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Monday, September 21, 2020

Presidents, borders & sunj diww bi

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With Latirr Carr

I woke up to the most startling news on my Facebook on Thursday morning. Apparently, President Adama Barrow had sold off The Gambia’s rights to its Oil to Macky Sall, for protection against some inevitable force. It shook the living daylights out of me. I had to rub my eyes, hard first, then soft, and then with some ice cold water (I kid! I kid!), but no, it was no dream. A certain Mr. diww sangam had been reliably informed by reliable sources.

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Mr. diww sangam  went on to compare the Senegalese Sangomar project to the Tortue West field development project between Senegal and Mauritania. According to this Facebook expert, President Adama Barrow should have negotiated a similar deal with Senegal where, according to my learned music producer colleague, if “Senegal drills oil first, Mauritania gets 50% even though Senegal is doing all the work” and vice versa.

To ensure this essay doesn’t in any way take a turn for the personal, I will focus on the content of my social media commentator’s public outcry.

It was not the first time that someone had attacked government on its dealings with our oil. Prior to the Samo-1 campaign (The Gambia’s first offshore exploration well in four decades), many social media experts had also put up articles, posted rants and gave analyses on what should happen to our oil and how government just didn’t know better! You know! Those corrupt, useless, good for nothing public servants who have been, and will always be sellouts; yes, those corrupt, good for nothing, per-diem hunting raccoons!

Unfortunately, aii gaffe is a thing. So, we all know the story; Samo-1 was unsuccessful in making a discovery and the hunt for our oil continues.

You see, the lack of knowledge on a subject is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, I believe it was Socrates who said, “I know that I know nothing”. So knowing nothing, is actually a sign that you just might be a Greek philosopher reborn. Actually, fire burn Socrates! Fire burn d colonialist dem! Fire burn Babylon! Our very own Olof Njie on one of his (or her) walks through the wilderness, came back saying, “Li yengu, li kor yengala kor opa dorleh”. Oh wait, that’s for another essay. If I remember right, it was actually, “kham-khamlu ak goor-goorlu njor borka Baye, waye borkunj Ndeye” or something along those lines.

In Olof Njie’s spirit, when my former Managing Director drew my attention to a request from a citizen of Sukuta Nema (you know Sukutarians and their dangamness) for us to look into signs of the presence of crude oil on his property, believing it was a hoax, I could have told my MD straight away that it was rubbish. However, he had done the right thing in referring the matter to me, and I, out of respect for his office, and following in the tradition of my forefathers (or mothers…you know…political correctness in this gender sensitive world), I decided to follow up on this…ummm…matter.

It was sad that I had to be the one to give my Sukutarian brother the sad news; he lived very close to a mechanic garage. It was obvious that, with utter disregard for the environment, or perhaps with no knowledge of the damage they were causing to the environment, had been disposing off their used oil in a pit they had dug at least 6 feet (yes…in my A.J.J. voice) deep. For my readers who still remember primary 5 sciences, percolation happens…you know…the movement of liquids through a filter? So, the oil(s) percolated through the soil and into my Sukutarian’s borehole and voila!

This wouldn’t be the last time I would have to disappoint a borehole owner. I would go on to do this same exercise with another four gentlemen, who, in not understanding our laws around mineral resources, believed this was their chance to get rich quick.

I respected these men though. They never came at us with that air of arrogance, claiming to know for a certainty that, they had found the oil which oil companies were spending hundreds of millions of dollars to find. In disappointing them, I took my time to explain to them what had happened to their source of water. I let them know it was natural for them to believe what they had believed. Had I not been educated to understand the science, I probably would have done the same. Knowing how excited I get, I probably would have called my parents, asking them what they wanted for Christmas!

As I did with my social media commentator friend’s post on Thursday, when I had seen posts online with a lot of misinformation on how the industry works, and on the conspiracies around our oil, I tried (to the best of my ability) to explain to them and their many followers, just how silly these theories were. I believe these are opportunities to pass on the right information and to educate those for whom, a quest for knowledge is a proud undertaking. Luckily, these exchanges were all healthy and ended well. Of course there would be the occasional retort, “yeah, but what do you expect when you guys never inform the public about anything”. All of this after the entire process of licensing, with full details, had been published in the newspapers for months!! But true, not everyone reads these days…

Our people have come to rely on the internet for their information. This is not specifically a local trend but rather one observed around the world. People spend more time on their phones and electronic devices than on any other thing. It is therefore only natural that their Albert Einsteins, Platos, Bloombergs and Anderson Coopers are sometimes balled-up into one person on a social media platform.

These people are no different from me. I mean, just read my Red Black Nonsense rek. A reader once called me out on my bluff years ago. According to him, my essays were exactly what I called them, Red Black Nonsense and they only deserved to be trashed, or used as packaging for the gerrteh saaf by LK Junior Secondary School (those nuts are the bomb by the way! – I’ve been having those things since I was in primary school when those Merrs were hustling young women and the sh*t just keeps getting better!)

Unfortunately, most people we rely on for information, are not reliable. It is even sadder that, many of us believe that whatever finds its way on the internet, is the gospel truth. It is not everyone who understands that almost everything on social media (including my wall – ummm people above the age of fifty-five, a Facebook wall is not an actual wall) is an opinion, and again unfortunately (notice the double emphasis), the internet is full of…well…idiots (for lack of a better word). The idiots are different from the regular fools…and the regular fools are different from the ignorant ones…who are also different from the misinformed.

The misinformed are just regurgitating what they believe to be fact (which it isn’t). The regular fools are not sure if what they post or comment is fact, but because the topic is trending, they have to speak their mind. Then there are the idiots. This special specimen of homo-sapiens, actually creates the trend! He or she is very much unsure of the veracity of what he or she claims, but they post it ANYWAY just because…well…they have a wall…or a handle (again people over the age of fifty-five…ah! Never mind!).

Then there are my personal favourites! These men or women that were created on a Sunday; these men or women that eat their Pizza with a fork and knife; this special breed of humans whose oxygen is the attention they receive from people; this special breed that makes noises when IT drinks a hot beverage…you know the noise kai…that noise like someone sucking on a straw…yes those people! They know for a fact that what they’re posting is rubbish! They know they are no experts in the area even though they try to appear as such. They understand that they live in a society where ANY show of knowledge is translated to be true! Understanding the psyche of the people, they post false information, fake news, all clothed in the usual drama, posing as fact! And oh! People gobble it all up! They share it…snap it…copy and paste it…some even develop memes from it all.

I had initially started this essay to point out what was wrong about my social media commentator’s rant about President Barrow, Macky Sall and Our Oil. However, in the usual Gambian fashion, and in RBN style, this is another hot load of steam. I have pointed out a problem which I am in no way willing to solve. I am a Gambian first and a human being second. I would betray the memory of my foremothers (or fathers) if I even attempt to solve this problem that has become a menace on our timelines. How will I answer when I die? What will I tell my ancestors? That I, Latirr Carr, broke the tradition!? That I put our people to shame by trying to be Maam toubab?! How will I be welcomed into the warm embrace of forever chebu jenns and dahaar juices? How will I look into the eyes of Olof Njie?

I will however end as a friend of mine in the industry would insist every expert should; The Gambia is yet to find oil within its territories. We are searching and we believe we will get there.

So yeah, once again, pay me no heed. My name is Latirr Carr. It’s been one week since my last rant. I used to be addicted to huffing and puffing (here I go confusing the confessional booth with AA meetings). Until we meet again, add some filter to your newsfeed…and take my RBN as just that; Red…Black…Nonsense

 

TGBA

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