| The Imperial Act 1843 was passed in the British
Houses of Parliament
to allow her majesty to provide for her the settlements on the
west coast of Africa.
The monarch made laws known as Order in Council for the settlements.
The privacy council served as an advisory body for making laws
for the British settlements.
The monarch appointed governors, granted land to settlers, constituted
courts appointed judges, established executive and legislative
councils to advice the governors.
The settlements which were established through the consent of
local Kings of the various states
in the Gambia and elsewhere were seen
as colonial settlements.
The British settlements remained small in the Gambia until the
end of the 19th century.
Kombo was divided into a colonised Kombo and liberated Kombo.
The colonised Kombo was locally called "Kombo Toubab Banko".
The colonialist used to call the liberated Kombo as "foreign
The battle against Foday Sillah the King of Kombo in 1894 and
that against Foday Kabba Dumbuya led to the defeat, capture and
exiling of Foday Sillah and the killing of Foday Kabba.
This made it possible for the British crown to establish indirect
rule on the whole territory known as the Gambia as agreed between
the British crown and the French on 10 August 1889.
The governor had the authority to divide the country into divisions
and districts and appoint commissioners to administer divisions
and chiefs to administer districts. He could order the suppression
of military and banish Gambians into exile. His government
collected taxes and administered the country.
The movement for self government started as far back as 1920 and
was led by Edward Francis Small. Newspapers,
Ratepayers Association, unions, Farmers Co-operatives were utilised
as instruments to mobilise, organise and sensitise people for
The struggle for self government was opposed by the colonial administrators.
However, town councils emerged with elected minorities and official
majorities as far back as 1930. Eventually this was followed by
calls for election to fill the posts in the advisory bodies known
as executive and legislative councils. This battle was won and
limited suffrage was introduced.
By 1950 the movement to establish political parties had emerged
and contested for seats in the legislative council took on a more
partisan character. The demand for universal suffrage intensified.
A constitutional conference was held in 1959 which gave birth
to the 1960 constitution.
|| Universal suffrage was introduced and 12 seats
were allocated to the then protectorate from the colony.
In 1961, the Gambia Workers Union which had developed a radical
agenda not only for higher wages but also for political transformation
of the country in line with trade unions in Ghana and elsewhere
in organised a successful strike in January 1961.
The whole country was put to a stand still at a time when the
trade season was supposed to have been in full force. Even the
once dormant court servants became more determined to wake up
from their political slumber. They began to agitate for the Gambianisation
of the public service.
Constitutional talks were held in 1961 to address the new realities.
The bitter rivalries between the political parties delayed the
enlightenment of the people. Political loyalty centred around
time, the rural/urban dwellers and personalities. Hence instead
of gaining independence
the constitutional changes made room for internal self government
A constitution came into being in 1963 which transformed the executive
council into a cabinet. The Queen still remained sovereign.
The governor had control of defence and, the security forces,
public services and foreign affairs.
The Gambia is said to have become independent on the 18th February
The fact of the matter however is that while the 1906 constitution
gave authority for the cabinet
to be in charge of foreign affairs defence executive power was
vested in her majesty the Queen of the U.K. Section 32 of the
1965 constitution reads;
"There shall be a parliament
which shall consist of Her Majesty and a House of Representatives."
Section 29 indicated that
"There shall be a Governor-General
who shall be appointed by Her Majesty and shall hold office during
her Majesty's pleasure and who shall be her majesty's representative
in the Gambia." Section 60 subsection (1) indicated that
"The Governor-General may at any time prorogue or dissolve
Parliament." Section 62 sub section (1) indicated that
"The executive authority of The Gambia is vested in Her Majesty."
Subsection (2) adds that "Subject to the provision of this
constitution, the executive authority of The Gambia may be exercised
on behalf of Her Majesty by Governor- General, either directly
or through officers subordinate to him.
Hence it is clear that Gambia was still a constitutional monarchy
on the 18th February 1965. It was not a sovereign Republic. A
sovereign Republic cannot owe any allegiance or obedience to foreign
power or state.
On the 18th February 1965 the Queen of England still held executive
power in the country.
The Gambia became a sovereign Republic on 24th April 1970. This
is why the 1970 constitution has no provision for a Queen's representative
in the country.