By Yankuba Jallow
Members of the Council of African Descendants (COAD) have enjoined Lawmakers to come up with an Automatic Citizenship Bill to enable them become citizens of the Gambia.
These African descendants whose ancestors were taken away from the continent by Europeans centuries ago, were forced into slavery by working for their masters. They now want to come back to Africa and become citizens of different countries on the continent.
Juliet Ryan, co-founder of BlaXit and COAD, said automatic citizenship has been misconstrued by many who do not have the feeling to be taken away from your family or country, to a foreign land where you are not recognised as part of them. She said each letter of the term AUTOMATIC CITIZENSHIP has a meaning.
‘‘Now we return, we have to wait, debate and create an Automatic Citizenship Bill to rejoin our long-lost family,’’ she said; that they intend to introduce a two-year integration and assimilation program for African descendants and within these two years, they will learn the languages and culture of the country and be integrated into families.
Adrian Kujabi, the co-founder of COAD and BlaXit, said they are ready to hold dialogue with Gambian Lawmakers and become citizens of the Gambia. He appealed to the Lawmakers to look into their case and come up with laws to enable them become citizens of the Gambia.
“We feel the peace of the Gambia, the spirit of the people and their loving nature. We were kidnapped and taken away from our families. We are now back home and we want to be recognized as part of you,” he said.
COAD was able to bring together several Lawmakers at the event who all indicated their support to the proposed Private Members Bill.
Halifa Sallah, the National Assembly Member for Serre Kunda began by asking the question: “Automatic citizenship to which country? Which Africa are you struggling to have automatic citizenship of? It does not exist,” he said and took time to explain the impact of slavery on Africa and Africans.
“Africa is your homeland and birth right. We have a struggle to wage before the fight for automatic citizenship will be meaningful. We need a transition were we will collectively meet as a continent to know that the Diaspora is the place where Africans were forcefully taken to be enslaved and Africa is where they have a right to return,” he said.
Halifa said the African Union should look into all the elements in the Constitutions of member countries that are essential to agree on a protocol on how to ensure that those who want to come back, will be given all the opportunities to be able to do so in any country of their choice.
“My contribution to this program is to tell you that you do not have any false expectation and to urge you not be moved by any lip service. We have a challenge of destiny and we are yet to address that challenge. Join us together in this so that we can build a new Africa that can only be brought about by conscious new Africans with the birth right to claim and build the continent for this birth right to become meaningful,” Halifa concludes.