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Epitaph: Activist Sukai Dahaba “Kalama Revolution,” The Gambia’s Winnie Mandela, Showed Bravery Under Brutal Dictatorship!

Nothing is nearly as heartbreaking as the demise of a young, promising person yet to reach their full potential. Moreover, Sukai Dahaba’s death disturbs me because she was the most courageous among her peers. This tribute will be challenging to write because I did not know Sukai up close, especially in the last few years. However, even at a distance, her death gnaws at my heart for several reasons: our lives intersected critically. Sukai Dahaba in the Gambia, very few politicians and very few of us have the moral authority to eulogize her. We are mourning the incomparable Sukai Dahaba. Aside from her spectacular achievements, she was a genuine original: compassionate, charismatic, irrepressible, and wise Yet, Sukai was a champion in the hall of fame of Gambian strugglers and resistance to despot Yahya Jammeh’s tyranny.

The Gambian strugglers and the rest of the Gambia will miss Sukai as she was amongst the female leading voice of reason and conscience of the Gambian struggle.

However, I do not mourn legends; I celebrate and honor them. I only mourn those who came to this world, existed, exited, and left an indelible mark in the political history of the Gambia. However, I celebrate those who touched the hearts and minds of people with their kindness; those who impacted the world with their all-benefiting actions and deeds; those who impressed minds with their wit and charm; those who blessed societies with leadership and direction with a pure heart; those who wrote and acted as a voice of the voiceless for generations; those never die even when their hearts cease to beat! Those gave a small number of their lives to each of us; even when they depart, they live through us! We will not be getting another Sukai Dahaba. However, her life and political activities made many a politician today, including yours. By her death, we are reminded that it is not an easy time to fit into the giant’s shoes! I celebrate you, Sukai Dahaba. A significant loss to her family, UDP, and the Gambia.

I express my deepest and profound condolences and sympathy to the entire Gambian people, her immediate family, colleagues in the Gambia struggle, friends, and the executive committee members of the United Democratic Party(UDP), her baptismal political party. May Allah grant her Alijannah Firdausi.

Sukai’s bravery, courage, sacrifices, and 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 activist cum politician in the Gambia in the recent past who has been trolled half as much as Sukai. 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, Sukai’s life brings people who develop Eneke Syndrome to mind. Eneke is that restless bird professor 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 hit it grow ever so irritated because they keep missing their target and trying to justify why they need to shoot it down. For Sukai, they said it is because she had become so determined and courageous in her struggle for justice, freedom, and democracy. She had dared to become an army, self-licensed to be armed and dangerous against a rogue regime, a despot and brutal dictatorship that considered itself licensed to kill, torture, rule, and separate. She had taken up where 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, and the struggle to end repression in the Gambia was hard. However, she has finally perched, and the Gambian people pause to remember her courage. I am reminded of the many warriors now learning to fly without perching, where men with ruthless power shoot and 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. Sukai was a dedicated soldier defending human rights, democracy, and injustices. She used to say: Life did not offer Sukai any more opportunities than it did us, but she made the best use of them. While many of the strugglers get sidetracked, Sukai keeps her focus and aspirations for a better Gambia straight. Sukai 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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