By Mathew Jallow
His spirited personality was perpetually highlighted by the spectacular intersection of charm and simplicity; of ordinariness and intellectual sophistication, but Hon. Bubacarr M Baldeh’s genius was defined more by the precocious political skills he effortlessly manifested early in his short life. The passing away, this week, in Dakar, Senegal, of Hon. Buba M Baldeh, shocked Gambians, both at home and abroad, and sank the entire dissident movement into a state of despondence.
It was, therefore, borderline malicious and patently false to have painted Hon. Buba Baldeh in the negative shades of tribal consciousness. Buba Baldeh had a zest for life and an unapologetic lover of everything Fula, but more, he was the true and unequaled repository of Fula culture; something he showcased and amplified with regularity with the performances of the best crop of Fula entertainers in the sub-region. Hon. Buba Baldeh’s work and political career took him to the urban center of Sere Kunda, but he was a provincial man through and through, and his frequent return to Mansajang Kunda was often like a scene right out to a zombie movie. Nothing came close to the way people in the Upper River Division, in particular, put Hon. Buba Baldeh on a pedestal in the stratosphere of Gambian politics, but admiration for Buba Baldeh’s political acumen was pervasive. Hon. Buba Baldeh’s sphere of influence was far and wide; from Senegal to Nigeria and from Guinea to Niger, and everywhere Fulas reside in West Africa.
It is true that the organization, which Buba Baldeh helped develop, FFHC, spun the proliferation of local development organizations in the country. Buba Baldeh and I had a close relationship that dates back to high school, and he was devastated when I left my position at FFHC to take up appointment with Action Aid, but we eventually returned to each other’s good books. It is only possible to touch the surface of each segment of Hon. Buba Baldeh’s complicated life, yet even that will do no justice to the man who could be Gambia’s second president, if only for the vicious and invisible hands of politics, which changed history. REST IN PERFECT PEACE; BUBA M BALDEH. TILL WE MEET AGAIN.