Weekend with Lamin

28 05 2011

So last weekend one of instructors at WACD-TC, Lamin Sonko, was kind enough to take us under his wing and show us what a weekend is like in the Gambia. On Saturday we went to his compound and had home cooked Gambian lunch (Domoda, a chicken and peanut stew on a bed of rice) and dinner (see picture) which were both delicious. We also tried a Gambian juice called Wonjo, which is a sour, dark red drink made from boiling the leaves from the sorrel plant. It is served ice cold and is very delectable and refreshing. Later, we hung with some of his buddies from the area and enjoyed some Attaya (green tea with sugar and sometimes mint leaves), which is a whole experience in itself. Brewing the Attaya is an art as there are many steps to making the perfect pot. I was lucky enough to take a stab at brewing it and although it turned out to taste pretty good, my technique could use some perfecting. The tea has a very unique taste, as it is made with generous portions of tea leaves and sugar. It seems almost everyone likes to sit down and relax to some Attaya after a long day, something I could get used to.


Brewing some Attaya

Dinner at Lamin’s

The next day Lamin asked us if we wanted to join him and his buddies for a game of soccer. Being the competitive and slightly cocky guy I am, I told him to warn his friends about us Canadians… that was a mistake. We met the guys for the game around 10am, as Lamin said that’s when they usually play to avoid the heat of the day… he is a liar, it’s always hot here… advantage Gambians. We arrived to a crowd of players and supporters that rivalled the turnout of any one of my organized games in Canada. Being the only two white guys out there, Dan and I were put on the spot (Yena made the wise choice to kick a ball around on the sidelines). Not knowing that almost all of the guys out there practise daily and live at the soccer fields on weekends, I began to run my mouth a bit. With both Dan and I letting the team know that we have years of soccer experience, they let us crack the starting line up. No more than 2 minutes after kick off both Dan and I had slipped on rear ends numerous times… cleats would have been a smart choice for soccer in the sand. I quickly realized that in this different environment, I am no longer the ball of energy I once was. After 40 minutes and my fair share of missed opportunities and give aways, followed up by noticing the little kids on the side lines who were having plenty of laughs at my expense, I tucked my tail between my legs and watched the real players duke it out in the second half. You can tell soccer means everything to these people, every single person out there was giving it their all and played hard until the end. We ended up losing the game in a heartbreaking 1-0 fashion.  Although the defeat was hard to swallow, we all had lots of fun and a few good laughs.

Team Picture


After the game, we went back to Lamin’s Family compound. This was a much larger compound than his own place and it is where most of his extended family stays.  We enjoyed some fresh coconuts that were picked from one of the trees on their compound and then again were treated to a great meal. After this, Lamin suggested we go watch a soccer game, so we walked to this video room which was about a block away. This shack was the size of a small bedroom and had aisles of shaky wooden benches line up like church pews facing a 30inch tube in the front, nothing to complain about considering the 10 Dalasi (35 cent) cover charge. At least 20 people packed in here for the big game as we watched Manchester United come back against Blackpool and win the English Premier League title. This was definitely the most fun I have had watching a soccer game.  Again, it wasn’t hard to notice that the Gambian youth love their soccer.

From here, we called it a day and went back home to ice our wounds from the game.

Jaama rek,

Lamin (oh yea, I acquired a Gambian name)




3 responses

7 06 2011
Uncle Bob

Just took a look at the Flickr Pic page…….great shots that give a sense of the world you are in at present…….excellent view of another part of the world!

11 06 2011

Hi Lamin, Just wondering if you have a Gambian last name too. Does every visitor have to get a Gambian name?
How are the mosquitos? Does the Off work over there? Any rain yet?
Any laundromats over there?
Keep smiling!

11 06 2011
John Iezzi

Hey Deb,

Not every visitor has a Gambian name, however, if you are close with a family or are spending a lot of time with them they usually give you a Gambian name to make things easier (people will be more likely to remember a traditional name than a Canadian one) and you will most likely adopt their last name as well. In my case, i adopted Lamin (typically the name of the first born male in the family… close to John) and Sonko as we have been spending lots of time with the Sonko family!

As for the mosquitoes, they are numerous and annoying. The Off works well, as does the bug net… but I still have multiple bites all over my body. You can’t beat them! It only rained once or twice last week… very intense rainfall for about 20 mins and that was it. More to come soon though.

the laundry… when it needs to be done… is done in my sink.

Miss ya! and not just because of the laundry!!!

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