Abdoulie M Touray, COLLECTED SPEECHES:Thinking, Talking and Walking the Talk, Fulladu Publishers, 2017.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Mr Abdoulie M. Touray, commonly known as Baks has produced a Book entitled COLLECTED SPEECHES:Thinking, Talking and Walking the Talk. The book was launched during the Gambia Chamber of Commerce (GCCI) Annual Awards Banquet on 10th May 2018. This magnificent volume, published by Fulladu Publishers (2016) is divided into four sections and covers more than 200 pages of speeches, photos and testimonials. It presents a total of 35 speeches, written in elegant language selected from a plethora of policy statements and speeches delivered on various occasions by Abdoulie Touray, one of the most eminent and inspirational personalities of modern Gambia. The speeches in this collection reflect strong portraits of the author as an illustrious economist, a private sector development guru, a knowledgeable trade & investment expert and an avid educationist who readily shares his wisdom and experiences on the big questions of life.

The collection takes a multi-dimensional approach focussing on roles and functions Touray has occupied in the past and the present, that have a direct impact and profound relevance in the socio-economic development and daily lives of The Gambian citizenry.

His speeches as the Chairman of the University of the Gambia (UTG) Governing Council, bring out in the best of terms, his indelible contribution in setting the University on the road to greatness. Here, he painstakingly delineates the steady evolution of the nascent university as well as the constraints experienced from the pioneering circumstances the Council found itself in.  We catch a glimpse of the efforts made for resource mobilization, human resource capacity acquisition and retention as well as various infrastructural development strides initiated by the Council under his stewardship. Despite the teething problems, the UTG formulated and adopted strategies for inspiring people’s lives through the generation and application of knowledge and skills and the involvement of the community institutions for support and sustainability. These speeches give an excellent snapshot of the UTG’s activities over the period and no doubt provide a valuable source of reference for students, policy makers and donors who take a close interest in progress made by the government in its quest to develop high level skills for its social and economic advancement.

The great achievements registered by his Council as clearly reflected in the speeches, include the development of new polices and projects such as the Annual Chancellor’s Banquet  designed, not only to acknowledge the giant studies being  steadily made by the UTG  but also  as a fund – raiser to feed the UTG development aspirations. An Access Program for secondary school leavers was introduced early to polish their grades in English and Maths to facilitate their admission into the University. The Council did a lot in transformation of the organisational structure by initiating a process of systemic integration of existing tertiary institutions: Gambia College, Management Development Institute and Gambia Technical Training Institute. New programmes included introduction of the Law School and the ICT programme with St. Mary’s University and Quantum-net Institute of Technology. His Chairmanship also saw the relentless recruitment drive for new competent staff and the promotion of Academic staff to full professorship. These speeches are valuable not only for their bulk and quality but for their historical and sociological perspectives.

The rubric on Economic Management & Private Sector Development is where Touray echoes his deep-seated passion for the sustainable development and growth of the Gambian economy. He vividly demonstrates the centrality of indigenous entrepreneurial development as the engine of economic growth. As President, Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry, his speeches show appreciation of the commendable initiatives taken by government in improving the economic landscape through significant investments in education, health and infrastructural development, all auguring well for sustainable private sector development in the Gambia. He brings out the emerging spirit of partnership between government and the private sector in their shared goal of attaining the socio-economic transformation of the Gambia as postulated in vision 2020. The Chamber under his leadership intensified the Annual Economic Summits with government, designed to promote dialogue and translate Vision 2020 into action. He did a lot for the creation and entrenchment of an entrepreneurial culture in The Gambia, through the vigorous implementation of the Chambers’ IEC strategy.

Another area that comes out succinctly in the speeches is the emphasis his leadership placed on full participation of local investors as a sine qua non for complementing FDI. Touray’s tenure steered the Chambers initiatives that gave rise to endeavours in export development and diversification, establishment of several infant industries and private commercial banks, exposure Gambian business operators to trade and investment opportunities such as AGOA, the creation of The American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) among others, all, demonstrating pro-activity to re-engineer and re-orientate Gambia’s private sector to be more responsive and more relevant in the 21st century.

 Several small & medium-term indigenous entrepreneurs were encouraged to register with the Chamber, as he persistently stressed the Gambia’s readiness for business by touting government’s, open and liberal economic policies and the overall congenial business environment.

Touray’s many community service engagements include promoting youth acquisition of knowledge and skills, serving in Sports Associations and School Boards even before he was a co-founder of the West African Education Foundation. The speeches that target audiences at Sports events, professional college graduation Ceremonies, Speech & Prize-giving Days, eloquently expose the audience to the need to capitalize on their potentials in a bid to achieve excellence in life. He inspires and influences youth. At Armitage High School, his Alma Mater he exposed the young minds to the successes and challenges of national economic management, thereby creating awareness on economic governance issues being tackled outsides the walls of the school. He deserves a place in the educational canons of the Gambia. 

It was the Roman philosopher and greatest orator of all times Marcus Tullius Cicero, who asserted that great speeches should contain three things: technique, substance and passion. Tourays speeches do not only use techniques that emphasise logic and appropriate diction, he speaks authoritatively, with knowledge and moral purpose, presenting confidently, fluently and professionally. He has an uncanny knowledge of his audience, engaging them totally with apt maxims, and aphorisms as well as relevant quotations from renown, learned men and women from every part of the universe, and in all spheres of knowledge. Readers will find the collection very interesting and pleasing, many of them having a conclusion that is both memorable and a clarion call for action. The speeches are notable for their sincere and persuasive manifestation of a life devoted to the social and economic advancement of our motherland.

Finally, in this volume of speeches and policy statements, Abdoulie Touray has not only shared his thoughts, philosophy and visions, he has provided the reader with a panorama of what a young African nation can aim for and achieve despite the formidable odds. In doing so, Touray is challenging everyone to reflect on what their contributions to Gambia’s progress and development are.  I have the unique opportunity of working with Mr. Touray on several platforms and have always been astounded by his immense and infinite sense of patriotism, as well as his willingness to give back to society, particularly the young people, what he has harnessed from his vast and varied experience. These speeches demonstrate nothing less and I commend them to readers in The Gambia and abroad.

Gambian-born Touray obtained his first degree in Business Administration and Economics from Morehouse College and an MBA in Business Administration (1979) from Atlanta University, USA. He spent several years of his career on the development and implementation of the Government’s Public Enterprise Reform Program. He joined the Gambia’s National Investment Board (NIB) as a Development Economist in 1980, and rose to the position of Chairman and Chief Executive Officer in 1989, a post he held up to 1994. The successful implementation of the Gambia’s public enterprise reform program has been substantially attributed to his unparalleled professionalism in the field of economic policy reform.

He is the Past President of the American Chamber of Commerce (Gambia), President of Mahatma Ghandi University (Africa) and presently serves as Director on several governing boards of private sector Companies, Banks and public sector Agencies.

Mr Touray’s deep passion and sustained role in the country’s pursuit of economic emancipation through private-sector led development is matchless. In this volume of speeches, he comes out not only as an economic management & private sector development sage, but also as a dynamic visionary of immeasurable commitment in the development of two other areas of human activity- Education and Sports. The Speeches in this collection provide the reader with a panoply of Touray’s contribution in shaping the historical evolution of secondary and university education, economic development management and sports in the Gambia


Juka Fatou Jabang*( ORG)

*Mrs. Juka Fatou Jabang, formerly Director General of Management Development Institute (1992-2007) and Advisor to the Executive Director, African Development Bank, Tunis (2007-2010) is the current Executive Director of the West African Education Foundation.

Author: Book Review by Juka Jabang