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City of Banjul
Sunday, April 21, 2024

The beauty of craftmanship

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I am a handy person and can do a little of everything like painting, carpentry, gardening, cooking, baking, sewing, driving a tractor and so on.

I have lived most of my life on a farm, and we could never afford to pay someone for any of the services above so we had to learn to do them ourselves. I take pride in being handy, I know that I am able to handle a lot on my own and I don’t always have to ask someone else for help. Most farmers, all over the world, are not wealthy. Their richness is in their perseverance, the ability to never give up no matter how hard the daily work is. Cows need to be milked, fences need to be mended, sheds need to be maintained and whatever the produce of the farm – it has to be taken care of.

A farmer’s life is about working 365 days a year, but not every day is hard work. A farmer follows the seasons of the year and has a freedom not many others experience.

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Too many frown at farming, the reasons for that are various. Some people might believe that farmers are dirty and not very smart. Others think that being a farmer is not a career to brag about, but they have not understood either the beauty or the intellectual challenges of being a farmer.

Consider this; no one would have anything to eat if we had no farmers. The bread you eat comes from the large fields of wheat that are ploughed, sown and harvested by farmers. The meat on your plate comes from the cows, sheep, chickens and goats cared for by farmers. It doesn’t matter which fancy food you love to eat; someone has been working hard to produce that and that person deserves respect.

There are children who believe that milk comes from the milk factory, they have no clue that there is a cow involved in the process. Potatoes grow in paper bags and onions in plastic sacs. I wonder how they imagine where the fish are produced, perhaps a factory is spreading fish seeds in a tank filled with water, and after some time these seeds have grown to fish large enough to be eaten. Different seeds will give you different species of fish. Hmm…maybe an idea for the future for some innovative person? In Sweden it is tough to make a living from agriculture. Our climate is very different from the one in The Gambia and our growing season is very short, around 5 months if we are lucky. We need to be creative and innovative to be able to support ourselves. We import a lot of food stuff, but we also export our produce to other countries.

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The Gambia has the benefit of having a lovely climate where you could grow and produce your own food and not being forced to import as much as you currently do. More people should become interested in producing food, from scratch and to final products. You have so many possibilities, but too many are unable to see them. Look at the education sector and see what young people have been searching for. The so-called ”white collar jobs” are not for everyone, we need people in every sector because everyone is important. What so many are dreaming of is to work for the Government or for example being a lawyer. These jobs are on the top of the list, but we need to be realistic. Not everyone can work for the Government, not everyone can become a lawyer, or a doctor, or working in a bank. First of all; there are not jobs for everyone there, and second of all; these jobs are not suitable for everyone.

It is better to be realistic and to find an area where you will be able to thrive, no matter if it is in carpentry, plumbing, baking, engineering or any other area where you can develop your skills and be of service.

Be proud of what you are and of your skills, be an abled person instead of disabled. With disabled, in this case, I am not refering to any kind of physical handicap. Instead I am refering to a mental handicap where you focus on being frustrated on your life instead of looking at what you can do to achieve something in your life.

You allow yourself to restrain your life instead of looking at the possibilities.

I have read a very interesting report, it is from MoHERST, Minister for Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology. I have written about the Honourable Minister of Higher Education, Professor Pierre Gomez, earlier, but I needed to get back to him and his ministry after have read the report. As I have told you before, I am impressed both by Professor Gomez as a person and also by his passion as a Minister. He is really determined to develop the education system in The Gambia, and he is not only focusing on the highest levels, even if you might think so from his position.

Professor Gomez has been on tour in The Gambia to meet educationists and students. He has been listening to them, both about their achievements but also about their challenges. The best way of learning about the education system is to experience it, both through your own studies but also through studying the different schools and their results. The Gambian people need to change their perspective of education. Sadly we still have too many parents who don’t think it is important that their kids go to school. Education must become mandatory, for all children in The Gambia, that is the only way to build up the country. It is sad that not everyone understands the importance of education, that kids are roaming around without any hope for their future, that girls become married too young because their parents can’t afford to support them anymore.

For how long will we keep on dooming them to a life in poverty? It takes time to become educated, but this is an investment in the future. We can’t afford to lose more young people who flee their country because they don’t feel hope and they can’t see any opportunities. There are ways of getting out from poverty, and one of these ways is through TVET.

TVET means Technical and Vocational Education and Training. It is about developing different skills and to provide The Gambia with a highly skilled workforce. Currently we don’t have enough native craftsmen, and the level of unemployment is very high. This can be changed and the change must come from both the Government that can provide adequate educations, and from young people who are determined to stay in The Gambia and to make the best of their life there.

Being skilled in a trade fills you with pride and enhances your self-esteem. Knowing that you are skilled in one area, knowing that you have an education is what is increasing your abilities to live a good life. There are so many things that need to be improved in The Gambia, but we need to work together. No change for the better will come if we always expect someone else to take care of them. We need to roll up our sleeves and go to work, together for the future.

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