Back in the days when there was no flush toilet in the much abandoned hinterland, we used to ease ourselves in pit latrines. If you were often punished with ‘monkey dance’ at daara, school or when you have a stern uncle or a dad who always wants to test the strength of his bones on kids, you would likely develop strong thighs and muscles to squat on a pit latrine for as long as a monkey. As a kid and during the mango season, you would eat any fruit that comes your way; unripe, ripe or half-eaten by bats, etc. If you mixed all that in your tummy and then nature calls, you would need a rest house far from people’s ears so you wouldn’t cause an unnecessary commotion when the bombs start dropping in.
In the countryside, everyone in the compound uses the same pit latrine, so you would have to make it quick when nature calls because you may have the same time-table with someone else.
But one thing amazing about pit latrines that for some reason advanced art couldn’t fix that in modern flush toilets is the comfort and ease that marauds your body while squatting on it.
When I first sat on a flush toilet in…..(I can’t remember when but not long ago), I cursed anyone who came up with the idea because as little as my b**t is, I still felt (and continue to feel) so much discomfort as the flow of nature was hugely constricted. I do miss the village pit latrine! But enough of that!
Marriage, a word now twisted and stripped of its real significance with some unruly individuals conveniently defining it as a momentary madness of total submission to a partner.
Some years ago, having helplessly seen marriages that hitherto looked eternal, crumble like a bulldozed fence, I declared I wouldn’t get married. The statement, even as silly as myself, attracted frosty stares from SHEs who probably thought the cavalier declaration had shattered their hopes of, you know.
For some reason, I’ve always pictured myself on the altar or in a swanky hotel corridor with my bride radiant in a magnificent pearl and sequin bridal dress. The joy of that day, even though I haven’t experienced it yet, occasionally occupies my feeble mind. But, a stronger thought, the thought of all that joy and promises fading along with love like early morning dew dried by the rising sun.
Divorce, another raped word which even Big Man in the sky says He hates but didn’t forbid it, is increasingly becoming the easiest task for couples in small Gambia. I wish I were in Swaziland. Their libidinous King Mswati III, who, after having the rare privilege of taking a bride every year, banned divorce in his country. He didn’t stop at hating it; no, he ‘Mswatied’ it! That’s my man!
I know if Fangbili were around—the man who imported lights from Singapore, skyscrapers from Dubai and Islam from Saudi Arabia—he would have banned divorce in 2025, a year we were sadly supposed to be an economic superpower. It’s quite apparent that so many marriages that crumble could have been saved if those celebrating Golden or Silver Jubilees in marriage had set up counselling centers to knock some sense into green couples who think one misunderstanding should warrant divorce.
When Gambians balloted out Fangbili and he refused to go, a movement emerged that printed #GambiaHasHecided on T-shirts, written on macadam roads, on fences, containers, virtually every everywhere was littered with the ‘trending’ expression. During the impasse, people deliberately wore the shirts to assert their conviction that they have indeed decided. And, amazingly, you didn’t need to buy many as one would do the job. Anyone who didn’t visit the laundry for long, would only need to wear one #GambiaHasDecided T-shirt every day, all day, and no one would care to know if it’s the same shirt. So the movement has indeed saved many Gambians from the embarrassment of wearing one khaftan or top every day.
The other day I had an interesting conversation with a colleague; Team Trump in Gambia. I used to have (still do) a soft spot for Obama, whose dazzling public speaking qualities made citizens of other countries wished they could vote for him. He told me Obama threatened Bashar al-Assad that if he crossed the redline (meaning if he uses chemicals against his people) America would invade Syria and probably cause Third World War because Russia won’t just watch and North Korea, a country next to China ruled by that fat kid Kim, would chip in to test their nuclear arsenal. Deep into the platitudes, he said Trump loves Syrian children that is why he’s taken military action against the recent use of sarin gas that killed dozens of children. I laughed, frowned and laughed again. How pathetic! If you search Donald Trump in Sheikh Google, the first thing that will probably come right after his controversial win of the Oval is his controversial ban on, among other Muslim countries, Syrians from entering USA. How can you claim to love a country when hundreds of its children die in a senseless war and you don’t want them to enter your country even as refugees? But, I will leave The Donald with Americans.
Fangbili’s fall from grace turned out good for a lot of people in the country. Writers, journalists, even musicians. Like Pa Bobo (jaloo nyaa lee?), who if he had not capitalised on the impasse to re-launch his already dead musical career, he would have remained in the doldrums of musical hibernation for eternity. But, as luck would have it, life gave him one more shot and he hit the target with his viraled song about Fangbili’s choleric and bizarre behaviour. Not only Pa Bobo, Big Faa too, Mr ‘anything’; the Salt Bae of The Gambia during the crisis whose even more bizarre song almost shadowed *GambiaHasDecided. I never heard of his name before that anything and, because of the banality of the song, even I can lip-sync the song. All I need to do is wait for him to say the things he himself doesn’t understand, and then I will say ‘anything’ at the end of the chorus.
A couple of weeks ago, I took the liberty to watch my favourite TV station in the country, GRTS (I am saying that because there is no other one) and I stumbled on practising politicians during something they called ‘debate’ ahead of the UTG Students’ Union election. The candidates appeared in front of an audience and were grilled by the panellists. I sat up straight, redirected my focus to the show and listened until one of the guys asking questions spoilt my evening. He/she asked a candidate: If you are elected, what will you do to make UTG a world-class university? Really? Is there any student who can do that? You have the VC, the lecturers, the defunct SMT, etc., and you didn’t ask any of them about improving standards at the university but a student who wouldn’t even be in that position for more than a year. And what is even more amazing the student went about telling stories…well, we will see. I heard the noise after the election but I haven’t had the time to check the results but if it is like last year’s, then National Centre for Civic Education needs to help our UTG students because there were a lot of invalid votes last year. Imagine, a university student gets into the polling booth and then drops the voting paper on the floor. Smh. There should be a bounty on your head!
Author: Talib Gibran