Dr Baba Galleh Jallow of the TRRC has just published an account of his childhood days in his home town of Farafenni (Chaku Bantang). The book, tiled Childhood Days in Chaku Bantang is an account of Baba’s adventures and struggles to stay in school as a child growing up in Farafenni.
Two early reviews of the book compare it to Gunean writer Camara’s Laye’s classic, The African Child. Professor Pierre Gomez of the University of The Gambia writes: “From the author of Defying Dictatorship comes this suspense-filled and truly captivating piece that has the intensity of keeping the reader stuck to the account until the end. Like Camara Laye’s The African Child, Jallow takes the reader on an unusual voyage into his childhood, highlighting the odds he had to overcome to become who he is today. Musing on his past, the author could not help but laugh at his own childhood innocence, naivety and sometimes mischief. Childhood Days in Chaku Bantang does not only echo the proverbial rough road to progress but also has the ethicalness of offering a guide for the more youthful age to both acknowledge and gain from.
“In spite of the fact that the episodes are told with such vividness and exactitude with which one wonders if the author had not just returned from an excursion into the past, the narratives are laced with so much humour as to consistently keep a smile on your face as you flip through the pages of this perfect work of art.”
According to historian and author Hassoum Ceesay of the Gambia National Museum, “What Kouroussa was to Camara Laye in The African Child, Chaku Bantang is to Baba Galleh Jallow in Childhood Days in Chaku Bantang. The narrative is sprinkled with scenic environments, childhood friends, interesting people, folk tales, a stern father and naughty escapades. Culminating in the author’s struggles to stay in school against his father’s wishes, this is the story of a childhood that made a great man of letters and ideas. This is the top Gambian bildungsroman so far.”
Dr. Jallow says he was motivated to write the book in order to preserve memories of his childhood days but also to show his own children and others what life was like growing up in Farafenni. “I also wanted to keep alive the memories of some of our folktales and beliefs as well as many of my childhood friends and important personalities in the Farafenni of my childhood days; people like Pa Alhagie Alieu Touray (Ustass), Master Lamin Sarr, Master Alkali James Gaye, Pa Saikou Lamin Marika and others. I think there are also many useful lessons for the younger generation to learn from this book.”
The book is available at Timbooktoo Bookshop in Bakau.