I have noticed that most of our hair-dressing salons and barbershops are now owned by young Gambian entrepreneurs. Some sort of realization must’ve happened for that kind of change to occur because when I was a kid, the neighborhood barber never got paid much (if he got paid at all). I guess we started realizing that it was a possible business venture when Nigerian barbers set up shop all over town and started charging some proper money. And you know how Gambians love to patronize foreign-owned businesses. Not saying there’s anything wrong with that, I’m just saying…
Let’s cut to the street entrepreneur that sells ‘ebbeh’ in the neighborhood. Normally that would be a very small enterprise but as soon as it looks like business is picking up, someone else really close-by will start selling the same damn ‘ebbeh’. Now this next person could’ve diversified by introducing ‘wonjo’ or ‘bouye’ or whatever could serve as accompaniment for the ‘ebbeh’ but no, they’d rather go into the ‘ebbeh’ business and operate within the same space.
Granted there’s no harm in competition and it’s a capitalistic world blah blah blah… but wouldn’t it be much better if we actually try to be innovative and carve out new market opportunities?
A lot of young Gambians are very ambitious and hardworking but part of almost everyone’s long term plan involves ‘stealing away’ from this country (like slaves from a plantation). No wonder The Gambia features very strongly when the topic of illegal migration crops up. We are so Babylon-oriented that it’s blinding to all other available possibilities. I’m sure the unemployed youth can provide easy justification for their reasons to emigrate but what about those who left some proper money-making opportunities just to set foot on Babylon’s paved streets? Now who’s gonna pave ours if we all leave?
No one can deny the economic contributions made by folks living outside the country. Shiiiit, I bet every household has at least one ‘semester’ who’s heavily supporting their family’s livelihoods and lifestyle. But I’m sure if you ask the ‘semester’ for their opinion, they’ll confess the need for level-headed people back home to help manage and grow that wealth. I’ve seen some youth doing well in that department. Salute! Also sending shoutouts to all the ‘rabba-rabba’ hustlers, these are the ones “we gave nothing, yet (they) made something doing what (they) do” (Jay-Z/Renegade)
We have a lot of youth involved in entrepreneurial endeavors with impressive back-stories, stories that need to be brought to the fore to inspire young Gambians who don’t even think that creating employment is a possibility. Most of us just want to have jobs and remain employed till Babylon comes calling. In a sense, even the employment some of us seek is just a way to hold on to something until the real blessing in the form of a visa comes your way.
I’m not trying to judge or anything but the worst cases are those with no intention of ever breaking a sweat in Jollof (not to be confused with those unemployed but looking for opportunities). You know because these guys are well fed (‘ndewo – agne – rerr’) and got a roof over their head, they simply sit and wait for Babylon to happen while blaming the family member who in most cases provides for all the luxuries he’s enjoying. (I used he because guys are the culprits in this case). Hell, I just judged a whole group of people but ‘maa teye’.
In reality, not everyone can stay or make it in The Gambia but it is crazy that the majority of us think Babylon is the only way out. I think your Babylon experience would be a lot better if you actually know how to do something with your life even before you set foot there. Food for thought…