FEATURED: Road To Bissau - Mustapha Dumbuya
FEATURED: Road To Bissau ( 11th-14th February,2022).
It is with utmost greatness and elation to relay this remarkable accomplishment with my team worth unveiling for emulation.
A group of environmental enthusiasts comprising volunteers from different organization journeyed to Guinea Bissau to grace the opening and declaration of forest area as a protected area on the 12th of February, 2022 in Simbor Village – Oio Region of Guinea Bissau.
The group of volunteers drawn from different organizations including United Youths for Sustainable Globe, Together Africa Gambia Organization, Agricultural Teachers Association, and All Gambia Forestry Platform.
The purpose of this trip is to provide moral support to the village and people if Bissau the importance of Forest, trees, animal, and their role in provision of ecosystem services like cultural, supporting, provisioning, and regulating that will not only include health, but peace, research and development, recreation, and as well food security.
In the opening ceremony, I joint several speakers to thank Lamin Saidykhan and his team for this land mark achievement. I reminded the people of Simbor to continue to work together as a team and remain loyal, guide and fulfil their promise. The promise was to reserve this potion of land and protect it from fire, logging, farming, and any other practice that can frustrate regeneration.
The Opening ceremony was also attended by people of all walks of life including young people. At night, the team from Gambia presented two ballots of second hand clothes to poor . The whole village including the head of the village thanked The Gambian delegation and showed their appreciation.
They are hopeful that this partnership will continue to be an annual event internationally. Early morning before heading to Bissau, the team visited a dilapidated primary school were patient teachers do take their time to impart knowledge to younger generation. This school really need help.
The team convene a briefing at Regional Forestry Office in Brikama and in the afternoon crossed the border to Selety in Senegal, then Ziguinchor, and to Sandiningue -Guinea Border. The overall journey was reminiscing with lots of experiences and inevitably few Challenges. The team spent the first night by the roadside at Mbula town. Early morning, we journeyed to Mansuag, and Mansabang, to Simbor. We were received with broad cheering on the face of everyone with a standing ovation.
Principally, apart from the so-called modern border; people of this countries are eventually the same. The environment, assets with the natural resources like trees, sand, animals, rivers, and other features around this area of Bissau is a treasure for the sub-region and can be used judiciously and soundly to impact the life of many people especially vulnerable and marginalized families. Pathetically, people continue to shamble in poverty, inequalities, and conflict.
As the journey continues, iniquitous vehicle checking points were stressful including paying of opaque and unjustifiable fees to police and customs without receipts. We were forced to pay 1000 CFA each at Senegal Border. Because the border was about to close and they were reluctant to negotiate and none of us want to sleep in Ziguinchor. At the side of Bissau, none paid anything to authorities and our clearance was respected and honored. Finally, we reached in Bissau around 4pm and went straight to Lamin Saidykhan’s house. We got a fantastic and unique reception. We Had a palatable lunch. After lunch, the team visited the market and bought some few items. We all spent sometime together at night for debriefing and planning to leave Bissau early morning.
Moving on, Monday the 14th of February 2022, the team left Bissau early morning to The Gambia. However, this time the police at the border insisted that we must pay each 1000 CFA. After series of back and forth, I leveraged on our driver’s language skills to be the translator between me and the police and this was fruitful. I told him that I want to let him know that I respect his work and however, I want to make a plea for him to give us our particulars including the passports, and identity cards collected from us. I also told him that I was equally an Ex Forest Ranger 2. Therefore, he should consider that designation and accord us respect.
Thank Allah he gave me back my document and I continued to tell him that if you don’t give my people their documents I can’t leave them here. Happily he gave everyone their documents.
Finally, we continued the trip and crossed the border and handed all documents to Senegalese authorities at Ziguinchor. They checked it and consulted the senior Police and this time no one pays any dime.
I cannot make a conclusion without sending a clearer message to all authorities to recognize, adhere, respect, and implement ECOWAS Protocol on free movement of people, goods, and services.
The institutions of this countries should try and encourage community participation in environmental protection, planning, management, governance, and development. Many lessons were learnt and I want to implore my people to work together for a more United Africa as envisaged in the vision of Baba Kwame and Nyerere. I thank everyone and cannot forget the Bull slaughtered for us.
Mustapha Dumbuya Alias Mandela Jr University of The Gambia