Residents of The Gambia,
As we look forward to the festivities of another Christmas season, I join the Christian fraternity and the entire nation to give thanks to the Almighty God for the blessings and mercies showered upon us during the last twelve months.
In solidarity with all the Christian denominations in the country and abroad, I congratulate the Christian Community on this blessed Christmas Eve. Indeed, we appreciate, with joy and due respect, that Christmas is one of the holiest days in the Christian calendar.
Since last Christmas, we have gone through a lively year of successes and challenges, and we successfully marched along an uneven path of ups and downs.
Thus, as we gather in our homes and communities to celebrate Christmas this year, we must be thankful to our Creator for being where we are. In particular, I am grateful to God, the Almighty for allowing me to deliver this message on yet another Christmas Eve as Head of State.
As we engage in various activities in this holy season, let us remember all the loved ones, friends, and neighbours we lost in the past year and pray for the sick to recover and the less fortunate to overcome their sorrows.
In The Gambia, we are fortunate that Christians enjoy their right to religious freedom like all other citizens.
We are equally blessed that we live in a society that holds Christians and Muslims alike in high esteem.
With wisdom and tact, we have nurtured inter-faith cooperation and tolerance in our community, and our equal status as citizens and shared values as believers favourably and decisively overshadow our differences. There is much to learn from this.
The Christian Community of The Gambia,
The social and spiritual values that bind us make Christmas a moment of joy for Christians and their non-Christian friends and neighbours. The way we jointly welcome and observe Christmas and maintain our social bonds, despite our religious differences, make us the envy of many multicultural societies.
In many cases across the country, we are connected through inter-marriage, thus further strengthening our blood ties. No wonder the Christian Community continues to adhere to their religious obligations without hindrance from the State or non-Christians.
Many of us have noted the maturity and patriotism exhibited by the Christian Community, as evidenced by their civility and regard for the rule of law.
As I observed before, the Christian Community’s continuous engagement in charitable acts, alleviating poverty amongst vulnerable groups, and investments in education, health, and agriculture cannot go unnoticed.
Allow me to sincerely re-echo my government’s appreciation of the cooperation of the Christian Community, especially during the difficult periods when the COVID restrictions restrained them from holding their special religious feasts.
The leadership in the various Churches demonstrated commitment during those trying moments, and contributed to the fight against the pandemic.
They called on their congregations to abide by the health regulations, even when it was most inconvenient for them.
With the emergence of the Omicron variant, I urge all of us to continue to take the health precautions seriously and cooperate to mitigate the spread of the virus.
This year’s Christmas will be celebrated with relief and remembered specially, as it comes in the wake of the unprecedented and successful December 4th Presidential Election.
Despite the religious-secular divide, Gambians came out in their numbers to vote me into office for a second term. I thank the electorate for this show of trust and confidence in me.
The peaceful and transparent manner in which the election was conducted indicates that we may have our differences as Gambians, but we can mutually accept our diversity and be tolerant of each other.
Politically, we may have preferences, but the majority carries the day. As it stands, the Gambians have spoken, and we must respect their voice. Therefore, as we pray and thank the Almighty God, let us also come together as a people and a nation.
Let us build on our strengths, work on our shortfalls and grab the opportunities that exist to improve our circumstances and develop our homes, communities and the country. This is the route we should take to attain the inclusive development we so dearly wish ourselves.
No matter what our religious or political beliefs are, we can reconcile as a nation by following proper procedures, adhering to the rule of law, and showing respect for each other. In the process, we must accept our mistakes, negotiate, and ensure that justice prevails.
As Gambians, we should be proud that, despite the size of our country, we have attracted world attention due to our tolerance, respect for human rights, and freedom of expression.
More profoundly, our orientation towards multi-party democracy and devotion to the advancement of our dear motherland now distinguish us a nation of peace and progress.
Let us continue to embrace and nurture these values in a stable environment and leave them behind as legacies for the younger generation and those unborn.
Our Christian Brothers and Sisters,
Fellow Gambians and Residents of The Gambia,
We are taught that Jesus came to teach, save and guide. In his life is a shining example and inspiration for humankind to love, do good and help one another. I pray that God fills our hearts with love, our minds with wisdom, and our nation with peace and blessings.
I will conclude by wishing our Christian Community, once again, a peaceful, joyous, and blessed Christmas.