I am writing to share through your widely read daily the issues of patriotism and a unified identity for our beloved country. These are issues upon which the country’s continued prosperity is dependent upon. I do understand that many black nations, especially in Africa are in a state of poverty, deprivation, and sometimes violence and political confusion and the people and their leaders are themselves to blame. But The Gambia has been blessed in many ways particularly in terms of political stability and peace. However, many Gambians are in the diaspora, especially in Western nations, with some as economic refugees seeking a better life. There are some who have opted to assimilate in these far-off lands and to do their best to forget their country as a bad dream. Their children, born in the West, often grow with no idea of their identity and their parents feel it would be a great thing if these children could become as European as possible. Sadly, many of these children end up suffering from the perpetual trauma of loss of identity and self-esteem. I have to mention that some Gambians need to urgently wake up to the fact that many of the nations in favour of which they are abandoning or tarnishing the image of their country used to be in just as needy a state. They were able to develop to the level they are now thanks to just one resource which is the love and commitment of their own people to their own country. This can otherwise be referred to as the patriotism of their own people. Even nations like the United States went through such hardships like the one we are facing right now. They had their own trying times including poverty but because of the love and commitment they attached to their own land, they never abandoned it. They stayed, fought and developed it while teaching their children that there is no better nation to belong to than theirs. We need to therefore work hard to restore patriotism and the passionate love of being a Gambian. We need to instil this in the hearts and minds of our children and the youths. When it is wholly achieved, being Gambian will be found to be a priceless asset not only to Gambians but the whole world. It is high time that we all took this important direction.
Let’s do agriculture – it’s really cool
The Gambia’s population largely comprise young people but they are largely detached from agriculture. Many of them perceive the sector as unattractive. This calls for the need to change the misconception by engaging all stakeholders. The young generation should start picking up interest in agriculture. Agriculture is really cool and the importance and impact it can have in changing lives, from the provision of food, to nutrition and the creation of employment and the alleviation of poverty can all be a consequence of engaging in the sector. This is the area that has the greatest potential for the development of our country. It is therefore fitting to commend the government for attaching importance to the sector. In as many months, our leaders have made public policies for strategic and targeted investments in the sector. It is my opinion that agriculture should continue to be the issue of our time and government should remained determined to deliver for the over 70 percent of the population that make a living from agriculture. Studies have shown that investing in agriculture pays. It is the sector that can lift people out of extreme poverty in a relatively short period of time, provide jobs and as well boost a country’s economy. However, any inclusive and sustained growth in agriculture has to be in the hands of the very people who are meant to be lifted out of poverty. The young people should also start exploring farming as a career opportunity and an avenue to stop the cycle of poverty in the country and to achieve food self-sufficiency. The time is now and if the government keeps pushing for nation-wide strategies such as Vision 2016, it could usher in a new era of growth and shared prosperity.