Poignant tributes have been pouring in on Facebook to the Gambia’s ambassador to Sierra Leone, Ingram Reginald Femi Peters, who died on Saturday after a brief illness.
Born in 1946 in Banjul, Mr Peters, appeared in the parliamentary elections in 1987 as a candidate of the Gambian People’s Party (GPP), but he was defeated by the opposing candidates Ebrima AB (“Presseh”) N’Jie of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) and Kebba W. Foon of the United Party (UP).
Following the overthrow of the PPP government of Sir Dawda Jawara in 1994 by Yahya Jammeh, Mr Peters joined the United Democratic Party (UDP) and held various senior positions including propaganda secretary.
In January 2008, he contested the Banjul Mayoral election for the UDP but was defeated by Samba Faal , candidate for the Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC).
The following year during a political rally in Serekunda, Mr Peters was arrested and charged for using a loudspeakers in public without official permission. On 1st April 2010, he was given a one-year prison sentence and a hefty fine by a local magistrate.
In April 2016, Mr Peters was again arrested and sentenced to three years in prison with 18 other members of the UDP for taking to the streets to seek answers about the arrest and killing of one of their senior executive member, Solo Sandeng by security officers.
However, they were released eight months into their sentence following the defeat of Mr Jammeh in the presidential election.
During their time at the notorious Mile Two Prisons, Mr Peters including his party leader Ousainou Darboe where starved and denied medical treatment.
At the time of their release, they were severely malnourished, frail and suffering from poor health. At least two of his colleagues have died since their release from prison.
In the summer of last year, Mr Peters was rewarded with the position of ambassador to Sierra Leone, a position he held until his demise. During his short stint, he tried to improve ties between Banjul and Freetown and fostered unity amongst the Gambian community in the West African country.
Mr Peters was starved during his eight month detention at Mile Two
Paying tribute to him, Bubacarr Sidiqi Jammeh wrote: “Just woke up to the tragic news of Uncle Femi Peters’s sudden demise. My heart is heavy, for we as a nation have lost a national treasure. An epitome of Patriotism, courage, steadfastness and an unwavering sense of commitment to country in time of need. Uncle Femi was one of the key pillars that held the UDP tent together at a time when many were fleeing from us looking for the easy way out. He gave his ALL for country, and left nothing in the tank. He could have ignored the call to go out in the streets or give a legitimate health excuse to not go out and face the wrath of Yaya Jammeh but he didn’t. He went ahead anyway and succeeded in uprooting a tyrant. We will remain ever grateful uncle Femi. Rest In Peace. We will take it from here. We won’t let you down.”
Ahmad Gitteh wrote: “Oh Allah! Another hero of our great country and UDP party is gone. What a great lost to our country. Uncle Femi Peters you shall be remembered for your wonderful services to our great nation. My heartfelt condolences to the Peters Family, the great party and government and people of the Gambia on this shocking lost. Sleep most peacefully Sir.
Bakary Badjie wrote: “Woke up to news of the demise of a legend who suffered enormously and yet remained humble. Jailed for 1 year in April 2010 for ‘using a loudspeaker’. He served his term and came out resolute to keep fighting for what he believe. He was again arrested in April 2016 and spent 8 months in prison. Rest in Peace Uncle Femi Peters. Gambia will remember you as true hero”
Aziz Dabakh Gaye wrote: “His life was defined by a sense of duty, and time and again he served his country with great honor and distinction. It is true that each era has a certain mood, certain assumptions; in Femi’s era, sacrifice; and each generation distinguishes itself in time, or doesn’t. Femi’s did. He himself did. Our country is stronger, and our world is freer, because of his service. Thank you sir for your service. Rest in eternal peace. We all mourn your passing and our condolences to the Peters Family, Mr. Ingram Peters Jr and all UDP Party members.”
Alieu Bah wrote: “Uncle Femi Peters, one of the formidable, consistent, righteous fighters for the homeland has transitioned to the ancestors. Here is one of the people who earned my deepest respect for never once did he cower in his duty to confront the unjust power that once was. Used to meet him at reform club and a humble man he was. Respect in the bosom of your lord and in the fullness of his majesty thereof.”