When Geoff and Di Miles visited the Gambia in 2007 to learn African rhythms with a master drummer there, they became friendly with the musician community in Kotu-Eranjang. They met an inspirational man called Kebba Jaina who had set up a nursery school for 3 - 7 year olds in his community as there was no education available for them. He was concerned that, having so little opportunity to become educated and earn a living, the youth of The Gambia were starting to turn to drugs. Drug barons from South America have bought up large areas of land in the neighbouring country of Guinea Bissau as an easy route into Europe. Consequently, more and more hard drugs were finding their way into The Gambia.
Kebba, inspired by Nelson Mandela, believed that if he could teach young children to enjoy education, to want to learn, and find a way out of poverty, he could do something very real to help and protect the children of his community. In order to set up the school, he had rented a single room hut, with 1 communal toilet (a hole in the ground). He had moved several times as landlords found other more lucrative uses for buildings. Geoff and Di raised money and bought the school benches so that when they moved at least they would have benches for the children to sit on.
Sadly, Kebba died in March 2008 but his dream lives on. Geoff and Di registered the charity with the UK Charity Commission, and Afrikaya completed phase 1 of it's first project in September 2010, by buying land on which to build a school in New Yundum.
Whilst viewing the newly purchased land in November 2010 with the members of the PTA, Geoff asked the name of the tree on the land. Immediately, Malang, the artist, responded: "It is now named after the man who gave you fire (inspiration), Kebba. It is a reminder of him always with his strong roots". - The Kebba Jaina Tree.