Basiru Barrow was born in 1964 in the village of Jarra, Barrow Kunda. He was the best student in his class in the Common Entrance Examination and was admitted to St Augustine High School in Banjul, where he sat for his A level examination. He worked for one year before joining the army.
According Sunkary Yarboe, his first wife, Basiru became a soldier because he wanted to serve his country. Our interview at Sunkary’s grocery shop started with tears in her eyes. She explained that speaking about her husband always makes her sad and ruins her day. However, as the interview progressed she cheered up as she remembered the good times and at the end she was smiling as she explained what Basiru meant to her and his family.
On November 11, 1994, the newly formed Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council (AFPRC) consisting of Yahya Jammeh, Edward Singhateh, Sanna Sabally, Sadibou Hydara, and Yankuba Touray were afraid that their newly installed regime was at risk of being deposed. They themselves had in July that year seized power from the government of Dawda Jawara. They thought some soldiers led by Basiru Barrow and Abdoulie Dot Faal were planning a coup in which members of the council and their families would be killed. According to testimonies before the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission, without any firm and credible evidence, junta leader Yahya Jammeh decided to act on the suspicions. He ordered an attack on two military camps, ambushing Basiru, Abdoulie, and many other soldiers, who were tortured, then executed. The junta later announced that the soldiers were trying to stage a coup.
According to Sunkary, Basiru left two wives and five children. She remembers him as a family man and a “people person”. She adds that he was kind and generous. Sunkary remembers people coming to their house at the end of the month to tell him about their problems. They knew that he would never turn them away empty-handed, always trying to help as much as he could.
She wants Basiru to be remembered as a family man, a kind person, and a hands-on father.
“We will never forget him,” she says.