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INTERVIEW: From Being Compared with Ibrahimovic to OB Conateh Influencing Him to Dump Sweden –A Trip into How Njogu Demba Became Gambia’s Most Expensive Footballer

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By: Sulayman Bah

Fond memories of his brutal annihilation of Liberia still linger.

The year was 2008 and the fixture a World Cup qualifier before a sold out Bakau Independence Stadium after the first meeting had ended 1-1 in Monrovia but not without some trace of tragedy trailing the game’s aftermath.

Gambia ran out victors with a near one-man show from powerhouse Njogu Demba in the form of two goals as Ousman Jallow shoved in the third against the fancifully battered Lone Stars.

Unanimous claps was the norm in appreciation of a sterling performance as home fans were not in the habit of issuing standing ovations. However, on this particular occasion, it happened for Njogu, with some enthusiastic supporters even risking beating security lines to offer him an embrace.

In return gratitude, and determined not to savour the adulations alone, Njogu humbly bowed amid rapturous noise. It was a breathtaking night. And rightly so, Caf capped it off by awarding Njogu the best African player that week.

Flipping the pages to events in 2006, this bamboozling starlet may not have played for Gambia despite being born here and departing the country’s shores as a 9-year-old.

To spare you the prolong details, this kingpin topped Sweden national team coach’s radar or rather the Scandinavian nation FA’s many priorities.

The 2006 World Cup qualifiers fast beckoned as Sweden looked to assemble a solid team headlined by the flamboyant Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Demba qualified to play for Sweden by residence and was, by this time, on fire for the Danish Super League’s Esbjerg fb, scoring 21 in 61 games. Sweden’s plans to have him naturalised were in its baby steps before the late OB Conateh walked into the scene to tip the balance in Gambia’s favour.

“Well I stayed in Bakau only the first 9 years of my life then moved to Sweden. I used to sit and draw my own maps of Bakau when I moved to Sweden in order to not forget my beloved home,’ he said, paving for a dive deep into the interview.

“At this period, I was hoping that Sweden would contact me. I was doing really well in my club. I had a coach that believed in me and wanted me to wait for Sweden to invite me,” he recalls.

Continuing, he ventured again:  “You know as a professional, you always want to represent your country. Yes I did dreamed of playing for Sweden and represent them and I would’ve most definitely said yes if they had called me in.

“There were discussions going on. But during this time, Gambia was never really in my plans until my uncle O.B Conateh called me. He went straight ahead ordered me to come play for my birth country or else they would “yap” (wollof meaning for acting rude) him at the FA as he said it. He was by that time the GFA president and I wouldn’t want anybody to diss my uncle over me. So I took that decision to come and play but my coach at Esbjerg wasn’t very pleased with that as he was convinced that Sweden was going to call.”

With the Greek League title in his trophy cabinet, so much euphoria heralded his move to endorse starring for Gambia.

Excited commentators in Banjul dubbed him the answer to a long search for Gambia’s version of Samuel Eto’o.

Replacing Jatto Ceesay

The talisman accepting to play for Gambia under coach Jose Martinez meant responsibility of occupying the vacant iconic number ten jersey rested on his shoulders.

He was brought in to fill the void created by Jatto Ceesay’s departure who felt betrayed hence his decision to prematurely retire internationally. Njogu would don the scorpions’ colours six years on before stepping aside in 2012.

“Well by then I only knew Jatto by rumors of being a great playmaker. I was going to come in as a dynamic striker who could hold on the ball when I got it and also try to create more playing space for our creative midfielders. I wanted to make sure that I would deliver what I was called in for and knew that the expectations would be high. I loved it,” Demba now, 40, said.

A bomb on his day in the pitch, Njogu won over fans with his step-overs and assists including ability to hold up play.

Like most African players have to begin with, the towering goal-poacher led an interesting street life as a teenager. There was obvious peer influence but football would be his escape route.

“My early teens life was a lot on the streets. We lived life as teenagers did back then and perhaps also now. It was more about having fun no matter the cost. We simply did what fell into our minds as teenagers,” he said.

The Road to becoming Gambia’s Most Expensive Footballer

As a teenager, he signed up for home-town club Falu BS and caught the eye with his 23 goals in 31 outings leading Swedish premier league side Hacken BK to come clamouring for his services.

This paved the way for a later transfer to the Greek League with sides like PAS Gianninia from 2001-2002 then Aris (2003) to Bulgaria’s Levski Sofia and Panathinikos. Esbjerg fb followed before SK Brann Bergen of Norway on a whopping one million euro transfer price tag, the most expensive Gambian footballer at the time -a record he held until in 2015 when Mustapha Carayol broke it by joining Middlesbrough FC.

At height of his powers, the Bakau-born was drawing comparisons with Sweden great Zlatan Ibrahimovic during their formative years. The latter’s career however took off unlike Njogu who seemed to have stalled a bit by then.

Offering to explain this, he told Gambia News:  “It’s kind of hard to point out what exactly stopped me from reaching his heights (Zlatan’s) as there are many aspects that play role in one’s development. Going in to details will be too much. But you have injury history, family and social network support, agents and decisions we make. All of that are important factors to look at.”

Epitome of class being permanent and style being temporary, Demba hung up his boots in 2015 with lower league side Dalhem IF.

 

MOJ Gazettes Bill to Promulgate Constitution

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By: Yankuba Jallow

The Ministry of Justice said on Friday that a bill for an Act to promulgate the Constitution of The Gambia 2020 and repeal the 1997 Constitution has been completed and was published in the Gazette yesterday 28th May, 2020.

Below is the full text of the press release issued by the Ministry of Justice;

The Ministry of Justice wishes to inform the general public that the Bill for an Act to promulgate the Constitution of The Republic of The Gambia, 2020 and repeal the Constitution of The Republic of The Gambia, 1997 has now been completed and was published in the Gazette yesterday 28th May, 2020.

This is the first such publication. The second publication of the Bill in the Gazette shall occur 3 months from this date. Thereafter, the Bill should be ready for introduction into the National Assembly at least 10 days after the date of the second publication in the Gazette pursuant to section 226 of the 1997 Constitution.

The Ministry wishes to thank the general public for their continued interest and engagement in this Constitutional review process.

The CRC was setup by President Adama Barrow in June 2018 to review the 1997 Constitution and draft a new one. The Commission made consultations both home and abroad with Gambians on their views and aspirations. After, the consultation with all sections of the population, they drafted a first draft and did a second nationwide consultation for people to make their final inputs to the would-be national document (constitution) if it passes through the referendum.

The Commission after a year and some months of consultation came up with a draft constitution which they presented to the President on the 30th March 2020.

The step that should follow after the handing of the document to the President was the publication of the draft constitution into the gazette and next the tabling of the motion for its consideration before the lawmakers.

The Gambia Government has committed itself to table the draft before the National Assembly before end of August 2020.

Kebba Taylor; The Musical Genius Who Never Went to Music School

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Kebba Taylor is a musical genius, multi-instrumentalist, producer and composer, who learnt how to play musical instruments from his father and uncles.

He epitomizes his father cum legendary multi-instrumentalist Senemi Taylor (Kunanjarjutay) of Ifangbondi.

He began his musical sojourn when he was very young.

Growing up in a family where it was not only fun to listen and play music, but where it was also a way of life, young Kebba felt in love with music at an early age and abandoned his dream of becoming a pilot when he finishes school.

This sublime musician, who became a semiprofessional at aged 8, used to sit and watch his father play the keyboard, while his two uncles (Sam Bidwell and William Davies) play the guitar.

Unlike his age mates who used to spend their leisure time playing games, young Kebba used to spend his time rehearsing how to play the guitar.

This is why his journey to stardom did not surprise those who know him.

At aged 8, Kebba played at public concerts and was paid for his service.

“From the first day my dad came from Germany with a guitar and I saw him playing it, I felt in love with the instrument (guitar),” Kebba said with a smile on his face.

His uncle, Sam Bidwell, encouraged and motivated him to do well in his common entrance exam in order for him to be enrolled at St. Augustine’s High School for them to form a musical band.

Luckily for him, he was fortunate to score the cut of mark for him to be enrolled at Saint Augustine’s High School and winning a Government scholarship in the process.

Attending St. Augustine’s, he joined and played for the school band.

“Sam Bidwell played the major role in forming the band. He went round for donations to secure the equipment and Alfred Manneh (my history teacher) was the teacher in charge of the band. He loves and plays music” he said.

Kebba and his band mates including Pa Bahoum, Musa Jawara, George Njie and Mass Lowe played different genre of music ranging from reggae to Mbalax.

During his days with the band, he was a formidable stage performer and a source of inspiration for young people.

In a bid to carve a niche for himself as a guitarist, Kebba moved to Senegal in 1988 where he played alongside the late music legend Musa Ngum and others.

Describing his trip to Senegal as an eye opener for him, he said: “When I arrived in Senegal, I met so many young people like me, who were very skillful and could even do things better than me, but that did not discourage me. It instead motivated me to work harder.”

He spent three years in Senegal and in 1991, he returned to The Gambia.

His home return coincided with Ifangbondi’s European tour and Babou Jobe (his father’s friend and former band mate) took him on this trip.

Following a successful tour with Ifangbondi, Kebba returned home and formed the Xam Xam band.

When his band recorded their first album; he went to Europe to book the band for performances, but the quality of their recording was below European standard.

He wanted to come home and do it all over again at Senegal, but there was not much time so he had to do it all by himself.

“I played all the live instruments except for the ‘Sabarr’ (percussion). I did not sing any of the songs,” he said.

The band members including Mass Lowe, Amadou Ceesay (alias Zito), Ebou Cout, Charles Cole and Alagie Faye (of Boubou Ngarreh), who were at home then, recorded their voices at George Christenson’s Radio 1 FM.

In 9994 Kebba took the band on a European tour. His biggest lesson in these tours was that ‘once you could travel, you learn things and it was left to you to absorb them, or discard them’.

The band disbanded in 1996. Later he started backing artists; the first time he did this was when Saul Sowe the owner of Jollof Arts brought him 13 artists and 26 songs to do within 4 days.

The new band called Kebba and friends ( Kebba Taylor, Sankung Jobarteh, Olu Leya and others) was at the epicenter of different music genres including Mbalax.

During his career, Kebba at some point found himself at a cross road where he contemplated quitting the musical scene. He began selling his equipment.

While sitting at home one day, one Pa Jallow (a friend) came to him and asked him if he could help him sort out some studio materials a brother sent to him.

In the process of identifying to Pa the things he had and what he needed to have a studio, the idea of producing an album for the Bakau based Born Africans was conceptualized and the deal sealed by him and Jallow.

This project was eventually implemented by the duo leading to the production of Born African’s debut album at the Galand Studio in Bundung.

Kebba felt the process of producing Born African’s album was cumbersome as intermittent power supply at the time made it very difficult for him to produce the album without problems.

He was forced to resort to the use of candles and other forms of energy to do the work.

He said: “Galand Studio is where I also did the Dancehall Masters’ album and many other singles.”

Following the successful production of the Born African’s debut album known as Praises, Kebba shuttled between studios producing songs for different musicians.

Kebba went on to produce Penchami’s first album at Elli Nacif’s studio in Pipeline.

Sequel to the production of these masterpieces, Taylor went on to produce an album for Ousu Njie Senior at the Elli Nacif studio.

“Right now I am contracted to back different singers. Sometimes I back them during festivals.”

Kebba is now working on producing quality sounds for the globe to know that the tiny West African nation of Gambia can produce products that are of international standard.

He does not mind even if the tracks are not going to be hit songs locally.

Heaping praises on Gambian musicians, Kebba said: “The young musicians are doing very well. What the kids are doing was once our dream. I respect the kids for their hard work.”

The musical maestro is proud that Gambians are now listening and consuming their own music, but was quick to add it was now time for the country to create a music genre that will go beyond its borders.

Sukuta residents to meet with Government over Salagi land saga

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By Mustapha Jallow

Residents of Salagi, a settlement on the outskirts of Sukuta will on Monday hold talks with the Gambian Government over the Salagi land saga.

On the 19th May 2020 a problem ensued when the Gambia Government went to Salagi and began demolishing some structures including buildings. The police arrested some of the residents as a result of the problem and released them on bail.

Saikou Bojang, a resident of Salagi, whose compound fence was demolished, said they were invited by the West Coast Deputy Governor to discuss the recent tension.

He explained: “I together with my family members and other landowners – were invited at the West Coast Governor’s Office in Brikama. We held a discussion with him (the governor) and the outcome was to meet with Ministry of Local Government and Lands in Banjul on Monday.’’

He added: “During the meeting, we have agreed to meet with the Minister. We do not know the purpose of the meeting, but we will go and listen.’’

Bojang said though they are ready for dialogue, they still want to retain their compounds.

“I’m staying here with my wife and 5 kids – and the reason why I built here was for them (my little family). So, I’m not going to move anywhere,’’ he said.

He said: “I cannot leave my home for others, impossible…… I built this house for my kids and not for me.’’

Asked if the government compensates him with a plot of land with cash, he responded: “No, I will not take it – because here is my home and land, it belongs to me. So, I need no compensation.’’

Bojang alleged that he was not given any notification about the demolition exercise that took place on 19th May by the state.

“They are supposed to serve me a notice about the exercise but no one did. I woke up one day and saw officials with security forces surrounding our buildings,’’ he explained.

He stressed that his children are living in fear – as personnel of the PIU are still patrolling the demolished areas.

It could be recalled that dozens of houses and fences were demolished in Sukuta-Salagi by government officials and the state security agents. The demolition exercise resulted in a clash between the security forces and residents.

IRI Poll suggests 72% Of Gambians Support a New Constitution

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Seventy-two percent of Gambians supported the need for a new constitution and are satisfactied with the performance of Constitutional Review Commission (CRC).

A new nationwide survey of The Gambia by the International Republican Institute’s (IRI) Centre for Insights in Survey Research was conducted between November and December 2019, has revealed 72% of Gambians support a new constitution and are satisfactied with the Constitutional Review Commission’s (CRC) performance.

“The poll also indicates that most citizens would vote in a constitutional referendum, but the lack of voter ID cards could hamper turnout,’’ a poll tells.
“Gambians are looking forward to a new constitution that strengthens fundamental rights and freedoms,” said Greg Kearns, IRI Regional Director for Africa. “In order to meet the high threshold for voter turnout, it is critical that the government addresses barriers to voter participation before holding a referendum.”

According to the poll, 87 percent of Gambians agree that the country needs a new constitution, and 60 percent rated the performance of the CRC as either “very good” (42 percent) or “somewhat good” (18 percent). Furthermore, 88 percent of citizens support the inclusion of presidential term limits in the new constitution.

Fifty-seven percent cited this as a main reason for turning out to vote in a potential referendum, along with 49 percent of Gambians who cited fundamental rights and freedoms. While the vast majority (74 percent) of Gambians intend to vote in the referendum, among the 13 percent who said they are unlikely to vote, a plurality (39 percent) cited a lack of a voter’s card as their primary reason for abstaining.

The poll reflected general optimism regarding the country’s democratic trajectory. Fifty-eight percent of citizens agree The Gambia is headed in the right direction, and 66 percent of citizens think democracy is the best possible form of governance. However, citizens under 36 years of age were more likely than older adults to say that other forms of government could be equally good or better for the country. When asked about the most pressing issues facing the country, 37 percent listed the cost of living, high prices and unemployment as their highest priorities.

*This survey was conducted in November and December 2019, after the release of the November 2019 draft constitution.

New Yundum VDC Demand their Reserve Land

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By Nelson Manneh

The Village Development Committee (VDC) of New Yundum have on behalf of their community demanded for the Government of the Gambia to return their reserve land to them.

According to the VDC Chairperson and Secretary General, Alagie H. Ceesay and Malang K.K. Bojang respectively, the land in question is a reserve land for the community of New Yundum which they allege, was taken by Government and allocated to Members of the National Assembly and other senior Government officials, without the consent of the community.

Speaking on behalf of the delegation that was led by Alagie H. Ceesay to Foroyaa Offices on Thursday, the VDC Chairperson expressed shock and dismay on the activities noticed within and around the community reserve land along the Kombo Coastal Road opposite the Yarambamba Housing Estate.

New Yumdum VDC Chairperson and Secretary General Alagie H. Ceesay and Malang K.K. Bojang

According to VDC Chairperson Ceesay, the area measures close to 1,000 by 500 meters; that the said land was sacred territory used by Chiefs (Mansas) before being turned into farmlands by indigenes of Yundum until recently, when unnatural activities started to unfold within the area.

VDC Chairperson Ceesay said their role as a VDC includes bringing development to their community.

“It must be noted that land is a source of livelihood and an emblem of wealth everywhere and Gambia is not an exception. Therefore any undue process in acquiring land by foreign hands from any unauthorized bodies is like fanning the flames of instability in that society,” he said.

VDC Chairperson Ceesay said they want to draw the attention of the general public and Government of the Gambia in particular the Ministry of Lands and Members of the National Assembly, of their utmost dismay, disappointment and frustration of the unlawful allocation of plots belonging to the community of New Yundum to senior Government officials and Members of the National Assembly;

Covid 19 shutting down economies, President Barrow tells UN

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State House, Banjul, May 28, 2020 – His Excellency, President Adama Barrow has told the UN high-level virtual meeting on ‘Financing for Development on Covid-19’ that Gambia’s economy s among many others that are shutting down due to Covid 19 pandemic.

The impact of the pandemic has necessitated the world body to convene this high level event, to discuss strategies towards recovery of economies and financing development in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals.

“Our economies have been virtually shut down for the past several months as economic growth has become seriously compromised for the foreseeable future,” President Barrow told the meeting.

The Canadian and Jamaican Prime Ministers have joined the UN Secretary General in convening the meeting. The world leaders through this meeting have formed a consensus that Covid-19 is more than a global health challenge.

Rather, they consider it “a serious economic and social challenge” for the global economy, with devastating effects on most vulnerable countries such as The Gambia.

President Barrow told his colleague leaders that it has become more urgent for them to accelerate the implementation of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on Financing for Development in the Era of Covid-19 and beyond.

The Chairman of the African Union, President Ramaphosa of South Africa called for total debt cancellation for African countries. He further called on world leaders to honour their commitments to the Addis Ababa Plan of Action.

A global response package of up to $200 billion is targeted to finance this re-emergence plan. Mr. Ramaphosa expressed his commitment to lead the raising of this funds.

President Buhari of Nigeria and Kenyatta of Kenya were among those who gave strong support to debt cancellation for African countries.

The World Bank has called for extension of debt servicing, warning that creditors must not exploit the vulnerabilities of debtor countries during these times.

The IMF supported the G20’s debt scheme that puts moratorium on servicing debts by developing countries in order to support them build more robust and resilient economies.

The Secretary General of the UN, Antonio Guterres said it was clear that many developing countries lacked the financial means to recover from the impact of Covid 19 pandemic. Their economies’ financial inflows, tourism, remittances, aviation services have hugely suffered that they need global partnership to emerge from this crisis.

Yankuba Touray should walk free next week-Counsel Tells Court

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By Yankuba Jallow & Louis Jobe

Yankuba Touray’s Lawyer has on Thursday, 28th May told the high court that his client should walk free since the prosecution have failed to prove Touray’s guilt.

“Next week, he (Yankuba Touray) should walk free. He should work free because it is the law. There is no evidence,” Lawyer Sisoho told Justice Jaiteh.

The prosecution have closed their case after calling nine witnesses in support of their case. After closing their case, Lawyer A. Sisoho made a ‘no case to answer’ submission in which he beseeched the court to acquit and discharge Touray.

Sisoho relied on the Constitution and other relevant laws to make the application for the court to acquit and discharge Mr. Touray. He said the ‘no case submission’ was made because the prosecution failed to prove essential elements of the alleged crime (murder). He added that the prosecution witnesses have been discredited for giving inconsistent testimonies.

Sisoho said the prosecution has the duty to bring substantial evidence to prove their case but they have failed to discharge this burden.

Sisoho said the prosecution is persecuting Touray instead of prosecuting him.

“This is not prosecution but persecution. This is persecution to the highest order because he refused to testify before the TRRC. Why are they leaving necessary witnesses behind?” Sisoho quizzed.

Touray is facing trial for the murder of Ousman Koro Ceesay, an ex-Minister of Finance under the regime of the APRC who ruled The Gambia with decrees.

He said it was the duty of the prosecution to prove the death of Koro Ceesay and establish that Mr. Touray was the murderer. He said none of the witnesses have proved that Ousman Koro Ceesay was dead.

He explained that the prosecution failed to prove important elements of the crime (murder).

He said prosecution witnesses 2, 3 and 4 have all confirmed to the court that they never saw Yankuba Touray with Koro Ceesay.

He said the only witness who said he saw the two together was Alagie Kanyi, the sixth prosecution witness. He said Kanyi did admit before the court that he has given inconsistent testimonies as well as has admitted telling lies while giving his testimony before the court. Sisoho cited an example where Kanyi said in his testimony that on the day, around 8 pm onwards, he was at Cape Point and in another testimony, he said he was at the residence of Mr. Touray.

“This is a puzzle and this has to be cleared. The same witness made different statements,” Sisoho said.

Sisoho said the prosecution witnesses gave conflicting testimonies while they gave their evidence before the court. He pointed out that prosecution witnesses 2, 3 and 4 all said they were at the accused person’s home on the day at various time but they never saw Kanyi at the premises of Mr Touray. He said PW3 – Captain Amat Jangum said he was at the residence of Mr Touray at 8 pm adding that this time the accused person was still at the State House.

“All of them said they never saw the star-witness, Alagie Kanyi,” the Lawyer said.

He said PW2 – Ensa Mendy and PW4 – Lamin Ndour, Mr Touray’s former driver, both testified that they were with Touray at the State House on that day.

The senior lawyer said the prosecution’s case failed because there is no evidence. He added that the actus reus of Murder was missing and the prosecution hasn’t proven it.

“There is no decease. There is no weapon. Even if there are a decease and weapon, they (the prosecution) have not connected it to the accused person,” he said.

He said the prosecution called on irrelevant witnesses to prove their case adding they only brought them to waste the court’s time.

“There testimonies have no value to the case,” defence Counsel said.

Sisoho put forward that even if death occurs, the prosecution has the duty to prove that the action or actions of the accused person, as mentioned in the indictment, killed Koro Ceesay. He reminded the court that in the particulars of the indictment, it was mentioned that Koro Ceesay was killed by Mr. Touray using pestle-like object and other dangerous weapons.

“No stick, no weapon and no knife have been tendered before the court. Absolutely, no weapon has been tendered before this court connecting the accused person to the ownership of that weapon,” Sisoho said.

He explained that the actus reus (guilty act, which is necessary to prove murder, has not been proven.

“They (the prosecution) must prove that a weapon was used. The best evidence is the physical evidence for the court to see and determine whether that object is capable of killing or harming,” Sisoho said.

He said none of the witnesses, except Alagie Kanyi, has testified that he saw the accused person with the decease.

He said none of the witnesses from prosecution witness one to six have proved that Ousman Koro Ceesay is dead. He added that PW9, who is also a relative of Koro Ceesay, testified that the last day he saw Koro was a week before the 23rd day of June 1995.

“There is no evidence before this court that Koro Ceesay is dead,” Sisoho said.

He told the court that the prosecution hasn’t provided the court with an autopsy report adding it is the scientific and the best conclusive report of dead. He added that the exhibit that the prosecution tendered (which is a supposed autopsy report) did not ascertain whether or not it was the body of Koro Ceesay. He said the exhibit provided ‘presumed to be the body of Koro Ceesay.’

Counsel Sisoho said Prosecution Witness 9, who is a medical doctor, has not led any evidence stating the remains were kept for DNA analyses or other tests to be conducted in order to ascertain whether it was Ceesay’s remains.

Sisoho reminded the court of the testimony of Prosecution Witness 7, the Chief of Kombo North, Momodou L.K. Bojang who said one Ebrima Njie, the then mechanical superintendent of police, one Njie who was also known as 11-Njie and one Alieu Njie who was the police photographer were all present at the accident scene where Koro Ceesay purportedly died.

Sisoho said if it were not for persecution, the State would have brought them as witnesses because they are very relevant to the case. He added that even if these people are not alive, the files are there with the Government and the State could have provided the court with them. Sisoho said prosecution witnesses 1, 5, 7 and 9 wasted the court’s time.

He said Prosecution Witness 8 brought only exhibit 3 leaving other documents behind.

He said Alagie Kanyi has made several inconsistent statements regarding issues and timelines adding that Kanyi has confirmed that before the court.

He said Kanyi made inconsistent statements before the TRRC and this can be found in the TRRC report tendered before the court from pages 52 to 55.

Sisoho said Kanyi in one of the versions said Koro Ceesay was killed by Edward Singhatey.

“He (Kanyi) said as soon as the deceased (Koro Ceesay) walked in, Edward Singhatey hit him ‘vip’ ‘vip’ from the back and he was on the ground completely dead,” Sisoho said.

Lawyer Sisoho said in another version Kanyi told the TRRC all of them hit Koro Ceesay.

“He (Kanyi) did not say who killed Koro Ceesay. The doubt should be resolved in favour of the accused person,” he said.

Sisoho continued with his submission saying while under cross-examination, Kanyi was asked ‘did you kill Mr. Koro Ceesay? He said ‘no’ and when he (Kanyi) was asked again did the accused (Touray) kill Koro Ceesay? He (Kanyi) said ‘no’.

“In the second scenario, Kanyi said ‘I hit, Edward Singhatey hit, Yankuba Touray hit, Tumbul Tamba hit him until he die,” Sisoho said.

“Which is which?” Sisoho asked.

He told the court the prosecution is persecuting Touray because material evidences are with the State (at the hospital). He added that the prosecution left out material witnesses to the case.

“Material evidence mentioned by the prosecution witnesses is there with the State, but they failed to bring them,” Sisoho said.

Sisoho said Ensa Mendy has lied twice before the court which he (Mendy) confirmed.

“Ensa Mendy said he went with (Captain) Jangum on patrol but when I asked Jangum, specifically, he said he never went with Ensa Mendy on patrol,” Sisoho said.

“With all honesty and fairness, there is no case to answer. I urged the court to so hold and acquit and discharge Mr. Yankuba Touray,” Sisoho concluded.

The matter was adjourned to the 2nd day of June 2020 between 12 pm to 1:30 pm for the prosecution to reply to the ‘no case to answer’ submission by the defence lawyer.

So far, the prosecution have called nine witnesses and have tendered three sets of documents in support of their case. They also tendered a photocopy of an autopsy prepared by late Dr Oldfield.

Foroyaa asked Halifa Sallah what message he has for Africa Liberation day and he responded as follows:

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QUESTION OF THE DAY

“ The last message I sent to the organisers of the programme I attended on Africa Liberation Day is fitting to share. This is the moment we have been waiting for .The clarion call of those who harnessed the treasures of their might and mind and invested their blood for us to be free must be heard by a generation that has all the opportunities to build an Africa that we will all be proud to call our homeland. Otherwise we are doomed forever to be among the wretched of the earth. Nothing stands between us and our emancipation other than our ignorance and disorganization. We will be free and prosperous whenever we decide to confront and overcome our ignorance and disunity in the face of overwhelming availability of natural minerals and human resources.

The Century would be ours, if we will it to be, not because of the pursuit of superiority over others but because of our readiness to share it with all, to celebrate our common humanity.

Until our path cross again may we all remain inspired until we meet for Africa’s sake, in grace to add a kilometer or more in building that everlasting pathway to liberty, dignity and prosperity.

How To Gauge The Performance Of The Constitutional Review Commission

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An objective critic of the CRC must first take note of the mandate of the Commission and then weigh what it has delivered against its mandate.

Section 6 of the Constitutional Review Commission Act states :

1‘’The Functions of the Commission are to draft a new Constitution and prepare a report in relation to the Constitution.

2.In carrying out the functions under subsection 1 the Commission shall

  1. a) seek public opinion and take into account such proposals as it considers appropriate;

b)review the 1997 Constitution;

c)adhere to national values and ethics;

d)safeguard and promote the following matters

i)the existence of the Gambia as a Sovereign Independent State;

ii)the Gambia Republican system of government including its democratic values and respect for and promotion of the rule of law and fundamental rights and freedoms;

iii)the separation of powers;

iv)national unity, cohesion and peace

  1. v) the importance of ensuring periodic democratic elections based on universal adult suffrage, including the introduction of term limits or serving in the office of President; and
  2. vi) the Gambia’ continued existence as a secular state in which all faiths are treated equally and encouraged to foster national cohesion.

Has the commission fulfilled the mandate?  Where has it fallen short of its mandate? Is there any provision or omission that is material enough to warrant a rejection of the draft constitution?

Each Gambian should make a sober reflection on mandate and then gauge whether the content of the draft constitution is complimentary to or at variance with the functions stipulated by the Act.  Should there be provisions or omissions that fall short of mandate one must decide whether they are significant enough to warrant a rejection of the draft. This should be the epicentre of the debate. Foroyaa will be publishing a comprehensive  review of the draft Constitution to assist readers to make a fair decision at a referendum.

High Court Strikes Out Case of Deyda’s Co-Victim

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By Yankuba Jallow

Justice Sainabou Wadda-Cisse of the Banjul High Court has on Wednesday, 27th May 2020 struck out a case involving Nian Sarang Jobe, a former layout editor of the Point Newspaper who sued the Government requesting for compensation

On the 18th November 2018, Nian Sarang Jobe brought a case before the High Court seeking an order for Mandamus compelling the Government of The Gambia through the Attorney General to provide her adequate compensation. The application was supported by a 12-paragraph affidavit sworn to by Nian Sarang Jobe.

The matter was brought pursuant to section 132 of the Constitution which gives the high court the exclusive jurisdiction to interpret and enforce the fundamental rights and freedoms enshrined in the 1997 Constitution. Section 133 of the same Constitution confers the high court the jurisdiction to make orders and direct orders of certiorari, writ of habeas corpus, mandamus and prohibition.

Nyang Sarang was in a vehicle together with Deyda Hydara (of blessed memory), and one Ida Jagne on the night of the 16th December 2004, when they were attacked by unknown gunmen. Deyda Hydara, who was the editor and co-founder of The Point Newspaper died during the attack, whilst she (Jobe) sustained serious bullet injuries. As a result of the injuries, she was incapacitated and could not engage in gainful employment for seven years.

An action was instituted before the ECOWAS Court and the parties as endorsed on the judgment were Deyda Hydara JR, Ismaila Hydara and International Federation of Journalists-Africa (as plaintifss) and the Republic of The Gambia (as defendant). By a judgment of the ECOWAS Court of Justice delivered on the 10th day of June 2014, the Court found the Government of The Gambia in violation of its fundamental duty to investigate and punish the perpetrators. Consequently, the ECOWAS court proceeded to order the Government of The Gambia to compensate the family of the late Deyda Hydara.

Nian Sarang Jobe was not a party in the suit before the ECOWAS Court of Justice. She alleged that as a “direct victim” of the unfortunate incident, she is equally entitled to compensation from the Government of The Gambia. Her claim for compensation from the Government of The Gambia via the office the Attorney General was not successful; hence she took the matter to the high court. According to the applicant, the Government of The Gambia compensated the family of the late Deyda Hydara and refused to compensate her, broadly speaking, amounts to discrimination.

In her judgment, Justice Wadda-Cisse said section 132 reads, “Jurisdiction of High Court” and section 133 is captioned “Supervisory Jurisdiction.”

“These two jurisdictions are separate and disctinct and the manner in which each jurisdiction are separate and distinct and the manner in which each jurisdiction is invoked is fundamentally different,” the Judge said.

She said the position, therefore, is that section 132 does not constitute any justiciable provision which would incite the issuance of any of the prerogative orders of certiorari, prohibition and mandamus.

“Consequently, the applicant’s application is brought pursuant to section 132 and not section 133 signifies that the power of the court to issue the prerogative order of mandamus has not been properly invoked,” she adjudged.

The judge said the application lacked precision in the relief/reliefs being sought and the erroneous reference to the Constitution renders the application incompetent.

“Since the application has not been considered on its merit, I am of the considered view that the appropriate order to make is to strike it out. Accordingly, the application is struck out and there shall be no order for cost,” she held.

The applicant, Nian Sarang Jobe was represented by Lawyer Malick H.B. Jallow while Lawyer Muhammed B. Sowe alias MB Sowe represented the Attorney General.

Rethinking “Africa Liberation Day”

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By James F. Mendy

May 25th every year is observed as Africa Liberation Day. This is very significant and worth much of reflection than celebration. Critical thinking keeps landing me on the following questions:

  1. Do Africans really know what these significant days really mean?
  2. Do we really understand its purpose?
  3. Is Africa really moving towards the realization of Africa Liberation?
  4. Have we Africans done much about what we are observing every year on this day?
  5. Should it really be a day that we should sit at home and don’t go to work?
  6. Is this day not been misinterpreted, and the people misguided?

These and many others, call for a rethink of “Africa Liberation Day”.

History tells us that this day was born out of the conscious struggle of African people against oppression.

Hence the first Conference of Independent African states was held in 1958, and 15th April was declared African freedom day.  This was to mark the progress of the liberation movement in Africa, each year. It was also to symbolize the determination of the people of Africa to free themselves from foreign domination and exploitation.

After the founding of the OAU in 1963, 31 Heads of African States declared May 25th as African Liberation Day.

This thus serves as a bedrock upon which we can rededicate ourselves to the struggle.

My understanding tells me that, we should not think that we are celebrating our liberation, rather reflect on our achievements towards liberation and making sure that we get a complete liberation of Africa. Africa cannot be liberated until the following are met by all Africans and African states:

# Economic Independence

#Social and cultural Independence

# self-reliance

# a well  enlightened population

# industrialized African states

# excellent health care

# food self-sufficiency

# emancipation from mental slavery, etc

We have to believe in ourselves and be proud of what we have.

Now comes the question what is really taking us back? We have to know that to realize a complete liberation; we have to start from individual Africans right up to our governments.

  1. Do we value what is ours as Africans?
  2. Do our governments have the political will to liberate Africa?

So every single African must be ready to liberate Africa in order for this to be realized or else we will be singing this every year for nothing. Liberation is not merely about giving speeches by intellectuals, activists, politicians etc. We have to act and live it. It is work that has to be done. A generation must sacrifice and do it for other generations. This cannot be possible where everyone wants to live a luxurious life and like the very westerners, we are pointing fingers at. The main obstacles to Africa Liberation are Africans themselves. We emulate the westerners in dressing, speaking, thinking, social and cultural lives. Above all, we are their enablers in all that we accuse them of.

Unless we Africans reexamine ourselves to take the right path, this is far from realization.

  1. Are we ready to have a United Africa?
  2. Are we ready to do away with hatred and selfishness?
  3. Are we ready to love and help our fellow Africans?

Any time that we sort out the above questions and many relevant others, then we will have a lot of hope of emancipating Africa.

Our leaders and governments must have that political will.

Individual Africans must be ready for it, and then we will think of a dream come true.

Today, Africans believe that going to the west is the solution to our problems, and yet we talk about the liberation of Africa.

Liberating Africa is not about building fences because we live in a global community. This, we must not be fooled. We are talking of being fully independent and self-reliant. We are not going to create enemies to achieve this. Together, we can realize this while maintaining our friendship with the entire world, irrespective of race, colour, or religion. Africa can constructively emancipate itself. Our liberators did their part and we gained self-rule, so we all have to fight for complete emancipation.

I wish you all a very happy and fruitful Africa Liberation Day. Long live Africa! Long live Africans! and long live our friends, brothers and sisters of other continents. Together we make a global community. Love you all!

Congratulatory Message From Trade Unions Of The Gambia

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The Gambian State celebrates Africa Union Day on 25th May 2020, vis-a-vis the Trade Union organization and employers who observed the day amid the COVID-19 experience. The  continental union which consists of fifty five member states  was announced in the Sirte Declaration in  Libya, on 9 September 1999, calling for the establishment of the African Union. The bloc was founded on 26 May 2001 in Addis AbabaEthiopia, and launched on 9 July 2002 in DurbanSouth Africa.[5] The intention of the AU was to replace the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) established on 25 May 1963 in Addis Ababa, by 32 signatory Governments. The OAU was disbanded on 9 July 2002. The most important decisions of the AU are made by the Assembly of the African Union, a semi-annual meeting of the heads of state and Governments of its member states, elected by the people.

Hence as a reminder, African Leaders should understand that the African Union (AU) is a social model that is deeply rooted in the conscience of African society. It is a raft for social and economic legislation and balances the market economy and social fabric of the people of the continent by providing the social framework for solidarity especially in favor of the most needy. The continental body is also in constant quest for a better quality of life for the people of the continent and depends on all interested parties accepting their responsibilities by engaging in dialogue. The objectives of the AU are amongst others, the following:

1.     To achieve greater unity, cohesion and solidarity between the African countries and African nations;

2.     To defend the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of its Member States;

3.     To accelerate the political and social-economic integration of the continent;

4.     To promote and defend African common positions on issues of interest to the continent and its peoples;

5.     To encourage international cooperation, taking due account of the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;

6.     To promote peace, security, and stability on the continent;

7.     To promote democratic principles and institutions, popular participation and good governance;

8.     To promote and protect human and peoples’ rights in accordance with the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and other relevant human rights instruments;

9.     To establish the necessary conditions which enable the continent to play its rightful role in the global economy and in international negotiations;

10. To promote sustainable development at the economic, social and cultural levels as well as the integration of African economies;

11. To promote co-operation in all fields of human activity to raise the living standards of African peoples;

12. To coordinate and harmonize the policies between the existing and future Regional Economic Communities for the gradual attainment of the objectives of the Union;

13. To advance the development of the continent by promoting research in all fields, in particular in science and technology; and

14. To work with relevant international partners in the eradication of preventable diseases and the promotion of good health on the continent.

The concrete expression of this model within the overall process of integration reveals an extraordinary ability to emerge from successive crisis together, through progress on the social, economic and democratic fronts. The AU should therefore be extra anxious to perpetuate the social model aspect of the Union for our common heritage and uplift the lives of the people from hunger, poverty, deprivation, protracted wars, human rights abuses, etc., and etc., that plagues and hampers the continent’s development endeavors.

On this occasion therefore, I salute the courage of ‘our founding fathers’ and pray that we the current pallbearers will continue to strive for the continent and better the lives of our people in all aspects. I wish everyone a happy and fruitful Africa Liberation Day. Long live in Africa!

A Luta Continua !!!!!!!! 

Pa Modou K.B. Faal.

Executive Secretary General,

Gambia Workers’ Confederation.

My Sincere Advice To The Government Of Adama Barrow

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James F. Mendy

As a very concerned citizen, I advise the government of Mr. Adama Barrow to act on the revelations made by the Health Minister, let it be a trigger for you to act quickly, effectively and most efficiently on the following:

First of all your government has to set up a very proactive, credible and impartial anti-corruption agency to police and protect our resources.

“Conduct an emergency audit and inquiry of all public officials and the civil service without fear or favour and apply the law to the letter on anyone found wanting for misappropriation of funds and abuse of office without fear or favour,”

Let those who are really ready to selflessly serve the people remain, and those who are there for themselves leave.

Let your government adhere to good governance and accountability practices that will rapidly advance our country and uplift the lives of our people far above the poverty line.

Following the public outcry on the above-mentioned issues and the health Minister’s revelations, these are urgently very necessary in order for your leadership to achieve your development aspirations and most effectively and efficiently address the needs of ordinary people.

Development is all about good policies and programs that address the needs and aspirations of the people.

This must be impartially and very proactively pursued and implemented for our collective prosperity.

Leadership is all about the people and I encourage you to give ears to the masses and not only to the potentially selfish few.

We want you to take the people of this country to the promised land. I also urge my fellow good citizens to know that we should all come together and develop our country for our collective greater good.

We are and shall remain one Gambia, one people, one nation. Thank you!

Ousainou Darboe (UDP) Africa Day Message 2020

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Dear Compatriots

Africa Day this year coincides with the Eid celebrations marking the end of the Holy month of Ramadan for Muslims all over the Continent, therefore may I begin my goodwill message by wishing all Africans Eid MubarakNdewenati Len, Allah mang Nna Salisia La .

May 25th  2020  commemorates 57 years since the leaders of 32 independent African nations met in Addis Ababa to establish the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), the predecessor to the African Union. The preamble of the OAU charter is a rousing call to unity, cross-cultural understanding, and solidarity. Like the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the UN Charter and the Banjul Charter, it affirms the inalienable right of all people to control their own destiny.

We mark Africa Day this year just over three months since the first case of coronavirus on the continent was confirmed. This pandemic has been a stark reminder that regardless of whether we are born into wealth or poverty, we are all mortal, and can succumb to disease. As countries around the world battle to turn the tide against the pandemic, Africa has taken firm control of its destiny, by developing a clear strategy and raising financial resources from its member states.

The African response to the coronavirus pandemic has received widespread praise. Despite the multitude of resource challenges, they face, African countries have come together in remarkable ways, united by a common purpose.  The countries of the Global South are more vulnerable to the impacts of COVID-19 because of low levels of development, insufficient resources and weak health systems.

Countries ranking low on human development indices, many of which are in Africa, are less capable to manage the fallout of a global health emergency of this kind on their own. Yet at the same time, some of the very health challenges African countries have wrestled with for decades have given us a clear understanding of what needs to be done, and how to do it.

The unprecedented nature of the pandemic caught many countries both unaware and unprepared. Much of what we witnessed in the early days of the outbreak was governments in western countries struggling with containment because so much about the virus was unknown. It was not something the world has experienced for over a century.

African countries have been able to use their experience in managing outbreaks of malaria, cholera, HIV, TB and hemorrhagic viruses like Ebola and Lassa. Our understanding of communicable diseases and how to manage them has put us in good stead when it comes to coronavirus. African governments have been swift and proactive in implementing measures to flatten the coronavirus curve. Unfortunately, our own Government in the Gambia continue to miss opportunities to unite our people behind comprehensive strategy to stem the tide of the spread of the corona virus.

By early May, 43 African countries had full border closures, 53 had closed institutions of learning, 54 had limited public gatherings, 26 had instituted the compulsory use of face masks, 32 had instituted night-time curfews and 18 had imposed nation-wide lockdowns.

The African Union developed a comprehensive Joint Continental Strategy to guide cooperation between member states and set up a COVID-19 Response Fund. A number of countries have rolled out massive food relief and social assistance measures to support the vulnerable during this time.

Although there have been severe shortcomings and constraints, such as the shortage of personal protective equipment, testing kits and ventilators, there have also been stories of excellence and intercontinental collaboration.

One such example is the work of the African Centres for Disease Control (ACDC) and prevention, a world-class institution with capabilities for disease surveillance and intelligence and health emergency preparedness and response.

African countries have scaled up their respective capacities for screening, testing and isolating. In April, the AU and the ACDC launched the Partnership to Accelerate COVID-19 Testing to strengthen testing capacity in vulnerable countries, with the aim of testing 10 million people over the next six months. Through this partnership warehousing and distribution hubs are being set up across the continent to distribute medical supplies. The aim is to pool the procurement of diagnostics and other medical commodities.

The deployment of community health workers to do screening, testing, contact tracing and case management is happening in many African countries, and draws heavily on our experience with HIV and TB.

African nations have also joined the race to produce test kits, with our sister Republic Senegal in an advanced stage of developing a low-cost testing kit. At least  25 African countries have registered clinical trials for possible COVID-19 treatments, including for the BCG vaccine, hydroxychloroquine, antiretrovirals etc.  and as part of the global Solidarity clinical trials.

Whether it is in repurposing health protocols used with other infectious disease outbreaks, rapidly deploying health care workers to communities, or in launching mobile COVID-19 testing labs to improve national testing capacities, Africa is working proactively to overcome this global threat.

Though it is clear we will continue to rely on the support of the international community and international financial institutions to bolster the existing continental effort and build economic resilience, African countries are holding their own.

This Africa Day we are reminded once again that the solutions to Africa’s problems, be they overcoming disease or eradicating poverty and underdevelopment, reside within Africa itself.

Although the coronavirus pandemic is not an African problem alone, we have shown ourselves capable of agility and ingenuity. The work being done to defeat the coronavirus is evidence of a continent determined to leverage its strengths and capabilities to resolve its own challenges. This is the premise on which the Organisation of African Unity was founded and it continues to guide and inspire us as we strive to build a better life for all of Africa’s people.

Wherever you may be at this time, I wish you a happy Africa Day.

SIGNED

Alh. Ousainou ANM Darboe

VP Touray updates press on Government’s food aid distribution

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By Yankuba Jallow

The Vice President of the Republic of The Gambia has on Wednesday, 27th May 2020 provided the press update of the Government’s food aid distribution to people of the country.

Dr. Isatou Touray said the Government’s food relief package is the biggest food relief response in the history of the country adding they are targeting 84% of the population.

She did not provide the media with detail explanations as to the number of households that have benefitted and those remaining. As matters stand, no one can tell whether or not the targeted beneficiaries have actually received the rice, sugar and oil. The food distribution by the Government has been criticised heavily from some section of the population who are with the view that it is not being done properly. However, VP Touray said “as the chairperson of the Cabinet COVID sub-committee I am indeed delighted to give a remark at the closure of this noble course that has brought joy to many households in the country in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

VP Touray is of the opinion that if the current situation of the country remains unchecked, it will deepen the already existing poverty of the people.

“Today, I am certain that the food distribution exercise in most parts of the country has either been completed or about to be completed or is nearing completion while others have started,” she said.

Foroyaa cannot independently confirm the fact adduced by the Vice President but we will interview communities to hear from them whether they have received the rice, sugar and oil and ascertain how the distribution was made by the authorities.

Accessing Health Services for Children A Challenge in Rural Gambia

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as mothers lament difficulties faced

MUHAMMED S. BAH (MS)

Women in rural Gambia have raised concerns over the difficulties they face in accessing health services for their children.

They said their plight towards accessing health for their children is far from been solved.

According to the women, most of the challenges they face is accessing health care facilities. They added that many of them find it hard to reach communities where the few health facilities available are less equipped both in human and material resources.

Jabou Ceesay and Dado Sowe were met at the two different health centers of Basse and Yorobawol after struggling to travel for kilometers away from their homes, just to have access to medication for their kids. All of them confirmed that they struggle to see Doctors after spending hours sitting along corridors of which is devastating and discouraging for them.

These women are among many who find it difficult to reach various health facilities due to poor road conditions or inadequate means of proper transportation to access various facilities.

What does the National Health Policy says on the problems?

The health challenges as highlighted by the National Health Policy (NHP) from 2012 and 2020, include the effects of high population growth rates; inadequate financial and logistic support; weak health information systems; uncoordinated donor support; shortage of adequate and appropriately trained health staff; high attrition rate and lack of efficient and effective referral systems.

In addition to this, poverty, low awareness of health issues and poor attitude of service providers have led to inappropriate health seeking behaviors contributing to ill health. These factors have seriously constrained efforts to reduce morbidity and mortality rates as desired and as a result, health care delivery throughout the country has not lived up to expectation.

The need to have a clear direction to improve quality health care and reduce the high morbidity and mortality rates requires a stable, supportive, organizational and management framework with a strong, flexible and knowledgeable leadership that is able and willing to take informed decisions.

According to an assessment report published in November 2019 by Health Policy Plus supported by USAID, the Government of the Gambia allocates a higher proportion of spending to health than average among African nations. The Government allocates over 7% of its budget to health and that this year’s budget for health is over D1.5 billion. But despite Government’s efforts to improve health services in the country, access to health for children is still a challenge in rural Gambia.

The assessment shows that out of the seven administrative regions, there are only three reproductive and child health centers in the whole country.

Jabou Ceesay, a native of Chammoi in Tumanna District in the Upper River Region visits the health center in Basse which is said to be more than five kilometers away. She expresses the challenges faced by her and her fellow women to access the health center.

“Getting to the health center in Basse is indeed a nightmare due to poor road conditions especially during the rainy season,” she pointed out. The mother of four said during this period, children are more vulnerable to diseases especially Malaria.

Ceesay who said she earns little income, said this makes life difficult for them to provide quality health care for their children.

Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital

Similar comments were made by Kumba Darboe a mother of three of the same village. Kumba emphasized the importance of having child health care centers that are easily accessible and affordable as well.

Dado Sowe, a native of Sinchu Surah in Wulli West narrated that she treks between 8 to 10 kilometers to and from the health center of Yorobawol for her children’s health care; due to the distance and inadequate access to proper means of transportation, she had to wait until morning to take her child to the health center in Yorobawol.

She lamented that things got worse for them during the rainy season when roads are bad with many potholes filled with water; and during this time, they trek on foot as their only means of transport to health facilities because commercial vehicles are hard to come by.

Disclosure from a health personnel in Foni

According to one health personnel in Foni, there is no specific or designated children’s hospital or health facility in Foni. Pediatric services are offered at the Bwiam Hospital where there is a Ward for admission of children that need services from pediatricians.

The anonymous health personnel disclosed that the minor health facilities in Kanlagi, Sintet and Sibanorr, offer infant health care services that include immunization, birth registration and nutrition monitoring as well as screening for minor ailments. These services are either center based or outreached.

Health Director’s Remarks:

Director of Health & Promotion

When contacted to shed light on the issue, the Director of Health Promotion Modou Njie noted that there are no communities in the country that are more than five kilometers away from a health facility; and outreach teams of health personnel are usually dispatched to various communities to offer health services to them.

Njie said in some communities, teams of five to six people visit such facilities probably once or twice a month.

“They deal with pregnant and lactating women and any other person who needs their attention” Njie remarked.

The Director of Health Promotion said the teams comprise of a public health officer and nurses who immunize and screen patients’ particularly pregnant women and children, and an officer who issues drugs.

Bird Sanctuaries threatened by Loggers and Developers

With Madiba Singhateh

In this edition also set side to talk about actions that affect bird’s life in the world.
Every year thousands of birds are left wallowing around especially when their breeding areas or stopover during migration have been destroyed or occupied by human beings for settlements.

Many at times these sanctuaries such as Forest, woodland, and wetlands are in one way or the other encroached by developers and loggers.

This situation is becoming difficult in the Gambia, the encroachment of forests parks woodlands is becoming the order of the day in the country.

These actions are leading to the disappearances of some bird species.

World Migratory Bird’s day is celebrated every year in May to look into the constraints birds are facing especially when it comes to migration of birds, which happens every summer of the year.

Kotu Creek

Birds face serious life-threatening conditions when migrating as most of the time during the migration they find that their sanctuaries have been destroyed.

The Habitats of these birds are facing serious threats especially when it comes to pollution of the wetlands, dumping of waste in the forest and the ocean where you find some of the water birds.

The waters birds also derive their food from the ocean which also faces a serious threat of overfishing and dumping of toxic waste which pooison the birds’ fish also.

The birds migrate from Europe to Africa and other continents around the globe through different flyways around the continents as each has its flyways.

The East Atlantic flyway is always used by migrating birds from Europe to Africa particularly the Gambia going to South Africa.

The country has over 500 species of birds, three hundred of them are found in the country, while the remaining birds are migratory species.

Speaking to Foroyaa, the Executive Director of WABSA West African Birds Study Association Lamin Jobarteh at the Parks and Wildlife Department of the Gambia at Abuko next to Nature Reserve, said the day is set aside to increase the level of awareness and the importance bird’s life. He said it also calls for the need of conserving the habitat of migratory species because globally migratory birds are facing tremendous environmental challenges ranging from wetland draining to forest destruction and pollution as well.

‘The Migratory birds travel a long distance so this calls for the need to protect their habitat so that they can complete their migratory cycle. So this is why the day is set aside to know the importance of these species, why they move from one polar region to another. During the journey they eat and refuel on areas known as stopovers which are now seriously under threat’ he said.

Speaking about conservation and challenges WABSA is facing in protecting these habitats, Jobarteh said they face a lot of challenges both national and internationally and these include climate change, desertification, industrial pollution, noting that each of them has its effect on species, be it when birds are migrating, in search of food or habitats loss.

He said nationally the biggest problem is eroding coastline and the disappearance of forest parks that are sold to housing estate agents and the other forest or lands are used for agricultural purposes by individual interests.

‘These are the habitats these species use and the advent of these fishmeal factories along the coast can also contribute to the pollution of the ocean where we have our pelagic species where some of these water birds feed on’.

A visit to Kotu Creek reveals that a bird-watching sanctuary around Badala Park also houses the office of Gambia Birds Watchers Association, who are very worried about the level of encroachment in birds’ sanctuaries.

Not only birds’ watchers but environmentalists and nature lovers are getting worried and worried about the level of land grabbing and encroachment by land dealers and loggers.
Parks like Marikassa are now overexploited and the recent issue of Penyem parks has raised alarms on how The Gambia is managing its forest/ parks and land issues.

These problems are not affecting only the birds but even other species living within those habitats.

Lands conflicts are also increasing.

Speaking to Foroyaa, Karanta Camara the president of the Gambia Birds Watchers Association said the birds could not survive the winter in Europe because of the harsh weather conditions.

Because of that, they migrate to Africa and another place on the continent.

Birds are very sensitive when they come, they look at the type of fruits they will eat and the habitat, checking whether it is conducive for them.

But when those habitats are lost or degraded you will not see them again.

‘There were species we were seeing in Kotu here but we cannot see them anymore because the nature they are surviving on has been destroyed; so they are to look for another place.

The classical example is yellow-throated long-claw which has been spotted here for many years but for the past decades you couldn’t spot one, and even at Cape Point too. So that signals that a lot of damages have been done to that area, that’s why those migrated to somewhere else.’ he said.

Yankuba Jammeh, the secretary, also spoke about the area of conservation, indicatting that they working on that and wants the government official to engage those in the ground such as Birds watchers association in collecting data on the number species disappearing and the habitat loss.

He said the country also needs to have ornithologist experts so that, they can help and protect those areas affected because the ornithologist is capable of recording and having field experience and make observation at the field level.

He said most tourists did not come for the luxury hotels but the natural environment like the parks, the wetlands and woodlands where animals also breed, such as birds and others.
He concluded that the government has to develop more emphasis on the illegal activities going on around parks and farmlands, pointing out that they need to be regulated. He also said that communities have to take ownership but not to contribute in the illegals activities happening and parks that are fading away.

Throughout interactions with officials and bird watchers we found out that most of the birds’ watchers are not happy with the Government and its partners like the parks and wildlife officials of The Gambia, Department of Forestry and the Ministry of the Environment and The Lands ministry.

Most of the time the lands are sold to estate developers which angers concerned people managing the flora and fauna and the environmentalists in the country.

Brufut land recovery committee demand for their land

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By Yankuba Jallow & Makutu Manneh

The residents of the Brufut have been pursuing communal land which the Janneh Commission recommended to be returned to them. But they say this land, which they say was taken from them by former president Jammeh, has in fact been sold and they are not pleased with the government’s attitude on the matter.

The Village Development Committee (VDC) of Brufut setup a sub-committee on the 10th February 2019 to recover and reclaim all lands belonging to the community that were taken from them by ex-President Yahya Jammeh.

The idea is after the recovery, the lands will be handed to the community for development purposes. The community comprises several settlements and yet they do not have a reserved land for developmental purposes. They do not have a car park, market, football field and recreational center among others.

According to the Committee, the community market was built by the colonial masters during the colonial days adding that the dimension is 5 metres by 15 metres.

“Presently, we do not have a single land in Brufut. We do not have any land for development purposes,” Abass Manneh, the Chairman of the Recovery Committee told Foroyaa.

He said the Committee has identified the lands and the land that was used by the CSC Company during the construction of the Coastal Road has been sold. He said this land belongs to the community of Brufut and it was forcefully taken from them by former President Yahya Jammeh. Manneh said the land has been leased by the ex-President and the Janneh Commission has recommended that the land should be given back to the community for their use. He said the land has remained unused since the completion of the road construction until early this year when it was sold.

He said the buyer has begun the construction on the site.

He said they are yet to get a government position on the matter.

The Committee called on President Adama Barrow to do something about the matter and ensure that the government and its officials do not undermine their interest.

Momodou Jallow, the Assistant Secretary General of the Committee said the people of Brufut are peaceful and they need peace.

“We have gone through processes of dialogue with the alkalo, the chief of Kombo North, the Governor of West Coast Region and the Minister of Local Government and Lands and we think these people should have been able to address this problem,” he said.

Manneh detailed that they held two consultative meetings with the Deputy Governor of West Coast Region and the Minister of Local Government and Lands for the recovery of their communal lands, but there is no progress and matters are now at a stalemate. Mr Manneh said they will be considering court action if the stalemate continues.

Rain Threatening And The Bags Of Sugar And Rice In KMC Still In The Open

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CAN SOMEBODY TELL US WHAT IS GOING ON?

Mountains of rice and sugar are in the hands of Councilors of the KMC without any distribution going on. Some of the bags are under the dust and wind and would be under the rain if we have down-pour in June. Foroyaa is told that they are waiting for supply of oil to start distribution.

It is important for the Mayor to hold a Press conference to explain to the media the task given to the Council by the Central government, how the council is implementing them and the obstacles encountered in the implementation.

The Public is getting confused and blame cannot be ruled out for delay in distributing what is already available. The climate is changing and any down-pour of water would make distribution more difficult. The security personnel who are guarding the food items are also stuck with duties that are totally unnecessary.

Foroyaa will do its investigation to find out when and how the food items would be distributed.

In addition to giving assistance to the vulnerable the state should also focus on easing the burden of those who have been quarantined and their families as well as those who are asked to close their video clubs, etc. Foroyaa has received case of a person who was taken from CRR to be quarantined only to be released without being given a butut for transportation back to his home. Another video club owner is being threatened with eviction for inability to pay rent. The state should use the media to explain how such challenges should be addressed.