African descendants urge NAMs to consider citizenship plea

May 26, 2021, 10:37 AM | Article By: Adama Tine

A group of African descendants residing in The Gambia have urged National Assembly Members (NAMs) to consider their citizenship plea as they are home comers and desire that the National Assembly considers their automatic citizenship plea.

In an interview with this medium, Juliet Ryan said it is high time people denounced all colonial rules as it is only designed to separate Africans.

“It's a great disappointment to many of us and upon realising that we needed to have an official voice, we decided to form a Council of African Descendants (COAD) with the purpose to raise our voices,” she explained.

According to media reports, African descendant residents in The Gambia who have returned permanently, have raised concerns about their non-inclusion in the new 2020 draft constitution which was rejected by lawmakers.

Juliet Ryan (Nyancho Kujabi) said they have invested sizeable amount in The Gambia and their historical family lineage still remains Africa. “We're Gambians and our ancestors were enslaved and never able to return, so we are completing the circle to come home. Now we feel as though we have been forgotten about in terms of the constitution,” she lamented.

"We felt that as a Caribbean and American community, people who come back from the Diaspora, it is essential to do something to help smooth the progress of people coming into The Gambia,” she pointed out.

“Despite the report drafted by the Constitutional Review Commission including Section 188 that relates to an Exception Clause for African Descendants of the Enslaved, Section 188 suggests a reduction in the current 15 years for Citizenship by way of naturalisation to 2-4 years.” She noted.

Juliet said Mathew Hypolite has been resident in The Gambia for the past 15 years, and still has not been granted automatic citizenship

Madam Ryan said the story of Kunta Kinteh needs to be looked at so that people will recognise that slavery existed and people were displaced.

“We came to The Gambia to be considered as people of the country and not as foreigners or what else.”

“We have suffered and suffered and didn’t come here to feel rejected,” Juliet Ryan said. “We come here to feel wanted back into our families automatically.”

She said the pain they are going through is real and people fail to understand their proposals. When asked about how supportive Gambians are to their proposals, Madan Ryan said they are hoping that Gambians will now see them as their families and not as strangers.

Adrian Ryan (Hatib Kujabi) said they are appealing to the members of the National Assembly to look at some of the provisions in the draft constitution to be passed and support the reduction of automatic citizenship from 15 years to 2-4 years.

“We respect the laws of the country after having noticed that some of the historical context of Africa is been missing and has completely gone missing on the continent,” he said.

He said some people have drawn conclusion without understanding what their mission is. He added that they engaged lot of parliamentarians to look at their proposals and some have been very supportive.

Mr. Ryan urged that people should stop spreading misleading information to the public. “We are not lawmakers and we cannot be lawmakers. All what we need is for them to help us with our proposals.”
He stated that when they were invited to the National Assembly for a meeting, they put it to the National Assembly members to consider the issue of automatic citizenship and some welcomed the idea.

Mr. Ryan indicated that COAD is an organisation that has to happen; saying they came to this country to settle and to contribute significantly to the country’s development.

"The constitution basically labelled us as aliens, as it has no reference to who we are. Whereas places like Ghana these people are welcomed back with open arms and given them automatic citizens. Here Gambians have to reaslise we are you and you are us. We were taken away from Africa,” he concluded.

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