By Tabora Bojang
The Forum for the Exchange of Ideas for Development (FOREID), a newly formed independent and non-profit civil society organisation established to facilitate the exchange of ideas to help develop and maintain a culture of dialogue in the Gambia, recently held its inaugural lecture at the UTG Auditorium of the law faculty MDI Kanifing.
The lecture entitled “transition from dictatorship to good governance; which way Gambia” delivered by Prof Abdoulie Saine of the department of political science, Miami University, USA is meant to help the national dialogue about transitioning The Gambia from 22 years of dictatorship to good and democratic governance.
According to the interim vice president FOREID Mrs. Juka Jabang, the originators of the FOREID organisation are driven by several motives and reasons among which is the fact that freedom of speech and expression is a God-given and universally accepted human right.
“We believe that the urgent need to assert and proclaim this basic right in order to contribute to national development in the Gambia has become imperative and compelling on all of us,” she stated.
In his lecture Prof Saine described the gathering as a very special occasion for him having presented his works at numerous universities and conferences all over the world but never in the Gambia as his home.
According to him, democratic transitions, good governance and the rule of law have been the focus of many scholarly works for years since what Samuel Huntington called the “third wave of democratization” in Africa which begins in late 1980’s to Early 1990’s.
“It is a rich and varied literature in which the Gambia occupies a special place because of its unique statue as one of four functional democracies in Africa until the 1994 coup that ushered in a deeply repressive polity; the effects of which are still felt to this day,” he said.
He said it was a long and difficult road to the current political dispensation and Gambians need not to be reminded by the uncertainty, instability and reign of terror that preceded it; ”this means that many overseas Gambians were rendered persona-non-grata in the country of their birth for years.”
According to him the new Gambia under the Barrow government may have all the good or negative shares of praises, criticisms and concerns but the fundamental question that arises from this observations is the concept of what is the new Gambia.
“The new Gambia is an evolving concept whose definition and characteristics need critical scrutiny. It must not become a cliché or a hegemonic ideology in the hands of politicians alone. It must also be appropriated by members of society. “
He said the new Gambia for it to be truly new, must strive toward social and economic justice and to resolving centuries old social, political, gender and cast inequalities and must commit to creating an egalitarian society where all Gambians will have access to opportunity for self-improvement.