Allow me to use your medium to convey my condolences to the families of victims of the terrorist attack at Garissa University in Kenya. The killing of 147 students on April 2 by Al Shabaab terrorists operating in Eastern Africa is deeply regretted. It is the worst terrorist attacks on mainland Kenya since the 1998 US Embassy bombings. The attacks once again show that the scope of terrorism has widened. More and more innocent civilians including students continue to die in the hands of terrorists in all parts of the world. I have to say that African leaders now have an emergency. There is a need for them to discuss ways and means of dismantling terrorist groups like Al Shabaab and Boko Haram. These groups have afflicted much pain on innocent Africans. We have to have an African alliance to fight, annihilate and wipe away all nefarious acts and beliefs that threaten the survival of our continent. Terrorism is one of the biggest challenges of our time and we have to decide between solving the menace and allowing it to become a more established phenomenon. But even as we fashion out a consensus in that regard, it is important for us not to forget praying for victims of terrorism. My heart particularly aches on the loss of innocent Garissa University students and we have to pray for them. They do not deserve such ending. These are young people who hoped for a brighter and fulfilling future. They were supposed to lead their country towards greater prosperity. It is a very sad moment but Kenya is not doubt due to emerge stronger from the unfortunate event. As an African, I wish to express my solidarity with the families of the victims, the government and people of Kenya. I also hope that the living perpetrators will be brought to book as soon as possible.
Modou Lamin Jaiteh,
Women and youth are drivers of progress
I want to use this medium to address the issue of women and youth in development. Though they face distinct challenges in participating in the productive sectors of the economy, it is increasingly clear that women and youth are the drivers of progress. According to experts, women and youths are not a homogenous group and their circumstances vary according to age, class, education, ethnicity, location and other cultural and socio-economic characteristics. It is also widely acknowledged that women and youth bear a disproportionate burden of global poverty. Large and growing youth unemployment threatens sustainable development and social stability, and women continue to experience barriers in almost every aspect of economic life. Women also suffer from persistent social and cultural discrimination and unequal access to and control over assets and services. Today, focus has been placed on knowledge, skills, technologies and business support services needed to enable women and youth to engage in productive activities, generate income, and thereby reduce poverty. This understanding is generating an even bigger momentum here in The Gambia. It is becoming more and more evident that in order for us to spur the growth of our economy and create jobs, we must focus on youth and women. It is my view, certainly that, if we empower women, we have empowered a whole community and if we empower the youth, we have secured the future. The government must continue leading in empowering our women and youth for greater socio-economic progress.