By Juldeh Njie The University of The Gambia under the school of arts and science on Friday held a symposium to commemorate the 52 independence anniversary of the republic of the Gambia. The seminar, themed Democracy and national development: Prospects and challenges, was held at the Gambia College Auditorium in Brikama. In his opening remarks, Dr Pierre Gomez, Dean, school of arts and sciences, thanked the organizers for initiating such an important occasion which he said is timely. “Gambia celebrates its 52 years independence, it must be noted nothing matters to the future of this nation than ensuring that our young people learn to believe in themselves, their dream and that they develop the capacity to question between right and wrong. “We are here to revisit our past and talk to the future, to build that national consciousness so that we will be that new citizen who will not wait for things to be done for him. This 52 anniversary should be a year where the new citizens stand up and will be counted and respond to the national call for national development, patriotism in the interest of the common goal. Governments come and go but the Gambia stays. The Gambia has built itself a reputation of peace and tolerance and this must be jealously safeguarded and not vetted. In this crucial period of national reconciliation what is needed is addressing issues of national interest rather than playing the blame game.” Also speaking on democracy and national development, Musa Bah, author and teacher at Nusrat Senior Secondary School, said: “Democracy is not only about elections. It is not only exercising one’s franchise. Democracy goes beyond that. In fact, it will be not too farfetched to say that democracy pervades –or should pervade–our entire lives. Whatever we do has to have some form of democracy. “Development first has to do the with the mind-mental development and then move from there to material physical, if you like, development. Everyone should be interested in politics if you love your country. Leaders are our servants not our masters; only through that we can attain development.” Fatou Janneh, UTG, who spoke on citizenship, civic consciousness and national development, said: “Citizens are the fundamental pillars of any national development enterprise. This is because citizenship is a sine qua non for promoting nationhood. But being citizen alone means very little to national development if it does not come with certain responsibilities and national consciousness. Thus, this cannot be brought about without a prior enlightenment of citizens to become apt in assuming their civic responsibilities. “The people of The Gambia should realize their civic consciousness is essential to sustain our democracy and also enhance development. Therefore it must be fostered and nurtured. The degree to which a citizen participates in a process of national development is dictated by the level of his or her civic consciousness. Civic consciousness promotes critical debate and reflection on progressive politics as well as tolerance among people. It encourages active involvement of people in collective decision making in their own local communities.” Abdul Karim Kamara, UTG, who spoke on intellectual re-orientation for real independence, said: “The word ‘intellectual’ has gone through significant nomenclatural evolution over time. Appellatives such as philosophers, thinks, intelligentsia, academics and scholars have all been used and are still being used as alternatives to intellectuals. Regardless of these nomenclatural variations, it is observed that they all have a common predilection: the search for knowledge”. “It is equally observed that all the three generations of philosophers –pre enlightenment, enlightenment and post enlightenment –do have a common perception of intellectual function, which is using one’s knowledge to transform societies in a positive way. In short, the intellectual, particularly the credentialised, who know the way to real independence, should come down from the ivory towers of academia and show this way to the entire citizenry, particularly their intellectually disadvantaged compatriots: the hoi polloi.” Madi Jobarteh, Gambian activist, said: “The foundation of democracy seeks to expose the central position of the citizen in all struggles of the world as a means to make all Gambians understand that even in their own country, the struggle for independence to the July 1994 tragedy to the 1 December 2016 liberation, it was and shall always be about the citizen.”]]>
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By Omar Bah At least six political parties have reacted to the sensational rejection of the draft constitution at its second reading at the National...
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