The Gambia turns 55 tomorrow. It is an auspicious occasion in the life of this country once regarded as an improbable nation. But hard as it was, this small country has stood proud and is still moving in spite of some very challenging times in its history.
Celebrating independence is an occasion for reflection on how far the nation has come in realising its aspirations and objectives of developing itself for the future of its citizens. It is a time to reflect on the pledges that were made when the Union Jack was lowered some 55 years ago and the country was ushered into the comity of nations.
At the time, pledges were made especially as enshrined in the National Anthem which urges that Gambians live as brothers and sisters and be each other’s keepers. It was pledged that justice may guide the actions of everyone so there can be peace and harmony.
Fifty-five years on, it is important to reflect on how much has been added to the political independence that was attained on that fateful day. Has the country been able to gain and maintain economic and social independence? Has the country been able to map out ways of ensuring a good education system to equip its young for the responsibility of nation building?
Has the country put in place a good and viable health care system which will enable it reduce if not eradicate child and maternal mortality? Has the country been able to put mechanisms in place to prevent an individual or a group hijacking the destiny of the country and do as they please?
The above are the questions to which every Gambian should seek answers in order for the celebrations of independence to be meaningful. It should not just be merrymaking but interrogating ourselves to ensure that the future generation will inherit a country they can be proud of.
Until now, Gambians are seeking and searching for an identity as a country. Folks will identify themselves with tribal and ethnic lines instead of just as Gambians. This is the real struggle. This is the true independence that should be sought by everyone so that a time will come, may it be soon, that Gambians will unhesitatingly identify themselves as Gambians and not tribe or ethnic group x or y.
While the struggle to make that happen is on, we wish everyone a Happy Independence Anniversary!