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City of Banjul
Saturday, September 26, 2020

Our times

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Women in our society are bent on spending money as fast as their husbands can make it (for those who have husbands) and those who don’t, as fast as their partners or brothers in Europe, can afford and give it to them. One may ask, “on what do they actually spend the obscene amounts?”  “Is it on productive and useful ventures or just for the fun of it?”

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It is sad, but true, to say that most of the time, it is on unnecessary things that our womenfolk spend our money. Let me be quick to say that I am referring to money in general, whoever might have worked for  or earned it, for, in our liberated times, one may say that if she earns her money, no one should dictate how she spends it. That may be true indeed! But looking at the big picture, it is everyone’s duty to enlighten the people on spending the hard earned money.

Coming back to the issue at hand, let me dwell a little bit on our spending ways. First, women want new dresses for almost all occasions they attend. If your wife wears a particular dress to, let’s say a naming ceremony, you don’t expect her to wear the same for another occasion. As a result, some women have so many dresses that they themselves cannot remember all of them. I once heard a woman comment that she only remembered that she had a particular dress when she saw someone wearing the same type! What an abomination when there are thousands of women who have almost nothing to wear.

There is also the bane of ashobee. This is the wearing of a similar dress by everyone for a particular ceremony. Ashobee has become so common that whenever there is an occasion, every husband should make arrangements for buying such dresses even before your wife asks. Sometimes, this can be a great burden to those who are less well-off in the society. The pressure will make them take loans or use cunning and morally suspicious methods to get money to buy such dresses.

The very good norm of helping each other in times of need in the African society has become nothing more than a profit making venture. In ancient times, if one had a naming ceremony or any other ceremony for that matter, your neighbours brought whatever they had to support you. Now, this is purely a profit making venture. Women have introduced the norm of recording the names of people who have donated anything to a program with the view of paying it back when the person also has an occasion. They will look at the records anytime they are to go to a program. If the person had donated fifty dalasis to one’s program, one is expected to give back at least seventy five dalasis in return. This so called donation forces people to even ‘manufacture’ programs in the absence of a genuine reason to invite people to come and pay your donations. I once heard of a woman who invited people to her house for a naming ceremony when her goat had given birth to young ones! The charitable nature of this donation is completely lost in such donations.

Next is what they refer to as Tuurr (probably borrowed from the French word for turn). This is where they will choose a particular lady’s house to meet every Sunday to contribute money, eat ebbeh and gossip. This is another profit making venture. Everyone is expected to contribute to the enndu (passing the day). This money is gathered and used to prepare the food for them to eat while they gossip. Husbands are expected to contribute to this also and help their wives. It doesn’t matter whether they have enough rice for the family for the month, but they have to give this amount anyway. Besides the economic hazards of this ‘turn’, it has a lot of negative effects on the peace of society; not least of them is the fact that they always gossip about one person or other. This brings about bad blood among people and the peace is shattered. Petty quarrels become the norm in the streets and so, the household peace is also lost. Husbands come home from work tired and expecting their womenfolk to give them peace of mind to relax but instead find a wife who has just finished quarrelling and thus is in no mood to help him relax. That is one aspect but worse still is that they don’t find the wives at home at all because they are at the Tuurr gossiping!

This is a lesser evil if the lady is what we refer to as housewife (not working), because, overall, she will still have some time for the kids. But for the working mothers, it leaves not a minute for the upbringing of the kids. The kids become estranged from their parents as the father is not always at home to pick up the crumbs. These children grow up to learn whatever they have to from the television or the internet. They learn to flirt with everyone in case of girls and the boys learn the ‘joys’ of cocaine or heroin or cannabis. Their schooling is adversely affected and they end up dropping out of school and hitting the streets. How can a society thrive in such a situation?

Women waste a lot of time and money in such things and at the end have nothing to show for it. This has increased their needs so much so that some will do anything to get enough money to meet all these obligations. The irony of our times is that we work too hard to gather things we don’t actually need. I was telling my wife the other day, ‘what is the use of this satellite receiver we have installed here?’ ‘What kind of question is that?’ she came up with her own question. ‘Oh! I don’t know,’ I said, ‘it’s just that since we installed this thing I’ve not watched a single program on the television.’ That is really what happens. We work hard and buy these gadgets and will not have time to enjoy their benefits.

We need to curb our expenditure and contribute more to the needy in society rather than always buy luxury items we don’t need. I’ll again quote Albert Einstein who said, ‘A table, a chair, a bowl of fruits and a violin, what else does a man need to be happy?’ What else indeed!

 

By Musa Bah

 

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