By Ousainou J Sawaneh (PrinCE OjeE)
Mayor of Oostende City in Belgium, His Excellency Bart Tommelien and his Deputy Mayor Madame Silke Beirens and delegation on Wednesday paid a courtesy call to the Lord Mayor of Banjul City Council, Rohey Malick Lowe, at the BCC offices in Banjul.
Their discussions focused on various issues of mutual interest aimed at strengthening the relationship between the two Cities of Banjul the Gambia and Oostende City in Belgium, the ongoing EU project, visit to the EU project sites in other to give more visibility to the project and other issues.
Rohey Malick Lowe thanked the European Union for its continuous support and contribution to the work of the council adding that the EU project is making difference in Banjul.
‘‘We are happy to welcome you Mayor Bart Tommelien, your Deputy Mayor Madame Silke Beirens and your delegation to the Banjul City Council’’ she said
Lowe told the delegation that her council almost 90% are men adding that she is gender sensitive but she is not a feminist
‘‘I am grateful and I have many men behind me. I am gender sensitive but I am not feminist. If you look at my council almost 90% are men. I am happy that we have men that have a vision to push women forward. I don’t have many women in my Council because of the African mentality but I am grateful to them as they doing well’’ she said.
Mayor noted that it is very difficult to be a Mayor than a president because they meet the people at the markets, they meet them in their offices as well.
Speaking on the European and African concept, Mayor Lowe said ‘‘I was a nominated councilor in Sweden and I understand the European concept of politics and indeed the African concept as well. My colleagues in Sweden I doing well and I always commend them for that. They have Africa at heart and they want to see us forward and want to see us like them. But the African politics is different because the Africans believe women should not be leaders but we should only be a caretaker for our children’’ she said.
Lowe explained that when she was coming to office, she contested with eight candidates of which seven are men.
“It was difficult for me because the discrimination, stereotyping and bullying was there all their but I now understand the women in the Gambia want to change that believe and they have succeed as many women are taking part in the Parliamentary elections”
She further encouraged all the women going to the Parliament so that they can decide for the women.
Speaking at the event, Oostende City, Mayor Bart Tommelien said the European project will help in further strengthening the relationship between the cities adding that all the Mayors in Europe are looking at this project and the future is more important not the past
‘‘The city band between Oostende and Banjul is truly unique. It is a great honor to see here as the first mayor of Oostende with my own eyes how big steps are being taking taken in terms of waste policy, city recycling, and digitalization. We want to paint our city band even more and continue to work together in the future’’ he said.
Mayor Bart Tommelien was former Minister of Finance in Belgium.
Bart added that Oostende is one of the most important city in Belgium adding that it is very important to have strong Mayor with ambition to fight for the people saying that working together on the field with people is very important
“My Prime Minister was very sad when I leave government. (He told me that I should not leave because the government needs me). But my respond to him was my City needs me more than the government. In our country Oostende is one of the most important city in our country. It is very important to have strong Mayor with ambition and fighting for the people and working together on the field with people is very important” he explained.
Mayor Bart noted that the Mayor role is not even easy for the men adding that he is a very big supporter of women. ‘‘My council has 60% of women” he said
He further vows that he will support the candidacy of Mayor Lowe for the position of President in the upcoming elections of Global Parliament of Mayors in Kenya
‘‘I am supporting you and it is very important that you will be the next president of the Global Parliament of Mayors” he added