The Independence Of Collective Effort
Countries, each year, and on different dates of the calendar, celebrate their independence from colonial subjugation one time or the other during their respective pasts. America celebrates its independence on July 4. Solomon Islands, July 7. Senegal, April 4. The Vatican, February 11. Ours is on February 18. These dates, merely accidental strokes of history, are not by themselves as significant as the momentous occasion that they brought. For us, 46 years ago in 1965, The Gambia, joining a comity of newly-minted independent nations, particularly along the West African coast, severed ties with its British colonial patrons, and became a fledgling state running its own affairs, away from the supervisory eyes and intrusive hands of an imposed, foreign entity. At Independence, the prognosis of The Gambia's future were more bleak than optimistic. But we, as a Nation, have soldiered on, surviving much of the early and latter-day pitfalls of nation-building. We have not folded. Rather, we have cohered. The bedrock of the Gambian nation remains solid, immovable like a mountain.
Every February 18, we indulge ourselves in some historical gratification. The joy of being free and independent from foreign domination is a big deal. For 46 solid years, we have been able to chart our own political course, run our own country with its national currency, defense and all the other rudiments of the modern state. It took great leadership, personal sacrifice and commitment on the part of former president Jawara and his colleagues to get us this far. It took them countless efforts at consensus building and in making the case for Gambian independence. Negotiation talks over a country's independence, as we recently saw in the Sudanese case, are an endless, mind-boggling matter. There is a lot of back-and-forth. There are dead ends. And then there are windows of opportunities. It is worth imagining, for a second, what our pre-Independence day leaders were faced with. Theirs wasn't an easy task. It was an invitation to disillusionment. But they hung in there, never withdrawing from their ultimate goal. Their patriotism, love and hope for the people and community, slaked their thirst for Gambian independence from colonial tyranny. Independence was hard-argued. And won. The virtues of determination came in handy.
We, as the Basse Association, can draw inspiration and lessons from the collective enterprise of our political leaders of yore. They stayed the course, never shirking off their responsibilities to the people and being fearful of the difficult tasks in front of them and on the distant horizons. We can replicate their determination and diligence at the local level. By dints of collective effort and consistency, we can do a lot for our people. Our own MB Krubally, in his instructive article (please see above), has clearly stated the case for participation in one's own community's affairs. It is not just about you, he argues, it is also about your community and what is it that you are doing to advance its well-being. For some of us working in organizations, we have sometimes wondered to ourselves, particularly when frustration beckons at the door, why spend all these hours and sums of money on your community? Well, it is the right thing to do. Helping to uplift the community that raised and opened you to a world of oceanic opportunities, is a way of paying back to society; and there is no better way of showing gratitude.
As you may already have seen or heard, we have begun to bring some change, however small, to some sectors of our community. Little by little, the change has begun to be noticed and felt. This is something we should be proud of and associate ourselves with. In many instances, frustration over a lack of change or its slow pace, will fritter away an individual's interest in an organization's agenda. And before long, there is a breakdown of cohesion and death is pronounced on the organization. Confidently, the Basse Association is far removed from such bleak diagnosis. Since our inception, we have done and accomplished great feats of community work; something has been registered on the progress Richter scale. Yet this is not the time to be celebratory. Rather, it is the time to double up on our commitment to and interest in, the tasks we have assigned ourselves as an association. This requires us to continue according the association all that is required of us, namely becoming members, paying up our dues, taking part in meetings, executing our respective duties and taking part in the dialogue (on the website and mailing list) on ways of furthering the association's aims and objectives.
The Upper River Region is noted for its can-do spirit. The people work hard, in business and agriculture, to provide for themselves and their communities. And this individual endeavour and entrepreneurial spirit have occasionally coalesced around meaningful community programs for the people. In places like Garawol, Sare Alpha, Demba Kunda, individual efforts have been, time after time, harnessed into large-scale community enterprises. The beauty of it all is that at the micro level, people are developing their own initiatives and launching their own programs. The Basse Association is working on a similar goal: to help augment, through the support of its membership, the community of Basse. This collective effort is worth writing home about. Seeing a little girl being able to go to school or a hospital providing more supplies or a mosque housing better praying facilities thanks largely to one's own support is rewarding, and much more, when these humanitarian gestures are being shown to one's own people. You can't ask for better independence.
From the Editors