interviewBy Ousman Njie
Mr. Yankuba Mamburay is currently working for the UTG and last month he published two books at a launching held at the law faculty building in Kanifing. After the launching Kebba Camara visited him at his Lamin residence and had an interview with him about the two books which are launched among other issues.
Foroyaa: Can you please introduce yourself to our readers?
Mr Mamburay: My name is Yankuba Mamburay, I am from Faraba Bantang. Just like any village child I went through the same things that kids in the village go through. I go to the farm and come home in the evening, we put on the fire just like a camp fire and recite the Holy Quran. My father was a very religious man and had lot of Arabic students "talibes". My Uncle however decided that I should go to school, so I have the opportunity to both understand the Quran and go to an English school as well. At the moment I work at the UTG as the head of the Relations Department as a senior university relations officer. I'm also lecturing at the UTG.
Foroyaa: What is your educational background?
Mr. Mamburay: I started my education at Farata Primary School, I proceeded to Janjangbureh Methodist primary school where I did my common entrance in 1984. I came to St. Augustine's High School the same year and did my 'O' level in 1989. I later proceeded to do my GCE advance level the same year at Saint Augustine's in 1981. From there I pick a job at CCF which is now called Child Fund. I did my undergraduate degree in Malaysia in 1996. I came home with my Bachelors degree and started teaching at my alma Mata St. Augustine's High School. I was teaching Business Administration and Economic issues. I was one of the people to start the Arab Gambia Islamic Bank. I was the first finance officer and the first investment officer before becoming the senior investment officer of the Bank. I later went on to pursue my master's degree in the U.S and I got an MBA and masters degree. Whilst in the U.S I worked at different places as insurance consultant and once headed a google programme in the Gambia as a programme manager. I finally decided to join the UTG.
Foroyaa: Why do you choose education, what makes you feel that you needed a degree?
Mr. Mamburay: Well, just as I told you, my family were really interested in education even though it was not English. My dad was a grand marabout and had lots of students. He was teaching the Quran. Well for me lot of things inspired me in my life to study. I came from a poor background and anytime I see nice cars or nice buildings I always ask myself how I could get my own one day. The only answer I have to my education is 'Read' so I said to myself I will read hard and acquire degrees in education. I had an extended family and most of them are poor so I wanted to provide most of their needs. So education was the best weapon I had and i used the weapon very well.
Foroyaa: Tell us something about the two books you have just launched?
Mr. Mamburay: Well, actually I wrote three books in total and I will soon launch the third one. The first book I wrote is a real event and I call the book 'in search of a lost brother', that's my first book. I wrote another book and call it 'The mysterious oddeysy' of a village boy which is a mystery book and I put certain things in the book that you will not know until you read the book.
For the first book 'in search for a lost brother' is a real story and at the book launch I had the opportunity to bring my family out. The lost brother I'm talking about, his family, wife, children were all there. I was able to bring them out and show the public that the book is real. My this brother travelled in 1966 when I was not even born, but I grew up here and was told that I had a brother who traveled far and we didn't know where he was until some years later when we came to know that he was in Liberia. But when the war started in Liberia it became a burden on my family in respect of the brother especially our mom. My mum used to cry always and in the morning when she is praying you can hear her calling my brother's name in her prayers. So one day I said to myself, am going to do something about this. One day without even knowing which part of Liberia he lived, I ventured into a Liberian journey and said to myself I must see my this brother. It was not a smooth journey and I cannot tell all I went through in this interview. One fine day after getting permission from my office I went to Liberia to look for him whilst war was still in Liberia. When I got to Liberia, Charles Taylor's troops apprehended me there and pointed guns at me. Only God helped me there and something magical happened. I told you I was a teacher so what I did was to turn their military camp into a classroom. When they gun pointed at me I started my lectures to them. I raised lots of issues about ECOWAS, OAU, UN, AU etc. I gave them my passport and asked them to look at it. I told them I travelled all over the world. I told them I went to Asia, Europe and America and those people treated me like a brother Even though we are of different colours. Why should they point their guns on me when we are all Africans and black people? Why should they apprehend me and demand money from me? Its a long story.
I have a third book inspired by my daughter which i am planning to launch too.
My two books have been approved to be used at SSS level that is from 10-12 in the Gambia.
Foroyaa: I heard about this book some years ago, why are you launching it now?
Mr. Mamburay: Actually the search for a lost brother came out about 5 years back. It was published around 2008. It was published in the USA. I came back last year and thought it was more relevant to launch the book in the Gambia because the stories are Gambian.
Foroyaa: I am interested to know more about your experience with the soldiers (Rebels) in Liberia. Did they harm you?
Mr. Mamburay: Well, to be frank with you I was not harmed and am still thanking God for that. But anything could have happened there. There were a lot of check points I had to go through but my way to Vaguay. Vaguay is in the hinterlands several kilometers from Monrovia. But one of them was a very big check point and a military camp. So any check point you passed they must ask you what you have for them and I would pull out some money and give them. But these camp they have all the servicemen you can think of in one checkpoint. So when I gave the immigration some money I wanted to go and the soldier asked me to come back and give them also money. I told them I already gave to the other officer. He interviewed me again about my trip to Liberia and I explained again. The military man asked me to come with him because he didn't believe my story. He said am not in Liberia to look for my brother but instead I want to spoil the name of their country and their president Charles Taylor. There is a phrase called "Blood Diamond: and he said am one of those people dealing blood diamond. I was really shocked with the allegations and gave him my passport and told him to go through. At this stage he has seen the series of visas in my passport and knew that his allegation on me is wrong. Something tells me in my heart at this stage that these people need to be educated and enlightened. They did not have enough education and they have seen themselves with the ranks of Captains, generals etc. Education was not there. but as I was on my general "Lecture" many soldiers were interested and joined my "Class". When they were coming to join me I was very scared because they had guns and would not calculate twice if they want to shoot and kill me. Its not courage that led me to do what I did, but God was there to guide me. This is because I took this risky journey because of my mother. So just as I told you earlier I talked to them about general issues on ECOWAS, AU, OAU etc which they were really interested in. I gave about a 45 minutes lecture and when I was done, I saw them all clapping for me, they came close to me with all their guns put on the ground and hugged me and told me they were then brothers. They helped me pack my things and put them back in the car and did not demand money from me anymore. I could not believe what had happened.
Foroyaa: tell us what happened when you finally met your brother in Liberia?
To be continued.