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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Farewell to a journalist, a politician, an unsung hero:

Farewell to a journalist, a politician, an unsung hero:

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By Seedy Lamin Bah

Musa Ndow hailed from Karantaba Toniataba in the Sami District of the Central River Region. Born on 26 March 1981 to Mamudou Ndow, a peasant farmer who toiled the Savannah grassland and bushes of Toniataba to feed and nurture his family including Musa Ndow. His mother Jonsaba Camara is a regular housewife and appreciative mother.

Musa Ndow started his early life as a young farmer in the provinces. According to his brother Janko Ndow, a day would have it after coming from the farm, Musa went to take one of their horses for pasture and got pelted seriously on his stomach by his horse that they thought he would die. He was immediately rushed to the community health centre where after careful examination, he was further referred to Bansang General Hospital for minor operations. Only Allah can vouchsafe Musa at that tender age but to the family, Musa had already died, thanks to his recovery, he was reborn.

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Following his operation, doctors strictly advised Musa and his family not to allow him lift heavy objects and or reduce activities on the farm for the next 5 years, thus a blessing in disguise and an opportunity for Musa to now go to school availed itself. Life in the rural regions would in many cases have it that young boys would spend a considerable time on the farms helping their fathers to feed the family and, in most cases, those young boys would end up not attending formal education but in the case of Musa, it was different.

Musa successfully completed his primary education with excellent results that allowed him to proceed to Armitage High School in Janjanbureh as the only boarding school in the country. After completing Armitage High School, Musa started teaching at Bansang Senior Secondary School as a trainee teacher for two years.

Obsessed with the unlimited realities of life in a bubble and the urge of his youthful exuberance with a “get rich or die trying” attitude, Musa opted for the Kombos in search of greener pastures. This time round not the pasture of the horse that led to his temporary incarceration in hospital, but rather from being good to being great. After moments of trying, he decided to open a small photography studio in Tallinding Kunjang owing to the booming nature of photography in those days.

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Musa later moved to Yundum to stay with his soldier uncle called Sainey Camara known to many as Couple Camara. In 2006, his uncle found him a job as a freelance journalist at the Daily Observer where he refined his writing skills with the indelible ink knacked to his fingernails and sometimes tapestried to his shirt all showing his ardent desire and aspiration to be a professional journalist which he would become someday somewhere. It was through these turbulent and trying times of journalists under the watchful eyes of former president Jammeh that Musa relied on the whims and caprices of his uncle soldier and got attached to the State House as press officer.

He became a darling to the unpredictable Babili Mansa and walked his way through. During many of our chit-chatting, Musa would tell me that one day during a meeting that was held in the cabinet room and unknowingly his phone that was supposed to be on silent rang in his pocket and Musa was struggling to keep it off when the attention of the president was on him. Musa was trembling and at the same time trying to put it off not knowing those phones called “Telecentre” will first make a louder noise even before hibernating. Within few seconds he was sweating in anticipation of the repercussions behind that. But being a darling and somehow young press officer and a Serer, Babili just smiled and laughed at Musa and said my serer boy, you better keep off that phone. They all laughed, brushing it aside. Musa was relieved, saying ”alhamdullilah rabil allameen”……..only those who can measure what Babili Mansa is capable of doing in instances like that would know what that sigh of relief means to Musa……laughs!

While working as a press officer at State House, Musa got the opportunity to travel far and wide with the president, notable amongst his exploration of the world include the UN Summit in New York, AU summit in Adis Ababa, World Bank Headquarters in Geneva Switzerland, South Korea, Taiwan, Ghana, Nigeria and a host of other African countries. Musa was able to swiftly explore new frontiers and forge allegiance and friendships with  diverse ethnicities and organisations or institutions. One of the institutions that yielded him much good was the AU offices in Ethiopia where Musa was able to meet a young lady who worked as a protocol officer in the AU offices and later got married to her but that marriage did not last. Thanks to all these travels, Musa gradually started establishing himself and purchased a land at Babylon where he eventually resettled as his second home until his demise.

Following the departure of Babili Mansa, Musa lost touch for a while but only came to realize that the downfall of a man doesn’t mean the end of his life, so he started hitting the road again in search of greener pastures, this time he found us at the President Barrow Youths for National Development (PBY4ND) popularly known as Barrow Youth Movement (BYM). It was here that we met and our bond catapulted like love at first sight in a university campus but there was more to it as brothers. Musa worked at the Barrow Youths as Communications Manager, while I was the Programme Manager. Our areas of operations were intertwined and so we needed each other to make our work easier. He was in no way economical with words as his writing skills were indeed spellbinding and as a trained journalist, he fully understood the tenets of journalism and how to sprout out of the blues any befitting and thought-provoking topics that would relish a reader to read everything that was there to read. But at the same time Musa would often tell me that I definitely should have been a journalist because of my natural prowess in writing with a plethora of diction. Therefore, he would take advantage for me to write some of his stories and then put the journalistic due diligence on it before publishing it. Almost all the projects and programmes undertaken by PBY4ND, Musa and myself have taken a key role and this is why we have been recognized and known to many in this country.

We worked for five years in the same office and have exchanged visits both at family level and other areas of relevance to cement our ties. His political life has been immeasurable hence he was until his demise serving as the Deputy PRO of the Youth Wing of the National Peoples Party that won the recently ended 4th December 2021 presidential election in The Gambia.

Socially, Musa was a charming, sensational and smiling young man who if you don’t know would take him for granted and perhaps get the hell out of him. But he is really and truly an extrovert, intelligent and calculative in many of his deliberations. He is soft spoken and accommodating. He has diligently served his community with passion, dedication and commitment which was well narrated during his funeral.

Musa also played a pivotal role for his community in Sami during the windstorm disaster last year in which his community suffered and he singlehandedly visited, contacted and led a team of officials from NDMA to assist victims, especially in Kunting. His Brother Janko Ndow is more or less like a father figure and friend to Musa, although he is the older brother. Janko also narrated to me a lot of Musa’s glorious attributes both as a child and young man in the village and his urban life.

Environmentally, Musa loved nature and this is evident in the trees he planted in his home village where he has an unfinished project house and would urge his family and colleagues to protect mother nature. In fact, he planted orange trees, guava and pawpaw in his home in Babylon.

On his profession as a journalist, Musa dedicated his life to writing stories of life happenings around him and sometimes away from him. He sometimes circumvented a story from the root to the tail end which allows you to grasp the content of the story and gets you addicted to his style of writing. Despite all this, Musa has unequivocally accepted the power of knowledge, thus he was until his demise pursuing a post graduate course in Diplomacy and International Relations at the MDI. He also got an acceptance to pursue an MSc in Mass Communication in Turkey which was supposed to start in January 2023.

Finally, Musa Ndow died in a tragic car accident along with Pa Modou Faal (also a journalist) and Kawsu Bayo (a health officer) on the Jarra Soma highway on Sunday 16th January 2022 at around 11pm local time. He and his colleagues were en route to cover the national health insurance scheme programme under the Ministry of Health in Jarra Soma. He lived a simple but amazing life. He would be remembered for his jovial nature, writing qualities and social camaraderie amongst other attributes that will linger on the minds of those who knew him. Musa Ndow is survived by a wife and four sons, two of whom at twins.

May Allah is his infinite mercy, grant his soul and all the departed souls Jannatul Firdawsi, forgive his shortcomings, give his family the strength and fortitude to bear this irreplaceable loss and strengthen his children through his wife.

As we bid farewell, I am saddened that my friend and colleague has gone. Until we meet again, we will always remember you Musa Ndow.

Seedy Lamin Bah is General Manager at Gamgate Consortium.

Email: [email protected]

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