In an interview with The Standard at his offices on Bertil Harding Highway, he said: “I am an engineer and I think it is achievable. I think there are two things one should separate to decolonise our minds because the first thing is the constraint of desire. Is the desire for food self-sufficiency good? This is the desire that our parents should start producing rice and we eat it instead of buying the rice. This is a good idea that as Africans we should produce on our own. But it is the state of our colonised mentality that is making it seem impossible. By producing the food that we eat, we are also ensuring that the poor people in the country would also have income to feed their families. When we were young, virtually all the chicken and eggs we used to eat in our houses were local and people used to live in dignity. This is a noble idea and the issue of feasibility is a mental entrapment. When John F Kennedy told the American people that by the end of the decade they would land a man on the moon, there was no plan. We just have to believe and that was what the Americans did which starts with aspiration.
If we don’t have aspirational goals, we will not get anything done. All these cynics who are telling us things that are not possible should also talk about all the things that are possible for us. So for me, it’s very cynical that we all agree that something is good but for it to happen we think that it is only Yahya Jammeh who can do it. It should not only be a Yahya Jammeh agenda. It should be everybody’s agenda and everybody must think, act, feel and do things differently. If we are to say we want to produce our first aeroplane, I myself will not say it’s not possible but I will say it will require us to study science and then work on how to make it happen. The most important thing is the emancipation of the mind. If Brazil and India could do it which were poor countries why not us?”
The social entrepreneur who had worked at a high level in Shell energy company before coming back home to set up the Elton in the late nineties added: “Let us stop concentrating on the hurdles and I don’t mean they don’t exist but we should dare to dream. For food security, we should dare to dream and the big problem is that we have a president who is very aspirational but some of the intellectuals and civil servants say it will not happen. That is not the way I think because I was involved in the Mandinaring energy depot and that depot just started on paper. I sat in my office and I said we needed a depot in The Gambia and I went to the village head to talk to him about it. It was on paper for many years until I got myself some other people who later took over. We should not limit our imagination or even your personal ambition or the ambition of The Gambia. I believe that it’s feasible”.
Read the full Q&A interview with Edrissa Mass Jobe on Friday’s edition of The Standard.]]>