A number of activities have rightly been lined up for such a great celebration. This day, whichever way you look at it, will be symbolic in many ways. Not only because the day will be used in any attempt to define our semi-centenial corporate existence, but also because we can use it to reflect on our journey so far. The credit for the delivery of democratic dividends however, has to be disproportionately shared between the two governments that graced this period. The work of these two governments is articulated along both selfish and selfless lines.
It must be said, however, that the continuing survival of our nation for 50 years in spite of tenuous strains to our unity is by all standards a great achievement. Even though the lofty dreams of our founding fathers remain largely unfulfilled, our ability to stick together and keep our hopes for a better country alive, should spur us to greater efforts to overcome our present problems and build a country we can all be proud of.
We recall that at independence, The Gambia held no meaningful prospects for its survival – at least for those who sat on the pessimistic side of the pendulum. But what is also worth mention of the fact that we attained our independence at a time when we had no institutions that keep a country moving. The Gambia’s economy regressed and was in the doldrums which led to widespread poverty and socio-economic alienation.
It was also the case that there was no basic infrastructure. Things like good roads, potable water, steady electricity, functional education, security and efficient healthcare system were just campaign issues. They were the basic things that our founding fathers campaigned for and it was clear that it was only through independence that we could achieve them. It was done with intention that we had to stand on our own and take charge of our own destiny. This, though, had to come at a price; not only a monetary price but one involving human capital. Our leaders needed to shoulder the responsibility of keeping our country alive.
Clearly, our founding fathers who made the hard decision to free the country from colonialism do so with so much courage. These people had knowledge firsthand that their decision came at a time when our country was groped in the dark in many areas of development. Yet, with our limited human and material resources, they managed to salvage the nation from the harsh experience of exploitation.
Meanwhile, our version of keeping our collective hope alive as a nation comes in many fronts. There are, of course, the political, social, economic, cultural, religious and other progressive sides. With regard to development, these factors must be examined and other moving parts which all combine to shape a country. In many analyses, credit has been given to our leaders both past and present whose contribution has been immense and selfless. It is their effort and other well-meaning efforts that have saved our country from disintegration.
Therefore, February 18 is a fundamental, historically, important and specific day that will determine and shape another foundation for The Gambia upon which its continuity or God forbids, its demise will be based. There is no doubting the fact that The Gambia as a social system has passed through challenging periods in her existence since independence. This can serve as a point of reference in any attempt to restore confidence in a nation that in very clear terms has been entrusted to take charge of her our destiny. But as we roll out the drums in commemoration of this remarkable occasion, it is necessary for all to know that The Gambia is on a track that could lead us to the type of country, which our founding fathers envisaged, and of which we all dream.]]>