Work Hard Today, Enjoy Tomorrow
Growing up in the Gambia, West Africa, I was always asked whether I was mixed race or “half-caste”. This was a term used to refer to people of fairer skin, a part of me, I had inherited from my grandmother, from mother’s side. Barbra Allen Kathleen King, would have almost been 90 years old today, if she was still alive. She was the root that held our family tree together, and was revered by her family members, who fondly called her “Babsy” or “Mam”. I have always been proud to be called her granddaughter, and I am ecstatic to share my family history and the woman we owe it to.
On the 16th of January 1928, in the British colony of Banjul, The Gambia, a beautiful baby girl was born to a Scottish doctor and Sierra Leonean woman. The Scottish doctor, was my great-grandfather who fell in love with my great grandmother, after meeting her on the streets of Banjul, formerly known as Bathurst. He visited the country several times, and decided to settle down permanently after starting a family. This is one of earliest links, depicting more than one ancestry other than Gambian, in my family history. My great-grandfather, moved after the birth of my grandmother, despite having an older daughter; my great aunt, with my great-grandmother. From that point on, my family history was based in The Gambia for the past 88 years, without any relocation. My grandmother remained in the Gambia throughout her childhood, and adulthood, marrying my grandfather Jeremiah King, with whom she had three children with, one of them being my mother.
My grandfather was born and raised in the Gambia, where he still resides today. Both of my grandpar...
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...s to, and made sure we understood everything she had taught us in our childhood.
Growing up in a society where being African, and a woman is two of the most devalued things in the world, my grandmother taught me to embrace my true self. One of the reasons, she had never left the Gambia was because, she wanted her children to embrace their heritage. My goal is to continue upholding all of my grandmother’s teachings, and to one day instill these traditions into my children when I become a mother. It is my long-term goal to one day start up a foundation in her name, that encourages young women to embrace their authentic identities, and continue to excel in their studies, as my grandmother strongly believed in education. I am lucky to have had such a positive role model in my life, who made sure we never forgot who were and where we came from.
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