As the nation mourns the phenomena that was Sheriff Muhammad El-Ghazali popularly known as Sheriff Kebba Hydara, it is with nostalgia that I recall the many facets of his legacy. Among them, particular mention should be made of the Gambia Islamic Union Arabic/Islamic School at Brufut built by him out of his undying love for knowledge and scholarship, specifically for the education of his children and those of his neighbours and the entire inhabitants of the village way back in 1967 if my memory still serves me well. Thankfully, both fate and good fortune conspired that I was posted at his personal request to become the first teacher of that school at the tender age of 20 or thereabout.
The generational dichotomy notwithstanding, I was so close to the Sheikh that I could pass for being part and parcel of his immediate family. By way of reminiscing, I still treasure the fond memory of him often engaging me in deep intellectual discourse on a wide assortment of issues of profound import from which I benefited immensely. It was from him I first learnt about the Arabic proverb that Yu Jadu Fin Nahr Maa La Yu Jadu Fil Bahr translated as “You may find in the river what you may not find in the sea”. He presented this knowledge-provoking edict in such a profound manner that I have since not ceased reflecting on its implications and applying it as a peer-learning guide in a much broader sense.
Those serious intellectual conversations were so inspiring and illuminating that I looked forward to them and relished them for having the salutary effect of honing my skills and deepening my outlook even at such an early age, in a manner that defies description.
Sheriff Kebba Hydara was a role model not only in this specific area as no sooner had I relocated to Brufut under his generous auspices than I began to learn very insightful lessons under his tutelage as to what empathy and kind-hardheartedness towards other human beings of diverse categories, were all about. I had seen him on a countless number of occasions give out all what he possessed to the poor and needy without being the least bothered about how a replacement would come his way. It was little wonder then that his home became the Mecca for both those who came to benefit from his unqualified largesse and those seeking his prayers and blessings.
Before I conclude, of course inexhaustibly, I will be remiss if I do not mention albeit briefly our tour, the Sheriff and myself, that took us to the Fonis and Kiang which brought me into contact with his own mentor, the renowned scholar fondly known as Jomarr Fatty. During that most instructive tour, my relationship with him became even more enhanced and deepened. But what was more remarkable was the fact that at each village we visited, the crowd his presence attracted and who came to him seeking his blessings was so overwhelmingly huge that one was inevitably left totally convinced that only a special man of God, which he certainly was, could pull such a following. Wherever we went, he shared, gave generously, preached and prayed for the people. For me, the values I learnt and imbibed during that tour cannot in anyway be covered through any university degree programme.
As the unrivaled architect of the Sheriff Nano Caliphate, Sheriff Kebba Hydara was a hard act to follow, a spiritual tower onto himself, a powerhouse of knowledge and above all, a God-fearing persona who could readily pass for a saint.
The solace for those he left behind resides in the fact that he had successfully passed the mantle to his well-cultured and adequately prepared offspring endowed with all the attributes it takes to keep his legacy alive. I was indeed privileged to have seen some of them grow into the faithful guardians of the Sheriff Kunda tradition, who incidentally transformed that seat of piety par excellence into the futuristic architectural marvel it is today.
Go well Shariff Muhammad El-Ghazali Kebba Hydara and adieu into your reserved abode in Jannatul Firdauss Ma’an Nabieen Wassiddiqin Wasshuhada’a. Wasslihin. Ameen!
Why is Binta Bah not on the Top 10 journalist list?
Last Friday, your newspaper once again carried one of its famous (or should I say infamous, with all the controversy it produces) top ten lists. They have always been generating controversy and wide speculation especially in the social media. But this time around I couldn’t resist putting down my thoughts, only because it’s on the top ten journalists in and outside the country, though all are Gambians, which is a good thing. What puts me off more than anything about the list is the fact that I haven’t seen my favourite journalist on it, Binta Bah of your own newspaper. Well I hope you only excluded her based on an assumption that to remain objective you mustn’t include your staff. Well if that is the excuse then I dare say that it’s a flimsy one; for the work of a good one must always be recognised and not put behind the shadows for whatsoever reason.
Binta is one or if not the most brilliant of young reporters who now throng the court houses in search of news. You can sense the intelligence her written articles exude. One of my friends swore time and again that she must be a very intelligent law student who is only freelancing for your newspaper. He holds unto this claim because of the way this young lady handles those intricate legal terms. My good friend refuses to be assured that she is a journalist with no degree in law.
Following her Facebook posts, I am amazed at the beauty of her language and clarity of thought. She is exceptional and being a woman contending in a field whose majority are men, makes her the more worthy of owning the first spot on that list. Keep it up Binta, with or without you making it to the top ten lists, you still are my favorite Gambian journalist.