Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category

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

author can be reached at fatoujm@gmail.com.

March , 8, 2015

source: maafanta.com

WOMEN’S RIGHT IS HUMAN RIGHT!

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

NDEY JAWARA OF KOMBO BRUFUT PASSES AWAY IN COVENTRY, UK

March 1, 2015
THE LATE NDEY JAWARA

THE LATE NDEY JAWARA

INNA LILLAAHI WA INNA ILAIHI RAJ’UN

Mr Lamin Jatta and Family regret to announce the unanticipated demise of a wife, sister and daughter Mrs Ndey Jawara. The late Ndey Jawara hailed from Brufut, Kombo North district and resided at Coventry, West Midlands until her demise. This heart-breaking event occurred on Saturday 28 February 2015 at the Coventry hospital.

Arrangements are been made to repatriate Ndey Jawara’s body to the Gambia for fitting funeral rites. Gambians and friends of the Gambia in both Europe and America are urged to donate generously for the repatriation. All contributions and donations which cannot be made in person can be paid into the following account number:

Account Name: Mr Sanna K. Touray

Sort Code: 30-93-54

Account Number: 19752068

Bank: Lloyds Bank

No gesture will be too small or big. May the departed soul rest in peace. Amen.

HISTORICAL REVISIONISM: JAMMEH-STYLE

February 25, 2015
GAMBIA'S POLITICAL WHORE

GAMBIA’S POLITICAL WHORE

UNCLE SIDI-A VOICE OF REASON

UNCLE SIDI-A VOICE OF REASON

“The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.” ― George Orwell

Historical revisionism is the act of deliberate distortion of historical fact and evidence for political, social and cultural purposes.

The old Soviet Union and present-day North Korea, an ally of The Gambia, may have perfected the art but the Gambian dictator is attempting at refining it in the most brazen and blatantly inept way that characterizes the dictatorship.

To understand the reason for Jammeh’s revisionist activism, you must understand his personality and his Cassamance background. Jammeh has a personality problem emanating from a troubled past that weighs heavily on him – an issue confirmed by his military trainers and colleagues in the military police.

He feels rejected by Gambians because of his origins and his tribal affiliation.  He also has a deep-rooted feeling that because of his humble beginnings and an unaccomplished career both as a student and a military police, as some might put it; Gambians have little respect for him despite being the political leader of the country.  These feelings appear to be deep-rooted based on past public utterances and insinuations.

Admittedly, Jammeh has every right to feel the way he does about Gambians because it is through vote rigging that he managed to ensure his re-election on three separate occasions.  Without stuffing the ballot, Jammeh knows he cannot win a free, fair and transparent election despite his 20-year record in office and his claim that he has brought “infrastructural development” to the country.  For that, he holds Gambians in contempt because of “their ungratefulness” as he once described residents of Banjul when they decided to elect a native Banjulian Mayor of the capital city.

The 50th Anniversary of Gambia’s independence provided the occasion for the dictatorship to rewrite Gambia’s history. But something happened last 30th December that cemented Jammeh’s conviction that Gambians will do anything and everything to dislodge him from a position he has convinced himself to earn meritoriously.  Because the State House attack primarily was organized from abroad, and the fact that it nearly succeeded causing many deaths on both sides, his vulnerability has made him more paranoid and highly dangerous.  Jammeh is looking for revenge.  As a source in Banjul told me recently, ‘this is war’.

The war Jammeh is waging is two-pronged.  He is maiming, jailing, torturing and exiling as many of his real and imagined enemies as his notorious National Intelligence Agency (NIA) can “process”, to borrow a term used by a former NIA agent which suggests an assembly line approach to human brutality.

On the other flank, Jammeh is engaged in revising Gambian history by embellishing the history of a country he admits he lacks the knowledge of its rich history.  He blames the school curricula for not teaching Gambian history.  He has a point there.  But for someone who has been president for 20 years, Jammeh should have exerted individual effort to read the history of The Gambia he heads – typical Jammeh; he will blame everyone but himself.

British colonial history has not been spared in Jammeh’s revisionism, all 400 years of it leaving only one high school, which perhaps is the reason for Gambia’s economic backwardness.  It is also the failure of democracy – a British import – that brought nothing but misery, mayhem and disorder to The Gambian people resulting in further underdevelopment.

The renaming of the Sayerr Jobe Avenue, the main thoroughfare of the biggest urban area in The Gambia, to Yankuba Colley Highway is part of the assault on Gambia’s history.  Sayerr Jobe, the founder of Serre Kunda village in the early part of the last century, is a highly revered historical figure in Gambian history.  To exchange his name for the Mayor of Kanifing Municipal Council, a primary school drop-out who was dismissed from the police force and ended up as watchman at a local bus depot, is a slap in the face of not only the Jobe family of Serre Kunda but to Gambians at large.

It is feared that other major thoroughfares and other landmarks currently bearing the names of historical figures are targeted for renaming.  Like Yankuba Colley whose only qualification for being so honoured is he is Mayor of KMC with a highly deplorable record, others who will be honoured later will not be any more deserving than the primary school drop-out and former watchman.

The revisionism exercise continues under the direction of a deeply distraught and confused leader who admitted to a startling audience that it was only recently that he discovered who Edward Francis Small was – a Gambian trade unionist and politician who many consider to be the Father of Gambia’s Independence Movement.

Source: SIDI SANNEH’S BLOG

KARAMO SANNEH URGENTLY NEEDS YOUR ASSISTANCE, PLEASE HELP

February 5, 2015
KARAMO SANNEH-NEEDS YOU.

KARAMO SANNEH-NEEDS YOU.

Karamo Sanneh, a 37-year-old Gambian, resident of Tallinding in the Kanifing Municipality is in dire need of urgent financial help to go for an overseas medical treatment. According to a medical report from the Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital (EFSTH), Karamo was referred from Medical Research Council (MRC) in May 2012 with diagnosis of membrane-proliferative-glomerulonephritis type I, with active microangiopathic and tubular atrophy. In other words, he is a known chronic renal disease patient who immediately needs medical attention to save his life. He is being followed up

He is being followed up at the Nephrology Unit since then.  Recently, he started experiencing abdominal distension, bilateral pedal oedema, general weakness and occasional dizziness. Sanneh is a family man who depends only on him for their sustenance and there is nobody to take care of his family. Please for the sake of goodness and kindness help Karamo get the medical attention he urgently needs. No penny or pound will be small. Donate generously to safe Karamo and his family.

In this regard, he appeals to the government, NGOs, philanthropists, private sector and individuals both home and abroad to come to his aid. Please…please…please help Karamo Sanneh. Anyone willing to help Karamo Sanneh can contact him on the following numbers: (+220) 9921225/9119983.

NYAW NYING, GAMBIA’S GREATEST MUSICAL TALENT, PASSED AWAY

January 28, 2015
THE LATE NYAW NYING

THE LATE NYAW NYING

From Allah we are from, to Him we shall return. Nyaw Nying has gone into blissful eternal sleep. The Gambian music industry on 27th January 2015 lost a great musical talent in Nyaw Nying. Momodou Nying fondly revered as Nyaw is widely regarded as one the greatest and talented drummers in Gambia’s history. Son to a famous Wolof Griot drummer, Mam Samba Nying, Nyaw broke tradition by stepping into contemporary music. He became a formidable band member of the famous Ifang Bondi, one of Africa’s first bands to combine pop music with African roots.  His two songs, “Taalibe” and “Sunyu Metit” are featured on Ifang Bondi album “Sanjo”. Nyaw served with distinction as he not only served as a drummer extraordinaire but also a percussionist and a great vocalist.

Nyaw was one of the founding members of the defunct Karantaba Jazz Band which was founded and managed by the legendary Bai Janha, one of the finest guitar players ever to come out of Africa. Bai and Nyaw were as close as his sister Sirra Bigay Nying, also a drummer, is married to Bai Janha. Nyaw is reported to have played a pivotal role in helping Karantaba band win a prestigious prize in an African festival organized by former President of Libya, Col Muamar Gadhafi. Following the defunct of Karantaba, Nyaw went on to join Jaliba Kuyateh, Gambia’s crowned king of Kora and became the Kumareh Band’s drum kit master until his untimely demise.

He extensively travelled around the world with Jaliba Kuyateh and the Kumareh Band performing at musical jamborees in France, the Netherlands, UK, USA, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Guinea Bissau, Senegal etc. He was a major force at the Kumareh Band recollects Lamin Jassey, Jaliba Kuyateh’s promoter in the UK. “The demise of Nyaw Nying is a great loss to the Kumareh band, the Gambia music industry and the fans of Jaliba music. The man was a very dedicated, discipline and hardworking member of the band. He is also a man of few words who does not even hurt a fly, much more his fellow human being. I can confess that He was very much admired by Jaliba for his outstanding skills and distinguished good character”, Jassey narrated.

Nyaw was happily married with two wives and survived by children. One of his sons, Samba Nying is said to be an excellent drum kit master just like his late father. Recently at a music festival in Venezuela, he captivated the hearts and minds of his audience with the way he played the drum kit at such a young age. Many believed it is all not lost with the demise of Nyaw as his son is set to keep the legacy of his father alive. The former Kumareh band drummer will be laid to rest today at 5.00pm Gambian time in New Jeshwang. May his soul rest in perfect peace.

 

THE PULSATING POWER OF LOVE

December 14, 2014
THE FOREHEAD KISS

THE FOREHEAD KISS

Sulayman Jeng

Sulayman Jeng

Mbarodi Gainako hails from Daa nde maayo, a stone throw from Munku Baa-the cosmopolitan city of Yee lam ngalu. Mbarodi, as he is dotingly venerated, is medium in stature with a radiant chocolate skin. He is athletic. His childlike oval Fulani face has striking milky eyes glaringly accentuated by meticulously chiselled cheekbones and a pointed nose. He is shy but wears a magnetic aura of confidence and high self-esteem. Mbarodi’s stomach is neither flat nor beer bellied. His well-defined full chest hangs on a slightly crescent shoulder. Mbarodi’s strides are majestic and immaculate. When he speaks, his voice is soothingly soft and deep. Unlike his father, Mbarodi is a big softy with a cheeky sense of humour.

Mbarodi is third in a family of seven comprising four sisters and three brothers. Ngelajo, his father, was tall, muscular and grudgingly handsome. He had two wives: Affo, Mbarodi’s mum and Kodda-the youngest and pettiest of the two. Kodda was the favourite. However, unlike Affo, she is not blessed with the joy of motherhood. As a result, she was given Mbarodi to bring up as her own by Affo. Affo and Kodda were like two sisters. Many could not understand how these two opposite women sharing the love of their man get on so well. Others attributed their bond to Affo’s maturity and treatment of Kodda as a junior sister. Some awarded the credit to Ngelajo for been a stern head of the household. Ngelajo was an uncompromising disciplinarian. His eyes are huge and reddish which get even more blazer when he is tired and/or wakes up from a nap. Everyone was very afraid of Ngelajo despite he never hit his children or wives. Ngelajo spent most of his time at the market where he runs a butchery. While Penowo, their lousy neighbour, was convinced that Ngelajo has charmed his two wives to be very good friends, many concluded the mutual understanding and respect between them squarely rested on their warm and sociable personalities. Mbarodi grew up thinking Kodda was his biological mother until he discovered Affo was his real mother.

Mbarodi and Madea met at work, the Ngalu Development Bank. She was assigned to train him as a new cashier. Madea left her house early to catch up with some pending office work before her new trainee arrived. Her thoughts were interrupted by a loud knock on her office door. “Come in”, she shouted as she continued working on her desktop. “Madam Madea?” asked a young man in a slim-fit dark suit nervously.  She looked up, smiled and motioned for him to take a seat. “I can see you are an early bird too”, she said before leaning to shake his hand. “I am Mbarodi Gainako, the new trainee cashier”, as he flipped out some ID and letters. “I recognised you. I had a looked at your file couple of weeks ago and saw you during your interview. Great credentials”, she complimented. Madea is an enchanting ebony-skinned Mandingo girl from Kankary Kunda. She is slender with curvy hips and a judiciously carved spiral butt. Her charming face is dotted with two piercing gorgeous eyes and a leaned pointed nose. Madea’s deep necklines and folds bequeaths her with an entrancing beauty only bespoke the virgins in heaven. When she smiles, her succulent and silky lips retreat like ebbing surfs illuminating a set of evenly arranged whitish teeth which irradiate her smooth and sleek ebony skin like soothing stars in a milky way. What is even more beguiling about her is the dimples that surface on her cheeks every time she smiles giving her a flawless gorgeous look. She has so much confidence that she is void of any tension. Her calmness is equally contagious.

Gazing into her beautiful and innocent face in rapture, he realized he has just fallen in love with her. He thought it would be incredible if this angel falls for him too. Her caressing voice jolted him back to her office. He scolded himself for oafishly flirting with the idea of this successful gorgeous banker falling in love with a trainee-cashier. A couple of days ago, he was resolved not to fall in love with any girl until he builds a solid future for himself. He commits himself to be on a good footing before starting a family which he can provide for, support and protect.  Mbarodi loathes having children he cannot give a good start in life such as good education, comfortable housing and regular meals. Suddenly, he realised for the first time in his life he is compromising his resolution and life does not always turn out as planned.

“You seem to be miles away from here. Well, young man I will give you a word of advice. As a cashier dealing with huge amounts of cash the last thing you need is distraction. Whatever is consuming your concentration must wait at the door until you finished work. Otherwise your till will not balance and/or you may end up being in a hot soup. If you don’t mind me asking, is anything the matter?” she asked caringly. “Oh, no…no. nothing absolutely”, he stumbled. “Just checking, my darling. To be honest with you that look on your face a minute ago expressed something really more than nothing did. But if you don’t want to discuss it, I will respect your opinion. But always remember concentration is the key”, she assured him. One of her greatest traits is thoughtfulness complimented by her endearing personality. He was so wrapped up in her soothing voice and enchanting looks that he kangarooed when he heard her called him my darling. As if the two words had magic spell on him, he braved himself and sitting down he heard himself mumbling, “Madea, we have spoken about a great many things since I started my training with you. However, one thing we still did not talk about is…” he then lost his tongue. He felt humiliated. “How could I do this to myself before the woman I love?” he faulted himself quietly. “What didn’t we talk about, Mbarodi?” tested Madea after waiting for a while for him to say but to no avail. “Holidays”, he sheepishly managed to say. “Oh, I see. Holidays, sick leaves, wages and pension are all clearly stipulated in your contract letter. Perhaps, you need to carefully go over it one more time”, she suggested. She watched him so closely albeit she tried very hard to pretend she was not. She was getting fond of him too and she wished he were thinking what she was thinking.

They have spent so much time together since he has started work at the bank that her feelings for him were growing so fast she thought it was inconceivable she would fall in love just like that. Sometimes after work, a few of them will go out for a drink or meal. At other times, they would go and watch the nawetan together. They got on very well and soon word began to circulate within the corridors of the bank that they were dating. One evening after a good meal at Seddal Sahull Restaurant, Mbarodi gazing into her enchanting eyes said, “What I wanted to say the other day is we never talked about us, you and I”. He reached out for her hands and mumbled, “I really like you. Will you marry me?” The silence which descended on them was overpowering. Her brain became overloaded with thoughts and images of her and Mbarodi in each other’s arms. The feeling was beautiful. Is he really the one for me? Her thoughts started conflicting. “He is a fine gentleman”, said one.  “Oh, hell no. That has nothing to do with being a soul mate”, argued another. “He isn’t an angel but he is caring, loving and loyal-which are the hallmarks of any lasting relationship”, the first countered. “Whatever…something about him is just too good to be real”, retorted the second. “Madea”, interrupted Mbarodi, “you don’t have to give me an answer now. Think about it carefully and let me know your response whenever you ready. I am willing to wait for your love much longer”. “Oh, no…no. I am just lost for words. It was the last thing I expected you would say”, she mumbled softly. “I don’t know what made me think you would want me any away. Just forget my childish hallucination. I value our friendship and I don’t want anything to soil it”, he cowardly volunteered. “Don’t be silly. I like you too,” she said smiling. “Really? Did you just say you love me too?” he croaked. “I said I like you too. May be if you try harder I will eventually fall in love with you. But for now…” he leaned across the table and passionately kissed her on the forehead before sealing his lips with hers. The ambiance was romantic and soothing.

Their romance blossomed into an enviable relationship. Everyone call them the perfect match: young, ambitious and truly in love. After celebrating their first anniversary of being together, Madea thought it was time to introduce him to her parents. “I want you to meet my parents today after work”, she told him as soon as he walked into her office. “Did they know about this?” He queried. “Of course they do. My dad is looking forward to meet the young man who stole his daughter’s heart. They are very nice. Just be normal when you meet them”, she admonished. “I am really nervous. What if they don’t like me?” he demanded. “What made you think you will not pass their test? My parents are educated moreover; my dad is liberal and fond of me. He will love anyone man that I love. Maybe he will warn you strictly though if you ever hurt me, you will have him to deal with”, she added reassuringly.

“Don’t get me wrong, Madea, he is a perfect gentleman. There is no doubt that he loves you but have you thought of what people and my friends will be saying about you, behind our backs?” her father asked after Mbarodi left. “I don’t understand what you are insinuating Baba? Is there any problem?” she probed.  “I think you are about to make the biggest mistake in your life by marrying a Fulani goldsmith”, interjected her father. Baba, please tell me this is a joke”, she begged her dadIgnoring her sarcasism, he continued, “Until now, Madea, you have always made your mother and me proud. Besides, I don’t want you to be hurt. Can’t you see he is a fortune chaser? Please my darling for once stop and think again carefully what this relationship will bring to our family. I want you to understand that I am not instructing you to live your life according to my dictates but as your father, I know what is best for you because I have always and will love you dearly. Don’t you have any gratitude for your family’s happiness and pride?” her father coaxed. “Gratitude!” Oh, please Baba come off your high horse”, she argued in disbelief, paused for what seems like eternity before putting her father on the spotlight, “Baba how can you stand there contradicting your own values and beliefs. As a child you thought me to treat everyone equally. You also made me appreciate no one is more human than the other. Furthermore, you said as Muslims, the best among us are only those nearer to Allah. What stopped you from teaching me as a child that I was not supposed to marry a Fulani or a goldsmith? I see…the difference between you and Mbarodi is you are so shallow you don’t even remember how to love a woman as he loves me. Look at mum…” “Enough!” interrupted her fuming dad, “Enough of the insults. Even your mothers dares not talk to me like that”, before storming out of the house into the street.

She ran to her mum, tears surging down her cheeks. She dropped her head into her hands trying to make sense of what her dad, a man she cherishes and highly revered, said about the love of her life. The next couple of hours were hell, the worse in her life. How could he she aghast. She was choking in her own heartache. “Don’t grieve my child. Your father will come round. I know. He will sooner than you thought. We have been married for thirty years and Allah willing we will witness many more years together. His senses are marred by blind prejudice and ignorance”, she cheered Madea caressing her braids affectionately. Her heart wept watching her daughter in so much anguish. Part of her wanted to go and confront her husband and another part wanted her to let sleeping dogs lie. Confronting him will only worsen the situation. She remembered when they first met at her cousin’s house. He was young, immaculate, charming and liberal. Kelefa was the president of the student union and a human rights activist. Like her daughter, she was equally gutted by his sudden superficiality and narrow-mindedness. Who would have thought in a million years that Kelefa would discriminate against another person? “This is really beyond me, Nna. Baba disgusts me. Did Mbarodi choose to be born a Fulani or goldsmiths? Does either make him less of a human being?”  She solicited angrily.” Don’t talk about your Baba like that. He is just confused but I am certain he will turn around when he comes”, her mum accentuated.