Friday, 30 May 2008

The Gambian Experience Part Seven (The King & Queen of wind-up). From January 2008.

Photo above:-

The 'King' and 'Queen' of Wind-Up.

Ousman is our hotel's front gate security guard, and the following morning as we trudge through the entrance he tells us what occured while we were out celebrating.
Apparently there was a large disturbance (what the English media would term a riot) outside the hotel's front entrance and all the local shops had to be closed down when the 'opposition' (Boo, hiss...) who had won the seat (Bakau was a different ward/region) and about three miles from the village, decided to take to the streets and attack the losers (the good guys) and the army had to be called in to quell the rioting...
Now come on...
How stupid is that ?
Win the seat and celebrate, that I can understand, but win the seat and smash up shops and cars and anything else on the street ?
That's pretty dumb.
This world does seem a strange place sometimes.
Anyway, I digress so back to Ousman...
Tribally, Ousman is a Serer and Haddy is a Jola.
The Serer are traditionally a fishing community while the Jola are what we would term 'wheeler dealers' with a touch of Arthur Dailey in their soul and never the twain shall meet.
If you put these two together for any length of time then sparks start flying after ten seconds and the fire gets hotter while you watch and listen.
They wind each other up unmercifully and it is so much fun to watch even if I understand next to nothing, but he's a nice guy nevertheless and we always stop for a chat with him at the gate...
He has just told Haddy that she should be climbing the pine nut tree to get down the nuts that are ripe and ready as that is what the Jola monkeys are known for, and she has retaliated immediately by telling him that she respects him because at least he has a proper job sitting on his backside at the front of a hotel rather than sitting on his backside in a boat dreaming the day away which is what the Serer traditionally do...
It is a Gambian thing between two of the biggest wind-ups I have ever met, but at least they do it with a smile. There is no malice and no underlying motive. Just the two traditions joking at each others expense.
Such conversations are close to being banned in England by stupid laws brought in by an increasingly stupid and appeasing government for if we cannot joke and find humour in each other's traditions and stereotypes then we have lost another key in unlocking the humanity within the human heart, which is one of the reasons I will always lampoon others stereotypes and traditions.
After all, they are no better than me and no worse either, we just have different cultures and beliefs and lifestyles and nothing is THAT sacred that it cannot be made light of, not even religion, for there is humour in everything we do within the eyes of others.
It is something that we in the West are rapidly losing sight of and legislating against, but it will not work for it only causes resentment among those who feel that appeasement is unnecessary and that would seem to be most of the population excepting M.P's, Councillors, and all those who make their living by keeping
'people' imprisoned in a ghetto of the mind...
Communication is the only answer, but without humour which is universal, how can anybody truly communicate ?
In a small way this is borne out by the conversations I have had with Ebrima and his friend Amadou.
Obviously there is a language barrier of sorts and their English is far better than my totally non-existent Wolof, but the humour and humanity we find in each others traditions and company is universal and we laugh at each others and our own foibles without a trace of rancour.
It is something that my so called leaders have forgotten.
Humour and music are universal and can be appreciated by any and all cultures and I am glad that I can work with both.
Two of my favourite musical acts at present are Youssou N'Dour, the Senegalese superstar and a North African desert outfit named Tinawiren who sing more 'rebel' songs than either Bob Marley or the average Irishman. Both are totally different and yet both are musically quite wonderful.
I have no problem with either and hopefully they would have no problem with me for the music brings us all together as one.
I do not ponder the why's and wherefore's, for I know...
It is a human tragedy that others do not.

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