We hereby transcribed President Adama Barrow’s controversial announcement of constructing 60 mosques every year in the country. The statement was transcribed from the local Mandinka dialect to English. Courtesy to Eye Africa online television, we hereby share the transcribed video.
The kids that we mentioned their names; are the Youths for National Development. They came to join us to help us develop this country. They begged us to help dig boreholes; allocate them with gardens; and construct mosques in this country.
So far, we have received a promise; that they will dig 5 boreholes every month for us; in a span of one year, we are talking about digging 60 boreholes across the country.
The money for the boreholes have arrived this month; it is here, but they said it is difficult to dig boreholes during the rainy season.
The same project will facilitate the operations of four gardens every month. In a span of one year, we are talking of 38 gardens being operated under the said project.
In addition to that, we will build five mosques every month. In a span of one year, we will be building 60 mosques across the country.
The things that I am talking about; it is not that the funds are not here; the funds arrived this month; in fact, we talked about the project yesterday; the mosque project is about to start in this country.
Editors note: President Barrow did not disclose the source of the funding of the projects he outlined in his speech. Though, he said, the funds have arrived in the country. The Youth Movement named after Mr. Barrow will be the beneficiary of the funded projects.
Mr. Barrow’s statement contradicts his Press Director’s statement on the matter. Amie Bojang Sissoho told the BBC Focus On Africa Program that the mosque project was going to be financed by the Barrow Youth Movement and not the President. Below is what Amie Bojang told the BBC.
“It is not Adama Barrow as the President, who is building the mosque; it is his Youth Group that associated themselves to supporting Adama Barrow. That’s is the Barrow Youth Movement. He agreed to naming their Group after him because they clearly stated they wanted to support his developmental projects and that is why he accepted it,” Mrs. Bojang Sissoho remarked.
“This has nothing to do with the government putting money there. It is because they associate to supporting the policies of the government. They do their own thing; they do their own fundraising; they do their own project initiatives,” she further clarified.
President Adama Barow made the controversial announcement during his meet the farmers tour. He said he is going to build 60 mosques across the country.
The Gambia is a secular nation, in which Muslims and Christians have been coexisting peacefully for decades. There is an entrenched clause in the constitution, which guarantees that the Gambia is a secular nation. Though, Muslims formed the majority.
Mr. Barrow’s announcement has been viewed by some observers “as the state meddling into the affairs of religion.” His Predecessor dictator Yahya Jammeh made a similar announcement before leaving office by declaring the Gambia as an Islamic State.
Meanwhile, Gambian Christians felt being marginalized by the state. They cannot understand why President Barrow should be making such announcements, when the country is confronted with pressing developmental challenges.
“ The announcement; there is a Youth Movement called the Barrow Youth Movement for National Development, which is supporting his development plan; there were need for people, who were requesting for mosque and garden. Government cannot do all of these, but the Barrow Youth Movement is also getting support that can be used to support the communities, and that was the content of the announcement,” State House Press Director Amie Bojang Sissoho said.
When asked who is going to finance for the construction of the sixty mosques, Mrs. Sissoho said: “It is through the Barrow Youth Movement for Development that they are looking for funding; they are fundraising and that is not a government project; so, I cannot go into details of who is sponsoring them and who is not; but I can say that because they have shown that they are interested in supporting the policies of the Barrow government that is why he is giving them that information.”
“In every community in the Gambia, where there are Muslims, there is going to be a mosque; it depends on the size of the population. We have observed that there are dilapidated mosques in some of the localities, and they were appealing,” she added.
Mrs. Sissoho was reminded that the Gambia is a secular nation, and therefore the construction of sixty mosques will make Gambian Christians felt alienated by the state. Hear her response: “It is a secular state; I am sure you are aware of that since the change of government, the government have declared that the Gambia is a secular state. It is state for both Muslims and Christians and nonbelievers. Building the mosque or pronouncing the building of mosques has nothing to do with the state.”
Quizzed whether the Gambian State will construct sixty Churches for Gambian Christians since they also voted for President Barrow in the past elections, Mrs. Sissoho maintained that the mosque project in question has nothing to do with the Gambian State. She said all funds and finances in respect of the mosque project will come from the Barrow Youth Movement.
Written By Pa Nderry M’Bai