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Monday, October 2, 2023

On Momodou Turo Darboe and the virtues of altruism


In so doing, economic injustice and mass poverty are averted. Now, almost every other day, you see the name ‘Momodou Turro Darboe’ or his photograph rehabilitating roads, giving out cash donations or engaging in some other act of philanthropy. 


He is not the richest of Gambians by a mile, but the activities of his Vision Development Foundation are gaining global currency and admirably so. Some of his critics say he is only trying to gain more popularity. But as one letter writer in The Standard argued some time ago, if Mr Darboe was on a quest for easy popularity, he would have just given a few hundred thousand dalasis to Jaliba Kuyateh and everyone will soon be singing his name in a catchy song composed for him.  It is certainly better to help people and let everyone know than not to help anyone.


The scale of poverty in The Gambia is high and driving hosts of people to beg in the streets or engage in prostitution or crime. No one will lose sight of the fact that beggars have increased exponentially. During times like this, the good will of the ones who are capable enough is called upon. There can be no meaningful and genuine exchange between the poor and the rich, when the disparity in wealth and amenities is increasing, while there is nothing whatsoever to seal that gap. 


A philanthropist is nothing but someone who sees the overwhelming suffering of humanity and is moved to do something about it. The human being is a vulnerable creature and we need each other’s help.


Our part of the world is characterised by mass suffering, mostly inflicted by corporate monopoly, so to step out of that complex matrix, there is need for individuals to reassure the most desperate of the fact that there is still continuity of human benevolence. Rich people in The Gambia should take a leaf from Momodou Darboe’s book.  President Jammeh, Dr Ibrahima Malick Samba, Ousman Bassi Conateh, Amadou Samba, Basiru Jawara and others have been doing similar things for a long time.  There are other Gambians who are as rich as Dives. They should start helping the less well-off.


Every day in the pages of Foroyaa newspaper, there are Gambians who are appealing for help of one kind or the other. Not a long time ago, The Standard carried an editorial on helping those in need of overseas medical treatment because their families could not afford the bills leaving them in painful physical and mental distress. 


We have individuals and businesses here in this country who can singlehandedly render help in such cases, but they don’t even consider it. The call is for those who can, to emulate the example of Mr Darboe and contribute to the welfare of the needy people around them. Ramadan is coming and it is a trying time for many households. If there is a time to be our brother’s keeper, it is now. 


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