The Political Martyrdom of Ousainou Darbo
By Saul saidykhan
When I was writing my last opinion some days ago, I was unaware that lawyer Ousainou Darbo, leader of the United Democratic Party (UDP) and his entire executive, some other associates, and relatives that were arrested with him in mid-April this year were all- but-one, convicted and sentenced to three years prison terms a day earlier. With these convictions, Yaya Jammeh has firmly allied himself inextricably with the one group of people that he constantly rants and raves against: the vilest European colonialists as exemplified by the former apartheid regime in south Africa. It’s quite an irony. One might feel crestfallen about this horrible injustice until one reads Ousainou Darbo’s Pre- Sentencing Statement.
For the record, I’m a very late convert to the Darbo team. By orientation and temperament, I have very little patience for lawyers and their methods especially when it comes to matters that require urgency. The reason I love Nelson Mandela is though he is a lawyer, when he entered politics he knew he had to suspend all that lawyer convoluted speaking, and dead Latin language nonsense in order to help people expeditiously. I like leaders that cut to the chase in their speeches and lead by action. Darbo in my view was very reluctant to get to that stage. Until now.
Anyhow, reading through Mr. Darbo’s statement, it’s obvious why the servile Nigerian judge refused to allow him to read the statement as if that would diminish its impact. The statement is powerful on multiple fronts. First, it shows the world that being small in stature doesn’t mean being a small man: Ousainou Darbo is a MAN! He has stood up tall when it counts. This is not a person who has been cowed. His statement to the judge is as much a testament to his personal courage as it is to the sounding of an alarm bell for conscientious people around the world about the gross injustice that has become the norm in The Gambia. Multiple times he stated matter-of- factly that he would not beg for lenience because he hasn’t done anything wrong. The tragedy of the Gambia is It is righteousness that is on trial in the country. Regardless, it takes cohones to say what Mr. Darbo did in his statement knowing the consequence. We have become used to grown men openly weeping and begging Yaya Jammeh for forgiveness. Who can forget the case of the Gambian magistrate/judge some years ago who is older than Yaya Jammeh but stoop to calling him fantastic terms of endearment with all kinds of superlatives just so Yaya Jammeh can forgive him? Or the countless open letters we read in The Gambia media from senior public officials- both civil and military, who supposedly have offended Yaya Jammeh for one reason or another. Mr. Darbo’s statement is a dignified way of saying “You can lock me up because you think you have the power, but you’ll not impugn my dignity. I worship a different god.”
Mr. Darbo said in his statement that he doesn’t want anyone to be embarrassed about his conviction even before it was handed down. Darn right we’re not! Couldn’t be more proud of this man from Niani! Thank god, we still have people willing to go beyond soundbites.
Darbo’s statement is touching in its humanity. It reveals not only Mr. Darbo’s own initial dreams of what he wanted to be as an educated adult to help his humble background in fulfilment of his father’s aspiration for him, it also touches on his experience during his studies in Nigeria. Then he briefed us about his experience as a professional working for the Gambian State. He then gave us a snippet of himself as a private counsel who defended hundreds of citizens including many who were charged with treason. However, the most moving part of the statement for me is Mr. Darbo’s offer to the judge to be jailed alone in exchange for the freedom of the rest. Darbo surmise accurately that the rest of the captives are mere collateral casualties in this dangerous high stakes game Yaya Jammeh is playing. As anyone with a modicum of sense knows, Ousainou Darbo is the sole target of this farce of a trial from the get-go. The others were pulled into the dragnet only for good measure.
Over the years, Ousainou Darbo has been accused by some for running for office just because he is only “interested in power.” Such people should be ashamed of themselves. What we are witnessing now has long been coming. Is it foolish of him not to have preempted it? We can debate that. But I believe it’s credit to Darbo that he has been able to muster such self-restraint for so long. No other Gambian opposition politician has had the power and opportunities to render the country ungovernable in the past two decades as Darbo had. Either way, his detractors can’t have it both ways. One can’t say the man is power-hungry, but would not do the one thing that has the best potential of uprooting his nemesis. Normally people who are power-hungry do whatever they have to do to get to power. Or do anything to remain in power as we currently have in Gambia! Impossible to make sense of some things.
Bottom-line: Ousainou Darbo is a grandfather who has done his bit for Gambia. He is now being sent to jail illegally with his head held high. The question is: what are Gambians willing to do for him and his colleagues?
Saul, thank you for your brilliant piece. In the history of country, Lawyer Darboe and his entire executive of the party will always be remembered as our number one freedom fighters. Lawyer Darboe’s impeccable character, a man of highest standing, a man with a backbone of a steel who always fight for little man and woman, young and old, a man of dignity, a man who didn’t forget about his people, a man of diverse and humble background, a man with true faith and best comrade who care about his fellow freedom fighters, a man who never take credit but always give credit to those who he work with and fight with a man who speaks our diverse languages with respect for all and love for all , is the man I love, respect, care for and I will always consider him as true Patriot. His ultimate sacrifice will be honored and celebrated when the tyrant is gone. He has Joined the club of the greatest freedom fighters like Dr King and Nelson Mandela. We must continue to stand by his conviction and love for our country. The days of political oppression is coming to an end. This is the beginning of new political dispensation coming to our country in the days, weeks and months ahead. The days of tyrannical regime are numbered.
My first reaction after I read Lawyer Darbo’s statement today is to make the statement into a phamplet. It is a very powerful statement at all levels: personal, academic, professional and conviction. Gambians should read more about this statement and know the man.
Kamalo , you are indeed a political hypocrite . Today is the day you know about the character and integrity of lawyer Darboe . When you are being confused with those nonsense from Halifa sallah who was indoctrinating your weak mind , lawyer Darboe’s was at the time a man of impeccable character, knowledge and experience . At least today you are honest for whatever reason you have in myopic mind . Stop listening to the Garbage your pdois leadership is confusing you and many like you with weak mind . Lawyer Darboe’s extensive background , knowledge and experience speak for itself . Darboe fought for justice and human rights all his life . He fought for rights of peaceful protesters and your leadership cowardly and dishonestly refused to join him. Can you equally say about them what you said about Darboe ? , please always try to be honest . You castigated udp and its leadership and now you can foolishly say that Darboe’s statement is powerful at all levels . Open your eyes .
Max, what is wrong with you? Stop reading into other people’s statements what is not there .You then turn around and put words in their mouth.
You do not have a claim to lawyer Darboe more than any other Gambian. Stop this pettiness.
Kamalo , I want to point out your double standard because you refused to acknowledge lawyer Darboe’s character , integrity and his formidable stand for the general welfare of all citizens when he was fighting for justice . When Darboe was fighting for peaceful protesters , you and your party leadership refused to support his effort . Your leadership has considered his efforts as spontaneous act . Yesterday he was considered by you and fellow confused disciples as a threat to national security but today you have acknowledged his powerful statements . What an irony ? Honest citizens have long realized the decency and impeccable character of lawyer Darboe long time ago . You need to wake from your sleep .
“Kamalo , I want to point out your double standard because you refused to acknowledge lawyer Darboe’s character , integrity and his formidable stand for the general welfare of all citizens when he was fighting for justice .”
Max, in all our discussions about politics, the UDP and PDOIS, Lawyer Darboe has never been an issue. Our back and forth is always about PDOIS, UDP and Halifa.
And I don’t remember talking about Lawyer Darboe specifically on any issue. I remember making a comment that he should take up his defense and turn it into a political platform in court. Why then are you making up this allegation against me?
To accuse me of double standards mean given the same situation, and all things being equal, I favor the same situation in one circumstance and disfavor the same situation in another circumstance. I give preference to one and denounce the other.
Such a thing has never happened with respect to Lawyer Darboe. Give me an instance where I play a double standard as far as the lawyer is concerned.
If you cannot come up with one instance then you are just a mischievous person bent on tarnishing other people’s image.
“When Darboe was fighting for peaceful protesters , you and your party leadership refused to support his effort .”
How do we refused to support his efforts? And how can we support his efforts?
Your statement exposed your ignorance to the facts of the matter. This is not what happened.
You cannot even outlined properly the occurrence of events, let alone accusing others of something that is all mixed up in your “confused” mind, to borrow one of the words you used to describe us.
” Your leadership has considered his efforts as spontaneous act . Yesterday he was considered by you and fellow confused disciples as a threat to national security but today you have acknowledged his powerful statements .”
Your statement above is not true. It is the figment of your own imagination. Give an instance where our leadership considered his efforts as spontaneous. Give an instance also where we considered his efforts as a threat to national security.
If you cannot come up with one instance then you are just a mischievous person bent on tarnishing other people’s image.
” What an irony ? Honest citizens have long realized the decency and impeccable character of lawyer Darboe long time ago . You need to wake from your sleep .”
You are creating a false irony. No one has ever questioned the decency and impeccable character of lawyer Darboe. He has never been an issue with us.
It is possible to disagree with someone’s politics and approaches to problem solving, but still appreciate the good humanly qualities of such a person and this would not make you a hypocrite…
Lawyer Darboe’s character was never a subject of public discussion, as far as I can remember, and has got little to do with the political positioning of the UDP or the actions of their executive..Lawyer Darboe, I’m sure, will be the first person to agree that the UDP is bigger than any of its constituents, including the members..
His statement can be appreciated by all, and for varied reasons: supporters, opponents, friends and foe alike, because it carries different messages of events and realities that people are either interested in, have experienced in their personal lives or can identify with on different levels.
We will not be hypocrites if we appreciate the powerful, yet beautiful statement from Lawyer Darboe and to say that we are, is to demonstrate a myopic mind that lacks understanding, is narrow in scope of what it can even understand and is intolerant in nature.
Bax, if your really appreciate the effort of lawyer Darboe and his executive , you won’t have criticized the efforts of udp and peaceful protesters . Your problem is that you lack honesty and truthfulness in your presentation . I can’t understand why you criticized peaceful protesters but you can now appreciate the statements made by Darboe when he is illegally inprison . That is hypocrisy I pointed out . You never supported udp peaceful protesters but today you can shamelessly claimed to appreciate the statements of lawyer Darboe and consider it as power at all levels .
Kamalo , there is no need to give you guys any evidence because based on the history of my interaction with you confused disciples , you never accepted the truth and you have the ability to turn truth into a lie or other way round . But if you insist I can go back and provide evidence where pdois considered udp protest as “spontaneous act” .
Appreciating lawyer Darboe’s conviction statements while you refused to support his efforts in the fighting for justice and rule of law , Is the biggest and highest hypocrisy of all . Many of you are on the record bad mouthing peaceful protesters and you also stated why your leadership refused to support Darboe and peaceful protesters at the time .
Max, we want you to understand that we are reacting to lawyer Darboe’s statement. And in doing so our interest and concern is only what is imparted in the statement.
Lawyer Darboe has done in this statement what probably he has never done in his whole political career. Open a window so that people can look in and appreciate who he is.
And our recognition of what we have read about him transcend party politics and our usual political bickering.
Why cant you just give us this right to express our thoughts. I am sure Lawyer Darboe will appreciate the spirit of solidarity that we are extending to him and his colleagues.
This is not about politics. This is not about partisan bickering. We have now gone past that. Will you get over the past?
You @Kamalo must be having the most claim on Ousainou Darboe, you who wants his statement on pamphlets when indeed you are contemplating a Mr. Sallah’s smiling picture showering down from a chopper on Gambians heads and hearts.
No one is putting a word in anyone’s mouth if not indoctrinators like the Pdois who think they are not understood because you won’t bring back their arguements in carbon copy quotes. What is really wrong with you guys?-this is what you guys should be asked yourselves, by @Max.
Perfectly true in my opinion too when you said no Gambian have a claim to lawyer Darboe than the other. For that being the case, I would prefer the statements preservation instead of in pamphlets, so that the country’s promising and hardworking citizens of all walks of life can refer to it as a source of inspiration in their carriers of all kinds.
Thankyou Saul for your remarkable sense of reasoning.
“You @Kamalo must be having the most claim on Ousainou Darboe, you who wants his statement on pamphlets when indeed you are contemplating a Mr. Sallah’s smiling picture showering down from a chopper on Gambians heads and hearts.”
Ggapm, my statement has nothing to do with Mr. Sallah. My statement is about Ousainou Darboe. And yes, his statement is very powerful that it ought to be printed as a pamphlet and distributed.
What Lawyer Darboe has done in that statement is bring out the personality, the character, the intellect, the virtue and all the best of his humanity, that characterized a life so well lived and immortalized in the words that grace his statement. It is therefore my opinion that it has to be preserved.
” No one is putting a word in anyone’s mouth if not indoctrinators like the Pdois who think they are not understood because you won’t bring back their arguements in carbon copy quotes. What is really wrong with you guys?-this is what you guys should be asked yourselves, by @Max.”
Let me tell you something else about Lawyer Darboe’s statement that hit a chord with me. His mention of Jeremy Bentham. I remember reading about Jeremy Bentham and his Utilitarian concept. My professor was so enthused with him. I suspected that he was a Maxist.
“Perfectly true in my opinion too when you said no Gambian have a claim to lawyer Darboe than the other. For that being the case, I would prefer the statements preservation instead of in pamphlets, so that the country’s promising and hardworking citizens of all walks of life can refer to it as a source of inspiration in their carriers of all kinds.”
It is all the same. It can be preserved in one form or the other. And remember that this statement was made in a political trial, or was supposed to, and as such it has a historical significance. This is where my interest lie.
@Kamalo, pamphlets can get such statements commercialised and strewn around for the stall man to wrap sugar in it and treating such educational material in such a way obviously demonstrates some kind of lack of respect for the honarable statement. Preservations of statements like Ousainou Darboe’s can be calligraphed and preserved in the national library.
Who knows Jeremy Bentham is one among Darboe’s greats who only helps in sharpening and diversifying Darboe’s views of life, opinions and sense of reasonings but did not get himself indoctrinated with anyone’s philosophy or juristics of life amongst them………. I, unlike Jeremy Bentham believe in the natural law of life that, dreams do come to people and they may die to see that dream come real especially when it is aimed at realising a greater happiness for the greatest numbers, for right to prevail over wrong, and I believe one like Jeremy Bentham would have been open minded to people like us in tolerating and answering our questions in a debate with him.
I wouldn’t however SUSPECT you to be a UDP sympathiser or an ‘Ousainouist’ though I have all the rights to, simply because you are enthusing about Darboe’s statement.
Ggapm, we will not argue over methods of preservation, although we have a general agreement that the statement need to be preserved. More so, that the statement is made by a leading opposition political figure in the country, and in a high class criminal case that has all the undertones of being politically motivated and driven.
Our interest in this statement, also, is what can be done with it. It has a historical legacy that in the fifty years of our political history, the entire executive of a major opposition political party has been arrested, brought before a court of law and sentence to imprisonment on charges that have constitutional implications.
What happened transcended an opposition political party that has been dragged to court and its executive sentence to jail.
What happened is that our constitution has been put on trial. Our judicial system has been put on trial. And our criminal procedure code has also been put on trial.
To defend the constitution and interrogate our judicial system and its criminal procedure code, a trial will be constituted that will forever defend our basic human and constitutional rights. And this trial will be akin to the trial of Dedan Kimathi.
I hope our erudite scholar, Baba Galleh Jallow, wll find another worthy associate to work with him, and just like Ngugi wa Thiong;o and Micere Githae Mugo did, bring this trial to life in a play that will capture all the relevant details to our constitution and the rule of law.
I am just using Baba here as an example, but any Gambian with the creative skills can take up this worthy exercise.
Ggapm, with respect to your pulling my legs as being a UDP sympathizer, when I read Lawyer Darboe’s statement I have to conclude that he is definitely one of us. He is a PDOIS.
He has the fortitude, the principles, the character and the conviction. No wonder Ousainou and Halifa can get along. They were together to do the radio program we are told when the incident of the first protest took place.
kamalo Said “What happened transcended an opposition political party that has been dragged to court and its executive sentence to jail.
What happened is that our constitution has been put on trial. Our judicial system has been put on trial. And our criminal procedure code has also been put on trial.”
Kamalo , if you really believe in the above statements then why do you and your party leadership refused to stand up and defend the constitution which has been violated by this trial and human rights violations of peaceful protesters. Why you cowardly and dishonestly refused to support the peaceful protesters if you believe that what happened transcended an opposition political party ? peaceful protest was which staged by Solo Sanderg and his group transcended any political party which was why udp leadership and supporters demonstrated the sense of patriotism by defending the constitution and showed solidarity to peaceful protesters and demanded their release while you and pdois leadership cowardly and hypocritically refused to support the constitutional rights of peaceful protesters. I think your talk is a “bunch of Malarkey” to quote vice president Biden . You do not believe in that you stated above because you and your leadership refused to support what is morally and constitutional right.. Your failure to defend the constitution and and judicial system which has been put on trial is indeed hypocritical and unpatriotic . If you are indeed a decent human being who cares about humanity , rule of law and constitution of the Gambia , you would have encouraged your leadership to stand for peaceful protesters like Darboe and his colleagues did. but it is shameful in my view to express your appreciation of his powerful statements when you refused to supports his efforts in demanding the release of peaceful protesters . PDOIS statements are bunch of nonsense as you and Bax continue to express your ‘”bunch of malarkey “.
“Kamalo , if you really believe in the above statements then why do you and your party leadership refused to stand up and defend the constitution which has been violated by this trial and human rights violations of peaceful protesters.”
Max, there are certain things that happen which are moments in history. These moments are not isolated but are part of an evolving reality that may change the course of events. What had happened with the trial of lawyer Darboe and others is one of those moments.
You have a big emotional involvement as far as this issue is concerned, and you always see it from that standpoint.
The dynamics of this whole episode, however, entails much more than your constant accusation that people refused to stand up and defend peaceful protesters. And you specifically always direct that accusation to one group.
We have argued the merits or lack there-off of these accusations. Since the arrests and through the trials there were no significant developments that would have changed this trajectory. However, it is still an evolving situation.
“Why you cowardly and dishonestly refused to support the peaceful protesters if you believe that what happened transcended an opposition political party ?”
Max, you have to understand at what point did what had happened transcended party politics.
You remember when I used the phrase to “assume a national character”, that is exactly the point when what had happened transcended party politics. And it is still an evolving situation.
peaceful protest was which staged by Solo Sanderg and his group transcended any political party which was why udp leadership and supporters demonstrated the sense of patriotism by defending the constitution and showed solidarity to peaceful protesters and demanded their release while you and pdois leadership cowardly and hypocritically refused to support the constitutional rights of peaceful protesters.”
Max, I don’t think you understand the context in which I am using the phrase “to transcend party politics.”
My usage of this phrase is part of the evolutionary political process. And at a point where the process has transcended any one particular or group of political parties.
i think your talk is a “bunch of Malarkey” to quote vice president Biden . You do not believe in that you stated above because you and your leadership refused to support what is morally and constitutional right.. Your failure to defend the constitution and and judicial system which has been put on trial is indeed hypocritical and unpatriotic . If you are indeed a decent human being who cares about humanity , rule of law and constitution of the Gambia , you would have encouraged your leadership to stand for peaceful protesters like Darboe and his colleagues did. but it is shameful in my view to express your appreciation of his powerful statements when you refused to supports his efforts in demanding the release of peaceful protesters . PDOIS statements are bunch of nonsense as you and Bax continue to express your ‘”bunch of malarkey “.”
Max, you are angry and you are not reasonable. And you are directing your anger at the wrong people. My advice to you is to let go of the past. We have a new evolving reality to contend with and this is where our focus should be.
Kamalo , if Halifa and Darboe can get along as you indicated then Halifa must be a coward or hypocrite in his refusal to join his colleague who you claimed to have share the same principle , conviction , fortitude and characters with pdois . What a dishonest statement you stated . Those who share the same principles , conviction , characters and fortitude with lawyer Darboe are currently serving time with him at Mile two central prison while coward and hypocritical political leaders refused to join him to fight and defend the constitution . I have categorized your statement as factual erroneous and malicious because it was meant to give credit to reluctant political hypocrite in the person of Halifa sallah and others .
Max, where you are losing focus is that Halifa is still your problem. And he is not.
The emotions you have expressed would not change anything. Neither the insults directed at Halifa.
You will, however, have to live with the fact that there is no malice between Halifa and lawyer Darboe. There is no acrimony. There is always a sense of solidarity that has been extended to one and to the other.
Your accusation that Halifa refused to join Darboe in prison doesn’t change the fact that they share the same principles, fortitude and character. They did. And I know this because I read lawyer Darboe’s statement.
And your accusation that Halifa refused to join Darboe in prison is without merit. How can Halifa join Darboe in prison? You tell me.
And why do you have to singularly point your finger at Halifa?
@Kamalo, the right thing to be done with the statement is what I am opining here. Preserving such a noble statement in the most important facility of the Gambia’s civil and social studies educations make it an important document to be used as a reference by other Gambians with an urge to straighten their viewpoints, opinions or sense of reasonings with regards to people of cultures processing a democratic civil society.
I would say, -‘what happened transcended Gambia when its biggest opposition political, the UDP………………………………..’ instead of, ‘what happened transcended an opposition political party that has been dragged to court……………………………., if I really think it is the Gambia’s constitution put on trial.
The zigzagging here is just a small sample of you guys creepiness that won’t stop amasing people.
Where there are erudite scholars like Dr. Baba Galleh Jallow and the likes of Ngugi Wo Thiongo and etc., teaching the generations,@Ggapm remains to be that ‘dunderhead’ of the democratic civil society to be, who will always be aching for the ‘happinessness in the greatest numbers’. I think if Baba will make a script for such a play, the most valiant work hands for him in such a project in my opinion would be people like:-Undecided aka @Kamalo, coldblooded aka @Bax, Horror aka @Malang, faded(cayman)@Bamba, @Yerro and the likes.
@Kamalo, I don’t need pull your legs to become a UDP sympathiser. Your very remarkable intellect is blowing that ‘UDPward’ storm on you for you to be tripping to them. Lets support them please and not just sympathising with them. Ousainou Darboe and his UDP executives are really great citizens and ofcourse a soverign minded personality and great citizen like Mr. Sallah can get along well with them nobles if just won’t think that I’m in a flattery mood.
“I would say, -‘what happened transcended Gambia when its biggest opposition political, the UDP………………………………..’ instead of, ‘what happened transcended an opposition political party that has been dragged to court……………………………., if I really think it is the Gambia’s constitution put on trial.
The zigzagging here is just a small sample of you guys creepiness that won’t stop amasing people.”
Ggapm, you are trying to rewrite my statement, but your rewrite does not make any sense.
What happened cannot transcend the Gambia. To transcend means to rise above something; to cut across.
What happened can transcend party politics; can transcend our partisan political bickering. It can assume a new character; it can assume a different character.
That is why what happened is no longer in the realm of party politics; it is no longer in the realm of partisan politics. And what I wrote merely mirrors this new reality.
The intent has nothing to do with our partisan politics. Where it is evident it can only be accidental. I want you to understand where I am coming from.
Thanks for the alert though I wouldn’t be confused about what TRANSCEND means. How about you make a little sense by yourself reading others. How about I rectify and say,’What happened transcended Gambia’s opposition party politics when its biggest political party the UDP has been dragged to court and its leader and executive incarcerated’.If you think its is our constitution put on trial.