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Monday, January 18, 2021

Happy New Year?

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By Aisha Jallow

What good is there to say about 2020? I tried to squeeze my memory to find at least a little bit of goodies from it, but it was too hard. Let’s forget last year and focus on this new and fresh year instead. When a project has been carried through, it is normal to make an evaluation of its pros and cons. Let us look at 2020 as our project and first make a list of what we were supposed to do. Next step is to see what we have learnt from it. When that step is taken, we will go to the third which is: what can we do better next time (this year)?

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Ok; we will begin with the Covid-19 which took us all with dismay. This was something we had never heard about before and didn’t know how to handle. I am often very quick to accuse the president and the government, but the pandemic wasn’t their fault. What we can blame them for is how they handled the situation. As soon as we got information that hand washing is a necessity, face masks too and then social distancing, this information should have spread with the wind all over The Gambia. Immediately there should have been created washing stations everywhere, where people could wash their hands and get information about the pandemic. This information must be spread mouth to mouth, as so many still are illiterate.

Witnesses have told that the washing stations quickly ran out of water. Most of them were placed by local associations and the UN. Why were those in our government, who are responsible for the healthcare sector, so slow? Asking for foreign aid went fast, a decision to use 500 million dalasi to cover for all expenses considering Covid-19 also went fast.

Then a lot of Gambians once again showed their true colors by using this situation to ”feed” on others. As there are no reliable registration systems, where you can check names and addresses on people – and where you can see if they are alive or not – it was easy to get access to more money than you had the right to.

During the presidential campaign in the US a lot of the republicans accused the democrats for voter fraud. They said that some even registered their dead relatives’ names at the polls to get more votes and win the election for Joe Biden. This sounds like a joke, in a modern society, but the sad thruth is that this happened in The Gambia. You are so intertwined with each other, all these people with the same names and surnames. If you are not properly registered it is impossible to keep all people in check. Your names are not the only issue here, it is also the fact that most of you don’t have a proper address, as most roads don’t have names and the houses don’t have numbers.

I mean, come on, it is 2021 now and still we have to give directions like: take to the left at the mango tree, pass the house that has fallen down, turn to the right when you have passed the old man sitting outside his yellow house just after the small shop where they sell the best tapa lapa in the neighbourhood. How to make that to a proper address? People are so poor and desperate in The Gambia that you take every little opportunity to get some money. This is humiliating for you! It shouldn’t be like that in The Gambia, not anywhere! There is no dignity in begging, stealing and deceiving others to be able to survive.

You should be able to have a job and earn a decent living. The government has an obligation to serve you, you are paying them for their services. It should be a win-win situation, but it is currently a win-lose situation where you took the shortest straw.

The money that should have been used for fighting Covid-19 disappeared somehow. Oops! There we had 500 million, and……..there we don’t have it anymore! Well, this is nothing new for The Gambia, just our plain old corruption that showed up again.

Let us look at something else; thank God that the pandemic didn’t strike as hard in The Gambia as it has done elsewhere. It would have wiped out the whole population because there are not enough ventilators or skilled health care personel.

All equipment that is necessary for keeping patients alive use electricity, and we all know about that situation. The hospitals and clinics are not equipped with everything they need. I heard that there is even a lack for paper so the nurses can’t write a perscription!

Is there no one who is responsible for the supply of material? Does everyone live from ”hand to mouth”? Should everything that ends, or breaks, or needs to be fixed be an ”Oh s**t experience” every time?

End of paper? ”Oh, s**t!

Ferry breaks down at the middle of the river? (the engines had been broken for months but nobody mended them) ”Oh, s**t!”

Another ferry doesn’t have a stopper at the end so a car fell down in the water and one man drowned? ”Oh, s**t!”

It might sound disrespectful, but there are too many ”Oh, s**t” experiences in The Gambia every day and no one takes responsibility! You see what is wrong, but you always wait for someone else to make it right. You are waiting for orders, for a plan, for money but you prefer someone else to do the job anyway.

Do you get upset when I rub this in your face? Good, because it is by that energy you can make a change. Roll up your sleeves and show me that I’m wrong.

You know that I am right, but you don’t like someone else to say it. It is easier to go on as usual and ignore the problems.

Ok, so what have we learned from 2020? Nothing, as it seems but only the end of 2021 can tell us the result. There will be an election in December this year, and God forbid that this crippled government and the sleeping president will remain in power after that! Something happens with people as soon as they get some power and can sniff the good money they can get here and there. This is why greed is one of the mortal sins, it leads to so much misery for the mankind. We have seen it over and over again, all over the world. So what can we do better next time? End this cycle of greed, it doesn’t have to be a perpetual wheel that keeps on moving forever.

So, Happy New Year, people! Let us do our best to forget the past and focus on a great present.What good is there to say about 2020? I tried to squeeze my memory to find at least a little bit of goodies from it, but it was too hard. Let’s forget last year and focus on this new and fresh year instead. When a project has been carried through, it is normal to make an evaluation of its pros and cons. Let us look at 2020 as our project and first make a list of what we were supposed to do. Next step is to see what we have learnt from it. When that step is taken, we will go to the third which is: what can we do better next time (this year)?

Ok; we will begin with the Covid-19 which took us all with dismay. This was something we had never heard about before and didn’t know how to handle. I am often very quick to accuse the president and the government, but the pandemic wasn’t their fault. What we can blame them for is how they handled the situation. As soon as we got information that hand washing is a necessity, face masks too and then social distancing, this information should have spread with the wind all over The Gambia. Immediately there should have been created washing stations everywhere, where people could wash their hands and get information about the pandemic. This information must be spread mouth to mouth, as so many still are illiterate.

Witnesses have told that the washing stations quickly ran out of water. Most of them were placed by local associations and the UN. Why were those in our government, who are responsible for the healthcare sector, so slow? Asking for foreign aid went fast, a decision to use 500 million dalasi to cover for all expenses considering Covid-19 also went fast.

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