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City of Banjul
Tuesday, September 29, 2020

The Cartoon Character

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Their interest in him was enhanced by the great man himself, who repeatedly proclaimed that he liked caricatures of him because “these nice distortions of my anatomy show who I really am, which is too complex for uninitiated minds to understand or for mere words to express.” Priding himself in being a man of great learning and unrivalled mental and spiritual sophistication, Hashtag Momla Rekati willingly posed for the many cartoonists who flocked to his mansion to draw a picture for our many daily, weekly and weekend tabloids. In no time, our famous Hashtag Momla had become a celebrity of sorts and earned himself the unique title of cartoon character. Of late, people also called him Mr. Pearhead for reasons that we will see later.

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Hashtag Momla Rekati appears as a cartoon character in our local newspapers and tabloids in various shapes and sizes. Sometimes he is portrayed as Waaji, a huge giant with a tiny pin-point head, dots for eyes, a dark-hole mouth, monster ears, trunk-like arms, a bloated tummy, and broomstick legs. He is invariably shown holding his signature cow tail in one hand and waving to the ladies with the other. Hashtag Momla Rekati liked this particular cartoon because, he said, it “shows that one can still have a tiny head and tiny legs and still maintain their strength and stamina. I like that they do not leave my cow tail out because it shows who I really am and why I am such a great man in history.” And when he was particularly excited or happy about the Waaji cartoon, Hashtag Momla would add some really juicy stuff like “some of you think I am not an ordinary man; that I was not born just like you and that I am totally different. But let me tell you something. Just look at me in that cartoon and you will know that I am just an ordinary bloke. I actually don’t like the word bloke – because it does not sound clever – but it shows just who I am.”

Hashtag Momla also appears in our cartoons as Mr. Westluv,  a character with a table-top head and flat face whose nose stands out like an inverted V. His mouth is like a large open can lying on its side and his neck is shown as a tree-trunk whose roots are octopus tentacles gripping the seat upon which he sat. The Mr. Westluv cartoon of Hashtag Momla looks so strange that people said it really looked like a creature of ancient mythology. Only that in its eyes shone that unmistakable light that could only be found in the eyes of our famous Hashtag Momla Rekati. The semblance was so neatly established that Hashtag Momla was particularly happy with his depiction as Mr. Westluv. He even ordered it to be enlarged and purchased a framed copy to hang on the wall of his spacious private quarters.  

Sometimes, Hashtag Momla is depicted doing all the things that he absolutely did not like doing, such as breaking the law of the land. As a peace-loving and law-abiding citizen, Hashtag Momla hated the very idea of breaking the law; yet ironically, he absolutely loved cartoons that showed him doing just that. One of his favorite cartoons depicted him as a clueless wealthy buffoon whose foolery literally oozed out from his ears. In that cartoon, he is shown reaching out with a hand that looked like a snake trying to bite an innocent lady standing near him. His face is dark and oily, his teeth are lecherous, and his eyes are two white eggs with tiny black dots that sparkle with the glow of evil. His other hand is raised as if to say hey, I don’t give a damn about the law. I want what I want and I will take it!! If you don’t like it you can go to hell. The cartoon was titled “Law Breaker” and was one of Hashtag Momla’s favorite cartoons because, he said, “why not? If you are this and they say you are that, why do you have to worry about this? I have told you what I am and you still want to say I am something else. Why should I waste my time to even think about it? I do my do you do your do: that is the doestion” he smartly remarked, to exclamations of admiration from his numerous cronies. The word “doestion” sounded so Shakespearean to Hashtag Momla that he now uttered it at every possible opportunity, to the extent that it got deadly boring and people clasped their hands to their ears and sped off as soon as he mentioned in within hearing distance.

Then one day Hashtag Momla saw a cartoon he did not like. Titled Mr. Pearhead, this particular cartoon looked too real for comfort. It was almost a perfect portrait of the great man, only that his features, especially his head, his eyes, his nose, his mouth, his cheeks and his ears had something rather unnatural about them. Hashtag Momla’s real life pear-shaped head was more pear-shaped than usual in the cartoon, looking more like a real pear with a very narrow top and a grossly bloated bottom. His eyes looked like tiny dark and deep holes, his mouth had sharp vampire teeth in them, his cheeks looked like tight bags of fat, and his ears resembled large traditional fans used by our common townsfolk in the hot summers. The cartoonist showed Mr. Pearhead perched on a huge high chair, wearing an ugly grin, and scowling down at a crowd of tiny people who were at once giving him food and begging him for food. For some reason, something about this particular cartoon told Hashtag Momla that it was really him, and made him very uncomfortable; so much so that he immediately filed suit against the cartoonist and the paper that carried the offending cartoon. His suit was dismissed for lack of merit and the defendants were told they had no case to answer. Hashtag Momla was beyond furious! He just could not believe it!

Meanwhile, after his much publicized lost case, Mr. Pearhead, aka Hashtag Momla, became the most popular cartoon character in our little town. Sometimes he is shown in an angry mood, beating up his helpless servants with a mighty whip that cut their faces upon contact while he gleefully asked them why. Sometimes he is depicted forcefully shoving handfuls of sand down the throats of people who owed him money or failed to honor a contract. Since he had lost all faith in the rule of law and all the courts, Mr. Pearhead was now depicted as a serial lawbreaker who always justified his criminality through the use of self-righteous platitudes about people owing him favors or failing to fulfil signed contracts. He knew that as long as he hid behind these justified reasons, all people could do was rage and fume and call him funny names. And so they did in their cartoons, often calling him such funny names as Pearhead Potato, Pearhead Yappa, Pearhead Yuppy and even Pearhead Nakla! 

And so was Hashtag Momla transformed from a great cartoon lover to a bitter hater of all things cartoon. He now refused to pose for any so-called pictures or have his cartoons hung on the trees of our little town. His cartoon-phobia grew so bad that one day when he saw an image of Mr. Pearhead as Pearhead Nakbi in the papers, he screamed so loudly that he swooned and had to be carried off for emergency medical attention.

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