PRESIDENT BARROW’S SOOTHSAYER BEGINS
Act One Scene 1: By Gambiano
In garb of splendor he doth shine, to the delight of his deficit compensation. In fragile cognition he tarries, to the chagrin of those who traded in risks for his rise. And like his predecessor, the white of his gown commands a direct antithesis to the dark eclipsing his transparency. Where his insecurities assault the bowels of his composure, a Senegalese griot with sharp tongue titillates the President’s ego at a rich expense of useful mentation. Barrow keenly listens to the griot with a grin indifferent enough to Nawec’s power cuts, KMC’s trash conundrum, increasing street crimes of alarum, appointment of a vice president, the tiny nation’s economic morass amidst mortgaging it to foreign hands.
GRIOT: Barrow! Shine! Baron of Ibelin! Be deaf to reason and repellent to enquiry! Rise, and be material-mettled or at least, let others be to the acquisition of ten million Dalasi abodes and a Range Rover of stature. Ignore the market woman in Serrekunda or Brikama! She can lurch in spreading that thin fabric for her rotten tomatoes. And let flies torment her sick child on her lap as tourists zoom camera’s on Gambia’s poverty.
BARROW: Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!
GRIOT: Attach the best of premium to Touba, its oracle and shrine! Commend Gambia’s citizens to anthropologists, its hypotensive economy to pundits, and its intellection to imaginary think-tankers some of whom stand unaware of neither the body nor their bodies in membership.
BARROW: Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!
GRIOT: Open and shatter Gambia’s treasures! And trust the keys to Senegal–the prophets of deserved custodianship. Traffic the nation’s future in territories of venal vultures–for thou only rose to serve thus. And when the sky darkens with clouds bereft of good tidings, we shall service our confidence in great Touba again.
Enter Mai Fatty with guards and attendants. He holds an empty box of a 25” apple desktop, a sealed box of a Macbook Pro, iPhone7, three chicken, a goat, a very old suitcase and few paraffin lamps.
MAI FATTY: Behold! Everything, save the paraffins is mine. I’m here to declare my assets! Let it be known that I Mai Ahmad Fatty already owned a Range Rover, D10M house, dozens of iPhones, Macbooks and Steve Job’s own desktop I purchased at a Silicon Valley auction.
(A rat crawls out of his old suitcase and scares the President as guards rush to catch or kill it)
BARROW: Mai! Durumow! Nyino!
(As if confident of its own significance, the rat refuses to run. It stares into the President’s eyes as if conveying a cardinal’s message)
MAI FATTY: (To guards) Please shoot the rat! I said shoot it! In my Gambia, you either obey the law, or be consumed by the law! (Enter Soothsayer with drummers, pipes and fanfare)
SOOTHSAYER: Behold! O Gambia!
MAI FATTY: Now what?
In solemn poetry, tonight, this tongue
Of men with symptoms, of wont that wreaks
Economic havoc on this tiny country’s boons
Alack! O weak king swayed by shrewd goons
In secret counsels this creature of a bold rat
Barges to announce blatant poverty of a brat
Whom few months ago had neither a bellyful
To his credit, nor bricks or dwellings beautiful
(MAI FATTY interrupts)
MAI FATTY: (To guards) O Treason! Arrest his lot! Rats are everywhere! They neither epitomize poverty, nor wrinkle glossy images of those born to earn–the quintessence of those born to rule. For I’m not sprung of any poverty.
SHOOTHSAYER: Touba, Marabouts, griots and ignorance won’t solve Gambia or Africa’s problems. Your predecessor steeped himself in the preternatural to purchase longevity while leaders of great nations counselled knowledge and education.
MAI FATTY: I’m educated! I’ve lived in America, cur!
In the streets of Serrekunda, Banjul, Brikama and peripheries, newspaper headlines flash: “RAT JUMPS OUT OF INTERIOR MINISTER’S SUITCASE TO EXPOSE POVERTY!”
By-Stander 1: Bless his heart! I heard they even arrested him.
By-Stander 2: Arrested who?
By-Stander 1: The journalist who reported this story.
By-Stander 3: C’mon! Not again! What’s really wrong with this Mai fatty?
By-Stander 2: And what did Barrow do about it?
By-Stander 1: Probably nothing!
To Be continued, Insha Allaah!
“Great leaders of great nations rise to make history; African leaders rise to make money.” Gambiano.