Posted - 24 Apr 2022 : 11:26:25
April 24. 1970. Happy Independence Day
By Madi Jobarteh
On this day, Queen Elizabeth of the UK ceased being the sovereign power of The Gambia. Rather, on this day the Gambian People became the one and only source of the Sovereignty of The Gambia. This means it is our people who became the source of power, authority and legitimacy of the Government, which performs its functions in the name of the people and for their welfare.
Until 1970, the power and legitimacy of the Gambia Government were vested in the Governor General who was singlehandedly appointed by a foreign imperial monarch in London. Gambians were nothing but subjects of that foreign Queen! From 1966 to 1970, the Queen’s Governor General in Bathurst was Sir Farimang Singhateh. The Prime Minister of The Gambia was answerable to the Governor General on behalf of the Queen. The Prime Minister Dawda Jawara together with the people of The Gambia, combined, cannot take any decision if it was not approved or allowed by the Queen.
When The Gambia became ‘independent’ on 18 February 1965, Jawara himself came to realise immediately that after all, he and his government had no power. Rather he came to realize that actual power resided in the Queen in London. It was because of that rude awakening that he realized the urgent need to transform The Gambia into a Republic hence attain independence in the true sense of the word.
This means that The Gambia was not independent on 18 February 1965. The 1965 Constitution, as the supreme law of the land did stipulate absolutely clearly that The Gambia was only a dominion under the British Empire. This was why his government sought a referendum on two occasions (in Nov. 1965 and April 1970) just to attain republican status for the country, i.e. to become truly Independent. On 24 April 1970, this objective was achieved hence Independence Day, today.
Therefore, no matter how much you are excited about 18 February or how much you were taught about 1965, know that the true Independence Day of this country is 24 April 1970. Nothing else. If you don’t know read the 1965 Constitution because a constitution defines the kind of political dispensation a country is.
Do not be fooled by the history handed down to us by the British. Do not be overtaken by the big ceremony on 18 February 1965 when the Union Jack was lowered and the Gambian flag raised amidst huge fanfare at McCarthy’s Square. The British knew who we were but we did not know what we were. Sadly. It is unfortunate that there’s a huge miseducation about the true history of this country for the past 50 years.
One example of such miseducation and confusion is when you hear people claim Independence was on 18 February 1965 and the country became a republic on 24 April 1970. It appears folks do not even distinguish the simple meaning of Independence and Republic. Please be informed that when a nation is independent then there is no other sovereign power above it. An independent nation can be a republic such as France or a monarchy such as the UK or even a theocracy-cum-monarchy such as Saudi Arabia, among others.
Therefore in 1965 The Gambia was not independent because there was a foreign power above the country. Because there was a foreign power above in whom The Gambia’s sovereignty resided, means that The Gambia was not also a republic at the time. In a republic, sovereignty resides only in the whole of the citizens. That sovereign Gambian and The Gambia emerged only in 1970, April 24, hence Independence!
Whether we are economically self reliant or not, or whether we are politically weak or strong or whether we are dependent on charity or not, the fact is the Gambia has been an Independent Republic since 1970. In 1965, we were only a dominion under the British Empire, i.e. we had internal self-rule status but within a wider polity.
We may have mismanaged ourselves or failed ourselves since 1970, but that does not mean that we are not independent. The Gambia is an independent nation like the United States or Senegal or China, etc.
Therefore, the solution to all the ills of our society lies, first and foremost in the recognition of our true history. A society without the true knowledge of its history is like a tree without roots! Such a society can only be poor and wretched! Therefore, educate yourself about your country. Remove all emotions and nostalgia and face the objective reality.
Correct the history!
For The Gambia Our Homeland
A clear conscience fears no accusation - proverb from Sierra Leone