Death is a shadow that always; always follows the body. A universal, inevitable phenomenon that picks the weak and the strong, the rich, and the poor – young and old. “Every man must do two things alone; he must do his believing and own dying” (Martin Luther – not the King). 

Yes. All that lives must die. It is a debt we must pay. In the words of Hilaire Beloc, “death is what even politicians fail to bribe or swindle, bully or blackmail.” Fare thee well, uncle Alhagie Ousman Fisco Conateh.

Fisco was well ingrained in the popular consciousness of the Gambian people. He was a man of many parts. He was a husband, a father, and a family man. He was a senior citizen, holding political, social, cultural, sports, and traditional roles. 

He was the first class; an inimitable people’s rights crusader, a principled social justice and a selfless fighter for young people; a sincere philanthropist and humanist; and an uncommon peoples’ guardian. A man’s ability may be great or small. 

However, if he has this spirit, he is already noble-minded and pure, a man of moral integrity and above vulgar interests, a man who is of value to the people is Alhagie Ousman Fisco Conateh.

Shocked and saddened by this news of the death of uncle Alhagie Ousman Fisco Conateh, a brilliant and a genuine “people’s person.” 

Moreover, I am proud of our excellent relationship. May Allah grant him Alijannah Firdausi. May the Good Lord continue to keep his family. 

Furthermore, may the Gambia, the country he fought so hard to help achieve redemption, restoration, and development, find recovery from the afflictions of lousy governance at all levels.

Saddened by the passing of Uncle Fisco Conateh though we had not been in touch for some time, I knew him before and during my sojourn with the Independent days. 

I found him admirably courageous and principled, as well as a marvelously likable human being—May his convictions and principles live on. Uncle Alhagie Fisco Conateh was an older person and so kind to me and my newspaper, I respected him very much and listened to all the advice he gave me as an elder with a broad worldview. 

My friendship with Uncle Fisco was very fruitful and rewarding. It allowed me to drink from his enormous fountain of experience. I have never forgotten two of the things he said to me, and they have affected my life and attitude in office till today. 

In the course of full disclosure when the Independent secured its offices at Westfield Junction in 2000, uncle Alhagie Fisco Conateh furnished worth of GMD 75,000 at that time without knowledge, even my staff except for the supplier Mr. Sumareh. 

None of the staff knew the source of the brand new furniture he donated to the Independent and support for an independent press. He also refused a free complimentary copy of my newspaper; instead, he subscribed yearly in support of the private a newspaper.

Indeed, Fisco was a statesman that never occupied any public office in his lifetime but who demonstrated statesmanship, patriotism, and love for the country than many persons who did occupy public offices.

By his audacious and very risky struggles against despotism and for the enthronement of democratic governance in the Gambia, he contributed to state-building in the Gambia more than many politicians who occupied political offices in the Gambia, from the First Republic to the current era of civil rule. He was a friend of journalists and free press.

In the past years of painful transition, the Gambia sports fraternity, civil society, and the youths have missed his incredible leadership, mentorship and pace-setting in the sphere of initiation and dogged pursuit of public interest and growth that positively shape the development of sports and youth development, strengthen Gambian football, and deepen youth development due to old age.

No doubt, Gambians have missed uncle Fisco’s invaluable contribution to the search for a better society, his credible voice in the arena of social, sports, and critical interventions in socio-economic and political discourses.

Many ordinary Gambians often ask what his reaction to the prevailing crises in all facets of our country’s life recently, if he would have been being active and healthy.

Alhagie Ousman Fisco Conateh: He leaves a proud legacy of sports, politics, public policy teachings, and social service.

“Let your presence ring out like a bell into the night.

And if the earthly no longer knows your name,

whisper to the silent earth: I am flowing.

To the flashing water, say: I am.”

–Rainer Maria Rilke: Sonnets to Orpheus

Fisco his fame still resonates. Why? He was international when many were unethical, critical when many were mimical. His fame lives on. Why? 

He was a giver; when many were receivers. Why? Because he was ever happy and wished to make us all happy. Why? Because he genuinely believed in People – a happy, united, prosperous nation. 

Yes. Uncle Fisco flames fire on. Why? Because he detested a land populated by hypocrisy and inequality. Do we still mourn Fisco? Why? Because there has never been another Uncle Fisco Conateh.

By Alagi Yorro Jallow

One Comment

  1. From Doua’s family in Europe,

    Dear
    I am not able to travel attend the funeral, of the only one, sincere, positive and optimist, father, friend in Doua’s. I delight to extend my heartly condoleance. Mr Papis i am Michel.
    Good thinks do not last long, God had bless him for his heart, all the angels had welcome him in paradise along with my fatherfather, Mr Doua
    Gambia has lost the best man ever OB Conateh he is still alive i remembered his clean heartly and virture.

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