Opinion: Barrow must grant citizenship to immigrants in Gambia!!!

Jul 7, 2021, 2:23 PM


Africans’ daal. Let me just start with the Gambia. Remember when US President Joe Biden announced he was going to give 11 million immigrants legal status and a path to citizenship? Gambians especially were elated, because nothing frustrates Gambians in the US or in Europe more than the nightmare of immigration processing, being accepted legally to work leading to citizenship.

But here we are, Gambians with the audacity to follow their fellow citizens, harassing, enquiring and bullying about their citizenship at registration centers. How arrogant, daring, myopic and classless! How can you even tell if someone is Gambian or not? Today a Manneh, Mbye, Sonko, Jeng and Cham, are very American and British just as Trump, Biden and Obama or Johnson. So how can a Manneh,  Touray, Mbye and Cham not be considered Gambian? Any Gambian I know including myself have relatives or are origins of these countries. We just did not sprout out of the ground and name it The Gambia. Our ancestors met here and some came along. If America was so selfish, would we all jubilate the African in Obama?

Some Gambians even putting out audios /videos asking for the youth to compare their votes to AK47s. Unbelievable!! Gambians, especially in America dread anything to do with immigration. I have accompanied many frightened or spoke on behalf of many Gambians at US immigration centers. For some, just to calm their nerves as the thought of being rejected and asked to leave the country looms. Scared to death. Imagine the duas, sadas and marabout affairs all so their sons, daughters or husbands can be accepted in the US, live their dreams, be accepted to live decently. Some detest President Trump solely on his stance on immigration.  But the same people are denying their fellow Africans in the Gambia that chance.

Some Gambians on the ground and some sitting comfortably in the west are sending chilling warnings to their fellow Africans, for trying to register to vote. I have known folks from Guinea Bissau living in our communities, one family even named their daughter after me some 20 something years ago. Here they are, still struggling with their papers and legality in the Gambia. They still scared of Immigration police or police in general. We are calling for African Unity but we hate to see these Africans from Senegal, Guinea Conakry, Bissau, Nigeria etc. be granted citizenship.

Even some westerners and Europeans must become Gambian citizens if they choose to, God knows what are the qualifications or criteria. As long as they have been living here peacefully, have contributed to the economy and have stayed here long enough, they must be granted citizenship. These same people we buy our fish and meat from. For all my life I have lived in the Gambia, some of the Senegalese have sewn our clothes, making us look and feel pretty.

These immigrants from Senegal, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Conakry, Sierra Leone, Nigeria have taught in our schools for decades, have contributed immensely in the education sector and the economy as a whole. Remember there was a time when Gambians mostly send their sons and daughters to Fourah Bay college in Sierra Leone and Ghana. Even our first President Jawara attended some of these schools before proceeding to the West. Most of our best in the civil service all started their exposure and college education in Senegal, Sierra Leone, Ghana and Nigeria. Folks from these countries since childhood, have washed and ironed clothes for the whole families, they made our breads in the morning, they have fetched us some good catch of fish for our Benechins. So, what is the anti-immigrant sentiment going on.

What group of a people are not immigrants in this world?  And we still have the audacity to look them in the face and deny them citizenships, just because we fear/assume they might lean on, support one party against the other. In the long run all Gambians and their political leanings will shift at some point. Senegal is a population of over 14 million, my guess. Gambia is not even 4 million yet.

What is this anti Senegal sentiment? We need Senegal more than they need us; their capital Dakar’s population might be even bigger than our whole country. In crisis when one area of Senegal wakes up, it always frightens Gambia. We are smart people but Senegal is not our match in any area, Western Education, Religious Education, Legal, Democracy, Military etc. because their population drowns ours. What’s our complex? When we have and are in crisis, we run to Senegal. Senegal can jump or avoid us in a chase, but we can’t because it surrounds us. Lest we forget, just a few years ago we even sworn in and our new president in Dakar.

With great tolerance and great hospitality, government or local community, they embraced, fed us, supported us in every way, in hard times, dictatorship. They acted big brother until we can put our acts together. Barrow must grant these immigrants citizenships long time ago! Crossing out all the years these people have been living here, making us all better people is grossly unfair.

I think all political party leaders must address this bias and the President especially. Barrow must grant citizenship some moons ago! Harassing immigrants will not help any president or party. Barrow must act now. All these Africans living here for the past 15 to 20 years must be granted citizenship. Immigration is a natural procession of human beings since the start of time, it must be checked but cannot be denied, unless on criminal grounds. Trump cannot stop it, Neither Barrow. Please emulate the Biden way. And yes, Gambians in the DIASPORA MUST VOTE TOO.

This paper shall reach your desk Mr. President. You must act! And out of topic, but it must be looked into, IVESTIGATED. IT IS URGENT! OUR WOMEN ARE DYING IN OUR HOSPITALS EVERY DAY. It shall reach your desk. Not rocket science, we can do it! My next topic, my take on The TRRC.
Cuelled from Fatou Jaw Manneh Facebook