A Remarkable Visit Home
November 22nd, 2009
Basse Association Steering Committee member Ousainou Krubally recently returned home to Germany following a trip to The Gambia. He spent days in Basse, talking to both the elders and the youth, met with members of both the town-based Basse Youth Association (BYA) and the Development Association of Basse Natives in the Kombos (DABANKO). Ousainou also went sightseeing, visiting many places in and around town. His impressions:
My Basse Trip
By Ousainou Krubally
First of all, I would like to thank the Almighty for blessing me with the opportunity to travel to The Gambia, especially Basse. This is my personal story and my intention is not to pinch anyone’s integrity. Please note that it is unintentional if my recollection happens to be offensive to some people. I don´t mean to degrade or hurt anyone.
My journey to Basse was not without hurdles. We had trouble in deciding which route to use but finally settled for the trans-Gambia road. This road was the best even though there were so many diversions due to current construction work. Traveling through this route brought so many memories back. It was wonderful again to travel on the Soma-Basse road. As most of us know, Soma used to be a busy commercial center. But the-then lively Soma has dissipated now. Above all, the journey was exhaustive and quite interesting.
You realize Basse’s growth and development from Allunhari, which in those days was mainly located on the left when heading to Basse from the Kombos. The trans-Gambia road now divides Alunhari into two halves. The village was known for its fine pottery; it had vast farmlands. I could hardly believe my eyes that the villagers have now settled on their own farmlands, and even the dense forest once situated between Alunhari and Koba Kunda has been turned into homes. Basse has always been a business centre, and nowadays, business has seen an increase as a result of the town's development. Goods sold at the Basse market are comparable to the ones sold in other major markets in The Gambia. I spent a day sightseeing in Basse. It is sad that we have lost a lot of the big Bantang trees, Baobab and all the scary Soto kotos. The tall and dense mahogany trees are gone. Gone are the scary stories of the Kondorong, Ngotteh and the like. I think our children should be told those stories.
I had the opportunity to take some pictures of Basse. I am sure some of these pictures will bring back memories to some of us who miss home. Perhaps, some of you will be able to identify certain places in these pictures. For example, there is a view of the road to the Cotton Ginnery depot, the mighty Dunia cinema, and other streets that go around the compound of one of the steering committee members. I visited the Manneh Kunda Bulo which used to be a hang out spot for some of us who attended Saint George´s primary school. We would go there, looking for some delicious cashew.
There is also a scene from the GuJu GuJu, and Saala Company, a retreat for every newly circumcised child from all over the surrounding villages. The stream at Saala Company was the place for our first bath after circumcision. The water flows from Hanari, the dragon hide-out, to the main river. I visited those areas to refresh my mind and hopefully those of the members of the Basse Association who have missed Basse. Included is another scene from the Basse rice fields. Looking at the photos, this year’s harvest seems promising.
Visiting Basse at this time of the year was fantastic and interesting because the rainy season was coming to an end and the greenish environment was beautiful. The weather was tolerable. The cultural diversity still exists and the people’s sense of humour still makes Basse the pleasant, friendly place it is known to be. The Fulas are still teasing the Mandinkas about Mama Jankey Wally. The Badinbunkas continue to hammer at the Sarahules; likewise the Sereres continue poking fun at the Fulas that they cannot swim.
The most interesting part of my experience was meeting with the Basse central mosque committee. The excitement was moving. I was nervous, because I was representing the Basse Association during my encounters with the mosque committee officials. These senior citizens are widely respected, and their words carry a lot of weight, stronger than the blow of a hammer. The deputy Imam Alh Kaw Yerro Cham expressed his gratitude and also his happiness about the BA's initiative and that he has lived to see this day come to pass. He stated this should have been done a long time ago. He thanked the BA for coming up with an initiative like this. The BA representative in Basse, Dawda Sankareh, Jewru Krubally (Old Pa), the (Alkalo) of Basse Alh Nasiru Barry, ALh Yaya Jallow , Amadou Jang Bah , Uncle Amadou (Chucku) Jallow and some other elders attended. ALh. Kaw Yerro, however, urged the BA to be steadfast in its obligations; that they have heard about other organizations and there are some of us who can´t keep promises. The gathering was blessed by the Alkalo. The meeting was successful and I hope that we will consider the words of the elders and fulfill some of their expectations. There is also a photo scene from the Mosque road rehabilitation day which was initiated by the Manneh Kunda community in collaboration with the Basse Youth Association. I was there on behalf of the Basse Association. The Manneh Kunda griots (jallolu) provided entertainment for the effort with their nice songs supported by the Kora and skillful drumming.
There is nothing better than to work as a community towards the development of our streets. At the end of the day, the result turned out to be great; everyone was happy that we were able to finish repair works on the road the same day. The people went about their daily activities soon thereafter. I was there to show solidarity and to work with the people. They were surprised that I kept up with them for the whole day as a representative of the Basse Association (BA).
Cherno Baba Jallow's article, Remembering the Basse High Level Football Field, was a wake-up call to all the people of Basse. I do know that we all enjoyed reading the article because it was well written and the facts are real. The High Level is not what it used to be. The good brotherhood and sisterhood spirit is lacking now. It is evident that certain individuals have abused their official duties and misused the funds. There are misconceptions, distrust and disunity within all youth groups in Basse and that is why there are two football tournaments in Basse.
But recently, a group of ex-football players have been doing everything to keep the High Level field alive again. They have formed a football association. They are sponsoring thirteen football clubs who are now playing a tournament; another eleven teams are lining up for the next trophy tourney. The referees, linesmen and the match officers are all from the ex-footballers committee and the expenditures are shouldered by them and the Basse business community. The High Level field is coming back to life again due to the efforts of these brothers. The fighting still continues because the former association does not want to see the success of the newly formed association. We have been told that there had been no Nawettan in Basse for the last couple of years and we could not understand why. The reason is self-centeredness.
I have seen skillful young men who have the ability to bring beautiful football back to the high level grounds. You can see a glimpse of what I am saying by looking at the football photos scenes. The Basse United F.C. in blue and black stripes played against T-Junction who won by one goal to nil. It was very interesting and one of the toughest games played during my stay in Basse. You can also see photos of both teams selected to represent Basse in a countrywide tournament. I think is proper and right to say the problem lies in the disconnection between the leaders and the general public. Those of us who are blessed with knowledge, with wealth, or with opportunity, should collaborate to help develop, integrate and bring our people together again.
About the author: Ousainou Krubally, a football enthusiast and organizer, played with the Basse United F.C. in the early 1990s. He lives in Cologne, Germany.