My brother, Sankulay Jallow, the amazing technology man
By Mathew K Jallow
On the kitchen floor of their apartment, wires cross-cross into electrical outlets and gadgets I had never before seen. To the technically challenged, it was an overwhelming realization of how unnerving technology can be, but to Sankulay Jallow, it was like an architect peering down the intricate outline of a complex architectural design. Normal. But his story began far from the eastside of Madison, Wisconsin, where we both now live. His is a love affair with technology I saw my young brother, Sankulay Jallow, slowly grow into since back in the 1980s; an affair he has continually perfected into a career level professionalism over the intervening years since we both left Gambia for the safety of the US. The variety of technology talents that reside in one person is extraordinary; photographer, videographer, television cameraman, video editor and a related list of other technological proficiencies that I know nothing about. On the kitchen table, the sight of screens announcing the complicated intricacies of modern technology is what first catches a visitor’s undivided attention; the multiplicity of icons on screens and monitors; the superimposition of small tabs and windows; images that slowly fade and transition into bright animated screens, and the mastery with which Sankulay maneuvers the screen displays with the ease and dexterity of an undisputed professional. The truth is; Sankulay and I were not supposed to go to school, my older brother and his younger brother were, but I insisted; he did not. Yet what Sankulay Jallow lacks in formal education, he has adequately made up for in the technical and technological wizardry he skillfully operates with uncommon confidence.
Sankulay Jallow intermittently accessed three computer screens to retrieve more images, texts, video or photographic backgrounds in ways that was absolutely jaw-dropping to a technology novice like myself, but to my brother, it is business as usual. In his self-educated technology passion over past thirty years, Sankulay spent tens of thousands of dollars to memorialize marriages, infant naming ceremonies, entertainment festivals, parties, birthday celebrations, community events and political meetings in downtown Madison where he met MSNBC’s famed anchor and middleclass champion, the indefinable Ed Schulz and Fox News Major Garrett. He has done all this over the past thirty years with uncommon altruism; absolutely free and out of the goodness of his heart. More recently, in the past several years, Sankulay, has been a persistent promoter of African culture; including his rich Fulani culture and traditions, and in the process, conquered YouTube where his variety of African musical and ceremony videos have over two and a quarter million devoted visits to his channel. Even Gambia’s most famous living kora player, Jaliba Kuyateh, in a recent BBC interview, credited Sankulay Jallow with his broad international appeal; which he admits, is what his friend, Sankulay Jallow, with the combination of modern technology and social media, used to broadcast his kora entertainment skills to a wider musical world. And in Madison, Wisconsin, where Sankulay has left an indelible footprint on the local city television channel, the growing African community has for years been entertained with a wide variety of music genres from across West Africa.
But, Sankulay Jallow is more than just an amazing technical genus; he is a through and through man of the people. With a public relations personality a Fortune 500 company would die for, Sankulay Jallow endeared him to so many into whose orbit he finds himself, either by design or coincidence. Sankulay Jallow, the man who rarely gets upset, but never angry, is unapologetic for everything he did using his meagre resources to make others happy. For me, who helped raise him outside the capital far from our native Sare Gainako village, his motto since way back in Gambia has always been; “if you do good to others, God will always pay you.” This persistent attitude recently prompted our nephew, Samba Baldeh, President of the Gambian Association of Madison, to admonish; “it is time you to make money out of the technical skills God gave you.” Coincidentally, I also heard the same advice from nephew Samba Baldeh more times than once. And Sankulay Jallow and I share Samba Baldeh’s views, and will in a major announcement this week, move cautiously to make Sankulay Jallow’s vast technology talents pay for some of the time and resources he has spent making everyone else happy. There is nothing Sankulay Jallow’s wife, Essie Jallow, a black American, with who my brother has two young teens, Isatou and Mamadou Jallow, wishes more that seeing her husband and their father’s talents utilized in a professional manner. The local city channel has long closed its door and Sankulay has moved on to a more durable platform; Youtube, in the process, he has expanded his audience beyond the boundary of Wisconsin. Today, as he entertains millions, the whole world is his playground.