Monday, 29 December 2008

Microfinance Industry In The Gambia

I am looking for credible and reliable information on the micro finance sector in the Gambia. Anyone out there who has factual and suitable information on Gambias micro finance should please contact me. I will be grateful for that data. I am pursuing the information in different ways, so here i am making a personal plea for data. I will give credit were it is due in all remit of intellectual rules.
I wish to look into the Islamic acceptable form of poverty alleviation, since the existing micro finance sector deal in interest and that is forbidden for Muslims. If the Gambia can adopt the Bangladesh approach which is world famous and effective in reducing chronic poverty, yet Islamically complaint.
Contact me by email on or
you can electronically send me the info, or i can pay for postal sending.

Saturday, 27 December 2008

HAROLD PINTER Nobel prize speech. Thought provocking

If you love literature marvel at the writings of the late Harold Pinter. watch this video, it is his nobel prize for literature acceptance speech. The speech embodied his life and work. His final stance against the powers that be, their arrogance and apparent double standards. "there is one truth" he said.

Friday, 26 December 2008

Generating Value through Absteenance

One thing that puzzle me among the Online Gambian community is the apparent lack of involvement of people in dialogue made easy by the Internet forums. Folks like me may be seen to be having too free time to waste, thus our continuous engagements online. Nothing is further from the truth.
I read once in Robert Green's little book on the wisdom of leadership that, "leaders can generate value for themselves by abstaining from public view". This is indeed true. But when the people engaging in dialogue are the average ordinary man and woman, i wonder why so many just read and say nothing? It is a fact that Gambians are hooked and regularly read news and other online discussions. Yet, folks with PHD, MBA, MSC, MA, BSC etc stay away being too important to engage.
Academic certificates doesn't equate knowledge. A PhD is not the end in itself, but the means to further academic institutions and recognitions. The scores of Gambians with PhD's tend to be more aloof than many, they tend to be less proactive in the community forums, why? The only answer could be because they see their PhD as the ultimate achievement in learning and thus they wouldn't want any nonentity to spoil their status or credibility. This is a wrongs and inept reasoning. Among top bloggers are renown professors who engage with people regularly, They educate and are at the same time educated by others.
Unless Gambians who believe they are educated start open up and engage with the masses, elitism will always be the order of the day. People want others to celebrate them, held them in high esteem yet they are unproductive with their minds to their fellow country men and women! How ironical.
The fact is whether you have Masters or PhD, is not relevant if it only benefit you and don't share what you know with others. You will do good and improve more if you share and interact with people of your background. They know you better and will challenge you succinctly in perspective. Yes, people can get personal, but which country's people don't?
I am all for dialoguing and interacting. I only started writing online two years ago. I enjoy it, and will God-willing scribble my little sense. You will generate better value and true professionalism by engaging rather than self-imposed absenteeism. Write whatever you know, people will benefit.


Today is Friday, a day of Juma. May God make it easy for us all to attend the Friday prayers. We pray that this Christmas pass peacefully without any drink driving accident. May God guide the souls of all mankind into his eternal bliss.
Another sad merry go-round in Africa. The ignorant fools leading the way. The military junta in Guinea. I wonder whether there is a blue print that they can use to rule? Men that just descended from the barracks, with very limited educational background and absolutely very little diplomatic or professional training stirring a whole country. What is it that Guineans expect? Our case in the Gambia is perfect example. Yahya originally came for two years, now that is 15 years still he is angry over nothing. He has built in his mind that he and his tribe were victimised and denied access to everything in the previous regime. He still believes to remain in power without term limits will salvage and further push the masses into oblivion. That is a gross error of judgement. More Gambians are getting qualified and capable than before. No amount of exclusion or arrogance will stop decent people progressing.
It is Friday, a day Jammeh came upon Gambians. And also the Junta in Guinea. Lord save us from the evils of the African Army. Amen.

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Jarabe or Diaraby. A mandingo love song.

As kids from Mandingo background, we are made to feel that our language is too stiff to accommodate jokes and triviality. And indeed Mandingo language is too unaccommodating to 'chanting talks'. Especially in the area of expressing love. Young mandinka boys employ all kinds of love verbs and adjective to express their love to a woman of their choice.
This claim is not general to every one, as some men can express themselves in whatever language and at whatever occasion. But the mandinka language and expressions are such that if you don't understand key proverbs and sayings, you may put yourself in a very uncomfortable situation.
Also, may be the difficulty for Mandingo boys to express their love to a women in mandinka can be due to the strict upbringing and cultural values. I am of course talking about my Provence's mandinka society, but i assume all mandinka communities has many things in common. Yet, if one attempt to say for instance to a girl, i Love you in mandinka; it will go as follows: hnla fita ila or Nyhee ikanu leh. This doesn't sound passionate. But in wolof instance, the words flow naturally and passionately, just like French is said to be more romantic than English.
But then the experts in Mandingo language like Janko and the like can reject the claims. They know words that can equally flatter a lady just like wolof can.
Yet Mandingo is not on it own in terms of rigidity, Sarahuleh also tend to be rigid. I remember in our childhood at primary school when we want to express our kid love to the sarahuleh girls, the choice of word is so difficult, it put you off expressing anything 'i love you'.
But expression in words can be handled by the masters of it. I came across a song by Ali Farka And another singer about expression of love in mandinka. here is the link. ali farka oumou sankareh.
There are many Mandingo love songs, the version are mainly in the Diaraby or jaraby tune. Diarabe mean infatuated or extreme love. Like if you can't go without someone. A love that must work whatever it takes, whether it means cuting ties with ones family or Friends, the love must work. No wonder jaraby is always a hit. Although my curiocity is to satisfy an appropriate Mandingo words to once in a while express my undying love for my wife. I came across diaraby and also someone emailed the jaraby link for me to translate for him. The dialectical differences sometimes make it difficult to have an appropriate word, but then with time i will get the correct translation into English. Mean while, i say to my wife; Hne ikanu leh.

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Mali Sarjo Version Three

The third version of Mali Sarjo bring the epic to a close. For me the epic involves reviving the childhood stories i was told. And it is tradition to pass on the little we remember. I have to give credit to an Australian Man who became equally fascinated with this Manden epic story. After reading the part one, he contacted me and ask that i look into other versions, which i did. After the version two, he again emailed requesting that i further look into more versions.
Indeed as a passionate Mandingo, i took it upon myself to satisfy a non-Mandingo's curiosity into this fascinating event. There i knew he may have heard a version that i am not privy to. At that point, i did what Bob Marley said, "bend down low let me tell you what i know". Intellectualism demands humility and research. I ask that he brief me of what he knows about the Mali Sarjo epic.
He narrated this version i am now sharing with you. His pen name is Drew. Thank you for narrations

Mali Sarjo
Bafula is a town in the west of Mali, were the Senegal river forms two tributaries. Bafula is said to be in the Kayes region, the heartland of both the mandinke and Khasonke people.
Once upon a time, in the bafula, a pregnant woman went to the river to do the laundry. All the women were doing as is the custom to draw water, to bath and do the laundry. This woman was carrying a child. A hippo befriended the woman and called; hey you woman! that child you are carrying if it is a girl, i will make her my friend and if he became a boy i make him my friend.
The woman drew water and return home. Soon she gave birth to a girl, the child began to crawl and walk.
Eventually the child came to the river to wash dishes. The hippo launched a jet of water and called out to the girl. Hey child! its you that your mother carried inside her. I vowed to her: I will make you a friend.
Tiatio the girl became a beautiful young woman that many great suitors start eyeing she turn them all down. In addition, her parents and contenders cannot understand the friendship between a girl and a male hippo. Her parents wonder how to marry a girl with such a strange and notorious friendship.
They consult with the elders, one of whom was a Sinbo, a great hunter, who himself was interested in the girl. After a while, it was decided they would kill the hippo. When this was announced, the girl threaten she would kill herself. But no one one took the threat seriously. The men went out to seek the hippo and they shot it. That day, Tiatio also died.
The song was composed: Hali koro te kani mila, bemow ye koro sila kanina (friendship between two men or two women is accepted, but when a woman and man become friends, this is badly interpreted).
The hippo is describe to be having white legs, and was well loved. Some other narrated that the hippo use to warn the villagers of impending dangers. Every one of Maniba cries were interpreted by the wise elders of the village. some say a french commander by the name Cauchon shot the hippo because he was constantly disturb by its loud cries.
Others say, the village head hunter Minangouron Diallo killed it but cunningly convince the people that Cauchon had done the killing.
In this version three, the village name became known and the time line seems to fall in the period of western advancement in Africa. The name of the girl is also mention. Those are revealing parts of the story.
This is the end of the version three.


Ganda fadiga.
He is the older man speaking with a green kaftan and a kontin. He is more of a poet than a musician. he is speaking in sarahuleh. This man is influencial in the sarahuleh community, the wealthy will do anything for him to compose a song about them.

The marakas or sarahulehs love this man. he knows their history and traditions. He is widely travelled. he can equally sing in other malian languages. The clip is both malinke and sarahuleh beating, the sarahulehs prefer the kontin, a small handheld instrument with strings.

Friday, 19 December 2008

MRC Gambia

Folks, i am puzzle as to the role of MRC in the Gambia. People are flooding that research base daily and they are dying there. Is it a hospital like RVH or just providing an extra service to Gambian population? This needs to be assertained.
People start lining the compound as early as 3am in the morning, if not you cannot have any space to sit. folks before our people die due untrain doctors, someone need to clarify the situation. MRC is a charity and is not suppose to treat people as far i know, so why are people going there for treatment?

Dr Tariq Saeed lectures on Islamic Banking

This is a brief vedio on Islamic Banking. the quality may not be too good, but it will provide a quick qist into the subject.


A fantastic lecture on content research and design. A prominent lecturer in Political economy at Durham University and Markfield institute.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Tobaksi 2008 speech by 8 year old Sedou Jallow

Asalam mu alaykum

Praise be to Allah who deserve all praises

My name is Saidou Jallow

As you all know we gather here to celebrate Eid Adha (Tobaski) which is a very special occassion for all the muslims to praise Allah, to enjoy and to celebrate with families and friends.

I just want to remind you the importance of being together as ONE

We are meant to brothers and sisters
To love each each, be kind and caring
This is what brings us together

First we must love Allah, then ourselves
Our neighbours and others around us
To help relieve pain and stress

Being together and loving each other is what life is all about
Things get better when you are being thoughful of each others needs
Togetherness takes away all bitterness and hatred

For the meaning of togetherness, we must bond our hearts together
Having mutual respect and understanding for each other
Showing that you care each step of the way

Alone, I cannot change the world
Alone, I cannot build an empire
Alone, I cannot be remembered
Alone, I cannot fly like a bird to spread the word UNITY

Remember behind the success of every community or society, there must be togethernes

You our parents lead the way then we the kids will follow you foot steps, surely we shall not lost our roots.

May Allah bring us together and guide us along the straight path AMEEN

Thank you for listening

Gambians In Coventry City Celebrate Tobaski

Here are some of the Tobaski get-together pictures. The event was lively and joyous. The day was crown by a speech by an 8 year old boy. The event was to bring together regular attenders of our meetings and those who concern themselves with party modes. We are an inclusive organisation geared towards unitying Gambians and Senegalise people. Thanks

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

The fears in a Tribal society

In a recent posting at the Gambia L, I made a comment that, in the near future, a piece concerning our individual respective tribal competences will be written. The remark seems to raise eyebrows simply it will discuss aspects of our cultures or tribes that no one has attempted before. The writers who felt it unnecessary for me to embark on such a mission did that with deep care and concern. The vital point to note here for all is that, The key word is 'TRIBAL COMPETENCES'. This doesn't mean, what one tribe is competent at another is incompetent with.
Student of management can surely remember reading about the differences in management styles across ranges of racial or national boundaries. The Japanese for instance are known to be very loyal and committed to one job and one firm, whilst the American managers are quick to sack or fire their staff. The British are known to be very pompous managers whilst the Germans believe in Hard work and proven track records.
Some companies go across tribal lines to hire a person with different competence in turning over a failing company, Honda is a good example. A Japanese manager was replaced with an Irish-American if my memory serve me right. This is all due to different cultural and management styles. Sadly, Blacks and women managers are portrayed in a negative light due their management styles. Blacks and women they say tend to be 'too bossy' and 'power hungry' managers.
How did the the social scientist came to that conclusion? This is through studying different companies with particular types of managers. Yet we in the twenty first century fear what 'the minds' of others conceive.
I am well aware of prejudice and bigotry and seriously as a Muslim, that is the last thing that comes to my mind.
The 'social construct' of each individual is different. Even two Mandingos from different region in one country will have different social construct. A Baddibunka mandingo for instance may culturally value money differently to a Kobomka mandingo. Similarly a Senegalise Wolof may see marriage differently to a Gambian Wolof. Is writing or talking about this peculiarities sensitive? Yes, because our society is very rigid and sensitive. In India for example, they give jobs according to cast system. This is to avoid alienating the lower cast members. In Britain, the equal opportunity acts makes it possible for companies to employ people regardless of their race or colour. The interesting thing is, we have to start breaking certain moles respectfully and with care.
There is nothing call the TRUTH. Your truth is not my truth,. Even God gave us the opportunity to either worship or him not to worship him. Yet, we are told that our creation into tribes and races is not for us to ridicule each other but for us to be amaze by the power of God's creative abilities.
The dilemma in a tribal society is so great that anthropological exercise is made very difficult. This is why i only concentrate writing about Mandingo subjects. Surely no one will accuse me of being an anti-Mandingo. The fear is that some will start seeing me only in a Mandingocentrict dimension. Should that deter me from enjoying my hubby which is reproduce what i learn as a child? hell no.
Being connected to both FULBE and Mandingo, i can equally write about certain interesting fula custom, but that may land me into unpredictable waters. People relate and disconnect from people base on petty comments. It is hopeful that our world view broaden and become less sensitive to educational endeavours. I will put together what i know to be our tribal competences, i shall not mention a single tribe, it is up to people to guess what best describe their perception and feelings. I may got it all wrong, yet my conscience is clear. We are what we are due to many transformation and experiences, some positive other negative. I wish to comment about unifying paradigms. The axioms of successes and progress in a multi-tribal society. Feel me!

Sunday, 14 December 2008


An Interview with Badru Jafar a Kenyan student of knowledge on Islamic Principles and PracticeBy Suntou Touray

Pilgrimage to the Holy City of Mecca or Hajj as best known, is a pillar of Islam that many in the faith pray to fulfil at least once in life time. By permit of resources, some people perform the Hajj more than once. There are still others who provide the opportunity for one or more people apart from themselves. But the religion of Islam has restrictions about the Hajj particularly with money or resources that may not come from clean sources.

Suntou Touray caught up with Badru Jafar, a scholar of prominence on Islam from Kenya and now studying Islamic Banking at University of Gloucestershire in the United Kingdom. Mr Touray seeks to know what types of money Islam prohibits for use on Hajj. The eloquent scholar Jafar (BJ) explains what the principles are concerning use of unclean money. To share this valuable information, produces what Mr Touray tapped from Jafar’s vast knowledge of Islam’s fundamental practice, the Hajj. What is forbidden Hajj Practice?

Brother Badru Jaffar I choose to conduct this interview with you for two main reasons.
1. You are not a Gambian2. Your answers will be less prejudice towards inter-tribal practises peculiar to SeneGambia

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am a Kenyan citizen. I hold BA in Hadith and Islamic Studies from the University of Madinah. Currently I am pursuing an MA degree at the Gloucestershire University, United Kingdom. Since graduation I have served in different capacities of religious institutions in Kenya. Secretary to the Majlis Ulamaa of Kenya (Council of Muslim Scholars), and Chairman of the Fatawa Committee (Religious ethics committee)

QA1. What is Hajj in short?

BJ. Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam; in short it entails one making an intention to visit Makkah for specific rituals during the pilgrimage period.Ibn 'Umar narrated: Allah's Apostle said: Islam is based on (the following) five (pillars): 1. To testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and Muhammad is Allah's Apostle. 2. To offer the (compulsory congregational) prayers dutifully and perfectly. 3. To pay Zakat (i.e. obligatory charity) . 4. To perform Hajj. (i.e. Pilgrimage to Mecca) 5. To observe fast during the month of Ramadan.

Q&A2. Who is eligible to perform Hajj?

BJ. Anyone who is financially able and healthy is eligible to perform Hajj. Financially able entails;- • Earnings and funds set aside for hajj are halaal (clean money.) • One should be free from debt• One should leave all his/her dependants financially able during your absence.

Q&A3. Why is Hajj not taken seriously by Muslim like Salah or Zakar? Is it due to culture or lack of understanding its importance?

BJ. Generally Muslims do not take Hajj seriously because in a number of Muslim communities the youth who form a significant population feel they are young and need ‘to enjoy life first, perform hajj, reform and remain steadfast. Another assumption is; Hajj is a privilege of the rich, therefore exclude themselves from Hajj. Of course if one can plan and target-save he becomes eligible.

Q&A4. As a person from the Gambia, Hajj I assume is seen as status symbol more than its spiritual significance. People go to much length in paying for their parents to perform Hajj. What sorts of money can one use for Hajj?

BJ. As enumerated in the previous question, the funds used for Hajj have to be halaal (clean money). Allah is pure and does not accept except what is pure. (...whoever expects to meet his Lord, let him work righteousness, and, in the worship of his Lord, admit no one as partner) There are two preconditions for acceptance of any act of worship in this verse. One the act has to be salih or pure and two free from shirk or intending other than Allah in the act of worship. Performing Hajj with impure money renders the act impure and it will not be accepted. Seeking social status through acts that only Allah should be sought is a form of shirk or ascribing partners with Allah. This is also the case with pilgrims who seek the al-hajj or hajjat title are in bordering on shirk. Unfortunately, acts of worship like prayer, fasting and hajj have reduced to cultural symbols and have lost the religious rationale because of this. The resultant effect of this is we pray, fast and perform pilgrimage but do not get the desired transformation in our spirituality. The Prophet’s tradition narrated by Abu Hurairah: "Whoever observes fasts during the month of Ramadan out of sincere faith, and hoping to attain Allah's rewards, then all his past sins will be forgiven." These two intentions should always form the basis of our acts of worship. Performing hajj because it is an act of faith and seeking the rewards thereof.

Q&A5. If for example, a son earns money through illicit means, such as drug dealing, fornication and other unlawful earnings. The son later use that illicit money and pay for his father to go on Hajj, how is that accounted?. Is the father under any obligation to ask the son as to the source of the income before accepting the money?

If the parents know their son or daughter is engaged in unlawful business they are obliged to ask where he/she got the funds. Otherwise if he or she is in halaal business or halaal salaried employment they are not obliged to ask. Turning a blind eye to the obvious neither absolves them from blame nor renders their Hajj acceptable.
Q&A6. Is it legitimate to pay for one’s parents Hajj trip without you being on Hajj? For instance, if one pays for his mother’s Hajj trip whilst him self hasn’t been on hajj.

. Yes one can prefer his/her parents over himself and it is an act birr waalidain or respect and honouring ones parents. What is prohibited is performing hajj for someone else e.g. your parents before performing Hajj yourself. The culture adopted by some Muslims communities to commercialise Hajj as seen in burdening one who intends to perform Hajj to hold purchasing gifts for the extended family.
Q&A7. On a more delicate question, can a president whose annual income is less than $50,000, hire a plane that costs the region of $100,000 selectively take his loyal supporters on Umrah and Hajj for purification whilst ruling with iron fist? The second part of the question is about the income that the president is using for Hajj. If that money is from public coffers, is that hajj legitimate?

BJ. Unfortunately some Muslims in positions of power usurp and embezzle public funds and time for their own individual benefit. Taking someone else’s property unlawfully whether private or public is haram (forbidden) and cannot be used to fulfil an act of worship. Apart from rejection of the act of worship a grievous punishment awaits him in the hereafter. (O ye who believe! Eat not up your property among yourselves in vanities: But let there be amongst you Traffic and trade by mutual good-will: Nor kill (or destroy) yourselves: for verily Allah hath been to you Most Merciful!)

Q&A8. On different topic now, can an Imam in secular democratic country use his mimbar (pulpit) to condemn tyrannical action of his country’s president? If that Imam is seen endorsing the president is he obligated to also publicly criticise the president for human rights abuses and suppression of his people?

BJ. Imams have an obligation to advice the leadership and censure any wrong doing perpetrated by state and government. However, using the right channel is important. It might be appropriate to use the mimbar for some subjects and inappropriate for others. Scholars in the country are better placed to advice on the best approach.

Q&A9. Is human rights vital in Islam?

BJ. Shariah’s objectives as spelt out by Jurists include safeguarding human beings as defined by Islam. Human rights therefore, are an integral part of Islam. An example of human right is sanctity of life and right to basic standard of life. Preserving human rights is the obligation of the state and therefore, the state is held accountable for any breeches perpetrated within its environs.

ST. Thank you for your time and for sharing this useful knowledge .

BJ. Thank you may Allah Almighty bless us all.
Interviewer’s notes: The interview was conducted to highlight the significance of the fourth (4th) pillar in Islam. We shouldn’t look at Hajj as for the old and rich members of our community. Instead of going for holiday trips several times to the Gambia, it is better we also plan for hajj, as Muslims, delaying hajj incur us sin.
Also the societal pressure prevalent in our communities shouldn’t be something that bothers us. Dealing in illegal substance to fund the hajj trips of parents is unlawful and sinful. Let us pay for our parent’s hajj when Allah made the trip money available for us in rightful and legitimate ways. Again when our parents or family members come from performing hajj, the welcoming occasion usually turn into bidda or innovations diluting the whole purpose of hajj. People go at every length to buy cows and mark the occasion very extravagantly. Those acts contravene the spiritual journey of the pilgrims. May Allah grant us halal incomes and give us the faith to perform Hajj. Amen.

Saturday, 13 December 2008


Version two of the epic mali sarjo (Mandingo folklure) by Suntou Touray
Due to time constraint, the version of Mali Sarjo was delayed. To further the discussion and answer to private letters and request from the Jali community and others interested in Mandingo folklore, i present to you the version two. Just to clarify one issue, as a non-student of history, the research conducted is out of personal ineterest and may not satisfy some Jalis who are seeking both contextual and the high standard Mandingo story telling. I held my hands up from the beginning and apologise in advance if my style dissatisfy you. Mali Sarjo is an integral story in the oral history of Manden people; I was contacted a day ago by a western musician who was indeed pleased with the version one. He stated the wisdoms gain in that narration, to eliminate the suspense, here I present version two.
Manden Epic, Mali Sarjo
As passed on from our ancestors, the tradition to convey wisdom in manden culture takes the forms of story (talingo), strict codified teaching, secret male societies (kewulo) and the counter-part for women (bumba) women secret societies and many other forms of infusing vital codes of conduct and manners in future generations. Story to an average Mandingo is not just about the unverifiable nature of them, as it is near impossible to authenticate some of them, but it is about the central message hidden in the words. Language is a sophisticated mode of information transmission and stories become a sure way to unravel ‘what need to be known’.
Like other tribal communities, stories are also regarded as important periods for bonding between adults and young people. This is the same regardless of the language or racial group. The attempt here is to convey what really happen to Mali Sarjo (the hippo).
Mali Sarjo
In a place part of the dwelling In Manden, some say near present day Niger close to Mali lays a river. This river is not any ordinary river but different. In the sense that, the river attracts young people and women to its banks and waters. Well, you may start to wonder, all rivers attract young people and women. The uniqueness in Bafula (conjoin river) is that, two different taste of water flow into each other. The local manden people find this fascinating and uplifting.
In Bafula, the name of the river lives a Hippo. The Hippo is named by local people as Mali sarjo. Every Mandingo who comprehends the language and tradition understands what the verb Sarjo means.
A person or thing is referred to as Sarjo when the mother first gave birth to twins and then followed that by giving birth to a single child. What is relevant here is why the local people named a Hippo as Sarjo?
Well, to get an accurate answer one must first understand the world of the Hippo. That part will be left for another day. But the nature of the song story points to the people visualising a lonely hippo that goes out by itself and do the hippo things unaccompanied. Again, there is a Mandingo name for animals that moves on their own. They are called kunkiling tala (literal meaning, single head walker), More appropriately, a loner.
Just to elaborate on the title kunkiling tala, the word is also use more commonly on monkeys. There is a specific species of red monkeys, sulawulen. It is very common for adult males to regularly compete for dominance among the group, the deposed or overthrown dominant male is banished to look for new park to lead or move on its own.
The people must often be encountering the hippo to name it Sarjo by observation and deduction. Or they may recognised the hippo’s mother with twins and then later spot the mother after some time with another young hippo given birth on its own.
But for clarity and compactness, the relationship between the people and the Hippo is the key message in the song. What sort of relationship warrants numerous manden musicians to compose a song for a hippo?
It must be a very strong relationship one would guess. It is significant to pause here for a moment. The Maden like other tribes in Africa enjoy praise singing, infact a whole Jali industry is based on Batufa/ Jalo relationship. the late lead singer of Bembeya Jazz band Demba Camara once sang that "jamano kuma foo mou jalil leetati" the narrations of the events about the world should be left to the griouts.
Who is a batufa? A batufa is in short a patron, one who looks after the jali or other cast communities. To be a credible Jalo, you have to understand the lineages of your chosen Batufas. The more the song goes deep down the line of the targeted Batufa’s ancestry, the more gifts and presents a Jali is accorded. Famous jali’s with skilled knowledge about such trade is the late Lalo Kebba Drammeh, Sory Kandia, Sekouba Bambino, Foday Musa Suso, Fabala Kanuteh, Jali Nyama Suso, Jaliba Kuyateh, Kandia Kuyateh, Bamba Suso and many other renown Jalis.
The Jalis can be more appropriately label as the engines in a tribal society. They make folks tick! A famous incidence i narrated a while ago was a fatal error perpetrated by the chief of Jali to Almamy Samory. Samory was given many titles among them is Fama, Morro, Mbemba, Jawaro, Kele Mansa etc.
It is related that, Almamy Samory’s younger brother, who many would have heard the likes of Kandia Kuyateh, Sory Kandia, Salifu keiter and many other famous Manden speaking Jalis composed memorable songs about. The lyrics of a song that any manden jali can sing without hesitation is best labelled as Mandinkalu. That song is sung by all credible mandingo vocalist across time.
So the head of the jali’s in the midst of happiness and joy at the winning of a famous battle by Samory’s Army headed by his younger brother who was also his general became overwhelming for the jali community. Such occasion demands poetry, the power of the spoken word and how to imprint them in the hearts of men till eternity becomes all the more significant. Yes, caving words I mean.
There and then the lead Jali rouse to his feet and utter the famous mandinka praise word Jatta!! (lion). Everybody was delighted that such an accolade was given to Keme Burama . Keme Burama means a man who is worth a hundred men.
To shorten the whole episode, Samory was incensed, flabbergasted. “How can you refer to my younger brother whom I made a man to be the lion of the territory I rule? Is there any conspiracy going on that I needed knowing remarked Samory”?
Of course there was no conspiracy going on and Samory knew that very well. But he also knew, in ancient societies, title and names means everything. He wanted to see what other word or words the Manden Jalis can invent to surpass calling someone a lion. In fact many other tribes refer to their gallant men as lion. Samory wanted more from his Jalis not the usual stuff.
The Jalis were given an ultimatum, which is they either come up with a suitable word to praise Samory or lose the lead Jali. As the saying goes in manden, dola koro, dola kaira (one man’s meat is another man’s poison). Some younger Jalis wouldn’t mine replacing the lead Jali as this will put them in authority. But that day all the jali’s united.
Among the group of the Jali was the man who can neither sing nor dance. All he can do was increase the group and mimic the tunes. That is all he was known for. After several intense and hot hours, the lead Jali couldn’t think of any word to please Samory.
The insignificant member of the Jali group shouted Wuula! He saved the day, when the message reached Samory, he was delighted. Wuula means jungle or forest. The meaning here is that of the place where even the lion finds peace and safety. However brave and fearless a lion is, it must hide in the forest or jungle. Samory also became known as Wulabaa.

Back to Mali Sarjo.
The hippo swims and comes close to shores of the river. There visitors and women come to be very familiar and close to the hippo. People’s familiarity and love of the hippo became well known in many areas of the river region. The hippo they say became tamed and people friendly.
Sadly, the hippo died due to old age. Its death prompted overwhelming sadness and show of emotion. Regular visitors to the river missed the swims and displays of the of the hippo in thw waters. To remember Mali Sarjo, a song was composed to mark its death. The songs vary, but they all tribute to the sad end of the hippo. Aahn mali sarjo baafula ben mali sarjo.

I hope i at least expose some few things about the epic of mali sarjo. kuma foo mandiya.

Friday, 5 December 2008

sunnah fasting on sunday the 8th

Assalaam alaykum brothers and sisters in Islam

As we are exhorting ourselves in different ways to draw closer to Allah subhaanahu wa ta’lah, in these first ten days of the holy month Dhul-hijjah; I seek to remind each one of us to reflect and ponder over this hadeeth. The Prophet peace be upon him articulates the reward of fasting on the day of Arafah –this year’s Arafah is on Sunday 7, 2008-. The bounty is big indeed, remind all those who matter to you and be light to the believers.

Abu Qatada Al-ansari reported that, the Messenger of Allah peace be upon him said; “…three days' fasting every month (13-15 of the lunar calendar) and fasting the whole of Ramadan every year is a perpetual fast”. He was asked about fasting on the day of 'Arafa (9th of Dhu'I-Hijja), whereupon he said: “It expiates the sins of the preceding year and the coming year”. He was asked about fasting on the day of 'Ashura (10th of Muharram), whereupon be said: It expiates the sins of the preceding year. Muslim

May Allah bless you

Badru Jaffar Swaleh

Secretary, Majlis Ulamaa of Kenya

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

From God we come, to Him is our return. RIP Alhagie Jawara

Sorry that I am leaving so soon.
Man cannot go beyond what the creator has decreed.
Look after my children
Educate them in Islam and other beneficial knowledge
Tell your brothers, I entrust you and my children to there care
I have faith that there is only one God, only he is the master of every creature.
I haven't left much possession, but i depart with the love of you and the children.
In God i place my trust.

This was the final words of my sister's late husband who passed away yesterday. I pray that Allah accept him among his noble servants and grant him Jannah. He died with Tawheed and faith. He also died in the blessed month of Dhul Hijjah. May Allah make us grateful servants and genuine Muslims. Amen.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008


The comments below are that of a classmate of mine who is a graduate from the prestigious Madina University with Masters in Hadith studies. He is also the scretary of Kenya's Islamic Dawah Acadamy. A board member of Kenya's Community Bank which operates on Islamic banking principles.

Assalaam alaykum, As you are aware brothers and sisters we are in the first ten days of the holy month of Dhul Hijjah, in these ten days virtuous deeds are more meritorious than any other time of the year. Therefore, this is an opportunity to revitalize our iman. Reinvigorating our relationship with Allah subhaanahu wa taalah. This can be done through softening our hearts to allow us to benefit from the Quran and Prophetic traditions.
Making the best of optimum times where Allah seeks us out and supplications are more accepted. These are among the virtuous properties Allah has placed in these first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah.
Ibn Abbas narrates: The Prophet said, "No good deeds done on other days are superior to those done on these (first ten days of Dhul Hijja)." Then some companions of the Prophet said, "Not even Jihad?" He replied, "Not even Jihad, except that of a man who does it by putting himself and his property in danger (for Allah's sake) and does not return with any of those things." Bukhari
Allah swears in Suratul Fajr “Wa layaalin ashr” to show the virtuous distinct features of these days. Ibn Taimiyyah among other Muslim jurists state that, the first ten days are the most superior days of the year. These calls for, each one of us to fill his days with different types of ibada to draw closer to Allah the Almighty who has blessed us with iman and health to witness these days.
Allah’s grace is not specific to a category of people, but it graces all those who earnestly seek Him. We can therefore, pray naafilah supererogatory prayers, fast, do dhikr recite the Quran, dua supplication, smile at other Muslims, give charity, feed the poor, visit the sick and the needy, greet each other, being good to our neighbors, parents, children, spouses, friends et cetera
Most important though, is to seek Allah’s forgiveness and to increase our virtuous deeds. May Allah accept our a’maal
Badru Jafar

note: it is highly recommended to fast on the day of Arafah which will be on Sunday the 7th of December. thanks