Please allow me to share through your medium my dream for The Gambia. In our 50 years of independent existence, we continue to be indivisible, strong and united. So many events have happened in the journey that we have made so far as a unit. Despite our efforts to look at the past, examine the present and predict the future, there is a generation whose views have not been entirely captured. They are the group that holds the future of this country. These are the youths. The earlier we hear their views about their dream for the country in terms of expectation and aspiration, the better for us. The elders will not continue to be there and this is why we must give them all the attention. However, as we clock 50 years on February 18, there should be a seminar specially dedicated to the youths with the objective to enable them share and present their views, thoughts and expectations about their country. They can even compete in the form of essays to write about The Gambia of their dream. It will also enable the youths ask questions from the political class and government functionaries on their observations, aspirations and fears of their dream. Such a forum will feature the views of the youths on their dream for The Gambia in the areas of governance, economy, education, infrastructure, environment, security, social amenities, transportation, religion, agriculture and food security, technology and others. As a country, we have come a long way since independence and this requires deep reflections on our future prognoses. Many of the things that have helped in shaping our country need to be discussed. This is important because it will allow us to regroup in our efforts towards the realisation of our common dream for the country. We must try as much as possible to engage all the stakeholders including the women because they have also made their mark in the journey. Therefore, as we celebrate 50 years of nationhood, let us also have it in mind that much remains to be done in squeaking home what’s left of our development as a country.
Re: Stakeholders rally to end child sex tourism
It was heart-warming to know that stakeholders recently gathered to share research findings on child sex tourism and to restate their commitment towards arresting the menace in the country. I must say that we need more organisations such as Child Protection Alliance given the fact that it has been very active in advancing mechanisms for the protection of our children against all forms of exploitation and violence. Such a forum could not have come at a better time than now as the country sets itself on course towards eliminating child sex tourism and other challenges bedevilling our children. However, there is need for non-governmental organisations to shun opportunism by over-exaggerating some of these challenges just to get more funding from international organisations. What is most unfortunate is that most of these funds when sourced are not directed to where they are intended. This is a gross distortion of the very concept and existence of a non-governmental organisation which is supposed to complement development efforts. For those that are interested in the welfare of children, they should even shudder when they think of the level of evil in the hearts of men and women who commit crimes against children. This includes those who endanger their lives by sending them to hawk on our highways, use children as collateral for loans, violate them as sex objects, marry them as wives, attack or bully them in their schools, to those who use them as suicide bombers. The issue of child sex tourism in The Gambia is a reality and so, let all the good men and women out there stand up and speak up for that child next door who may become a victim. This is why it is critical to strategise and put in place the proper legislation that will protect them from all forms of exploitation. At this juncture, it is equally important to recognise the good work being done by the Ministry of Tourism and Culture in strategising and trying to come up with a plan to safeguard the interest of all groups especially children.