He is named after Bakau Mamakoto where he had throughout been at the forefront of everything worthwhile: religion, culture and any humanitarian affairs. The 86-year-old icon selflessly serve his nation without expecting anything in return. All he wants is to see a Better Gambia where people bridge their differences through meaningful dialogue instead of throwing fists. Mamakoto’s weekly Menyanta program, which first broadcast on Radio Gambia decades ago, aims at teaching and advocating positive cultural practices, values and Mandinka language mastery. It was second to none at Radio Gambia. This must-listen to program, which attracted listeners from across the Gambia and beyond, became so popular that it had won the next day re-broadcast rights.
Born a Fula in Georgia Town (now Jan Jan Bureh) in Central River Region, Alhagie Ebrima sees himself first as a Gambian who speaks Wolof, Fula and Mandinka languages fluently.
As a founder member of both Gambia Islamic Union and Gambia Supreme Islam Council, the old man would not complete a conversation without mentioning the benefits of being a pious Muslim. He reads the holy Qur’an daily and advises people to embrace their identities: culture, religion and language. Alhagie repeatedly argues why diaspora Gambians deny their kids the right to speak their mother tongue.
Mamakoto’s age would not deter him from offering advice on the radio. With enthusiasm and uncontested energy, he conducts weekly and fortnightly Menyanta programs on both Gambia Talents Promotion and Kairo Radio, respectively. His goal is to “help the country heal its 22 years of dictatorship wounds. It’s incumbent on those who live longer to help guide Gambians to get back to normal life,” he would say, advising Gambians to be mindful of fermenting seeds of discord, hatred and tribal animosity.
Alhagie Ebrima is reverred by many for being an Encyclopedia for a society that has, for far too long, been searching for wisdom, knowledge and stories behind unexplained stories. The Maverick with an appetite to learn is good at dissecting complex social issues, and in the process, heal unhealed wounds. “My secrets,” he says, “lies with being the backbencher; I don’t compete for anything. Wisdom lies in waiting for your turn.”
It is therefore fitting for Gambia Talents Promotion to confer Gambia Pride Award 2017 on Alhagie Ebrima Bah for his selfless service to the Gambia and Gambians.