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City of Banjul
Thursday, December 2, 2021

Landmines on Babili land

Landmines on Babili land

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Last week Thursday was special and not special, sort of. I closed from work relatively earlier than most of the days. I then spent an hour at Westfield scrambling for a vehicle to Brikama. Everyone that exhibits Gambia’s scarred conscience passes through Westfield in the evenings and mornings; fraudulent beggars, actual beggars, dark artists, pickpockets, politicians all looking straight into one another’s eyes. That same Thursday evening, President Adama Barrow (PAB) was causing social media outrage with his spontaneous visit to Babili land. I was very much disappointed in him. Not because he went to Kanilai without considering AJJ’s victims — who are basically the entire Gambia and her coffers — but because he didn’t take me along. God, I miss Kanilai. The last time I visited and stayed there for long was at the Roots Festival in 2007. For seven days straight, I ate only meat and washed it down with Foster Clark’s. Red meat. Red juice. It turned out that wasn’t a good mix. No chemistry at all. My stomach started rebelling against my intestines. It was a Charles Taylor rebellion. A Gibranocide in the making. I didn’t even wait for a vehicle as that, somehow, became an ironical inconvenience. I walked. No, I ran, toward home like there was fire in my pants. And indeed, there was fire. Diarrhoea doesn’t like vehicles. If you board a vehicle with diarrhoea, that vehicle will never get fresh air, even if you didn’t shit. So, I walked and ran. After every 100 yards, I would heap enough faeces to germinate an entire farmland. I was a walking pit latrine.  From Kanilai to Sangajorr, and then to Darsilameh. It was a marathon. No, it was a relay; a faecal relay. There was no time for pleasantries on the road; no time for eyoo, salamaalaiku, sumai. It was the best of festivals. It was the worst of festivals. Reaching home, I went straight to the actual pit latrine and dropped the last few bombs. Imagine, a walking pit latrine in a stationed pit latrine. Poetic! All I needed was a change of environment, and a change of food. Eating, once again, a rich domoda and drinking zirrk was enough to clean up the mess the Babili meat created in my belly. A running stomach halted and sanity restored. I know, I’m glad too that Babili didn’t know about my treasonous defecation in his fields. I dreaded what would happen if he had found out. Maybe he would have sentenced me to eternally eating meat and drinking Foster Clark’s so I would be his living manure to revive Jahally-Pacharr. But, despite my memorable [I mean that in both positive and negative] experiences 14 years ago in Babili land, who wouldn’t want to go to Kanilai? Everything is there; meat, zoo, crocodiles, bones, graves and my faeces. If anything, I was surprised it took PAB five years to go there. But I get it; he was terrified his systemo will balang in Kanilai, like it did when he shook Babili’s hand last time. He was lucky he didn’t step on my atomic bombs there either. If he did, we would just find a backway to Casamance for him to chill. Then the presidency will return to Foni; for I’d be carried shoulder-high, flanked by horse and donkey carts, enjoying Baati Yaï. Bingo, Dong Mansa reigns! Dance will indeed return to Foni. Pomp and fanfare would be injected back to this country. Too many negaholics. I wish PAB was a good dancer. Imagine his physique like Jacob Zuma and imagine his dance moves. He has the perfect body to mesmerise an audience. Therapeutic! Next time you visit Kanilai, PAB, may I please tag along so we can dance to Baati Yaï together?

**

After escaping pickpockets and fraudulent beggars at Westfield, I squeezed into a 7-seater to Brikama for D50. But I’ve never been this frustrated in the traffic. The driver, wearing just a vest that looked like it never got wet much-less laundered, kept arguing with other drivers and honking at even flies. I wanted to just grab his neck until he faints, then sit behind the wheel myself but I cannot drive; at least not with manual transmission. By the time we reached Brikama, I had already missed maghreb and ishaa with clouds portentously hovering. Vehicle to Manduar proved harder. Taxi drivers only taking town trip as it drizzled. A returning gélè-gélè however picked everyone on the road headed for Dimbaya. After alighting at the junction, I raced the rain to the house, relieved that I reached first before windstorms started, lightning and one big bang, which I was pretty convinced landed somewhere in the neighbourhood. If you’re dwelling in an incomplete building, rains wake you up like no other thing; faster than pee. You become as alert as a cat. I like sleeping on the couch but deep in wonderland that night, a gentle breeze caressed my face. I opened my eyes and saw my drapes flying around as the glass-less windows welcomed the winds with open arms. The skies were heaving. The lightning was blinding. The sounds were deafening.  The ground was shaking. The roof was vibrating. When I looked at the ceiling, it seemed as though it was ready to fly off with the winds. Dust pervaded the house like 11th-century Roman battlefield. I thought by morning I would be going to Busura to look for my corrugates.  But everything is intact, for now, and I got along with what promised to be great few days ahead. I had already planned to slaughter one of my mum’s cockerels at home for a weekend roast. I did a ndel fondeh too the previous week to increase my appetite, which traditionally attracts spanks and jeers, but mine is too smooth and shiny for such violent reactions. And, before I realised it, my hairs have already hastily started growing back like weeds with shades of grey hair sparkling at the roots. Old age beckons!

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**

When I was much younger, I was told scorpions don’t survive labour. That maternal mortality in scorpions is 1 in every birth; only the babies survive. I believed it. It made so much sense because I never saw a baby scorpion with a nanny scorpion or even in a cyclone. Now it doesn’t. Not at all. Which is alright; it is perception. It might sound genius on the spot but it always sounds ridiculous with the passage of time. Like Christopher Columbus, the prodigious explorer who believed the world was shaped like a woman’s boob. It made sense when he said it. Now it doesn’t. I mean, take a good look at the WORLD and a BOOB, any boob, and see the difference. If you cannot see the difference, you will definitely feel the difference. So, the myth about scorpions made sense at the time. Now, having realised that scorpions copy humans—or we copy them depending on who was created first—the myth no longer makes sense. Growing up, I once asked an older man why we say toubab puraa, white dove, because I was looking at a black one when asking. He said because they kiss like white people. Gross, but it made sense, until it didn’t. I still don’t know why. But watching and reading about scorpions, I said to myself, that is something close to humans. Even though insects generally deposit eggs, scorpions produce live babies, viviparity. I don’t know why it’s called that; we could have simply said childbirth or delivery. Besides, it is not just the delivery that is human; it is everything leading up to it: wooing, dancing, romancing and mating. Scorpions engage in an elaborate courtship ritual known as promenade à deux, a walk for two, loosely. The dance begins when the male and female make contact. The male takes his partner by her pedipalps and gracefully walks her back and forth until he finds a proper location for his spermatophore. There is nothing more human than that! No wonder our football team is called the Scorpions! Quite ingenious!

**

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There’s no country with more anti-vaxxers than little Gambia. When Covid vaccines arrived, the country was littered with conspiracy theories: the vaccines are rushed. The vaccines are meant to kill fertility and control black population. The vaccines cause blood clot and death. The vaccines reduce sexual pleasure and cause impotence. Blah blah blah! If you tell an African man that a particular thing causes impotence, he goes nowhere near it, even if it’d immortalise him. Impotence scares the heck out of us and I still don’t know why, for I genuinely believe there is contentment and freedom in it. But, among all the floating theories about the vaccines at the time, none stood out for me more than what I heard from erratic Dakala (the famed football fan who happens to be the chief security officer at our office) with his vulgar figurative phrase hoo-bey-hoo. Not being funny, but he is one person in the world who could infect someone with Covid just by stepping on his dinosaur footprints. When the vaccination team arrived at the office, he was terrified, shaking in his slippers and trembling at the knees. He refused to take it, shuttling between “my family doesn’t take injections” and “needles cannot penetrate our bodies”. He would rather die or be fired than taking the jab. The truth is, almost everyone who goes about spreading anti-vax theories is just scared of the needle. In the end, Dakala came with a vaccination certificate which either meant he forged it or the needle after all could penetrate his body. He resumed, along with his daily lewd phrases. There is this weird connection between Dakala and vulgarity. Like Gambian girls and sweat pants; still baffles me why it is a thing here. Is it because it allows air in and out or because it elaborately displays your endowment at the back? Callipygian or not, it seems to be a fashion now. I see women wear it so much so that I feel woman in mine. But hey, you know what, wear whatever truly displays your beauty or your endowment but stop wearing something because everyone wears it. Don’t always follow the masses because, sometimes, the M is silent. And by the time you realise you’ve been following asses instead of masses, you would be an ass yourself. That ass; the little donkey with a short tale that bays and farts even in public. And you know farting in public can be embarrassing even though an average human being farts at least 16 times a day. Till next time on Gibramble, peace!

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