Monday, 27 February 2012 15:46Editor,
(MailBag) – I feel sorry for my poor Gambians: even the National Anthem they sing to so heartily is a gift of the colonial power – a colonialist legacy!! Go ahead President Jammeh, please replace it with NKOSI SI KELELE AFRICA (ANC’s “God Bless Africa”). For me even the July 22 Anthem is acceptable in place of a Colonialist-penned Anthem! Until Gambia gets a new Pan-Africanist Patriotic National Anthem, I will teach my Gambian daughter only Nkosi Si Kelele.
Ex-British administrator discloses origin of The Gambia National Anthem
Daily Observer, Monday, February 27, 2012
One Jeremy Howe in the United Kingdom who has served as an administrative officer in the country from 1954-1965, has sent a correspondent to the Gambian leader, His Excellency, Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr Yahya Jammeh, disclosing the origin of The Gambia’s National Anthem.
Howe, who was appointed to chair the committee that was set up by government to judge the submissions received for the anthem and make recommendation to the Cabinet said his wife Virginia Julia Howe wrote the words of the present anthem.
The correspondent reads:
I have recently been reading on the internet about the Gambia where I am proud to have served as an administrative officer from 1954-1965. It seems that there continues to be some argument about the origins of the Gambian National Anthem and I though that it would be helpful if I were to summarise what actually happened and put the record straight.
At the time of Internal Self Government I was attached to the Ministry of Local Government in the capital, then known as Bathurst. The government decided to invite submissions for a new anthem from members of the public and offered a prize for the successful submission. A committee was set up to judge the submissions received and make recommendation to the Cabinet. I was appointed to chair that committee. In the event the cabinet rejected all the submissions received as being unsuitable and they invited me to submit a composition myself including words and music.
The words of the present anthem which the cabinet accepted were written by my wife, Virginia Julia Howe, and I adapted and harmonized a traditional Mandinka song, Foday Kaba Dumbuya to fit those words. I chose that particular song after listening to some recordings of various traditional songs. The anthem is, therefore, entirely the result of my wife’s and my contributions.
About two years ago, after noting that there appeared to be some argument about the origins of the national anthem, I wrote to the Gambia High Commission in London and sent them copies of some of the original correspondence still in my possession such as my appointment as chairman of the selection committee and a letter confirming that I had been awarded a prize of £50, a prize which enable me to buy the desk on which I am now writing this letter.
My wife and I would be very grateful if the official records relating to the anthem could be corrected and the various website updated. May I also point out that my wife’s second name is Julia and not Julie, and that my second name, Frederic has no k. I should be glad to hear from you that my letter has been received and appropriate action taken. If I can be of any further assistance please do not hesitate to let me known.
With kind regards and best wishes
Author: Daily Observer
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