21 February 2011

IS GAMBIA 46 YEARS OLD? The Facts and Myths of Independence Day

On 18th February 2011, the Gambia commemorated its 46 anniversary of Independence. The state decentralized the commemoration to regions. It would be interesting to note how much has been spent by each council on the commemoration. It would also not be difficult to understand why duties have been raised by councils from three (3) to five (5) dalasi. It is important for every Gambian to understand that the clarion call of the movement for self determination and Independence as led by Edward Francis Small was: “ No taxation without representation:“
This provided the most rudimentary justification for the establishment of a democratic order and the sovereignty of the people. In short, it was the view of the pioneers that those who pay taxes into government coffers have the right to entrust their money to public trustees whom they elect and who could be removed from office by them. In this way they would act in a transparent and accountable manner knowing that any abuse of office could lead to their removal.

About 81 years since the National Congress of British West Africa called for taxation to be linked to the establishment of representative institutions in 1920 we have National Assembly members, Governors, Chiefs and Musicians who regard the post of a President as the post of a King.

Interestingly enough, during the commemoration of the 46th Anniversary the TV and National Radio interviewed many people who spoke about the nature of the colonial administration which taxed the people without providing adequate services. All the inadequacies of colonialism are exposed. However, they would not allow people to dwell much on the realities of the people after 46 years of Independence. We cannot continue to nurture our national pride by claiming that our ancestors had a civilisation comparable to all others. We must not continue to count the number of a schools and hospitals and compare it with the colonial days to try to justify that we have done better.

What we need to do is to take stock by indicating the goals of the struggle for National Liberation and gauge how far we have gone to attain them.

First and foremost, the final goal of the struggle for self determination and Independence is to create a Sovereign Nation which can produce what it requires and trade with other Nations on the basis of equality, mutual benefit and mutual interest. Have we attained this? No. Gambia is classified as a Heavily Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) after 46 years of Independence. Let the young people be told the truth instead of romanticizing our pre colonial past and post colonial present.

Secondly, the fundamental objective of our struggle for self determination and Independence is to create a Sovereign People whose civil, political, economic, social, cultural and ecological rights are fully safeguarded. Has this objective been attained? Certainly not!

We are working day and night for the people to know that each Gambian is Sovereign and is equal to all others in the civil and political domain. From the President down each has one vote and that is the vote which determines who is President, National Assembly member or Councillor. No Gambian deserves to claim to live in an Independent Nation if he or she is oblivious of his or her sovereignty as a person. This is our message to all Gambians. This is the second phase of National Liberation; the phase of asserting the sovereignty of the people.


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