TAT Gambian Trailblazers: Muhammed Lamin Ceesay: A Journey in Law and Intellectual Property

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Muhamed Lamin Ceesay, a distinguished figure in law and intellectual property.

By: Awa Conteh

In this week’s episode of Gambian Trailblazers, we delve into the inspiring journey of Muhamed Lamin Ceesay, a distinguished figure in law and intellectual property. Muhammed’s journey in law and intellectual property exemplifies the resilience and vision of Gambian youth. His career spans diverse roles—from legal practitioner to advocate for intellectual property rights—and is grounded in principles of honesty, consistency, and a steadfast commitment to societal impact. Through reflections on his experiences, Muhamed offers valuable lessons that resonate beyond borders, emphasizing the importance of ethical conduct and interdisciplinary collaboration in driving personal and professional success. This piece explores his insights, illuminating pathways for aspiring professionals in The Gambia and beyond.

Muhamed Lamin Ceesay is a 28-year-old lawyer from The Gambia. He currently works at the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO). Growing up, Mr Ceesay was greatly influenced by his mother. While his father was in the USA working to support the family, his mother devoted herself to raising and helping them with all her energy. She loved and cared for them deeply and, most importantly, instilled in Muhamed the necessity of living a purposeful and disciplined life. These values have been instrumental in shaping him into the person he is today.

Pursuing a career in law was something other than what Mr Ceesay had initially planned. From a young age, he dreamed of becoming a medical doctor, driven to heal and help others. However, life took an unexpected turn when he sincerely prayed to Allah for guidance. Muhamed sought divine intervention to illuminate his path and lead him toward what was best for him. Through this deep spiritual reflection and prayer, he found himself drawn to the field of law. This revelation felt like a divine gift, guiding him towards a new purpose.

Muhamed’s educational journey began at the University of The Gambia (UTG), where he was provided with a strong foundation, instilling in him the critical thinking skills and intellectual curiosity necessary for a successful legal career. His time at UTG was marked by rigorous coursework, passionate debates, and a supportive community that encouraged him to push his boundaries and strive for excellence.

Muhamed pursued further education at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in Ghana to broaden his horizons. KNUST offered him a unique blend of academic rigor and practical experience, profoundly shaping his professional outlook. The diverse and dynamic campus life at KNUST exposed him to new perspectives and cultures, enriching his understanding of the law and its impact on society.

In contrast, his time at UTG, while foundational and enriching in its own right, needed to include some of these advanced resources and opportunities. UTG provided Muhamed with a solid grounding in legal principles and fostered a strong sense of community and academic curiosity. However, the difference in resources and exposure between the two institutions was noticeable. KNUST’s emphasis on applied research and hands-on experience highlighted areas where UTG could improve to achieve its objectives. Muhamed is confident that with continued development and investment, UTG will reach these goals and provide even more comprehensive educational experiences for its students.

Overall, Muhamed’s experiences at KNUST broadened his academic and professional horizons and instilled in him a deeper appreciation for the importance of applied research and practical training. These experiences have been crucial in shaping his career and approach to intellectual property, preparing him to contribute effectively to the field and his community.

The experiences at both UTG and KNUST were transformative. At UTG, Muhamed developed a thoughtful and analytical mindset, learning to approach legal issues with precision and care. On the other hand, KNUST honed his eloquence and networking skills, enabling him to communicate complex legal concepts effectively and build valuable professional relationships. Both institutions fostered a deep commitment to excellence and service, instilling in him the values of integrity, diligence, and dedication to his community.

Muhamed’s journey through these esteemed institutions was personal growth and self-discovery. He told The Alkamba Times:

“They have shaped me to be thoughtful, network, eloquent, and strive for excellence. But most importantly, they have taught me the values of serving my fellows, especially my country.”

The most challenging aspect of Muhamed Lamin Ceesay’s training at The Gambia Law School was managing his time effectively. In 2019, while attending law school, he also worked at the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC). Balancing the demands of his job with the rigorous academic requirements of law school was a stressful and demanding period in his life.

Muhamed’s role at the TRRC required his total commitment, while law school demanded significant attention and effort to master the coursework. This dual responsibility created a situation where he was constantly stretched thin, struggling to meet the expectations of both his professional and academic commitments.

To overcome this challenge, Muhamed relied heavily on prayers and strict time management. He developed a disciplined routine, dedicating his nights to studying and praying. This disciplined approach allowed him to make the most of his limited time, ensuring he could meet his obligations at work while excelling in his studies.

“The most fulfilling part of my job as a lawyer is seeing justice being done. Be it in land cases, trump-up criminal charges, unlawful denial of rights of the poor, corruption, and many others. The fact that my clients are given their rights and justice is being served makes life rewarding,” Mr Ceesay said.

Muhamed Lamin Ceesay’s role as a statement taker and legal assistant at the Truth, Reconciliation, and Reparations Commission (TRRC) was an intense and profoundly impactful experience. During his first week, he encountered traumatic experiences and shocks that left a lasting impression on him. Witnessing the harsh realities of human rights abuses committed by fellow Gambians was difficult, which he had never imagined possible.

His responsibilities at the TRRC included visiting the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), recording statements from victims who had been unlawfully detained, dismissed, or tortured, and maintaining an accurate database of these testimonies. The work was emotionally taxing, requiring remarkable resilience and empathy.

Muhamed’s most significant lesson from his time at the TRRC was the importance of being each other’s keeper. He realized that when people become indifferent to violating others’ rights, perpetrators gain more power and audacity to inflict further pain and suffering. This experience reinforced the significance of solidarity and collective vigilance in facing injustice.

As part of the first Faculty of Law International Conference on Law, Science, and Technology, Mr. Ceesay authored a publication on “Biotechnology and Ethics,” in which he emphasized the necessity for ethical guidelines to ensure biotechnology is used ethically and responsibly for the betterment of mankind. He saw biotechnology as a significant breakthrough with immense potential for enhancing human life and solving critical challenges.

Through his research and publication, Muhamed aimed to advocate for thoughtful and ethical practices in biotechnology, fostering a framework that would support its safe and beneficial integration into society. His work underscored the importance of balancing scientific progress with ethical considerations to promote sustainable and equitable development in biotechnological innovation.

“I realized that biotechnology, which uses technology on living organisms, is a huge scientific breakthrough. Therefore, it must be regulated properly before the wrong people abuse it for unnecessary purposes. This is why it needed ethical guidelines to help its practitioners use biotechnology properly and successfully for the betterment of humanity”, he said.

Muhamed Lamin Ceesay’s tenure as Deputy Information & Communication Minister at the University of The Gambia Students’ Union was transformative for his personal and professional growth. In this role, he honed his writing, communication, and leadership skills, becoming adept at articulating ideas and managing complex organizational communications. Engaging in roundtable discussions with esteemed figures bolstered his confidence and ability to navigate high-pressure environments. These experiences not only equipped him to speak publicly and contribute to blogs but also prepared him to communicate effectively with leaders in prominent organizations, enhancing his professional capabilities and expanding his network.

Moreover, Muhamed’s leadership roles instilled a sense of boldness and initiative, which continue to drive his career forward. His experiences at UTGSU provided invaluable opportunities to develop as a leader, preparing him for challenges and opportunities beyond academia. Today, these foundational experiences serve as a cornerstone for his law and intellectual property endeavors, enabling him to approach his work with clarity, conviction, and a strong commitment to effective communication and leadership.

Outside of his professional life, Muhamed Lamin Ceesay founded the organization “Youths of Islam,” which creates a platform for young Muslims to come together to serve their community and honor their religious obligations. The organization’s primary objective is to unite Muslim youth, pooling their resources and efforts to serve Allah and benefit their fellow believers.  

“Youths of Islam” has organized various initiatives to foster unity and community service among Muslims. These include organizing iftar events during Ramadan to provide meals for fasting Muslims and conducting mosque cleaning exercises to maintain sacred spaces. Muhamed’s motivation is to please Allah and cultivate a unified Muslim community within The Gambia and beyond its borders.

‘As a Muslim, I feel obliged to share and assist my fellows. The motivation is to please Allah and to have a united Muslim nation both in the Gambia and beyond’, Mr Ceesay shared.

Muhamed Lamin Ceesay now sets his sights on pursuing a PhD in Intellectual Property. His ambition extends beyond academia to supporting local businesses and communities in The Gambia through innovation and creativity. He is actively researching and identifying reputable universities where he can pursue his PhD journey in Intellectual Property. Simultaneously, he has taken proactive steps by establishing the Association for the Promotion of Intellectual Property in The Gambia. This initiative aims to educate and assist Gambians in understanding and acquiring intellectual property rights such as patents, trademarks, and copyrights.

Reflecting on his career journey, Muhamed Lamin Ceesay emphasizes the importance of honesty and consistency as foundational principles for success and societal impact. He believes that integrity—towards oneself, the workplace, and the country—must be maintained consistently, regardless of public visibility or recognition. This commitment, he believes, is essential not only for personal well-being but also for building a better future for subsequent generations. These lessons, he suggests, are crucial for effecting positive change in both local communities and on a global scale.

His plans reflect a blend of personal and professional aspirations rooted in education, community service, and the promotion of intellectual property rights as catalysts for socio-economic progress in The Gambia.

Our esteemed trailblazer advises students and young professionals in The Gambia who aspire to pursue careers in law or intellectual property. He encourages them to aim for greatness and to think beyond national borders, emphasizing the importance of focused determination and persistence in achieving their goals. He urges aspiring individuals to explore this field freely, highlighting the significance of understanding how to value and protect ideas to generate wealth and foster innovation.

“Let’s think beyond Gambia. We must be focused on what we want and do all it takes to get there. But importantly, intellectual property is a field for all professionals, not just lawyers. Because it touches and requires the expertise of all walks of life such as engineers, scientists, accountants, audits, doctors, businesses — you name it”, he said.

Muhamed Lamin Ceesay’s story resonates deeply with young Gambians aspiring to make a difference in law, intellectual property, and other fields. His commitment to integrity and innovation serves as a guiding light, showing that through perseverance and ethical leadership, one can overcome challenges and create meaningful impact. As young Gambians forge ahead in their careers, embracing these principles can drive personal growth and contribute to advancing their communities and the broader world. Muhamed’s journey inspires a new generation to pursue their dreams with integrity, resilience, and a global outlook, ensuring a brighter future for The Gambia and beyond.

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