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CRPD Hosts Dr. Taal’s Inaugural Lecture on Democracy

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Dr. Satang Nabaneh, An Award-Winning Gambian Legal Scholar

By Ramatoulie Jawo 

The Center for Research and Policy Development (CRPD) hosted its inaugural Saja Taal lecture on Friday, featuring award-winning Gambian legal scholar Dr. Satang Nabaneh. The lecture, titled “The Gambia at a Crossroads: Forging a Republican Future,” was held at the Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara International Conference Center in Bijilo.

This inaugural event offered an opportunity to explore democratic consolidation and reconnect with the principles of republicanism. It examined how democratic values can be recognized, restored, consolidated, and preserved through constitutional changes and strengthening.

The event gathered prominent scholars, researchers, activists, and development practitioners focused on democracy and development in The Gambia. These speakers shared their knowledge and experiences to promote an informed and active citizenry.

The lecture aimed to inspire individuals and communities to engage actively in shaping The Gambia’s future through informed dialogue and civic participation, ideals championed by Dr. Taal during his lifetime.

During her lecture, Dr. Satang Nabaneh addressed ten key issues, including agriculture, constitutional framework, gender, education, security, and health. She emphasized that The Gambia needs not just strong leadership, but ethical leadership.

“I think the Gambia is at a point where it doesn’t only need good and strong leadership, not just a capable leadership, but also ethical and inclusive leadership because leadership is the cornerstone of any successful nation

“There is a need to hold our government system right and there’s a need to reform our judicial system.  As we all know, during the Jammeh regime the judicial was corrupted, but also they were active attempts at eroding the judicial independence,” she said. 

She noted that while considering the judicial system, it’s important to recognize the positive developments. One significant advancement during the transitional period is the Gambianization of the judiciary, which plays a crucial role in protecting the country’s democracy.

She also emphasized the need to rethink the educational system, pointing out that the current system in The Gambia is not fit for purpose.

She mentioned that mentorship remains a significant barrier and challenge within the education system.

Additionally, she highlighted that a nation unable to feed itself is vulnerable to external forces. With the majority of food consumed in The Gambia being imported, inflation is likely to continue rising.

“Part of the problems affecting our agricultural sector is outdated farming practices including low pay, time-consuming. So if you want young people to be farmers, you must invest in the farming sector,” she told the gathering.

Madam Juka Fatou Jabang, CRPD Board Chair, remembered Dr. Saja Taal as a distinguished civil servant and inspirational educator. She highlighted his enduring impact on The Gambia’s intellectual landscape and his contributions to basic and higher education, as well as the tourism sector.

“Up to the time of his demise, Dr.Taal, was a treasured academic preparing the country’s future leaders at the University of the Gambia as an inspirational educator. Dr. Taal has left an enduring impact on the Gambia intellectual landscape. Also, Dr. Taal was one of the finest, and the brightest civil servants with a captivatingly modest, and un-assumed character in the history of The Gambia. One with a very high profile in the national consensus. We can only hope by his example, our generation and the ones behind us will rise in his steps in serving our motherland with humility and diligence” she stated.

She added that Dr.Taal left an indelible mark on basic and higher education, as well as in the tourism sector. 

Dr. Saja Taal’s eldest daughter, Olimatta Saja Taal, founder of Fajara Bespoke, spoke about her father’s legacy of commitment to education and public service. She emphasized his values of perseverance, honesty, integrity, and the importance of giving back to society, which continue to inspire her and her siblings.

“My father’s commitment to public service and his continuous dedication to improving the lives of others has left an incredible mark on everyone he encountered. His legacy will not just be remembered by his family, but by the countless students he mentored. The CRPD aims to inspire the current generation to be actively engaged in shaping the future of our nation. A commission that is perfectly aligned with my father’s lifelong commitment to progressive education and national development,

 “he always emphasizes the significance of staying true to one’s principles in striving to be a person of character. This principle has guided me and my siblings throughout our lives and careers, and they continue to inspire me every day,” She said.

Following Dr. Nabaneh’s lecture, Madi Jobarteh, a Human Rights Defender, Ndey Ngoneh Jeng, a Lawyer, and Professor Pierre Gomez, the Minister of Higher Education, Research, Science, and Technology, held a discussion around her presentation.

Dr. Alieu Badara Saja Taal was a distinguished Gambian intellectual and a senior lecturer in political science at the University of The Gambia. He played a pivotal role in the establishment of the university, significantly contributing to its strategic planning and curriculum development.

Dr. Taal also helped create the UT Students Service Learning Association, a group of young intellectuals dedicated to enhancing their academic experiences by engaging in meaningful, hands-on community service.

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