Women of Substance





Macky takes the bull by the horn

By Fatou Jaw Manneh

Or is it Macky tackles the elephant in the room?

Go Macky, Go Macky, Go Macky. Bravo. Macky Sall in Cassamance. Aiwa! Came as a surprise to many SeneGambians. It is past time. What a relief!!! This is the best move and a very bold one. Congratulations Macky. Cassamance cannot be ignored. A rich land for cultivation and a very popular tourist hub and destination for Senegal. Why shun them? It is about time Dakar catches up with the Cassamance region, open up genuine discussions and (yes!) the railway indeed is welcome news for Cassamance. A $500 million investment has brightened up their faces. Hopefully the Cassamance region recovers its 50, 000 a-year-tourist market and hope it spills over to neighboring The Gambia. A bridge at Farafenni will ease the flow of goods and transportation between the two sister nations. Congrats.

Senegal, the country of Teranga (hospitality), should market its natural character of friendliness. Trade, investment and tax breaks for tourism will cheer up the region in no time considering the hard work and “Jom” and “Faida” of the Senegalese. I'm sure experts and natural customer service citizens will explore and welcome all the incentives necessary for development.  Cassamance should not feel rejected, forgotten, and disrespected. Yes, skirt around The Gambia and let the train hoot all night to Cassamance, and then start up the southern part to Guinea Bissau, too.

People in Cassamance are hardworking. Jola, Wolof, Bainunka, Mandinka, Sarahule, Manjago, Ballanta, etc. all of them. The best way to lessen insurgent activities, terrorism and malice from the region is to open it to investment, trade, education, health and tourism.

I am an exiled Gambian journalist currently living in Senegal. Macky, you just happen to have a bad neighbor in Yahya Jammeh. Please know that you have to ride with modern times in terms of development and do not discriminate in your infrastructure and developmental goals. There are wonderful people living in Cassamance. Yahya Jammeh has messed up many villages in Cassamance during the region's ongoing troubles with Dakar, fanning the flames of tribalism and extreme hypocrisy, just so he can have a big Jola migration from across the border and to help him in his bogus elections. Some voluntarily migrated to The Gambia but he had many villagers displaced just so they can run for cover in The Gambia. All the while playing Good Samaritan.

Trade, investment and modernization in Cassamance will help their people who cherish peace and freedom, and abandon Jammeh's trickery and handouts of bags of rice and oil. The Jolas are decent people and will not continuously buy into his hypocrisy. THEY KNOW HE IS NO GOOD. They have to have an incentive to abandon him and you have taken that step. Bravo and May God help you along the way. No fear, just send your Brazilian-trained soldiers to help along the way into Cassamance. That place is beaming, hopeful and grateful for this project.

St. Louis (Nderr) is decaying now. A very historic city. The fishing industry in that city can turn it into a modern seaport and also cater to all West African markets with fresh fish. And wow! They have excellent Quranic/religious schools too. Thies is beautiful; don’t abandon it either. Yes, yes. I know Edriss Seck made it his city, but that is no excuse. This is what visionary, genuine leaders do for their country. Help continue the good policies your predecessors started, and initiate better ones for the future leaders and generations.

During the first two weeks I arrived in Senegal, and between the three homes I am affiliated with, I saw over 15 Gambians who came to seek medical attention in Senegal. From ulcer, cancer, arthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure and all. I talked to one of them, an old woman. She complained of stomach problems; she said she visited the main hospital in Banjul and was given some capsules. And she said she had been taking too many and for too long and now she is scared. She stopped taking them, because it did not help, and decided to come to Senegal. She told me she was misdiagnosed in The Gambia. I can see the relief on her/their faces, as their hosts shuttled them from one clinic to the other. Many who seek medical help here complain that it is tough for Gambian health practitioners to find out what is wrong with you when you are sick. I can see the beaming face of this woman now. She is pretty and clean and the face is glowing. She now knows she is in better hands for her medical needs. That spirit alone will help in her recovery. Senegal is a hub for all of West Africa when it comes to health and education. Build on that strong institution and keep up the professional and good name of Senegal, in manners (hospitality), education and health.

Former President Senghor brought in education, gave Senegal a highly educated citizenry. Your graduates are highly smart. Abdou Diouf brought in a serious professional administration. Abdoulaye Wade brought in top notch infrastructure development. Serious, super roads, bridges and all. What will be your legacy?? Cassamance is a good brave start. An obnoxious neighbor should not deter you from giving Senegambia all that it needs. Help Gambia trounce dictatorship once and for all. How many awards have you received already on good governance and embracing the rule of law and democratic principles? Yahya Jammeh is known for killing his people. That is a legacy he will leave with us and no decent human being should associate with him.

 You know why Gambians run to Senegalese hospitals as expensive as they can be? It is because they are afforded the chance of good health and of a peace of mind. And the Gambian president said he is a herbal doctor! He has alienated and harassed all our good doctors. He even had to force one into retirement; he had a good clinic and a good name. Jammeh denied Gambians access to that health facility just so he can annex and seize the good location of that clinic, which he did by fraudulent means.

And for the Gambian exiles in Senegal? We say thank you. At least you are listening. Gambian refugees in Senegal are trapped. You know we cannot speak French. We have a brutal dictator in The Gambia, who just loves to kill his citizens, jail them, torture them, or scare them away. I have seen Gambians sitting idle in Dakar. They are no activists, politicians or journalists. Just staying away from The Gambia gives them that peace of mind. Gambians are so scared just for the heck of running away from The Gambia as it is associated with Jammeh and they think they can get into trouble anytime. Some don’t even know what they are running away from. That is the depressing situation in The Gambia. Yaya Jammeh  is a paranoid and brutal monster and wants everyone to wallow in his misery and unhappy state of mind. Thanks for offering Gambians asylum in the land of Teranga. Gambians are no criminals. I know, I know, I know. When you were working for Wade, I am sure you saw plenty of crooks both in the Senegalese and Gambian governments, civilian and military. Yes corrupt to the core. Yahya Jammeh was then good business for these corrupt officers who promised Wade to take Jammeh out and secured millions in corrupt money along the way. That Gambia is no more. We mean business now Macky. We are tired.

I will not delve into Senegal’s domestic politics, but give Wade his son Karim. Yes he stole lots of money but you cannot recover it even with the help or America and France. In banking we are trained day in and out how to identify stolen money, but it is tough sometimes how some humans can “clean” money. You just can’t see or trace it when it is right under your nose. This Karim issue is consuming your time, and creating some deserving or undeserving public sympathy. Wade did his time very well. Don’t spend your time on him. Your Cassamance trip is important because it shows action and determination on your part; you have been mired in some dormancy in your presidency of late. Lest you forget, the Senegalese electorate don’t play and they are becoming impatient. Macky: Just Go Go Go Go Go. !!!

Wasalam, Mbalen Jamm, Dallal Akk Jamm!

This article is originally written for leral.net

Author can be reached at fatoujm@gmail.com

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