Today I have a deep sadness with the news from The Gambia that my good friend, guide, cook and adopted son Lamin Jabang has passed away. I have very little news other than he had a serious spinal injury that he has been suffering with in hospital with for 8 months and on October 5th he finally gave way.
I was contacted today by his brother Pa Jabang with only these details. He was my first Gambian friend and followed me like a disciple. We spent many a night on my first trip there playing the card game crazy 8’s with the drum roots crew who I traveled with.
On my second trip out there I was there for four weeks and by the end of it Lamin was calling me daddy. It was half joke but i knew that he half meant it too. He took me to meet his close family near to Essau across the Gambia river, near to Jibril’s compound. It was the same year the sad news came from Jibril that our dear friend and drumroots leader at that time James Brown had been taken from us whilst in Guinea with cerebral malaria. It was a sad time but we soldiered through it together. Whilst over the river he took me to a community funded Batik workshop compound that his dad was running that Lamin was very proud of. It was a big compound as compounds go and was part owner in as much as his dad was the keeper and Lamin took great pride in showing me round the whole of the grounds and telling me of future plans. I spoke at length with his dad and he bestowed his worries of Lamin getting into trouble with the law for selling a bit of weed which I knew about and I promised his dad i would do my best to talk some sense into Lamin.
For the rest of my stay there we spoke about what else he could do there instead of selling weed and his silly brushes with the law, tour guide, i sat and made a whole bunch of jewelry with him that I ended up buying off him as well as purchasing some Batik. But if you know Gambia there is no easy way of making it out there, everyone kind of relies on each other in some respects and a lot of the time you just become part of an adopted family or you can sell a bit of weed for a quick Dallasi and get something to eat.
The last time I spoke to Lamin was about a year ago and he told me he’s just out of a spell in jail for dealing again and he was needing money. I was gutted for him but in no position to help him just before xmas and was going through some traumas of my own and it just isn’t the done thing to hand over money like that as i learned from other handouts it would never end.
A lot of people didn’t get Lamin he spoke a lot in patois rastafarian and some Gambians don’t like That. Lamin took no prisoners and was nobody’s fool and he was a wide boy for sure but was as good as gold to me always and we had some great belly laughs together.
My heart felt condolences go out to his family whom i hope I can visit soon and Lamins final resting place a true brother lost and so, so young at best in his late 20’s he was 21 when I met him. Here are some memories of good times in Gambia. my step son I will miss you and the big way you took pride in your steps and the way you called me daddy.