In every society there is something so precious, so sacred that everybody cherishes which forms the moral pulse of the society. How a people handle such precious gift from the almighty tells of the moral standing and progress of that nation. That precious gift is the children of that society who are the foundation and future of the society. No society ever progresses or passes the moral litmus test without the pride to demonstrate that the people care about their children and willing to do anything to protect those children.
In Gambia, a probable nation that was questionable on its ability to stand alone as a viable nation at the time of independence, the question of standing up for family values and care for its children was never existed. Although one of the poorest among its league of nations, the pride of the people have always been instilling the highest moral values and societal norms in its children. Families were poor, largely uneducated in many fronts but the people still pride themselves in keeping the families together and take the highest responsibility to instill hard work, respect and value for human dignity in their children. The young men and women of this small nation have always strive in almost any situation they found themselves even without a strong educational foundation. They would go on to make a global impact in large and small societies and organizations across the globe.
On April 10th & 11th 2000, the Gambia was confronted with an unprecedented situation that required the greatest exercise of moral leadership and patience. The nation’s young precious school children were discontent with their government and law enforcement and were determined to express their anger openly in the streets without fear. Ruled by a young untested leadership with virtually no experience in dealing with any confrontational national issue, the Gambian leadership woke up to a potential student unrest and chaos that left the leadership lost in how to deal with the students. Fear and indecisiveness gripped the security apparatus and the nation’s young leader’s determination to enshrine self in power through whatever means was completely unknown to the nation. That day, that situation with potential for violence demanded the highest leadership competence the nation has ever faced. It required sound judgment and the maximum restraint a nation could ever face. This day did not end well; as leaders ordered the nation’s security to put down the massive student uprising which would become the nation’s costliest moral failure in its history. At the end of that faithful day 14 innocent students were shut dead with live ammunition by security forces. That event would be remembered as Gambia’s own Chana-mein Square where innocent students are let down and massacred by the very government whose highest obligation is the security and protection of its most vulnerable citizens – the young and the elderly.
Better late than never; Gambian Diaspora led by few caring citizens called on fellow Gambians to contribute funds towards short term medical treatment of these four surviving students. Out of several thousand Gambians in the Diaspora who earns a decent living and are able to showcase big cars, big houses, lavish vacations, ceremonies and pay artists large sums just to praise sing them, less than one hundred people found the need in their hearts to contribute towards these students’ funds. Some did not only find the heart to contribute but went on wild allegations that the funds were in fact being diverted for personal gains. Nothing is further from the truth than that.
The fact remains the victims of April 10th & 11th could have been anyone of our children, brothers and or sisters. They were innocent children now young adults with their hopes and aspirations for an independent living dashed. As a nation, the least we can do is to take the moral duty to help these survivors. There is no cause greater than standing up and advocating for providing medical, social and economic survival for these students. It is never too late to contribute to the student funds. If we fail to support these students it will remain a shame and a moral guilt on our nation and a betrayal of the highest order not only on the government but on every one of us.