By Alhaji Ebraima Ebou Manneh
Secretary General, Pipeline Mosque Foundation
As Muslims we are enjoined in the Quran to:
- Build Mosques
- Maintain them in fitting dignity
- Visit them for purposes of devotion and
- Fill them with light and life and activity
On the 28th of February of this year the Pipeline Mosque, situated on Kairaba Avenue, Fajara organised a grand Gamo to mark the formal opening of the Mosque. This year is of special significance. It marks the 25th anniversary and this coincidentally falls exactly on the same day – 28th of February. As we celebrated the birth of our Holy Prophet, we rendered thanks and praises to the Almighty for making the construction of a mosque in the Pipeline area possible, In celebrating this important event, we wish to share out short history with those who just come in and out to pray and attend functions in the mosque as well as remind those who were there since the early beginnings of what has now become a magnificent effort on the part of a few pioneers who believed that the settlement of Pipeline, new in those early days, deserved the best.
In 1973, the Gambia Government, within the framework of its policy to de-congest the capital City of Banjul, because of its limited space (one Sq. mile area), created new zones to settle mainly senior civil servants and members of private firms. Thus a new, well planned and modern settlement called Pipeline was created. This name was taken from the pipeline that used conduct water, during the colonial days, from the now abandoned Abuko spring to Fajara Booster station. Despite the fact that the population of the area was overwhelmingly Muslims, the planners, however, did not make provision for a Mosque and the new residents had to commute to far off places for their congregational prayers.
Some early settlers of Pipeline therefore decided to remedy the situation and work towards the establishment of a mosque in a centrally located part of the new Pipeline settlement. A small but dedicate Ad hoc Committee was formed to spearhead this noble venture.
The members of the Committee were brought together by the coincidence of being yard owners in this Pipeline residential area. Like most of the present Committee members our common bond went beyond being mere neighbours. It was the sharing the love of our religion and the desire to establish and develop it in the new area, particularly among the young people.
At that early stage, the plan was to build a Centre consisting of a Mosque, a library, a school, a skills centre and a clinic. Lofty plans seemingly when the then Ad Hoc Committee led by Alhaji Daddy Jobe applied for land in 1985. With the land allocated in 1986, Initial funds for construction were obtained from the Africa Muslims Agency of Kuwait. This however was hardly adequate to build the mosque proper and the Committee took it upon itself to complete the structure which was formally inaugurated on Friday, 28th February 1990. The Hudba performed by the late Serign Alieu Kah, father of Imam Cherno Kah in the presence of thousands of worshipers. To render thanks to Allah, a Gamo was held on the evening of the opening and we have established the tradition of holding this Gamo every year around the month of February.
We thank Allah Subhana Watallah that as the Adhan (call to prayer) sounded from our minaret for the first time that Friday in February, 1990, we had embarked on a journey whose extent and scale and ramifications we had never dared to imagine possible. The mosque has since continued to grow in both activities and congregation. It was a unique mosque in a unique location organised and run by a unique group of people from all works of administrative, political commercial, religious and social life. The Committee had then and still has members from all tribes and shades of opinion joined together only by our faith in Allah and our will to serve Him. No mundane considerations matter and maybe that is the crux of our success. Marshaallah. The female members of the community are also well represented on the Committee. This was the beginning of a venture, which was to be replicated in other new zones in the Kanifing, Kotu and other areas, thus setting the pace for an Islamic renaissance among the intellectuals and the young people that is on the move to the present day.
With a formal Mosque Committee, set up to manage the affairs of the Islamic Centre it went to work and in less than 12 years after the opening, the Committee was been able to realise the completion of a Comprehensive School (consisting of Primary, Junior Secondary and Senior Secondary levels) named after our late Founder President Alhaji Daddy Jobe., and an impressive conference hall. All these we have realised mainly through raising funds from contributions of the membership and from philanthropic and benevolent organisations overseas and individuals at home, including non Moslems.
During the past two decades, Pipeline has become one of the fastest growing settlements among the urban areas in the Greater Banjul Area. There was an increasing habitation is stimulated by fast growing commercial activities along its main artery – Kairaba Avenue – where a majority of the country’s supermarkets, main stores, banks, GSM companies, and other private and government offices not to mention a large number of private schools, are located. The Pipeline Mosque stands majestically in the centre of this busy and bustling environment. It however was providing limited space for the increasing congregation. The capacity of the initial mosque was becoming totally inadequate after a decade of use. The Mosque Committee (now transformed into the Mosque Foundation), under the leadership of Alhaji Abou Dandeh Njie, decided to embark on satisfying this urgent need. What has now come to regard as the main landmark in Pipeline and indeed in the Kanifing Municipality, is the outcome – one of the biggest and most modern mosques in the Gambia, built we are proud to point out, with only local funds thanks to the wonderful benevolence and generosity of Gambians at home and overseas.
The Foundation has always stressed since its opening for regular prayers, that the present new Mosque has just been completed to functionality. A lot of work still remains to be done. These include internal decoration – tiling of the walls and pillars, paving of the grounds ( work on which has recently been undertaken) and other works like the construction of the School’s new multi- storey administrative block and the proposed Islamic Institute.
Alongside the construction activities, the Foundation has been involved in discreet but regular social work in and around Pipeline and its catchment areas. Through its Social and Welfare Committee, identified members of the community – the sick, the elderly and the destitute are visited on weekends. Visits to hospitals and prisons are also organised and during Ramadan food provisions are donated to these institutions for patients and inmates respectively. Blankets, bed sheets and other non medical items have been donated to Kanifing Hospital and the Francis Small Teaching hospital. During the month of Ramadan also, the Foundation distributes sugar and rice to the needy in the community and organised Ndoggou at the break of every fast. At every Tobaski, the Foundation kills up to 10 bulls and distribute the meat to the needy in the Pipeline area. The Foundation also grants scholarships to up to 100 needy and deserving children at the Daddy Jobe comprehensive school. There are also a few other humanitarian activities which the Foundation is doing anonymously.
The Foundation has not lost sight of the need to bring up young members of our congregation to one day take over from the elders. We have set up a Youth Wing of the Foundation made up very dynamic and dedicated youth who have volunteered to play their part in the Mosque..Presently they are engaged in social work and organise very successful periodic Islamic conferences in the mosque. They are involved fully in the preparation of our annual Gamo they play various roles on the night itself. Some of the youth Committee are invited to Mosque Committee meetings.
Twenty five years is a long time in the lives of people and as we celebrate our Silver Jubilee, we are grateful to the Almighty for preserving us to witness this event. but we remember all also those who were with us early in the piece and have passed away , who contributed in no mean way in getting us to where we are today, particularly Committee Members – Alhaji Daddy Jobe, our first President, Imam Mass Jah, our first Imam, Oustass Mass Kah, Alhaji Musa Darboe, Alhaji Ma Ebou Njie, Alhaji Modou Baboucar Njie, Alhaji M C Jallow, Pa Alassan Jagne, Fansu Sanyang, Omar Saine Burr Gaywel, Alhaji M I Kah, Alhaji Raief Farage, Vice President, Alhaji B E Njie, Assan Jobe – and other pillars of the mosque like Sir Alieu Jack, Imam Momodou Lamin Drammeh and Alkali M O Faal of Latrikunda, among many others members and non members who have all brought their blocks to the establishment of this edifice that we have all come to be so proud of and admire. Without them we may not have reached this far. May Allah in His bounty recompense them in Jannah for their invaluable work for this mosque.
We enter the next twenty five years with even more zeal and vigour and rededicate ourselves to continue our work and we pray that Allah grant us – the Foundation, our valued former and present Patrons and Guests of Honour and all others who have in the past contributed and are still contributing in various forms towards making our mosque the centre of excellence in religious and Quranic knowledge and practice in surroundings, structures and activities as the early initiators envisaged not only for the people of Pipeline and its environs, but the entire population of Gambia. We have built one of the largest and most modern mosques ever undertaken privately by any community in the country which is a permanent legacy that our children and grand children would use and improve.
As we congratulate ourselves on this auspicious event, we pray that Allah, Subhana wa taallah grant us peace in 2015 and beyond for us, our families and for our country.
Wamaa zalika allalai bil aziz.
Assalamu Alaikum warahmatulah.