Independence Day celebrations are held every
18th February of each
year which marks the day when Gambia gained full independence from
colonial Britain in 1965. It is
normally celebrated in Banjul at McCarthy Square
with a march pass by school children, civil servants, the army,
teachers and others in front of the President and other dignitaries.
The country had gained internal
self-government earlier in 1963.
The Gambia Independence Act 1964 (1964 c. 93) was an Act of
Parliament in the United Kingdom. It came into operation on December
The Act made provisions for the Gambia to gain full independence and
become a member of the Commonwealth of Nations; prior to this, it had
been a fully self-governing crown colony.
"1. Fully responsible
status of The Gambia.— (1)
On and after 18th February, 1965 (in this Act referred to as "the
appointed day") all those territories which immediately before the
appointed day are comprised either in the Colony of the Gambia or in
the Protectorate of the Gambia shall together form part of Her
Majesty’s dominions under the name of The Gambia; and on and after
that day Her Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom shall have no
responsibility for the government of those territories."
"1965: Countdown to Gambian independence -
The Duke and Duchess of Kent have celebrated the end of 300 years of
colonial rule in Gambia with 35 chiefs. At midnight Gambia will
become the smallest - and 37th - sovereign state in Africa and the
last of Britain's West African colonies to gain independence.
It was the first African nation conquered by the British and will
become the 21st member of the Commonwealth, as well as the 116th
member of the United Nations.
Representing the Queen, the royal couple was escorted to the mansa
bengo - gathering of kings - by Gambian Prime Minister Dawda Jawara
and Governor Sir John Paul.
All the Gambian leaders showed their respect by removing their shoes
before greeting the British dignitaries.
The oldest chief, Toure Sagniang, said: "It gives us confidence to
know that as a monarchy we are members of that family of which the
Queen is head."
And he thanked the UK for its assistance in making the transition to
The traditional ceremony - in the village of Brikama, 22 miles from
the capital, Bathurst - included soothsayers and standard bearers,
accompanied by drumming and string instruments.
Guests from around 30 nations were present, including the US Assistant
Secretary of State for African Affairs, George Mennen, and the Soviet
Ambassador to Sierra Leone, Grigori Pashchenko.
Flag up -
The major celebration will begin tonight when the Union Jack is
lowered for the last time and replaced with the red, white, blue and
green of the Gambian national flag.
Presentations from the Gambian and British delegations will complete
the formal beginning of independence.
The British Government has promised to provide support for Gambia,
valued at £3m for the next two-and-a-half years".
In 1965 the Gambia had a total population of 320,000.