columnBy Ousman Njie
In accordance with the practice of some people to get resolved on what to do or expect in a New Year, the Future Generation Column of Foroyaa has started to interview young people to enable them to share with our readers their life experiences and challenges in the outgoing year (2012) and what their expectations and desires are in the New Year of 2013.
Momodou Jallow, a young man who fixes tiles, reflecting on the past year, said 2012 was generally not a bad year for him. He however complained about the cost of the construction materials he worked with which, he said, are always increasing and posing difficulties for in his operations. He expressed his gratitude to God for having witnessed the New Year and hoped it will be much easier for him and better than last year in terms of his business and livelihood. "I am therefore appealing to the government to work with importers to help reduce the prices of building materials and foodstuff."
Isatou Bah, a resident of Kanifing Estate, said the end of 2012 and the beginning of 2013 is marked by a sad period because of the arrest and subsequent disappearance of their Imam, Baba Leigh, who is still not released to reunite with them. She added that she is not alone in this melancholy feeling as many people in their neighbourhood and estate are expressing sadness for this unfortunate development. She expressed her concern vis a vis the New Year on the security situation in the country in terms of the arrests and detentions of people.
"I am praying to Allah for the immediate release of the Imam and also for the security of the people from the type of abduction and disappearance which the Imam is being subjected to. I pray for this New Year to witness an end to arrests and detentions of people who are speaking their mind in accordance with their human and constitutional rights."
Buba Jawneh, a school dropout residing in Churchill Town, said 2012 was not a pleasant year for him at all as he was dropped out of school for inability to pay for his bills. Buba said he should have been in Grade 10 by now but because of poverty his parents are unable to pay for the high fees being asked by the upper basic schools. "In this New Year I was feel heavy hearted when I see my classmates whose parents can afford to pay for their education pass by me sitting down and going to and from school and being guaranteed a future. For me, the year is a bleak one as I do not have means to continue with my education."
Buba said his mother is a fish vendor who earns little for the upkeep of the family. He said he has now started scavenging for scrap metals called "Ferrai" in the neighbourhoods and dumpsites to sell and support his mother and siblings.
"My mother is a widow and a single parent who takes care of three young children and myself as the eldest child. I have to do this in order to support her in maintaining the family as life is not easy now with the cost of food and rent very high", said Buba.
He concluded by praying for Allah to come to the aid of his family in the New Year.
Muhammed Darboe, an unemployed young man, said the last year an easy one for as he was unsuccessful in his search for a job. He said he has graduated from the Saint Augustine's Senior Secondary School in 2011 with good grades. He expressed his wish for the New Year to be different in terms of opportunities to enable him to secure a job.
"The government should make efforts to create job opportunities for the numerous young people who have finished school but found themselves among the ranks of the unemployed", he said.
He concluded by expressing his wish for everyone to realize a successful and prosperous New Year.
Mariama, a young woman in her late twenties and living in Serekunda, on her reflections on the last year, said it was characterized by more hardships for the poor people as the cost of living is getting higher and that life is also getting harder every day. She said the main problem with the families is high prices of basic food commodities such as rice, cooking oil, sugar etc. which are needed for daily consumption but beyond their means now. She said what they are praying for is for jobs and good salaries as well as the reduction of the prices of basic food commodities.
She is a mother of two who has divorced with her husband. She said they both have to struggle to support their two kids who are now going to nursery and primary school respectively, adding that their school fees are very expensive.
"My prayers for the New Year are for the country of for the lowering of the high cost of living for the poor families to be able to survive. Life is very difficult for the average Gambian and it is the duty of the government to address their concerns because this is the reason why the party in power is elected. The government should also protect the people and stop the frequent arrests and long detentions of family heads. This is really causing nightmares and difficulties in our families", she concluded.