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Ramadan in The Gambia: As Told Through the Eyes of a Local Writer

The Muslim month of Ramadan is one of the most highly anticipated moments in the Islamic lunar calendar. This is common knowledge owing to the simple fact that the majority of us here are followers of the Islamic faith.

Forget about the occasional light-minded joshing  we dished out to one another in the run up to the holy month, the spirit of caring and sharing is first epitomized  in the goodwill messages we as a people exchange the very minute the sighting of the moon is made public. Social media platforms get awashed with messages of forgiveness and prayer.

As far as I know, Ramadan remains the sacred month it has ever been. Even as a young chap growing up, the recurring theme that has been on everyone’s lips is that the month of fasting is the period of ‘neemo‘; a time when the floodgates of Allah’s blessings and mercy are availed to the faithful at an immeasurable scale.

That makes this Month a very special one, with everyone doing his or her bit to get their own portion of the ‘baraajoo’ that commensurates their deeds. There is intense worship and supplication; ‘masjids’ tend to swell in number even at places of work, radio stations in town as well as our very own GRTS and now QTV admirably roll out programme upon programme preaching such things like the Dos and Donts of fasting and how this fundamental pillar of Islam was prescribed upon those before us. (Refer to Surahtul Baqara Verse 183-185)

Equally, there also is the heart-warming melodious Islamic songs and recitation of Quranic verses on the airwaves filling us with a sense of tranquility. Perchance If you happen to be in Saateebaa market,  audio tapes of the late Muhammed Lamin Janneh fill the air echoing memories of the soft spoken scholar in his earthly days.And years after his passing, Omar Bun Jeng too continues to remind us  about his undying legacy through his powerful recordings; works that come very handy for us all.

Thankfully at least for now, those disturbing ear bashing ‘boom’ ‘boom’ reggae things are placed on the pause button. The drivers themselves have put the brakes on such an irritable thing. But even as this holy month brings with it some degree of serenity and sanity in commercial vehicles, the rather nauseating practice of spitting through car windows becomes a habit for some people during this period. I remember a day when I had hastened to alight from a ‘gele-gele’ just because my positioning in that vehicle meant drops of spittleclinging on to me. Sadly, one risks being told to “find your own private car if you happen to complain in such circumstances”. Some people still need reminding that this ‘Deen’ is all about purity and decency both spiritual and physical.

From a massive upgrade in dress codes such asthe ‘Hijab’ on the part of women to improved comportment levels, Ramadan in The Gambia is indeed a rectifier of societal conduct going as far as regulating most people’s moral compass. The glory of this holy month can be very much visible and felt by us in The Smiling Coast like else where I presume.

However, the difficulty in getting transport after work and its attendant problem of traffic jam, especially  the Latrikunda Sabiji-Tabokoto highway requires a great deal of patience for someone eager to quench his or her thirst after a long day at the office.The same can be said of working women who like to beat the rush hour to prepare the ‘ndogu’.Another familiar sight during this holy month is that of people lining the roadside around the Westfield/Cooperative area cursing the bluff of drivers who seem to revel in their ordeal. A pitiful situation which raises questions about man’s concern for man at a time when a show of generosity towards one another pays off handsomely.

Such lamentable scenarios, adding to the manner in which the price of basic goods go through the roof, are few frustrating experiences  the faithful in The Gambia  do endure every other Ramadan.  Long may we continue to bask in the virtues and feel-good factor that are the hallmark of this month.  

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