By: Foday Manneh
Muhammed Lamin Saidykhan, the outgoing coordinator of Africans Rising, a pan-African movement of people organizations working for peace, justice, and dignity, has said sending text messaging to top supporters of ex-president Yahya Jammeh contributed to the removal of the former Gambian dictator in 2016.
Saidykhan, well known civil society leader in Africa, announced he is stepping down from his role as a coordinator at the movement’s meeting in Arusha, Tanzania.
Africans Rising is composed of civil society movements from across the continent and the diaspora. The campaign aims to build solidarity between all African peoples from below and beyond borders through a united African peoples movement to challenge African leaders in the fight for justice, peace, and dignity for the African people.
ML Saidykhan, who is leaving after six years of serving the movement, spoke to TAT in an interview in which he mentioned some of his achievements in office.
“Africans Rising in 2016 responded to the crisis in The Gambia, which was the political impasse when over 45,000 Gambians were running for their lives.
“The movement came to The Gambia and worked with us who were on the frontline for the revolution. As a result, we came up with strategies that will advance the people’s cause for change.
“In the room, we suggested that maybe we should send a text message to every political leader supporting Jammeh to stay in power and ask them to choose Jammeh or the country.
“That idea of Africans Rising worked because many people, including ministers, were resigning, parliamentarians running out of the country, ambassadors and diplomats resigned from the government.
“At the end of the day, Jammeh was left lonely, and he was forced and rejected by his people. That’s one critical achievement I will recall because then revolution was delivered to the people.”
Saidykhan also mentioned other achievements, including the facilitation of a movement-building strategy in Zambia to unify activists from the Democratic Republic of Congo by using their historical timelines and acting as one force on the agenda of changing their long-serving dictator.
Saidykhan and his team worked to defend human rights, democracy, and good governance and also helped in fighting against injustices and human rights violations in Togo and Senegal, respectively.
“I had to be arrested and detained for four days with my team on a mission in Togo. We did the task perfectly by speaking to all different stakeholders and were neutral and fair in that process. However, the government just felt unsafe and detained us for questioning.
“The good thing about it is that it created a kind of a human bond between them and us (activists in Togo). It meant a lot to them that Africans would show solidarity with them when they were in crisis.
“We blocked a report from Togo that was supposed to be submitted to the ECOWAS that there were no human rights violations in Togo.
“Africans Rising launched a campaign in Tanzania with other movement leaders to block and shame the Togolese government and ECOWAS from adopting that human rights report.”
The outgoing coordinator of Africans Rising stressed that working for a borderless Africa to allow free movement of people and goods, fight against the use of foreign languages to divide us, and create sustainable individual giving platforms have been among the significant campaigns of his movement.
ML Saidykhan said it had been his dream to serve the Africans Rising. He remains motivated by the efforts of African heroes and heroines who fought for liberation and unification.