The National Assembly of The Gambia Friday May 29 adopted a motion declaring colonialism and slavery as crimes against humanity and genocide during an extra-ordinary session held at the assembly complex in Banjul.
History revealed that The Gambia including other West African states was deeply affected by slavery and colonialism. Some statistics estimated that between the 17th and 19th centuries, 1 in every 6 people taken as slaves from West Africa were from the Senegambia region (Gambia and Senegal).
Other figures say that at the height of the trade in the 17th century, some 5,000 to 6,000 slaves were transported from The Gambia each year on the ‘Voyage of No Return’. The country regains its independence from Britain on 18 February, 1965 and celebrated its Golden Jubilee on February 18, 2015.
Hon Bala Garba Jahumpa, the minister of transport, works and construction who doubles as minister responsible for National Assembly matters described colonialism and slavery as heinous crimes that destroyed the social, political and economic fabrics of Africa.
Hon Jahumpa who moved the motion said colonialism and slavery have violated the international law and have left a lasting scar on Africa that still affects the continent’s development.
“Under the pan-African leadership of President Jammeh, the sovereign people of the republic of The Gambia wish to go down in the history and join all good people in the world to put the records straight for the good of mankind. Colonialism is not only a crime against humanity or genocide, but a crime against humanity and genocide with no statute of limitation.Colonialism does not only destroy the social fabric of African nations but also their political and economic fabrics of the colonies,” he said.
Colonialism is a breach of international law. Colonialism created a situation by which the colonised people are exposed to widespread and systematic abuse of human rights of the colonised people. During colonialism, the people of The Gambia were being paid 5 cent a month with the life expectancy of 27 years.The questions now arise: What would have been Europe’s level of development had the people they exploited and trafficked during colonialism and slavery were left in their various counties throughout those four hundred years? This is why when our president speaks his mind in good faith, many a time, people think that what he is saying will not please the West because many of the recent generation of African leaders would want to please the West against the popular will of the majority of their people. And this is one of the major obstacles to Africa’s development.
Fabakary Tombong Jatta, the majority leader of the National Assembly and the representative of Serekunda East constituency, who seconded the motion, denounced what he called the “double-standard” of the Western powers that have “fed their people on the sweats of Africans” and are now preaching democracy and good governance to its leaders.
During slavery and colonialism nobody talks about human rights, democracy and human dignity- it is only when they have built their industrial base that they talk about the type of human rights that is even subjected to so many questions. Africans were bought and sold like commodities, he said.
“Slavery has depopulated Africa and it has taken all the able-bodied people who would have been our scientists, scholars and doctors. We will therefore urge that colonialism and slavery be accepted, universally, as crimes against humanity and genocide. We are proud to champion the cause of the people of Africa and we are proud to have President Jammeh who, come rain, come storm, will speak his mind against atrocities committed against African people by the Western world.”
Hon Baboucarr Nyang, the representative of Banjul South constituency, said colonialism produces a psychology of self-rejection on the continent adding that the international community must recognise slavery and colonialism as constituting crimes against humanity and genocide.
Source: Gambia Afairs