NYC chairman warns about the perils of ‘backway’ returnees


Speaking in an exclusive interview with The Standard, he explained: “Young people leave for many reasons. There are political and social factors. Politically, there is the perception that if you are able to enter Europe, you can apply for asylum and talk about what happens here – the human rights issues and all those things. They believe that the human rights issue and other stories whether right or wrong can get them asylum. In peace and conflict studies, they say for every conflict there is a human need. The actions of humans are dictated by their desire to satisfy their human needs. We all have needs and if they think they can concoct stories and get asylum they will move because there is something there. They are all looking for greener pastures. On the economic front, you realise that people go to high school and university and graduate only to be paid D4,000 which all ends up going into transport. At the end of the month, the corner shop man is asking you for the loan you owe him and the salaries are not growing.

“The needs and prices of commodities are growing and the salaries are not growing so they feel it is better for them to go to Europe and work for a few hours and be able to save more than they get here. You see people go to Europe for a few years and come back here to build a mansion. You work here all your life and it is difficult for you to build a mansion. That is one of the reasons that people resign from their jobs and spend over D100,000 to go ‘back-way’ to Europe when they could use that money to establish a business here. It is not only the unemployed that are going but even employed people and businessmen. There are social factors like social programmes and the expectation to satisfy the needs of our parents. If there is someone in Europe who can provide, then he gets all the praise and if the wife happens to be in the compound, she will get more respect. So they sing the praise of the person in Europe disregarding the small money you [the local resident] gives them every day. No matter how much you try in the community, you don’t seem to have the deserved respect and this increases the tendency of people to leave”.

Mr Kalleh added: “The future is bright but there are dark spots. Some of these youths that are leaving will return with good morals and some bad morals. Some will come with a lot of money and with vengeance in their hearts because they believe the society has been denying them their dues. We have to start preparing… We have to prepare a soft landing for those that will come back. I have seen some that are deported or come back by themselves at the airport. I have seen them with new attitudes which they did not have when they were here. They go through experiences on the road that transmogrify them. The socialisation process is not complete. They are no longer ‘Gambian’ and so they have an identity crisis. It is manifesting in ‘yutal’ and you can see these people even kissing in the streets. Youth organisations are doing well and they are trying to address and prepare for that landing. Those who are gone are gone and we should try to keep those who are here and we need to prepare for those who are coming back.”



By Sainey Darboe