By Ebrima Sillah
In the next few days Muslims in the Senegambia region as in the rest of the world will be celebrating the Eid-ul-Fitr, marking the end of a month’s fasting characterised by complete submission and devotion to Allah (SWT).
For days now, my mind has been fixed on my small village of Jambur in the Western Region of The Gambia which still celebrates the Eid day with a penchant of an African tradition crossing paths with Sufi Islam. Mark you, Jambur is one of the oldest villages in Kombo where 17 kings reigned nine of whom were traditionally ordained (called Junjung mansolu).
As a child growing up in this hugely traditionally significant village, Eidul Fitr was always something special….the new outfits, the unending handshakes and pleasantries but more importantly the spectacular beats of a specially designed religious drum locally called “TABULO” all add to the pageantry of EID celebrations. What is even more spectacular about the TABULO was the believe that anyone below 30 was not supposed to touch it.
The hysteria about the beats from TABULO are as mythical as how the drum itself is made. At least from narrations by elders of credible candor, the magical drum is put together by people with mystical prowess without having to use their hands.
Whatever that means, I still find it difficult to explain this to my children…least they look at me with puzzle eyes. During my entire life in Jambur, the TABULO was changed one….by my grandfather, the late Ba Jarrehba Bojang, a traditional male circumciser who was known all over particularly in Western Gambia for his classic mythical practices.
Sitting in his house, he would be circumcising boys without physically being present at the scene….don’t ask me how. But the truth is that all he needed was the name of the child and by slicing the topmost part of a lime fruit, that child’s little thing is also gone!!! All his life he has never joined a car but any time you agree to meet in a place he was always there before those with their cars. This is no tale…he only died in 1993.
With him gone I wonder who would build our village TABULO should we require to have one? I doubt whether we have anymore Ba Jarrehba Bojangs in Jambur? And I wonder whether the TABULO is any longer used now?
Anyway, while me and indeed many of my compatriots in the struggle for a better Gambia are not able to join our loved ones back home, I take this opportunity to wish everyone a peaceful and happy Eid. May we live long to witness and celebrate many Eids in good health and prosperity. Ameen
I can only console myself and indeed all of you with some old pictures of Eid prayers in Jambur…enjoy them!!!