Monday, July 22, 2024

Gambians Have Something To Learn From Rwanda 

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OPINION

By Alasana Justice Jallow 
CEO, Peace Network

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I recently returned from Rwanda where I spent some weeks training on peacebuilding organized by the Never Again Institute of Rwanda. I used the opportunity to explore the ecosystem of Rwanda and I concluded that the Gambia could learn a lot from Rwanda.

During my stay in Kigali, I was inspired and motivated by the sense of unity, solidarity and focus on National Development.  In Rwanda, everybody is working tirelessly towards the Peace and development of the country.

Rwandans are collectively and collaboratively working to ensure peace, security and stability prevail. They are united in the campaign against never again as their country witnessed one of the most horrendous violence in 1994. Today, Rwandans are focused on Reconciliation and Development. They have learned bitter lessons from the Genocide against the Tutsi which was motivated by discrimination and tribalism.

I learned that as Gambians, ethnic diversity should be wisely utilized to harmonize and consolidate our long coexistence and to create everlasting unity in our beloved nation. We should always be reminded that Gambia is one of the few countries in the world in which intermarriage has connected our flesh and blood and in fact, makes us close family in distant relatives.

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Therefore, we should not tolerate ethnicity, tribe or religion to divide [us]. This will affect our national unity and could also hinder our development.  The case of Rwanda in 1994 led them to one of the most devastating and catastrophic genocide ever to be committed on African soil.  From 7th April to 18th July in 1994 over 1 million innocent children, women, youths, elderly etc were martyred mainly from the Tutsi ethnic group.

Today, Rwanda is rapidly developing, despite, the genocide still lingering in their mind. It’s the regrettable and unforgettable dark side of their history that will never be forgotten. They have liberated themselves by using ethnicity or religion to determine national or even communal matters. All that matters is that they’re Rwandan. The best is what the Country deserves.

We as Gambians have an opportunity to learn from what Rwanda has gone through. We have an opportunity to avoid and stop tribal, ethnic and religion-affiliated activities in our national developmental matters. We should be development-focused and development-oriented. We should be accommodative to each other and embrace tolerance.

The Gambia is the smallest country on mainland West Africa known to be the Smiling Coast of Africa. We have a track record of being one of the most peaceful countries in the sense that the country has not gone into any major blown armed conflict like the neighbouring countries.

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However, from all conflict-sensitive indicators, day-by-day signs and symbols of potential violent conflict are being manifested. When this happens, it will be disastrous, and everybody will be affected directly or indirectly.  The frequent hate Speeches, disinformation, misinformation and remarks against ethics and religious attacks are things that we should be careful of as a country.  We should endeavour to build Bridges not to break barriers.

In addition, the security in Rwanda is something that is really enviable. There is a high degree of professional relation between the security personnel and the citizenry. The cordial relations between the security and the citizens are an example of mutual respect to ensure the country is safe for all.

As a country, I call upon all Gambians to be United and focus on issues affecting our national development and address them decisively. We have a Nation to Build. Let’s be united in our various diversities to build a peaceful and prosperous Gambia for the generations yet unborn

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