(Yea, yea, I know the smart asses will mention Sheriff’s friend Momodou Sabally too, but I will ramble on anyway!)
I don’t remember how I met Sheriff Bojang, Da Prince of Brikama, but I have always like the guy. He has always been smart and I have always liked that about him. He was tall, slim and handsome – and had that dark West African ebony tan shined with some secret oil and I liked that too.
Sheriff has always also been very confident of his intellectual ability and I liked that too. Whereas “Harmattan” and others took exception to my debunking of their writings, Sheriff Bojang took pleasure in the intellectual wrestling match and happily published my stuff. When some fifteen years ago Sheriff wrote his brilliant “Letter to my Nephew” advising Jammeh on how to govern, I wrote back as Jammeh in my much less brilliant “Letter to My Uncle”. When a few years later, a disillusioned Sheriff penned the excellent poem “Canny Lie”, I, not yet disillusioned, responded with a much longer “July 22 Rap-a-Revolution”. When Sheriff was hounded out of the Daily Observer and came to study in London, we met up for coffee at King’s Cross and I had a simple advice for Sheriff: “Don’t make yourself a refugee from your country”. And I think that has always remained with Sheriff. A poet like Sheriff cannot make himself a stranger to the very air and smell that inspires his poetry.
I think Sheriff may in fact be able to achieve something in his new job and what he needs to do is convince President Jammeh that opposing political views in the media are OK. Publishing houses such as The Point, Foroyaa, Daily News, Maafanta, Kairo News, Kibaaro and Gambia Echo should all be treated as partners with full respect accorded by the Government of The Gambia. Sheriff needs to convince President Jammeh that these news outlets should be allowed freedom, within the law, to criticise the actions of government and authority. After all, we have the powerful Daily Observer and GRTS able to give the governments side of the story. If Sheriff can deliver on this, I think Sheriff will have achieved something.
It is the end of the school day and I am tired, so I must end here. I wish Sheriff well in his new post.