Harriet Ndow (1926 to 2019)

By Alagi Yorro Jallow

I have always believed that high achievers among the Gambians like Mrs. Harriet Ndow are our unpaid global ambassadors.

Despite the small size of the Gambia, the image our country has in the comity of nations has been assuaged by such men and women of excellence. We must evolve a better way to acknowledge and celebrate their achievements.

According to Ralph Waldo Emerson”. The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” Mrs. Harriet Ndow was living a life of purpose for humanity.

Time will not permit me to go into more detail about many of her good deeds. As a messenger for humanity in the public space, she has left her footprints everywhere for posterity. According to Gary Keller: Life is a question and how we live it is our answer.

Mrs. Harriet Ndow lived a life that answers many questions. Her life was her message to impact knowledge in every homestead in the Gambia, a lifetime commitment to build the lives and empower youth to become tomorrow’s leaders through education and knowledge.

Mrs. Harriet Ndow: A woman ‘s ability may be great or small, but if she has this spirit, she is already noble-minded and pure, a woman of moral integrity and above vulgar interests, a woman who is of value to the people: Death, an everyday stranger. Good teachers live forever in the minds of their students: The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires. This was Mrs. Harriet Ndow.

Death of an old person, we are told, is like a whole library in flames. When a teacher dies, what image does it evoke in the mind of the pupil? It is like a whole world of knowledge consumed in a volcanic eruption.

It becomes even more devastating when the departed is not just a teacher but a mother, a mentor and a staunch believer in the promise latent in the future of the pupil. You meet them at every bus-stop of life. There are no bad teachers- they all teach something positive (even if unconsciously) that ultimately shapes the us the world sees…But some clearly stand out- and we remember them at every pause, at every reboot and restart of the journey of life. They always leave a mark, indelible (even omnipresent) in the sands of the impressionable mind.

They are “waters rushed on golden sands.” They are changers of lives. Or more appropriately put, they are helpers of destinies… What marks them out is not the number of their degrees but significantly, the depth and breadth of their humanity and the deep emotional feelings their potters have for the images coming out of their matrix. Rousseau noted that a man is valuable or good not because of his position, station in life or because of his education, rather “value is to be sought inside- in the man’s emotional core.”

Mrs. Harriet Ndow was not the run-off-the-mill teacher that taught as a matter of duty. She brought passion and compassion into her work and these were exactly what upped her worth and estimation in the eyes of her students.

In the unforgettable years the anvil breathed life into its work subjects, Mrs. Ndow made no pretense about it that she was not relating with students—she was engaged in a life-long journey of a mother. She was a towering scholar and a great human being. The best of the best. Not only was she an inspiration but helped many in many ways

Mrs. Harriet Ndow played on the world stage, so, she couldn’t have taken a local, pedestrian exit. Her maker chose for her that sudden closure in a bolt of shrieking, thunderous shock. She played her part, fulfilled her mission and delivered the message fully and clearly. She was a teacher without borders. Her words were as restless as her world.

In her death are lessons for the wise. She was a teacher, a mother, grandmother and mentored multiple people of diverse talents, ages, and personalities. She was an extraordinary woman. But have we noticed that Mrs. Ndow has been mentioned in all news reports of in almost all over the world in social and traditional media? Her stories of education at the top, narratives and counter narratives of women’s role and impact of Public -Private Partnerships in Education, her representation in women in executive leadership on education in the Gambia will continues to make the dominant paragraphs in reports and commentaries in the mass media.

No one is talking about her possessions, but all tongues and fingers toast her humanity, her unpretentious strong, dedication and admiration committed to promoting both a competency-based learning, competency-based education curriculum in elementary school in exploring alternative pathways to education to all regardless of the economic challenges.

The global focus has remarkably been on the fecund mind and heart and brain her maker endowed her with. Her teaching entrepreneurship, leadership skills and her speeches hoist her up as a loyalist of untainted truth, of patriotism, of courage and consistency and of honest living. Even she, if she could look back and see her students, she would kneel before her maker in absolute gratitude for the universality of her acclaim. She was sent here to play a part and she played it so well that at departure, even death gave her a full compliment.

She is a successful brand, very well blessed that she had the grace of waving a goodbye. We celebrate her life and shall sing not the ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” We sing “GOD Be With You Till We Meet Again.” We remember you and the entire family and pray that GOD giver the solace and comfort to move on. Rest in Eternal Peace.