By Momodou Jarju
The newly appointed Country Director of Global Peace Chain (GPC) The Gambia has called on Gambians to abstain from revenge that could lead to unending battle.
Mariama Colley, radio presenter and activist, said GPC’s role in the country is to preserve the peace and harmony the country is known for through dialogue and sensitization.
Ms. Colley, also an actress, made these statements in an exclusive interview with Foroyaa recently.
Foroyaa: How long has Global Peace Chain been in existence in The Gambia?
Director: Global Peace Chain is actually new to me as well. They contacte d me early this year and reached out that they want to have a country director in The Gambia to be a voice and representative for peace and their target is to make sure that the world is a peaceful place for everyone to live in and they are going to be hiring country directors and ambassadors in every country so we can engage people into peace dialogues. Though Gambia is a very peaceful country as most people might see; we are free from war but we have a lot of tribal issues and inner problems that could lead to bigger problems. And I think Global Peace noticed that and then they just reached out to me, wanting me to use my platform as an actress and as radio presenter to probably engage more people. So it’s quite new, I know they reached out early this year.
Foroyaa: It was through your mentorship radio program and your volunteerism and activism that earned you this position as you just explained. So what is your Term of Reference (TOR)?
Director: So I host a mentorship program called the ‘Let’s Talk Show’ and the idea is to bring mentors on the radio platforms to inspire other people who are out there who want to have the same career paths as them. So one of my responsibilities, as country director, is to select ambassadors in The Gambia who are going to be representatives of these dialogues that we are going to be engaging people in, so I would be tasked to make sure I get the right people who would be listened to be young people and by the country and political figures as well because they all have a role to play. And the other thing is to create platforms and mediums where people can come together and involve them in engaging conversations on how we can maintain a peaceful community and a peaceful country as well. And this again would involve political leaders, religious leaders, community leaders as well and young people in general.
Foroyaa: You received lots of comments and congratulations, wishing you well in the new job. How do you feel?
Director: I feel really honoured. I mean I didn’t expect all that love and support from people. My intention was just to put it out there so that people would just know what’s happening in case I reach out. But I was really overwhelmed with all the love and the support that I had from people and I am really grateful and I would love to tell them that I wouldn’t let them down. I continue to grow and I would continue to also create platforms for as many people as I can.
Foroyaa: One might say it’s a big challenge shrugged on your shoulders, how are you going to go about in fulfilling all the tasks put in place for you?
Director: It is not going to be easy I must say. I already have a lot in my hands plus this one. It’s going to be big but I believe in engaging people. I don’t believe in taking responsibilities for everything that I do. I believe in working with people and also involving them in what I do. So at the end of the day, I would be looking towards working with a lot of people to make this work as easy as possible, to be fulfilling and to make sure that it is implemented the way that it should be implemented. And I am willing to really commit my time and my efforts and my little knowledge that I have to make sure that this is pursuit to the finest or to the highest level that I could be.
Foroyaa: How would the GPC contribute towards better fostering and preserving peace and tranquility in The Gambia corresponding it with the current political situation where truth and justice seeking is a hot topic- so how will this organization contribute towards binding the wounds of division in this country?
Director: So Global Peace believes in dialogue and engaging people into conversations on how we can respect each other, how we can be opinionated and how we can also respect other people’s opinions. So Global peace would definitely come in to tell people that we shouldn’t be pointing fingers because that’s where the problems would begin from. Now looking at these narratives coming out, there is going to be a lot of blaming and finger pointing and probably revenge at the end of the day and this could fire up something that would probably be out of control. So probably our intervention would be to make sure that people really calm down and try to understand that this is not a platform for people to use against other people. Gambia is a very small country and we all know each other. But then the most important thing is to look at the perspective of where we are coming from. We came from a dictatorship and with dictators ruling at the end of the day we could have all been victimized. We could have all been used to implement certain things against our will. So if we want to come back again and start pinpointing and blaming these people for what they have done, take them responsible for everything that they have done and start discriminating them in the society or start trying to attack their families, it is going to bring in more problems. So we would definitely try to make sure that there are a lot of dialogues to educate and sensitise the people so that at the end of the day we also need not to be revengeful. At the end of the day it is going to be an unending battle which might be of climax and out of control. So our role is just to preserve peace and harmony that Gambians are known for in creating dialogue and sensitization.
What would your advice be to Gambians about peace?
So my advice to everyone is to be free and come on board and bring in ideas or suggestions. I am very open to them and I believe in team work a lot. So if you are out there and then you have recommendations or you have any suggestions that could make this work easier or probably create another medium or platform to implement certain projects that we want to implement feel free to reach out to me, anytime.
Foroyaa: What would be your accomplishment at the end of the day?
Director: My accomplishment at the end of the day would be or at the end of this whole project is to really equip people with lot of information because I believe information is power. If people are educated and are being sensitized about what peace is, I think they would really understand some of the things they are doing is not peaceful. Like we have a lot of tribal differences now and it’s even facing the political scene. If a political leader is a Mandinka everybody thinks all the Mandinkas should support this political figure and that is not how it should be. I know in the next couple of years we will be running into elections and this is the right time to start sensitising the people that they should not vote on tribal basis and should respect other people’s views and opinions. At the end of the day, they should make sure that people are well equipped about who they are? What they should be preserving in the country, especially when we say Gambia is a very peaceful country; that is very true.
But there are so many things that we are doing that is not peaceful. We see a lot of attacks on people, there is a lot of criminal injustices going on just because people think that there is freedom of peace or freedom of expression. That doesn’t mean that it should be taken out of control or you taking too much power in your hands thinking that you can solve all these problems. So it is about creating awareness and I hope at the end of this project that would be fulfilled by creating a lot of sensitization and informing people of their rights and how they can preserve peace in the country.