Sweet is Invisible in the Rain is a memoir of living in two homes, one on either side of the Atlantic. Cherno Njie describes his childhood and youth in Banjul, the capital of the small African country of The Gambia, and his later life after moving to the United States in the 1980s to earn his university degree. The Njie family compound was an idyllic home: brothers and sisters, uncles and aunties, friends and strangers. Cherno tells how he carried the memories of his home and the lessons of his mother and father to Austin, Texas, where he studied at the University of Texas at Austin. His life and successful career in Texas, though far from Gambia, was nevertheless rooted in that country. After the Gambian elections of 2011, which long-standing president Yahya Jammeh allegedly won, he explains his growing resolve at the time to contribute to Jammeh’s defeat. This came to a head when he participated in a coup plot that failed on December 30th, 2014. Njie gives his side of the story, his account of the coup, and what has since happened. Though Sweat is Invisible in the Rain is a story of two homes, it is a story of one life.
Cherno Njie is an Austin-based real estate developer, investor, entrepreneur, and philanthropist. He was born in Banjul, The Gambia when the city was still called Bathurst. After growing up and working in The Gambia, he moved to Texas for his university education and graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 1987. Afterward, he began his now twenty-five-year career both as a state official at the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs and in the private sector as President of Songhai Development Company. In 2014 he was involved in the failed attempt to depose then Gambian President Yahya Jammeh. Upon his return to the United States, he was arrested and convicted of violating the Neutrality Act of 1794. He now lives freely in Austin with his wife and children.
A heartfelt, heart-wrenching expose on a significant political and military event in Gambia’s history, written against a backdrop of strong cultural and family values that shaped Cherno Njie’s early political awakening… a must read for Gambians, especially young students, and scholars alike, as it makes an important contribution to Gambia’s historical repository.
Abdoulaye Saine, Professor and University Distinguished Scholar, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio.
As memoires by Gambians go, this is a trendsetter not only by the wide sweep of its scope, but also for its candour, candidness and cadence… Every phrase, paragraph and page comes out in a seamless weave of a glowing story of a lifetime.
Hassoum Ceesay, Historian and author, Gambia National Museum
The dog that visited the leopard’s turf and came home to tell the story should be congratulated, as the Yoruba adage goes. Njie’s memoir, Sweat is invisible in the rain, is a sacred saga of survival with the resemblance of that audacious dog at the proverbial turf of the voracious leopard. Polished and smooth, sophisticated and complicated, this is one memoir that will pass the test of time, trump every test of literary merit, and score high on the readability scale. But not so for the journey of the author. Rough, rugged and narrow, yet, triumphant in it all, Njie’s life is a tale that transcends its West African setting. It is the rustic simplicity of an African childhood that metamorphosed into a global earthquake, the tremor of which shook the trans-Atlantic world! This memoir is, indeed, a testimony to the explosive supremacy of resiliency, survivability, native intelligence, and the courage to tread on the ground that even angels dread. It underscores the sacrosanctity of the family, and the enduring power of friendship.
Because the road to success is always under construction, Njie is not afraid to touch on the limitations of his effort while teaching us that it is better to try and fail than to fail to try. Sadly, as John F. Kennedy once quipped, “Victory has a thousand fathers; defeat is an orphan;” the naysayers may slight the effort of Njie and his co-compatriots in their attempts to relieve and rid their nation of the yoke of dictatorship, the ruinous coup is not altogether a failure; after all, it put the pain of The Gambians on the world map, and the blood of the martyrs were not shed in vain. The anchor holds. Njie is still standing; the dictator is gone. Sweat, indeed, is invisible in the rain, but rain will stop; sweat will dry up; and the breeze of mercy will provide the consolation and the ultimate reward.
A five-star kudos to the words of the griot, Cherno M. Njie – the invisible power that slain the most mighty generals!
Dr. Michael O. Afolayan, Author of Fate of Our Mothers
What a rich, colourful and deeply insightful excursion into the heart and soul of The Gambia and one of its illustrious sons! Extremely readable, Cherno Njie’s memoir draws you in not just to the sights, sounds, sorrows and soul of the Gambia, it communicates too the urgency for its transformation and restoration, for the sake of future generations.
Olajumoke Yacob-Haliso, Associate Professor of Political Science and Public Administration, Babcock University, Ogun State, Nigeria.
Cherno M. Njie’s remarkable persona lingers long after one gets to meet him. He is a unique blend of the vintage entrepreneur, political activist with uncommon courage and determination regarding the future of Gambia, and a public intellectual par excellence. His memoir, ‘Sweat is invisible in the rain’, says in clear terms that achieving progress in the African state is not an event but a struggle. It is therefore a must read manual for any progressive African development worker who knows what development is all about and is poised to make a difference.
Tunji Olaopa, Executive Vice-Chairman, ISGPP & Professor of Public Administration at Lead City University, Ibadan, Nigeria.