UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL WITH ‘MAKA DUNKA’- MOHAMED ALIE JALLOH
May 20, 2019
As a young boy growing up, Maka became interested in basketball and started playing during his secondary school days. With a lot of determination and passion, Maka, under the mentorship of Patrick Sundifu found himself playing for the 1st division at the National Basketball League. Maka reached the height of his basketball career in 2011 where he played at an international friendly match against NPA Pythons of Liberia. He continued playing and has participated in several local and international basketball games and training including Guinea and UK. Maka is the PRO for the Sierra Leone Basketball Players Union and is also a member of the Cannon Royals Basketball club in Central Freetown.
He is the inspiration behind the song by Prodigy and Wray “Life of a baller”, as his life story details his love for basketball and how it has influenced and helped shaped him in becoming the man he is now.
Tell us a little about yourself, your background, hobbies, dreams and aspirations?
My name is Mohamed Alie Jalloh (aka Maka Dunka). I am a 28-year-old Sierra Leonean born in the Eastern part of Freetown, Grassfield. I come from a humble Islamic nuclear family and have fond memories of growing up with my parents and siblings.
I am a product of the Ansarul Islamic Primary School, Kissy Dock Yard, where I came out as the best student in the National Primary School Examination (NPSE) in 2002. I move to Albert Academy and later completed my WASSCE at the St. Edwards Secondary School. During my primary and secondary education, I studied Islamic education simultaneously and obtained a certificate in Islamic Jurisdiction and Arabic Language from the Ansarul Islamic College, Kissy Dock Yard. I was chosen to represent Sierra Leone at an international Quranic Recitation competition held in Libya. Upon returning, I enrolled at Fourah Bay College (FBC), University of Sierra Leone, and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and Political Science in 2015.
Being a gregarious person, I combined my academic studies with social activities. I was an active member of the Davidson Nicol Hall, the Political Science Society, the History Society, the Skullz club and the Generals Entity at FBC. Due to exemplary leadership qualities, my colleagues gave me the opportunity to serve as Cranium (head) of the Skullz club.
I believe in giving back to society and empowering the youth and that is what motivated me to teach History, Government and Social Studies at the Royal Becklyn Academy after graduating from FBC. Then I continued my professional journey working for Flash Vehicles and Cerra Automotive. Currently, I serve as a Tracking Officer at the National Emergency Medical Services (NEMS).
How do you think you can use basketball to change the lives of young people in Sierra Leone?
Being an example and an inspiration to young people has always been my dream.
I believe that activities, especially in sports, is a great way to engage young people so I plan to use my background in sports to teach and mentor underprivileged teenagers in basketball and help them understand that, they too can be successful and attain higher heights in sports and whichever fields they find themselves in. I would also partner with professional and retired sportsmen like George Wyndham, a Paralympic table tennis champion and Mohammed Kallon to educate children in deprived communities and schools on the benefits of considering a lifestyle and a career in sports.
Finally, I intend to work closely with the Ministry of Sports and Education to revive inter-secondary school and collegiate basketball competitions initially
What things have you learned about life and the human condition from being in the Reality show- Housemates Salone?
Before going to the house, I knew that the Housemates Salone was going to be a house full of people from different backgrounds, religions and upbringing. I learned that no one is perfect and we all have to be tolerant, respect the views and opinions of each other and above all support one another. I have also learnt that life is limitless and that everybody can become whatever they want to become in life if they put their minds and efforts to achieving it.
You wear many hats as a basketball player, an actor, an entertainer and a philanthropist. Tell us about the challenges that you have encountered in your portfolio of careers?
Basketball has always been a part of me since my teenage years, therefore, I consider it a lifestyle now. I haven’t had much experience in acting yet. I had a few roles in the plays we had at the House. I also had some experience in directing and narrating, quite a number of people think I would be a very good actor if put on a set. I hoping to meet someone who believes in my potential as an actor and would want to invest in my talent. Also, I passed the just ended auditions for the movie series “Pull u an” with the legendary Zack Orji and I am expecting to be cast in the 52-episode series.
Being a philanthropist is also something I am passionate about, especially helping disadvantaged kids and orphans as I lost my father at age 12. In order for me to help more, I decided to open the “Life of a Baller Foundation” under whose umbrella I will be doing charitable projects.
If someone was going to make your life into a song, what song would it be?
Interesting! That’s done you know. When I came out of the house I heard a couple of songs about me. One of the popular ones was “the life of a baller” by Prodigy and Wray.
I love music generally and I am a fan of rap music. Therefore, I would love to hear my detailed story “Life of a baller” being told in a rap song.
Name three African men who inspire you, what lessons have you learnt from their stories?
First is my dad, the late Sheikh MAB Jalloh who was a Saudi diplomat and an Islamic scholar. I learned from him that through education and hard work, one will definitely be successful. He made it from scratch, leaving his village in Guinea at the age of 17 to seek greener pastures. He ended up in Sierra Leone where he tried his hands on a lot of businesses and failed. He decided to focus on his education after facing many disappointments and he ended up having a scholarship to Egypt and then Saudi Arabia to study.
The second person is Nelson Mandela, who although was imprisoned for over two decades went on to become the President of South Africa. I learned from his story that no matter what you go through, you should always focus on the bigger picture and never give up. His stepping down from office after one term taught me as well that you do not necessarily need a lifetime to make a difference in the lives of others, you could do so in an instant.
Finally, one other African who inspires me is Dayo Okewale, a British-Nigerian who is Chief of Staff in the House of Lords at the Parliament house in the UK and is also the CEO of Who’s Got Game UK. Dayo inspires me in so many ways. As a young man in his early 30s, a basketball coach and a youth empowerment enthusiast. I would want to follow in his footsteps especially his drive for empowering young people through basketball around the world.