Interview by Esinam Esi DAGBOVIE
Esinam Esi Dagbovie: How did you get to hear about BSL back in those days?
NdeyFatou Ceesay: I was actually 5 when I got to go to BSL nursery, my parents had moved to Togo from The Gambia with my entire family. BSL was the only English speaking school at the time. Mrs. Sayer was my teacher. BSL was my very first school.
EED: Did the school live up to your expectations – your parents’ too?
NFC: Yes it did. I had friends, lots of activities, and I felt a part of a small family. I was happy there those days. It was exciting.
EED: Were you a boarder or a day student?
NFC: Both - I was a day student until I got to year 11 then I was a boarder for 2 years until I completed my IBDP.
EED: How long were you at BSL for?
NFC: From 1985/86 till year 2000!
EED: Did you do the IB programme - if you did how helpful in the end was it for you?
NFC: Yes it did. It was helpful in getting me into the University I wanted to go to.
EED: Are there any fond memories you have of BSL you would like to share with us?
NFC: There are many! But I will say that my fondest memories were my Art class and my art teacher, Ms. Lethart. I loved being able to create art. At the time I didn’t realise that it would end up being my chosen career today.
I also enjoyed being a part of the swimming team - Eliot house, and holding the record for 25m breast stroke.
EED: What university did you attend and what did you study?
NFC: I attended the University of Liverpool, a red brick university in the UK, and I studied Politics and Languages, combined honors in French and Spanish.
EED: Did your education at BSL, the discipline, diversity and the school’s ethos ever help in your university experience?
NFC: I would say that above all the diversity of the school has been by far the most helpful in all my life experiences not alone university. The power to understand and tolerate difference and embrace culture from all over the world will take you further than you can imagine. Especially in the global village we live in today. It prepared me for a life I had never imagined possible.
EED: Did you start work immediately upon completing your university studies?
NFC: No I didn’t. After I graduated I found myself highly interested in the Arts so I decided to stay on in the UK. I then moved to London and interned at Instyle magazine. I learnt a lot while interning and decided to take Art and Design more seriously. In 2008, I moved back to Gambia and opened my own fashion line ‘Noir’ - that was a success - showcasing in Africa Fashion Week London (AFWL) twice, in 2015 and 2016. I got to travel and showcase my work. I began to embrace entrepreneurship and as my confidence grew I believed I could achieve and do whatever I set my mind to. So in 2018, I decided to go back to university and learn more about design. After a year at the Los Angeles Trade Technical College (LATTC), I was entered into a west coast design combine and was picked along with 12 other students to join the Nike diversity design team at Nike headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon, where I worked as a footwear designer for the Jordan brand and Nike by you. I stayed at Nike for a year and learnt way more than I could have imagined. I became well versed in digital software and enjoyed concept creation. Nike then gave me a scholarship to attend Pensole Footwear Academy where I got a Masters in Concept Creation and I am one of a few people lucky enough to pass through Studio 203 as a concept creator. I was now equipped with everything I needed so I came back home in 2020 and since then I have been working on my pieces which I intend to present to the world. I have become a full time artist working for myself and selling my own art. It is the best thing I could have ever wished for.
EED: You recently visited BSL. What were your sentiments coming back to your alma mater?
NFC: It was an emotional experience to see BSL again! Some things have changed and others have stayed the same - It was wonderful to see my old dorm, Stirling, and just hang around the basketball court. And of course get a cuddle from Auntie Eunice. BSL is where it all started for me, and it made me fearless in the pursuit of my dreams so it will always have a special part in my heart.
EED: What is life like for you these days and where are you living presently?
NFC: I’m living my best life! I’m making a living doing what makes me feel alive and it’s perfect. My studio is in The Gambia - I travel a lot for work - I get to express myself through art.
EED: Do you have any words of advice for BSL students, especially the IBDP students?
NFC: Be open to (EMBRACE) everything you learn. You never know when it might come in handy. Be a sponge and take in your surroundings, be kind and most especially, be yourself.
EED: Thank you so much Ms. Ceesay, for your time.
NdeyFatou in school with Aïda in January 2022
Creative Designer - NFC
Fajara Booster Extension
Banjul - The Gambia
Tel: +220 2411076
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