The President received warm welcome at home, with supporters lining up the streets singing and dancing.
President Barrow, whose delegation includes some ministers and high-ranking government officials, joined millions of Muslims from around the world who converged on Mecca to perform the last rites of the Hajj in Muzdalifah, Arafat, threw stones at Mina and left for tawaaf (circumumlation) around the Kaaba.
Unlike his predecessor who never accepted blame, President Barrow apologised on behalf of the Hajj Committee for any shortcomings and urged Gambians to forgive each other. The apology comes on the heels of complaints over food and living conditions of Gambian pilgrims. Barrow was grateful to King Salman and his government for the security and facilities they provided to his delegation.
The Gambia’s Amirul Hajj had earlier briefed President Barrow on the challenges Gambian pilgrims face in Mina. Alhajie Ousman Jah’s preoccupation is to avert such in the future.
President Barrow had royal lunch with King Salman. The two leaders discussed about the importance of unity among the Muslim Ummah and Saudi Arabia’s role as the headquarter of Islam. Despite it’s small size, President Barrow told the King, The Gambia has over 90 percent Muslims. Gambian leader promised to build on the relationship between the two countries.
Some cyber critics tried hard to use the Kuntaur catastrophic floods to malign the President’s character. They wanted him to come home and deal with the situation. The President’s supporters argued that “we want strong national institutions in a New Gambia and not personalities. We cherish a Gambia where the government moves with or without the President,” Burama Sanneh said, reminding people that “we are no longer in a dictatorship government. I think two decades of dictatorship had left a serious damage on the psyche of our people. Even if the President was home, he would rely on National Disaster Emergency Agency to act. Since these agents, the Vice President and security chiefs have been present in Kuntaur, would President Barrow’s presence make a difference?”