How PPP Came Into Existence

The History of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP):
How the Party Came to Existence

The history of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) began with the Protectorate People’s Society (PPS), a grassroots organization formed to facilitate the national affairs of the protectorate people. Prior to independence, the Gambia was divided into two sections: the colony and the protectorate. The colony included Bathurst and Kombo St. Mary’s, while the protectorate included the rest of the Gambia. All the social, political and economic opportunities were endowed to the few urban elites while the protectorate people were alienated from such endowment. Consequently, political activities and Legislative Council representation were limited to the colony. In the early 1950s a new paradigm began to surface challenging the status quo of the dominant urban elites. The political landscape began to expand prompting the creation of political parties. In 1951, Reverend J. C. Faye and Ibrahim Garba Jahumpa formed the Gambia Democratic Party (GDP), the following year Garba Jahumpa broke away from GDP and formed the Gambia Muslim Congress (GMC). In 1957, John Bidwell Bright, a philanthropist and entrepreneur, along with Alexander Jobarteh, Melville Benoni Jones, Edrissa Samba and Kebba Foon formed the Gambia National Party (GNP). Pierre S. Njie headed the United Party (UP). The Wyn-Harris Constitution of 1957 amendment allowing Gambians from the age of twenty-one or above to vote or to be voted for, ignited an extraordinary excitement in the political environment. This change in the political landscape provided the provincial people the opportunity to take part in the political process; and as more young provincials graduate from higher institutions, the viability of a protectorate party became a reality.

In light of the Wyn-Harris constitutional amendment, the PPS began to gain prominence and relevance in and around the protectorate. Under the influence of Pa Sanjally Bojang, then a labor contractor in the groundnut business, the society’s membership grew tremendously. However, competitive rivalry began to boil within the society and with other organizations such as Fankanta and Kambeng Kafo led by Ebrima Njie, and Jangjangbureh Kafo under the leadership of Musa Keita. The competitive rivalry caused disenfranchisement within the organizations resulting in the leaderships throwing their support towards others parties in the colony. Pa Sanjally Bojang shifted his support behind the Democratic Congress Alliance led by J. C. Faye and Garba Jahumpa. Ebrima Njie allied with the United Party led by P. S. Njie.

Two weeks prior to end of 1958, Sir Dawda had a conversation with Pa Sanjally and convinced him to reunite with the PPS and to mend the rivalry within the leadership. Pa Sanjally agreed to the recommendation to rejoin the organization and to mend his differences with the society’s leadership. After Pa Sanjally accepted his request, Sir Dawda organized a reconciliation meeting with the PPS, the Fankanta, the Kambeng Kafo and the Jangjangbureh Kafo. Pa Sanjally and his delegation including his chief associates Farba Fatty, Bakary Manneh, and Lang Saho along with Sir Dawda and Lamin Marenah attended the reconciliation meeting. In the midst of heated debate among the factions, Sir Dawda took his turn to talk about unity among the different organizations. He suggested for the organizations to come together and form a unified party. The idea was immediately welcomed by all the leaderships. A reorganization agenda was instantly developed and by the end of the meeting, an executive committee was elected to lead the new organization. Pa Sanjally Bojang was elected president of the new organization. Mamadi Sagnia was elected vice president and Sherrif Sekouba Sisay was elected Secretary General. From then on, the PPS began to strive for recognition as a viable political party, and to influence policy and constitutional changes. In the beginning of 1959, the PPS attended the Brikama Conference to take its rightful place as a political party and challenged the government to consider constitutional reform.

The momentum that came out of the Brikama conference took on a new height at the chief’s conference (Mansa Bengo) in Basse, when the PPS emerged with an extraordinary decision for political representation. The chiefs, Mama Tamba Jammeh of Upper Baddibou, and Jewru Krubally of Fulladou East demanded local representation of all the provincial constituencies rather than representation by the colony. In addition, the PPS including the Chiefs established comprehensive changes in the governance and policies, as well as the services provided in the protectorate. Although Sir Dawda was at the conference in government official capacity only, his inputs were notably crucial during the meeting process. Though the PPS constitution was only in drafted phase, the society’s spokesmen, Jombo Bojang, and Saja Mboge presented to the Chiefs innovative programs for protectorate development. The response on the programs from the people and the Chiefs were so extraordinary and positive that the idea of the PPS becoming a viable political party took center stage. By the end of the conference, on February 14, 1959, the PPS was transformed into a bona fide political party to become the Protectorate People’s Party (PPP).

The leadership of the new Protectorate People’s Party (PPP) came out the Basse Conference energized and ready to take on an even farther-reaching ideas and programs. However, they realized that in order to challenge the urban-based parties while implementing their extraordinary programs, a capable and well-educated individual must lead the party. Hence, the leadership went on hunting for a party leader. One of the people in consideration was Sir Dawda Jawara, then a veterinary surgeon. While at home in Abuko enjoying the serenity of the morning with his family, a PPP delegation, including Sanjally Bojang, Bakary Fofanah and Madiba Janneh showed up at Sir Dawda’s doorstep to have a conversation about the possibility of him leading the new party. After a long and winding conversation, Pa Sanjally asked Sir Dawda directly if he would be willing to lead the new party. Sir Dawda, shocked by the enormity of the request took a long pause to get his thoughts in line. The space became so quiet you can hear a pin drop. After a long juggle of his thought, Sir Dawda finally responded to the delegation. He told them he would need time to consider their request and to consult with his family; and that he will get back to them soon.

After extensive consultation with his family and friends, Sir Dawda accepted the honorable calling of his people to lead them. He resigned from his post as the country’s only veterinary surgeon on February 4, 1960 to become the leader of the PPP.

Following the launching of the PPP, the party gladiators, Famara Wassa Touray, Pa Sanjally Bojang and Jombo Bojang threaded the villages and towns around the country on their bicycles spreading the good news about the new party. The reception from the general public was great. Sir Dawda knew the extraordinary challenges that lay ahead. He knew that before the PPP could change the political dynamic of the country it must be transformed into an inclusive party. In 1960, through the suggestion of the party’s new leadership, the name of the party was changed from the Protectorate People’s Party to the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) to make it inclusive and representative of the entire nation rather than marginalizing the rest of the country as old parties did in the colony. The mission of the PPP was to improve the lives of the protectorate people by bridging the divide that separated the colony from the protectorate thereby create a single united nation in which all people can strive and seek to advance their own lives based on their own abilities. At the core of the PPP’s vision was of a country founded on democratic principles, with self-governance and self-reliance as its mantle.




  1. Thank you very much kaironews for setting the record Straight for such a beautiful historical facts. I am very happy to see this. PPP was people’s party. It was very inclusive party which had all the tribes living in the protectorate and urban centers. Great Great job.
    I hope Yero Ba will take personal responsibility and apologize to Gambian people. I doubt very much he will do that. Very rarely you will see a politician doing that in The Gambia.

  2. Thanks for this beautiful piece of history….

  3. Bakary Badjie

    History is so sweet especially when it is narrated or written by its owner. We need things like this so we better understand ourselves. Clearly, the problem had been the urban elites at first but sons from the protectorate joined them to mess us up. We will never forgive whoever contribute in the mess of corruption and flamboyance of our resources.

  4. Thank you for the piece of history about the PPP which is written in a nice tone but the facts remained the same and are no different from what Yerro narrated, it was a sectionalist party meant to serve the interest of the Protectorate people. That was what inspired its formation. Can anyone deny that? “The history of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) began with the Protectorate People’s Society (PPS), a grassroots organization formed to facilitate the national affairs of the protectorate people”
    “1960, through the suggestion of the party’s new leadership, the name of the party was changed from the Protectorate People’s Party to the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) to make it inclusive and representative of the entire nation rather than marginalizing the rest of the country as old parties did in the colony”. So as you can see, the PPP was rectifying their mistake after taking over as Yerro Ba has rightly said.
    “Following the launching of the PPP, the party gladiators, Famara Wassa Touray, Pa Sanjally Bojang and Jombo Bojang threaded the villages and towns around the country on their bicycles spreading the good news about the new party.” These founders of the PPP had threaded the country long before it was launched and not the other way round.
    The truth cannot be hidden, their focus was sectionalist and tribalist at the time and it is understandable looking at the circumstances which motivated their movement and their low level of clarity of those who formed it. If the party was not formed before Jawara headed it, may be he may have changed the name but because it was the other way round, he later realized it and changed the name to make it appealing to people across the nation. What say you now?

    • Yero Ba, here are simple questions: was Mandinka only tribe living in the protectorate areas? How about other tribes? Don’t you know that you have fulas, wolofs, jolas etc etc, living in the protectorate areas. Are implying that only the Mandinkas are living in the protectorate areas? If your answer is NO, then stop your nonsense and ignorance.

    • Yerro, Take a break and reflect on the following views purportedly made by p.s. Njie in around 1963:
      “You can’t have an understanding with a man like that (?)…you see the PPP are all mandinka People, and mandinkas only understand money, meat and groundnuts. They are all lazy. Character and honour is meaningless to them. ”
      Courtesy :Enter Gambia p. 338 (author Berkeley Rice).
      Would you consider these views as a true description of your fellow citizens of mandinka origin?
      I would expect from you a straight forward NO! Correct me if I got it wrong.

      For I believe that the utterances and alliance building then, were informed by the circumstances as dictated by colonial policy. A political dispensation which, of course was dependent on divide and rule to maintain colonialism.

      But we are independent now and should overcome such divisive tactics and more importantly prevent such a divide and rule modus operandi -albeit this time in our own midst.

  5. Janjanbureh

    Thank you Kaironews for the true narrative of how PPP was founded but not what Yero Bah was making it to be. Please if you don’t know the history of the Political parties in the country why not ask somebody who knows. The Protectorate Peoples Party was founded to serve the interest of the protectorate since they were excluded from the political process but they later changed the name to People Progressive Party to accommodate every one in the country. PPP was never a tribal party because everybody was welcomed to participate in the party.

    • “Thank you Kaironews for the true narrative of how PPP was founded but not what Yero Bah was making it to be….

      The Protectorate Peoples Party was founded to serve the interest of the protectorate since they were excluded from the political process….”

      Observations…Bloody hell, can it get any more confusing..? If that was indeed why they were formed, what does that make them then..?

      • The only confusion here is Yerro Ba who has nothing to offer except his own confution.

        He is the who doesn’t understand the word Sectionalism, and clearly doesn’t understand the Gambian landscape nor does he understand the interconnection of tribes, and lands.

        One-way to win this fight is to forcus on Yaya Jammeh, and manage our distractors instead of them managing our noble efforts.

      • Bax, the answer is simply sectionalist.

  6. Deyda Haidara

    For GOD sake please STOP this 50 year old meaningless conversation which has no impact on today’s politics of tyranny and dictatorship. Please STOP this opposition inter-party senseless competition and accusations for the sake the unity we yearning for the opposition parties.
    The enemy is Yaya Jammeh and the APRC not the opposition parties. How many times should we remind ourselves that we are in an election year and are ambush with robust of draconian laws that we have to fight with all our energies and intelligence to remove from our road to State House.
    Our political leaders at home are the least happy about this petty and useless discussions which serves only Jammeh and the APRC to laugh at us.
    Let us please refocus our energies on the real fight to remove Jammeh from office.
    Thank you.

  7. Am sure most people involved in this discussion are well intentioned, that is to put history in its proper perspective, to enable modern Gambia to move on, and eventually to focus on solutions to our current nightmare, the usurpation of our sovereignty by Jammeh.

    It must however be recognised that Yerro’s tribal insinuation is a sly pattern of behaviour on this forum, that I am convinced, is calculated to convey the message that if not PDOIS then Gambia is better with Jammeh.

    It was not long ago when the entire world community of good people were condemning the country’s president for insulting the Mandinkas during his so called peoples tour; and from nowhere comes this Yerro with some convoluted explanation from his dubious “sources” of what Jammeh was supposed to have said.

    Bottom line is Jammeh is a disaster for peace loving Gambians, and any attempt to rationalize or moderate the seriousness of his offence against the Gambian will be condemned. Even Yerro will be a preferable president to Jammeh !!!

  8. You have done well kaironews by bringing this historical piece. However, this is and will not help Halifa Sallah alias Yero Bah. Let me tell you one thing and that is Halifa Yero Bah knows the history of all the Gambian political parties. And truth being told most of these old parties were formed on regional and tribal idealogies but Halifa Yero Bah singled out the PPP and call it a regional and tribal party. OMG, did Halifa Yero Bah think we are sleeping? No we are not. We all know the UP of P S Njie whose agenda the private Halifa Yero Bah and his PDOIS came to accomplish is the number one tribal, regional and anti-provencial party. Yes, the PPP may have been found by provincial elites but this was a reaction for the exclusion of the provincial people from taking part in selecting who are to manage the affairs of the Gambia. How many times were there elections in the Gambia in which only the Urbaners vote? So these provincial youths at the time realised their people were maginalised so they teamed up to fight. But being people who are not anti-urban, decided to change the name of their party and once it came to power PPP went as far as giving all the adminstrative powers to Halifa Yero Bah’s people the urbaners.
    For those of us who know Halifa Yero Bah very well know that we have two Halifa Sallahs: the public and private. the public Halifa talks like he and his party are out to enpower the Gambian people and the private Halifa Sallah is Anti-provincial and Tribalistic man. He led a party which preaches enpowerment but come to tell the PDOIS have never help to educate a single member. In-fact as a PDOIS member once you travel out of the Gambia to the West you are term as a betrayer of the struggle. Halifa Yero Bah give us break.

    • Yerro Ba is a provincial guy opposed to all sectionalist and discriminatory practices within the citizenry and he is a sovereign person like HALIFA SALLAH. You are DEAD wrong, Yerro is not an urbanite, he is a provincial with a provincial upbringing. The PPP up to its overthrow, continued to have this infighting among its members vis a vis urban vs provincial or better still the Teri kafoo and the mafia as they were labeled. Its all about how it started, the wrong footing. The change of name came too late and did not change the behaviour of the militants on the ground who continued to perpetuate the same negative tendencies.If This is the problem of Gambian politics up to today, the diagnosis of which is the mis-education of the citizenry from inception. Unless we accept the mistakes and take steps to rectify them, we will continue to wallow in oblivion and a small country like Gambia, sad to say will continue from BAD TO WORSE. You can say whatever you wish to say but the facts remain the same. You cannot change historical records by opinion. Sorry, its already in the achieves.

  9. Observation..This is, presumably, the PPP “talking” about its own history from the very beginning…(as the source is…

    And what it has to say should make Max hang his head in shame, rather than pretending otherwise..

    But knowing his problem, which is the inability to decipher meaning from content, and judging by his reaction as per his comment above, I am absolutely certain that he does not even understand what the PPP is saying about itself..

    So let’s help him to see what the PPP is saying…

    Firstly, what was the nature or state of the PPP..? Here’s an indication…The PPP stated that its leader, Sir Dawda…,

    Quote.. ” knew that before the PPP could change the political dynamic of the country it must be transformed into an inclusive party.” (end)

    What does this mean ? This simply means that the PPP was not an inclusive party at the time, because you cannot be transformed into something that you already are…If the PPP was transformed into an inclusive (party) state, then it must have come from the state of being non-inclusive..

    So if anyone has asserted that the PPP (Protectorate People’s Party) was not an inclusive party, they have most certainly been vindicated…

    Secondly, what was the prevalent politics of the time..?

    According to the PPP…..,

    Quote..” the name of the party was changed from the Protectorate People’s Party to the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) to make it inclusive and representative of the entire nation rather than marginalizing the rest of the country as old parties did in the colony.”

    I want to draw everyone’s attention to the last part of the above quotation, as thus…

    “….rather than marginalizing the rest of the country as old parties did in the colony.”

    What is this saying…? What this piece of information is stating is that the culture of politics at the time was one of marginalisation and all parties indulged in it, including the PPP..

    To summarise, what the PPP is saying (basically), is that they emerged as a non inclusive party, at a time when the culture of politics was anchored on marginalisation, but that they soon realised that in order to change the political dynamics of the country, they not only needed to be inclusive (beginning with change of name), but also needed to move away from this prevalent culture of marginalisation…

    So this again vindicates my position that region, tribe and class were factors that played key roles in the formation of parties of that era..

    So too, does the quotations from P.S.NJIE as provided by Kinteh (and thanks for that Kinteh…)

  10. Max…You had a lot to say about how I dishonestly fabricated and misquoted you about your claim that the PPP was spear-headed by the workers’ union, but when I produced your words to proof my honesty, you went quiet…

    Let me ask you here….Who is being DISHONEST..? Bax or Max..?

    • Bax, I have answered your every single question. You continue on your pointless argument when you should have taken bold step and accept that you are wrong to support Yero Ba. Go back and look at each of my postings to find out whether I am right or not. The reason of having to debate is to disagree to agree when you see the truth, but it is pointless when you refuse to agree to the truth despite the fact that majority indicated the truth. Why you don’t ever admit that you are wrong? You cannot argue with everybody . Even your fellow disciple, Julaba has indicated that Yero was wrong but you have vehemently defended and supported him till when you realized that majority have spoken against his ridiculous statements. The mere fact that you have tried to defend his ridiculous statement using so called context of the era is itself dishonesty. Bax, as former senator Allen Spector has joked about Mitt Romney in 2012 presidential election, it appear that you “changed positions more often than a pornographic movie queen”.

      • So you will not admit that I did not fabricate your claim or misquote you, when I stated that you were wrong to claim that the PPP was spear-headed by the workers’ union….?

        I will leave that to pass because I have made my point and exonerated myself from your slanderous and unjustified accusations..

        Did I defend Yero Ba…? You have not quoted a single statement from me which even gives the impression that I defended Yero Ba, never mind prove your accusations..

        I have stated quite clearly that I do not agree with any views that labels the PPP a Mandinka Party…I went further to state that I don’t believe that Sir Dawda was a tribalist. ..What else do you want to see, condemnation..?

        I don’t condemn people for holding and expressing a view…I only agree or disagree..Yero Ba is entitled to his views, whether they are right or wrong, factual or not…

        My position is that the PPP, like all parties of that era, may have used tribe and region to win followers at the formation and formative stages, and these have been corroborated by their own accounts…

        The PPP’s history writer (s) have shown that they were not an inclusive party at the formation stage…and that marginalisation politics was the practice then..

        Only a person like you, who lacks the ability of clear understanding and has a knack for twisting what people say, can claim that I dishonestly defended Yero Ba…Even if I defended Yero Ba, why would that constitute “dishonesty”..?

        Do you know what “dishonesty” is..? It’s what you have done with your claims of “PPP was spear-headed by workers’ union”…You changed your view on that, and then claimed that your new statement or view was your original one…That’s DISNONESTY…

      • And by the way, I told you before that America is a great country and has many great things that are the envy of many, but if you are aspiring to build.a democracy, America is NOT the place to look up to, because it is anything but a democracy…

  11. Yankuba Jobe

    I always try by all means to refrain from commenting on TRIBAL issues, which is now call in Diaspora a freedom of expression, while negating the terrible consequences of it. There would be no winner, if the tribal war starts in the Gambia! Those of you who think, their tribes will ally themselves against the Mandinka tribe are dreaming in their graveyards. This modern war is totally different than the previous wars, which means, the number is no longer vital but the capacity! Whichever side put their hands on the deadly weapons will cause more destructions and dead. Therefore, my humble advise to the fellow Gambians, and when I said my fellow Gambians, I mean those of the 7 [seven] centuries to do everything to ignore those who are scared of your degrees and your higher educations. If the PPP was a Mandinka party, that would have been great! But unfortunately it wasn’t! The first parliamentary election in Jarra West between Honorable Alhagie Yaya Ceesay and Tahir John went very close, and Yaya Ceesay was announced a winner. My Dad was UP with many people in Karantaba, Soma and other villages. I still could very well remember the skinny, long and a dark color man called Tahir John, who was not even born in Jarra. And still could remember when late Sanjaly Bojang of Brikama organized a big rally in Jarra Karantaba, he was by then a UP supporter! What nonsense, if someone from somewhere describes PPP as a tribal party, I couldn’t get it! The Gambia is in deep crises, but with all that, we will not go to war with our Jula brothers and sisters. Yaya Jammeh will spare no one, be a Jula or Mandinka. He is just aggressive in nature, nothing we can do about it, but to get rid of him collectively. May the Almighty Allah, the most Gracious, the most Merciful protect, guide and bless the Gambia from those evils who are publicly and privately trying to create tribal conflict in our country.

  12. Jobe: The discussion is political and not tribal. No one is calling for a tribal war. Only those who have no answers to political issues turn discussions around and pretend that they are tribal. We are not in the age of tribe which is considered backward in this era. It’s my opposition to all sectionalist politics including using ethnicity to garner votes which is being opposed here. Maxs continuous and incessantly ask the question why PDOIS got only 3 percent of the votes in 1986. This is what led to the quoting of history as one reason why that is so. It is not the tribe which they are fighting for, it is the exposure of the history regarding their party which made them furious and they think that arguing against the mention of the WORD tribe would help in their argument. My mother is a Mandinka and my wife is a Mandinka and therefore by extension, I have a Mandinka family. So it is stupid to think that any time there is a mention of tribe, the one mentioning it is tribalist. Those elites who use tribe or section for political gain are the worse elements who need to be restrained and controlled.
    Kaironews have ended the debate when they presented the PPP’s own history from their own website which explicitly stated that “the name of the party was changed from the Protectorate People’s Party to the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) to make it inclusive and representative of the entire nation rather than marginalizing the rest of the country as old parties did in the colony” According to them theyve rectified that mistake in 1960. Has this not vindicated my position? So lets please keep to the topic AND NOT DIGRESS.

  13. Yankuba Jobe

    Thank you very much Mr. Bah and I hope you would not take my comment as personal attack directed to you. I have been hearing similar topics on on-line radios and Facebook on and on, and it really irritates me quite a lot. The real issue is to get rid of Yaya Jammeh, he is the one that gives instruction to kill and torture our people. By the way, thank you for your kind response. I just want the Gambians to stay focused on the real threat facing all of us daily. May Allah guide us all.

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