Hon. Halifa Ababacarr Sallah is a great Gambian Patriot. I will first state that my love and personal respect for Hon. Sallah has nothing to do with my political differences with him. I do not share his political philosophy and I still disagree with him on major political issues. Yet, we are both very passionate about our views with uncompromising conviction on core values. Having acknowledged our fundamental differences on issues, I will also acknowledge that Halifa is in a league of his own.
Hon. Sallah and I have known each other for nearly forty years, since his days as the Director of Social Welfare. I followed him closely for years and he became my mentor and role model, particularly during my high school years. I remember being invited to a meeting held at Old Jeshwang, in the company of veteran journalist D. A Jawo and Saikou Samateh, to study the first draft manifesto of PDOIS before the party would even be registered.
On that unforgettable day, I recalled Hon. Halifa Sallah, Mr. Sam Sarr, and Mr. Adama Bah were all present. I will be brief here because the details are contained in the Memoir am writing. Suffice it that Hon. Sallah will remain a colossus in Gambian politics for a long time. Not endorsing him doesn’t mean I do not value his immense standing.
Halifa, the only Mwalimu in Gambian political history, has carved an indelible imprint on the psychic of thousands of Gambians, including myself. Although we share different political philosophies, there has always existed a deep sense of mutual respect, love and genuine appreciation between us.
Hon Sallah is The Gambia’s Kwame Nkrumah, a man whose vision for his country is far ahead of his generation, and whose sacrifice is second to known. His declaration of retirement from elective representation will leave a huge vacuum that would be hard to replace.
Halifa belongs to The Gambia, not PDOIS alone. For those of us who were brought up under his towering shadow, he has now bequeath a very powerful legacy which we must immediately assume during his life time.
Minus our ideological differences, Hon. Sallah could be the best President The Gambia never had. Halifa, a man of prodigious intellectual prestige, is extraordinary in many ways. His life as a public servant is awe-inspiring.
We shall take the baton and complete the inevitable race against ignorance, poverty and disease.