By: Foday Manneh
The Bronx Borough in New York City has formally named a street in the Bronx after Abdoulie Touray, the first Gambian to settle at Twin Parks, where the 2022 Bronx Fire tragedy happened.
This move is in honor of the 17 people who lost their lives in the deadly inferno on January 10, 2022, most of whom were Gambians and other African nationals.
The announcement was made during a gathering held on Monday, January 10, 2023, a day marked one year since the incident, to remember and pray for the souls of the victims who perished in the fire.
Reacting to the initiative, a resident and Gambian youth leader in New York City, Fatoumatta Waggeh, maintains that renaming the street after Mr. Abdoulie Touray deserved the man.
“We all grew up knowing building 333 as, “Touray Kunda,” Fatou said.
“It was here that our parents, the first wave of African immigrants in the Bronx, in the 1980s and 90s marked their foundation as their new home in search of new opportunities,”
“The first generation here saw Abdoulie Touray as grandfather because migration would keep us oceans away from our grandparents,” she added.
Fatoumata underscored that the 333 building represented a sign of unity among West Africans in the Bronx and the hope and pray the story of Abdoulie Touray stays alive in their hearts and minds.
According to New York Times, Abdoulie Touray was among the first Gambian immigrants to live and stay at 333 E. 181st Street. He guided and raised a lot of families there, including the 17 people who died in the 2022 inferno.
Abdoulie was a Gambian diamond trader before settling in the Bronx in the 1970s but faced several challenges regarding security and access to some necessities.
Mr. Touray would later be moved to the third-floor apartment of a new 19-story building known as Twin Parks North West in the Bronx. Here, he would have better living conditions and welcome a bunch of other Gambian compatriots to live with him.
Subsequently, with the large number of Gambians living in the apartment, the Twin Parks will be named “Touray Kunda,” regardless of their differences in family names.
This family name became an identity in the Bronx, but the story of January 10, 2022, has left many with destructive hearts after losing 17 members in the fire outbreak.
Touray was also an Islamic scholar providing teachings of the Quran to children and even the elderly in settlements and neighborhoods; he died in 2019 following a heart problem.
Born in Sotuma Sere, a village in Eastern Gambia, Upper River Region, Abdoulie Touray had a vast experience in traveling and could speak nine different languages, including English and French.
His family said he has also provided Islamic services for former boxers and international celebrities Muhammed Ali and Cicely Tyson.