There are moments in life when the world feels so conscripted as if there aren’t enough spaces to move about or make sense of it all. In a fast-paced global location as London, the city is such an attractive proposition for immigrants from across the globe galvanised into one big melting pot.
Immigrant life has a rough beginning before one assimilates new. And as societies go through change, populations around the world live in constant worry with their lives and livelihoods constrained – yearning for just about any honest broker of a leader to rescue their plight from deceptive politicians.
And so it was – Certain people walk the earth’s surfaces with such effortless gentry.
In 2016, in the months leading to the presidential elections in the Gambia, I was introduced to Abdou Rahman Touray by a mutual friend, Marr Nyang, founder of #GambiaParticipates, a CSO focused on budgetary oversight in the country. It so happened that Marr had spent time working as an intern at one of Draman’s companies before establishing his brief.
Modestly, as AbdoubRahman Touray lived his life, It was later after his passing that much came to light about the number of young Gambians and families he has helped on the ascent path.
I had never met Draman in person, but it so happened we clicked on a lot of developmental issues facing Gambia and Africa, exploring various strategies to fix them. The guy possesses a great wealth of knowledge, is tech savvy, and is an incredible computer scientist with an unmatched wealth of knowledge.
Those were tough days under former president Jammeh’s totalitarian rule. From his home in Gambia or exile in Dakar, Draman would listen patiently. At the same time, I complain of another disappearance or terror inflicted on helpless Gambians during that APRC stream of terror. For my part, whilst one comfortably resides in London, Draman was in the thick of it, risking his life and money for Gambia and Gambians.
We came to incredible plans for how best to transform government communications, intra as well as the gov. gm, for e-government that is lean, fast and secure to protect govt communications concerning general data protection regulation. We both snarl at the thought of govt ministers and high-ranking civil servants using open-source communications platforms to send confidential data.
How can the Gambia government justify its ministers sending secret memos using yahoo or Gmail accounts in trade negotiations and such bilateral diplomatic exchanges? While that has improved over time, GAMTEL has to occupy a central role in the transformational changes envisaged – automation is the solution to rightful revenues, oh yes!
In the weeks that followed, ideas discussed include such plans to train young Gambian graduates into cyber experts through his companies – ways and avenues to protect the country’s financial sector, central bank, commercial banks and all from cybercriminals.
These are 21st-century crimes – govt needs to work on a national intelligence cyber security centre within the defence apparatus as a matter of urgency. These were some of the top-secret arrangements Draman Touray and I embarked upon, looking to build upon an intelligentsia to contribute to our nation’s fast transformation.
We recognised that for these processes to succeed and work, Gamtel must transform into a modern telecommunications outfit under government control. While Gambians in exile at the time worked on moves to depose former president Jammeh’s dictatorship, Draman’s company – Pristine Consulting – made a bid through the procurement process to produce Gambian national documents – I.D Card, Passports, and all, for the company has the technology, talent and prestige to build and protect the country’s states documents.
He wanted to train hundreds, if not thousands, of young Gambians in all facets of computer science, ready for the job market. At the time, he had put his own money, over thirty million dalasis, to set up a biometric data bank of the whole country’s adult population – while also training many young successful Gambians.
Came December 2016 – hope was rife in the air as the public voted overwhelmingly to depose the autocratic government of Yahya Jammeh – for a coalition outfit under real estate rent collector Adama barrow.
Although not privy to all the details, I understand Draman’s company, Pristine Consulting, had negotiations with the new government on some of the plans highlighted. Behind the scenes, I had spoken to officials to be mindful of semlex when the Reuters news agency broke the story of secret negotiation practices, which landed semlex under a corruption probe in Brussels and several other rogue African nations. But despite those concerns and assurances from government quarters, the Barrow administration nonetheless went ahead for whatever reason to award the contract to the Brussels-based Semlex. This is what led to the downfall of interior minister Mai Fatty.
There are more questions than answers as to why a competent Gambian company was overlooked, which had offered much better terms for the contract – a mystery to this day.
One early morning, Drama rang me to say the vice president at the time, Fatoumata Tambajang Jallow, had invited him to discuss his proposal. At the time, however, many stories were making the press on corruption with semtex under heavy investigation by Belgian authorities. I wished him well for the meeting while exchanging prayers over the phone. That was the last time I spoke to him.
One week later, my girl at the time rang in distress, asking if I had seen the news trending from the Gambia. No, what’s up? I enquired curiously. And so it was …
Abdou Rahman Touray had died of a sudden heart attack. He was under such pain and stress as to why his government, the country he left New York for, had to return home and invest his talent and the millions he had made from Wall Street. One day he told me his Jewish friends on Wall Street who knew of his talent often called him to return to America to work for a simple life yet healthier financial rewards. But his heart was set on the Gambia, to give all he had for the country and people.
In his passing, Gambia lost a great son in Abdou Rahman Touray. How patriotic you are, honest to a fault. Visionary beyond his age, he carries with him the pain and dreams of Senegambia youth. How I wish I had met you in person, together, work to fulfil the promises our forefathers left for us to continue.
It is three years since you departed this earth. Here I stand, in truth, with the misery & burden inflicted upon the black race by our kind.May Jannatul Firdaus be your final home.