Eulogy – Ya Ida Gaye: The Passing of A Woman of Peace
Cherno, Baboucarr, and Mberi, our friends, lost our mama this morning, at the ripe age of two years short of 90. Called Mama Ebrima, I am the Ebrima, as this is the name she gave me. Some of you must have met her in Austin, some in Houston, some in The Gambia. A park was named after her in Houston. Ya Ida Gaye produced many great children and grandchildren, including Cherno Njie, co-founder of the Chronicle.
Always the same: steady, austere, well-dressed, little talk, big smiles. She loved to fast. She used gestures instead of words to affirm or disapprove. One palm was resting on top of another, in a permanent prayerful mode. A dresser, her sense of colors was impressive. Looking beautiful at old age, she must have been a beauty queen when she was young, with shiny black color and asymmetrical shape.
She was community-oriented, asking after this, and asking after that, revealing an elaborate network of relatives and kinswomen. A collector of grandchildren, she had a lot. Allah will protect them.
She protected the weak in the family, diverting money from the strong to assist the vulnerable. She was committed to kinship. She could endure—anyone who could endure a son like Ebrima can endure anyone.
She loved to share.
She loved to pray.
Sleep well. Allah will give you an easy passage, your journey will be pleasant, and a shower of blessings will be yours in your grave. You were created from the earth, and to earth, you have returned. May Allah keep you in the company of the righteous in Firdaws
Cherno, May Allah gives you the patience to bear.
Mbemba, stay strong, no despair.
Baboucarr, the mantle of leadership will not be too heavy.
She asked me to look after Cherno…now is the time for me to do so. I accept the responsibility.
You were Born Free
How many choices of life is really our choice?
We came covered with blood,
This blood is special,
And the day, memorable:
It is the only day when the sight of blood comes with joy;
The joy of motherhood, we call it,
We shouted with our fists held high,
The tears we saved for another day,
The fight we have reserved for the tumultuous journey ahead,
But we burn the energy anyway,
We came symbolizing what adventure life is:
Struggles, Peace, Joy, Pain, Love, and Intrigues.
We were born free,
But freedom was not given to us,
Its too demanding to be,
Of course, the science of Freedom is better appreciated in the context of to whom much is given,
Otherwise, all men would have been born with privilege,
And when the evils, diseases, and pestilence roar in the city square,
Can we not withdraw to our cocoon of freedom?
Freedom to live,
But when the boogeyman of Death comes knocking,
His back we do not always live to see,
Others tell the story because dead men do not tell tales,
We crave for freedom,
The cost we cannot bear,
So the boogeyman always have its day.
They say that sin is the harbinger of death,
What have we done to be worthy of birth?
The fists hanging in the air for the tormented journey,
And the tears we conserved when announcing our arrival,
Both work with us until death:
When others shed this tears for us,
What we’ve done with these fists shall be recounted.
Behold the apotheosis:
May we live to fight the right course,
May our days be counted as blessing to humanity,
May the seasons of our time nourish the future of our unborn self,
And find peace in life and in death.
Toyin Falola (Ebrima)
Professor, The University of Texas at Austin