darboe lThe leader of the opposition United Democratic Party (UDP) believes The Gambia’s independence means a lot, despite the current unfortunate state of affairs which makes it disheartening to talk about anything positive.

Lawyer Ousainou Darboe’s message – contained in his party’s 50th Golden Jubilee Message – recognises the “positives and laudable achievements we gain as an independent nation is attaining full custody of our own affairs. Some may today take that as something irrelevant, insignificant, however, nothing is worst in life than letting strangers running the affairs of your nation.”

Read below Mr. Darboe’s full message:

18 February 1965 saw the Union Jack lowered and the Gambian flag raised. We became a nation that is called The Gambia. Britain did not believe that The Gambia will survive as a nation. For some 18 February 1965 is only significant as a day marking “the birth of an improbable nation”.

But here we are today celebrating 50 years of nationhood. As we celebrate 50 years of nationhood we must congratulate and pay tribute to those who led us to independence, those men and women who with dedication and determination laid a solid foundation for nation building.

Let us congratulate ourselves for establishing parastatals that have contributed and continue to contribute to the socio-economic advancement of The Gambia.

Let us on this day reflect on what we have achieved in the past 50 years and consolidate our gains. We must also look at ourselves critically and constructively to discover our failures and shortcomings and avoid the negative incidents that have restarted our efforts to reach our set goals.

Let us all today rededicate ourselves to combating poverty, ensuring better health delivery system, improved educational standard, a trusted legal institutions, a viable and sustainable agricultural system fit for purpose and the creation of an environment that is conducive to political pluralism. Today each Gambian must make a pledge to do something however little that will make The Gambia a model for others.

I congratulate the leadership both past and present and every Gambian on this great national birthday.

As we celebrate a milestone in our country’ independence, let us all take pride in the sweat and tears of our forefathers. The land that is The Gambia is situated such that, our existence was deemed as unviable, a country that cannot by any stretch continue to exist as an independent nation.

The British colonial masters demarcated The Gambia in such a way; we are left at the mercy of the Francophone Senegal. We became sandwiched in the belly of another independent nation, a nation that speaks a totally different official language.

When Africa commentators at the time of our independence opined that, we will be an ‘improbable nation’, they never factor in the resoluteness, doggedness and tenacity of the people of our beloved nation.

50 years of nationhood is something every citizen in the Gambia should be proud of. The struggle to see that, we became an independent nation from Great Britain brought forth the realisation that, colonialism was a crime against our people, against our humanity and heritage.

The Gambia’s independence means a lot, and due to the current unfortunate state of affairs, it is disheartening to talk about anything positive. The positives and laudable achievements we gain as an independent nation is attaining full custody of our own affairs. Some may today take that as something irrelevant, insignificant, however, nothing is worst in life than letting strangers running the affairs of your nation.

Colonialism was a dehumanising exercise, a superiority complex matrix that allowed western nations to export their values and way of lives on others they occupy a completely different region with. It inflicts a deeper and lasting scar, the imposition of western superiority and an indirect blow to the self-confidence and assurances of the colonised. Thus, the statement of Thomas Greer is true “All the new nations faced severe problems, for political independence did not automatically bring them prosperity and happiness…they were seldom free of external influences. They were still bound to…structures developed earlier by the colonial powers.”

However, for The Gambia, labouring on the difficulties and impacts of colonialism will be less relevant if placed in the larger context of the present dilemma for all democratic loving Gambians. The 50 years celebrations, marking the Golden Jubilee today to many Gambians is a savoury taste since in the last 20 years the Gambia has experienced a difficult political existence.

The 50 years of our nation’s celebration cannot be a joyous affairs wholly until such a day, when Gambians can bridge the political divide, mend fences, never allowed political differences to epic into hatred. Gambians will celebrate much more jubilantly when fear rule is no more, the freedom and peace of mind Gambians enjoyed in the first Republic became a reality once more, however with a different dimension and spectrum.

By this, we mean with responsibility and dedication to preventing the public space falling into wrong hands. The 50 years golden jubilee acting as a catalyst for inward scrutiny from political leaders, civil society activist, the media and Gambians at large. In this day, the United Democratic Party remembers the many Gambians who are suffering persecutions due to political reasons, we remember Gambians who are missing, Gambians who are in jail, Gambians who are inflicted with the harshness of a constricted political environment, Gambians who are in exile, Gambians feeling the pains and brunt of the hard economic environments in this Golden Jubilee. Our thoughts are with every single Gambians crying in silence.

Long live The Gambia, long live our peaceful co-existence, long live the UDP and long live the determination to survive against all odds.

Thank you.

Ends

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