Muhamed Tunkara is a young Sarahuleh man currently living in the UK. Unlike the average Sarahuleh kid who is groomed and prepared to be a businessman right from birth instead of pursuing formal education, Muhamed with the help of his father has successfully graduated with a BA at Birmingham City University which is the second largest of three universities in the city of Birmingham.
Shortly after his graduation ceremony, Muhamed wrote on his Facebook page “bumped into Basirou Jawara at my graduation a few hours ago. He congratulated me and said:
"Don't do a Masters; go and find money now."
Lol! Advice taken on-board Sir!”
In this interview with the Gambian Pride Blog, Muhamed tells us about his childhood, balancing life as a student and a husband, his graduation ceremony as well as his future plans.
GPB- Congratulation Mr Tunkara?
GPB: Who is Muhamed Tunkara?
Muhamed: I am a Serahuleh boy, well a man now. Living, working and studying in Birmingham (UK).
GPB: What part of Gambia Are you from?
Muhamed: Born and raised in the city but originally from Suduwol, Upper River Division. I spent one half of my childhood in Banjul (Independence Drive), and the rest in Serrekunda (Bundung Highway)
GPB: What is your educational back ground?
Muhamed: I started at Albion Primary School, then to Saint Augustine’s Junior (Pa Joof), and later on to Saint Augustine’s Senior Secondary School (Saint’s) all in Banjul. I also studied IT at QuantumNET Training Centre upon graduating from Saint’s.
I travelled to the UK and started a business course at Birmingham Management Training College, and finished with a BA (Hons) at Birmingham City University.
GPB: How long have you been in the UK?
Muhamed: I have been in the UK since 2007, about 7 years now.
GPB: Are you married and do you have any kids?
Muhamed: I am married but no kids yet.
GPB: How is it to be a student and a husband?
I am not sure how to describe how it feels being a student and a husband, but normal I guess.
Personally, having a loving, smart, patient and a super-supportive wife has made my educational journey very much easier because sometimes students can get under a lot of pressure while trying to juggle between assignments, family commitments and a job. 24hrs never seems to be enough in a day for the things that I need to get done, a lot of sacrifices or compromises had to be made – mainly with family commitments. Example – spending all night or weekends in the library when you could be at home spending time with your family.
Life in Europe is not as easy as ABC or 123. You can’t afford to fall behind on your assignments because there is too much at stake, and you won’t dare miss going to work because without an income, you can guess what will happen?! So I have been extremely lucky to have an understanding wife who doesn’t put pressure on me except when I tend to be lazy with my studies, so she would remind me of how much work I have already put in and how close I am to achieving my goal. I couldn’t have done it without her support.
GPB: Tell us about your graduation?
Muhamed: Initially, I thought that my graduation was just going to be a normal day but it turned out to be one of the most exciting days of my life so far.
I was joined at the ceremony by my wife, cousin and two good friends, but to my surprise, there were other 3 Gambians graduating as well, so it was a very pleasant surprise. More so because one of the other graduates was a Serahule girl – If you are a Gambian, then you should understand that is something special, because there aren’t many Serahule girls that are educated up to university level.
As we walked up to the stage with our names being called-out loud to receive our certificates, every graduate would receive a round of applause from the audience, but some graduates would get loud cheers from their friends and families as well as the round of applause from everyone. I walked up to the stage only expecting a normal round of applause but to my surprise I also had a loud amount of cheers from the friends and families of the other Gambian graduates – that felt very special. Just by hearing my name called-out, they knew that I was one of their own and so they cheered for me.
After receiving our certificates, we all met up in the lobby area with our friends and families where we got introduced to one another and interacted further on. It was very exciting, beautiful and joyful.
My evening concluded by going for a meal with my wife, cousin and friend. My phone’s battery died at some point due to the amount of congratulatory calls and messages that I was receiving from friends and family, totally unexpected. The amount of love that I also received through my Facebook, Viber and WhatsApp was amazing, again – totally unexpected. I guess I underestimated the importance of the day and so it turned out to be one of the most memorable days of my life. Everyone should experience it.
GPB: What is your next step now?
As much an undergraduate degree is a great achievement, sadly, times are changing and therefore it is not as special as it used to be anymore. So this makes more and more students opt for a postgraduate degree rather than just settling for an undergraduate degree. A postgraduate degree is very expensive but it helps one stand out from a crowd. There is also a lot of evidence to suggest that students with a postgraduate degree would normally do better in terms of securing better jobs and earning much more than their colleagues with just an undergraduate degree.
I intend to do an MBA or something similar in the near future, but in the meantime – I am going to focus on getting a good job and hopefully do an MBA on a part-time mode while I work full-time. I also intend on spending more time with my family and friends and do many of the things that I haven’t been able to do or do properly in the past due to my educational and work commitments.
GPB: What is your relationship with Basirou Jawara?
Muhamed: Nothing special, apart from we all being Serahules!
GPB: lol. Was he in Uk for your graduation?
Muhamed: Nope. He came for his daughter's graduation.
GPB: Oh, so how come he advised you not to do masters and go look for money. Do you know if he said the same thing to his daughter and other kids?
Muhamed: He said that to me because we were chatting
GPB: so you didn't know him from Gambia?
Muhamed: I have no connection whatsoever with Basiru Jawara, he was there for his daughter's graduation.
GPB: Was Basirou serious about what he told you or was he joking?
Muhamed: I would prefer if Basiru is not involved in my interview though, as we have no connection. I just happened to bump into him and had a short conversation. Perhaps you can try reaching his daughter who also graduated.
GPB: Unlike other Sarahuleh's all over the world who are all about making money, Why did you choose Education and not business?
Muhamed: I'm like any other Serahule, I love money but my father instilled in us the desire to be educated because it can make all aspects of your life easier and more successful.
GPB: You keep giving credit to your father all through this interview, what did your father teach you?
Muhamed: He taught us that education will give us freedom and help us be better people.
GPB: Thanks for granting us this interview
Muhamed: It’s my pleasure
Muhamed is an out gong young man who balances having a fun life and work ( See photos below)