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Young Gambian columnist looks to profile Obama

Aug 3, 2010, 2:05 PM | Article By: Phillip Kurata, Staff Writer (www.america.gov)

Like many young Africans heading to Washington from August 3-5, The Gambia Point newspaper's Isatou Dumbuya is eager to meet President Obama.

Unlike many attending the forum, she'll be writing her next newspaper column about him.

Dumbuya writes a weekly column, meant for young people and plans to report on her experiences in Washington, as a delegate to the US President's Forum with Young African Leaders, which will bring together more than 100 young people from 45 African countries to foster ties among the next generation of African leaders and Americans.

A 21-year-old student at the University of The Gambia, Dumbuya has been writing her column, "Bring It On," since 2008. Written in candid, lively language, her column addresses a full spectrum of social issues, from the grim, such as infanticide, to the whimsical, such as girls' love of high heels. One column may provoke outrage, laughter, but in all Dumbuya strives to make her readers think about themselves and the society they live in.

In a piece about honesty and integrity, she does not wave a preachy finger. Rather, she describes how she stole money from her father's safe when she was a girl. The reader's pulse quickens as she gives details of her theft, being found out, and how she rectified her act by returning the money to the safe without being ordered to do so. She leaves it to her readers to draw their own conclusions.

She also covers sports and national affairs for The Point.

"What I hope to gain from participating in the President's Forum with Young African Leaders in Washington August 3-5 is a sense of greater empowerment that will help me in my youth work," she said.

"I hope that my being at the forum will help me raise my standards and the standards of others when I come back home and share with them what I learnt," she added.

Her activities bring her into contact with many Gambians. At the university, Dumbuya focuses her studies on development and communications. She studies basic journalism at the Gambia Press Union. She also plays basketball.

A half-century from now, she hopes to see her continent have higher levels of health, education, gender equality, food sufficiency and democracy.