Posted - 26 Jan 2021 : 08:40:48
TRYING TO KEEP UP WITH THE JONES'S: THE CONTRADICTIONS OF GAMBIA'S CONTRIBUTION TO BRITISH UNEMPLOYMENT AND POVERTY ALLEVIATION EFFORT IN 1914
By Dembo Fatty
It is generally the rule that the one who has nothing is not expected to spend generously. In the case of the Gambia, this was not the case particularly when our Legislative Council approved the donation of £1,162,000 in todays currency to United Kingdom.
According to the tool used above, from Bank of England, in today's value, it is £1,180,000.
ENTER SEPTEMBER 19, 1914: LOCATION BARTHUST
On September 19, 1914, the Council under the leadership of Sir Edward Cameron, Governor of the Gambia passed the following resolution:
"The Council, on behalf of the local Government and the inhabitants of all classes of the Colony and Protectorate European and Native, official and unofficial, including the chiefs and people of the different tribes and districts of the Protectorate, whose keen and loyal interest in the present conflict has been manifested in various ways, desires to express its unswerving allegiance to the Throne and Government of His Majesty the King.
The Colony having in recent years of continued prosperity under British rule amassed a substantial surplus fund free from liability this Council, subject to the consent of the Secretary of State for the Colonies, hereby undertake to provide a sum of £10,000 (£1,162,00 today) to be defrayed from the surplus aforesaid, as a contribution to National Relief Fund inaugurated by His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales for the relief of persons in the British Isles, who are dependents of men serving their country at the front, or who may be suffering poverty and distress from unemployment or otherwise as a result of the existing state of war".
Obviously, the Secretary of State for the Colonies approved the contribution and infact in 1917, another £10,000 was contributed and in 1918, a larger sum of £18,000 was contributed by Gambia to the imperial funds for war purposes.
WAS THE CONTRBUTION LEGIT IN THE FIRST PLACE?
Students of politics may argue in the affirmative because representatives approved it even though members were appointed and not elected.
However, from a morale perspective, these contributions are problematic for a few reasons as follows;
1. Neither the Legislative Council nor the Executive Council had members who were directly elected by the people in 1914. It was not until 1946, that a Constitution was introduced which made it possible for direct representation and Francis Small would win to serve on the Council in 1947. So the people were not consulted.
2. By 1914, the Colonial government built not a single school in both the Colony and the Protectorate. If one carefully studies the 1914 Annual Report, you will notice that Colonial government provided only £600 to education. In fact this amount was for the upkeep of FOUR School Superintendents (each £150) as follows;
1. One Superintendent for Mohammedan school
2. One Superintendent for Catholic schools
3. One Superintendent for Wesleyan schools
4. One Superintendent for Anglican schools.
5. A Technical school run by the Wesleyan church received £300. This increased the colonial government's annual commitment to education to £900.
How can the colonial government say they had a surplus in 1913 which warranted this contribution when they turned a blind eye to education among other key areas of development?
It is my opinion that there cannot be a surplus when government deliberately refuses to spend on her people and as a result realized a surplus.
There were basically two health facilities; one in Bathurst and the other at McCarthy. More investment in health care and accessible to many would have been the recommendation. He that is poor cannot flaunt wealth.
3. The war effort we contributed to had nothing to do with the Gambia. It was not our war. In both World Wars, about 400 Gambians saw action and six of the non-commissioned Africans received the Distinguished Conduct Medal for conspicuous gallantry in the field.
As in words of Brigadier General F.G.H. Cunliffe:
"They have been called upon to take part in a great struggle, the rights and wrongs of which they can scarcely be expected to perceive. They have been brought through the, to them, extremely novel experiences of facing an enemy armed with modern weapons and led by highly trained officers. Their rations have been scanty, their barefoot marches long and trying, and their fighting at times extremely arduous. Yet they have not been found wanting in discipline, devotion to their officers, or personal courage ".
Was the contribution legit? The Jury is still out.
A clear conscience fears no accusation - proverb from Sierra Leone