Interview with The Paper Mag Online

ebrima sawaneh Gambia

I recently had an interview with Ebrima Baldeh, the editor Paper Mag Online and Managing Editor GRTS. We spoke about how I struggled to go to school, why I have no immediate plans to return to the Gambia any time soon.

Can you tell briefly about your childhood upbringing in Saruja village in the central river region of the Gambia?

I am a proud village boy who used to farm, drive donkey cart and play football, precisely halfback left. In addition to farming or fetching firewood during the weekends, we enjoyed many social activities like street football. For us then, football has very few rules. We play without regard to time; no offside and sometimes last-minute goal is the when the game is over. The winner usually gets two condensed milk tins, costing less than D5. If you own the football, you decide who will play the game. In the night, my grandmother used to narrate stories about kings, fairy and the morale of the stories. I also vividly remember when we had our music band that plays Jaliba Kuyateh’s songs in the village, we got some small token from the group.

How did you go to school, and eventually lived and worked in the urban areas?

Actually, I sent myself to school. I used lived with my grandmother, and at a time all the children in the compound started schooling except me. Every Friday they will return with a big pancake. Then one day, I took the bold step to join them without informing anyone.

Well, I am not sure if it was the pancake or loneliness at home, but that was I started. After completing Brikama Junior Secondary School in 2000, I joined Nusrat Senior School. Nusrat was and is still a life-changing school for me. It was the place where I first discovered myself and learned to focus. I finished Nusrat with 5A, 2B and a C in June 2003.

Read the full interview on the Paper Mag Online website.