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Saturday, April 17, 2021

African descendants request to meet Barrow over ‘citizenship status’

By Omar Bah

Council of African Descendants, a community of people from African ancestors born outside who have now returned to the continent and are found in many African countries including The Gambia, have requested to meet President Adama Barrow over their pursuit for citizenship status.

The group’s request to meet the president followed an unsuccessful campaign to get the CRC to make a provision for them to acquire citizenship in the new constitution.

Speaking to journalists on Sunday at the launch of a water project in Busura, COAD secretary, Madam Juliet Ryan, said it was not their choice as descendants of African captives to stay in Europe or America.

“We are waiting for President Adama Barrow to give us a proper formal welcome here. We are hoping to have an audience with him – we were fortunate enough to meet with the vice president Dr Isatou Touray,” she said.

Juliet added that during their meeting with the vice president, they requested for a national public holiday to be allocated in memory of Kunta Kinteh.

“We would like to have some respect for those who had suffered as a result of slavery to be given a national holiday. We also asked for citizenship to be given to us through the villages we were taken from and where we can economically contribute to village life,” she said.

Juliet argued that they “don’t want to be in the West anymore as we have enough discrimination and racism there. We know what is and we know where is the best”.

“Our grandparents were forcefully taken against their will and sold during the slave trade. Their masters have never recognized them as being part of them. This is why we want to come to Africa. It is here that we belong. My parents told me that my great grandparents are from The Gambia and I want to come back home,” she said.

She added: “We have engaged Government and other stakeholders by demanding automatic citizenship in the country, but we are yet to be recognized. We are tired because they call us aliens in Europe. We are Africans. We want to come home and settle with our families.”

Juliet, who first came to The Gambia at the age of 20, said she and her husband had since made it a mission to help African descendants repatriate and resettle in the country.

The group is currently supporting many communities in the country through project supporting women gardeners among others in addition to supporting the Kanifing General Hospital.

Busura water project

Last Sunday, the group launched a 5000-capacity solar tape project in Busura to supply hundreds of families in the villages with clean and potable water. The project came after the community of Busura requested from the group that they needed water supply because the only available borehole in the village is far from some residential areas. African descendants living in Europe and the United States contributed to financially fund the D400, 000 project.

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