Kojo Mɛtɛɛ was a notorious thief in my holy village. It was rumoured that when he entered a room, he could smell exactly where money and valuables had been hidden and go straight for the kill. Or rather, straight for the steal. Those were the days when bank vaults resided in the inner entrails of mattresses, the ones made with straw. When there was fire, mattresses burnt with expensive swag.
One day, my big brother Joe Base, in a bid to protect his savings from Kojo and The Gang, hid his money in such an obscure place that he forgot where he had hidden it! After hours of trying to find it, he gave up and called Kojo, who stepped into the room, closed his eyes, sniffed the air a bit and laughed.
“Bra Joe Base paa, it is under the carpet,” he pointed.
Kojo loved stealing the coconuts from the backyard of the local rich man, Opanyin Nemi. He would scale over Opanyin’s high wall and climb the coconut trees, plucking the coconuts so they fell outside the compound for his gang members to collect. He did so with his eyes looking out for Opanyin, whose single-barrelled gun, also called ti aborɔferɛ (pluck down pawpaw), was feared.
One afternoon, as Kojo was up a coconut tree, he saw perceived movement in Opanyin’s house. His friends whistled to warn him but as he craned his neck to investigate, he lost his grip and started falling…
One of his pals whispered over the wall, they were afraid Kojo was either badly hurt or was dead.
“Kojo Mɛtɛɛ, w’awu anaa?” (Kojo, are you dead?)
The response came in, slowly…
“Mi nwu yɛ o, na pua na mɛ pua.” (I am not dead, but I have been shortened!)
I bring you greetings from Wofa Kapokyikyi, who has been following the issues in The Gambia over the past weeks from his stool at the Liberty Fan Club.
Ei, Wofa said it o. He predicted that Papa Jammeh, like Gbagbo, baa gbo last show. Papa Jammeh, like the proverbial fly which didn’t listen to advice, has followed the corpse into the grave.
After losing the elections and conceding and dis-conceding, Papa J wanted to copy the senior Papa J but he didn’t follow The Handbook well. You negotiate indemnity clauses and transitional provisions before the elections and not after. It was Haillemariam Lemar who said that Jammeh was so sure of winning the Gambian elections that he didn’t even attempt to rig it! That surely must explain why Papa J missed the sequence.
Then, he proceeded to dig his feet in. The regional Council of Chiefs said no but only Papa J said yes. Even when his akyeame and sub-chiefs said a new dawn had come, Papa J still said the sun was shining brightly on his coast.
One of the key weaknesses of dictators is that they do not realise it when the applause is either gone or it has become faked. They refuse to get it when they lose favour. In leadership as in life, you need to know when to move before you are pushed.
I always get amused and surprised when African leaders don’t want to step down honorably after service. My reason is that we have so few ex-Presidents for the many opportunities that exist for such experience in the international community.
That was my position with Gbagbo.
With Papa Jammeh, I am not that clear. Perhaps he analysed that bit, apart from his fear of not resting in peace, and came to the conclusion that he is not employable after stepping off the stage as Head of State.
After advising the fly for so long, the regional Council of Chiefs decided to show the corpse to the fly, to let the fly know its potential sleeping partner. The corpse was escorted by soldiers from the land which had carved out a bit of its belly for The Gambia and which almost enveloped the small nation. Other nations, including Sikaman who had ancestral spirits crying for retribution, also provided troops. Amalaman provided iron birds, who could spit fire. These troops started marching “left, right, left, right”, singing “O-zami-namina-mina-mina”, in that deep voice of the senior Papa J and came knocking on the doors of The Gambia. It was a sight to behold, numbers stretching from the East to the West.
According to the BBC, “The Gambia’s entire armed forces are made up of only about 2,500 troops.”
Let me sikamanise that for you. The entire Gambian Army will not fill 100 VIP Yutong buses. Our National Theatre and the Conference Centre are all we need to sit the entire army personnel in the Gambia.
The story is told of a new Inspector-General of the Ahenfie police who was informed about some of his men extorting palm wine and cowries from citizens as they returned from their farms. He disguised himself one day and went out to investigate. One of the policemen gave him such a tough time and took all his palm wine at a checkpoint. When he removed his disguise and the policeman recognised him, the junior kotiman saluted clumsily and blurted, “I sack myself, sah!”
When the Chief of Papa J’s Army saw the multitude of soldiers from accompanying the corpse, he weighed his options and stated that the palaver at hand had nothing to do with soldier matter. “I won’t commit my men to any stupid fight”, he said, and proceeded to take selfies.
Wise man. The toad should not sweat on behalf of the lizard which chews pepper.
Most armies that spend their time terrorising their own citizens spend less time actually preparing to fight real soldiers. I hope the Gambian Army still knows how to fight.
You should consider the size of your head before you challenge Etikelenkele to a Head War. When Etikelenkele was a child, he was restrained by his parents from watching birds fly above his head. That act disturbed the equilibrium of his body. His head was that gargantuan.
Wofa Kapokyikyi told me that it was an African proverb that eventually make Jammeh to jɛ jɛmɛ.
“It is a Mozambican proverb”, he said. “If you want to swallow a mango seed, you first of all calculate the diameter of your anus.”
So, I am told that in the heat of the developments, Papa J asked for Teacher Johnson who brought a pair of dividers and took the dimensions of the posterior orifice of the J. It was less than pi.
Papa J just gave up.
One of Papa J’s main demands for his days outside The Gambia will be the provision of a good washman. Spare a thought for those white gowns. If that request is not met or if the new washman cannot wash with Omo so it shows, Papa J may have to change to khaki gowns. Afterall, our elders say that sankofa is not fatal.
One clear bright news is that the Home-based African Herbalists Association (HAHA) just gained a high-profile permanent member.
Papa Jammeh eventually was uprooted like a seedling. Initially I wanted him to be uprooted like a yam but he got lucky. This was a seedling approach.
See he has been transplanted! W’apua! He has been shortened!
I see the Jammeh cloud has a silver lining paa. His silly move makes it much much easier for him to be made to account for his atrocities in the past. What he feared, that he would be tried when he handed over, that must have led to this stance, will come on him. On a better platter.
In the end, at the final exit point from The Gambia, Jammeh should be given a ride in a wheelbarrow across the border.
Till I come your way next time with another sebitical, perhaps atop a wheelbarrow, I remain: