PRESIDENT'S ADDRESS ON JULY 22 2007
On the July 22nd celebration Jammeh calls for "attitudinal change "
Today marks 13th anniversary of the July 22nd Revolution that gave birth to a modern Gambia and I thank the Almighty Allah for making it possible for us to reflect this day again. The day as you all know, is celebrated each year to reflect on the achievement of my government and of course my shortcomings and this reflection would continue to guide in our strives to sustain growth and developments. It is also a day to thank all Gambians and friends of The Gambia for their support and contribution to the programmes of my government. I am deeply delighted with the large turn-out and the eagerness of all of you to celebrate the significance of the day in our political socio-economic development.
Since the birth of the revolution, my government has paid particular attention to the collective wishes of the Gambians. The revolution was deeply rooted in the firm believes that development, is all about people, their welfare and self realisation must be brought to the door steps of the people. This determination, selfless commitment and true show of patriotism, the will of the people, is what development is all about, becomes the wish of Allah. We are indicted by this belief and today I am proud that while we should not be too complacent, we have made great strive of transforming The Gambia in a relatively short space of time. The signs are there for all to see and feel and all sectors of Gambian economy.
Distinguish Ladies and Gentlemen
I know it has been a long day, I don't want to make a very long statement but you can be rest assured that there is no sector of The Gambian economy that has not witnessed great transformation in the past thirteen years. But what we are celebrating today is the last year July 22 nd 2006 to July 22this year. The past twelve months is what we are celebrating. The past twelve months have witnessed unprecedented development in the history of this country. In one year, we have registered more development than two years before that. Thank you the people of the Gambia , true friends of the Gambia and of course the Almighty Allah.
But do we want to stop where we are? As Gambians and unfortunately as Africans, no! We want to move further. We want to make the country the best country in the whole world. Isn't it possible? Yes, it is possible. But how would it come? It will not fall from the sky. We have to work together as Gambians, as citizens of this country irrespective of your race, religion, tribe, or where you come from.
There has not been any single country which is comprised of one race, one religion or one tribe. Why can't we Africans live together peacefully and develop rapidly as our great ancestors have done before the coming of the white man. We have a long way to go. I would have that wish by now Gambia would have been the economic superpower of the whole African continent. Man proposes but Almighty Allah disposes. But what is certain is that we must change our attitudes especially you the young children of this country especially boys and girls going to school if you want to succeed, there can never be any success without discipline. You want to gain knowledge that is why you going to school and teachers in the school have the knowledge to impact to you that is why they are there. How would they impact their knowledge to you so that you become a useful citizen tomorrow, if you don't show discipline and respect towards your teachers.
Fellow Gambians and friends of The Gambia and of course distinguish representatives of a very friendly country, a true friend of The Gambia - The Islamic Republic of Mauritania
We have strategic allied, we have friends and we have true friends. Coming back to discipline, no nation can prosper without discipline. Today when we talk about young people, the old people would shake their heads and say or my God, today's world. Yes, Allah created the world. The day has always been 24 hours and it is Monday up to Sunday - 7days a week. And in Africa the sun has always been the same. Then what has change the world? The world has not change, but people have change. How would we ensure that the students and the children going to school are discipline. Certainly not the teachers, because they stay with teachers less than 15 hours.
If as parents we serve our responsibility of making sure that we inculcate discipline into our children, the teachers or the headmaster or the principal cannot inculcate that discipline into the children. Parents must take serious responsibility, as good parents to make sure that their children would benefit them tomorrow. Today we blame teachers, how can we blame teachers when teachers cannot even discipline our children. If that happened, what will we do? We rush to the school and assault the teacher. What kind of message are we sending to the children – that you can defy your teacher and get away with it? We have to change our attitude for the country to move forward. If you want your children to benefit you tomorrow and benefit themselves, discipline at home is indispensable. Parents must take full charge of their responsibilities as parents. When I say parents, I know you will not like it, but I am happy that you will not like it. I thank the women and mothers of this country for being role model for taking care of the children. And if any man wants to contest, I can call ten students and ask them who bought the school uniform for them--- they will say is my mother.
Then, we the men what type of parents are we? The African culture says that discipline must be inculcated in the children, but there is shared responsibility. The men take care of the boys and the ladies take care of the girls. Where you are afraid of the boy and expect their mothers to discipline them, their mothers also will concentrate on the girl and that is why today the girls are more sympathetic than the boys and they perform better at school. So what are we the men doing? How many times have we seen young Gambians risk their lives to go to babyloon? How many of them are women? None! Then something is wrong, because both the women and both the young ladies and young men of this country are Gambians, they face the same economic hardship why are the women not going abroad risking their lives but only the boys do that. Because we the men, we the fathers have failed. If you want a successful country, if you want a develop country, develop- ment cannot take place without discipline and the young people of this country must have an aim and objective in life. If we the parents, especially the male parents, spend all their time at the ‘bantaba' what do we expect to be at home? Sometimes if you don't even have fishmoney you dodge. You can dodge your wives and your children but you can never dodge from Allah. Your responsibility is preordained by the Almighty Allah and let us try and live by that so that this country would be a great country.
Coming back to we the Africans, I can assure you that Gambia shall develop faster than a space rocket. But we have to change our attitude. Why do I say so, because am confident that the Almighty Allah is supporting my government and will support my government as long as I have good intention for you the people of the Gambia. But we must work together to ensure education, because education is very important today in Africa . Why? Because today Africa 's biggest enemy is ignorance. Is because of ignorance that a small problem will lead to rockets flying and destroying our continent. We should have noted that Africa, when it was a glorious continent before our friends came, Africa was the richest continent and the most advance continent and if they dispute it, let me tell you why they stayed 400 years.
Africans were united and they were the same tribe that we have today in Africa but there were few tribal wars. Why is it that today, we have more wars than the rest of the world combined? In fact, all the major conflicts that last longer than necessary are in Africa . How do you feel, boys and girls if you look at CNN and you see your friends, brothers and sisters in some parts of the world living in refugee camps? How do you feel? Do they have a future? Those are the leaders of Africa tomorrow and at the end of the day, they are cause nothing, but are raped and killed. What type of future does the African continent expect?
Africans, we must change our attitudes. Those who tell us about development and what we should do to get developed would never help us develop. It is very clear. If they can pledge 50 billion for Afghanistan over the next five years for hosting Ousama Bin Ladin and they can even force other countries to cancel the debt of Iraq amounting to 175 million dollars for Saddam Hussein, and the African continent bloods and tears makes the west what it is today.
In the last G8 Summit, what did they say, only to promise and fail and our unfortunated African brothers and sisters who were there, were smiling from corner to corner thinking that they would get 60 billion dollars. I am not an English man, but a pledge is a promise. So if they say, they promise to pledge to Africa , it is very clear that, they don't like us and they will not develop us. Where is the 1 billion dollars that they pledge five years ago on conditions that, we put in a peer review mechanism, up to today, not even 1 million has been disbursed. They betrayed Africans and we learnt a lesson and we follow them again. There is a saying in our local languages that ‘the way your host receives you, tells you whether he likes it or not'.
In the last G8 Summit, the first photo sessions were the G8 leaders and their wives and family photos. There was no African. Who saw an African there? Why is it that each year at the beginning when they are having a group photo, they don't include Africans? They only include Africans only after the summit and tell them to make statement.
For 400 years, Africans have been taken into slavery, our countries have been invaded, colonised and countries like the Gambia were reduced by the British to a stage over a period of 400 years and what do they leave us with, only Gambia High school, two Senior Secondary Schools, RVTH and the Bansang Hospital. Compare 400 years of British rule of the Gambia 's development, the development in 30 years before we came and 13 years of development today. 400 years, they cannot even give you a University and today, instead of giving us loans, they are bombarding us with one criticism to another. Are we going to accept that, no! It is very clear. They said that Hitler killed 600 million Jus. He was a European. The same way that Europeans took millions of Africans across the atlantic, dump them into slaves and some of them where kill by the dogs. Today, they are celebrating the holocoast and saying that it will never happen again. But when the abolition of slavery came, even Tony Blaire will not apologise. Are we not human beings? The genocide against Africans have never been recognized by the white man and is because of African blood and tears that make the white man to become wealthy. 400 years, they did not develop our continent and we demanded independence and today, they are blaming us of everything that has happen. If their industrial activity of less than 200 years can deplete the ozone layer what do you expect from African resources only massive exploitation for 400 years. So if you don't respect us leave us alone.
Unfortunately, we have some Africans that are still working for them. What ever they prescribed before looking at it, they adopt it and swallow. We refined and export cooking oil. At that time, Gambians were healthy, and they didn't even know Asthma that much. But the former government privatized it that is why today, you are eating cooking oil that you don't even kow what it is made out of. Therefore, we Africans have to change our attitude, respect ourselves, go back to our culture, be ourselves and look inwards. That is the only time when we will develop. If we continue to follow them, we will always be behind them. If I tell you, let's race and you will never come near me but only follow at my back, would you ever be in front of me? So from Independence to date, do you expect Africans to develop if you have so many Africans who are still not responding to our underdevelopment?
Africans, we must work together. We must make sure that we that we are respected. We will never be respected if we continue to kill ourselves and continue to beg. Gambians we have a case. You will be surprised that with all the developments that have taken place in this country, I don't think so, there would be any western country that can say I gave these to the Gambia . Why? Because, they say, we are antiradical and dangerous. I am not dangerous but speaking the truth. So if the truth is making me dangerous, then I will always be dangerous. I have to make sure that we wake up to solve our problems. Boy and girls, I can swear and the Holy Quran is in my hands, by the grace of the Almighty Allah, that this country will be number one in the whole world. But, let us change our attitude. Every young person must have a positive objective in mind.
If young Africans end up going to jail for doing nothing but illegal immigrant, then where is the human rights we are talking about and you blame the Gambia Government for sending people to jail after been tried for plotting a coup. I will still talk to the men of this country. We have our children and we are still blaming our wives for the indiscipline of the boys. What is even amazing is that, we cannot even take care of our children. We leave everything with the mothers but very active in taking more wives. So if you cannot manage one wife, don't take more than one wife.
Everyday people tell me what am I going to do about the school children who are indiscipline going to the beaches. I say yes, but they did not leave the school to go to the beach. But they leave their home to the school and from the school to the beach and after they came back home and what do you tell them. Infact, there is no time in the history of humanity where the state is responsible for the discipline of the children. I have never hard of that country and I will not be the first. This is because if we want to discipline your children, what the international press would say, Yahya Jammeh is now suppressing the school children. Because they call me a dictator. Yes I love that title. I am a dictator of development and not corruption. In Africa , if you defend your country and you develop, defend African integrity and be an independent man, they call you a dictator. Yes. In school, we use to have what we call dictation. Somebody who knows dictates to you, who don't know, so if they call me a dictator, is because they don't know what they should do and am telling them what they should do. So I like that definition.
Since we have a long day, I want to thank our brother from Mauritania , the new President of Mauritania who has sent a special delegation to attend the day. We want to assure that, Mauritania will always be our strategic partners in socio-economic development.
For Africa to develop, countries must not be Islands ; we cannot be racist and expect to develop.
I want to also thank the Gambian people for been very tolerant. You are examples to the West. Here in the country, Europeans are living here as Gambian citizens and no Gambian has ever harassed them for being white. We are not racist. So I want to thank you for been very tolerant. So no matter what they do to Gambians abroad, maintain your fear in God and respect for humanity. God will always reward you. Whether they like it or not, African development is not dependent on them, but dependent on the Almighty Allah. So no matter what happen, Gambians should be tolerant. The Christians are your brothers and sisters, the Lebanese are your brothers and sisters and even the British who are our former colonial masters who retire and come and make Gambia permanent home.
Don't judge them by their colour. I thank you very much.