The vaccination pace is slow in The Gambia and what you need to ask yourself is: can you afford it? There are many aspects to consider, and one of these is the coming tourist season. All of us know how much you depend on the tourism sector, that together with groundnuts are the largest parts of The Gambia’s GDP. Covid has struck the whole world hard, and especially underdeveloped countries. Too many of you live from hand to mouth, and when your livelihood was snatched away there was no Plan B.
For poor people with few options it is hard to plan for the future and to be innovative in terms of finding new sources of income. The level of literacy is still very low in The Gambia, around 50 % and that is appalling when we think of the fact that it is 2021 and The Gambia has been independent for more than 50 years. How has all this time been used? Still a lot of children don’t go to school and many of those who have the ability to go there are struggling. The kids go to school on empty stomachs and when the examination comes we still expect great results from them. Parents struggle to pay for school fees and all the other fees and costs that come with it, and therefore they expect the best from their kids. That is natural, but we have to consider the struggles our kids go through.
Why building up so much anxiety for the exams? It is a wellknown fact that after these long and hard exams there is not much knowledge left the kids remember. Kids who have been up almost all night to study are exhausted and many of them get sick because there is so much pressure on them. It seems like everything is about the examinations and nothing about learning for life. You make yourself dependent on others for your source of income. Not everyone can become an academic, we need more than lawyers and doctors. We need plumbers, carpenters, electricians, builders, painters, road workers, environmentalists, farmers, garden keepers, you name it.
Being a lawyer or a doctor is great, but the lawyers and doctors live in houses where the sewers can be clogged so they need a plumber. The rich presidents of some of our banks need someone to paint their houses and others to fix the electricity so they will find their wives at night. We all depend on each other, no one is more important than the other. We need to educate our youths to become skillfull so we don’t depend on other nationals for almost everything. I don’t say that we shouldn’t have people from other countries working in different areas in The Gambia, what I am saying is that we need to educate our own people to avoid being dependent on others all the time.
As I began to say; Covid-19 has struck hard at almost the whole world and especially economically. The Gambia depends on tourism and when something happens that affects this industry there are no Plans B whatsoever to be seen. Sometimes it feels like the time between the tourist seasons is a time of inaction instead of action. People wait for the next opportunity to earn money, and that wait is long. Each and everyone of us is responsible for finding ways to support ourselves and our families, but the government has the larger responsibility.
You pay a lot to support these people who have the duty to care for your needs, but the only ones who are aware of the duty and the needs are you – not the government. You are on your own and that needs to change. One of these changes is actually to get vaccinated against Covid-19. You simply can’t afford not to get vaccinated. Some of you who are against this vaccination have heard negative things about it on social media. What you need to consider is that there are trolls who gain on spreading false information. The medicine companies earn a lot of money on making medications and vaccines. Companies are competing against each other and as soon as they sense a weakness in one of the competing companies, they go after it as sharks follow the smell of blood.
There have been some cases of blood clots, and a few people have died because of that, but we need to consider how many millions who are vaccinated and are unaffected. The Gambia depends on the tourism sector and can’t afford that the citizens don’t get vaccinated against Covid-19. Those of you who don’t get vaccinated are spreaders of the illness and the source of new infections that can hit even harder. You have the responsibility to yourself, your family and the whole humanity to get vaccinated. This is the only way we can stop the pandemic and prevent a new one to grow among us.
Keep in mind that there is a great awareness around the world of how Covid-19 has struck us all, and people are afraid of getting infected. It doesn’t help to stop people at the borders when you are the ones spreading the disease among yourselves. This is a tough pill to swallow, but it is the fact. The tourism sector in The Gambia gives a lot of jobs to people, and so many families depend on it, but what if the tourists opt to not come because of the low rate of vaccinated Gambians? For each and everyone working in the tourism sector, it must be mandatory to be vaccinated. In fact, it should be mandatory for everyone, because we are all super spreaders as long as we ignore the signs of warning.
So many diseases have been prevented and even eradicated because of vaccines. Mothers take their babies and toddlers to health care clinics and are grateful that their kids get vaccinated. What happens if the mother and father of the child refuses to get vaccinated against Covid-19 and suddenly gets infected? It is not hard to understand the consequences of the decisions made by those parents. What is hard though is to explain to the child growing up without its parents that the parents made the wrong decision. The child could still have had its parents if they had got the jab. It is free of charge and it doesn’t feel anything to get it.
Don’t listen to the trolls, listen to facts and follow the information given by the World Health Organisation. Educate yourself instead of basing your opinions and decisions on rumours. There is no evil masterplan to eradicate the African people by giving them vaccines against a pandemic. It doesn’t make women infertile or men lose the strength of their ”cassava”. It is simply a way of eradicating a pandemic and preventing us from being struck by a new one. Can we really afford to ignore the risks of being stuck with this pandemic when there is a way to prevent that?