By MUHAMMED .S. BAH
On Saturday 30 April, 2016, the city Banjul commenced the commemoration of its 200 years of existence since the British officially occupied the Island in 1816.
In a statement delivered on behalf of the President, Madame Isatou Njie Saidy, Vice President, highlighted the importance of the day, describing Banjul in those days as an important hub for Europeans due to its strategic location as it is situated at the mouth of the River Gambia.
“Banjul grew into a cosmopolitan town where nationals from all over West Africa intermingled,” noted the president.
The statement further indicated that Banjul has a rich history and cultural heritage, and the government deemed it necessary to revitalise historical sites to serve as tourist attractions sites.
The president assured his government’s support to develop Banjul.
For his part, Mr. Abdoulie Bah, Mayor of Banjul, told the gathering that they will be organizing a lot of events.
“The Organising Committee has a host of programs that will be held from the beginning of May to the end of the year. These programs are cultural programs, sports and other educative programs, specifically on the history of Banjul” disclosed Mayor Bah.
Alhagie Ebou Momar Taal, the Chairman of the Organising Committee, gave a brief history of Banjul since 1816.
He said it was on the 23 April, 1816, when Captain Grant and Colonel Bereton met with the King of Kombo, Tumani Bojang, and entered into a treaty with him allowing the British government to occupy Banjul Island and to erect buildings and fortifications on it.
“The king also surrendered all rights and title to the island in exchange for an annual payment of 103 gold bars to himself, his wife and his retainers. Formal possession of the island was taken on that day and it was officially renamed St. Mary’s Island,” said Mr. Taal.
The program was chaired by Mam Sait Ceesay, Secretary of the Organising Committee.
The Minister of Regional Government and Lands, Momodou Aki Bayo, also spoke at the event.
The event which kicked off with a procession from the Arch through Independence Drive and culminating at the July 22 square was characterised by cultural displays and official speeches.
Awards were also given to all those who have served as mayors of the City of Banjul.
The event was also attended by state and local government officials, members of the National Assembly, cabinet ministers, members of the security service, cultural leaders, elders of Banjul, women and school children.