By Ousman Sillah – Chairperson of the Gambia and Cuba Parliamentary Friendship Group
As Africans, people of African descent and friends, the world over, are
commemorating Africa Liberation Day (ALD) on 25 May, it is equally fitting to
also celebrate the longstanding historical ties of solidarity, brotherhood and
cooperation between the Republic of Cuba and the Republic of The Gambia.
May 19, 2020, marked the 41st anniversary of the establishment of the friendly
diplomatic relations between the Gambia and the Republic of Cuba. This
mutually supportive diplomatic relation between the two friendly countries is
further strengthened by the establishment of embassies in the capital cities of
Habana and Banjul.
Despite its size and economic blockade by its neighbour, the USA, Cuba has
demonstrated genuine internationalism and mutual solidarity, particularly to the
Gambia as manifested by the request and arrival of the first team of Cuban
health collaborators in June 1996. It has even been noted that the Gambia was
the first African country where the Cuban Comprehensive Health Program was
implemented as well as the first foreign country to open a Faculty of Medicine
at the University of the Gambia (UTG), with Cuban professors, based on Cuban
documented achievements in Medical Sciences Studies.
The Gambia is currently benefiting from the services of a team of more than
150 medical professionals and health workers, including university professors
or lecturers, medical doctors, technicians, engineers, among others. They are
providing support to the country in the clinical, surgical and pedagogical
sciences. We should pay tribute to these gallant Cuban professionals who have
since been placing in high esteem the name of Cuba in offering their much
needed services and training across the length and breadth of the country, thus
making the basic and fundamental right of health care accessible to the
Gambian people. These health workers, together with their Gambian
counterparts, are helping to bring health care to the doorstep of Gambians in
some hard to reach areas.
A growing people to people relationship and diplomacy is emerging
as Gambian solidarity movements are established such as the Gambia-Cuba
Friendship Association and the José Martí Association of Graduates in Cuba to
further strengthen the ties through exchanges and visits.
During its Fourth Ordinary Session in December 2019, the Plenary approved the
establishment and membership of the Parliamentary Friendship Group between
the National Assembly of The Gambia and the Popular Assembly of the
Republic of Cuba to promote and strengthen the relations between the
legislatures and peoples of the two countries.
Cuba has equally been at the forefront giving support to African countries in
their independence and liberation struggles against colonialism and external
As we commemorate Africa Liberation Day, we must focus on the objectives of
the leaders in 1963 who met in Addis Abeba, Ethiopia, to promote the liberation
of the continent. To focus attention to the de-colonisation process, 25th May
was declared Africa Liberation Day. The commemoration of this day was for
those who attained Independence to assess how far they had gone in building
free and self-reliant nations which could ensure self-determined development
and further reflect on the plight of those still under the colonial yoke. At the
time, Kwame Nkrumah told the African leaders that the independence of Ghana
must be linked to the total liberation of the African continent, arguing that a
nation can only become fully developed if it becomes self-reliant.
Africa is yet to attain the true goal not because of incapacity but because of
conflict of interests and aspirations among her citizenry. Time is now teaching
that the wrong steps will not lead us to freedom and self -reliance. There is hope
that the 21 st Century will be Africa’s Century, Cuba is therefore not wasting its