Chairman Neil Ramshaw opened the meeting ay 1030a.m. and advised of six apologies.

The previous week’s Speaker Lynne Ditchburn had sent her thanks for the warm welcome she received from members. In his capacity as Secretary Neil Ramshaw gave notice of the A.G.M. on Tuesday April 26th and asked for any proposals or any other business items to be advised to him two weeks prior to that meeting (April 12th). There was also a request for members to consider putting themselves forward as potential ” Officers 2016/2017″ with in particular a need for Vice Chairmen.

Programme Secretary John Taylor discussed the possibility of the Wetherby Whaler at Guiseley being the location for the informal lunch on Tuesday May 3rd and would welcome views or alternatives at the end of the meeting and hopes to finalize for next week.

Today’s Speaker was the Forum’s own Richard Wright whose topic “Gambia-No Problem” would inform and educate the audience about this African Republic. Richard had spent half his working life there and had first become aware of the country when in Malaysia in 1973 and in conversation with a couple of engineering colleagues. In 1979 he took a road project job on the Trans Gambia Highway and as a precursor to the main part of his talk showed a short film “The Exchange” which showed us the views of some normal day-to-day Gambians, their activities and aspirations with a great emphasis on the importance of education to them and their families.

Gambia generally is a poor country with families living in poverty, managing in a hand to mouth fashion albeit friendly and welcoming with a “No Problem” attitude to reasonable requests. The country is located on the west coast of Africa with a very attractive tropical climate comprising a four-month wet season and eight months  from November to June warm and dry. With little written history the country in the early first millennium was fought over by the Ghana, Mali empires and in 1500 A.D. the Songhai empire. Berber traders introduced the now main religion of Muslim to the country.The first settlers were the Jolo tribe and the population is now made up of them and various other tribes including the Fula’s, the Serahule’s, the Wolof’s and the largest group the Mandinka tribe. Integration through marriage has led to the absence of tensions between the different tribes and contributed to the harmony amongst the population. The arrival of the Portuguese then English led to the eventual colonisation of the country with the ongoing blight of slavery continuing and growing although it had been present pre-European times and was facilitated with the involvement of African middle men.

Richard took us through Gambia’s more recent political history, the end of colonisation, independence in 1965, it’s becoming a Republic in 1970 and discussed its most recent political leaders Dawda Jawara (1970–1994) and Yahya Jammeh following a military coup in 1994…..there had been an aborted coup in 1981 suppressed with Senegalese involvement!!   His slides showed many of the engineering projects his company was involved with including roads and bridges amongst others. The importance of Agriculture particularly Nut Crops, the need for subsistence farming and of the vital Tourist trade and Recreational Fishing was stressed. His interesting and entertaining discourse ended with a number of questions.

The Vote Of Thanks was given by David Hopkinson on behalf of the thirty-eight attendees.




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