Mbangal Foday Jabang: A Tribute!
Written by Malang (Jatta) Darbo:
Mbangal Foday Jabang: As you made your mark in the world of Football in Gunjur and Western Division so shall we not forget you!
First may your earthly lapses be forgiven, and your positives be recorded in the righteous books of Illiyoun! Ameen.
Providence has His ways of distributing and manifesting His gifts to creation evenly among groups and races. It is often the environment that helps to nurture and promote such latent gifts to fruition. Foday Jabang (Mbangal as was fondly called) was one such breed that undoubtedly put paid to the truism that “no race or group of people possesses monopoly over intelligence, beauty or force, there is a place for all of us at the rendezvous of victory”.
Growing up in the streets of Gunjur at a seeming primordial time when the world of football was tubed into the brain of the population through radio and cinema reels, Pele’s Escape to Victory (1981) was not too much of a comparison with the speed and alacrity of Mbangal against his opponents at the Gunjur Primary School football pitch! The chants of the spectators went with his name, the conversations of the vouz were dominated by his Pele styled bicycle kicks, and the lamentation of his opponents ran with the lamentable lack of equal and adequate defenders or keepers to keep him at bay. With functioning dynamos at the midfield, Mbangal and Gunjur were almost unstoppable!
Asked of his childhood acquaintance Buba Star Janneh about the best of skills Gunjur has ever produced, he confidently and unhesitantly responded: Mbangal! He would intimately argue that Foday is not his match, and certainly did not have his prized package for his demonstrable talents and love for the game. He confided in me that when in preparations and warm ups against any team in the country, he often looked up to Mbangal for his fitness. Once his body languages were suggestive enough of preparedness he would conclude that whether win or loose, Gunjur or Dabanani would get a goal!
With this duo at the service of club and Gunjur, our fame had pricked the consciousness and conscience of the nation as a modern and organised populace in a rural setting; a place of significance in the world of football. It was during these times that some of us have set eyes on the national greats like Bili Badgie of Biko and National Squard on the pitch at Gunjur Primary School! Why would the greats of a nation want to test their greatness against the unknowns of the wilderness expect that there were formidable dragons behind the vails of Dabanani? Bikos of Bakau and Wallidans of Banjul trudged the rancid roads of Gunjur not only to test waters but to scout for naturally endowed qualities! From these brief experiments were discovered Mbangal, Star and Boy Njie, and offered a place by Wallidan. As was newly inducted into the police service, Mbangal could not honour the new opportunity. Lamin Boy Njie opted out and there remained Star!
Off the world of football, his alter ego could not mistaken his commitment to family, and his sense of independence. He was said to have assumed family responsibility at an early age, and had since lived up to the billing!
Mbangal had long donned the jerseys for Gunjur – at Brikama, at Basse, at Sukuta, at Serrekunda East and at the National Stadium, and not for once was he found wanting! He was truly a sportsman of great character and agility! As Nelson Mandela mourned on the occasion of the passing of his comrade Oliver Tembu, “ a part of me is gone”, so has a part of Gunjur and Dabanani in the footballing world.
What more can we ask of a man who has given his youth to the service of community and nation? Now that Providence has terminated his earthly surgeon, we the livings are obliged to celebrate his priceless contributions to the fortunes of the community and nation by constant supplication for Divine forgiveness! May we never tire of offering such needed gifts for our gone but communal greats! Ameen
By Malang Darbo (Jatta)