It was the drums that started first, as the plastic chairs were being arranged in a large circle. Excited children danced in the center, sending arms and legs flying in recreations of “Tanka Bu Rey”. The drummers kept them entertained until the finely dressed adults came out to take their seats, then they had to go, but never too far away. What the adults failed to understand was, the pleasures of Zimba are best appreciated outside the circle of chairs – this was the first phase of the evening’s event.
The Zimbas came out with their painted faces, beautiful and fierce! The chanting began “Salalali Mahamat, Walali Mahamat, Sakaja Makaja, bul jarr si ken jarral si mann mii di ndeyi darba yi, wa bidirr bidirr, wa badarr badarr, wa bantum bantum, wa lala kum bantum, yow Njie, mann Njie, yow daaba, mann daaba, teh daaba du laal moromi dabaam…danda kum danda sorreh” and the Zimbas made a display, crouching low in imitation of pacing lions and growling. The chanting reached its peak and the Zimbas, pumped full of whatever the chanting pumps them full of, leaped into the air, raising the sands in a show of “lionly” might. The crowd went crazy!
The children, faces glowing in anticipation of the chase that was to follow, gathered as close to the masquerades as they dared. “Almumi, Zimba! Almumi, Zimba!” they screamed. And then the chase began! In those moments, to be caught by a Zimba was the most terrible thing that could happen to a child and to be chased by a Zimba was the world’s greatest thrill! The Zimbas alternated between dancing within the circle and chasing after the children.
One could spot Oumie, standing at the gate to their compound, too cool to join the chase. One could also spot Badara in the center of it all, yelling “Zimba budaa donkolongo” quite unnecessarily, beaming and out of breath! Aware of Oumie’s presence, Badara was doing the most, laying bare his false bravado and glancing her way frequently to make sure she was watching. And because Badara was doing the most, the Zimbas noticed him the most. I mean, masquerades have feelings too, and Badara was taking it to another level with the mockery, mentioning not so polite body parts and what not. The next time they made a dash for it, one of the Zimbas specifically targeted him, with determination too. Oh the horror! Badara ran, and run he did. He pushed other kids out of the way, toppled a table of “groundnut cake” and “jahberry”, unsuccessfully tried to seek refuge behind the angry vendor and finally resorted to pleading for mercy. Nah! The Zimba was having his moment, he grabbed Badara, slung him over his shoulder and began walking back to the circle of chairs. You can imagine Badara’s terror. He began to think of all the stories he’d heard from other kids about what happened to children who got caught by Zimbas, including the ones he made up, he couldn’t tell the difference anymore, they were all equally terrifying. He cried and pleaded and kicked and slapped the masquerade’s shoulders. When they got to the center of the crowd, the Zimba lifted Badara off his shoulders and placed him on the ground. By this time Badara was throwing a great fit! He was screaming at the top of his lungs and wriggling in the sand, his face messy with snot and tears and although no one else realized, Badara had peed a little. I suppose at this point, the Zimba felt some sympathy for the little boy, or Badara was more than he bargained for and just too much to handle, or perhaps there just was nothing more to do to the boy. I mean, they don’t eat the kids, do they? So he released him and Badara ran home, in a mix of relief and embarrassment.
That embarrassing incident only slightly dampened Badara’s spirit. They would tease him for a while but it was nothing he couldn’t take.
At 8:30, the music started. All the children had been called back into their houses before sunset. Ideally, to freshen up and settle in for the day. But it was “Furral” and Badara, like many others, would rather die than stay home. As soon as the event started and the adults became distracted enough, Badara donned his outfit combination, looking like he walked out of a 90’s hip hop music video.
He got to the event, walking with a swagger to die for. He spotted Oumie amongst a group of girls and pretended not to see her. He was prepping the grounds for his move; he made a show of greeting all “his boys”, giving high fives and saying “wassup meiiinnn”, fist bumping and chest bumping where he could. After Sean Paul’s “just gimme the ly wanna slasha buh, was-damata-bacalama” came on and he did a bit of dancing which he considered cool, he decided to approach Oumie.
B: “Son Oumie, ma giss la y” (Son Oumie, May I see you?)
O: “Duma sa son” (definitely not your son)
B: “Waw Oumie, one second please” (okay, Oumie, *that was quite obvious*)
O: “Luhew” (what?!)
B: “Sa aferr dafma nekh man, danga over nice…” (I like you mein, you are fine!)
O: “Gawal, dama yakamti” (get on with it, I got things to do)
B: “Waw holal, dama am sa interest” (ait ait, I have a thing for you mein)
O: “Legi nak” (and so?)
B: “You’re the sugar in my wonjo, the butter in my bread, the daharr in my ebbeh. Baby gal, damala nop, yes or no” (*bla bla bla* baby girl I love you, yes or no)
O: *giggles* “mann dama wakh Mola yes bepareh” (arh yeahh… about that, I’m seeing Mola already)
B: *pauses* “ah? waw mann dama la don chahaneh sah, ak sa nyawai bii. Sor kor hamuteh nak ma wakh lakor, Mola enu class rek. Next time soh crosseh suma line, dinga ham Mann mai kan son!
(Oh yeah? Well I was kidding anyway, wicho ugly self. FYI, Mola takes last in his class all the time. And next time you cross my line, you will see my ugly side!).
And off Badara went. His swag not as boisterous but still there. After all, he can always deny that he ever asked her yes or no. They did see him talking to her but he could have been saying anything!
Despite the bluff, boy it was an ego wrecking moment for Badara. After all the time he spent wooing Oumie, that double crossing, back stabbing Mola snatched her from his very jaws. He knew he had her in his jaws, he just knew. How could Mola possibly have changed her mind!
Hint: zimba incident.
It was in seeking vengeance against Mola that the incident happened which led to his getting banned from Kambi Kunda, but that is a story for another day.
Nevertheless, it should please you to know that Badara didn’t let Oumie’s betrayal ruin his furral for him. Furrals do not come everyday and you had to make the most of them. He danced to “aaah kalabatuma, nyan ma sama yaai boye bu mei malaa y”, “jel gattie, gin gin”, “bin bin bin bin bin, dei bin bin ak sai gorro”, “go shawty, is your birthday”, “is gettin hot in here” as well as bonsalong (bounce along). He went to bed happy and exhausted, reminding himself that he should be angry at Mola in the morning.