A community of African descendants from Europe and America residing in The Gambia, Monday demanded automatic citizenship in Gambia’s new constitution, an official source told the media.
The group which goes by the name Bla-Xit expressed fear that sections 257 and 258 could deprive them of their lands and forfeit their citizenship if upheld by the national assembly.
During a press conference, the group urged the authorities to look into their case and grant them automatic citizenship which, they said, would avert putting their resources into waste and jeopardizing their human rights.
Citing their past and future millions of dalasi worth of investment in the country as evidence of their worth of citizenship.
“We deserve to be given automatic citizenship by any country in Africa because our grandparents were forced by the slavery era in the west,” they said, adding that their colour should attest to their Africanism.
“So, section 258 also deprives us of our ability to be Gambians and to live the same like Gambians and this is why we are frightened.” the group’s spokesperson Juliet Ryan said. She went on to outline the tricky situation the current constitution puts them in.
“So if you invoke section 257 and 258, effectively you make us outsiders-you telling us we can own our lands for 30 years… where are my lands going to go and where is my money and investment going to go. I don’t know what kind of system is this and how it is going to work for us.”
“I am asking you to consider us Gambians who left your shores hundreds of years ago but our DNA didn’t leave and our blood didn’t leave, our spirit didn’t leave and our ancestors didn’t leave, some of them were washed up in the sea. But, I am you to consider us and give automatic citizenship, so that this doesn’t affect us because if not we have to go and we don’t want to go we want to stay, this is our country and we love it,” Ryan said in tears.
She described the sections as “bias because it doesn’t apply to us we are in trouble, because if we are building our homes just for 30 years and we have to go and give up our homes after 30 years to a Gambian, would you do that?”