My proposal to the office of the President
Dear Mr. M’bai:
I wish you and all your noble readers a very blessed Laylatul Qadr. May Almighty Allah accept our prayers and forgive all our sins.
Once again, Mr. M’bai,I would like to renew my call on President Barrow’s administration to further engage Gambians, particularly on special occasions, like Eid feast. You might recall that last year, I proposed the following to the office of the President –
”…traditionally since from colonial times, when Muslims marking the end of Ramadan, the Head of State of the Republicof the Gambia would usually invite a handful of Muslim elders from greater Banjul to State House, where they would interact with him. At these gatherings, the Muslim elders would engage the Head of State in discussion with a variety of issues in relation to socio-economic matters. Last year, I suggested that rather than offering such an extraordinary opportunity to just a few people who often have the privilege of access to the Head of State at any time, instead, the office of the President could use this occasion by inviting the general public to gather at McCarthy square in Banjul, just for couple of hours, where ordinary Gambians like me and you could gets access to him by a simple handshakes.”
The office of the President might even use this opportunity to extend invitations to non-Muslims living in the country to join with Muslims to celebrate Eid feast together, in the same manner as Muslims annually cherish Christmas and New Year together with Christian brothers and sisters in the Gambia. Such noble gesture will profoundly straighten the bones between the Muslims and non-Muslims as well as bridging the massive gap between the Head of State and the people.
Here are some international examples which maybe relevant to this proposal. In June 2016 while I was visiting the Kingdom of Brunei Darussalam during the holy month of Ramadan, I gathered from the local people that at every single Eid the Sultan of Brunei his majesty Hassanal Bolkiah would invite everyone to join with him at the country national stadium to celebrate the Muslim Eid feast in a spectacular fashion while at the same time he would engage everyone by a simple handshake. Thus, people of Brunei’s adore him for being a Sultan of his people.
Additionally, without exaggeration, perhaps HM Queen Elizabeth II conducts more public engagements than any other Head of State. Whether it’s celebrating Christmas at Sandringham, or Windsor or New Year and Easter in London, the Queen engages well-wishers in a brief conversationand, engages children by receiving flowers from them. As a result, the present Monarch – HM Queen II is the most revered Head of State in the world, albeit titular.
Nevertheless, I recognise that our Head of State has tried to reach out to the ordinary people when faced with political rallies as well as the ´MEET THE FARMERS TOUR’. However, their engagement with the general public on those occasions is usually limited to people with political affiliation. In this new era, we need more physical interaction with our Head of Sate beyond political arenas.
Written By Yaya Sillah