There was a BANG on the door! Then A BIGGER BANG with the words: DUMO SARHO! OPEN THE DOOR! DUMO! OPEN THE DOOR! Then a third and much LOUDER KNOCK! I opened my eyes as I saw Dumo wrapping documents upon documents in a plastic bag. As he did so he responded: “I am getting dressed, wait a minute, I’m getting dressed!” To me I could see Dumo was fully dressed. There and then in a split second it dawned on me that this was a raid. My heart started to beat and it actually felt like a baptism of fire! The adrenaline rush that I felt in my body for the first time was one that could lift a building, walk on water or fly to space, and on a broom too for that matter.
Dumo Sarho was raided in connection with the earlier raid the day before. The patrol that came to get him had Daba Marena, Jatta Baldeh, Foday Barry and Daddy Jobe who was the driver among them.
All materials were bundled up. Dumo handed me the precious parcel. We shook hands and he opened the door to Goalkeeper Sarho’s room. Sheriff Sarho their younger brother was up and standing. Dumo signaled him to go and see if the road was clear. Sheriff scouted the main road, came back giving the green light and I passed Ya Sarho (who was already up due to the noise) with a nod and clutching the parcel I left through the front door. I took a dash. In my mind’s eye I could see Sheriff closing the main door behind me and Dumo, gently closing the door leading to Goalkeeper Sarho’s, bringing down the curtains and opening his back door to allow in the raiders. Later, I learnt that the patrol vehicle actually was making a U-turn when I left the compound. It came back and parked at the gate as Dumo Sarho was arrested without any of his rights read out to him.
I made it to the nearest street branching off the main road, I ran… Never looking back and not daring to stop, taking the most remote route from Serekunda Bambo to Latrikunda German and finally dropping the parcel at Sajo Jallow’s house. Sajo Jallow was still in bed when I started knocking on their gate. The noise woke him up and he came to let me in. I handed him the parcel and explained about the raid. He took the parcel, told me to wait and he drove away. To where, I never got to know. Working underground, it was referred to as “knowing what concerns you”. You may want to call it damage control measures or trouble-shooting. In case one fall victim, the less you know the better for the movement or organisation.
Dumo Sarho was arrested on that fateful October morning. He was first taken to the Serekunda Police Station, where the Special Branch team picked up Nicholas Kujabi who said he was going to a naming ceremony. According to Dumo, Nicholas had nothing to do with the arrest but his remarks were much unwarranted. May his soul rest in peace!
Sekou Touré, President of the Republic of Guinea died while Dumo and the PDMCNIG people were in detention. After seven months, the trial broke down. The PDMCNIG members were released, but Dumo was left to serve another three months in jail. This brought his total term to 10 months. The SB failed with their operation as no documents were found on Dumo or at his residence. Years later in 1993, President DK Jawara lifted the ban on MOJA-G. We were absolved. We were no criminals. It was for the good of all that we sacrificed.
As I start jotting down a continuation from my last article, 20 children between the ages of six or seven, are among 26 victims of a mass shooting at a suburban Connecticut elementary school, in one of the worst shooting sprees in US history. There is much pain in losing a loved one and no bigger tragedy than a parent burying their child. May their souls rest in perfect peace!
Hugo Chavez has announced a successor Nicolas Maduro, as he gets poised for another round of battle with “rebel cells “. Cancer cells are after all, disobedient workers refusing to follow protocol!
Madiba is in hospital putting a nation and the world on alert, praying for his continued good health.
Baba Leigh is in custody and Dr Amadou Scattred Janneh’s integrity is under the microscope. I guess mine too will be soon, if not already. Am I worried? The answer lies embedded in the series of articles I have promised to deliver to Maafanta. Even when they seem unconnected to the very hot issues on the table, I still urge you to read them. I will be happy if you do. After all, the search for truth is our collective responsibility; each and every one of us.
These are trying times, compatriots!
For those who have been waiting for the continuation of this narrative, I appeal to you to exercise patience! Facts must be corroborated and individuals’ approvals are to be sought before the storyline is dispatched for publication.
I would like to emphasise that this is neither an autobiography nor the writing of a biography. It is also in no measure the complete story of MOJA-G. Militants or former activists of the Movement for Justice in Africa-Gambia (MOJA-G) would have to compile such a work together when they choose to. Without doubt it will be worth reading and future generations of our children and their children will benefit from the lessons drawn by a group of young people who had big dreams for their country – a nation called The Gambia. Whether those dreams came to fruition or not will be judged by history, I humbly assume. This narrative if you may wish can be read as a simple prelude. Nothing more, nothing less!
My trip with Dumo for a country tour was never to take place. Not yet! This was Dumo’s fourth arrest. You see Dumo is a personification of resistance. A resistance borne out of the desire to seek justice and define justice, what ever the cost. He indeed, paid a heavy price!
Dumo’s first arrest was in 1971 at St Augustine’s High School. He was in Form 3. During an inter-house sports event at McCarthy Square, the police were on duty at the Quadrangle gate. As events unfolded the officers stepped in for crowd control. Dumo saw no reason for the crowd to be controlled. In the midst of the ensued turmoil he ended up fighting with the police. He was a Black Panther militant at the time.
In 1979, he was again arrested, suspected of distributing the underground publication, The Voice of the Future and held at the Remand Wing of the Mile II Central Prison for two weeks. He was charged with sedition in a trial which dragged on for thirteen months. He was released and as he awaited judgment (Gibou Janneh was his lawyer at the Kanifing Magistrates Court where the late Mr Edward C, Sow also known as Pa Sow presided over the case). Dumo travelled to Dakar to take a break from all the pressures during the court’s recess. He duly returned to follow the proceedings towards judgment. He was freed from all counts and later he moved to stay in Brikama getting employment with Balfour Beatty, during the construction of the Brikama College where he worked closely with the late Saihou Sumareh.
Dumo Sarho’s third arrest came in 1981. This in relation to the putsch! He was suspected of “knowing something”. On 5th September, he was once again picked by Jatta Baldeh, an SB officer posted at Serekunda Police Station together with some armed policemen led by Abba Faburay. First taken to the Serekunda Police Station and later to Banjul Police Headquarters, where [the late] Samba Bah awaited his arrival. During the interrogation, Dumo was badly beaten and left hanging on his wrists. With numbed hands, a swollen face, blood all over his face and body -witnesses can attest to this – he was taken to the Bakau Police Depot where he started another detention period of 365 days x 2!
Here, one has to pause and recollect even if for a second in time and space the events of Thursday, 30th July 1981.
Contrary to popular belief and wild speculation, MOJA-G was NOT involved in the planning of the abortive coup.
On the morning of that eventful day, it was Saikou Samateh (Saiks) who woke Tijan Koro Sallah from bed and informed him about the coup. On that same day MOJA-G militants were to have a meeting for a final discussion before moving to the countryside. All activists and leading members were assigned a certain regional area to cover for political work. Saiks was going to travel to the Baddibus with Koro. He was to move first and Koro was to follow later. This plan was never executed. It was disrupted by the news of the coup.
Upon arrival of comrades, the meeting was convened but the agenda changed to discussing the coup. The final resolution was: MOJA-G condemned the coup!
Certain people in that meeting expressed their individual positions: that if Senegalese forces enter the country to suppress the coup, which they saw coming, then, there was the likelihood they would pick up arms; not to defend the coup but to defend the sovereignty of the Gambian Nation. And that was exactly what many of them did. When Senegalese forces stepped foot on Gambian soil what they met was never a calculus in their arithmetic. They were met with Balang Baa: RESISTANCE!
‘I AM A HO$TAGE OF MY CON$CIENCE!
THERE I$ NO RAN$OM THAT
CAN EVER $ET ME FREE!’ (Jainaba Bah)
© Balang Baa Publications 2012
Jainaba Bah is currently the Gambia’s ambassador to Russia. She is married to former ambassador M Sarjo Jallow.