Thursday, 22 February 2018

Open Letter To Ida Riley, Waa Banjul..

I was very astounded, disturbed, flabbergasted, dumbfounded and irritated beyond all human survival, when I saw the hateful video directed to the president meant to represent waa Banjul. It is in that note I write with dismay to condemn and register my total dissatisfaction as per the said disrespectful speech with the intention of dividing The Gambia that we dream will be the last place of hope and peace on earth.

The aforesaid immorality video by Ida Riley was a hateful fabrication of intolerable huge lies, extreme dislike, deep-rooted academic and intellectual suicide, calculated and intended to portray the president of the Republic of The Gambia in bad light, and to maliciously destroy the dignity and impeccable honor, which the president is known for.

The last time I checked you have the “right of freedom of speech and expression” and “right of academic freedom”, which are expressly guaranteed by section 25 (1) (A) and section 25(1) (B) respectively, of The Gambia’s 1997 Constitution. But I submit to you that you are totally abusing the said right which is unethical and undemocratic.

It is hearth touching and breaking to see a lady of your caliber raining insults to the president of our great nation. Being it in Islam or Christianity it is totally uncalled for to insult a president. One of the largest consequences of hate speech is the effect that it can have on a victim’s mental health. Many of those who are victims of hate speech may self- harm, or become suicidal, their confidence and self-esteem may be affected, as well as many more consequences. While many people believe that how someone interprets their words is not their problem, this is not true. It is your responsibility to ensure that your words aren’t hateful and odious. 

Saying that someone should get over it that not allowing you to use hurtful words is oppressive and in violation of your free speech as per the 1997 constitution that’s commonly known as “passing the buck”. Refusing to take responsibility only causes more problems. Learn from your mistakes, accept that it is your responsibility not to hurt others. No one wants to be the person responsible for endangering someone’s mental health, or for lowering their confidence and self-esteem. 

In the law of some countries, hate speech is described as speech, gesture or conduct, writing, or display which is forbidden because it incites violence or prejudicial action against a protected group, or individual on the basis of their membership of the group.

Hate speech will not solve a problem neither led to peace. It is only through dialogue; reasoning and critical thinking can help remedy the situation.  All mortals from now shall live like one people, united and peacefully working forwards a common prosperity. You should regard the whole world as your country a country where the best govern, with common laws and no racial distinctions. I do not separate people as many narrow minded others do, I'm not interested in the origin or race of citizens. I only distinguish them on the basis of their virtue.

Social media and the Internet have opened up for many new arenas for exchanging opinions. Freedom of speech is an absolute value in any democracy, both for the public and for the media. At the same time, opinions and debates challenge us as hate speech are spread widely and frequently on new platforms for publishing.

Hate speech may cause fear and can be the reason why people withdraw from the public debate. The result being that important voices that should be heard in the public debate are silenced. We all benefit if we foster an environment where everybody is able to express their opinions without experiencing hate speech. In this matter we all have a responsibility.

Finally Ida, By taking responsibility and ensuring that the words you use aren’t hateful or intended to incite hatred, you can be part of the movement to stop hate speech. Your contribution is important, you are important, and you can stop hate speech. Instead of being the person who sends someone home upset, hurt and angry, or who pushes someone to the point where they feel the world hates them, you can be the person who ensures that they haven’t been forced to endure hateful words, actions or expressions.

God save The Gambia!!

BY: Saidina Alieu Jarjou
Political Activist

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

I Slept With My Gate Man Just To Have A Child for My Husband.

Once upon a time when I was a student at Nusrat Senior Secondary School, I normally passed a man sitting at the junction just adjacent to the Bundung mosque on my route home. One day he approached me and asked for my number. Which I did eventually we started communicating both day and night as friends and ended up as lover. After dating for 3 years he requested for marriage. During the days of our relationship he informed me that his mum is giving him though time to get married so she can see her grandchildren before she died.

As we got married newly his mum showed me love, care and pampered me as a newly born baby with the intention I will give her son Lamin a child. After years of marriage I was unable to get pregnant as a result my Mother in-law disliked and hated me.

I was married to Lamin for 10 years. We had no child. “The worst was that I never got pregnant even for a day.” His mother Mba Fatou became so irritated that she started breathing down my neck as she gave me no breathing space at all. She moved from Farafenni to live with us at Brikama and practically made my life unbearable in my matrimonial home.

It got to a point that she stopped eating the food I cooked or even take water that I offer her, according to her, I should be feeding my children so that they would grow healthy and stronger and not her as she is 62 years old. She shouted “Mariama Sibo, if you had children, you are supposed to be feeding them with all these food so that they would grow healthy and strong. I am getting old so I don’t need all these garbage and poison you call food. Take them away and give me grandchildren, I want to see them before I die,” she would scream as if she is using a loudspeaker. She also stopped talking to me as I became her greatest enemy, however, the only time she talks to me is when she wants to abuse me and remind me of how barren I was.

So one day I visited my senior school friend Binta who live at Bakau. I narrated to her about the challenges I faced in my marriage as my husband is unable to impregnate me. And I knew that the fault was not from me, she advised me since my husband is impotent let me suggest to him to appoint a gatekeeper who will be doing the work and eventually I will conceive from it. So luckily when I proposed to him he accepted my idea and thanked me for the brilliant idea, not knowing my plan nether my intention.

I am just a woman who loves my husband very much and didn’t want to lose him. I just did what I had to do to save my marriage even though I feel guilty sometimes. It was not easy but I slept with my gateman so that I could give my husband a child and to stop his mum Mba Fatou from insulting me.

Lamin and I love each other so much that he stood by me despite all his mother did or said to irritate me to leave him. We visited different specialists from EFSTH to Lamtoro and they all certified us medically fit. I have also visited marabous’ from Kartong to Koina all in the name of getting pregnant so that my mother-in-law can stop humiliating me yet I couldn’t get pregnant.

At a point, I stopped coming out of my house because it was obvious my mother-in-law had vowed to frustrate me out of her son’s home. Most times, I just stayed in my bedroom and either cries, pray, think and then sleep off because I was scared of his mother confronting me. To make things worse, she sent away the mate according to her, I don’t need any mate because there are no children to take care of. So let me take care of my house for myself and stop wasting his son’s hard earned money.

It was just the three of us living at home with the gateman Bakary, “Allah, I was always so terrified even when I hear her voice from a distance.” It is so heartbreaking to say this but my husband usually pleads with me to come out of the room and this makes him feel so unhappy especially those times I refuse because I don’t want to come face-to-face with his mother. When her troubles became too unbearable, Lamin practically drove her out to Farafenni just to make me feel safe and comfortable in my own home. Even after she had left for Farafenni, I could still hear those abuses in my head so I decided to take the bold step as advised by my friend Binta.

Bakary is 24 years old and graduated from the University of The Gambia with a BSc. Degree in Management but because he could not secure a job, he opted to become a gateman. When I called his name with a marvelous tone Baxo, he replied yes madam. I asked him to come inside my bedroom. And placed my hand on his laps and promised to give him D15, 000 if he sleeps with me just once but I never disclosed the reason for this. However, Bakary thought I just wanted to cheat on my husband Lamin with him. I planned it during my ovulation so that I could get pregnant, although it was not easy sleeping with another man especially your gateman. I knew I was betraying my husband but I saw it as a necessary action. After a month, I discovered that I was pregnant. So, as promised I gave him the agreed D15, 000. When I told my husband that I was pregnant, he was so happy.

When I was six months pregnant, he informed his mother and she immediately returned from Farafenni to the house. She pampered me like a baby and also took good care of me. I never wanted to do any scan but my mother-in-law insisted. When I finally did the scan, it showed I was pregnant with a boy. My mother- in-law and husband were very happy while I felt much fulfilled. “Allah thank you for rewarding me with a boy after ten years of barrenness,” said my husband I muttered like a coin.

When the child was born, he took ill for some time. It took a while before he felt healthier after several treatments and this got me anxious. Lamin insisted that blood test be carried out on him to determine his blood group and genotype and then came the shocking revelation. The doctor informed us that although his blood groups O, however, his genotypes is AS meanwhile Lamin and I are both AA. I wanted the ground to open and swallow me up because I felt Lamin would ask questions but to my surprise, he did not. He just said, “Darling, let’s go home. We have had quite a long day, you and my baby need to rest as the sun is too hot.”

One year later, he held me closely and said, “Mariama, don’t be afraid. I don’t want to know who the father of the child is. I know whatever you did, you did to save our marriage and I am very honored of you. I promise to always love you and my child. I promise this will be undisclosed between us. I love you darling. I know we will have our own children someday.” I wept as he rubbed my tears with his hands.

I know what I did was wrong but at least my mother-in-law is extremely happy with me, that is all that matters. Although, everyone is happy but I feel guilty that I selfishly used an innocent man to achieve my aim. But before anybody judge me, just put yourself in my shoes and think for a moment what you will do?

Saidina Alieu Jarjou

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

The Gambia Teachers Deserve a Better Pay!

I learnt that the Gambia teachers are on a sit down strike as a mean of registering their grievances. It is in that note I write in solidarity with the teachers as per their low pay and the poor working environment. The teachers being the educators who gives us knowledge of the world around us and changes it into something better for good. They advances us a perspective of looking at life and helps us build opinions and have points of view on things in life.

Education is a very vital tool that is used in the contemporary world to succeed. It is vital because it is used to ease most of the challenges faced in life. The knowledge that is attained through education helps open doors to a lot of opportunities for better prospects in career growth. Every human being needs oxygen to survive in the world. Education is as important as this because education gives people the knowledge and skills they require. Education is important to people of all ages and it has no limit. Children require education in order for them to learn how to speak and to write.

The last time I checked education is widely regarded as essential to economic growth, national development and overall prosperity. In The Gambia, education is valued very highly and theoretically given a high priority. Strangely enough, however, the teachers responsible for educating Gambia’s children are not valued that highly as expected compared to other jobs. Considering the rapid increase of goods and services, you would think that teachers would be among the highest paid professionals. Yet teachers are compensated unreasonably to their advanced education levels and are disrespected by many people.

If the salary for teachers were higher, then more people would want to join the profession. With more competition for teaching, the best people would be the ones who are ultimately to be hired. With better teachers at schools, more students would hopefully connect with what they are learning and want to go on to a higher education. With more education, graduates from the University of The Gambia would be better prepared to go out as far beyond Bollibanna.

I remember when my teacher once asked me what I want to be in future. I replied Teacher, he shouted at me “not to pray for that”. And informed me that teachers are the least paid in which they struggle with their salaries to make a leaving as they normally rely on bank overdraft. After a lot of thought, it’s obvious to me that my education would be much better if my teachers felt valued. It seems as though many teachers are asked to do more every year for the same salary or sometimes with a pay cut.

Many teachers have not been noiseless about their reasons for abandoning the profession, low morale and low pay. Yet the state’s response has not been enough to end the ongoing crisis of teachers in schools. The job of recruiting and retaining qualified teachers especially in the rural areas becomes more difficult without wiggle room for bonuses and high pay.

Being a new teacher can be devastating. Without the proper support, it’s tough to make a go of it. I quit my first teaching job at Fatoto Senior Secondary School after just five months. Because the school environment was so lethal with a low pay that I hated my job, and once because I wanted to shift into a different area with a better pay that I can have a good leaving. I was also disappointed to learn that most of my student were without learning materials, and the pressure to get them up to speed was weighing heavily on me. We had no fans in our classroom considering how hot Fatoto is.

My principal was absolutely furious at me for putting him in such a difficult situation. But even worst was the unexpected reaction of my grade 12 students who were about to sat to the WASSCE. I thought they’d be devastated, but most of them barely blinked when I told them Friday would be my last day in school. Part of their nonchalance was because of their young age, but I realized with a sinking feeling in the bottom of my stomach that they were so used to losing teachers.

I got embraces, letters and a few tears on the last day of Friday, but the majority of the class was so wrapped up in their own issues that they weren’t even thinking about me. Five minutes before the final bell rang, two of my toughest students got into a physical altercation over an eraser one of them had thrown, and I was so busy dealing with them and that there was no opportunity to have wistful goodbyes. My time at that Fatoto Senior Sccondary School as a teacher ended just as chaotically as it had started.

There are several reasons why teacher’s motivation is important. Mainly because it allows the administration to meet the school’s goals, mission, vision and objective. Motivated teachers can lead to increased productivity and allow a school to achieve higher levels of output. It is high time for the Barrow lead administration to consider the needs of teachers. Majority of teachers quit the teaching field unwilling because of the harsh and stressful conditions. So for teachers to remain teachers and give their best the government needs to increase salaries and allowances.

I believe, Mr. President, through the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs should look into this issue and consider substantially raising teachers’ salaries. Education is the key to success in life, and teachers make a lasting impact in the lives of their students.

Saidina Alieu Jarjou
Political Activist

Monday, 5 February 2018

The Youth Should Be Given The Tools To Transform The Gambia For Better.

Youth empowerment is a process where children and young people are encouraged to take charge of their lives. They do this by addressing their situation and then take action in order to improve their access to resources and transform their consciousness through their beliefs, values, and attitudes. Youth is the time of life when one is young, and often means the time between childhood and adulthood (maturity). It is also defined as "the appearance, freshness, vigor, spirit, etc., characteristic of one who is young".

Do you remember as a child being asked the age old question: What do you want to be when you grow up? I can remember the answer changing every time someone would ask me. I wanted to be a Journalist, Manager, Nurse, Teacher and a Police Officer. More distinctly, I remember telling my family and friends I wanted to be a President. My mother would smile and say, “Yes Alieu, you can be whatever you want to be through hard work, dedication and devotion for excellence.” Family, friends and my mentor Dr. ABS Taal (May his soul rest in perfect peace) all encouraged me to pursue my career in global development. There are countless number of people who have supported me along the way. I am sure you can also think back to a moment in time when someone believed in you and encouraged you to move in that direction towards realizing your dreams.

The Gambia youth are very talented beyond all human imagination and they should be given the platform and the tools to collaborate and solve problem, brainstorm and reflect in a way that can make The Gambia great. Providing youth with the information and resources necessary for analyzing issues that affect their lives and environments will help them become strong strategizers on ways to act as change agents in their respective communities. Empowering youth to understand that their voice makes a huge difference in this world and that all ideas are worth exploring will only give them more motivation and fuel to continue strengthening their own power for change for a better Gambia that will one day be the last place of hope on earth.

Over the past several years, I have attended a variety of events led by the United Nations and other organizations. At many youth-focused events there has been one very significant component missing: YOUTH. Young people need an actual space at the table to share their views, opinions and about the great work they are doing. These lessons are not rocket science. However, you might be surprised at how infrequently these lessons are being utilized by companies, organizations, governments and communities. Let’s all work together to empower young people and pass the torch of leadership on to them.

 The last time I checked there are different stages to a project and the first stage is having an idea but there are many stages after that. This will help them understand the full process and not get stuck on one idea. They should be encouraged to speak about to their triumphs often, to share their victories across all media platforms to reinforce the positive change that has occurred in the New Gambia. This will empower more positive action to continue and give youth more foundation and support to work from for a better Gambia.

Unemployment is soaring and the economy is tanking, but with the help of the private sector and a dose of entrepreneurial flair, young people can forge their futures. The Government should come up with tangible project that will aim at increasing the economic productivity of youth in The Gambia, and improve their livelihoods through sustainable income generating activities. 

The project should be  involve providing entrepreneurship development and capacity building activities to the youth and women in The Gambia, rehabilitating youth involved in prostitution, drug abuse, armed robbery and preventing others from engaging in such risky behaviors that might sake the peace of The Gambia. Key project activities include cottage industrial skills training and business support.

The Gambia has a big youth population, majority of whom are poor, uneducated and are unemployed. Most of these youth have resorted to drug abuse causing high prevalence rate of mental illnesses. The female youth resort to prostitution as a quick way of earning money for a leaving.

There is an urgent need to initiate a youth-led cottage industry program for the making and selling of bread, fruit juice, detergents, crafts, and other ornaments. Starting a youth-led businesses development program that will see the creation of at list 3000 girl-led businesses. Carryout youth rehabilitation activities for 2000 youths addicted to alcohol, drug abuse, and prostitution.  Entrepreneurship training and support activities of 5000 trainees in the country for a start.

To realize the dividend, the Barrow lead administration must invest in the empowerment, education and employment of her young people. There are thousands of young people in The Gambia today, representing a staggering amount of human potential. Yet too many of them are trapped in poverty, with few opportunities to learn or to earn a decent standard living.

By. Saidina Alieu Jarjou
Political Activist

H.E. Paul Kagame, the New Chairperson of the African Union

The Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union (AU) meeting at their 30th Ordinary Session at the AU Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, elected on 28th January 2018 a new bureau to pilot the activities of the Union for the year 2018.

In his acceptance speech delivered in the backdrop of the theme of the year 2018: “Winning the Fight against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation”, President Paul Kagame said it is a solemn honour, to accept the call to serve as Chairperson of our Union. He expressed his gratitude to the Heads of State for their double trust. First as the leader of the reform process and now as the leader of the African Union

“I promise to do this with you and do the best job I can. Obviously, I will need your full support” he said, before acknowledging the high experience of his predecessor, saying “President Alpha Condé is a professor, a teacher, and I can safely say that I have learned from him. I have also seen his very big heart for Africa. Congratulations Mr President”. He called on his peers to join him in paying tribute to President Conde’s impeccable service to our organization. “I have been lucky to work with his predecessor President Idriss Deby, and even luckier, to work with both of them. I want to assure you that I had a lot of wisdom flowing from them”, said Kagame.

President Kagame further said the programmes, policies, and priorities of the African Union contain the right tools for the job. “I wish to pay tribute to previous leaders of the African Union, and to former Heads of State, for paving the way forward”. He added that, there is tremendous value in the African Union’s flagship initiatives, such as Agenda 2063.

H.E. Professor Alpha Condé, outgoing Chairperson of the African Union (AU), and President of the Republic of Guinea during his chairmanship in 2017 appointed H.E. Nana Akufo Addo, President of the Republic of Ghana, as Champion on Gender and Development in Africa. Promoting women to high-level positions, the Republic of Guinea under the leadership of H.E. Pr. Alpha Condé, for the first time since its independence welcomed the largest number women in his government to high office, including the Ministry of Economy and Finance; several National Directorates or Autonomous Services.

While the Summit this year’s concentrating on tackling corruption, the presentation outlined how the AU among many other global players is coming to recognize and seek to harness the powerful contributions of faith and faith actors in order to reach their goals.

H.E. Mr. Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, in his address boldly stated that to date, the African Union is the first inter-governmental organization that made parity a reality at higher decision-making levels.  Applauding the placement of women in management positions in the Commission, he accounted that between 2013 and 2017 the gender gap reduced in strategic positions and the increase from 29% of women to 45% currently on Director’s positions; cognizant of the fact that yet more needs to be done.

President Buhari congratulated the African Union for dedicating the theme of the year to the noble cause of fighting corruption on our Continent. He thanked the African Heads of State for entrusting him with the responsibility of serving as the Champion of the theme of the year.  He pledged that he will do his very best to ensure that the anti-corruption agenda will receive the attention it deserves and make the impact we all hope for, during 2018 and beyond.

Addressing invitees from the African Union Commission Summit, local and international media, and global and regional development organizations, the Commissioner for Economic Affairs of the AUC, Prof. Victor Harrison, endorsed the report, urging African countries to adopt the recommendations for inclusive growth. “These studies present the behaviour of African economies in the face of difficult external conditions and announce the revival of growth with an estimated rate of 4.1 percent in 2018. We all know that growth is not yet inclusive in Africa, and unemployment affects more women and young people,” he told the audience.

In another development the AU-EU-UN Task Force on the Stranded Migrants situation in Libya on held its Second meeting of the year in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and the Sixth since the establishment of the Task Force during the AU-EU Summit in Abidjan in November 2017. The meeting was held under the Chairmanship of the Special Envoy of the Chairperson, H.E. Madam Amira Elfadil, and Commissioner for Social Affairs.  It was attended by the EU Ambassador to the AU and the IOM representative to the AU.

The Commissioner of Social Affairs applauded the efforts of the Libyan authorities in facilitating the voluntary evacuations, particularly in expediting the issuance of landing rights permits and facilitating AU and other stakeholders’ missions to Libya.

The outgoing Chairperson of the AU for 2017, H.E. Prof. Alpha Conde, President of Guinea, appointed H.E. Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, President of Ghana, as the African Union’s Champion for Gender and Development Issues. As part of his vision for this important role, the President of Ghana launched the Gender and Development Initiative for Africa (GADIA).GADIA is an unprecedented flagship programme and implementation framework for the President’s AU Gender and Development Championship.

Newly Elected Chairperson of the African Union, H.E. Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda also officially launched the first phase of the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) championed by twenty-three African countries at the Headquarters of the AU, a historic and a vital milestone towards the continental effort to start the implementation of the 1999 Yamoussoukro Decision.

Saidina Alieu Jarjou

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.