Truth be told, if there is one person to be applauded for the awesomeness of the Mauritania trip, it should be the indefatigable, able and capable president of ECOMANSA, Mr. Sheikh Hydara. Today, I am confident to say that he has, beyond all reasonable doubts, proven to be reliable, hardworking and tenacious. He has earned my love and respect. He has demonstrated to be someone competent, proficient and masterly.
I am quite sure that I am not alone in this thinking. Each and every delegate can bear me witness that the trip went great and that Sheikh’s efforts cannot be divorced from its greatness and success.
It is always difficult – if not impossible – to organize a successful trip for another town or city without sending an advance team but the ECOMANSA trip to Mauritania was without an advance team, courtesy of its untiring and tireless president. He leveled the ground while in the Gambia. He got us a comfortable hotel In Mauritania while within the confines of this country.
Sheikh, with the help of his team to some degree, was able to tap more than sufficient funds for the comfort of students in a foreign land prior to departure. He promised all the 70+ delegates good life outside homeland, and he held to that promise to the letter.
During the journey, I was actually gobsmacked to see him stand almost the whole journey. He sacrificed every opportunity he had for others whom he thought were not comfortably seated. I was afraid that he might even develop swollen feet upon arrival.
It’s evident that going through or into these countries, even with intact and up-to-date documents is so difficult, let alone with expired documents. So it happened that some of the delegates surprised Sheikh when he learnt that they were actually with expired documents; and, only when it was too late. Because the issue of documents was seriously stressed prior to departure, one would have expected Sheikh to go nuts in such a plight, but I was one amazed person to see how Sheikh comported himself and how he, with great maturity, handled the issue with the authorities, and subsequently solving the problem. He didn’t show any sign of anger on his face, even if he were angry deep inside, which I really doubt.
In Mauritania, Sheikh has been the one constantly going to the market with the ladies. He was the hot cake, as he is among the few – if there are any – who understands their languages better. I saw him forgo his personal errands for all of us. I strongly believe that it takes a lot to be like that, or act like that.
It was our second surprise – the first was seeing the kind of residence rented for us – compared to the amount paid – when we realized that most of the national televisions were showing the face of Sheikh Hydra talking about us. He conducted interviews with few television stations, thereby amplifying the importance of our visit. We ended up being treated like kings and queens.
One activity that a lot of us also did enjoy was the football matches. In one of those exciting games, I still remember, the unflagging and persevering president scored a memorable goal, thereby proving many people; like myself, who thought that he was only in the field to accompany the ball, wrong.
After the 7 days elapsed and we were to come back, Sheikh was to stay to meet his mum, but out of his love for the students, he drove with us all the way to the Mauritania-Senegal border, a six-hour drive, just to see us off.
When we got to the border, at the crossing point, at 20H00, we realized that the ferry personnel were closing from work. We actually saw them leaving in their vehicle. At that point, all hopes of crossing died at once. We scattered to occupy the spacious ferry terminal. Most laid their mattresses in anticipation of sleeping there. Sheikh Hydara, the unstoppable and determined president was working single handedly to negotiate with the authorities in order to make possible our crossing that particular night rather than the following day. It was a big surprise for everyone seeing the personnel coming back to transport us across the short distance. We were over the moon when told to get ready for crossing. Kudos to Sheikh Hydara.
Cherno Abdourahman Bah