THE STORM OF ADMONITION

Ragingly: filled with furiousness; With ferocious facial expressions; With superfluous contempt and intent to plunder – it hounds on a lifetime amassed belongings.

Minds drowned in desperate thoughts; emotions subdued & agitated amidst ambiguity; tranquility unduly confiscated; dozens displaced amidst an appalling retrogressive and retarded economic rise; buildings turned asunder; trees branded and fettered-ly succumbing to the vile sanctions of the storm –

transiently! we have sanctuaries devoid of sanctity; roofs embarking on unsolicited voyages; trees ambitiously flying; an atmosphere preoccupied with repugnant nuisances. Supposedly calm ecosystem frowns and plagued with discourtesy.

Accompanied with gruesomely glaring lightening and fierce thunderstorms, the storm vehemently admonished; that we may firmly knit the bonds of social cohesion; that we may strengthen colossally our cooperate social responsibilities; that our government may be violently abused with the spirit of servitude to advance the supreme interest of the sovereign nation; that we may revive the departed spirit of generosity in assistance to the disadvantaged.

Yet! the storm had again affirmed another adverse array of our people — within a miniature of time, the prices of building materials abhorrently skyrocketed. Leaving affected families wailing in a paroxysm of agony. Humanity lost amidst tragedy – emotions galvanized with grumpiness.

Admittedly, the storm admonished with melancholy!

Authored: Modou Lamin Emess Jammeh

BSc Public Health Student

Department of Public and Environmental Health — School of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences —- University of The Gambia

YOUTH, MENTAL HEALTH & DRUG ABUSE IN THE GAMBIA

This is something we barely see articles on – but it is colossally necessary that we find these tragedies enthralling. Substance abuse, particularly cannabis, and mental health issues are spiking gradually, and if we look keenly at the age groups affected, the youth folks become the major culprits and victims it pinpoints.

In most street ghettos, young folks embraced and sanctify a lifestyle that perpetuates the use of intoxicating substances that remains staunch in blurring and altering consciousness. It is worth noting that cannabis smoke contains many of the same toxins, irritants, and carcinogens found in cigarette smoke – a known contributor to many pathophysiological impairments.

According to a Harvard Health publication, August 2017, the cannabis plant contains more than 100 unique chemical components classified as cannabinoids. These are the active ingredients that bind to specific receptors in the brain and other parts of the body. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) one of the most prevalent substance in the plant, is primarily responsible for the mind-altering properties sought out by recreational users.  

Progressively, the World Health Organization’s Mental Improvement for Nations Development in 2007, estimated that, 120 000 people in the Gambia had mental illness, with about 3000 receiving treatment per annum. Around 12% of the people in The Gambia are likely to have a mental disorder and 3% a severe mental disorder. Until now, these figures are consistently proliferating, serving as a beacon of admonition to give utmost attention to this serial destructor of potency.

As alluded earlier, cannabis (marijuana) is known to induce series of psychological disorders that undermines the mental, physical and social wellbeing of victims. In furtherance of the foregoing, an In-patient study shows that the commonest disorders leading to admission are substance misuse (most frequently cannabis misuse). Evidently, a cannabis-induced mental disorder is mostly preceded by fluctuating awkward demeanours, unscrupulousness, vicious social acts, thievery, assaults on the vulnerable groups, inter alia.

It would rather be tragic, to give a blind eye to this pandemonium plaguing the lives of the most productive age group. It is unanimously affirmed that a healthy population, particularly the youth folks fosters economic dividend. As it stands, Gambia as a country, grappling with persistent underdevelopment, political inefficiency, economic repression, corrosive social status, cannot in anyway afford to start losing its engine at just a very young age—55 years. This engine—the youth folks are considered to make up more than 60% of the country’s population. This potential havoc can derail the country’s path towards development.

At a proactive stand point, the youth folks are expected to reach their full potentials and serve as the instrument for the development of this nation. This can only be actualized if our concerns are addressed, our plight is given utmost priority, and our health conditions are improved. This means that: more stringent measures has to be put in place to address drug abuse by the youthful populace; law enforcement agencies must become strict in implementation; investment in psychiatric treatment centres must be increased; amplification of voices of the leading advocates of mental health in the Gambia must be echoed.

Closing up on this, cumulatively: in other to resolve problems that untiringly continue to impede our progress as a nation, it is utterly judicious for youths to be emancipated from the shackles of drug addiction, reverse the cheerless trend of mental health problems – unarguably, they are the cream of this nation – a very common adage has it that, “any nation that invest in its youths and tap into their potentials is a nation inevitably navigating the trail of progress”. I hope you find wisdom and inspiration in this to advocate for mental health and fight against drug addiction as much as I do.

Author: Modou Lamin Emess Jammeh

BSc Public Health Student

Department of Public and Environmental Health

School of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences

University of The Gambia.

LETTER TO HON. ABUBACARR BA TAMBEDOU, FORMER AG AND MINISTER OF JUSTICE

Dear Hon. Tambedou,

Wherever you may be, with grave sorrow and melancholy I write to inform you that little Gambia is bereaved at the senseless demise of the product of one of your key orchestrated transitional justice institutions (CRC) – the Draft Constitution 2020. The sad news occured Tuesday 22nd September, 2020 at the National Assembly complex after days of politically driven debate over the Draft Bill. Actually, the death sent a surprising wave of shock and despair in the hearts of Gambians, more especially the critical mass of our population whose lives would have largely been contingent on the Draft.

Sad to say but your legacy and our collective wishes and aspirations have been strangulated seemingly at the behest of an element. The nation reels and sobs in hopelessness, as the #holistic reform agenda under the new dispensation that you have kick-started now swinging like a pendulum. A dark cloud of uncertain future hovers above the nation, simply because the people’s hope has been abruptly jettisoned to the bin by those we entrusted power. What an irony!

All well meaning Gambians are nostalgic for your temerity and audacity as AG and Minister of Justice. You meant well for The Gambia. You have conspicuously demonstrated this fact beyond belief at home and at international stage. Your passion to return the crippling Gambia to democracy and to end dictatorship and self-perpetuating rule was palpably profound. In this letter, be informed that your former office has complicitly killed what would have been your most precious legacy in the country. You firmly stood your grounds from onset of the enactment of CRC all through the drafting and submission stage of the new Draft Constitution. However, your departure really marked the beginning of the gradual death of the transitional justice process in The Gambia. But wait a minute! In one minute, I do think you knew this day would come much to the dismay of Gambians and that’s why you left beforehand.

Being at crossroads, what is the fate of TRRC and other transitional justice institutions, knowing full well that the CRC and all its works and the colossal investments went into futility? The answer, in my view, will be a doom galore.

My grandma would always tell me there is no need to cry over a spilled milk! Frankly, Baa, you should have waited to finish up the businesses you started. Indeed, personal advancement is sacrosanct. But in the crying voice of many Gambians, you could have held on for a stint to see all the reform processes through and through. This is perhaps you are the most competent one for Justice Ministry at this material time. See what your departure has arrogated to us as a people in dire need of not only constitutional reform but social, economic, institutional, civil service and a score of others. A new constitution should have been the starting point and should underpin all other processes. But it has been denied by few privileged Gambians. What a travesty of justice. Without a modicum of doubt, I know, like many other Gambians, that you would have competently defended the people’s project that cost millions of dallasi. The trend now predicts that all transitional justice institutions will be choked and trampled upon in turns with sheer impunity.

Finally, I thank you for the good intention and purpose you have for The Gambia and her wailing people. Indeed you served us beyond political expediency. And that’s enough for history to fairly judge you. Consequently, do know that the chance to usher in a new Republic became an utter fiasco, and the will and aspirations of Gambians being circumvented.

Your fellow compatriot,

Yankuba Manneh

LETTER TO THE FUTURE GENERATION

Dear future generations,

I fear how you may receive or perceive this writ from me, but I pray and advise you that you put away personal sentiments and confront the realities represented in this writ. My gratitude that you still managed to survive the plundered environment by my generation. And of course, sending this with regrets and apologies that we could not hand over a safe, healthy and embellished “home”.

In this, I made up my mind to confess our wrong doings, tell you the goods we have done, and of course respond to your questions about how “sweet” “home” (to us) became a “misery” (to you).

To begin with, home was a place everyone (my generation) was proud to called an abode. It has housed one of the most patriotic citizens of my time, and sadly, it equally housed the chauvinistic and ignominious citizens all together. You would not like what I am about to say in succeeding paragraphs, but……I promise to balance between the havocs and luxuriance.

Progressively, as alluded earlier that, home was the best life could have offered to some of us: but this wasn’t the same when gaseous emissions, liquid discharges from industries, pollutions of all kinds, waste of all kinds in the streets, deforestations and extravagant hunting of wildlife, took order. The luxury we had always enjoyed began to diminish by day – and this has not gone unnoticed, but only few took this displeasures seriously.

Like I promised I am going to counterbalance between the two extremes (havocs and luxuriance). To continue, the safe heaven gradually ceases to exist, and this became a colossal concern to a very small proportion of my generation. The few that took this effect seriously rose up as advocates in different thematic areas. Ranging from: Climate Change, Environment, Health, Marine Life, Anti-plastic….to name but a few. And I can proudly tell you, I was one of them. These few people called “activist” did great and were able to restore and maintain just part of the gratifications of home, thanks to their tenacious commitment, dedication and activism.

Again, home was struck with the misfortunes of bad leadership: weak governance, poor structures in all aspects, fragile public health systems, poor waste management, unreliable water and electricity supply, a seemingly unending corruption, inefficient education system, daily augmentation of consumable commodities, high cost of data…. Inter alia. These atrocities came to life immediately after we attained our independence from the colonialist (I will tell you about them in my subsequent writs) and had since then continue inflicting agony in the lives of many. It saddens me to tell you that, many invaluable and endeared lives had surrendered to these atrocities. All these are the fruits of bad leadership.

You must be wondering what had been the reactions of the citizenry (the victims)? Well, it has not been taken lightly dearies. I was one of them. We protested despite their grave efforts to suppressed us – they even had the guts to ceased some lives in the process. We made life so uncomfortable to them like they’d done to us (though theirs was more extreme and agonizing). We did our best, yet the results were unsatisfactory. They exploited our resources to our own detriment under the pretext of serving us. We knew it was a scam at the outright. But their accomplices and sympathizers would neither let us be nor let us breath.

You wouldn’t believe what am about to tell you! Our penultimate resort was to rely on the justice system – will let you hypothesize our last resort. Yes, in light of all these uncountable atrocities, this era wasn’t devoid of perpetual abuse of power, tribalism, increased rape cases, child molestations, murder, gender discriminations and so on and so forth. With our societal patriarchal system, most, if not all the cases against women are deprived of the justice they deserved. Hard to believe right? I am sure some of my colleagues that will write to you will write in affirmation.

To conclude, all these I just mentioned are the tip of the iceberg, will tell you more in my subsequent letters. And I haven’t told you this except to learn from our mistakes and rehabilitate your world. And of course overlook our grave demolition of “sweet home”.

Regards,
Modou Lamin Jammeh.

Author: Modou Lamin Jammeh

An Undergrad at the UTG, pursuing a Bsc in Public and Environmental Health.

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