The Gambian leader, His Excellency Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr Yahya Jammeh, Monday led celebrations marking the country's 48th Independence Anniversary.
Addressing thousands of Gambians and non-Gambians at the event held at the July 22nd Square in Banjul and graced by the presidents of Equatorial Guinea and Senegal as well as the prime minister of Ivory Coast, among other dignitaries, President Jammeh pledged a brighter future for Gambian children.
Also present at the event were the president's mother, Aja Ashombe Bojang; the First Lady of the Republic of The Gambia, Her Excellency Madam Zineb Jammeh; the vice president and minister of Women's Affairs, Her Excellency Aja Dr Isatou Njie-Saidy, cabinet ministers, delegates from Morocco, Cameroon, and Algeria, amongst a host of other dignitaries.
Characterised by the singing of the National Anthem and a 21-Gun Salute, the event began with a march past by the various security units in the country, school children, cultural troupes and 'Yai Compins' among others.
The Gambian leader arrived at the venue with Her Excellency, the First Lady, Madam Zineb Yahya Jammeh, accompanied by the APRC Green Youths.
His Excellency the president, in his address to the nation, used the opportunity to call on all Gambians to rededicate themselves to the goals set for the country's development in which education is giventop priority.
He made his position very clear concerning the welfare of Gambian and African children in general.
He said: "I would rather die than see you drop out of school, in a refugee camp and on the street. This is why education is so dear to my heart. That is why for you the Gambian children, Space would be the limit as long as you are serious. My policy is not whom you know but what you know. It is not about what tribe you belong to but how well you are ready to perform. Not which village you come from but how dedicated you are to national development. As far as I am concerned there can be only two tribes in The Gambia and in Africa and in the whole world and those are the good people and the bad people and for the bad people there would be no compromise."
Call for unity
The Gambian leader once again used the opportunity to renew his call for Africans to unite. He emphasised that Africans must unite and work together if they want to get rid of the shackles of abject poverty in the continent. He again lamented that Africa is the richest continent in terms of mineral resources but the poorest of the poor in economic and real financial terms.
"Because instead of working together, working for each other we are working against each other for external interests. Instead of building peace and economic development we are building military arsenals attacking one another and killing ourselves. Instead of sending our children and our women to school and in offices unfortunately the story of the African child is the refugee camp. The story of the African woman is destitution in a refugee camp. This is very sad because the Almighty Allah will not come down to stop it. It is we the African leaders who should stop this carnage; nobody would stop it for us. Our resources go outside of the African continent and as we fight and get poorer, forces outside of the African continent get richer," he concluded.
The State Banquet
The Gambian leader, His Excellency Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr Yahya Jammeh and the First Lady of the Republic, Her Excellency madam Zineb Yahya Jammeh, on Monday evening hosted a State Banquet at the Coco Ocean Resort and Spa, as part of activities marking the country's 48 Independence Anniversary.
The Senate President of Algeria, Abdel Bensare, graced the event, alongside Cabinet ministers, Acting Chief Justice of The Gambia, the speaker of the National Assembly, members of the Diplomatic and Consular Corps, National Assembly members, as well as a cross-section of the Gambian society.
Several Gambian artistes were at the event to entertain the crowd, among them the Gambia's Kora Maestro, Jaliba Kuyateh.