The standpipe shed drops of water in to a concrete pond built in a traditional box shape. For my family and the neighborhood the standpipe was the only source of clean and safe tap water. A few hours ago I had stuffed the little hole that allowed water to escape the pond with a plastic, and in the pool of water I had played all day. I had just finished bathing and I needed the last sun rays to dry my naked body, so I walked out of the pool and took a position close to the standpipe to absorb the sun. The sun was fading and I could see the clouds foaming in the sky. That was when I saw my father striding through the huge gate in to our compound. I could see from his composure that he had a premonition of what had happened in his absence. The last of his fourteen pigeons had gone missing. I could tell by the way he walked; head bent forward, arms swinging like a pendulum, and face crooked as if he was chewing his usual kola nuts. This was not a good sign. It was to me a bad sign, a revelation that the end of his once thriving life was nearing.
My father had returned home from work that evening. Every day at dawn he went out to a small village nearby to supervise his workers searching for diamonds in the river bank. I wished I could make the trip with him every morning but I had to go to school. Only on the weekend could I accompany him to work. I was eleven years old then, but despite my young age nothing passed by in my town without me grasping it like a spider feeding on its prey.
My father had his usual plastic bag in his hand and his long robe followed him as it cleaned the dusty path behind him. He walked straight to a bench made of bamboo sticks. When he was seated, he would expect to be greeted by Fou, the last of his fourteen pigeons, with black and gray feathers. Two months ago all his pigeons were with him. It was believed that when pigeons chose to stay with you, it was a sign of prosperity. It was the opposite when they chose to desert you. Rumors had already jumped around like wild fire, blazing about how heaven had broken loose on my father. We all believed in this old adage and we were awaiting to see what his life was about to become. He was like a man sentenced to face the gallows. Today he would discover that Fou too had left him. A clear sign that the dawn of his execution had come. As if he was already aware of Fou’s disappearance he hesitated before he fumbled in the plastic bag. Usually the rustling sound of the plastic was enough to attract Fou, but this time to no avail. He was now convinced that Fou was finally gone.
Fou was a bully pigeon and a glutton who ate most of the raw, unsalted peanuts my father brought with him in the evening. When scattering the peanuts on the ground he hissed like a snake. One after the other the pigeons hiding in the ceiling or basking in the sun would answer his call. They would race down to the ground with swollen feathers. Fou would always be the first to land and the last to leap after he had chomped a great deal of the peanuts. He got fatter because he ate more than the rest. My father once told his friend Nfa Mory that Fou was probably suffering from depression. He believed that overeating, tiredness and poor sex drive were classic symptoms of Fou’s depression. He did at one time notice that Fou was losing his feathers and had some wounds on his scalp. But that could have come from a fierce fighting; my father had said to Nfa Mory, the man who watched over his family and his pigeons in his absence. My brothers and I nicknamed him the gossip minister. Nfa Mory was in his late sixties, few years younger than my father. At his age he still had a gifted body surrounded with layers of muscles. He always wore a tiny silky cloth around his waist, like Gandhi.
Nfa Mory and I knew that Fou had left this morning and had not returned. This was unusual with Fou and we feared that he had joined the rest of his comrades. Nfa Mory saw my father chuckling with his head and he walked to him and started to console him.
‘It is over now’, my father said as he held his chin in his hands.
‘Leave everything to Allah’s discretion’, Nfa Mory said.
‘How can I leave it to Allah when I know there is a man living in our town who cannot differentiate between pigeons and chickens? You know who I am referring to; the skinny man with eyes as black as coal, the man from Futa Jalon with his long Arabian nose.‘
Nfa Mory knelt down in front of my father and pulled his hands away from his chin. He held them as he spoke.
‘You can’t be hundred percent sure, my friend.’
‘And you too can’t be hundred percent sure that that bloody idiot is not the pigeon cannibal’, my father reacted furiously. His cracked voice sounded like thunder in the raining season.
‘I went to visit him this afternoon and he invited me to eat with him, and I did. I wanted to see what was served’, Nfa Mory said.
With his remarks I saw my father’s eyes takes the shape of an owl. He rearranged himself by seating upright. Nfa Mory understood my father’s bodily language and knew he had to explain himself.
‘But I am still not a hundred percent certain that the meat I saw in his plate and the taste of it was a pigeon’, Nfa Mory said while he looked away to avoid my father’s angry glance.
’So how is a pigeon supposed to taste like?’, he cracked his voice. Nfa Mory quickly retracted his remarks.
‘I meant it tasted like a chicken, not like pigeons.’
‘But how does pigeons taste? ‘my father asked.
‘I don’t know.’
‘I am not an idiot. This son of a bitch had threatened to make this world a hell for me if I refused to give back his golden Seiko watch he pawned to me for five hundred thousand Leones. You remember? A year ago he could not pay back and he forfeited his watch after the term for payment expired. You see where his anger now comes from?’, my father explained, this time with a voice that was demanding to be understood.
‘Yes I do, but why should he take revenge on your pigeons?’
‘You don’t seem to understand the point I am making. He is trying to get to me through my pigeons.’
Nfa Mory nodded.
From where I was standing I could hear my father breathing and could almost feel the warmth of his breath. I had never seen him so angry. I had also never seen him sobbing. But when I saw his head bent down between his legs to hide his face, I knew that was exactly what he was doing. It was not common in our tradition for a man to cry, and very uncommon for a man to cry over a missing pigeon. This was for me a sign that the end of my father’s thriving life was closing. This conviction was based on the stories told by our elders: ‘Pigeons are like money in a bank account, when the money dwindled the pigeons too leave you’.
I stood with a quizzical expression on my face. I was asking myself who the man was with the Arabian nose. ‘Who is this man that my father refers to as the pigeon cannibal?’, I thought. The only person that came to mind was Mr. Bah, my former Arabic teacher. Should that be the reason why my father had asked me to stop taking Quran lessons from him? I was looking for the missing puzzle when my father took up his head from his lap, and our eyes met. He gave me a quick but penetrating look, but I did not flinch. My father said no word; instead he sucked his teeth a sign that he detested me carrying that inquisitive part of him. At least that was what I felt with every encounter. I did not blink when his bulgy eyes gazed at me with that monster look. I stood my ground and looked him right in to his eyes. In our minds we spoke only to our deeper feelings that emerged from the prison of our hearts. Nfa Mory, who had noticed us, tried to divert his friend’s attention but my father could not be distracted.
‘Inquisitive monkeys always have bullets on their foreheads. I am afraid this child will not live long if he chose to nose in peoples business’, he said pointing his index finger at me. Nfa Mory reacted with a nod.
‘Can I do anything to stop him?’, my father asked.
‘Yes you can. Let him know you love him’, Nfa Mory answered.
After my father and Nfa Mory had had dinner that evening they retired to the bench in front of our house and sat beside each other. Nfa Mory brought out a kola nut from his pocket and split it in to two. He offered my father a half. They sat chewing silently like cows grazing at night.
The evening light was fading and the sun’s heat had softened. My father’s face looked twisted and his jaws moved crookedly as he chewed on his kola nut. It seemed it was a way to blow off the steam that had built up in his heart. While his jaws moved, he looked high up in the sky hoping perhaps that Fou might return. But Fou did not. Night had fallen and after the street-lights came on, he finally concluded that Fou had gone forever.
‘You will not see the importance of the well till the river runs dry’, I thought while I stood by the standpipe gazing in their direction. The fact that my father preferred to spend more time with his pigeons than with his family made me believe he was a man at war with himself. It was clear to me long ago that the pigeons filled the gap of his emptiness, and that emptiness had deepened with the departure of Fou. He was now confronted with himself, a war he thought he would never win.
After the imam had ended the fajr prayers, my father hurried from the mosque as he did every morning. With the words “As-Salaam-Alaikum”, meaning “Peace be unto you,” he left and did not await the duaah prayer that the imam would recite afterwards. He never waited for the imam to shower blessings on his sins and he once told me he had a genuine reason for doing that. But what that specific reason was he never said. I suspected it was because of Mr. Bah, the man who translated the imam’s sermon from Arabic to English and then to Krio, our lingua franca. The man my father referred to as the pigeon cannibal. My father hated Mr. Bah because he heard part of himself saying that he could be the one responsible for the disappearance of his pigeons.
With his long robe dragging behind him, my father walked across the street to the open space opposite the mosque and towards the gate of our house. The early morning darkness was quiet. Only the dogs and those whom the land does not care to see dwelled in the street at this hour. I walked besides him as he strode towards his position on the long bench. As he sat, his back leaned against the brick wall. Our faces were turned to the street and the huge mosque with its long minaret pointed to the stars. I sat on the ground close to the charcoal stove while my father took out from his pocket a match and lit its contents. With a strong paper card in my hand I started to fan the stove to keep the charcoal burning. My father then poured some water from a yellow jar standing besides him into a teapot, and placed it on top of the stove.
It took half an hour before the imam finished the duaah, blessing the believers and promising them that Allah hears their prayers better in the quietness of the night. The microphone was loud and clear. I noticed that every time my father heard Mr. Bah translating what the imam had said in Arabic, he responded by sucking his teeth. I was bold enough to ask him why he reacted angrily and he told me a story of a poor man who knew how to make others rich while he himself remained poor. Those words were enough to give me a clue.
As I sat with him preparing tea and awaiting his friends to drop in, I saw a feeble old man in the dark, walking across the street towards us. He was the first to leave the mosque after the duuah. I recognized him. It was Nfa Mory. As he crossed the street Nfa Mory gazed at my father who was busy taking out some small amount of green tealeaves from a green box labeled ‘Gunpowder’. Gently, and careful not to lose his balance and spill the tealeaves, my father moved his body towards the teapot. With his left hand under his right which was carrying the teaspoon, he slowly lowered the spoon into the teapot half full with boiling water. He then proceeded to add mounds of sugar to the tea. The taste would be peppered with so much flavor and strength that one must sip or slurp as you drink. After putting the green tealeaves and sugar into the boiling pot, he started arranging the small glasses on a tray. It was then that Nfa Mory with his chameleon strides finally reached us. He took out his long robe from his body and hung it on a nail that he had hammered in to the wall of the fence. It had become part of his identity not to cover the upper part of his body. He greeted my father solemnly. My father returned his greetings with a smile. ‘I am happy to see you my dear friend. Thanks to Allah that we live to see today’, he said. My father had a booming voice like a deity. Nfa Mory nodded gracefully and said: ‘Hope Allah will continue to shower his blessings upon us.’ My father answered: ‘Ameen’. One by one the men hurried across the street from the mosque and sat on the long bench, filling it like school children. All wore colorful robes and headscarves. To my surprise one of the men was Mr. Bah.
As host, my father knew too well that patience is only a virtue when there is something worth waiting for. He had learned the value of patience when he had lost his fourteen pigeons. Now that they were all gone, he realized that he could only be happy with the things he had, and not that which was missing. His family and friends had become more important to him. Many people in our town thought my father had gone mad by loving birds more than humans. But the truth of the matter was that when he was with his birds he was at peace within himself. He was still a patient man, hoping that if the pigeons were not dead that they would change their minds and come back to him. But while hoping and waiting for his pigeons to return he had found himself a new hobby; making tea for his friends.
While his friends were seated on the bench waiting for the first round of tea to be served, Mr. Bah stood up and held his hands in the middle of his waist. He moved his hips in a circle. It was as if he was a boxer warming up for a fight. He wanted to say something but before he could, his tiny body began to move back and forth. I could remember vividly that my father had asked me to spy on Mr. Bah and afterwards describe to him how the fried chicken Mr. Bah ate looked like. Because he never asked me to explain things, I thought it was a good opportunity to use my imagination. I told my father that Mr. Bah’s wife never allowed me to enter the kitchen. ‘All I can say is that Mr. Bah and his wife eats chicken every day. They eat chickens that had tiny claws and skulls. The chests of the chickens are like the keel of a boat’, I said. My father reacted by shaking his head in agreement with himself. I was sure I contributed to my father’s growing suspicion of Mr. Bah as the man who likely had chopped his pigeons.
It became clear to me during my last visit to Mr. Bah’s house that he and my father were at loggerheads. When I was about to leave his house for home, Mr. Bah asked me to stay for a short talk. We sat on a mat in the veranda of his house, with our knees folded while our backs bent down like a turtle. In front of us laid an open Quran. We had just finished reading a verse called Surat Yasin; the Quran verse that warns of the fate of those that mock God’s revelation and are stubborn. And according to Mr. Bah, God was talking directly to my father.
‘Your father is not a good Muslim. Do you know he is accusing me for his missing pigeons?’ he asked me in a whispering voice.
‘I have never heard him say that,’ I lied.
Of course I could say to him that I heard my father discussing him with his friend Nfa Mory, but then I would be seen as a janfa; a traitor. Mr. Bah was a man who always seemed to know what God was thinking. I had the feeling that he was seeing the lies making foam in my head.
‘Look at the way your father dresses’, he continued.
‘It was narrated from Abu Dharr that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “There are three to whom Allah will not speak to on the Day of Resurrection and will not look at them or praise them, and theirs will be a painful torment.” Abu Dharr said to the prophet: “May they be doomed and lost; who are they? O Messenger of Allah.” The prophet said: “The one who lets his garment hang beneath his ankles, the one who reminds others of favors he has done, and the one who sells his product by means of false oaths”, Mr. Bah said.
I did not know what to say.
‘And your father had violated all these three. I can’t help it, but I hate him and I pray he enter the fire of hell”, he said it in my face.
‘But why do you hate him,’ I asked.
‘Your father is a cheat,’ he said.
As if he had set my energy into motion, I got up and walked away. Since then I only set eyes on him today. I was wondering why he came to drink my father’s tea. While he stood shaking his head like a gecko I snapped my father looking at him from the corner of his eyes.
‘Today’s football match will be a fight between David and Goliath’, Mr. Bah said. My father jerked himself upward, rearranged his robes by holding it tightly behind his back, and he spoke by pointing his index finger at Mr. Bah.
‘How dare you say that? You are nothing but a lazy hunter. How dare you…..’
The two men stood opposite each other as if they were in a cockfight. Both were trying to beat words out of the others mouths. Mr. Bah’s body continued to move back and forth.
‘We are not talking about pigeons here, but about the football match today. Tankoro will be victorious, inshallah.’
With these words he got the other men on their feet, and an uproar and pandemonium commenced. The ground around the bench became a market place as the men exhausted the air from their lungs struggling to sell their points to everyone and to no one. A little silence was all that Mr. Bah needed to allow his words to fill the little space around him: ‘At sunrise Tankoro will thrash Gbense, like a father beating a troublesome child.’ As if he had added salt to the wound, the voices of his friends poured down on him like a rainstorm. Mr. Bah relished the itch his jab had inflicted on his friends and soaked in their abuse. For him, this banter was part of the celebration of the birthday of the prophet of Islam. Mr. Bah retired quietly to his seat and folded his arms with a smile of victory on his face. The discussion became heated and the men’s voices could be heard like twittering birds chirping and cooing in the spring. It seemed as if they were happy to make these noises like school children who, because they lived for the moment, accepted whatever will come into their lives.
When the noise died down my father felt he needed to teach Mr. Bah a lesson. Mr. Bah’s reference to his pigeons made my father want to drink his blood; I could see it in his eyes. He wanted to ask him why he had brought the missing pigeons into a very innocent discussion about football, but he swallowed his thoughts. He spoke while pointing his finger at Mr. Bah’s face. ‘We are not only going to defeat Tankoro in strength, but also in skills. The time when David could beat Goliath is of the past. Just you wait and see what we will do to your boys on the pitch.’ The other men nodded in agreement with my father. ‘I am just saying my thoughts here, I am from Gbense and do not belong to Tankoro where the majority of my kinsmen lives,’ Mr. Bah said still smiling.
While the argument subsided, the attention of the men returned to the tea. Their eyes were now on the teapot and the small glasses. With a wide distance between the teapot and the glass, my father poured the tea back and forth from the glass to the teapot several times until foam appeared in the glass. He then rearranged the small glasses on the tray, and one by one he filled the cups, allowing the whitish foams to spill down the tray. The tea was done. I took the tray and walked carefully to Nfa Mory, then to Mr. Bah, and all along to the last man. Twelve men sat waiting in a row as if they were having their last supper. When all the men had received their tea my father poured the last bit of tea in to his glass. He tipped the glass to his lips and made a slurping noise. Then he gave me the last drop from his glass and I slurped it in one go.
They were not dressed like normal footballers with shorts and boots with studs. They wore their colorful robes, Islamic hats and flat Arabian pointy shoes. It was a football match to celebrate the birthday of the prophet of Islam. There were more than forty men who all wanted to play football. A bulky man with a bushy Afro explained to the men who surrounded him the rules of the game. ‘This will not be a normal football match. I have agreed with my colleague referee that the game will take thirty minutes rather than the normal ninety and there is only one rule: whoever scores the most wins!’ After the referee had spoken he jogged together with his fellow referee to the center of the field.
My father was the first to be handpicked by the self-anointed captain; the man who, with his own wealth, had built the mosque that stood in front of our house. He was highly respected by his fellow elders, his clan and the entire Muslim community in our town. One by one, he pointed to the men he wanted in his team. The last man he chose was Mr. Bah. The faces of many men turned to my father in silent disapproval, they would never openly disagree. The men who were not chosen started moving off the pitch. The captain of the Gbense team walked to my father and told him to defend the goalkeepers from any face to face encounter with the attackers from the Tankoro team. ‘With your height, built and strength you are a man they fear’, he said to my father. ‘You are our Mansa Musa, lord of the mines of Wangara and the conqueror of Ghanata. Tankoro defenders from Futa-Jallon are no match for you!’ As he praised my father he patted him on his shoulder. My father was smiling with pride for the comparison with the fourteenth century emperor of the Mali Empire, the medieval African ruler most known to the world outside Africa.
Nfa Mory was one of the men not chosen. I walked with him towards the back of the goal, his steps slower but determined. I wondered how he thought he could run and shoot at a goal. I decided to ask him this and he answered flamboyantly: ‘You will be surprised to see me giving my last breath to defend that goal of our ancestors’, he said. I did not know what he exactly meant by the goal of our ancestors, and I did not bother to ask. It seemed to me that this game was about pride.
‘And don’t forget that a man who lives fully is prepared to die at anytime’, he continued.
I heard stories from my mother that he fled his homeland some years ago. He came with nothing except the tobacco pipe that now hung in the corner of his mouth. In his homeland, far away from our town, he had lived the life of a king with many wives and children, lots of houses and a large rubber plantation. His tragedy and downfall had nothing to do with him personally, rather he was unfortunate to belong to a minority tribe that could not defend it self against another tribe that had sought the extermination of everything that was other. One day his home was burnt down to the ground, he lost his wives, his children and everything he had lived for. He was not in town when the enemies rained down on his home. Hearing about the destruction of his home, he fled to our homeland, and because he and my father had the same surname, a bond was built between them and they became kinsmen, brothers.
I held his arm and helped him lower his body to the ground. As we sat there on the grass with our faces turned towards the football field I wondered whether Nfa Mory was disappointed that he had not been chosen. He and a few other men were the substitutes in case one of the men was injured or tires. His facial expression could not tell me much. The flesh on his face was thin and rumpled. I could not see much expression in his eyes either. They were dim, almost closed as if they had given up seeing daylight. I asked him if he was disappointed. He did not answer my question directly. He pointed to an old man who had been chosen, standing with a walking stick in the Gbense half. ‘Look how a feeble man like that, almost a hundred years old can be chosen to defend our goal. This is nepotism.’ He pointed again at another man standing as if he was a pole. ‘And him! He stands there for the decoration, look at that. I can’t understand why he was chosen either’, he said. What annoyed him most was the choice of Mr. Bah.
‘I am disgusted that Mr. Bah is trusted to keep the goal’, Nfa Mory said while he sucked his teeth to show his dissatisfaction. ‘I cannot understand why somebody like him could be chosen to keep a goal that was not his own. He belongs to the Fula tribe and I doubt his loyalty to Gbense, where we, the Mandingo tribe, are in the majority,’ Nfa Mory continued. His remarks concerning Mr. Bah said it all, he was not happy to watch from the sideline but he dared not explicitly say it aloud. He was still a stranger in this land and he feared in his heart that with such a direct protest, he would lose the compassion of his host.
Nfa Mory explained to me why he thought Tankoro would never defeat Gbense. ‘Listen, my son, our rivals feed on cow milk while we eat the meat. This is how we became stronger than them.’ Of course this was not the whole truth. Though I must confess that the weight of the Gbense players when added would indeed triple that of the players from Tankoro team.
Yes, it was supposed to be a football match that day, but it was nothing of the sort. The game they played represented how the land was governed. It was a game without rules, nothing was certain and everything was possible.
Combined, the teams had more than forty men on the field, ten players protecting one goalmouth and another ten on the attack. Twenty on each side and two referees, each representing a team, and the spectators acting as linesmen. It surprised me that thousands of people turned up to watch older men fighting over a ball but this was the purpose of the day, to use fun to celebrate the birthday of the prophet.
The sun was vertically above our heads and it seemed that the ground under our feet was spitting fire. The city council had provided the only ambulance available in the area. The men with the stretcher stood waiting for the first victim to fall. Seeing the town’s mayor himself, playing as an attacker for Gbense, I knew the ambulance was more or less for his comfort than for the common man.
In my hand I held a pair of leather shoes. My father and I knew he would need them after the game, because it was not only the ball that was kicked or thrown in the sky but the men’s shoes as well. As they followed the ball in groups they pushed each other away as if they were in a stampede. I saw my father jump high in the air to head the ball away from the goal. His hat flew with the ball and he ran to pick it up. The Gbense team was explosive, aggressive and determined. The team from Tankoro behaved like shepherds who ingeniously managed time and strength. They were as slippery as okra and they managed to hold their grounds, defending with cleverness, as if they were pushing cows to the stable. After twenty minutes of play it was clear that the Gbense team was getting nowhere and fatigue started to show on them. Many held their hands in akimbo as they walked in the field instead of running after the ball. The spectators shouted and screamed at the players, encouraging them to put in more effort. Nfa Mory became uneasy with the way the game was going and he shouted at his men to wake up. ‘Don’t allow these shepherds to treat you like cows’, he shouted. Gradually, the Tankoro players moved into the Gbense half, zigzagging forward while the ball was hidden under the gown of one of their players. The Tankoro players surrounded their teammate with the ball and ushered him deliberately forward. For them it was not about seeking to score a goal, but clearing the barriers that stood on their way. Slowly, they moved past their opponents. It was difficult to know who among them had the ball as they managed to enter the Gbense penalty box. The ten keepers protecting the goal stood at the goal in a chain. The defenders including my father were trying hard to push the Tankoro players out of the penalty box. This too was part of the game. A goal was what counted, but for the Tankoro players it was the game itself that mattered most. Lots of pushing and stampeding took place as they found their way to the Gbense goal line. They were a meter away from the goal post when, in the heat of the game, Mr. Bah fell theatrically to the ground. He held his feet high in the sky and cried in pain, but we at the back could not see whether or not he had been tackled. ‘He is faking it! Your father said it, the man is a traitor!’ Nfa Mory shouted. I saw a tiny man with the ball wrapped in his robe. He took it out, broke out of the Tankoro group and shot the ball in the net, passing it directly through the space that Mr. Bah had just left. The referee blew his whistle and declared a goal. The Tankoro supporters rushed in to the field and the tiny man who scored was lifted above their heads. He was a hero. They ran with him singing a song of victory. I turned to Nfa Mory, he was silenced. I thought he wanted to say something but I notice his mouth was trembling as a sign of anger. ‘This is exactly how the land is governed. They play a game without rules, nothing is certain and everything is possible’, I thought to myself.
‘No, the game is not over yet’, Nfa Mory shouted angrily.
To my surprised he walked as fast as he could to meet my father. I walked after him. My father was standing as a defeated man, with both his hands holding his head. When we stood in front of him I could see the anger in his eyes. ‘This was about football, and not war’, I murmured.
Nfa Mory added salt to injury when he told my father what he saw from behind the goalpost. Then a new energy was born, a devastating one. The conqueror of Ghanata was going to fight back. Nfa Mory pointed to the direction of Mr. Bah. Mr. Bah was now on his feet but he was isolated. He did not belong to either team, not anymore. My father strode as if he was a guard of honor at the queen’s palace. Mr. Bah saw him coming but he was too late to take on his hills. My father grabbed him by the neck and raised him from the ground. He held him with one hand in the air for a few seconds and then he let go off him. The weight of a human body with no life in it falls heavier than one with life in it. Mr. Bah fell heavily to the ground. It was the end of the game, the end for Mr. Bah and the end of my father’s thriving life.
Babah Tarawally is a writer and journalist. He is a columnist for OneWorld online magazine. After fleeing the Sierra Leone civil war for the Netherlands 19 years ago and spending the first seven of those years filing an asylum application, Babah began working for independent media outlets in Africa, contributing stories and columns to several newspapers and magazines. Along with this, he worked for Free Voice (now called Free Press Unlimited), a Dutch organisation that support press freedom in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Babah was with Free Voice from 2004-2010 as the project officer for Africa. In 2011, he worked as the Program Coordinator for Winternachten-Writers Unlimited Festival, Holland’s largest international literature festival. His novel ‘De god met de blauwe ogen’ (The blue eye god) was published in 2010 by KIT publishers. Babah Tarawally is presently working as a freelance journalist and on his second novel ‘The Missing Hand.’