By Mouhamadou Bassirou Mbacké KÉBÉ
The month of March always rekindles vivid memories in us. It represents a special time of the year for us because it coincides with the remembrance to God of people who are dear to us, exceptional personalities whose memories remain forever intact in our hearts.
Indeed, these four people who shaped the life of your servant constitute, for me, references and compasses. The month of March that they share represents a similarity among so many others, so much have they had a busy life, despite different trajectories.
– El Hadj Babacar Kébé also called Ndiouga, my late father, died on March 13, 1984;
– El Hadj Ahmed Sékou Touré, my grandfather on the side of my late mother Maféré Kamara, died in Cleveland (United States), on March 26, 1984, thirteen days after the tragic disappearance of Dad Ndiouga Kébé;
– Mame Anta Samb, my paternal grandmother, left us on March 13, 1986, joining her beloved son two years to the day;
– El Hadj Djily Mbaye, witness to my baptism, died on March 14, 1991, that is to say exactly seven years and one day after his friend and buddy, El Hadj Babacar Kébé, with whom he traveled for a long time in Africa.
For having had the immense privilege of living the acts of faith and the multifaceted achievements of these great figures, I would like here to pay them a well-deserved tribute.
Talking about these exceptional personalities is not easy because they have left a lasting impression on posterity.
My grandmother Mame Anta Samb, first, a model of piety and whose sense of solidarity and sharing was known to all. Everything in her was reminiscent of Mame Diarra Bousso, this extraordinary woman whose devotion and submission gave Mouridism its founder and distinguished guide Serigne Touba Sheikh Ahmadou Bamba.
El Hadj Babacar Kébé Ndiouga and El Hadj Djily Mbaye wrote their names in golden letters in the annals of the economic history of Senegal and the West African sub-region. Insightful and successful businessmen, Ndiouga Kébé and Djily Mbaye were worthy forerunners, with sons of the
country such as Tamsir Mboup, Silèye Guissé and others, of the breed of national economic operators.
Traveling across Africa, in the aftermath of independence, they spearheaded the fledgling generation of the first captains of industry.
Import-export, real estate, transport, mining, trade in foodstuffs or precious metals, among others, no economic activity had secrets for them.
Among the first to respond to the State’s call to promote private initiative, El Hadj Babacar Kébé Ndiouga and El Hadj Djily Mbaye have invested their entire fortune in the creation of companies and the participation insocial works in the service from the community. Their action in real estate
in Senegal was decisive and led to the creation of several infrastructures
and buildings in Dakar and in the interior of the country, financed with
As for Ahmed Sékou Touré, my grandfather, fate has meant that the great projects he had with El Hadj Babacar Kébé could not be realized. The meeting between the two men was facilitated by the family ties uniting us.
A fervent Mourid disciple, El Hadji Babacar Kébé, whose father Cheikh Mballo Kébé was a Koranic master and also a great farmer, had left his village, very young, for emigration. At first, he went in 1939 to the English colony of The Gambia in search of goods. As the Second World War affected international trade, at that time, this trade provided him with comfortable income.
In 1942, he moved to Tambacounda, before traveling through several countries in West and Central Africa to continue his business. Ndiouga Kébé then decided to settle in Sierra Leone in 1949 where he made significant gains. It was in this country that he first married a princess, Maféré Kamara, granddaughter of Almamy Samory and niece of the former president of Guinea, Ahmed Sékou Touré. It was from this union that his eldest son Mouhamadou Bassirou Kébé, your servant, was born, to whom he gave the name of his religious guide Mouhamadou Bassirou Mbacké.
It was in 1958 that El Hadji Babacar Kébé returned to Senegal to devote himself to investing and serving his spiritual guide Cheikh Ahmadou Bamba. Many of the country’s businessmen, industrialists and merchants have benefited from the generosity of El Hadji Babacar Kébé. The latter, in fact, did not hesitate to put his hand in the pocket to help them invest in many niches, thus participating in the advent of a new breed of entrepreneurs and businessmen who were to take over from foreigners, the main pillars of the Senegalese economy.
It was in 1981 that El Hadji Babacar Kébé created the HOLDING KÉBÉ Investments company, which he endowed with capital of 5 billion francs.
He then appointed Aly Sow, at the time at the Primature, as Director General and designated, as Assistant Director General, his eldest son Mouhamadou Bassirou Mbacké Kébé, who returned to the country after studies in management, finance and international relations carried out at United States.
Under the protective wing of the late El Hadj Djily Mbaye, billionaire businessman and friend of Dad Ndiouga Kébé, we set out to develop the Group’s activities at both regional and continental levels. Especially in Guinea, Sierra Leone, and central Africa where Ndiouga Kébé was already well known.
In October 1983, during a meeting with my grandfather Ahmed Sékou Touré, we succeeded in convincing him to open Guinea to foreign investors. President Sékou Touré was initially very reluctant to this prospect, before reconsidering his position. After this interview, he invited
El Hadj Babacar Kébé to Guinea by sending him his personal plane.
The stay of the Senegalese businessman in Guinea was a success.
President Sékou Touré opened all doors for him and encouraged him to invest in his country, while letting him know that it was Mouhamadou Bassirou Kébé, his grandson, who had organized everything, to his surprise. El Hadj Babacar Kébé, moved and proud, returned from Conakry with great ambitions for the development of its activities in Guinea.
Unfortunately, on Tuesday March 13, 1984, El Hadj Babacar Kébé died.
The following March 26, another catastrophe intervenes: President Ahmed Sékou Touré also died in the United States where he was hospitalized. On the second anniversary of Dad Ndiouga Kébé’s reminder to God, March 13, 1986, we lost our grandmother and confidant Mame Anta Samb. We were, of course, distraught and worried. Seven years later, on March 14, 1991, our protector and godfather, El Hadj Djily Mbaye left us.
It was only when my father El Hadj Babacar Kébé disappeared that I became aware of the spiritual dimension of man. I had the privilege of living his last moments and of taking his remains to Touba. The mortuary prayer was led by Serigne Cheikh Abdou Khadre Mbacké, in front of all the sons of Cheikh Ahmadou Bamba, who prayed for the talibé devoted to the cause of Mouridism.
I especially thank our big brother Serigne Cheikh Ndama Kébé, the former director general of SAIM KÉBÉ, who made it possible for the revered Serigne Abdou Khadre Mbacké to be present.Pray for the rest of their soul. May Allah, the Almighty, open the Doors of Paradise to them and watch over their descendants! Amen.