Friday, 30 November 2012

The Republic of The Gambia



Oops! I’m sorry! I forgot to post on Wednesday, the day totally got away from me. Another big sorry I’d like to offer is for not giving you more information on Gambia. It’s not fair for me to assume you know about here, so at least once a week I’ll start devoting a day to information on Gambia.
This week I’ll start by focusing on the people of Gambia.
The Gambia, officially (The Republic of The Gambia), also commonly known as Gambia, is a country in West Africa. Gambia is the smallest country on mainland Africa, surrounded by Senegal except for a short coastline on the Atlantic Ocean in the west.
The country is situated around the Gambia River, the nations namesake with an estimated population of just over 1.7 million people.



There are signs that among the first people to settle in The Gambia were the Jola. The banks of The River Gambia have been inhabited continuously for many thousands of years. There are indeed pottery fragments that have been found and have been dated to about 5,500 year old. There is some historical evidence that some of the ancient peoples of Europe were in continuous contact with the West Africa region. 

The first known written record about The 
Gambia is a notation in the writings of Hanno, the Carthaginian, of his voyage down the west coast of Africa in about BC 470. These links came to an end with the decline of the Roman Empire and the rise and the subsequent expansion of Islam from North Africa. 

As far back as AD 500, towns and villages based on 
agriculture and the knowledge of iron were scattered across West Africa. As we move into first millennium, trade and commercial activities increased substantially between the areas north and south of the Sahara. It is assumed that between the 5th and 8th centuries most of the Senegambian area was populated by the tribe of the Serahule, and their descendants represent about 9% of today's Gambian population.
There are 8 main ethnic groups in Gambia living side by side with a minimum of inter-tribal friction, each preserving its own language, music, cultural traditions and even caste systems though there is an increasing amount of cultural interaction and fusion. Indeed, the average Gambian will tell you he feels he has more in common with his countrymen than he has with a Senegalese from the same tribe! This by no means suggests that there is a lack of individual identity. While there is growth in multi-ethnic expressions, the search by groups to reaffirm their identities remains. 

Each of these communities speak their own language, all of which are classified as part of the Niger-Congo language group and as a whole represent a snap-shot of Senegambia society. However, classifying people by blood or ethnic traits is increasingly difficult as there have been extensive migrations and inter-marriages over the centuries. There were migrations of people into the Gambia before the 19th century but such movement of people greatly increased after the establishment of Bathurst (Banjul) in 1816. They came from Casamance, Futa Toro, Sierra Leone, Mali, Guinea Bissau and other West African countries.

The single largest ethnic group in Gambia is the Mandinka, (Mandingos) an agricultural people with a hereditary nobility. Before they migrated to the Gambia valley they lived in the northern slopes of Futa Jallon Plateau. The country of the Manding is in the Niger Valley. 

The 
Wolofs are very prominent in the capital city of Banjul and are prominent in the Senegambia region. Their language is the lingua franca for Gambia and can be heard being spoken in trading centers and family compounds. In the up-river area of Gambia they are called the Fanafa.
The people called the Creoles or Akus, are Christians who are descendants of freed slaves who first came to The Gambia in 1787 from Sierra Leone. and who rank among the bureaucratic elite as well a being prominent in the private professional classes.

The Jola or Kujamat people are predominantly organized around the cultivation of rice and are mainly based in the Foni district of the Western Division. Theirs is a uniquely segmentary society with no tradition of having a paramount chief. Their traditional location in swamps and deep forests meant that they were among the last people to be converted to Islam and captured as slaves.


The 
Fulanis or Pol Futa a they are sometimes known are mainly engaged in herding of cattle and running their ubiquitous small corner shops. They are generally of lighter skin than most of the population and several theories, some of which have proved controversial have been put forward as to where they originally came from. 

The 
Serahule people are involved mainly in farming, trade and property development. They can be found in their largest numbers in the Basse region and speak in a number of dialects including Azer and Kinbakka. They created the Ghana Empire which encompassed Mauritania to present-day Ghana.

The other ethnic groups are the 
Serer who are predominantly involved in fisheries have customs and a language which bear considerable similarities to the Wolof. Then there are the Tukulor who share strong ties with the Fulani's culture, history and traditions and are mainly engaged in agriculture and animal husbandry. 

There also exists a small community of 
other groups such as the Lebanese, Europeans, Mansoanka, Bayot , Bambara, Badibunka, Balanta, Hausa, Mankanya, the Mandjak Christians and Africans from the Diaspora and Africans from other African countries.

If you click on the highlighted words it will take you to links where you can read more. Next time the post on Gambia will focus on it's history from Empires and Kings to slavery and independence.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Gratefulness!


This morning as part of my devotional time I read Psalm 77. I’m not going to write it all out, you should really read it and check it out in your own life, but I’ll summarize it for you. Once I summarize it then I can reflect on it and you’ll understand what I’m going to say in this post.

The Psalmist is crying out to GOD for help day and night, but no matter how much he prays he feels his prayers are going unanswered. He wonders to himself if GOD has forgotten him or even forgotten to be gracious. He continues to search his self and his spirit asking questions inwardly if GOD has forgotten to be merciful, is he angry, has he lost GOD’s favor and the questions go on without answers.  Sound familiar?
Well if you won’t admit I will. Far too often we get ring around the booty! Yeah, ring around the booty that comes from sitting on the pity pot entirely too long.  Don’t know what the pity pot is, geez. It’s feeling sorry for yourself. Hands in the air if you've been there!

Well midway through this Psalm the Psalmist catches himself and says, wait a minute let me get up from here because my butt is hurting because this pot is stuck to it! Not actually in those words, but you get my drift. He begins to say I’m not going to focus on what’s going wrong or what’s not in the now, but what about all those things GOD has done for me in the past and HIS promises. As a matter of fact he goes beyond his situation and recalls things that GOD has done for HIS people and HIS creation.

Well I was lying in bed one morning and while I was lying there I realized that my butt was hurting. It was hurting so bad that I tried to see it in the mirror. I was looking for the red ring left there from the pity pot being stuck! I don’t know where it came from the thoughts the feeling of disappointment, but I began to get depressed even before the day had started. I thought about all of my bad decisions or indecisions,  lack of accomplishments and just what did I have to show for my life. Well GOD slapped me real quick! I think my neck still hurts HE slapped me so hard!

He took me over my life and reminded me of some things and showed me how HE’s heard me and brought things to pass without me planning or timing these things to be. Let’s travel through time:
 When I was an adolescent going into my teenage years I wished for a certain kind of guidance, if not from family then from some organization that understood girls my age and found none. I said to myself (subconsciously) one day I’ll be a beacon for females where they can go get support and ask questions they can’t get answers to elsewhere. So now here I am with an organization that focuses on female issues. http://www.intbn.org Wow, not my plan or design!

When I was fifteen I was in a car accident and doctors told my mother I would not survive and when I did they said that I may never walk again. While in the hospital I received some pretty poor nursing care and I said then that I was going to be a nurse to show what it meant to give good patient care. I've been a licensed and practicing nurse for almost thirty years. Huh, what!? Thirty years, how time does fly and yeah I was the valedictorian of my class.  

I used to tell my mother I didn't want to be a housewife, but wanted a career as a lawyer or journalist. I've written weekly columns here for one of the local newspapers. I write press releases and hey I’m writing this bog. Not to mention the book I’m trying to get published and the movie I've written that we're working on getting produced here.

I've mentioned before that even as a young girl I had a spiritual affinity for Africa without anyone in my family or school ever mentioning Africa.  Now here I am living in Africa for almost nine years, not by my plan or design.

I’m in awe of what’s to come next because I’m dreaming big dreams and it’s obvious that GOD has been listening and making my dreams come true.

If I told you from whence I came and where I've been you may not want to even k now me, but I know the darkness and now I know the light.


Be thankful, be filled with gratitude! Look at what you have and not what you don’t have, count your blessings even in the midst of lack, want and despair!

Friday, 23 November 2012

Monkeys on the fence...


The situation was that I had to pack a three bedroom house full of furniture, clothing, appliances, pots pans, the works in twenty four hours and move it to points unknown. On top of that I still had stacks of books and other items from a forty foot container that had been donated to my organization. We had donated over thirty thousand dollars of new and used materials throughout Gambia to other institutions, communities, families and individuals in need.  Humph! Wow!

 Come on GOD I know YOU got this! I got real quiet and stilled myself and the air around me.  I had learned to still myself when I was much younger when there was no one there to comfort me or give me support. I have learned to wrap my arms around me and more importantly to feel and recognize GOD’s arms around me. I didn't have time to go into the; why me or panic mode, I had to stay clear headed, keep moving and trust and believe.

The registrar at the university ask me to come to the office to talk and explain  what was going on and I was thinking: I just told you I've got to be out of here now in less than twenty four hours but you want me to come there? Because my spirit told me not to fight it I went. Before I left the house I called a sister friend that’s been a rock and comfort for me here and told her what was going on. I had to let some of it go, the weight I was carrying. Besides I needed to talk about what was going on so I could hear myself think. My friend, my sistah turned to her husband while we were on the phone and told him what was happening and in one heartbeat he said he’d go get a truck and some guys to get me out of there. There wasn't even a second thought about it, GOD is so good!

When I got to the university and finished talking with the registrar he told me to go see the accountant. Huh, what!? When I got to the accountant’s office he was already waiting on me with a contract to have lodging in a property that assigned to it. GOD is awesome!  The contract said I had thirty days in which to find permanent lodging at no cost. Wow, wow! The house I stayed in is still my most favorite place I've stayed in since I've bee here in Gambia. It’s in an area called Mile Seven and has old colonial type homes in the heart of the city, but has the environment of a village. Every now and then I would see monkeys on my fence. Fence mind you and not high cement blocked walls.   

Finding a place here is not that easy. Most times if the landlord knows they are going to rent to a foreigner the rental price skyrockets, so it’s usually best unless you know the person to have a local make inquiries for you and make the initial bid for the rent. Yep I said bid, this is Africa and bargaining for things is still part of the social fabric. Another thing can make it difficult for some to find a place is that rent is usually paid annually, no monthly payments here. I think now it’s starting to change somewhat due to the economy. So I needed a place in a safe location, accessible to transportation, would accommodate my belongings, had to be within my budget and would take monthly rent.  Thank GOD for the five hundred dollars he had sent me a few months before that I had been holding on to like it was my last breath. At least I would be able to pay for three to four months of rent with that. The hunt was on!

I went here, there and even places I know I should not been looking trying to find a place. Some places I knew that as soon as I left for work the thieves would go to work. Uh uh, no you didn't think there no thieves in Africa, hello! When I wasn't working or sleeping I was looking. I also was still trying to get rid of the remaining items from the container that I didn't want to keep dragging it around like dead weight.

My friend’s husband referred a woman to me that has a school and she took many of the items. As we chatted while they loaded the items for her she complimented me on the house and I explained it was not mine and told her of my situation. She thought for a second and said she thought she knew of a friend that knew a place. I was on day twenty eight of my thirty day contract. She called her friend he escorted us to the house I live in to this day. I moved in on the thirtieth day of my contract!

Front view of my house
Part of my backyard, check out my bananas










Take a breath and get ready cause this is a one two punch! 
Have a blessed weekend, back on Monday!

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Be out in 24 hour or else!

I felt so much relief when the registrar at the university asked me when I could start, but I also had some apprehensions. Never mind the apprehensions though, I had a job and I needed a job! And this was supposedly a good one I got since working at the university here is a government job. Pay wasn't all that great, but it was more than I had. 

We know that it’s said, “This is a man’s world”, well in some places it’s more evident than others and here it screams out loud! Now I’m a voiceful woman and I believe we are created equally since it takes two to make one, here assertiveness by females is seen as aggression and in many instances a woman is to be seen and not heard. Boy did I do a lot of tongue chewing and tossing words in my mind before I let them out of my mouth! That was the hardest part of my job. I was the administrative assistant to one of the directors at the university. I was charged with writing press releases, developing a data base for external links, helping to design the university’s first ever catalog, meet with external partners and help develop new ones, type and distribute communiqu├ęs for my director, help with the newsletter and other duties as assigned. The working environment was pleasant and wasn't nothing I couldn't handle. I enjoyed meeting and working the students and most of the lecturers and administrative staff.   

I was living paycheck to paycheck. While my ex was sick he tried to give me loads of money that I did not take because it just wasn't right and things have a way coming back to bite you in the you know where. He would ask me to allow him to fence my land. Oh yeah I've got property here! I bought my property in those first six weeks when I arrived. The opportunity presented itself for me to own a piece of the Motherland and I jumped on it. I have not been able to develop it yet, but I did build a well there so now people in that area can go there for water. The property is now at least four times what I paid for it! I digress, so I wouldn't take his money or cars because I knew he was not in his right mind. However after he started receiving treatment his family gave enough money to pay another 6 months on my rent, woohoo!

From time to time I would get a contract for workshops for my organization, It’s Nice To Be Nice (INTBN) International, www.intbn.org, and since my director knew about the organization would allow me time as long as it was not too intrusive to conduct the workshop. One of the most eye opening workshops I did was for the YWCA here on, “Leadership and Advocacy for Women”. The age of the women in the group was from seventeen to twenty four. We taught each other a lot! The topic speaks for itself, but these young women complained about feeling stifled by the male dominance and lack of support from their mothers. Wow! We spoke about education verses prostitution and some told me that their mothers expected them to bring something home, huh, what!? I kid you not! We talked about taking control of their own bodies, but none of them even knew the purpose of a menstrual period or even the gestation period for a human being so that was difficult to get across! Many pregnant women here don’t know when their babies are due unless they're connected with clinics or organizations that focus on mother and child care. Since the group had many questions about menstruation the workshop was extended so we could discuss reproductive health that also included information on STDs and HIV/ADS and FGM (female gentalia mutilation or female circumcision). Oh yeah, it’s safe to uncross your legs now, we’ll talk about that or not some other time.

Time was moving on and the six months of rent was just about up, but GOD bless my brother who sent me five hundred dollars that I clung to like it was my next breath. One day after coming home from work I heard a knock or should I say a loud banging at my gate, when I went to see who it was it was the family member of a very, very, very important person telling me I had twenty four hours to leave the property! Huh, what, are you kidding me!? It was if I had no rights, no fight because of who was telling me this and it was all because he wanted to move his family and friends there.I knew they were not joking! I stilled myself prayed and called the university to explain the situation. I had twenty four hours to pack all my belonging, find a place to stay and move there! Remember, I told you that I had a premonition about being homeless. 

What a difference a day makes, 24 little hours!
Yep, I’m going to leave you hanging like that! Back on Friday!

Monday, 19 November 2012

Helping a Friend!


How do you follow that up, huh? Meeting all then seated presidents of different African Countries and attending the African Union Summit! I dug my heels in this here Motherland and tried to ready myself for what was to come next. Life is like that, showing you the last thing you would expect, but here there is a keener sense of awareness. Like I said a few times before, this is a mysterious land.  

The summit was a good distraction from the sadness I had been experiencing because of the breakup with my boyfriend. I was over it, through, done! I can’t stand a cheating man and I know GOD didn't bring me here to Africa to be having a woman call my phone and hanging up! Bye! I was back to enjoying being free! I would go out most times alone or with a male friend that liked to dance with me. Going out alone didn't bother me as long as I had my transportation lined up. The first time I ever traveled out of the states I was alone and the first time I came to Africa and most times since I've been alone. I determined a long time ago. In 1985 for that fact that if I waited on someone else I’d still be waiting. My life had already been delayed enough. I knew it was me and the world!

One day I was at home just being at home and the front doorbell rang. I wasn't expecting anyone, but here people just drop by even if you've told them they must call first. No one had called and I didn't have any appointments. Often people would stop by asking for some help for this or that. There were also families in the neighborhood that I suspected had TB and encouraged and escorted them to go get tested and treated so it could have been either or. I still do a lot of 1:1 health education when appropriate. A little information can save a life! Anyway I went to the door and asked who it was before I opened the gate. Fences here are like prison walls, no white picket fences here. I was surprised when one of my ex boyfriend’s friends answered. I told him his friend wasn't there through the gate and turned to go back in the house when I heard him asking me to come help my ex boyfriend. I went back to the gate, opened it and explained that we were no longer together so whatever his problem was it wasn't mine. His friend began to whine, an African whine and if you don’t know this sound I can’t explain it. “Please now, help him oooo, his mind have left him oooooo”! Huh, what!?

Ok, ok, he had my attention so I invited him in, gave him water as is customary and listened. He asked me when was the last time I’d seen my ex and I told him a couple of months ago. He asked me to go with him to the beach and see him. I said I didn't want to go. He started trying to explain my exes bizarre behavior; shouting loudly (usually very soft spoken), drinking mid day, not at work and he had tried to attack this his friend. Did sound strange, but my psych skills didn't kick in right away, I was still busy being through with him and really wasn't even trying to care. That would change in a couple of hours.

The block I lived on was full of important people, very important people. It always had been as long as I lived there, but it was a changing. I was in the house being in the house when I heard a car horn blowing like someone was laying on the horn, nonstop noise and then shouting, “F..k the……., F..k his mother, I mean crazy talk that can get you in trouble here you can’t recover from. I realized it was the voice of my ex, he was driving up and down the road screaming his insults with his head hanging out of the driver side car window. He was gone! This brilliant young business man was not sane. It was sad and he wouldn't trust anybody except me. He turned to me, his family and friends turned to me to help him. I did! Finally got him some meds and convinced him to let his father take him to Senegal to get treatment, no hospitalization. He agreed only if I would go with him so I did. During his mania he had given away three cars, spent almost twenty five thousand dollars, walked away from his job, went to jail twice and rented multiple apartments simultaneously in different areas.  Phew! I was glad when I could step away from that. I kept questioning myself and wondered how I missed those signs and symptoms, but some things are not for us to see.

A couple of months had gone by since I turned in my application letter to the university and I had not heard a peep. As GOD would have it I was hanging out at a local spot with some guy friends when the one that had referred me to the university asked me how the application process was going and I told him they had not called me. He said I should call them so the following Monday I did. I went in the next day for the interview and I was hired. Yay, I had a job!!!!!!! Humph, oh how things change!

Friends helping friends!

Friday, 16 November 2012

Giving


 Oooouuuuuch! That hurt! Every so often I have to pinch myself to make sure I’m not dreaming or on some weird trip. I’m actually here; here in Africa living, discovering and doing more than just being.  The thought of it makes me well up inside so that I often find myself fighting back tears. This feeling comes from something way down deep in me. I had that experience again today on my way to the gym. Yes they have gyms in Africa! Same equipment, classes and what have you. Geez! I mentioned before that not all Africa is starving!

Granted though when it’s there poverty is extreme everything is more extreme it seems here. Or it could just be that everything is in your face. In the states things are in neat packages. That’s what media and so called civil order does, wrap up all the problems in a neat package so the world doesn’t see, especially our poverty so no wonder people think if I can just make it to America I’ll be alright. 

One thing that’s not hidden in the states or here are beggars. Now I have quite a few mixed emotions about that, but I absolutely detest seeing a woman with children beg. Especially when she’s using the children for trying to invoke sympathy towards her cause, yuk! You see that a lot here, I can’t ever remember seeing that in the states. I won’t give to her, that might be wrong, but I think that it reinforces a behavior that’s carried on for generations and I really don’t like the idea of her using her children like that. Like in the states people here that beg are usually out side of banks and grocery stores. Funny, it’s rare to see some outside of a restaurant saying they’re hungry, hmmmm. I was with my son’s mother in law one Sunday after church at the Taco and Burrito House on North Broadway in Chicago. A youngish guy came up to us asking for $5 because he was hungry and we told him that he could come inside and get food, but no money. He had to sit there and literally force the food down, he tried to refuse it, but we insisted since he said he wanted food. Uh huh, that’s what you get when you pick the two wrong chicks!  Anyway I digress….

One day I was in Banjul doing some shopping and a man was going on about his way and he passed me going in the opposite direction, I could see it as plain as day the expression change on his face; it occurred to him that I was foreign and he should ask me for money! Hahahahaha…. He whipped around and began to following me and started begging, I looked at him and laughed and said that’s not even what you’re here for, and he himself laughed and turned and went on his way!                 

When I first got here the number of people begging was overwhelming. It was if they would just engulf you: women with children, people with deformities, the blind and young strong men. beggars here are organized. they clash with police, go on strike, huh, what!? Yes they go on strike. there is even a book and play about it. http://tukopamoja.wordpress.com/2008/03/06/africa-reading-challenge-review-the-beggars-strike-by-aminata-sow-fall/

I prayed and asked GOD to give me a way to help the people because I felt so bad just giving to some. I knew in my heart there had to be away to help that went past what you could put in that person’s hand at that time. When you see some of the physical deformities here your mind cannot comprehend how a body can be twisted or shaped. In the states a person with such deformities are in some institution. There no places like that here.

All this was a part of what has help to develop me because I know that it all had to do with me finding and understanding my purpose. I know this is a great gift because may people never know or find their purpose. 

We are here to be a blessing to others. Think outside yourself, extend yourself and give you! It doesn't take a lot of money; in fact you can give you freely. Remember, it’s nice to be nice!



I’ll be back on Monday with the cliff hanger by GOD’s will. So get ready! Have a blessed weekend.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Mental Illness and Presidents!



 Before you fall off that cliff I left you hanging on Monday I want to share some more events from 2006.

GOD is so good! I look back and wonder how I was making it! Even as it was happening I was in awe. That eight hundred dollars that I had to my name just kept giving. There was a lot of fun in the midst of some stressful times. I can’t remember wanting for anything. The house were I was living had become a refuge for me and my sister friends from the Diaspora so there was often good company and conversation and always a whole lot of love. At that time I was the only African American in our little group, most were from the Caribbean or of African descent via the UK. Now those Chicks with their various UK,  some mixed with Caribbean accents where a surprise to me, but if I start talking about them I’d lose my train of thought. Meeting most, not all of them has been a real treat. By meeting and knowing them really brought to the forefront just how unique the African American Experience is. Besides my sister friends I had a bomb diggity boyfriend to help keep me company.

There are some brothers around from the Diaspora as well. Those that did not come with their spouses are married to Gambian women. We would all come together socially on occasions and holidays. In 2006 we volunteered to help a friend out by working with her on the production committee for the Roots Homecoming Festival. Rita Marley was the headliner for the concert. It was disastrous!  Our friend that was in control of production just lost it completely; unorganized, shouting at people, had us running here and there so much so that many of us just went some where and sat down. It was crazy. Cedella Booker (Bob Marley’s mother) was suppose to come as well, but when she found outr Rita was coming she cancelled. 

One day as I was coming out of the hotel where some of the artists were staying when this woman approached me and said, “There you are, I’ve been looking for you!” I didn’t know this woman and had never seen her before. She was dressed very afro centric with long locks and sporting a fake Jamaican accent. She grabbed me and hugged me like we were kindred spirits. We made our introductions and she went on to tell me that she was a friend of Cedella’s and that she wasn’t coming so she’d be all alone. I gave her a business card and told her if she needed anything to call me. Boy did she call me!

When I was on my honeymoon, huh, what!? Just in case you didn’t read that post or remember I got married to a Senegalese Brother in 2001 that only lasted a few months. I’m not going to recap; it’s in an earlier post.  Well when I was in Gambia on my honeymoon I met a Gambian that had a guest house near by where we were staying. His place is enchanting and later he would be as well, whew! Anyway he spent quite a great deal of his time in Sweden (I’ve written about him very briefly before as well) and when he was out of the country I managed the guest house. 

I was at the guest house when she called a few hours later sounding anxious and incoherent. I got her to slow down and speak softer in her natural African American accent and she still didn’t make any sense. All I could make out was that she was being put out of the hotel. Yep, that’s what I said; being evicted was the word she used. Now of course I wanted to know what had she been doing to get kicked out. So anyway I told her to get a taxi and I would have someone give the driver directions to the guest house and she could rent a room there.

I don’t think it took me forty eight hours to realize why she got put out. The staff at the guest house called me and told me that she was running around the grounds naked and destroying the room. If I didn’t mention it before I’m a nurse with a specialty in psychiatry, thank GOD. By the time I got there she was butt naked chasing the male staff around grabbing at their crotches. Like before she was elated to see me. Once I got her calm I began my assessment: she knew who she was, where she was, what year it was, but she was on a high that was not a natural or drug induced, but pure mania. She had been spending and giving away a lot of money, her conversation was tangential and she was responding to something internal. I asked her if she took any medication or if she was diabetic and she said no, but I had my suspicions that she had missed a few days of medication. The next day told the tale; this woman needed medication she was totally out of control walking around with a machete chopping at trees. I called the police to come get her to take her to the psych hospital. Once they came and got her they called me to come back and get her! Huh, what!? I refused and they finally took her to the hospital. 

I know getting lost in any system is horrible, but in Africa’s psych care! I went into her room and found her address book and looked for names similar to hers and found her daughter who said she was Bipolar and was not suppose to be there. I visited her in the hospital so people would know she wasn’t alone. I gave her daughter the info to the hospital, called the embassy to make them aware and kept stepping. She was finally released after a few days and left for Senegal to catch a flight back to the states.

I noticed that when I would visit her at the guest house or hospital and my boyfriend would be present that they had some kind of weird connection. Nothing sexual but an understanding, that should’ve been a clue of things to come. It was actually and I clearly remember denying it to myself. Few months later my boyfriend started displaying signs and symptoms of Schizophrenia. By the time he got ill he was no longer my boyfriend. His behavior had changed and it wasn’t nice so I cut it short, but in hind sight now know it was the early signs f his illness. That was sad and a post for another day.

Life went on as I bee bopped to and fro in Gambia!

The African Union had their annual conference and convention of all African States that year in Gambia and I was right there in the mix. That was a thrill of a lifetime! I had met some people in authority that allowed me the chance to meet each sitting African President of the day! Wow!!!!!!! As the limos pulled up to the Sheraton Hotel the security forces would open the door, a president would step out and it was my hand that would greet them and say welcome Mr. President! Yeah, pow, big high five for me you guys!!!!!!!! Me, Southside, Englewood, greeting African presidents! The only hand I could not shake was that of President Muammar Gadaffi. His aura felt so unreal. When he would pass it was if he was on a magic carpet, he would glide pass. Each time I thought about extending my hand it felt like a force field kept it magnetized to my side. His female security forces look like some bad queen of the desert chicks, but they were approachable! It was a beautiful breathtaking experience. I got a chance to sit in on meetings to pass resolutions that affected all of Africa and beyond.  Here’s a link, scroll to page 3 and you’ll see who’s there! http://www.africa-union.org/root/au/Conferences/Past/2006/july/summit/doc/AWA/1%20July%2006-MINUTES%20OF%20THE%20MEETING%20OF%20AIDS%20WATCH%20AFRICA.pdf

Wow!

His Excellency Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr. Yahya A.J.J. Jammeh, President of The Gambia

Monday, 12 November 2012

Still Walking!



I hope you’re reading all of my post because often the last post will feed into the next. That’s what’s happening today, so if you didn’t read Friday’s post this one may leave you wondering.

When I decided to come back to Africa after visiting my Mom I knew in the present and physical what I was facing but my spirit was too loud to ignore its call. I had been hearing and reading over and over again about the sermon about Peter stepping out of the boat and walking on water and it clung to me. I knew it was something in that I was supposed to be understanding from this message and was seeking the answer. For years I used to say I wanted to have enough faith that I could walk on water and one day when I was making the decision to return to Gambia it hit: step out of the boat, walk by faith. It didn’t matter that I only had eight hundred dollars to my name, that my annual rent of two thousand dollars was due back in Gambia,  children that I was paying school fees for, an organization that needed funding, lonely days ahead and no idea of what was coming next. All I knew was that I couldn’t turn back. It was time to walk on water!

Arriving back in Gambia felt different this time, no return ticket, no vacation giddies, but I was moving with a purpose. I wasn’t quite sure of what that purpose was exactly, but I knew I was on the road to finding out. My daughter had asked me a question some months before, a question that I had asked myself. “What’s a NGO (non governmental organization)?” I told her that I didn’t know, but had a feeling hat I was getting ready to find out and that I did.  I had already registered It’s Nice To Be Nice (INTBN) International in Gambia http://www.intbn.org , and had a couple of projects under my belt, but I needed to learn more so I got busy educating myself. It wasn’t all work and no play at that time. I had a boyfriend from Senegal that was a friend, confidant and would later become a provider. He was a very astute businessman and almost 25 years my junior. It didn’t seem so. When it was time for that annual rent to be paid and he noticed my stress and he stepped in without asking and took care of it. GOD is so good!

I knew that I had to find something to do to sustain myself so I commented to a couple of friends that I needed a job. That surprised them because most people think that because you’re from the states you’re floating on money. I had been writing a weekly column for a local newspaper here entitled, “Our History” I wrote about African American History from the Middle Passage till present times and after each historical milestone wrote about an African American Inventor. I chose this topic because while Africans may be aware of the slave trade they have very little insight into the development and evolution of African American Culture. I wanted to dispel myths and help acquaint us with each other. Each column I wrote I got paid the approximate equivalent of five dollars. That barely paid my fare to deliver the articles to the newspaper. Finally one of my acquaintances recommended me to the University of The Gambia. I started working there in December of 2006 as an administrative assistant. My salary was approximately two fifty dollars monthly, doesn’t sound like much, but it met my needs, yaaaaaayyyyyyy! I felt so good, I was in the mix, doing my thang and doing it in Africa! 

At times I get these revelations; some are loud and clear while others seem like clues along my path. I remember right after my twins were born I got one that was 3 fold, but only could hear and see the first one clearly and it would devastate me, but more that likely save my life yet set me on the course that has brought me to this day. I had a revelation in 2003 was that I would be homeless, huh, what!? I tried to pray that thing away cause I know prayer changes everything. It didn’t make any sense! I was on my good job that I’d been on for almost fifteen years, living in a highrise on Sheridan Road and driving and Acura Legend so homelessness, what! 

Step out of the Boat!
Hang on, everyone is talking bout a fiscal cliff these days, well this is a Victoria cliff hanger till Wednesday!