Throw Back: Ousainou Darboe’s Unforgettable Political Epitaph: “If they want to shoot, let the first bullet land on me.”

Alagi Yorro Jallow.
I have known Ousainou Darboe, both professionally and personally, for more than two decades. I like lawyer Darboe. I do not want to seem like a sycophant, but I would be lying if I did not admit that I admired him for his courage and resolve. I disagreed with much of what he stood for, his political ideology, and his political philosophy, sure, but I recognized he is a giant for Justice, a celebrated legal and philosophical luminary, and down-to-earth human inspiration.
I am touched and inspired by his brave leadership and willingness to take action amid uncertainty, to do what is right over what is expedient, and to risk failing and falling a political demand, taking to the street, escalate an explosion of civil disobedience that trigger a dictatorship’s collapse in a matter of months and by his powerful political statement “I am ready to go the streets to demand justice for my children,” he added, “If they want to shoot, let the first bullet land on me.” Here is a man of inspiration, a man of conviction, a man of strong ideals, a man who understood the sufferings and conditions of his people, their idiosyncrasies, and their political demands.
Ousainou Darboe did a great job because besides Ousainou being a barrister, he is also a senior counsel, a doting father and loving husband, and the north star for many young lawyers and law students. If lawyer Darboe died today, God forbid, his eulogies would parallel those made to honor saints and other epochal luminaries.
Ousainou is a unique political figure at a memorable moment in Gambian political history. He did not write his political obituary into the new era of politics characterized by dictatorship and tyranny through his leadership and courage. Darboe is being praised rightly for his inspirational ability to rise above the brutal dictatorship, unlike other politicians and civil society activists who have written their political obituary and nailed their political ambition in the coffin.
If ousainou Darboe has ever committed any political sin or blunder, his recent actions have forgiven him for the simple fact. He demonstrated a source of inspiration to the oppressed people in The Gambia. Darboe made unparalleled personal sacrifices. The indefatigable spirit which he showed throughout his life continues to inspire present and future generations.
Darboe will always be remembered and honored by all Gambians amongst the leaders, liberators, a wise, courageous, and compassionate leader, and an icon of an actual political figure.
The career trajectory of would-be senior counsels is spelled out in the legal canon: at least ten years of practice, a distinguished practice of law, etc. Indeed, as per the guidelines, to even aspire for the conferment of the title of senior counsel, one must maintain a spotless career cleft in integrity and competence. Whether the president’s office abides by those stipulations before conferring such a lofty title is another matter altogether – but the African experience shows that laws are constructed to shackle the powerless more firmly and create backdoors for the powers-that-be.
It is understandable when a young man is torn between clamoring for Ousainou’s release and deferring the right of opinion to the better wisdom of the office of the prosecution – because in their (young lawyers) learned idea, and a senior counsel is akin to Caesar’s wife – towering above all intimations of reproach. Because that is what the education system has inculcated in their minds. To, therefore, turn around and arrest a senior counsel for a crime they had previously assured us he is incapable of is both stupefying and downright ridiculous
When history speaks of the very best examples of humanity, we will talk for Ousainou Darboe. His life is dedicated to the greater good. He held strong beliefs and did not give up on his dreams to end tyranny in the Gambia.
The art of great statesmanship entailed two qualities, “extraordinary devotion” to the public good and “wisdom in deliberating about it.” This tends to support wise judgment, which, on the personal level, would lead to integrity and in the public sphere that leads to the promotion of political fraternity or confident pluralism.
Lawyer Darboe, perhaps the most respected person in the legal profession. However, few have recognized that the values that Darboe put his life on the line for democracy, human rights, and the rule of law are the highest values of the legal profession, shared by many lawyers around the world. In all likelihood, Darboe’s life in law played a significant role in forming his character as a decent human being.
By focusing on providing legal representation to people who may have otherwise entered courts without proper representation, Darboe serves as a sort of legal aid and public defender wrapped into one, fulfilling the core mission of the legal profession by providing access to Justice.
Recognizing Darboe as the ideal lawyer is the type of reorientation that would highlight the authentic, tangible goods that lawyers can contribute to society today, including the ability to help provide access to Justice and create civic cohesion. Ousainou Darboe’s image is reminiscent of the scales of lady justice, the iconic image of the legal profession.