In a major address at the Independence Stadium, Friday, during celebrations marking 20 years of his leadership he stated: “During the 400 years of British colonial misrule or the puppet British empire-worshipping first republic from 1965 to 1994, education received nothing but lip service. After all, the British in their 400 years of occupation did not even build a high school. Armitage High School was not built by them but it was built by the chiefs and the school that I attended, Gambia High School then Methodist Boys High School was built by the Methodist Mission. So for 400 years, the British never cared about our education and today that we are educated and free, they say there is no democracy. Democracy of vampires feeding on innocent people has gone and what is happening now is ligueyocracy [work-o-cracy] and equality in this country. From a retrogressive nation teetering on the brink of disintegration, we have created a dynamic modern country soon to become an economic super power. We went through trials and tribulations; we faced treachery and cynics and deadly stooges and saboteurs along the way but we conquered all these obstacles because we entrust our entire existence and destiny to the Almighty Allah. Remember that on July 22nd 1994, we were given 6 hours, 24 hours, 72 hours, 1 week, 1 month… They even said that within one month we will not pay salaries but we have kept increasing salaries. For 20 years, we have never failed to pay salaries on time and we have never failed to increase salaries based on our merits.
“Therefore, as we move into the future, we must use the lessons learnt during the past 20 years to strengthen our resolve to serve our nation in every way possible. To the young boys and girls, we will continue to create enormous opportunities for your education so that you are fully equipped to become useful and productive members of society tomorrow. By September 2015, my government will remove all school levies to ensure that any child born in The Gambia will be assured of free basic education as provided for in the 1997 constitution and secondary education will also be accessible to all. I urge all Gambians and non-Gambians in this country to stand firm and play your part in national development. You must jealously guard against destructive vices and satanic behaviour such as drug abuse, homosexuality, dishonesty and parasitic dependence. What do I mean by parasitic dependence? Some people are poor in this country not because there are no opportunities but because they do not want to sweat and want to depend on others. This is a bad syndrome in this country…depending on uncles and fathers because you think they are working and they are wealthy. Depend on yourselves because tomorrow, somebody would also call you father or mother. Let us depend on ourselves and on the Almighty Allah and contribute to national development.”
The event was marked with a march past of students, security and armed forces, youth and cultural organisations. It was attended by a cross-section of the Gambian community, heads of state of Senegal, Guinea Bissau and Mauritania and representatives from many countries.
Sainey Marenah contributed to this story]]>