Home » Africa: Celebrating Sheikh Tejan Nyang: A Remarkable Gambian Patriot and Public Servant

Africa: Celebrating Sheikh Tejan Nyang: A Remarkable Gambian Patriot and Public Servant

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Sheikh Tejan Nyang

In a heartfelt salute to an unsung hero, Sheikh Tejan Nyang, fondly known as Tejan Nyang, is lauded for his exceptional contributions as a quintessential public servant and a living legend in The Gambia.

The narrative sheds light on the remarkable journey of Sheikh Tejan Nyang, tracing his trajectory from accidental entry into the tourism industry to becoming a prominent figure in Gambian civil service.

Sheikh Tejan Nyang holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Tourism Administration from Hedmark/ Oppland Regional University, Lillehammer, Norway as well as various others Diplomas, including for Post Graduate Studies from the Centre for Superior Studies in Mexico and from the Royal Institute of Public Administration in the U.K, inter alia.

But his career in the Tourism and hospitality industry was purely accidental as his dream to pursue his studies abroad was to become a wireless operator.

So, he spent a year in a pre-school for seamen but later changed his mind after a brief sea trip which turned out to be a nightmare with serious sea sickness and acute nausea.

READ: Africa: Institute of Travel And Tourism of The Gambia celebrates 15th graduation ceremony, graduates 69 students

Strictly speaking, his career in the industry covered the following positions: first, as a labourer, dish washer, receptionist, night manager, disk jockey, Rooms Division Manager and finally as General Manager.

In passing, Sheikh Tejan worked with one of Norway’s biggest Tour Operators, “Saga Tours”, as a sales consultant prior to his entrance to The Gambian Civil service in 1978.

Interestingly, Sheikh Tejan calls himself a typical “ndongo” who grew up in the heart of Banjul between Lancaster and Perseverance streets.

In those days, the sports arenas were merely what was then called the Club House (formally Texaco), the MacCarthy Square, the open beach or what was also then called Wembley; those were the places where all youngsters around the vicinity excelled in football, tennis or “service” as it was then called, swimming and cricket among other sports.

READ: Africa: Can Gambia Tourism survive after covid-19 pandemic? Part 2

Sheikh Tejan also played football at school and was known for his goal keeping prowess (both at the St Mary’s and Wesley schools).

But he later switched positions and played in the wide defender position of a fullback.

He thus continued to play that same role as part of the youngsters that founded the “Real De Banjul” football club in which he later became a team Manager and won the Guiness cup during his tenure.

He later served in the first board of directors of the Independence Stadium & Hostel.

In addition to serving on various boards in government, he is currently on his 2nd term tenure for the Tourism Parliamentary Committee as subject matter specialist.

Subsequently, he served also as a Manager of the Sunwing Hotel female team and won all the trophees at a time when female football was in its infancy.

Besides, Sheikh Tejan and his team of youngsters, former Gambian students in Ghana including Junkunda Daffeh, Gibou Joof and Mustapha Conteh played a significant part in revolutionizing table tennis in The Gambia.

As a matter of fact, he himself was a table tennis champion of the Gambia and also won a silver medal at the university games in Trondheim in 1976 .

In so being, he initiated the formation of Lillehammer table tennis club in Norway.

Sheikh Tejan then started his career in the Gambian civil service as Tourism Assistant and rose to the rank of Director of Tourism in 1990.

He then decided to take voluntary retirement in 1993 to work in the private sector in one of the leading top 3 star hotels, ie Sunwing Hotel as Rooms Divisions Manager.

Subsequently, he moved on to become General Manager of African Village Hotel in 1996 for a short period before joining the United Nations as National Coordinator of The International Year of Volunteers for 2 years and then returned to the Government service once more to coordinate The Gambia Tourism Master Plan Studies.

Sheikh Tejan has since been deploying strenuously sustained efforts, over the years, for the powers that be to see the tourism subsector as option “A” in their areas of diversification of the economy in an overall bid to attract not only visitors but also investors to help boost the tourism industry in our country.

In so doing and to his credit, he is also widely known to exhibit traits that are enviable, as he never discriminates against anyone, selflessly accommodating and working for the good of others.

In all truth, he is well loved in the Tourism industry simply because he is a good man, for his people and others.

The fact remains that he is always willing to help and, even if he cannot, then he will lead one to others who can help.

But Sheikh Tijan, in silent humility, lives a “big life” – as husband, father, grandfather, civil servant, entrepreneur, statesman and dreamer.

A singular personality and an unstoppable force who revels in defying the odds, exceeding expectations and whose passion for his family is matched only by the people and possibility of his country, The Gambia, for which he has, undeniably, always been a fierce and indefatigable champion.

Seemingly, Sheikh Tejan, in many respects, as a man way ahead of his time, always has an eye for details and his ability to market and deliver first and top-class service in any endeavour is tremendously distinctive.

Indeed, he is an extraordinary human being with an unwavering commitment to the social good.

As a civil servant working for decades within the Ministry of Tourism and with other stakeholders on the Tourism Board, he was not only an astute and excellent “smooth operator”, but also a patriotic figure who has never been afraid to put his own stamp on national life, so to speak, as he made sure that he always has the “politicians’ ears”, especially on matters of public importance that have direct adverse repercussions on the tourism industry and its development to the highest standards possible.

Besides, many continue to keep fond memories of his glorious days as civil servant in the Ministry, particularly of his kindness and generosity to all he came in contact with; truly, he has a heart of gold, a good sense of humour and his love for his co-workers is legendary.

Subsequently, as Principal and founding member of The Institute of Travel and Tourism of The Gambia (ITTOG), Sheikh Tejan Nyang was a recipient of the “Ballafong Award” for his stellar contribution to tourism development in West Africa in 2011.

In 2014, he again received an acclamatory award as one of the 100 most influential personalities in West Africa.

Lastly, Sheikh Tejan Nyang was the former Chairman of the ECOWAS Tourism Committee on hotel classification, and he is the present Chairperson of the UNIDO/ECOWAS Tourism standards and a Member of the Eco-label Committee, amongst others.

May the Almighty God continue to reward him for his selfless services to our country and for his good deeds for his fellow countrymen.

May the Almighty God continue to grant him continued long life, continued good health and continued sound mind.

Age well, dear senior brother Sheikh Tejan Nyang, with grace and in dignity

By Hassan Gibril

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