Gambia Dream

“Gambia Dream: TEKKI FII”. The paradox of the back way

Libya’s 2011 civil war opened a gateway for human smuggling to Europe, but a dangerous one. Tens of thousands of young Gambians have attempted the journey in recent years and many have died trying. Mediterranean sea has swallowed more than 18,000 lives in the last 5 years.  European countries are struggling to cope with the crisis while the EU has built 1,000 km of border walls since the fall of the Berlin Wall.

The Gambia is a thin, riverine West African nation with a population of just over 2 million. It is one of the world’s least developed countries, heavily reliant on subsistence farming and with a youth unemployment rate of over 40 percent.

Gambians have been leaving villages for opportunities elsewhere for generations: Migration as social pressure; a magnet and a compass to drag all of the young men away; a way out to seek work and support families back home as a fake dream stained with pain, misery, and loss. Thousands of Gambians are seeking new lives that have flooded into Europe paying a costly price…

Since democracy returned to The Gambia in 2017, many Gambians are coming home, including from Libya. Some returnees are warning others against the journey, but many are frustrated that returns and deterrence took precedence over reintegration and jobs.

While the US and the EU struggle to resolve their border crises, Gambia has become in a laboratory to test the creation of a new future in the country with the aim to nurture perception shift for the Gambian population moving away from a ‘future through migration’ to a ‘future in The New Gambia’.  With the support of the UE, the project aims to improve the economic development and future prospects for The Gambia’s youth, including returning and/or potential migrants by promoting attractive employment and income opportunities and to promote the concept: 'Tekki Fii – Make it Here -Make it in the Gambia' to change perceptions regarding irregular migration and encourage to make in the homeland.

This photo essay has been produced with the support of the INTERNATIONAL TRADE CENTER and it has been published in the AFTENPOSTEN newspaper.