Alagi Yorro Jallow
Death of a Scholar is the end of an era. When an older adult with an abundance of knowledge and wisdom dies, a library burns to the ground. The reality of death is harsh yet inevitable and inescapable. Alhagie Baba Musa Trawally, known as Baa Trawally, a veteran Gambian journalist who had greatly influenced countless lives across the globe, has left for the final abode, leaving us behind in dismay. However, we have nothing to say except the eye cries, the heart feels sorry. We will not utter any words other than what our Lord will consent.
To mourn Baa Trawally is not to love him less but a sign of eternal remembrance. Though so early his departure from life, so great a legacy he left. As a true friend and a mentor, I accept Baa Trawally. He fit William Shakespeare’s words, “When he shall die, Take him and cut him out into little stars and he shall make the face of heaven so fine That all the world will be in love with night And pay no worship to the garish sun.”
My heartfelt and profound condolences to the bereaved family, the entire Gambian media fraternity, and the Gambian people. I am beset by one of the awful news of 2021. The Gambian media fraternity has just lost a father, grandfather, friend, uncle, and comrade in journalism and scholarship. The Gambia has lost another worthy citizen; The Gambia said goodnight early to one of its best, an actual journalist of vast knowledge, a sociable person, a patriotic who had a strong faith in the Gambia’s growth and development. I joined the Gambian journalists and the entire Gambia to mourn the loss of doyen Baa Trawalley and equally sympathize with his family. I knew him for over 30 years. The last time I saw him was at lunch at late Swaebou Conateh’s residence in Dippa Kunda, in the company of the great Deyda Hydara, the prolific public intellectual. Trust us, we argued over the Gambia.
The world will indeed miss doyen Alhagie Baba Musa Trawally’s outstanding contributions to journalism, free press defender debates; mentees cannot imagine what blow they have just suffered. Together, we are one short of a great mind in print journalism. Like hundreds of others, I and my colleagues, young and old, will miss his musings, always carefully crafted with didactic pedagogy, crucial to personal growth and national development. Indeed, he was a serial and consistent writer. Just as he contributed to knowledge production in many of his literary works, his opinions have served as a fountain from which hundreds of thousands of Gambians and non Gambians drew inspiration and engendered national and academic discourses. He was the publisher and editor of The New Gambia Newspaper, founded in 1962. He also served as a contributor to “Gambia Echo,” edited by Lenrie Peters and the Jerusalem Post.
If anything, doyen Alhagie Baa Trawalley shows his passionate commitment to The Gambia. As a veteran journalist and a prolific author, he combined his knowledge and vastness in politics and linguistic with experience spanning longer than the Gambia’s independence to produce solution-based works to make the Gambia better.
A peek into his publications and in his editorials available in the National Library and at the National archives would give insight into his thought process and how he devoted his life and experience to contribute to national discourses. I am a lover of real men and women, and like the younger generations would say, “I stan greatness.” As my tribute to him, it is crucial to reiterate his works emphatically. They are his legacies. A cursory look at some of his knowledge production in the form of opinions published in his newspaper and another medium would serve this purpose without missing out on the best of lessons embedded in Alhgie Baa Trawalley’s world of intellectual output.
Doyen Alhagie Baa Trawally was a very knowledgeable person, a pragmatic thinker, and a prolific writer who had a unique way of relating with people who were far junior to him in age and experience as colleagues. He was an unrepentant patriot who still had a lot to offer the country. This is a very untimely, shocking, and devastating loss. This pandemic has again taken away a seminal mind and political guru.
Like those in academia and journalism, the Gambia, Africa, and the rest of the world, We will miss him. Like the painful loss of Deyda Hydara, Swaebou Conateh, Babucarr Gaye, Momodou Musa Secka, and Ebou Waggeh in 2019. The loss of Alhagie Baa Trawally brings too much pain to bear. Mother-earth has once again swallowed one of our brightest minds amid darkness and uncertainties hovering over the land.
I wish I had the poetic composure to erect a tombstone of elegy in his honor to mark your painful passage. Words failed me. I could not go beyond the first building stone, the first stanza:
“When a day loses its sun rays
And a rainbow suddenly fades away.
When from the sky a lodestar is erased
Memories become our only solace.”
May the beautiful soul of Alhagie Baa Trawally find a well-deserved rest, and may the Good Lord comfort his grieving family.
May Allah grant you Aljannah Firdausi.
Alagi Yorro Jallow