For the past 14 days, I have personally interacted with exactly 350 youths from different walks of life within Banjul and the Kombos; and I can say without batting an eyelid that this idea of Gambians are lazy is incorrect. I reject it in toto, they are not lazy.
Many Gambian youths are struggling day in day out with whatever work they are engaged in, yet they realize no progress. This is conspicuous to anyone who made an effort to know.
While I had a hobnob with a particular guy, he spoke to me with unqualified honesty that he has been working as a mason since 2005, and still can’t save anything for the next day.
“Since 2005, I have been waking up in the early mornings every other day to go out there and struggle, but bro, even a bank account I can’t have,” this despondent young man said to me.
He is from a humble family, and happens to be the eldest in the family who has to take care of himself, his siblings and parents. Thus, he lives from hand to mouth. He had to drop out of school and get to the market to find something to do in order to keep soul to body. His story corroborated many stories I heard from other people. He and many others told me how impossible it is to garner support in order to grow or expand in whatever field of work one is in.
According to them, the government and/or private entities need to give more support in the form of loans and grants to the Gambian youths in order to help the growing youthful population, rather than saying that Gambian youths are lazy.
I asked if they have tried to get that support and many of them told me they did and continue to do, and every time they do, they are given conditions they can’t meet. Hence they have no other way but to continue on whatever business they are in, and thus keep drowning in abject poverty. Some of them have resorted to selling and smoking weeds – at least the ones I have seen.
During the period that I visited the different work places and streets, one thing that stood out for me is the level of poverty. Almost 99.8% of the people – mostly youths – that I spoke to cried out at the level of poverty they are facing. It bleeds my heart to learn that most of them find it hard to have a three square meal a day, even after a lot of hard work on their part. I have read rage and extreme anger on the faces of the youths, and they use the opportunity to stress out their long kept grievances. Sadly, not a single person gives this government a thumbs up. A sad reality. A question that continuously bugs me is, if those people in the Kombos, where we have most of the development centered, are echoing such sorrowful outlook on life in the Gambia, much more those in rural Gambia?
This reminds me of my visit to the rural area early in January. I went to North Bank for almost the same reason, and there too, I toured so many towns and villages and fraternized with so many young Gambians even in the remote parts, but almost all of them echoed similar sentiments. Poverty.
Honestly, some people’s stories did worry and torment me to a point that I just felt like drawing my hand in my pocket and giving out whatever was there. This is indeed sad. We have always heard people saying that The Gambia is rich, well, this is just illusionary as far as many Gambians are concerned. Since they remembered themselves, rich has remained a word that they hear from a distance, and have never felt its presence.
I am still “nation-trotting”, and I hope to associate with many more youths across the Gambia, and I hope something is done to change this trajectory.
Studies have showed that people are suffering, hungry and are unhappy, thus the common adage, a hungry person is an angry person.