On APRC petition


Dear editor,

Kudos to SWJ on his letter exposing the policy of denial pursued by the interim APRC leadership.  It is about time too to debunk merit of the APRC presidential election petition filed for hearing by the Supreme Court of the Gambia.

Assuming for the sake of argument that a panel of judges was appointed and ready to hear the petition in January 2017, informed people wondered how the petition could have been heard and decided upon when the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) was never served, and its headquarters, blockaded by members of the security forces, remained off-limits to employees. Whether picketing the IEC headquarters was an overreaction on the part of the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, or integral to a gambit to secure specific guarantees for himself, his loyalists and family, few can say for sure, but astute observers knew that non-service of the APRC petition on the IEC effectively negated its right to respond, thereby putting the receivability of the petition in serious doubt.  Fast forward, the APRC should be particularly concerned about reasons why its leader’s whopping 55 percentage-point advantage in the 2011 presidential polls turned into a nightmarish 4 percentage-point deficit in the short span of 5 years.  Truth be told; denial and obfuscation of facts will neither change history nor restore the party’s fortunes.


Remo R Jones

2017 hajj package: isn’t it beyond reach

Dear editor,

This year’s Hajj package of D210, 000 (conservatively about $4100) is way beyond the means of the middle class Gambian. Or is it that the way to heavens through Mecca should be costly, should be a high financial price to pay? Over the years there seems to be an exponential increment in the cost. The Muslim in the backwaters of Kerewan or Kiang dreams of going on pilgrimage to the sacred land of Islam, the ultimate earthly journey, but each year that dream gets dimmer and more elusive however much he or she scrapes and saves. While not as compulsory as prayers since it has the means factor, it is the land of the greatest and most blessed of all beings, the Holy Prophet of Islam S.A.W, so visiting his tomb and kissing the Black Stone and praying in the great mosques and doing the symbolic stoning of the Devil and drinking the zam zam and killing the sacrificial ram is definitely an experience worth undertaking. It is the only journey which, if undertaken and performed correctly, erases all one’s sins.

Shouldn’t such a holy journey be made affordable for the Muslim with limited means, the one who is often devotedly​religious? But why is the Hajj package so expensive? Does it include the “comfort” also five star hotel, five star deluxe buses, five star square meal a day, etc.? Is it because the Hajj thingy is monopolised by GIA and the Hajj Committee and no other is allowed to do alternative arrangements? Is it the depreciation of the Dalasi against major foreign currencies? What is/are responsible? Who fixes the price?

Don’t get me wrong, I am not making a case for the well to do. I know too that some people like me can spend their fortune on worldly things. I know too that there is high reward when one spends in the way of God. At least this is what my Oustass has told me. I am imagining ​the heartache and anguish and agony that the Muslim with limited means endures who wants to make that trip in a life time but sees the price skyrocketing annually, suffering the punishment of Tantalus.

And you wonder why such parents would sell everything or go into indebtedness to send their children abroad through the “back door” or twist the arms of their other children living abroad to sponsor such a trip. Sometimes it is for them to make that holy trip when the child “succeeds”
If GIA or the Hajj Committee or whosoever is responsible cannot bring down the price, maybe we will then need to create our own Black Stone. Or just go for magal? Or?

Njundu Drammeh,