A British Investor!!

By A Concerned British Investor

I suppose it all started in 2005 my wife had the bright idea of visiting the Gambia for a holiday, nothing wrong with that I hear you say, where we stayed for two weeks of our holiday is not important, just to say they were luxury apartments. We both said as we were coming in to land at Banjul airport, that we were not going to leave our brains at the end of the runway, having been well traveled in my life time.

I thought at the airport I’d better get some money changed, my wife said she would get the bags off the conveyer,( bad move) the next thing I know a very tall Gambian has got the bags and proceeding to push everybody out the way, and out of the airport terminal, to a waiting taxi, the only trouble was it was an illegal taxi, did I know that at the time no, there must have been seven taxi all in a line, they looked like they were about to drop to bits, I said to one of the drivers I was not riding in that taxi, so he showed me another, it looked pretty much like the rest of them a death trap, so off we went to our apartment.

Dear readers I cannot begin to tell you the overpowering smell of petrol in the taxi, how we ever got to the end of our journey, God only knows, but we did , That’s when we knew we’d been had; one of our bags was left in the first taxi. For some strange reason it did not seem to bother me too much, yes of course I was angry, you see my mobile phone was in the bag my heart tablets, plus my stomach tablets, also  in the bag was my wife’s make up, tooth brushes etc, For all that, the Gambia was starting to seem like a magical place to me. I didn’t know why I should feel that way at the time?

That evening we decided to go for beer at the bar on the corner, as you do, as we come out of the apartment building an elderly gentleman clearly wanted to talk to us, for as little as I knew about the Gambia by is age, he was clearly there in the colonial days, I was taken back by is politeness afforded to us, (name withheld).we talked for some time, and said our good byes, and went on our way (he must have been there when things were better).

Not one to give up, I went back to the airport the next day and faced the taxi controller about my bag, yes you know what’s coming, A waste of the taxi fare. The next day we were talking to a man about the bumpsters, and what a problem it was for the tourists, you see, if you don’t learn quickly, you won’t have any money left at the end of the week,
He said what I thought was a strange thing to say at the time, that was the Gambian people are suppressed, I thought I had better store what he said to me in my head for the time being (name withheld)

The next few days passed and I was quickly running out of money, We had to get to a bank quickly, so there I was, at standard chartered bank, trying my Barclaycard in the machine first time nothing, second time, nothing, I knew if I tried a third time I would lose my card, (SHIT) what the hell are we going to do now?

On to a man that, was to become a good friend, (name withheld) So we went back to our apartment, no money for food etc (deep shit) no way to paying for the apartment, when I told our troubles to our new friend, he said that we were to go with him, to his compound, He gave me his mobile phone so I could phone my Bank manageress, I had her private number in the UK, it was agreed that we should open a bank account the next day

My friend then invited us to a very small bedroom within a compound, his bed I noted was made neat and tidy, shoes all in a line against the wall, it was clear to me, the only thing he had was one suitcase to his name, he then opened the suitcase, and gave me he’s life saving, it was about£20 pounds sterling, can you believe it? True, We then went to another, compound, the next thing we know we are in some one else’s house, and are being given food, drinks, and the chance to think. The long and the short of it, was we we’re able to get some money from Harry’s supermarket; until the money from UK came through, on Barclaycard (cash back) thank God for that.

So their we are taking in the sites, my wife, and me and my shadow, It was very upsetting to see so much poverty; you see, we are not tourists, we like to see the way it really is, My new friend and I spoke about Business opportunities in the Gambia. And was introduced to a solicitor (name withheld).
Our new friend wanted to introduce his mother to us, so one day off we all went to Brikama to see her, when I say she had sod all, I mean nothing, so there we were in her house, you know to say it’s a house is a joke, it’s a mud hut with a corrugated tin roof,
She didn’t understand a word of English, and we didn’t understand her, but she was pleased to see us, she offered us a cup of water to drink, it was so hot, thank God my friend said no, don’t drink it, you see its enough to slay a horse, but they drink it, its all they have.

So the two weeks came to the end, back to UK and then on to Spain because that’s were we lived at the time. We then moved back to UK and purchased a small house, a base camp if you like,  That’s when I started my emails to my friend in the Gambia,
I knew I had to do so much research on the internet about Gambia not to do so would be stupid, hours and hours of work. That’s when the trouble started you see, you have to dig and keep digging to find the truth. Why the Gambian people are suppressed was becoming clear. Greed, spitefulness, envy is the devil its self, fear and intimidation is going to make anybody suppressed.

I suppose between us, we must have clocked up 800 emails, So it was finally decided that, if I was help myself and the Gambian people I had to do something, so the new Business venture was born.
I had done my research at home, as regards the new Business start up, The price of all of this? Not for the faint hearted, don’t ask, please. I’ve made some decisions in my life time, but this project takes the biscuit, mad? I must be, So all the ground work was done, back in the UK.

July 2006

Time to fly back to the Gambia, to see possible sites for the plant, I just new something was not right, from the minute we stepped off the plane; we sensed we were being watched. That said, our friend was at the airport to pick us up, so off we go to our accommodation  I’m not sure about the times and dates on our visit it’s not important now,
So there we are driving to see the last possible site of the day for the Business.

Our friend was driving, he was a bit of a speed merchant, I was always telling him to slow down but he never would, he said when I questioned him about it; he said if he drove faster to our destination he would save on petrol, how wrong could he be????? So there we are, coming up to a police check point, our friend has over shot the check point by a few yards, our friend then asked me for money for the police, this is normal in the Gambia, than out of the bush comes a soldier holding an AK-47 riffle, fun, fun, fun, all the way? This is the Gambia and I’d better get used to it. Did I pay the police man? You bet I did,
We also went to Barra with a view to a possible plant to be sited there; it was a good day in all. And also at Brikama to look for a site there.
We did get time to see our friends mother again when we were in the Gambia, She remembered us Time to go home to the UK again, I was worried about the need for a constant electricity supply and constant supply of water for my machines, and how to over come the problem, yes there would be back up generators, but that’s an expensive way of running a Business, Sadly we received an email from our friend, to say he mother had passed away.
Oct/Nov 2006

It was about the same time as the freedom newspaper was being hacked, Somebody had gained remote access to my computer and was logged on to my IP address, What the hells going on I thought? The long and short of it was, I lost all my work I had in the computer about the Gambia, Employment rights, how to start a business in the Gambia etc a lot of work,
The most worrying thing was that persons that were clearly from the Gambia were stopping out side my house in the UK Never for very long, and then they would come back to the house again, and again. This has been going on since last November 2006
At what point do you say this is intimidation? When we were in the Gambia we met a Doctor, and we told him of our plans, and he said they would destroy it. So now we have sleepers in our own town.
Finally to all the good people we met in the Gambia wondering why we let you all down, and didn’t bring the plant to the Gambia? You all know who you are. Please accept our apologies for not doing Business at the moment, when it would have created long term employment.

To the powers that be, in the Gambia, when they say, they welcome private investment? I would take issue with that statement. Fear and intimidation knows no boundary’s, Finally, I have stayed as near to the truth in my story as I possibly can, some of story as been changed to protect the innocent people in the Gambia that are only trying to get on in life.   
Did we criticize your President NO
Did we say anything about the NIA, NO
Did we say anything about mile11    NO

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