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Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Tribute to Sambou Gassama

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By Momodou Lamin Yaffa

As humans, we always look at life from our individual prism of personal experience. Looking through my prism at the rich and vibrant life of my recently deceased friend and mentor, Sambou MIS Gassama, I have the following to say:

I started receiving information about the academic heroics of Kotookee Sambou, as I used to fondly call him, in the early eighties, when he secured the position of Arabic translator in 1981 at the then Organization of African Unity (OAU). I became one of his admirers because I was also treading the same trajectory albeit as a student. I had just come back from Morocco with a baccalaureate certificate with the aim of bagging a scholarship to study languages at university. Destiny decided that my alma mater would be Universite de Dakar, where I studied French literature and general linguistics.

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I first met Kotookee Sambou in 1986 at his residence in Bakau in The Gambia. We had a chat about translation and the possibility of my joining him at the Organization of African Unity as Arabic translator. In a bid to test my competence, he gave me a text to translate. He commended my performance and encouraged me to keep translating and scouting for translation job opportunities. At the time I was a teacher at Muslim High School in Banjul teaching both French and Arabic.

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