By Musa Bah With the nuances, innuendos and garuwalé going on these days, one wonders whether there isn’t trouble in paradise! In fact, some people have brazenly gone to the extent of speculating that Ado will one of these days sack his godfather, Ousainu Darboe. It will be interesting to see how that would turn out, for him, and ultimately for us. In public, both are adamant that their relationship is as solid as a rock. But, mané, as the Wolof would say, junju doy na borom xel. We all know that there is something going on. With all the push and pull these days, we will see who the best wrestler is. Basse is the new Kanilai. We have seen Ado go to Basse with a lot of bravado to lay foundation stones of various projects which are meant to bring that part of the country in line with the rest of the country, and the world. Seeing that that region was neglected by the previous government – or so they claim – it would be refreshing to see them remembered by their son, Chief Servant Adama Barrow. He does it in style, saying that he will wrestle anyone who dares stand in his way. He warned people in his cabinet he referred to as saboteurs to either resign or be sacked! That is an interesting take. Why can’t he just come out openly and point out who those people are and fire them. He certainly has the prerogative to do so. He can hire and fire and does not even have to give an explanation. He did it once with OJ and the one they call ‘Dinding Mansa’, Mai Ahmad Fatty. That, for some of Gambians, was a mistake. Mai Ahmad Fatty – though somehow feisty, had a handle on the Ministry for the Interior. And nothing happened after his sacking. So, why the innuendos now? The Gambia is very interesting these days and the closer we get to 2021 the more interesting it will become. With all the old and forgotten parties running around with congresses, electing the exiled Baabili Mansa to position of secretary general and flag-bearer; and others banking on old man, Sir Dawda Jawara and the more desperate electing the entire attendees to their congress as executive members, we will certainly witness a drama of high quality. But, as I keep saying, it’s all good, at least for the Gambian people. Bring it on, politicians! We are watching and waiting with our all-mighty voters cards. “Isn’t she a beauty?” someone asked me about the lady who has become synonymous with Kodolay on the social media. She was actually referring to Fatoumatta Bah-Barrow, the First Lady of the Republic of The Gambia. “Of course, she is a beauty,” I responded, adding that the thing though was not about beauty, it was about integrity and empathy. If it were about beauty, I for one, would certainly have gone with Cany Jobe… that’s the one I call the epitome of beauty in my opinion (I hope my friend and president will not beat me up). Mr Almami Taal, who is apparently so proud of his size (you gotta admire the man) that he insists on sitting, instead of standing when speaking in public because, says he ‘if you’re the tallest man in the building you don’t have to stand up’. But – seeing that he is a lawyer, he is more likely to sue me instead. But no risk no reward, right? Or if it were about beauty, I would have gone with Fatu Camara, the Lady of Substance (whose only but is that she is a Kiang-ka) but has carved an enviable name for herself in this country and outside. She is the salvation of Kiang, no doubt. The thing is that it is not about beauty at all. It’s about integrity and empathy. It is not empathy or integrity to receive, through the back door, thirty-five million dalasis deposited in your foundation and keeping quiet about it. The funny thing is here, The Gambia: No one talks about it anymore. What has happened to those millions anyway? Are we going to wait for another Janneh-Commission like committee to look into it and reveal where those funds have gone after the defenestration of Barrow (for, that will surely happen sooner or later, no one is indispensable, right?) Something renewed my hope in the future of this country. Wednesday last, I visited a school in Lamin. It’s called Starfish International. My God! Here is something amazing! Before I go into the details of this place, let me say that it also gave me the opportunity to meet some amazing Gambians whom I knew only through social media. It was at this place that I met Haddy and Fatou Camara (Yaf). These people I had only known through social media and assumed them to be brilliant individuals who were truly selfless. But when I met them in person, I knew, I just knew, that I had underestimated their phenomenally inspirational personalities. They were just amazing. Now, coming to Starfish International itself. This place is the place (note that I am using the definite article ‘the’ and not ‘a’) where girls have found a haven of peace, independence and service. The co-founder, Mam-Yassin (whom I proudly call my mother owing to the fact that my mother’s name is Yaasin), is one of the most selfless human beings I have come across in my forty-plus odd years (oops I didn’t want to reveal my age here, but to many of you out there, please I’m twenty +). She has great ideas which she is willingly giving to a group of young Gambian girls. Among these ideas is the quality of nobility. Also they inculcate the habit of truthfulness, independence, honesty and service to mankind. The girls – all becoming replicas of Mam-Yassin – have embraced these qualities and one can see the exuberance oozing in their enthusiasm. I was mesmerised the whole time I was there. Did I mention that I had erroneously thought that I was going to inspire young people? Well, that is what I thought; but, it was I who was inspired. The eagerness I saw in these young people reminded me of how little it is that I do. I am nothing compared to these young ladies. It was a humbling experience and I made a vow to myself, namely: from henceforth, I will try to double my little insignificant efforts to serve my people. I will dedicate the time and energy left in me to serve my people, particularly girls. You see, I hesitate not to call myself a feminist. I sincerely believe that if we wish to change society for the better, we must invest in our girls. Give them the education and nurture that they need so that they can go out there and change the world. But we gotta do it the Mam-Yassin way. Let them discover themselves the power that is within them. Let it come from within, not imposed. In a convo I had with the lady, she articulated how she did all these – it’s been nine years and she continues to do it – and I was reminded of something I learnt in Ghana at the Kwame N’krumah University of Science and Technology. It was about a system of medicine called homeopathy. This system of medicine, instead of forcing itself to fight a disease in the body like what allopathic medicine does, only awakens the cells within the body to fight off the disease. That is what we need for us to move forward. What gave me more excitement about Starfish International was the fact that ten of the girls who had passed through the place have now gone back to their communities to start their own versions of Starfish International. That is all over the country. Talk about bottom-up approach of development. This is the model we need in this country to grow. This visit also reunited me with two of my favourite students, Absa Samba and Alex Darboe. There is hope!]]>
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By Omar Bah The Ministry of Defense has said the Gambia Armed Forces are ready to offer assistance to the civilian authorities across regional and...
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