23 March 2009



Sainey returned unusually early from school and was happily shouting "United States of America!!!" - without any explanation from him. I was anxious to know what it was but Sainey was at his game of keeping me in suspense about particular news before telling me.
Sainey kept me in suspense for about 4 minutes before telling me that he had an invitation to an award ceremony at the American Embassy and that I should go to school to get mine as well. Until then I was guessing like a fortune teller saying "have you got a visa to America?”, “have you won the American green card lottery?”!!!
After reading my invitation letter at school I realized that it was slightly different from the letters received by other participants. I was told in the letter to go with one of my parents which kind of made me think I was one of the winners.
Since my parents are bit away at Gunjur, I went to the award ceremony with my uncle who is a tailor in Serrekunda market.
After marching into the American embassy, though not without security checks, I was very sure that I was the winner as almost everybody seemed to be interested in seeing Alhassan Darboe from Nusrat. I got very convinced that something was so special about the self named and so-called professor.
After the arrival of guests and speeches by different speakers came the time to announce the winner, then my name was called. In the first place it seemed like a dream and I had to rub my face, it was not a matter of being confused but rather to convince myself that I could go this far.
At the ceremony, I was happy but my principal was the happiest, as all the principals from different high schools gathered around him to congratulate him and as he said at the school assembly he was like the “king of principals”.
Winning it was not without some interest from the media as journalists wanted to have a word with me and Sainey had to direct them to me as they had mistaken him for me.
My family at Gunjur was so happy and went to the neighboring compound to see me speaking on TV. No sooner had I been on air than a flood of calls came in and Pageant's very own Wandifa was not an exception as he called the next morning to say congrats.
The new found popularity for winning the award seems bent to go on at least for a few months as unknown persons in the street call to say “Hey!!! I saw you on TV” and Gunjurians saying “We are so proud that a Gunjurian won this prize”.
Writing on the blog has greatly helped to sharpen our writing skills as would-be journalists and sitting down to creatively write on a particular topic or story seems not to be a problem for us now at all. Many thanks, Pippa, Ian, Frances, Tina and all the Pageant members for their encouragement, which really did us lot of good and still does.

16 March 2009



The United States embassy in Banjul recently awarded the winner of the black history month essay competition. The award ceremony was held at the embassy complex along Kairaba avenue in Kanifing.
The competition, the second of its kind in The Gambia, was designed to expose young students mainly from senor secondary schools to African-American history and achievements made by African Americans. Twenty one students participated in this year's competition and the best three essays were selected. Alhassan Darboe, a student of Nusrat Senior School, emerged winner, while Foday Jawo, a student of Gambia Senior Secondary School and Seedy Njie of Glory Baptist Senior Secondary School booked second and third places respectively. The other participants were also awarded certificates of appreciation
Speaking at the award ceremony, the US ambassador Barry Wells said that the objective of the competition was to encourage Senor Schools students to read and write about African American history with a particular emphasis on how that history relates to the history of The Gambia. Ambassador Wells also said that the celebration of black history month provides an opportunity to acknowledge the historical, political, social and economic contributions of African Americans throughout the world.
For his part Alhassan Darboe expressed delight over the award. He called on his fellow students to continue reading hard and one day they may also be lucky.

11 March 2009


Great news from the Darboe twins!

We have just received two emails, one from each of the Darboe twins.
Alhassan writes:
Hi Pippa,
I have just won an essay competition organised by the American embassy in Banjul.
I am like a celebrity to the media today as every media house wants to speak with me. And I tell you that I will be all over the papers this week,and I will be on GRTS speaking to journalists for the first time.
Thank you all very much for all your encouragement, you made us believe we can do a lot of things if only we want to and this has been pushing us so much even in Maths which I never want to do.
As for now I cannot write any more as I am so happy that I need to relax myself mentally to write anything of sense.
Sainey writes:
This is very good news we want to share with you. Alhassan has emerged winner in, guess what, an essay competition for secondary schools organised by the American embassy in The Gambia. He received a cash prize of 250 dollars and a number of other things. The prize giving ceremony took place at the embassy lawn in Fajara in the afternoon.. It was nice and even funny to see a clearly elated Alhassan talking to journalists (I had to tell them many times that I was not the winner as they could not tell us apart) who were all struggling for a word from him. I am so pleased for him but hey, I am green with envy!
I submitted an entry as well and got a certificate of appreciation and a number of useful books. It is not so much the pecuniary gain that makes it so important but it is an immense source of encouragement. Writing on the blog has helped us in an awful lot of ways and better writing skills is one of them. Our house in Bakoteh is big but it is too small for us tonight. Why don't you join us?

08 March 2009



We arrived back from visiting our sponsored young man Abdoulie Wadda in The Gambia on March 4th. We were proud to find that he is doing exeptionally well. His headmaster was grateful for the Maths books that we gave to the school and Abdoulie, please see photo.
We were invited to his family compound in Banyaka where we met all his lovely family. We gave Abdoulie a new phone and his brothers and sisters a variety of gifts and toys that they loved.
Whilst at Banjul airport on our return we spotted a lady that we recognised but had never met. We based this recognition on a ponytail and what looked like a blue Pageant t-shirt. We gingerly enquired if in fact she was "Pippa" and were delighted to find we were right. Pippa knew that we were at the airport as the headmaster had seen her at school the day after us. We had a lovely chat and we were pleased to find that she is indeed a lovely lady.

05 March 2009



Nusrat Senior Secondary School recently played host to a number of schools as it celebrates national science week. The programme, which runs from the 23rd to 26th of February and is set aside by the department of basic and secondary education, was geared towards promoting awareness of the importance of science amongst students and the general public.
The activities commenced with a march-past by students and staffs of the schools to the Brikama-Serrekunda highway and then back. This was preceded by presentations on the theme 'Innovation and Creativeness in Science Education'. Speaker after speaker dwelt on the theme and the immense impact of science in our lives.
The programme attracted a number of dignitaries; amongst them the Director of Science and Technology Mr. Adama Jobe and Director of National Training Commission (NATCOM) Pap Sey.
The speakers put particular emphasis on experiments, inquisitiveness and critical analysis but do they go far enough?
The audience was also treated to a drama performance by the school drama group on misconceptions about science.
Sainey Darboe.