods unimaginably, thus, humanity and the world in general, may never be same again.

Covid-19: The Prevailing Bias in MoBSE’s Distance Learning Initiative

To define equity in its broadest terms; it is having the opportunity and resources that everyone needs to succeed at whatever level, thus, where is equity in this initiative? When one section of the students benefit from all the opportunities that this initiative brings along, while other students are left unattended to. This is the growing unchanging opportunity gaps which keep widening the achievement gaps in our education system, yet.

Opinion

As Covid-19 continues to affect all walks of life, equitable access to education remain a grave challenge in Gambia, despite the distance learning initiative by Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education (MOBSE). It is little over two months when this initiative was first introduced by MOBSE. Though, great strides are made to make this initiative as effective and efficient as possible, yet some students are left behind, particularly few subjects are been sidelined systemically, one among them is Literature-in-English.

Recently, we learned about Gambia Teachers Union’s (GTU) donation of some radio sets to vulnerable communities for their children to benefit from the distance learning initiative. This is a laudable effort and deserves recognition. However, the fact remain, people living in the rural setups in the Gambia are not benefitting from this initiative in as much as they should, compare to those in the urban setups. Equivocally, Internet is more reliable and affordable in urban settlements than the rural settlements. Besides, some rural settlements struggle to get radio coverages ,only few radio stations are viable, such as (GRTS) Gambia Radio and Television Services, which is the least reliable among the lot. It is important to note that, students in the Upper Basic doing Literature-in-English are left behind, marginalized. This subject is an examinable subject at both Upper and Senior Secondary level (GABECE & WASSCE), moreso, Literature-in-English augment english grammar, improve students’ critical thinking ability, while honing their writing as well as literal skills.

The subject is intrinsic to the life of a social science student; in journalism, communications, public administration, law, public relations and international relations. Yes, these are few among the prospects social science students could pursue open completion of a course in literature-in-English domain areas. Moreover,  it deepens student’s worldview, as literature students are often exposed to texts and books about different cultures, different worlds and diverse walks of life; ranging from humanity, work, academia and governance. Through these texts, poems and books, students of literature become informed and aware of other civilizations, and cultures that altogether make up this world. The diversities they’re exposed to, groom them to be tolerant, respectful, compassionate and critical in thought as well as in action.

It is quite disheartening to say the least, that students doing this subject are left behind during this pandemic, thanks to MOBSE’s distance learning initiative. For over two months they have witness daily, from Monday to Thursday, lessons offered in almost all other subjects except literature-in-English, which is bias. They are blatantly disregarded, disengaged and pretty much neglected. To define equity in its broadest terms; it is having the opportunity and resources that everyone needs to succeed at whatever level, thus, where is equity in this initiative? When one section of the students benefit from all the opportunities that this initiative brings along, whilst other students are left behind indiscriminately.  This are the unchanging growing opportunity gaps which keep widening the achievement gaps in our education system.

While education policies of the country may provide for equity, the educational response to covid-19 crisis remain inequitable and bias.

Literature-in-English is optional\elective at Upper Basic level, as a result, many students do not choose it due to how the subject is treated. Consequently, reading habit has become pretty much a hard-earn-currency for many that find reading and writing sophisticated. In hindsight, Literature-in-English could have been the medium in which reading hobbies are inculcated in Upper Basic pupils’, as this will further develop their passion for the subject, simultaneously diminishing phobia for voluntary reading habit, as such that, when they arrive at high school, reading and text analysis become a skillset for all of them. This terrain of unjust treatment of literature-in-English in our schools continue to have an overarching ramification on the growth of our creative industries in Gambia.

Meanwhile, one may argue that, there are numerous emerging poets, authors and passionate writers, especially from the country’s highest institution of learning,(University of the Gambia), yet one can count how many are really reading Gambian literature out of their course work, or reading for the love of books. As that habit have not been nurtured at the foundation level, Upper Basic and certainly Senior Secondary, a by-product of the irrelevance often mildly attached to the subject, as evident in MoBSE’s distance learning initiative. While education policies of the country may provisioned equity, the educational response to covid-19 crisis, lacks equity. The ministry and the team behind this initiative must be wary of a futile adventure, because Literature-in-English, likewise Physics and Financial Accounting are all very relevant to students, and ought to be treated with the same degree of importance. To sum this up, how would they examine them when that is due? Which they’ll, inevitably.

The Phoenix: Depicting Africa’s Untold realities on Women Abuse and the unending Colonialism

Through these poems, a typical traditional African socio cultural norms are exposed yet challenged. The anthology pictured patriarchy as the foundation of all oppression of women and girls, thus resolve to give them purpose while amplifying their voices in a male dominant society. Like a monarchy, she presents patriarchy as a kingdom where men are kings and women are merely subjects. For instance, women are neat and box into kitchen, gardening and housekeeping. No significance is attached to their rights as women…..

Juka Fatou Jabang is one of Gambia’s finest and most consistent writers. She is a poetess that informs, educates and empowers through her well-chosen diction, intellectual and literal prowess. She is a retired public and international civil servant with more than four decades of governance and capacity development experience in the national and international spheres. Juka is better profiled as an educationist, a public sector management expert, a writer, a literary critic and an advocate of sexual and gender based violence.

In her recent collection of poems, an anthology named ‘The Phoenix: A Collection of Poems, which comprises poems themed on colonialism, Imperialism, gender and sexually- based violence cum social injustice, challenges patriarchal norms, inequitable traditional practices and neocolonialism. Her poems tell so much in bare reality thereby, providing pointers to Africa’s history, a history hardly honestly told to the children of Africa. These historical narratives include colonialism which had ravaged and emaciated Africa on the pretext of civilization. In this anthology, Juka explores and recollects the past dark days of Africa and its incessant quest for  total political, economic and social liberation. The poems open:

“As white teeth disguise

The shade and make up of

The red stream that

Give them life,

So does their smile

Lie to you”

8-13 [They Wear Masks]

Juka deploys Simile to describe mischievous colonialists who deceived and exploited mother Africa, ‘as white teeth disguise’ illustrates the treachery and malevolence of these colonialists. They Wear Masks is satirical – exposing pretense and deceit. The mask symbolizes mean colonialists who had disguised to be good ‘Samaritan’ to Africans while enslaving and subjugating them. At this juncture, Juka pricks our mentality and challenges our reality as she left us in a dilemma with questions to ponder over who wears a mask? or who does not? Hence is too generic.

‘Beware

All of them carry masks’ …..44-45

The anthology ‘The Phoenix’ imbues pretty much the ignoble traditional practices embedded in socio-cultural African settings. In the fourth poem ‘The Injunction’ the persona seeks to demystify Female Genital Mutilation (FGM); as states in line 22 second stanza ‘The unholy surgery’ a metaphor, referring to the process involved in circumcising young girls. The unearned suffering, pain and trauma inflicted on them as they undergo this harmful practice, is heart tearing. Jabang expounds against harmful traditional practices in a similar poem The Culpable Cutter’ she states;

“For having caused girls and women

Such suffering in their lives

I declare here and now

That a tradition which harms,

Maims and traumatizes,

A tradition which kills

Is not fit to be a tradition”…. 13-20

Through these poems, typical traditional African socio cultural norms are disclosed, recognize, yet challenged. The anthology pictured patriarchy as the foundation, indeed the basis, of all oppression of women and girls, thus resolve to give them purpose while amplifying their voices in a male dominant society. Like a monarchy, she presents patriarchy as a kingdom where men are kings and women are merely subjects. For instance, women are neat and box into kitchen, gardening, child bearing and housekeeping. No significance is attached to their rights as women. Likewise, in the poem  ‘Billy Goat’ the poetess is agonised over male dominance over women; line 1 -7 first stanza,  which captures sexual abuse, pedophilia and infidelity.

“A saintly visage seemingly chaste and pure,

Deceptive eyes of sanctity and reverence

Disguise the pernicious soul

Of the relentless maestro, 

Aggressor and violator

Of virtuous lasses

Harem-keeper par excellence”.. 1-7

She dispel adultery, condemn the violation of women. Her arrant  indignity for sexual violence as she metaphorically presents rapists as Billy Goats in the streets who shamelessly crave to prey on young women – is pretty much fulfilling in a bid to name and shame rapists and adulterers. She wrote;

“A cheating chameleon outside his den,

Cunningly hankering for new acquisitions 

He fakes and poses

Astutely attracting fresh prey,

This mean old fox is

A lion at home and 

A lecherous goat in the street.”27-3

The Phoenix is a thrust defending women rights and gender equality. This is evident in the poems; Raw Demise, Docile Wife as the persona projects an African society in which traditional practices (even harmful ones) are still upheld with very high esteem, and marks some moral significance as per societal norms. Juka Jabang is fierce in her quest to empower African women. Her poems challenged the systematic abuse of women in contemporary Africa societies, with an overpowering diction to put the message across. For instance, wife battering remain a common and normal practice in most families and communities in Africa. The poem states;

“Her life is full of beatings.

She is battered all the time.

Oppressed and shattered every day”.

The Docile Wife’, line 12 – 14:

The poetess reiterate on marriage; a union to be instituted on the footing of equality, compassion, love and understanding, unfortunately it is the opposite often in traditional Africa. Despite women build homes, make families, feed and upkeep houses; indefatigable in their matrimonial tasks, yet all they’re rewarded, is but ingratitude and threats, at worst battering and intimidation. She’s either beaten for “late lunch or over-blued laundry”. The poem depicts an extant domestic violence perpetrated in patriarch, prevailing by day. Comparatively, the persona expresses remorse and sorrow for the wife’s unfettered love and care for the “family and children”. Ambivalent of their compassion, women are emphatic beyond all odds. As the poetess states;

“This battered wife is lonely 

And friendless,

But she is resolute

And resilient, 

Worn down by persistent deprivation,

And neglect,

She has no confidante to share

Her struggles and dreams.

All that resonates in her soul

Is the strong will to live

For her family, 

A deep longing for a better future, 

A future of her children, 

Bright and glowing 

Is all she years for.” 41-55

Other major themes captured in the anthology includes spiritual piety and death [The Way of all Creation, In Stages, Insomnia, Wonders & Lamentation] of love and romance [Obsessed], of hope and faith [Hope is a Gift & Time and Again]. These poems invoke the power of divinity, and mankind’s relationship with their Creator. On colonialism, she creates an image of Africa in the past when white colonialists disguised as ‘good Samaritans’ and exploit the innocent Africa, leaving her with wounds and aberrations that still hurt and obstruct its development and progress, as illustrated in Africa’s Anguish

“Deep gashes born of

Indignity and barbarity,

In tune with exploitation and control

Blight

My pass filled with pain and

Cruelty,

Scars that blot

My now, crammed with

Intricacies and barricades”. (8-12)

The poetess aim is not limited to desecrating sexual violence as shown in the anthology, but as well the invasion and occupation of Africa. Thus, she demoralizes white invasion and stripped it off  any iota of honour as implied:

“They came from far-off

Beyond the deep wide sea

Over the horizon

To tell me who I was…” 13-16

The poetess historical presentation of Africa and their colonial masters serves as an induction – explaining the onset of matters; the brutality, crude and terror inflicted on African descendants in the guise of civilization. In similar poems such as The habitat of Homo Noirus, the poetess captures the past dark days of slavery and present day mental slavery of the African As a matter of fact, she smirk the occupation of Africa, and condemned slavery outright: She wrote;

“Pilferer of the original gems

Homo blancus,

The economic prostitute,

Political impostor…..”

20-24 [The Habitat of Homo Noirus]

Juka’s ability to depict Africa in two distinct angles explained our realities as a continent that has endured so much injustice, thus, she re-imagine an Africa that will emerge liberated. Implying that Africa cannot continue to allow to be fed by the west in the name of aids and grants which aims at usurpation and neocolonialism. Hence, the persona resolve to decolonize and reinvent Africa from the bondage of imperialism. she wrote:

“While they wreak on me

Myriads of projects, programs

Trust Funds, studies

And other addiction designs,

I am the dumping bazaar for

Their discarded wares,

Employer of their untested toddlers

Masquerading as experts,

Client of their inept scum

Posing as consultants,

All of them

Funded in the name of aid…” 46-56

[Africa’s Anguish]

The poetess expounds how Africa is stuck in a vicious circle of exploitation that seems unending. The persona poignantly profile these camouflage characters who are bent on exploiting African resources, in a hindsight, symbolizing foreign aid as the new colonialism.

“They came from the far-off

Over the horizon

To tighten the nose,

They lend me bucks

I do not solicit

And make me indebted

Eternally and always”…. 49-55

Also, there are major themes of feminism and gender activism which can be spotted in poems such as ‘She is Nothing’ a poem that depicts the plights of  female children born in a patriarchy, where the delivery of a female child is accorded little or no jubilation; ‘mountainous hopes shattered, ‘They preferred a boy child‘. Likewise, in the poem ‘The Fold is Muddle’ demonstrate the spitefulness, glory, glamour, splendor and grandeur of women in their entirety. This poem is an epic to all women as a solemn recognition of not only their selflessness, but also as the natural epicenter of procreation and continuity She states;

I, all fervour and passion

Stanch to serve and revere,

I, the chosen curator

Of the imminent progeny… 55-58

[The Fold is Muddle]

The poetess unapologetically presents the inequality, oppression and subordination of women in a male dominated society, where women are reduce to keepers of the house; executing all domestic chores. The persona reveals the preference for a male child over a female child in a male certain African set ups – triumphant is a woman who deliver a boy child, while no celebration or victory is a due a woman who delivers a girl child. The persona states;

“Greeted with no exaltation,

No joy, no jubilation

she is of the feeble species

Replica of ignominy

valueless and frail….” 5-9

“Genitor, kith, kinsmen

All broken and melancholic.

Their mountainous hopes shattered,

They preferred a boy-child”…. 10 -13

In stark reality, the poem divulged the ill treatment of women (as wives) and as a girl child in male chauvinist set ups. The self-entitlement syndrome among men over women has pretty much undermined women rights, as they can neither reject nor complain in executing their tasks as girls and as married women.

“Tomorrow’s exalted offspring, 

Must all be earned today

Only by service, honour 

And worship of her keeper”….29-31

It is fundamental to note that, Juka Jabang concern over women’s fate in a patriarchy is geared towards liberating women from oppression of male dominion. A similar poem is ‘The Beggar’ where the poetess highlights child labour in poor African setups. This theme is prevalent also in the poem ‘Teenage Housemaid’ in which the poet highlights the predicament of maids and maidens in the house of capitalists as they seek to fend for themselves and their families. The poem opens, “a young girl with lofty dreams, long to get away from her rustic life, to earn an income stable and sure, To aid her folks and plan her future.” The person is explicit as she portray the ramifications of poverty and economic inequality. Juxtaposing, the poetess  nonconformity to how children are sent away from home to seek knowledge on the holy scripture, a term popularly known as “almudism” in vernacular, questions parenting. As she states;

“Criss-crosses the road to make a living.

Little calabash in hand,

This dejected effigy is a beggar”… 15-18

Continuing, the persona spew on the ignoble man who goes out to beggar for the christening of a new born baby, and only for him to use the same donations in wooing other women:

“Obligatory contributions heartily delivered,

He amasses everything 

To tie a new knot elsewhere,

This rogue too is a beggar”… 34-37

[The Beggar]

The anthology ‘The Phoenix’ reaches far and beyond human caprices to empower the woman – notwithstanding, desecrating harmful traditional practices in African socio-cultural fabrics. Three-thirds of the poems in the anthology cajole the need to uplift the African women; love, care and treasure them. In addition, the poetess is determined to see the total liberation of Africans from western incursions. Such attempts are made explicit in the poems such as ‘Borrowed Existence’ and ‘The Exodus’ which talks about brain drain in Africa; as young Africa intellectuals, brilliant and industrious sons and daughters of Africa are lost to the international communities. The persona discerns the search for greener pasture as the new wave of slavery, hence Africans have become civilized slaves, alienated and acculturated; she wrote:

“In the land of milk and honey,

Where the plunder is laundered,

And the sun shines day and night.

These destitute people are transformed

Their minds, souls, spirits

All transposed and alienated.

Sold for survival, their

Submissive talents undervalued.

These gems are

Victims of the new slavery”.

The Exodus 31-41

Juka Jabang could not spare corruption, a symbolic theme captured in the poem, ‘Graft’. The Phoenix takes a multifaceted dimension, diminishing the politics of greed, deceit and corruption. Herein, Juka is set out to let the cat out of the bag on unscrupulous leadership that continue to deny Africa of democracy and economic independence. Although, colonialism have ravaged Africa politically and economically, in contrast most African leaders are not very different from colonialist masters. Today, in Africa you have leaders as individuals wealthier than the nations they’re leading. They amass state wealth to enrich themselves and their close affinities at the expense of the masses: she wrote;

“Concentration of wealth

In the hands of a few,

Control and hegemony

It is heartless and brutal

Corruption negates life”…11 – 12

On the powerlessness of widows and their children, Juka describe the predicament of a widow in a patriarchy upon the death of a husband. The poems ‘The Death of a Man’ and  ‘The Vicious Circle’ recounts the experience of a widow as children become fatherless, often wives become victims,  stigmatize on the demise of the husband. As days past, old “pachos” come and share the inheritance among themselves, like ‘covetous vultures’ they prey on the wealth of orphans, the poetess pointed ‘when tomorrow he breathes his last, the insatiable tentacles – Of the fiend gluttonous – will encircle his children – children

They

Swiftly carved up the pillage,

then,

Like covetous vultures they devoured 

Everything

All the acres, stocks, coffers and 

Everything he owned. 23-29

[Death of a Man]

To an ordinary level, Juka Jabang presents a dialogue between a mother and her child in the poem ‘The Repeal’. The dialogue is initiated by the mother to admonish her daughter about life; the life of a woman and most importantly the life of a teenage girl. The mother aims to break the culture of silence and defy the odds that disallowed the discourse on sexuality and reproductive health. The poem reads;

“I am not ashamed

To share my knowledge

With you my daughter

I will tell you about puberty

And menstruation

About sexuality, pregnancy

And childbirth…..” 7-8

Talking to your daughter or a girl child about certain issues are considered taboo, thus many young girls in traditional African communities are left unformed and unenlightened on such sensitive matters to their suffocation at some point in their lives. As they begin to experience changes in their body, without proper counselling – they are bound to derail in fear and anxiety. This is didactical as it seeks to teach young women fundamental stages of their lives, particularly on reproductive health. She wrote;

I am not inhibited

To hand out tuition

To you my daughter

I will teach you about rights

Your right to choose a husband

And to learn about your body….. 8-14

Also, ‘In His Eyes I am Weak’ and ‘The Way of All Creation’ are poems of fulfilment – the former is a description of motherhood and the ordeals of a mother during nine months of struggle while the latter painted divinity. In the poem ‘Disclosure of a Rape Victim’ is pretty much a protest poem – recollecting the ordeal of a rape victim; from the assault stage to  when she faces the society. The persona opens; ‘I am not bashful to confide in you, My sister.’ The poetess confides in a sister, something so difficult yet courageous of a rape victim; to retell an insidious story. She seeks refuge in confession, hoping to help get rid of the penitent while providing solace and enlightenment. She wrote:

“To uncover the cruel

Egomaniac vile and degenerate

That controls your uncaring world,

I divulge my story

I stir you up

And to make you wise…” 8-13

These poem is an epoch of Juka Jabang’s writing prowess and intellectual enablement. The poem is so contemporary and poignant. Reading through the lines, one would be touched, remorsed and challenged to live in such a society, while informed and embolden as a woman to break the culture of silence. The Poetess lament the terrible ordeal of rape victims in tandem thwart perpetrators. Indeed, rape is a horrific encounter. The persona states:

The assault was odious

Sudden, unexpected and forced

Like the portent wings of a full-grown eagle

His merciless hands large and powerful

Grasped me fearfully

Overpowered, stripped

Ripped nad ruptured… 27 -33

The poetess continued………..

From then to today i am eternally

Visited by sensations of terror,

Guilt, shame and indignity

As the world looks on

I have not forgiven

I cannot forget… 41-46

Besides, ‘The Old Woman’ is a poem where the poetess recollects her youth life when she was in her prime; wild and plumb, then her immaculate face was naturally pretty. But old age ensued, beauty fades, limbs no longer able to carry her . As touching as this may sound, it is pitiful and didactical listening to the persona narrates her transition from childhood to old age. The old woman’s pitiful condition of loneliness, ill health, confusion and regrets are associated with old age and are poignantly delineated in this poem. The poem reads;

“When atlast

The fantasy is debunked,

Certainty is compelled

To rear its ugly face, and

Nature takes control,

To obliterate vitality and

Demolish grace

To conclude; Juka Fatou Jabang’s anthology ‘The Phoenix’ is a rare collection with multi voices calling for change, justice, total emancipation of both the Africa continent and the African woman. Touching on all facets of life, the Phoenix is a milestone in Gambian poetry and by large Gambian literature. A work that will go generations in impacting lives, challenging and quelling socio-cultural and traditional structures, as well as norms and values that undermine women rights and indignify them. More so, it goes far and beyond condemning the illegitimate incursion and occupation of Africa.

Finally, to the anthology’s first poem and the title of the book, The Phoenix: It is the opening poem of the anthology with a striking beam to self-independence and rejuvenation, as well as mysticism, divinity, immortality, ‘unmatched longevity infinitely’:

I self- ignite,

Blaze ferociously and out of my ashes

A new me arises,

I self-regenerate

When mutilated by my adversary,

I am phoenix

Never ending,

Invincible……. 13- 20

The Phoenix is a striking force for change, liberation and transformation as the title implies. It is remarkable, a masterpiece.

Gambia Lacks a Leader – First Lesson learned from Covid-19 Global Pandemic

One thing came clear, a deficient leadership always manifests it’s real colors in trying times like Covid-19 pandemic. As this is when the masses need support, camaraderie, solidarity and fulfillment of duties from their leaders. Times like this, we expect extraordinary leadership outputs as Covid-19 is an extraordinary crisis. To our dismay, this is when the leadership of this country showcases it’s worst.

Indeed, unfortunate is a nation without a leader, and I have no doubt Covid-19 will left us with great lessons. These aren’t limited to the havoc it have & continue to do, but humanity itself will never be the same. Things would never be same; neither panic nor paranoid. Be not distress or break into anxiety, for this one too will pass.

As though epidemics and pandemics are not man invented circumstances; just as life and death – it is a natural phenomena that no one person should be hold ransom to mitigate. Hence, leadership is an integral player here. Leadership is not a position, it is a responsibility. To be a leader is not to be in charge but taking charge of the led and  most importantly, to be a leader is to sacrifice so that others survive. Other than the volunteers in the streets raising awareness, there isn’t an iota of play by the country’s leader. It is  a common adage that “failing to plan, is planning to fail”. A living proof of this statement is our status quo regarding Covid-19. Hence, the Gambia government fails to plan, by providing the proper mechanisms to confront Coronavirus outbreak in the country, we find ourselves in an uncertain reality of Covid-19 spreading in the Gambia. The death of a Covid-19 carrier who’d been reported to had interactions with other Gambians during his visit; more so, the flight passengers who refused to be quarantine at the Banjul International Airport, as well as those that escaped quarantine at Golden Beach Hotel, is enough a testimony as how unprepared our government is.

As contagious as Covid-19 is, and knowing fully well how not well-equipped our health care delivery system is, why haven’t our President and his government make it a key priority agenda when Covid-19 was declared a global pandemic, to invest robustly into the health sector to boost its strength amid a global pandemic? instead, like always, he and his government trivialize the whole matter of Covid-19, until we’re hit. In hindsight, I am not insinuating that the virus could have been avoided reaching Gambia, (viruses know no border) what I am saying is that, there should have been measures already in place, such as quarantine spots and testing labs to mitigate an outbreak and chaotic uncertainties as apparently.

It is not always about money when there’s crisis of such nature; masses need to feel the presence, the impact and care of their leaders to find solace, hope and comfort. These things cannot be equate to money. Money does not buy everything.

To cut to the chase, whatever the outcome of Covid-19 pandemic maybe, I hope that Gambians will make an inform choice as to ‘whether President Adama Barrow should be given any slight chance again, to lead this country’. And I am not going to try to explain this statement, rather I entreat us all to ponder over it and make our own conclusions. Because this country needs a leader, not only a president and a government but a pragmatic and selfless leader.

Since Covid-19 was declared a global pandemic by WHO, we have seen how leaders across the globe step up with their governments to tame the spread of novel Coronavirus (Covid-19). I have seen and listen to the leaders of Africa, Europe & America take major strides in fighting Covid-19, except the leader of the Gambia, who is just disinterested in the health of Gambians as it appears. Away from the long meditated verbose speech he delivered, what else? When Ghana’s leaders, Rwanda, Senegal, Germany, England and the unpopular Donald Trump are on the front line daily with their health experts to devise means in combating Covid-19.

About that, one may argue, the five hundred million is a timely intervention, and of course, it is. But It is not always about money when there’s crisis of such nature; masses need to feel the presence, the impact and care of their leaders to find solace, hope and comfort. These things cannot be equate to money. Money does not buy everything. Talk to your people as a leader, be responsive – these are desperate times, solidarity works best than anything else. So why could not you break the vicious circle of self aggrandizement and put yourself in their shoes. Imagine, since the wake of this global pandemic; no consolation from the Presidency, no no show of concern and empathy, unlike many other presidents of countries hit by the virus (even those not hit). What kind of a leader does that?

Disgustingly, despite Government’s three arms of the most powerful communication institutions in the Gambia, (The ministry of Information, Communications and Infrastructure, Office of government’s Spokesperson and State House Press Secretary) reliable and relevant information about the status of Covid-19 remain scarce to many yet, speculations and rumors overrule the media.

One thing came clear, a deficient leadership always manifests it’s real colors in trying times like Covid-19 pandemic. As this is when the masses need support, camaraderie, solidarity and fulfillment of duties from their leaders. Times like this, we expect extraordinary leadership outputs as Covid-19 is an extraordinary crisis. To our dismay, this is when the leadership of this country showcases it’s worst.

Indeed, unfortunate is a nation without a leader, and I have no doubt Covid-19 will left us with great lessons. These aren’t limited to the havoc it have & continue to do, but humanity itself will never be the same. Things would never be same; neither panic nor paranoid. Be not distress or break into anxiety, for this one too will pass. Let’s just cross our hearts and pray fervently.

MAY HUMANITY FIND EASE IN RECOVERING FROM COVID-19’s HAVOC!

In the mean time, stay safe and follow WHO Covid-19 preventive measures:

  • Wash your hands with Soap regularly 
  • Avoid Large crowds 
  • Avoid Hand shakes
  • If you feel unwell, call your health care provider
  • STAY AT HOME

CONVID-19, The un-welcomed visitor

By: Alhagie Giel

“Coronavirus” aka “Convid-19” 🤔🤔🤔Well, I think it’s time for me to blaze the trail and talk a little bit about you. For God’s sake, do not expect anything pleasant from me. The connotation of fear and dire agony you bring to mind anytime your name is being echoed is out of the ordinary. I have never felt this scared before. I wished I or any human being wouldn’t know or cross paths with you. Too much have been lost to you within a short span of time. May fire burn you, water wash you, and earth bury you.This being said, this ain’t a best moment to jabber but it’s an important time to express my detest for you and your unwelcomed appearance if not your re appearance. Your arrival here is appallingly grotesque. Woe to you and get back to your place. What/whoever created you, and wherever you may come from, this ain’t your place. We’re too bonded together already to be separated by an alien enemy like you. Besides, humanity has suffered so much through time that it doesn’t deserve to see you. Whether you are yet another capitalistic ploy, a tool for biotech warfare, or what have you, posterity will have to judge that but please get lost for the sake of the special number 19 in your scientific nomenclature. Bye and promise not to come back 👋

Turning back to us, the human race, we have already done enough from depleting our environment to ruining the world through wars and unjustifiable killings of innocent lives. We do not stop at just there. Now that this deadly virus has knocked our doors, many stories, ideas, thoughts, bulletins, etc have been circulating around the world about this demonizing virus most of which are categorically and unscrupulously misleading, whilst the rest are taking this as a laughing stock. If utter truth be told, WE DO NOT need such in this serious crisis. It doesn’t tell well trying to cause panic and apparent chaos in people. If there’s any moment that we could be together, be serious and truthful as a family in a global village, this is the right moment. It is beyond reasonable doubt that along all the package Convid-19 come with, it has nothing positive in it. However, if there is only one, it will be the fact that it has evidently shown us that we are still weak mortals.

With the unimaginable hi-technology designed to land on other planets, the jaw-dropping wealth spent on the manufacturing and maintanance of heavy weaponry ranging from long guns and artillery, to weapons of mass destruction, the trillions of dollars made and exchanged in Wall Street and other international business centers, etc. yet we haven’t been prepared enough for health crises like this one. What is the use of all of these if there’s no individual alive anymore on this planet? Hopefully, we shall all live to reascertain how we want to live our lives immediately after this.

It is needless to say humanity is under siege and all of us should be aware of that. This isn’t either about China or the Middle East or about military/economic rat racing. It’s about the survival of humanity at grave stake. Time and again we collectively failed our ourselves. For instance, at the onset of the development of the virus in China, the rest of the world lagged behind as if nothing would happen. We shouldn’t have done that. Nevertheless, it is passed now. No doubt. But let’s not let that happen again. We will get through it but only if we come together as one family and one global citizens. Together, we can move mountains. Together, we can drive away Convid-19. Stay safe everyone and always go by the precautionary guidelines to stay safe. Best wishes!

Public Transport is Becoming a Nightmare

It might look trivial to them because it doesn’t affect them; but it is as critical & important as anything else. The chaos, quarrels and the unpleasant exchanges that’s happening by day in the traffic, especially going from Westfield toTabokoto is unhealthy, uncivilized and can at anytime graduate to serious conflicts if the relevant authorities don’t take swift measures to address it.

Yesterday, like any other day, I was in a car going to Latrikunda and there was a lady going to Tabokoto in the same car. She boded the car in the ticket that is going to Latrikunda, then when the driver get closer to Latrikunda, the driver said he’s proceeding to Tabokoto. This was where the fracas begun, because the lady was also heading to Tabokoto and she understands the tariffs and weave first to enlighten the driver and his conductor about how unlawful that act was, defending her argument with facts. I was glad and thrilled how bold she was speaking. All of us in the car supported her stance knowing we’re all victims at one point.

The driver, out of ignorance or greed got infuriated and started saying rubbish to this young brilliant girl. Myself and another guy sitting next to the driver’s seat, started talking to the driver to accept the facts of the matter as they were valid points but his argument and only point was that, “if you’re going to Tabokoto why entering Latrikunda car”? He reacted. That was bogus because there’s no van ‘garage’ [motor park] in Latrikunda, and of course that was a van going to Brikama, but because it is rush hour, all drivers act like that.

This issue is beyond passengers, because they cannot make any drastic changes to it other than complaining or at worst fight. It is the responsibility of the Transport Union of the Gambia under the purview of Gambia government to address this issue before it goes out of hand, lest sooner rather than later drivers and passengers will start exchanging blows.

Moreover, there cannot be progress without mobility… even though there’s 3 in every 100 Gambians that own a car but where are the roads? Everyone want to own a car but who is willing to even rehabilitate their own neighborhood roads? Yes, it’s government’s responsibility, so is yours if you have the means. Look at main roads connecting major towns in the Greater Banjul Area, they’re so tight and drivers are always impatient for one another  in the traffic.

Transportation in the Gambia, especially in the greater Banjul area during working days is a nightmare. People commuting to and fro by public transport, sometimes pay thrice the normal fares – this is terrible and undeserving. For instance your transport allowances is 500 dalasis and you spend daily nearly 50 dalasi for fares only to & from work, then obviously by end of the month, you will spend more than your transport allowance… how about school fees of your children and their lunch, the fish money and other commitments… this vicious circle of impoverishment in this country is what never seems to break and is stunting our progress as a nation. It is exploitation to its highest peak, yet no one is doing anything about it; not even the right authorities, as it appears.

Is it misplaced prioritizing? Not affected and don’t care!

#TheGambiaWeWant

Human Rights Day Commemoration- A Reflection on The Gambia from an Environment and Natural Resource Perspective.

By: Omar Malmo Jnr

The government of The Gambia (past and present) and big businesses are the biggest violators of Human Rights and Freedom in the Gambia. The Gambia as a country has signed and ratified many UN conventions, domesticated the language of these conventions in her laws but cannot be felt in the day-to-day dealings of society.

The Faraba Bantang natural resource conflict that left three dead and many injured, property destroyed and social cohesion disintegrated was born out of human rights violations, nepotism, favoritism and government negligence. The women garden was to become a mining site. The gardens where these poor rural women earn a living, feed, cloth, shelter and pay medical and school Bill’s for their children etc which is their fundamental human right to life and property. Their lands forcefully taken for a private mining business that resulted to the death of three. A violation of their rights. Environmental resource conflict is a threat to human rights and dignity.

In Gunjur, Golden Lead is exploiting our fisheries resources at an unsustainable way and backed by our government and the Ministry of Fisheries in particular. The poor rural women are subjected to less food availability for their families, poor state of socioeconomic activities and environmental pollution. All mankind have a right to decent living, if our source of livelihood is destroyed, that is indirect destruction of lives.

The last sand dune in Gunjur is under mining. The place is a women garden. These women use the garden to produce their crops and feed their families and their other basic needs. The women are now forced to result to other means of survival as their only means of survival is now destroyed by government and callous capitalists.

The youth got arrested and detained. The community has a pending case against golden lead where judges often fail to appear. All men have a right to law.

This and many others kept me asking, how far have we gone in defending the rights of our people and our so-called women empowerment initiatives?

The poor rural Gambian women continue to be victims of a system that should protect them.

Poor environmental management is significant of a human rights violation.

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TRI HITA KARANA.

Omar is an ardent environmentalist: He has his Master’s in Environmental Resource Management and Development. He is an Environmental  activist, Co-Founder and the Director of Research and Advocacy at Green-Up Gambia

2019 WORLD ANTI-CORRUPTION DAY – What is Gambia Doing About Corruption?

According to the World Economic Forum Report, globally the cost of corruption is at least $2.6 trillion, sum it up to say, 5% of the world’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is left to lose to corruption. And no country, state or nation is immune to the negative impacts of corruption. It is on this premise that corruption is to be perceived a public enemy number 01! thus it requires collective efforts to combat this phenomena. Corruption undermines every developmental agenda; ranging from the social development, economic development, political development democracy and human rights. In 2018, the African Union pledged and dedicated the year to combating corruption in Africa, but how far have we come?

The Gambia for one what are we doing to combat corruption? When the Anti-Corruption Bill has been dragging until recent it was passed to the parliament. Hence, this only indicates how low the political commitment of our government is in their resolve to combat corruption. Corruption is a cancer that takes its host through unethical behaviors, such as bribery siphoning of public funds and using positions or authority to influence and embezzle. Bribing police, the judge and public office holders in a bid to secure a favor or be exonerated of a crime, is the most common form of corruption widely practices, especially in Africa.

Corruption is like the tango, you need two for the show, the one doing the corrupt act and the one accepting the corrupt act or benefitting from the act. For instance, bribery is done when two parties are involved; the police man who accepts bribes from a criminal to escape prosecution, the police man who accepts bribes to let a driver walks, whose vehicle is either not road worthy or their license registration is invalid. Such deceit and unscrupulous acts are amongst the fueling factors of corruption. It is in Gambia public office holders such as presidents, ministers and other public authorities use their position to plunder or siphoned public funds of tax payer’s money, either build mansions or organize fanfare to deceive or entice masses for votes, what a deceit?

electorates who sanctify corrupt officials and celebrate ill gotten wealth are the part of the problems aiding corruption in our societies in Africa – such as in Gambia.

Corruption also takes place when authorities use their position to influence policies and public institutions that are suppose to hold them to account; for example when the executive arm of the government has influence over the legislative arm, or when the judiciary is compromise by the president. These misdemeanors going unpunished is the reason corruption becomes a norm in our public institutions. Moreover, electorates who sanctify corrupt officials and celebrate ill gotten wealth are part of the problems aiding corruption in our societies in Africa – such as in Gambia. So to extricate, dissect and get rid off this venom called corruption, we need gt out of our comfort zones and mobilize collective efforts. Let’s question every wealth accumulated by our public officers, let’s demand for information on the budgets and other relevant public finance management systems for transparency and accountability.

May I remind us that, without transparency and accountability, corruption cannot be contained. Most importantly, impunity has to be trashed if the goal of combating corruption is to be achieved. I ask this question, if there are no sanctions against corrupt officials, such as prosecution and dismissal or termination of service as a public servant and protection of whistleblowers, we would only continue to bark against corruption but shall never be able to bite it out.

It’s Happening all over Again – Do we Ever learned from History #Gamba?

Here again, it is creeping into the statehouse – hence it is happening all over again. but ‘adieu tribalism’, we denounced you & will not hesitate to crush you as we are living in dire poverty, lack of jobs and expensive living conditions

AN OPEN LETTER TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE GAMBIA

The President of the Republic of The Gambia
State House,
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?

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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.

Yours Sincerely,

Lamin Njie, Jnr.

INTERNET CONSUMERISM – MOBILE DATA ROB CONSUMERS

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.

Lamin Njie

“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.

consumers deserve better!

A Deadly Fantasy – Shisha Smoking in Gambia

For whatsoever reason, smoking seriously damages health, although life can be interesting and overwhelming sometimes, especially if you’re in your prime. As youths, there is too much energy and passion generated in doing the things we often find enjoyable and exciting and hoping that these excitements never end, which is a human trait – [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 because they find it sophisticated and fantasizing

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.

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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.