columnBy Gibairu Janneh
Monday was Independence Day. 48 years ago, this day went down in the annals of Gambian history marking the beginning of the end in our struggle for self determination. It was a revolutionary day that shows the courage of our forbearers to stand against all forms of alien domination and reclaim our confiscated liberty and dignity.
The event is not to merely celebrate, but also to commemorate and assess our post-independence performance as a nation. In order to grasp the true meaning of this achievement we so dearly cherish, we ought to accept the fact that this is a moment of stock taking rather than one of wining and dining.
Was it justifiable that we demanded self-rule? Have we proven - at least to ourselves - that we were indeed right to yearn for self-rule? These are the questions that we shall be asking, and by the time we get to the bottom of it, we certainly will have paved the way for future actions. 400 years of British rule, what did it gain us?
Today as we look back we areconstantly remindedof the ills of colonial rule. When over 4 decades ago we braced ourselves for the dawn of a new day - the birth of a new nation - little did we know the magnitude of the herculean task ahead.
A tattered core of human resource deprived of everything that had something to do with education and enlightenment. But thanks to Allah for the foresightedness of the architects of our independence heroes, today the decisions we take reflect the true feelings of our people, even if they do not make sense to others. As in the words of President Jammeh-the true meaning of independence and nationhood can be wholesomely appreciated only when we can cogently and aptly tie these to our dignity and relevance on the global stage as a people.
Precisely 48 years on, we are today poised to vindicate the series of nationalistic events, by our gallant men and women, which preceded the attainment of right to self-determination. However, the road has not been all that smooth. All we had been yearning for was the chance to take part in the upliftment of the status of our people. And this would only be possible by fixing the woes ofcolonial rule. And we can only succeed in this by intensifying our positive stance on nation building, and also thrive to consolidate our current gains.
Though, history has indicated that our first 30 years of self-rule has not met the objectives of independence. The country became a neo-colonial client state instead of responding to the needs and aspirations of the very people who out of conscious action gave birth to the sovereign state.
It is obvious that besides, political independence, though we must also strive to gain economic independence.. When independence has been gained, the country requires a new orientation away from the sheer destruction of colonialism and towards national reconstruction. To achieve this, the state in those early days of independence needed an ideology with a regenerative concept of the world and life, forged from a strong continuing link with our past.
Such a constructive programming of the country to achieve growth and progress and ensure that our newly independent men and women enjoy liberty, dignity and prosperity was virtually absent. The slow growth of development in all spheres of society, ranging from education, health, culture, empowerment of women, agriculture among others, are ample indictment of the failure of our 30 years of self rule, to live up to the objectives of the course that brought us to this day.
Our collective experience has justified that it was not until the birth of the Second Republic that the country acquired a sense of purpose and direction oriented towards materialising the end of independence.The revolutionary government from the onset realised that independence is not child's play. Once independence has been won the ultimate task of the state was to organise and chart a way towards greater economicprogress and guarantee the liberty, dignity and prosperity of the people.
Realising that this huge challenge can only be achieved through a constructive mass political party that would be nothingbut the vanguard of the people, the active organ of the people, working at all times in the service of the people; the revolutionary leadership gave birth to the APRC to mobilise our total manpower for the industrial, economic, technological and scientific reconstruction of the country, so that we can produce the necessary conditions which shall mean an abundance of every good thing for our people and the greatest welfare of the masses
Eighteen years today, the leadership of President Jammeh as opposed to over four decades of British domination and three decades of initial self-rule, where socio-economic backwardness and political retardation characterises the ordinary business of the people. It also guaranteed the full incorporation of the authority of the people in an all inclusive manner in governance, by giving the masses a wide scope to achieve self-confidence and to control their political, economic, social and cultural resources.
There has also been remarkable improvement in all sectors of society ranging from infrastructural development, cultural revalorisation to economic expansion with agriculture, health and education taking the lead in the nation's development just to mention.
As the country clocks 48, we wish to call on the countrymen and women to take a moment of reflection, assess ourselves on what we have done individually to compliment the efforts of the government in filling the development basket of the country. let us also utilized the day to reaffirm our commitment to the ideals of Pan Africanism. This is crucial because Pan Africanism is an objective which, when achieved, will bring about the fulfillment of the aspirations of Africans and people of African descent everywhere.
It solves the problem of micro- nationalism; which prevents us from seeing beyond the boundaries of the islands or countries in which we were born. It lets us see Africa as our nation - a nation that is abundantly rich in resources which can be harnessed for the suffering African masses scattered throughout the world.
With Pan Africanism, poverty, the lack of housing, inadequate diet, poor healthcare and irrelevant education will become things of the past. All Africans will work, produce and receive the things that are needed to survive and develop. Women, the same as men, will work to reconstruct our societies. The purpose of production will be the improvement of the quality of life for all.
To sum it all, we should always remember that February 18 1965was the day when the country broke the chains of imperialism; thereby ushering in self-rule, and setting the pace for human, political and socio-economic development of the country for future generations.
The day created a new nation capable of running and administering its own affairs distinct from both international and external meddling. The significance of February 18 1965 cannot be overemphasised in this page cognisant of the current affairs in the world today.
The Gambia and her people have sacrificed their time and energy for the cause of the country leading to the historic February 18th 1965 and the subsequent attainment of republican status in April 1970.