Dec 20, 2021, 1:19 PM
When I, a boy with friends filled with spirits of adventure, ventured the streets of Bathurst and around the island, often played football and cricket after school and dara, some names of cricketers frequented our lips in our conversations; Dan Mahoney, TaphaKah, Abu Dandeh, MatarrSarr, and the tall and slim cricketer with the gentle gait and beaming smile, Tim Jagne. Best days of cricket for the Bathurst nongo were when teams from Sierra Leone or Nigeria visited our shores. Afternoon tea and cake would reach us nongoyi lingering behind the tents for players near the children’s library at the MacCarthy Square. And when the series ended we would troop to the dinner at 68, Dobson Street, the home of Alhagie Alieu Jeng, the patron of The Gambia Cricket Association, to have a close-up view of foreign stars like Alakija from Nigeria.
Through time and space we were privileged to live and grow in separate and different spheres of life, till we met in May 1972, at the School of Public Health, Banjul; I a student and Mr. Jagne (Tim), Principal, School of Public Health. The foundation of friendship was laid.
Once the Health Superintendent for the Provinces of The Gambia based in Bansang, Mr. Jagne solely supervised Public Health services in all health stations outside Banjul. It was from this position that he was involved in the establishment of the School of Public Health in 1968, and became the sole permanent lecturer of the School. After a few years, Health Superintendent, Pierre Shyngle and late Alhaji Bai Abi Phaal were appointed lecturers at the School.
Alhagie Dawda Jagne was pivotal in inculcating discipline, hard work, honesty and perseverance in all students under his tutelage. He boldly in 1972, enrolled into the School of Public Health the first female Public Health Officers in West Africa; late Ida Jack nee Kasseh and Margaret Forster. In the following year, 1973 OulayeNjie and Amie Sillah were the second set of female students enrolled.
While the West Africa Health Examinations Board (WAHEB) recommended 5 passes at G.C.E. Ordinary Level into Schools of Public Health in West Africa, Mr. Jagne insisted on 5 credits at not more than two sittings in the same exams for admission into the School of Public Health, Gambia. Candidates with less than 5 credits were encouraged to re-sit relevant GCE Ordinary Level subjects before the last year of the 3 year training programme. Quality was his guiding beacon. But little did the student know that the rigorous 3 year programme was the launch pad for university education anywhere in the world.
An impeccably dressed and well-mannered gentleman said to his students, “the attire proclaims the person”. Mr. Jagne never accepted his students to be shabbily dressed or poorly mannered. It was a frequent trait of his to deviate from the subject matter in class and give relevant and apt life examples worthy of emulation, which were also often punctuated with jokes. He made the classroom safe, never boring, and he held a full grasp of all subjects that he taught. He was a dependable teacher, an excellent one…a timeless icon in our lives.
Upon my return home from university studies in the United States, I was posted to the School of Public Health, my Alma Mater, where my Principal, Mr. Jagne was now my boss. The bond of friendship grew stronger and he encouraged all academic staff to pursue further studies. He exposed all staff to challenging tasks which prepared us to venture into other realms of Public Health, both in academics and service. He pushed and encouraged all to pursue higher heights in academics, even when we moved on from the School of Public Health.
Sometimes in life we all need help, Alhagie Dawda unreservedly offered assistance and guidance, in various forms to many. He was a mentor, guardian, adviser and left indelible prints in the hearts of all who cared to be close. He was the fountain to whom droves came to tatanadvice, guidance, encouragement and support. He noticed potential in people and relentlessly rendered needed help to achieve dreams. Tim Jagne was a true mentor. He was supportive, tolerant, patient and showed abundant sincerity in his dealings. He had a wealth of knowledge not only in Public Health, but also in History, Politics, Family Lineages, Public Administration and Sports.
Alhagie Dawda has unintentionally carved his name in the hearts of all those he taught or worked with. His legacy will shine ad infinitum.
Usually, it is the passing on of a blood relative that impacts loss and grief. But Libernius, the ancient Greek rhetorician, at the funeral of his friend, the Roman Emperor Julian defied the usual. Hear Libernius:
“O thou that dost fill but a little spot of earth by thy tomb, but the whole inhabited world with admiration………..O thou that art more to be regretted by fathers than their own lost sons, by sons than their own fathers, by brothers than their own brethren”.
“To part is the lot of all mankind. The World is a scene of constant leave-taking, and the hands that grasp in cordial greeting today, are doomed ere long to unite for the last time, when the quivering lips pronounce the word – Farewell”.
Farewell Alhagie Dawda!
Farewell Mr. Jagne!
Farewell Papa Tim!
When we meet in Firdausie, you will hug me and say, “Yes Assan”, and I will reply, “Nam Mr. Jagne”. Never more to part.
Man la satalubae,