On Thursday morning, a diplomatic cable was sent from 6 Wilberforce Street in Freetown, Sierra Leone to Marina Parade in Banjul. The High Commissioner, Alieu Jammeh, had died. He wasn’t bedridden for long. In fact he was with President Adama Barrow on his two-day official visit to Côte d’Ivoire barely two weeks ago. And he had been in touch with friends and colleagues in Banjul just a day or two ago.
The suddenness of his death made it all the more shocking and tragic. In his early to mid fifties, he was in the prime of his life and had great potential for both personal and professional development. He had achieved great things but even greater things were expected of him.
Alieu Jammeh was the son of Kebba Jammeh who was the son of the renowned chief Mama Tamba Jammeh of Illiassa. He studied at universities in Uganda, Malaysia and England and served as a cabinet minister for youths and sport under President Yahya Jammeh and served with distinction as The Gambia’s ambassador in Guinea Bissau and Sierra Leone under President Adama Barrow.
They say no person of significance ever lives without having enemies and detractors. But by far the greater number of people who knew, interacted or worked with Alieu Jammeh genuinely loved and respected him. He was approachable, kind and respectful and treated all with courtesy.
Since his death, the social media in The Gambia have been replete with eulogies and encomiums attesting to his good character. They are not false hyperboles. They candidly portray him as he was. His mother would tell you he was the dream son. His brothers would tell you he was the thread that kept the seams of the family together. His friends would tell you they would not wish for a better pal. His colleagues would tell you he was supportive, loyal and as hard working as any could be.
Alieu Jammeh was a good Muslim who feared his Maker and tried to live his life according to the dictates of his faith. And he was a patriot who loved The Gambia and dedicated his life to working for his country and improving the lives of its people especially its youths. He served as a mentor, an inspiration and a beacon of hope for many young people. His was a rich life because he positively impacted the lives of a generation of Gambians.
As we bade him farewell, our hearts ache at the thought of losing him. Nothing compares to such immense sorrow; however, we can find hope in trusting Allah’s will and remembering that for good people, death is nothing more than a bridge leading closer to Him. Alieu Jammeh was one such a good person.