Meet The Gambian Trailblazers: From Struggle to Diversified Triumph: The Story of Yankuba Mamburay

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Yankuba Mamburay's story reminds us that success is not achieved overnight; it results from dedication, perseverance, and unwavering determination.

By: Awa Conteh 

This week’s Meet The Gambian Trailblazers episode explores the motivational tale of Yankuba Mamburay, a bright example of perseverance and resilience. Yankuba’s story inspires the strength of grit and determination, as seen by his rise from modest beginnings in Kombo Faraba to outstanding accomplishments in the banking, microfinance, and education sectors. Through his experiences and insights, we uncover the lessons learned and the values that have guided him on his path to success. Get ready to be inspired as we explore the life and accomplishments of a true Gambian trailblazer.

Yankuba Mamburay hails from Kombo Faraba in the West Coast Region of The Gambia, with his family roots tracing back to Kiang Batelling. His educational journey commenced at Faraba Banta Primary School before transferring to Methodist Primary School in Janjangbureh, at Methodist Primary School, where he completed his Common Entrance Examination, opening the doors for him to attend Saint Augustine’s High School.

In 1989, Yankuba obtained his GCE O’Level, followed by his GCE A’Level in 1991, both accomplished at Saint Augustine’s High School. Following his academic achievements, Yankuba briefly served as an Accounts Clerk at CCF before embarking on a journey to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to pursue his Bachelor’s degree at the International Islamic University Malaysia.

Upon returning from Malaysia in 1996, Yankuba applied to teach at his alma mater, Saint Augustine’s High School, where he taught the last batch of sixth-form students. In 2012, when he joined the University of The Gambia to head the University Relations Department, he began lecturing as an adjunct lecturer. This passion for teaching has driven him for over 12 years, as he finds joy in exchanging ideas in the classroom. Teaching keeps him constantly engaged in pursuing knowledge, always on his toes, and eager to learn and share with his students.

“Teaching has been a passion for me. While in high school, I organized free tutorials for boys and girls in my area. The opportunity availed itself to me after my GCE A’Level when I went to stay in my village. I used to walk into any available classroom at Faraba Banta Primary School to teach”, he told the Alkamba Times. 

Towards the end of 2000, Yankuba embarked on another academic pursuit, journeying to the United States for his Master’s degree. Initially attending Jackson State University in Mississippi, he transferred to the University of Phoenix, where he successfully completed his MBA, further enriching his educational background and setting the stage for his future endeavors. 

Mr. Mamburay’s banking journey began unexpectedly while studying in Malaysia. In 1995, when online newspapers were nonexistent, he stumbled upon a newspaper caption that read “Islamic Bank to be Established in the Gambia.” Curious, he inquired at the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) if they offered courses in Islamic Banking and Finance, and to his delight, they did.

Yankuba enrolled in the course the following semester and later completed his practical training at Bank Islam Malaysia Sdn Bhd. Upon returning to The Gambia in 1996, he applied to work at AGIB Bank, which was in the process of being established. His banking journey began when he received a call from Mr. Farid Gamalledin, the then-technical expert at AGIB from the International Development Bank (IDB). This encounter saw him become one of the bank’s pioneers.

As Yankuba continued his career, he remained involved in the banking sector, eventually becoming the Managing Director of Yonna Islamic Microfinance. His involvement with Yonna Islamic Microfinance began while he was serving as the Country Manager of Karpowership, initially as a board member. Over time, the board of directors entrusted him with leading the organization as its Managing Director, a role he accepted with humility and dedication.

During his time in the United States, Yankuba Mamburay found a passion for writing and authored three books. The first, “The Search for a Lost Brother,” is a gripping non-fiction tale of his quest to find a brother who disappeared in 1966 amidst Gambia’s new-found independence. His journey led him to Liberia during the Civil War, where he faced a harrowing encounter with Charles Taylor’s troops.

In “The Mysterious Odyssey of a Village Boy,” the second book, readers are taken on a journey through the struggles and tribulations of a young boy named Malu. The book explores the deep mysteries surrounding his existence as he goes through traditional and cultural experiences.

Inspiration for the third book, “A Day at Grandma’s Farm,” struck when Yankuba’s daughter, Khadijah, inquired about her grandmother while they were in the United States. Their conversations sparked the creation of a heartwarming children’s book that captures the essence of a day spent at Grandma’s farm.

“The books have inspired me a lot, and writing them made me discover the hidden talent in me that I should have discovered many years ago when I won a national essay competition in high school, ” Yankuba explained. 

In addition to his professional achievements, Yankuba Mamburay holds the prestigious position of President of the Gambian Malaysia Students Association (GAMSA). For the past three years and counting, he has led this esteemed organization, which serves as the umbrella association for all Gambians who are former and current students of Malaysia. Through his leadership, Yankuba plays a vital role in fostering connections, providing support, and promoting collaboration among Gambian students with ties to Malaysia, further enriching the Gambian community at home and abroad. 

It is said that “experience is the best teacher.” Throughout his career spanning different sectors, Mr. Mamburay has garnered invaluable experiences that have shaped his strategic thinking and leadership skills. Managing people and organizations requires a broad perspective, and his diverse experiences have provided him with just that. Each sector has contributed to his growth as a well-rounded professional, from banking to energy, education, and micro-finance. These varied experiences have molded him into an individual with diverse views, equipping him to tackle challenges from all angles and excel as a leader.

Yankuba Mamburay shares invaluable advice for the younger generation: shortcuts may seem tempting but often lead to failure. He emphasizes that success results from hard work and perseverance, a truth evident in the journeys of successful individuals globally, including in The Gambia. He credits his own success to his books, attributing it to the grace of Allah. He urges young people to prioritize education, emphasizing that with a solid education, they won’t need to resort to risky shortcuts to achieve success. 

Yankuba Mamburay’s story reminds us that success is not achieved overnight; it results from dedication, perseverance, and unwavering determination. From his early days in Kombo Faraba to his leadership roles in the banking and microfinance sectors, Yankuba’s journey is evidence of the power of hard work and the pursuit of excellence. As we bid farewell to this week’s episode, let us carry forward the lessons learned from Yankuba’s story and strive to emulate his resilience and commitment to success in our own lives.

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