Women of Substance






by Lamin J Darboe

In Response to Alfa Jallow on the Jainaba Bah “Breaking Omerta” series

You had a good and conscientious teacher Alfa. I too encountered Jainaba in her formative years. She was a high school contemporary, although some years my junior.  Even in those early years, she exhibited distinction, brilliance, and difference.

Jainaba, myself, and two other high schoolers were selected to represent The Gambia at the International Children’s’ Conference in New Delhi, India, in 1979, a year designated by the UN as the International Year of the Child. The trip was not to be. In the midst of our travel arrangements, India’s love affair with the political assassin claimed the life of then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi. India notified the UN of its inability to guarantee the security of the world’s children, and the Geneva-based International Union for Child Welfare had no choice but to cancel the Conference. Had the selection process being left to the decadent and utterly corrupt PPP government, Jainaba and I would never have met Mrs Almeida, the Ministry of Health official who was to chaperon our four-strong student delegation to India.

I was also aware of Jainaba’s MOJA activities. In a nutshell, she combined academic excellence and political activism at a time when that was, in The Gambia at least, utterly unfashionable for the so-called fairer sex.

I am unwilling to expressly contend you were not Jainaba’s student. Similarly, I do not refute the Brikama angle to your intervention. However, I reject your contention that Barrister Mai Fatty, and Jainaba, the lady “hostage to conscience”, have “detractors” who “would rejoice as to see them throw mud at each other”. As far as its current contours, the context of the conversation cannot accommodate that fanciful extrapolation of yours.

If Barrister Fatty, and Jainaba, are both “... giants of the struggle”, it stands to reason that an issue of such public significance is an adequate topic for transparent if restrained ventilation. If such a modest proposition is too much for you, that is understandable, but I reject your extravagant language that their “detractors” have an “insatiable greed ... to distract the important narration to the next level”

Notwithstanding your clear attempt to portray some intimate knowledge of these “giants of the struggle”, the authenticity of the student and Brikama claims depend on a verifiable identity. Ala Shakespeare in Macbeth, the student and Brikama angles purportedly attesting to your knowledge of Jainaba signify nothing until you can bridge the yawning gap.

Are you able to conclusively demonstrate you are the “Alfa Jallow” who was Jainaba’s student, and “a fellow Brikama resident”? Or are you masquerading as “Alfa Jallow” who was indeed taught by Jainaba, and was a fellow Brikama resident, but is not the person speaking to us on Maafanta. If you think it through, there is a clear disconnect between the identity claim, and the identity substantiation, and that gap must be bridged to remove any lingering doubt you are who you claimed to be.

I’m travelling this route due mainly to your claims of malice against these “giants of the struggle”. As a lawyer, Barrister Fatty would have expected no less of you!

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