“Air freshener is man’s pitiful attempt to have his food smell as good, after digestion, as they did, before ingestion.”
― Mokokoma Mokhonoana
In other words, the wordsmith simply suggests that we are constantly trying to trick our very own minds. Whether he is right or wrong is left to personal judgment. The man isn’t God!! It is fair however to say his name does sound godly. A jungle based “uncivilised” civilisation just might call him one with a name like that. His words left a profound impact on my thoughts all week. After a lovely pepper steak meal and a “wonjo” wash down, our bowels will surely rebel. Good food has its price and not just the one paid over the counter. A friend of mine (who was addicted to spice even though his stomach couldn’t handle it) would be quick to remind us that pepper aids digestion. What he failed to add was that “dega kaani la”. Olof Njie said it and I believe it!!! Olof Njie du fenn!
So pepper aids digestion and soon enough our pepper steak and “wonjo” combo starts to work wonders and we’re rushing to the nearest restroom. Ku njemeh lekka njemeh kama…wala? Don’t be disgusted just yet my friends. I am slowly getting there. Be Patient! 30 minutes of squeezed face, griping tummy and weird noises later, our proverbial sh*t has become the weapon of mass destruction that Bush went to Iraq for. We ate it, we digested it but no, no way in hell will we smell it! So, we block our noses, rush out of the toilet for some flowery or fruity concoction and return with the UN peacekeepers to extinguish a disaster against humanity. I had a university friend once who was rumoured to have killed flies with the smell of his grave excretion. Of course he denied it but ah well, no one could really go around the toilet when he was there to prove the theory. No amount of air freshener could truly extinguish his. In fact, it made it worse. The blend of flower and human dung doesn’t go well.
But no this essay is not about a trip to the toilet. It is about our reluctance to call shit (excuse my French) for what it is…Shit! There’s no way around it. If it smells like shit, looks like shit, then guess what, IT IS SHIT! So why does shit have to smell nice anyway? Commenting on my RBN on “the struggle”, a University of The Gambia student claimed my essay was full of it…you know…shit. He said the entire column was deserving of the title red black nonsense. He couldn’t be more right. I chose the title for a reason. But there’s nothing more fun to talk about than shit, is there? I mean we’re too embarrassed to say when we want to take a ****. The ladies say they’re going to the ladies room and the men say “damaa dem seben” then spend a lifetime releasing water. My friend biir bu daww ken du kor noba. So a week of Aling Domo did just what the essayist wanted it to do. I wanted to speak my mind and I knew the dogs would come barking hence the title. Words however do not faze me. Come on… I am a writer, a poet, a playwright and a colleague of mine calls me a lawyer without a practice. He honestly believes I got my way through university by outwitting my professors and confusing them. If he is right, then I guess I am well equipped for the world of ranting and banter.
This week was supposed to feature an essay on Edi Jobe’s call for a ban on the importation of chicken. According to the entrepreneur, local industries must be allowed to thrive. Where I support his attempt to do a Dangote I had…actually have reservations. I will save them however for another RBN for there are more pressing matters.
A brother of mine in the United States is a Gunner like my father. He happens to be one of the most vocal and knowledgeable men on football matters in the world in my opinion (not my father, my brother…well my father also). However, after a humbling trashing (case in point last weekend’s trashing by a weak Van Gaal side) Valentine Kabby Banjakey decided to do the runner. Unike my claim above to defer the topic of banning imported chicken for reasons of pressing relevance, Mr Banjakey is rumoured to have claimed to be busy on other more important issues. Unlike him, I will surely find the time to put my thoughts on paper as per the issue of importation and the growth of our domestic industries.
In fact, talking of domestic industries I had suspended a series I was going to pen on our music industries. A constant reader of The Standard had sent me an sms asking that I defer the topic or write them for the Internet and diversify my topics for print. He had a point. There is more to life than music…or isn’t there?
December happens to be one of the busiest months in The Gambia’s entertainment industry. When I got involved in the scene, my first observation was how much institutions had diluted our industry by concentrating our December with Senegalese artistes. It was almost ****! I mean, I can let a Youssou N’Dour pass. The man is probably the greatest African musician ever. In fact, he IS the greatest African artist ever…PERIOD! But all these wannabe greats filling up our December was tasteless and disturbing. In three years different event organisers, artistes, producers and promoters have created something beautiful. We have created a Gambian December!!
Still we have those institutions that have lost their Rolex watches competing for crowds by ensuring that Senegalese events compete with Gambian ones for crowds. There is the argument that competition is healthy and people like me welcome it. However, we must realise that our infant industry has struggled against all odds to get here. There is not an ounce of social responsibility from a lot of our institutions. They do not understand that supporting local industries is bigger than business. They do not realise that their pockets are filled by the same youths who create these ideas that will in the long term do more for our economy than a lot of their institutions. The same companies are seen supporting all events in The Gambia. How tired must they be? Man dama day russ sah!
Of course some Gambian events are ****. No amount of air freshener can change that. It’s not your fault that you cannot support ****. **** just shouldn’t exist. I mean it has to exist but it shouldn’t. So there are those events that ask institutions for unimaginable sums and then end up pocketing most of it and investing nothing into the reasons for the funds. However, should their **** mess up another man’s nicely baked turkey?
Business can be selfish but it does have to be responsible. There are companies who believe that their only responsibility in our society is paying tax. Bilai dingen behtu. I imagine a few people will call my words ****. The reality is, just as there are checks and balances on our taxes, there should be checks and balances on our responsibilities to the larger society. Tax is for government and its projects. Our social responsibilities are our most direct contributions to “right here, right now” initiatives. However, we are quick to support poorly planned, poorly executed events with the name of some Senegalese artiste simply because…
This is in no way an attempt to attack a man’s/woman’s hustle. This is simply a truth… dega bu saf kaani…and dega is already kaani so I guess that makes it extra spicy. Our December must be colourful. It must encourage regional tourism and make Gambia a hot destination for lovers of art and entertainment everywhere. Therefore local and foreign events must coexist beautifully. However, unless corporations and institutions recognise that local events are at a huge disadvantage and need to be propped up, we will continue to have an import based economy on everything.
This essay is not for me or for Blaque Magique or Fashion Weekend Gambia or Open Mic Festival or Gee’s #Situations or Manding’s Dokuwolum or Silky and Killa Ace’s Hip Hop Meets Dancehall. I cannot speak for other events but Blaque Magique has proven that local Gambian events can be tons better in quality, success and delivery than our international events. The record speaks for itself (lol… I had to throw in a marketing line…ngen munjal ma).
This weeks’ RBN is a challenge thrown at our institutions, big or small. If it doesn’t smell like **** then do throw your support behind it. Buy a table, sponsor, and get tickets for your staff. All these events need your support to survive. We’re building something here!!
Jere-ngen jeff…yena baakh wai