This is a historic event in the history of The Gambia. A Female Independent Presidential Candidate for the 2016 election. It is sponsored by individual Gambians who belief that it is possible to have non-violent change through the democratic process to have better a Gambia. If you belief that “We are Stronger Together for a Better Gambia,” do not miss the history in the making to nurture a democratic culture in The Gambia. Our Diversity is our Beauty and Strength as Gambians.
This booklet provides a package for you as a voter to make informed decision as to why you should vote for Dr. Isatou Touray, Independent Candidate 2016 election. We have the ability to change our condition as a nation if we see ourselves in a bigger picture of The Gambia first, because we are part of the Gambia, no matter who gender, religion, ethnic group we belong, Together We are Stronger for a Better Gambia.
It gives a short biography on Dr. Touray, the Foreword to her manifesto and short messages to remind ourselves as Gambians our civic rights when voting.
My emblem is the broom
Why the Broom?
This is a bundle of sticks strapped together. Each represents one Gambian or group of Gambians still possessed of individuality, but bound together in the spirit of unity and focused on one goal – to bring change for progress – with all the others in the broom that is the Gambia.
The individual sticks (people or group) may be snapped over a weak person’s knee. But bound together, the collective is invincible.
The spirit of the broom is rooted in unity, strength, endurance and healthy living.
Dr. Isatou Touray was born on the 17th March 1955 at the Royal Victoria Hospital raised in a working-class home at 44 Grant Street in Banjul, The Gambia. She was named after the wife of the first diver in Gambia Pa kebba Bittaye. Her namesake is Isatou Harr Cham, who brought her up. Her Father, Sunkaru Jarra, was born and raised in Kaur Janneh Kunda. He has never been to school, he came to Banjul when he was 14 years looking for greener pastures and was trained as a cook a profession that led him as the Chief Cook in Lady Wright for many years. He was well known by a lot of students from Armitage as he was entrusted with a lot of students when they were going home for holidays and returning to Armitage. He was popularly known as Jarrake. Her father met my mum in Banjul and they got married.
Isatou’s mother, Haddy Konteh is a native of Bundungka Kunda and was a house wife and a petty trader selling food stuff. She was also a well-known gardener and rice farmer in Tobacco Road swampy areas producing vegetables at what is now known as Tobacco road for sale. She was well known as Ya-haddy Konteh. She was a close friend of Mba Tida Bojang of Box Bar Road a well known political juggernaut during the first republic of the President Jawara regime. They were both women leaders and politicians. Her mum was a very hard working woman who worked in swamps of Tobacco Road to produce rice and vegetables to support her husband to educate all her children in Banjul. She engaged in petty trading and did a lot of work at (Sarro) picking groundnuts at the Gambia Produce Marketing Board (GPMB) to make ends meets for the family. When her husband died she continued to struggle to ensure that her children complete their education in Banjul. Yahaddy konteh’s picture is in the archives of the Gambia with a big serpent over twenty one foot long trying to attack her in the then swampy rice fields of Tobacco Road. A great granddaughter of Lolly Touray, a leader whose efforts can be traced in the archives of the Gambia, a trait in Isatou which may be associated with her passion for contributing to national development.
Isatou grew up in Banjul and went to primary school at the Albion School and Wesley Primary School. She went to Crab Island Secondary Technical School and graduated with a secondary four certificate. During her secondary school, she was a strong athlete in 440 metres events. It is during this time that she met her now husband Dr Alagie Malang Touray a student and head boy at Gambia High School (1970), and a national record holder in 440 metres for many years in the Gambia. Isatou worked briefly as an unqualified teacher and went on to The Gambia College (then Yundum College) to become a qualified teacher and was teaching Home economics and English.
After graduating from The Gambia College in 1971, she worked as a teacher, and then transferred her service to work as Community Development Trainer on Women and development. Isatou holds a B.A Hons, Upper Class in Education, English from the University of Usmanu Dan Fodio University, In Sokoto, Nigeria, A Master Degree in Development Studies, with Specialisation on Women and Development, from The Institute of Social Studies (ISS) in the Hague, The Netherlands, A Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Development Studies with emphasis on Gender, from the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) at the University of Sussex, United Kingdom. She holds a chain of professional certificates and a laureate of many institutions.
Isatou is a Laureate of the Center for Women’s Global Leadership Institute in Rutgers University in New Jersey, The Bellagio Institute in Italy, A member of many Feminist Networks, she has contributed in advancing gender issues and development as a whole particularly the rights of women and children in the Gambia. (See more details on CV).
On 5th October 1978, at the age of 22, she married Dr Alhagie A.M Touray then 28 years and they later went on to have 4 children, 3 girls and 1 boy. Isatou lived with her spouse for over seventeen years in Nigeria where she pursued her undergraduate education.
She went to join Dr Alhagie Malang Touray who was then at The University of IFE as a House Officer, who saw her talents and had encouraged her to further her studies.
What sparked my life-long passion for gender justice?
As a young school leaver posted in rural Gambia as an unqualified teacher, I saw poverty and deprivation and I began to appreciate what I got as a young girl going to school in Banjul. Even though, I was aware of my family’s situation but what I saw was overwhelming. I began to engage myself to work closely with the communities after school to help them develop their nutritional status. I would give them the food supplies I received for improving the nutritional status of breast feeding mothers and then took it upon myself to follow up on how to prepare weaning foods for babies. In that short spell of time teaching home economics in the primary school I was able to work closely with the communities to teach them how to cook weaning food for babies. I was able to organize small women’s groups who would come on weekends to learn about nutrition as well as learning to sew and crochet. I realized that the majority of the women I was meeting have not been to school and very poor with little or no help from their spouses who were equally poor. There was abject poverty. Moved by the prevailing state of deprivation, I was motivated to go from one village to another to visit these women. Later, I took the college entrance examination and I was selected to go for the training. I left to go for the teacher training college where I graduated as a qualified teacher after three years.
Following this, I was posted right into the hinterland teaching Home Economics in a secondary school. There I saw more of the dire conditions of the people particularly women. Later on, I met, Mr Musebjane Malatsi, an Azanian working as a senior community development officer who appreciated the work I was doing with the communities. He invited me to be part of their training team to teach home science and that is where I met one of my colleagues Amie Jallow Jatta and Kumba Marena in the women’s programme. I was training the community development assistants as a part time lecturer. I was later encouraged to transfer my services to the Department of Community Department (DCD) as a full time lecturer in the training centre at Massembe in Kiang. My engagement with the DCD gave me the opportunity to go to the field where my interaction with the women gave me the opportunity to experience and understand the problems facing the communities first hand.
This exposure shaped my consciousness of the plight of rural people and the need for appropriate intervention to alleviate their conditions. I felt the need for more knowledge and skills to be able to help the people to express their agency. My training and exposure in world class universities also shaped my mind on the appropriate policies and development strategies needed to effectively work with them. I decided to dedicate my efforts and passion for the advancement of the condition of the poor people. Today I offer myself to serve the Gambia to deliver the country from the toxic situation it is experiencing under the Jammeh regime.
CHANGE FOR A BETTER GAMBIA
CHANGE THAT BRINGS PROGRESS
CHANGE IS CERTAIN
PROGRESS DEPENDS ON THE CHOICES WE MAKE TODAY FOR TOMORROW, AND THE COURAGE AND FORTITUDE TOMEET OUR CHALLENGES
Gambians are hardworking and peace loving people. In the last two decades I have traversed the length and breadth of this country, I have met hardworking men and women in the city, towns and villages, and have heard your stories and aspirations. I have also heard your frustrations. I am inspired and motivated by you the Gambians, by your desire for change in the face of immense economic hardship, restrictions on our freedom and personal liberty.
Alerted by a deep sense of concern for the Gambia, committed to our country’s advancement unfettered by repression, abuse, impunity and persecution, I have observed the current dispensation over the years.
What I have seen is a deteriorating Gambia with deteriorating institutions, where those in authority abuse state power to instill fear and hopelessness within the people. Gambians today are not free to say what they think. Fear and terror, through the abuse of state power, have so gripped the people that, most will look behind their shoulders before they speak.
The immediate and compelling task before us all is to awaken our consciousness of the sovereign power that resides in us – the people – to use our votes as the instrument of change to free ourselves from the rule of fear and terror, unleashed by a regime that created a series of laws or made amendments to existing laws that erode the rights and freedoms enshrined in the constitution.
I also observed the trends and patterns of the systematic mismanagement of our limited resources. Two decades of APRC misrule witnessed a series of false starts. While Gambians were yearning for results, APRC’s visions became mere illusions and so called operations were compromised.
During the recent past, the Gambia’s economy has been challenged by shocks, largely domestic and to a lesser extent external, resulting in low growth and resurgence inflation. The financial position weakened considerably compounded by weak policy implementation, particularly as regards excessive spending relative to mobilization and dwindling external budgetary support.
Those in power are not listening to the demands for political or economic reform. Conditions for political participation have been so crafted that political pluralism has been curtailed, generating a feeling of powerlessness among many. Too much power is concentrated in too few hands. We need a new approach to government that involves the people in decisions that affect them. Those who make decisions on behalf of others are too often not accountable. I will restore the sovereignty of the people, end impunity and decentralize authority and power.
It is my fervent belief and conviction that we can bring about change for a better Gambia by directing our efforts and political capital towards one end- the singular pragmatic goal of ushering in a new and third republic that brings progress by building strong democratic instruments and institutions, repealing the obnoxious laws that restrict our freedom and liberty, building a strong economy, and leveling the political playing field, so that the sovereign will of Gambians will always prevail in their choice of leadership.
I am committed, if elected to serve for one five year term only, working with all those who have the capacity and commitment to salvage the Gambia as it totters on the brink of total collapse. Nothing less than the fate of our nation and the future of our children hang in the balance. We cannot walk it alone neither can we turn back. Together, we can bring the change that is needed. Principles and values need not be compromised, but strategies and tactics must be flexible enough to make progress possible, especially under the difficult political conditions we face.
Everything I learnt in my years of work with the women, men and the youth of this country, and in academia, has convinced me that Gambians need a president that will serve them, not one that looks down on them, a president who will uphold the constitution, the rule of law and restore good governance; a government that will bring economic prosperity to Gambians. People want more say in the decisions that affect their lives. The old command and control politics, doing things to and for people, but never with them, has not and will not work.
True democracy does not mean voting every five years. True democracy requires the active participation of all citizens in planning the development programmes and activities for their localities, working with their wards, Village Development Committees and other development committees. Allowing people affected to take leadership in advancing the best interest based on the common good.
Together we can stop further degeneration of our beloved country and contribute to give it a new lease of life where hope, love and appreciation of each other, respect for fundamental freedom, dignity of the person, rule of law and peace will thrive, in an entity that is nothing other than Gambian, ensuring that nobody is victimized on the basis of tribe, religion or political affiliation For this is the true nature of the Gambian people.
Gambians face a dire situation with the APRC regime and every Gambian has a story to tell. But I urge you to muster courage and strength so that we can make the Gambia better. I seek your support in our quest to bring the Gambia out of isolation, to build bridges and linkages with peoples of other nations in partnerships that safeguard, protect and promote the interest of the Gambia as a sovereign state. Gambia’s interest is best served by engaging with other nation states and being part of the wider international community.
I want us to usher in a Gambia that will bring on board the hearts and minds of all Gambians in the Diaspora, including those who left the country because of the tribulations, persecutions, fear and abuses they face as private citizens, entrepreneurs, academics, politicians, and activists, but more than anything else, a new Gambia of economic prosperity, freedom, rule of law, peace and stability.
The youth of this country are frustrated and their hopes dashed. Those born at the cusp of the second republic have now come of age. Twenty years of APRC rule has failed to give them opportunities to fulfill their aspirations and achieve their goals. What their country has failed to give them i. e. jobs and decent living, they try to seek elsewhere, embarking on perilous journeys across the harsh desert and the wild Mediterranean. The Gambia needs you most now of all times, as nation builders and agents of change to build a better Gambia for us all. Your votes are your weapons to effect the change you desire. Under our sovereign third republican constitution, we can be the architects of our own destiny.
By investing more in the productive base of the economy, in the private as well as in the public sector, by avoiding wasteful spending, we will create more jobs that would motivate the young generation of school leavers and job seekers, remain in the country. We would motivate and encourage Gambian scholars and academics abroad to return and contribute their quota.
We would encourage and lure the private sector to open opportunities to the young people to earn a decent living and fulfill their dreams. We must preserve the Gambia for our children and the future generation and must open the doors for development.
We cannot afford to leave matters to chance and to men alone, heaven helps those who help themselves. Hardworking women of this country have waited far too long for mainstream politicians entrusted to address the things that matter to you; family, home, work and the economy, garden inputs, access to credit and market outlets for your garden produce. Over the years, you have lobbied government to pass bills that could bring meaningful change to the lives of the women and men of this country. You have marched to protest against rape and domestic violence and other rights violations and you have campaigned for more inclusiveness for women in decision making. Women can no longer remain as onlookers and cheer leaders.
We can, together with the youth and men of this country, work to bring about unprecedented development in record time. Your personal concerns could become political if you use your voices and votes to be heard. You have a choice, you have a voice. The personal can be political and women and the economy are directly related. Where one is flourishing so is the other.
Your children will face new challenges. But each of you can help prepare for that future by standing for justice, equality and women’s rights at home and at the workplaces.
Human rights framework and perspective will continue to be central in our approach to issues as we strive to restore the dignity and integrity of all Gambians and all those who chose to live in the Gambia. We commit ourselves to democracy and good governance as we address the emerging issues of the state in order for the Gambia to gain its rightful position in the world.
We cannot afford to be isolated in the current inter connected world of development initiatives. All sovereign citizens of the Gambia, living abroad, would be free, as a matter of right to return or visit the country their motherland which belongs to us all.
In this election of 2016, the country has a choice. The APRC regime has brought the country to the brink of economic collapse and dysfunctional social sectors. The secular and republican status of the constitution is under threat. Youth unemployment and inflation are soaring and the level of human rights abuse is alarming. That path led to the Gambia’s descent from the unenviable status of ‘least developed country’ to our current pitiful status of ‘heavily indebted poor country’, a status that will change with me as the president of the Gambia.
When the Government of the First Republic was unconstitutionally toppled in a military coup in 1994, Yaya Jammeh, then a young army officer said he wanted to end self perpetuation in power and condemned what he called the flamboyant lifestyle of the former regime. But in a twist of irony he then changed the constitution and removed term limits without consulting the people, perpetuating himself in power for twenty odd years. His lifestyle is not only flamboyant and lavish, but gross with planes, and a multi-million dollar home. He has broken faith with the people. It is time for him to go.
Together we can change that direction towards the path of economic growth, creating wealth, creating jobs for the youth, rewarding the hard work of Gambians across the country, upholding the fundamental rights and freedom of Gambians, the rule of law, and the promotion of women’s rights, and the national interest and security of the Gambia.
If elected, I intend to serve only one term, during which period, I would work with all the existing parties and Gambians ready and willing to steer the Gambia towards a direction that will enable it respond to the needs and aspirations of the people.
I reject the call to turn Gambia into an Islamic State intended to bring division and set us against each other. I will uphold and reinforce the secular republican status of the constitution, where every Gambian will be free to practice his or her religion in accordance with their faith; in a Gambia where democracy, good governance and human rightswill prevail. I will bring the smile back to the face of the people of the smiling coast.
Dr. Isatou Touray
Q- How can we make the change we want as voters?
A- We can convince our neighbours, families and colleagues that there is need for change and our passport for change lies with our voter’s card.
Q-Who can see me Vote?
A – Nobody can see you vote. We have a secret Ballot in the Gambia. There are no cameras, you are a citizen and you have the right to vote for your candidate of choice.
Q – Can we make change through the ballot box?
A – Yes you can by casting your vote and not stay at home and not voting. Together we can make democratic change by massively voting for the change we want without violence or coercion.
Q – Can Non-Citizens vote in our national elections?
A – No! It is illegal for non-citizens to acquire a voting card and vote in our national elections. If you know of anyone, report the person to the nearest IEC office or police.
Q – Who is more qualified to be elected as President:-
(1) A Secondary School graduate
(2) A high School Graduate
(3) A University Graduate
Q – Who will you vote for?
(1) A man with high school certificate
(2) A women with a University degree
Make an Informed Decision
Together We are Stronger for a Better Gambia
WOMEN CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE!!!
A NON-VIOLENT CHANGE IS POSSIBLE THROUGH THE DEMOCRATIC ELECTORAL PROCESS
OUR DIVERSITY IS OUR BEAUTY AND STRENGHTH AS GAMBIANS
IN POLITICS AND IN LIFE IGNORANCE IS NOT A VIRTUE (Barack Obama)
Together We are Stronger for a Better Gambia