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Saturday, September 23, 2023

‘Gunjur’s greatest philosopher’ Sabarr Janneh dies


His nephew, Modou Janneh, explained: “About 5pm yesterday I was informed that Uncle Sabarr had died. He had been sick for a while but it was only recently that his health deteriorated. I am very sad at his loss because he was a man who knew what he learnt. He was very well educated but it was unfortunate he could not do what he wanted to do with his education. Whatever he achieved with his scholarship is small compared to the magnitude of his ambitions.

“He was not able to use his knowledge to educate and enlighten people because what he learned and tried to teach was against the norm. He was my mentor and taught me for three years. Our conversation always centered on education and preaching because he was a great thinker.”

Senior history lecturer at the University of The Gambia, Essa Touray, in his appreciation said: “Dr Janneh is the most vibrant scholar Gunjur has ever had, and I urge the people of Gunjur to reflect on his teachings to promote progress and harmony.

“Gunjur has produced a lot of intellectuals but none of them has the vibrancy of Sabbar. I was very close to him when he came here in 1996 because I wanted to learn from him. In our time and generation people should give such people opportunities to propagate their knowledge and intellect for the benefit of the community. In time and space, Sabbar had used his knowledge to advocate for changes in the community and promoting societal unity. Indeed we should be asking ourselves how many intellectuals have done what he had done? Intellect is not about bagging academic degress but teaching people to bring changes in their lives. The people of Gunjur should set up a centre named after him to reflect on his teachings.”

A native of Gunjur domiciled in Sweden, Mamakaddy Bajo said of him: “The news of the death of Dr Sabbar Janneh has brought me enormous sadness. The man is a genius who spent most of his life on research. He stayed in my house in Stockholm in 2000. He is a good preacher who spent his time on writing and research. During his stay with me he had finished writing about two or three books but due to lack of support, he had difficulty in publishing them.  If this man was born in the West, he would have had ample support to do his work for the benefit of humanity. He was the greatest philosopher that Gunjur has ever produced.”

As a young man, Dr Janneh travelled to Egypt to follow on the Islamic education that began in his native Gunjur in Kombo South. It was not until 35 years later before he returned. While in Egypt, he attended Al Azhar Institute and later Al AzharUuniversity where he graduated with an LLB in Sharia and Law (general system) in 1981.

He studied Private and Public International Law at the University of Berlin, Germany from 1982 to 1985.  Dr Janneh’s educational pursuit finally took him to the University of Amsterdam where he obtained a Docterandous Ders in 1989. In 1993, he completed a doctor of philosophy degree (PhD) in the Social Studies department, University of Leiden, the Netherlands.

He has conducted private teaching in Egypt, Germany, the Netherlands and The Gambia. He was engaged in research and has written extensively on folklore, Islamic and academic themes. At the launch of three of his books in Bristol, UK in August 2008, Dr Janneh said he has ten other books and short stories yet to be published. “Learning from the Life of Prophet Muhammad, Saa-Ba Mini-Yang Baa (The Mighty Python) and Mansa Tolo (Coronation), were the books he was able to publish in his life time. He is survived by a wife and four children.


By Sainey Darboe


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