Jun 4, 2008, 7:22 AM
SOCIETY & DEVELOPMENT
The Gambia and Sierra Leone have embraced each other to deepening diplomatic ties with the other in line with regional integration and the spirit of AU. Sierra Leone who went through bitter war triggered by Charles Taylor and perpetrated by Foday Sebena Sanko, himself from the North had thousands of her inhabitants in seeking refuge in The Gambia who also embrace them though many have gone through a lot and cannot say it loud. President Ernest Bai Koroma's presence in The Gambia, with the tumultuous welcome accorded him among other hands of friendship extended to him by His Excellency President Yayah AJJ Jammeh and at the end embracing and calling each other openly as "Brothers" is a challenge to all Gambians and Sierra Leoneans to see each other as one. Despite that the history of The Gambia cannot be completed without mentioning Sierra Leone, it is therefore but fitting to embrace each other in time. Read on and discover what Society and Development has for you.
Thousands of Gambians and Sierra Leoneans including diplomats, Secretaries of State, youth groups, societies and a large number of Sierra Leoneans groups including some All Peoples Party members (The ruling party members) who thought the visit of President Koroma as head of the APC was for them who started excluding some others.
The president and his thirty-man team started business as soon as he landed. He met the APC party branch in The Gambia, at his hotel at Cape Point. He said to them, "I have had the best welcome as a president during this visit to my brother, President Jammeh and his people. My welcome is a sign that President Jammeh was still popular among his people. He talked about electricity and his determination to improve on it as it is the bedrock of development." He reiterated that the Bunbuna Hydro Electric Power Project would be completed early next year."
Meeting with hundreds of Sierra Leoneans at the Independent Stadium, HE Mohamed Foday Yumkella, the Sierra Leone High Commissioner to The Gambia said that day was a big day for both Gambians and Sierra Leoneans. "We are making history as we receive our president, Ernest Bai Koroma. His brother called him purposely to come and hang heads, to share with us how he wants to take Salone to higher heights. He has come to share with us the load that all of us should share from." HE Yumkella asked President Koroma to extend their thanks to president Jammeh. "We know they take us as their brothers and sisters and for how you were received, showing that you are part of The Gambia." He said. He toasted the president and called for three cheers.
John Sesay, president of the Sierra Leone Nationals Union (SLENU), congratulated President Koroma for his victory and thanked President Jammeh for his fatherly hands towards their citizens. He complained that their paper work in the country was a problem. John Sesay said they have difficulties to come together. We thank President Jammeh for cutting off the alien card, "By your coming I hope another paper will be cut off." He said.
Pastor Steven Musa-Kormayea, president of the Association of Sierra Leonean Ministers in The Gambia (ASLEM), quoted the Bible. He said addressing President Korama and the gathering, "The message of the prophet was that for a new beginning, Israel needed a change of attitude which will come about through Reverend Minds and Transformed Hearts. It has been long time that Sierra Leone has cried out for change, a change that will restore the former glories of the nation.
It is still fresh on our memory sir, that Sierra Leone was nicknamed the Athens of West Africa, and the established seat of learning. We still find in the achieves that Sierra Leone was able to give Agricultural Aid to other neighbouring countries. Sierra Leone served as a reservoir for resourcing other nations in our sub-region with Human Personnel and Expertise. The Lion Mountain, "Sierra de Leo" as named by the Portugese Explorer, was the most beautiful place to go on the West Coast. Mr. President sir, the Sierra Leonean people are counting on your prowess to bring us back to those places we have lost. May the land of gold and diamonds become an attraction to the nations for the common good of her people? May we, as Sierra Leoneans, be united in our support for our government with a true change of attitude manifesting itself in our actions? These are a few particular areas of interest: ELECTRICTY: Sierra Leone is known to have 20 potential Hydro-Electric Power sites, may we ask your government to make a long-term commitment to the development of these sites in the face of growing prices on the oil market. GOOD ROADS, AGRICULTURE and EDUCATION. We implore that you do your best to restore the above. May God keep you all in good health and strength.
Fatmata Koroma of the Women's Association praised the people of The Gambia especially women for giving them the love they desire. She however said, "There is no place like home, no matter what we receive here we need our home land. We don't need to leave Salone for another country for education. Our children have suffered and God has chosen you to be our umbrella. We are ready to return home come this June UN has said there are no refugees in West Africa, you could kindly send us even bus to return home, we don't know what to do." She said in near tears.
President Koroma, apparently happy to see so many Sierra Leoneans come to meet him drew their attention to the wonderful welcome accorded him. He thanked president Jammeh and his people for the wonderful way they are caring for his people. "This shows that indeed we are brothers." He said.
Looking at the red colours President Koroma said "I am the leader of APC party more so the leader of Sierra Leone. Next time I would love to see the red as it is but as President of Sierra Leone I would also wait to see the green, orange and all. The election is over you gave us your mandate to rule the country. Sierra Leone is on a crossroad. Economy is down, agriculture, education, infrastructure and all. Next year Bunbuna would have been completed. We would not rest until we get light. Our targets are Agriculture, Education, Road, Electricity and health. We are happy that Freetown is not the darkest city again. By June I will not talk on electricity. Sierra Leone has the potential to feed itself. We are to launch the agricultural project on our return. I hate to set target but if I set them I must achieve it. Good progress will come when the roads are in good condition. The government is bent on reviewing the mining sector, tourism industry and other areas. These would improve our economy."
The president stressed on attitudinal change, that many people fight for their pockets and forget about others. I used to hear about ghost teachers but now it is ghost schools. We have a responsibility to change the situation."
He opined that they went through a lot and the world now respects them. We should maintain it. "The campaign we have now is the campaign against poverty. And remember that our problems have no colour."