Gone are the days when things used to be what they were. Nothing will ever come close to a local nawettan season in provincial Gambia. If you don’t mind, I mean eastern Jarra village of Barrow Kunda. Ah, those were the halcyon days. Yet, with a stubborn childhood memory and attitude, I’ll narrate this in style. Again, if you don’t mind, Ntelemu Batuwo leng.
First, there were stars and wannabe stars. There were fan clubs and spectators, all in a saturated village where everybody knew where everyone else lived. There was Nani, but no Giovanni. But let me talk about what I know.
In the glorious days, whenever schools close in the summer, villages light and fill up. Whether for reasons to help one’s parents in the farm, or to simply observe the summer in the countryside, almost everyone would come back home. But perhaps the most memorable of events would be the nawettan that plays during these summers. Reminisce the fanfare, tempo and excitement.
Whose team would you want to be in: Alaa or Eldee, Musa Sukutoto or Old Hands? Who were the top refs: Ansu Conteh or Kajali? Abdou? Aha, the big men: Lang Drammeh and Mang-Laa. Pick your Molamin Oumie if you like, but only Ebou Drammeh Kunda can be the goalkeeper here. Just, tell Alaa not to leave the ball whenever he hears from behind, ‘leave’. Me, Bebe was my star. But Lang Mbour lights the show. Bamo for John Terry? Falang or Kebba Barrow? Muhammed Manneh, what? Seedy Manneh was the Kanu. Truly, Alaa was a reliable defender. If just for one signing, I would recommend Bass Kofi any given day. Did I say Bebe was my star?
By then, when one completes primary education, they have two main options: to go to Pakaliba, the last village of the district, for junior school, or preferably go to Kombo. Between the two, albeit seldom, there also was Bureng, a village separated from Barrow Kunda by Sutukung and the iconic Tikoji. But Bureng wasn’t foreign, with all due respect, backed by longevity. Even though I may not be able to trace my roots from there, if there’s one thing that ties me to that village, it’s probably my last name. My first name must go to Sutukung. Ask Sankung.
If you don’t know what Fatasaba means, let’s discuss that in Karakunku. In this nice Nawettan, who would you send to Dankunku? Not me, because I only know Jurunku. But is it true that whatever could happen to you in Dankunku could still happen to you in Jurunku?
If you want to enslave writing, essentially creative writing, you must first be willing to become its slave from the onset. Maybe you should ask yourself if you’re set. What about the beef? Let’s see if you can impress Talibeh and Sheriff. Have you gotten it this brief? Writing in general, creative writing in particular, I’m making that my beef. Lang Mbee said, when I was young, kakolobo was my favorite. Maybe he’s right. Such is diet. And now, you know I don’t fight.
I keep it low because I know how it feels to come from below. What’s the essence of even attending convocation when the person that took you to school when everybody refused to do so isn’t even alive? Ask someone who took himself to high school and to the You-Tee-Gee. Better ask someone whom no one ever asked to study throughout his academic life so far.
Nko, according certain honours with due respect is a virtue, an undiluted one. No one can replace your father, even if they pretend. But it’s a different story if you don’t even have that someone to pretend. I’ll talk about that when I write my autobiography. Those in my struggle, you stood by me even in the jungle. It’s a nice feeling to have, even just one person, to call ‘uncle’. Eccentric Batuwo, conservative Njie B, he’s just a very maverick person.
Kolioro nyamala kunda, fankung fankung, mobeh naala feresi jonkongo. Take that.
That myth, that science students cannot write well is far-fetched. Where was it fetched? Maybe I read arts and specialised in literature in school. Nko, dolen cool?
Interestingly, whenever you defy the odds, it’s a gift. But whenever it’s the reverse, lazy discussions would pop up, swiftly lifting the so-called gift to zenith. No one is wild. This is mild. But if you want to talk about it, you may even end up going bald. Where is the ball? It’s time to go to the field. Today, not even the Terrys and Maldinis can stop your Eldees and my Bebe. If you want to rejoice at final whistle, my side is the place to be.
Have I ranted and digressed? We are still in the nawettan discussions. I don’t remember Kang Burama. But with the emergence of upcoming stars when the game was getting to next level, Seedy would tell you Saikou Tombong, Suwareh, Alfu and company were pure talents. I can vouch for them. But my brother, you cannot ignore what Lang Kaddy could do. Call him Wazza. Ask people about what happened in Brufut.
But why can’t you acknowledge others the way they acknowledge you?
I might be a small boy who was still going to elementary school, but I have a vivid memory of the glorious nawettan days in my village. My only regret was, I wasn’t old enough to be able to feature in any of the campaigns when the real meat and drink were still part and parcel of the whole show. But, at least, I enjoyed the show from the stands. Whatever matters, stands.
Batou Saidy holds a degree in Public and Environmental Health. Aside from his profession, he is a writer. His writing extends to current affairs, contemporary life issues, politics, sports, and health.