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Saturday, December 4, 2021

War, whiskey and women

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he correlation between war and women has long been established. What most people do not realise however, is that the correlation between war and whiskey is actually, much stronger.

Our journey starts with the discovery that quinine could cure malaria — a timely discussion considering a quinine derivative is aiding in the fight against Covid-19. I mean, even The Donald has recommended this most invaluable I remember my very first ” cure’ encounter with chloroquine.

I must have been seven when I was diagnosed with malaria and had to take the much- dreaded Fansidar and chloroquine combination, with a side of paracetamol. My mother would sing Mary Poppins’ “take a spoon full of sugar as the medicine goes down” while forced the pills down my throat.

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I couldn’t swallow then so I had to chew each tablet. Chloroquine always went in last — for good reason — and the spoon of sugar would literally follow. So, when quinine was discovered to be treatment for malaria, the British East India Company introduced it to its soldiers whose numbers had been greatly reduced by the ravaging effects of the dreaded disease.

However, quinine then, at least thrice as bitter as the chloroquine that I forced down my throat close to three decades ago, could not be forced down the throats of these brave soldiers.

In fact, it was so bad that some would choose to die of malaria than try this magic pill. In the early century, some genius (who was most probably a drunk) woke up one morning and had this brilliant idea – you cannot begin to imagine the number of brilliant inventions developed by drunks and royal highnesses.

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“Well, what if we decided to mix quinine with some whiskey to totally kill off the bitterness! There’s surely nothing that kills taste better than whiskey? Is there?” When he sounded this brilliant idea to his other half-drunk friend, he received a standing ovation.

His friend, who in trying to get rid of the terrible hangover from his exploits the night before, had in his hands some lime he was ready to lick on, with a sprinkle of sugar.

This gave him another brilliant idea; there were lightbulbs (ignore the fact that Edison hadn’t yet invented the lightbulb), stars shone in the sky, and together these drunk geniuses created what party people around the world have come to know as Gin and Tonic! All of this done in the name of saving the lives of our men in uniform It is therefore no cliché to say, when a pill is too bitter to swallow, get Jack and his brother Daniel.

Fortunately, these days, pills are coated with enough sweetener to make them taste like candy. However, not all pills are visible. ..not all realities are sugarcoated… and not all societies are the same.

So, when Warrant Officer Class II Ousman Touray boarded public transportation last week with his Johnnie Walker in hand, he must not have remembered the Johnni slogan. If he had, he would have it.

Going back to the correlation of war and women, it would be good to remind my kind reader (reader, because I imagine I have lost my religious fanatic readership at this point), who has been patient with me up to this point, that it was Delilah who brought down Samson, before God restored his strength yet again.

Our JW soldier also, unfortunately met his Delilah in the van unfortunately (twice for emphasis… Kinda like the biblical verily verily).

As the passengers tried to have a proper conversation with a man who was clearly half gone, and definitely not in the mood to listen, words were exchanged, names were called, and the good old Gambian profanity — illiterate was used on the subject of this essay. It always baffles me, how a country as illiterate as ours seldom hesitates to use the “I” word as an insult.

As the video spread like wildfire on social media, The Republic of Gambian Facebook was quick to scream condemnation. It was wrong! Downright stupid! Utter nonsense! What effrontery! Who the bloody hell was this man? Where did he come from? What was he doing in our uniform? What was he doing in our security service? Ousman Touray had to go! It was not clear what the outrage was for. Was it because he was obviously Muslim and drinking alcohol? Was it because he had chosen an imported brand over our local and more potent kaana? Was it because he “didn’t give a f*** about the S.O.”? Was it because he talked back? Was it because he was drinking while in uniform? See Facebook massive react for different reasons.

It is the beauty of our democracy. When I first saw the video, I foresaw divided opinion on the issue.

I was however to be very much disappointed. There was mostly outright condemnation, even from diaspora Gambians. I decided to add my thoughts to the one-sided debate…on the other side.

My post read: “In the developed world (bar my beloved PRC), a man in uniform, drinking alcohol in a public transport, and cussing out other passengers, would most likely receive sympathy… questions will be asked about his sanity… the force will arrange for him to see a therapist… he will go on to appear on Oprah… where he will tell his story as we all tear up and cry with him…he will author a self-help book and become some sort of life coach on how to get your act together. So yeah… I exaggerate… I know many people in armed forces in the developed world do not receive the care they should… I know this Is an issue that has helped candidates win and lose elections around the world… but you “get my mean ‘ Our indoctrination is different… but weirdly, even those of us who grew up or lived for long in the west still hold fast to these views and have this knee-jerk reaction to things like these… Instead of asking the question Why? We ask the question As has become custom for me, I had looked at the Western world’s issues like these.

I have disco way different countries deal with alcohol or drug consumption within their military. I mention drugs because countries like Afghanistan, Vietnam and a great host of sub-Saharan countries have been seen to encourage their military to use illicit drugs. On alcohol, Russia built the largest land-based army in Europe with taxes on vodka!…and they built their military courage on it too. So my essay topic should have been War, Whiskey, Women and Opium, but opium doesn’t start with a W.

Where it seems the police force in different countries have different policies on alcohol consumption (on the job), it is clear that most forces discourage the act. The story with the military however is very different.

Before you decide to roast me for opining on the issue, rest assured that this and the previous paragraph of this essay only seek to comfort you with the fact that this essay doesn’t come without a bit of research. Now, back to the issue at hand, of my new-found brother Ousman Touray.

Following the outrage on social media, the Army Spokesman (one of the most brilliant men in uniform I know…our acquaintance dates close to a decade- and-half ago) made it clear through The Fatu Network that Ousman Touray “has been arrested and now faces the stiffest punishment over his ‘gross’ indiscipline behaviour”.

Again, even though I understand that the military has its own code of ethics and conducts by which our men in uniform must live, it would be great to understand what part of his act was the cause of his punishment.

It certainly must not be because an army that is trying to build bridges and appease the masses, decided to react to the outrage on social media. I cannot imagine that, within twenty-four hours, an inquiry was established and concluded on…l might however be very wrong. Miracles do happen… no? So, what’s my point? Well that’s the beauty of an RBN…I have none! I will however posit that Ousman Touray needs help. The man is clearly fighting his demons, whether at home or at work.

I have spent time around many a drinker, but I have never in my life seen a man, in public transport, on broad daylight, johluying a bottle of whiskey! That person is definitely drowning his sorrows…or at least making his best attempt to.

In attempting to drown his sorrows, Ousman Touray was rudely interrupted by someone, and he decided to clap back! I am saddened by the fact that, we are still a society that does not even attempt to recognise mental health issues and to address them.

We must at least begin to acknowledge that a man or woman does not have to walk naked in the streets to be undergoing mental health issues. We must begin to accept that black men do get depressed… that we actually get more depressed than most.

We must kill this myth that black men are indestructible… that lunj def nyor kor teye. Bilai sometimes dunj kor day musa teye. I believe Warrant Officer  deserves medical examination and not some “stiff punishment”. If he is found to be mentally unstable, he deserves rehabilitation.

If he gets rehabilitated, he deserves to be on television to tell his story. If he tells his story, he deserves to receive some of that GSM money. Global Properties should give him a piece of land. Chop Shop should give him a “lunch for life” coupon.

Our generous multi-millionaires should set up a fund for him and a Go-Fund-Me should be set-up by Facebook massive for his continued upkeep. He should be celebrated as the poster boy for men in uniform who turn their lives around for the better! I should be his manager and should receive ten percent!


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