I was shocked by the news of the death of Dr Sabarr Janneh, the Gunjur philosopher. At first, I couldn’t believe it. But later, I had to come to terms with the news, for it is said that every living soul on this earth shall taste death. What is important is how fulfilling you live your life for people to remember of you, or benefit from your life while you are gone.
I was privileged to meet this learned man from Gunjur in 2003, while working as a young reporter at The Independent newspaper, and we had a few exchanges after that. At the time, I was badly in need of filling my brain with whatever knowledge that came my way and meeting this great man was a blessing. I even interviewed him for that paper’s weekly interview column, Portrait.
Through our chats afterwards, I recalled how he had so much to offer that could help fill the void in my brain. Through him, I learned that the Mandinka alphabet is made up of 24 letters instead of the 26 letters of English I was taught in school.
He was one of the proponents of using our local languages as official languages, and that we should encourage its teaching and learning in schools for the young generation. When I asked whether that was possible considering the level of English used in our business, personal lives and homes, he sounded upbeat that it was possible. He told me the language is taught up to degree levels in Egypt; spoken throughout West Africa in Mali, Senegal, The Gambia, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea-Bissau and Chad. Hence there is an opportunity for it to become an international language once efforts are made to learn and teach it formally in schools.
There are versions of the Latin and Arabic scripts for writing Mandinka. The Latin script is official, but the Arabic script is used by more people, and is older. The N’Ko script is also used in north east Guinea and in neighbouring parts of Ivory Coast and Mali.
To the people of Gunjur, my condolences. To the Gambian people, another loss of our brains who has been frustrated by the system. His knowledge needed cultivation so that younger generation can benefit from it. That was never done in his life…. Now that he is gone, we might as well consider employing forensic science to cultivate his knowledge.
Gambia Press Union
Here comes the essay!
I can’t help but write to congratulate your paper for the re-emergence of essay. I used to adore this column since I was a younger reader of Daily Observer up to date. It is one of the reasons I buy The Standard. In its absence, the variety of content makes it a good compensation for its absence. Anyway, all thanks goes to the notorious cyber journalist Pa Nderry Mbai. I bet his attacks on Sheriff has resulted in something good for fans of the Essay column. It resulted in a fresh meal of philosophical food, prepared from the recipe of a literary farmhouse from somewhere in Bakau bantaba. Anyway, it was good we have it. God bless Sheriff, change your ways Pa Nderry.
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