Archive for the ‘Opinion’ Category

BACK-WAY PHENOMENON! MODERN DAY BOAT PEOPLE  – GAMBIAN YOUTHS!

March 25, 2015
Reads :701
Illegal Migrants

African exodus

By PPP   Media

Following  the end of the Vietnam War in 1975,  and the economic collapse caused by US sanctions, hundreds of thousands fled the country in rickety boats to  mostly shores along the South East Asian coastlines. Most of them were hoping to land in Singapore and Hong Kong. The plight of these economic and political refugees became the best indicator of what a failed state looks like long before the term became popular  in modern political lexicon. That phenomenon  in Vietnam continued for some twenty years, and  today they seem to be turning the corner.

By all accounts, Gambian youths have become the modern day Boat People in this 21st century, in 2015, because of a failed state syndrome under Dictator   Yaya Jammeh. Gambian youths are not the only refugees fleeing African countries, but they are over-represented, percentage wise, or per capita ( say every 100 families between 18 to 30 years , how many are affected), in all refugee camps in Western Europe. As we go to press, today, there are more Gambians  en route, along the lonely, cut throat trails in the Sahara Desert or  clinging  to dear life on rickety boats, in the unforgiving   seas. Unfortunately   they are all headed to nations currently either in active warfare   like Libya, or in nations hostile to their plight, like Morocco. Gambian youths are fleeing in numbers akin to nations in active civil conflict, like Somalia Eritrea, Yemen, Syria or Iraq. Gambian youths are fleeing because of a combination of issues, political and economic .  In other neighboring   countries like Mali, Senegal, or Ghana, the political situation   is tolerable, so most flee because of economic   reasons.

Gambian youths have finally come to realize that they can no longer survive or live in dignity, or  on  bombastic pronouncements, promises, dreams and new “Visions” alone, from the Kanilai  Dictator, Jammeh. Gambian youths have no freedom of expression, freedom  to start   new businesses, because they cannot   compete with the Fiefdom of Kanilai   (KGI). The junta is openly persecuting certain tribes and families it deems as enemies. The unemployment   rate is going through the roof, and high school drop out rates are  bordering on criminality  The state security apparatus  is over bearing  and suffocating. The army and the paramilitary   Brown Shirts ( Green Boys), and Secret Police   ( NIA), are the biggest   employers, yet they produce nothing ,  and no revenue for the state coffers.

The recent assassination  of Ya  Bintou Jarju, in Manjai by the trigger happy and nervous security shows the level of impunity, when the victim is blamed and accused. The prohibitive cost of living, and the indignity of depending on relatives for food, is another reason why youths are fleeing. As we go to press, the Dalasi continues on a free  fall on the market, with an astounding   exchange rate of $1=D50! The fall has accelerated since Dictator  Jammeh planted his face on the money!! Our national reserves are depleted because of wild and drunken spending on non-productive projects. In twenty years, this  AFPRC  junta has succeeded in destroying all the stable revenue generating institutions they inherited from President Jawara’s administration, PPP. Remember Gamtel, GPTC, GPMB, GPA, Cooperative, SSHFC, etc?

The best determinant, or indicator for a failed state is the direction of the most active population, the youths, or future tax players. Today, Gambian youths are fleeing north, anywhere, but Gambia. This massive exodus must be arrested by a future democratic government,  and that cannot be the AFPRC  junta of Dictator Yaya Jammeh. By all indicators, Gambia under Dictator   Jammeh is a failed state, comparable to war zones, …and that, my friends, is the reason, Youths fleeing Kamikaze style [Babylon or Barr shahh], never to come back.

The enablers will point to a few white elephants as evidence of developments …please show them the death toll as evidence  of their failure   and cost….please share this post on Facebook, and on all platforms. Please join us to bring about and fight for the change   that you are crying for, the change Gambia deserves, to bring back dignity rule of law, equality among all tribes, harmonious and even development.  Please donate or volunteer. It’s time to come out of the closet and invest in your own salvation, because this revolution cannot be outsourced or delegated, you need to be present.

Please come back for more..God Bless. Thank you

YOUR ABC AND 123 OF GAMBIAN POLITICAL ECONOMY

March 19, 2015
Reads :426
SARJO BAYANG

SARJO BAYANG

GAMBIA'S POLITICAL WHORE

GAMBIA’S POLITICAL WHORE

Series by Sarjo Bayang

Understanding of relationship between the economy, politics and society is crucial to making those governing accountable to the general public as key stakeholders. Everyone is affected in vast ways about economic and political conditions of a country. This is true about Gambia also.

For that reason alone and much more, those who take up the crucial task of custody over public resources are under obligation to tell the rest of society how by use of resources the economic engine spins around. It does not stop there though. As the economic engine is set in functioning operation, exchange takes place involving money, material, and human capital combined in the process of wealth creation. In principle everyone must have fair share on account of even distribution any value added resulting from the combined use of resources that keeps a nation move on. The platform of that interplay is better known as economic superstructure.

Within time intervals any government of the day serves as custodian of public resources and by such occasion remains operator of the economic engine that spins around to keep the superstructure in functional motion.

Head of state and ruling party of the day can only be temporal custodian of public resources and not having any right to claim permanent ownership over what belongs to everyone. True accountability is not all about ensuring fair and even distribution of the public cake. Ruling party of the day must be accounted for promises made during elections and also when the head of government is sworn in to take up duty occasioned by official ceremony.

People outside of government constituting taxpayers have a stake in governance and distribution of public resources. Everyone has equal rights to put those in charge of public resources under scrutiny. People are free to ask critical question in order to ascertain what is happening behind closed doors for those keeping custody of shared resources.

Political parties outside of government are in principle governments-in-waiting. They have both right and duty to scrutinise any sitting government of the day as way of safeguarding best public interest.

By equal measure, when any political party outside government wins election to take the task of governance they become responsible to the people and required to exercise full tolerance for critical questioning from the general public.

Is that what is happening in Gambia?  If not how do you hold those keeping custody of public resources including president as chief custodian of rules, policy, regulations, finance, and human capital of the nation?  Are things being done the right way? How can things be done differently and much better for best shared interests of all stakeholders? Are people being consulted in matters of public affairs?  Does political power means the office holder owns public resources?

These and other matters of pertinence to affairs of a state will be treated in series. Your reaction is welcome.

IS PDOIS BEING EXCEEDINGLY DIFFICULT?

March 12, 2015
Reads :668
PAPA KOUMBA LOUM

Author: Pata PJ Saidykhan

By Pata PJ Saidykhan

For us to attain any gains in our pursuit of freeing The Gambia from the tentacles of a 20 year dictatorship, we must embrace the culture of impartiality, brevity and honesty in our actions as well as our political discourses. For far too long, many observed that most of our political pundits, commentators and those with voices and platforms have been exceedingly kind to certain politicians whilst holding others by the collar. My observation is that PDOIS have been cut slacker than their counterparts, possibly out of respect or we do not see the need to address their shortcomings. I am not blaming anybody for that but it will be so unfair to hold these parties and their leadership to a different yardstick and expect to make any meaningful progress in this war. 

As 2016 elections nears and talks of Party Coalition intensify to devise ways of halting the accelerating wheels of Jammeh’s tyrannical administration, a lot of people, myself included, are almost certain that Jammeh will never be defeated at the polls. There are a lot of factors that play against our favour but the one thing that gives us a remote hope of putting up a strong fight via elections is when we are able to have a United Front putting up one candidate against Jammeh. Personally, that will be the only time that I would support any elections in 2016, though I’m nobody.

Many who are pessimistic of any sort of political union argued that the differences between the political party leaders are so deep that they could never put them aside to look at the greater good of the nation. And their position is premise on their experience of the past election cycles. Despite the absolute urgency of now, we have seen indications that indeed, a coalition is farfetched.

While the Group of Six (G6) Opposition Political Parties are adamant on their demands for electoral reforms for them to participate in elections, we have seen NRP and Hamat Bah contest 2 National Assembly elections going for the 3rd this month. Their party, they said, do not believe in election boycott. We came down hard on Hamat and accused of aiding and abetting a dictatorship. Then we have GMC and Mai Fatty put out two press releases that we considered to be endorsing Jammeh’s positions on homosexuality legislation and the recent verbal amnesty extended to diaspora Gambians. We even had an issue with him believing that Yaya is a ‘good Muslim leader’. He got accused of being opportunistic and wanting to kiss up to Jammeh.

When we feel frustrated that we are missing out on the timely opportunities to pounce on Jammeh, we point our daggers at UDP/Darboe and PPP/OJ for not dragging their supporters to the streets. But what do we expect of PDOIS and their leadership?

Personally, at the look of things, PDOIS are more likely to be the fishbone in our collective throats than NRP are, for the following reasons:

Although I respect PDOIS as an autonomous, sovereign Party, I am troubled by their reluctance if not refusal, to compromise their position even when we all know what’s at stake. That for us to rid Gambia of her predicament, each have to give up a position for us to reach a consensus. To me, because of the limited options available, a lot of variables would have to be forgone so all members at the negotiation table could be respected as equal stakeholders. That is what I called Compromise.

Since I am Not privy to any discussions taking place between these parties, I am going to argue on what we have all seen and known since the G6 demands were put forward:

a). In May 2013, PDOIS were the only Party not represented at the Raleigh Conference when an invitation was extended to them because they thought the Diaspora needs go back to the drawing board to get our houses in order before they could partake in any National discourse.

b). In 2013 when Jammeh had his former Presidential Affairs minister read that unfortunate, inflammatory statement on TV that had the potential to stir ethnic tensions, the G6 members organized a press conference to condemn it. PDOIS was absent because they thought they needed to do thorough investigations before having an opinion about it.

c). From that, birthed the GUC rallies in Buffer Zone and Brikama, which they were absent too, since that was related to the same issue.

d). CORDEG invites all parties to ‘discussion’, PDOIS were absent because they were on a countrywide tour.

Now, let it be known that I am NOT a registered member of any local or diaspora Organization nor am I a member of CORDEG, so I am not holding brief for them. But as a private Gambian invested in our national affairs, I have been dehydrated and sickened by the 20 years of tyranny that poses an existential threat to our beloved nation. I have made it clear that I’ve subscribed to ‘any means necessary’ model of ousting the Jammeh dictatorship. Therefore, I do believe in the significant role the Political parties could play in making this happen. But we cannot idly sit by and watch the petty political and personal differences between these parties derail us, even when they are expected to recognize and respect the dire urgency of our situation. From the release PODIS had put out responding to the supposed CORDEG-Political Party meeting, indications are that history is about to repeat itself. They are ‘firm’ and would take a lot to have them shift positions.

With all their shortcomings, we are told that CORDEG in fact DID invite all Parties to a ‘discussion’ which PDOIS had acknowledged but claimed they were “engaged in a village to village tour to exchange opinion with the people in order to know what they want and what they think of PDOIS’ programme”. And their frustration that none of the party leaders at the meeting, didn’t distance themselves from the meeting, confirms that those parties actually did partake in the ‘brainstorming’ session. Therefore to claim that the CORDEG meeting was ‘News’ to them is not totally true. What I found a little disturbing in this was PDOIS’ inability or unwillingness to multitask significant issues. I am not expecting them to abandon their engagements but I am convinced that if interested, they could have delegated a party official. Reiterating that “Malick Kah had no mandate to represent PDOIS and did not represent PDOIS at the meeting” raises questions about the internal running of the party.

Lest we forget, when the DUGA ‘occupied’ the Gambian Embassy in DC, PDOIS were not pleased especially with the involvement of their Party member in Coach Pa-Samba. Though he was not representing his Party, Coach almost got reprimanded and reminded of the code of conduct of party members. We have seen the same, if not worse, in embarrassing their European Branch’s chief. It is obvious that the Party members are answerable to the Central Committee instead of the reverse.

Evident in this release was the rigid nature of PDOIS’ handling of matters with their colleagues in the letter written to them following the said meeting. As equal stakeholders, PDOIS could have been a little respectful to the rights of their ‘Colleagues’ to be sovereign and trust their ability to be engaging all participants in this fray without throwing a tantrum, which prompted Darbo’s terse response via text. To request a postponement of a scheduled all-important meeting because of a meeting they were not part of is worrying. They could have gone ahead regardless of the CORDEG issue, with the meeting to do with the confidential pact they were to sign. But because they did not have it their way, they bounced. I am afraid but Banka & Coach’s fear that these leaders have deeper differences that they would never put aside are getting validated.

We cannot have the same sickness bedridden us again after 4 election cycles. All parties and their leaders must be held accountable to the same standard. When we choose to cherry pick, we’re setting ourselves on a political suicide mission because we’re handing Jammeh the silver platter to turn the Gambia into a monarch. And to prevent that, we have to speak the truth to our partners on the ground – PDOIS especially. Politics is about evolution and adaptation, and thus far the Gambia’s oldest political party is stuck in stale ways of politicking. These parties must be forced to respect and run after our votes as Gambians instead of wanting us to allow to be herded.

In my subsequent blogs, I’ll be writing to all parties and their Secretary Generals in a bid to start dialogue as a private citizen but also give my assessment of them and how I think they could do better where I think they fall short. I don’t know why I think my take would matter anyway. Until then, PDOIS and NRP are our pinpoints, based on what we see. And we have to address it.

Good Morning and Peace to the Planet!

Pata PJ

Younger Generation Gambians Misled by President Jammeh

March 11, 2015
Reads :640
SARJO BAYANG

SARJO BAYANG

GAMBIAN YOUTHS WHO NEED RESIST OPPRESSION

GAMBIAN YOUTHS WHO NEED RESIST OPPRESSION

By Sarjo Bayang

Apart from rampant corruption and gross abuse of his position as president there is further damage that Yaya Jammeh badly inflicted on Gambian society. Since coming to power by staging a coup, Jammeh has been shrewdly utilising public resources to destroy young persons in Gambia by calculated systematic process revealed through keen observation.

Majority of young persons who turned into victims may not have noticed in the longest time how it all started. Just in last couple of years, it now came up clear that the whole scheme to destroy future generation of Gambians is no default but cunningly by design. Here is the result of how much damage young generation Gambians already suffered as victim by a president and government meant to protect or provide for their best welfare.

What you are about to read is factual account of what has been promised to Gambian youth and how their hopes dashed away by a regime that fails to deliver after 20 years building castles in the air. While you may not fine everything expected this is more for unborn children of Gambia who will be wondering about what exactly happened during their absence by people of this generation.

How dangerous deception of young persons can be

Experience of growing up teaches anyone that young people look up to their immediate social environment to identify role models. What comes immediately visible to the eyes can be easily taken for granted especially when young people are not guided towards critical awareness.

When the military seized power by coup in July 1994 with intention to stay on after brief military transition to civilian rule they needed the youth population as ready electoral constituent. Election campaign of the junta was in the following words: “we don’t want old pa, we want a young president.” Such statements were calculated to make young people of the nation look down on the older generation as useless and fit for no good.

The selling point has been that it was the older generation politicians that failed to develop Gambia and then a new generation military group seized power to correct all wrongs and soon bringing development.

In traditional Gambian society respect for older members of family and society is highly maintained through generations. That bond of respect broke down with advent of military rule when coup leader Yaya Jammeh and his cohorts told younger members of society it was their turn to rule and deserving that chance.

At that time, anyone who was barely 10 years would have had no better understanding of governance and how public resources are managed by those in power. The scheme to deceive began since then and designed to extend further in coming years.

After 20 years, young people of 5 -10 years then now constitute most active population of 25-30 age brackets. Over all that period until now, Jammeh and his cohorts by deliberate scheme continue deceiving this vital population. It was over this period that school parties are organised for lavish enjoyment by the youth population. Scholarship is awarded to girls on the face of beauty. Active youth population became target for setting up 22 July Movement which later transformed into Green Boys and Green Girls trained in Libya to serve as secret killer operatives for opponents of President Yaya Jammeh real or perceived.

It has been instilled in this particular youth gang that anyone who questions about the legitimacy of 22 July coup they call their revolution is enemy of development and progress deserving to get killed. With that mentality secret killing of the president’s enemies as they call them began and still continues by operatives known as Green Boys, later “Junglers”; suggesting they operate in the Kanilai jungle where President Yaya Jammeh transformed his resident village as seat of power with fairly high facility infrastructure.

Ironically everything that the president does remains in his personal wealth creation interest. Gambian youth are useful so long as they form the growing crowd as extension of the July 22 Movement. In their collective or as individuals there is hardly any tangible evidence of support with value added reality that Gambian youth can boast about. There is National Youth Service Scheme, a semidetached military outfit where the country’s youths are recruited as way of curbing hopelessness. The rest is history.

 Fallacy of a youth government

Disappointment became result of those who ever trusted or hoped that Jammeh and his military cohorts would commit action to word of mouth declaration that the junta government is for youth of the nation to benefit from.

Before military takeover of power government of Gambia under Sir Dawda Jawara already created a department of youth and sports under a designated state minister.

National Youth Service Scheme NYSS was subsequently established as platform to provide paramilitary and vocational skills training for young school leavers and dropouts. This was arranged by technical support from government of Nigeria where similar scheme was in operation even before the coup in Gambia. This author provided business training for the youth intakes as time outside of regular work on voluntary basis. Sessions delivered on basic small business management were meant to inculcate enterprise awareness especially for those who may wish to become full time entrepreneurs as career.

On similar line of pursuit this author voluntarily designed and helped established the National Youth for Food Security NYAFS, an idea later supported by United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation and Gambia government Ministry of Agriculture. The overall idea of business drive for conceiving a project like NYAFS was so that youth of the country would engage in diverse agro business ventures to become bankable source of various food and agricultural produce on year round basis. If followed to the letter youth from one of the country will be trading their produce with counterparts elsewhere around the whole nation. How far NYAFS achieved those goals, only people at the Agriculture Department and those who enjoyed as project leaders could explain. The rest again is history.

Desperate youth risk dangerous deep sea waters to Europe at own peril

Contrary to what has been promised as government of and for Gambian youth, life remains increasing unfulfilling for this most active yet highly marginalised population. Enough water still runs under the bridge with no tangible evidence of impact that government of Gambia from July 1994 as military regime has anything in stock for youth of the nation.

As more youths realised there is nothing for their advancement, the risk of backway to Europe is seen less severe than staying in a country where young people and students get killed by a military government meant to protect and provide for their collective livelihoods.

With all the talk and celebrations by the junta regime of President Yaya Jammeh, that has not translated into good life for youths of the country who now prefer to risk their dear life in search of treasure abroad they are uncertain about.

No succession plan for future leadership

For a president who was sworn to serve temporal term of public office but later insists ruling extensive one billion years, there is certainly no succession plan in place for youth of today or next generation leaders.

What makes that so worrying is the fact that even the most competent person on this planet still has some limitations in doing everything all right at all times. It is very dangerous and serious for a sitting president to declare his intention of ruling until death parts him with the seat of political power.

Evidence at hand clearly proves that Yaya Jammeh does not even permit the current Vice President to assume the required role of Acting President while the president travels away or remains at home on leave of duty. Jammeh when he travels takes along bag and baggage, office and titles.

A sitting president who does not trust his immediate members of government to facilitate success planning is certainly not thinking about another generation.

In the absence of succession plans, it is too risky and very much impossible for Gambia under Yaya Jammeh the way everything stands. This state of affairs undermines all prospects of making Gambian youth competent custodians as future leaders.

Educational failure produced low thinking young persons

Anyone following social media exchange of views between people claiming to be supporters of Yaya Jammeh and rest of progressive Gambians would have realised how much damage is done to vital human capital through brainwashing by the junta regime.

Lack of understanding on their part about governance and how public resources are meant to be judiciously managed is serious concern needing quick fix. Out there among people claiming to be in support of Yaya Jammeh, the common thinking is that everyone is under obligation to believe that Gambia is truly turning into economic superpower nation of world class standard.

Based on their notion of what national development is Jammeh deserves total support from everyone even after so woefully squandering public resources and stealing money borrowed in the name of Gambian tax payers in generations.

They perceive anyone subjecting Jammeh and his cohorts to critical scrutiny as jealous or pure enemy of Gambia government. Very often social media communication is littered with highly inflammatory vulgar remarks by supposed supporters of Yaya Jammeh. They even forget or may need reminding that government position is not private outfit especially at higher level of presidency.

Being so easily irritated by simple mention of facts about government of Gambia not placed as personal property of a sitting president that makes supporters of Yaya Jammeh so furious they trade on insults reserved for the lowest of society.

Just because anyone refuses to surrender their rights as stakeholders of national development in letting one person or regime stay on beyond normal term limits, Jammeh supports can’t get their heads round that basic reality.

To blame their lack of understanding on low thinking and poor education does not require better proof than simply observing how they think of public affairs as personal matter.

Given that Yaya Jammeh prefers his blind supporters not to think good enough especially about his limited powers over public position and shared resources, then he made such an impact on them.

National rescue efforts become readily handy for salvation of Gambian youths who for 20 years remain under dark cover of deception in believing that the country and national resources belong to a sitting government.

Governments come and go.  People of a nation carry on in successive generations. No president or government will be seen genuine unless those who keep them as custodian of public resources are made critically aware and given all rights to exercise such rights without reservation.

One truth that everyone needs taking home to their pillows before sleeping is that prior to using guns to dislodge an elected sitting government, Yaya Jammeh has not served Gambia people of Gambia in public responsible possible. Yes, he was in the military as job security to keep some change in his pocket. He was never entrusted with basic financial responsibility or as custodian of public resources. It remains highly risky that he will continue squandering public resources especially with the crude mentality that as president he must be richer than the government meant to give him that temporal employment.

Education for society goes beyond the classroom. Correct information for all is the duty and right of everybody. To deny people right information is starving them food for thought.

Younger generation Gambians deserve better information for critical awareness.

THE GAMBIANKA OF ANCIENT TIMES

March 9, 2015
Reads :1552
Sulayman Jeng

SULAYMAN JENG

GAMBIAN YOUTHS WHO NEED RESIST OPPRESSION

GAMBIAN YOUTHS WHO NEED RESIST OPPRESSION

In the Gambianka of bygone years when the community leader did not barter his voice for a pin of pleasure; peace, stability, security and unity were plentiful. The social cohesion was so robust that any iota of threat to divide or assimilate the community was quickly yanked off without fear of repression from the king. Even though, western education was a rare artefact, the council of elders functioned democratically not only as an advisory body to the king but also as a check to his power. These elders neither saw their leader as a lord nor were they hesitant to tell him the truth at any point.

Closely trekking on the footprints of these Gambiankas of enviable charisma were notably Edward Francis Small and Momodou Ebrima Jallow to name but a few. However, Edward Francis Small, unlike Momodou E Jallow, was into both politics and journalism. He utilised the Gambia’s earliest newspapers namely The Gambia Weekly, The Gambia Onward and The Outlook to disseminate his message to indigenous Gambians and the colonial administrators. His church congregation equally availed him a platform through which he communicated effectively with the protectorate grassroots Gambians who were marginalised and repressed by the British colonialists. At Balenghor, near Farafenni, and later in Sukuta he stood unflinchingly against his colonial oppressors despite been alert to the consequences his advocacy was courting. Thus, he is celebrated as the first Gambian to agitate for independence through his slogan: “NO TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION”. As a result, many Gambian historians dubbed him as the “Father of Gambian Politics”. Suffice it to say he placed the Gambia before his personal ambitions. Moreover, he, like Mandela, was not petrified of losing his life in order to achieve his ideals.

Momodou Ebrima Jallow, on the other hand, formed the Gambia Workers Union in 1959 which he meticulously kept at bay from any political affiliation. He fought for the groundnut farmers in the protectorate areas. He enjoyed a close relation with his mentor, Edward Francis Small. Furthermore, he is credited as the only Gambian unionist who successively led the most successful strikes ever recorder in Gambian history. As a result, he was selected to join the delegation which went to UK at Marlborough House in 1961 for constitutional reform in the Gambia.  His activities were mainly confined in the protectorate areas particularly in the north bank especially Kaur (J M Gray, History of the Gambia).

Notwithstanding the chiefs were suspicious of the early Gambian elites as not representing their interest, they put up a viable Protectorate Society which matured into a Protectorate People Party to advocate the rights of the provincial Gambians. The likes of Sanjally Bojang of Kombo, Soutay Bojang of Bakau, Chief Touray Sanyang of Faraba and Jewru Krubally of Basse spearheaded its formation and scouted for a literate protectorate son to lead it. Gambian Independence was achieved at a great price. The beginning was herculean but the end was worth the sacrifice. Jawara lived up to expectation in securing our nation’s independence in site of many throwing in a towel or two.

At this juncture, one may ask where we went wrong as a nation in our political and economic growth. A quick flashback will unveil the PPP Mansa Konko national congress in 1992 held the key to some answers of this fundamental question. Perhaps, if Sir Dawda Jawara had stood his ground as he announced at the congress, Dictator Jammeh would not have a corner in Gambian historical narrative. Others may argue the answers are relevantly embedded in the circumstances leading to the 1981 aborted coup. Conversely, a change of leadership in 1992 would have, no doubt, blew in a fresh breathe into the estranged PPP regime especially after the Sanna Manneh saga and give it a new lease of life. But the PPP heavyweights at the time were not only defying the gods by personifying the proverbial ostrich but also amplified indisputably none of them was capable and prepared to mount the mantle of leadership after almighty Jawara. Whether Sir Dawda’s announcement not to contest the following Presidential election as a candidate was genuine or a calculated move to test the waters of his popularity, it spawned fear, uncertainty and leadership crisis for the PPP. Sir Dawda with all his imperfect perfections, was humble, compassionate and never disrespected the elders of the community.

Then why is Yahya Jammeh arrogant and disrespectful to the elders of our community? Have they exchanged their Gambianka of ancient times with Jammeh’s bankrolls? Do they fear him more than Allah? Whatever the answers to these pertinent questions may be, one thing remains irrefutable: we created Jammeh. Don’t even try distancing yourself from the making of Jammeh. The most important thing at hand now is how do we unmake him? In answering these questions, I will reference Obama’s 2015 Selma speech but rephrase it with a touch of Gambianka reality under Dictator Jammeh. On a Friday 20 years ago, a thick cloud of uncertainty hovered over the Gambian skies. Even with the resistant put up by Ebrima I Chongan against the military junta which ousted, slayed and buried our thirty years of democratic existence, “was not a clash of armies, but a clash of wills; a contest to determine the meaning of”  Gambianka.  Gambiankas like E F Small, M E Jallow and Ebrima I Chongan were “not physically imposing”. But inspired many Gambiankas such as Jagga Jagne, Lamin Sanneh, Jaja Nyass and the April 10 and 11 students “to endure billy clubs and chastening rod; tear gas” and live bullets; boys and girls “who despite the gush of blood and splintered bone would stay true to their” Gambia our homeland “and keep matching towards justice”. It is their enormous faith in God and country which made them marched as Gambiankas who had endured 20 years “of brutal violence and countless daily indignities-but they did not seek special treatment, just the equal treatment promised to them” by the Gambian constitution. It is fitting to assert “what they did will reverberate through the ages”. The Gambian nonconformists in the diaspora and these gallant men and women were condemned by those in power; “rather than praised them. They were called Communists, half-breeds, outside agitators, sexual and moral degenerates, and worse-everything but the name their parents gave them. Their faith was questioned. Their lives were threatened. Their patriotism was challenged”. What greater form of patriotism is there than recognising and fighting tyranny? For that reason, 30th December 2014, April 10 and 11 2000 are not outliners in the landscape of Gambia’s fight against the Banjul Dictatorship. For nonconformists like Edward Francis small, “the success of our experiment in self-government rested on engaging all our citizens in this work”. That is what we celebrate as Gambiankas of ancient times. It is this profound instinct of wanting to be free from dictatorship that should entice us as a dignified people to democracy over dictatorship.

Consequently, as Gambiankas “who believed that loving this country requires more than singing its praises or avoiding uncomfortable truths” must occasionally disrupt and be determined “to speak out for what is right and shake up the status quo” of the tyranny in Banjul. From the streets of Banjul to the unpaved lanes in Koina, Gambian youths “can draw strength from Selma, where the powerless could change the world’s greatest superpower, and push” dictator Jammeh “expand the boundaries of freedom. Selma teaches us, too, that action requires that we shed our cynicism. For when it comes to the pursuit of justice, we can afford neither complacency nor despair. We do a disservice to the course of justice by intimating that” dictatorship and corruption “are immutable. Of course, a more common” self-denial by many Gambians is Dictator Jammeh brought development to the doorstep of Gambians. We do not need to look afar to conclude that is a fallacy. Ousting out the entrenched Gambian tyrant also requires admitting he is a monster dressed as a statesman. Without mincing words, that requires all Gambian hands on deck as change lays in our hands. “With effort, we can roll back poverty and the roadblocks to opportunity. One of the crowning achievements” of the first republic was the freedom of expression particularly of the press. Of course the reviving of our decaying democracy is not task of the National Assembly alone, or the courts alone but every Gambian wherever you may be. Most importantly, it you Gambian youths “fearless at heart, the most diverse and educated in our history, who the nation is waiting to follow. The single most powerful word in our democracy is the word ‘We’. We the people. We Shall Overcome. Yes We Can. It is owned by no one. It belongs to everyone. Oh, what a glorious task we are given to continually try to improve” the Gambia our homeland. 20 years of fighting dictatorship in Banjul is not yet finished but we are getting closer. In conclusion, I will quote Omar Ibn Khattab, “To forgive an oppressor is oppression upon the oppressed”, he declared. He went on to add, “I will not calm down until I put one cheek of a tyrant on the ground and the other under my feet, and for the poor and weak, I will put my cheek on the ground.”

Sulayman Jeng

Birmingham, UK

GAMBIA WILL NEVER DEVELOP OR PROGRESS UNDER YAYA JAMMEH PRESIDENCY

March 9, 2015
Reads :331
SARJO BAYANG

SARJO BAYANG

GAMBIA'S DELUSIONAL LEADER

GAMBIA’S DELUSIONAL LEADER

By Sarjo Bayang

Without needing to think hard or far, the truth is right under your nose. For more than 20 years Yaya Jammeh keeps recycling assorted brands of deception. Certainly were Jammeh not one big fool to think he is able to escape scrutiny by curiously attentive observers then majority of Gambians can be counted bigger fools in their own rights in believing his imaginary development talks.

From independence to republic status there are no leaps in the economic advancement of Gambia indicating a nation relying on tourism and peanut sale can become superpower overnight. Even after knowing that is impossible, whatever keeps Jammeh promising Gambians the contrary leaves more lingering doubts. The truth no honest and reasonable person can deny is that even if Gambia had all resources at hand (unfortunately the resources are not there) it is impossible to attain such development under Yaya Jammeh presidency due to good reasons.

It is pure wishful thinking for anyone to imagine Gambia becoming superpower world class economy while Yaya Jammeh remains squandering public resources to feed his rampantly corrupt and lavish looting life.

Failing to plan is planning to fail

Taking Yaya Jammeh and his entire gang of looters to serious task, will they be honest enough in producing one page of documentation as national development plan. If they are genuinely serious about development of Gambia at least planning is one vital fact of matters that cannot be out of the equation. All we know is that Jammeh plays the pipes and dances to the drum. Everyone around him simply sits and each watching on. Nobody cares about planning. Jammeh only makes loud pronouncements while everyone takes everything for granted. Nobody cares to ask critical questions. In short, there is no documented realistic plan. Jammeh has the magic command of “let it be” and the rest try pleasing him by committing resources without feasibility study. Based on no priority ranking of needs they end up with concrete walls and other cosmetic structures calling that development.

It is a typical case of failing to plan which by extension means planning to fail. Granted there are lose notes of documentation then the regime must provide public access to such material for competent critical scrutiny by all concerned stakeholders. Remember Gambia is still a nation and cannot be reduced to private estate of Yaya Jammeh as he claims. On account of that truth, documentation on any planned development must not be relayed by word of mouth as we know Jammeh to be doing. The regulator has to be subjected to same regulations. Public access to all planned development is full rights of everyone that cannot be denied.

Unlawfulness

State of lawlessness is biggest loophole that permits Jammeh and his cohorts to dodge away from critical public scrutiny. From 22 July 1994 first pillar of governance dismantled by the junta is the legal system. Knowing fully well that in the absence of properly constituted laws and without respect for such, there are no controls over his gross mismanagement, Jammeh enjoys unlawful ways more. Much more he survives on disorder and chaos. Gambia has since July 1994 become completely lawless. People in the judiciary past and present know that for a fact. It does not bother them especially when their payroll is not threatened.

Yaya Jammeh came to power using the most unlawful means. He knows what it means keeping the laws properly functioning. With proper legal due process in place, Jammeh could not have gone this far. Disrespect of the laws is serving his best hidden agenda leaving the entire population at worst pains enduring a relentless tyrant. The absence of a good functioning judiciary in Gambia for more than 20 years is perfectly designed to suit tyranny and misrule.

As it stands now, Jammeh so illegally grabs all public resources to build his illicit personal wealth. With all highly read and supposedly knowledgeable legal persons walking the corridors none of them care to challenge endless economic crimes committed by Yaya Jammeh now putting the whole nation on the verge of total collapse. Think of it and figure out how matters would have been different if the population were free to challenge Jammeh under proper legal dispensation.

National development is not about the president getting rich by use of illegal means. There are serious legal loopholes that need fixing. This will ensure that all resources and raw money acquired by Yaya just because he is chief custodian of public resources get recovered immediately. Current legal system is not permitting that to happen. Therefore, it is impossible to keep one person get rich at the expense of public resources yet expecting that nation become economic superpower of world class standard.  Jammeh as president is not regulated by the nation’s legal system preventing him from taking undue advantage. Although the constitution does not give such sweeping powers Jammeh at all times conducts in sharp contravention to civilise laws.

Poor performance of economy and finance systems

Regular daily meals are no longer what Gambian families enjoy due to acute shortage in foodstuff and money to pay for it.

Connection between national poverty levels and personal wealth of President Yaya Jammeh is clearly visible. By his crude mentality that whoever is president owns everything in the nation Jammeh controls all public resources without observing boundaries.

Here is how Gambian economy and finance engines stopped working in the longest time since. Jammeh does not have business background. He is no technician to know how the economic engine propels. For Jammeh his ambition to be seen rich is so blinding he does not care how much damage that is doing to the national economy and financial system. Had Jammeh been business person of excelling prudence he would have created the enabling economic and financial environment for healthier competition.

 Due to his wild ambition for amassing personal wealth Jammmeh prefers monopoly of most unhealthy nature. That is reason one reason why he has gone into printing new bank notes as way of laying heavy hands on the cash flow. Going into so many businesses is just another manifest of monopoly. Jammeh is not looking at systemic national development but only his aggressive personal amassing of private wealth. Any poor like Gambia nation that is subjected to gross economic and financial abuse by the president cannot develop as world class superpower standard.

We don’t need thin statistical details to realise that finance and economic system of Gambia cannot sustain type of development you call superpower nation by world class standards. Jammeh is grossly abusing his political powers to destroy Gambian economy and financial systems.

Economic infrastructure and the enabling financial environment are far from setting in place for systematic development. It is therefore unrealistic and big day dream for anyone to expect Gambia will ever develop under Yaya Jammeh as president. Talking about becoming superpower is fools’ paradise by any figment of imagination.

It came up clear that the entire regime is operating without being established. There are no policies and no checks and balances in governance. Each time Jammeh talks about transformation of Gambia from one of the poorest to becoming superpower he is challenged about lack of policy and with no development planning at hand. How on this planet can a poor nation like Gambia transform into economic superpower without resources and in total absence of policy instruments?

Destroying vital human capital

Seasoned public sector workers are no longer required in running the affairs of government. Jammeh plays his meddling hand in all branches of government. The entire civil service workers become petrified by what is known as Jammeh’s electric broom of hire and fire.

Culture of fear systematically undermines productivity by alarming proportion. Rather than paying attention to do the work right, people are set against each other as spies. Some very unproductive persons roam about everywhere doing nothing but playing secret agent to implicate hard working individuals.

There are no succession plans to let workflow progression from experienced persons to facilitate grooming new intakes. Everyone is aware that you don’t need competence to survive but what they call loyalty to the president.

Being trained for specialised functional roles is no guarantee for job security. In short the country’s human capital is not engaged productively. What that degenerated into is large scale counter productivity and vast waste of human capital while the economy sinks deeper day by day.

There is total lack of motivation even for those very capable and willing persons. Overall assessment of the human capital situation of Gambia under Yaya Jammeh since July 1994 is nothing but group of people with individual interest lacking all manner of team spirit. Pursuit of selfish interest is predominant even among those seen to be playing lip service as loyal to the regime or their chief patron Jammeh.

In the absence of concerted systematic team work, group of individuals have little prospects spinning the economic engine to bring about basic development. Playing with public time and resources is the simplest way of putting the picture of Gambia’s development reality to be seen clear. Everything is so disorganised and nobody talks about correcting the multiple wrongs that characterise informality at peak of matters.

To stimulate economic growth requires adequate injection of not just money and material. A stable competent and highly motivated workforce make key inputs that cannot be taken for granted. Since July 1994 when Jammeh along his junta cohorts forcefully came to power by staging military coup, human capital structure of Gambia is reduced to mere name.

Greedy and selfish

When as chief custodian of public resources President Yaya Jammeh swallows the whole cake, there will be nothing left for others. In the look of what everyone is seeing Jammeh made no secret about his feeling that Gambia belongs to him alone. That is how he musters courage to fill his deep pockets with public money and grossly abusing vital shared resources.

If that is not greed and selfishness, let the wiser in society tell the rest what then. Jammeh has the notion that occupying the temporal position of presidency opens all doors for squandering public resources. By that mentality, a president has to be rich before leaving public office. In the case of Jammeh he wants to die misruling.

Taking all public resources and squandering money as president is no development for the nation. With the scale of abuse, greed and selfishness seen in the ways Jammeh as president, it is impossible to bring about development anybody wishes calling economic superpower standard.

Jammeh is abusing public resources including revenue collected from tax payers. Loans and grants agreed in the name of poor Gambians end up as private funding for Jammeh. Such is the scale of greed and selfishness everyone is watching president of the republic manifest without remorse. Since public funds are diverted to keep the president richer that is seriously undermining development to negative proportion.

From top bottom or bottom up all boil down to greed and selfishness. While all genuine Gambians are thinking of national development Yaya Jammeh and his cohorts are busy about personal wealth building. They are exploiting the occupation of public office for personal gains. By simplest definition that is what Transparency International (www.transparency.org) refers to as corruption. When people responsible for custody and distribution of public resources prefer to serve themselves more than the lion share of the beef, there will only remain bones for rest of the population to lick if any marrows. In extreme situation like the case of Gambia under Yaya Jammeh for 20 years full scale corruption the national cake is all eaten up by one man. He still wants to be seen as richest man pretending to forget he came to power with nothing in his pocket.

Hating other people for what they possess is a cruel nature in some people. When people with that type of mentality occupy public position, they choose to put full weight of personal dishonesty for everyone else to suffer. What many people have drawn as valid conclusion is that president of Gambia Yaya Jammeh hates to see any other person progress. To an extent, he wants to cripple everyone and remain last man standing in plenty of riches watching the population poor. It is dangerous and unsafe to have such people handle public position especially being president with full control over shared public resources. They can be counterproductive and that is where it is impossible to develop whole nation with such people in control of public resources

Fake development

Building concrete structures as white elephant projects can be that baffling to least sophisticated observers. Beneath what Jammeh wants Gambians to recognise as concrete development, there is hell fire. Most of what Yaya Jammeh wants Gambians to see as development is nothing but fake.  It is all deception and nothing sustainable. Without Yaya Jammeh, Gambian people already cultivated real taste for good life. On top of that they want peace and not trouble 24/7. Above all, any development that is not responding to felt-needs of a nation’s population is largely imposed for gaining political capital.  Imagine out of the blue, that president Jammeh announcing to build special structures for each of the 5 district commissioners.

This is not how a nation is developed. Jammeh must stop playing and give up the seat he robbed on 22 July 1994. Behind all the structures in the name of fake development the reality is so that anyone who is appointed as Divisional Commissioner (so-called governor) will feel like being comforted enough and be more loyal servant for perpetuation of junta AFPRC rogue regime. How can government put up 1 million Dalasi for a design work calling on students to compete??? More than 20 years looting, shooting, and gross mismanagement of public resources is not nation building. Let Yaya tell the population where all the money comes from.  Temporal occupation of any political office must not be so badly exploited. The most proper course of action is for Yaya Jammeh stepping down to prevent Gambia from further ruin.

A more responsible government will allocate public resources by priority ranking of felt-needs in consultation with the population. It is bad leadership to implement projects as surprise to the population without due consultation knowing they are principal stakeholders in whose good names all loans and development grants are received by a sitting government. Development is not about buying flashy cars for the president and misusing public funds for personal riches.

In the case of Gambia there is no realistic development.  Public resources are grossly misused by the president without due stakeholder consultation. District commissioners and local councils are exploiting the population to satisfy a president who only wants everything for his personal gains. Given what is at stake, Gambia will never develop or progress under Yaya Jammeh presidency no matter how long he stays in political power. What he could not do in 20 years, he will not do in next 40 years. Gambia is not on the road to becoming economic superpower of world class ranking. It a joke nobody should buy into. Let Yaya Jammeh stop playing lip service for pure political ambition. He has no development agenda for Gambia. Gambians are waiting in vain only for another hot air balloon effect to blow more dust. To prove he has realistic development agenda for Gambia, let Jammeh and his government provide plans based on sound feasibility study for competent public scrutiny. Stakeholder consultation is crucial to any public projects and development programmes. In matters of national development, stakeholders must be consulted.

International Women’s day: A reflection

March 8, 2015
Reads :818
 Author : Fatou Jaw Manneh

Author : Fatou Jaw Manneh

By Fatou Jaw Manneh

When I was growing up in my native land, The Gambia, I never heard of anything called International Woman or Women’s Day. I am Muslim, and going by tradition and religion, and as the norm in the area I come from, the woman’s role is mainly to be a stay-at-home mum and wife, taking care of husband and children, the gardens.

My Mum used to advise me that a high school education was good enough for a housewife. She still is not aware that I have managed to get a college degree in America; not sure if it will mean anything to her. It will just probably just scare her. I wonder how I even made it through high school under the cautious eyes of my Dad, who never trusted Western education. He used to tell my Mum that all those who received Western education would be betrayers to tradition and religion – they would be un-Islamic. He was a strict Muslim. He has passed away, May God grant him Jannah.

Looking back at everything that my Dad said about Western education, I think his opinions are debatable. I agree. Times have changed; and circumstances have drastically changed and in the context of Gambian society, I don’t know if my dad’s fear or detest of Western education holds water, but his viewpoints on the effects of Western education are perhaps still debatable. But that is for another time. Another story. I was always amazed at what my Mum had single-handedly achieved. But I was a Daddy’s girl.

All the same, I am grateful that he enrolled us in school; the only reason why he sent us to school, I think, was perhaps because he had some good friends in the city who all claimed and boasted of getting their children in school. Perhaps that was his only influence. Even some Christian teachers who tried to give us a hand in class lessons outside of official school hours were eyed with suspicion, if not slight scorn. My first introduction to any woman first is my Mum, before curiosity and reading led me to Winnie Mandela, Harriet Tubman, Ida B wells, Sojourner Truth, Talata Nder Women , and Aline Sitoe Jatta of Senegal, to modern times Hillary Clinton, Condoleezza Rice, Elizabeth Warren, Ann Sung Kyi, Mariam Fye Sall, Michelle Obama, and Princess Diana to count a few. Great women in the history of African Americans, taken as slaves in the Americas have shown tremendous courage in enduring/fighting against slavery and the abolition of slavery. They became educators, human rights activists, business women, they did what they could then to save/free their families from slavery. Those were unbelievably tough times. Sojourner Truth (1797–1883) Abolitionist and women’s rights activist …, Ida B Wells, Harriet Tubman, and God bless their souls.

My father was a great man, active in the community in both Foni and Sukuta where we lived. Staunch supporter of the old regime. Solidly behind him. He gave hints here and there why they stood behind Jawara. Unlike the American founding fathers who are my idols too, dad and his crew left us no literature to read about the happenings in the country especially after colonialism. They guard all that information to their chests. Not sharing much with their children. They never even discussed slavery or the slave trade. I learnt about that on my own. You will hear about “issues” with the Whiteman but they will never discuss the specifics of what they heard happened. What was given to them by their fathers? My Dad was very proud of his own father. A very handsome and brave man my Mum would tell me.

My Mum was never schooled and she never harbored regret. She never told me she wished she was educated. I think her role model though was her father who never had western education, but he and his brothers were skilled tailors. Her father a migrant from Guinea Conakry, Timbi Madina. My mother had an eye for neat, soft cotton dresses and bedsheets. She always admired more how the dress was made more than how beautiful it will look on anyone. I never saw her with much, neither some gold or silver accessories that adorned traditional African women of their times. She was living under a strict and commanding husband and hence she was overwhelmed with child bearing, she was never active outside of the house, outside of farming. So my mother was a poor woman when it comes to elaborate living. She was content with basic living. Never saw her going to any political or drumming sessions in the village then. She was reserved and a recluse almost. But she hated elaborate living. Because growing up, she made sure I am kept as modest as possible. She and dad would always reiterate, “Just cook what we have”.

My mother was modest, humble, and hardworking. She did her duties then with bravado. She has ten children, 9 living, never had a maid. We were never hungry. She is a seriously clean woman. She scrubbed us morning and night. Not to mention white cotton bed sheets that were all kept washed and ironed every Sunday. I was raised in the village, with basically nothing but a very fulfilling life. I was fed, kept clean at all times and taught how to wash clothes, iron, and cook at a very young age. I thankfully was able to study well and finish my primary and high school education successfully. My mum has a small garden where she grows tomatoes, eggplant, okra, pepper and bitter leaves, corn, mangoes, oranges. In the rainy season, she has a rice field to attend to. That is like 2 kilometers from our house. When it rained heavily, as kids, my brother and I will wait patiently, wondering how Mum was faring from the trip back from the rice fields. The rains can be thunderous, dark and gloomy. She cracks the back door with a laugh, “I am all wet”, she will say, laughing, dripping from rain, just so we know she is very okay. Then we will jump and join the laughter. She will then get a real shower, make us all some tea and we will get cozy and enjoy the cool aftermath of rain.

My Mum was a woman of her times. She did all that was expected of her during that time to keep her family healthy and educated. She wanted us to excel in primary school. Not to mention a very authoritative and commanding husband. Mum was quick at whatever she did. All Dad’s demands were met, obliged and delivered without a word. My Mum like most women of their day, was strong, resilient, caring, content, simple, modest, helpful, thoughtful, compassionate and giving. I later realized too that she was not as powerless as she portrays in her house. With Dad she plays tag along and submissive. She is a rock and I salute her. Ajarama Isatou Jallow. Growing up and finding my own way in a very traditional, Islamic and poor community, with a high school certificate, not much was available for a “career”. I stumbled into journalism after bombarding the Publisher of the Daily Observer with social commentary letters. He was impressed and invited me to consider reporting as a career. Don’t know if my mum was educated, she would have 10 kids, a demanding husband. She might be a designer. She loves fabric and neat sewing.

After My Mum, the other two women I knew about were Khadijah, wife of Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) and Winnie Mandela, wife of freedom fighter and former South African President, Nelson Mandela. We were taught at a young age that Khadija was the most emulated, loved and respected woman in Islam. She was the first wife of the Prophet Mohammed (PBH). She was the first Muslim woman in Islam, after the prophet’s little nephew Ali and friend Abubacar. (Hope I got that right.) Khadija was a thriving business woman in Mecca. She was 45 when she married 25 year old Muhammad. She cared deeply about him. In all the trials that the prophet went through in Mecca, Khadija was always by his side, reassuring him that he was doing the right thing and everything will be okay. Khadija was giving. She lost all her wealth during the internal wars Muhammad had to go through. She later migrated with him to Medina as an asylee. Khadija believed in her husband, who was loving and caring too. She believed in Islam and she stood up to fight alongside her husband.

The second woman was Winnie Mandela. Former wife of Nelson Mandela. I remember I used to blush when our neighbor called me Winnie. Winnie was my idol after I read about Apartheid South Africa. Mandela probably would not have endured the harsh conditions of prison if not for dynamic, strong, powerful Winnie Mandela. Not only was she there for Mandela during the hard times, but she equally was never corrupted by the White South African government then. She stood her ground through all her bitter experiences in South Africa. These three women shaped my thoughts as a woman. My Mum, taught me how to be giving, caring, considerate and content with the little I have. Khadija and Winnie made me believe that hard times can be overcome. As human beings we have to meet the challenges of our times and leave a good legacy for history which future generations can benefit from, be inspired by or derive courage from. I am thankful to them. We have come a long way. The youngest Nobel Prize winner is Malala of Pakistan. She fought the Taliban to make sure education is available to girls in her community. She almost lost her life. She is not even 20 yet.

Times have seriously changed. It was epiphany for me learning about some of the great women of the world. We have come a long way indeed. I never knew that American women had to fight equally hard, to be able to vote, for inheritance, for good education and health care until later in my adult life. Women have fought hard for a better life for them and their families throughout the world, from Asia, Bahamas, Americas and Africa. I am proud of them all. It is the exemplary role of these extraordinary women that shaped my opinion in this strange world. I am a better person because of them. I read them to get inspiration and find my way in this new world. My Mum taught me how to be honest, genuine, caring, humble, humble, humble and modest. I learned from Winnie Mandela, Sojourner Truth, Hillary Clinton, Aline Sittoe Jatta, how to be brave, combative and stand my ground. They are my inspiration. I challenge all my sisters, especially the younger ones, to find their inspiration among these brave women of the world. We have to differentiate how to be feminine at home and how to be a feminist in our communities, like all the brave women mentioned above. Most of these women were just great companions to their husbands. Like Hagar was for Ibrahim (PBUH), Khadija and Aisha for Mohammed (PBUH), Mariam and Mary Magdalene for Prophet Jesus (PBUH), Maaam Jarra Bousso, and the list can continue.

As we reflect on International Women’s Day, we should keep asking ourselves how we can improve our communities. How do we become less selfish and fight for the broader improvement for all, our families, neighbors and our communities? What are we proud of?? When death knocks at our doors, what do we leave behind? What and how do we inspire our daughters and sisters? How do we inspire, lift up our good brothers, fathers and husbands who need us? How do we keep our sophistication? How do we define a sophisticated woman?? What is the challenge of our times??? Do we succumb to begging, clapping after dictators or do we stand bold and ready to die for our country?? Why do we settle for prostitution when we can flaunt our beauty for better causes in our lifetime? How do we define beauty?? Is it about fake hair all the time, skin bleaching or is it about having a great attitude and being confident in our skin – hair or no hair – and without paying attention to the hue of the skin? Martin Luther King Jr. fought for “content for character”, not hue of skin color. Josephine Baker, Nina Simone, and Miriam Makeba were extraordinary beauties of their times. They used it well and sang well for the freedom of their families. God bless their souls. We can be all these women. How can we be an every woman, modern, sophisticated, loving, caring and at the same time hold no bars in the fight against evil, be it in dictators, girl traffickers, women abusers, or cruel human beings around the world? There is plenty of inspiration and stories dating back hundreds of years to draw wisdom and courage from. Happy International Women’s Day to all my friends both men and women. We all have to make this world better for our mothers, daughters and sisters. It is said that you educate a woman, you educate the whole world.

A wise woman wishes to be no one’s enemy; a wise woman refuses to be anyone’s victim. – Maya Angelou

author can be reached at fatoujm@gmail.com.

March , 8, 2015

source: maafanta.com