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Epitaph: Tuku Jallow

Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un.

The death of a matriarch is painful and is the end of an era. The reality of death is harsh yet inevitable and inescapable. Tuku Jallow, who had greatly influenced countless lives across the Gambia and the Gambian Diaspora, has left for the final abode, leaving us stunned. However, we have nothing to say except: “The eye cries, the heart feels sorry. We will not utter any words other than what our Lord will consent”. I offer profound and sincere condolences to the bereaved family and her comrades in the “Third Liberation” struggle of the Gambia. May Allah grant him Aljannah Firdausi.

Deeply saddened by this news of the passing of the sudden and unexpected death of Tuku Jallow, a notable pro-democracy activist/politician in the Gambia. Her strong and courageous commitment and devotion to the growth of the Third Liberation of the Gambian struggle and resistance against the regime of President Yahya Jammeh’s twenty-two years of malevolent dictatorship in the Gambia diaspora, where she was a trailblazer through nurturing anti-dictatorship advocacy in social media platforms and holding placards in protest marches in New York at the United Nations Dag Hammarsk plaza and in the street in Washington DC, K street will forever be cherished and remembered. I express my deepest condolences and sympathy to her family, colleagues in the Gambia struggle, friends, and the entire executive members of the United Democratic Party, her baptismal political party. May Allah grant her Alijannah Firdausi.

Despite our different political persuasions, Tuku Jallow’s leadership abilities have triumphed over years of dictatorship and her deportment as a vibrant pro-democracy activist, politician, mother, and plus-size woman. I doubt there is a female politician in the Gambia in the recent past who has been trolled half as much as Tuku Jallow. However, she always holds her head high, not clapping back or collapsing in on herself. In fact, over time, I have seen her own the aspects of herself that make her a target of trolls in the eyes of the social media storm. May Allah grant her Alijannah Firdausi.

However, Tuku Jallow’s life brings to mind that group of people who develop Eneke Syndrome. Eneke is that restless bird Chinua Achebe tells us about in Things Fall Apart– the one that had learned to fly without perching because men had learned to shoot without missing. Those trying to shoot it grow ever so irritated because they keep missing their target and trying to justify why they need to shoot it down. For Tuku Jallow, they said it is because she had become ruthless in her struggle for freedom and democracy. She had dared to become an army, self-licensed to be armed and dangerous against another rogue and ruthless dictatorship that considered itself licensed to kill, torture, rule, and separate. She had taken up where diaspora pro-democracy had left off. She flew without perching, and in the process, her fiery wings sang some, and the arrows in her quiver hit some targets. She was getting the right marks one hundred percent of the time while in flight was hard. However, she has finally perched, and the world pauses to remember her courage. I am reminded of the many warriors now learning to fly without perching, where men with ruthless power shoot without missing. Yes, they will make mistakes, but they must keep flying. We must keep faith in our convictions and fight our bit to make this world a better place for all of us. Tuku was a dedicated soldier for human rights and democracy. She used to say: “We must free ourselves from the tyranny of the greedy and the exploiters and make the Gambia a better place for the weak, the downtrodden, and the have-nots.” Life did not offer Tuku any more opportunities than it did us, but she made the best use of them. While many of the strugglers get sidetracked, Tuku keeps her path straight. Tuku never left the aspirations and ideals of the struggle. She was always with pro-democracy activists and strugglers. She was one of us; we will remember her as one of us: our friend, our comrade. Our revolutionary struggler friend is dead; long live the Gambia. May Allah grant her Alijannah Firdausi.

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