The history of The Gambia can neither be fully told and/or documented nor appreciated without referring to the bravado of the “Soldiers With A Difference” revolutionaries who, on July 22nd 1994 marched on the capital city of Banjul, entered and liberated the State House propelled by the willingness to die for their people in the search for political liberation, economic emancipation and an end to rampant bribery, corruption, nepotism, tribalism and blatant/outright social injustice and impunity.
They marched into and liberated the State House as men with hearts, courage, purpose and paying allegiance to only the State and not any individual(s). From then to date and certainly beyond, the old order has certainly changed yielding place to the new order of today and tomorrow too. That not a single bullet was fired, no one injured not to mention killed amid chants of welcome was the herald of the day and certainly the best thing that could have and indeed, happened in ample justification for such a move cannot be done in the absence of clarity of purpose, absolute conviction, brinksmanship, adroit leadership and balanced managerial competence.
The most outstanding thing that the Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council (AFPRC) was committed to from Day 1 was the return of power, authority and accountable leadership to a civilian government. In this respect, a nationwide consultation by way of a referendum was undertaken with the objective to getting the command of the ultimate wielders and owners of power, the people as to how long the AFPRC, under the Chairmanship of Lieutenant Yahya A.J.J. Jammeh, should stay at the helm of the leadership and the feedback was for two years i.e. from 1994-1996 which culminated into “The Transition Period” from the military to civilian-led government.
In 1996, Gambians realised and were convinced that the soldiers were indeed ones with a difference and therefore gave them all their hearts and support. But this is not to say that it was all a bed of roses as in-country detractors who openly wore the mantles of neocolonialism, supported by exogenous geo-political and administrative blocks which cannot have the interest not to mention the best interest of our country at heart, were at work, day and night!
Living up to the promise made to Gambians, the AFPRC went straight to work in developing the motherland at a pace and with commitment never seen or recorded before in the country’s history. Apart from raising the political consciousness and temperature of the electorate which is universally accepted as the single most important thing in driving accountable leadership, the dictum “Power to the People” became the sing song for particularly the youth and women. Tangible development projects like schools with resources, roads, health facilities, bridges, telecommunication facilities, GRTS and energy sprang up across the country meeting the priority needs of the people and very much to their appreciation.
The most striking things that happened during the transition were commitment to hard work, accountability, transparency and probity. The July 22nd Revolution and its furtherance is here to stay.
Patria O Muerete, Venceremos!
Author: Saihou Sanyang