By George Gomez
Dr. Solomon Gomez was born in Banjul, the eldest son of the late John Karopijai and Marie Karakodo Gomez nee Jatta, He attended the St John’s Infant school, St Augustines’s Primary before proceeding to St. Augustines’s Secondary School where he thrived academically. After graduating from Secondary school, Sol did what many of Gambia’s bright young minds did in the 1950s and 1960s- enter the Yundum Teacher Training College to become a teacher. Attending Yundum College to train as a qualified teacher was what bright young men and women did after high school in those days when the Yundum College was the highest institution of learning in the Gambia and offered the only opportunity for post secondary education for those who were hungry for knowledge.
In the absence of scholarships and financial aid for university studies abroad, many young people went to Yundum College to train and become teachers. As students they became trend setters, and as qualified teachers they became role models to their students. Sol was among the best physical Education teachers and had developed numerous students who were interested in sports.
Saul was a highly skilled soccer player and one of the toughest soccer stars in Gambian history. Playing soccer at the Augustinians Football Club he was one of the formidable trio; Saul Gomez, Charles Thomas and Solomon Oldman Jatta (popularly known as “Body Balance”). These three players imposed a menacing challenge to any team that faced them.
Solomon was a member of the famous Gambia National team that last defeated Senegal in an official match in Dakar in 1962. He was fantastic in that match scoring the winning goal in a thrilling encounter in the presence of the then Senegalese Prime Minister Momodou Dia. He was also the best Javelin thrower in the Gambia and represented the Gambia in this event. Solomon was also a good Cricketer and also featured in several International matches for the Gambia. It was the combination of these sporting skills and brilliant intellect that earned both him and his team mate Charles Thomas admissions to Harvard University; America’s preeminent Ivy League School .
He was nicknamed Garingcha after the great Brazilian player of the 50’s and 60’s
The two of them played soccer as a duo for Harvard propelling the university to successively winning the Ivy League Soccer Championship. At the end with his brilliant mind, Solomon graduated from Harvard as an undergraduate with a AB degree Cum Laude in International Studies. From Harvard, Saul moved to the New York City area as he entered Columbia University; another magnificent Ivy League school where he earned his Masters degree. Other Gambian’s who were at Columbia around that time included, Joe Bruce, late Francis (De Gaulle) Njie, Matarr Njie and Charles Fernandez.
After Solomon Gomez received his Masters degree from Columbia, University, he moved to the Washington DC area to attend the world class John Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) where he obtained his Ph. D. in International Studies. Having a Ph, D. from John Hopkins is no small matter. After receiving his Ph,D from John Hopkins, Solomon briefly returned to the Gambia before taking up an appointment with the then Organization for African Unity (OAU) now the African Union. With the OAU he spent a considerable amount of time at the organization’s UN office as its representative to the United Nations From there the organization assigned him with the task of finding a resolution to the festering Polisario conflict.
In short, Solomon Gomez had spent all of his life representing the people of the Gambia and indeed of Africa as a champion in play, in intellect and in serving the people of our beloved Africa.
Solomon is survived by his eldest sister, a younger brother, 4 children, cousins, nephews, nieces,
May his soul rest in peace.