Activist deplores gov’t’s failure to uphold Sandeng’s legacy

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By Omar Bah

A prominent Gambian human rights and pro-democracy activist has accused the Barrow government of betraying Solo Sandeng’s legacy.

Mr Sandeng, who died in NIA custody in 2016, is remembered as a martyr for the cause of democracy in The Gambia. He was arrested alongside other members of UDP after they protested for electoral reforms in April 2016.

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In June 2022, the High Court sentenced to death former NIA director general Yankuba Badjie and 4 other officers for murdering the activist, while a doctor who prepared his death certificate was sentenced to 10 years for forgery.

Yesterday, the government spearheaded a state funeral for him at the July 22 Square in Banjul.

But, according to activist Pa Samba Jow, Solo’s sacrifice was not for him to be accorded a state funeral but electoral reforms which the Barrow administration has failed to achieve.

“Sandeng was the true epitome of patriotism.  He stood for what was right at a very difficult time in our country. When many chose to be indifferent, Solo remained resolute for a more democratic Gambia, one where fundamental rights are respected and protected. Unfortunately, those who benefited most from his sacrifices, have since chosen political expediency over genuine reforms. The laws that made his brutal murder possible remain in our books, with no desire by this government to expunge them,” he told The Standard.

Mr Jow said the electoral reform Mr Sandeng aspired for remains elusive.

“The end to the self-perpetuating rule that he called for is being resisted by Barrow and his government. Those who cheered on the tyrant drafted the ridiculous electoral laws and excused his murder, now occupy the highest offices in our country.

Unless, the very ideals that Solo gave up his life for are realized, we haven’t begun to honour and celebrate him,” he said.

Renaming of Youth Monument 

Mr Jow said the Mayor of KM, Talib Bensouda, should rename the West Field Youth Monument to The Solo Sandeng Square, just as he should name the Jimpex Road, April 10/11 Way.

“We must start to genuinely and properly celebrate heroes for standing up for this country when it was most inconvenient to do so,” he said.

Homage

Paying his last respect, opposition UDP campaign manager, Momodou Sabally, commented: “At the time of his brutal killing, who would have thought that Solo Sandeng would be honoured right here at Arch 22 (now baptized “Never Again”). It is the folly of men in power to try to silence the voices of truth. Surely any attempt to suppress and oppress, creates a boomerang much louder than the original voice. This is the eternal truth preached by the sages of old. The spirit lives on.

“Indeed when the haters of the truth attacked Prophet Idriss (Enoch), their hatred and relentless efforts to mute him and the truth only led to a boomerang best narrated by verses 56-57 of Surah Maryam:

“And mentioned in the Book, Idr?s. Indeed, he was a truthful one and a prophet, and We raised him to an exalted station,” he added.

For his part, renowned Islamic preacher and orator, Sheikh Hamma Jaiteh, described Solo Sandeng as “The Tiger, the Leopard and the Jaguar”.

“The wheel of Gambian history was rusted and halted when the indomitable Tiger was captured and imprisoned illegally by the forces of brutality, his tragic but honourable heroic death is the spark which ignited the flames of revolutionary zeal and political veracity. He is the catalyst for positive but non-violent social and political changes and an accomplished fighter against corruption and depravity,” Jaiteh said.

He added that Mr Sandeng is “a paragon of virtue, an epitome of righteousness and an icon of revolutionary tenacity”.

“The entire universe is paying homage to Solo Sandeng, the Tiger of the jungle of justice and political rationality. History will forever present his gallantry and bravery to the present generation and will accurately narrate his peerless valour to posterity,” he stated.

He said Solo’s image will continue to inspire the good souls of society but will be haunting the sinful souls of the wicked ones to eternity

“Solo Sandeng, may Allah forgive all your sins, overlook your shortcomings and multiply your reward for your relentless struggle for the liberation of humanity. May your family be strengthened with endurance, faith and confidence to be proud of your sacrifice in order to preserve your legacy,” he concluded.