By Lamin Fatty
‘Ganbanaaxun Fedde’ on Saturday March 31st 2019, held a press conference calling for peacebuilding and unity through sensitization.
The press conference which was held at the Kairaba Beach Hotel, was well attended by members of the association who came from as far as Koina, in the Upper River Region (URR), of the Gambia. The name of the association which was derived from Sarahuleh word ‘Gambana’, means unity and oneness.
Speaking before the gathering, the President of the Association, Alpha Marigo stressed the importance of peaceful coexistence among the citizenry. He indicated that the right of every citizen is guaranteed under the Constitution, which the supreme law we all voted for, and further adds that the fundamental rights of persons stipulated in the Constitution, should be honoured by all citizens.
Marigo said the Constitution provides that no person shall be held in slavery and no one is required to perform forced labour; that the Gambia is a member of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration for Human and Peoples’ Rights as well as a signatory of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which all condemn slavery in all its forms and manifestations.
“Everybody is equal in the eyes of the Law. The law does not recognize classes of ethnic groups. There is no free-born or slave. We are all equal in the eyes of the supreme Law which is the Constitution. And we all voted for this Law to govern us,” he said.
‘We have co-existed as a country, despite our language groupings. And this peaceful co-existence has nurtured the unity and harmony, the country has been known for,” President Marigo told the gathering. He said the Association’s objective is to enhance peaceful coexistence of all Gambians through sensitization programs by looking at those traditional practices that affect our wellbeing and mutual coexistence, and see how it can be ameliorated for the benefit of all Gambians. He said their objective is to bring their people under one umbrella and foster the harmony and peaceful coexistence between people. He urged Government to act in solving the issue of caste and ethnicity, especially in the Upper River Region.
Most of the delegates who spoke at the press conference, made statements as witnesses who have been affected either directly or otherwise, and call on Government to do something or withdraw the stalled cases of their members who are currently facing prosecution on flimsy issues.
“They call us slaves and do not allow us to mingle with them, when we live in the same communities with them. It is like we are persecuted. They will tell the police that we are disgruntled and violent. The police will arrest our members and put them into the cell or detain them in Janjangbureh prisons without arraigning them before any Court of Law,” one member explained.
Kalilu Jagne, a representative of the Inspector General of Police (IGP) who attended the press conference, said the Police are in charge of responsibility to keep the peace, protect lives and properties of people and enforce the Law. Police Commissioner Jagne said the Laws of the Gambia frowns at slavery and the classification of the citizenry; that this is against the Laws of the country.
“We do not recognize slavery. We only recognize human beings as equals. As far as we are concerned, we will surely enforce the Law on whoever commits an offence, regardless of your ethnic class or background,” he said.
Comments were also made by invited guests such as the venerable Imam Baba Leigh, a representative of the Embassy of Guinea Bissau and other important dignitaries who were invited to grace the occasion.
At the start of the Press Conference, a short but very moving drama play on caste discrimination, was performed by the Drama Club of Talinding Upper Basic School.