Sunday, 28 October 2012


Trying to adjust myself to different time zones Chicago (CST) and Gambia (GMT) is difficult to master. I’m not talking about traveling to one time zone while leaving the other behind, I’m talking about living in them both at the same time. One foot on the continent of the USA and the other on the continent of Africa, my two worlds!   

It affects every aspect of my life and trying to create a balance is likened to a juggling act. I have become so much more aware of this on holidays and the time changes in the spring and fall in the states.

Gambia celebrates Christian as well as Muslim Holidays, plus their (our) own national holidays. This is a long weekend in Gambia due to the Muslim Holiday of Eid al-Adha also called the Feast of the Sacrifice along with the time change in the states heightened my awareness of this fact this weekend.  I’m in a work and holiday mode, all happening simultaneously in my mind and body. 

Preparations have been on the way here for this holiday for weeks before the actual holiday. Work slows, staff is short and offices closed early Thursday and some will not reopen till Tuesdays. Not so in the states so that part of my work has to continue even though my mind and body is in a long holiday weekend state. So I have to focus on the things that need to be taken care of state side, but since I’m here some things are connected and I can’t separate me. Huh, what? Yep, it’s like that! 

On top of that, I woke up this morning with the birds singing, sun shining brightly, but the time on my cell phone read 6:15AM. Huh, what, no way I thought! It felt like I had been sleep longer than that, I was confused. I checked my second phone; yes most people here carry more than one cell due to the multiple networks in the country. Like I was saying, I checked my other phone and it read 7:15AM, huh, what! I went to my iPod for the tie breaker; yep it was 7:15AM, the seasonal time change in the states that my 1st phone had kept up with had reset itself back one hour for CST.  To help people remember there’s a slogan: fall back, spring ahead. For those of you unfamiliar with this system the last weekend in October time is adjusted back one hour and in the spring it is adjusted ahead one hour. You’ll have to do your own research to find out why. It had it’s concept in farming, that’s all I’m going to tell you. So now my mind and body has to stay with the same GMT where my roots are, but adjust to the hour difference in Chicago where my roots lay.    

Two church homes; never leave home without one! I’m a member of two churches; Salem Baptist Church of Chicago, with Reverend James T. Meeks and Abiding Word Ministries of The Gambia with Pastor Frances Soska Forbes so that means I  tithe at two churches. When I’m away from one I miss the other! Geez! 

I have not fully been in one place in almost 9 years. Some may call it fate, others destiny; I say it’s HIS guidance and purpose for my life and pray I’ve done what I’ve been called to do and that I’m learning all that there is to go to greater heights! My heart is torn to pieces to be away from my family, especially my grans, but GOD has placed me on this journey with my heart and mind and I’m not ready to reap the consequences of not following HIS direction.

To be at peace at where I’m at, but miss where I’m not. When I’m fed up and say I want to go and get excited about going, I get sad because of where I’m leaving. I wish I was there, but don’t want to be away from here.   The heres, theres and wheres are all interchangeable, because I’m either here or there.   
Here or there?
It’s just that kind of day! 

Oh wow, I just realized it when I looked at my computer clock that time has not changed. So now not only am I here and there, but ahead of myself as well or at least my clock says so!

Monday, 22 October 2012

Natural Mystic….

When I described Africa before I used the word mysterious and that it is. It’s in the air, trees, water, people, everywhere: especially the trees which seem to have a language of their own. The mysteries are intertwined with the various cultures and traditions of Africa. When you hear people talk about some of these mysteries you want to discount them because they sound spooky and some quite foolish. Then you realize that some of what you’ve heard is some of what you’ve heard before from your great grandparents, grandparents and other elders in your family or neighborhood.

GOD seems so much closer here, almost like the static elsewhere blocks HIM out somewhat. I’m not talking about what I’ve heard, I’ve seen some things! A few months after my arrival I moved from the small house in Kololi I was living in to a larger house in Kotu. The house was still was being painted, but I needed to move to accommodate that so called friend (let’s call her frenemy from now on) that had joined me here. A side note: Gambia has some of the most beautiful birds I’ve ever seen in my life: all kinds of colors, sizes and beautiful sounds. The house had a small *Bantaba in the front yard close to the main house, a flock of yellow birds flew into the compound so fast that two of them flew into the Bantaba. One appeared dazed, but shook it off, staggered a little then flew away, but the other one just laid there. I couldn’t believe something so beautiful would die just like that in front of me in my new house. I began to cry. The painter came out and asked me what was wrong and I pointed to the bird lying lifeless on the ground. He shrugged his shoulders, but was apparently moved by my tears he picked it up and blew on it. He then took it to the backyard and laid it on the cement sewer cover and said it would die or was dead. You would’ve thought it was a lifelong friend the way I was carrying on.  I sat on the back stoop sobbing and began to pray for the bird. Frenemy came from out of the house and stated, “It’s the cycle of life, now it will be part of the food chain!” Huh, what!?  I could not bear the thought of a cat or anything else eating that beautiful yellow bird and the coldness of the people around me. I prayed and cried, cried and prayed refusing to leave the stoop in the backyard as I guarded the beautiful yellow bird as I prayed and cried for its life to be restored. My faith has taught me that and I felt that faith moving even more in Africa. I sat there for what seemed like hours when I noticed that the bird stretched out one wing then fell on its side. I prayed harder: the bird drew in the wing it had fell on and stretched out both wings as I continued to pray. Finally the bird tried to stand but fell over again, and then it spread its wings again, flapped them and stumbled around on the sewer cover for a few minutes. More tears, more prayers more flapping of wings till it was off the ground about a foot. Another attempt and it flew off the sewer cover onto the grass and then up and away high into the trees! No joke, no lie, no exaggeration! Yes, it’s mysterious here and GOD feels so much closer or is it me that’s so much closer to GOD!? I was elated! Frenemy and the painter could not believe it, but that’s where their faith lies.

That’s not all! I had a young man that worked for an old friend of mine that has been my lover off and on here for years when he’s in town from his second home in Sweden. Yep, that’s what I said, I’ve never claimed to be a saint, special yes, saint no. Anyway this young man started to demonstrate some signs of mental illness, his family said that someone had given him something to do this to him. His mother told me that she knew I could help him, I told her that all I could was to pray for him and that I prayed in the name of Jesus since I was a Christian and hoped that wouldn’t offend her since they were Muslims. She said she didn’t care. Long story short I prayed for the young man and his sanity was restored and when he felt discomfort he’d seek me out cause he said with me he found peace. HalleluJAH, it’s not me, but GOD in me!
The story doesn’t stop there with the things I’ve witnessed and done, but we’ll save more of that for later. Not to mention the talk of the penis snatchers, gins, witches and oh yeah, the spirit that has sex with women in the night. Yes I said penis snatchers! Uh huh, a guy touches another man and his penis disappears! Like I said mysterious, I wish I could spell the sound of spooky music: hahahaha. That would really get ya now!
The Language of Trees!

***Bantaba is the name of the place, often under the shadow of a tree, where people gather, discuss, drink tea and spend time together. ***It is also the original design of what we know today to be a gazebo.

Friday, 19 October 2012


Yep, just in case you didn’t know I’m single. Have been for some time by choice! I’m so aware that GOD has chosen me for something and someone special! I’m not saying I haven’t dipped and dabbed here and there, but I’m on hold for Mr. Right! I’m a Queen; a priceless prize!

I’m allergic to BS, so that kind of makes it easy these days because so many guys are full of it! Not all, that would be a generalization, but too many! I’m very selective and refuse to be with somebody just to say I got a man, husband or what have you. My standards are my standards wherever I am or go: no compromise! I don’t mind dating, but it’s got to be just that a date!  

Living here and dating is tricky and sticky for a few reasons. First obstacle is the color and origin of my passport! Guys will try to connect with you for a chance to get out of the country, have an easier life, freeload or just to say they have a foreigner. No thank you, I’m not into the import export a brother business. Some guys and women try and some do make a living out of that lifestyle. They’re called “bumsters”, the guys that is, you can read more about them online.

Another thing is that Gambia is a very small country with a population in 2011 of approximately 1,776,103, imagine that. Chicago’s approximate population in 2011 was 3,758,500; that’s more than double the population of Gambia and keep in mind Chicago is a city and Gambia a country. Now I say all that to say in a place so small you could find yourself dating within the same family. It’s a place where just about everybody knows everybody. Not cool!

It’s no secret that I’m a mature woman and most of the guys here and some in the states are looking for younger women, even girls. These kinds of men wouldn’t attract me any way, they’re vampires to me. Trying to suck the youth out of someone to make themselves feel younger. 

Most men here are married and may have multiple wives. According to Islam they are allowed four and 90% of the country is Islamic. I’m enough work by myself!

I‘ve gone a few dates lately, each fellow quite different from the other. The Nigerian judge was intense! He’s seen a lot in Nigeria and here which makes him so serious that it’s stressful to be around him. Can’t relax and be me.

The brother; the brother is Gambian/American, we’re around the same age, looks and sounds more American than Gambian probably cause he was raised in Harlem. He told me a lot of things about his self and life that I don’t believe, very controlling. We went out to eat and he ordered what he thought I’d like to drink and eat. Yes, he did! Even told the waiter what kind of salad dressing I would have and not to put it on my salad, but put it on the side. Well I couldn’t have that, even though his choices were not bad, I could already see he was controlling so I had to assert myself and add my own choices. I can tell he’s probably slapped around a few people in his life. I finally got him to admit he was married. Friend zone!

I met a guy a few moths ago coming out of one of the supermarkets on Kairaba Ave. I thought he was cute and foreign, but he’s Gambian. He was dressed in conservative business attire eating a chocolate ice cream bar. He started telling me how much he liked ice cream, especially coated in chocolate. Humph, nice way to start a conversation I thought! He called and texted me for weeks, but we never hooked up. A couple of weeks ago I was standing on a corner in Banjul, I had just come from a meeting and was looking for a taxi when he road pass calling out my name.  After that encounter he was hot on my trail, guess that brown dress I had on reminded him of that chocolate ice cream bar! Anyway, we met up one evening that seemed to go on forever. I had meetings scheduled for my literacy program and Rotary club that day we met, no matter he found a place to wait while I attended to my business then took me to a late dinner. Now when I first met him I figured he was in his mid thirties, still young for me, but I’m used to younger guys hitting on me here and in the states. Thank you LORD, I carry my age well and black don’t crack!   When he showed up to meet me he was urban chic and it was clear to see he was in his twenties, a baby! He was automatically put in the friend zone and I assumed he placed me there as well after I told him I had adult children. I guess he was on a quest because after dinner he tried to come home with me. I had to insist that he go home and talk to me the next day. Boys will be boys!

Noel Jones where are you!?

Wednesday, 17 October 2012


We all want it, yes we do! Even if you call yourself a loner you still want it from someone, something or some place. Often times it‘s defensive posturing for people that say they don’t care about what other people think or say about them. It’s natural and inherent to desire acceptance because we were not created to be solitary creatures, but we most definitely should not be leading our lives to another’s pattern or dancing to anyone else’s music!

I’ve had points in my life that I went along to get along and each time I did I wound up in some situations that have literally threatened my life. So I’ve learned, not that I always make the right decision to listen to that inner voice, my spirit! I can say I don’t care what others think and that’s true for the most part, but I still like acceptance. I speak my mind and that may cost me not to be the favorite person in the crowd, but at least I’m at peace with me and not choking on what I wanted to let out.

Since living here in Gambia I’ve encountered something to do with acceptance that I don’t quite understand. Maybe if you, my readers do you can help me with it, get some clarity or insight into what I’m about to write.

I’ve met women here from the African Diaspora from different countries and different walks of life that seek a kind of acceptance from the people here that causes them to behave in ways I just don’t get.  It’s no mystery that African Women are hard workers; fetching water from wells, rivers or wherever: carrying heavy loads on their shoulders and backs, being less than second class citizens to their men to the point of accepting abusive behavior, washing clothes with their bare hands and so forth and so on. You get the picture I’m sure. Not to say that this applies to all African Women, but I do believe it’s a majority. Well anyway I’ve met some sistahs here that feel that they have to carry that same burden. Huh, what?! They feel as though that they have to become like the women that they are surrounded by to be accepted or measure up. Almost like paying some kind of penitence.   They fetch water from wells, go to work in rice fields, want to carry heavy loads and so on. I don’t get it! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’m a city girl! I only want and expect to be accepted for who and what I am! 

Living here teaches you that you are not the same no matter how Black you are. While I see many people here that remind me of my family and friends in the states it‘s obvious to them that I’m different, not “African”. Now don’t get me wrong, some people here that know me call me “Mama Africa”, “Soul Sistah” and “African Woman”, that’s because they have recognized who I am as a person. Because you see more Black Foreigners from the UK than the states here they think that I’m a Jamaican by way of the UK and that’s because of my locks. Until I begin to speak. So before they can see my blackness they see me as a foreigner. In fact, though I am a foreigner I’m more African that some people I meet that are born here!  Now that’s deep! Yeah, not everybody has “Black Pride” or is proud to be Black. Just because you’re African doesn’t make it so. 

I was very proud and more than happy when I received my Gambian Citizenship last year from the president. That to me was a great acceptance. Something that had been stolen from my ancestors so long ago, but it do not change who I am or where I am from!
Acceptance starts with the person in the mirror! You have to be happy with you, accept yourself, love yourself and be true to you. That fit in where you get in mindset sucks! That’s like loving the one you’re with! Huh, what?! 

Monday, 15 October 2012


I forgot to pay on my internet account, so I’ve been offline since Friday evening. I’ve really missed you all very much! The office where I have my account is usually open on Saturdays except for Set Settal or “Operation Clean the Nation”.

This day, “Set Settal” is usually the last Saturday of every month and I’m not sure why it was held on the second Saturday this month. This day is set apart for everyone in the country to clean the areas in which they live. It can be a community or individual effort. No vehicles are allowed on the streets (accept government) from 8:00AM-1:00PM. It’s a great concept, but not everybody participates. There are laws here just like in America for littering, but many people just like in the states don’t abide by it. Many offices are closed on this day and my net provider was one of them. 

Now I’m in the hurry up and wait mode: took care of the net bill, but now the net is in and out.
The last few days have been busy and I’m tired; didn’t even go to the gym today, but GOD willing I will go tomorrow.

My organization, “It’s Nice To Be Nice (INTBN) International” conducted registration for the fourth session of our,” Female Adult Literacy Program” last Wednesday and Saturday and we are overbooked. It’s been extra busy for me since I’m training a new teacher and asst program manager. I have had the same teacher and program manager since the projects inception in 2010, but the teacher is on maternity leave and the manager on study leave. I don’t mind cause it’s such a joy to be able to serve, teach and help others. This will give my two new employees skills and opportunities they didn’t have before and that’s what it’s all about, not to mention what it does for the students! The program offers more than teaching the women to read and write; it s a big self esteem booster!

Yesterday after church I was in a village named, Giboro to look at some property with a couple of my friends. The price can’t be beat, but it has terms that don’t quite make me feel comfortable. Besides, I felt like I walked through miles of forest to get to the allotted properties. That was an adventure within itself in the over 100 degree heat! Since it’s at the end of the rainy season everything is lush and green so you really have to keep your eyes open or at least be on guard cause who knows what lurks in the thick grasses, bushes and tall trees.  After I saw where one of my friends had bought two plots I knew that it was a no go for me so I decided to turn back and walk to the car alone as they trudged further into the forest. Truly I’m a city girl, no shame in my game either! Anyway the first thing I encountered was a man with a machete slung over his shoulder: we exchanged greetings and I continued on the narrow path. Next were two young men on a cart pulled by a donkey going through the brush. As I eased on down the road I heard this rustling ahead of me, but I couldn’t see what was there because it was a bend in the narrow path I was walking on. I proceeded with caution as I said a prayer while being a little frightened but excited about what I was about to encounter! Hahahahaha, a big eyed calf, calf probably thought, “A big eyed woman”!  It looked at me, I looked at it and it diverted into the brush and passed quietly on my right. Phew, I was so glad to get back to the car!  

Today I had the privilege of teaching a young lady about her menstrual cycle and her reproductive system. I am going to incorporate that into our core curriculum. Most women here and even many in the states don’t have a clue about the hows, whys and whats of their bodies. I didn’t either when I was younger. Your mother or some other woman gets the supplies, gives them to you and that’s it. You’re left on your own to figure it out from there and some never get it.

Like I said earlier, I’m tired so now off to bed. Have a blessed evening everyone and keep reading! Much Love and peace!