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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

The Gambia that I continue to miss!

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Pakali Ba is a riverside settlement in The Gambia. It is in the Jarra East area of the Lower River Region.

It is the last village of the Lower River Region along the Sofa Nyama “Bolong”, a tributary or rivulet of the river Gambia on the side of the Jarra East.

According to the 2013 census, it had a population of more than one thousand people.

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So, a big welcome to Pakali Ba, the village where I used to spend part of my long summer holidays of the mid-60s; a village where good tarred roads, as I had known in the capital city of Bathurst/Banjul where we I was born and was growing up as a teenager, were a rarity; a village where the young, the old and even few children toiled to make ends meet.

As continue to remisnice with wistful nostalgia, I remember those local village homes – mostly round-shaped huts – with roofs made of grass – some made of corrugated iron sheets and others of homemade mud bricks with thatched roof, some built by their owners and others constructed by hired builders – nay sights that were commonplace.

In short, it was purely a rural setting with no trappings of modernity: a dusty environment and grubby feeder roads.

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Yes, I remember those memorable Fridays, after the Jummah prayers, which used to be the local trading days, with a sprawling open flea-type market “lumo”, a home to various local merchandise and commodities ranging from animals like sheep, goats, bush fowls to rice, coos, millet, maize, to local handicraft objects and artifacts as well as various other items of historical or cultural interest etc.

Yes, I remember that people from different neighbouring villages and towns used to come to Pakali Ba to trade various items, buy and sell or even exchange and barter various goods or commodities.

Yes, several miles away from the hustle and bustle of the teeming townships of Mansakonko, Soma, Brikama, Serrekunda, Banjul etc lies our good old Pakaliba, a sedate village with its feeder-roads brimming with dust along the main asphalt-coated road leading all the way to the the McCarthy Island (Janjanbureh) and Upper River divisions.

But, in all truth, Pakali Ba’s tranquil, serene atmosphere and its poor but good people were indeed its enticing charm and captivating beauty.

For me, the long list of great friends that I had made over the course of my visits in this fascinating and almost surreal village, my sharing wholeheartedly in this typical rural life, holds all the magical and magnetic charm, its indescribable captivation.

Indeed, I used to get extremely happy and super excited whenever I visited Pakaliba village, not because it was the last trading station/post of my dear late father, nicknamed “Mam Pakali” by his grandchildren but simply because my lifelong friends of the village itself and of the neighbouring Choya, Njoba Kunda, Dabally Juta Kunda, Fellen Koto and other places along the South Bank road with whom we often went out fishing at the Sofa Nyama river “bolong”; such genuine and loving friends would make my holiday visits truly so special, so exhilarating, so memorable.

As time went on and from a teenager to an adult, I had not seen this village again, for scores of years, indeed for nearly 6 decades but I can never forget the tranquilty, serenity and friendliness it used to offer and all those caring and wonderful friends that I had made there.

I am just the same Old Man, lost in his seemingly endless musings.

Let the reader, please, understand!

Hassan Gibril

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