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Cabbie Finally Gets Award After Not Being Invited to National Arts Club Ceremony in His Honor

By Amy Zimmer | March 4, 2011 3:08pm | Updated on March 4, 2011 3:06pm

By Amy Zimmer

DNAinfo News Editor

DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — New York City cab driver Zubiru Jalloh received his proclamation on Friday from the Brooklyn Borough president — and received several calls in the morning from Marty Markowitz's office to make sure he would be attending.

No one wanted a repeat of Tuesday's snafu, when the National Arts Club scheduled an award ceremony for Jalloh, but never invited him to the event at their landmark building in Gramercy Park. The award was a thank-you to Jalloh for returning a reported $100,000 worth of jewelry, art, photos and cash left in his taxi's backseat by John James, the twin brother of club president O. Aldon James.

"This morning they called me three times to make sure I'm going to be coming," laughed Jalloh, who has become become a hero from here to his native land of Sierra Leone. "I don't know what happened the other day. No one ever told me to come."

The club, which organized Tuesday's event, forgot to extend the invitation to Jalloh, sources said.

Jalloh took the snub in stride and was beaming with pride after receiving his award on Friday. The Aldon brothers came from Gramercy Park to Brooklyn Borough Hall to attend the ceremony, along with Taxi and Limousine Commissioner David Yassky.

"Zubiru, you are an inspiration," Markowitz told him. "I speak not only on behalf of John James, but also all of Brooklyn. You do our borough, our city, our nation and yes, Sierra Leone proud!"

When Jalloh returned the bag to the club, John James gave the driver a $1,000 reward — which Jalloh initially rejected — and invited him to a club party that week — which Jalloh declined.

James extended another invitation to Jalloh to join him for dinner in the club's dining room.

"It was the second time he asked," said Jalloh, who wasn't sure whether he'll accept. "Let me see what my schedule is," he said

Jalloh, a father of three who lives in Crown Heights, is busy working to pay the mortgage on his $410,000 taxi medallion.

"I'm working 12 hours a day six days a week," he said, "barely I can survive."

But he remains hopeful. "I'm going to see if I can life myself from the bottom to the top," he said.