Sheikh Alhagie Kang Seedia Jabbi, saint and poet par excellence

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By Ba Jabbi

Kang Seedia Jabbi was born in 1914 in Kuntaur Wharf. He was the second son of Karang Sambou Lamin Jabbi and first son of Mama Jakhong Kanyi of Nyani, Central River Region, The Gambia.

As he grew up, his elder brother and teacher Abdoulie Bakodaye Jabbi (Radiallah Anhu) called him “Kabirr” Arab word for great.

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The words of Waliyus (saints) never fail. Alhagi Seedia Jabbi became the Caliph General of the majlis of his father (Karang Sambou Lamin Jabbi) after the demise of his step father Alhagi Kang Dembo Jabbi. This is because his elder brother Bakodaye Jabbi, the first son of Karang Sambou Lamin Jabbi passed away before Kang Dembo Jabbi died. May their saintly souls remain in eternal peace.

He spent 27 years as the head of the clan until 27 March 1993. Indeed Nfaba Kang Kodaye’s prediction came to pass. He became a great leader (kabirr) under whose caliphate many great things took place.

Growing up, Alhagi Seedia Jabbi was a very strong man who was very active in both academia and farming. His father did not bring up his children to stay at home while others go to the farms. Kang Seedia Jabbi and his brothers would accompany the talibehs to the farms and together worked alongside them from dawn to dusk while observing breaks for Islamic lessons. As early as his teens, Kang Seedia Jabbi was known for his understanding of the Quran and poetry. According to Kang Madiba Jabbi (Radiallah Anhu) of Kang Jallon, may his saintly soul remain in eternal peace, Ameen! Kang Seedia Jabbi used to recite poems for his father when he felt that the old man was moody. Infact one day as they were being taught, Kang Sambou Lamin got annoyed with one of them and decided to suspend lessons but continued later after Kang Seedia immediately recited a beautiful poem and stood up to embrace their father. Kang Sambou Lamin smiled and continued lecturing. Kabirr was a poet par excellence according to his elder brother and first cousin Kang Madiba Jabbi of Kanjallon. He was a kind man who from early times empathized a lot with people. As a caliph, Kang Seedia took it upon himself to dig a well inside the majlis in Jabbi Kunda, Sutukung, to alleviate the sufferings of his people particularly the women regarding water. It’s an incontrovertible fact, that he was the first person to bring water near by in Sutukung Jabbi Kunda. As a measure of appreciation, the well was named after him (Kabirr Kolong), Kabirr’s well. He was an intelligent man just like his brothers. His father used to send him to his many talibes both within and outside the country to give them final lectures that would graduate them to the titles “Foday and Kang” leader and venerable teacher respectively which can be equivalent to masters and professor of theology. “Kang” is a shortened word for “Karang” learned.

The title Kang given to Alhagi Seedia Jabbi just like his father Kang Sambou Lamin Jabbi, his stepdad Kang Dembo Jabbi, his elder brother Kang Kodaye Jabbi and his elder cousin Kang Madiba Jabbi were earned academic and professional achievements that were celebrated in that period. Kang Seedia Jabbi had two other siblings; Ba Jabbi and Hajj Fatoumata Jabbi alias Fanta Jabbi. Aunt Fanta Jabbi was an elder sister and Ba Jabbi was a younger brother. Aunt Fanta Jabbi, may her soul rest in perfect peace, Ameen was the mother of Mr Momodou Jabbi, Alhagi Morro Gikineh, Alhagi Omar Gikineh and Mama Gikineh. Alhagi Sheikh Seedia Jabbi owing to his suave nature had a very harmonious relationship with almost anyone he came into contact with. Many people who knew him and had associated with him all claimed that he was kind, humble, down to earth, sociable and very considerate. Infact he had liberal views and believed strongly in the freedom of speech, a rare trait amongst the Jahanka conservatives. Many people who claimed that he was indeed a saint usually based their beliefs on account of a memorable event of his father’s death. It’s reported that when his father passed away, Kang Seedia Jabbi was visiting the western parts of The Gambia.The announcement of the passing of his father Kang Sambou Lamin Jabbi found him in Brikama, West Coast Region. A messenger approached him the night his father passed and broke the news to him.This was almost 90 years ago. During those days traveling on roads was very challenging in The Gambia and even the few vehicles that used to ply the south bank region to the Lower River Region to Sutukung, his father’s village would take days to reach.That was the main reason why everyone was amazed how Kang Seedia Jabbi was able to witness his father’s burial the next morning of the night Kang Sambou Lamin Jabbi passed away in Jarra Sutukung.

According to people who kept on asking him how he reached Jarra in such few hours, they would always get a smile as an answer. To this day nobody knew how he managed to reach Sutukung before the burial of his father. As mentioned before, he used to travel a lot and after the passing of their father and the departure of his elder brother to Guinea Bissau, Kang Seedia and his younger brother Kang Kawsuba Jabbi all left Sutukung at a later date.These movements occurred during the caliphate of their step-dad, Kang Dembo Jabbi. Alhagi Kang Kawsuba Jabbi (RA) settled in Casamance in a village called Casa Kaur and he (Kang Seedia Jabbi) came to the West Coast Region and settled for a long time in a coastal village called Tujereng in the southern part of West Coast Region. When his step dad passed and he succeeded him, he would emigrate to Sutukung to oversee the necessary issues required to stabilize the caliphate but would be moving between the two villages as and when necessary. In the early part of the 1970s, Alhagi Seedia Jabbi decided to visit Saudi Arabia for pilgrimage. He set out on this journey not by air but initially on foot. Among the people who started the journey with him was one of his sons called Oustaz Fasaikou Jabbi, may his soul rest in perfect peace, ameen. According to the late Fasaikou, his first port of call was Sutukung where he announced his intent to go for pilgrimage and asked for prayers and then continued to Casamance, precisely Casa Kaur, where his great ally and younger brother Sheikh Kang Kawsuba Jabbi resided. He stayed with his beloved brother for some weeks before proceeding on his journey to Saho Kunda in Guinea Bissau to one of his step sons, Kang Madiba Jabbi, the second son of his elder brother Kang Kodaye Jabbi. He left behind some of his children and a wife, Binta Ceesay, with his younger brother in Casa Kaur. According to reports, his children who were left here included Ba S Jabbi.

After pleas from his great friend, ally and younger brother Alhagi Kang Kawsuba Jabbi to stay for a while in his village because of the danger he could encounter as a result of a liberation war that was at its peak in Guinea Bissau failed, Kang Seedia continued with his entourage that included late Oustaz Fasaikou Jabbi, late Alhagi Seedia Daffeh and Yusuf Dukureh, two of his students. He walked through the thick forests in Guinea Bissau to reach his destination, Saho Kunda. Continuing his narrations, Fasaikou said that while Kang Seedia Jabbi was in Bissau, the capital of the Portuguese colony for the final arrangements to travel by sea to Mecca, he was approached by one Sambelle Koyo, a local chief and one of the greatest opposition to the fight for independence of Guinea Bissau in the 1970s. Mr Koyo informed Kang Seedia Jabbi that he and his entourage had walked through their trap in the forest while he was coming to Saho Kunda. That the soldiers who were waiting for the freedom fighters to kill them were even about to open fire on them thinking they were the rebel fighters they were waiting for. However, when they (the government soldiers) looked at the leader of the group closely, all their hearts melted because the man they were observing was not only an innocent passerby but a man of god whose appearance endeared them to him. That was how they decided to lay low hidden in the bushes until the whole entourage passed safely. According to Kumchumpeh Fatty too, a great spiritual leader in a village called Kunchumpeh in Guinea Bissau, Alhagi Seedia Jabbi joined with him, Sambelle Koyo and others in the boat in Bissau that would sail them to Makkah (Mecca). The sheikh (Fatty) recounted to me the dangerous journey in graphic terms especially when they were crossing the Red Sea and remembered the excellent nature of Kang Seedia Jabbi who was leading them in prayers during the voyage.

To be continued.