Growing up, Tobaski has been one feast I had always looked up to. Knowing that I would be having a new Haftan, Laaka Yappa (Roast meat) but also the fun of going around the village (Mbanta) pretending to be visiting family but on the whole what took us there was nothing but saliboo… lol.
Over the years since moving to Serekunda in pursued of higher education and eventually picking up a job after completing my education, it has suddenly become my new home away from home. Like it has been over the years every year when Tobaski comes I always pack my dobose (Laugages) and heads to the village to join my family and childhood friends in celebrating the feast; and make some catching up of childhood memories we had in that peaceful village where everyone is a family.
I had always look forward to the day of Tobaski with joy and happiness like a young child who’s daddy left home in the morning for work and at closed of work in the afternoon decided to pass by the store and bought a play station for this child, just imagine the joy on the face of this child as his dad opens the booth of the vehicle to hand the gift. For one reason or the other this year’s Tobaski has been Nostalgic for I didn’t know why. I was supposed to be happy that it was Tobaski and the fact that I have live to witness it alone is enough reason to warrant for my happiness but it was the other way this time.
Waking up with the joy of going to the place I have always cherish and love so much was enough to make my day, passing through the office to ensure that everything is ok and reply to few urgent emails that can’t wait for by return was enough reason that I report to work that very day. I left the office in the afternoon en route to Mbanta through Banjul where I boarded the ferry and open a book I had fall in love with since buying it from Timbooktoo “Act Like A lady Think Like A Man” by one of my all-time comedian Steve Harvey. I recommend this book to our generation may be after they read the book; it would help in reducing the rate of divorce among young couples.
After almost 45 minutes of journey on the ferry, we finally reached the northern side of the Gambia and while I was fasting because it was Arafat that day and for the first time on my journey I had a very nice and fresh breeze blowing and bringing hope. This had made me took a deep breath of relieve like if I had swallowed a whole domi Kaaba and it get stock sisuma throat bi… Smile. I wish my Jaranka sons/daughters would have the opportunity of experiencing the wonderful breeze of Nuimi, and no wonder they all want to emigrate here but I had rather welcome the Baboons because they are the original citizens of Jarra. Oooops! Did I just say that? But anyways they know what I said is true.
Back to my Tobaski Nostagia, departing Barra on a commercial vehicle locally call “Gele-Gele” was a much fun and laughter as it’s like being at the Bantaba where all sorts of conversations are heard, Politics, Social, Marriage, history and story telling. Despite all the conversation that have been going on I was still busy reading my new found love “Act Like A Lady Think Like A Man” by Steve Harvey but of a sudden the issue of Tobaski ram prices was raised by a gentle man who was profusely complaining of the high price of ram and one question he raised that had almost brought tears to my eyes. He asked “How can one buy a ram for D7, 000.00 when your salary is far less than that?” wakh nga dega, at this point I couldn’t hold my self but joined the conversation. To cut the long story short at the end we all agreed that the solution to all this Tobaski wahala was to rear our own rams at home especially those in rural Gambia, they have no excuse of where to keep or feed them. In effect as the King of Jarra by the powers vested on me I declare the lunch of “Operation rears your own Tobaski Ram”… Hahatai!!!
After 45 minutes of a rough and tough journey finally I get to Mbanta and could feel the sense of belonging to this beautiful and peaceful place that is home to me and forever it shall be. I had always feel great coming back to where it all began some years back Mbanta, immediately childhood memories of us waking up early morning to light firewood and do the early morning Arabic schooling (Daara), the fun of going hunting in the nearby bushes just at the outskirt of the village, the fun of farming and horse riding used to be real fun, helping our mothers with their vegetable gardens and rice fields was so much joy…. Because we were taught at a very young age that for one to succeed in life you must seek the blessings from your parents especially your mother and that alone has convince us that all the painful work we did at that early age would come to our aid when we grow to be responsible children of society. Truth be told is now we come to realised that all those work we did for our parents had really come back to guide us through life. Grouping up as a child in that peaceful village, even with the lack of present day recreational gadgets that children of today have to play around with, for us even hearing those names was something we never did and not to dream of owning one in our life time. Despite all that I can honestly attest that those times had been the best times of my life and I shall forever cherish them.
After ten minutes of revisiting my childhood memories as if I was sited in front of a 42 Inches Plasma TV stereo with a cup of cold locally made wonjo juice to drank off my memories of all the good and bad experiences that has shape me to be the person I am today and with a smile I came back to reality that all that had just been a flash back. At that point I did what every child would do and that was to rush to my Dad’s house to say my Salaam to him, upon entering his room I felt nostalgic memories of my childhood growing up with him being the best father I could have ever asked for. All the joy and excitement I had suddenly change when I come out of my dream of him appearing from his bed room to call my name in his pure and solemn voice “Alhagi Malick“ and when reality hits that he has answered the call of nature some 20 years ago all my mood change and tears drop from my eyes. For whatever reason/s for a very long time I had a very deep reality check this Tobaski than I have ever done in my entire life, it could be because I have come off age and the type of people I associate myself with since the beginning of the year as made me a much better person and help me in discovering the true me.
Finally the day has come and after a very deep sleep over all the thoughts I had the day before I was able to wake up fresh and ready for the day, but unlike the Jarankas for us eating meat has been part of our daily routine, whilst for them they meet meat once in a year… It was time to dress up and head to the prayer ground and come see how I fitted myself in a black haftan (Traditional dress) done by the one and only Yaws Creation, it makes me feel Intoxicated in the dress as that is the name she gave to her Tobaski collection. Getting to the prayer ground and having to wait for the most hajaan Imam in the name of Imam Malick Mboob (Lol don’t mind me he is my cousin) and we have a very good joking relationship, after giving my two Rakas and wait for him to deliver his Khutba (Sermon) straight I rush home to do the sacrificial slaughtering of the Ram in keeping the religious tradition of Prophet Ibraheem (Peace be with Him).
Now that our part was done as men, the rest was for the women to do their part while we sat under the cool mango tree roasting the meet, brewing ataya and having some catching up to do. At this point I start to realised few of my childhood friends I did Tobaski with had passed on to the world of our ancestors, my mood change but all I could do at that point was to pray for them and later during the evening pay a visit to their individual families, eventhough I know it would bring back sad memories to the family but is better than not visiting them as they already know I had come for Tobaski.
After all what had happen to summed it up my 2015 Tobaski had been Nostalgia and a one I would remember for a very long time. I would not do justice if it didn’t end it with my favourite Wollof quote “Feke ngeng ko ren, Yalngeng ko feke dewen, Y su dewen narreh nyaw Yalna melni ren”
Happy Tobaski 2015 (Eid Mubarak) Peace!
By Dabakh Malick