The Gambian Association in Minnesota was officially established in 1994, and some of its main purpose includes:
- Establish a friendly and cordial relationship among all Gambians in Minnesota. It aims to unite all Gambians and provide a practical means to identify and address their concerns within the ability of the Association.
- Assist and support those Gambians who may be hit by crisis and to be good and reliable friends for each other even in times of adversity.
- Aid in general orientation of all Gambians in Minnesota.
- Establish and maintain strong relationships with various levels of government, businesses and non-governmental organizations.
- Promote the African culture as a whole and the Gambian culture in Minnesota.
- Effectively work for the well-being of all Gambians in Minnesota.
- Promote and facilitate education including college, adult education, computer literacy, etc., of all Gambians.
Some key project accomplishments:
These are many, but chief among them are:
- Partnered with Book for Africa and MoneyGram and send a container of 39, 000 books to the Gambia through the Ministry of education in 2009. The consignment was successfully distributed to many schools countrywide in the Gambia.
- Shipped a 40f container of various medical items to the Gambia in September 2011. The items were received by the Ministry of Health and distributed to various medical centers and hospitals in the Gambia.
- Conducted serious of Adult Education classes for Gambians to help them through their naturalization processes.
- Partnered with the MN local Census Bureau in 2010 to sensitization the Gambian immigrants on the importance of having each one to be counted.
- The Gambian soccer team participated in almost all yearly soccer tournaments and won some of these competitions.
- Celebrated many July 4 Anniversary Day as well as the Gambia Idependence Day with sppeches by invited lawayers, bankers and insurance experts, musical entertainment and speech predation children.
- In the area of cultural promotion, Gambia’s kora maestro made three impressive musical appearances in Minnesota. The last of such memorable appearances was a live performance in June 2012.
Brief fascinating history of the Gambia
Archaeological evidence, in particular the Wassu Stone Circle, show that people have been living in the region since 500 CE. Around 1200 saw the first migration of the Fula to the region — they now account for about 20% of Gambia’s population.
Between 1400 and 1600 the region fell under the Mali Empire, the first of the great African empires in West Africa to reach the Atlantic coast. The Malinke (Mandinka) ruled, a subset of the Mandé peoples who are spread across West Africa, and now the dominant ethnic group in The Gambia.
Towards the end of the 16th century, the region came under the control of the Songhai Empire, but incursions by forces from Morocco, and then the arrival of Portuguese traders quickened its collapse.
Portuguese, British and French all tried to claim the region as part of their colonial empire, Britain gained the narrow tongue of land which was sandwiched within French territory. During the 17th and 18th century the region was a major source of slaves for the trans-Atlantic trade.
When Britain abolished the slave trade in 1807 it met with resistance in The Gambia — a military post was set up at Bathurst (now Banjul) to aid anti-slavery measures. (Slavery in The Gambia was only abolished in 1906.)
In 1889 the boundary between The Gambia and Senegal was agreed by Britain and France. Five years later, with increasing colonial activity inland, it became a British protectorate.
Independence was granted on 18 February 1965, with Queen Elizabeth II as head of state and Dawda Kairaba Jawara as prime minister. A republic was declared five years later, on 24 April 1970, with Jawara becoming president.
A military coup in 1994 deposed Jawara, who had been in power for 32 years (since becoming prime minister in 1962). Lieut. Yahya Jammeh took power and has been president since then.