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City of Banjul
Saturday, May 25, 2024

From Jollof With Love

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Your Excellency Field Marshall Matthew Andrews
Commander -in-Chief of all Defence Forces
Agitator-in-Chief Behind the Scenes
Decider-in-Chief of Racial Superiority (or Inferiority)

I do not know which name you would prefer for your faces are many…and your names even more. I write to you from the Smiling Coast of Africa which you would better know as The Gambia. We are the unfortunate finger pointing into this dark continent. Yes that’s us right there in the middle of Senegal. How dare you assume that the entire territory was actually one of Senegal’s rivers. We are a strong people with a strong history. You might have heard of some of our founding fathers. No not Kwame Nkrumah…that would be Ghana. Who? Biko? No we named a football team after the great man but he did not hail from here. Anyway, I blame this on your ignorance. You haven’t read enough books. You should quit sipping on whatever it is you have in that crystal glass of yours. Whatever it is, I’m sure it kills.

Talking of death, we have been the luckier ones. At least I still have enough wood to knock on. I fear for you. How will you curse the devil and knock on wood when you have no trees? We still have trees and lots of it. We have a beautiful beach too! You should see it! Golden sand it is, of course laced with intervals of dirt and filth. But sand in itself is dirt…no? I would have told you what to see at the beach but you see, our beach is reserved for you and your kind. You see…we are the Smiling Coast. We do not get depressed or frustrated so we do not need the beach. That is for you! If we had the ability to be depressed we would have had a population of one and he would have been a tourist…and he would have been a he.

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Oh but why am I writing to you now? I mean after centuries of oppression, slavery, genocide (and by genocide I do not even mean the ones of the 20th century) and more nonsense. I have a certain itch behind my ears you see. I hear it is you I must speak to whenever a dreaded disease comes my way. The doctors you sent my way have tried every bit of magic known in the book but have come out with nothing. I have tried our own too. One of them made me drink some thick black liquid and told me to pretend it was tomato juice. I did not tell him I hate tomato juice. I mean who drinks a tomato anyway!?!? So I drank it and after months of stomachache and fever the itch around my ear went away…only to come back after the stomach ache and fever also disappeared. Let’s just say I am back at square one.

Before we get back to my ear, I feel I should make good use of this opportunity. My people have discovered your Internet. I hope it was not an experiment gone wrong? If it turns out that all you wanted was to see us make a fool of ourselves for your entertainment, I would be very upset. We started with Internet cafes in every street and every corner right next to the tele-center. Right now, every boy and their mama has it on some sophisticated phone. So our needs have changed sir. When you list your areas of intervention at your next grand meeting do not forget to add cellphones to our list of needs…right after air and water. How else do you expect us to nag about your people and the many atrocities they commit? How else do you expect us to post photos of ourselves just outside the entrance to the beach?

Kind sir, you have forgotten about us it seems. Is it no longer necessary for you to start a war in this part of the world? I mean, how much oil should we have to be considered? So because all we have (sorry scratch that…I mean had) is peanuts we are not worthy? Because even our peanuts are substandard so we do not deserve your bombs and your guns? How expensive are your boots? Perhaps you could send some our way. These groundnuts fields are a health hazard!

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Oh and we sing! You must have heard of our culture. We sing even when we talk. All these African Americans you see on your TV networks, I can assure you that their forefathers hail from The Gambia…except if they look like Macy Gray. Those are probably from…. Have you seen the way we are cut? Our women are the most beautiful in West Africa. They are a rare mix of straight nosed Fulani, big black-eyed Malinkè, full lips Hausa with the dominant height of the Wolof. They do not know it however…or perhaps they ignore it. Ignorance is bliss!! So yeah, you might not admit their beauty because they don’t like their natural hair. It’s tough to deal with so I don’t blame them. Their hair is just as stubborn as they are. Gambian women bite! Beware…you do not want to get on their bad side. I run away from them and they interpret it as me being arrogant. I’m just scared of them. They’re like the mermaids in Pirates of The Caribbean. Beautiful scary beings they are.

…and our men. Well let’s just say our side of the species are not too different from each other. Of course we’re cut beautifully too. However, there is a complication on our wiring. We are certainly not the most romantic of beings. Do not be upset Sir! We have our own definition of romance and Nigerian movies are seriously not helping. Life used to be easy for us. All we had to do for the perfect date was find the perfect chawarma and chicken and chips joint. Unfortunately, in came the Lebanese and then the Nigerians! Those traitors of all things golden, with their sugar-coated tongues and heavy wallets made us look cheap, ruined the culture, made it impossible for us to catch up. Now we have to save up for Coco Ocean nights and Makasutu hangouts and we have to write poems about sunsets and beaches. We are not great poets. We weren’t built that way! Haven’t you heard of the Mandinka warrior? Have you ever heard a warrior write poetry? Well except if he was effeminate like the Greeks. So we brew tea, talk tough and fight…especially if we are from Bakau or Sukuta.

I have caught one of your contagious diseases sir. A week ago a van driver cursed at me for breaking a simple traffic rule. I rushed into the roundabout at Brusubi while he was already on it. That was never me. I must be suffering from something. While he tried to reason with me, I opened the window and gave him the finger. You know the infamous finger right? The one you invented and handed down to your young? Yes that one! So he lost it…the driver. He spewed all sorts of profanity. I thought he was follow me down the Bijilo road so I readied a fist in typical Bakau boy fashion. He looked big but I could take him!

Perhaps we need you. I feel we are losing the plot. There have been too many battles to fight so now we’re fighting amongst ourselves. Please don’t come with your tanks and your fighter jets. Our army is not as equipped as we once thought. It seems we might have to employ the use of some bows and arrows. Come to us like men!….ummm and please bring us a generator. Of course you’ll get your cut *coughs*. Just make sure that when you’re coming down you bring along your smooth talkers and a lot of envelopes. There’s a native saying which translates, if you’re going to die in the forest, let a lion kill you.

So yeah…don’t hold back on those envelopes. We need them for school fees, ‘cashpower,’ flashy cars and of course the cellphones so we can keep in touch via Whatsapp and Facebook. Oh and we discovered Facebook Live too! Now that’s the sh*t! Whichever of your people came up with that stuff must have been high on something. Facebook Live needs filters too though. We need to beef up our eyebrows and our lips too. Artificial is the new natural. Share the love, sir!

I pledge my firm allegiance to the Empire, sir! We are forever indebted to you! We shall always be your slaves as long as you treat us as such. Please consider me your most trusted servant and friend in the pen. If I find anyone talking behind your back about movements, freedom and al of that rubbish, you shall be immediately informed. My family and I shall sing your praises and we shall teach our children and their children of your superiority and your power. We pledge our love to the crown and the greater state.

Your Humble Servant



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