La Salle University Assistant Professor of History Baba Jallow, Ph.D., Appointed Executive Secretary of Gambia’s Truth, Reconciliation, and Reparations Commission
After nearly 20 years in exile, Baba Jallow, Ph.D., assistant professor of history at La Salle University, is finally able to return to his homeland; he has been appointed the Executive Secretary of the Truth, Reconciliation, and Reparations Commission (TRRC) of the Republic of The Gambia, effective immediately.
“Thank you to La Salle University for granting me a two-year leave of absence which has enabled me to take up this important national responsibility. From the moment I was invited to come home and consider helping out as Executive Secretary of the TRRC, the History Department, the School of Arts and Sciences, the Office of the Provost, and the President’s Office were unconditionally supportive and encouraging,” said Jallow. “In a very real sense, La Salle greatly facilitated my capacity to take up this position.”
As Executive Secretary, Jallow is responsible for the overall administration of the TRRC, among other responsibilities. “It feels good to be able to come back home to help my country establish an accurate historical record of what happened over the past 22 years of dictatorship and to promote national healing and reconciliation. I am grateful for the opportunity.”
“We are tremendously proud of Baba’s appointment. It is a position for which he is uniquely qualified, and one that was his calling to accept,” said Stuart Leibiger, Ph.D., professor and chair of La Salle University’s history department. “A native Gambian, Baba began his career as a journalist. He was forced out of the country for reporting about human rights abuses there. After the recent overthrow of Gambia’s repressive government, he was finally able to visit his homeland after nearly two decades of exile. So, it is no surprise that the people of The Gambia turned to Baba in their quest for justice. When he returns to La Salle in 2020, he will have a wealth of new experiences and material to bring into the classroom and to write about. In the meantime, we will miss him as a friend and colleague.”
One week after the 1994 military coup that brought former President Yahya Jammeh to power, Jallow was hired as assistant editor of the Daily Observer newspaper. He became Editor-in-Chief of that paper in 1997. When, in June 1999, the Daily Observer was purchased by a close associate of the president who signaled his intention to turn the paper into a pro-government mouthpiece, Jallow resigned his position and co-founded The Independent newspaper, where he served as CEO and Editor-in Chief. As editor of both newspapers, he was frequently arrested and detained by the Gambian authorities for writing and publishing editorials and articles critical of the government’s human rights record. In 2000, when the Gambian authorities started questioning Jallow’s nationality and subsequently arrested his parents, he decided to go into exile for his own protection, arriving in the United States later that year. From 2001 to early 2003, he worked as Editor for the Washington, DC-based online media group AllAfrica.com. He later went on to earn a master’s degree in Liberal Studies from Rutgers University, and a Ph.D. in African History from the University of California at Davis.
Adama Barrow became The Gambia’s third president in January 2017, after defeating Jammeh in the December 2016 elections. Jammeh’s refusal to accept the results triggered a constitutional crisis and military intervention by the Economic Community of West African States, resulting in his exile. Following Barrow’s election, Jallow was able to return to The Gambia for the first time in 17 years.