Gambians the world over on Tuesday celebrated the country’s 49th Independence Anniversary in different formats, enabling them the opportunity to take stock of the achievements registered by the nation and the challenges that lie ahead in the continued search for a better nation, developed enough to respond to the wishes and aspirations of its citizens.
Whilst citizens around the world celebrate it in their unique style, in The Gambia celebrations were this year decentralised to give opportunity to mayors and regional governors preside over the ceremonies on behalf of the head of state. In Banjul and Kanifing Municipality, thousands of Gambians took to the July 22nd Square and the Serrekunda West Mini Stadium to celebrate the occasion; ceremonies presided over by Mayors Abdoulie Bah and Yankuba Colley respectively. Military parade and student march past characterised the four-hour ceremonies that also attracted some tourists and other friends of The Gambia.
More importantly, it created the platform for cultural performances by various Gambian traditional groups. This part of the celebration showcased the rich cultural heritage that defines the very fabric of The Gambian society. For many a Gambian, each Independence Anniversary presents the opportunity to reflect on the pains of nationhood vis-à-vis how far the nation has come, both in terms of socio-economic development and what bottlenecks there are, that need to be tackled in order to consolidate the gains.
The anniversary further enables Gambians to understand the fact that the quest for self-rule was indeed a daunting challenge for the few elite Gambians and other patriotic citizens like Edward Francis Small, a journalist, trade unionist and politician, whom many a historian referred to as ”the founding father of Gambian politics”; Sir Dawda K. Jawara, a founding member of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) and Gambia’s independence leader who became the country’s first ever president after the status of Republic was attained on April 24th, 1970; Rev. John Colley (J.C) Faye, who established the first political party in The Gambia called the Democratic Party (DP) in 1951; IM Garba Jahumpa, leader of the Gambia Muslim Congress, 1952; Pierre Sarr Njie, leader of the United Party; Saint Clair Joof of The Gambia People’s Party (GPP); Sheriff Ceesay; Mrs. Rachael Palmer and so on.
The country will clock 50 years next year, 2015, and expectations are already that the country’s Golden Jubilee will be celebrated in a fashion that would be remembered for timeless purposes. But until 12 months again, national development continues.