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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Fake love

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By Dr Cherno Omar Barry,
President of Writers Association of The Gambia


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Ebou Gaye holds two MA degrees, a BA Honours degree, diplomas and certificates from different learning institutions in The Gambia, Saudi Arabia, France and the United Kingdom. He has touched on different disciplines in his academic and professional pursuits and obtained qualifications in Modern Languages (Arabic, French and English), Linguistics, Literary Studies, Education, Management and Administration. 

Ebou Gaye has vast experience in research, writing and editing/proofreading. He has written two novels (published in 1997 and 2010) and a large number of articles in different languages. Additionally, he has edited/proofread books, articles, scripts, academic works, reports and documents of various types. Ebou started writing and editing as a student at Gambia High School in the 80s. There, he wrote articles in magazines and served as a member of editorial board. Ebou also wrote and edited magazine articles as a student at King Saud University in Saudi Arabia. He later wrote articles in the Daily Observer newspaper of The Gambia and online newspapers. Ebou won the 2000 Outstanding Features Writer Award of the Observer Company. In 1997, he was awarded a Certificate of Appreciation as a writer by the Senegalese Students’ Union in Saudi Arabia. 

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Ebou Gaye has a wealth of experience in teaching/lecturing. He has taught different subjects at secondary and tertiary levels. He has been working as Adjunct Lecturer at the University of The Gambia since 2017. Besides, Ebou is experienced in public administration/management, translation and interpreting. He has worked with the Gambia government and had stints at different ministries/departments.


Excerpt from Fake Love

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“It’s good for a man to have two wives in order to be cared for very well, but marrying more than two women can impose a very heavy burden on him. The idea of men taking two wives also serves the interest of women, because women are more than men and some would be left out if each man limited himself to one wife. What are your views on the issue of polygamy?”

“Let me first state that I fully understand why you have said two is the ideal number when it comes to marrying women. You are championing bigamy while trying to discourage monogamy and polygamy at the same time. You want to be taken on board the vehicle but you don’t want another woman to join you. This reminds me of the saying of a polygamist that Gambian women are willing to join but unwilling to be joined. Put in other words, an unmarried Gambian woman may want to join another woman as a co-wife but once established in her seat, she wouldn’t want another woman to join her. I think you are trying to avoid being sandwiched. As some women told me, a sandwiched wife is the second of three wives belonging to the same husband. According to them, this is a very difficult situation, as the first and third wives normally collude against the second. A friend of mine tried to refute the sandwich theory arguing that it’s untenable because any two of the three wives or all the three can be friends or enemies. He branded the ladies who advanced it jealous women saying that they have invented the theory with the sole aim of campaigning against polygamy. As for me, I’m inclined to believe in the plausibility of the sandwich theory. In summary, I see some elements of truth in it. The first wife may see the second as her ouster and thus will have no sympathy for her when she too is ousted but rejoices and tries to befriend the third wife who has ousted her. The third wife, being new, may need a friend who can keep her company and put her through in matters pertaining to the household, and hence accepts the first wife as a friend. To me, polygamy has advantages and disadvantages, depending on the perspective from which it is viewed. As you have said, it can help solve the problem of women, as few women want to remain spinsters throughout their lives. Polygamous men may benefit from the support and care of their wives, which every man needs. There is a saying ‘Behind every successful man is a woman’. If this is true, the saying ‘More wives more success’ may hold water. The proponents of polygamy liken monogamy to a situation where a man has a single tooth in his mouth. This analogy sounds funny but is grounded in the belief that a man becomes more successful and enjoys his life better when he has more than one wife. However, polygamy may lead to jealousy and animosity among women, which impacts negatively on the family concerned as a whole. It can also prove to be a heavy load on the husband as you have rightly said. So, men should make sure that they have the means to cater for the needs of all their wives and children and are willing and able to treat them fairly before venturing into polygamy. There is no point marrying a bus-load of women without the ability to fulfil one’s obligations towards them and the family at large. That’s irrational to me. To cut a long story short, I’m not averse to polygamy, but I am not an advocate of the practice.”


Jatou started a conversation on the topic of marriage, presenting the case of a lady called Maimuna residing in Canada:

“Maimuna had a fiancé in France but was not loyal to him despite his financial and moral support. She stayed at the house of one of her numerous boyfriends in Canada. Her neighbour, an old woman, advised her to kick out her bad habit of cheating on her fiancé by dealing with multiple boyfriends, but she didn’t pay heed.  The old woman got fed up with her and thus decided to expose her. She called her fiancé and gave him the names of all her boyfriends and their addresses. Angered by her obnoxious behaviour, the fiancé called her to protest. She vehemently denied having a single boyfriend, claiming that her detractors might have given him a false report to tarnish her image. But she was taken aback when her fiancé read out the names of her boyfriends and their addresses on the phone. She was so stupefied that she couldn’t hold the handset any longer. The handset dropped on the floor as she trembled violently. When she recovered from her shock, she called her fiancé, weeping bitterly on the phone, asking for his forgiveness.”

Ya Rose was the first to comment on Maimuna’s attitude:

“Maimuna is treacherous. Her attitude is very bad. It smears the reputation of women in general by making men believe that all women are the same, which is not the case. She should be loyal to her fiancé. Cheating doesn’t pay.”

Next was Omar Jobe:

“Maimuna was playing double by keeping a fiancé and boyfriends. Some women do that, thinking that they are clever. They cherish the illusion that they can outsmart any man they meet. They get it totally wrong because that can’t last long. They must be caught one day as is the case with Maimuna, or outwitted by men of their match. Women like Maimuna don’t respect themselves. They are materially-minded. Men see them as cheap women who can be accessed by every Tom, Dick and Harry. Shame on them! A woman who respects herself adheres to one man at a time rather than dealing with many men at the same time. The old woman did the right thing. That’s what is expected of a good person. What she did was in the best interest of both Maimuna and her fiancé. If you live with somebody like Maimuna, you should advise her and expose her if she turns deaf ears to your advice. Otherwise, you will be seen as an accomplice.”

“But Ya Rose is right. Not all women are the same,” said Jatou.

“I quite agree with you on that point. There are women of principle. They cannot be influenced by material resources because they respect themselves. Their conscience would not allow them to accept gifts or money from a man they are not ready to get married with. This should be the case. I know a Gambian lady called Ellen who falls under such category of principled women. She turned down a highly educated, renowned Gambian intellectual with a lucrative United Nations job in the United States of America, when he approached her with a marriage proposal. Ellen rejected the proposal on the grounds that she was not yet ready for marriage. Ironically, another lady by the name Na Bintou was endeavouring to beguile the man at the time but to no avail. The man, being reasonable as expected of him, did not feel bad but extolled Ellen for her honesty, sincerity and frankness. After observing the two ladies, the man told his friends that Ellen’s behaviour was more decorous and acceptable to him than that of Na Bintou whom he suspected of trying to lure him into a fake love affair. According to him, Na Bintou was only interested in his wealth and status as an international diplomat, whereas Ellen, whom he regarded as a woman of integrity, wouldn’t be tempted by material resources. I hail women like Ellen,” said Omar Jobe. “To me, women should be ready to get married for the sake of marriage and …” he added.

Ya Rose interrupted to complete his statement, saying, “… accept the outcome, whatever it is.”  

Omar Jobe tabled the case of Ebrima who lost both his first and second wives as a result of his betrayal of the first: 

“After wedding a second wife, Ebrima provoked his first wife and had a quarrel with her, which he used to ask her out of his house. As she started packing her belongings to leave, the second wife followed suit. Ebrima, who was flabbergasted, asked the bride why she was packing. She replied that she had decided to leave with the first wife because he would treat her in the same manner he had treated the first wife in case he took another wife, and that she considered it wiser to leave than to wait to be ejected. Hence, the first wife vacated the house with her two little girls and the second wife, leaving Ebrima in solitude and misery.”

“That served Ebrima right!” interjected Jatou.

“The bride acted right. That is the best way to deal with a perfidious person. It’s simple logic. If she stayed, Ebrima might cast her out after marrying another woman. Men like Ebrima are very dangerous to women. They term women as materials that should be used and jettisoned when they are worn out. What a nasty game! Such men are stone-hearted. They are a disgrace to us,” Omar Jobe put in.

Dominating the conversation, Omar Jobe dilated on the criteria to be used in choosing a wife. He voiced against men who use beauty as their main criterion, referring to them as misguided men. According to him, the character of a woman should be taken as top priority, for marriage becomes fragile and cannot be enjoyed in default of good character, even if other motivating factors are present. To him, beauty is not as important as many men consider it to be. “Beauty fades away with age and familiarity, and love diminishes as a result. In such a case, it’s only good manners that can salvage marriage,” he theorised.

As usual, a conversation on marriage was ignited, with Jatou first presenting two cases of betrayal, followed by comments:

“A sister-in-law of a newly-wed lady, who was eavesdropping when she was speaking on the phone, heard her telling her boyfriend that she didn’t love her husband but agreed to be married to him just to get American papers and that she would break away and go to the boyfriend soon after achieving her aim. The sister-in-law, without wasting time, reported the matter to her mother who, in turn, rang and informed her son. Being so infuriated, the bridegroom divorced the bride instantly and gave her family an instruction to evict her from their self-contained house where she was lodged.”

“The bride is greedy,” said Ya Rose.

“The boyfriend is to blame,” said Omar Tunkara.

“The boyfriend can be reproached for his ill-intention of allowing the lady to separate with her husband to return to him. It is folly for him to accept the lady back knowing to his finger tips that she is materially-minded but not sincerely interested in marriage. Unless he has an ulterior motive as the lady had at the time of her marriage, he won’t let her come back. Only a foolish, immature man deals with a woman after knowing that she plays double. Rebuffing her is the best option. She will learn a bitter lesson by losing both men if he repudiates her. That may serve as a deterrent to her and women of her ilk. The lady lacks decorum and self-esteem. Only an unscrupulous woman exchanges her honour for material resources. The bridegroom cannot be blamed. He has taken the right measure. Sincerity is the key word. Whatever we do, we have to do it with sincerity,” Omar Jobe reacted.

“A lady was married to a man residing in Germany. The man took a lot of photos with her in The Gambia on the day of the wedding and placed them in his sitting room when he returned to Germany. On seeing the photos, the man’s friends told him plainly that they knew the lady very well as a double-dealer. However, the man didn’t take the words of his friends seriously. To prove their claim beyond reasonable doubt, each of the friends took photos with the lady as her boyfriend while vacationing in The Gambia. Upon arrival in Germany, they put the photos in the sitting room as the husband did, without saying anything to him. He flew into a rage when he saw the photos and thus filed his divorce.”

“That lady is cheap!” the listeners shouted in unison when Jatou finished her narration.

“She has no scruples! She and the bride are tarred with the same brush. Both of them value material more than dignity, which prompted them to deal with more than one man at a time. They think they are intelligent but that’s an erroneous view. Some men capitalise on the greed of such women to abuse them,” added Omar Jobe.

Ya Rose was looking very uncomfortable during Omar Jobe’s narrations and comments. At one point, she rose up to leave but Omar Jobe appealed to her to wait for a while. Hardly had Omar Jobe finished his comments on the last case than Ya Rose fell off her chair and hit the floor with a bang. She opened her mouth and eyes widely, kicking her legs in the air. After a while, she clenched her teeth and closed her mouth and eyes tightly, lying on the floor motionless like a corpse for about ten minutes.  Jatou ran into the kitchen, brought a cup of water and emptied it on her face, with a large quantity of the water entering her nostrils. Ya Rose sneezed and opened her eyes. Jatou lifted her up, carried her on her right shoulder like a sack of onions and walked to the stairs which she climbed hurriedly, jumping steps in some instances. On reaching the topmost steps of the stairway, Jatou stumbled and lost grip of Ya Rose as she struggled to regain her balance. Ya Rose crashed down with a very high velocity, like an iron ball slung from the top of a skyscraper.  She fell heavily on the steps at the bottom of the staircase, with her head landing first.

Absorbed in thoughts, Omar Tunkara lay in the sofa in the sitting room with his palms on his cheeks and his eyes fixed on the ceiling:

The situation is really enigmatic. Why was Ya Rose so concerned about Omar Jobe’s betrayal cases to the extent of fainting at the end of his comments on them? Is she linked to the cases in any way? This incident is a bad omen. I have made a rash decision by entering into a relationship with this lady and promising to marry her. But how could I resist the temptation? How could I turn her down with the love, loyalty, care and commitment she showed me? But is it not risky to continue the relationship with this incident serving as foreboding of a doom. I think I have to pull out. No, withdrawal at this point is not a good alternative. I have to mount an investigation to gain a deeper insight into her conduct before making a final decision. After all, how can I tell her that I want to withdraw? How can I part with a lady who always calls me ‘Honey’ and ‘Treasure’ besides my first name ‘Omar’, pleasant names my wives never call me? How can I split up with a fiancée who always thinks of me to the extent of seeing me in her dreams while slumbering or even having a siesta? Is it easy to withdraw from a relationship with a lady who cannot have sound sleep without gazing at and kissing my photos? How can I turn my back on a woman who always smiles for me unlike my frowning wives? How can I separate with a fiancée who is always at my service, ready to go out with me anywhere at any time? How can I forsake such a beautiful lady suddenly? Is there any man who doesn’t want a charming, presentable wife? I cannot afford to lose such a precious asset.  I hope she will recover soon. I must forge ahead. But digging out information about her is crucially important and should not be overlooked.

Omar Jobe was engrossed in deep thoughts while in the bus returning to Dewsbury:  

This lady is insincere and dangerous. She is not genuinely interested in marriage. She has a hidden agenda. She must be looking for something. She does not love me. Maybe she does not love Omar Tunkara either. How can she change her mind all of a sudden with the pleasurable promises and praises she has heaped on me? How can she accept Omar Tunkara as a fiancé with her views against polygamy? Is it that she does not know that the man is a bigamist? Maybe she knows the marital status of the man but believes that it will be easy for her to get what she is looking for if she is married to him. Ya Rose can do anything she believes will enable her to achieve her goal, irrespective of the consequences. Undoubtedly, she is capable of doing what Ndey Awa has done. Ya Rose may be behaving cheaply now to give Omar Tunkara the impression that she loves him sincerely but will give him the boot after attaining her objective.  So, I am lucky that I did not rush to marry her as she wished. If I married her, I might suffer the fate of Ndey Awa’s husband who suffered a heart attack and died after being discarded by his disloyal wife. Thank God. History will not repeat itself in this respect. But is Omar Tunkara to blame for entering into a relationship with Ya Rose? Maybe, may not. Maybe Ya Rose approached him in the same way she approached me. Maybe she used a more tactful approach to entice him. He is to blame if he knew of my relationship with Ya Rose or bypassed LT and Jatou. But is it possible that LT and Jatou are not aware of Omar Tunkara’s relationship with Ya Rose? Maybe Ya Rose and Omar Tunkara have decided to keep their relationship secret thinking that the couple would not entertain it because of me, if they knew of it. Ya Rose would not mind bypassing the couple, but what about Omar Tunkara? Would he keep his brother and his spouse in the dark? If so, he must be blinded by love. Is Omar Tunkara aware of my relationship with Ya Rose? It is very likely that he is aware, given the way I used to speak with the lady on the phone in his presence. Would he care if he knew? He would mind if he took my friendship with his brother into account. He would care if he considered the danger of dealing with a betrayer and the immorality of the act of snatching a fiancée from her fiancé. But a man intoxicated with love can disregard all these important factors and do what pleases him. As for me, I must back out, even if Omar Tunkara withdraws or the lady changes her mind and dumps him in my favour. But I shall not let her know my position. I will keep on pretending that I am still committed to the proposal and do not understand her tricks. I will be calling her and visiting her at the hospital to console her as a humanitarian gesture. I will be praying for her speedy recovery wherever I am.

Ya Rose was rolling and groaning in pain and agony on her hospital bed. However, she couldn’t suppress the deep thoughts in which she was immersed:

I have made a mistake. I am the one who said to Omar Jobe that whosoever betrays a fellow human being will see the repercussions one day. I am the very one who said in his presence that cheating does not pay. I am the one who labelled Maimuna a treacherous woman discrediting her fellow women with her double-dealing attitude. I should not have entered into a relationship with two men at the same time. I should have limited myself to Omar Jobe or at least asked him to excuse me before starting my relationship with Omar Tunkara. Omar Jobe once informed me that he wanted to excuse me. I felt bad and convinced him to carry on. So, I should have heeded the golden rule ‘Do onto others as you would like others to do onto you’ in the way I deal with him.  But I was not sure who would be the first to marry me. It was not safe for me to drop one, not knowing for sure whether the other one would marry me. I might stand to lose both men and fail to secure what I am looking for if I did that. I acted wisely by keeping both men.  But now that things have come to light and this has happened, I should tell Omar Jobe the truth. He has understood my game. He is no longer interested in my relationship with him. There is no way I can fool him into trusting and marrying me. I have to try my best to maintain my relationship with Omar Tunkara. It is easier to get financial support with him. Above all, it will be easier to secure European papers with him. Omar Jobe tends to care so much about his wife and three children in The Gambia. With him, the chances of getting financial support and European papers are very slim. It could be easy to get a divorce from both men after obtaining papers since both of them are Muslims, but Omar Tunkara is a better candidate than Omar Jobe. But how easy can it be with Omar Tunkara who loves me so much? Will he not be reluctant to divorce me if I request it after securing papers?  It can be very easy. Since he is blinded by love, he can spend money on me at the expense of his two wives and the children of his first wife whom he divorced sometime back. In so doing, he may face pressure to divorce me or risk losing both wives and sour his relation with his children, which he may not be able to afford. If he is unwilling to divorce me after helping me with papers, I can simply ditch him. But how can I extricate myself from the mental torture I am faced with? I should run away. No.  That’s not the solution. I cannot disentangle myself from this imbroglio by fleeing. They say you can run but you cannot hide. After all, how can I hide from Omar Jobe who communicates constantly with the demons? My informers are right. Omar Jobe’s grandfathers used to communicate with the demons. He acquired his knowledge of communicating with the demons from his grandfathers. There is no doubt that he communicates with the demons. Otherwise, how could he know all these things about me? He is a dangerous guy. He is not to trifle with. I must apologise to him. But is it not too late to do that? Maybe it is late but better late than never. It will be difficult but I have to take the bull by the horns. I am sure he will forgive me as he used to do if I apologise to him. He can always forgive. He took this virtue from his father who is renowned for forgiving as he once told me. He will forgive me. Like father like son. Like mother

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