By Talib Gibran
When I started senior school, I found myself in an arts class where almost everyone was better than I was, academically. I realised that when Mr Manjang asked me the meaning of some figures of speech—personification, oxymoron, simile, specifically—and I opened my mouth as if he just fell from Pluto. Even some of my classmates giggled at what was unfolding in front of them; wondering if I myself fell from Pluto or somewhere farther. That’s because I didn’t do literature in junior school and majority of them did but things were different a year later.
After reading English Language hard and made sure I was a force to reckon with in Literature, Modou Lamin and I jostled for new words and the correct way to pronounce them. A firebrand duo of masters— Master Talib and Master Modou Lamin [That was a self-proclaimed title by the way]—who took it upon themselves to ‘cleanse’ the grammatical suicide prevalently committed in class. Master Modou Lamin was the head honcho in our little language cult and we replicated it in our tyro press club news writings.
Back at the School of Journalism, I was in the same class with excellent students who had sharp hearing for any grammatical misplacement. Even if it slipped half-way on your lips they would push it back with an annoying adjective that you either said it correctly by rephrasing it or swallowed it altogether. Well at the start, when temperamental Thomasi was our Advanced English Language lecturer, we used to have so much noise in the class because he would never agree to anything we said. I remember during one of our group presentations on parts of speech (I know it sounds awkward for ‘advanced’ English students to learn parts of speech), Professor Jinkang and I were dealing with verbs and I mentioned ‘copula verbs’ but Thomasi rubbished it instantly and then made it a source of laughter throughout the day. He, looking like the new face of Liverpool boss Klopp whose glasses were broken in a kerfuffle after a thrilling nine-goal showdown against Norwich, teased me the whole time using ‘copula’ to generate laughter. For your knowledge, he doesn’t also believe compound adjectives or nouns exist in grammar. As passionate grammar enthusiasts, we thought we were a step ahead of our lecturer so we decided to downplay the lectures. That persisted until Sheriff Bojang showed up as our new Advanced English lecturer. I had already read his scintillating but hard-to-understand essays on The Standard and I felt it was about time I got a closer contact with the man himself. When he appeared the first day—calm like an old dandy listening to eighteen century vaudeville—with his Soyinka afro-hairstyle and pointed hand-me-down leather shoes, I saw words heaving in his brain like tidal waves.I preferred reading his essays tositting even for a second with shyster politicians who are like diapers and must be changed for the same reason. His first impression was stunning after giving us a spelling test and none of us scored above ten per cent. Words that we saw every day and believed we could spell them when we actually couldn’t. Can you imagine that? From there on, it became evident to all of us that his precocity wasn’t exaggerated.
Lectures started getting more and more interesting that everyone’s level in written and spoken English was tested. During one of our lectures, Sheriff introduced few words in grammar that I thought he had coined them from Swahili. Let me make you feel the way I felt when he wrote these words on a sheet for the class: neologism, plural tantum, plenasm, anacoluthon, asyndeton, clipping, diaeresism; these were among the words he introduced and, I believed, most of us thought he invented them without actually having the licence.
Under neologism—words recently coined—he introduced bootylicious, twerking, and selfie. The first time I heard about any of them and that feeling was shared among my classmates but selfie becomes the most eye-catching.
Selfie—a self-portrait photograph using mostly your mobile phone or iPad—has arguably become the most attractive action recently introduced. Everywhere in the world, people of all walks of life, get glued to their smart phones and digital cameras taking pictures of themselves and posting them on social media. Everyone likes selfie; even my Gibranic weird-looking face appeared on selfie shots many times and I loved it. Since the introduction of selfie a few years ago and seeing Obama doing it at Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela’s memorial services, it has renewed passion for taking photos.
Let us come back to the Smiling Coast where the selfie fever has become badly contagious, especially among ladies. As a matter of fact, worryingly, it has seriously caused remiss in duties at public workplaces when people should be doing serious business. Instead, they take selfie every day in different positions and outfits; next minute the pictures are scattered on all the social networking sites strangely asking people to tell them how they look? For women, their best comment has ever been “sexy”. Sexy? Smh. The interesting thing is whenever someone wants people to know that they have IPhone 6 or Galaxy Note whatever, they just stand in front of a mirror (in a bathroom I assume) and then take a selfie pouting, so we would see the kind of phone the person has. Why would someone pout in a toilet? Are you kissing the stench that wafts from that little hole? Anyway that’s not important…..
However, I have a few concerns though—call it worry for want of a better expression. Look, grab your tablet or whatnot and take millions of pictures of yourself and post them on pornographic websites if you wish. Nobody cares but what I hate to see or find disgusting is a young girl/lady kissing a child (male/female) right on the lips with some bizarre captions like “I heart you baby”, on social media? That’s paedophilia! Take a walk to Child Protection Alliance and ask anyone if that passionate licking of a child’s lips presages paedophilic tendencies and you will be surprised with the answer. I once saw such a photo on Facebook and the child in the photo was apparently struggling to detach himself from the girl but, as it appeared, she put her hand behind the child’s head so he wouldn’t escape the kiss before the camera clicked. What kind of a moron does that? One of the reasons former-KGB spy, Alexander Litvinenko, accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of being a paedophile in his 2006 article is because Putin kissed a young boy’s stomach under his t-shirt during a tour of the Kremlin. If kissing a child’s stomach is considered paedophilic, how about kissing the lips without withdrawing for long?
Another thing, which seems widespread among girls is replacing hugging with kissing as a form of greetings when they meet. And the way they do it, with the moaning and pouting, the Sapphic passion is worrying; it portrays lesbianism or whatever.
That reminds me, poor Gambian guys whose abilities to make money are rather marred recently resort to muscle building. They hit the gym and work the kinks out because Gambian ladies are so blindly attracted to six packs now. A seventeen-year-old girl once told me she’s “seriously in love with” Dwayne Johnson, The Rock, who is 43 years old and when I asked her why, she said “because he is hot”; meaning his six packs and arms. All the gyms in the country are filled to the brim because why not, if you can’t get beautiful ladies because you are poor, you can definitely get them because you have six packs and revealing arms. Then, when you get them, pick any device of your choice and selfie until Doomsday.