When the sudden deaths of Barristers Wilfred Davidson Bola Carrol and Dr. Henry Darlington Richmond Oluwole Carrol were announced, there struck a deep and solemn note in our lives that resonated far and wide and cause a sombre reflection amongst many. The transient spectrum of mortality invoked in so many of us a spark that presented the solemnity of mortal existence, in all its splendour and glory, pain and sorrow, fortitude and serenity.
The erudite playwright and Victorian poet, William Shakespeare in his play Julius Caesar skilfully captured and summed this beautifully in the entrant verse:
“What can be avoided Whose end is purposed by the mighty gods? Yet Caesar shall go forth; for these predictions Are to the world in general as to Caesar. When beggars die, there are no comets seen; The heavens themselves blaze forth the death of princes.
Cowards die many times before their deaths; The valiant never taste of death but once. Of all the wonders that I yet have heard. It seems to me most strange that men should fear; Seeing that death, a necessary end, Will come when it will come.”
With immense pain, sorrow and regret I stand before you all to eulogies the lives of two great men whose star shone over the horizons of the Gambian River, a little over 6 decades ago.
Two outstanding quintessential gentlemen who undoubtedly, are amongst the greatest and finest legal scholars of our generation and time.
Sir Bola as I fondly called him was a big brother who I recalled growing up as a child in his company and presence. It was a religious rite of passage that every Sunday in those days, after attending Sunday service at Wesley Church, we will all go to Carrol kunda in Buckle Street packed like sardines In my aunty, Aunty Princess’s Renault 18. We would have amazing moments with Aunty Daisy spoiling us with all manner of goodies. It was a tradition that was kept way into my adult years and when I look back with great fondness, I can actually say, those were one of the most memorable moments of my life.
I and Bola grew very close and I would spend many evenings at his home in Tobacco Road where he then resided, whilst basking in all his legal texts and writings. I can authoritatively say that it was then, during those formative years of my life, that my love and passion for advocacy and the law was born.
Bola also was a phenomenal poet who introduced me to various literary works of great poets but most notably the literary giants of the African renaissance.
Some 27 years ago, right in this very church, under the direction and impeccable tutelage of Wilfred Bola Carrol, I performed one of the greatest poems of renowned poet and literary giant, David Diops “Africa my Africa”.
Not only did Bola mentor me to perform this poem with all its dramatic effects, but it was an unprecedented moment when he actually got me, to do a rendition of this poem in typical Senegalogambian Wolof dialect and indeed it was a masterpiece and up to this day, individuals such as Aunty Annie Belle and a few others will call me “Tenkem Tenkem” which was one of the phrases that Bola taught me to represent the English word Obstinately.
I have performed this poem in colleges in America, universities in Geneva and Oxford and it has always remained a sensation and I can only credit this excellent delivery to none other but the poet extraordinaire , the versatile international bilingual defence attorney, Wilfred Davidson Bola Carrol Esq.
Due to reasons I may never be able to recall, I and Bola slowly drifted whilst Lord Carrol and I slowly became closer. This might have been as a result of Bola being out of the country most times and then moving away from Banjul to Bakau. Whatever reason it was I saw myself growing closer to Dr. Carrol and this bond could best be described as electric.
Dr Carrol and I would spend hours in his office going over legal texts and I was his ardent proof reader. He would make me sit and read his articles and most times I’d correct grammatical errors which obviously would lead to bitter arguments as he would swear to all things dear to him that it was a typographical error. Eventually, I made sure I had witnesses around and I would either take my friend Fanny Mahoney or Kaddijatou Jallow along. I would then decide to keep reading through the text and not make a single comment. Then cheekily I’d ask, “Dr Carrol were those your words as captured by the typist or did she add anything to it? He would quickly say “oh those are my words, the typist try this tem” and after saying this, I will then go on to mention all the errors that I had come across and he would argue bitterly that definitely the typist added those in there. “You nor sabi them wan ya so how them arnyan rek.” To which I’d say “Dr. Carrol, to borrow your words, eat the humble pie and accept you made an error.” He will bellow with a big hearty laugh and then say “Olufemi you na smart boy but I put it to you “ that okro nor ba long pass im master.”
When I visited The Gambia last, and by which time I had already gotten my first Masters degree from the University of Oxford. I was approaching Dr Carrol’s office, and he spotting me through the side window of his office, he yelled here comes the 3rd Gambian Oxford-trained lawyer. I laughed and said to him but Dr. Carrol as far as records hold at the University of Oxford, I am the 1st Gambian lawyer to be matriculated into the Oxford University. Your grandfather was the first to be matriculated but not as a lawyer but as an undergrad. I then turned around and said to him but wait a minute, am a bit confused here. Where do you come in with all this rank and first or second in line when we talking about Oxford University? He quickly replied:
“Olufemi Roberts are go sue you for defamation. I put it to you that my grandfather is the first Oxford-trained lawyer then his grandson Henry Davidson, which is my humble self and then you follow as the third.” Being my true self, I didn’t want to give in, so I quickly responded but Dr Carrol your name is not in the records held at the University of Oxford.
What followed was a famous Land -Law Latin maxim:
“Quic Quid Planta tur solo, solo cedit.”
Olufemi I put it to you that that I studied at the university college of Buckland in Oxfordshire and therefore as the Latin maxim suggests “what ever is affixed to the soil belongs to the soil and therefore I am an Oxford trained lawyer period”.
Today, before everyone, I want you to know that not only are you the original Oxford trained lawyer , but you are undoubtedly one of the most prolific legal scholars of modern times and I say this with much admiration and pride. I now concede that your grandfather was the first, you the second and I the third. I know absolutely, that I may never be able to untie the lace of your legal sandals because there would never ever be another Dr. Richmond Darlington Oluwole Carrol.
Today Dr, I salute your courage, I applaud your brilliance and mastery of the substantive Law, I recognise your unparalleled and unmatched passion for defending and upholding the dictates of equity, justice and Human rights for all but above everything else , I salute your strength of character, that had undoubtedly etched your scholarship as one of the greatest legal scholars of our generation that this country thus far has produced.
Your brilliance and scholarly work will live on and generations will remember thee with much admiration and pride. Your dedication and unwavering passion for the relentless pursuit for justice shall not die but forever remain in our hearts.
I praise you great man of skill, who helped the right and fought the wrong, and indeed made our folk a nation. In peace your sacred ashes rest , fulfilled your days endeavours. You have blessed the earth and you are blessed, of God and man forever.
I have come to that end where I must sign off and I do so with pain, sadness and a very heavy heart. And so on this 27th Day of October In the Year of our Lord Two Thousand and Twenty Three, I say please Sir Dr. Henry Darlington Richmond Oluwole Carrol, LLB BL LLM PHD MRG Founder Lecturer University of The Gambia, Oxford scholar, Latin Guru, astute theologian, Solicitor General emeritus, former Chairman law reform commission and most definitely the one and only tripple Dr. Please accept the sincerest assurances of my deepest considerations and most fraternal prayerful wishes, that your gentle, benevolent and extraordinary but unique soul, will rest in eternal peace till we meet again someday, taking our place yet again in the Bar, whilst our creator and Judge of all judges, adjudicates from the heavenly Bench.
Delegatus non potest delegari, one of your favourite quotes came to mind as I warned Isha, as she is tasked to read this tribute on my behalf, that she who has been delegated cannot herself delegate.
Requiescat in pace Wilfred Davidson Abimbola Carrol and Dr. Henry Darlington Richmond Carrol.