By Mustapha Jallow

The National Council for Civic Education (NCCE) in partnership with ECOWAS, on Saturday September 14th 2019, started an eight-day national dialogue on democratic governance, tolerance and reconciliation.

During the period, the NCCE is expected to engage local communities on various issues related to democratic governance and to clear the misconceptions about democracy, abuses, mistrust, intolerance and divisive politics among Gambians.

The national dialogue with the theme “enhancing democratic governance and peaceful coexistence,” will cover sixteen communities within the Lower Saloum district in the Central River Region-North.

Speaking at a meeting hosted in Ballanghar and Bentenki villages, Ali Touray, the Chief of Lower Saloum district described the civic education as timely and urged his community members not to take the NCCE’s mission as a political one. He urged them to listen attentively with their minds and not their hearts.

Yusupha Bojang, NCCE’s Senior Program Officer outlined how his institution was concerned with the misconception and abuse of democracy in the country; that their mission is to sensitize citizens across communities through dialogue to provide a better understanding of issues related to tolerance and reconciliation.

“There is a lot of division and tensions happening in this country as a result of politics and tribal sentiments,” he told people. He explained how other citizens have the misconception of what democracy is; that most thought of it as lawlessness and by doing whatever one wants regardless of what the Law says.

Bojang said as an institution established to promote democratic rule, it is important to embark on such national dialogues and sensitize the people for them to understand what democracy is all about; that this will help them promote peace and reconciliation where there is division in their communities based on politics. He disclosed that 48 communities were identified for the tour.

On his part, NCCE’s Civic Education Officer Ansumana Yabou, suggested to community members to make their concerns such as access to good roads, hospital facilities, boreholes and community gardens known for the authorities to act on, rather than dwell on things that can bring animosity among them.

Musa Secka of Ballanghar village expressed sadness about young people’s failure to participate in such important meetings.

“I sympathize our country because whenever such meetings are held in our communities, only a few of them show-up when most of them do not know that they are the future leaders,” he said. He informed the civic educators that the message will be spread in their mosque and other public places.

Fana Njie of Bentenki village also said their understanding of democracy was to take the country forward and maintain peace, but not do whatever one wants or to act any how one wants to.

Other NCCE officials and community members in attendance made similar remarks during the meeting.

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