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City of Banjul
Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Is The Gambia going backwards or forward?

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With Aicha

As an outsider, more or less, there are some issues I have been considering.
#Gambia has decided was a great message on t-shirts etc, but what has the Gambia decided?
Step 1 is taken; getting rid of Yahya Jammeh but what then?
The government needs to communicate more with the people, they need to listen to the people who have voted them in and who are paying their salaries.

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What has the Gambia decided?
If there are plans; are they made clear for the people so they will feel confident that the government has a plan for every single area of the society?
If I would be walking the streets of Banjul and I would ask people about the government’s plans for the healthcare, schools,
infrastructure, tourism, environmental issues, lack of stable electricity, internet and water for all parts of the Gambia etc etc – what kind of answers would I get?
Will people feel confident and give me a list of all the improvements that has been done this far?
I don’t expect all people to know everything, they don’t know that here in Sweden either, but I would like to meet people who are happy with the progress.

It feels like there is a short term thinking among those who are in charge, they try desperately to find solutions but these need to be considered before any decisions are made.
Those who offer financial help – do they have a genuine wish to be of assistance or do they have a hidden agenda?
The Gambia is a very small country – will it become a Chinese colony?
In Uganda there has become a ”trend” that Chinese men marry Ugandan women.

This has less to do with romance but more with the fact that these men automatically get Ugandan citizenship and are able to establish companies – run by the Chinese. They will also be able to import cheap items from China and sell them in Uganda.
You can imagine where this will lead.

Is this what we wish for the Gambia?
We must have an awareness of the coming problems, not only the current.
In a way I don’t blame the government for taking every possibility to get some money flow in to the Gambia. Jammeh left and with him as much money and other valuables as possible. Here in Sweden we have an expression for those who are able to make something out of nothing:”They can make magic with their knees.”
A very strange expression, I agree, and I have no clue where it comes from originally but it describes people who have some “magical” ability to create something out of nothing . This is an ability that a lot of poor people have and it is a necessity because you can’t just sit on your behind and grieve the lack of money. I grew up as poor when I lived in Finland and a farmer’s life in Sweden, when I moved here 1969, wasn’t wealthier. A farmer can grow his own food but there are other necessities that he and his family need and for that he needs money.

So many believe that all people in Sweden are rich, that they live an easy life with plenty of expensive food, have new cars, fancy houses and a new IPhone every year. Of course there are some people who live like that, as everywhere else in the world – even in the Gambia – but most of us work hard for our money. Some of the differences are because we haven’t lived under a dictator. We have had tough Kings, who in the old times had a lot of power, but that was about 200 years ago. At the early 1900 a political movement began to grow slowly, a system based on solidarity with the poor was required. People were starving, they had no right to attend meetings with their workers union – they could lose their jobs if someone found out.

 

Life was so hard, a lot of Swedes had emigrated to America, hoping for a better life there. People had sold their farms and most of their belongings to be able to buy the ticket for the ship taking them to the land of their dreams. Not everyone could follow, those who stayed lived in poverty hoping that their families would arrive safely in America and would be able to send home some money. Do you recognize the story? It is similar to what people in the Gambia have experienced and even experience today.

Where is the Gambia heading, backwards or forward? So many promises were given before the last election and the biggest of them all- the one about transparency and ending corruption – has it been held?
A political system is like a pyramid – in the Gambia you have the president at the top and then the power and/or possibilities divide the further down you come.

There is not much influence left for those who are at the bottom of the pyramid – the common people – but what those at the top seem to forget is who is paying their salaries and fancy life styles. You might think that you are something special when you are on the top part of the pyramid but if the foundation begins to rumble you will fall down. We must remember that people are more aware now of what to ask of our politicians and Ministers. Democracy is great and with that comes freedom of speech but what if people speak about things the ”Top” doesn’t want to hear? Should these people be thrown in jail, be sued, lose their jobs or be scared to lose their jobs? That was during the bad times, when Jammeh ruled the Gambia with an iron fist, but we have democracy now! Or?
It takes time to really understand what true democracy is and to implement that in all people’s lives but what we can and must expect is that the ”Top” understands it now. Democracy should sprinkle down on those at the bottom of the pyramid as water running down from the mountain top.

 

Everyone should have their share of the refreshing possibilities because water never flows upwards. Where are the possibilities for the Gambian people? All the joy, the hopes, the dreams for the future – where has that gone? The so-called Think tank that was inaugurated in a beautiful way with speeches and theatre – have they fallen asleep somewhere or is there a Tank where someone put them in to think, locked the door and dropped the key? How is it possible that they have been thinking for this long and haven’t come to anything useful? Hire me, please! I can think for them all because I have a head full of visions and ideas that could reach for a lifetime!
Dear reader, I began to write this article some months ago. Sometimes, when I’m having an idea I save it for the future and continue with it when the timing is right.

 

It takes some days to write an article that fills a whole page of the newspaper so sometimes things are happening that either makes me change my mind or to find that suddenly my timing was correct.
What happened? The killings in Faraba Bantang! It took a while for me to wrap my head around the fact that this happened, I didn’t want to believe it at first. This happened in our Gambia, the Gambia that has decided that this should never happen again! I am crying when I’m writing this and I can’t imagine the pain for the loved ones of those who got killed or injured. My tears are worth nothing, I am here in Sweden safe and sound, but I share the sorrow and pain as a fellow human being. I grieve the loss of these young men who lost their lives in a struggle where they had no chance.

What weapons were the boys wearing? What kind of gun was the boy, wearing nothing but a pair of shorts, hiding in his pockets?
If he was lucky maybe he had some bututs in the pockets, nothing else.
How could these people be a threat? Freedom of speech is a human right that can’t be discussed or denied. Of course people must take the responsibility for what they are saying but still they have the right to speak their mind even if what they say doesn’t suit the listener. Any demonstration must be met with an invitation for a discussion on equal terms. That is how democracy works.

When people are demonstrating their opinions they should not be met with violence. Violence is creating more violence until the situation is out of hand. It doesn’t matter what kind of representatives of the police force that are sent out; they should act with dignity and have the ability to stay calm even in stressful situations. Most police academies in the world have a stress test for the applicants. If they pass they are welcome to the academy, if they fail it is better for us all that they do something else. Even if the police officers have low salaries and find it hard in their hearts to risk their lives it is a choice they have made. Even police officers get scared, and this fear can have fatal consequences as we now have seen, but this must be investigated and this or these who are guilty must be taken out of their duties. A person who is so hot on the trigger is a threat to our whole society. Another problem is also that when someone pulls the trigger it happens easily that someone else does that too, it is like a reflex.

I am so disappointed with the president that he didn’t show up as soon as possible at the place of the killings. He should have showed his immediate concern and called for peace. He should have given a promise that a thorough investigation will be done, that the one or ones will be punished and that this will NEVER happen again! Gambia had decided that the awful days of fear should end and that a new and bright future was awaiting.

There are still too many clouds hiding the sun of our bright future and after what happened in Faraba Bantang this Monday, the sky is dark and no light is there to see.
Gambia had decided that no more mothers should be grieving their sons, Gambia had decided that no more fathers should be standing at their son’s graves. Gambia had decided that the bad days should be over, that peace and harmony should rule the country instead of fear and oppression. It is not only a dictator who is oppressing his people, he can’t do it on his own. Hot triggered persons with a low level of impulse control have the ability to oppress people, it doesn’t matter that Jammeh is gone because these people are still in the country. Those who are not prepared to contribute to the building of the new Gambia need a proper brain wash so they will come to their senses.

The eyes of the world are watching The Gambia. In these times of social media flow, news travels fast. This is not the news we want to be heard, people had voted for security because it was enough with fear after so many years.
#Gambia has decided – NO MORE!!!

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