I thought it fitting to do a sequel to my essay of March 2013 on the above subject. This year’s celebration is particularly significant for it coincides with our Golden Jubilee as a nation. So how does one celebrate the women who have played major roles in the progress of the Smiling Coast? Mentioning and celebrating our female leaders is great but better still, if we the men help a little bit more in the kitchen and with the raising of our children, we shall together be happier. Studies have demonstrated that couples that share domestic duties more fairly, live longer, are happier and their relationships last longer. And those of us who hold more conservative views in terms of household responsibilities, should picture this: replacing the letter “f” in the word Foreplay with the two letters “CH” can enhance the beauty of our bedrooms, as proven by research!
According to the New York Times, “A powerful study led by the University of British Columbia psychologist Alyssa Croft showed that when fathers shouldered an equal share of housework, their daughters were less likely to limit their aspirations to stereotypically female occupations. What mattered most was what fathers did, not what they said. For a girl to believe she has the same opportunities as boys, it makes a big difference to see Dad doing the dishes.” Interesting finding isn’t it?
Anyway, as we celebrate international women’s day, a roll call would be in order even though it can never be exhaustive and could easily leave out important and deserving names by error or inadvertent omission. As a poet I venture some verse to celebrate every single Gambian woman for they all deserve to be honoured. They are all heroes in their own rights:
Gambian woman apple of our eyes
Rise and shine in this coast of smiles
Bearer of our burdens, days and nights
A cup of cheer we raise to your strides
Doctors and nurses curing our children
Teachers and preachers, light in our tent
Farmers and cleaners striving without dent
Here’s to your cheer, on knees we present:
A calabash, pristine, filled with guru!
Thus have I eked out a few verses for our women; I wish I could do more but I can still borrow from my book “To The Gambia: The Smiling Coast”, from page 17:
A rousing anthem for Gambia muso
Mother, sister, wife and bajen
True livers of our national anthem
Who strive and work and pray:
Lady of the High Court of the Hague
Bearer of the torch of excellence
Liver of the principle of persistence
Making the whole world fans in rave
Holder of the torch of the theater
Blazing a trail in our cultural order
Janet, we salute jigain bu mun gorr
You stand tall cherished like gold
Bearer of the torch of enlightenment
Taught our children true excellence
Who now stand in society as monuments
Trees from the nursery of the golden Ndowen
Mother at the faro, our ultimate foro
Doing your best to live off your sweat
Forsaking your bed so children get fed
You are respected for passing your test
Mother of the author, you are my doctor
Gave me the vaccine to grow in season
My striving is thriving, you are the reason
Why writing worthy words will weather
Every storm that comes in my life
To give you more pride for your stride
Mrs. Ann Therese Ndong-Jatta will forever rank among the most influential Gambian women. She was Principal at St. Peter’s High School and stood out for her adherence to excellence and principle. She played significant roles in our national development including holding the posts of Director of Education and later Secretary of State for Education. She proudly flies the Gambian flag at UNESCO; a role model for any young Gambian. Before she came, there was Mrs. Satang Jow who also not only served as Education Minister but also left an outstanding legacy as Principal of Gambia High School. So must we not forget Madam Louis Njie who served with distinction in the first republic under various portfolios.
In business: Ayesha Njie-Nyang does us proud in the business of education by initiating one of the most brilliant private education institutions this country has ever seen. Mrs Fatou Sinyan Mergan is not only an excellent professional making strides in the world of business but I came to learn of late that she has also been a trail blazer in the world of sports. She was brilliant at basketball prior. In the various professions are emerging young and dynamic ladies of distinction: Justice Awa Bah and lawyer Lubna Farage are examples in law. I understand we now have our first female surgeon at the EFSTH.
In philanthropy, H.E the First Lady Madam Zineb Yahya Jammeh has over the years brought our attention to our greatest gifts, babies by championing the Operation save a baby programme and now she has opened further vistas with the Operation Save the Children programme. The First Lady is creating positive impact in our society in other areas of crucial importance like HIV/Aids and Cervical cancer. What’s on Gambia anointed Fatou Gaye as woman of the year (2014) for her initiatives in maternal health and care for orphans. The online entertainment outfit said “She is recognized for her work which includes helping women to safely deliver their babies and establishing a residential hall for more than 50 young girls, some of them orphans.”
We should remember the late Aji Fatou Sallah for her impact in politics. Nyimassata Sanneh Bojang deserves special mention and I hasten to add her daughter Mrs. Yamundaw Jagne-Joof an achiever in the field of policing who served with honour in a UN mission in Sudan’s troubled region of Daffur.
Ajaratou Mai Savage is indeed a role model for many young people in her inspiring approach to the field of propagating religion. Her school is a nursery for many an aspiring leader in our society. The Most Reverend Hannah Caroline Faal-Heim, the presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church in The Gambia, exudes so much confidence and competence in her ministry that makes her stand out as exemplary in the field of religious ministry.
Charity begins at home is an age-old saying; so if it doesn’t begin at home, then at least it can end there. Kudos to Jainaba Teeda Sarr who just initiated a new column for The Standard called Trail Blazer and in the process she is blazing her own trail in more than one field; Perfect wife and most worthy friend! In her inaugural piece for the new column she features The Gambia’s first female sea pilot, Mrs Rohey Samba-Jallow, who doubles as a poet.
If this essay were a meal, as the Sarahulleh’s would love it to be, then it should end with a desert; and I got one for you. My only daughter Khadija Anoora would not be left behind when her older siblings are making their presentations to me on their career aspirations. When it was her turn to speak last week. She said this: when I grow up, I want to be a sweet! Oh how sweet! God bless all Gambian women, young and old. And may Allah continue to guide and protect us as a nation. Amen.
The Gambia’s Pen]]>