EXCLUSIVE: Sulayman Shygle Nyassi talks dad's 'mysterious' death, politics, Pa Nderry and more

Written by Alieu Khan

Nyassi

His father, Shyngle Nyassi, was once described by opposition leader Ousainou Darboe as the encyclopedia of Gambian politics. Living abroad, Sulayman Nyassi was an arch government critic but now a convert. His father’s death was sudden and shocking, but contrary to popular view, Sulayman who chooses a different political path claims to smell a rat and vows to unravel the hatchet that buried late UDP heavyweight. 

What’s On-Gambia:Are you the Saul that used to live in Brikama, near the famous Mr. Lee's Camp (SSP)?

Saul:Of course Yes, my dearest brother

But the Saul I used to know wasn't interested in politics. You were a 'rasta' to the core (laughs). What changed since your arrival in the UK?

(Laughs) I wouldn't say that I was a rasta, because I am a Muslim, but rather a conscious youth back in the days. Nothing much changed per se but I guess I became exposed to the reality of what the western world is made of and what it also represents.  Elevation I called it.

With regards to politics, it has always been in my DNA.

Tell us briefly about your late dad, Shyngle Nyassi and if possible, how he became an executive member of UDP?

Well, my dad was very loving and caring.  He was a humanist and a true democrat of the highest order! He was a brainchild of the United Democratic Party and that is why he became one of the executive members of that party!

He is from Bwiam, Foni. Many expected him to support APRC - a party led by a fellow wa Foni?

He is a native of Bwiam, in Foni Kansala. Of course many were left baffled with his decision to form his own party, instead of joining his own family, but it is a decision that, I personally cherish because of the importance of having a multiparty system of governance. And, that was one of his reasons for doing so and I respected him for sticking to his democratic principles and beliefs.

In a recent Facebook post, you seemed to suggest that he died mysteriously. Can you please elaborate?

Of course, he died mysteriously and they know what I am talking about. But [there’s] time and space for everything. So, rest assured that, the buried truth will rise again, no matter how long it may take. In fact, it wouldn't be longer than necessary. All I can say for now is that, Gambians will be very shocked to discover the absolute truth surrounding his sudden and untimely demise, by the grace of the Almighty.

Who are ‘they’?

They are those he stayed with during his trip in the US and they all know themselves. Although they claimed and made my family believe that he died of heart attack, however, their behavior bears the marks and it is consistent  with someone hiding something away from a very thoughtful and critical thinking Son of the man they all claimed to love. There are many unanswered questions surrounding his demise. So it will be too cheap of a shot to just blame it all on his previous life experiences.

I will reserve my case with them until such time that; I personally can get answers to my many questions.

Now, the question on everyone's lip. Are you an APRC militant in the making?

Not "in the making", but a fully pledged member of the ruling party of our motherland. The party of the majority of our Gambian population.

Do you have a political divide in your family? Your little brothers, PM Nyass is still sticking with Lawyer Darboe.

(Laughs)Well. I’m not someone who will impose my will or belief on anyone. It all comes down to one's choice. As a matter of fact, we the "Nyassi Family" are taught and trained well enough to distinguish politics from family and as a result of our political maturity, nothing will ever come between us. It has never been with our fathers nor will it be with us the children. I hope that he will go on to contest the party leadership because Darboe is constitutional disqualified to run, come 2016. So I wish him well and he knows that my love for him is unconditional. We are a family for life!

In your opinion, do you think Jammeh will be reelected in December?

(Laughs) Come on now! Who among the current leaders of the opposition parties can defeat such a dynamic and visionary leader?

Let's put it in perspective. Darboe and OJ are both disqualified, so we are left with two new leaders who are yet to surface as we speak- So as it stands, we know of Gomez, Fatty and Bah. So we are heading for another landslide and even our biggest critics will agree that, we will pull it off in style and with increasing numbers of votes by the grace of the Almighty!!

Did you call Jammeh a dynamic and visionary leader? A few years ago, you called him a vampire.

Yes, I'd called him all kinds of names back in the days out of political immaturity and out of anger. Blinded to the fact that, it will not take me anywhere nor will it cut the cake either. Some will argue that it is politics, but I know better as a well-trained "Political revolutionary" to not cross the boundaries at the very height of my madness. At times, it can get nasty but to be honest with you, I was deeply hurting and did everything to hurt him back. Nevertheless, the flip side here is that the spiritual awakening and elevation that I experienced since the demise of my dad and the wonderful people our Creator brought into my humble life they all made me realise that, the path to peace, is peace itself and to call for peace, love, unity and national reconciliation, you must be the change that you seeking for. So it is about time to break all barriers and reach out to each other as people of one Nation.

I am a politician but my ultimate goal and vision is to see the fulfillment of the long awaited dream of all our Great Pan-African leaders of Africa and that is: The total unification of our African continent.  So Charity begins at home. It is about time that we all seek for a peaceful resolution, heal the nation and rise together to the highest of heights. To achieve as a people, “Forgiveness" should and will be our guide, in shaping a brighter the future for one and all.

But are you aware that many Gambians are now disengaged with politics and there might be a very low voter turnout?

Well, I am sure that, whatever the case will turn out to be, the overall percentage of voters will be voting for us rather than voting for the opposition. That, I can bet on.

If you had to choose an issue on which Gambians need to have a wider and more honest discussion, what would it be?

Reconciliation! For us all as a nation to seek a way of reconciling our differences for the betterment of our generation and that of those, yet born.

Who is your favorite cyber warrior (laughs)?

(Laughs) You and I both know the answer to that one, I guess. It is no other than Pa Nderry Mbai of the Freedom Newspaper.

I once told him that I can't wait to see him and the president together in the spirit of "National Reconciliation". Even though it may prove to be a farfetched dream, I will never say never on that one still.

Why Pa Nderry?

Pa Nderry Mbai is my brother. Love him, hate him, he is Pa Nderry Mbai. Like every other citizen, I love them equally but Pa has many potentials that I believe he is yet to explore.

Enough politics now. How old are your dreadlocks and why hiding them (laughs)?

(Laughs) I am an "ebadu" for the past fifteen years now. And that is why I felt really unhappy when the President was deliberately misconstrued, following the "directives" that was later withdrawn- Nevertheless, I still believe that he was right to introduce some sort of a decent dress code for all government workers!

Finally, when are you visiting The Gambia?

It has been the longest time but hopefully, soon I will return to take up my responsibility as a patriotic citizen with a vision and ambition to play my part in nation building. So pray for me.

Insha Allah dina bakh. Thanks for your time bro!

Inshaa Allah. It is an honour and indeed my pleasure to talk to you. Thank you ever so much for reaching out to me and making it happen. I am humbled. Highly appreciated brother!