When a Kiangman Waxed Lyrical About One of Their Own

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    That a Sexagenarian from Kiang would so much rave about the appearance on TV of a young man from his village did come to even me as a big surprise. In retrospect, I knew full well how villagers on a visit to Kombo in the past used to revel in pride the achievements of their sons and nephews they visited at their work places.

    I can still recall vividly those days,when there was a lull in farm work, strolling to our roadside farm to gauge the state of the crops alongside my grandpa, who liked to hold me by the hand while reminiscing the academic exploits of an uncle of mine in the 70s. He would narrate to me how my late uncle Palu’s unrivalled intelligence in his career-defining civil engineering programme was enough to make other international students purring in awe. Ansumana’s bagging of a scholarship package pronounced by my mother’s father as ‘kolasip’ after completing ‘Kambia High School’ (Gambia High School) had indeed left an indelible mark on his memory. True story this is. It explains the high premium attached to hard work, particularly when married with individual brilliance and an unyielding sense of purpose.

    Coming back to the crux of this write-up, the young man in question here is a journalist who I refer to as a globetrotter, travelling in and out of The Gambia in recent years to cover and bring home major sporting stories from afar. The pinnacle of these was his coverage and reporting of the 2012 London Olympics. But even that milestone did not seem to have generated much hype in Jali village as Njai’s sports analysis on the telly. However, it must be said that when the ex Nusrat High School student went to the United Kingdom, a certain Pa in the community could not help but traverse the length and breadth of the West Kiang settlement, stopping at every ‘bantabaa’ to happily share with his people how ‘mansa-kunda’ had sent one of their own to the land of the ‘baabaa-mansa-muso’ (Queen of England).

    It was not as if the boy Njais was on the assignment of the government per se but that’s how the villager sees anyone doing the white collar job. The big moment for Kambaan, the moniker used to describe my friend, in reference to   his imposing physique, came when we got to his house after wrapping up a multi-sports panel. Just when we thought it was time to have a go at his wife’s ‘chew duutir’, somebody else came out of the blocks; from nowhere.

    Ba-Saikou Drammeh, on the whole was chillaxing somewhere in Fajikunda keeping a close eye on journalist Njais. Coming from the same village, he could not stop marveling at a man, who was merely basking in his comfort zone.

    “Kambaan”, like a kid at a candy shop, a balmy kiang man shouted as he shook hands with the sports journalist cum editor. “I was watching TV moments ago when I saw you toying with the Queen’s language. Guess what, I had to tell those sitting with me that you are a native of my village Kiang Jali and that your father and I grew up together as bosom friends”.

    As if that was not enough of a high praise, he gushed further “Allahu Akbar, how you managed to speak fast, then slowed down all of a sudden. If only you have seen your facial expression, beaming with a smile before you switched into a serious mode”.

    It was an encounter that has definitely struck a chord with some of us close to Daily Observer’s Baboucarr Camara, the man at the centre of what has now become a popular banter.

    If only I was a Badibunka, that episode three years ago will be a subject of ridicule from me to the people of Kiang. But in the end, it serves to reinforce the adage that ‘success has many fathers while failure is an orphan’.

    by Famara Fofana