UDP Leader Ousainou Darboe’s Address on Gambia’s 56th Independence Celebration…
Fellow Gambians, I do not usually send out a message to commemorate our Independence Anniversary, but I feel obliged to do so this year for several reasons. So, a happy 56th Independence Anniversary to you all.
This year, the United Democratic Party will also commemorate its 25th Anniversary. It is a year in which we anticipate that come 4th December 2021, victory will be ours Insha Allah.
Today, I want to remind us all of the struggle our fathers and forefathers waged for us to be where we are today; to remind us of the strong message that is emboldened in our National Anthem. A message that should remind each and every one of us in our every waking moment what The Gambia our Homeland is and should mean to us.
The words, “That all may live in unity, freedom and peace each day.” The words, “let justice guide our actions towards our common good.” The words “and join our diverse people to prove man’s brotherhood”. The words, “we pledge our firm allegiance, our promise we renew,” should always be at the back of our minds that This Gambia our homeland is our identity and our birth right.
My message to you all today is a message of renewed hope; a message of unity; a message of peace; a message of oneness and togetherness and a message of diversity and patriotism above all else.
Fellow Gambians, each day we hear the news of our sisters and daughters losing their lives while giving life. Each day we hear of our sons and daughters dying in foreign lands, being deported back home unceremoniously or drowning because they dared to cross the Mediterranean in search of “greener pastures”. Each day we hear the cries of our mothers, our wives and our sisters about the high cost of living and the inability to feed their children and; each day we see our sons and daughters cursing each other, swearing at each other, discriminating against each other on tribal and religious lines.
Never in the history of The Gambia, our homeland, have we endured such difficulty as in the past few years. Ours was a close-knit society of tolerance; a society of “sutura”; and a society of social cohesion. Some of us have been privileged to have a taste of what that social cohesion and social inclusiveness was and how it felt. Unfortunately, our children and grandchildren have not been fortunate enough to enjoy that beauty amongst us.
I call upon all of us who knew what it felt like to share and show those who were not lucky to witness that era what it feels like to belong; to be one; to be our brother’s and sister’s keepers; our neighbour’s keeper and to live in harmony.
It is unfortunate that those born during the late 1980’s to date have not witnessed this beauty. It is unfortunate that the regime that brought in the military junta broke the chains of ethnic and religious tolerance and instilled hatred and contempt amongst us. It even fostered regional rivalry in the country all in an effort to “divide and conquer” us politically.
We are Gambians first and we must remember that. I promise and commit that a UDP government will bring back that sense of patriotism and oneness in our society. I promise that there will be zero tolerance of tribal, ethnic and religious division or any regionalism.
There is no Mandinka Gambia; there is no Fula Gambia; there is no Wollof Gambia; there is no Jolla Gambia e.t.c.; There is no Kombo Gambia; There is no Badibu Gambia; there is no Foni Gambia e.t.c.; There is no Muslim Gambia; there is no Christian Gambia or Ahmadiyya Gambia;
There is only ONE GAMBIA.
Tribalism has no place in our society and we should never allow anyone to use tribalism and draw religious boundaries in our country and our communities. Such dangerous messages are a recipe for disaster and we should expose those who use such divisiveness for their personal gains. Is there any Gambian who does not have relationships across all ethnic groups? We all have brothers, sisters, nephews, nieces, uncles, aunties and cousins who are of other ethnicities. This is what Gambia is made of and it will continue to be its DNA.
Our priority as a nation is to put our efforts and energy on creating a conducive environment for our people; especially the youth to thrive. Our priority should focus on ensuring that every Gambian child receives quality education and is equipped with the necessary skill sets to live to their full potentials and be able to fend for themselves and their family after their schooling. Our priority should be to ensure that the average Gambian lives in dignity and is able to put food on the table and feed their family; that we are able to eat healthy and nutritious foods; that food security and agriculture thrives in this country – not just for local consumption but as a viable business venture where farmers are well equipped with the necessary tools and opportunities to farm in the 21st century. Our priority should focus on ensuring that every health center and hospital is fully equipped to serve each and every one of us irrespective of one’s social status. That our health professionals are equipped and motivated to serve us ethically and with professionalism as they should; that we do away with the water and energy curse that has haunted this country for almost 50 years and that we are able to fully engage in this global village with reliable and affordable internet connectivity and other twenty first century amenities that the rest of the world take for granted.
That, fellow Gambians, should form the ethos of what we should focus our energies on. Never in the history of this country would we have ever imagined that our small and beautiful “smiling coast” will be associated with drugs and arms trade – never. We must not stand aside and condone this reputational and real damage that will affect our communities and generations yet unborn just for the selfish interest of a few power-hungry and corrupt individuals. This is not The Gambia we knew before. We all have to strive to build a diverse and cohesive country with all hands on deck.
In concluding, I urge each and every one of us to sensitise and educate their offspring and their fellow brothers and sisters on our moral obligations as patriotic Gambians; about our civic duty to make the right, honest and ethical decision For The Gambia Ever True.
A blessed Independence Anniversary to you once again and I thank you all!!!
Ousainou Darboe, Secretary General and Party Leader of
The United Democratic Party