By Pa Modou Faal
The Gambian Community in Nottinghamshire on Thursday (24th November) afternoon held a vigil to pray and pay their respect to Fatoumatta Hydara and her two daughters Naeemah and Fatima Drammeh who died earlier this week from smoke inhalation after their flat in Clifton, Nottingham was consumed by fire in the early hours on Sunday.
A 31-year-old man has been arrested since Sunday 20th November on suspicion of triple murder.
The congregation of over a hundred men and women most of whom knew Fatoumatta and her family, gathered at the entrance of Fairisle Close before being led into a procession by community and religious leaders to the place floral tributes were laid in honour of mother and daughters.
In the gathering was late Fatoumatta’s husband Abubacarr Drammeh, her father Sulayman Hydara and immediate family members, and a cross section of members of the Gambian community in Nottinghamshire and surroundings as well as other sympathisers who knew the deceased, her family or just good Samaritans who could not come to terms with the heinous crime.
A prayer session was led by Imam Lamin Jatta who prayed for Allah’s forgiveness and mercy to be bestowed upon them. Imam Jatta said Allah test the faith of His believers in different ways and this incident is among the highest test one can go through.
He said Fatoumatta and the innocent girls didn’t do anything to deserve such a horrendous act.
He said the community and the family are at very difficult state of grief and pain and that the husband Abubacarr Drammeh is enduring the hardest time of his life. He urged the congregation to have faith in Allah and pray for the departed souls.
The Secretary to the Nottinghamshire Gambian Community Mr. Edrissa Touray who read a statement before the gathered press and sympathisers which was prepared on behalf of the entire Gambian community, stated that their presence at the Fairisle Close is to show solidarity to Fatoumatta’s family in this difficult time and also to join the call for justice to be adequately served in this heinous crime against very loving, friendly, and respectful family.
Mr. Touray said Fatoumatta was very industrious and had great dreams and aspiration to serve her family and community.
He revealed that she was a community person who would participate in different voluntary services just to put a smile on people’s faces.
He recalled Fatima would always call him and other elders within the community “uncle” and that shows the level of respect she had.
Mr. Touray thanked the Notts Fire and Ambulance Serves and Nottinghamshire Police for their timely response in trying to save Fatoumatta and her two daughters’ and in the immediate arrest of a suspect.
He however urged the police that the community is waiting for a quick conclusion into the investigation and that justice will be appropriately served in honour and respect of mother and daughters who were gruesomely taken away from their family.
The Consular at the Gambian High Commission in London Sainey Barrow accompanied by Protocol Officer Mama Conateh said they have come to sympathise with the family of Fatoumatta Hydara on behalf of the High Commissioner Fatou Bensouda and show their solidarity to the Gambians in Nottingham.
Ms. Barrow extended condolences from the Gambian President Adama Barrow and the entire Gambian people around the world.
Ms. Barrow expressed shock and disbelief and said it is difficult to come into terms with the way their lives were taken. She visited the bereaved family and assured them of their support.
In a somber and distress mood, many Gambians especially the women folk, expressed how outraged they are as mothers.
One of them said the two girls will never live to achieve their dreams and their mother will never see those dreams come through while the husband and father is left with no trace of wife and daughters.
There was an increased presence of police and media coverage following the announcement of the vigil by the Nottinghamshire Gambian Community.