Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category


September 12, 2015


By Professor Sulayman S. Nyang
Howard University

Bamba Njie was born in the year 1928 and died on September 9, 2015. Born and raised in the city of Banjul, Bamba Njie belonged to a generation of Gambia who lived under British colonial rule. In order for us to offer our condolences and to remind his beloved darling Dianna and the surviving children who are now in mourning of a loving dad, it is necessary for us to review his life and times in The Gambia and the United States of America.

In writing this obituary several aspects of his life present them immediately. First of all, Bamba belong to that generation of Gambia who were old enough to remember the Second World War and had familiar stories and anecdotes about colonial rule in The Gambia. This special dimension of his life put him in the same generation of educated Gambians who travelled on the pathways towards modernization and Islamization in The Gambia and beyond. Since The Gambia was effectively colonized by 1900, the generation of Bamba Njie lived under British rule. Interestingly, he lived long enough to witness the transition from colonial rule and decolonization on February 18, 1965. It was his generation, who were old enough to rise up and cheer the Kwame Nkrumah, Sekou Toure and the likes of Pa Edward Small, Reverend J.C. Faye, Pierre Sarr Njie, Ibrahima Garba Jahumpa, and Kairaba Jawara during those critical moments in our history.

Bamba Njie was a contemporary of decolonizing youth and his biography is full of narratives about Gambian youths and the lessons from the Seringe Dara or the missionary teacher impacting Western knowledge to young Gambians. When Florence Mahoney wrote her dissertation and several publications on government and opinions in The Gambia she spoke about social changes and transformation. The biography of Bamba, like those narratives about Banjul and the Gambia captured in the telling of our individual and collective stories, is part and parcel of Gambian history.

When Arnold Hughe, for example, wrote about the Gambian leaders, his narratives written in collaboration with Norman Perfect, described certain personalities. Many of these individuals were contemporaries who knew Kortor Bamba Njie. To contextualize Mr Njie and his life and times in The Gambia, we must go back to the observations of historical writers such as Andrew Roberts who spoke about the colonial moment in Africa. Focusing on the period 1900 to 1940, the forces and factors that combine to shape and affect African lives come to mind. Bamba was caught in the coexistence of Islam and Westernization. Born in a Wolof-speaking community, he went to Quranic school (locally called Dara) and acquires a command of the English, which enabled him to gain access to the job market in the country. In Quranic school he learned from the scholarship of Tamsir Demba Mbye, who worked effectively with Imam Muhammad Lamin Bah and other elders of the Mosque Committee in Banjul.

As one of the small but growing numbers of Gambians with primary and secondary education he got jobs with the trading companies such as the United Africa Company (UAC) and later served in another capacity with Gambia Oil Marketing Board (GOMB). It was in these capacities when his life intersected with people like the Sheriff Mustapha Dibba, who had also worked with the UAC before joining the emerging People’s Progressive Party (PPP) headed by former President Jawara in the year 1959.

After serving with the GOMB whose name changed to The Gambia Produce Marketing Board (GPMB) soon after independence, Mr Njie embarked on another journey to improve his life and circumstances in the U.S. These changes in his life were occasioned by the new ideas coming from the small but growing numbers of Gambians in the United States of America. The success story of Mr Ousman Sallah was beginning to ring a bell of welcome to Gambian ears. Sallah, who arrived in the country under the formative years of John F. Kennedy was a beneficiary of the assistance and generosity of Paul Paddock, a former American diplomat now better remembered by his book on China, Hungry Nations in the World, Ousman Sallah helped bring to the U.S. many family members and other Gambians. That demonstration effect from Sallah inspired me and several others who brought aspiring Africans. What the late Tom Mboya did for President Obama’s father and many others, Paul Paddock and Sallah did. Bamba too did similar things for his family and others. Prior to his decision to go to America before the end of the first decade of Gambian independence, Mr Njie had married the late Aji Ndeye Saine, who bore him the faithful and devoted Ba Sin Njie. This young lady known to many Gambians and others in America wears the uniform of her Islamic identity and tries to be the living human embodiment of her first name Basin (this is to say) the two alphabet in the al-Fatiha of the Quran.

When Mr Njie landed in the Washington area, he shared rooms with many Gambians living on 1724 17th. Street, NW, Washington D.C.  The first Gambians living in that apartment building were Cheyassin Secka, Babou Saho and Hassan Harding. Soon after Secka and Harding left the country and returned to The Gambia, the likes of Mr Njie shared quarters with Babou Saho, the three Sallah brothers (Tijan, Jabel and Mawdor), Bala Chune and several other young Gambians. During this period of residence at 17th, Street, many of the abled bodied Gambians offered their services to the contractors who were building what we now called the interstate highways linking the District of Columbia and the states of Virginia and Maryland. Whenever a comprehensive story of Senegambian immigrants in America is written the likes of Bamba Njie will be remembered in numerous capacities.

After working with many Gambians and other employees of the contracting companies in metropolitan Washington, Bamba relocated in Atlanta, forming a part of the new wave of Senegambian settlers in the hometown of Martin Luther King and Mayor Andrew Young. These were the new days for the African immigrants whose lives were destined to define and colour what most people now referred to as African immigrant Diaspora   in the land of former President Jimmy Carter. Not only do these Africans acknowledge this association with him, several other groups in Atlanta recognized and honoured him. While working with these partners in social mobilization and community building, he Bamba joined hands with the founding fathers and mothers of AGERA (Atlanta-Gambian Emergency Relief Association). Not only did he give time, money and energy to advise and guide younger and older Gambians, but also he exercised tact, experience and sagacity under sometimes trying and puzzling challenges. His passion for things Africa from his Gambian upbringing was evident in his cooperation with secular and religious organizations among the Gambians, Senegalese and other residents in Atlanta. Building on his past skills as a leader of men and women in the cooperative unions in The Gambia, the late Bamba joined those who served the Dariyyah (Sufi bodies) operating among the Muslims in Atlanta and beyond.

In reconstructing the life and times of Mr Bamba Njie, we must inform other Gambians and other human beings who knew him or did not know anything about, who he was and what were the contents of his character, as once formulated generally by the late Martin Luther King. Truth be told, Bamba was a gregarious person who knew how to make friend and influence people. Not only did he befriend Gambians and others, he worked his way to the management of the hotel industry in Atlanta. His relationship with the operators of the Hilton Hotel in Atlanta led to his secured and effective career as an employee of this Atlanta enterprise. Not only was he visible at his job, but he also served as a guide for the perplexed Gambians looking for employment. He was found willing and helpful. There are countless anecdotes to support these claims.

From Atlanta he once again relocated to New Orleans. This is the third chapter in his tales of three cities. This American Journey is filled with personal successes and tragedies. Like countless others, he and wife Diana suffered from the slings and arrows of Katrina when nature flooded the city and threw thousands to faraway places. Suffering from these blows, the family moved back to Atlanta. Fate and history in their mysterious ways kept him in his second American city until illness began to inch its way into his strength and powers. With its disabling powers, a stoke hit home and he learned to cope and survive. For several years, he limped and persevered with the support of wife and children. To the best of my knowledge, he left us with serious appreciation of his wife and children,

In concluding this obituary, a few points need to be left to fellow human beings about the man and his works: Kortor Bamba was our elder both in words and deeds; he was rich both in his command of our Senegambian traditions and cultures but also in his familiarity with modernizing ways as he educated his children in The Gambia and here in the United States of America; finally, it must be added here that Bamba Njie was one of the few Gambians who went through the ordeal of colonial rule without losing his pride and feelings of being useful and relevant wherever he was. Coming to America was a challenge, his wife and children will forever serve as his magnifying mirrors as well loud speakers reassuring world as to he was and what he accomplished in his lifetime.



May 31, 2015



A ‘man’ in an African context is not only a human with a penis and testicles but a person who embodies courage, humanity, integrity, honesty, principle, loyalty, endurance and maturity. Coupled with these laudable hallmarks accentuating manliness are compassion and caring. This reminds me of a lad who queried his dad: “Who is a good man?” After highlighting all the trademarks of a man to the innocent lad, he looked at his dad in the eyes and said “When I grow up, I would like to be like mum”. His dad was for a moment baffled and lost in his imagination. As he was pondering if his son was growing into a gay, the reality of his son’s statement slapped him hard across the face. He awakened to the fact that all the cherishing characteristics he evoked to portray a man except the penis and testicles were extraordinarily housed in his wife.

Similarly, circumcision for the African boy, is not only the removal of the foreskin of the penis but a rite of passage to the world of manhood. “Rites of passage play a central role in African socialization, demarking the different stages in an individual development (gender and otherwise), as well as that person’s relationship and role to the broader community. The major stage in African life is the transition from child to adult when they become fully institutionalized to the ethics of the group’s culture. Rites of passage are for this reason critical in nation building and identity formation”, posited Shahadah. Conventionally, this initiation of the African child from childhood to adulthood exposes one to the underworlds of manliness as elaborately captivated in some of the rite songs of varied African tribes. Most importantly, one is expected to emerge grown-up, respectful and helpful at all times. Consequently, if an initiated man behaves in a nonconformist manner such as disrespecting another person is tagged a solima-uncircumcised. Arguably, on this plane, it is fitting to call President Yahya Jammeh a solima who needs circumcising.

Firstly, President Jammeh is arrogant and indiscipline. However, before referencing instances to substantiate my deduction, I would like to contrast his character to that of Okonkwo of Chinua Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart” novel. Okonkwo, a son of a vain, lazy and wasteful father, got catapulted to fame and power by the hand of nature when he defeated Amalinze the Cat in a wrestling contest. He loathed his dad for his poverty, laziness and weakness such that he resolved himself to become his father’s complete opposite. His father represented failure and he will epitomise success. To nest success and acceptance in a world which hails manliness, Okonkwo dressed himself in a uniform of brutality. With the passage of time, he transcended into a very volatile man who excelled in exploding at the slightest of provocation. Regrettably, he became insensitive and controlling to his wives and children. At the height of his power and fame, he became stoic. Like his father, Okonkwo found himself at odd in adapting to the changing realities of his community. As a result, he began defying the gods and disdainfully rejected the advice of an elder not to partake in the killing of his adopted son in a futile effort to avert the course of nature. He nonchalantly dismissed the advice as personifying weakness. The execution of his adopted son relegated him to a relic. Eventually, he ended taking his own life to avoid capture and humiliation. Arrogance with misjudgement, anger and violence brought about his demise. Ironically, Okonkwo exemplified President Jammeh in many striking ways as can also be inferred between Okonkwo’s father and that of President Jammeh. Jammeh’s arrogance and indiscipline can be illustrated in many instances.

One of the most striking is his recent insulting of the Mandinkas which generated headlines in most Gambian media outlets. He had also contrasted Imam Bakawsu Fofana with his shoes in a live national TV coverage intending to humiliate the Islamic cleric. Also insulted by President Jammeh are some cabinet ministers, religious clerics and senior civil servants. Jammeh’s arrogance is amply captured in his disregard for establishment, custom and ethics.

It is repeatedly reported that Monster Jammeh always orders the filming of the tortures of his captured perceived enemies which he watches in his quiet moments and gratifies his demonic ego. The unlawful detentions, extra-judicial killings, enforced disappearances and political thuggery all punctuate lack of the benchmarks of manliness in President Jammeh. It all add up to reveal a rotten inner core beneath the hard outer cell of his whitish Grand Mboubou.

The fundamental question which now arises is how do we circumcise President Jammeh? For a start, Gambians must acknowledge that political power resides in their hands and not on the politicians. Precisely why they come back to us at the end of every five years to beg for our votes. Furthermore, we must also appreciate the fact that it is us who decide the next president come 2016 election, not Jammeh, Darboe, Bah or Jatta. To believe that whether we vote for Jammeh or not he will win is nothing but a fallacy and political ploy to get your vote. Incumbent presidents have been and will continue to be voted out of power and the closest to home is Senegal and Nigeria. Accordingly, we can circumcise President Jammeh by voting him out of office in 2016 Presidential election. He has avails us all the reasons to do so. For instance, he accuses Jawara of corruption and flamboyant life. Today his personal wealth is more than the national. He rides in the most expensive American cars, he travel on private planes, has offshore accounts and one of the most expensive houses in America. Secondly, he said Jawara overstayed for 30 years. He is now 21 years in power and recently opposed a two-term limit for ECOWAS member state presidents which was tabled in Ghana for consideration. Another reason why we should vote him out of office is the decaying economy under his leadership. Basic commodity prices are sky-rocketing daily, the Dalasi is equally depreciating at an alarming rate, the national reserves are depleting unflinchingly and standard of living is worsening every second.

In conclusion, President Jammeh must be voted out of office in 2016 election.

Sulayman Jeng

Birmingham, UK


May 17, 2015
You've executed 9, how many more, Mr Monster?

This Devil is not only a Mandinka problem but a national Gambian problem?

By Yanks Darboe

They said Jammeh was at it again of recent, with renewed vitriol against the Mandinka people. The question that lingers in many minds, or many have been asking is not what he said – for all can guess what that must have been – but what will the Mandinkas do about it? The same question that must have been lingering in the rotten minds of Yahya Jammeh, when he pondered over his vitriol, before uttering them! But the question that lingers in mine, as a Mandinka and that of many Mandings, is what do they expect us to do about it? Start a war against Yahya Jammeh or his tribe, the Jolas or the state he heads, the Gambian state? What do they really expect or want the Mandinkas to do about it? This is what I tried to battle with in the rest of this piece and hope that you make sense out of it, not feel offended! 

Surely, it would not make sense to anyone to believe that a tribe of more than a million people can fight with a single individual; especially when that individual is as rotten as the little spoilt brat called Yahya Jammeh!!! It therefore would ruled out any conjecture of a possibility of a battle or fist fight between the Mandinkas, as a tribe, and Yahya Jammeh an individual. Surely, it is becoming vivid that Yahya Jammeh is hankering to bequeath a legacy of a folklore to be narrated to generations after him,  that he is the Jola boy, who took on the Mandinka tribe and won. Rather than being the little brat, who was too scared to take on the challenge of a little Mandinka boy called Yanks Darboe for a boxing contest in a neutral country. But this spoilt brat has a dream, a dream of a legacy hero boy, who battled the Mandings and won. But if such be his wish, let him take me on first in a neutral country, and see if this Manding blood running in my veins would not be strong enough to whip his smelly ass!!  So, we must not let Yahya Jammeh win in his quest of a legacy of such a narrative. A tribe cannot fight with an individual, especially when that individual is as cowardice as Yahya Jammeh.

So, since the Mandinkas cannot take on Jammeh, in a tribe versus an individual contest, what else is expected of the Mandinkas to do to avenge against Jammehs tirades. Do they expect us to go to war with his tribesmen, the Jolas or the Gambian state, made up of Mandinkas and every other Gambian tribes. In simple terms that will be a war of Mandinkas against Mandinkas and all other Gambian tribes. Something which is not feasible or winnable. It sound more like suicide, if you ask me.

So that left us with only one option, which is a war against the Jolas! Is this what Jammeh and those harbouring such hideous questions want? And tell me what would be gained out of a Mandinka mob from Jarra, Kiang, Badibu, Niumi, and Kombo marauding the habitats of Foni; killing, pillaging and destroying, as witnessed in Rwanda, Burundi, Liberia. Simply because, that happens to be the habitat of the Jammeh tribe. I tell you what will be gained out of such madness. The Mandinkas will simply be labelled as savages by the international community, whilst the other half will be paraded at the ICC for crimes against humanity.  Is this what will satisfy Jammeh and those asking such hideous questions, as justice for the Mandinkas against Jammeh’s vitriol. Someone would ask in any subsequent trials of the Manding folks, what has an innocent young Jola girl or boy had to do with Jammeh’s insolent vitriol.

Many forgot that the Mandinkas of today and those of yesterday are very different. Mandinkas of today have embraced changed. They inter-married and shared new cultures of nationhood with Wolofs, Fulas, and Jolas. Those who think a war between Mandinkas and Jolas will be limited to those communities, are not aware of the dimensions of the Gambian heterogeneous society.

They think a Mandinka wielding machete man, from the rural Gambia, will ask a question of whether one is a Jola or Wolof or Fula before striking. This is because, although the  Jolas are not the largest tribe in the Gambia, but they are related to all other tribes the Gambia, including: the Mandinkas, Fulas and Wolofs. So where do we draw the lines. How do you control a machete wielding Mandinka man from rural Gambia to strike only at those, who are Jolas but not those who are related to Jolas. The same would go for a Jola wielding machete man from Foni.

For example, as a Mandinka – and unlike what others would feel, I am a very proud Mandinka and that will never be dimmed by the son-of-a-bitch Yahya Jammeh – I have relatives from my mother’s side who are Jolas from Cassamance. Something which could make some Mandinkas think that, even I am not pure Mandinka enough. So what ought to be my fate. Will I also be butchered because of that link to the Jolas or speared as a Mandinka!!

Yahya Jammeh knows that there cannot be a war between Mandings and Jolas, in which Jolas will triumph and that is a common knowledge to most Jolas. Simply because of the sheer number of the Mandings. The Jolas are mainly centred in the Gambia and southern Senegal. The Mandings are one of the largest tribes in West Africa. You will find them in Mali, Sierra Leone, Burkina Faso and Liberia, etc. In fact even if Yahya and Jolas joined and massacred all Mandinkas in The Gambia and Senegal, it will not be the extinction of the Mandings. But if Jawara or another Manding leader in Gambia are to do the same to the Jolas in Gambia and Senegal, then Jolas will become an endangered tribe.

So why should such a tribe, as big as Mandinkas, stoop so low to pick a fight with one individual, who is the world’s worst coward, Yahya Jammeh, as to be battered and bruised by his insults and plunge his whole tribe and nation into smouldering waste land. Despite many years of hard work to build such a heterogeneous society called The Gambia.

When Yahya Jammeh first came to power, he started his vitriols against the Jolas first. Since then he has insulted all of the other tribes in The Gambia. He insulted all of the Gambian men few years ago that they are not all men enough. Few days ago, he insulted all of the Gambian opposition transcending beyond any one particular tribe in The Gambia. If we do not want anymore insults from Yahya Jammeh; we must rise up as a nation to fight him together as a national problem, but not see it as a tribal problem.

Yayeh Jammeh was brought to power not through the efforts of the Jolas, but that of the efforts of the Gambia National Army consisting of all tribes. He was not brought to power by Mandinkas and is therefore not our problem alone but a national problem and must be tackled as such! Otherwise if Mandinkas alone defeat then, they will have every right to chase all other tribes of the Gambia out of the country and claimed it as their spoils of war!


March 31, 2015



The death is announced of Pa Omar Mass stepfather and last remaining parent of Bamba Sering Mass-Kibaaro Managing Director-from his patrilineal side. Pa Omar Mass died early Monday morning and was laid to rest at Wellingara cemetery in Serre Kunda. He is survived by Sons, Daughters and so many grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Kibaaro News and its management wish to send their condolences to Mr. Mass and his entire Family. May the departed soul rest in peace. Amen.


March 19, 2015




By Sarata Jabbi

Campaign for an end to a harmful traditional practice called Female Genital Mutilation/Circumcision, (FGM/C) is on increase on daily basis in the UK. According the world health organisation FGM/C comprises all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.

During the weekend the Muslim Women Network UK (MWNUK), in partnership with St Alban’s Academy, FORWARD (Foundation for Women’s Health Research and Development) UK, and the West Midlands Police organised a Summit on FGM at St Alban’s Academy, Highgate Birmingham. The aim of Summit was to bring together survivor communities and practitioners, to identify gaps in service provision, share knowledge, and establish Birmingham as a leading hub for modelling best practice by engaging schools, practitioners and parents in fight against FGM.

In her welcoming remark the Executive Director of the MWNUK, Faeeza Vaid, described the event as an important landmark event for Birmingham in highlighting FGM, and bringing together multiple agencies. Ms Vaid went on to say that only by working collaboratively will they be able to end FGM in a generation. Over 137,000 girls and women living in England and Wales have been affected by FGM and 130 million girls and women experienced some form of FGM globally, revealed Ms Vaid.

On the way that Birmingham can make a difference in tackling FGM, Shabana Mahmood, MP, Shadow Treasury minister and MP Ladywood Nechells called on all residents regardless of race or colour to work together in raising awareness on the effects of FGM, adding that men should equally join the struggle and become champions by making sure that the world become free of FGM.

Other speakers include Alison Byrne FGM specialist-Heartland hospital, Gillian Squires Child Protection Unit, West Midlands Police, Hazel Pulley and Vanessa Diakides, who all spoke at length on the safeguarding, health and law aspect of FGM as well as the importance of the raising awareness in schools, and communities across Birmingham.

Imam Ahmed Johari and Father Nicholas lo Polito both strongly argues that FGM is harmful to human body, and neither the Bible nor the Qur’an gives anyone the right to harm another person. The summit was attended by health professionals, police, teachers, survivors, students, faith leaders, and community groups.

International Women’s day: A reflection

March 8, 2015
 Author : Fatou Jaw Manneh

Author : Fatou Jaw Manneh

By Fatou Jaw Manneh

When I was growing up in my native land, The Gambia, I never heard of anything called International Woman or Women’s Day. I am Muslim, and going by tradition and religion, and as the norm in the area I come from, the woman’s role is mainly to be a stay-at-home mum and wife, taking care of husband and children, the gardens.

My Mum used to advise me that a high school education was good enough for a housewife. She still is not aware that I have managed to get a college degree in America; not sure if it will mean anything to her. It will just probably just scare her. I wonder how I even made it through high school under the cautious eyes of my Dad, who never trusted Western education. He used to tell my Mum that all those who received Western education would be betrayers to tradition and religion – they would be un-Islamic. He was a strict Muslim. He has passed away, May God grant him Jannah.

Looking back at everything that my Dad said about Western education, I think his opinions are debatable. I agree. Times have changed; and circumstances have drastically changed and in the context of Gambian society, I don’t know if my dad’s fear or detest of Western education holds water, but his viewpoints on the effects of Western education are perhaps still debatable. But that is for another time. Another story. I was always amazed at what my Mum had single-handedly achieved. But I was a Daddy’s girl.

All the same, I am grateful that he enrolled us in school; the only reason why he sent us to school, I think, was perhaps because he had some good friends in the city who all claimed and boasted of getting their children in school. Perhaps that was his only influence. Even some Christian teachers who tried to give us a hand in class lessons outside of official school hours were eyed with suspicion, if not slight scorn.
My first introduction to any woman first is my Mum, before curiosity and reading led me to Winnie Mandela, Harriet Tubman, Ida B wells, Sojourner Truth, Talata Nder Women , and Aline Sitoe Jatta of Senegal, to modern times Hillary Clinton, Condoleezza Rice, Elizabeth Warren, Ann Sung Kyi, Mariam Fye Sall, Michelle Obama, and Princess Diana to count a few. Great women in the history of African Americans, taken as slaves in the Americas have shown tremendous courage in enduring/fighting against slavery and the abolition of slavery. They became educators, human rights activists, business women, they did what they could then to save/free their families from slavery. Those were unbelievably tough times. Sojourner Truth (1797–1883) Abolitionist and women’s rights activist …, Ida B Wells, Harriet Tubman, and God bless their souls.

My father was a great man, active in the community in both Foni and Sukuta where we lived. Staunch supporter of the old regime. Solidly behind him. He gave hints here and there why they stood behind Jawara. Unlike the American founding fathers who are my idols too, dad and his crew left us no literature to read about the happenings in the country especially after colonialism. They guard all that information to their chests. Not sharing much with their children. They never even discussed slavery or the slave trade. I learnt about that on my own. You will hear about “issues” with the Whiteman but they will never discuss the specifics of what they heard happened. What was given to them by their fathers? My Dad was very proud of his own father. A very handsome and brave man my Mum would tell me.

My Mum was never schooled and she never harbored regret. She never told me she wished she was educated. I think her role model though was her father who never had western education, but he and his brothers were skilled tailors. Her father a migrant from Guinea Conakry, Timbi Madina. My mother had an eye for neat, soft cotton dresses and bedsheets. She always admired more how the dress was made more than how beautiful it will look on anyone. I never saw her with much, neither some gold or silver accessories that adorned traditional African women of their times. She was living under a strict and commanding husband and hence she was overwhelmed with child bearing, she was never active outside of the house, outside of farming. So my mother was a poor woman when it comes to elaborate living. She was content with basic living. Never saw her going to any political or drumming sessions in the village then. She was reserved and a recluse almost. But she hated elaborate living. Because growing up, she made sure I am kept as modest as possible. She and dad would always reiterate, “Just cook what we have”.

My mother was modest, humble, and hardworking. She did her duties then with bravado. She has ten children, 9 living, never had a maid. We were never hungry. She is a seriously clean woman. She scrubbed us morning and night. Not to mention white cotton bed sheets that were all kept washed and ironed every Sunday. I was raised in the village, with basically nothing but a very fulfilling life. I was fed, kept clean at all times and taught how to wash clothes, iron, and cook at a very young age. I thankfully was able to study well and finish my primary and high school education successfully. My mum has a small garden where she grows tomatoes, eggplant, okra, pepper and bitter leaves, corn, mangoes, oranges. In the rainy season, she has a rice field to attend to. That is like 2 kilometers from our house.
When it rained heavily, as kids, my brother and I will wait patiently, wondering how Mum was faring from the trip back from the rice fields. The rains can be thunderous, dark and gloomy. She cracks the back door with a laugh, “I am all wet”, she will say, laughing, dripping from rain, just so we know she is very okay. Then we will jump and join the laughter. She will then get a real shower, make us all some tea and we will get cozy and enjoy the cool aftermath of rain.

My Mum was a woman of her times. She did all that was expected of her during that time to keep her family healthy and educated. She wanted us to excel in primary school. Not to mention a very authoritative and commanding husband. Mum was quick at whatever she did. All Dad’s demands were met, obliged and delivered without a word. My Mum like most women of their day, was strong, resilient, caring, content, simple, modest, helpful, thoughtful, compassionate and giving. I later realized too that she was not as powerless as she portrays in her house. With Dad she plays tag along and submissive. She is a rock and I salute her. Ajarama Isatou Jallow.
Growing up and finding my own way in a very traditional, Islamic and poor community, with a high school certificate, not much was available for a “career”. I stumbled into journalism after bombarding the Publisher of the Daily Observer with social commentary letters. He was impressed and invited me to consider reporting as a career. Don’t know if my mum was educated, she would have 10 kids, a demanding husband. She might be a designer. She loves fabric and neat sewing.

After My Mum, the other two women I knew about were Khadijah, wife of Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) and Winnie Mandela, wife of freedom fighter and former South African President, Nelson Mandela. We were taught at a young age that Khadija was the most emulated, loved and respected woman in Islam. She was the first wife of the Prophet Mohammed (PBH). She was the first Muslim woman in Islam, after the prophet’s little nephew Ali and friend Abubacar. (Hope I got that right.) Khadija was a thriving business woman in Mecca. She was 45 when she married 25 year old Muhammad. She cared deeply about him. In all the trials that the prophet went through in Mecca, Khadija was always by his side, reassuring him that he was doing the right thing and everything will be okay. Khadija was giving. She lost all her wealth during the internal wars Muhammad had to go through. She later migrated with him to Medina as an asylee. Khadija believed in her husband, who was loving and caring too. She believed in Islam and she stood up to fight alongside her husband.

The second woman was Winnie Mandela. Former wife of Nelson Mandela. I remember I used to blush when our neighbor called me Winnie. Winnie was my idol after I read about Apartheid South Africa. Mandela probably would not have endured the harsh conditions of prison if not for dynamic, strong, powerful Winnie Mandela. Not only was she there for Mandela during the hard times, but she equally was never corrupted by the White South African government then. She stood her ground through all her bitter experiences in South Africa.
These three women shaped my thoughts as a woman. My Mum, taught me how to be giving, caring, considerate and content with the little I have. Khadija and Winnie made me believe that hard times can be overcome. As human beings we have to meet the challenges of our times and leave a good legacy for history which future generations can benefit from, be inspired by or derive courage from. I am thankful to them.
We have come a long way. The youngest Nobel Prize winner is Malala of Pakistan. She fought the Taliban to make sure education is available to girls in her community. She almost lost her life. She is not even 20 yet.

Times have seriously changed. It was epiphany for me learning about some of the great women of the world. We have come a long way indeed. I never knew that American women had to fight equally hard, to be able to vote, for inheritance, for good education and health care until later in my adult life. Women have fought hard for a better life for them and their families throughout the world, from Asia, Bahamas, Americas and Africa. I am proud of them all. It is the exemplary role of these extraordinary women that shaped my opinion in this strange world. I am a better person because of them. I read them to get inspiration and find my way in this new world.
My Mum taught me how to be honest, genuine, caring, humble, humble, humble and modest. I learned from Winnie Mandela, Sojourner Truth, Hillary Clinton, Aline Sittoe Jatta, how to be brave, combative and stand my ground. They are my inspiration. I challenge all my sisters, especially the younger ones, to find their inspiration among these brave women of the world. We have to differentiate how to be feminine at home and how to be a feminist in our communities, like all the brave women mentioned above. Most of these women were just great companions to their husbands. Like Hagar was for Ibrahim (PBUH), Khadija and Aisha for Mohammed (PBUH), Mariam and Mary Magdalene for Prophet Jesus (PBUH), Maaam Jarra Bousso, and the list can continue.

As we reflect on International Women’s Day, we should keep asking ourselves how we can improve our communities. How do we become less selfish and fight for the broader improvement for all, our families, neighbors and our communities? What are we proud of?? When death knocks at our doors, what do we leave behind? What and how do we inspire our daughters and sisters? How do we inspire, lift up our good brothers, fathers and husbands who need us? How do we keep our sophistication? How do we define a sophisticated woman?? What is the challenge of our times??? Do we succumb to begging, clapping after dictators or do we stand bold and ready to die for our country?? Why do we settle for prostitution when we can flaunt our beauty for better causes in our lifetime? How do we define beauty?? Is it about fake hair all the time, skin bleaching or is it about having a great attitude and being confident in our skin – hair or no hair – and without paying attention to the hue of the skin? Martin Luther King Jr. fought for “content for character”, not hue of skin color. Josephine Baker, Nina Simone, and Miriam Makeba were extraordinary beauties of their times. They used it well and sang well for the freedom of their families. God bless their souls. We can be all these women. How can we be an every woman, modern, sophisticated, loving, caring and at the same time hold no bars in the fight against evil, be it in dictators, girl traffickers, women abusers, or cruel human beings around the world? There is plenty of inspiration and stories dating back hundreds of years to draw wisdom and courage from. Happy International Women’s Day to all my friends both men and women. We all have to make this world better for our mothers, daughters and sisters. It is said that you educate a woman, you educate the whole world.

A wise woman wishes to be no one’s enemy; a wise woman refuses to be anyone’s victim. – Maya Angelou

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March , 8, 2015



March 8, 2015
Author: Cherif Diallo

Author: Cherif Diallo

By Cherif Zawiya Diallo

The first month of the earliest Roman calendar, March, stem from the Latin word “Martis“ the God of war.  More than a month in the calendar or a war divinity, it symbolize a new season, a new beginning. With it comes spring, a season the northern hemisphere look forward to, after a harsh winter.

More than an almanac, March is the month of hope, celebration and recognition. It’s the month, dedicated to women. Let’s stop and acknowledge the merit of the most prolific being of our humanity. A being made of beauty, graciousness, unselfishness, caring and loving. More than anybody they deserve it.

With the spirit of spring, let’s reach out to them, who are still held into the depth of history by the weight of our macho society. Let’s bring them to the light of the twenty first century by honoring and acknowledging them. It’s in our best interest and the best interest of all Humanity. A woman with dignity is the world best hope.

Women’s issues should not be a once a year affair, but, an everyday issue. It’s time we stop playing the legislative roulette at their expense. Let’s not only look back at what have been done in the last twelve months since the last Women’s Month and Women’s Day but, to what lies ahead and needs to be done. A day and a month alone will not change anything without a willingness to make the changes happen. If raising a girl is raising a village (African proverb) then, an opportunity to a woman is an opportunities to the entire world.

Let’s do away with long speeches, empty promises and implement the Beijing declaration. Let’s make women’s issues and concerns our priority so they will make our world a better place. Let’s make Women’s Month and woman’s Day history by fully implement the 1995 women’s conference declaration. How long are we going to delay and postpone it? Isn’t twenty years enough? By delaying and postponing the implementation of the 1995 declaration of Beijing, China, we are denying opportunity to the whole world.

Our Macho society, as usual will give itself a self-satisfaction by using the well-known rhetoric “a lot has been done”. Our reaction to that should be, until women get an equal pay for an equal workload there will always be room for improvement. Action speaks louder than words. A woman victim of domestic abuse and violence is one woman too many. A woman victim of discrimination of any kind is one woman too many.

Two decade of wait is more than enough. Let’s not only bridge but close the gap. Let’s empower and restore women dignity once for all. It’s a moral thing to do. Women’s right is human’s right. Why wait? The time is now. “Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed.” said Booker T. Washington. In this case the obstacle is nothing less than our macho society and it prehistoric policies and cultural costumes. We the people are the obstacles! Let’s remove them!

As I write these words my heart and prayers goes to the women in the war zones such as the Darfur in Soudan, South Soudan, Iraq (Yezidis), Syria and Nigeria where Boko Haram reign of terror is unheard of in that part of Africa. It also goes to you the everyday woman whose concern is the well-being of our communities. Let’s not forget the brave women of Guinee, Liberia and Sierra Leon who were for several months on the front line of the battle against Ebola virus.

I want to take this opportunity to pay tribute to two outstanding women, Maria Hinojosa of Latino USA in New York City and Mariam Dao Gabala of OIkocredit in the Ivory Coast (West Africa). These two women for two decade have serve their communities with an unselfish devotion and made a huge difference in many lives.

Cherif Zawiya Diallo