On the Plight of Gambians Abroad During this COVID-19 Era: Letter to my President

Mamos Media

Your Excellency Sir,

This is the 7th letter addressed to you in this series themed “On the Realities of our Current Situation: Letter to my President”. 

I know that these are tough times for all countries and resources are scarce; but sometimes it is the gesture of goodwill and sense of care more so than material resources that could alleviate the pain of people. Mr President you are yet to make any significant social support move to alleviate the challenges of Gambians even as individuals and even opposition parties strive day and night to give out detergents, rice and other essential consumables to citizens who pay their taxes into your coffers; you have been reticent at home but the situation of many Gambians currently resident out of the country is of critical importance and you need to be seen and heard about their welfare.

It is not news to you that we have tens of thousands of Gambians living abroad. Among this lot is a large group that lives without necessary legal documentation by no fault of theirs. 

I know you have bashed Gambians abroad before by labelling them as “goat tails” but this is not the time for vengeance and political rhetoric. We are dealing with life and death matters and we don’t seek your intervention on personal grounds. You happen to be occupying the most powerful seat in our country and your bills are paid by our tax money. It is within this spirit that I address these matters of urgency to the attention of your food offices. A couple of days ago, I made a post on Facebook and I believe that you have read it or someone has brought it to your attention. In case you didn’t notice, here’s my appeal:

Your Excellency Mr President,

You are yet to lift a finger to help alleviate the suffering of Gambians regarding the economic effects of the Coronavirus and your state of emergency declaration. 

So we don’t expect much anyway even though you are quietly sending bags of rice to your political supporters…

I just want to respectfully suggest that you think of the thousands of Gambians in Europe and other places who don’t have proper documentation to enjoy COVID-related stimulus support; and yet they have lost their sources of income due to the lockdown…

I believe there should be a creative way to support these people if the political will is there. These people have been supportive of your journey to power both morally and financially; and they have been supporting thousands of Gambians through the remittances they have been sending back home for years…

In these trying moments, can we act as a nation united and give back some support to these young men and women hustling in the diaspora.

Respectfully submitted for your kind consideration Sir.

M. Sabally

A few days after I made the above appeal, I got a call from a Gambian who travelled abroad before the COVID-19 outbreak but cannot come back to join his family due to current global travel restrictions. So we have another category of Gambians abroad who need the attention of your good offices and that of your Foreign Ministry bearing the name of this group I am taking about. Shall we sit and watch as our brothers and sisters suffer abroad. My concern on this particular situation was also launched on social media and I reproduce my thoughts on this hereunder for your kind attention:

…  Gambians who travelled out of the country before the global lockdown are stranded and can’t come back to join their families…

Talk less of action, there has not even been a statement issued by Barrow and his clique regarding their plight.

Lest some ignoramus jumps here to say our country cannot do what others are doing, I will remind them that Jammeh did airlift Gambians from Libya when that country was about to go on fire.

President Barrow needs to DO something or at least show some genuine concern for the citizens of this country at home and abroad in these trying times…

#CantCageMe

Mr President, I hereby submit the foregoing appeals to your attention and that of your Foreign Minister for urgent action for the sake of Allah.

In parting, Your Excellency, I have a little suggestion for you to try: just before going to bed tonight, please close your eyes and imagine your son (who is currently living a luxurious life in America) being in Libya or the asylum camps in Germany during this tough period of lockdowns. How would you feel? 

Our brothers and sisters trapped in the desserts and asylum camps also have parents and their parents voted for you to become President. You may also imagine yourself being in England right now and you cannot travel back home; meanwhile, amidst this state of emergency restrictions, your spouses and children sit at home at Mankamang Kunda (prior to your recent construction spree in that village); how would you feel?

And I can sure you, Mr President, that I love you; and the foregoing suggestion is not meant provoke you in any negative way. Creative imagination is a great key to problem solving and motivation. Perhaps the images and resultant energy from the prescribed mental exercise might be the needed impulse for you to jump off the comfortable couches of State House and get into action mode in these critical moments. Or perchance  this might move you to sell off some of your real estate assets in Senegal and give the cash to your Minister in charge of Gambians Abroad to send some help to our young men and women in Agadez, Libya and the asylum camps of Europe.

Your Excellency, your silence is too deafening, please come out again; and this time, please talk to our brothers and sisters abroad; they too deserve to hear from you.

While wishing you a blessed fasting season in advance, please accept the assurances of my highest consideration and esteem.

Momodou Sabally

The Gambia’s Pen

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