The weather was strange and uncompromising. It was minus five. It had never been that cold in the history of The Gambia with freckles of snow sprinkling on trees and rooftops. People across the country lit and camped around fire to stay warm. There was always a palpable sense of worry whenever the cold season arrived, and that wouldn’t normally go below 15 degrees. This time, however, the cold was the last of their worries. Accompanying the arctic conditions were ominous clouds hovering like the Sword of Damocles with occasional lightning zipping lines in the skies. Muslims ran to mosques. Christians ran to churches. Atheists hid under beds. Even animals knew something extra-terrestrial was in the offing. The howls of wolves from afar. The bleating of goats from loafing sheds. The moaning of beach revellers rushing home. It would be foolhardy to think it was just snow and rain in a tropical weather. By 4pm on that fateful Friday, heavy rains started falling. The clouds darkened the country and Nawec’s obsolete generators couldn’t stand the pressures of nature as The Gambia descended into mayhem. All of a sudden, night came at day time. It poured down like it was the end of time.
The worst nightmares became realities. There were flash floods. Despair and destruction. Reports reached State House that the sea was frighteningly rising and if the rains continued into the night, the whole capital could be washed away before dawn. PAB immediately set out to the beach to see for himself the threats. In a white T-shirt and blue khaki jeans, grey rain boots and a black hat, with his bodyguard holding a green umbrella over his head, PAB inspected the sea and passed instructions that it was time to evacuate the city. Half of his delegation disappeared into the neighbourhoods and, door-to-door, informed Banjulians of the president’s orders to find sanctuary outside the island capital. While terror and confusion gripped Banjul, and the evacuations in helter-skelter, PAB stood and watched the sea roar and waves repeatedly hit the shores as though it was sending a message. Therein, he knew the worst was yet to come for the capital.
Then, something strange happened. He wanted to turn back and head home but he couldn’t move. He tried to speak to his guard who still appeared to be holding the umbrella but, despite his legendary biting Mandinka proficiency, couldn’t even stammer a word out. Everything and everyone looked motionless. He felt cold and overwhelmed. He instantly regretted not going back early and feared for what was coming but accepted that perfection is death and when it is time, it is time. In a matter of minutes, he could see approaching interplanetary creations with a blinding aura. Focusing just above the sea, standing straight and still like a mannequin, he watched as five colossal figures majestically descended to earth and headed toward him. Being president made him understand the dynamics of power and straightaway he knew, based on the rhythmic movement of the five creatures, there was something being guarded. My time is up! The Angel of Death has arrived, he thought. A million scary things rushed into his head but the creatures were scarier. So, he stayed put because even his eyes couldn’t be rolled. “Oh Adama, I am God” a voice said, flanked by two angels on either side and one in front.
On the right was Sorath, which mounted on a glistening staff like a horse, sulked and suspended just above PAB’s head and, in spectacle, majestically moved around like murmuration of starlings in Rome. Next to Sorath was Ose, who was as high as Buddha’s Hand in Guangdong, permeating other-worldly translucence and beaming the seaside like thousand lightbulbs. Ose was the leader of angels, who God was not happy with but selected him for this special mission to earth. Then on the left was a frightening figure Apollyon, like the seraph, flapping four wings while the other two wings steadily spread under the papyrus, which appeared to be The Book of Life.
Next to Apollyon was Abaddon, the most fearsome of the choir. Similar to the Indian gharial, a long snout and teeth sticking out with eyeballs bulging, Abaddon descended like a feather in wind and exhaled a stench which went straight to PAB’s heart. The leader was Ipos, a lion-headed gigantic creature with swivelling ears of a caracal and bigger than the Independence Stadium. The rest of the accompanying angels, in millions, were invisible to PAB but he could feel their skin-tingling presence.
Shaking and trembling, PAB asked the entourage who among them was God and why Apollyon was carrying The Book of Life, scared that his time was actually up. “None of them is God, oh Adama. I am. But you cannot see Me,” the voice replied.
Relieved, PAB bowed down to his Maker and addressed Him with reverence and respect. “You didn’t tell me You were coming. I could have informed Gambians to line up the streets and given you a godly welcome to the Smiling Coast of Africa.”
God: “I do not involve mere mortals in My plans.”
PAB: “Let me call Sabally to open the meeting with a prayer. Are You aware that he has now mounted on the NPP grey horse? He was the commando of Baba; I am the commander-in-chief. I commanded him to come and he obeyed without complaints. Now he is Barrow La Generalo. Asonta! I will fara fara UDP until there is no grass remaining.”
A protracted silence ensued. The angels frowned. The voice deadened. PAB felt as gutless as a skeleton. He pulled himself together and broke the ice, hoping The Big Man in the sky’s silence wasn’t anger and the conversation could smoothly resume.
PAB: “For a moment, I thought these angels are here to take my life. I would have blamed the OIC Summit. It is trying to outlive me like it did AJJ.”
God: “Don’t you worry. You will live for a very long time. Why don’t you grow beards? Men who don’t have beards are children.”
PAB: “AJJ didn’t have beards, nor did Sir Dawda. I thought it was a requirement to be president.”
God: “I made this country centuries ago with dozens of other countries. All of them have developed except The Gambia. I am not happy and you have been going around, beating your chest that you killed the lion. The only thing you can kill is kong, even that is delivered to you dead and cooked. Oh Adama, I took you from being a security guard in foreign land to the presidency. Be humble, Adama, because in humility there are both honour and pleasure. Don’t listen to people who dare you to do things for they will only lead you astray. You have a bigger task of developing this country. Why are you not focusing on that but constantly throwing grenade into opposition camps?”
PAB: “It is AJJ’s fault. He refused to go in peace and since his exit, he has been threatening to return. I cannot concentrate on work with him persistently sending WhatsApp audios from the other side of the world inciting people against me.”
God: “Forget about Yahya. I made him president and I took it from him. He cannot even swat a fly now. A dog can bark at the moon but it can never bring it down. You have bigger problems. The country is losing its soul. Hundreds of young people are dying in the seas because they are running away. Why do you think they are running away? They are hopeless and helpless. Create jobs and give each youth 40 acres and a mule; somewhere to start and none of them will risk becoming cannon fodder.”
PAB: “I have been sad about the deaths and I have made a decision to enact a law to prosecute all the smugglers for killing our youths. This is a tragedy I am not taking lightly.”
God: “The smugglers are not the problem, Adama. The problem is sheer corruption. Poorly paid civil servants are paradoxically the richest, building mansions and having foreign bank accounts. You know their salaries cannot make them afford those buildings even if they live for 2,000 years. They are thieves who have run down public institutions and you know them. I order you to arrest them and take them to court for pillaging taxpayers’ money. Don’t treat corruption with velvet gloves because a corrupt person is a mortal danger to society. The Gambia is not poor; it is leaking. Pluck the leaks and you wouldn’t need to increase taxes. Drug abuse and trafficking, oh Adama. On your watch, this country is turning into a narco-state. If you don’t eliminate drugs, you cannot leave a good legacy.”
Staring into the eyes of five titanic creatures who could snap life out of him in a blink, PAB was in no position to argue with whoever the voice was. He agreed and God segued into the next topic.
God: “I am ordering you to close all betting centres. A nation whose people rely on betting is a soul-less nation. I chose you to instil commitment and hard work into Gambians, not allowing them to bet and play abracadabra. Gambling and usury make Me angry. If these things continue, I will flood River Gambia and turn everyone into fish. I will spare no one. Even trees and animals will be crushed to smithereens. My wrath knows no bounds.”
The wrath of God terrified PAB to a great length. He has heard it so many times when God destroyed nations for indulging in depravities. Frightened and submissive, he nodded and vowed: “Dear God, on this Friday that you love, I promise to do better than what Dr Ismaila Ceesay promised and failed. He said he will tile Sukuta, I will tile Mankamang Kunda.”
God: “Maintain pace and preach faithfulness. Fight corruption and drugs. In return, you will rule for a billion years.”
Elated about continuity, knowing he wouldn’t have to fight for another term, PAB took a long breath, looked straight to where the voice emanated, on bended knees he beseeched: “Being president of this country makes me a chief beggar. We don’t have any natural resources to develop on our own without aid or taking loans. Please give me something.”
God: “I have made this country and hidden in it treasures beyond quantification. River Gambia is full to the brim of diamonds, coltan and oil, enough to enrich the entire continent.”
Adama’s face lit up and showed his shiny teeth upon hearing about hidden treasures: “I will buy as many septic tanks as possible and dry up the river. I will even seize the tanks Yankuba Darboe bought for Brikama Area Council. Like a frog and all in its gut belonging to mansa dibong (a ground hornbill), everything at the council belongs to my government.”
God: “Before I ascend to The Throne, no one is a witness to this meeting. The people you’re seeing here are all asleep; in some kind of reverie. I froze them. I did that so that you will not spend the next five years telling people you met God and that Dou Sanno is your witness.”
PAB: “I am just curious. My political godfather, Baba Ousainu, will he succeed me?”
Incensed and unsurprised at the same time, God, in His infinite wisdom, ascended into the heavens along with His choir of angels. “Ousainu has opposition in even my cabinet,” the last words dropped on him like a tonne of bricks and knocked him into consciousness. PAB looked around and found himself seated in the lounge of the State House. There was quietude. He breathed in and out slowly as if he didn’t want to wake a sleeping dog. It was just a dream after all. But he refused to believe so for God does not appear in dreams. This was a revelation. In that moment, eyes up and index finger pointed to the ceiling, PAB vowed to fix the mess in the country and kill even the sacred cows.
“Henceforth, I will face the problems and stop playing the ostrich. This new year, Gambians will see a different political animal. As God Himself just ordained, I will fight corruption and drugs, even if it means not seeking another mandate. I have to win the Mo Ibrahim Prize.”
Inspired by Sheriff Bojang’s Three Men Visit God published when I was in diapers.