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City of Banjul
Monday, January 18, 2021

Sabally addresses African Union chief in open letter

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Mr Momodou Sabally’s letter which was also published by the New African Magazine May edition reads in part: “I greet you with a spear held aloft, indeed you are of royalty. From Pretoria to Addis Ababa you have served the continent, and continue to serve with honour and dignity. But enough of the pleasantries Madam Zuma; I write you today with a heavy heart to lament, nay recommend, to you certain courses of action due to very disturbing developments on the continent.

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“I woke up this morning to a CNN tweet announcing yet another boat tragedy in the Mediterranean off the shores of Europe. A boat carrying some 700 Africans, mainly youths, capsized, and certainly the accident is fatal. But this comes fast on the heels of another tragedy earlier this week that saw some 400 young Africa lives unaccounted for. Madam this matter is too serious for the attitude and approach we use to deal with it as a continent. When 17 Europeans were killed in Paris, the whole world became Charlie Hebdo, and of course some of our African heads of state were at the forefront at the Je Suis Charlie march. But while thousand of youths are losing their lives in the treacherous Mediteranean waters desperately trying to reach the shores of Africa’s former colonialists, you and our leaders are enjoying Ethiopian tea in the lofty halls of the Chinese-built towers that serve as headquarters of the African union.

“Your Excellency, I plead that this is the time for a Europe-African summit and not one called by the AU to be held in Addis Ababa. If the leaders of Europe choose not to respond to your call as I suspect they won’t, then please charter an Ethiopian airlines jet, assemble all African heads of state and fly into Brussels for a mega-march to be called, ‘I- am African-youth.’  You may say they would clear the airspace for such a flight. In that case I would recommend an alternative even higher: charter a cruise ship and dock at every European capital’s shore and confront their leaders with the truth. Please do not fear because the scripture is right – “the truth shall set you free”. Unless you do that, Madam, you may be moving around in Addis without hindrance but your conscience will never set you free.

“Please your Excellency, what is happening on the shores of Europe is not too far from genocide because I know for sure that if these youths in boats were white or American, the European response would have been swifter and more effective. I know these former colonial masters will tell you that it is your responsibility to hold these youths back and that may be partially true, but the fact is that when our security forces tried to stop them for example as happened in my country- it was the European human right activists that shouted that we were violating the potential migrants’ right of free movement. So go ahead and heed no jeers; speak the truth and the truth shall set you free.” 

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