So we had to head up to the Gambia. It was a sudden trip so there was no time to pack my swimming things and box of condoms. We boarded the flight and as you know if you have been following my write ups you will know that I am not a good flyer. As usual I sat transfixed, hands holding very tightly to the chair and refusing to eat or drink, not even talking to my partner who himself was scared but was trying as usual to pose. I just dey pity am. His eyes were so red from fear he nearly vomit sef. I could not laugh as I was too busy trying to comprehend the different sounds that was coming from the engines on the plane.
Gambia is a beautiful place with very hospitable people. From the airport the smiles where a welcome relive from what you are used to in the jungle that is Lagos. Our host was gracious as he took us on a drive around the land showing us the sights. The coastline was a wonder to behold as he mentioned that if we walked it we would end up in Lagos. I thought about taking the walk to avoid the fearful plane ride back.
What struck me was the simplicity that life was in the Gambia. Our Host by Nigerian standards can be ranked in Gambian terms with our own Aliko and Femi but the simplicity and openness struck us. He drove around by himself and people walked up to him and they chatted . They say the country is very small and everybody knows everybody. The love was too much. We all ate from the same plate and even Dauda the young son of his best friend was mingling with us elders with so much confidence and warmth that you began to wonder.
I fell in love with Dauda immediately. He was a very good looking young man imbued with the kind of confidence you get from freely mixing with elders and drinking from their wealth of experience. He was humble, respectful and neat. He served us our drinks while carrying on a conversation with Lami about the premiership and then he shocked me.
As he was about to leave, he went round shaking everybody including his father who was best friends to our host. He even tapped one elder’s chest and Lami and I who were brought up in the strict Yoruba style where you would prostrate flat on the ground with your chest on the mud for elders who usually have not earned that kind of adulation could not hide our shock. We asked ooooo. Why oooo, why is he shaking and not rolling on the floor with greetings.
They smiled and explained that in Gambia it is handshake for everyone and that it is even worse in neighbouring Senegal. The tradition encouraged continuous bonding, ensured closeness and allowed for mentorship as its openness allowed the young ones to truly open up and look towards the elders for guidance. True o because the affinity between Dauda and his Pop was admirable. As I watch him shake his father, a tinge of sadness enveloped me. My father was strict. He slapped and kicked the hell out of me in his bid to make a man of me but at the slightest opportunity I rebelled. I fought back and in one instance in an attempt to escape from all the physical mauling, I tugged at his wrapper and rendered him naked so he could not kill me in the name of discipline.
As I watched Dauda I saw my lost youth. I saw a lost opportunity to bond with my father simply because the man would not shake me but also was consoled by the fact that I had my son who would shake and be close to me.
We learnt the joys of communal eating and the rules thereof. One special thing about it is the fact that you had to take a piece of protein and cut it into two take one half and put the other half at the centre for the next person to eat. That one cannot work in Nigeria o, the other people will hide the meat inside the rice and chop everything finish. I pity any Gambian wey go come try that one for here. But seriously you must eat the food in a way that it would retain its lusciousness so that the next person can come and take it from there.
Well the beaches remain exciting and our lodgings were exotic. I am sure you guys are waiting for any erotic adventurous talk, but remember say na business trip and my host dey read so all I can say at this point is make una leave me ooooooo!!!!!!!!!!
Gambia and its people have won a sweet place I my heart and I am now adopting the place as my second home dropping Accra and will soon pay another visit but this time I will be better prepared. Dem go hear am.