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Friday, October 30, 2020

The pen still is what it used to be

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The beauty about growing old is not growing old at all. This might shock you, but only if you could spare just two minutes to read this piece. Before I finish you would certainly get the sense.

First things first, I have this confession to make: my handwriting is very poor, sub-standard. I have simply lost that nibble from the tip of that ball point pen. This, thanks to the keyboard; a dysfunctional pad that offers unchallenged alignments and corrections, even from one as dumb as myself. This solid item, that still fights for autonomy from a society of equally useless inseparables, yet to have made it to Hollywood’s ‘LES MISERABLES’, has done enough damage to this industry of writing geniuses.

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Often times have I had myself struggle with fewer than four letter words, where I should have been a spelling Connoisseur. Because I am, like 2Stv, Human ‘autrement’. And now, cornered by my 8-year-old daughter whose pen is so far the sharpest, I could not but help to save myself the shame by going back to ‘A’ for ‘Apple’ and ‘B’ for ‘Baboucarr’. She would have rebuffed that again; as far as she is concern ‘B’, could only be for ‘BALL’ or ‘Bisimillah’. That’s the work of that religious icon, the woman revered across the religious spectrum, Aja Maimuna Savage. Her school, Muhammed Yadalieu English and Arabic school is a citadel of learning.

And to the surprise of my readers, I have also lost track of the Alphabet, just as I have lost the spelling intimacy with my longtime best friend, ‘Ball point pen’. Don’t laugh; this is serious!
If you talk to Mr Gaye Sowe, the Executive Director of the Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa (IHRDA), he would attest to the fact that even at the university, spelling is becoming increasingly a problem. Mr Sambou would snub you for 7 straight days, that’s if you are lucky, for undoing the Englishman’s English in his English 101 class. He is strict walahi, and you would find many skipping his class, but only for a while because English 101 was like ‘wirri wirri’.

But, here is the point. Technology has simply robbed us off whatever human intelligence we have left. I could recount the momentary physical struggles, the little there was, at school. Even where the first mobile telephone, ‘GSM’, had been in used, its technological effects have not been viral. If there is any group it has benefitted as much, it is the privileged few, who for the bluff carry the handset which best helped brand them as petit bourgeoisie. Don’t say I am talking history far older than my memory. My uncle had one and that was just because he worked for the Point Newspaper. Saul Njie is his name and he still ‘worked’ with the Point Newspaper. Have you noticed I used the past tense of ‘work’ when I relate to my uncle’s preoccupation which generally implies he is no longer an employee of Pap Saine? (I AM SIMPLY INCAPACITATED).

He still is, as matter of fact and they are both my uncles. And let me disclose a secret, Mr Saine would never forgive me for, that is if you told him I said this about him, when I didn’t actually tell it to you. You read it and decided that it was best to tell him because you had wished to strain my relationship with him. I would have used the little knowledge I have of the law to defend myself, by merely refuting any association, whatsoever with the story. This is exactly the reason I will not tell Pap’s story.  If I were, I would have said he is so afraid of dogs that dogs themselves are aware of the hard fact that Mr Saine is so afraid of them. I mean, his fear for this animal equals almost nothing of the four-legged family. This is exactly the reason why I am not telling you the story.

Don’t just go around soiling my name. This story had always been there, even where the point went scavenging for something to make up front page. It made such creeping sound intimately a jet taken off a runway that the four-legged themselves knew this of Mr Saine. You did not hear about it, because you concentrated too much on Mobutu’s exploit in the Congo. Learnt, he asked his servants to sniffle the hard currencies big time, that they had their warranties reduced only between the hours of the actions and the hours they made it to destination X.

You see, this is exactly what my literature teacher in Junior School called ‘suspense’. May be he too borrowed the term from Shakespeare who left behind a banknote of English vocabularies at  Barclay, where the Queen appoints and sacks whoever that she feels displeases her.

This is my response to Momodou Sabally’s, (former Presidential Affairs Minister) call for everyone to tell his/her story. Disregard my age because this I must argue. With the gains made in technological innovation one would have only presumed, and expect equally innovative write-ups. The kind that would have had Chinua Achebe buried along with whatever was left of this great jewel of the African savannah. However, this expectation is brought knee down by simply the lack of inspiration from this generation of young writers. They have everything required, at the very least to gang their way up the literary ladder. This could not have been easier where the computer autocorrects every word mis-spelled and hyphenate the ones you might have thought do not need the stroke. At some point I had asked myself why is the computer always telling me I was wrong? And this only goes to show the extent at which my grammar has spiraled downwards. It is no secret I performed badly in the WASSCE and cost Nusrat the much needed gestation in the Arts. Mr AND Mrs Npankgeh had bragged, expecting straight ‘A’s from me. May be the attention had undone me the wherewithal to do the trick. I heard Mrs Npankgeh had gone round the classes asking if students ever remembered Abdou Njie scoring a below A grade in the Arts subjects, especially English. Of course I heard, because I couldn’t stand the shame by going to school.

As a matter of fact, that has affected my professional development more than you will ever like to believe and lowered my self-confidence. I have lived that past for as far as I could remember. Do you just realize, I have now a complete essay by keeping you in suspense for the most time? This goes to show just how powerful the pen still is. If you find the inspiration, also do come up with your own story, and be sure to inspire another soul somewhere to find the courage to piece together his/her story.
The pen still is what it used to be!

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