Banjul, The Gambia—The Banjul City Council on Tuesday, 15th March 2016 unveiled major infrastructure projects worth D72 million for the capital city of Banjul to cater for the building of a new City Council complex, construction of a multipurpose Center of excellence, creation of Car park at Bund Road for lorries and a new abattoir for selling meat. In addition, it was also revealed by Mayor Abdoulie Bah that about 520 street lights will be installed as well as enabling of the construction of concrete roads in Banjul. However, no indication of constructing a new cemetery for Banjul have been included to replace the existing Muslim Cemetery in Jeshwang which is almost full to capacity and, based on the increasing rate of burials in that graveyard, the cemetery will soon be completely filled with grave sites before the end of this year. The limited available of space in that graveyard should be of profound concern to anybody who cared for the departed souls of family members, friends and love ones.
Putting politics aside, the preservation of cemeteries, the final resting place for all of us, should be the concern of everybody irrespective of whether you are an Imam, Muslim elder, sons ordaughters of this country. There is every reason to think that the BCC under the present mayor is not making any visible efforts to make immediate arrangements to find any suitable spacious burial ground that can be used in the next decade or more for burial purposes. It will cost the BCC nothing compared to the millions of dalasi earmarked for the new proposed major projects.
Instead of fulfilling the wishes of many people living within the greater Banjul area, the mayor with his Council members have allocated vast re-claimed land around the Tobacco road area for their own private use which could have been suitable for additional graveyard for Banjulians. Regrettably, it is very sad to hear that there are not enough available land for burial purposes within the GBA and the best option available now to the BCC is to bring in caterpillars to bulldoze the entire existing graves of our grandparents, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers and friends all in the drive to recycle the existing cemeteries. It is unacceptable to perform burials in existing graves. There are adequate available land that can be used as replacement of the existing Muslim cemetery in Jeshwang.
Cemeteries remind us of the depth of our empathy and respect for the deceased. This is mostly manifested during the holy feasts of Koriteh and Tobaski when Muslims converged into the cemeteries to offer prayers to departed loved ones and family members. Even those in the diaspora on visit back home would go to the cemeteries to offer prayers to departed loved ones. The reality of death must come to everyone and preserving the cemeteries is sign of respect for the dead and the verbalization of our culture.
History is on the side of the truthful, the God fearing and those who care about our traditional heritage. It was a great pride to fulfil the desire of one of my nieces whom I took to see the grave of our grandfather who passed away 38 years ago. The re-use of grave sites within the Banjul cemetery when there are available land being used for other private purposes should be condemned unreservedly. It now remains to be seen whether the allocation of a new cemetery will be given priority over the multi-million dalasi infrastructure projects that the BCC is going to implement soon. Cemeteries are “sleeping places” and using bulldozers to recycle the grave sites tantamount to disrespect towards the deceased.
Written By An Insider Banjul