A picture speaks a thousand words. Moments captured in frames to last long after those who painted those pictures ascended away from our midst, generations later will look into those frames to behold definitive moments in days gone by that has impacted their lives in their own present time. It has been said that from little acorns oaks grow, from those individual frames a bigger picture emerged; these frames captured the defining moments of history in the making; the birth of a new Gambia. This picture represents one of those frames, captured at the height of the resistance; the planting of the seeds from which will grow the giant we all behold in awe; the New Democratic Gambia thought impossible without bloodshed.
Every story has many players, but every story has heroes who take the lead, and with charisma attract followers and supporters. These faces are a representation of the many faces of defiance and steadfastness.
The wary look, the frustration, the concern and despondent look could easily be mistaken for a portrait of defeat and a sense of surrender. Like any great work of art, what lies hidden in the details is the steely resolve to never relent, the resolve to be unyielding, undeterred, unintimidated and unfazed. Here are elders with grandchildren and even great grandchildren with sleeves rolled up, bracing the heat and dust because they refuse indignity. These elders, who under normal circumstances should have been surrounded by their grandchildren with joy in their hearts and glee on their faces as they bear witness to their progeny taking steps towards stepping into their oversized shoes. Instead, they sacrificed those precious moments, all for country; treading the path of certain death or incarceration in a hellhole of indignity.
Concerned and frustrated sons and daughters will ask, then plead and even beg that they give it up; “It’s not worth it when those you are fighting for are sitting comfortably at home taking you for fools.” Their response; “We are doing it for you. We hadn’t had much growing up, it was a daily struggle each and every day, but we had dignity and freedom. That same dignity and freedom is what we are seeking to bequeath to you and those precious grandchildren, if it cost us our lives then we will rest well knowing you are free and dignified in your own land. We are glad that we will not be leaving orphans behind since you are all grown now and can manage on your own. We inherited a land of dignity and cohesive societies that is being ripped apart, we cannot betray the trust bequeathed to us, for what then will we tell those who left us with this land when we meet them as we are about to? We should at least refuse to be complicit, we owe it to you, your children and especially those before us, it is a trust and we owe a duty of care to fulfill that trust.”
Before all these attempts at discrediting these men and women of honor and what they gave for our collective well-being, there was a time when they represented hope. We heard instances in the past of such statements as; “Why is Darboe not calling his supporters to come out on the streets? This is the largest party in the country and it needs to assume leadership.” That was when the price was too dear with very few willing buyers; the price of taking on remorseless tyrant. But since it is Wanterr season now and everyone can afford an “item” or two, suddenly “there is no such thing as the biggest party.” All of a sudden the narrative has changed to claim all as heroes and none having sacrificed more than any other. Supposedly the sacrifices were to fulfill selfish political ambitions and not driven by a duty of care or by moral obligations; unfortunately it seems to be the politics of our age; win at all costs even at the expense of morals.
Your refusal to yield to pressure and take to the streets sooner than to claim Solo’s body speaks to your collective foresight and elderly wisdom, you have always been measured and calculating, never impulsive. Hindsight, we are grateful that you refused to yield to such pressure until the time was right. If we as a people, for the most part have shown anything consistently, it is to disown our very own when things heat up. Hindsight we know you would have been the sacrificial lamb and get no thanks for it safe from a few; take the case of Ebrima Solo; “he did it for UDP not The Gambia” so they say now. We are indeed an interesting people, especially those of us who consider ourselves ‘educated’ and politically aware.
Those of us who know you, even from afar thanks to shared norms know the values you espouse and are certain that such values are a guarantee to upholding our collective dignities as a people. Your selflessness will be written in songs of praise that will carry your names and your exploits into the distant future, your good legacies sealed never to be undone. What a tragedy it would have been if you had not lived to see the tyrant shamed and banished.
It is a tragedy that we view politics as requiring us to strip the opponent of all dignity and earned credits just to make our side look and feel good, so evident in the treatment of these noble souls.
Our hope is that no matter how opposed one may be to another person’s politics and policies, their good name can, at the very least be upheld by all. That will be the height of political maturity, but as it stands it seems good deeds only emanate from those we agree with. Claims of insincerity and ulterior motives are the explanations for the good deeds of those we are opposed to. Hopefully objectivity rules our assessment of others, eventually.
Fun Fact; the body of this article is exactly a thousand words.