I was imbued with startling fright and horror at the sudden tragic loss of these two gentle souls. Still struggling to process the colossal magnitude of these losses on personal and professional terms. 

With both men, I did share not just a craft but an intimate enduring bonds of cordialities that defied physical constraints of distance. The relationships had always been anchored on respect, brotherhood, journalism expertise, unconditional love,  and service to country. 

Pa Modou had embraced and believed in me since my rookie days as a freelance reporter. He had supported and encouraged me, while keeping abiding faith with journalism as a civil practice. 

It felt like a marriage engraved into Lunar Sample. He remained true to this union until the cold hands of death snatch him on a sad ending note. 

Pa did contribute immensely in expanding the Gambian media space for new entrants, in prints and broadcast journalism. 

In keeping faith with old traditions of the craft, he had mostly armed himself with a micro recorder, a notebook and a pen. He had informed, educated, and entertained the Gambian public for nearly three decades. 

His humility, compassion, tolerance, tenacity, and sense of news are work of instructions to chart a propelling career for any journalist who cares to absorb those envious traits.

Musa Ndow came into the field a freelance reporter, as I did. He directly worked with me and others. He would later earn a house label from peers like Assan Sallah as “Jaw Manneh Jr” or Jaw’s protege. He literally mimicked my ‘swaggers’ – my speech delivery, style of walking, postures. 

One day, I caught him besieged by fellow reporters, like a stand-alone comedian, in the same acts of imitation. Not cute!  I tried to make sense of everything that I had walked into. 

And when I pressed for an explanation, all that I received was a burst of boyish laughs and smirks and false sense of innocence. His smiles disarmed me. 

But other reporters present that day didn’t let him get away with it. It was a comical display true to form. There had been so many other fun memories that we shared, including his evolution as a journalist. 

I watched him absorb so much like a sponge. He was fiercely eager to learn, hungry to make a mark in the pantheon of reporters pool. And so he did. He matured and became staff reporter, senior reporter, and State House correspondent of the paper. 

He had the alacrity, the zestfulness, and skilled steadfastness to pursue news wherever buried. Like many young Gambians fresh from high school, and enthused with the social expectations of providing and caring for elderly parents and family, Musa embodied that exuberant spirit of duality on the contours of Gambian traditions. 

He didn’t falter or yield. He walked the dusty streets of Serrekunda, Banjul and Senegambia areas to make sure his bylines make it to the print. I can go on and on and on recounting memories. The sum total of his drive and perseverance to succeed inspired me in the process. 

The lives of these two gentlemen had been cut short in a dreadful fashion, when they had so much more left to give to country and Gambian people. 

While we can’t undo what Allah, in His awesome power, has already decreed (and as we await to learn more about the cause of this latest road accident fatalities), we as a society (starting with the government), must always be proactive in ensuring road safety everywhere across the country. 

That is a moral and legal obligation that the government owes to everyone in that country. Saving and protecting lives is a sacred duty that cannot be mortgaged away or surrendered… We must do better to preserve life at all times. 

Deepest condolences to the immediate families, DO family, Gambian media and friends. May Allah, in His infinite mercy, comfort the deceased brothers, grant them Jannah, and give us the fortitude to mourn. Please remember them in your prayers.

Jaw Manneh 

Washington, USA 

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