Up until now, many Gambians argue about the origin of the name of the country. While some claim that the country got its name from the River Gambia (Kambi Bolongo), others hold the view that some tourist of sort asked native speakers about where they were and the natives, not being able to respond in English, said Kambiyaa (Mandinka for Kambi’s home). These are two versions held in the country, at least among the educated citizens.
Another point of argument is how the article The came to be part of the country’s name. There is no clear-cut consensus on this either. People hold different views when it comes to the article and why it introduces the country’s name. I personally have asked many a scholar on Gambian History but could get even two people who agree on the same view.
In fact, there are many people who hold that the Independence of the country should be celebrated on April 24th rather than 18th February. For the former, it was in 1970 that the Gambia gained Republican Status and thus it is the right date to celebrate. The latter on the other hand say that independence was gained in 1965. Whenever this topic is brought up, a heated debate ensues, and one observes that people have no certain knowledge of the matter.
In light of the above, I think it is quite important for the government to initiate a study, a research to come out with factual findings and write our own official version of Gambian history instead of depending solely on the History written be the colonialist. It does not augur well for a whole country not knowing – or at least not being certain – how the name of the country came about. It should be made so that everyone in the country knows these details about our country. This I think will go a long way in creating and nurturing patriotism. A lack of patriotism is hindering the progress of our nation and not being able to truly identify with the country is the – or is one of – the causes of this lack of patriotism.
Now that we have the University of the Gambia, the government should initiate a project to conduct a thorough research which will put this matter to rest once and for all. This should not be difficult considering that at the University we have the needed human resources and expertise to do it.
In many countries, there is an official record of the history of the country. They record the successes and failures of all governments so that the future generation can learn from it. This is one way to sustain developmet and make it participatory. Citizens will take ownership and we will be put on a high pedestal of progress.
Have a Good Day Mr President…
Tha Scribbler Bah
A concerned Citizen