By Momodou Sabally
A wonderful mother, the late Aja Fatou Asombie Bojang, was the very embodiment of love, magnanimity and compassion. News of her passing brought to me tears of sadness and memories of a past full of joy, love and serene camaraderie.
I didn’t apply for the job of S.G and Presidential Affairs Minister from President Jammeh and so I felt no need to go the extra mile to please him by unduly fraternizing with his family (like many people did back then) but I found in the former President’s mother a magnet of care and love. So while handling the onerous job of being President Jammeh’s S.G, Minister of Presidential Affairs as well as Minister in charge of the Civil Service, I still created time to visit his mother occasionally at her home in Kotou.
I have always found Aja Asombie a source of compassion, reconciliation and love; she spent a lot of time, energy and resources in promoting these values. She used to plead for lots people who fell into trouble with the former President. In my case she was so persistent that even while I was a detainee at the notorious NIA cells she would send a secret agent to come with a phone to meet me at my detention place so that she could speak to me. She would reassure me and pray for me. And indeed I was aware that she did everything that she could to get me out of that situation. I appreciated it then, I am even more appreciative of it now. And I will always be grateful to this woman for what she did for me and many other Gambians and non-Gambian alike.
Her home was but a shelter for people from all corners who came and lived with her there; at all times her residence accommodated far more people than its capacity. She insisted on sharing whatever she had. On many occasions when I travelled with Jammeh, the former President would tell me that he wanted to buy gifts for his mother but he would lament that the old woman would end up giving away all the gifts he bought for her. I knew that that was true and I would still encourage him to buy gifts for her because I knew that Aja Asombie Bojang found joy and happiness in the act of giving. May Allah accept her good deeds and reward her abundantly.
I cannot conclude this tribute without paying homage to His Excellency President Adama Barrow for his courage and sense of genuine Gambian compassion by issuing an official statement commiserating with the former first family. One would only underestimate President Barrow’s overture if one doesn’t understand the level of cancerous thinking in some quarters of our public institutions and private echo chambers, hell-bent on plunging our country into a melodrama of hatred, revenge and cyclical violence even after Allah Himself had saved us from a potential national inferno during the impasse that characterized our last Presidential election.
Many a time I reflect on verse 103 of Surah Ali Imran and all but conclude that Allah is talking to Gambians directly in this verse and I quote: “And hold firmly to the rope of Allah all together and do not become divided. And remember the favor of Allah upon you – when you were enemies and He brought your hearts together and you became, by His favor, brothers. And you were on the edge of a pit of the Fire, and He saved you from it. Thus does Allah make clear to you His verses that you may be guided.”
In the words of a Rwandan columnist as published in the July 27, issue of The New Times, it is about time that we eradicated the selfishness of “seeing ourselves in prisms of ethnic, religious, regional or any other simplistic identity”. I commend the thousands of Gambians who ditched all political and other parochial tendencies and came out to openly express their condolences on the loss of our mother.
From my readings of general sentiments on Gambian social media, I have seen that just like she strove in her earthly life to foster unity and compassion, her passing into the next world is also a catalyst in the same vein. And as she begins her journey to the next world, I pray that Allah forgives our late former First Mother and grant her blissful repose in Jannatul Firdaus.
I am grateful to you Enaa Asombie Bojang and like the melodious Sediou Band would sing to your praise and Honour I bid you good bye:
Asombie, Asombie, Asombie Bojang
Wonin-nkolou baamaa lem
Asombie Bojang, Sangkarangka!
Former S.G and Presidential Affairs Minister, Momodou Sabally is the author of “Jangi Jollof” a memoir that has just been shot into a movie. He is currently finalizing his second memoir about his life in office as former Minister and also at the initial stages of his second movie to be produced by a group of young West Africans titled “Chronicles of Sabally”