Independence Day of Gabon 2017
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17 August is Gabon’s Independence Day—the Gabonese gained their independence from France on this day in 1960. So, that’s 48 years of independence nationhood, right? The country has had two presidents in that time. Well, discounting a 24 hour interruption. Let’s find out more.
Initial inhabitants? Pygmy peoples. Absorbed into an influx of Bantu tribes. Europeans came along in the 15th century—in fact, the name “Gabon” comes from a European source. It originates in the Portuguese word for cabin—Gabâo. So, that was the coastal contact. The interior always takes a bit longer—it was 1875 before Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza led his first expedition into the Gabon-Congo region. He founded the imaginatively named town, Franceville.
When France put together a bunch of territories to make French Equatorial Africa (yes, it’s equatorial), Gabon became part of that federation—lasting from 1910 until 1959. And then came independence.
So the first president, Léon M’ba, led the country for 6 years, from 1961 until his death in 1967. (There was actually a usurper in 1964—for 24 hours. Jean-Hilaire Aubame ended up in prison for ten years.) His vice president became the successor, and Omar Bongo has ruled the country ever since. In the 1990s reforms came in to move the country to a multiparty democracy, but President Bongo has been consistently re-elected. Though there have been questions about the fairness of these elections, international observers say that the results were representative, though there were perceived irregularities.
Mmm. Rainforests. They cover 85 percent of the country.Poetically, I have a Gabonese Pygmy song for you today—it comes from 3,000 Years of Black Poetry3,000 Years of Black Poetry, and was translated by C. M. Bowra.
Independence Day of Gabon Quotes :
Omar Bongo : But since independence, Gabon is one of the few countries in Central Africa that enjoys peace and stability.