Act Three Scene 1
The Cabinet Storm, Faraba, Gunjur, Brikama, Taaneneh
By Ebrima Papa Colley
Crowds scatter and regroup as news of a third fatality reaches villagers in Faraba. Women, on knees, wail around blood, each dismally uncertain of whose womb has lost to brute force. While Julakay’s shills smell billowing smoke from the blazing equipage to gauge feat or defeat, those in Gunjur praise the custodian of fate that theirs wasn’t as gory.
FIRST VILLAGER: (Bending over a fallen victim) What assault to our oxygen! Come, O ye sworn to equity! Irritate your sight with the red of blood–of those that issued from your loins fed from genial dales of denial Faraba.
SECOND VILLAGER: Rise! Faraba, rise! Denial hath registered its trademark and hence stolen three treasures of your morrow.
THIRD VILLAGER: Be swift, stallion-poised yet measured! Faraba is denied her breath, and Gambia her bread. Hurry! For ours is a denial today! Every pebble; every particle of sand this hour bears witness against this regime. For we fondled our hopes that Gambia has decided.
FIRST VILLAGER: Gambia has divided or decided? Alack! Barrow hath divided–his rule derided!
ACT Three, Scene 2
In Taaneneh, near Gunjur, villagers gather to hear from an elderly man. His hair glistens with grey and his back bent. He supports his stature on a wooden staff, a token of his age and termites’ delight.
OLDMAN: (In a catharsis) Bleed not, Taaneneh, fret not nor rave, O forbearance.
For wise and measured are those that even in justified rage still counsel tolerance.
Adieu! O confederates of greed, too cormorant for the weak and those feeble.
Trade in currencies of dexterous deceit to devour our cemetery and its people.
ACT Three Scene 3
At State House, Barrow paces back and forth. First Lady fetches him from video calls from Senegal’s Macky Sall, the Dean of the Diplomatic Corp and the European Union. The President trips, almost falling.
FIRST LADY: We swim not with fins that are concrete. Faraba, Gunjur, and a deluge of agitation galore. But rise a man or stoop a whoring bosom to whoever summons. Please hearken to Faraba, if not Gunjur! Or yet, address the ramshackle that galls thy cabinet–the murders and street crimes that besmirch thy name, the land grabbing, the epileptic economy; for these are but fins of steel thou can’t swim with.
Barrow is quite unsteady. First Lady holds his one arm and puts another around his neck.
Soothsayer arrives with guards and attendants.
FIRST LADY: Speak, O worthy Soothsayer–of sweet tidings that my liege may recollect himself this hour. The country doth quiz more and seldom rests in calls from polar trumpets. My liege requires answers to questions of the future. Speak! O thou that dines with sages in the rainbow.
SOOTHSAYER: I see Saturn with an unusual ring of baneful prognostication, O thou from Mankamankunda. Be mindful of that which besotted Yahya–its sweet caresses, its accounts of superfluity and travels of gratuity.
BARROW: Do I restructure cabinet or not? Speak! O worthy Soothsayer!
SOOTHSAYER: Thy predecessor would dine with a new cabinet at noon and wake with another the morrow. Gambia’s prosperity hinges not on frequent hiring and firings.
BARROW: What counsels thou?
SOOTHSAYER: Forsake the occult and thrust not thy hope in Marabouts. They only beckon thee to algorithms of the dark.
BARROW: And thou?
SOOTHSAYER: I shun shrines and seldom permit the word ‘sacrifice’ on this tongue.
BARROW: Quiet! (He grabs his own ears) Let these hear not words that travel too fast too far.
SOOTHSAYER: (Gestures with a bow) My lord!
BARROW: Does Fatoumata need to go? Is Ousainou a fitting replacement that guarantees mine and his fair fare?
SOOTHSAYER: Is this country already too heavy on thy shoulders as to structure him well for ascension–a delight to the core of his thoughts?
BARROW: Do I lose much of PPP if O.J is jettisoned?
SOOTHSAYER: Like a Pegasus, be swift in pace if occasioned–yet like a turtle, too wary of hasty steps. O.J has tarried well within reach of three of Gambia’s regimes.
BARROW: Demba Jawo?
SOOTHSAYER: Small he seems, yet bigger. Thou dare not offend the fourth estate. If he dons again those robes of honest journalism, his installments shall assume a fresh assault on thy enterprises and too many skipped by sell-out scribes.
BARROW: Thinketh thou I make a good president?
SOOTHSAYER: Thou art dangerously embattled, yet afloat. Taaneneh still cries while Golden Lead mounts a fresh manoever on Gunjur and Sanyang. For Brikama, O mighty Brikama–it is the cradle of every government’s trouble. Think of Jawara and the water rampage. Remember Jammeh and Ebrima Barry whose name is inscribed on April 10thof two millennia after Christ.
Enter ghosts of three young men that frighten Barrow
BARROW: O Faraba! Retire! I did it not! Let Barrow sleep now!
Enter another ghost. It is of a small child
FIRST LADY: My husband is febrile, worthy Soothsayer.
BARROW: Behold! What lights snarl at mine composure, what intruding meteors?
(He turns towards door and sees all four ghosts not flinching. He runs to the window as if trying to scale over. Upon every turn of his head, a burning light confronts him)
SOOTHSAYER: Thou appears weak and too spent!
BARROW: Thou canst say I did it! I knew not much English, let alone the correct sense of the word ‘sacrifice’. It was glib and a slip of tongue! If anything, I’ll sacrifice my entire cabinet. Prithee retire! O combustible scarecrows!
FIRST LADY: The forces of the unseen rattle my husband. He quakes with a fit to warrant a physician. He is too abstracted to benefit from thy counsel this hour. Guards!
(Attendants and guards rush in to hold the president on his feet as a doctor arrives)
Act Three, Scene 4
Comedians in Dakar put on big screens vignettes of Barrow trying to scale a State House window in fear. Newspaper accounts report that while on a video call with Macky Sall, Barrow forgot to turn of his phone as curious Senegalese counterparts watch what unfolded next.
COMEDIAN: Hahahahahahahahaha! Gambie am na porrblem!!!
To be continued, insha Allaah!
“That these thoughts might inspire many a reader. And from thenceforth might rise those to change Africa. If not, Gambia. Or if not, one of its muddy streets.” Gambiano