Kairabe! On Saturday February 18th we celebrate Independence day in The Gambia and we are going to tell you what Independence day is. A very long time ago Africa was inhabited by lots of different tribes and this map shows where all of the different tribes lived. In The Gambia the main tribes were Mandinka, Wolof, Fula and Jola. Just like your country was invaded by the Romans, Vikings, Saxons and Normans, The Gambia was invaded by the Arabs and then later the Portuguese who used the Gambian river to transport goods and took the Gambian people as slaves. The Portuguese sold the trading rights to Queen Elizabeth 1st of Great Britain and this was the beginning of Great Britain's gradual rule over The Gambia Great Britain and lots of other European Countries wanted to make their countries big and powerful by colonising lots of other countries and using them to gain great wealth. All the countries shown in pink on this map belonged to Great Britain. (Some like the Falkland Islands still do. ) Can you spot where Great Britain and the Gambia are? As the British began to establish themselves in the Gambia and built roads and schools for themselves The Gambian people began to speak English as well as their tribal Languages. In Senegal which is the country that surrounds us they began to speak French. Can you guess why? The French and the British argued about how much land belonged to Senegal and how much land belonged to The Gambia. The red border lines show you how difficult it was to separate the two countries. Eventually, The British secured all of the river and some surrounding land for the Gambia to enable them to continue sea trading. After world war 2 most of the countries that belonged to the British Empire decided they would like to rule their own countries. The British were happy for this to happen and on 18th February 1965 The Gambia became an Independent Country. Every year we get a day’s holiday to celebrate our Independence day Can you work out how many years we have been an independent country? We have a stadium in Bakau called the Independence Stadium and every Independence day a big festival is held there. We have Athletics events and a football match! And then later we have a concert to celebrate our culture. So lots of drumming and dancing and singing. It‘s great fun! When we went back to school after Independence day the younger children went to McCarthy Square in Banjul to join in a parade with teachers, civil servants and the army. In 1965 The Gambia joined the Commonwealth along with all of the other countries that belonged to the former British Empire. Commonwealth day this year is on 12th March. We don’t get a day off but we do celebrate it at school. Do you celebrate Commonwealth day?? Queen Elizabeth 2nd is head of the Commonwealth and all Countries are equal and help each other.