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Loss of an illustrious son of The Gambia

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By Mr. A.M SALLAH

Retired Public Officer

I learned of the demise of Mr. Phoday B. Jarjussey (affectionately called PBS) during my spontaneous encounter with Mr. Ansumana Kurubally, a retired Civil Servant at Latrikunda Sabiji market on Saturday 29th June 2024.

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Shock and sadness permeated my heart.

On receipt of this bad news I said, what? Oh My God! Inna Lillahi Wa Illahi Rajihoona (we are from Allah and to Allah we shall return)

I join thousands of Gambians, especially his contemporary Civil Servants of all categories who knew him and interacted with him during the admirable, efficient, efficacious and disciplined Civil Service of the First Republic of The Gambia.

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Foday Jarjussey was a household name in the Government/Civil Service of the late Sir Dadwa Kairaba Jawara.

An outpouring of grief and tributes awaits the repatriation of Phoday’s mortal remains to his native Gambia. I had the pleasure of working with Phoday at the Office of the President in the 1980s. He was then the Permanent Secretary at the same Office where I also served as Secretary to the Cabinet.

As mentioned by Adama Deen, ex-Managing Director of GPA in his tribute to Phoday, I can confirm that Phoday was a Gambian Civil Servant par excellence. Punctuality was his forte. He was a workaholic who would take office files to deal with them at his residence. Phoday would not be happy until he perfected his official assignments such as speech writing, analysing and formulating Government policies and co-ordination. He was one of the pillars of Dr. Jabez Ayo Langlay, the then Secretary General, Office of the President. Financial remuneration was not Foday’s primary consideration.

When Phoday unfortunately left the shores of The Gambia for London after the change of Government in July 1994, reward for his talent was waiting for him when he was later nominated and elected as Councilor under a Labour Party ticket.

This is the congratulatory letter I sent to him:

“LETTER OF CONGRATULATIONS

Dear Phoday,

I write to personally congratulate you for having been nominated to run on a Labour ticket for the Hillingdon Council Elections which were held on 2nd May 2002. 

I was elated to read this delightful piece of news published in the Newspaper along with Peter Ryerson, Janet Gardener and local M.P John Mcdonnell. I still treasure a copy of this Daily Observer edition.

I am sure thousands of well-meaning Gambians will also be proud of you. I was unable to contact you earlier until when I was lucky to bump into your former driver Baba Drammeh who gave me your telephone number. After drafting this letter on Sunday 7th July 2002, I telephoned you in the evening, but I was told that you had travelled. Oumie received my call and confirmed that you were elected as Councilor with a majority of over 1600 votes and that even Prime Minister Blair invited you subsequently to congratulate you as the first Gambian to have been elected as a Councilor in his Government. Great!

My thoughts have always been with you and Oumie. I have on many occasions made mention of your excellent public relations, sociability, kindness and sympathy. I do not mean to flatter you.

Reverting to your achievement in your nomination and eventual success in your election, my immediate reaction was to remember the saying that ‘a prophet is not honoured in his own country’. I wish you a successful and rewarding term of Office.”

He was so happy that he telephoned me to thank me and said he was proudly showing the letter to Gambians who cared to pass by his house.

I believe the contents of my letter must have pleased his eyes and gladdened his heart.

May the almighty Allah assuage the grief of the entire Jarjussey and Njaen families in these trying circumstances.

So, Phoday, Vale! Requiescat in pace.  

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