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City of Banjul
Sunday, September 27, 2020

Who will succeed Sheriff Kebba Hydara?

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The 92-year old caliph who died late Friday evening was one of the most respected religious personalities in the country, attracting disciples from different races and ethnicities within   Senegambia and beyond.

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Three days after Sheriff Kebba Hydara’s demise, one of his sons, Serign Hydara, talked with The Standard’s Lamin Cham, himself a resident of the town.

Cham began by asking him who succeed to the caliphate? According to Serign, his father had raised “a great family comprising people who are capable of continuing and even flourishing his legacy and service to God.” He would would not talk on the issue “as we are still in the early days of mourning”.

Retracing his father’s legacy, he said the Kebba Hydara was born in Kanikunda in Badibu Sanjal where his father the late venerable Sheriff Nano Hydara and stayed before moving to settle in coastal town Brufut in 1929 with young Kebba and other members of his family.

In time, Sheriff Kebba Hydara grew into a great scholar “and lived by the unbending virtues of the old man which were hard work, reading and service to humanity”. In no time he became the closest son to his father, a fact accentuated by the frequent travels of his brothers.

When the old Sheriff Nano died in 1960, it was unanimously accepted, despite his relative younger age, that Kebba should be proclaimed caliph. 

Half a decade and four years later, Kebba Hydara died peacefully last Friday. It was said of him that he never mediated a conflict that remained unresolved. “He prayed for the poor, the rich, the lame, the blind and even the outcast,” said a native of Brufut who knew him while he was a young man.

The late Sheriff Kebba Hydara did not believe in lumpen material wealth, sharing almost everything he had with those who needed it around him and beyond. His annual gaamo held mostly in May is one of the most attended religious festivals in The Gambia. 

By the time news of his death was released to the nation he was already buried apparently for fear of engendering an emotionally disordered crowd of mourners. “Even some people in the compound here did not know about it until when the coffin arrived. But by the time we laid him for prayers, the news had spread so widely that the burial was jammed packed despite our initial efforts at concealing the bad news until later,” said another of his sons, Sheikh Tijan Hydara, a former state minister.

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