#Article (Archive)

Time to get involved

Jan 25, 2017, 10:37 AM | Article By: Alieu F. Sagnia

In the 1990s, when I was a journalist worked and reported for the State-owned The Gambia Daily newspaper, I started a column entitled “Thinking Aloud”. Our work then (as a reporter and then as the Editor/Publisher of The Gambia Daily is on record - as is the nature of the written word/newspapers, and is available for scrutiny to see how we upheld professionalism, despite the fact that we worked for the government.

Yahya Jammeh’s Gambia – which as aptly stated by Gambian historian Hassoum Ceesay in a recent piece published in the papers - was a period of “one-man rule”. Perhaps it is now propitious to revive the “Thinking Aloud” column.

And this is the purpose of this write-up: To announce the revival of the column – which, put simply, is for expressing my thoughts, ideas and views (anchored on my worldview) on events and happenings in The Gambia and beyond.

The objective of the column is to serve as a platform or forum for public education and awareness creation in members of the generations coming after us, and the millennials.

I intend to have it published in the newspapers, local and foreign, and online. So watch out!

For long in the Gambia, the real professionals, intellectuals, and experts have ceded the public space for the exchange of knowledge, ideas and debate to all manner of commentators – most of them hacks, charlatans or shameless barefaced opportunists, etc.

Indeed, it is time for those of us who have been courageous enough to stick to and live by our principles, all these past years and decades, to reclaim our place in the public domain and not leave it to them entirely, as times have changed and now the issues and problems have become too important to keep quiet, or to watch from the sidelines.

Thus, our re-launching opinion pieces will be on the following topics:

1.         About launching the Never Again! Movement – again, Hassoum Ceesay did hit the nail right on the head, when he concluded his opinion piece on Yahya Jammeh’s misrule entitled “The Gambia’s 40 days of terror!” (See The Point newspaper No. 022 dated Monday January 23, 2017) with the call to arms: “Never Again! Never Again! Never Again!” We intend to launch a movement which will ask Gambian to stand up and make sure there will “Never Again!” be a leader like Yahya Jammeh in this country!

I want to explain that it was my intention to announce the launching of the Never Again Movement, and was procrastinating at the time Hassoum made his “Never Again” declaration. I hereby call on all who know me, my friends and colleagues past and present, to support this initiative, whose sole purpose is to work to uphold and defend the sovereignty of the people of The Gambia, as required by the Constitution.

2.         Our views on ASSED, which the new government intends to launch as the new national vision. Are we going back to adopting and promoting the same old ideas – as espoused in Vision 2020, PAGE, etc. - championed by the West and UN, which have been tried and tested - and have failed to bring about real prosperity to our people and meaningful development to our nations in Africa?

Or are we asking our so-called intellectuals to ditch the ideas underlying Vision 2020, PAGE etc., and come up with a vision for national advancement, which will draw inspiration from past worldviews which may be deemed contrary to the trending global consensus, but which are in fact needed right now, more than ever before, to confront and address the realities of today’s world.

As was happening in The Gambia of the 1960s, 70s and 80s when there was a real intellectual atmosphere in the country, this is a debate which we want to revive, and see come to the fore!

3.           A piece on why, in our opinion, the political impasse was best resolved through negotiations, and why the Gambia armed forces should not and did not get involved – this is not to say that ECOMIG should not get involved – indeed, ECOMIG was necessary after Yahya Jammeh had resorted to blatant abuse of incumbency (a hallmark of all his governments) by using questionable and unconstitutional methods to stay in power.

Alieu F. Sagnia, a veteran Gambian journalist, lives and works in the country, where he has been a media practitioner for nearly half a century.