Today, 23 years ago, some misguided soldiers subverted the democratic order in The Gambia. For the last 22 years and six months, these soldiers and their civilian enablers killed, tortured, maimed, exiled and instilled untold fear in the minds of Gambians. But in 2014, after the UDP vs. Police scuffle at Fass Njaga Choi, fear gradually died in The Gambia. From then on, more than any political party or civil society group, the UDP dared the notorious regime, and with superb support from the diaspora, the world began to more closely watch what had been going on in The Gambia for two decades.
Today, as I condemn Yahya Jammeh and ALL his enablers (including imams, intellectuals, National Assembly members, members of the security services, countless sycophants, quiet weaklings and selfish civil servants), I thank Allah for our freedom and remember gallant citizens, especially the students who perished during the protests of April 10 &11 2000. They were the first mass civilian victims of Yahya’s brutal regime. As students we were seeking justice for two teenage Gambians alleged violated by members of Gambia’s security services. I remember gallant citizens such as Solo Sandeng, Lang Marong, and numerous others who gave their lives at different stages for the freedoms we enjoy today.
I equally salute those patriots including Lawyer Ousainou Darboe, Fatoumatta Jawara, Kemeseng Jammeh, Alhaji Momodou Sanneh, and all of their colleagues who were unjustifiably jailed for demanding explanations in the brutal murder of Solo Sandeng. We ought to make sure that we retrieve this day from the AFPRC and APRC hounds and scoundrels, and make it a day of sober national reflection, mourning and a vehement condemnation of impunity and dictatorship.
From today onward, all genuine and patriotic Gambians MUST pledge to stand firm in defense of each and alls freedom and rights and to become an indomitable bulwark for our constitution and democracy. July 22nd was a day of infamy, and by our collective will as a people, this day must become a trophy of democracy. Isn’t it great that today we are not paying through our taxes and parastatals, for the ironic celebration of our oppression? Isn’t it great that today exiles can go home? Isn’t great that that even Jammeh’s henchmen are having their days in court?
On a personal note I remember my nephew 2nd Lieutenant Momodou Lamin Darboe (Suso), who was summarily executed along with Basiru Barrow and other soldiers; I remember my late cousin Pa Mawdo Mboge, who was killed and dumped in the Basse river while he served as a soldier at the Basse barracks. We miss you all along with every perished Gambian who fell at the unjust sword of Yahya Jammeh.
Finally, may Allah strengthen our new democracy and give our leaders wisdom to always choose and do what is right by and fair to The Gambians. And so today, as in the past, I renew my personal commitment to play an active role to ensuring that our country shall never again slide back into dictatorship. As I pledge, I challenge all of you to pledge the same, that we will defend our rights with all of our treasure and blood and insist on an open, just and plural society. #I Pledge.
Alieu Darboe, USA.