Tuesday, 22 December 2015


It had taken a fair bit of work during the week but Haddy had finally managed to get most of the clothes we’d sent out given away to those she felt had needed them.
The only things left now were everything we’d sent out for our lot and those that were going to Killy, which would be going at some time the following week along with whoever was free on the day ?
So, we get to Saturday having warned Ida’s family that at some time in the morning she’ll be required for a ‘fitting’ session and probably a few photos as well ?
After all, if you’re going to act like a rock band then you may as well dress the part…

We’d managed to keep Mariama and Jalika away from anything that they felt that they might want and also managed to persuade them that the clothes we were giving away weren’t actually for them, which was more difficult than it sounds as both of them, but Mariama in particular, were quite vociferous on the ‘I like this so I want to keep it’, front.
But finally Ida had appeared and so we opened the last bag and started handing out those things we’d put by and bought for them.
Ok girls, use the spare shop as a changing room and let’s see what you look like shall we while I go and get all your instruments because you might as well have a few ‘props’ if we’re going to be taking photos ?
So with Hassanatou acting as Chief Wrangler to actually get them doing it with a sense of purpose, Haddy and I waited with bated breath…
Although with the words that we were hearing through the walls, maybe Chief Mangler is a better description of Hassa’s job ?

Apart from the things that Haddy and I had managed to get from some of our friends with daughters the same age-ish, we’d scoured the charity shops back in the UK for things in good and reasonable condition that would look appropriate, and if we hadn’t managed to find anything suitable then we’d look in the cheaper younger fashion outlets.
T-shirts had been a particular bugbear as although we could always find something that fitted Mariama and Ida, Jalika being that much smaller was very difficult to find things for, especially if we wanted three matching shirts.
It had been difficult but I think we finally managed it ?
It would seem that Medium, Large and Obese are the three current UK t-shirt sizes in shops, even for teenage girls...
The ‘Rock Band’ t-shirts had been the biggest challenge as it seemed nobody did ‘Small’ and if they did it was closer to medium as far as size went, but finally we’d cracked it at Primark of all places and although the girls wouldn’t have a clue who the band were, as they weren’t played on Gambian radio, at least they could listen to the three albums I had on the computer just to check them out.
Right… Come on kids, let’s be seeing you…
Good God !!!
It’s been said sometimes that ‘clothes maketh the man’ (or woman) but nothing had prepared us for what came out of that room.
If they had wanted to be a band then they needed to feel like one and getting the right clothes puts you some distance toward achieving your objective.
Three young girls had walked up those steps to change clothes but a band had walked back out with all their own personalities encapsulated in what they were wearing.
Talk about a transformation.
Right, grab your camera darling and let’s get some pic’s…

The Band and Management...

Somebody is not taking this seriously...

'Rhythms Of The World' t-shirts

I spy with my little eye...

The Band, the 'Drum Roadie' and the 'Management'

Between four of us we managed to fire off about three hundred and fifty photos that morning.
Hassanatou was using her 'phone and Awa, Haddy and I were using cameras and nobody had any inkling as to whether any of them were going to be of any use as none of us are professional photographers, but you always hope that you get the one picture that encapsulates what the subject is all about, whether at weddings, parties or indeed for any subject(s) that you are taking.
One thing we did get were a few examples of Jalika's 'subversive' humour when she is being photographed, and there are two examples above.
Whilst it is true to say that she's a lot quieter than Mariama and thinks before she speaks, when she's sure of her ground then her irrepressible and totally subversive humour surfaces and it certainly did that morning.
Where she gets it from nobody knows, but it's there.
So did we get the 'iconic' shot ?
Well this is the one that's now on their t-shirts...

So yeah...
I think maybe we did.

Which of course brings up the obvious question that followed...
'Uncle Chris... Who are The Ramones ?'
'They're an American punk band.  There's three albums on the computer if you want a listen. They're all dead now, the last survivor was the drummer and he died recently of cancer... Very sad'.
'Ok, can we listen now ?'
'Yeah, go on, the computer is in Mum's bedroom, just plug it in and wait a couple of minutes. You know which bit to press for the music, click on artists if it's not on that and then type in Ramones at the top. You've nicked it often enough to know...'
'Thank you' (in chorus) and off they went...
Half an hour later they were back.
'Uncle Chris it's not like the music that we know...'
'Is it a bit fast ?'
'Very... But we like the first track'
'Which is ?'
'Blits something Bop...'
'Blitzkrieg Bop.  Well what I suggest is that you go back to that track and give it a good listen then work out how you can play it with what you've got if you want to ?  Don't try and copy it, do your own thing with it and make it yours. Make it more African...'
Which they promptly did and were back in under an hour with a completely re-written song.
Jesus !
What have they done to it. Where did this come from ?
This isn't a punk track anymore, this is an out and out protest song, and by the look of the words that they'd written out was directed totally toward the UK government and the European Union...
'We liked the beginning, is it alright ?'
'Yeah... It's fine, good even. Want to give it a try singing it ?'
'Not yet, but we think the words are right'.
'I suggest you change one word, change racists to apartheid, it's six of one and half a dozen of the other but I think that's what you are trying to say.  You know what apartheid means ?'
'It's when they won't let black people have rights'
'Well done, that'll do...  Yeah, just change the one word and it's there... You've got it, well done'.
Well that was totally unexpected, I hadn't expected that at all.
Later on that afternoon I found out why they'd re-written it as they did ?
Three lads whom they'd known, one of whom, Jally Backary, who lived over the road in the same compound as Ida and was one of our 'extended' family, and the other two from fifty yards down the road, had decided to go 'the back way' and do the migrant route over the Mediterranean to try and get to Europe.
Jally had made it and got to Italy but the two brothers had perished when their boat had capsized and they'd drowned...
The news had come through about three weeks previously and so the girls had taken the 'Hey Ho Let's Go' intro' and used it to comment upon what they knew...
Jesus !  This ain't good...
I'd thought he was still working away from home which is why we hadn't seen him ?
But no, he'd taken his life into his own hands and gone 'The Back Way' as the route is known over here, and there were a lot more thinking of trying to do it.
Has it really got that bad ?
Talking to people locally we found out that it had.
Nobody could get jobs and the Gambian economy had dropped down a big hole because nobody else wanted to invest in the country.
The tourism industry has taken a battering because of the recent Ebola scares and even that has fallen way down on what it used to be.
And what was the President doing about it ?
Not a lot, apparently.
The army was the only institution that could be sure of getting paid every month but because he brooked no criticism and would happily arrest anybody who protested against his methods, nobody wanted to stand up to him.
Fuck !
This definitely isn't good.
Things were getting bad last year, but now it's ten times worse and survival is now the only game in town.
Keep your heads down and try not to get noticed.
No wonder Jally and the others tried to get out...
It's a seriously scary place to be right now.
Of course as soon as we find out about all this stuff then people that we know open up about what is going on and none of it is good, but what can we do living in the UK as we do ?
It's frightened Haddy, I know that much, and I can only imagine what is going through her head with the children here ?
It's not really the best time to unleash an all girl Gambian punk band on the world, is it ?
Still, tomorrow is another day and hopefully we'll have a good time as we're going to take the little ones to one of the hotels for a swimming session...
That is if we can find a hotel that's actually open ?

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