By Yankuba Jallow
The five district of Foni, in the South Bank of the Gambia, hosted a National Reconciliation and Reunification meeting, which brought together hundreds of people.
Being the birth place of the former president and known for its unflinching support to the APRC party, many political upheavals have taken place in the district since the dawn of the presentgovernment, one of which was the recent incident in Kanilai, that saw the death of one and the arrest of many who are still going to court.
During the weekend, political stakeholders met in Foni Somita, to discuss the way forward for the country, through a reconciliation and reunification meeting.
The organisers of the reconciliation meeting invited prominent politicians, cabinet ministers, national Assembly members, political party heads, chiefs, village heads (alkalos) and other dignitaries, to a discussion on tangible political issues, in an attempt to reunify and reconcile the people of the area.
The event focused on the ways to resolve and improve political and personal differences among the people. During the course of the meeting, discussions were centered on the importance of good neighbourliness within communities, within districts and interpersonal relationships within societies.
The meeting was chaired by the Chief of Foni Berefet, Alhajie Junkung Camara at his residence in Somita. He said reconciliation and reunification in Foni is often misconstrued or seen as hard because of the associated vulnerability of the people (neighbour to neighbour) coming together; that this is owing to the sour political or personal differences. He added that there were flaws and problems but most importantly, now all the people have acknowledged that change has occurred and Foni cannot be left behind in their bid to throw their unflinching support to the present government.
The meeting according to Seyfo Camara, is not a sign of weakness to reach out for answers but doing so could embolden efforts to prioritise national interest over other interests, in order to prevent recurrent conflicts and reunify not only the people of Foni, but the whole nation.
The Minister of Agriculture hailed the people of Foni for their initiative in their pursuit to bring back unity within themselves and the country at large. He told the people of Foni that everything has an end especially leadership. He discouraged people from using politics as a means of dividing themselves. He reminded the people that Sir Dawda K. Jawara and Yahya Jammeh were all presidents of the nation but when the time came to give way to others, they are no more presidents. He added that there will come a time when President Barrow’s regime will come to an end adding that the country will ever remain in the same hands forever. He urged the people of Foni to consider the national interest in everything they do. He said as the country is in a transition period, he tasked the members of the National Assembly(NA) present to setup a parliamentary committee for reconciliation that will compose of NA members from all political parties, whose primary mandate will be to bring national reconciliation in the country.
“APRC is not owned by Foni and the Jolas,” he said. He averred that there are 48 Constituencies in the country out of which Foni has only 5 seats. He defended his assertion by saying that from Barra to Passamass in the Northern side of the country, there is no Jola village, but they all voted in APRC National Assembly Members before. He also said that during the Jammeh era, Jolas did not dominate cabinet. He called on the people to have patience and forgive. In his final remarks he urged the people of Foni to desist from violence as its repercussions can be adverse to society. He encouraged them to be involved in dialogue within themselves in order to bring unity and reconciliation.
Bala Garba Jahumpa, fondly called ‘Action Man’ and former Minister of Works and Construction said politics is not about being a jola, mandinka, fula or wolof, but that politics should be about development, advancement and progress of people. He cited a provision of the Quran in chapter 9, verse 51, that says nothing can happen unless as ordained by Allah. He added that in this period of the country, Allah has ordained that the President of the country would be HE President Adama Barrow. He also balanced his speech with a citation from the Bible in the book of Romans, Chapter 14, Verse 17, which echoed a similar wording of the Quran.
The Governor West Coast Region, NA members, UDP Deputy Party Sectary General, and many other protocols all voiced similar statements like all previous speakers. They all held that the Gambia is known to be the most peaceful country in Africa because of the good cordial relationship that exists amongst the people. The people were all encouraged to actively take part in the national development because they are Gambians and they should not feel isolated.