Tuesday, June 6

Renowned politician OJ passes away, attracts nationwide tributes

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In his tribute, The Point’s publisher Pap Saine said the death of OJ was a great loss as he was a bosom friend and a great citizen of The Gambia.

“OJ was a role model to all politicians; he was humble, accessible and had excellent public relations with everyone,” Mr Saine sadly recounted.  “OJ would listen to people’s problems and help proffer solutions to them. He was a friend to the society and everyone irrespective of their political affiliations or religion. He served in cooperatives, at the Gambia Commercial Bank and in other institutions.  He was arrested and subjected to torture because of his brave fight to end injustice and dictatorship in The Gambia. He believed in democracy and the rule of law; therefore the country has lost a great son.”

Essa Mbaye Faal, a lawyer and politician, prayed for the deceased and said: “Personally, I grew up as a great fan of his. He bridged the gap between the rich and the poor, availed himself to all and did the same things as the ordinary folk. This made him a man of the people. He was quite outspoken and direct, often speaking his mind and telling truth to power. I always wondered how come OJ was such a staunch critic of the Jammeh government and made huge and costly personal sacrifices to challenge the regime’s excesses. It was at the TRRC where I had the honour of leading him to present his evidence that I realised the profound and deeply personal interaction he had with the government. He bravely stood up to the massive human rights violations meted out against not just himself but all Gambian victims. He was a champion of human rights, a fighter for justice and a protector for the downtrodden.”

After expressing his heartfelt sympathy to the bereaved family, Abdoulie M. Touray alias (Baax), stated: “Throughout Jammeh’s time in power, Jallow was arrested on 22 separate occasions. He was tortured on four occasions. On the day of Adama Barrow’s inauguration in February 2017, Jallow told Reuters: ‘Today, I have been vindicated’.”

Mr Touray further said: “We pray for Allah the Almighty to grant OJ eternal rest in heaven and grant the family and friends the fortitude to bear the inevitability of life and living.”

Tijan Salla, another close associate, said that OJ had remained active in politics since 1994 and advocated for democracy, human rights, and reconciliation in The Gambia.

“He was also well known for his progressive views on issues,” he stated. “Jallow is survived by his wife, children, grandchildren and other relatives and friends. He will be remembered as a courageous and principled politician who dedicated his life to serving his country and its people.”

Essa Bokarr Sey succinctly described the late man, saying: “OJ was that flare in democracy, a flarethat chased tyrants and tyranny away. A brave man who resisted tyranny and injustice with determination and endurance, steaming from a brave heart! OJ resisted tyranny in all its shapes and forms. OJ spoke truth to his peers in the political arenaand so did he speak the same truth toauthority. He promoted and nourished democracy within his household, in the street and beyond. He promoted harmony within justice and tolerance. OJ germinated good governance within checks and balances.”

According to Abdoulie Saine, OJ was a truly remarkable human being. “He was a friend to all and beloved by many. OJ always made one feel that you were his best friend. Though he was generous to a fault and so principled, and perhaps because of these, he never shied away from speaking his truth.”

“My most memorable recollection and time with him and his wife Awa Jobe, was before the 2006 Presidential election when we traveled by car from Atlanta, to Raleigh, New York City and to Providence, Rhode Island, to raise funds in support of NADD. We traveled back to Ohio, where I lived at the time. After a few days, we took the long trip back to Baltimore. There was never a lull in our conversation, which made the long trip go quickly. OJ, was a true and dedicated patriot who saw Gambia first and foremost. He was a Man of the People, in the best sense of that title.”

“I met OJ in the early 1960s, when he served as Cooperative Inspector in my native Kaur. He befriended all and was beloved widely.”

The veteran Gambian politician was a cabinet Minister of Agriculture in President Adama Barrow’s government. OJ was also the leader of the People’s Progressive Party, which has two seats in the National Assembly. 

He also served as parliamentary secretary and minister in Sir Dawda Jawara’s regime. He was known for his selfless contribution to national development.

OJ, who was a promoter of sport, especially football, grew up between Old Yundum, Serekunda, Banjul, Dakar and Accra, criss-crossing the West African borders as a constant star.