By Louise Jobe
The people of Foni Kansala gave supporting hands to soldiers stationed in Kanilai, with their farmwork on Saturday, August 19, 2017. Village heads and their delegates from different communities in Foni and Cassamance including youths and youth leaders, soldiers of the fourth battalion, women, senior military officers of the Gambia Armed Forces and other protocols, were present.
It is said that the idea came about when the Alkalo of Kanilai and some villages in the district as well as those in Cassamance, came together and mobilised themselves to give support to the soldiers on their farm. It is further said that the practice has been ongoing during the former regime and it is now a norm by people in the district.
The Public Relation Officer of the Gambia Armed Forces (GAF), Kebba Sanyang, told the people that the Constitution has mandated them to preserve and defend the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Gambia; that GAF has functions and will engage themselves at the request of the civil authorities, in productive activities such as agriculture, engineering, health and education, for the development of the Gambia.
Brigadier General Mamat Cham, head of the GAF delegation, told the people they are here for the state, for the people and community who needs their services; that GAF is pleased with the move of the people of Foni Kansala and Cassamance. He told the people that GAF has three functions as enshrined in the constitution and they are not affiliated to any political party. He urged the people to unite and work in the interest of the nation.
“Politics and GAF will never be the same again,” he said.
He told the gathering that ‘politicians come and go but the Gambia Armed Forces remain. He further urged the people to join hands to work in unison and harmony and eradicate poverty.
Maget Njie, the head of the ECOMIG Force they are very pleased with the efforts of the people and that it is a sign that people have started building confidence in them. He told the people that ECOMIG will continue to work with GAF to see that peace is restored in the Gambia.
The Alkalo of Kanilai, Ebou Jammeh, told the force that they will fraternise with them and will continue to support them. He told the force that they will support them in all their endeavours.
Salif Jatta and Sainey Jatta the Alkalo of Bulunt and Buling respectively, made similar sentiments. They added that the surprise coming of the ECOMIG into their communities made them terrified. They further stated that they do not know the mission of the force into their communities but now that they know, they will work with them hand in hand to restore peace in their respective communities. They all decried the insufficient supply of water in their communities adding that they go far distances to acquire water.
They call on the soldiers to know that they are civilians and need to be treated as civilians. In addition, they all told the soldiers that in times of disputes, the force should seek the opinion of the Alkalos but not to act on their own.
The Alkalos from the Cassamance communities said Foni is their neighbour and they share a common heritage. They added that they acquire their source of food in The Gambia and any problem that occurs in The Gambia, will greatly affect them.