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Transition M.F Singhateh: (1936-2011) civil servant, diplomat and writer

Dec 19, 2011, 12:45 PM | Article By: Hassoum Ceesay

Modou F. Singhateh who passed away October 30, 2011 was an experienced civil servant, diplomat and writer of two profoundly useful but little noticed books:  A Day in Their Lives (1984) and British Colonial Administrative System on the Anvil (1996). But it is his illustrious career in the Gambia colonial and post colonial Civil Service that he is more noted for.

He joined the colonial Civil Service in 1956 after high school and rose through the ranks to reach the coveted position of Executive Officer which was then a Middle Management  post; the spring board for higher ranks and responsibilities. In 1965, he took a break to study at Fourah Bay College in Freetown, where he graduated with a BA in Philosophy, Public Administration and Ancient History in 1968. That same year, he resumed work in the Civil Service and in 1971 was appointed Divisional Commissioner of Lower River Division. He also served as Under Secretary (Deputy Permanent Secretary) in various ministries such as Health, Labour and Social Welfare. He served a stint in The Gambia Diplomatic Service as Head of Mission in the High Commission in Freetown.

In 1983, after 27 years in the Civil Service, he was seconded to Gambia Utilities Corporation (GUC) where he served with distinction under many European managers such as Klaus Bringman, as Manager for Personnel and Administration.

Indeed, he was among the first corps of Gambians to receive overseas training in Public Administration, which earned him the coveted position of Member of theBritish Institute of Public Administration.

Nearer the end of his active service in Government, he resorted to writing. He once confided to me (and he mentions this in one of his books) that his writing buds were raised in 1966 when as a student in Sierra Leone, he won an inter West African Universities Writing contest organised by Oxford University.

His first book A Day In Their Lives came out in 1984. It is an interesting book which seeks to ‘give insight into what various professionals do in their daily work’. It remains an excellent guide towards career choices for young graduates. In 1996, he published his second book; a dramatised history of the British Colonial Service in West Africa. Kind, modest and well read, Mr Singateh epitomised the old breed of public servants who toiled under complete anonymity and thrift towards the development of this our great country, The Gambia.

To his family and friends, I pay my condolences.

(M.F. Singhateh civil servant, diplomat and writer: born 1936, died October 30 2011)