By EBRIMA G. SANKAREH, Editor-in-Chief
The death has been announced this morning of The Gambia’s former Minister of External Affairs, The Hon. Omar Barou Sey, who for almost a decade, presided over the mini West African state’s diplomatic policies under the PPP regime of Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara. It was under Sey’s diplomatic tenure that The Gambia as ECOWAS Chair hosted and charted the path for the creation of ECOMOG and the sending of those troops to war-ravaged Liberia under the thumb of the tyrant, Samuel Kanyon Doe.
Born in 1941 in the colonial era and trained as a schoolteacher, Sey would later leave his native Gambia for higher education in the United States. A Temple University Psychology graduate, Sey returned to The Gambia and taught Educational Psychology at the Yundum Teachers’ College for years before he joined the Civil Service as Youth Director. He later joined politics and following his winning of the Basse Parliamentary seat, he succeeded the Hon. Lamin K. Jabang as The Gambia’s Foreign Minister in 1987. In the 1992 General elections, Sey was reelected MP and carried on with his portfolio as Foreign Minister until the July 22, 1994 military coup that swept away constitutional rule, ending Sir Dawda’s almost three decades of multiparty democratic rule.
In the aftermath of the 1994 military coup, he was among the few PPP ministers exonerated by the commissions of inquiry into alleged corrupt practices by the junta that ended up looting our reserves, raping our women and country and murdering and disappearing perceived political enemies.
As testament to his rich diplomatic skills, he would join the United Nations Development Program and served in various roles and capacities in both Africa and the Middle East.
An iconic and charismatic sports personality with an unrivaled penchant for soccer, Sey had alongside his academic and administrative roles, skillfully balanced his love for the game and its success in The Gambia rising to the highest echelons of the country’s Football Federation. In FIFA and CAF, he was considered a doyen and a remarkable mentor who pushed Africa’s agenda to the fore and would no doubt, be remembered as a legend in every sense of the word.
At home, he was a respected family man coming from an elaborate extended family structure in cosmopolitan Basse, Upper River Region, that traces its forebears to medieval Mali among the Fulani, Africa’s most diverse ethnic group. He is survived by several children and spouses and his remains will be laid to rest this afternoon at the Jeswang cemetery in The Gambia. May his soul rest in eternal peace!