For The Gambia: Living the National Anthem

Wednesday, February 27, 2013
For The Gambia: Living the National Anthem seeks to illuminate the beauty as well as inspirational and spiritual messages and themes embedded in this gem of a prayer that is our National Anthem.  Using vivid local proverbs and aphorisms, the author enjoins the citizenry to embrace and‘live’ the many inspiring themes conveyed in the nation’s prayer. This book brings a refreshing approach to exploring the themes of patriotism, nationhood, national pride and many other values that help form the foundation upon which meaningful lives can be built for Gambians in particular and world citizens in general.

In addition to highlighting rational, practical ways to live our National Anthem, the book goes further to give anecdotes from the lives of exemplary personalities such as President Jammeh whose speeches on the national anthem inspired this title and the late Sir Edward Francis Small– to whom the book is dedicated - as rich lessons from which we can learn. Other inspiring personalities from different spheres of society are also cited as role models in patriotism including the legendary football icon Biri Biri.


Paradise Suites Hotel, during the launch of the book.

For The Gambia our homeland

We strive and work and pray

That all may live in unity

Freedom and peace each day.

Let justice guide our actions

Towards the common good

And join our diverse peoples

To prove man’s brotherhood.

We pledge our firm allegiance

Our promise we renew

Keep us great God of nations

To The Gambia ever true.

As indicated in the subtitle, this book seeks to shed light on the meaning and themes of (The Gambia’s) National Anthem. Replete with local proverbs and aphorisms, Sabally encourages his fellow (Gambians) to embrace the many inspiring themes conveyed in the National Anthem and to practice them fully in their (daily) lives. Overall, this book is (patriotic), insightful, thoughtful and optimistic in its approach. The book teaches and preaches patriotism in its truest sense….” These words of the publishers, Guelwarr, have made my work very easy as a reviewer.

Sabally’s latest inspirational book, FOR THE GAMBIA: Living the National Anthem, is a 66 paged masterpiece which consists of seven chapters. The book looks at the themes of the homeland, prayer, justice, brotherhood and the renewal of our pledge for The Gambia ever true. Sabally takes off by informing us through the words of Naopleon Hill that “whatever the mind of a man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” He tells us that he draws such inspiration from His Excellency, the President of the Republic of The Gambia, Sheikh Professor Alhagie Dr Yahya A J J Jammeh, and this gave birth to this book.

In the opening chapter of the book, Sabally tackles the theme of the homeland. He succinctly reminds all that “the love of one’s country is a civic duty as well as a religious obligation.” He goes further to poetically inform us about the beauty and bountiful nature of our dear motherland which “can only be as great as we (the sons and daughters of the homeland) make it, by preserving and nurturing our natural heritage and contributing as much as possible in the process of socio-economic development.” (Page7). 

He believes and is of the firm conviction that this should be done regardless of political affiliations. For the author, politics will always come and go and politicians and political parties will flourish and fade with time, but The Gambia and her people will always remain. As such, he wants all of us to know and believe that “the love of our country is a common duty and the protection of her image and dignity is our collective responsibility” regardless of our political leanings. (Page 8)

In the second chapter which talks about work, and which highlights the picture of His Excellency the President of the Republic of The Gambia, Sheikh Professor Alhagie Dr Yahya A J J Jammeh, working with Gambian women on a rice field epitomizes the old age adage that “there is dignity in labour.” Sabally becomes a musical muse when he makesreferences to the kora players and maestros like Jally Nyama Susso and Jaliba Kuyateh as well as Ucas Band de Sejo whose songs about work and toiling the soil are quoted to hammer home the point about striving and working hard For A Gambia Ever True. (Page 11)

Sabally notes with pride and satisfaction the gigantic steps taken by His Excellency the President of the Republic, Sheikh Professor Alhagie Dr Yahya A J J Jammeh, with regard to his “back to the land call” and the food security and food self sufficiency initiatives. He dutifully and rightfully appreciates the selfless efforts of his mother who toiled, soiled, sold porridge in the cold to make ends meet for the betterment of her children.(Pages 12 and 13).

Sabally’s uncompromising stance on laziness and the ‘better must come’ sing-song syndrome without proactive action is evident on page 14 of the book. He goes on to urgeyoung peoplenot to sit idly with folded arms waiting for things happen to them by chance, rather they should happen to things by acting. Sabally who is inspirational authorand motivator speaker in his own right and unique ways, challenges young people to take up ventures fuelled by positive Personal Initiatives, and that they “must build up the courage to act on our own without having to wait for others to prod us” as it is “the one indispensable catalyst for outstanding performance.”(Page 17) He makes reference to the personal initiatives of the computer wizardry of Steve Wozniack and Steve Jobs and the legendry Apple Computers and brings that example home by highlighting and celebrating the personal initiatives of Muhammed Jah of Quantum Net/ Qcell and Papa Yusupha Njie of Unique Solutions.(Pages 18)

Sabally’s third chapter delves on the prayer for unity, freedom and peace each day. On page 23 of this chapter one can see a picture of His Excellency the President of the Republic standing with his ‘father,’ former President Alhagie Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara. As fate would have it, the publisher, whether by design or by default had to reprint pages 23 and 24 twice, which seems very apt as the author asks this of us:“why should Gambians be divided by politics?” when we keep praying for unity and peace each day in our national prayer; our national anthem.

He urges us all to “forge ahead as a nation knowing that even though we may have different ideas on how to row the boat, the destination is one and the same.’ (Page 25) The author challenges all and sundry to cultivate, nurture, encourage, promote and ensure that the spirit of peace and unity thrives within and without us for the betterment of our dear motherland. He frowns at the evils of tribalism, intolerance and disunity For A Gambia Ever True.

Chapter focuses on the theme of justice guiding our actions towards the common good. The author, without an iota of doubt in his mind, is convinced that before we can obey man-made laws, we should first and foremost respect and adhere to the tenet of our creator; The Omnipotent, Omnipresent and Omniscient. He urges law makers; law enforcers as well as those of us who these laws are made for to uphold and respect the law at all time for the common good. (Pages 30) Sabally warns that “without justice we will never enjoy ‘the common good’ for a man cannot be truly happy when he wrongs his brother to gain advantage.” (Page 32)

The author’s conservationist and environmental activism is evident in pages 32 right through to 38 when he calls for the preservation of our natural habitat as “a town is saved, not more by the righteous men in it than by the woods and swamps that surround it” quoting the words of Henry David Thoreau in his essay “Walking.” The inspiring motivational speaker and author ends chapter four by reminding us of the sagacious words of the erudite James Allen that: ‘law, not confusion, is the dominating principle in the universe; justice, not injustice, is the soul and substance of life; and righteousness, not corruption, is the moulding and moving force in the spiritual government of the world.’ (Page 39)

On joining our diverse people to prove man’s brotherhood in chapter five, the author makes reference to our motherland being known globally as the “Smiling Coast of West Africa”, “a small country with a large heart.” Sabally embraces and appreciates the unity in diversity of our peoples and goes further to lend credence to Martin Lurther King Junior’s statement that “we are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for the victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.”He goes on to personally emphasize that “NO DOCUMENT FROM HUMAN HANDS CAN MAKE THESE HUMANS ANY LESS OUR BROTHERS. (Page 41) However, he calls for vigilance and alacrity on those who take being our brother’s keeper for granted by safe-guarding our peace, unity and national security.

Sabally, yet again reminds us, in chapter six, that “the pledge of allegiance cannot be restricted to the mere uttering of words of the National Anthem alone.” He maintained that this must be “manifested in our actions in the exercise of our duties as citizens and as development agents of the state.” (Page 44) Wow!!! What a firm pledge of allegiance and renewal of promise. Are we up to the task? Are you? Am I? This requires thorough self soul-searching and an assiduous assessment of our acts, actions and inactions For A Gambia Ever True.

The author pays homage to the former Commissioner General of The Gambia Revenue Authority, the late M K Tambajang, who on his death bed was thinking of pending national duties that were to be executed. The author is saddened by the apparent lack of love and attachment of some young people and Gambians to our dear motherland, The Gambia. He pleads with such people to always look back home since it is where they belong and where they will surely return to finally at some point in time in their lives; and this he aptly expounds using the words of H D Thoreau: “Though all fates should prove unkind/ Leave not your native land behind.” (Page45)

He urges all to have good and healthy thoughts about our motherland and not hatred and spite by again making another biblical allusion to the Prophet Isaiah who urges the wicked to forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. As if that is not enough food for thought, Sabally in page 47 enthuses us with powerful piece from Norman Vincent Peale:

“The great secret of successful living is to reduce the amount of error (hate) in oneself and increase the amount of truth (love). The inflow of new, right, health-laden thoughts through the mind creatively affects the circumstances of life, for truth (and love) always produces right procedures and therefore right results.”

Sabally opens the last chapter of his book by urging each and every Gambians to constantly ask him or herself these questions?

Am I true to my Creator?

Am I true to my country?

Am I true to my family?

Am I true to myself?

He is of the conviction that these questions are mentioned for critical reflection as they could be chapters of another book. In page 50 of the book he casts our minds back to the reality that we all belong to The Creator and that we are each created for a purpose which we should fulfill lest we fail our creator. He challenges the young people to “pursue with all vigour what they believe in, and to develop and harness their talents to full advantage” as a lot of potentials and skills remain untapped in our youths. He informs all that “we can only be true to our nation when we are true to ourselves.” To elucidate this reminds us of William Shakespeare who said that “to thy own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to anyone.” (Page 54)

In the epilogue which is entitled A GAMBIA THAT WINS, Sabally recounts the exploits of the Gambia Under 17 football team that won the CAF African Under 17 Nations Cup and went on to storm the world by trouncing the world footballing nation, Brazil, at the FIFA World Under 17 Cup in Peru by three goals to one. To him this was no mean feat and the esprit de corps, resilience, tenacity, dedication to duty and patriotism of the players is worthy of emulation and commendation for the actualization of the country’s Vision 2020 blue print and a Gambia ever true.He reminds and challenges all and sundry to remain true ambassadors of our dear motherland. Sabally enjoins all Gambians to make our country equally proud by doing our best in our callings just as the Under 17 did on the pitch against giant footballing nations.

Sabally’s , FOR THE GAMBIA: Living the National Anthem is an inspirational masterpiece of a friend, an orator, debater, essayist, poet, blogger, teacher, preacher, coach, father, uncle, brother, avid reader, researcher, social networker, pious believer, director, basketball player, footballer, professional,inspirational author and motivational speaker, accomplished economist in his own right and a true son of the soil. The book is simple, portable and appeals to peoples of all works of life: students, teachers, parents, professionals, footballers, legal luminaries, poets, literary minds, agricturalists, environmentalists and historians. The images in the book are stories in themselves.

I will not hesitate to suggest that the books of Momodou Sabally be introduced as supplementary learning materials for use in our Basic and Secondary Education School system. His books give rare lessons in constructive writing and poetry. I recommend a copy of this patriotic personal initiative of Sabally’s to every Gambian, home and abroad, and to people living in The Gambia as well as to friends and lovers of The Gambia. Long live The Gambia! Long live the peace, love unity, freedom, justice, brotherhood for the good of all for a Gambia ever true. PEACE TO YOU ALL! And to my friend who I have nicknamed the Gambia’s Pen, keep on keeping on and may God Bless your pen!

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