Speech by Katim Seringe Touray to graduands at the Anglican Mission Institute (formerly called ATC), Farafenni, Upper Badibu, North Bank Region, The Gambia on Saturday, July 30, 2022.
Part 2 of 4; the complete transcription of the speech (edited for clarity and brevity) is available online at https://tinyurl.com/3aad758m, and the recording of the speech is archived at the Internet Archive (https://tinyurl.com/mrytve8j).
Now, the life stories I [got] out of these experiences.
One is the issue of graduate scholarships. Like I told you when I was going to do my Ph. D., somebody said that there was no way that they were going to sponsor people to do their Ph. D. It just was his policy; it wasn’t going to happen. But as God wished it, I ended up going to do my Ph. D. Somebody said that I didn’t have the potential to do a graduate degree program and I ended up getting my Ph. D. from the same Department, [and] the same room that he himself who wrote that letter got his Ph. D. from. So I think the point there to learn is that it’s going to happen if God wills that it’s going to happen, I don’t care who says that “No, it’s not going to happen,” it is going to happen.
Another story I should regarding my graduate studies is that when I got admission to Wisconsin, I was an employee of the government, and like everybody else I applied for a study leave with salary because I needed additional funding to supplement the stipend I was [going to be] paid because I still [had] to pay my tuition, buy books, [pay] rent, and all of those.
So I went to the to the PSC or the Public Service Commission and met the guy who was [the Permanent Secretary] then, and I told him I want to apply for a study leave with salary. He asked me “For what?” I said I was going to do my Ph. D. He said “You’re not coming back, and for this reason, I’m not going to give you a study leave with salary.” I said, “really?,” and he said “Yes.” I said “Well, thank you very much,” and walked out [of his office.] I got [loans] from a friend and my father and got a ticket to the States to continue my education.
Twenty nine years later [in September 2019 in The Gambia], I met this guy [who said] he was not going give me a study leave with salary, because he said I was not going to come back because I was going to do my Ph. D. And that was a very interesting experience, because I didn’t want to go into the details with him to tell him why it was such an amazing experience for me to meet him. I hope to do that someday, Inshah Allah! But it was enough for me to prove to myself that this guy who said that I was never going to come back [after my Ph. D.] had been proven wrong.
Now the other issue also is that when I came back home [from the US] in 2002, I found myself in a situation where the Gambia was a very difficult country to be in, especially if you had certain rules and regulations and certain principles you wanted to abide by because we had [a brutal Dictator], Yahya Jammeh, as our president.
And so I had to decide what to do.
And I just decided I didn’t want to work for the government. I wanted to be on my own and so that’s how I got into consulting. As I said before, when I was volunteering at WORT FM … I never thought in my wildest dreams that that volunteer work was going to impact my life down the road because some of the consulting assignments I had [were] based on and influenced and impacted by the [experience I had from] volunteer work I did oh so many years ago in the United States. So that was also a very, very interesting experience.
Now, by staying as an independent consultant … I think I was able to avoid a lot of the pitfalls that a lot of my friends got themselves into, finding themselves in a revolving door. You are hired today, fired tomorrow, and sometimes even jailed. I’ve had friends who were jailed unfairly sometimes, and you know, because they did not want to, I guess, keep their distance and they were too enamored by the trappings of our public service: you know your vehicles, your drivers, your privileges, and all of that.
So I turned my back to all of that satisfied that I am happy doing what I’m doing and content with whatever it is, by way of remuneration or whatever that came with what I was doing. And I was so glad that I did because at the end of the day, Yahya Jammeh left us, and I could hold my head high as I still do because I don’t have to account for anything. I don’t care the TRRC [Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission] or the Janneh Commission… could have held their hearings for the next 10 years, [because] they will never call me [to testify] because I had nothing to do with Yahya Jammeh. I thanked God when Yahya Jammeh left because all the years that had been here with him, I had never been [at] the same table with him. So I thank God for that.