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Mansa la M’beddo

Those who grew up in Yundum and the villages around the vicinity of the Yundum (Banjul) International Airport will tell you how, at some point they used to frequent areas within the airport grounds to scavenge for plastic wares dumped from airplanes.

When planes made service or routine stops, they get cleaned out ready to receive the next batch of passengers. That garbage, in our case doesn’t make it out of the airport’s perimeter; at least it did not used to. Civil Aviation or whoever was responsible deemed it okay to create a dumpsite within the airport as far as the garbage from the planes were concerned, where is the blame for them?

The point is that as shameful as it is to admit, we have been failed woefully by our state when the most basic needs of us as a people cannot still be effectively addressed.

With the latest incident of birds hindering airplanes, the highest office in the land, through the special adviser convened a press conference to highlight the hazard both in terms of lives and the economic impact of potentially declaring our only airport as an unsafe landing spot for aircraft.

What is disappointing is the insistence that the problem of the prevalence of birds in and around the airport is due to the indiscriminate dumping habits of the communities around the airport thereby attracting birds. It is disappointing in that sense because there is no sign of acknowledgement or appreciation from the government that they too are complicit much less taking responsibility. “People need to change their attitudes” according Hon. Mai Fatty and I couldn’t agree more; we need massive attitudinal changes in that country. But the greater and more important question is why are our attitudes the way they are? We were not raised to be disrespectful of authority, or to be inconsiderate of our neighbors or one another, but here we are.

Attitude is defined as our way of thinking or feeling towards something or someone usually reflected in our behavior. In the above definition is implied the fact that there are triggers to behavior.

So, is our attitude a statement that we do not care about the environment or that we care more about our own immediate environment (homes)? The trash of course is produced in our various homes but who wants to live with garbage all around you?

This is where “Mansa la m’beddo” comes in; as ill-informed as that sounds, it sums up the general feeling and perception among our people towards the government (Mansa). That brings to mind the saying that everybody’s property is no body’s property, so who is going care for it?

People generally produce a lot of waste, especially in this consumer-driven generation. In an efficiently functioning state, garbage disposal will be a centralized affair where experts in waste management are employed or contracted by the state to safely dispose of waste and minimize health and environmental hazards.

Individual citizens are limited in the space they can occupy but consumption never ceases hence waste gets produced on a continuous basis, how then are they expected to manage their own waste in the limited space they have? This is where indiscriminate dumping comes into play because there is no designated dumping site thanks to poor planning. It is as a result of government’s failure (local or national) to effectively manage waste for its citizenry.

This write up is by no means excusing the habit or encouraging people to keep it up, but in all honesty what other options do they have? In the case of Yundum, it is directly on the door steps of our national economy so government is stepping in to remedy it. The people are effectively saying “if it bothers them (the government/Mansa) they (the government/Mansa) will do something about it; it worked!

All those years of garbage will finally be taken care of and the most senior government officials (the proverbial Mansa) are expected to be in attendance as part of the cleanup crew. As twisted a logic as it sounds, THAT call to action has in fact been the goal of these communities all these years.

Suggesting shooting the birds as one of the remedies for tackling the issue; well that left a lot of us scratching our heads.

The incidence of birds flying into aircraft engines is nothing new, and the prevalence of birds in any locality (or any other wildlife species for that matter) points to either a suitable habitat for them to live in and around that area or that they are assured of a constant source of food. Remove one or both and they will flee or relocate. It’s that simple!

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