The debate, which was held at the school’s premises under the titles, ‘Back Way is a Way’ and ‘Back Way is not a Way’, sought to create a better understanding of the phenomenon as it gains popularity in the world.
The principal of the school, Father David Jimoh Jarju who held the view that ‘back way’ is a way said it is just an idea that was created just like ‘front way’.
He said: “I want to say ‘back way’ is a way because we want to look at the tendency in small countries. [It] is like people who live in small countries want to venture away from where they are because their countries are small. They also want to see other countries and this is the reason why you see a lot of people from Philippines in Europe. The Irish people go out a lot. People from Cape Verde are found all over the world and Gambians are also all over the world because our country is small so we have to go out. If they block the front [way], we have to use the back way and I hope you will join me one day and we will go through the ‘back way’.
“There is no country in this world which has no youth unemployment even America. We ourselves here have it, whether is the past republic or present republic, the government cannot provide jobs for everybody. I am sure there is that idea of attracting investors so that the private sector will put up factories where youth can work but that is not easy. We have seen over the television so many people coming hoping to look around and invest but we are yet to see them really come back. In addition, if people are saying so much of the dirty part of the country, how can you go and invest in such a country? So if there is no investment, there will be no jobs. I am sure so many of you who are going to leave this school in next three or five years where are you going to work? So if you cannot work in this country there are so many other places where we can work and so we take the ‘back way’.”
Safiatou Drammeh-Gitteh, a graduate assistant at the Development Studies Unit at the University of The Gambia, disagreed. She said that ‘back way is not a way’ because the term is used to refer to illegal migration in which travel is done illegally either by going through land or sea.
She added: “When we talk about migration in general, no one can say migration is bad in itself but it depends on how the migration is done. Is it done legally or illegally? Some of us are being sponsored by family members or friends who have migrated and they are making it thereby helping us. According to the IMF, in 2010, The Gambia received 90.7 million dollars as remittances.
“The name itself ‘back way’ has a negative connotation. Why not ‘front way’? If you go ‘back way’ you may never be seen and that it is a very risky phenomenon. The sole reason of people using the ‘back way’ to go to Europe in order to attain a certain level of standard in their lives is wholly and totally economic. People want to attain a certain standard in their lives and they think going to Europe by hook or crook to get wealthy is the only solution to their problem which is poverty.
“Poverty is a state of mind because some people are content with a little while some are not. So it depends on the person, some may not have much but they are content. The youth are expected to help and move our country forward and they are supposed to be the pillars, the foundation and agents of development because they have the energy and capacity to learn and be able to help themselves and their families. These are the group of people who we should be relying on, who venture in to going to ‘back way’ and risk their lives.“]]>