This I Believe

Mohamed - Gambia
Entered on April 16, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50
  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.


Like a star to the firmament and a tree to a forest, I belong to a family namely the Kanu-Barrie family of Gbendembu in the Gbendembu-Ngowahun Chiefdom, Bombali District, northern Sierra Leone.

That makes a Fula or Peul, an ethnic group dispersed across West Africa.

But my desire to identify with this ethnic group is handicapped by my inability to speak the Fula language.

This linguistic inadequacy has haunted me in my travels acrtoss the region.

I was born in the African independence decade of the 1960s, perhaps that is what is responsible formy independent thought and action despite temptations to compromise me.

I am a teacher. Though identifying with this profession is no longer a glamorous thing, particularly in Africa, I remain committed to my duty and responsibilities.

My love for academia is perhaps partially explained by the fact that my birth coincided with the glorious era of great thinkers like Pisarev, Chernyshevsky and Dobrolyubov who might have infected me with a whiff of their thinking!

My curiousity has glued me to the radio and now to the computer.

As our country descended into Civil War in 1991, I was suffocated out into The Gambia.

By now you must have guessed my nationality which became important in defining my residential status and privileges though in a fellow African country!

Here, am labelled Sierra Leonean because I hailed from Sierra Leone but I BELIEVE that I should not be described as such. I BELIEVE in universal brotherhood and solidarity.

I see myself as an African and should be called as such and not as a Sierra Leonean.

I have always argued that by labelling ourselves as Sierra Leoneans, Guineans, Gambians,Nigeriansand Congolese we are celebrating colonialism- something our ancestors fought against- which Balkanized and branded as such.This I believe.