‘Roaming the night’s streets’ stuck in my mind since high school is this passage which I memorized during our study of Alex la Guma’s “A Walk in the Night.”
“I am thy father’s spirit,
Doomed for a certain term to walk the night
And for the day confined to fast in fires,Till the foul crimes done in my days of nature Are burnt and purged away.” – Shakespeare’s Hamlet
I was fascinated by the inspiration behind La Guma’s title drawn from “Hamlet.” Like Hamlet’s father’s ghost, La Guma’s characters restlessly roam the night in Apartheid South Africa, haunted by crimes committed against them, crippled by their own personal failings. They in turn hound the system that robs them of life itself, “till the foul crimes done in [their] days of nature” are avenged.
April 10/11, 2000 Student massacre, to date, I still remember one tragic character – Journalist Omar Barrow and a Red Cross volunteer of sorts – whose last moments gripped my mind. After being shot cold blood at close range at the Red Cross Headquarters, Kanifing, he’s placed in an ambulance and wrapped in the warmest blankets, soft and clean, and the whitest sheets, white as cocaine. All his life, he’s only known old smelly threadbare blankets. His only moment of dignity is in death.
It strikes me, that so many tortured souls roam the night’s streets, and upon their tragic death, we wrap them up in the softest sheets of dignity too late to make any difference.
At the ending of dictatorship and, in the throes of the Gambia’s nascent democracy’s woundedness. Now I find myself needing to find anchor again as we go through the woundedness of the Gambia’s fledgling democracy that have come with so much anger oozing out of unhealed scars, loss of life, and malignant hate. Remembering April 10/11 Student Massacre so perfectly reflect the storm brewing over a young nation struggling to hold itself together, but daily surrendering to the savage seduction of propaganda, the spread of malice, the rejection of what is true, and using God to stamp every prejudice and loath for fellow humans.
Alagi Yoro Jallow
April 10 & 11: Questions for Isatou Njie Saidy
Since Isatou Njie Saidy, in her capacity as the Vice President at the time said the shooting came from within the students, it will be necessary now for her to clarify that statement by providing truthful answers to pertinent questions.
1. How did she know that the firing came from the students?
2. Which specific officer told her such information?
3. Did she mean that the students had guns?
4. Had those guns ever been captured from the students?
5. Did her government determine how those students obtained those guns?
6. Did her government determine as to who taught the students to fire guns?
7. How many guns were captured from the students?
8. If the students fired at the security forces, how come no security officer was shot but instead only students dropped dead and wounded?
9. Was it the students who also fired guns in Janjanbureh and Brikamaba?
10. What orders did Yaya Jammeh give her on that day?
Let the truth come out Isatou Njie Saidy.
Even before justice is dispensed, Isatou Njie Saidy would do well for herself to begin the process of repentance by setting the truth free so that she can also be free. She is kidnapping the truth and sitting on it. She needs to get up so that the truth comes out. That way she will start the process of redeeming herself and helping the healing process they claimed at the time.