By Jainaba Bah, Sweden
Congratulations as we celebrate your appointments to serve Country and People:
Koto Ebraima Manneh and Brother Ebrima Sillah: Politics is a public enterprise but the most important workloads are carried out behind the scenes within closed doors. Whilst people may follow and read your shared thoughts and ideas on social media, the greatest contributions you made in The UDP and the Gambian struggle are yet to be documented for public consumption. Your dedication, enthusiasm and readiness in carrying out our collective duties have left a positive mark on us all who worked with you. Writing letters, formulating documents, trying to perfect a Party Manifesto, attending meetings, making du’ahs and always being the best of Ambassadors for The UDP and The Gambia at large.
Koto Ebraima Manneh with the soft-spoken encouraging kind words. Not for once have I ever heard you being reproachful or sarcastic. You encouraged us as you inspired us and made us believe in our abilities to make a difference; however small.
Pushing us in the forefront to excel whilst you retreat in the rear doing the hard work and creating history in silence.
Brother Ebrima Sillah: Despite the time difference, you will attend Conference Call meetings. Defining Talking Points, Sharing your visionary thoughts and ideas across the Atlantic. Arguing with respect and always ready, sans hesitation to take up responsibilities assigned by The Party.
Your motto: Selfless Sacrifice.
Ambassador-at Large: Mr. Alkali Conteh
Congratulations Koto Alkali Conteh (Nna Kebba) for being assigned one of the most honorable posts in serving country and people. I got to know you in the summer of 2013, after the successful Raleigh Conference and The Stockholm Diaspora Dialogue. Being a natural leader and someone who encourages collective efforts, you reached out to the Gambian Diaspora Organizations in the US, across Europe and Africa in building CORDEG. Working with you in CORDEG, you became my source of hope and inspiration, resurrecting a latent almost extinguished fire/desire within me to continue to struggle for a shared cause; the emancipation of our Nation; The Gambia.
From CORDEG you invited me with open arms to The UDP, in the process, offering me a platform where I can share my voice, vision and passion to work selflessly for Country and People. During the course of our work, you have been so trustworthy, accommodating, generous, honest, kind, so caring; in a nutshell, such a Beautiful
Human-Being. I can say without any hesitation that we have become family in the truest sense of the word. I have learnt so much from you and from my Party comrades within this period that I always Thank ALLAH SWT for making our paths cross. Thank You Nna Kebba!
I joined politics in my final year at High School (1983) as a student activist. I was 20 years of age; young, innocent and fearless. That was a good combination when you relate it to the role of students in National Struggles. Later, I started working with MOJA-G (Movement for Justice in Africa-Gambia). All that I learnt and experienced in MOJA-G became my gauging compass when I opted to join the UDP. Without coercion or family ties, I decided with a very clear conscience that The United Democratic Party (UDP) is the Party I wanted to join and be a member of, The Party of my choice. This decision was taken whilst making du’ahs to ALLAH SWT to Bless the venture and help me stay steadfast and true. ALLAH SWT’s reassurance came in April 2015 at the Standoff in Fass Njaga Choi. Our Party Leader; Lawyer Ousainou Darboe’s unflinching defiance to Oppression and his Valiant stance ready to face the enemy was a unique moment in time and space! He looked at crack-down straight in the eye and not a nerve twitched. For me that day was The Defining Moment and Place! I was convinced that my choice was the Right One! When the dust settles, Fass Njaga Choi should be revisited.
The second historic event came in April of last year (2016). April has become a significant month in the Gambian/UDP Resistance Calendar.
After Solo Sandeng’s most unfortunate and gruesome demise, again our Party Leader, Mr. Darboe with foresight and a huge sense of willingness to sacrifice life and limb, made one of/if not the most calculated and visionary moves ever in our history as a Party and a Nation. Looking at that video and listening to his words all I could see was a Man ready to put his life on the line; enough is enough! When he uttered the words describing the way Solo Sandeng was brutalized in custody and his resulting death, many at that gathering broke down in tears. I was in Sweden, about 5.887 k.m away and I too broke down in tears as his words resonated with my soul. Thank you Sir for speaking to our beings when you address us! Yet with all that pain and anger, our Leader, Mr. Darboe was able to channel all our staggering emotions to A Most Significantly Unprecedented Call; A Peaceful Demonstration, which He lead with the Party Executive!!!!
Lawyer Darboe: The trauma and agony You endured during your arrest and consequent imprisonment were our strengths. Your Resistance our Mantra! Your statement letter addressing the judge and the court, which you were not allowed to read was a unique work in its own class within The Gambian Struggle for Justice Narrative! What is that motivates men and women to stand up for their rights, Freedoms, Equality; The Cause of The People? Thank You for the Sacrifice, All Of You, Our Invincible Leaders!
Today, I would like to thank all my Party colleagues for giving your time, energies and resources to the National Liberation Struggle from Dictatorship. Thanking you for being there for our Party when we were in the trenches! You refused to watch by the sidelines. You stood your ground, unrelenting in your defiance to tyranny. I salute you and thank you All!
To Nna Kebba (Koto Alkali Conteh): Thank You for steering the UDP Ship through the high rough seas we encountered when our Leaders were in jail. Thank you for building on a continued strong communication line between the UDP Diaspora Wing and the Home Front that helped the flow of constructive exchanges of ideas and visions resulting in a shared vindication and victory for Country. Thank you for energizing us in mobilizing the needed resources whenever our Party calls out to us to assist both economically and mentally! Thank you for being our Staff to lean on, the Shoulder to cry on and the Leader to trust, knowing through thick and thin He is there for us and The Party looking out for us! Thank You for your Dedication and Loyalty to Country; being a Source of Knowledge, Encouragement and Inspiration for All Of Us! Much Love and Respect to You Koto Alkali Conteh!
To Our Leader. Mr. Darboe: I would like to seize the occasion and once again convey my deepest condolences on our shared losses in the deaths of the two Solos (Sandeng and Kurumah) and the recent passing away of esteemed Leader, Comrade Lang Marong. Sending my solidarity greetings to our Sisters: The two Fatoumattas (Camara and Jawara), Sisters Nogoi and Fanta. To all those who were arrested and incarcerated in the aftermath; Mrs Kaddy Samateh Fatty and her then four months old baby Aisha, with the father, Mr. Modou Fatty and everybody on that list.
Sir, we give Thanks and Praises To ALLAH Tabaaraka wa ta’aala for your safe return to us, All Of You!
Insha ALLAH, the future looks bright as we tap into our inner resolve to carry our Country to Higher Heights! Whether in government or as ordinary working people/foot soldiers. Today more than ever before, I am Honoured, Humbled and very Happy to call myself a UDP member!
Congratulations Koto Ebraima Manneh, Brother Ebrima Sillah, Koto Alkali Conteh, Koto Amadou Sanneh and Lawyer Ousainou Darboe. My du’ah is: May ALLAH SWT make the task easy for You and reward the energies and efforts you shall be putting in the work you have been assigned for The Good Of Our Motherland, The Gambia!!!! Aaaameeeen Ya Rabbi!
Long Live Progressive Politics!!!