Sep 16, 2008, 5:47 AM
We publish below the message from Lamin Waa Juwara leader of the NDAM opposition party on the occasion of the 45th independence aniversary.
"The 45th anniversary of Gambia's independence on the 18th of February 1965 was on Thursday fittingly celebrated with the entire Gambian population cherishing it, because independence means a lot has been achieved.
Gambia at independence was described as 'an improbable nation' with sceptics all over the world thinking that the Gambia was too small, and that the economy is very weak and cannot sustain itself as an independent state.
And there was a time I remember, as a young student training as a teacher in then Yundum College, when the team of experts were sent by the UN to come and find out what the situation on the ground was. There were some recommendations that the Gambia should merger with Senegal. And, of course, some of us felt that if we were colonised as a country of its own, then we did not see any reason why we should not be independent on our own.
And I was very proud on Thursday at the July 22nd Square when the President delivered a very very good speech to the Gambian people reminding us what transpired historically during the colonial era and after.
And, I felt very proud that the turnout was so impressive, and the cultural manifestation shows the happiness on the faces of the Gambian people, and the pride in them; also showing a strong feeling that they have succeeded, and will continue to succeed and stand on their own, as a nation.
I want to take this opportunity to thank all the architects of Gambia's independence, which I think every Gambian should be proud of them. And, historically, we have recognised their place in the history of the Gambia in the role that they have played.
We are also very proud that their successors, like the current President, is very proud of them and also very inspiring because you can see the self-confidence in the Gambian people. That is why the slogan for this year?s celebration is very fitting.
There is a lot that has been achieved. For some of us, who have seen the independence days, and know what the country looked like, and seeing it today, there is no doubt that we have gone a long way, and I think the Gambia is here to succeed.
Today, the whole world knows about the Gambia and, I think, what even makes this 45th independence anniversary amazingly succeeful, is because of the peace and tranquillity that exist between us and our immediate neighbours. They graced the occasion with us not only at the highest level, but the citizenry were all there to grace the occasion, and that is really a very good sign that it is not only a state to state relationship, but people to people relationship that exists between the people.
The Gambian people are very peaceful, accommodating and not selfish. They can always take care of their guests, sometimes even better than themselves, and I think this is an attitude that should be shown all over the world, that we live in peace and harmony.
Today, the steps that we have taken in development, and the steps that we have taken in good governance, are not imposed from the outside but these are home grown, and I think that is something we should all be proud of. What we have been doing is what we think the way we should govern ourselves or take care of ourselves, and most Gambians are very proud of what we have achieved so far.
And, I will call on them so that we stand together in unity, and make sure that in all the areas where we need to fight, like the fight against poverty, that one day we will not only reduce it, but we are going to eradicate it, once and for all.
I think the potentials are here, and the people's commitment is here, and I think the leadership also is here; therefore, we are going to achieve the noble cause.
The challenges also are there, but these challenges are not insurmountable. Where you have people who are united, they can always do things to their very best.
And I also think it was very fitting in the President's speech when he thanked the friends of the Gambia, because we are living in a global village and no country can live by itself alone. So you have to make friends, and genuine friends can always help in the course of our development.
I can tell you that I salute the entire Gambian people, young and old, male and female and congratulate the President and Government of the Gambia and all the people who have participated in this celebration. I single out the organising committee for this celebration, I think they have done a good job and we thank them and hope to celebrate many more independence anniversaries. I thank you all."
Compiled By Alieu Jabang