The President of the Republic, His Excellency Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr Yahya Jammeh, Friday donated two truckloads of turkey to the Gambia Christian Council, for onward delivery to the Christian community in the country.
The move, which is now an annual affair, demonstrates the president's efforts in promoting religious co-existence. The vice president and minister of Women's Affairs, Aja Dr Isatou Njie-Saidy presented the items on behalf of the Gambian leader at a brief presentation ceremony held at State House.
Presenting the gifts, VP Njie-Saidy expressed delight at the move, saying President Jammeh is always promoting religious co-existence in the country."We need to continue this caring and sharing among ourselves. That's why we always stress the need for both the Christians and Muslims to see each other as one big family and that is what is happening here. We're lucky in The Gambia that we exercise religious tolerance and this can even be attested to by visitors," she stated.
She explained that Christians and Muslims share many things in common, citing that both faiths share the same God, which goes to show the need to come together as one.
The vice president used the opportunity to pray for the leadership and people of the nation, noting with delight that during Christmas festivities, both Muslims and Christians in The Gambia celebrate it together in an ambiance of unity. She finally expressed gratitude to the Christians on behalf of President Jammeh and further commended them for nurturing discipline especially among their youths, something she said is a shining example for others to emulate.
Speaking earlier, Solomon Owens, the minister of Agriculture, described the gesture as unique; that it demonstrates President Jammeh's generosity and magnanimity towards the citizens of the country irrespective of creed and faith. The Agric minister thanked the president on behalf of the beneficiaries and noted that the donation would go a long way in the successful celebration of this festive season.
The minister of Works, Construction and Infrastructure, Francis Liti Mboge, equally hailed President Jammeh for such a magnificent gesture, indicating that they remain grateful for all what he has been doing for both the Muslim and Christian communities in the country. "We all know that Christmas is not only for Christians, but it is a moment where we all share the festive season.
Sometimes Christmas is a dilemma for a lot of families, where they prepare enjoyable meals to invite their neighbours both Christians and Muslims to come and share the festive season. And I am sure there is much relief in the Christian community this afternoon that they will be able to share this joyous moment with their fellow Muslims and Christian brothers and sisters," he remarked.
For his part, Dr. Njogou L Bah, the secretary general and head of Civil Service, who is also the minister of Presidential Affairs, described the development as another joyous occasion to witness yet again manifestation of the leadership's generosity towards Gambians. "This manifestation transcends religious boundary, as the welfare of all Gambians is the concern of the president; both Muslims and Christians.
During Muslim festivities, you will see the Gambian leader doing his part and when it is Christmas time, he also comes up with some support, as he is aware of the significance of the event. So, he wants to share with you in this manner. All that we would ask Gambians to do is to continue praying for him because he is a kind of leader that we want," he said.
Minister Bah explained that the religious tolerance being exercised in this country is a virtue that is hard to find elsewhere. While wishing all happy Christmas celebrations in advance, Dr Bah also called on all to pray for the country and for the continuing religious co-existence, as well as the peace and stability the country is known for.
On receiving the gesture, the Bishop of Banjul, Rt. Rev. Robert Ellison, on behalf of the Gambian Christian Council, conveyed sincere thanks and appreciation through VP Njie-Saidy to the Gambian leader for providing us once again with such generous gift. He assured that they will continue to pray for progress, peace and prosperity for the country while urging their fellow Christians not to forget the religious spiritual dimension, particularly the feats of Christmas.
Harry Sambou, permanent secretary, Ministry of Defence, chaired the ceremony.