I came to The Gambia alone, but now I can say that I am a part of a big family that is the Kings and Queens family.
I have always wanted to make a difference and help people all my life. When moving to the Gambia, I found that the entertainment industry wasn't really valued by others, there are many creative and talented people in this country, and the platform and opportunity weren't given to them.
Over the years, I saw people trying to make it through competitions, working in hotels doing entertainment or dancing with Gambian artists, but this is where it stopped. These people were not recognised for their talent and were used in the wrong way.
This is where I felt like the tourism sector needed a better solution to see people develop and be able to really show their true talent and not be hidden behind other people.
The Kings and Queens show was created, providing the ultimate platform for dancers and musicians, giving them a chance to earn a good salary and not be out each day hustling to make small money.
In 2021 after a full audition process, the Kings and Queens team was created with a total of 28 members, with musicians, dancers and acrobatics, all from different countries, including Gambia, Sierra Leone, Cameroon and Guinea Conakry.
Together, with an intense six months of training, we prepared for the first season after the worldwide pandemic from coronavirus. We didn't know what to expect or even if tourists were going to return, but when I created this team, I made a promise to each and every one of them, and that is that I would not give up on them or this project.
On November 3rd 2021, we held our first show, which was at Ebujan theatre. We created a very unique, one-of-a-kind show which was like no other the Gambia has seen before. Sadly the ticket sales wasn't going as well as I had hoped. However, I never gave up; I dug deep and kept going. Financially this took a burden on myself, and I didn't have any sponsorships and funded everything from my pocket.
After two months of performing at the theatre, it was a fact that the location was wrong, so I set it my mission to find a new place. Within a few weeks, I stumbled upon the Sofanyama stage-it was my perfect hidden gem, and I felt like God was listening to all our prayers.
With a new location set in the heart of Senegambia, I knew Kings and Queens would grow. With a great marketing team and a new refined show, we were back on stage performing and doing what we all love to do, and that is to entertain people.
As the first season came to an end, we ended the last show on the 27th of April 2022, and then I went back to creating a new show. I put out auditions again, and the response was completely overwhelming, with over 50 auditions. Some of our members from the last show decided not to continue with us; some went and started university and focused on their studies and education, which we all support them in, and we still class them as our family.
After the audition process, I decided to employ a further 14 dancers and two new singers. Now, this was the biggest and toughest challenge I have faced in the Gambia. The Kings and Queens family was extended but wasn't extended for the better.
Over time people were not taking the project seriously. During the off-season, we have a very intense training program where we train for all sectors of the show, within our studio for the musicians and on stage for the dancers and acrobatics.
After a few months, I sadly had to make one of the toughest decisions in my life, which completely broke my heart, and that was to dismiss 12 members. With them not attending rehearsals, they were wasting not only my money but also my and my team's time. Cracks were being built within the team, and I couldn't allow it to go on any further.
The dancers that were removed are very talented boys, but they just weren't ready for the commitment needed to produce and work on a show like ours. With the dancers removed, this was now crunch time, routines had to change, and our acrobatic boys now had to step up and dance more for the show.
My current team has never disappointed me. No matter what obstacle comes our way, together, we always reach the other side. Our other challenge this year was the rain. Many rehearsals were cancelled as mother nature took over.
October 19th approached, and it was our first show back for our second season. There are no words that can express how I felt that night. I was overcome with tears of joy standing watching my team. When your vision comes to life right in front of you, it is a feeling you can not describe.
The best thing about that night was that all tickets were completely sold, there was not a spare seat in the house, and never did I imagine that I would be turning people away. When I think back to the theatre, I was desperately trying to get people in this now had a 360 turn, and it is the best thing to ever happen to us.
This season we are back with an even more amazing, spectacular and jaw-dropping show that will leave you on the edge of your seats with our daredevil acrobatic routines. We ensure that you will be up dancing and clapping along to our dancers' unique and creative dance moves and, last of all, singing along to our amazing band and singers.
The whole kings and queens team and I want to thank everyone who has been to see the show in the past. Without you, it would not be possible. And for anyone who has not yet seen the show, we invite you all to come and watch us. We guarantee you will leave with a big smile on your face.