President Adama Barrow has said that his rise to the presidency is an instructive lesson to himself and to all others.
Speaking to Muslim elders during the traditional Eid-ul-Fitr courtesy call on the head of state, the new Gambian leader explains: “Last year by this time, we were running to and from the court house to try to secure the release of our people. That was all we were thinking about; how to get Ousainou Darboe and our detained comrades released. They [security] would not allow us even to stand at the gate of the courthouse. The police would chase us away when they see us. When we go to greet Ousainou Darboe, we would have to file past rows of NIA [operatives]. They would write down all our names. When I go to the prison, one [operative] would stand behind Ousainou and another stand behind me so that they could hear what we talk about. But we were not afraid. We would talk about all we had to talk.
“I recall being in the prison one particular day and talking to Ousainou Darboe. I told him, ‘Mr Darboe, things are really hard. What do you suggest we should do now?’ He told me, ‘Adama, I’m going to tell you a few things. If someone dishes you a bowl of rice, if you do not eat the rice on top, you will not see the bottom of the bowl’. He told me, ‘This year, we will see whatever is at the bottom of this bowl’. That is what he told me on that day.
“I told him, ‘You people are here; we are outside. But rest assured that whatever role and responsibility we should take and assume, we will continue to do so [from outside]. We will fight this fight until we see how Allah will ultimately decide. I told him that, that day. At that time, neither he nor I thought this is [what will come to pass]. We waged our struggle until they locked them up. We went back to the drawing board and said since our initial strategy to get Ousainou and company released had failed, we had to try a second strategy which is to don our garbs and engage in politicking. We took that decision and called two rallies. First at Brikama and then Bundung. Those two rallies changed everything. That was the day The Gambia changed. I had never talked at a rally. Brikama was the first. Those two rallies brought The Gambia out [of the hole]. Those two rallies made us be in power today.”
President Barrow said the journey they undertook underpins the conventional wisdom that when people come together with one heart and one common vision, they will get whatever they aspire for.
He exhorted the leaders of the Muslim community to put aside their manifest differences and close ranks for the unity and progress of the religion.