Sidia Jatta of PDOIS, Please Note That Gambia’s Problem is More Than Just Adopting English As an Official Lanugage
By Papa Kumba Loum
Sidia Jatta’s recent assertion in a public lecture in Norway that adopting the English Language as our official language is our major Problem is at best a half truth. With all due respect to Hon. Sidia Jatta, I do not believe for once that having English as the official language in The Gambia is the main cause of our problems. Adopting Mandigo, Fulla, Wolof etc as our official language(s) or allowing Members of the House of Representatives to communicate in the local languages in their deliberations in the House of Representative will not necessarily hurl Gambia into a developed and first world country.
The cause of Gambia’s current socio-economic and political problems cannot be reduced to the adoption of a foreign language (English) as an official language and a medium of instructions in schools. Tanzania for example had replaced Kiswahili with Englfor some over 35 years ago as its official language but that alone has not catapulted it to a developed country. The same can be also said for Ethiopia andSomalia which have adopted their local languages as official languages and also Kenya which adopted both English and Kiswahili as its official languages.
Let us face it, Gambia’s problems are numerous. Recently, bad governance, Yahya Jammeh’s blatant corruption and disregard for the rule of law, lack of foreign investments, mediocre educational schools and tertiary institutions a massive brain drain are perhaps the major reasons why the country has reached its nadir point in terms of socio-economic development. Equally, the country’s size and population and a lack of a sizable middle class with purchasing power, lack of an informed and vibrant civil society, disorganized political parties, a selfish and unsophisticated elite and educated class, religious bigotry and hypocrisy and subtle tribalism all contribute to our past, current and future underdevelopment.
PDOIS and its leadership should know this. They have been actively campaigning in rural Gambia trying to educated rural Gambians and the masses (using the different local languages) about their civil, political, economic and cultural rights and other developmental issues for the last there decades. Despite all their efforts, PDOIS has been unable to capture any meaningful support which could be translated into votes during general elections. I am not writing this piece to criticize or to give reasons for PDOIS political underachievement over the years but I expect informed politicians of PDOIS caliber like Sidia to give a more holistic picture of the Gambian problem otherwise he runs the risk of sounding like our idiotic President Yahya Jammeh and his acolytes of sycophants.
Gambians all over should start looking inward to decipher who we are as a people and why we are the way we are which unfortunately has resulted in a barbaric, semi-illiterate, corrupt leader with inferiority complex to manipulate and
rule The Gambia for 20 years with the support of religious leaders and a so-called educated class. These are the issues we as Gambians should discuss and decode and then begin to forge ahead in a positive way as a people and as a nation.
Let me iterate here again that Jammeh is corrupt with the help of Gambians, Jammeh tortures and kills Gambians with the support of other Gambians, Jammeh sells drugs, trump up false charges against his perceived enemies and imprisoned them with the connivance of a corrupt legal and judicial system, Jammeh molests and rapes young Gambian women with the help of his middle men/women and sometimes with the acquiescence of family members and meanwhile the so call religious leaders continue to pray for his long life and prosperity using the local languages and in Arabic and not in English. I hope you get my point. The problem is with us.
By Papa Kumba Loum