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City of Banjul
Sunday, February 28, 2021

Letters to the Editor: Independence celebration is meaningless when our women are dying during labour

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Dear Editor,

History taught us that sometime in 1920 Edward Francis Small attended the National Congress of British West Africa (NCBWA) in Ghana where he presented a speech about the right of the liberation of West African countries from the colonisers. Upon his return to Banjul, he took the lead to set up The Gambia chapter of the NCBWA. Small’s advocacy inspired the likes of Reverend JC Fye to form the first political party (Democratic Party) in 1951 followed by the Muslim Congress Party that was formed by IM Garba Jahumpa, and the United Party of PS Njie in 1952.

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However, years down the lane through their commitment they were able to reclaim our sovereignty on February 18th, 1965, from Britain. They put down policies and strategies on how our great nation will attain its objective with the dream that it would one day be the last place of hope on earth.

It has been over half-a-century and dream is not close to being a reality. The question now is why are we celebrating independence when our women are dying during labour, when our women are confronted with all forms of gender-based violence, when our hospitals serve as death traps for women, when our women in rural Gambia lack access to maternal care?

If Edward Francis Small were to arise today from his grave, he would not only be disappointed but flabbergasted. He would probably walk through Banjul and visit the hospital named after him. Small would go to the office of the hospital’s chief executive officer and ask this question: “Why the high rate of women dying during labour?”

From there he visit the Serekunda Hospital and then the Brikama District Hospital. I do not doubt upon hearing the news of the death rate of women in Brikama, he would cry aloud. While in tears he will go to Central River Region and ask those women about access to maternal health care and their general living conditions. I am sure after listening to their sorrowful tales, he would commit suicide and regret all the sacrifices he has done to salvage The Gambia from Britain.

Saidina Alieu Jarjou

[email protected]

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