Adama Bah, KMC mayoral aspirant

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Who is Adama Bah?
I was born and raised in Serekunda and Bundung where my extended family still lives. I am married to a lovely wife Lisong Chapman-Bah and we live in Kololi with our family.
I attended Armitage High school and hold graduate degree in tourism management, specialising in responsible tourism. I worked in top management positions in the hospitality industry for about three decades before retiring as deputy general manager at the BB hotel. Over the years I took up the pioneering role of promoting responsible tourism in the Gambia and the sub-region and the world over.

I helped initiate a number of eco and community based tourist projects in the Gambia such as “Gambia is Good” farm yard to help local farmers sell their products in the hospitality industry. My efforts also helped people in tourists receiving communities like Juffureh, Janjanburay, Kartong, Tumanitenda, Ndemban and Siffoe develop their capacity to manage tourist attraction sites and market access for their products.
I am a fellow of a host of tourism organizations around the world including the International Centre for Responsible Tourism, UK. I am regularly consulted on matters of tourism in the Gambia, the West Africa sub-region and internationally. I have been instrumental in the establishment of the International Centre for Responsible Tourism (ICRT), and helped establish its West Africa branch. Through this organization, a number of Gambians and others from the sub-region are trained on responsible tourism management. So far, 18 Gambians, 2 Nigerians, 1 Ghanaian and 2 Kenyans, successfully completed graduate level studies in responsible tourism through the Leeds Metropolitan University’s distance learning program funded from a commonwealth scholarships programme. In 2000 I with others initiated the Association of Small Scale Enterprises in Tourism (ASSET), an organisation that promotes and protects small scale business players in the tourism industry.

We just celebrated 10 years of a vocational college I co-founded: Institute of Travel and Tourism of the Gambia (ITTOG). The school trained over 1000 students, gave 12 scholarships to our best students to study tourism and travel in UK and was given prestigious awards for its contribution to the development of tourism and culture.

In 2004, I was awarded the “Greatest Contribution by a Person in Responsible Tourism” at the prestigious World Travel Market in London. The award was conferred on me by The Times of London, World Travel Market, Geographic Magazine and Responsible Travel .com. I am part of a panel of advisers to the World Travel Market Responsible Tourism Day which takes place every year in London.

 

What is your background in politics?
I have been active in politics since my high school days in the 70s. I have been a founding member of PDOIS. I stood for PDOIS in the Serekunda West constituency on two occasions against the late Hon. Sulayman Joof of the APRC and lost. Since 2000 I have not been very active in partisan politics mainly due to my various engagements with International NGOs. However, I continue to support the party PDOIS in other ways. I applied to contest the next KMC mayoral election as a PDOIS candidate.

 

Why do you want to become Mayor of KMC?
KMC needs a new direction to meet the needs and challenges of our time. I have the vast experience in management and the development of sustainable, people centered businesses that are needed today in KMC. I know I have what it takes to change the KMC. I am humble, honest and dedicated in bringing progress to the municipality and I know I can work diligently in building a self-reliant KMC economy to benefit all: be it the people or businesses operating within KMC. I am confident that I have what is required to transform our municipality into a vibrant, clean and modern commercial centre for the new Gambia.

People of KMC should not just take my word but should also take up their responsibility to find out from the various institutions I worked for, the various communities I served during my work, my neighbours in Kololi and so on. Before you employ someone you should conduct research about the person and that is the responsibility of the electorate. In New Gambia, people should vote on the basis of who is the best for the municipality and not on sentiments, ethnicity or language groupings, family ties, who gives me what and so on.

What is your vision for KMC?
My vision is to build confidence, raise aspirations and get communities to create their own development with the support of the KMC.
I therefore have a mission expressed in my slogan: “In it With you-For You- For KMC” meaning we are in it together to work with the KMC community of citizens by ensuring inclusive and participatory governance through involving people organised into civil associations for their progress. This is what I call “Community activism”.

 

How old are you?
I am 65 years.

Your Party PDOIS is in the minority, do you think this will hinder your chances at the polls?
What do you mean PDOIS is in the minority? Do you mean at the National Assembly? Well, this is democracy and if eventually there is a level playing field for all the parties it is always possible for the minority to take over from the majority through the political maturity of the Gambian people. When the people know that the majority is not working for them they have the votes to change the government. Therefore, I do not think PDOIS being in the minority in the national assembly will hinder my chances in any way. Given the new political dispensation and experiences so far I hope the people will select the right people not even based on party affiliation. If my party selects the wrong person for the job I will not vote for that person. I will only vote for the right person. This is only possible because I know I have the political maturity to decide what is good for my country. My thinking is we have reached that position given the fact that we voted for the coalition not on the basis of party affiliations. I may be wrong but this coming mayoral election is going to be the litmus test for where the Gambian people are politically.

The other position I have is: In an election the people decide and whatever is decided should be respected. It is not for me to say “if you do not vote for me you are wrong” No instead I would say “you did not vote for me fine, but I will continue saying and doing what I know is right for this country”. You do not do what is right because you want people to put you in position. You do what is right because that is the right thing to do. I am confident and know that this country will one day progress towards what is right because the political maturity especially within the youths, the future generation is growing by the day.

 

What is your message to the electorate?
What I would like to say is the Gambian electorate is changing. This is the first time we changed this country through their power. This is a big achievement! Let us keep the momentum going and put the right people in the right places. If we do this we will have progress but if we put wrong people in positions of leadership we will move backwards. So vote for the right one in the next KMC mayoral elections.

Finally, our power is our ability to take action together! It does not stop at taking actions but making positive impacts for development to take place. We therefore need to teach each to learn and learn from each to continue to teach! The last time I heard someone asking if PDOIS is a teaching or a political party. My answer to that is: you cannot separate the two if you are a genuine political party. We cannot have development if we do not have a conscious people to come together to make development possible. We cannot have a conscious people without continuous education. This is what PDOIS continues to do since it started.
If selected by the people of KMC to be the next Mayor educating the people to know their rights and responsibilities for KMC to develop will be a key part of my development agenda. You can have all the infrastructure to manage waste but if our people do not change their attitude of dumping and throwing litter everywhere we cannot solve the problem. I will therefore work very closely with the media to make this possible.