23 November 2012

Gambia: Young People and Their Concerns

As many young people including teenagers in the urban area are not going to school or doing any gainful work and often gather in street 'vous', this reporter is assigned to go round within the Kanifing Municipality to interview them with a view to identifying the challenges confronting them and how to address them.

Lamin Dampha is young man aged 28 year who first attended Serekunda Lower Basic, then Kotu Junior Secondary School and later completed his schooling at the then Institute for Continuing Education (ICE), which is now closed down.

Lamin explained that he pursuit his education at the tertiary level in 2003 by taking a course at Jollof Tutors and finished in 2007. He said he wanted to go further in his academic pursuits but lacked the financial means or support to do so. He said he became discouraged because after having spent all these monies to get education one ends up without securing a job.

On what he is doing now, he said he is engaged in the petty business of selling perfumes (spray) and body lotions in order to earn a living as life is very tough for him and that he does not have anyone to support him.

On how he is faring with his petty business, Lamin said it is moving fast because people who should patronize him do not have money to buy. He said the customers always take his goods on credit and would promise to settle it after some days but sometimes it takes a very long time before recovering the sums and some of which are even not recoverable. He said it reall;y requires patience to be able to do this type of business.

On what his opinion is regarding the claim that some young people are 'lazy' and could have been engaged in what he is doing, Lamin disagreed with this position saying that if you the young people not engaged in any meaningful vocation it is because there are no oppurtunities open for them. He said not everyone can do what he is doing which requires capital that some of them do not get. He added that this is not even the type of job he should be doing but that he sis a petty trader only because there is better job.

Another youngman, Abdoulie Jobe, was found at his carpentry workshop with other apprentice young people. Abdoulie said he started his business independently and is engaging these young people to train them develop life skills. He however said the present situation in the country is not supportive to small businesses like the one he is operating. He said the business is very dormant because clients are not coming and that there is electricity for most days in the week which affects their productivity. He said their biggest problem is both the lack of electricity and that it is also very expensive. "We would sit here the whole day without producing a single chair leg because there is no electricity", said the industrious carpentry.

He added "we have not sold a single furniture for the whole month and we are expected to pay rent for the workshop, fares to come to work, house rent, sustain my family and the apprentices (Boys)."

A tailor, Modou Cham, also lamented the problem of electricity which he said is affecting his productivity and consequently earnings. He said for him to cope with the demands of his work he needs to purchase a generator to be able serve the customers. He was however quick to add that he does not have the financial capacity to buy generator nor to sustain its operation that requires petrol. He said he is always finding it difficult to pay the rent for his workshop and often have a conflict with his landlord who constantly threatens eviction. "Even with this lack of adequate electricity I also struggle to get money to buy cash power to operate the sewing machines", said Modou.

Abdoulie Secka, a salesman in a fashion shop, said attended and completed both his primary and senior education in the Gambia. He said after finishing school he wanted to travel but that did not materialize. He said that is why he has decided to stay at home and find something else to do. He also blamed the young people for sitting down in street vous and doing nothing productive. He said for them sitting down would not solve anything.

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