Independence celebration is meaningless when our women are dying during labour
Saidina Alieu Jarjou
History thought us that sometime in 1920 Edward Francis Small attended the National Congress of British West Africa (NCBWA) in Ghana where he presented a speech about the right of the liberation of West African countries from the colonizers. Upon his return to Banjul, he took the lead to set up the Gambia chapter of the NCBWA. Smalls advocacy has inspired the likes of Reverend J.C. Faye to form the first political party (Democratic Party) in 1951 followed by the Muslim Congress Party which was formed by IM Garba Jahumpa, and the United Party of P.S. Njie both established in the year 1952.
However, years down the lane through their commitment they were able to reclaim our sovereignty on February 18, 1965, from Britain. They put down policies and strategies on how our great nation will attain its objective. With the dream that it would one day be the last place of hope on Earth.
It has been over half a century, still the said dream is not close to being a reality. That has been said some are of the view that we must celebrate independence. The question is why celebrating independence when our women are dying during labour, when our women are confronted with all forms of gender-based violence, when our hospitals serve as a death trap for women,when our women in the rural Gambia lacks access to maternal care?
I submit to us that if Edward Francis Small were to arise today from the Grave he will not only be disappointed but flabbergasted, as well. He will not only stop at that, but he will walk through Banjul and visit the hospital named after him. Small will go to the office of the Chief Executive Officer and ask him this question “why the high rate of women dying during labour”.
From there he will visit the Serrekunda Hospital and then the Brikama District Hospital. I do not doubt upon hearing the news on the death rate of women in Brikama he will cry aloud. While in tears he will be dedicated to go to Central River Region and ask those women about their living condition especially access to maternal health care. I am sure after listening to their sorrow he will commit suicide and regret all the sacrifices he has done to salvage the Gambia from Britain.