Abdoulie Touray is believed to have been the first Gambian to move into 333 E. 181st Street. He drew scores of compatriots to the building where 17 died in a fire.
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When Abdoulie Touray, then a 41-year-old Gambian diamond trader, settled in the Bronx in the 1970s, the area was blighted by crime and the West African community was tiny. There were no restaurants serving okra stew, no funeral parlors providing proper Islamic rites and no nearby mosques.
An erudite Islamic scholar by night, Mr. Touray moved into a third-floor apartment in a new 19-story building known as Twin Parks North West. Soon, he was offering a place to stay, food, contacts for jobs and the occasional verse from the Quran to newcomers from his homeland.
Virtually overnight, an entire community sprouted around him. And the building became a kind of homeland-in-exile for Gambians fleeing oppressive dictatorship and crushing poverty.
Visitors to Mr. Touray’s apartment later became tenants of the building at 333 East 181st Street. A dozen mosques opened. Hair braiding salons popped up, as did supermarkets selling varieties of fufu, bottles of Vimto, a soft drink popular in West Africa, and canned eggplant.
Twin Parks North West gained a new nickname: Touray Tower.
Then on Sunday, in just minutes, what had been a haven for many Gambians quickly turned into a deathtrap, as smoke from a fire killed 17 people, including eight children.
“This community has grown to what it is today because of that building, and that is why it’s very special to us,” said Haji Dukuray, 60, who arrived in 1988 to study business administration, with a single suitcase and knowing just one address, the one in the Bronx. “When they said on the news, ‘Fire at 333—,’ I said, ‘It’s the Touray Tower!’”
Nearly all the victims were of Gambian or of West African descent.
There were the Drammehs — Fatoumata and her three children. There were the Dukurays, Hajie and Haja and their three children. There was Fatoumata Tunkara and her 6-year-old son, Omar Jambang.
The Touray family knew nearly all of the victims. Several were their cousins.
The Touray family had grown since the patriarch first arrived on the scene — his 20th grandchild was born in 2021.
Although Mr. Touray died in 2019 at age 81 of heart failure, about 50 members of the immediate and extended family were living in the building at the time of the fire, according to one of his sons, Suleyman Touray, and Mariama Touray, who is married to one of his nephews. Following the norms of his culture and religion, Mr. Touray had three Islamic-law wives who still lived in the apartment on the third floor. Two of his widows were placed in hotels; the third had been visiting Gambia at the time of the fire.
Born in Sotuma Sere, a village in Eastern Gambia, Mr. Touray moved to the country through a program for young democrats, his daughter Fatiah Touray, 38, said.
Mr. Touray was well-traveled and spoke at least nine languages — English, French, Arabic, Soninke, Mandingo, Fulani, Wolof, Lingala and Sierra Leonean Creole. On arriving in the United States, he started a nonprofit called the Pan-African Islamic Society out of his apartment and offered Islamic services to celebrities such as Muhammad Ali and Cicely Tyson, according to family members.
“He realized that there was no real place where West Africans could get their proper funeral rites as Muslims, and he was really instrumental in getting that started for the Muslim community,” said Magundo Touray, 41, one of his daughters.
“If someone got arrested and they didn’t speak a language, the 46th Precinct always used to knock on our door and say, like, ‘Hey, Mister, we got someone that’s lost. Maybe you can help us.’”
Gita Sankano grew up in a nearby building but spent much of her childhood visiting or being babysat by relatives there. “We all knew 3G,” Mr. Touray’s apartment, she said. “When my mother came to the U.S. she stayed at 3G. My naming ceremony was in 3G. It is our own village. That’s how deep it is. It’s our own community. This is a tragedy for the whole Gambian community.”
At Twin Parks North West, neighbors and residents saw Mr. Touray in the courtyard handing out dollar bills to children. People went in and out of his apartment, which was often filled with the fragrance of jollof rice, plantains and okra stew. On Eid, throngs of people would crowd the hallways of the building. “They’d come from the mosque down the block and then straight to the house,” said Magundo Touray.
“We would all congregate there for morning prayer, and everyone would stop by the house — a hundred people — even during the pandemic. They would all come with their masks,” she said.
To many, Touray Tower, as so many called it, felt like an extension of family back home, and it was easy to understand why: Gambia is the smallest country in continental Africa with fewer than 2 million people living on a strip of land squeezed inside Senegal, with just the tip jutting out into the Atlantic Ocean. Just 8,000 or so Gambians live in all of the United States, according to U.S. embassy data, many of them in New York City.
In Gambia, “everybody is related, everybody knows everybody,” said Dawda Docka Fadera, Gambia’s ambassador to the United States, who met with survivors a day after the blaze. “So our country is in shock.”
Mr. Touray, like many of his successors, arrived to New York just as large-scale immigration from Gambia to the United States took off in the 1970s, following independence from Britain in 1965 and after it became a republic in 1970. The United States and Gambia have ties going back to World War II, when Gambian troops fought with the Allies in Burma, and Banjul, the capital, served as a stop for the U.S. Army Air Corps and a port of call for Allied naval convoys.
In the mid-1980s, a series of economic deregulation policies and severe droughts and the collapse of the price of peanuts — a main staple — in international markets further spurred an exodus to the United States.
A wave of asylum seekers crested again in 1994, when a young army lieutenant, Yahya Jammeh, seized power and launched a 22-yearlong dictatorship marked by extrajudicial killings, torture and rape.
Many of them filled up Touray Tower and raised their families there, despite worsening conditions.
Residents said that the heating often did not circulate well in the apartments, especially in the more spacious living rooms, so they resorted to leaving the oven on or boiling water so that the steam would create some warmth. And almost every household uses space heaters, residents said.
“All the Africans have them — the heating is not enough and it comes on temporarily, you don’t know what time it comes,” said Mamadou Wague, who moved from Gambia in the 1990s and now runs Halal Meat & Fish Market a couple of blocks away from the apartment building. His sister is a tenant there.
City officials said a space heater that had been left running malfunctioned in a third-floor duplex. The apartment had multiple space heaters, authorities said.
The apartment’s self-closing front door also failed to close, and another door on the 15th floor that was open created a flue, officials said, sucking smoke upward so thickly through a stairwell that some of those who tried to flee down its steps collapsed and died.
Mariama Sankara, who married into the Touray family, said she too used three space heaters in her apartment.
“It’s very cold. You have to put extra heat,” she said, standing in the hallway of one of the hotels where the city has placed survivors. She looked tired. “That building, it was just so crazy. No security, no heating, the maintenance was bad,” Ms. Sankara said.
Heat complaints filed with the city by tenants in the building had been resolved, according to city records. A spokeswoman for the building’s owners said the door of the apartment where the fire broke out had been repaired last summer.
Mr. Touray’s apartment, the one that began the wave of immigrants who settled there, was just two doors down the hall.
The Touray family said authorities have told them that it would take them six to eight weeks to be able to return and retrieve their belongings, even valuable paperwork.
Touray Tower, they said, is no more.
“A lot of people don’t want to move back, you know, they’re traumatized,” said Magundo Touray. “It’s not going to be the same, and that makes me sad.”
Lola Fadulu, Anne Barnard and Amy Julia Harris contributed reporting. Susan C. Beachy contributed research.
Carrots Have These 8 Amazing, Surprising Health Benefits
Initially, the vegetable originated in the geological area and the Asian United States, and it was initially only available in purple and yellow hues. Carrots are an excellent source of beta carotene, a natural mineral introduced by the body to provide sustenance, and they are high in fibre.
Carrots, which are crunchy, orange, and delicious, provide a variety of benefits to our health, pores, skin, and hair. These don’t appear to be particularly tasty, but they are loaded with numerous important nutrients, for example, beta-carotene, cell reinforcements, potassium, fibre, sustenance K, and so on.
Carrots are cultivated to promote eye health, lower dangerous LDL cholesterol, and aid in weight loss. Let’s put it to the test and find out why carrots are so good for you!
The following are twelve effective edges you might get from carrots:
1. Supports gadget
Most importantly, carrots contain a few phytochemicals that are well-known for their cancer-causing properties. Carotenoids and carotenoids are present in more than one of these associations. Overall, compounds create resistance and activate specific proteins that prevent the growth of most tumor cells. An investigation reveals on a screen that carrot juice can also fight leukemia.
2. Advances Glowing Skin
Investigate tips that stop outcome, and vegetables well off in those composites will finish pores and pores and skin ground and work with people’s appearances, thus making them more noteworthy young.
3. Fortifies Bones
Carrots are high in vitamins, minerals, and cancer-fighting agents. Vitamins B6 and K, potassium, phosphorous, and other minerals contribute to bone health, a more durable, and help with mental performance. Aside from selling the body to free extreme annihilation, cancer prevention agents keep an eye on the casing in the course of dangerous microbes, infections, and diseases. Physical cell digestion is managed by the ophthalmic component. Carotenoids have been linked to improved bone health.
4. Advances Male physiological circumstance (ED)
These fruitfulness meals may increase the number of sperm cells and their motility. According to research, this is a direct result of the fake carotenoids found in carrots, which are responsible for the vegetable’s orange color. However, it is still unknown whether carrots can improve sperm enjoyment and motility. Carrots are being tried to improve food for male physiological conditions and erectile dysfunction. Cenforce FM and Cenforce D can be used to treat impotency.
5. Keeps From Cancer and Stroke
Carrots have an unusual endowment in that they are loaded down with anti-cancer resources that will depress the cells’ blast. Essentially, studies have discovered that carrots can reduce the risk of a variety of diseases, including colon, breast, and prostate cancer.
6. Further develops the natural framework Health
Carrots contain a significant amount of dietary fibre, which plays an important role in supporting healthy stomach function. Fibre expands your stool, allowing it to pass more easily through the stomach-related plot and preventing stoppage.
7. Assists with managing polygenic affliction and basic sign
Carrots are high in fibre, which promotes cardiovascular health by lowering LDL cholesterol levels in veins and blood vessels. Calcium is absorbed through the frame of carrots, resulting in low but dangerous cholesterol levels.
Carrots have an unbalanced fibre content. An investigation found that advanced fibre consumption improves aldohexose digestion in people with the polygenic disorder. Following a healthy, well-balanced diet and maintaining a healthy weight can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Inconsistencies in glucose digestion may require a high level to combat aerophilic strain, and this is frequently where the inhibitor nutrients dilettanti ophthalmic thing axerophthol fats-solvent sustenance may also benefit.
According to one review, juice provided a 5 wrinkle inside the beat fundamental sign. The supplements in carrot juice, with fibre, K, nitrates, and vitamin C, have all been obtained to help this final product.
8. Advances Healthy Heart
To begin with, each cancer prevention agent is beneficial to your coronary heart. Furthermore, at 0.33, they should contain fibre, which can help you stay in shape and lower your chances of having a heart attack.
9. Forestalls devolution
Edges that are hostile to ophthalmic detail ensure the floor of the eye and provide a sharp inventiveness and perception. Taking juice will help to delay many eye diseases, such as macular degeneration, cataracts, and visual impairment. Overall, carrots contain lutein, which is an inhibitor that protects the eye from obliterating light.
10. Works on urinary organ and Liver perform
Carrots contain glutathione. Cell reinforcement has been shown to be effective in treating liver disease caused by aerophilic strains. The greens are high in plant flavonoids and beta-carotene, both of which stimulate and develop your popular liver component. Carrots contain carotenoid, which can help fight liver problems.
11. Palatable Anti-Aging
Along with carrots on your regular food, you will appreciate limiting the way you get more seasoned. Furthermore, beta-carotene functions as an inhibitor that advances cell harm, which happens as a result of the casing’s normal digestion.
12. Advances Weight Loss
Uncooked Carrots are 88% water when raw or ebb and flow. A regular carrot has the lowest difficulty level of 25 energy. Taking everything into consideration, including carrots in your diet is a wise way to fuel yourself while collecting calories.