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A Single Mothers Plight
Bacary Bax and Lansana Lister were born in 1989 and 1995 respectively and form 2 out of 5 members of Bud Sugar, as children their single white mother Sue, born and raised in Hull City, would make a tri-annual pilgramige to Gambia with her young mixed raced sons in an attempt to form a relationship with Bax’ father and teach her sons about their west african heritage and the lifestyle of its indigenous people!
Providence would bring Sue and her sons to a humble and kindhearted family named ‘Jatta’ in the City of Brikama. On a sandy side street a large Iron gate proudly displays the 'Jatta Kunda’ name, tall grey breeze block walls all around and the smell of firewood and incense in the air, children singing and bickering in the distance, not quite pet dogs mafting in the heat, groups of women around a giant mortar, pestling grains like a metronome.
Sue and the boys never once stayed in a hotel largely because she could not afford it on income support in the 90’s but her lack of wealth would ironically form a much more valuable experience for her sons, who would be richer in character after becoming one with the humility and generosity of the smiling coast of Africa.
What really makes this story unique though is that these journeys almost never resulted in her son and his father reuniting, Bacarys father was a Senegalese national studying in the Uk when he met Sue, their relationship a fling at best but one that would change the whole course of her life. When she arrived in Gambia for the first time, a location that Bacarys father, also named Bacary had suggested, she stay with his relatives, there a 24 year old Sue would wait with her now 9 month old baby for his arrival. Gambia and Sengal are neighbouring countries and so Bcary Senior would journey by land to rendezvous with Sue and his son, its likely he chose Gambia to hide his secret child from his wife and kids in Senegal.
The first time she made the 8000 mile round trip he arrived a day late and they spent 2 weeks together, the second time he couldn’t make it… but he failed to let Sue know before she arrived. Having made lemonade from lemons her whole life, she wasn’t about to let something like the father not showing up ruin her efforts, she still had the Jattas and 4 weeks flew by without any thought for the dad that never came.
So when he failed to show up the next time it was almost a non event, Gambia’s energy had begun to flow through their veins, its embrace kept calling them back and each time a message was left for the father, just incase.
‘We are in Gambia for 4 weeks, it would be great if you could see your son, I will be at Jatta Kunda in Brikama, we hope to see you’
But he never came again.
One of Sues greatest strengths has always been her determination, however determination has a lot in common with stubbornness and it would be that stubbornness that robbed her and her sons of the only family they had really ever known. Her own family had been a poor excuse for one at best, their abuse was so unbearable that at the age of 9 she approached her teachers to report her mistreatment and was taken from her family into the care of social services, which wouldn’t turn out to be much better and so she learnt to expect the worst from people and trust only in her children... her great redeemers.
On the turn of the millennium Sue took her boy to Gambia for what would turn out to be the last time, after a decade long love affair with the country, accumulating in 27 visits, a dispute between Sue and her adopted family the Jattas got so unnecessarily out of hand that it would cause a rift in the relationship, that rift became a void, a void spanning 18 years with not a single phone call or letter, a void that slowly became the norm for her 2 sons, who continue to flourish, both of them graduating from university and forming their band and company aswell as Bax starting his own family as Sue would be blessed with her first grandchild.
Sue, Bax and Lans must have thought they would never see Gambia again, resigned to a fond a distant space in their minds but how wrong they would turn out to be. Because through the healing and unifying effects of music and through the awesome power of the internet a story 30 years in the making was about to start a new chapter. 3 generations later the seed of love that had sustained over decades, a formative time that had moulded two lost boys into Vibrant Kings had re-awoken.
The VIBE Tribe presents a story like no other, a feature film telling the plight of a single mother and the struggles of Gambias poor, the true story of how 5 lads from Hull went Viral in Africa. A life changing coming of age story set across 2 continents, 4000 miles apart, spanning 30 years and 3 generations. A heartbreaking and life affirming insight into the lives of everyday people in West Africa and North England and the unanticipated and heavy sense of duty Bax and Lans’ now feel to a family trapped in a cycle of poverty who they thought they had lost forever, brought to an emotional fever pitch as Bax and Lans’ are welcomed back to Jatta Kunda in an exalted frenzy of drumming, chanting, wailing and joyous reunification.
Dancing with the Kankurang Masquerade
Take us to Gambia - 'Mam'
In this Video filmed before their 2018 trip to Gambia Bax and Lans meet with their mum Sue to get a further insight into her mindset at the time and the parts of the story they didn’t know.
Bud Sugar reflects on the build up to Gambia
In this Video Bud Sugar talk about how the trip to The Gambia came about and their expectations of the trip.
This project was made possible because of all the people and organizations listed below:
Mally Welburn, Kirsty Hill, Ann Constable, Velvet and Anya Chalkley, Amy Pattison-Hill, Carla and Nigel Chalkley, Sam Gibson, JJ Tatten, Graham Wallis, Gail Foster, Les Dobbs, Lynda Clare, Hannah Barnao, Caz Pendleton, Stormzy Hill, Julie Carter, Emmie Welford, Liam Snell, Ron Foster, Axel Billingsley, Natalie Booth, Tamara Hall, Denise Gibbs, Andrew Hardel, Graham Guy, Anna Szmilyk, Sally Acton, Steph D, Michelle Chiu, Michael Dooner, Justine Manning, Ailsa Shaw, Nova Studios Ltd, Hull Music Archive (Nick), Stuart Woodmansey, Karen Laycock, Gail Foster, Gina Preston, Eat My Uke, David Malpas, Janice Pidd, Lewis Kilvington, Elizabeth Dean, Elaine Grimes and Kerrie Marsh
We Thank You All
Special Thanks to Sue Lister & Jatta Kunda