By Talib Gibran
Yes, Sheriff once wrote ‘This and That’. Ebrima Baldeh had a column named ‘This and That’ but only wrote a few articles about Armitage and then skipped to writing in Fula instead. I don’t blame him, considering more Gambians will likely speak Pulaar than English in the next ten years, it is good to assess your chances ahead of that protracted Fula ethnic coup. I need to go back to Boki in Fulladu myself. And for Sheriff’s ‘This and That’, he went on talking about things he has no clue of – Blair’s Britain, Bush’s America, communism, capitalism, Judaism – but still eloquently put them. And since Baldeh forgot to patent ‘This and That’ before rushing into Fula literature and Sheriff is being Sheriff – republishing his Observer days’ essays so we wouldn’t forget he is a good writer – I will claim ownership of ‘This and That’. Henceforth.
People have persistently asked why I haven’t been writing essays. Sometimes I would say no muse; other times, no laptop. But most of the time, I lie about the real reason because the real reason is that there is no real reason. Until, as awkward as it seems, Baba Sheriff jumped in having missed hearing mere mortals serenade my writings since he doesn’t read them. A mordant wit, even sometimes prankster, Sheriff Bojang is unpretentiously an aristocrat of words. No doubt, Fangbili Mansa would have immortalised him with a statue at the entrance of Brikama (or Bakau, wherever his soul eventually rests) like a Nok – almond-shaped eyes, amazingly quizzical eyebrows and parted lips holding Fangbili’s mighty Green Pen which he used to write our acrimonious divorce with ICC and forced little Wole Soyinka to read it on television.
Writing is a craft; the more you write the better you become. My case is quite the opposite; the essays I wrote two years ago were, as some flatteringly claimed, equal to George Orwell’s masterpieces. Now the thing just stopped. My writing technique has been in a downward trajectory; maybe that is the real reason I momentarily stopped and pretended it was the muse. I confess. But The Standard’s readership has never been short of something to read, especially on Fridays. When Fangbili snatched Sheriff many readers thought that was the end of exciting essays; RBN went into doldrums; Immortal’s dreadlocks got bigger than his head could carry and that ended his complicated philosophy/Sufi column. I tried to replace Sheriff but I failed. Famara could replace Latirr but he didn’t. Immortal read more books than Timbooktoo has so no one could definitely replace him. Now, put all of us aside and take a bow, Rohey Samba lights up my weekend; her clarity of thought, rare creativity, inventive diction and her unapologetic views on grey areas…..just amazing.
I don’t often wish I was Senegalese. All things considered now, I’d rather choose Dakar over the international embarrassment of life under Ado. Well, maybe that’s a little harshly expressed than intended but I was stunned having watched him deliver his silafando from China – One Gambia Policy; something he probably thought was a development blueprint. I felt a chill in my spine because it could mean my region, Foni, finally wants independence and Banjul is refusing.
I will admit to a rare pang of envy whenever I watch Ding-Ding Mansa speak. Watching him speak is like watching Leonardo paint Mona Lisa and, as a matter of service to the nation, he should show Ado the finer points of suckling from the breasts of orators by adding a twang to the way he pronounces words.
We clamoured for the grey and bald, thinking they were panacea of sort, some silver bullets for issues that bedevil this rather sad country. When Fangbili was drubbed at the polls and sent packing, the grey and the bald got the chance they never thought they would to lead this confused pact since most of them almost became his last victim. But like the delightful aroma of freshly-baked croissants when you walk into the supermarket, the fact they exist doesn’t mean they are natural. One year is already hell as a panyé of yellow minions continues to creepily scare minorities and maim dissent. No Fangbili hit squad. No Bamba Dinka. NIA maintained but only as a scarecrow. No disappearances. Yet, until today, the harassment and vile attack on individuals who think different is ignored by the powers that be and the yellows that claim they are the power, celebrate and advocate it.
I like Ado’s persona. I really do. He’s humble, soft, reserved, tacit; almost all the prophetic characteristics. In this day and age, people with these unique qualities are usually imams or chief priests or shriners but not politicians. That’s why Fatandingo compares him with Moses while others believe Noah and his Ark have better comparative similarities with our situation under Fangbili Mansa ahead of the election. All the sheikhs are quiet. They murmured against it when Imam Fatty did a similar but rather unwitting comparison of Fangbili to Prophet Yahya (of course, the wisest thing to do was murmur for your own sake).
Ba Kawsu considered it blasphemous, look what it got him: a swollen finger from an NIA night chat, all the apparent things that happened during the NIA night chat, elongated detention and, last result, Casamance exile. Interestingly, during that soul-searching exile at a place widely considered to be Fangbili’s graze land (he could grab him or anyone there at a moment’s notice; almost instantaneously without having to wake separatist kingpin Salif Sadio from his lunchtime siesta), the outspoken cleric kept slandering religious figures in the country and, when Fangbili left, he returned revering the same people he slandered. Smh
But, truth be told, what Ado is not, he is not and we ought to speak about it so he will make effort.
If a section of the society (including myself) thinks his belly is worryingly bulging and needs to hit the gym, they don’t deserve an online kangaroo court that ultimately delivers a death sentence. The same goes for his low self-esteem among the so-called Coalition bigwigs who, despite seemingly cocooning him like a newly hatched chick that needs warmth, he keeps making schoolboy errors while they smile inwardly because each time he makes a damaging mistake, their odds of becoming president go higher. At least that’s what they think.
Folks, Ado ought to be spoken about. If militant yellow minions say the grey-haired socialist never slows when it comes to blowing his own trumpet, demoralised green minions are equally at liberty to say Ado has a terabyte of empty space in his brain that needs to be filled with international relations and a little grammar. You know, in case he plans to say again killing one bird with two stones or, more preposterously, French is a stakeholder in EU.
Even Ado’s detractors all agree that he’s a good listener. Besides, it’s very easy to spot that during his interviews with the way he eerily over-listens and gets lost in the middle of conversations like an autistic child. He should make an effort to learn some basic stuff on his own because those who were supposed to teach him are only there to learn from his mistakes. I feel sorry for him, most of the time, as he haplessly settles in the job amidst a pool of intellectuals. But, hey Ado, hats off for breaking the jinx so other surnames could become presidents other than the Js: from Jawara to Jammeh (six letters each). Now that the curse is broken, maybe the next letter is H, which is also six letters as Barrow. Looks like only six-letter surnames can become presidents here. I know all of you must have started counting letters in surnames of your favourite aspirants…
you know, the Ds and the Fs. But if (no, when) that happens (H-surname becomes president), tarrbiya will be restored in this country: caning at elementary schools (Njundu you can squeeze my ear for suggesting reintroduction of corporal punishment in schools), religious education, instilling of moral values, arranged marriages (yes, arranged marriages because, apparently, they have more happily-ever-afters than our now so-called love marriages that end just after consummation), respect for elders and women (so that all these disturbing and depraved leakages of women’s nudity will end), etc, a supreme leadership style with that Big Brother presence that ensures people are discipline at all times. Ado needs to design such and start caning even ministers who speak ill of women, of minorities or who engage in corrupt practices and have become danger to not only themselves but the nation’s posterity because history has taught us, times without number, that men don’t change their behaviors until there is a threat of beating.
Definitely I have hit some nerves. As I always say, if you’re sad that you can’t beat the shit outta me because you can only fight online, I suggest you download Einstein, the wild-haired physicist’s theory of happiness. Chill, it is 2018. I know a genuine Happy New Year greeting is probably too extravagant a wish but, Happy New Year anyway. Over to you, Ado!