Jollof Chronicles: Vibrations, Stars and Cameras

My dear readers,

When I put up the last post, I leaned back and said to myself “Here’s to three months of regular blogging. Thank God for the ability to just look around me and have a lot to write about.” I was right and wrong at the same time.

Yes, I get inspiration from the most mundane of things. Yes, I could use all that material, string the words into sentences, paint a picture of my visions, take you with me wherever I go et voila, regular blogging sorted out. Waiting for the ‘but’ here? Let’s have it! I was wrong to think I’ll have all the time I need to put up blogs as often as I would have loved to.

When people ask why I never waste any time in packing my bags and coming home for the summer, my response is always simple: it’s because my life means so much more. I’ve been home for almost three weeks and each day has manifested the truth in this response. I’ve been in and out, here and there, and all around since I came. It’s been exciting (most of the time) and I’ll quickly put up a summary of the amazing things that have happened, before running along.

A few hours after arrival and hopping into bed for a much-needed rest, I was awoken by Ngoneh and Nyima (you’ll probably be seeing more of them) and whisked off to rehearsals for Rhythmic Vibrations. It was my first one with the cast so the fatigue in my bones, the sleep in my eyes and the growling monster in my tummy couldn’t dampen my excitement. I left that room with a better understanding of what was to happen and a resolve, a promise to give it my all. After much preparation, the difficult feat of memorising two spoken-word poems, the constant fear of forgetting my lines, the tense moments when things weren’t going right, the great camaraderie within the group, our big day came and we had to deliver as promised.

Rhythmic Vibrations is an annual Balafong event that fuses poetry and music, telling a story across generations while revealing the great talent our country is blessed with. For fear that I will do little justice to the event in trying to explain what happened or attempting to write a review of it, I will limit myself to saying it was one of the best events in the history of The Gambia. I am still reeling from the pride and fulfillment I felt upon seeing the faces of the people in the audience… faces brightened by smiles of satisfaction, of amazement, of pride. RV has come and gone, but the memories will stay with me for a very long time. Kudos to the team for not only putting up an excellent show, but also for being one of the best groups of people to work with and be a part of.

A week ago, I started my internship at Starfish International. It is my second year with the program and I am glad to be back. Starfish is a non-profit organisation that promotes girls’ education while inculcating the value of service in all the students involved. Last year, I taught the Public Relations class. This year, in addition to teaching, I will be taking care of my responsibilities as Outreach Coordinator. In parallel, I’ll be working with the group on my special project, which is to produce a magazine by the end of Summer School, which starts this Monday. For more information on Starfish International and what you can do to help, click here!

Yesterday I was on national TV with my MILEAD sisters Aisha Keita and Awa Njie. It’s my second appearance on TV this summer. As 2012 MILEAD Fellows, Aisha and I talked about the fellowship, the application process, our experiences in Accra, what it meant to us etc. Awa, the 2013 Fellow, talked about her upcoming trip to Ghana for the MILEAD Institute, her expectations and her next steps. Together, we discussed the state of women’s leadership in Africa, making the right career choices, the work we do as young women leaders, among a host of other things. We had a really great time on the show and could go on talking forever (thank God for TV schedules that must be respected).

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L-R: Awa, Aisha, Tenneng(host), yours truly

You’re probably wondering when I’ll bring in the details about partying and having fun. Well, you just had it right there. Being a part of the Rhythmic Vibrations cast, volunteering at Starfish International, appearing on TV shows, spending the rest of my time with family, hanging out with my girls and everything else I’ve done have been sources of enough fun to last me a whole year. There have been rocky times too, but looking at the brighter picture and hoping for the best in everything has helped make the blows less painful. All smiles here.

I’m writing this from the Starfish library, surrounded by shelves filled with books and school children taking a class with some of the volunteers. I look at them and I see a bright future… one that can be made even brighter if we all strive to help in one way or the other, here or there, now or later. The experience is humbling. The results are worth it.

My colleagues and I are getting set for the traditional naming ceremony held for volunteers and I’ll also be writing some plays for the Peer Counselling group. Work to do. I’ve gotta go. I’ll be back soon, with more updates… hopefully! 🙂

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