EULOGY FOR LUC VERSCHELDEN

186

 Y. M. JOBE

Friends, Gambians, countrymen, lend me your ears;

  I went to bury Luc Verschelden not to praise him.

  The evil that men do lives after them;

  The good is oft interred with their bones;

  So, I won’t let it be with Luc. My dear sister Binta Jobe

  Hath told you Luc was a great guy and lover of Gambia:

  If it were so, it was a wonderful feeling and a real fact,

  And gladly hath Luc answer’d it. I witnessed it many times.

   Here, under leave of Luc’s adopted family and his special friends such as Bunaa Njie and Maroun family to mention a few that I knew-

   For Luc was an honourable man;

   So are they all, all honourable people–

   Come I to speak about Luc’s funeral. He was born in Belgium in 1955 and buried in Gambia on 18 June 2022.

   He was my friend, faithful and just to me and in a space of less than one year, he showed me what true love for country means:

   He hath brought many serious issues to my attention, all in the name of love for this country; Luc thought PURA was responsible for everything including when a chicken should cross the road or when two dogs should be fighting on the roadside. He would call me at midnight to complain about power cuts and water shortages of other people not even living in his area; every weekend he would drive around the GBA to take pictures of waste being dumped all over the place and send them to me to address them; He was particularly incensed with the new dumping taking place opposite the estate on the Jabang road and on the road to Tujereng or the overfishing on our waters. He came to my home on Sunday one early morning, and I thought it was for some business endeavours or advise, nope, it was to take me to the sand mining and take video of the trucks still taking sand from the sea at Tujereng and Gunjur area and complained about the effect that will have on our beautiful coastline in few years to come. He was almost in tears. The environment was his baby. He complained about the low flying aircrafts and noise pollution they cause in residential areas.

    He adopted a Gambian family and sent the kids to private schools and even when he had busy thins to look after he would drop them if his son wanted to go to the pool or to the beach. That was mostly when he would cancel an appointment. He refused to be intimidated by big powers and money when it came to the environment and his love for Gambia. He set up many charities and assistance mechanisms together with foreign friends to help needy Gambian families. He loved sports and celebrated Gambia’s progress in AFCON more than some Gambian born citizens, he even called to congratulate the Coach who is a Belgian from his country of origin.

   When that the poor have cried, Luc hath wept:

   Love for nation should be made of sterner stuff:

   I speak only to ensure that people remember and pray for this man who did so much for this country in his own special way, apart from his hotel management where I was told he trained and capacitated a lot of Gambians. He had so much love for Gambia that when he was diagnosed with cancer whilst in Belgium, he called me whilst I was in Rwanda and told me he refused to be operated upon until he comes to say farewell to his adopted Gambian family and the Gambia in case he does not make it. He never made it back to do the surgery. Lo, behold, he had signed up to be buried on Gambian soil and he was buried in Jeshwang cemetery. If all Gambians love this country half that much, we would be in heavenly times sooner rather than later.

   You all did love him once, not without cause:

  What cause withholds you then, to mourn and cry and pray for him?

  O judgment! thou art fled us,

  And men have lost their reason. Bear with me,

  My heart was in the coffin there with Luc,

  And I must pause till it come back to me.

Farewell Mr Luc, we will always remember you. Adios Amigo.

 REST IN PEACE BUDDY LUC

An environmental/architecture FOUNDATION will be set up in his name. it will be called PAHAA-LUC Foundation.

Adapted from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar.