Jun 24, 2015, 11:50 AM
On behalf of the NGO community, TANGO joins the nation in mourning one of its most illustrious sons, Bishop Solomon Tilewa Johnson, who departed this world on 21st January 2014.
The late bishop is a true patriot who has dedicated his entire life to the material, spiritual and moral development of The Gambia. A kind and humble personality, Bishop Johnson’s influence and interaction transcends religious, ethnic, ideological and other sectarian boundaries as he had always sought to bring about harmony, understanding and deep sense of community among citizens.
In demonstration of its trust and confidence that the NGO community had in this remarkable person, Bishop Johnson had been the only person who was elected on two different occasions to serve as the Chairperson of the Board of Directors of TANGO.
He was first elected to lead the NGO community in April 1993 and served his term until 1995. Again at the Annual General Meeting in 2006, Bishop Johnson was elected chairperson for a second time until 2008. TANGO has fond memories of the bishop whose extrovert nature endeared him to fellow development workers.
Bishop Johnson demonstrated that religion and being a man of God is a testimony of service to humanity, not just to uplift the spiritual and moral standards of the human being, but also alongside the spiritual, there is also the need to cater for mankind’s material needs.
Hence he spearheaded the creation of a development agency within his church, the Anglican Mission Development Ministries that serves to meet the social and economic needs of citizens.
During his terms as Board Chairperson of TANGO, Bishop Johnson presided over several achievements, and key among these are the creation of a partnership between TANGO and Goree Institute in Dakar, Senegal. It was through this partnership that TANGO was able to develop its first strategic plan 1995 – 1997, which sought to build the institutional capacity of TANGO Secretariat and its members.
Following the launching of the 2006 – 2010 Strategic Plan, the Bishop also witnessed the development and implementation of the EXCEL Project, a partnership between TANGO and one of its international members, Concern Universal, designed to empower civil society organizations and build their management and governance structures and systems.
The role and contribution of Bishop Johnson to national development and the NGO community, in particular, has continued until his last days. In August 2012 he was elected the Chair of the National Advisory Group (NAG) for the implementation of the civil society assessment project funded by South Africa-based CIVICUS, the global citizenship movement.
The project is being implemented in The Gambia for the first time by TANGO, and the NAG is a broad-based committee charged with overseeing the implementation of the project
As he departs this world, TANGO enjoins all Gambians to cherish the legacy and the values that Bishop Johnson promoted and epitomized.
In his 2014 New Year message, which was dedicated to the subject of freedom and forgiveness, Bishop Johnson called on Gambians to reflect on the life of Nelson Mandela among others to seek forgiveness, reconciliation and love.
He argued that, “we need each other, and we need to help each to become the good people we are all created to be.Mandela could see the delusion attached to those who harbour resentment, and the lasting harm bitterness can cause.He knew the harm that hatred and bitterness could do to the one who had these feelings.He had gained insight into the wisdom behind the teaching of Jesus with regard to forgiveness.Mandela’s analysis, in practical terms, was as follows – he said, “Resentment is like drinking poison, and then hoping it will kill your enemies”.
Bishop Johnson concluded that that the one who suffered is the one who could not forgive.But he contended that the remedy and path to freedom is in the hands of the person who is struggling with their pain and resentment, and that only those who can forgive can find freedom in new life.
TANGO wishes to celebrate the life of Bishop Johnson, a giant of humanity and a gift to The Gambia. As we say good-bye and wish him eternal bliss in the Heavens, we wish to share his parting words of wisdom for us all…
“It is essential to remember that forgiveness and seeking reconciliation is not the weak option, but the option of strength, because, Life is stronger than death; Light is stronger than darkness, and Love is stronger than hate. What a resolution to make this New Year!Forgiveness cannot happen in an instant, but the resolve to seek reconciliation with those with whom we may harbour resentment, must be a good start. My prayer for us all this New Year is for the gifts of joy and peace for all those who seek to be reconciled with God and their neighbour.”
Adieu Bishop Johnson…