In another recent retaliatory measure against European imperialism, Gambian President Yahya Jammeh announced earlier last month that English would cease being the official language of his African country, adding that they will revert to a native vernacular.
“We no longer believe that for you to be a government, you should speak a foreign language … we are going to speak our own language,” Jammeh declared during last month’s swearing-in ceremony of Ali Nawaz Chowhan, a Pakistani national, as Gambia’s new chief justice.
The announcement followed his unexpected October 2013 withdrawal of Gambia’s membership from the Commonwealth, a 54-nation bloc of former British settlements that he described as “an extension of colonialism.”
Jammeh seized power with a coup in 1994 and has consistently opposed European imperialism, which he determined has raped the motherland of its natural resources, leaving it in its current dilapidated condition. After establishing himself as president, he rid the country of any remnants of its overseers by demolishing all cemeteries in Banjul containing Caucasian corpses and renaming streets previously named after Europeans.
“What brought the British to Gambia in the first place—which was bigger than it is now—was trade in ivory, because Gambia had a lot of elephants … we even have an island called Elephant Island. It was the ivory that brought them,” the 48-year-old leader revealed. “They wiped out all the elephants and ended up selling Africans … the British instituted slavery. So now, even for the next 1 billion years, they have no moral platform to talk about human rights anywhere in the world, more so to talk about good governance.”
Analysts suggest that his defiance is in response to Western-imposed sanctions over alleged human rights violations. Jammeh has been accused of ordering the April 11-12, 2000, slayings of 12 students and a journalist during a demonstration, among other crimes.
Gambia gained its independence in 1965, “after 400 years of British occupation and looting in this country,” according to Jammeh. Jammeh claims that Gambians have benefited from his leadership. “I have a university, and today, even the children of beggars in the country can go to a university,” he said. “It is not based on who you know, but what you know. When I took over power in 1994, there were only two volunteer doctors at the Royal Victoria Hospital. So what is good governance and democracy?”
Jammeh recently authored two pamphlet-sized books entitled “A Million Reasons to Leave the Commonwealth” and “How the Tragic Consequences of British Looting and Misrule in the Gambia Inspired the Founding of the United Nations and its Drive for Decolonization.”
Political analysts say that Africa’s renaissance appears to be strengthening as various defiant heads–of–states such as Jammeh, Robert Mugabe, Uhuru Kenyatta and the late Muammar Gaddafi have recently established successful examples of how to emancipate Africa from European colonization.
Though no timetable has been set as to when the new language will be implemented or which one of Gambia’s distinct dialects—including Mandingo, Wolof and Jola—will be chosen, the president promised, “It will be very soon.”