A Political History of the Gambia, 1816-1994

A Political History of the Gambia, 1816-1994

Arnold Hughes, David Perfect

The only complete study of modern Gambian politics from the establishment of British rule to the overthrow of the Jawara government.
A Political History of the Gambia: 1816-1994 is the first complete account of the political history of the former British West African dependency to be written. It makes use of much hitherto unconsulted or unavailable British and Gambian official and private documentary sources, as well as interviews with many Gambian politicians and former British colonial officials.

The first part of the book charts the origins and characteristics of modern politics in colonial Bathurst (Banjul) and its expansion into the Gambian interior (Protectorate) in the two decades after World War II. By independence in 1965, older urban-based parties in the capital had been defeated by a new, rural-based political organisation, the People's Progressive Party (PPP).

The second part of the book analyzes the means by which the PPP, under President Sir Dawda Jawara, succeeded in defeating both existing and new rival political parties and an attempted coup in 1981. The book closes with an explanation of the demise of the PPP at the hands of an army coup in 1994.

The book not only establishes those distinctive aspects of Gambian political history, but also relates these to the wider regional and African context, during the colonial and independence periods.

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Table of Contents

Social and Economic Setting
Constitutional Change in The Gambia, 1816-1994
Merchants and Recaptives: The Origins of Modern Politics, 1816-86
Patrician Politics in the Era of the Forsters, 1886-1941
The Establishment of Party Politics, 1941-59
The "Green Uprising": The Emergence of the People's Progressive Party, 1959-65
Electoral Politics, 1965-81
Radical and Insurrectionary Political Challenges, 1965-81
Electoral Politics, 1981-94
The Gambia's External Relations, 1965-94
The 1994 Coup and the Jawara Legacy


A meticulous, richly documented and eloquently written book; a precious gift to a country and its peoples. It fills a most important gap and is sure to make a lasting contribution to Gambian and African studies. A true labor of love. --Abdoulaye Saine, associate professor of political science, Miami University

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