As I strode the muddy routes of the village, slowly, my fingers play over my face- this time at least I did realized I offered a starring gaze at this woman off thought for a while. It seems, it were only my hands that were alive or that cares the most, because what followed is that I began to “eat” my finger nails; my psychology lecturer did once declare it is a sign of depression, but this is not depression!
A figure has entered my mind, a beautiful woman, beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder, so as my eyes beholds. That was the short end. Next, few meters away from her, a bit of diving off the obstructing tress, children imaged- best described as “dirty”, tired, starring, hungry looking (evident from the manner they were virtual strangling the mangos to the nuts) but surviving the strength to hold strong multiple farm equipment. Probably, because mama was suppose to hold some but for the logs on her head and the little noisy child behind her.
What I saw and the imaginations that follows up crushes me with its procession of indefinable sensation that I become wild, for a moment flowing with the silence of nature, it uncertainties, it expectations and much of what emotions offered me to do instantaneously to remedy the situation of this woman- the farmer, the pauper- shred me up!
It is July and the perennial plights of The Gambian farmer, just announced its arrival. The skies are thick blue, and waiting farms will soon be tilled, not without the storm it comes along with. However, what the future holds for The Gambian farmer, as ever been; is abundant uncertainty. The antics of the government, its conspicuous consumption, unremitting negligent, and exploitation of the farmer is one which require much focus.
What is explicit is that the stomachs of the woman’s spouses are definitely, where her heartache is. The sight of this beautiful woman and her children, of women on a daily thrash about in dilapidated markets, after months long laboring on their gardens, and now on the raining seasons, on farms, on harsh conditions, and recalling that the providence of these endeavors by these women remains blur, unrewarding and non life changing is irking. There remains an assumed state of poverty allied to farming, while the reverse is the case in other jurisdictions; The Gambian farmer is principally, viewed as a pictogram of poverty. In fact, I err is saying it is an assumption, because the justice truth remains that the farmers are the poorest in our setting. The cause of which inter alia is that The Gambian and the nation itself remain cheated by few, but the most deserving of the composition of the nation who are embittered the most are the farmers.
See, even before In Dependence (note, not Independence), the farmer was as ever would remain, at the hub of the discussion to uplift the life of the masses. To this end, the collective reasoning was that the departure of the Invading and Thieving Queen of England would usher in the solutions the people thought some of their unfaithful and mendacious nationalists have. Indeed, every ‘exploitative accomplishment’ by the colonial thieves, towards the agricultural sector, was in fact seen in every fragment, as geared towards the common good. Therefore, even the termination of the labor offered by the Strange Farmers in The Gambia at the end of the Second European Tribal War (so-called World War) in 1945 was viewed from the same lens.
To this undesired end, all dreams ever held by The Gambian farmer remains except a flight of imaginations. The senior official thieves, has hijacked every dream ever held by the Gambian farmer. Since In Dependence, billions of loans have been secured on behalf of this farmer, fertilizers, even ‘visions’ among other things only to vanish, and ditch the farmer in the same daunting condition they have ever found them. The Gambian farmer is the ‘rich’ (because he/she supposed to be) yet poor who supposed to feed a nation destitute on the scrappy end of the making of the insatiable appetite of the supposed servants of the people, the politicians. Call it a paradox!
The great kaffo woman, whose children still ramble to school, with resounding empty stomach, a contrast to her servant’s spouse, is the most desperate because this farmer is just the farmer, the identity of poverty, the misinformed, the exploited, and the futureless laborer.
Not even are children (students) any longer proud to announce the profession of their parents as being ‘farmer(s)’, because the stigmatization attached therein is enough to muffle the desire of posterity to pursue farming in our setting. Thanks to the system!
However, the farmer remains, strong, hopeful…hopeful, for a brighter future for her spouses. Hopeful because she scarified over the years good food and clothing, and all the luxuries of the contemporary times and gives sufficient education to that noisy child behind her back. There is no doubt, that this kid who would grow up enlightened (those enlightened with ‘resounding empty stomachs are the best among many) will be a change agent for many farmers and their spouses. Then, this kid will face the son of the official thieves, remind them of their fathers’ deeds! Next, a combat will ensue against the establishment; a triumph for the informed poor is inevitable!
Therefore, you great women and fathers, you farmers…while your lands are being plundered by real estate agencies, and Chinese corporations, while your marine is at the mercy of the European Union, while your government continues to seek loans on your behalf, when we all know you won’t benefit from them, while fertilizers and farm equipment meant for you are paraded for sale in the markets tag with non affordable prices, while you fail to eat good food nor enjoying the luxuries of the generation, while your spouse are being neglected in structures call schools while in reality they are bantaba for folks of sheep with teachers next to your condition…remain strong!
Remain strong for your child shares your pain… thus from those neglected structures he/she shall lay a smile on your countenance and demolished the system, the establishment!
Toney F Mendy
The University of The Gambia.