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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Batch Samba Jallow – The passing away of a hero

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By Bakary NS Jallow (Justice)

Batch Samba Jallow, also known to many people as Master Jallow, passed away on April 12, 2023 at the Brikama Health Center, the 21st day of Ramadan. Batch Samba, in his mid-seventies, hailed from Wellingara Ello, in the Niamina Dankunku District of the Central River Region (CRR).

A seasoned educationist, Batch Samba spent all his active life career in the teaching profession. After completing his teachers certificate course at the Yundum College in 1975, he rose through the ranks until he reached the position of headmaster, serving in various schools throughout the Gambia.

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While as headmaster, Batch Samba helped to persuade many parents to send their children to school, many of whom are today Masters and even Doctorate degree holders, and some of them are serving in senior positions across the globe.

As part of his objective to serve humanity, in 1992, Batch Samba founded a non-governmental organisation called The Ongoing Gambian Schools Project (TOGS) that provided second-hand clothing, teaching and learning materials such as books, pens and other stationery to needy school children across the country.

Batch Samba was a pious Muslim and he invested heavily in Islam including sponsoring many people to perform one of the pillars of Islam; the Hajj. Those he took to Mecca included his parents, his siblings and other relatives.

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Batch was quite generous, hardworking, friendly, sympathetic and brave. He enjoyed helping both the needy and the poor. He had always dedicated most of his meagre resources to helping the needy regardless of their ethnic or social background. He was kind to all.

During the regime of former President Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara, Batch became a member of the PPP and ventured into politics. He once applied to contest for the PPP in the parliamentary elections in Niamina Dankunku, but he was not selected. He therefore dropped at the preliminary stage in favour of Waa Ceesay.

Despite that however, Batch’s political ambition was never hidden. Even after the military take-over by Yahya Jammeh in 1994, he became a strong critic of the Jammeh regime. He continued to manifest his frustration with the military junta. He once joined a group of PPP supporters to stage a demonstration against the junta and they were arrested and detained.

While in detention, Batch and some of his colleagues underwent torture. He was later charged with treason and arraigned before a court. However, the case could not continue due to lack of sufficient evidence against him and he was acquitted and discharged.

After his release from detention, and for fear for his life and that of his family, Batch Samba fled the country and went to the United States where he sought political asylum. While in the US, he continued with his teaching career until his retirement. However, he continued to help the needy back home in the Gambia by sending them money and other materials to help ease their plight. He helped change the lives of many people.

After the fall of the Jammeh regime in December 2016, Batch Samba returned to the Gambia after his retirement.

Shortly after his return to the Gambia, he was summoned to appear before the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) to give evidence of the torture he received during the Jammeh regime.

During his testimony at the TRRC, Batch Samba explained in detail how he was forcefully whisked out of his Bakoteh compound in the presence of his wife and children at night by the state intelligent agents (NIA) and taken to Kotu police station where he was wrongfully detained on some flimsy allegations.

In a marathon testimony, Batch Samba told the Commission that he was tortured multiple times by state intelligent agents (NIA). Adding that as a result of the extensive torture that he underwent, he lost one of his fingers.

To demonstrate the severity of the torture, Batch Samba was prepared to remove his shirt to show the commissioners the marks on his body as a result of the torture meted on him at the NIA, but the Lead Counsel Essa Faal pleaded with him not to do so. On many occasions during his testimony, Batch Samba would shed “uncontrollable” tears while narrating his ordeal at the hands of state intelligent agents during his arrest, detention and torture.

On many occasions after that, Lead Counsel, Essa Faal continued to make reference to Batch Samba’s testimony while questioning some of his alleged torturers. He often referred to Batch Samba Jallow as a “very handsome” man.

Shortly after his TRRC appearance Batch Samba fell sick and was intermittently admitted at Africmed and Westfield Clinic respectively on several occasions until he eventually passed away on 12 April, 2023.

Batch Samba was laid to rest at Wellingara Ello, buried besides his mother’s grave, a request he made to his children before his death.

Even though death is inevitable, many people associate his sickness to the tortures that he received at the NIA during his arrest and detention.

Batch Samba left quite an impressive legacy among his family and peers.

He is survived by three wives and four children.

May his soul rest in Jannatul Firdaus- Ameen!

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