Yaya Sillah

Thoughts on marriage and society

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The tragedy at Faraba


The loss of life in Faraba is indeed very tragic and regrettable. I am mourning with my fellow citizens; and I would like to extend my heartfelt condolences to grieving families and friends, including those who sustained injuries and are currently receiving medical treatment at Banjul hospital. I wish them a speedy recovery and I pray that the three departed souls will rest in peace.

In our smiling coast of Africa, it’s rather unfortunate yet again to witness the Police Intervention Unit opening fire on un-armed civilians, who were merely exercising their constitutional rights. While I struggled to digest such awful news, I echo my fellow Gambians who call on the authorities to ensure that this incident is investigated thoroughly and whoever is found wanting is brought before the law. Justice should prevail. The authorities have made it unequivocally clear that they gave no instruction to PIU officers to open fire on protestors. I add my voice to those calling for calm and restraint.

Additionally, I would remind my fellow Gambians that the relationship between police and the youth is not always cordial. For example, ‘stop and search’ in the UK has proved to be very controversial. And in the Unite States of America, police officers often discharge their firearms against innocent people in order to effect an arrest. Tragically, our republic is not immune to such a security lapse. Nevertheless we ought to recognise that the majority of the men and women in uniform are professional and they are law abiding citizens. However, maintaining security and peace in the country might occasionally be challenging for them. Hence, there is a small chance for a minority of them to be led astray.

With democracy comes huge responsibility: from December 2016 the Gambia embarked on a long journey to pursue democracy and good governance. Since then, despite the best efforts of the government, the country continues to have some visible social and economic challenges which cause major uncertainty. Consequently, the slow pace of economic recovery often means the virtue of freedom of expression and freedom of speech is lost. As a result, the most anticipated land, environmental, political, economical, social, and institutional reforms require a huge amount of patience and an atmosphere of uninterrupted social cohesion. In a fragile democracy, no matter which club I belong to, whether it is a rights group, a political group or a pressure group, I would be very reluctant to exercise my rights in the street until I have exhausted all other means of expression.

However, it is encouraging to see that the government officials, religious leaders and members of the National Assembly come together as one force and show solidarity to the communities in Faraba. In conclusion, I am appealing to my fellow Gambians – let us stop politicizing this incident and let us not spread fake news on social media.
One Gambia, one people


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Alternative to foreign aid

Recently, our dear mother -land continues to makes headlines throughout the world, particularly when it was announcedthat The Gambia is to gain at least 1.45 billion Euros from her donors. This developing story sparks debate both off and online whichcontinues dominating most political discussions not only in the country but in the sub region. In my last article, I echoed the opinion expressed by those who raised concern: is foreign aid truly makinga difference in terms of economic growth and good governance in Africa? Though everyone isat liberty to reachtheir own conclusion, in supportof my argument, let me highlight the following:

First of all, let me make it absolutely clear;ifsomeone actually asks me,does The Gambia really need foreign aid? My answer will be YES, the countryreally needs aid in order to boost her fragile economy which is essential infixing its broken institutions as well as paying off its foreign debts but of courseat the expense of our independence andsovereignty. Apparently, what the disciples of foreign aid fail to realise is this; there are always strings attached to it,which means any country dependent on foreign aid might be sleep walking back into the colonial era. Don’t you recognise thatbasically, the majorityof civiclaws guiding morality inthird world countries – including rules and regulations dictating poor economies- wereoften designed to serve thedollar givers?

My fellow citizens let’s be honest with ourselves;our dependency on foreign aid won’t do much to improve our economy, particularlytackling poverty and illiteracy. The Gambia’s economybelongs to the categories which I often describe as a “transit base economy“ meaning that the significant proportion of our GDP,together with dollarsaid, are going back into the pockets of foreigners who control 90% of the import and export business in the country.A common proverb comes to mind – do not feed the animal, because by feedingthem, they would lack ability to hunt for themselves!Equally, African dependency on aid is killing her spirit of self- reliance which is hampering creative thinking in the continent.

One alternative to foreign aid can include these measures : creationof social entrepreneurship in order to empower people with skills and talent; and in addition to that, government ought to financially support small businesses and profoundly prioritise health sectors as well as subsidising farmers in agriculture to ensure that food security is guaranteed for all Gambians. Furthermore, the current education system in the country is not fit for purpose. Most children leaving school lack the ability to read or write.Consequently, educational reforms which will establish institutions providing quality education for childrenallowing them to harness their intelligence and self-esteem are urgently needed.Quality education would subsequently enable children to be more work ethic conscious and be more creative thinkers which are crucial for economicself-reliance and financialindependence. In my opinion, these will dramatically reduce the number of Africans, especially youths in The Gambia, aiming to reach Europe using the BACK WAY, hoping for greener pastures. Equippingfuture generations with quality education would approximately cut 90% of our future dependence on foreign aid.