An opposition leader in the Gambia has expressed his frustration at the failure of President Adama Barrow’s government to immortalise the memories of pro-democracy activists who made the ultimate sacrifice to free the country from the clutches of the tyrannical regime of Yahya Jammeh.
Lawyer Ousainou Darboe of the United Democratic Party (UDP) said activists like Solo Sandeng, Femi Peters and others, gave their all to the country and it behoves the government to recognise their sacrifices and immortalised their memories.
Mr Darboe said he finds it hard to believe that the contributions and sacrifices of Mr Sandeng and other activists, which had led to Mr Barrow’s election is not being recognised.
“Solo is the causes causer or the causer causes. He is the cause of the causes that led to this government being elected,” Mr Darboe said in an interview with Peter Gomez of West Coast Radio.
“If Solo was just tortured and didn’t die, in all probability we wouldn’t have gone out. But because he died, we felt that while the government has the authority to arrest and interrogate anybody, it did not have the authority to torture anybody to dead and we couldn’t care whether there was a public order in place or not. The government acted illegally and we had to go out and protest.”
Mr Darboe who was arrested and jailed for protesting against Mr Sandeng’s murder, said Gambians owe their liberation to Mr Sandeng and should erect a statue at the location where he was arrested in his memory.
He expressed his disappointment at President Adama Barrow for failing to attend or send representation to the UDP initiated Solo Sandeng Memorial Lecture.
Mr Darboe added: “I was disappointed that on the day that we were holding the Solo Sandeng Memorial Lecture, President Adama Barrow [a former executive member of the UDP] who had worked closely with Solo Sandeng was also inaugurating his Fans’ Club Bureau.
“I would have hope that the president would have been advised otherwise or to send some representation to the Solo Sandeng Memorial Lecture and acknowledge the immense sacrifices that Solo had made for this country. The president and Solo worked closely as junior [executive] officers of the UDP and I had expected him to grace the occasion as a friend of Solo Sandeng rather than opening the headquarters of a rival organisation to the UDP.
“Solo was using the UDP platform to advocate for change and it was theUDP platform that impelled him to go out and demonstrate. So we owe our liberation to him. He was more than a Steve Biko to the Gambia.
“No one should wait for a UDP government to come into power before he is immortalised. The current government should do it because it owes its existence to Solo and should immortalise him by having his statue somewhere.”
Fighting back tears, the former Foreign minister and vice president described Mr Sandeng as an intelligent and self-made man.
“Solo never went to any formal school but he educated himself. He could play scrabble and was computer literate. He only went to local Quranic school (Daara) and he never abandoned what he learnt at Daara. He was always with the Quran when we go out on the campaign trail and will read some chapters of the Quran everyday before he did anything else.