By Yusef Taylor, @FlexDan_YT
Today Monday 6th May Marks the start of Ramadan a month of fasting and dedication for Muslims across the world. One of the most important things about Ramadan is the act of giving and sharing. During this month people are often more willing to give and share the little that they have. In this light I decided to transcribe one of the most inspirational speeches I’ve heard since my return home to The Gambia.
At this stage two things had happened. A Diaspora lead charity campaign organised by Yunus Hydara and well meaning Gambians had presented a sum of money to a victim at the TRRC and the Lead Counsel Essa Faal had also given a plot of land to one victim who testified at the Commission, named Mafugi.
During the TRRC’s first Press Conference delivered by Lead Counsel Essa Faal he was questioned by a journalist on why the TRRC was involved in the giving of items to some victims and if this was preferential treatment to some victims over others. The Lead Counsel delivered a speech from the heart, one which dispelled any doubts I previously had that the Commission should have avoided the presentation of gifts to victims at their venue.
Above is the speech on SoundCloud and below is the transcribed speech responding to accusations of preferential treatment of victims.
‘In everything that people do there will be criticism, whether the criticism is genuine, whether the criticism is an important one for some it really does not matter they just look for one little thing and they criticize. If a group of people out there think that they need to help a particular individual and want to come here and do it why should we stop them.’
‘These are victims, these are people who have suffered what we want is for Gambians to come out and give generously to them. So that they we can restore their dignity so that what they lost can be restored.’
TRRC Lead Counsel, Essa Faal
‘I gave Mafugi a piece of land and I do not regret it. You know why because this person needs it, I have it. What is stopping me from giving it? Why would a person have a problem that I have my own piece of land and I gave it to somebody else. But the thing is this is a society where people will criticize certain things that are not worth criticizing.’
‘I think that as a people we have to applaud charitable acts. We have to applaud embracing one another as friends as family as brothers and as sisters. This country needs healing. We cannot heal if we do not embrace one another we cannot heal if we do not show kindness to one another.’
TRRC Lead Counsel, Essa Faal
‘What I did for Mafugi was one act of kindness and I have done many. There are others in this Society who have done many and are continuing to do many. But what rule is there which says that an act of kindness must be hidden. We have to do these things publicly so that it will encourage others to also do it.’
‘It is only that way the act or the value of giving will be ingrained or strengthen in our society because there are a lot of people out there who need it. And the advantage of what we did is the fact that other people have seen it and are emulating what was did. And I think only for that reason it was valuable.’
‘But also you have raised the issue of other victims. I want other victims to get something. We cannot sit here and pretend that the government can give reparations to everyone. If you feel to give to A and Y feels to give to C why not? If some people want a space to perform that act why can’t we provide it what does it cost us?’
‘The important thing is to be able to distinguish between an act of the commission from an act of private individuals. If what was done in the name of the commission for the commission by the commission then it becomes different. Then we would realize that OK some people may have been preferred to others. But that is not the case. If you goose to give your watch to this witness who testified today. Who’s stopping you.’
‘As a people I think we should encourage certain values. The value of kindness, the value of charity, the value giving. And I don’t think that, that is something worthy of criticism. But people have their different points of view and I leave it at that.’