Happy New Year?

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With Aisha Jallow

Let us forget the soon gone year and pray that the coming will be better. It has been a year of constant struggle, raised prices and worries about tomorrow. Unfortunately it doesn’t look as the coming year will be better. It is predicted that more than 300,000 Gambians will suffer from food insufficiency. We are speaking about a country where we could grow food all year round thanks to the mild climate. Live stock can grace outdoors and are not forced to stay indoors in barns because of the cold. Chicken are easy to keep, they eat grass, insects and just need some chicken food that can be cultivated in The Gambia for a low cost.

There are so many solutions for your problems, but the largest problem is that you don’t seem to see the solutions. I don’t blame those who have a low level of education, it is not easy to search for information when you don’t know how to. Instead I blame those who have the know-how but who don’t seem to be interested in sharing this with others. Looking upon The Gambia from the outside it feels like you are walking in mud. You struggle to lift your feet and your steps are slow because you try not to fall. If you would be unfortunate to fall, it would be hard to raise up again as the mud is so slippery. Everyone else is struggling with the same predicament so they are not able to help you.

This mud is fiction, but in the reality we all struggle with the terrible condition of the roads in the country. Some new roads are being built to try to impress the coming visitors at the OIC Summit. Hopefully they will be impressed, but they know nothing about the low quality of the work and all the accidents happening while the roads are being built. Those of you in The Gambia who have lost a family member because of a traffic accident will never forget the time and the place for it. This is the same as in Qatar before the world cup. It is said that more than 6000 migrant workers died because of the poor and dangerous working conditions. The visitors were wowed by the stadiums and the hotels, little did they know about the pain and bloodshed of the workers.

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Those who are governing The Gambia are those who are supposed to care for all the needs of the citizens. Does this come as a surprise for them? I can see them scratching their heads, saying: ”Oh crap, I didn’t have a clue!” It seems as they don’t have a clue because there has been hardly any improvement in The Gambia since January 2017. People are poor, poorer or poorest, this is a three step ladder where it is hard to climb up so far that you can reach for a higher level. Those who have managed to climb up there saw off the lower steps so no one can reach them. A hard kick will stop the one who is trying to reach your level. Don’t allow them to get to you, don’t allow them to even try.

Every five years we have an election in The Gambia and so many sweet promises are made. The words are so sugarcoated that they give you a mental tooth ache. People are desperate to believe what the political leaders are promising, but the easier the words are coming, the harder they are to believe. Always remember that when it sounds too good to be true; it often is. It is not until you actually see the change when you can believe in it. This is making it harder for a new party to enter the political stage, because you have not seen what they can do for you, but can you trust the wellknown parties? I don’t think so, as you can’t even trust those who first belonged to one party and suddenly changed their minds and went to another party instead.

If someone has been an enemy and done his best to bash your party, accusing the party for this and that, how will you be able to trust him if he suddenly comes singing your praise? What made him change his mind, from enemy to member of your fanclub? Ask yourself, and him, what he believes he can gain by jumping ship.

Speaking about gaining, I wonder if President Barrow is giving the future of his people a thought while he is checking the numbers on his bank accounts. I’m sure he is not putting all his ”eggs in one basket”, they are plenty enough to spread at several banks, at home as well as abroad. He has learned from the master himself, Yahya ”The Slayer” Jammeh.

I was told that there was a meeting where Jammeh attended online. How sweet isn’t that, that he is banned from the country but his fan club will never give up on him and they always make sure he feels included? Jammeh promised that he will be back very soon. Is that to be considered as a promise or a threat? Well, that depends on whom you ask, but if there still are people crazy enough to support that maniac, why don’t they join him in his exile? They could be cosy together and make some plans to punish this or that person whenever they get back to The Gambia again. Making plans is always the most exciting part of a journey. At that stage you don’t know anything about the mistakes, failure and suffering. No, you are filled with this bubbling sense of excitement, it is a rush that goes through your veins and into your brain. The rush takes over and if you did have some common sense before, it is gone and the bubbles have taken over.

Is it a coincidence or a part of a plan that some young soldiers made a coup attempt during the same period of time? I must say that I am suspicious, my first thought when I heard about this coup was that there is someone else behind it. Some young, in-experienced soldiers were planning to take over the rule of The Gambia! That was possible before, but not with Ecomig in the country. I think they were ordered to ”test the waters ”, so to speak, to see if the army was on guard. These young soldiers were not experienced and clever enough to refuse to participate. I wonder what they had been promised. For poor boys it can be enough to be promised that their families will be looked after. They are willing to take the risk for some bags of rice and a promise of some virgins in Paradise if they get killed.

Ecomig is still protecting The Gambia, a great annoyment for some, and a sense of security for others. President Barrow knows that he is safe as long as Ecomig soldiers are here, all of us need the safety, but I will not be one of those who shed some tears when he is voted out one day. Jammeh thought he could remain the president for a 1000 years. Let us pray that no one else is as foolish as he. Let us pray for a new and happier year than those we have passed so far.