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Sunday, September 20, 2020

On the Lambai Chronicles: Letter to my Nephew

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By Momodou Sabally

Bobling Bob,
Greetings to you in the custom of your historic origin, the city with three names, Salikenni, Lambai, Moribolong.
I salute you with gusto, excited to be embarking on a journey this morning headed for the land of your forebears to attend the annual Gamo at the behest of the man of wisdom Alhagie Omar Ceesay. Indeed my good friend, Njie Manneh has labeled me with the title “Knowledge of Heroe” but that title actually belongs to Alhagie Omar Ceesay.

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Buba, my nephew, you should consider yourself blessed for the fact that you hail from a great lineage. From the royal tracts of Salikenni to the hallowed sanctum of Badibu Bijankerr, where my bloodline connects with yours, you are truly endowed with royal pedigree.

I come to your town, Salikenni for some sacred mission; but being the political aficionado that I am; and writing to you, an avid learner of the dynamics of politics, I cannot but delve into the subject in this epistle specifically penned for you.
In my first essay about your home town, I mentioned this great city’s pedigree in terms of its contribution of national icons, real stars in our political history, including the late former Vice President Sheriff Mustapha Dibba and the late former Cabinet Minister Lamin Nafa Saho.

But have you heard about the story of Massaneh Kulujarra? And how would you know about this interesting activist-cum-Political-rabble-rouser if you do not ditch the habit of learning books for the sake of grades, imbibing political theories that have little bearing on the realities of our local context?

Truly you have harkened to my clarion call to ditch the trite cliches and invest your time and energy in the seeking of uncommon wisdom and I am sure you will never regret taking this direction. I shall continue to give you glimpses of enriching vistas but you must get your own hands dirty by using your mental shovels and excavating the hieroglyphs of our forebears.

Therefore I shall mention to you the name of Massaneh Kulujarra but you must do your own homework to dig out his fascinating story in the annals of The Gambia’s constitution and nation building process. There is also the story of the Chief, Sillahba, and the detention of youths in a groundnut store. If you look at this story you will probability understand why it is often said that politics is a dirty game.

But make no hasty conclusions my beloved nephew. Get off your comfort zone in the soft couches of Brusubi for a whole week of research in Salikenni. Seek no easy chat on this particular visit but go the wise old men and women of Lambai and ask them some well-crafted questions on the history of Salikenni before and after Independence and you will be surprised at how little you know about the rich past of Moribolong.
It is only through research, and by that I make no reference to re-writing the thoughts of alien thinkers and Western authors into term papers. I refer to the search for real wisdom and original thinking.

How can we come to know and appreciate our rich past and heritage without going out to seek true wisdom? Indeed when I once attempted to trivialise the history of he Senegambian Chief Ansu Masing, my erudite friend from Kiang Jali, Foday Samateh, reminded me that the famous Trojan War, a classic in the Western canon, was nothing but a bloody fight over a fair lady. Yet we honour the West’s history and denigrate our own.
Set out then, Buba Sanna Njie, in search of the history of our forebears and record it for the generations that would come after us.

And while you embark on this journey, never forget the wisdom of our classic sage who famously advised “Be yourself; no base imitator of another, but your best self. There is something which you can do better than another. Listen to the inward voice and bravely obey that. Do the things at which you are great, not what you were never made for.”
You must stop running after the mirage and go sate your thirst at the limpid ponds of Moribolong. And now, would it be proper for me to send you on a journey without arming you with our traditional gifts of a wayfarer called ‘silafandoe’?
Here’s to your journey into the zones of true knowledge and enriching history:

Stand Your Ground
Lambai at Moribolong
‘Wo lu mang bori long’
Stand your ground
My lil young man
Like Massaneh kulu jaara
‘Kana song, kan sila, kana jarajara’
That is the real ethos without bathos
Firm on truth, the real root.
Yours,
M. Sabally

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