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Saturday, January 16, 2021

Letters: National day of prayers

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Dear Mr President,

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When the pandemic started, I had a dream. What came out was for the Government to call for a National Day of Prayers. The Great God in charge wants us always to make requests. He is angry with us and if we do not beg for forgiveness or make requests, Covid-19 will conquer us. A National Day of prayers would really be a good thing. However, the fact that we cannot assemble, this prayer I am thinking of will obviously take a different trend.
A national Quranic recitation could be held at the State House and in all governors’ officers.

Social distancing will also be adhered to. The reciters will wear masks and respect the distancing. The recitation at the State House to be shown LIVE on the television and those watching and listening can also say ‘Ameen’ during the closing prayer – The “Khatmu”. Quranic recitation is great and I have the conviction that our prayers shall be answered.
The National Day of prayers can also be observed in churches and co-ordinated by the Christian Council. Individuals can offer prayers while observing the stay-home regulation.
”Prayer is the only weapon for the believer,” if I am to translate the verse directly. I must emphasise again that the activities must observe social distancing, no handshaking and all the WHO guidelines to be strictly adhered to.
As a family, let us recite the verses and chapters of our holy books. “INSALLAHU” our prayers will be answered.

Momodou A Jeng





Retired Civil Servant

The Press, Press Freedom Day and the Covid-19 pandemic

Dear dear,

World Press Freedom day was commemorated May 3, 2020. This day coincided with the “Mass Testing” for the dreadful coronavirus. In ordinary times, press freedom day means a series of activities around the world that pay tribute to the contribution of journalists, make people aware of the injustices done to them, encourage and develop initiatives in favour of press freedom, and assess the state of news media worldwide. But these times are anything but ordinary.

Covid-19 has altered practically every aspect of our individual, commmunity and national lives. With billions of people all over the world on lockdown, with public transportation and “normal” business operations almost paralysed, journalists have to take major adjustments to the way they carry out their profession. Foremost, their is the constant threat to the truth. Sometimes in a desperate desire to find some sense in a complex, mysterious disease, people circulate alleged cures or remedies or some other misinformation. In the intention to make themselves look good before the public, some take credit for a collective effort while diminishing the contribution of others.

Some attempt to make history by saying this is what they did, when they did not do anything or worse, did the complete opposite. Some malign their political opponents, turning a national emergency into an opportunity for gain. In all this, it is the duty of the press to set the record straight and not allow anybody to turn the situation into his or her political advantage at the expense of the truth. There is also the lingering threat of financial viability. Even before this crisis, media have had to suffer economic disadvantages and threats to the sustainability of the trade. Now with revenues shrinking even further, those who work in media organisations are even more at risk of financial displacement. It is a great sacrifice for them to continue doing their jobs in this environment of heightened health risk, while keeping body and soul together.

We need to be rest assured in our uderstanding that, democracy thrives in assent and dissent. In delivering the news and encouraging the people to think critically and form their own informed opinion on various issues, many journalists are being pilloried for “complaining” and “not helping.” But this is exactly the contribution – to make leaders accountable for their action and inaction.

Being critical of others does not mean wishing them to fail; on the contrary, it is a continued expression of hope that much can still be done. The coming weeks and months will be crucial, and the press is expected to play a vital role in ensuring that we get out of this healthier, stronger, and better able to appreciate free discourse and yes, constructive criticism. It is neither a task for the faint-hearted – nor the apathetic.

In conclussion, I am extraordinarily pleased, on behalf of the Masjid Alh. Basirou Jawara, Bakau Newtown to be able to extend an unfathomable “thank you” to Sheriff Gomez, a devout Muslim and a former speckless Minister, for his untiring efforts in bringing change in our seemingly unglamorous Bakau environment. Sheriff’s achievements, especially during this ongoing Covid-19 pandemic are salutary. At the close of the Mosque (Masjid Alh. Basirou Jawara) for congregational prayers, Sheriff initiated the calling of prayers at “prayer times” informing the “faithful as well as the Masses” with topical response “Dos and Donts” of the Covid-19 Pandemic. Sheriff’s individual effort has contributed significantly to the success of the Bakau Mass Testing programme.

These achievements, which touched hundreds, if not thousands of lives, are often overlooked by society but the examples they set are invaluable in the unfolding emancipation of Bakau.
It may interest readers to know that Sheriff was one of the most decent, disciplened and focussed officers the Gambia National Army ever had. May Allah (SWT) bless us with more of his tribe in Bakau.

Suruwa B. Wawa Jaiteh

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