3G, Sports and a Wedding

Well, it’s been a busy day and may go on a bit yet.
After my traditional breakfast of bread’n’ jam and coffee, I headed off up the road to the corner where I caught a bush taxi (crowded mini-bus) to Westfield Junction. I located the Gamcel building and negotiated my way through putting credit on Abass’s data card. After a wander round (“Hello?”, “Hey boss man!”, “Hey, where you from?”, “Hello, big man!” resounding in my ears), I caught a taxi back to the PIA. There followed a quiet spell until 2:25 at which time I decided that since there was no sign of lunch and we were supposed to be leaving for the “march pass” at 2:30 I’d better have a cookie (Thanks, Sonia!). With my mouth still full of cookie, I was summoned to lunch. A couple of dozen staff and students were sitting under the mango tree eating Chicken Domoda with their hands from communal dishes. It turned out that mine was plated along with a knife and fork. It did mean, however, that I ate in splendid isolation in the restaurant. We then set off, a straggling group of staff and students and walked back to Westfield where I had been just a few hours earlier: by now it was probably the hottest part of the day and, though I had thought to take water, I didn’t have my sunhat. At “Africell corner” we met a fair number of other young people and eventually all processed down the street behind the police band, trying to keep four abreast, each group preceded by its banner. We were the first group, presumably as we had the word “President” on our tee shirts. After another 15 minutes we arrived at a stadium – not the one across the road from the PIA – and marched into the sports area, watched by a small audience almost outnumbered by vultures standing on the grass. At this point the speeches began and the vultures perked up..
Gambia wouldn’t be the same without speeches, but it would be better. About six people spoke – English was clear and mostly I had no problem understanding. The event had the theme of getting the country fit and working: we were given several opportunities to hear lists of the NCDs (non-communicable diseases, i.e. lifestyle-related illnesses) that are beginning to affect the country. One speaker said he wouldn’t bore us with statistics, but then chose a few dozen statistical details with which to tempt us. I am glad he was not trying to bore us.
When the sports started, I escaped to the shade of the grandstand and watched group aerobics: all the youngsters doing exercises to a pounding PA system. There were then various heats of tug-of-war, with representatives of the Civil Service competing against – and beating – a group from the Business Sector. Next, the Judiciary were against the Legislature, but one of my Gambian colleagues suggested we could now head back, so we returned to base, the shadows little longer and theday a trifle cooler.
When we got back, Angelic’s wedding was in full swing. Being a Christian event, it was more like a traditional UK wedding, but with the inevitable Gambian slant which lent it its charm. To be honest, I didn’t stay for long: I met up with Roddy et als who were paying a courtesy visit to the reception prior to boarding their flight home.
The rule of thumb, perhaps the world over – but certainly out here, is that the volume of the music is in inverse ratio to its quality. The music was loud both at the wedding and at the sports.
I’ve given the remainder of the wedding a body-swerve and am going to spend the evening on more solitary pursuits, such as doing things on the laptop.
I’m always interested to see how English is altered by being exposed to the influence of being a second language in a world of Wolof, Mandinka, Fula and Jola (I gather there are two or three more local languages, but they are minor). Before going off on the march pass, Jim Lowe was sitting studiously reading a tome entitled “Qualitative Method and Analysis in Organizational Research”: I also saw a taxi with the slogan “With Allah no one can against”. I imagine I’ll have other examples of Gamblish over the next month.


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