Labour Day and World Press Freedom Day

1st May is Labour Day and 3 May is World Press Freedom Day.

Today is World Press Freedom Day. Two days ago we commemorated Labour Day.

Trade unions used to be very powerful as the country moved towards Self-determination and Independence. The Bathurst Trade Union held the first major strike in 1929 which compelled the colonial administration to establish an instrument of representation in Bathurst in 1930.

Edward Francis Small linked trade unionism with press freedom by founding a newspaper, The Gambia Outlook to draw attention of the Gambian intelligentsia to the struggles for liberation all over the globe. By 1956, the Gambia Workers Union mobilized the workers in general into trade union activism which compelled the colonial administration in 1959 and 1961 to take faster steps towards internal self government.

M.E. Jallow, the charismatic trade unionist, led the workers during this period to demand improvement of wages and working conditions and earned such concessions from the colonial administration.

Most of the political leaders during the colonial period had to be linked to one form of union or media establishment in order to have clout.

Long gone are those days.

Today Labour Day is commemorated by sporting activities and World Freedom Day appears to pass without any form of commemoration. Something has gone terribly wrong. The people have the duty to sit down and take stock why freedom of association to form trade unions and make them vibrant to elevate the dignity and worth of labour is not being exercised with vigour and determination.

We also need to ask why universities are not breeding writers and journalists who would collaborate with the Gambia Press Union to hold World Press Freedom Days at their campuses at no cost.

Each person has the duty to search for an answer and make the country fertile for such activities in 2017.