TR-in-Africa-900x614When US President Franklin D. Roosevelt visited Gambia on January 13th 1943 he was so appalled by the conditions of Gambians so much so that he made this lamentation,

“It’s the most horrible thing I have ever seen in my life….. The natives are five thousand years back of us….The British have been there for two hundred years – for every dollar that the British have put into Gambia, they have taken out ten. It’s just plain exploitation of those people”-

He continues, “I must tell Churchill what I found out about his British Gambia today,” he told Elliott his son. “This morning, at about eight-thirty, we drove through Bathurst to the airfield.” (Elliott notes it was here that his father began speaking with “real feeling in his voice.”) “The natives were just getting to work. In rags…glum-looking.…They told us the natives would look happier around noontime, when the sun should have burned off the dew and the chill. I was told the prevailing wages for these men was one and nine. One shilling nine pence. Less than fifty cents.”

“An hour?” Elliott asked.

“A day! Fifty cents a day! Besides which, they’re given a half-cup of rice. Dirt. Disease. Very high mortality rate. I asked. Life expectancy—you’d never guess what it is. Twenty-six years. Those people are treated worse than the livestock. Their cattle live longer!” US President Franklin D. Roosevelt 1943. Source: The American Heritage.

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