Feb 2, 2009, 4:52 AM
Municipal Youth Committee in partnership with Activista- The Gambia Saturday
celebrated the International Youth Day.
The day was set aside by the United Nations General Assembly to celebrate young people’s contribution to conflict prevention and transformation as well as inclusion, social justice and sustainable peace.
It is also a day for young people to celebrate their achievements, reflect on their challenges and come up with solutions.
The celebration funded by the National Youth Council and Activista-The Gambia was under the theme: “Youth Peace Building: Delivering an inclusive New Gambia”.
In addition, the day was characterized with inter generational dialogue, peace and reconciliation march-pass from Churchill’s Town to Buffer Zone. # IStand4Peace was also launched.
Mbenge Jaiteh, Assistant Secretary at the Ministry of Youth and Sports, said young people’s inclusion in peace, security and society is key to building and sustaining peace.
She welcomed the process of social inclusion for youth, including participation in decision-making as well as access to quality education, healthcare and basic services as these promote their role as active contributors to society and affords young people with opportunities to reach their potential and achieve their goals.
She said identifying and addressing the social exclusion of young people is a precondition for sustaining peace.
She declared that IYD was an opportunity for youth to engage the government and all other stakeholders to dialogue and manifest their collective commitment to peace building, justice and reconciliation.
Lamin Darboe, executive director of the National Youth Council (NYC), advised the youth that they have a responsibility to make sure that the Gambia remains peaceful and developed.
“It is important for us to reorient ourselves to take peace as our responsibility and represent it, because without it nothing is possible,” he said.
He called for more communication between youth and authorities, saying that lack of communication could result in misunderstanding.
“We demand the government to involve us, bring us on the table and be part of all the development and decision making processes in our country. We are demanding of them to communicate to us and put us in the forefront,” he requested.
He acknowledged the effort of government in involving youth in the Think Tank and other committees.
Saikou Marong, National Assembly member for Latri-Kunda Sabiji Constituency, challenged the youth to be committed to national development.
He said 40 per cent of members in the national assembly are young people and they would stand for the development of the youth of The Gambia.
“The only thing that is needed from the youth is commitment,” he said.
Alagie Jarju, program manager at the National Youth Council (NYC), spoke of the importance of the day, indicating that it was meant for young people to come together and celebrate their successes, reflect on their challengers and come up with solutions.
He highlighted the commitment the NYC took to make the celebration successful, noting that NYC provided funding for all the regional youth committees to celebrate the day in their own way.
He said NYC was committed to the development of young people in the country, and called on the authorities to support and empower young people.
He said young people have a very big responsibility in maintaining peace in their various areas, saying peace could not be maintained without them being in front.
In fulfilling this responsibility, young people need to be rightfully equipped and educated, gainfully employed and give them the civic space that belongs to them, he said.
Momodou Jaiteh, deputy mayor of the Kanifing Municipality, underscored the importance of peace as indispensible without which nothing is possible.
“Peace is precondition for the development of any country. It is the most important asset one can have, its maintenance is paramount and is everyone’s business,” he said.
He noted that this could not be achieved without youth who are the cream of any society. Youth need the support of everybody to be able to play this very important role.
He assured of the municipality’s commitment to support the development of young people, while challenging others do the same.
Baboucarr Kebbeh, chairperson of the Kanifing Municipal Youth Committee (KMYC), urged the government of The Gambia to put issues of youth first if they want to reap the Demographic Dividend and achieve the SDGs.
Gambia youth most prepare themselves to take over the mantle of leadership to make the change they call for, he said, adding that this could not happen in the absence of quality education.
He said the viability of the peace and reconciliation process would largely depend on the extent on youth involvement, the level of communication, and the satisfaction of the youth and their organisation agenda.
Alagie Nyang, national coordinator at Activista-The Gambia, noted that the peace that the country is enjoying right now is as result of the commitment and contribution of Gambian youth.
“Our commitment and efforts of maintaining a peaceful Gambia is often not recognised by the authorities, but that will not change our stand and commitment in the maintenance of peace in this country,” he said.
He further noted that youth have a role to play in the maintenance of peace in the country, but this role could not be fully realised if young people are not involved in the process.
He challenged Gambian young people to be committed to the existing development and peaceful coexistence in The Gambia.