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Sunday, June 23, 2024

Letters to the Editor

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Why or why not…?

Dear editor,

It is said culture is a people’s most significant first line of defense and that one rises and falls with his language.
To give their newly rising culture a push, the Romans in Egypt and the other territories passed edicts that forbade and closed the Egyptian temples and other ancient institutions…and in its place, they gave something of their own: Christianity.

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When the Arabs followed in succession, they too introduced another institution of their own with their language as the primary vehicle which continues to give them a decisive advantage…
A future politically integrated Senegambia would be viable only, perhaps, if it addressed its language-related ethnic politics first: should a linguistic hierarchy be designed that takes into account several variables or should the outcome be left to evolutionary selection…?

Both French and English are official languages, Arabic is the language of the Quran and thus the language to be known by Muslims, Mandinka is dominant in Gambia but not as such in Senegal, Wolof is most dominant in Senegal’s public space than it is in the Gambia, national censuses in both countries say Fula, which is widely spoken in Africa, is the second most important language in both Gambia and Senegal. Other languages such as Jola, dominate important regions, etc, etc.
You can either fashion it now or just let it be – each with its own consequences…


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DK Dawda
New York

Re: APRC country-wide tour
Dear editor,

As the remorseless APRC struggle to rebrand itself, it is important to remind fellow Gambians about the traumatic social, economic and political scar left on the citizenry by this party during the administration of exiled former President Yahya Jammeh. Let’s take a look at some of these toxic experiences.
Political differences and affiliations were always part of our societies. People in the same household, families and communities could belong to and even vote for different political parties and still maintained respect, unity, harmony and trust between and among themselves.

But, the advent of APRC has taken on a dangerously bizarre, intimidating, divisive and violent political approaches, causing nightmares, suspicions and devastation in the entire country.
Under APRC, family members were turned against each other, communities divided and revered traditional values holding societies together utterly disrespected along political lines.
For example, village alkaloship that used to be the exclusive hierarchical domain for original settlers were replaced with blind partisan loyalty leading to relationships steeped in bad blood and mistrust and those who wished to hold onto these positions must prove their unflinching support to APRC and President Jammeh by any and all means necessary.

We have all witnessed or heard of rice and other food items being distributed in villages, towns and cities among only APRC supporters, leaving out the rest as if they didn’t matter. Tractors, power tillers and fertilisers that were purchased with public funds in the guise of supporting agricultural mechanisation efforts were only handed over to APRC supporters across the country as gifts from President Jammeh in appreciation of their work for the party. These beneficiaries, who were mostly identified by APRC regional and local structures, included regional governors, Chiefs, National Assembly members and Yai Compins.

APRC party had never shied away from orchestrating pre election intimidation and post election violence against opposition members during its 22 years in power. Defunct July 22 Youth Movement turned Green Boys played active roles in provoking, beating and forcibly dispersing opposition gatherings. Wave of arrest, sacking, demotion and redeployment of civil servants and members of security service who were believed to be either opposition sympathisers or had their relatives in opposition followed every election cycle. Most Gambians lost their legitimate earnings, personal security and liberty for absolutely nothing other than holding different political views in 22 years under APRC than at any time in our political history.

I was hoping that APRC would use this tour to reconnect and apologise to Gambians for the terrible experience endured in the last 22 years. Instead, the party has taken up an even provocative posture by demanding the return of their exiled party leader and former president Jammeh devoid of accountability in a classic case of insensitivity and insanity. This solidly confirms that APRC is a party that is all about fighting for Yahya Jammeh alone and those fighting for the cause of Yahya Jammeh. Anyone and anything outside of this realm does not matter.

By every measure, APRC is a party that broadly epitomises the darkest chapter in our country’s history and is a representative of fear, division, intimidation and repression which should not be forgotten so soon.
To fellow Gambians: irrespective of your dissatisfaction or support for the current government of President Barrow, please note that opposing APRC party remains legally and morally imperative that should not be lost on anyone. The party is still operating on the principles and ideologies of former President Jammeh on whose orders, direct knowledge and complicity our fellow citizens were murdered, jailed, tortured, raped and exiled.
Thus, the urgency of now involves seeking justice for Jammeh’s many victims and recovering stolen funds while getting our country on credible democratic and governing pathway. This is not the time for pandering to APRC misinformation, distortion, provocation and cynical propaganda. Let us not forget that!

Zakaria Kemo Konteh
Queens, USA

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