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Thursday, April 7, 2016

The Standard takes border closure to ordinary citizens

Voxpop - The Gambia-Senegal)  The border rift between Senegal and The Gambia has been rumbling on for some time now; dominating news headlines. The two countries are yet to settle the issue and, a few days ago, ECOWAS dispatched a fact-finding mission to gather firsthand information on the issue with a bid to finally putting the problem to bed. The Standard moves from authorities to ordinary Gambians and below are their thoughts on the border closure.  

Absa Samba, activist: Our leaders must understand that the border crisis between Gambia and Senegal does not serve the best interest of our people. Presenting a paper on the Social, economic and political effects of the border closure on the two countries left me emotional. Knowing I am Gambian with a Senegalese descendant and having families in Senegal.
We preach integration and globalization, yet we act otherwise. We must remind ourselves of who we are as one people. As much as the border issue is affecting our economies and other vital sectors, it equally has the potentials to separate families. As people are becoming sentimental and getting personal.
I'm concerned.

Hadram Hydara, student Insight Training: The Gambia and Senegal are the same. The people, languages and cultures are the same as well. Therefore, obviously, it affects both countries. However, I believe Gambia is being affected more and will continue to suffer more as the border is kept closed; that's the writing on the wall. Both countries need to come together as soon as possible and settle their differences before things get out of hand.
Arfang Kujabi, Teacher: It's not to the advantages of both nations. The Senegal sender government is to blame for allowing their transport union to take over the control of the border closure. In as much as we Gambians are suffering of the business transaction between us they are equally suffering as they have no way of transporting their goods to and from Senegal. Their truck drivers have to travel through the middle of the Cassamance belt which is too expensive for them.

Yaya Baldeh: My perspective on the closure...I call on the two governments to help out and reopen the border in ensuring free movement of goods and services as dictated by the ECOWAS protocol. The two countries have a long-standing relations which by all means should be reconsolidated and restored. We shouldn't allow to be separated by colonists' border. Senegal and Gambia are the same people, cultures, heritage and languages. We should work in unison for more development based on mutual respect and partnership.

Modou Bajan: Sharing not only the longest border in Africa, there's no replica in the world as regards the bond binding The Gambia and Senegal. ln this light the border closure which without doubt socioeconomically hampers both countries, needs to be diplomatically fixed the soonest.

Fansu Jammeh, Bakau: You know we are surrounded by Senegal in 3 parts. So in my opinion border closure between the 2 countries will affect the Gambia most. All goods that are imported through inland have to pass through Senegal before entering The Gambia. In my view, I don't think Senegal will need Gambia for land transportation instead, Gambia will do.

Abdoulie Nget, journalist and Graphics designer: It's unfortunate that people of these countries who share the same interest can move freely to do their businesses as usual, but with obstacles. If Vehicles cannot move across the borders, it will automatically affect the livelihoods of people. I think the two governments through their transport authorities should act the soonest possible. Time is of the essence.

Alieu Bah, writer, poet: A sad rift of the same people whose identity constructs have been hijacked by colonialism. The border closure is symptomatic of a deeper disease; that of displaced loyalties and misplaced anger towards each other. We must be able to come together and look at the problems that we inherited from colonialism, from the last decades of postcolonial existence and the continuing story of the dividing balkanisation of our people. I'm only emphasising the colonial prognosis because it's the first cause of the border that we are now disputing. Unless we heal from that trauma of Eurocentric alienation within ourselves, this will continue in many different ways. From Gambians and Senegalese disliking each other to straight out hating and fighting one another —The Gambia and Senegal football match a couple of years ago that provoked those false nationalistic feelings is a clear example.
It's all nothing to fuss about. We must reopen the borders. Work on integration and heal through working out ways to disown our colonial heritage. Postcolonial man's only challenge is to unread the fallacies of the coloniser's self-image of himself and for us it starts with knowing that this border issue is one of those.

By Alagie Manneh, The Standard Newspaper.

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