Small, Edward Francis


Edward Francis Small, O.B.E. [1] was an evangelist, a trade unionist, a journalist, and a politician. Small was one of the earliest 20th century practicing liberation theologians of colonial West Africa.

Birth of a Fighter

Edward was the son of Annie Eliza Thomas, an immigrant mistress from Sierra Leone, and a Bathurst tailor, John William Small. The boy grew up stocky and sturdy; his eyes were bright and the old people interpreted the boy’s stubborn looks and his pronounced forehead as showing a spirit of promise and determination [2].

Growing up, Edward was surrounded by learning. He was tutored at home at very early age by his older half-sister, Hannah Small. Her brilliance in arithmetic and language later helped her to become the first woman to rise to the rank of a secretary at the Colonial Secretary’s Office. Furthermore, she had the added honor of becoming Lady Hannah Mahoney, wife of the first Speaker of the Gambia House of Representatives, Sir John Andrew Mahoney.

Edward’s parents knew immediately that only education could make their son rise above their own social status. Edward’s mother hailed from Freetown where she knew education was making a big difference in the lives of people there. The opportunity to go to school was helping younger men make more demands on the governments of the Europeans more than their illiterate fathers had done. Annie Eliza Thomas saved her income from petty trading and decided with John that Edward was going to take advantage of the opportunity for a sound education.

Edward loved reading and whenever he had the chance, he would steal away somewhere to read books. He read everything he could lay his hands on. He studied hard and soon won a two-year scholarship to the Wesleyan High School in Bathurst. In 1906, the eager fifteen year old left for Freetown, Sierra Leone, to complete a well-rounded education through the study of language, rhetoric, logic, and the classics in addition to standard reading, writing, and arithmetic. In addition, he received training that set him on his way to becoming a brilliant musician in the classical tradition.

He was a bright student. By 1910, he had finished school and had begun a government job as a stamp seller at the Freetown Post Office. Edward read all the newspapers that people brought in upon arriving from England. When he returned home to Bathurst in 1912, the young man’s appetite for news from the greater world had increased so much that he wrote away to newspapers in Europe and paid to have editions sent to him. This allowed him to follow major developments in the work of contemporary African scholars while he worked as a daily paid government cost clerk at the Public Works Department. He felt increasingly attracted to the ideas of many of the African intellectuals whose articles were appearing in European journals and in papers in the more advanced capitals in West Africa, especially Accra and Lagos.

Crucible of Resistance

Young Edward was intensely interested in the First World War in Europe (1914-1918), and the political and social events that led up to it. In everything he read or heard about the European war, he tried to analyze the implications for Africa and its peoples. Behind all the global unrest and rapid changes, Small was keenly aware that close at home, in Africa, and in the distant West Indies and the United States of America, Africans and peoples of African descent were speaking out and writing more boldly about their conditions of life, and were prescribing the means to improve their political and economic welfare.

Among his reading material, he was most fascinated by the works coming out of meetings between Black Americans and West Indians who wrote about bringing all Black people together again in order to reclaim the respect and dignity that they had lost through slavery. Their desire was to recover the grand ideals of the African spirit and to recreate one country out of Africa out of the fragmented territories that had been taken over by European colonial overlords.

At that time, the idea of Africa being divided into countries was only three decades old (1884-1914). Yet it was already evident to many nationalists that while the relationship worked profitably for the Europeans who occupied the land and extracted African minerals, grains, oilseeds, and farm produce for their own benefit, the sickening conditions of life for the African inhabitants hardly changed. Part of the ideal of Pan-Africanism was to change that. Edward found it a thrilling idea and wanted to know more.

Now, a grown man, Small’s only difference with any young man of his day was the sharp, critical mind that he applied to what was happening around him and the burning in his heart to make a difference in his country. He resented the system of governance and the European dominance over Africans. He initiated a campaign to make Europeans aware of the fact that Africans also had a claim to dignity and self-respect. He resented the degrading and servile conditions under which Europeans ruled Africans in every sphere of life. In his heart, he longed to join a movement that would put into practice the ideas to free The Gambia and all African colonies from colonial rule.

His government job lasted only nine months. During that time, he had already been denied a promotion he thought he deserved. He took up a good well-paid job with the trading firm, Maurel & Prom, but at this time Small felt a call to church ministry. When the call grew stronger, he left Maurel & Prom and took a lower salary as a teacher at his alma mater, the Wesleyan High School, as part of his training. Edward dedicated himself to the work of the church, teaching and bringing enlightenment to students and colleagues alike. In 1917, the Wesleyan Church was satisfied enough with his preparation to send him on to do further training in the field as a church missionary in the village of Ballangharr [3].

At that important trading post in MacCarthy Island Province, Small came face to face with the stark realities of racism and exploitation. He immediately set himself the task of playing the organ in the church and pursuing his evangelistic mission, but he also sought to address the plight of the poor, illiterate peasants who were constantly at the mercy of the Europeans and the African traders who cheated the farmers of their well-deserved wages for their hard labor in the fields.

The young missionary was incensed by the cheating and the bad attitudes of the Europeans and by their master-slave relationship with the common people. His turned his anger against the officials and the senior members of the Church whom he claimed encouraged and perpetuated the unfair practices of the white people over Africans. While he struggled to advocate for fair prices for the farmers, his disillusionment with the church administration deepened.

To pass his spare time in Ballangharr, he read literature and other educational and political tracts and interpreted them to small casual audiences of village folk on the veranda of his house. This was his way of enlightening a small corner of the “Dark Continent.” Small realized that the only way to stop the exploitation of the farmers was to form them into cooperatives that would engage in collective bargaining on the prices of the produce. While this progressive thinking helped the farmers immensely, it incensed the traders who soon saw Small as a threat to their lucrative business [4].

Therefore, at the instigation of the white traders in Bathurst, J. Macullum, the travelling commissioner, regularly made disparaging reports to the government regarding Small’s activities among the peasants and the farmers. In February 1918, he sent a report to Governor Cameron in which he said:

Finally, I do not consider that Small is a fit person to be at an out station such as Ballangharr … he lacks judgment, courtesy and self-control, and I should be obliged if you would inform the Wesleyan Church at Bathurst that his removal from here is absolutely essential…. [5].

What the commissioner was not telling the governor was that the real conflict centered on Small’s role as the only voice against the unfair and exploitative control of the white traders of the Bathurst Trading Company (BTC) in Ballangharr wharf town.

The bad blood between Small and the Europeans came to a physical showdown in what became known as “the Ballangharr Incident.” Mr. James Walker, a white trader in the BTC, trespassed on church property, slapped Small’s houseboy for obeying his master’s orders not to let him in. When he found Small, he violently complained that the ringing of the church bell during the Watch Night service disturbed his peace. Small explained that it was the tradition to ring the bells at midnight to welcome the New Year 1918 [6]. Walker did not accept any of that so when Small insisted he was trespassing on church property and should leave, Walker resisted and the two men came to blows. Small was young and sturdy and Walker must have gotten the worst of it.

The “Ballangharr Incident” was just one of the many pretexts to have Small removed. The truth was that Ballangharr was the center of the oilseeds trade and the agents of the BTC hated Small for organizing the farmers into cooperatives. Armed with the power of information, lowly people now had the courage to better negotiate their livelihood. The new knowledge Small was imparting to the farmers on pricing and trading practices angered the traders.

Small officially pursued the implications of the incident with Mr. Walker in its relevance to the question of racial discrimination (also called the color bar). On January 1, 1918, in the morning following the affair, he quickly sent a letter to the government in Bathurst to ascertain whether in the absence of the district commissioner, any white person in the Protectorate was allowed to exercise administrative authority without official commission or announcement. Why? Small asked, did it appear that any white man, no matter how low his knowledge, status or condition, enjoyed an unquestioned lordship over Africans no matter how educated or endowed the Africans were? As far as he was concerned, white traders who assumed authority over the community whenever government officials were absent had to be stopped.

While Mr. Walker had given orders objecting to late night bell ringing for an official church celebration, he had actually trespassed on church property and, furthermore, had physically assaulted an innocent African houseboy. The Methodist Church was unable to see that their missionary representative had courageously protected the sanctity of the church grounds. Instead, the Church insisted that the African was wrong to challenge a white trader who had lost sleep to a bona fide church ritual of bell ringing. Even in the fairest of the Christian minds of church and government, they could find no room to properly examine the circumstances and evidence to justly determine which of the two men, Walker or Small, really lacked judgment, courtesy, and self-control.

For standing up against the terror of the white colonialists, Small clashed regularly with the establishment. He quickly flourished as a household name among the farm folk in all of MacCarthy Island Province and beyond [7].

Fired for Standing by the Truth

It was inevitable that the travelling commissioner and the governor would soon influence Methodist Church leaders to remove the thorn in their flesh. In July 1918, when the green leaves of the groundnut plants were breaking the surface in the fields of MacCarthy Island Province, a letter arrived in Ballangharr from the desk of Acting Superintendent Rev. G. J. Lane of the Wesleyan Mission at Dobson Street, Bathurst. The letter announced the termination of Small’s services for “impropriety of conduct.” The young and somewhat overzealous Englishman who had arrived only a few months before was desperate to prove that he was fit and able to head his Mission at Bathurst. As a result, he had fully endorsed the opinion from Government House that “Small’s mission work among the natives was a pretext for political propaganda.”

While Reverend Lane’s actions may have gained him friends and shown his authority in making decisions, it soon became clear in later church correspondence that Lane anxiously needed friends, recognition, and reassurances. Dismissing Small was thus one important way to cement a friendship with the establishment and with some of the very important African merchants in the congregation [8]. His prompt acquiescence to dismiss was also tainted by other documents in Small’s file that bitterly protested the mistreatment of another Gambian candidate. The latter had mishandled his ministry and this had left the novice’s life in social disarray. Small’s disillusionment with the church deepened over this affair and left him feeling that he should give up on ever becoming a minister.

The termination of his position precipitated a deep rift between Small and the Methodist Church. For the young activist, the fact that the Church sided with the government and the self-interested African merchants was a delay in the movement to break the grip of colonialism and only served to push farther down the road progress towards the dignity, equality, and self-respect of the people.

His removal left farmers without any defense against the whims and excesses of government officials who colluded with trading agents. They ruled their empire uncontested at Ballangharr that had become the largest provincial base of the Krio and Syrian merchant aristocrats and Small had very few friends among them. Obviously, his presence there was not good for their business.

An Agenda for Liberation

Small’s sympathy for agricultural concerns grew out of the fact that he lived in the heart of the farming community. Thankfully, he dismissal from Ballangharr did not remove him completely from his chosen environment. Only a few months later, in 1919, his old employer, Maurel & Prom, re-engaged his services and sent him back up country in Kaur. Small was already in touch with the International Trade Union Committee of the Negro Workers (ITUC-NW) and the League Against Imperialism and for National Independence (LAI-NI). He had seized the opportunity of his posting in Ballangharr in 1917 to sow the seeds of union culture among the people. He had formed the Gambia Farmers’ Cooperative Marketing Association (GFCMA) in 1917, the Gambia National Defense Union (GNDU) [9] in 1919, and the Bathurst Trade Union (BTU) in 1929. These were forerunners, respectively, of the later editions of the Gambia Cooperative Union and the Gambia Labor Union [10].

These organizations were to be the framework for the more challenging transformation into a political arena of a strong, committed, and unified African voice. From the beginning of his mission, being in close touch with the farmers was an advantage in strengthening his aspirations. It fermented ideals of people’s power that had ensured the fall of the tsars and the accession of the Bolsheviks in Moscow only two years before, in 1917. However, internal petty bickering and government resistance aimed at hindering the registration of unions continually dogged political organization. This led to strife within the ranks of the Africans in every public sphere. With too much disaffection in the government, Small had to look farther afield to his associates in international circles for support in his demand for the same rights for workers and peasants in the Colony. He argued against the Colonial Government’s intolerance for unions while similar unions thrived in England and other European countries as a vital part of the political systems that recognized them.

The young missionary did not see his presence among the people in MacCarthy Island Province as just limited to evangelization. He believed that Christ’s teaching ordained active religion by teaching the people how to free themselves from both physical and spiritual ignorance and bondage. Seven decades before the theme arrived on the world political scene in the 1980s, Small was already preaching what the modern era called Liberation Theology [11].

Small was concerned that, as an interest group, the self-seeking merchants obviously benefitted from the crumbs that fell from the colonial table and naturally would turn a blind eye. For them, therefore, the burning issues of the dignity, equality, and self-respect for the masses of deprived Africans were not urgent. Their only worry was how Small’s wake up call to the masses would affect their profits.

However, while many of Small’s obstacles seemed to come from the Church, there was a similarity between his struggles and Arab colonialism that took the subtle form of religious instruction. This created a vast culture that also slowed the struggle to design a true African personality, untainted by foreign colonial experience.

Small had fully assessed the implications of the modus operandi of the two colonizing forces, Western and Arab, even though they seemed to be diametrically opposed. The British local government structure was an administration centralized in a capital town and supported by the provincial municipalities. Anglo-Saxon Christianity was the leitmotif of the administrative tradition. This worked hand in hand with the centuries old unstructured and decentralized inculcation of Arabic culture through the village daira (Koranic schools).

While the first was overtly political with a program of forced cultural change that provided opportunities for class mobility to its adherents, the second had virtually no central administrative overhead and made very few demands separate from the status and common conditions of its believers. The former was slow, aristocratic, and costly. It needed bureaucratic oversight while the latter spread quickly and easily through simple independent ministries to the farmers. Subtlety with profound implications consequently developed in local mentalities. While it sounded starkly colonial and foreign to be called Abraham, Ishmael or Joseph, the same was not so obvious with Ebrima, Ismaila or Yusupha, even though neither was less colonial or foreign than the other. It was difficult for the local African mind to see immediately that Essa and Momodou were, indeed, foreign names of perfectly Arabic derivation, just like Jesus and Mohammed. This way, perhaps subliminally, two foreign cultures worked their way among the people. This led to a difficult bridgehead as to which served the central cause better in the search for an independent African identity that was neither Western Judeo-Christian nor Arabo-Islamic, but one that had to be honorably Negro-African. Small faced the brunt of this clash of foreign cultures when he began to organize the Gambian people against colonial domination and to set the agenda toward self-determination and independence.

Like all true revolutionary pan-Africanists, he found himself laboring between forces aligned with Western Christian concepts and upbringing, and those with Muslim and anti-Western inclinations. While by themselves these influences were already relegated to the central debate on African independence and liberation, they were further handicapped by devastating tribal sentiment at the roots. From 1919 to 1950, while he strove relentlessly to unify religious and ethnic-based associations of tradesmen and artisans under an altruistic and national common cause, political cohesion continued to crack along the religious divide that first raised its ugly head in the mid-40s among the youth. The phenomenon almost derailed his life’s mission when a consolidated party, the Gambia Muslim Congress emerged in 1952 to appeal to the parochial specificities that the name suggested. The fact that the party had been founded by a former apprentice and protégé [12] afflicted Small with a deep sense of defeat. This was the blow that triggered the psychological decline of the fighter.

West Africa: A Common Struggle

World War I had left the world in a difficult place and the impoverished colonies were struggling with even worse conditions. Everyone needed to survive. The war had heightened many issues and the re-unification of Africa was high on that agenda. In March 1920, Small was selected to attend the inaugural meeting of the National Congress of British West Africa (NCBWA). At last, the opportunity arrived to connect to a common struggle with pioneering thinkers, activists, and politicians in other parts of West Africa.

The NCBWA emerged after the First World War with the significance that the West Africans were moving forward from simply belonging to local indigenous societies (such as the Fante Confederation founded in 1867, or the Aborigines’ Rights Protection Society in 1897, both on the Gold Coast, or the Gambia Native Defense Union founded in 1919) to membership in larger movements that unified the struggle in the four British dominions: The Gambia, Sierra Leone, Gold Coast and Nigeria. [13]

Without a moment’s hesitation, Small resigned from the Maurel & Prom and set off to Accra in the Gold Coast for the meeting. On arrival, he discovered that the conveners were completely unprepared for the meeting. Small immediately took over the arrangements and soon afterward the other representatives from Nigeria and Sierra Leone began arriving. The first president of the Congress paid tribute to Small at the inaugural meeting, stating that had it not been for his presence and organizing ability he doubted whether the meeting would have been successful.

Great minds assembled to discuss themes that shaped the anti-colonial struggle. The founders, J. Casely-Hayford, T. Hutton Mills, Sam R. Wood, and other intellectuals and political figureheads among the twelve delegates, listed the objectives of the founding Congress:

  1. To agitate for full racial representation of the African peoples in the Government of the Colonies.
  2. To promote unity of purpose and action among West Africans on matters of common interest.
  3. To defend the land rights of the Natives against exploitation in any shape or form and to pursue legislative, municipal, judicial and land reforms, economic development, self-determination and the formation of a West African press union.
  4. To establish a university, colleges, and academies for racial education and the diffusion of African history and culture among the masses [14].

Small was away for three months and planned his return home very carefully. He immediately transformed the GNDU into the Gambia Branch of the NCBWA. Although initially the membership of the local NCBWA was mainly of low paid clerks and office workers, in time, the branch became a major pressure group that began vocalizing the resolutions and calling for development, especially towards self-determination. All the common people who wished to challenge the government channeled their frustration through the NCBWA.

Homeowners expressed their opposition to the heavy hut tax and came out in mass rallies to make the government aware of their grievances. Many were opposed to the high government taxes. Small, himself, was particularly concerned with the absence of Africans in the committees that decided the disbursement of the funds from those taxes.

Small petitioned the British and international communities using the slogan, “No Taxation without Representation” which became a source of inspiration in his later campaign for the Africanization of the senior civil service [15]. He insisted that if Africans were expected to pay such huge taxes, they must be nominated or, even better, elected into the committees responsible for the disbursement and appropriation of that national purse.

Small was avant-garde in his political thinking for an environment like The Gambia. He knew that numbers counted in western political formulae. Since the liberal government of Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone had introduced the secret ballot in Britain in 1872, the trend had strengthened people’s faith in the “one-man-one-vote” principle with its added blessing of privacy in such a crucial political expression.

The NCBWA had become very active in unionizing the workers in the Colony [16]. Its nucleus, the GNDU had been formed in Kaur in 1919 in a bid to protect the vulnerable lower echelons of the civil service that were prone to arbitrary dismissals and loss of benefits. The unionization of the civil servants drew the unpardonable wrath of Governor Cecil Armitage [1921-1927] who was openly hostile to unions and especially to Small who led them. Perhaps for the first time in the country’s social history the contradictions between the working class and the trader-owners became overt enough for interests to clash violently.

The taxes were too heavy and the pay packets too light. Labor negotiations had all along been tense with government and trading firms yielding little or nothing to the workers’ demands. The establishment of the local branch of the NCBWA with Small as secretary gave him that first semblance of a political organization. Politics was now center stage for Small and he networked directly with those educated and intellectual names he had read so much about from reports of the meeting of Commonwealth West Africa in London in 1900 and in Paris in 1919. His views in social circles in town, his association and correspondence with anti-colonial elements were gradually becoming well known and feared. The government quickly intimidated members of the NCBWA and the GNDU and hounded Small at every opportunity.

SeneGambia & Pan-Africanist Newspaper

The governor’s resolve against Small meant his liberty was seriously threatened. Bathurst soon became too small for one powerful governor and the powerless civil liberties campaigner. Small was wise to decide to escape from the heat by going into exile across the border into Senegal. From the safer haven at Rufisque, outside Dakar, he kept in close touch with the people’s organization at home and sent regular letters to the prime minister’s office in London telling the British government about the poor performances of European officials in the colony. The colonial police became quite suspicious of his international contacts and activities and branded him a “link subversive,” meaning a “communist sympathizer.” The British Office in Dakar chased him wherever he went and soon the safe haven became quite unsafe. In 1923, cornered and alone, Small sought the distance of London to get away from the clutches of Governor Armitage.

Armitage and Small were two men possessed by their convictions. They were ready to fight each other to uphold their ideals. One was a powerful English governor trifling with the ideals of British Imperial glory and European domination worldwide… The other was a simple African peasant armed with his pen on a burning mission to enlighten and free his people. During the 1921 to 1927 era, Small and Armitage were diametrically opposed to each other. A poor but popular evangelical trade unionist against a powerful and avowed imperialist.

Small’s active trade unionism precipitated a third phase of his life mission—journalism. It was obvious that his entry to the press media was destined to have a rough reception from the establishment. While in exile in Dakar in 1922, Small launched his newspaper The Gambia Outlook and Senegambia Reporter in order to keep in touch with his following at home and to accommodate a wider scope within Senegambia as a stronger, more potent anti-colonial unit. He carefully chose his fights and addressed popular subjects that were relevant to the national and workers’ interests. The newspaper rose immediately to live up to its claim to work for the public good.

It was a struggle to keep the paper alive while in exile. It was welcome relief when, in 1927, the new Governor Sir J. Middleton [1927 to 1928] offered him an olive branch. Small returned to a triumphal welcome and began printing for the first time in Bathurst. This advent signaled evangelical–journalism cum trade unionism as never before, making Small the most trusted voice of the press. The paper became his virtual pulpit in which he preached doctrines of “fair price” for produce, “No Taxation without Representation,” anti-racism, and Pan-Africanism. Small left a discernible legacy that reportedly “created a tradition of critical and independent political journalism.”

If one could define politics as “the art and science of government,” then Small had already acquired respectable proficiency in this domain. At the onset of his rule, Governor Sir Hilary Blood (1942-1947) appointed Small an “unofficial” representative to the legislative chamber in 1942. Small distinguished himself in this position and left an indelible mark on at least three bills that were ratified: the repeal of the “Registration and False Publication Bills” (1943-1944); the establishment of the first Gambian municipality of the Bathurst Town Council (BTC) (1947); and universal suffrage for Bathurst citizens (1947). Riding upon the successful implementation of the latter two bills, Small was elected the first African member of the Gambia Legislative Council (GLC) during its maiden BTC Elections of 1947. Once elected, he was immediately appointed to the Executive Council. The sense of legitimacy completed Small. Finally, he was a representative of the people in government. He was the first Gambian citizen to have been duly endorsed into office at the ballot box.

Nonetheless, Small’s experience in active politics was torrid and brief (1942-1951). He was deeply disillusioned with fractious partisan politics that was fueled by unscrupulous behavior and rebellion. He witnessed the deconstruction processes within painfully built-up unions and associations as a result of religious sectarianism and tribalism. At the loss of his re-election bid to the BTC in 1951, he exited politics. Abdou Wally Ndow, one of his trusted supporters, prompted him to ponder life with a valedictory “Parable of the Match Stick” [Chapter 27]. In addition, Small was given a silver chain and medallion, inscribed with “Edward Francis Small: Watchdog of The Gambia.” This represented a symbol of appreciation for the totality of his life and mission to the peoples of the Gambia. Again, in 1959, Melville Benoni Jones, editor of The Vanguard local newspaper, chose to honor Small with a death anniversary tribute bearing the accolade: “Father of Trade Unionism in The Gambia.”

Small’s legacy lived quite modestly until March 2013 when The Gambia’s President Sheikh Prof Dr. Alh. Yahya A. J. J. Jammeh, an embodiment of the new Pan-Africanism in the modern era, honored the legacy of the patriot by changing the name of the country’s main referral hospital, the Royal Victoria Teaching Hospital, to the “Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital” (EFSTH). All facets of society have considered this a fitting tribute to a man who received his title “The Watchdog of The Gambia” from the people.

Nana Grey-Johnson


  1. This JACB Biography has been culled from four chapters (3-7) of a historical work by Nana Grey Johnson, Edward Francis Small, Watchdog of The Gambia, 3rd ed. (Banjul: Media & Development Specialists Publishing Co. Ltd., 2013), 12-25. It was first published in 1997 in Banjul by the Book Production and Materials Resources Unit (BPMRU). Another BPMRU 2nd edition came out in March 2002.
  2. The Confidential Dispatch in MP no. 633/21 at the National Archives, Banjul mistakenly stated that 1890 was the year of Small’s birth. However, in June 16, 1930, Small himself signed his passport endorsement application form in which he stated in his own handwriting that he was then 39 years old (CSO3/165MP1308), thus making 1891 the correct year of his birth.
  3. Ballangharr lies in Central River Region (CRR). It is located about 150 km east of Banjul on the northern bank of the River Gambia.
  4. Feeling the pinch of competition and market share, the African traders at Ballangharr formed a group to look after their interests against bigger and better-financed European companies such as the Bathurst Trading Company.
  5. Travelling Commissioner J. Macullum to Governor Sir. E. Cameron [1914-1921], report, February 1918.
  6. Secret Minute Paper 140 vol. 1. National Archives, Banjul, File 4/42A.
  7. See “The Ballangharr Incident,” cited by David Perfect in Arnold Hughes, The Gambia: Studies in Society and Politics, Birmingham University African Studies Series 3 (Birmingham : Centre of West African Studies, University of Birmingham, 1991).
  8. See Barbara Prickett’s Island Base: A History of the Methodist Church in The Gambia 1821-1969 (Freetown: The Methodist Church Gambia, printed by the Bunumbu Press), 174-180.
  9. National Archives File CSO2/10. In 1922, the Colonial Secretary answering the enquiries of a Travelling Commissioner on the GNDU described it as having no known political aims: “It is a society of government clerks, both Gambians and Sierra Leoneans … with the object of getting more pay when high prices made living an acute problem. Generally, its aims and objects are to look after the welfare of the native civil servants in the Colony.”
  10. See David Perfect’s essay. “The Political Career of Edward Francis Small” in Arnold Hughes’s The Gambia: Studies in Society and Politics, Birmingham University African Studies Series 3 (Birmingham : Centre of West African Studies, University of Birmingham, 1991), 75-76.
  11., (accessed August 15, 2017). “What is Liberation Theology? Simply put. Liberation theology is a movement that attempts to interpret Scripture through the plight of the poor. True followers of Jesus, according to liberation theology, must work toward a just society, bring about social and political change, and align themselves with the working class. Jesus who was poor Himself focused on the poor and downtrodden, and any legitimate church will give preference to those who have historically been marginalized or deprived of their rights. All church doctrine should grow out of the perspective of the poor. Defending the rights of the poor is seen as the central aspect of the gospel.”
  12. Ibrahim Mohammadou Garba Jahumpa, “and his backers formed the Muslim Congress (MC) party in January 1952, bringing together about 40 Muslim societies in one organization. For much of its life, the MC was sectarian and exclusive; only adherents to the Islamic faith were accepted as members. (…) Garba Jahumpa had for many years been an assistant to E. F. Small, a Christian, and was closely involved in the latter’s radical politics and diverse trade union activities.” Jeggan C. Senghore, The Reverend J. C. Faye: His Life and Times- A Biography (AuthorHouse, 2014), 91.
  13. F. K. Buah, West Africa and Europe (London: Macmillan, 1967), 206-207.
  14. See also Ref. 174728 vo, 371. Foreign and Commonwealth Office Library, London, (which) includes this fourth objective.
  15. E. F. Small, writing in The African World, London, April 23, 1921.
  16. J. Ayodele Langley, Ideologies of African Liberation 1856-1970 (London: Rex Collings, 1979), 745-746.

This article, received in 2017, is excerpted and adapted from Nana Grey-Johnson’s Edward Francis Small, Watchdog of The Gambia, 3rd ed. (Banjul, The Gambia: Media & Development Specialists Publishing Co. Ltd., 2013). Grey-Johnson is a private media consultant and a senior lecturer at the University of The Gambia where he is the Dean of the School of Journalism and Digital Media.