The ‘Nyanbalastic’: A recollection of days

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By K Kanuteh

The “Nyangbalastic” or “Nyanba” for short, is mostly a white elastic shoe that resembles the strap shoes of recent, that had nonetheless gone through many corrupting designs and quality degradation. In the anticlockwise reminiscence of the past, the Nyanba used to be the most widely and proudly worn shoe a few years down history lane.

The shoe had stamped its authority from the classroom to the football field as a force to reckon with. When the heads of slippers strands are cut and attached to the bottom of the Nyanba as spikes, worn by the stupidest of defenders. Those were days when football had no rules and the referees defy gravity as sprinters after a game. I was informed, the Nyanba was the deal on the dance parlour of the “baal pushere” making event goers needing a bath from the dust, while the hardcore die off looking ghostly only to revive frightenedly “funkula.”

Well, as a fanatic of the Nyanba, one recalls, after rocking the weekend with it, its thoroughly washed on Sundays to a glittering white ready for school the next day. Days when Pacotile (RIP), is mimicked in my Mandinka Wollof. A rapper and ball juggler, always with his Nyanba as an emblem. Splendor were the days when significant historic events of national image were punctuated in a ritzy of a rainbow pattern. The flawless beauty of “Nyanba Kawas” takes and filled up the ground for independence celebration in which multiple coloured uniforms from different schools converges to mark the historic day. Illustrious as it was, Nyanba remains to bridging the existing social gaps between the so called opulent and the poor.

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The recollections of the Nyanba are far more significant than just what is previously stated. In terms of academics, the days of the Nyanba can be remembered as days when student’s strove to catapult themselves to break through and beyond the barrier lines of standards. When standards were raised up to raise the quality of the students, unlike nowadays, when standards are lowered to accommodate/ carry the student along. Text materials of the lower grades are indiscernible by the university student of today. Huh! The brown colored English Grammar for junior secondary school, brighter grammar series, mathematics etc. Nights that witness kerosene lamps lit at the study table, or one improvised from an old Nescafe tin punctured in the cover and a cloth mess plaited and slot in, producing enough lighting and a steady smoke. 

School memoirs of when quantitative and verbal aptitude were taught by Minister Babucarr Joof, Madam Chargie Jallow, Mr Lamin Saidy, naming a few. Early mental drills of mathematical timetable and formula mastery with Mr Gaye, alias “Do You Know Me.” Where the Principal drinks his coffee to the music of the whip and screams of the poor student. English language brainstorms making students give similes like “as busy as a “konobaito.” An unforgiving “neon kulo” readied to jolt stray cows toe the standard line. When Mr Alpha Khan strolls the school compound peeping the corners to keep teacher and student on the line. A success story naming a school after the principal, where discipline married excellence.

Nyanba days are when students are not reminded to work hard, but zealous to sit to the Common Entrance exams. As it is “publish or perish,” in academic circles, the common entrance is a “pass or perish”. Its abolition loosening the shackles of hardwork.

The end of the Nyanba days saw championing calls to the right of the child to do as s/he pleases, abolition of corporal punishment, foreignization of the curriculum, quantity promotion of teacher and graduates, prosecution of the teacher by parents for trying to discipline their progeny, maiming of the teacher by students, list goes on.

Even If I accept my if in Kipling’s If, my longing for the Nyanba and Nyanba days cannot be marred, as I strove to ramble on Mr Gibramble’s turf.