The Chronicle Gambia

Alieu Badara and the Furral Fiesta 1

Njemeh Sanneh, the chief organizer of neighborhood events had just sent out little pieces of paper with the badly printed invitation in questionable grammar. The invitations were addressed to “patrons” and given to the people in the neighborhood who seemed like they could afford a few extra bank notes in one of those white envelopes with the striped edges. 

Badara’s mother received one. It read: 

“Miss/Mrs/Mr. Nyima Camara 

We are happy to announce you as a patron on our coming Zimba and Furral on Friday and Saturday. Is free entry for patrons.


Of course, it’s not free entry for patrons, on the contrary, being made patron was quite a hefty, unwelcome burden. Merely a dubious means of making extra bucks off the backs of the poor “patrons”. Upon receipt of this “honor”, the addressee had one of two choices, to slip some money in an envelope and hand it to the organizer on or before the event, or to accept the ills of being recognized as a stingy, uncourteous element who has no regard for the culture. Most people chose the former.

That is all beside the point. The point is, Alieu Badara learnt that there would be a “furral” that weekend so he got ready for it. The neighborhood kids always looked forward to furrals so they can sneak around behind the circle of chairs and conduct their own semi-furral, which often involved a series of non-furral activities, like mustering the guts to confess one’s “love” to one’s latest crush – yunno, the whimsical infatuations of our earliest years.

The other good thing about furrals was that, most of the neighborhood moms were in attendance so one could get away with a bit more than was typical.

Abdoulie’s cousin had come for the summer holidays. Abdoulie was one of the boys Badara played football with in the evenings. There was nothing particularly interesting or appealing about Abdoulie’s cousin. It was just the newness that was appealing, the unfamiliarity. In Badara’s mind she was a fresh, impressionable page, a clean slate, someone who will buy his nonsense without much trouble on his part. So he targeted her. Ah the glory of getting the new girl!


When she went out to the corner shop, he would quickly emerge from the shadows: “son Oumie nakam” and Oumie would respond “kui sa son, Chii-ii-slur-iipu” (Oumie’s chipu game wasn’t all that) and attempt to walk off with a feminine gait, one spindly leg after the spindly other.

Despite the bluff, everyone noticed that the number visits Oumie made to the corner store was unnecessarily high. She was buying matches, sachets of milk, balloons, tissue paper and 5 pieces of candy on 5 different occasions. It was quite noticeable also, how her eyes darted around searching for Badara when he failed to pop out and pester her, and how her face fell slightly and she lost her “feminine” gait when he was nowhere to be found.

Badara had decided that, it was on the furral night that he would go all out and ask her yes or no. So on that Friday, when he saw Oumie emerging out of her house headed to the shop, he went ahead of her and waited. When Oumie came, she asked the shop keeper if he had pink shoe laces, which obviously he didn’t, she made to leave, pretending not to notice Badara. 

B: “Son Oumie”  (Son Oumie)

O: “Duma sa son” (I’m not your son)

B: “Waw Oumie” (Okay, Oumie)

O: “Naam” (Yes)

B: ”Nakam nak” (How ya doin)

O: ”Cool” (I’m ait)

B: “Tei furral dafaa amm deh” (som’n going down tonight)

O: “Waw legi” (wazad gotta do with me)

B:  “Dafdeh nekh deh” (shawty, you don’t like to have fun?)

O: “Ah ok” (I see)

B: “Dangaa nyow?” (So, you finna show up?)

O: “Hejna” (maybe)

B: ”Dinaa la haarr deh” (I’ll be waiting for ya)

O: “Chi-sluuuu-si-pu” (bye Felicia)

*walks off with a feminine gait*

B: ”Waw bii afta” (see ya later)

*crickets* (I said, bye Felicia)

That afternoon, Badara set out his clothes in advance: wrist bands, sweatband, oversized cap, bandana, largest pair of jeans in his closet, humongous bootleg Lakers jersey and bootleg Timbs. 

“Now, for the missing ingredient”, he thought.

He tiptoed across the hallway into his grandpa’s room. Pa Mbowe never locked his closet, one of the things Badara loved most about the old guy. He was very resourceful, albeit by no will or knowledge of his. Badara snuck his hand behind the pile of folded clothes and felt around the back of the wardrobe. There he found the little bottle of perfume. He tiptoed back to his room and sprinkled the cheap fragrance all over the items on the bed, then tiptoed away to return it.

It was the “sabarr” that started first…

To be continued 

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  1. Lamin says

    Awakening memories from the 90s. Good one👌👌👌

  2. Musa A Jallow says

    Enjoying the story so far. Waiting for the continuation.

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