Concord Times (Freetown)

11 June 2012

Sierra Leone: From Mc Roy to Sheikh Mustapha - Youth Ditches Entertainment for Allah's Work

It is a rarity in our society today for especially young people to abandon the pleasures of the world and fully dedicate their lives to doing the things of God. Some only consider this path after realising it is the only option left for them to pursue, particularly in the event life has not been a pleasant experience for them. Though a rarity, there are still those who would heed to God's call while still full of energy to chase the earthly pleasures; one such person is Mustapha Kargbo aka 'MC Roy' of Kissy Mess Mess in the east-end of the capital Freetown, who has called time off the entertainment world to assuming the new role of winning souls for God through the Islamic faith.

Born on March 12, 1987 in Kabala, Koinadugu District, Northern Sierra Leone, MC Roy - who now wishes to be known by the persona Sheikh Mustapha - grew up in a Muslim family where everyone was obliged to observe his or her five daily prayers. He had his early schooling at the DEC Primary School in Kabala and later at the Methodist Boys' High School in Freetown, where he completed his fifth form; and he's the fifth born to his mother out of eight siblings with a basic knowledge in Arabic. As a kid he attended 'marabou' lessons where they were forced to memorise the whole Quran without actually explaining to them what the verses meant.

"Despite coming from a rich Islamic background, I opted for the entertainment business just after taking my O' Levels," the 25-year-old MC Roy told this writer at his Kissy Mess Mess home. "The reason for going into entertainment was because I had no opportunity to further my education. So as a young man coming up, I chose the field because of the excitement and pleasure it offers, but more especially to engage myself in some lively activities."

MC Roy entered the entertainment field in 2006, starting with MCing shows in nightclubs, and entertaining guests at parties, marriages, birthdays etc. His knack for amusing guests made him something of a cult hero among entertainment fans in Kissy and other neighbouring communities. He was now a sought-after figure by show organisers who would need his flair and aptitude to entertain their guests. It was not too long when his skills were spotted by the management of the then newly-established Tumac Radio, who wasted no time in adding him to the array of exciting DJs they had already courted. He had also had spells with Citizen Radio, Galaxy Radio in Lungi and Lion Mountain Radio (popularly known as Radio Waterloo).

MC Roy was also gifted at recording commercial jingles for radio. He used to organise shows and musical competitions among budding Sierra Leonean artists. He was the presenter of Zone 4 in the zonal musical artists' competition organised by the popular Citizen Radio. He was Entertainment Manager of Changes Night Club at Grassfield, Kissy. He had organised and/or presented shows for almost one-third of Sierra Leonean artists - both in Freetown and in the provinces - including female music sensation M2, Shaderack (aka Shady Baby), Bu-Berry, popular comedian cum musician Sara De Great, Kayz De Threat Son, among many others.

With such successes and recognition in what apparently was a very short spell in the entertainment field, one would have expected MC Roy to count on his luck and continue to pursue his dream in what seemed to be a promising enterprise for him, but no! To the disappointment of his fans and show-goers, the popular MC has decided to abandon a trade where he had carved a niche for himself to taking up what he believes will be a more rewarding cause: spreading the message of Allah and winning people into Islam.

"There'll come a time in every man's life when he or she will choose a path to follow and change from a previous cause he or she had set him or herself to pursue," said Sheikh Mustapha. "My decision to finally quit entertainment came following the demise of my inspirator in the field, King Stapha. He was a prolific dancer and the younger brother of a man I had worked for. He truly inspired me into entertainment."

But this is not the main reason for Sheikh Mustapha turning his back to the world. "Above all, it is a genuine desire to return back to Islam and see how the impact I've made in entertainment could be replicated in my new adventure," he said, adding that as an entertainer, he won lots of fans and admiration and is now poised to make a similar impact in Islam. "Two dreadful things happened to me that could have sent me to jail for long years had it not been for the divine intervention of Allah. I lacked the wisdom to have saved myself from such troubles but for Allah's grace, I survived those quandaries.

"The very day I made up my mind to change my life I was holding a bottle of alcohol on my right hand and marijuana on the left; that was on a Friday in Kenema. I was accompanying a certain man who professed to have mystical powers in performing supernatural things (magic). I was serving as his assistant. One morning I heard some members from the Door Christian Fellowship Church in Kenema administering the words of God, and calling on people to turn away from their evil ways and seek the face of God. Though a Muslim by faith, the words they were preaching sunk deep into my mind as though God had sent them to speak to me. I took a deep reflection into the life I was living and saw myself in the words of the evangelists. At this point, I dropped the alcohol and marijuana I was holding and made a resolve within me that I'll never go back to those sinful ways. Since that encounter all that kept playing in my mind are the good things God has done for me. Since then, I made a solemn resolution not to go back to my old and sinful ways."

Asked why he opted for Islam and not Christianity since his words of inspiration came from Christian evangelists preaching from the Bible, he responded: "The words were Godly and were not necessarily calling for one to change his religion but rather to move away from evil and embrace Allah."

Days later, Sheikh Mustapha did his first test of calling (Dawa) in Bo by preaching in the market and other public places; he won a lot of converts. After winning so many souls in Bo, the young Sheikh retuned to Freetown to engage his family on the new cause he has decided to pursue and finally restructure his life for the big challenge.

"My adventure in Bo was a great success," he said with gusto as though a man besieged by the innate desire to do Allah's work. "I was heartily accepted by the Bo people as if they had for long been looking for someone to bring Allah's message to them. This is giving me the urge to push on. I preached in market places, the ghettos and rum bars. A good number of the people I had the opportunity of preaching Allah's message to are today observing their five daily prayers."

Now in Freetown, Sheikh Mustapha is working on establishing a movement to make his evangelism work national. He studied the Quran between the age of 12 and 15; and in spite of him not having any formal Islamic training, he's preaching Allah's words as though he is a graduate of Islamic jurisprudence.

"As I'm speaking, somebody has donated a piece of land to me where I intend building a mosque to be named Masjid Mustapha. I also intend running a children's charity to help cater for the needs of our less-privileged younger brothers and sisters," he said.

Now that he has seen the light, the main objective of Sheikh Mustapha is to bring more Sierra Leoneans into Islam and "follow the footsteps of the late Imam Bashar and Sheikh Mushtaba".

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