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Saturday, December 4, 2021

Tribute to my friend, Alhagi Sambou Gassama

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By Basidia M Drammeh

The sudden departure of my friend, Alhagi Sambou Gassama has shaken me to the core, for we last communicated under a week ago. Mr. Gassama passed away at the Royal Victoria Teaching Hospital following a brief illness, leaving behind an unparalleled literary legacy.

Mr. Gassama will be remembered for his humility, foresight, kindness and nobility. He was a role model for Gambia’s Arabic students and scholars, alike. The late Sambou Gassama made a clear and significant contribution to the advancement of the literary movement in the Gambia, and he made every effort to encourage Arabic students, in particular, to seek knowledge and chase their dreams. Despite the short span of my special relationship with him, we came to have great mutual admiration for each other, particularly that translation is a common profession for both of us.

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Sambou, a poet and prolific writer, was born in the capital city of Banjul in 1947. He received his basic education in traditional learning circles, where he made a reputation for extraordinary intelligence before he went on to pursue his undergraduate studies at Omdurman University, in Sudan, where he was among the most distinct and distinguished students.

He served as a teacher, an advocate, translator and diplomat. Mr. Gassama, however, served the OAU/AU for several years. Following a stint as a Gambian diplomat, he moved to the then OAU headquarters in Addis Ababa in 1981 for a secondment which will eventually span for almost a quarter of a century. Though he was officially retired, by virtue of his age, the African Union could not dispense with him, given his long experience and unquestionable competence.

The devastating news came barely a month after the passing of Sheikh Banding Drammeh, through whom I first saw Mr. Gassama in person back in 1991. In fact, he wrote a tribute to Sheikh Banding almost a month ago!

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He quietly passed away at Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital on Friday night, August 7, 2020, declaring the two testimonies, according to the statement of an eye witness.
May Allah have His abundant mercy on the deceased and receive him in heavens.
I will miss your charm and our intriguing intellectual exchanges, but your legacy shall remain eternal forever.

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