When the Gambia story is written, one name will stand out in all its iconic glory. 2010 was a dark reminder of the Orwellian dystopia that permeated Gambian society, but it also vividly reminds us of one man who stood up as the echo of Gambia’s resistance to the perennial political trepidation that consumed a nation and kept the political light of UDP burning.
Between 2010 and 2011, when the late Femi Peters became Yahya Jammeh’s latest Mile Two prisoner, a victim of his conscience, he, more than anyone else, kept the name of United Democratic Party alive and relevant.
Mr. Peters wasn’t rattled by the draconian laws that pervaded Gambian society; instead, he became the avatar of Gambia’s political consciousness; the lone voice in the political wilderness that was the Gambia. By nature, Femi Peters calm demeanor spurned the political madness that often flared up among the ranks of the UDP.
He was agnostic to the sectarian underpinnings that so often belie Gambian politics; for he unequivocally rejected the orthodoxy of the wild underbelly of the partisan undercurrents inherent in Gambia’s divisive politics.
In the party he championed for so long, Mr. Peters shut out the surrounding noise as puerile daftness, and in that way alone, he was not the stereotypical politician who revered the pathology of divisiveness so prevalent in Gambian politics.
Mr. Peters wasn’t one to luxuriate in the bliss of his accomplishments, but for a period of time, his uncompromising political posturing had made him Yahya Jammeh’s living, breathing kryptonite.
Unlike so many in our society, Mr. Peters was never blinded by the trappings of power, which is why, even when he was offered the lowly job of Sierra Leone Ambassador, he didn’t complain. For a person who deserved nothing less than Ambassador to UK or Washington, it was a bitter pill to swallow, but still, Mr. Peters took this menial post as a true champion of humility.
Mr Peters’ place in Gambia’s history is etched not only in the UDP legacy, but in the Gambian story. For when it mattered, he truly represented the moral outrage of a nation, and for that, he reserved his place in the pantheon of Gambia political liberators. So long, my friend. Rest In Peace!