The Point (Banjul)

6 December 2012

Gambia: Road to Janjanbureh Nayconf

Later this month, young people from across the country will once more gather in the Central River Region town of Janjanbureh for yet another National Youth Conference and Festival, Nayconf.

The biennial event is meant to bring together some one thousand five hundred young people from across the country and beyond, to share experiences and discuss issues that affect their lives.

According to organizers, unlike the previous Nayconfs, this year's event will see some changes and improvements, as well as some previously known events.

There will be a conference for five days, a youth exhibition, cultural manifestation, sport and a prize and awards ceremony.

We must, however, make it very clear to the organisers that they should not allow sport to dominate the event, to the detriment of one of the most important aspects of the event; that is the national youth conference.

Also, members of the organizing committees must know that young people do not expect anything less from them but total success.

The organizers and the local organizing committees must ensure the judicious utilization of the limited resources available for the event.

Nayconf is not about fun making or partying but putting our heads together to map out strategies for the betterment of Gambian youth and the country as a whole.

Proper coordination of all the Nayconf activities would help to ensure the success we are all yearning for.

During the last Nayconf, I proposed to delegates that there should be an activity and financial report after the Nayconf to be shared with regions, partners and the government. However this suggestion has not been taken seriously and seems to have been buried under the carpet.

But for the purpose of accountability and in the interest of transparency, the Janjanbureh Nayconf should ensure that we adopt a mechanism for self regulation and answerability.

As highlighted in similar pages of our previous editions, young people in the country are faced with enormous challenges, some of which can only be solved by the youth themselves; thus the need to engage them seriously.

Events like the Nayconf would enhance the participation of youth in our national development efforts through harnessing their potentials.

Since the event is a national one, I believe that all regions and national youth organisations should be ensured a very good representation, through involving the various categories of youths in their areas and groups in order to have the voices of all young people heard.

It is my hope that they would learn from the previous Nayconf experiences, and have a more and well-coordinated event now than ever before.

There must be mechanisms to be put in place to measure and monitor the implementation of the recommendations and resolutions from the previous Nayconfs.

I also have the feeling that the official language for the Nayconf should not be English only; all major local languages should be taken onboard.

My argument is that after attending the previous Nayconfs either as a reporter covering the event or a national delegate, I realised that some delegates find it difficult to express themselves very well.

As a result, some do prefer to keep silence, which defeats the essence of the forum. It also means that the perception of local organizing committees in encouraging mainly the literate youths is unfair to the other segments of youths in the nation, as those non-literate youths should also be represented.

I would like to bring to the attention of the organizing committee the importance of Nayconf Daily - a daily news bulletin that was being published during Nayconf.

I remember, in 2008 in Farafenni, I and few other young journalists in the country took part in the production of the Nayconf Daily that used to inform all delegates about the various activities to be rolled out in the merger event. In fact, I was the managing editor of that Daily. It is nowadays not available; for what reason, no one knows.

Since delegates cannot attend all segments of the Nayconf at the same time it was conceived that there should be that medium of communication among all participants thus the reason for the Nayconf Daily.

But, in 2010 in the last Nayconf, for one reason or the other the then organizing committee did not see Nayconf Daily as a priority - to my own understanding - and feel as there was nothing like Nayconf Daily.

So, I am recommending that you bring back Nayconf Daily since Janjangbureh is far from the city where major national newspapers and FM stations are located.

We cannot just keep on talking but making sure what we say is fully implemented as a reward for our time and energy in this national forum.

Finally, I must commend the efforts of all those individuals and institutions including the President for donating to this year's Nayconf. I am also encouraging other people to also come on board since investing in our youth can never be a waste.

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