To many of you, he is the leader of the United Democratic Party. To me, he is a father, a great dad for that matter. He is also a dedicated husband, uncle, brother, cousin and grandfather to other members of my family. He is Papa Ousainu Numukunda Darboe, the guy you all affectionately call Lawyer Darboe.
I remember, in the summer of 1996 while he was in US in his capacity as vice president of the Gambia National Olympics and Sports Committee, attending the summer Olympics in Atlanta, he called a family meeting to discuss with us about running for presidency.
He told us he was approached by people in The Gambia to run against the military turned civilian, Yahya Jammeh and his AFPRC/APRC government. He had a very frank discussion with us and made it clear that running against the military junta presents lots of risks to himself and the family including being arrested, maimed or even killed. But he nonetheless posited that he was up to the challenge. Everyone agrees with him and supported his decision to challenge the Junta. I became one of his strongest political supporters since then.
What our country needs right now, after 17 years of Jammeh’s misrule, is a strong, responsible, compassionate, open-minded, and forward thinking president with excellent morals; someone who values people’s power and potentials. I believe my father has all these qualities.
My dad has six children but I grew up in a household where it was hard to differentiate between my biological siblings and his adopted kids. He helped educate countless children by paying for their school fees including the nieces and nephews of Pap Cheyassin Secka. He is a man of great moral character who respects and values his culture.
Growing up, he would send us to Bansang and Dobo every summer so that we could spend time with our family in the province. As a young child, I wanted to stay in Banjul but I am forever grateful to him for making my provincial visits his priority as I would not otherwise have known my immediate and extended family in Bansang and Dobo. I moved to the US as a teenager.
My dad is a very open-minded individual. He never forces his beliefs on anyone including his children. Most of my siblings are very soft spoken like him but I am quite the opposite. This made me the likely person to follow his footsteps to become a lawyer.
I, however, took a different career path and pursued a degree in public health. Though he was a little disappointed that I did not follow his career path, he was always supportive of my decision. He listens to my concerns about family matters and takes no offense to anything I said.
My dad is a man who values people and nurtures relationships. He still has the same secretary, the same driver and the same house keeper since my early childhood days. I am now married with two children of my own.
Dad’s staff members are no longer workers but family members as they have been with him and our family for almost 30 years. My dad doesn’t burn bridges along the way, he builds them.
As most of you know, my dad gave up a lucrative and successful legal career to fight for the voiceless. For those who think he is a coward, I say to you “my dad is very FEARLESS”, he might not yell, he does not have an aggressive demeanor but he has spent all his life fighting for the less fortunate and the oppressed. This includes his defending of individuals charged with treason in the after math of the 1981 abortive coup and those detained under the various emergency powers promulgated by the then PPP government in relation to the same abortive coup.
My dad is a dedicated, generous, considerate, loving, and humble person. I urge you all to call your family and friends in The Gambia and ask them to vote for CHANGE and to vote for the UDP/PPP/GMC alliance for development with dignity.
In my dad, Gambia will have a relentless, compassionate and fair leader. Its citizens will not be falsely charged of crimes they haven’t committed; they will not be abused or refused of rights that are inalienable to them. Instead, they’ll have a leader who has an unwavering dedication to serve the Gambian people and one who respects and believes in every individual’s right to pursue happiness and the desire to develop their potentials to the maximum. Gambians deserve better! Gambians deserve change! Gambians deserve development with dignity!
Love you, Daddy (Papa Ousainu), and wish you all the best in your fight for liberation and development with dignity for all Gambians.
Author: Mariama Darboe-Janneh Taxas, USA