img1463092027332Thousands of worshippers last Saturday converged at Jarra Kani-kunda to partake in the village’s 19th annual Islamic gathering.

Kani-kunda, a village founded by Mama Yoro Saidykhan some four centuries back, lies a stone throw from Soma town in Lower River Region. Mama Yoro (named Adam at birth), the knowledge endowed Toranka [a branch of Fulani stock] ancestor of the Saidykhan clan in the Gambia, was born in Dimack in Northern Senegal. His descendants are spread across the country mainly in Jarra, Baddibou, Niamina and Kombo.

Kani-kunda has been historically known for being the seat of Islamic knowledge. Until in the early 80s, the village was without an English school. The village today boasts of many college graduates, although the villagers still value and cherish the importance of preserving their rich Islamic tradition. It was for this reason that an annual Islamic gathering took off in the mid-90s. The program, which began during the imamship of Mama Kemo Saidykhan of Foday clan, entails a night long annual Islamic conference, narration of Mama Yoro’s history and Binibo [Mandinka version of Islamic poems]. The last part of the program is the prayer which seals a week-long Quranic recitation.  

For many people, the annual gathering is more than a mere gathering.  Through it descendants of Mama Yoro in the country and beyond have been identified. But the gathering’s greatest gift is that it serves as a bridge that binds eight Kani-kunda clans and their relatives together. This makes it easier to spread the message of unity, understanding and cohesion among Mama Yoro’s descendants, despite shift in culture and language. In a nutshell, the annual gathering has rallied and energised the people of a community in search of unity, understanding and development. What binds Kani-kund natives is far more than what divides them.

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