It was barely a little over a decade after the dust has settled on the war that the winds of change emerged in Africa, writes Demba Kandeh.
The end of the Second World War was significantly historic for many people and not least for the African people. It was barely a little over a decade after the dust has settled on the war that the winds of change emerged in Africa.
The process of decolonisation started and half a century later (at the turn of the twenty first century) colonialism was history across the 54-states continent. Decolonisation in Africa started with lot of excitement and merrymaking, from Ghana in 1957 to South Africa in 1994, self-governance brought hope and heightened aspirations for many.
The Gambia gained independence from Great Britain on 18th February 1965 with Dawda Kairaba Jawara as prime minister, who became president in April 1970 following the promulgation of a republican constitution. Thus in a few weeks time, The Gambia will celebrate her golden independence jubilee.
The road to independence in Africa was very hard and tortuous often through bloody fights, revolts and assassinations. From A-Z (Algeria to Zimbabwe) and indeed many other countries across the continent, independence came at a heavy price. Georges Nzongola-Ntalaja offers an insight into Patrice Lumumba, the first legally elected prime minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), who was assassinated over 50 years ago thanks to his struggle for independence.
This heinous crime, also “the most important assassination of the 20th century” was a culmination of two inter-related assassination plots by American and Belgian governments, which used Congolese accomplices and a Belgian execution squad. Unfortunately to date his killers are still at large. In other parts of Africa the struggle raged and sometimes the people took up arms against the colonialists. Kenya for instance in the 1950s was dominated by the Mau Mau uprising against the British.
By now more than half of the countries on the continent have already celebrated their 50 years of independence. Many independence leaders in did not seem to unaware of the daunting challenge of building their new states. Whether it was Dawda Kairaba Jawara of The Gambia or Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Julius Nyerere of Tanzania or Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya the challenges of nation building were stark and evident from the start.
And now that many have come half a century since independence, the most fitting question is how far have we come? And so as The Gambia braces up for her 50 years of independence, it is worthwhile that as Gambians we ask ourselves this question. Reflect on it in terms of every aspect of our society; culturally, economically, politically, socially, etc and then maybe at your own time, ask yourself: What has been my contribution to all these? And what more do we need to do? After all it is a collective responsibility to build a state, even if that state is endowed with all the necessary resources.
Happy independence anniversary!