By Awa B. Bah
Born and raised in Bakau form a middle class family, Momodou Malcolm Jallow, a Swedish citizen with a Gambia origin is first the Gambian and black African to be elected into the Swedish Parliament.
Momodou Malcolm Jallow is a human rights expert and activist with over 20 years experience working with advocacy and training in Europe and Africa, including working with both EU and UN institutions. Former vice chairperson of the European Network Against Racism (ENAR), and the founder and chairperson of the Pan African Movement for Justice in Sweden, He served as a city council member in the city of Malmo in Sweden, before being elected as a parliamentarian. Momodou Malcolm Jallow is chairman of the Afro-Swedish Forum for Justice, as well as one of the Left Party candidates for the European Parliament. He has a strong commitment to issues related to racism, discrimination and Human rights. He has been one of the leading figures in Sweden who worked to raise the issue of afrophobia and challenged politicians and sitting governments at all levels.
In an exclusive interview with Awa B. Bah, Momodou Malcolm Jallow said he is in the Gambia not on holidays but on an official trip to engage the government of the new Gambia and civil society organizations on Swedish- Gambia opportunities that he can facilitate as bilateral cooperation.
According to Jallow, he was born and raised in the Gambia but have been living in Sweden for more than two decades and is involved in activism, leading one of Europe’s biggest controversial organization for a long time before getting into politics for the past seven years and sitting as a city councilor in the third largest city in Sweden called Malmo.
Sweden he noted has always had good relationship with the Gambia since independence as Sweden was the first country to send tourist to the Gambia after independence and still have lots of Swedish tourist coming to the Gambia, recalling the famous Radio Syd as one of the first radio stations established in the Gambia as a Swedish radio.
Jallow said for the past 22 years, this relationship has not been as it used to be before, noting that now with the new Gambia and the building of a democratization process, he hopes that he can facilitate the re-building of the long existing relationship both in the public and the private sector.
Since his arrival into the Gambia, Jallow has met with government key institutions such as the minister of communication, works, interior, the vice president, the minister of higher education, cabinet members saying that many things emerged during their discussions that are of mutual interest such as trade, migration, employment, health, Justice, education, and investments that will help boost the new emerging Gambia.
The Gambia he highlighted has a very young population with a very high and strong human resource capacity that can add in rebuilding the country’s development, citing the triggered campaign launched by young people during the pre-political impasse in the Gambia.
Trade he said is extremely vital for an emerging economy like the Gambia. The Government he said needs to create lots of job opportunities for people who are not working so as to earn a decent living.
On Migration, he said the EU has been working intensively to lobby with African countries to sign contracts so that illegal migrants can be repatriated from Europe to their countries in Africa and some of the conditions are not favorable to the African countries because an economy like the Gambia is trying to rebuild the economy that it becomes extremely difficult when Gambians are sent back without skills and education and there needs to be a kind of infrastructural institutions that will be able to accommodate these returning migrants in a way that can provide them with jobs to contribute to the Gambian society.
Jallow said health is one of the most important sector of any economy describing the state of the only referral and intensive care unit in the Gambia EFSTH as sad, assuring that he will facilitate the possibility of having conversation between the health sector and ministry of the Gambia and that of the Swedish health ministry and some Swedish private health institutions to see if there are any opportunities to tap and look at ways and means as health of the Gambia is personally very urgent to him.
As a member of the tax committee in the Swedish parliament and the Gambia is a tax based economy, Jallow said an effective tax system with tax reforms that will benefit the people is urgently needed. He said investors used poor countries like the Gambia to make a lot of money but they don’t pay fair taxes as they continue to use citizens and employ them and then paying them minimum wage of D1500 per month. He said in some hotels, one pays D5000 per night considering a person working from morning to evening for the entire month and earning D1500. This he noted is enslavement and bad salary.
He promised to facilitate the government of the Gambia coming to Sweden to look for good practices to design policies that protect the interest of the people and the working class as it is extremely important. He added, “We know how expensive the cost of living is”.
The new Gambia, he said, is still building up and has not merge yet as structures and institutions that used to be there for the past 22 years are still in existence and the same people are still in the system. Some of the draconian laws he said are still there and they have not yet been reformed. Jallow noted that the only new change in the Gambia is the perception of freedom and the feeling of being able to speak out clearly and loudly, not being afraid of arrest, and that torture has disappeared in the country.
A woman, he noted, can exactly do what a man can do in terms of ability to do things, though there are biological differences , calling for building of the new Gambia with every soul be given the opportunity to contribute to the building of the economy regardless of Gender as it was women who led the road to independence in Ghana
As a Swedish citizen and a Gambian origin, he promised to use the networks and influences he has in Europe and the west to raise issues not only for Gambia but for Africa to make sure that the relationship between the EU, the rest of the world and Africa remains a mutual respect. He called for the support all Gambians.
Jallow noted that it is sad that African Union has not been making good use of the opportunities that young Africans can provide like the EU is doing.
“One of my main achievements is, I was from a poor country moving to one of the richest countries and speaking for the blacks,” said Jallow noting that from here, he wants to see himself leading the world in every way that is possible for him.