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Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Letters to the Editor

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Gambia dina dem
Dear editor,
The One Gambia One People spirit was once again in full display at a gathering in NY yesterday, September 23rd, as Gambians of all political leaning, background and faith thronged the hall to meet and interact with their country’s leadership. The atmosphere was cheerful, peaceful and punctuated with respect and love of The Gambia. New York City got the attention from Gambians around the world and I felt honored to have witnessed such historic moment.

The Gambia itself, as we all know it, was present in the Big Apple!
Social media – often used as center for bellicose personal attacks, hate trafficking, unnecessary squabbling and doom and gloom peddling – turned largely positive for the most part yesterday! Those of us who are involved in daily running battles with critics and supporters of the new dispensation met each other for the very first time in person amidst exuberance and fanfare. The occasion further reinforced my belief that Gambians don’t hate each other and that the social media rivalry misrepresents who truly we are as a People!
President Barrow and Hon Ousainou Darboe were measured, appreciative, and conciliatory in their speeches. In a remarkable departure from the past, the President and his Foreign Minister acknowledged the source of government’s power and the unmistakable truth that Gambians can remove and appoint at will anyone deemed not working for their interest. In a country that had suffered from leadership woes for decades in which citizens were treated as subservient subjects to unchecked executive overreach, those statements from our current leadership were assuring and comforting.

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Like many of you who attended the meeting or watching the event from afar, I was particularly disappointed in the fact that the Q&A session originally part of the program itinerary was left out. While I do not wish to downplay the significance of this disappointment, I will excuse it for lack of experience in organization and time management.

As Siga Jagne rightly said, Gambians in the US were accustomed to protesting the presence of their President on US soil than actually welcoming him.The gathering was the first of its kind in decades and we will learn from it to make future events seamless!
Gambians have the courage, determination, love of each other, patriotism and right leadership to move our country forward together. Although there are challenges, I am hopeful today than ever that Gambia dina dem!
Zakaria Kemo Konteh
Queens, USA
Dialogue turned rally – Barrow met diaspora!
Dear editor,
On the 31 August, an invitation arrived of President Barrow meeting the diaspora which will accord them the chance to question his presidency about current national issues but the immediate response was a reluctant “oh okay” followed with ” I do not want them to bark at me when I ask questions, remember the FB lives?”.
However, a revival of interest occurred when I received a message a week or two later of my friend Dingding Mansa’s attendance because I thought taking the chance of questioning him and the president worth being barked at if it does happen.

Thus, I followed the preparation while screening the journey to the day, the interest of attendance still remained but suffered recurrent tremors because of the impression gained from the screening.
And then arrived another reassurance, a brother with a political mind encouraging me to attend and take advantage of the occasion to hear answers to the questions that I have for the president and his ministers.
On the day, I got loaded and headed off to the venue as a usual early bird but the change of bus and trains costed me some time. And it was to 12 noon with one more train stop away from the meeting ground that I started pinching myself for fear of missing the event out of lateness even though the reported starting time was 1pm but please don’t frown at me because the meeting was Gambian time as usual.

However, on arrival at the ground, I got a list of differentials (borrowed from medicine) with what I saw and the conclusion was heading to the need of a very long investigation.
Quickly, I asked myself in the mid of yellows like seen on TV of the green in the past, is it a rally or a dialogue?
The answer was to be known during the course of the “rally”.

The attendance was massive and synonymous to a tobaski day in my neighborhood of Serrekunda but the uniformity was almost similar to a community farm weeding day at home, Jarra.
The “Jaloos” did entertained us well and I so enjoyed it but the MCs as usually done of Gambians online took us retrograde by repetitively reminding us about Jammeh whom in EG and unknowing to them took all the time that could have been used to gain answers to questions that would have contributed to the improvement of the livelihood of Gambians particularly those back home.

For I was eager to know the residence of the president’s term limit and 6 months normalization of NAWEC promises, I was eager to know what malnourished uncle Darboe’s favourite word PROBITY referencing to the colonization of his ministry, eager was I to know if Dingding Mansa’s informations were largely speculative than factual as in his famous traditional weapons address and eager was I to hear from humble Baa about the investigation of late Haruna Jatta’s case as we were promised of a Gambia of no return to the past and many more with the permission of time.

Sadly, my expectations became illusions as I watched what was promised to be a Town-Hall dialogue baptised into a rally.
Did uncle Darboe addressed us as a foreign Secretary speaking to nationals away from home or a party leader singing praises of a victory?
Watch the videos to get the right answer but President Barrow was motivational in his speech, a man I was later privileged to meet with humility raining down on him.

However, in the mid of the show, my thoughts of it being a rally emerged confirmatory when announcement was made of UDP addressing an apolitical audience but it was quickly met with a reaction from a bold guy with a base from the crowd reminding the MC of what was written on the event invitation.
Well, a woman in labour can never be denied delivery hence the address was to hold and the presenter I assumed made some modifications on his speech as a results of the reactions which costed him impression.
And the final disappointment arrived when the omission of the questions and answers session was announced.

Lessons:
1 – We still as a nation need to differentiate the role and relationship of a president to his people and that of a party leader to his militants.
2 – We should know that the most important commodity needed by man in his living is TIME.
3 – We should know that it isn’t the narration of past stories, mistakes, sacrifices or whatever but rather the drafting of solutions to our current problems that would deliver us success.
4 – Whenever we engage in cuddling the president, we must do it with limitation for the fear of not being able to meet the consequences when the end gets chronic.
Conclusion: It was an impressive convergence of Gambians, many with huge expectations that weren’t met but I wish the organizers luck with better management and independency next time.
Muhammed Teks Tekanyi
USA

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