By: Aramata Jatta
In this edition of the Interview, I sat down with nominated National Assembly Member, Hon. Ndey Yassin Secka, a person living with disability. She told her inspiring story, disclosing that she was born without her eyesight but that never prevented her from developing a career and as a person.
She first attended Kampama Primary School and then St Joseph High School before going to U.K for further studies. Secka was a renowned broadcaster until her nomination as MP in the National Assembly. She calls for equal treatment of people living with disability and the rest of the members of the public. Below goes the full text of her interview conducted by journalist Ara Jatta.
Daily News: Tell us who you are?
Hon.Ndey YassinSecka (HNYS): I’m Ndey Yasin Secka, a Gambian and I’m about 59 years old. I went to Kampama Primary School for the blind where I sat to my Common Entrance Examination and proceeded to St Joseph High school.
After graduating from the High school, I worked with the Department of Social Welfare as a Social Welfare Assistant. After sometime, I got scholarship to study in UK where I studied Brail and Business Development. After my successful completion of studies in UK, I went back to the Department of Social Welfare and worked for some years before finally moving to GRTS. I remained in the National broadcaster until my nomination to the National Assembly as a nominated member. I’m married and have two biological children a boy and a girl both of whom are adults now, I also have two adopted children.
Daily News: You mentioned that you found yourself in the parliament as a nominated member, tell us how?
HNYS: Best known to them, it was a surprise to me and maybe it is because apart from my work place most of my life I have spent it in the NGO’s affairs and Civil Society Organizations. I’m a member of the Gambia Organization for the Visually Impaired which is my own organization and then I’m a board member of TANGO, ACTION AID, Women for Democracy and Development, THE Gambia Federation for the Disabled, so I think that is why I was nominated and I’m also a woman and disable activist.
Daily News:What is your political affiliation before being nominated?
HNYS: I do not have any partisan affiliations at all. All the times I have been singing songs, helping people to sing songs on how to take care and have a better living in Gambia that is good governance. Because when we were in school we had a quire and the only song that we sang were educative songs very very educative songs to make sure that, people know who they were, Gambians know that they are Gambians Gambians know that this country belongs to them and for Gambians to know that it’s good to love ones country.
Daily News: what would you consider Job accomplished before or at the end of your term in parliament?
HNYS: My biggest achievement would be to make sure that all people with disabilities are catered for around the national cake. Another job accomplished would be to make sure that all Gambians know they are Gambians, to make sure Gambians should vote and should be voted for, to know that Gambians of all types should change their governments if they know that the governments they elected is not doing well.
I shall also try to make sure that Gambians votes for the presidents and for the presidents to know that Gambians voted for them not by words but by action.
Daily News: What is your comment on the social media?
HNYS: People must make good use of the social media. She warns that the social media should not be abused because information is power but the misuse of it could also be catastrophic.
Daily News: What kind of members would you like to see in the National Assembly?
HNYS: Members of the National Assembly need to tell each other the truth despite their party affiliation, if for example am not in the same party with another member and I’m not doing well it does not mean that, my colleague should not say no to me.
She said for her she is only interested in national development and national interest period. She stressed that she is in for anything better for Gambia and she believes that a better Gambia is possible. And that should be our motor “a better Gambia is possible.”
Daily news: What is the concern of the disable people?
HNYS: They are many, but the main concern of the disabled people is that we are excluded in society for the past 52years. Secka said governments before this one both under the First and Second Republic did not do much for people with disability.
She commended the efforts of philanthropies and said it is because of their valuable contributions that they the people living with disabilities are a little bit better off at this point. “The CSOs and the NGOs and the philanthropies are the people who have contributed to the change in our lives as disabled,” Hon Secka remarked.
As for the past governments she said in her opinion they did not do much.
She told the Daily News that she is calling for bill for the disabled to be enacted in the National Assembly as soon as possible and that is the only thing she is waiting for. She said she made enquiries on where and at what level is the bill; but was only recently informed that the bill was at cabinet level.
However later she understands that the bill is back at the Ministry of Works and Infrastructure – why that she did not know. Hon Secka expressed dissatisfaction over use of unfriendliness of most of our offices and public buildings. The people with disabilities are not catered for she said. “Disability is a package; you cannot work for one aspect and forget about the other. If we talk about structures it’s about those sitting on wheel chairs but some are visually impaired. Yes, we need rams for the disability person on a wheelchair. The blind needs rails to climb story building. And when it comes to those with hearing problems they need sign languages on the TVs stations otherwise those with hearing problems will not take part in national development for they will not understand anything for public news.” She calls the attention of the Minister that there must be a sign language in the TVs stations and that she is advocating for it and we are telling the new minister of Information Mr. Ebrima Sillah who I’m congratulating to make sure that these things are taking on board.
On other people with disabilities are the albinos also they need room because their skin is too light they need abounded ointment and such should be affordable. She said she knows that the albinos are pigments see how their skins and eyes and so they should be catered for.
And those people that we called crazy people that is the mentally ill people should also be catered for, go to the street you will see them roaming around. Hon Secka called for them to be catered for too, she called for avery conducive rehabilitations center for them. She said such should be unique so that all kinds of people living with one form of disability or another be it the visually impaired, the albinos likewise those people we all crazy people mentally ill should allbe able to access it this is what we need in Gambia. When you go to other countries this is what is happening there.
“People with disability should be catered for and it should go with the elderly sometimes we will see people taking their elderly people to the home for elderly which is not our culture we are not Europeans” Hon Secka said.
She calls for people to take care of the children with disability and also parents of the children with disability because if you are a parent and you have a child with disability you will be embarrass to go out. Hon Secka recounts that as a young girl with two others making a total of three in the family people were saying my mother is unfortunate; because she is having three children with disability. So these are issues that we need to talk about especially people who are visually impaired they are kept in corner sometimes with dogs or other types of animals some people don’t even try to train them on how to become ordinary human beings. She said Gambian society should thank the NGOs and the CSOs because they “trained us to be who we are and to be able to talk to people to be able to know what we want and what we don’t want.”
Hon Secka concluded by calling upon the people with disability to have one heart, one Gambia, one nation. “What we are looking for we know that we are the most vulnerable.” –
By: Aramata Jatta