Thursday, 2 September 2010

(Un)happy slapping in The Gambia

So there we were in one of the local banks, Haddy, Fatou and me…
We’re just sitting quietly waiting for our turn in the queue to see one of the advisors.
There’s no real difference between Gambian banks and British banks…
You still have to queue, but at least the Gambian ones provide seats for more than four people (Barclays please take note).
So finally it gets to the girls turn, and they are happily seated with one of the advisors with me still in one of the ‘queue’ seats when this guy walks in, opens his briefcase and throws five thousand dalasi on to the desk of the nearest advisor to me and tells the girl advisor to look after it…
He then walks into the office of the assistant manager without knocking and tells her that he is ready to be served…
She politely asks him to leave as she is with a customer and he must wait his turn, so he turns back and walks back into the main area of the bank without closing her door,
causing her to have to leave her desk to do it herself…
The advisor whose desk he’s thrown the money on asks him again to please take it back as she is with a customer also, but he just leaves it there and tells her that ‘It’s just chicken feed to you… You look after it…’
I’m just sitting there, gobsmacked.
Actually, not just gobsmacked… I was totally appalled by his attitude and his rudeness toward the staff.
By now, this guy has just pushed in front of a guy doing his business at the counter and is trying to engage the cashier in a conversation…
Haddy turns around in her chair, looks across at me and smiles…
I smile back and say loud enough for her to hear ‘Tedious tit, isn’t he ?’
Haddy giggles, knowing my propensity for summing up situations and things in a phrase or two, but this guy is so impolite that his behaviour is beginning to grate, and not just on me either…
If other customers looks are anything to go by, then this bloke has transgressed big time ?
I really don’t know why the staff don’t ask him either to shut the fuck up or leave the bank, Christ knows, I would have ?
Looking around at the staff it is quite obvious that they want to, but they are all biting their tongues.
You can see the exasperation on their faces.
Nobody in any business should have to put up with the crap that this bloke is dishing out, and he’s getting nowhere with his attitude which seems to be exasperating the bank’s customers now, as well as the staff.
Haddy and Fatou meanwhile are deep in conversation with their advisor when matey boy walks over to their desk…
I’m following him with my eyes, as I of all people know that Haddy’s tolerance level for that sort of rudeness is set at quite a low level…
That girl just does not accept it in any way.
He says something to the advisor who politely tells him to go away and wait his turn.
Then he tries again…
At that point Haddy turns around and tells him to go away and she’ll be finished when she is finished and not before.
The next moment he slaps her face with a handful of paying in slips.
She got out one word… ‘Oi’ !
It’s funny you know… I’d never really believed in the expression time stood still, probably because I never had any reason to, but time definitely stood still for at least a microsecond until everybody in the bank heard the sound of my right hand hitting his left cheek…
He couldn’t have fallen down because my left hand was wrapped around his throat, and right then I was probably as angrily suicidal as anybody else in that situation ?
To be honest I was way past caring about myself, all I knew was the old Native American expression they used before a fight…
Today is a good day to die.
‘You piece of shit ! If you ever touch my wife again in any way, shape or form, I will teach you some manners that your parents obviously didn’t…
Fatou, please tell this sonofabitch in words he can understand and I want an accurate translation of every word, that if he ever touches or disrespects my wife again in any way, I will unscrew his fucking head and use it as a football all the way to Banjul…
The rest of him I will leave for the carrion but I fear they will probably vomit…’
Fatou translated, although what the Wolof is for the expressions I used, God only knows ?
He’s trying to pull away but apart from a slackening of the left hand to let him breathe, he wasn’t going anywhere.
I needed to let him loosen because he was taller than me, and I’d figured that if he even raised one hand toward me I’d have nutted him full on, but now he’s blustering…
‘Come outside and we will wrestle…’
‘If we wrestle, then we do it here in the bank in front of the witnesses who saw you assault my wife…’
‘I was only joking with my sister…’
‘One. She is not your sister, I have met all the members of her family and you are not part of it, Allah be praised…
Two. She is my wife, so if you were joking then bring your wife here and I will slap her and we can all laugh together…
I have warned you what will occur should you ever touch her again, now leave my sight, you offend me and everybody here with your rudeness and arrogance…’
Fuck me !
He stalked over to the table he’d left his money on, stuffed it back into his briefcase and promptly walked out…
‘Are you ok, love ?’
Haddy just looked at me…
‘I’m fine, are you alright ?’
‘Yeah… I’m ok… What an arrogant pig ?’
It’s funny… The whole bank has gone totally silent and all their staff’s jaws are on the floor…
Maybe they’d been silent all the time ? Truth to tell, I couldn’t say as I hadn’t been aware of anything or anybody else while the events transpired.
I’ve also just realised that I’m in a Muslim country and I’ve just called one of their citizens, admittedly an obnoxious one, an arrogant pig…
Whoops !
Suddenly the whole place erupts with noise, so I just walked back to my seat and sat myself down to wait for Haddy and Fatou to finish, which seemed to take seconds but was probably minutes, but as soon as they had done I got up, and the three of us walked toward the door…
The thing I’m now conscious of is of everybody’s eyes following us as we leave.
Babuca (Hope I’ve spelt his name right ?) the doorman, rushes to open the door for us as we exit.
When we get outside I just say ‘That was weird… I’ll probably have to go back to apologise to the staff for my language, but who the fuck does that prick think he is ?’
Well there’s a thing…
It turns out that he’s a moneylender who lives a couple of streets away from us in Fagikunda, and in Gambian terms he’s as rich as Croesus…
He is also probably the most disliked person in the village ?
That last bit I can certainly understand.
Fatou says that it’s about time somebody stood up for the women…
I understand where she’s coming from, but in all honesty I hadn’t…
My wife and family yes, but anything else was unintentional.
As soon as we get back to the compound Fatou wastes no time in telling everybody what happened in the bank and everybody, and I mean everybody, gets all excited…
Within about two minutes everybody in the surrounding locale is aware of what occurred, and some of the things the women are saying about this bloke and some of the expressions they are using to express their absolute contempt for him, leave me, who can curse a bit, feeling more than a little strange.
Apparently, this bloke used to have a government job until the President relieved him of his post.
I don’t know why that occurred, but if his attitude was anything to go by then the President definitely made the right decision when he sacked him.
That guy is definitely a liability.
I don’t know what The Prophet says about moneylenders, but from what I’ve read about him he seems to have been a reasonable bloke, and Jesus was definitely not enamoured of the profession, so I reckon we can take it that the old biblical adage of rich men, camels and eyes of needles would probably apply ?
Within an hour we’ve got a constant stream of people in and out of the compound and it would seem that every woman in the village is aware of what took place…
The word has definitely got around and I’ve said absolutely nothing.
‘Tufa says that he deserves to feel small because his behaviour was appalling, and as for touching somebody else’s wife, that is just not done in Gambian society.
Little Mariama is equally forthright, and she’s only ten.
She wants me to go round to his compound and unscrew the bloke’s head so that she and her friends can play football with it because he is a ‘horrible man’.
It does make me wonder what this bloke has done previously if a ten year old child can be so emphatic about wanting his head, but the family’s feelings and the women of the village are pretty much mutual ?
They really do despise this bloke and his attitude towards people.
After I’ve been referred to as ‘Rambo’ a couple of times, I realise that maybe I was the first to stand up against him ?
Rambo ? Nine and a half stone soaking wet and under five foot seven inches…
They’re having a laugh… I hope ?
A couple of days later we have to go back to the bank and as soon as Babuca sees us coming a big smile lights up his face and he shakes my hand before opening the door…
‘Good morning Chris, how are you ?’
‘Hi Babuca… Look mate, my apologies for my…’
‘No, no, no, you need say nothing for there is nothing to be said…’
‘Are you sure ?’
‘There is nothing to be said’.
‘Ok…’
All the bank staff smiled at me when I’d gone in, so maybe I did the right thing by doing it wrong or maybe the wrong thing by doing it right ?
Who knows ?
All I know is, if you hurt or assault my wife, either in the U.K. or The Gambia, then you WILL deal with me.
Ain’t no escaping that.
Besides, should it ever occur again then I’d happily call the police and press charges…
But that will be after I’ve unscrewed his fucking head.

It occurs to me that writing about this particular event sets me up as a target, so I’m going to ask you, if you are reading this, what would you have done in the same circumstances ?
It doesn’t matter where ?
As far as I’m concerned the same deal applies whether I’m in the U.K. or The Gambia or any other nation on this earth, and the deal is… Don’t assault my wife/partner/girlfriend/family whatever ?
If you do, then beware the consequences, so come on… You’re reading about it and I’m setting the question.
What would you have done in the same circumstances ?
I’ll be quite honest, I didn’t even think of any possible consequences when I let him have it, so come on, your thoughts on the matter might affect my behaviour pattern should it happen again ?
I doubt it, but common sense ought to prevail regardless ?

Thinking about it now, a couple of months after the event, all I can say is that I know enough about the psychology of bullies to realise that he is one seriously damaged
sad person.
His behaviour pattern alone showed that to be true.
Maybe he’s been getting away with it for a long time (probable) or maybe it was just a temporary aberration (doubtful) but either way I wouldn’t have liked to be in his house when he got home, because that sort of attitude ALWAYS gets taken out upon the innocent…

2 comments:

GRANTS PAGE said...

Having now read this blog several times, I've been amused, appaled, astounded, Chris, you did what any right minded man with any sense of justice should and probably would do, certainly it's what I would have done, bullies always get their come uppance in the end, I just hope that he didn't take it out later on those closer to him, or, if he did, next time it won't be an angry fist but a baseball bat!

Chris Ripple said...

The thing is...
It's a Muslim country.
Obviously this fact doesn't absolve the bloke from charges of assault, but you have to remember that in a predominently Christian society that we live in here, that sort of male importance doesn't exist.
It's quite odd really, because the Gambian Parliament has about 40% women members, so therein lies a rather large paradox.
If it had been his own wife, then he could have done what he did without anybody really being able to argue about it.
But it wasn't his wife, it was mine that he assaulted and that still counts as an arrestable offence.
The fact that I smacked him however, probably negates it somewhat ?
Back in the village everybody said I'd done the right thing, so who knows ?