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Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Honouring our unsung heroes

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 The form that independence struggle takes largely reflects the reality of that place and the time. It would therefore be unrealistic to repudiate an independence struggle when it takes the form of armed insurrection, even when one could opine that the most ideal form of struggle is one whose objectives are achieved while lives are preserved. This is what The Gambia’s independence struggle achieved. It was a movement of people who came together and fought for those noble goals which sat at the core of every human being, that is, freedom and self determination.

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But our struggle was not won only by the few that were portrayed on the pages of history books. It was a collective process that united people of all shades of opinions and from all walks of life. Like many other struggles that the oppressed embarked upon, the unknown and obscure majority were key or the major catalyst to the freedom of The Gambia. When South Africa emerged from Apartheid, many unequivocally gave Nelson Mandela the title of liberator of South Africa. This became accepted but was not necessarily the whole truth, far from it. The many souls who perished in the struggle and many others who agitated till the last point equally deserved mention and recognition. So, in a nutshell, liberation is not a one man show. Rather, it comes through collective aspiration of men and women who go out of their comfort zones and reach out for it.


The lead story yesterday on The Standard which featured the historian Hassoum Ceesay, rightfully back up this claim. The Gambia’s independence was fought not only by those people who are popularised by the books and by the media. There were others, many of them, whose names are buried in obscurity and will remain there until the day we unearth them and give them their rightful places in the historical schemes of things. Unless this happens, then history will only and always glorify ‘the leaders’.


As we approach the golden jubilee, we might as well make this one of the major themes to mark and celebrate the event. History plays an influential role in shaping the psyche of people and helps in the development of identity. At a time when post-modern man is in a state of crisis regarding his role as a steward of the earth, it will do The Gambia well in mapping out a holistic history that encompasses the whole spectrum of the society. Many will argue that reviving the narrative of the unsung heroes will do little in empowering the modern Gambian. Well, they should remember that our country was built on the edifice of struggle and was consolidated on that premise, so the case is such that when we leave out that portion of our history, how can the up and coming generation have a sense of struggle in the face of onslaughts from all quarters of the globe.


Remembrance of the past is witnessing and that in itself is an act of pointing to a surer future. The future can only be built based on a vision of the past. The paradigms for a beautiful country rest ultimately upon that realisation. By unearthing those heroes of the past, no insight is left behind and when collectively put together, gives us a strong horse to ride on into the future, unflinching and triumphant.


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