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Colonial History of Gambia
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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 Kombo".

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 self government.

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 in 1963.

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 1965.

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.


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