Steering Committee Meeting - January 3rd, 2010
Wuyeh Yorro Sanyang
Mamadou Sellou Jallow
Cherno B. Jallow
Jula Baldeh (invitee)
Chairman: MB Krubally
Secretary: Cherno B. Jallow
Time: 1:00 PM Eastern Time (US)
Wuyeh paid tribute to the good work being done by the general membership of Basse Association, Inc. He expressed delight in the "will to communicate" within the Steering Committee. He thanked everybody for their hard work and dedication to the continuity of the Association.
On the proposed Memorandum of Understanding between the BA and its sister organizations, MB Krubally asked if we should go ahead with the idea. Cherno said the MOU as was written, was good enough. He gave it a thumbs-up. Wuyeh concurred, but suggested we came up with more details on the kinds of actions to be handed to any parties defaulting on the guidelines of the MOU.
MB stressed that the MOU was geared towards the betterment of Basse. "The only support is for Basse." Pa Joof agreed that the BA was created for the development of Basse and as far as the Association was concerned, the MOU was going to be reflective of Basse interests inside Basse and nothing more.
Bakary Jallow said the MOU document was well written, but expressed concerns about "open-ended" commitments to the other organizations, to which MB replied, although it is an open invitation, help will be based on the BA's ability and the approval of the general membership. Wuyeh stressed that the MOU was demonstrative of a mutual commitment among the organizations: the BA could help as much as be helped by the other organizations. He talked about the need to bridge any communication gaps among the various groups.
Ousainou Krubally said he was fine with the MOU document as it stood. It was agreed, from Bakary's suggestion, that the document be sent out first to the BA members, soliciting their inputs and then to the sister organizations for their own suggestions to be incorporated into a final MOU document. This was necessary to avoid the impression of dictating the terms of the MOU.
Action Item: Bakary Jallow to write an official memo to accompany the drafted MOU document to the general membership.
Wuyeh reported that the nomination response from the membership "wasn't bad, but wasn't exceptional" either. He said the nominees would be contacted before the second week of January and be availed the opportunity to choose their positions of preference among the many they may have been slotted for. He announced that every potential nominee will provide a picture and a brief biography of themselves for the elections.
Sellou worried about voting into office the wrong persons for the job. He said he understood that this was a normal electoral process, but cautioned that since this was a voluntary organization, "capability" ought to be the defining quality for any potential leadership position.
Wuyeh said his group had indeed discussed Sellou's concerns and had thought about ways of reconciling the democratic process with the abilities and skills set of the various nominees. He added that his group would be contacting the nominees individually to assess their limits and strengths.
MB implored the Steering Committee leaders to continue working on member recruitment; he asked if there were other strategies that could be employed to bring more members into the organization. Ousainou said people thought the membership dues were too small, and suggested increasing them.
Cherno suggested that individual donation letters be sent to various Basserians and other potential donors. Jula Baldeh thought it was easier for her and others in Europe to wire their contributions through Western Union rather than going the banking route.
In light of recent public disagreements on the MOU on the website, MB asked what could be done to avoid similar flare-ups in the future. He said he understood a lot of these disagreements were simply natural; they are bound to happen once in a while. He asked Wuyeh to deliberate on this matter. Wuyeh said the Forum was just like a Bantaba; it was meant to allow anybody to express their feelings as they saw fit. It wouldn't be right to restrict anybody. "We have to be very tolerant and avoid personalizing the issues." He said more conflicts would be coming and cautioned against fine-tuning or expecting others to fine-tune their language. He, however, thought, that the whole matter could have been handled differently. He stressed the themes of open-mindedness and a depersonalization of the issues.
Ousainou said the Forum is not a place to praise-sing anybody; it should be an arena for debate and honest disagreements. Sellou suggested that in the future it will be better to privately address any disagreements before venting out on the Forum. "Instead of reacting to the person on the Forum, it's better to contact privately. I would prefer rectifying the person on the phone." Pa agreed that, while it is important to express ourselves, it is also important to reach out to the other party on the phone or by email to avoid any misunderstandings. Wuyeh concurred, but added that it was sometimes necessary to go public, otherwise the general readership wouldn't know how a particular matter was discussed, debated or resolved.
Cherno said as far as he was concerned, this was not a "conflict", although he said conflicts are sometimes necessary because they do create avenues for redress and enlarged understandings. He stated that the debate on the Forum wasn't a conflict; it was a healthy disagreement between parties. He saw no problem with what transpired. It was the democratic space allowing differing viewpoints, even if expressed stridently.
Bakary said the lesson to be learned, if there was any, was the negative inference the debate may have wrought. Some people may read too much into the exchanges and draw negative connotations from the dialogue. He expressed some concern about the ripple effects of the recent heated discourse on people like him and his generation. He said he reacted to the matter with restraint. He thought it would have been better if the reaction to his comments had been generalized rather than personalized.
Pa Joof's proposal for financial support for needy students in Basse: Jula thought it was better to handle the mosque issue first before embarking on any other projects. MB disagreed, saying it was better to start something while the mosque agenda was being sorted out. Ousainou proposed some help for Koba Kunda Primary School. He said he had visited the school, and had seen some pupils sitting on the bare floor; they had no chairs to sit on. He thought some help should be in order. Sellou agreed with Ousainou on the help for Koba Kunda.
Jula stressed that any scholarship aid ought to be need-based coupled with an excellent academic record on the part of the potential recipients. It was agreed that awards would go to three pupils, one in each of the primary schools, namely Koba Kunda, St. George's and St. Joseph's. An initial amount of $100 (one hundred dollars) was earmarked for each would-be awardee.
A scholarship board comprising Cherno B. Jallow, Pa Joof and Ousainou Krubally would draft the criteria for the scholarship awards. Cherno suggested having former teachers Pa Samba Johm and Ousman Kamara join the board to help in the decision-making.
Ousainou Krubally to contact veteran Basserian teacher Michael Hamadi Secka for guidelines on this task.