The tourism sector should be put under the purview of Gambia Tourism Board and the ministry to become – Ministry of National Unity, Reconciliation and Identity (NURI).
The new mandate of the ministry would be to integrate society, promote harmonious relationships between ethnicities, religion and ultimately create a Gambian identity build on values of tolerance, respect for one another and patriotism.
This can be achieved in two folds both a short-term and long-term strategies. In the short term, we use the principle of “auto-suggestion” where the ministry will promote and increase the visibility of our national treasures such as the national flag, the coat of arms, historic places and cultures of our diverse people. In addition, our national anthem should also be heard more on the airwaves and translated into our local languages.
Our religious and community leaders participate more in the messaging of one Gambia, one people. In the long term we should incorporate in the school curriculum lessons of national values, create and enhance extracurricular activities for children such as nationwide tours, visits to the parliament, State House, museums, and art and cultural exhibitions.
I want to add creating a national language, though most effective, I know that’s way far-fetched, especially for a country that cannot agree on simple things like creating a viable supply chain that’d ensure the presence of a loaf of bread on the shelves daily.
Our country is very divided and this is the biggest impediment to our collective aspirations. While I believe artificial colonial boundaries are the causes of these problems, I believe to undo or reverse these would only take us to the uncertainties and chaos of the Dark Ages, characterised by the notion of “survival of the fittest” rather than our inherited self-governance structure based on the sympathy and consent of the majority.
I also know my call for one Gambia, one people is simply an aspiration rather than the description of the reality on the country. But I’d not compromise on my instinctive wishes and vision of a unified Gambia participating in a well integrated and cooperative African state for the economic prosperity of all, anchored on mutual benefit and respect. I believe what is more progressive and plausible is forging and strengthening new bonds amongst our diverse people and communities towards the good of all.
I believe this is possible by appealing to what Abraham Lincoln refers to as the better angels of our nature. That in pursuit of self-determination we must endeavour to adjust ourselves to a cause greater than ourselves. Only that will give us a better community and purpose to give our lives meaning and fulfillment.
Our leaders especially the president has a central role to play in uniting our people towards a common goal. And thus far, based on my observation, President Barrow seems to have great comfort in the strategy of cautiously navigating through the passage of his presidency by using Jammeh and the UDP as benchmarks for avoiding to be, and or being diametrically opposed to who Jammeh was and what UDP is perceived to be.
This may be seen as stable governance but it’s simply too cheap. Barrow has a mandate to demonstrate to us what he is all about. He must not divert from acting, within the rule of law of course, to make radical changes and permanently alter the course of The Gambia towards a shared vision. Leaders do not only do what the people want but what the people need, even when these two appear conflicting.
We count on our leaders to do the right thing and unite us as a country, and charter a way forward towards greater prosperity. This should not be relegated to the passive uncertain course laws of nature