It is 21:00 hours in our studio in Ballanghar and welcome to The Interview, a riveting show on which we ask the hard questions and also crack jokes. I am your host YAT and I have a special guest today; Talib Gibran. A million things are happening in The Gambia but we only have time to discuss a few with him in the next 30 minutes. This is Saloum Saloum Radio on 100.1 FM in the heart of CRR. Stay tuned!
YAT: It is a pleasure to have you on The Interview, Gibran.
Talib: Before we start, stop saying 21: 00 hours in our studio. You do not have time in your studio.
YAT: Haha, how should I say it?
Talib: It is 21:00 hours in Banjul or local time.
YAT: I never knew that.
Talib: It’s common, especially in sport presenters. You may have a studio clock but not time.
YAT: Noted, haha. Thank you.
Talib: No worries. You can tell your editor too.
YAT: Sure. Let’s get back to the real thing. I have wanted to interview you for years and you kept running away. What happened?
Talib: I did not run away. I was not ready. I just wanted to make sure I had everything in tact before granting an interview. I don’t want to do a Mai Fatty on you by walking out.
YAT: Where do we start? Lots of things are happening in the country.
Talib: Let’s start with the first question on your paper. Don’t pretend you didn’t write them down.
YAT: Haha, you’re at your sarcastic best. I am happy. This means we will have a good interview.
Talib: I hope so. So, start shooting.
YAT: Let’s start from home. You’ve been married for nearly three years now. How has that journey been for you?
Talib: People get married for different reasons. Based on my reason, I am happy.
YAT: What is your reason?
Talib: I got married to have enough sex at will and have two kids. I almost hit both targets.
YAT: Define almost.
Talib: I have just one kid. I am half-way there.
YAT: You are young and fresh. It should not be difficult to hit that low target.
Talib: Actually, it doesn’t matter. Sex is hard, and procreation is even harder. So, the number of kids you want to have doesn’t determine the amount of work between the sheets. Besides, my job wouldn’t even allow me to have tons of kids. I go to work from morning to late night. Most of the days, by the time I return, everyone is asleep.
YAT: That still doesn’t mean you cannot have many kids.
Talib: It does. It means I don’t have time to constantly mate like a wolf. If I suddenly have dozens of kids, it means someone has been helping me; an unsolicited help.
YAT: Haha. That is so typical of you. Hurry and score again.
Talib: You sound like aunties or uncles or foolish friends who keep traumatising newlyweds over childbearing. Like I said, procreation is hard enough for couples. Don’t make it even harder by asking them when they will have a child. It is none of your business. Sorry I don’t mean you.
YAT: I get it. It is sad seeing people being stigmatized for not bearing children, only a year after getting married. But, still, I hope you will have that second one soon.
Talib: I don’t.
YAT: You don’t want it now?
Talib: No, I don’t. I have a daughter already. Until she starts getting on my nerves and loses all cuteness, I don’t want another.
YAT: You realise that might never happen, right? Baby girls don’t lose their cuteness.
Talib: I know. That is why I want another girl.
YAT: You don’t want to mix them? Like a boy and a girl?
Talib: No, absolutely not. I want two girls. There are enough terrible men in the world. I don’t want to bring in another one and be constantly worried if he would become the next Netanyahu.
YAT: But it doesn’t mean he will be terrible.
Talib: It also doesn’t mean he will not be terrible.
YAT: Yes, that is true.
Talib: Exactly. I do not want to take the chance.
YAT: I think you should have more kids. Besides, didn’t the prophet say we should increase his Ummah?
Talib: The prophet said that when he could count Muslims across the world. We are more than a billion now. The size is enough. I am certain he is happy with the work we have done.
YAT: Haha, interesting point. But a boy is important to continue the family name and lineage. That is what everyone desires.
Talib: I am not among them. I am pretty happy for a girl to continue my family. Fatima continued the prophet’s family and more than a thousand years since his death, we are still talking about his family, thanks to a girl.
YAT: But it is important to carry a man’s surname into the future. That is why even babies take the surname of their fathers so that the family continues.
Talib: There is no one single surname that originally belongs to a woman. All these surnames come from men. So even if the baby takes the mother’s surname, in reality that surname belongs to a man; the mother’s father. There is no difference.
YAT: There is difference, of course. Would you then allow your kids to take their mother’s surname?
Talib: I have only one child and she took her mum’s surname.
YAT: Haha, I see. That is because you two have the same surname.
Talib: Yes, but even if we didn’t, I would have no problem for my kids to take their mother’s family name. It makes no difference in the child’s growth.
YAT: Okay, I will not stretch that topic. Let’s talk about FGM. I know it is late but what is your position on it?
Talib: I don’t have a position on it.
YAT: What do you mean? Do you support it or not?
Talib: No, I don’t.
YAT: But our religious leaders argued it is Islamic and there was even a fatwa on it.
Talib: I saw the fatwa and I couldn’t give a hoot. This practice is not new and the fact that there was no fatwa in 2015 tells me all I needed to know.
YAT: Do you agree it is sunnah?
Talib: That is the part that confuses me.
YAT: And how is that?
Talib: Okay, pro-FGM campaigners claimed it is sunnah and there is a hadith that the prophet purportedly said only a little should be cut. Anti-FGM campaigners said that hadith is not authentic. The two sides however agreed the practice predates the prophet. Now, if the hadith is not authentic, it means either the prophet was not aware of the practice or he was aware of it but didn’t say anything. If he was not aware of it, then it cannot be sunnah. If he was aware but didn’t say anything, then it is sunnah. So, which side does one believe?
YAT: That is an open-heart surgery of the arguments. But then what is your reason for not supporting it, even though you’re conflicted on the arguments?
Talib: Personally, I believe we ought to stop hurting people, especially kids. All these piercings and cuttings are so inhumane. If it is sunnah, then it will be among thousands of sunnah practices I wouldn’t do, apologies to the Beloved.
YAT: Okay, let’s step away from cutting and focus on back-way. Many young people are dying.
Talib: I refuse to call it back-way.
YAT: What will you call it then?
Talib: Traveling, exploring, migrating, whatever. The Europeans explored Africa through the sea centuries ago but never called it back-way or irregular migration. Why should we? We are simply returning the favour.
YAT: Of course, it is irregular. The regular way is to apply for visa and then get on the plane.
Talib: Batchilly does that for people, with a chartered flight and we still call it irregular migration. Even tourists don’t come here on chartered flights. Only Batchilly can offer than. Can someone please get him my passport?
YAT: Come on, haha. But most of these people going eventually get stranded somewhere and the IOM would start repatriating them.
Talib: Don’t get me started on IOM. I don’t know why “for” is in the name. It should be International Organisation against Migration, not for migration. I do not see people the organisation helps migrate; it only helps repatriate. And they call it voluntary repatriation.
YAT: What should they call it? It is voluntary because those who get on the plane do so without being forced.
Talib: Here is the thing. If you go into a detention centre and you find me there, knowing I cannot escape or get out without any help, if you offer to take me back home or remain in detention, I will take the offer. I am only choosing that option because, at the very least, I will come out of prison, which I couldn’t have done on my own.
YAT: The youths are the cream of the society. What should we do?
Talib: We cannot do anything about it. Those embarking on the dangerous journeys have already made up their minds that there is better than here. Unless that changes, you cannot convince them to stay.
YAT: Don’t you think also that the young people do not have jobs and that is why they are leaving?
Talib: That is quite misleading. I can tell you a lot of these people leaving are somehow employed or doing their own raba raba which is sufficient to feed them. I wanted to leave too and I was employed at the time. It is a mindset. Once someone believes they stand a better chance somewhere, it doesn’t matter what they get where they are, they still will leave.
YAT: But the country is hard.
Talib: Yes, it is. There is no sugar-coating that. I said it before, jokingly of course, that we should all run out of The Gambia and leave it empty. Now I am not joking. We should.
YAT: What will happen then to empty Gambia?
Talib: Our neighbours can take it. Their soldiers have been coming in and out as if we are a region of Senegal. We can also grow rice here while we are spread in settlement camps across the world.
YAT: I hope it will not come to that because I want to stay in Ballanghar. But the saddest thing is that these youths risk death to get to Europe and still get deported.
Talib: The Europeans will get tired of deporting.
YAT: That reminds me. I heard you stopped eating rice.
Talib: No, I cannot stop. I only paused for this month.
YAT: How do you feel about it?
Talib: It’s been 10 days, so still a long way to go. I have told my family if I die, they should know it is because of rice and they should warn whoever wants to stop eating rice.
YAT: Haha, you will not die. Speaking of eating. social media was rife with people revealing how much they spend on daily consumption. The depans conversation. You have been quiet.
Talib: It is their problem. Talking about it will not make it easy for anyone. In fact, it only reveals how poor some of us are.
YAT: Don’t you give depans?
Talib: I do. I have been giving it since my salary was D2,500. The point is, people give depans based on their earnings and, trust me, it has no effect on the taste. If someone can give D5,000 daily, it means there is more where that comes from. Of course, there are others who relentlessly pursue a life of unbridled hedonism, which is expensive but not bad.
YAT: So, it is basically cut your depans according to your depans.
Talib: Exactly. It doesn’t bother me. In fact, I will start visiting those revealing their huge depans on Twitter. We all have to enjoy it. I do however spend more money on cash power and credit than I spend on food.
YAT: That is strange because you and food though, haha.
Talib: Africell and Nawec are the chief extorters. The only difference between them is the name.
YAT: Haha. We only have five minutes left. What would you tell the upcoming generation who would carry this country to the next level?
Talib: Like a comedian said, my advice to the upcoming generation is that don’t come. Stay there.
YAT: I will advise them to come. We need them here.
Talib: Haha. Let’s see whose advice they will take.
YAT: Before we wrap up, what are your last words?
Talib: These are not my last words. I will say a lot more after this.
YAT: Looking forward to those words and what a way to sign off. Thank you all for listening and thank you Gibran for coming.