Political and Educational life of late Hon. Sulayman Joof

By Kebba Jeffang

Hon. Sulayman Joof Joof who was born on the 15th January 1942 has died on the 15th of June, 2017 in Dakar at the age of 75. He was laid to rest on 16th June in his home settlement of Kololi.

Within his life span, Joof among few, was able to serve as a National Assembly member in the country throughout the 22 years of former government of President Yahya Jammeh. He was an educationist for half of his life.

Politics was only able to overshadow his livelihood career, teaching, lately as he was a personality that contributed immensely in laying the country’s grass roots education system.

His brother, Abdoulie Joof, the Alkalo of Kololi while giving us a brief life history of the deceased, said the loss is beyond the family but to the Gambia as a whole.

“My brother was an educationist. He graduated from the Gambia College formally called Yundum College in 1962 as a qualified teacher. Since then he was in the teaching field, first posted to Berending Primary School. He then taught at Jokadu Darsilimi in the North Bank Region,” he said.

Abdoulie, is a younger brother to Sulayman and he informed Foroyaa that the deceased had also benefitted from a study course on Educational Administration in the United Kingdom.

“When he returned around the 1970s, he was posted at Sukuta Primary School. He was transferred later to Fatoto in the Upper River Region and later to Farafenni,” he said.

According to his brother, the former parliamentarian had ever been matching his teaching career with politics as he started to enter political space in 1972 when he was still teaching.

He said a close friend of the deceased is the current Minister of Agriculture, Amadou Omar Jallow alias OJ.

“Sulayman and OJ formed PPP Youth Movement. He was the President of the movement while OJ served as the Secretary General. In 1977,  Hon. Joof applied to show his interest to contest in the National Assembly election under the then ruling party, the People’s Progressive Party but he was turned down in favour of A.A. Njie,” Abdoulie said.

“Again in 1982, he applied for the same ticket for the same Constituency but again he was not successful,” he said.

The Alkalo pointed out that Joof was later identified by the PPP government to contest in Councillorship election for Manjai kunda, Kololi and Bakoteh ward. This according to his brother, became the turning point to see him actively taking part in politics as he was asked to come and contest in the election. However, he was still teaching in Farafenni.

“He contested for that seat and he won with a landslide victory. This was the only time he went on election for that seat because after that, he had been occupying the seat unopposed from opponents. This was precisely from 1979 to 1994,” he said.

He recalled that in the early 90s there was a chance for Chairmanship for Kanifing Muncipal Council, at a time when there was no mayoral position. He said Joof applied for that position but again he was not given the chance as it was given to one Kebba Jallow.

“When 1994 came, he was still teaching because from Farefenni he was posted to Gunjur as deputy head and from there he came and opened Bakaoteh Primary School in the early 80s. The takeover found him in Bakoteh Primary and after the change he was moved to Tallinding,” he explained.

The beginning of his life as a parliamentarian and as a member of the Alliance for Patriotic Re-Orientationand Construction {APRC} commenced in 1997 according to his brother.

He said Hon Joof was selected in 1997 as the National Assembly candidate under the then ruling Alliance for Patriotic, Reorientation and Construction He said this had met him at Tallinding Primary School as the head of the institution.

“He retired from teaching service and contested, eventually he won that election in 1997. He won again in 2001. He stood again and won the election. Finally, in 2012, he went unopposed to serve his fourth consecutive and final term as the member of the National Assembly of the Gambia until 2017.

Alkalo Joof said Sulayman is a politician and an educationist who served in different capacities throughout the length and breadth of the country.

But he emphasized that, Joof had served half of his life as an educationist. He described the late Joof as a humble gentleman who is generous as he helped so many people to attain their education to higher height.

“Sometimes he used his own money to pay students tuition fees whose parents were not well off especially when he was in Bakoteh. He taught many people who are now serving this country in various capacities. As a politician, he did it with honour and dignity because to him it doesn’t matter whether someone is in different political camp.

He intimated the late Sulayman Joof did not only leave a huge vacuum in his family, but the settlement of Kololi. He described him as a gentleman who was loved by many.

He said Gambia has lost a great man who contributed immensely towards the political and educational development of the country. Sulayman is survived by 3 wives and children.