Gambia : Gambia Independence Day


Well-Known Member
Feb 28, 2009
Gambia to mark 45th independence anniversary

The people of The Gambia will observe the country's 45th, independence anniversary on 18 February 2010. Independence Day will be marked by a march past of school children, organisations and security services at the 22 July Square, formerly McCarthy Square, where President Yahya Jammeh will take the salute and address the nation. There will also be cultural displays.

The guest of honour will be Senegalese president Abdoulaye Wade, who arrived in Banjul on Wednesday.

The interim junta leader of Guinea, General Saikouba Konate, accompanied by a high-ranking delegatio,n is also expected in Banjul to attend the ceremony.

The Gambia was granted independence by the British Monarch on 18 February, 1965, after decades of foreign occupation. However, when the Gambia was declared independent in 1965, the country only had a native prime minister, while the Queen of England (Elizabeth II) continued to oversee the affairs of the West African country.

Back in 1965, the British national flag, the Union Jack, was lowered and replaced by the red, white, blue and green flag of The Gambia.

The British anthem 'God save the Queen' was also replaced Gambia's national anthem, 'For the Gambia Our Homeland', a piece written by one of the country' s most popular trade unionists at the time, Edward Francis Small.

The Gambia finally became a sovereign state in April 1970, when it attained Republican status and the Queen was no more an overseer of the country's activities.

The first Prime Minister cum President, Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara, ruled the country for three decades during which period there was remarkable progress in terms of development.

However, the overriding force behind Gambians was the pride of self-rule as the country's administrative activities were manned by their own people.

The commissioning of development projects began and Gambians began having a sense of pride and dignity, as they began to realise the significance of their culture and their own civilization as Africans and the culture of tolerance, civility and forbearance took shape in society.

A structured economy was built with the engendering of the country's own monetary system and artefacts of imperialism gradually began disappearing.

However, despite all these pleasant stories, many argue that the First Republic failed to separate this country from its colonial master, Britain.

The country moved in a direction that the colonialists carved and the father-son relationship continued between The Gambia and Britain.

The technocrats also failed in their capacity to educate, inform and enlighten the citizenry and develop a diverse economic base. All this and other realities piled up to conclude that the independence process remained unaccomplished.

In July 1994, then Lieutenant Yahya Jammeh led a group of soldiers to take over the country undemocratically, and formed a military government that ruled by decrees. The junta in a more radical approach disconnected the country from the yoke of colonialism.

Indigenes had their raw aspirations defined and transformed into reality. Gambians were put at the centre of state advocacy accompanied by a proliferation of development projects all over the country.

This was characterized by President's Jammeh's frequent attacks on the colonial masters for not improving the living conditions of Gambians after having occupied the country for almost four centuries.

Jammeh's radical approach to development and the 'no compromise' slogan regarding his administrative government led to countless sackings of cabinet ministers and civil servants.

However, he has registered significant development in the education and infrastructure initiatives to say the least.

The only area where the first regime is still better than the efforts made by the second regime is the area of agriculture.

At least during the First Republic fertilizers, seeds and other farming essentials were made available at affordable costs and farming in general thrived far better than in the present day.

For the Second Republic, the necessary equipments needed to improve agricultural sector are only available to the President and his Kanilai Farms. For almost a decade, the plight of the general farming community of The Gambia has not been heeded.

Banjul - Pana 18/02/2010

By Musa Sheriff, PANA correspondent
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