(JollofNews) – “Frankly, I don’t even think I considered him a human”, confesses the American Snob below, before he got to know Foday Samateh. I have never had the privilege of meeting Foday Samateh. I have not even had a chance to chat with him on the phone or on facebook or on twitter. But the first time I read his piece on Maafanta.com a few years ago, I felt the spiritual presence of a great mind – and a great spirit. Coming across this piece from two years ago, by an American “prejudiced snob” now humanised by his interaction with Foday, simply confirms my initial perception of Brother Foday.
Last week I turned up at a school I have visited many times before – on a paid contract. I talk to anyone sitting close to me in the staff-room, so I started chatting to this forty-something year old bearded Irish-English teacher sitting next to me.
I stood up half an hour later, as amazed as the writer below after his meeting with Foday: the Irish-Englishman teacher has walked through most of Africa, including Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ivory Coast, Nigeria and Ghana! Just for fun! I introduced him to an Ivorian IT technician in his school – to whom he had hitherto not spoken – and watched for the rest of the week as they enjoy each other’s company and stories.
On completion of my week at the school, I offered the Irish-English traveller hospitality in my beloved Gambia – and left the school more than unusually fulfilled: the Ivorian and his colleague now relate to each other on a human-level and will now smile to each other and sit next to each other in the staff-room, sharing human experiences.
But I leave you with the wonderful piece Finding My Humanity in the Gas Station Attendant about Brother Foday.