By Mustapha Darboe
US-based Gambian, Lamin Keita, from Bajana Village has said that if Ghana could reconcile its turbulent past of the late 1970s and 80s, there is no reason that The Gambia, which has a much smaller and closer communities cannot reconcile.
Keita was speaking to The Standard Sunday about his personal interventions in reconciling his community in Foni which he said recorded tremendous success both in his village and beyond.
“I discovered that the political changes have brought about a serious division between families in the Foni some of whom are not even attending each others’ funeral. That is the height of all extremes,” Keita told The Standard.
Keita, a PhD student in political science at the Northwestern University in the United States, said he and his co villagers used both sports and Islamic preachers in his reconciliatory efforts, which he said resulted in resounding success after his first meeting with the villagers in Bajana.
“We started in Barjana and we have succeeded solving the differences by getting the people to understand that the change of leadership by democratic elections is in fact a victory for all to celebrate because it demonstrated that power belongs to the people and not those elected.
“They also know I am one of them as a Foninka and they receive me as one of them. We targeted the youths first who have many reasons to unite through sports and in no time the parents started to reconcile,” he added.
Keita said several political leaders in the country welcomed his ‘voluntary’ effort but more assurance needs to come from the Barrow administration to the people of Foni. “Government should engage the people of Foni. That is the only way to go. People are very ready to be receptive and government must engage them now,” he said.
Keita announced that in furtherance of his efforts a grand meeting of reconciliation would be staged in Berefet on July 15.
Keita warned that the Gambia cannot afford to abandon Foni huge. “An abandoned Foni could pose a huge security risk to Gambia given its proximity to the conflict in Casamance,” Keita concluded.