Fellow Gambians, as the year comes to an end, we all look forward to celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. His birth represents peace and harmony to mankind. His message was and still is one of peace, enthronement of the truth and rejection of injustice. The hallmark of his teaching has defined the lives of a huge number of people in Europe, North and South America, Africa and Asia.
This year’s Christmas is a special one. We celebrate the birth of Christ the day after we celebrated the birth of the prophet Muhammad (PBUH)-the last messenger of Allah and the seal of the prophets. The prophet of Islam like Christ has preached the values of peace, tolerance, justice and good neighborliness.
For Christians and Muslims the world over, Christmas season is a unique one, but it is more so for us Gambians as Muslims and Christians live together in the same household, attend the same schools, marry into families of different faiths and take part in each other’s feasts and festivities.
Fellow Gambians, it is this special relationship that makes The Gambia a unique society whose citizens do not only believe in the values of peace, tolerance, justice and good neighbourliness but practice what they believe in. We have always been an example of inter religious harmony worthy of emulation. Gambia’s religious pluralism is in eclipse and its future uncertain. It is a matter of regret that the President of The Gambia who took the oath to protect and defend the constitution of The Gambia and other laws will declare Gambia as an Islamic state at a time when Christians of the various denominations in The Gambia are preparing to celebrate Christmas. The ill-considered declaration, influenced by ulterior motives could be seen coming several years ago when the President stated that Sharia will be made applicable to very Gambian.
The reason for the President’s anti-religiouspluralism declaration is ostensibly to fight so called imperialism but this is no justification for disturbing the peace and harmony built up in our country for centuries. This is a sinister attempt to distract the Gambian people from the real problems that they face daily. Problems such as the skyrocketing prices, collapsing economic, inadequate health service, poor education standard, mass exodus of youths to Europe by the backway, threats to the independence of the judiciary and dismissal of public servants on executive directives.
The secular status of The Gambia is not only spelt out in our Constitution but ensconced deeply in our way of life long before we became a Nation. It has always been live and let others live. Pray to your God and let others pray to their God. Christmas has never been an affair for Christians only but of all, just as Tobaski, or Banna, has never been an affair for Muslims only.
Fellow Gambians, Christmas this year falls on Friday, let all Muslims therefore turn out at the mosques for Jumaah prayers and our Christian Brothers and Sisters in their churches and we all pray for One People, One Gambia united and indivisible. Let us after offering prayers for the wellbeing of The Gambia, go out and enjoy our traditional makalos, kankurangs, kumpos, gessehs, huntings etc in solidarity with our Christian brothers and sisters as has been done many generations before us. This is what we have been born into and no pernicious religious falsehood will change that. This Christmas is a defining moment for all Gambians.
On behalf of the United Democratic Party and on my own behalf, I wish you all a merry Christmas.
LONG LIVE THE GAMBIA
LONG LIVE GAMBIA’S RELIGIOUSHARMONY
LONG THE UDP
December 24, 2015