By Arret Jatta
The Young Men Christian Association The Gambia (YMCA The Gambia) concluded a two-day training of some 30 advocates and advocacy groups last Wednesday 17th May 2023 focusing on peace and security building. The training featured popular female Rapper Awa Bling and young peace advocates who all spoke about its impact.
YMCA Program Officer, Elsie Makoli highlighted that the training is part of their advocacy project called “The Work for Peace” to empower young people. “In the project, we deal with vulnerable young people like the backway returnees to empower and help them reintegrate.” “We decided to involve young people the peacemakers specifically to train them to be peace advocates to be able to prevent any potential conflict that can hinder their peace and the peace of the country,” she said.
The Gambia has a high unemployment rate which stands at 35.2% according to the Gambia Bureau of Statistics (GBOS) 2018 Labour Survey. However, youth unemployment is much high standing at 41.5%. The GBOS 2018 Labour Survey also notes that 61,515 people emigrated of which 62.2% used irregular means / “backway”.
With regards to returnees, there has been a spike in the increase of returnees to The Gambia. With the increase of returnees from Germany, a protest is planned in Stuttgart this Saturday 27th May 2023 by some Gambians under the banner “No to Deportation” with Gambians in the country agitating against more deportations to the Gambia.
One popular rapper, Ndey Awa Mbaye, popularly known as Awa Bling also participated in the training and expressed her delight to be part of the training and said, that “the training has helped her learn different — ways to solve conflicts, promote and maintain peace.”
The Raptivist added she will use the knowledge gained and pass the message through her music to preach and continue promoting peace. She recommended for the organizers and other organizations to continue staging such training and said they should do follow-ups on their trainees to see if they are implementing what they learned.
Another participant by the name of Samba Jallow noted that he is known for his peace initiations and was glad to be part of the training to build his capacity and continue on his quest. He promised to disseminate the knowledge gained to his mates and ensure that they implement it.