Epitaph: Bola Carrol To a Brother and Friend, Barrister and Solicitor of the Gambia Supreme Court

It is a tribute by Alagi Yorro Jallow in honor of the passage and memory of Bola Carrol, lawyer and humanist who transited on October 17, 2023.

On this harmattan season Tuesday morning, I want to truly express my sympathy and that of my family for the tragic loss of a dear brother and friend, lawyer Bola Carrol. We pass our profound condolences and love to his bereaved family and remember them in our prayers during these difficult times. I share this except from Dr Martin Luther King Jr in one of his sermons:

“I hope you can find some consolation from Christianity’s affirmation that death is not the end. Death is not a period that ends the great sentence of life, but a comma that punctuates it to more lofty significance.”

May perpetual light shine upon barrister and solicitor Bola Carrol. A lot has been said and written about our dear friend and brother. The field appears to have been covered like they say in law. But not and never for him.

There is and will always be something to say or write about this enigmatic, indefatigable, inimitable, and humorous personality in relation to his life, times, and essential legacies. Like many others, I met more than 30 years after he left us as a decent human being and perfect gentleman. In all these years, personally and professionally, Bola was faithful in words and true in action. He said it as it was and did it as he said. His many actions reminded you of what he said. He was simply a man in whom there was no guile. No more. No less.

Even though the causes he fought assumed different shades, colors, and dimensions during these years of struggle, he was constantly in the essential diagnosis of the fundamental crises, the solutions, and the prognosis concerning the Gambian, nay the African reality. Lawyer Bola was perhaps second to none in his tenacity of purpose, consistency, and clear-headed views at the level of a barrister and solicitor. A position that attracted so many distressing and dire consequences for him in the course of the struggle back then.

‘A reckless risk-taker,’ Bola would volunteer if there were any task to be done or achieved, and none was willing to take it on because of its inherent dangers or inconveniences. Once he volunteered, he characteristically devoted his very robust intellect, energy, and time to it passionately. Most times, he is at the risk of his profession. He was to prove inspirational after his call to the bar. A trained lawyer who believed in and worked for the rule of law, he nonetheless advocated beyond the limits of rights encapsulated in the constitution whenever the government and its agencies breached these rights against the people, and litigation became inevitable. Bola was an advocate and practitioner of Marxian dialectics and former President of the Gambia Bar Association. His core philosophy was anchored on social justice and equilibrium. His action plan was the socialist reconstruction of our country and. the continent.

Bola was also a convinced Christian of the Catholic persuasion. He proved with his life and times that being a believer and practitioner of Marxian dialectics and being a Christian are not mutually exclusive. For him, perhaps, the very summary of all Marxian postulations is anchored on and finds convergence in the early Christian communal philosophy and practice of ‘from each according to his ability to each according to his needs.'(Act 4: 34-35) Following this, he believed that a day awaits those who insist on short-changing the masses of the people: they are likely to be cut down, if not by bloody revolutions, then by divine visitations. If not in this world, then certainly in the world hereafter, as we see in the dramatic case of Ananias and Sapphira in Act 5, as well as so many examples in the bible where treachery and betrayals of the cause were either summarily dealt with or were postponed to a later date to teach a lesson. In the words of the late journalist and editor Dele Giwa: ‘No evil inflicted by man on another man will go unpunished. If not in this world, then in the world hereafter.’

Bola’s life of simplicity and service found him joining what could perhaps be described as a ‘lowly organization’ within the church: churchwarden, shunning the more ‘elitist’ ones to have an opportunity to do what he knew how to do best: service to the people. Like any other people-oriented organization he belonged to, he was intentional, quintessential, selfless, passionate, and sacrificial.

Bola’s charm and sense of humor were unique and infectious. I recall a day in 2003/2004 when I visited him at his chambers. I was clutching two books by Benjamin Disraeli and Winston Churchill (two outstanding prime Ministers of Britain, ‘Empire Builders’ and colonialists). I suddenly noticed Bola peering at the book’s cover during our conversation. He then insisted on taking a closer look. Knowing him, I was uncomfortable and reticent. After confirming his ‘worst fears, ‘ he grabbed them,’ and busted out: ‘Bro, Alagi, I warn you severally to desist from reading this type of book. I suspect strongly that these are the types of books that “Comrades” and his friends are reading that put us in this problem. The way and manner he said it left everybody reeling on the floor.

Like everybody in the circle of life, Bola rose, fell, rose again, and was continually rising-falling, falling-rising when he finally succumbed to the cold hands of death. He had numerous trials and tribulations. He fought many of them till the very end. Some he subjugated. Others remained unfinished. In the end, whether rising or falling or rising, like the Venetian Republic and in the words of William Wordsworth, Bola ‘fell no lower than his birth’ at any point in time. At death, he certainly did not fall lower than his birth.


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