Readers of this blog have come to live with a permanent fixture on the right side of the blog in the form of a photo, a poem and a question: who killed Deyda? It has been two years since he was murdered in cold blood on a deserted street in Kanifing. His killers still roam the street of the Gambia for all I know. His murder join the list of many more that has never been adjudicated in the annals of Gambian history. Names such as Ousman Koro Ceesay, Ebrima Barry and the martyrs of the student demonstration that followed his death at the hands of Brikama firemen. Ousman Sillah escape their bullet, but will live the rest of his life reflecting on how lucky he was to escape the assasins bullet. The scar of that fateful day will live with him till kingdom cometh.
I am not a member of the journalistic fraternity. Never claimed or aspired to be one, but I have an affinity for what they do and respect those that stick to the ideals of the profession. I don’t know Deyda Hydara, never met him, but will forever respect him. He paid the ultimate price for something he believed in. That counts for something in my book.
To commemorate his work in the face of adversity and paying the ultimate price for it, reporters without borders added his name to a cenothaph honoring the work of many a great man that work for something bigger than themselves. Here is what his son wrote of his experiences at the ceremony:
A little over a month ago, my mum Mrs Mariam Hydara, my sister Nelly, I and a host of guests from Africa, Europe and America attended a memorial ceremony in Normandy, France, for journalists who lost their lives in pursuit of the ideals of their profession.
Reporters Without Borders had erected a cenotaph for journalists who were killed in the last two years in the course of their work.
Among the names on that glorious cenotaph was my father’s – Deyda Hydara – who was murdered two years ago, even though his killer or killers are yet to be tracked down and brought to justice, as demanded by the national and international media fraternities.
It was a memorable day for the Hydara Family as it was an honour for us to have his name on the cenotaph in Normandy where heroes and historical greats such as Charles de Gaulle and Second World War veterans were laid to rest. These veteran soldiers fought for the freedom of France while these journalists, including my father, died for the freedom of expression in their own countries…GambiaEcho
The colleagues he left behind at the point ( the newspaper He co-founded with Pap Saine) wrote a heartfelt editorial to commemoriate the anniversary and vent their frustration at the fact that his killers are still at large. Reproduced below is the editorial in its entirety:
It’s said that when death is glorious, it has to be envied. Deyda died gloriously, and his murderers are probably even envious of the glory that has followed his death.
Ever since Deyda was murdered by some cowards two years ago, his name has been reverberating all around the globe. Though his physical frame has been destroyed, his soul remains untouched and untouchable, because it is a noble soul. Great souls such as Deyda don’t die – they live on and on forever.
Deyda like Julius Caesar, seems to be much more important in death than in life. At least posthumous awards have been showered on him since his passing on 16th December 2004.
Now, Reporters Without Borders has immortalized his name for all time by inscribing his name on a cenotaph, where the likes of Charles de Gaulle are memorialized.
Deyda was a great man through and through, not in the sense of being wealthy, because he wasn’t; he just had enough to take care of his needs and share generously with those who lacked. But he was great in the sense that he took on a cause greater than himself.
He believed that public office should not be used for personal aggrandizement but to serve the common good.
He believed and insisted consistently that politicians should put the interest of the State above their own narrow personnel interests.
He saw in journalism the capability of pushing his ideas to the powers-that-be. He established The Point not to enrich himself, but to contribute meaningfully to the process of nation-building. Besides, he said it was an opportunity to help younger Gambians to develop themselves as journalists and social crusaders. In his own little way, he helped a lot of Gambians and non-Gambians alike to give a meaning to their lives.
So why would someone ever think of killing such a kind, patriotic and humane man? Who was afraid of Deyda Hydara?
It is those who dwell in murkiness, it is those who can’t stand the force of the truth who couldn’t stand Deyda’s guts.
If Deyda had been a coward, perhaps he would still have been alive today, wining and dining with scoundrels. But he wasn’t. He chose to lead a life of purpose; he was gunned down by evildoers who wouldn’t want their dirty linens to be washed in the public.
His killers are cowards. They chose brute force to confront a man of peace and letter. While they believe in the power of the gun, Deyda affirmed the supremacy of the pen over the gun. Isn’t the pen mightier than the sword?
Deyda is still honoured all over the world today, but his killers are sneaking around at night, fearing exposure.
Deyda died in glory, but they will surely die in shame, Deyda has been immortalised, but no one will ever speak or remember his killers. Deyda is a celebrated martyr but his killers will die unsung, uncelebrated and unremembered.
Their memories will turn to ash the very day they die.
We will remain proud of Deyda, not only for his famed generosity, for he was generous to a fault. He would rather go without than to see his fellow human suffer. We are proud of him because of his unswerving commitment to the cause he believed in. We are proud of him because he was a man of courage.
We are proud of him because his life is an inspiration that evil never triumphs over good.
Though Deyda has died, many more Deydas will spring up to continue on with the cause he had started. Deyda has proved to us that there is value to a life of service and sacrifice.
To his killers, we pray that nemesis should be kinder to them than they were ever him! Amen… The Point
The daily Observer in the meantime didn’t even think it is important enough for an honorable mention. Instead they (Daily Observer) have become a notice board for the never ending messages of felicitation sent to Yahya Jammeh for winning the september elections. What a piece of rag.
Rest in Peace Deyda.