Alagi Yorro Jallow
Fatoumatta: When the inner being is realized is when one realizes there is nothing to fear. This has been the teaching of those who have known their Self! Mohammed Lamin Sillah, known as Ndongo, was there on the ground since July 1994. He did not join the bandwagon. He was the bandwagon fighting oppression and impunity. He is a torture survivor and a human rights democracy hero.
Moreover, even these teachings have been interfered with; to instill fear which unfortunately causes suffering. Fear is our worst enemy, and living beyond it is the perfect state one can wish for. It is always born out of refusing to learn and rediscover our mission on earth as true sons and daughters of the highest God.
Let no one tell you that one man can, in any way, enslave the world because no one can stop men from imagining. A tyrant like Hitler or Stalin or own Yahya Jammeh frightened men into accepting their leadership, but the minutemen stopped being afraid of them; they were afraid. The minute you are not afraid, you are not enslaved. So, be not afraid. That is the story of the world. Our economy is based on fear: the war scare, the peace scare, the market scare. Ndongo was a fearless individual whose conscience was his capacity to live by rational principles congruent with fundamental human dignity.
Fatoumatta: We have records of those vocal critics of dictator Yahya Jammeh’s evil dictatorship. Those paid the ultimate prices that gave birth to the very democracy we are enjoying and allow those denied their freedoms and liberty yesterday to exercise their God-given rights in the modern Gambia.
Many of those parading themselves today as heroes of democracy and champions of human rights and social media cyberwarriors were actually in bed with the miscreants aiding ad abetting the dictator. Some of them were complicit, a conspiracy in their silence and impotent cowardice, and others fled into self-imposed exile. Others went to seek international appointments with multinational and transnational organizations( African Union, United Nations Agencies and, World Bank). They fought vigorously to make sure the democratic struggle to end dictatorship was reversed. They said and did despicable things for political gain and filthy lucre to survive. However, nobody remembers it again. They now grandstand and lecture us on democracy and the resistance to kleptocratic rule. If you want to list these villain-turned-heroes, please get a copy of “The Last 100 Days of Yahya Jammeh”. You will marvel at the conduct of the demagogues, sycophants, and pseudo-intellectuals who have become latter-day saints of the democratic order in this government of President Adama Barrow.
Some of them act without conscience. They lie to gain favor. They pretend to give an impression. They sell their souls for a morsel. The judgment of God is upon the deceit. Experience and evidence have proved they had no genuine struggle for democracy and human rights in The Gambia. The fight for democracy and human rights died in 2016; others are mere caricatures.
Fatoumatta: Gambians must get to know some of the unsung democracy and human rights heroes that fought and sacrificed blood, toil, tears, and sweat for the Gambia that ushered the second liberation of the Gambia. One person who deserves to be celebrated and not making any noise on social media or claiming entitlement of his part of the struggle or being part of Tekki.com is Mohammed Lamin Sillah, commonly known as Ndongo Sillah?
In short, who is Mohhamed Lmain Ndongo Sillah? He was the coordinator of the Coalition of Human Rights Defenders and Secretary-General of the domestic chapter of Amnesty International in the Gambia. Ndongo was one of the very few who not only openly criticized the human rights abuses of Yahya Jammeh and his henchmen, but he spearheaded many campaigns to expose the brutality of the regime. His favorite slogan was “no to impunity.” This was a critical period for human rights activism. He was the face of Amnesty international in the Gambia and at the forefront of the Coalition of Human Rights Defenders. Ndongo was selfless and was faithful to the cause of human rights.
For those of us who worked and collaborated with Ndongo, he is not one of those who will ask, “where were you”?. I can tell you where Ndongo was. He was certainly not a hypocrite nor an enabler.
The struggle against Yahya Jammeh was long and arduous, but Ndongo Sillah was a pioneer. As Yahya Jammeh began turning against his supporters and henchmen who hitherto had ridiculed Ndongo and his human rights friends for being “losers and irrelevant,” Ndongo would tell them most humorously” the revolution is consuming its own Children.”
Ndongo was there on the ground since day one. He did not join the bandwagon. He was the bandwagon fighting oppression and impunity. He is a torture survivor and a democracy hero.
Fatoumatta: On October 22, 2001, the notorious NIA arrested Muhammed Lamin Sillah, the Coalition of Human Rights Defenders coordinator and Secretary-General of the domestic chapter of Amnesty International, following his interview with the BBC’s Focus on Africa program on October 21. Ndongo Sillah told the BBC that the country’s human rights situation was unsatisfactory and needed improvement.
Without fear, he said, “There is too much congenital injustice, demonic oppression, ruthless dictatorship, and agonizing poverty in this country today. Until these destructive vices of governance are uprooted from this country, continuous imprisonment or even threats of assassination will not deter me from the people’s cause” This is what Mohammed Lamin Sillah, Amnesty International, Gambia said on global media when many Gambians were afraid to criticize or condemn the regime.
In another interview, he was granted to the Independent newspaper on October 30, 2001. Although, after four days of the conversation he gave to both local and the global media, criticizing and pillorizing the Jammeh human rights violations, he was held incommunicado detention. However, he was released with a charge on bail of $18,000 (300,000 dalasis) after his case was brought to the High Court for a habeas corpus hearing. The NIA accused Sillah of inciting genocide and confusion and overthrowing the Government; Sillah described the allegations as false. Ndongo Sillah was at the forefront of the Human Rights movement when most Gambians were afraid to talk or refused to speak out of selfishness or Self-preservation? Did not care? Etc.
Fatoumatta: Ndongo Sillah has used the pen to teach, inform, and inspire. He has distinguished himself as the benchmark of an activist, a man who knows a lot about democracy and human dignity. He has vividly reminded us of history, incisively joined the dots and filled the gaps in our memory, taken us into flights of freedom and human liberation, and brought beauty and style to flourish in the rankest profusion in his human rights activism work.
Every Gambian in the democratic struggle was a big fan of his writings where history, philosophy, law, and political science met in praise of his rich antecedents, proud culture, and wit. He freely, effortlessly, and effectively expressed himself.
Alagi Yorro Jallow