By Landing Ceesay
The Party Leader and Secretary General of the United Democratic Party (UDP), Lawyer Ousainu AMN Darboe, said it is the duty of every Gambian to uphold Solo Sandeng’s legacy.
“It is an undeniable fact that Ebrima Solo Sandeng died in the battle for freedom and democracy. It is our duty to uphold his legacy and that of all those who fell in the battle for a better Gambia. The best way to honor the sacrifices of the fallen is to live up to the principles of freedom and democracy for which they paid the ultimate price,” Darboe said at the State funeral of the late Ebrima Solo Sandeng.
It could be recalled that on April 14th, 2016, Ebrima Solo Sandeng was arrested alongwith some members of the UDP while demonstrating at West Field calling for electoral reforms to be enacted ahead of the Presidential Elections slated for December of 2016.
Solo Sandeng and his colleagues arrested on that day were tortured by agents of the National Intelligence Agency, ultimately leading to his death in 2016.
Today, January 10th, 2023, six years after he was killed at the NIA, the nation bids him farewell at a State funeral held in Banjul.
Darboe in his emotional eulogy, said Solo died to end “dictatorship” in this country. Furthermore, he reminded his audience that what pertains today came after a protracted and painful struggle.
“It is important to note that the democracy that exists today is not a gift-wrapped token bestowed on us the citizens. Neither is it a miracle that materialised out of thin air. It is the product of 22 years of struggle paid for by the blood, tears, sweat, and sacrifice of countless regular citizens of all persuasions who believed in and acted on the proposition that tyranny needed to be confronted and democracy was worth fighting for.
“These are the people who defeated tyranny and reconstituted the New Gambia with a promise to uphold democratic values, and promote and protect the fundamental rights and freedoms gifted to us by God. That is why when freedoms are seized in whatever guise, those who value it become duty-bound to reclaim it whatever price that may entail. Solo was the catalyst and one of the principal architects of the reconstituted New Gambia,” he said.
The UDP Leader said free people living in a democracy must live like free people in a democracy.
On the issue of naming monuments after the fallen heroes and giving state burial to Solo Sandeng, Darboe said it has symbolic values.
The veteran politician however said legislating good electoral laws and more importantly by demonstrable conduct manifesting the core principles of freedom and democracy, which Solo Sandeng advocated and truly believed in would be the more befitting tribute.
“Solo died for principles whose validation must go beyond verbal affirmation. No Gambian should ever again be a victim of their own government. We must all abhor every indication of rights violations and insist on scrupulous adherence to the rule of law. Both the citizens and the government have a duty to safeguard the freedom and democracy that Solo died for,” emotional Darboe stated.
The UDP Leader also paid an emotional tribute to the family of Solo Sandeng.
“To the family of Solo Sandeng, you have the heartfelt condolences of a grateful nation as we return the mortal remains of your loved one to the Almighty Allah who presides over all matters. Your father, husband, uncle, friend, younger brother, and my trusted comrade and ally will stand tall in the annals of Gambian history for his selflessness, courage, and dedication. We pray for Allah to grant him Jannah and bless this nation that he loved with all his heart,” he said.