Tuesday, 5 January 2010
Deyda's last Supper
--Reflections on last moments of slain Gambian journalist
It is not without good reason that Jesus’ “Last Supper” with his disciples has been made the subject of so many artistic projects over the centuries; here, at one of the last gatherings attended by all, Jesus delivered instructions not on how to enjoy the meal, but how to remember him once he is gone.
Having eaten what turned out to be the last meal of my brutally murdered boss Deyda Hydara, with the iconic martyr himself, and listened to his swung song speech, I feel I too owe it to the loved ones, friends and admirers of the departed to tell how his last supper went.
But before going furtherer let me state here that I have now resolved to eating only one meal every December 16 and certainly nothing with chicken on it for that recreates the sad story of the last barbeque with him at The Point Newspaper Offices.
Deyda Hydara's last Supper was well grilled chicken which was further cooked in sauce and decorated with all the ingredients that kept the good smell and taste until the last bone was chewed. But like Jesus' it was not the food that thrilled me, but the words with which he ate it, alongside all of us in attendance. On that fateful day, Deyda used his hands to eat - one of the rare occasions he did so. ''Today am like a child. I will eat with my hands. That’s what our forefathers did", he jokingly said as we ate.
Food has always been a great motivation for us (staff) at The Point Newspaper because once Deyda took up the responsibility to supply daily lunch for us free of charge, some of us who came from far and wide stopped worrying about where our afternoon meal would come from as we worked to meet the deadline. People like Justice Darboe, for example, hardly ventured out from the office no matter the urge once he realised lunch would soon be served. In the process, many stories would have been edited and others rewritten.
''Work is important but food comes first; after all we all work for three things: our stomach, clothes and shelter. I value all these but one must first eat to be able to think,'' Deyda would always tell the staff.
On that ill-fated day, when the food was served and he made sure that everyone had eaten well, he returned to his usual business minded attitude, trying to include all the latest activities on the anniversary in the next edition. Death, they say, is a bad harvester because sometimes it plunges off the unripe fruit. Deyda was a man in his prime, looking forward to read his anniversary stories on the following morning as he always did in his modest little office. Little did he know that he had just eaten his last meal only to be chillingly murdered by a coward’s bullet.