I was at Kartong last week. Kartong is a rural settlement that lies near The Gambia’s international border with Senegal. Kartong is a very strategic multi-ethnic village, comprising Mandikans, Jolas, Kronikas, Balantans, and so on, and is about only 60 km from Banjul, The Gambia’s capital city.
A boy had died:
As soon as we entered this village, I saw a throng huddled at the entrance of a building. The crowd stretched onto the main road running through the entire settlement and occluded it. Our driver decelerated rapidly only to discover the crown had begun to disperse just then. At first, I thought it was a Muslim prayer hassle. But then, I saw that the crowd had been at a Mosque. But it was more than the normal prayer observance. It was the prayer that precedes the internment of a departed soul.
The prayer was said for Kartong Chief’s grandson. He went out, the previous day, to bath and swim in a far south section of the Atlantic Ocean and had drowned. The corpse was recovered about two hours before the prayers were said. He was in grade 12 at the time of his demise. I guess he was about 17.
As he was being interred, I sat at the Chief’s and watched as the village grieved. I saw the sense of loss and irreparable disillusionment that gripped everyone. I could liken that to what I had seen growing up in my own culture and other cultures I have been privileged to have socialized with.
Visiting the village, you would know something had happened. It seemed that the entire village was at the Mosque and the cemetery. Soon after the interment, I observed that people began to ease off. Many began conversing and doing some normal activities of community life. Some of the deceased’s close family members were still crying and some young girls were still moving mournfully along the road, en route their homes, or so I thought.
Human beings are much the same:
I thought to myself: ‘Human beings are much the same.’ It was much like it happens in my own culture. People morn the departed but many would never put their life on hold for anyone, especially those who are not within the circles of relational closeness, as defined by societal perceptions or norms. Not bad. I think it is the wisest thing to do.
We live. People die. We grieve. Life goes on. Vicious cycle? But that is life. Or what do you think?
Where is he now?
I think we should be more pre-occupied with where he is now than where he has been. Understandably, he has left a vacuum in many hearts. But I’m sure he has faced another drama in eternity and has gone to where his works on earth and what he did with God’s eternal good news have dictated. My question is, if that were you, where would you have been now?