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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Inauguration of the SeneGambia Bridge-a bold step for sub-regional integration

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By:- DR. Henry D.R. Carrol (M.R.G.),
Senior Oxford-Trained Lawyer, Solicitor
General Emeritus Of The Gambia & Founder
Senior U.T.G. Law Lecturer (From 2007 to Date).

INTRODUCTION:-In Mr. Momodou Sabally’s recent and very interesting article with the French title:-“Avec Macky Et Barrow:-Alternance 2:0”, this in English means:-“With Macky and Barrow: Alternate 2:0”, and it was published in the Friday 18th January 2019 publication, of the most widely read Standard Newspaper, and he wrote:-“….the upcoming inauguration of the Transgambia bridge to be presided over by Presidents Macky Sall and Adama Barrow…”

The said words of Mr. Sabally, were a monumental linguistic error, because His Excellency Adama Barrow was The Chief/Grand/National Host of the said Ceremony, even though Mr. Azis Willan the Master Of Ceremonies (M.C.) of the said occasion, wrongly called Mr. Ebrima Dampha, Regional Governor of North Bank Region (N.B.R.), “our host”, since the Ceremony took place in Farafenni, in the N.B.R. His Excellency Macky Sall, the President of neighbouring Senegal, was rightly and Officially invited by His Excellency Adama Barrow, ideally as The Chief Guest Of Honour, since the bridge is Officially named: -“The Senegambia Bridge.” It would have been better, if Mr. Sabally had written:-“…. co-presided over by Presidents Adama Barrow and Macky Sall ….” Most of V.I.P. speakers at the grand ceremony, got it right (protocol wise), while others like Mr. Sabally, (who never spoke), overtly breached Presidential Protocol.

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The Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, by A.S. Hornby, authoritatively defines “preside over” thus:-“…be the Head or Director of ….” His Excellency President Adama Barrow, is always the first in every thing in The Gambia, because he is indeed the present Executive President or Head Of State and The First Gambian Citizen. Vel Primus, Vel Cum Primus (Latin:- either the first, or among the first). Qui priore est tempore portio est jure (Latin:-he who is first in time, has priority in Law). Even when we have two or more Presidents visiting The Gambia simultaneously or contemporaneously, His Excellency Adama Barrow is always Primus Inter Pares (Latin:-The first among equals). Since The Senegambia Bridge, is exclusively within The Gambia’s territory, (over Yelli-Tenda and Bamba-Tenda), this famous Latin maxim in Land Law therefore fully applies:- Quic quid plantatur solo solo cedit (what is attached to the land, is part of the land). That is why when His Excellency Mr. Macky Sall was making his speech at the historical, high-profile Ceremony, he rightly said:-“I must make it clear, that the bridge is a Gambian bridge, but it benefits the West African Sub-Region and beyond,” Since Senegal is our nearest African neighbour, it therefore makes a lot of sense, to name the bridge The Senegambia Bridge, and to Officially invite the present and able Senegalese President, as The Chief Guest Of Honour, for this grand and historical Inauguration Ceremony. Both H.E. Adama Barrow and H.E Macky Sall are excellent Pan-Africanists. Only “a Doubting Thomas”, would deny this.

The Official Inauguration of The Senegambia Bridge, (previously called The Transgambia Bridge, during The Jawara Era), which took place on Monday 21st January 2019, was indeed a bold step for Sub-Regional Integration. From the African Continent’s view point, International/Universal Integration, is spear-headed by The United Nations Organization, (U.N.O.), formed after The 2nd World War (1939 to 1945), when a strong and invincible coalition of gallant soldiers, from European States and from Colonies of European States, (including Gambia), came together to clearly defeat the notorious German dictator, Mr. Adolf Hitler. The League Of Nations, was the immediate precursor of The U.N.O., and the venue of the prototype (first of its kind) United Nations General Assembly Conference, took place on 10th January 1946, at The Central Hall Methodist Church, in Central London (my Church), where I worshiped many times, when I was a L.L.B. Undergraduate Law Student in Oxford, from 1989 to 1993, when every Friday after my Law Lectures, I regularly travelled by train from Oxford to London, (The Capital Of The U.K.), for happy and restful weekends with family members and friends. The Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, by A.S. Hornby, authoritatively defines “Bridge” thus:-“Structure of wood, stone, brick-work, steel, concrete etc, providing a way across a river, canal, railway etc…” 2 famous bridges in London are (1) London Bridge and (2) Knights Bridge. A famous romantic song goes thus:-“London Bridge is falling down,…my fair lady.” I enjoy playing the melodious tune of this romantic song, on my Month Organ or Harmonica.

Regional integration, from The African perspective, is alluding to the Organization For African Unity (O.A.U.), which has now metamorphosed to The African Union (A.U.), which has its Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Finally, Sub-Regional Integration, from The African perspective, is alluding to Economic Community Organization Of West African States (E.C.O.W.A.S), which has its Headquarters in Abujah, the new Capital of The Federal Republic Of Nigeria. Our New Gambia, is very grateful to E.C.O.W.A.S, for its invincible military intervention, during our unwarranted political impasse in December, 2016
A KEY EXPONENT OF REGIONAL INTEGRATION:- A key modern exponent of Regional Integration, from The African Perspective was, His Excellency the late DR. Kwame Nkerumah, “Osagyefo”, the first President Of Independent Ghana. At midnight 5th- 6th March 1957, in his powerful Independence Speech, DR. Kwame Nkrumah said: – “At long last the battle has ended, and now Ghana our beloved Country, is free forever…, the Independence of Ghana is meaningless, unless it is linked up with the total liberation of the whole of the African Continent……” This powerful Presidential Statement, was a catalyst for African Integration, which spilled over to different Regional Integrations, for different parts of our beloved African Continent.

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Ghana was the first African Country to gain Political Independence. South Africa was under the notorious Apartheid Regime, and many African States (Anglophone, Francophone and Lizophone-Portuguese Speaking Countries), were then under the bondage of Colonialism and massive exploitation by their Colonial Masters. This brings surfacing to the landscape of my mind, a famous book titled:-“How Europe Underdeveloped Africa” (published in 1973), by an erudite writer, Walter Anthony Rodney, a prominent Guyanese historian, political activist and academic. He was brutally and viciously assassinated on 13th June 1980, in a bomb explosion in Georgetown, Guyana.

Mr. Sabally also erroneously wrote:- “…There have been many events in the history of our little town and the greater entity it happens to be part of, called Mama Africa, but this upcoming ribbon-cutting event, is sure to stand out as one of the most momentous in our history.” I fully agree with Mr. Sabally, that The Gambia is part of our African Continent. I also agree, that the Official Inauguration of The Senegambia Bridge, was indeed an important part of our Nation’s history. But I totally disagree with him, when he erroneously called The Republic Of The Gambia, “our little town.” This fully reminds me, Senior Gambian Citizens and friends of The Gambia, about what happened in1967, three years before The Gambia became a Republic, on 24th April 1970, when His Excellency Alhaji Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara (K.C.M.G.), (G.M.R.G.), was the Prime Minister of newly Independent Gambia, and the late His Excellency, Mr. Assan Musa Camara, was the then Vice President Of The Gambia. A naughty and highly disrespectful American Journalist, named Mr. Berkeley Rice, wrote a very seditious book titled:-“Enter Gambia: The Birth Of An Improbable Nation.” This highly mischievous book, started with these very notorious and provocative words:-“Bathurst, a village, not even a town, now a City.” This made The Jawara
Administration/Government, to be so angry or provoked beyond all human endurance, so that it instantaneously issued an Official Press Release, from the esteemed Office Of The President, at The State House/Presidential Palace, declaring Mr. Berkeley Rice “Persona Non Grata” (Latin:- an undesirable person), and he was also commanded to depart from The Gambia, within 72 hours, failing which he would have been arrested by The Gambia Police, and rightly and appropriately be Charged with the heinous Criminal Offence of “Sedition”, contrary to Section 51 of The Gambia Criminal Code, for openly and contemptuously insulting both our newly Independent Nation and its then Capital, “Bathurst” (the only Gambian City), named after Honourable Lord Henry Bathurst, a one-time Honourable Secretary Of State For The Colonies. Perhaps Mr. Berkeley Rice ate too much rice, that was why he behaved in such a very callous, rude and unacceptable manner. Perhaps, in the same vein, Mr. Momodou Sabally, a former Honourable Secretary General & Head Of The Civil Service and Honourable Minister Of Presidential Affairs, and a so called “The Gambia’s Pen”, also ate too much rice like Mr. Berkeley Rice, that was why he had the guts, audacity and temerity, to call our cherished and beloved Republic Of The Gambia, “our little town”, in his hilarious and totally unacceptable aforesaid unpalatable article.

“PRESIDENTIAL RELAY” FOR THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE SENEGAMBIAN BRIDGE:-In a recent T.V. Panel, set up by G.R.T.S. to discuss the importance and economics of the bridge, Mr. Hassoum Ceesay, my colleague in academia at The University Of The Gambia (U.T.G.), and the acting Director of The National Council For Arts & Culture (N.C.A.C.), reliably said:- “The request for a bridge over The River Gambia predated Independence.”
As a veteran Sportsman, (a former Male Senegambian Table Tennis Champion, and a life-holder of a Silver Table Tennis Trophy), let me use an appropriate sports imagery, to clearly illustrate my point. I will start the “Presidential Relay” for the construction of The Senegambia Bridge, from 18th February 1965, our Independence Day. As at that historical date, the 2 “Presidential athletes” were:-His Excellency Mr. David Kwesi Jawara (the then Prime Minister Of newly Independent Gambia), and the late His Excellency Leopold S.

Senghore (the then and first President of Independent Senegal). President Senghore handed over the baton to H.E. Mr. Abdou Joof , who handed over the baton to H.E. Mr. Abdoulie Wade (My Learned Friend), who finally handed over the baton to H.E. Mr. Macky Sall, the present able President Of Senegal. On The Gambia’s side, H.E. President Jawara handed over the baton to H.E. Yahya Jammeh, (who ousted him with a bloodless coup, on 22nd July 1994). Ex President Yahya Jammeh handed over the baton to H.E. Adama Barrow, (who defeated him in a free and fair Presidential Election, on 1st December 2016, as The Flag-bearer/Presidential Candidate of a Coalition of 8 Political Parties). H.E. Adama Barrow and H.E. Macky Sall, are therefore the 2 Senegambian “Presidential Athletes”, who successfully and finally completed the 54-year old “Presidential Race” for the construction of The Senegambia Bridge, on 21st January 2019. They both reached the finishing post simultaneously or contemporaneously, (“a dead heat race”). I therefore do not understand the score of “2:0” in Mr. Sabally’s aforesaid article. Ce n’est pas vrai (French:-it is not true). Instead, the correct score should be:-“2:2”. “Equality is Equity” as the famous Equity maxim goes. Our heartiest congratulations to the 2 aforesaid distinguished Senegambian Statesmen, for a Presidential job excellently done.

The Ceremony was full of pomp and pageantry. The Christian Prayer was ably said, by Father Tony Sonko (my former St. Augustine’s High School Classmate, the present Vicar General or Deputy Bishop of The Roman Catholic Church), ably representing The Bishop Of The Gambia, The Most Rev. Bishop James Allen Yaw Odico, Bishop Of The Anglican Church and Chairman Of The Gambia Christian Council-G.C.C.. A Muslim Prayer was ably said by The Imam Ratib Of Banjul, Imam Cherno Kah. Melodious music was provided by:- (1) The Gambia Police Band, (2) Mr. Jaliba Kuyateh, “The King Of Korah”, (3) Touray Kunda Brothers from Casamance and (4) DR. Youssu Ndure (Doctor Of music) and “The King Of Mbalakx”, from Dakar, The Capital Of neighbouring Senegal.

CONCLUSION:- His Excellency Adama Barrow in his Keynote Speech, inter alia rightly said:-“Today is one of the happiest days of my Presidency, and it is also a great day for The Gambia, Senegal and The Sub-Region…..” C’est Trés Vrai (French: – It is very true). It is a nice coincidence, that The Senegambia Bridge was Officially inaugurated in January. The famous song:-“Like a bridge over troubled water”, was first released on 26/1/1970 by Simon and Garfunkel, and later legally reproduced by:-Elvis Presley and Stevie Wonder in 1970, by Aretha Franklin in 1971, and by Artist For Grenfel in 2017. But The Senegambia Bridge, is “Like a bridge over peaceful water” , because both The Gambia and neighbouring Senegal are peaceful Nations, and the white colour in our Gambian Flag, designed by the late Pa Louis Thomasi, symbolizes “Peace.”

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