Study hard, whatever you do make sure your WASSCE results show FIVE credits including MATH and ENGLISH”.
Those were the words of my favorite Aunt when I was in high school. Those words meant you had to be more than a good student or just passing exams. Those words were the difference between achieving the Gambian Dream as I know it and just being another neighborhood kid wondering the streets of Jollof. The Gambian Dream was very clear to me and everyone like me back in high school. Go to school, get good grades (including Math and English), apply for a British/American VISA, and get the heck out of the country as soon as you can. Any extra day/night spent in Jollof after high school was considered overstaying. 10 years later the dream is still the same, if anything else it is more real today than ever.
Not everyone can show a hefty bank statement to the consulates at the UK and US embassies. Not everyone can afford to travel to the UK/US, nor is everyone going to have a good grade in high school including MATH and ENGLISH. A VISA is a privilege, not a RIGHT, meaning some people just going to get denied point blank period just because. May be you are not convincing enough to the consulates, may be they can see through your BS and they know very well that your trifling behind is not going to study, may be you are just unattractive looking to the consulates, or may be the consulates had too much caffeine that morning and were in a not so happy mood. Whatsoever the case may be, you got my point, not everyone is going to make it to the UK/US….Then what…?
Too many of those rejected VISA’s or who don’t stand a chance to secure a VISA, for them not achieving the Gambian Dream was not an option. They will either experience it or die trying even if they will have to do it The HARD way also known as the BACK way. It is easy for me to just chill in my favorite coffee shop in the US and just type #SayNoToTheBackWay. The one question that left me stoic is that what would I have done if getting out of the Gambia wasn’t an option? Do I have the moral sincerity to question those who are willing to experience this Gambian Dream even if they have to pay the ultimate price? I honestly don’t know….!
In the early 90’s brothers used to sneak in to Cargo ships (dodge ship) voyaging back to Western countries and many Gambians lost their lives during these journeys. Then in the 2000’s brothers get on boats (similar to canoes) trying to sail their way to Spain, few got lucky and many not so much. Recently they are taking the HARD way (Back way) and everyday news of Gambians dying on their way to seeking greener pastures keeps filling my timeline on social media. My point is, shot one door and people will seek for other ways in pursuit of this vague dream. When people are hungry they will do whatever it takes to eat.
Let me divert your attention here for a minute. Visit any American strip club and I am convinced that you will find a person throwing one dollar bills at a naked lady and screaming that he is living the “American Dream”. America define a simple straight forward dream which states that “All men are created equal” and that they are “Endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights” including “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” This dream is well defined and understood by all the people of the United States of America. This philosophical definition of the American Dream is the traditional social Ideal of the US, where every citizen is guaranteed equality, democracy, and material prosperity as long as they remain law abiding and hardworking.
But in the Gambia we don’t have a dream like that. We don’t have a country that is spoiled with opportunities for the youthful population to take advantage of. Not everyone is going to make it by simply been hardworking or law abiding citizens. Success and poverty is like a monarchy in the Gambia, it is passed down through bloodlines. We don’t have a defined Gambian Dream that majority of the people believe in. What we have instead is “Babylon” by all means “Necessary”.
In his annual 2014 humanitarian letter, Uncle Bill Gates predicted that there will be almost no poor countries by 2035. I thought either he is losing it due to old age or he has never been to Africa. That’s not the kind of dream I am talking about, that dream is too farfetched. What we need is just a simple basic dream. We need a dream that does not depend on the mass exodus of our citizenry out of our country in search of GREENER Pastures.
Fellow citizens I think it is time for us to outline a more realistic DREAM for ourselves. I am not speaking of a fairy tale VISION2020 that even the visionary people who envision it do not believe in. We need a dream that will be the national ethos of the Gambia in which freedom includes the opportunity for prosperity and success, and an upward social mobility achieved through hard work. What we need is just a simple dream. A dream that will see children getting quality education and healthcare and college graduates getting jobs and earning a decent salary rather than using their college degrees as a tool to make their VISA applications look more attractive. A dream that if a person spends the better part of his/her life working he or she should get a good retirement package that will see them well off to their grave. A dream that will make available a sustainable medical delivery with trained doctors, and infrastructures, to keep people healthy and working. A dream that will improve the people’s lives socioeconomically and politically. And a dream that will PLEASE include NAWEC giving us 24 hours water and electricity supply. Is having such a dream for the Gambia too much to ask?
Some may argue that Gambia “Du Dem”, fair enough and I can sympathize with their frustrations. Maybe we will get there maybe we won’t. But until we have a DREAM of our own, a dream guided by attainable goals that every hardworking citizen can achieve if they remain committed and consistent, a Gambian Dream, we will continue in the situation we are in today (Babylon by Force). With a Gambian Dream, we can align our system towards the attainment of this dream, only then will everything fall into place.
We all need to go to sleep and dream, not wake up until we can all clearly see this dream. A dream that can unite us, one we can all work together to achieve. Once that dream is set, then we can work hard to put it into reality. I know I need one, how many of you are with me on this one?
Gambia Dafa Dem by Force Even if We Gonna Push it Com Motor Bu Paan.