By: Demba Ali Jawo
I had known the late Badara Alieu Joof for more than 50 years. We first met at the Yundum College in 1972 to train as teachers, and we were not only batchmates, but we also built quite a strong bond of friendship which survived up to the very last day of his life.
While we were at college, Badara and I were members of a close circle of friends with two other batchmates; Abdou Rahman Sise and Momodou Lamin Faye. We were such a close-knit group that some of the students on campus referred to us as the “Gang of Four”. We also later became part of a bigger group, which included friends from outside of the campus, such as Imam Baba Leigh of the Kanifing East Mosque, the late Ebrima Mbowe, deputy Amir of the Ahmadiyya MuslimJamaat, Samsudeen Sarr who later joined the army and became Deputy Chief of Defence Staff, and several others, some of whom later occupied important positions in government and other walks of life.
Even though I left the college before completing the course, and worked for the GUC, my friendship with Badara not only continued but became even stronger over the years.
After he left college as a qualified teacher, he taught at Nusrat Senior Secondary School and lived in Serekunda while I was working with the GUC and living in Banjul. However, we still continued to keep in regular touch. He used to spend some weekends in my house in Banjul while I also occasionally reciprocated those visits. On one occasion, I even accompanied him to Kuntaur where he hailed from to visit his family and we spent a few days there at his family home.
In the late 1980s when I decided to leave Banjul to go and stay in Serekunda and found it difficult to get a house for rent, he invited me to stay in his house until such time that I could secure a place, not only sharing his bed with me, but also getting food from his family who lived just across the street.
His mother, Ya Fatou Bah had so much adoration for me and treated me like one of her sons and his siblings also, to this very day, regard and treat me as their brother, giving me the same respect and reverence that they had given to him. I was so much like a member of his family that some people thought that we were brothers of the same mother.
Badara was such a humble being who continued to maintain his circle of old friends regardless of his position. I remember when a group of his old friends recently visited him to congratulate him on his appointment as Vice President, he suggested a monthly rotating informal gathering amongst them.
In fact he had even offered to host the January gathering and it was while we were working on the modalities that he fell sick.
Having known and interacted with Badara all these years, I can attest to his honesty, generosity and dedication to duty. While he was quite blunt and did not hesitate to call a spade a spade, but he never held a grudge against anyone.
Another noticeable feature of his character was his love for his family which was no doubt beyond reproach. He was not only protective of his family, but he was also doing everything within his means to cater for both their short and long term needs.
He made sure that his children received the best education as well as imposed on them the qualities of positive manners and respect for others with humility.
Adieu my friend. May the good Lord grant you the highest place in jannatul firdaus and continue to protect your family.