Appreciation/Jainaba Sawaneh: Remembering a Hometown Sweetheart
Sunday, December 15, 2013
The Epitome of Elegance
By Momodou Bilo Krubally
Death has robbed us all of our precious Jainaba Sawaneh. To those of you that didn’t know her, Jainaba hailed from Sawaneh Kunda in Basse, just opposite the old police barracks en route to Mansajang Kunda.
The Late Jainaba Sawaneh
Jainaba always stood out among her peers. She and my late aunty Yama Faal were best friends. Growing up in Basse, many of us looked up to these two ladies for their hard work and successful careers. You couldn't help but wanted to be like them especially when you walked into the Basse branch of the defunct The Gambia Commercial and Development Bank building where they both worked. They were your typical home-grown talents serving their own community. That was easily noticeable when you observed the way they attended to the business needs of the townsfolk.
At work, Jainaba always looked smart and professional. You could tell she was getting things done. Everyone called out her name. Her beautiful smile and professionalism helped make her customers feel at ease. Her elegance left you awe-struck.
Back then, Jainaba was always a much-sought-after patron. She donated generously. I cannot count how many letters my team wrote to her soliciting funds to buy soccer jerseys or simply throw a party for the local or neighborhood club. Sister Jainaba always came through. Regardless of one's age or family status, she gave you attention and knew you by your first name.
Slim, tall and beautiful, Jainaba easily would pass for a model on any fashion stage. She was naturally beautiful, but her beauty neither defined her nor made her outwardly self-conscious. Her humility surpassed her beauty. When she walked in town, she attracted admiring attention, everyone calling out her name, “Jainaba.” And she would wave back or she would wait to exchange a few pleasantries with the folks. And then she would walk, with an even-keeled pace, to the bank to begin her day’s hectic schedule.
To some, she was their banker. To others, she was a sister, an aunty, a mother, but to me and many others, she was just your typical hometown girl who made it and stayed behind to contribute her quota to the development of her native place.
It is the likes of sister Jainaba that motivated many like me to get involved in volunteering and to give back and to help develop Basse. We grew up wanting to be like her, a successful local citizen who showed undying loyalty to and love for her birthplace.
The final call has arrived and it is only fitting that we say goodbye. The Basse-born author and career educationist Michael Hamadi Secka said it best, "Although you are gone, sister be assured you left so cleanly, still now, the kindness you showed to the people would be reciprocated by the angels who would welcome you in the heavens." We will miss Sister Jainaba Sawaneh and may her gentle soul rest in perfect peace.
Jainaba passed away while getting treatment in Banjul and was laid to rest in Basse. She returned to her roots. It is only fitting that she rest in the land that she was so proud of and helped develop.
Jainaba came from a big family. The daughter of the late Alhagie Janko Sawaneh and Haja Mariama Faye, Jainaba was born and raised in Basse. She attended St. Joseph's primary school. After completing her studies, she would return to Basse to start a banking career. She made her mark by helping the local businesses and even took time off her own busy schedule to assist many Basseans with their finances. She wasn't famous because of her beauty or position. Her personality and charisma is what made her stand out. She was deeply, deeply loved, respected and trusted in the community.
Jainaba's father the late Alh. Janko Sawaneh (with the hat on) and his family
Jainaba would start a family with Alh. Modibo Njie. She leaves behind four kids: Alieu, Ebou, Janko and Tombon. To them we say you have a large shoe to fill. Our sister did well! May Allah grant her Jannatul Firdaus and to all the departed souls. May Allah give strength to those of us grieving her death. Ameen!
Momodou Bilo Krubally, a member of the editorial board of My Basse, is the president of Friends of Basse, Inc. He lives with his wife Salimatou Jallow-Krubally and kids in Los Angeles, California, USA.