By: Bulli Sowe
As the sun began to set on February 17th, 1965, a palpable sense of excitement filled the air in the Gambia. The small West African nation was on the brink of making history, as it prepared to celebrate its first-ever Independence Day. Flags and banners adorned the streets of the capital city, Banjul, as musicians and cultural troops practised their performances for the coming festivities. But as the crowds gathered and the anticipation mounted, few knew the true story of what was happening behind the scenes.
In the halls of power, former premier Dawda Kairaba Jawara and his team of advisors were working tirelessly to ensure that the coming day would be a success. They knew that the road to independence had not been an easy one, and that there were still challenges to come. For on that night, the Gambia was not just celebrating its independence from colonial rule, but also the tireless work of its leaders and people. And as the clock struck midnight and a new day dawned, the Gambia was ready to take its place on the world stage, thanks to the dedication and hard work of those who had toiled behind the scenes
As the eve of the Gambia’s independence anniversary approached, there was an air of excitement in the country. The people of the Gambia were looking forward to the dawn of a new era, and they were eagerly anticipating the festivities that would take place the next day.
It was a night to remember, the eve of the Gambia’s independence anniversary. The former premier, DK Jawara, was busy preparing for the big day, and the atmosphere was electric. He had been working tirelessly for months, negotiating with other members who were part of the negotiations in 1964, to ensure a smooth transition to independence.
But behind the scenes, there was a flurry of activity that few knew about. Former premier, Dawda Kairaba Jawara, was in his office, making final preparations for the big day. He was putting the finishing touches on his speech, which he would deliver the following day. DK was surrounded by his closest advisors, including members of the negotiating team that had secured the country’s independence from British rule just a few months earlier. Some of the dignitaries who were part of the negotiations for independence in July 1964 included Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara, Dr. Lamin Saho, Sheriff Mustapha Dibba, Alhaji Sir Farimang Mamadi Singateh, and the late H.E. Momodou Garba Jahumpa. They were excited to see the culmination of their efforts but were also feeling a sense of responsibility for the future of their newly independent country. They knew that the hard work was just beginning, and they were determined to make sure that the Gambia would prosper and thrive.
Meanwhile, the city was being adorned with the colours of the Gambian flag. Everywhere you looked, there were green, red, and blue decorations, with the white star in the middle. The flag, which had been designed by an accountant Louis Thomasi, had quickly become a symbol of hope for the people of the Gambia. There was a sense of optimism and hope for the future, as the country looked forward to the challenges and opportunities that lay ahead.
As night fell, the city was awash with the sounds of local cultural groups, who had come together to celebrate the eve of independence. They were singing and dancing, dressed in colourful traditional attire, creating a vibrant and lively atmosphere.
The weather that night was perfect, with clear skies and a gentle breeze blowing in from the Atlantic. The ambience was electric, and there was a sense of unity and purpose among the people of the Gambia. As the sun disappeared below the horizon, Jawara looked out the window, lost in thought. He knew that the coming day would be historic, but he was also aware of the challenges that lay ahead. The Gambia was a small nation with big dreams, and the road to independence had not been an easy one.
As the night wore on, the city took on a surreal quality. The moon cast a soft glow over the proceedings, while the distant sound of music filled the air. DK Jawara retired to his residence, where he spent time reflecting on the day’s events and preparing for the following day’s celebrations. He was filled with a sense of pride for what he and the negotiating team had accomplished, but he was also feeling a sense of responsibility for the future of his country.
In other parts of the world, the Duke and Duchess of Kent departed England for the Gambia, they were filled with a sense of excitement and anticipation. They were eager to witness the birth of a new nation and to show their support for the people of the Gambia. Then, the Duke and Duchess of Kent arrived, their flight landing smoothly at the Yundum Airport. They were greeted with a warm welcome by DK Jawara,35 chiefs and other dignitaries who had gathered to receive them. The Duke and Duchess must have been struck by the beauty of the Gambian people and the rich culture that they had the opportunity to witness that night.
The reception was an impressive display of local culture and tradition, as dancers and musicians performed traditional songs and dances. The Duke and Duchess were visibly moved by the warm welcome they received, and they expressed their admiration for the people of the Gambia and their rich culture. They spent the evening meeting with local dignitaries and officials, and they spoke about their hopes and dreams for the future of the Gambia.
The following day, on February 18th, 1965, the Gambia officially became an independent nation. The flag was raised, and the national anthem was sung for the first time. On the day of the independence celebrations, the Duke and Duchess were tasked with presiding over the flag-raising ceremony and delivering speeches to the crowd. As they made their way through the streets of Banjul, they were greeted by an overwhelming display of support and admiration from the people of the Gambia. The air was filled with the sounds of cheers and celebration, as the people of the Gambia proudly waved their new national flag.
As the Duke and Duchess departed the Gambia, they were filled with a sense of pride and accomplishment. They had witnessed the birth of a new nation, and they had played a small but important role in its creation.
DK Jawara delivered a rousing speech, in which he expressed his gratitude to the people of the Gambia and the international community for their support during the struggle for independence. The Gambia had overcome countless obstacles to reach this point, and the people were determined to make the most of their newfound independence.
From the dusty streets of Banjul to the lush countryside, the people of the Gambia were ready to take their place on the world stage.
And as the flag was raised and the national anthem was sung, the world looked on in awe at this small but mighty nation. This is the story of the Gambia’s independence, a tale of hope, perseverance, and the unbreakable spirit of a people.
The Gambia’s independence eve was a time of great excitement, but also one of hard work and dedication. Behind the scenes, a team of dedicated leaders and advisors were working tirelessly to ensure the success of the coming day. And as the sun rose on February 18th, 1965, the Gambia was ready to take its place on the world stage, thanks to the tireless efforts of its people and their leaders.
As we look back on the eve of Gambia’s independence, we are reminded of all those who bore witness to that historic moment, but who are no longer with us to celebrate its 58th anniversary. They were the ones who made the sacrifices, who fought for freedom and who dared to dream of a better future.
Their memories live on in the hearts of the Gambian people, who continue to draw strength from their courage and determination. They remind us that the struggle for independence was not won in a single day, but through years of sacrifice and hard work.
The independence eve serves as a reminder of the importance of perseverance, of never giving up in the face of adversity. It shows us that even in the darkest of moments, there is always hope for a brighter tomorrow. And it reminds us to always cherish the freedoms we have, and to never take them for granted.
As we honour the legacy of those who came before us, let us also look to the future with hope and optimism. The Gambia has come a long way since that fateful night, and there is still much work to be done. But with the same spirit of determination and unity that brought about its independence, we can create a brighter, more prosperous future for generations to come.