The Heroine

Fatoumata Jallow-Tambajang/Freedom Newspaper Photo

By Ebou Gaye

She is a heroine
She is comparable to the unnamed lady whose virtues I extolled in one of the articles I wrote in a Gambia High School student magazine in the late 80s under the little Je Ne Sais Quoi,
Calling her a moralist, an egalitarian, an iron lady, the woman of the people and our mother,
In appreciation of her unalloyed dedication, invaluable services and nice manners which endeared her to students and teachers who held her in a very high esteem – qualities which later earned her the post of principal with principles
She resembles the diligent, undaunted and tireless Maafanta lady I called a precious asset and a source of inspiration,
And said is worthy of emulation,
Exhorting men and women to borrow a leaf from her book,
In my reciprocal encomium entitled I Am Gambian Too,
Published in Gambian online newspapers,
She looks like the DUGA DC ladies I lauded in a letter to Maafanta,
Calling them lionesses,
Praying that their meritorious services in our crusade bear fruits
But she is quite different from the misguided, errant women at the disposal of the despot,
Seeking to please him in order to gain his favour,
Serving him assiduously and relentlessly as propaganda tools, image-makers, praise-singers, farmworkers and dancers,
Oblivious to or unmindful of his sadism, egoism, egotism, megalomania, kleptomania and insensitivity to the sufferings of the masses,
Evidenced by his exceeding brutality, flagrant mismanagement and misappropriation of public funds, blatant looting of meagre, direly-needed state resources, ostentatious lifestyle and sheer lack of respect and consideration for his compatriots

She is a heroine
Her appearance on Fatu Radio during the Fass Njaga Choi standoff was highly welcome
It was an opportune moment for her launch an appeal,
And manifest her stance and determination as a woman of charisma, integrity and dignity,
In our noble cause of crusading to crush dictatorship and bring sanity to our beloved country for the betterment of all
She articulated herself eloquently in an extremely moving speech,
Telling the whole world that she had travelled to Fass Njaga Choi to express solidarity and lend helping hands to the industrious leader of the biggest opposition party in our country and his entourage,
When their convoy was intercepted there by police officers acting on the orders of the dictator whose aim was to intimidate and frustrate them,
While they were on a nationwide tour to sensitize the populace on the dire situation of the country
She appealed to the general public to empathize with and help disentangle the party leader and militants, who were held up for no valid or genuine reason,
Emphasizing the urgency to come to their rescue,
The importance of boosting their morale,
And the need to concretize and accelerate our efforts to end dictatorship in our country
Her message had a tremendous impact,
For it yielded dividend as desired
People responded positively to her plea by giving their moral and financial support,
And hailed her as a heroine for her devotion, commitment and courage,
As one of the very few people on the rough terrain who are ready to talk to the press openly and freely
I highly commend Fatu Radio for providing for her the required platform to address her compatriots publicly in that manner for the first time

She is a heroine
Her exclusive interview on Freedom Radio was very revealing
She seized the opportunity to clear the air and shed light on many issues of national interest,
To the satisfaction of many listeners who were spell-bound and dumbfounded by some of her revelations
She explained how the dictator appointed her minister in the junta regime without having the courtesy to consult her and seek her consent,
Insisting that she must accept the offer,
Despite her unwillingness and the plausible, tangible excuses she gave,
Such as conflict of interest as a relative of one of the junta members,
Her firm belief in democratic principles,
And her desire to continue her work with the UNDP
She said her family members didn’t want her to work with the junta
This is substantiated by her son’s statement on Freedom Radio before her interview
The gentleman told Pa Nderry Mbai unequivocally that he was strongly opposed to her mother’s appointment by the junta
Her relative in the junta also objected based on the junta’s vow to combat nepotism,
But she had no alternative other than bowing down to pressure and complying reluctantly when the dictator threatened to close the UNDP office if she declined the offer
She said she preferred working with the junta to seeing the UNDP office closed,
As the masses would be the ones to bear the brunt by undeservingly suffering the consequences,
Which she didn’t want to happen
She revealed how she asked the junta leader to relieve her of her duties when her relative fell out with him,
Citing possible mistrust on the part of the junta as the reason for her decision
She explained that she found the junta leader putting on dark glasses to avoid eye contact with her when she went to meet with him in his office,
Claiming that he had eye problems
She pretended that she didn’t understand his game,
And hence called a female doctor for him
She said she wrote her handing-over notes soon after learning of the downfall of her relative,
In preparation for her departure from cabinet
She also disclosed how the junta discourteously dismissed her after the leader refused to let her go of her own accord as she intended and assured her of his “willingness” to continue working with her
This clearly demonstrates his malicious intention to soil her reputation by portraying her in a negative light through dismissal
After dismissing her, the junta ordered the NIA to investigate her on the allegation of conspiring with her relative to overthrow their regime with a view to occupying the post of vice-president
The over-zealous, blindly-obedient NIA eagerly went for her and took her to their office for interrogation as instructed
She vehemently denied the allegation and told them in no uncertain terms that she wouldn’t accept being subjected to harassment,
Making it abundantly clear that she wouldn’t report to their office to be interrogated any more as they ordered her,
And that they could arrest her if they so wished
She teasing asked the NIA boss whether it was proper for him to summon her sister as he did
She reduced to rubble two insolent, shameless, unscrupulous and unsympathetic junta members who addressed her laughing after her removal from office
She told the rascals that they should have treated her as their sister rather than taunting her and laughing at her
Also startling is her revelation of the dictator’s refusal to declare his assets as he had asked junta and cabinet members to do
He failed to lead by example as expected of him
I wonder why he decreed declaration of assets know fully well that he was not willing to abide by the decree
Whether his refusal was due to pomposity or lack of assets to declare is anybody’s guess
According to her, the junta regime owed her money in the form of travel expenses which she claimed after her sacking,
But the junta leader gave a directive not to pay her a single butut
She vociferated her aversion to forced-labour on the dictator’s farms,
Saying that she wouldn’t do farm work for him under any circumstance

She is a heroine
She answered in the affirmative when asked whether she was concerned about the behaviour of her relative before his fall-out with the junta leader and his subsequent arrest
There was public outcry regarding his behaviour as deputy leader of the junta,
With the general public accusing him of abusing his powers by mercilessly mistreating innocent people
She said she had tried twice to sit with him and advise him without avail,
That she later wrote a lengthy letter to him conveying her concerns and advice,
And that he invited her for discussion after receiving the letter
She reiterated her concerns and advice to him during their discussion,
But the man told her that Gambians deserved that treatment and that he wanted to inculcate discipline in them
She disclosed that a cabinet colleague of hers resigned based on principle and showed her a copy of his resignation letter,
Contrary to the claim of the junta that they had dismissed him
She said she believed the motive behind the junta’s claim was just to protect their image,
As announcing his resignation would give a negative impression of them,
Given that the individual concerned was popular and regarded as man of high calibre

She is a heroine
She convincingly highlighted her achievements during her short tenure of office in the junta regime
She played a very vital role in making important reforms, formulating policies, developing strategies and acquiring valuable, much-needed equipment and materials in her ministry
She was very instrumental in revamping and boosting our information and communication sector by negotiating deals with the French
She made giant strides in wooing organisations such as the EU and the UN that were not in good terms with the junta regime
She mentored him in the area of diplomacy and international relations,
Coaching him on how to comport himself when dealing with the international community- particularly our immediate neighbour Senegal
To a large extent, this cleared the mistrust and suspicion the Senegalese authorities initially had vis-à-vis the junta leader as result of his indecorous, undiplomatic attitude
But it is unfortunate that he forgot what he learnt in the twinkling of an eye and reverted to his bad manners
His queer, eccentric and mercurial behaviour lends credence to the saying “Old habits die hard”

She is a heroine
Her message to the freedom fighters embedded in her closing remarks is important and noteworthy
She advised us to stop wrangling, bickering and squabbling,
And concentrate on the crusade and forge ahead,
Bearing in mind that what unites us- our fervent desire to get rid of the dictator- outweighs what separates us- our divergence in views
What a dandy idea!
I quite concur with her
I hope all those concerned will see reason and pay heed
I thunderously applaud Pa Nderry Mbai of Freedom Radio for receiving her with open arms and asking her probing questions of public interest

She is a heroine
She is one of the bravest and most illustrious, admirable daughters of our motherland
She is fully cognizant of the fact that politics is everybody’s business,
As it affects the lives of all- positively or negatively, directly or indirectly,
Regardless of whether they are interested in it or not,
And that taciturnity and indifference cannot help in our terrible situation which keeps worsening by the second,
And thus needs to be remedied as a matter of urgency
As I said about the aforementioned Maafanta lady who happens to be her namesake, I wish we had thousands like her
I hope the silent, inactive women on our side and those on the wrong side of the political divide will soon see the light and emulate her as a role model
I salute Auntie Fatoumatta Jallow Tambajang with my hat off,
And pray for her longevity, good health and eternal peace
Keep up the momentum!


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