President Barrow and his entourage descended in the heart of London
By Malik Kah
PREZY BARROW AND HIS ENTOURAGE DESCENDED IN THE VERY HEART OF LONDON
Gambians in the UK yesterday converged in large numbers to meet President Barrow for his Maiden visit as president to london after leaving the city 12 years ago to head home and start his small venture as a local estate agent.
Under the aegis of GK group lead by Professor Gibril faal and his team, a place was secured in the very heart of the west end next to the famous Piccadilly Circus and bursting Soho city the party capital of london with its dazzling neon lights and booming commercial shops, buzzy nights clubs, strip clubs and bars, this place epitomises the multicultural side of uk, anything goes here and I mean anything. Certainly the delegates will not be in short of excitement, especially at a time when the weather is beautiful.
The atmosphere in the venue was very Shakespearean, hosted in an amphitheatre globe, the hall was full to capacity. The president lead a high powered delegation composed of ministers and the Secretary General and head of the civil service including other dignitaries. The ceremony started with some beautiful melodious kora music punctuated by a prose written in wollof by Jeggan Bahoum (James) a veteran Gambian in the diaspora, it was read by Abdoulie Cham and translated to Mandinka by a very eloquent lady, Kumba Kuyateh.
The atmosphere was calm and camaraderie, it was very Gambian in nature, people were chattering exchanging greetings, laughing and joking. President Barrow arrived with his first wife Madame Fatoumatta bah barrow, they were accompanied by The Gambia High commissioner, H.E Blaine and Mr Ousainou Darboe the minister for foreign affairs and the diaspora.
After the opening remarks and prayers by religious leaders there was a session of questions and answers. The atmosphere was electrified and animated by Abdoulie Cham, he was ululating both Mr Barrow and Mr Darboe.
The president looked calm and welcomed, but it was Ousainou Darboe that stole the show. In his mild mannered way of talking he acknowledged that they are human and can make mistakes and would ask for forgiveness if any mistakes were made or if Gambians were offended, he acknowledged that the road is rough and at times they might have lost an opportunity to do things certain ways, however he reiterates their readiness to work hard to realise the ideals Solo Sandeng stood and died for. He said every one has a story to tell in this journey, it was a very humbling statement that attracted the attention of the audience.
Questions were asked about the environment and pollution particularly about Gunjur. Questions about the need for setting up an anti corruption commission was also asked by the veteran Gambian activist Abdoulie Jobe. A question regarding the plight of the April victims was also asked. It was very refreshing to see such an interactive atmosphere between the people and their political leaders. The president gave a short speech, he appeared tired, must be the heavy schedule of meetings taking the toll on him. Gambians are very proud to have ushered in a new government, but now the novelty is dying they want delivery and this was reflective in the set of questions asked. Their shopping list is long and they are becoming impatient and clamouring for action.
The lacklustre performance of the government is generating a lot of criticism and the voices are getting louder with higher decibels, the president has promised to deliver, in his speech he was emphatic saying that as the president he believes in the rule of law hence his choice for the minister of justice and attorney general both ardent defenders of human rights he lamented. He argued as the figure head of the government none wants success more than himself.
He further said that he will deliver that people should exercise patience , but his critics are arguing that from his inception into office to date not a single major project of importance has been commissioned. His critics judge him to be naive and inexperienced therefore incapable of transcending his limitations. It’s interesting indeed as the jury is still out. For him to convince the cynics he the president must double up and give some tangible results that will lay off the criticisms , which under the circumstances is valid, given nothing is there as yet to show as the offspring of the coalition government, all the people are seeing is the signing of multimillion dollar loans and grants and that’s not translated into real gains, making a difference or an impact on peoples living conditions, the goodwill he was basking in and latitude given for making mistakes is waning very fast. Questions are being asked answers are not forthcoming, this is type of apprehension dubbing the government.
It was a very organised meeting. The organisers did extremely well particularly the embassy staff, they were at hand doing their utmost for the smooth operation of the event. At the end of the meeting was a party.