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Bringing Color to Gambia’s Fishing Boats: Sulayman Sanyang’s Daily Job to School the Kid

Sulayman Sanyang Painting a boat in Tanji

Every day before dawn, Sulayman Sanyang leaves home to the Tanji beach, along the Atlantic Coast for boat painting. He works with oil paints and collage to create stunning, large-scale paintings on fishing boats. 

From a young age, Sulayman loved painting and used his pocket money to buy art supplies. He has always felt that he had an inner painter bursting to emerge. He describes painting as something he has always felt compelled to do. ’’I’ve always had passion for painting and usage of color, Sulayman tells The Chronicle. ‘’I feel like it is the only way to manifest my creativity’’. 

A father of four children, one son and 3 girls, Sulayman’s Livelihood depends on painting. ‘’Painting is what I rely on to feed my family. ‘’All of my 3 kids are in nursery school, and my is attending primary school. ‘’I am able to pay their school fees and buy school materials for them from my painting job, Sulayman said. 

A boat in Tanji painted by Sulayman

On a good day, he can bring home D1,000.00 which is enough to feed his family for at least 3 days. ‘’Not every day that I go home with money. ‘’Things are sometimes very hard but I always have faith and believe that I will make it through painting because it’s the only Job that I have to make ends meet’’.

A self-taught artist, Sulayman known to many as ‘Darboe Jula’ particularly enjoys working with colors. ‘’I like using different kind of colors in my work most especially Red and White. ‘’Painting makes me to be expressive and I can happily sit for hours and paint’’. 

Sulayman explains: ‘’There are certain individuals who wants their boats painted but I cannot charge because we are related ‘’What I do is, paint their boats and when I finish, they’ll decide how much to give me’’.

He has no formal training in fine art but feels he would love now to develop his artistic streak in this direction. ‘’The craft is evolving so fast with modern methods which I need to learn, he said. ‘’I wish I can have someone who can support me to have a formal training on painting, that would be so great for me’’.  

Sulayman also paints in his spare time in his sitting-room at home. He enjoys painting portraits and cartoons as gifts for friends.

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