Sep 3, 2008, 5:39 AM
In his Independence Day speech, President Yahya Jammeh reiterated the need for all Gambians to inculcate and demonstrate a more practical show of honesty, and selfless service to and infinite love of the country. He noted that we must put The Gambia first before self, and work together in peace, unity, and mutual respect if we are to earn the blessings of The Almighty Allah for us to build one of the greatest nations on earth. He assured of his Government?s continued and unrelenting commitment to promote economic growth, achieve food self-sufficiency and create the enabling environment for the promotion of equity and equality for all as critical ingredients to create a wealthy and prosperous country.
This year's anniversary celebration was attended by Senegalese President Maitre Abdoulaye Wade, Guinean Interim President Gen. Sekouba Konate, the Speaker of Guinea-Bissau, Raimundo Pereira, and several dignitaries.
Below is the full text of President Jammeh's speech:
Today marks the 45th Anniversary of our country's Independence, and as we celebrate with joy and reflections, we should all give back thanks and praises to the Almighty Allah for enabling us to witness yet another Independence Day when we recount with gratitude, the achievements of the past decades, and anticipate the challenges of the coming years.
The day is a moment indeed to reflect on what we should do better, righter, with added vigour and perseverance to move The Gambia forward to becoming the nation as imagined in our Vision 2020 development blueprint. It is therefore a moment for individual as well as collective soul-searching for answers to questions of what we must do in order to overcome the daunting challenges and the unending task of nation-building.
This year, I have decided to select 'Honesty and Patriotism' as the theme to underscore the importance of these two attributes, in the absence of which no nation, no matter how well resources endowed it may be or how well meaning its government is, could achieve rapid sustainable development. In short, I wish to reiterate the need for all of us to inculcate and demonstrate a more practical show of honesty, and selfless services to and infinite love of our dear motherland, The Gambia. We must put The Gambia first before self, and work together in peace, unity, and mutual respect if we are to earn the blessings of The Almighty Allah for us to build one of the greatest nations on earth. It is not a far-fetched dream since small countries like Singapore were able to do it with meagre resources. For us to build a modern nation that is better than the rest, we must be ready to put our fate in Allah first and put our country?s interest above our individual interest.
We must be ready to work harder and for longer hours with the little salaries that our country can afford now, until such time that The Gambia is wealthy enough to pay fat salaries. This is what the Japanese, the Chinese and Singaporeans had to do before becoming what they are today; modern economic giants where low salaries are a thing of the past.
We have a choice to make - work harder with absolute honesty and build an ultra modern nation in a short span of time; where poverty, small salaries and backwardness would be a thing of the past or work less, be dishonest and stagnate the country into a backward nation where poverty, destitution and low wages would be the order of the day.
Nobody can sacrifice without being honest. You cannot be honest if you do not believe in Allah The Almighty and fear Him.
I am confident that after forty-five years of Independence, every Gambian knows what the benefits of honesty, hard work and patriotism are. Four hundred years of British rule, not even one Gambian was ever commissioned to the rank of Lieutenant in the Colonial Army. Four hundred years of British rule, not a single Gambian was trained by the colonial master to be a Medical Doctor. Four hundred years of British rule, not a single Gambian was trained to be a scientist. Four hundred years of British rule, they built only one high school (Armitage High School) and two hospitals - Bansang and Royal Victoria Hospitals.
Four hundred years of British rule, they constructed only one highway - Banjul to Soma. Four hundred years of British rule, they did not build even one two-storey building. And at the time of Independence 45 years ago, there were less than fifteen air conditioners in the country and less than five hundred ceiling fans. Four hundred years of British rule did not give us more than four megawatts of electricity in the whole country. In fact, four hundred years of British rule less than one percent of the country was electrified. Today, 45 years, The Gambia has become a modern country to be reckoned with. Today, 75% of the big towns and cities are electrified.
Four hundred years of British rule left us with 95% of the population without potable drinking water. Today, 85% of the population have potable, accessible and reliable drinking water. Today, we have more high schools and modern tertiary institutions and a university that can stand up to any modern university anywhere in the world!!
At the time of Independence 45 years ago, we had less than five Gambians holding a Bachelors degree and none with a Masters degree thanks to the colonial Government.
One may be tempted to ask why I am reminding the Gambians of what has happened under colonial rule? The answer is very simple. This is because Africans are perceived by the same countries that colonised us, to be incapable of Governing well i.e. provide Good Governance. I am tempted to ask you this question - What is Good Governance? Build one high school, no university and two hospitals in four hundred years or build hundreds of schools, hospitals and a university in fifteen years! Today, we have more than six hundred graduates here in The Gambia! We have more than sixty Medical Doctors in fifteen years trained by The Gambia Government. Today, we have a modern airport, modern highways including street lighting. Still we are accused of bad governance! Not one surviving colonial building was built by the British except for the various forts for defence and James Island Fort for keeping slaves and the Mile Two Prisons.
If we were incapable of caring for our people before the colonial era, and if we were such ruthless rulers, how come there were no prisons in the whole of Africa before the coming of the white man? In Africa and more so The Gambia, there is no local name for a "prison" in any of the local languages! Still we are not democrats and not capable of Good Governance!!
Fellow Gambians, boys and girls, let nobody fool you. We have seen the difference between Gambia four hundred years under British rule, and Gambia thirty years after Independence and fifteen years after the July 22nd 1994 Revolution.
My Dear Compatriots,
Let us unite with honesty; work hard and this country will surpass Great Britain in five more years Allah willing. Nobody is going to develop our country for us. Nobody can love this country more than we the citizens of this country.
Only we The Gambians working together and putting our collective national interest first can make this country an economic super power we aspire to be in the very near future, Allah willing.
As we celebrate 45 years of Nationhood, let us reflect on where we came from, where we are today and where we would want to be tomorrow.
Where we shall be tomorrow depends first on Allah the Almighty and we the Gambian people.
Excellencies, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
I want to take this opportunity to thank all our true friends who through the years have been and continue to be very benevolent to this country. True friends they are who stood with us through thick and thin and continue to stand by our side as we march towards, a very glorious, dignified, peaceful and prosperous Gambia where poverty, destitution and backwardness would be history.
In Allah we put our destiny. In Allah we entrust our Nation?s destiny. With Allah on our side, we shall never fail. We shall never be backward. We shall never be colonised, enslaved or subjugated again. Not even for one day.
In general, Africa's progress has been retarded and continues to be so, largely because of the attitude of Some African Leaders and intellectuals, who fail in their duties and responsibilities, and often in their deceit of the poor, the illiterate and the vulnerable, promote corruption, disunity and the continuous plundering of the continent?s vast resources at the expense of Africa.
I would like to warn that these unpatriotic and opportunistic tendencies no longer have a place or space to thrive in The Gambia of today, because patriots no matter their size and numbers, would not relent but instead triumph in their struggle to defend and protect the interest of the masses from the man-made calamities of today that are abound in many parts of the continent.
Like honesty, patriotism requires good and positive thinking and not tribalism and malicious acts that only lead to discord, disunity, and instability, which, as a continent we should not and would no longer tolerate.
Fellow Gambians, Boys and Girls,
Honesty and Patriotism in nation-building also require that we move from conducting 'business as usual' to adopting innovative, more responsive and improved measures, systems and processes. Development is only possible through the adoption of a revolutionary path and a radical but well guided departure from carefree or non committal attitude. I therefore wish to call on all of you to be more committed to the delivery of effective, efficient and honest services to our Dear Motherland.
It is only when we do so that we can cut down on the high transaction costs as well as the time involved in delivering public services. In our pursuit to become distinctly identified as the most progressive nation, I would like to urge that we all work hard with honesty at all times to make The Gambia a citadel for economic prosperity for the rest of mankind in general, and the African continent in particular to emulate.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls,
Attitudinal manifestations in adult life take root in infancy. In this vein, I wish to urge parents and teachers to help inculcate in our children the values of honesty, love, and selfless service to the Motherland. This is particularly important because children everywhere constitute today's hope for the future. Families should be wary of the threats of dangerous foreign cultures that are infiltrating our societies unchecked and exposing our children to lifestyles that are neither African nor Gambian and distinctly UNGODLY! Government's responsibility in this critical endeavour is however limited only to creating the right environment that would ensure that our children are protected from all forms of exposure to such evil and anti human attributes so that they can develop into virtuous and Allah-fearing adults. The family as a child's first institution, of learning has the bigger and more challenging role in moulding children into becoming responsible and dependable adults to morrow.
For its part, I would like to assure you of my Government's continued and unrelenting commitment to promote economic growth, achieve food self-sufficiency and create the enabling environment for the promotion of equity and equality for all as critical ingredients to create a wealthy and prosperous country. My Government would not compromise and relent in its efforts to consolidate the achievements of the past fifteen years. In the coming years, with the help of the Almighty Allah, we will do no less than we have done, as I ask nothing more from you than sincere and committed partnership and rallying fully behind my Government. In this way, and together, we would rejoice in the Promised Land of plenty, and in greater prosperity, peace and love where each one of us would be our brother?s keeper.
Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls,
In conclusion, I would like to thank and congratulate all those persons who have contributed to the grandeur of the occasion, in particular our honoured and distinguished guests from countries friendly to The Gambia. I also wish to acknowledge with profound gratitude and appreciation, the efforts of parents, teachers and school children; and of course, the large turnout of the different cultural and voluntary groups as well as the APRC party militants, particularly those from the Regions. I also recognise with similar gratitude the presence of the diplomatic and consular corps here present and representing friendly Governments and organisations that continue to stand by us at all times, ready to help us achieve the goals and objectives for which we set ourselves especially Vision 2020 and the MDGs.
I wish you all a very happy independence celebration.
Long live The Gambia!
Long Live Africa!
Long live all patriotic Gambians!
Long live Friends of The Gambia!
Long live Friends of Africa!
I thank you all for your kind attention