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City of Banjul
Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Man of Steel

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He would keep a steady stare in his sobre eyes and wear the semblance of a smile on his generous lips; and he would assume the pose of an iron man who neither rain nor thunder, nor indeed mighty earthquakes or earth sweeping tsunamis could move an inch from his position. And he would listen, listen and listen. People said of Dr Nyawuleng that he was as patient as a vulture: he could wait many hours and even days for his prey to collapse and lie ready to be devoured. Then he would pounce and finish off the unfortunate victim. Not that he was an evil guy; no; only that he was a man of steel who would neither bend nor rust, nor indeed get tired of dealing with issues he believed pertinent to the good of the common weal.

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Gumbogi Nyawuleng was not a violent man by any stretch of the imagination. He was gentle and soft-spoken and could not even hurt a fly. He was indeed, a staunch proponent of peace and justice and it was according to his philosophy of peaceful co-existence and truth that he displayed his legendary patience and ability to listen as long as someone continued talking to him. He was a man who prided himself in being a giant of impeccable and incorruptible credentials, both academic and personal. Having graduated with a Bachelor of Stares from the famous University of Blindsight-Upon-Whine, Dr Gumbogi Nyawuleng had gone on to snatch a Master of Smiles degree in Smooching Techniques from the prestigious University of No Change and topped his illustrious academic career with a PhD in Classical Tautology from the world famous University of Nyefkorek. So the depth of Dr Nyawuleng’s knowledge of all matters worldly could never be questioned; neither could anyone raise a single question about the fact that he was a philosopher like no other – past, present and future. And that was why he was famously known as the Man of Steel who never rusts!

But like any other member of the homo sapien species, and regardless of what he chose to believe, Dr Gumbogi Nyawuleng was a fallible creature who occasionally made horrible mistakes and said things totally unworthy of his learned self. For instance, at one point, Dr Nyawuleng publicly declared that he was always right and that whoever disagreed with him must really be out of their mind and must be dealt with severely. And because Dr Nyawuleng was possessed of certain esoteric powers, those who ignored his warning soon found themselves in the proverbial hot soup. There was once an impudent bloke who dared to gently advise Dr Nyawuleng to watch his step lest he hit his toe on a sharp object lying in the good doctor’s pathway and thereby harm both himself and by extension, his extended family. At this gentle piece of advice, Dr Nyawuleng had the mouthy dude severely whipped at every possible opportunity. The good doctor carried on his vendetta against the well-meaning dude for so many years that he came to forget why he was having the dude whipped so many years after his alleged crime. He now took to accusing the dude of asking him to hit his toes against the sharp object and cut his fingers when in fact, the reverse was the case.  “This ignorant dude maliciously asked me to hit my toes against a sharp object and thereby cut my foot,” he liked to recount in regrettable tones. “What he did not know was that I was not one to ever hit my foot against a sharp object; and that my foot is always in my eyes; and there’s plenty of evidence to prove my point. Moreover, he did not know I was a man of steel who is never cut.” It was clear that what irritated Dr Nyawuleng was not the advice per se, but the fact that the impudent dude dared to tell him what to do or not to do. Did he not know that he, Nyawuleng, was the holder of a PhD in Classical Tautology, in addition to a Master’s degree in Smooching Techniques and a Bachelors in Stares? How dared this ignorant bloke pretend to know what Dr Gumbogi Nyawuleng should do or not do? ‘To peep or not to peep, that is the question,” Dr Nyawuleng liked to warn.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about Dr Gumbogi Nyawuleng was that he disdained the act of writing. He always argued that as God had given mankind natural faculties with which to hear and with which to speak, it was utter blasphemy for people to leave those aside and use such fake instruments like telephones, computers, pens or papers to communicate. And so for that reason, Dr Nyawuleng would never touch a keyboard, a pen, or a paper. Rather, the good doctor horned his listening skills and became the greatest listener ever known in the history of listening techniques. He also sharpened his tongue on a daily basis just in case he needed to explain something or respond to some important issue that touched on matters of interest to his learned self. And that was why Dr Nyawuleng soon proved himself one of the best talkers ever known in the history of human speech. “Listening and talking are two sides of the same bowl,” he would often say. “And so he who is listened to must be prepared to listen in turn. That is why I am such a good listener. And that is why I am such a good talker.”

And a good talker he was indeed, our famous Dr Nyawuleng. Just as he could listen for hours on end, so he could talk for hours on end. A man of incredible energy, he never ran out of wind. Once in a while, he would pick a topic on which he would shower his beams of knowledge by word of mouth. He would assume his iron pose and launch into streams of learned discourse that never failed to inspire and amaze his audience. He would clap his lips together and flick his tongue and shake his cheeks as he carried endlessly on, not stopping even for a sip of water. The words would rise from the depths of his being and seamlessly pop out of his mouth in generous torrents of sometimes flowery, sometimes thorny prose, depending on the nature of the topic he addressed. Indeed, so great a talker was our good Dr Nyawuleng that he soon won the honorable and highly valued titles of Diyaamu, Hunduko and Bariwakh! And boy did he love those titles! And did he love the utter awe with which he was regarded by his listeners, some of whom, much to the chagrin of Dr Nyawuleng, often listened so long that they fell asleep. “One should not sleep when important matters of life and death are being taught,” Dr. Nyawuleng would gently but firmly reprimand the offending culprits. “When one who knows is talking, it is the duty of those who do not know to listen for as long as it takes without falling asleep. If you fall asleep, then that is nothing but a gross abdication of personal responsibility that will not be condoned. It is a matter of integrity and principle.”  

Of course, no artist could ever paint a complete picture of Dr Gumbogi Nyawuleng. Larger than life, he was a man of so many intricate complexities that only the most ephemeral of representations may even be contemplated. The ideas in his head are so numerous and so varied that in spite of his unlimited eloquence he could only share a very tiny fraction of them with his audiences. One could watch and paint certain aspects of his great and learned personality, but one could by no means go beyond the surface of what was evidently a vast and complex undergrowth of complex ideas and profound insights into all aspects of human life that lodged deep inside Dr Nyawuleng’s brilliant mind. “You see, I can only teach you so much,” Dr Nyawuleng liked to say. “It is not easy to be so educated in so many ways of the world; it is even harder to make people understand who do not aspire to certain lofty heights but who choose to remain on the ground and engage in baseless allegations and ill-conceived ruminations. You must always chew what you bite.” His spellbound audience always greeted this trademark caveat with loud exclamations of Diyaamu! Hunduko! And Bariwakh! At which point Dr Gumbogi Nyawuleng would loudly gnash his teeth, flick his tongue, shake his cheeks, and wear a distant look in his eyes to demonstrate his unrivalled wisdom. He was indeed, a man of steel – never bend, never rusty, never wrong! Some even called him Ratahal, King of Talking.

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