BY MUSA MANNEH
MR. TAMBA FOFANA: THE MAN I CALL MY FIRST PROFESSOR AND THE BEACON OF MY EDUCATION: A TRIBUTE TO A GREAT TEACHER
“Good teachers impart good education. Great teachers groom their students to become leaders. Ordinary teachers direct us along the right path, but great teachers inspire us to seek our own path. They encourage us to discover our talents.” (Quoted)
“Tamba spent his entire life in public service, imparting knowledge to thousands of students over the years within the length and breadth of the Gambia. He not only succeeded in instilling information into the brains of the students under his tutelage, his calling was a far greater chore. He considered it a noble undertaking and a duty of citizenship to transform his students into good citizens for goodwill of society. “(Quoted)
The first letter of his name, Tamba, resonates “TEACHER”. Is this a coincidence or the Almighty God sent us a great and natural teacher in the person of Mr. Tamba Fofana? Whatever the answer may be, we all know that Mr. Tamba Fofana was a great teacher with enviable virtues.
Today, I pay tribute to a man I call my first professor, Mr. Tamba Fofana, who is the beacon of my education. It is an appreciation for a teacher who made a lasting impression in the classroom and had a positive influence on Bansangkas, Gambians and his students all over the world.
This world is full of people whose paths we cross often in our day-to-day interactions. Most we forget as we move on; few we faintly remember and there are a handful we vividly remember… in fact we never forget them. These are people who live their lives like it should be lived … simple, selfless and for others! Mr. Tamba Fofana was indeed such an exemplary person. He was more than a teacher to me. He was a dedicated teacher (a rarity these days) who instilled a belief in each of his students. He always encouraged us to do well and achieve more in life.
It was really astonishing to see a person who taught only out of pure love for teaching. It is no wonder that students even after leaving the school, kept in touch with him even 10 years after school because that was how he was … a great human being and guidance!! If you’ve ever had a teacher who took his time to care, inspire your dreams and change your life for the better, then, you know that great teacher can make a big difference. Mr. Fofana gave us hope, direction, and new ideas. He challenged us and shaped the way we see the world forever.
I would never forget the way he believed in our abilities when we were not doing well in school and were afraid to sit for the Common Entrance Examination. He trusted us even when we and our parents had no hope in us.
But it won’t be the same any longer … since long time Mr. Tamba Fofana lost the battle from an illness; and today March 8th 2014 marks the day he passed away three years ago! He will be dearly missed not only as a great teacher but also as a person who lived selflessly… May his soul rest in peace!
When I graduated from Bansang Primary School, he became and remained a friend of mine until his untimely death in March of 2011. Shortly after his death, many of his students said a lot of good things about him. Many of us who studied under Mr. Tamba Fofana, there must be many besides myself, in whose lives he became an abiding presence; and who found in him not alone an incomparable teacher, an enduring challenge to mediocrity and complacency, but also a lifelong friend. He made it impossible for us to do anything less than our best for the world of which he made us feel so much a part.
There were great teachers at Bansang Primary School. I know some of them, and I’m sure each of you do; too. There were those who devoted their major energies to helping us make intellectual discoveries, to sharpen our mental equipment and to discover ourselves. It will be these teachers whom we will remember because they influenced what we do with our lives today. I think we will find that they are the enduring legacy of our years at Bansang Primary School and other institutions of higher education. This is the reason why I call Mr. Tamba Fofana my first professor because he prepared many of us for higher education.
I hope that you, as alumni of Bansang Primary School and former students of Mr. Tamba Fofana, Head Master, will help us to see to it that Tamba’s legacy and primary educational purpose is preserved, protected and strengthened for the future when it will be as much needed as it is now.
I have been tremendously blessed by a number of teachers in my life. As I mentioned in my previous tribute, my Primary School teacher, Mr. Tamba Fofana, was one of the best. Our Great Teacher stands for:
T is for Trusting: Tamba was patient, kind and I trusted him. He was the first teacher who ever recognized that I had something special and the potential to succeed. Tamba guided me through all my schooling in Bansang and Armitage High School. I will always treasure his kind words and his encouragement as I struggled with my life.
E is for Enthusiastic: Tamba was amazingly talented, as he could teacher any subject in the classroom. He was well-rounded teacher; he taught every course, believe it or not. He was very enthusiastic about all our learning.
A is for Amazing: Tamba was amazing to me in that, regardless of my shortcomings, he stood firmly behind me during the times of disappointments and struggles. He was never tired of me; Tamba always kept his cool. He was a true mentor and beloved by all.
C is for Charisma: You know those people who appear in your life and — no matter what they say or do — everyone loves them? That was Tamba, my professor. Tamba was brilliant and beloved by many for his firm, fair and consistent manner. He is charismatic and could keep you engaged for hours as he shared his teaching adventures. His genuine caring for his students, teachers, parents and school community won the hearts of many.
H is for Hope: Tamba always kept his cool; calmed us down when we get agitated and was a constant source of hope for us. He never wavered in his encouragement to us no matter what the situation might be. I will always remember him for his patience with us, and for his kind acceptance of all our diverse opinions. He taught us about democracy and freedom of speech. That was Mr. Tamba Fofana, the democrat.
E is for Extraordinary: Tamba passed away, but he left a legacy of extraordinary brilliance. I will always be in awe of his teaching and passionate spirit, and grateful for his firm belief in our abilities.
R is for Resonate: Tamba’s manner of teaching subjects and his message of hope always resonated his students. As a physically handicapped person (Tamba used a woodened bar “stick” to support his movements), Tamba was 100% convinced that, through the power of education, people could rise above any challenges, poverty and achieve their dreams. I will be forever grateful to him for his steadfast commitment to living a life filled with seeking his passion and teaching me to do the same.
Mr. Tamba Fofana gave his students both wealth and education (learning); this wealth and education continue to increase, help and support humanity, as our great teacher Mr. Tamba Fofana was a great human being. Tamba was not a politician; he was a scholar who taught us academic freedom and freedom of speech. As one of his former students, my first notion about democracy in its true nature came from him. Tamba was a true democrat and undeniable patriotic citizen of The Gambia. Tamba died for the ideals he believed in. Rest in Perfect Peace Mr. Professor Tamba Fofana.
I leave you with this African proverb:
“Wealth, if you use it, comes to an end; learning, if you use it, increases”. ~Swahili Proverb
OUR FIRST PROFESSOR AND TEACHER, MR. TAMBA FOFANA, WE SAY YOUR LEGACY REMAINS FOREVER