Gambia’s 50th Independence Anniversary: From Crown Colony to Clown Country?

The Gambia national flag
The Gambia national flag
Golden Jubilee
Golden Jubilee

Gambia’s Golden Jubilee

Think of independence like the birth of a little boy. For the next 15 to 20 years, someone is counseling and directing his actions; what to do, when to do it and how to do it.  20 years or so down the road, the boy has picked up his first job and assumed greater control over his life and finances.  This is the equivalent of a country’s independence. In our view, the young adult should not need 20 years to build a house, because that makes him age 40 and above. And imagine him waiting another 20 years to buy a car, now we are talking about a very old man at age 60 and above. That’s a manifestation of failure. The young man would have been better off under his father’s roof and control and have everything subsided for him.

Juxtapose the above analogy with Gambia’s independence, and the sombre reality hits home right away. In 30 years, Sir DK Jawara,  built one major road. The Banjul – Serre-kunda dual carriage high way. No Senior secondary schools. Infact up to 1988, there were just 8 high schools for the entire country and none of them was built by the government of Sir DK Jawara. His development agenda was; stack the drawing board with ghost development plans, to keep the population thinking we are hard at work. And they call this masquerading scheme; “The Singaporean Dream”. Meanwhile, scandals upon scandal became the order of the day. GPMB, Gambia cooperative, and of cause the Gambia Commercial & Developmental Bank were all ruin. After 30 years, we were worst of as a country, than as a crown colony.

On the contrary, when Sir DK Jawara and his dream team was overthrown by his former bodyguard Lt Yaya AJJ Jammeh, in July 1994, there was a lot of euphoria and optimism. Our much delayed development took off in a grand style. There was the constructions of a new Airport, secondary schools, roads, bridges, hospitals, television station, university, and many other projects.  Bye and large, the first few years of Jammeh’s rule were a remarkable strive at greatness. But as Jammeh became more and more comfortable at the helm, his clownish instinct kicked in. Futamphat, voodoo medicine, rounding up of witch doctors, exorcises of demons from alleged witches and many repulsive behaviors began to undo him. These acts routinely overshadow his achievements. Hard work, excessive partying and a mix of paranoia, epitomizes our notoriety as a Clown Country

Pierre Gomez

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