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Saturday, July 20, 2024

On the late Chief Sanjally Bojang and his heroics: Letter to my friend

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By Momodou Sabally

Dear Sheriff,

You have been quite quiet of late and I make bold to say that your silence is not golden at all. It is within the province of wise old men to say less and that kind of silence is a made of gold. But for a smart dynamic young man like you, blessed with the most powerful of all endowments, logos, your silence smacks of something less rarified than the bequeathal of the great Mansa Musa of Mali.

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But why do I prevaricate when the subject at hand is urgent and critical? This kind of writing is surely your own province so I thought I might as well give you a dose of your own literary quirks; reminiscent of your banter about such distant enigmas like Rasputin when the subject at hand was close at home – Lol!

Back to the subject of this epistle, my good friend, Rex. You know for sure that the late Sanjally Bojang should have gone down in our history as just about the most influential politician in our recent history. Certainly a human soul more patriotic than the late Chief from Kembujeh, never walked the soil of Kambia. But why is this truth not clearly documented for our young people to learn from; why are we depriving our young ones of the opportunity to drink from the spring of inspiration that Sanjally’s life story presents?
Sheriff, I have heard a lot about the old man from Kembujeh and it was mainly his witty aphorisms and his hilarious broken English, to wit “Hello Sargeant Dumbuya, one accident be in Jakali Konko; two cassambarr break and bomb; one driver damage another driver…” but never did I know much about the critical role Sanjally played in our independence struggle and his great sacrifice (including his colossal financial investment) into the establishment of the PPP and the ascendancy of President Jawara unto our political firmament.

I will return to the matter of his trailblazing work in our independence struggle that remains largely unacknowledged and under-reported; but for now let me digress into the old man’s legendary work habits and how that attracted the attention of some global icons. Was it not your own newspaper, The Standard, that published an account of the American lady Joan Richter’s encounter with Chief Sanjally? In the April 21, 2011 issue of your paper the following paragraph was reproduced as originally published by the New York Times:
“We toured his farm, walking past rows of cashew, mango and papaya trees, fields of sweet potato, and groundnuts (peanuts). He explained his peanut crop had aroused the interest of famers on the other side of the Atlantic, and showed us a letter on White House stationery. It was from the world’s most famous peanut farmer. President Jimmy carter, invited him to visit farms in the United States. Mr Bojang was obviously pleased, but it was unlikely he’d make the trip.”It is too difficult for a farmer to leave his crops and his land.”
Rex, my good friend, is the foregoing not enough inspiration for our young and emerging leaders? Is this not enough indication of the reason for Jaliba Kuyateh’s inclusion of the old chief in his old lyrics “Sanjally Bojang ko tesito beh Gambia!”

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But back to the thesis of this epistle. It was my good fortune to share a platform with one of the most enlightened historians of the African continent on a panel that dwelled on Africa’s Independence as part of events marking the 57th anniversary of Africa Liberation Day. As the discussion dovetailed on The Gambia and those who actually fought for her independence, the prominent historian made this remark and it jolted me from some “sleepless slumber” (if I may use some Bob Marley terminology): “Sanjally Bojang is the real father of Gambian liberation. He deserves more study…”

Now Sheriff, we have had a long hiatus in our long-dreamt series of correspondences on matters of national importance. Being your own initiative, I thought you would oblige me with replies since I shot the first salvo in this epistolary encounter 14 years ago; but you have not measured up to expectation, barring a few torrents of words you sent my way. I am hoping this particular epistle will drive some adrenaline into your literary veins, thereby waking you up from your literary slumber. Certainly, this is a letter that hinges on the very foundation of your forebears at the inner sanctum of Santang-ba.

Being one of the true descendants of the royals of Sankarang, you surely have a connection with the late Sanjally Bojang; a man of tremendous influence during the most critical period of our political evolution. But has the late Sanjally Bojang been accorded his rightful place in the annals of our political history?

These and many more questions keep ringing in my head and I cannot find a better person to seek answers from than you. If the spirits of Santang-ba are no longer sufficient sources of inspiration for your blessed pen, then I shall take you to the limpid waters of Sannehmentereng. I shall dip your head into the waters of Brufut for seven times and that should suffice as inspiration for you to respond. And respond you must because your pen has the power to uplift spirits and rekindle debates. Nay, with the right tempo, you can even resurrect the dead, I dare say. And that brings to mind the words of the bard of Trench Town:
Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery
None but ourselves can free our minds…
How long shall they kill our prophets
While we stand aside and look?
Uh, some say it’s just a part of it
We’ve got to fulfill the book
Won’t you help to sing
These songs of freedom?
‘Cause all I ever have
Redemption songs…

Have a blessed Sunday my good friend and may Allah continue to bless and protect the offspring of the elders of the Bulung-daa of Brikama.


Momodou Sabally
The Gambia’s Pen

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