By:Kalipha Jabbi alias Karl D Poet
According to Jennifer Calonia, the language that trended in 2021 tells a story of the most consequential moments and phenomena of the year. It’s the year after the notorious Corona Virus shocked and shook the world’s peace. The conundrums of providing vaccines or reporting on the havoc or dangers poised by Covid-19 has made some words gain instant prominence in our everyday communications. Words and phrases like variant, vaxxed, hybrid, virtual system, and social distancing easily captured people’s attention. Outside the Covid story, new words and emojis have also taken center-staged in different social media platforms and to a certain extent, no one is interested in the genesis of such words because they apparently become everyones.
One thing I am always certain of is that, the popularity of none of these words emanated from the Gambia because we are last in everything except abusing the usage of popular social media words. Even if a catchphrase has been propounded in Kazakhstan, just give it a week for it to arrive in the Gambia and see how we will coin it to our local context. The last Gambian to be original in the usage of words, probably died even before we were born. To steal the favorite words of my kotokeh, Alhagie B Sama, I will say “biring mama sunkutuma”.
As someone who is always behind schedule when it comes to the latest gist in town, I will also be part of the last people to come to terms with the latest popular words on social media. But anytime I see people making a word or phrase popular, I do not only jump to use the word but where does it and how does it come about. The least that I would always expect is to have it being literally discovered by a Gambian. When I first saw many university students using “It’s the ____ for me”, I thought this would be the first time we would be receiving credits for coining a phrase and the world took it from us. Yarafang, we were at our usual best because the phrase came from a Tik-toker. But the wait wasn’t also too long. God has blessed this country with a President, different from other presidents. Where many intellectuals failed, he always has a way to succeed. We were struggling to make a name in the realm of producing our own catchphrase and the messiah came to our rescue. I do not know whether it’s the everyday struggles that force this phrase from him but once he looked around, the political animal cheekily said “It’s not easy like that deh”. This was during an interview with a journalist from QTV. We can’t tell who the first to pick this phrase is but once it landed in UTG, abanta because nothing becomes easy in that institution.
When it became apparent to all university students or should I say popular users of President Barrow’s newfound words that it’s not easy like that, the problems in UTG never amaze anybody. We humbly succumbed to mediocrity across the university to a level that even failure constantly frowns at us. We have lived with it, dined with it and continued to sleep with it. The failures are persistent and we agree to accept it the way they come which give birth to a rather new word; “Shambles”
Old English defines this word as a butcher’s shop but in UTG, we settled for the advanced definition as we live in these definitions; absolute carnage, a scene of great disorder or utter devastation.
To say, there’s carnage in UTG will be harsh but undoubtedly, there’s complete disorder and devastation across. At the management, you can’t tell who is really in charge. Ours is not about the usual bureaucracy but non-compliance at its epic level. Nobody wants to take responsibility when there are a plethora of problems to be solved. There is arguably no UTG student without a pending issue but we are not really sure who should redress them.
In a letter to Amadou Ceesay in 2020, I referenced the University of the Gambia as another reason this country is failing, and fast forward two years later, the narratives are the same. In that letter, my arguments were more on the lack of honesty in student leadership and the toxic nature of our university politics, and until today, I am vindictive. Whether university students accept it or not, there’s a vacuum in our leadership. I am part of the student leadership and equally have my fair share of the responsibilities and failures but now the problem is not only leadership but followership deficiencies. We cannot hold the management to account, we cannot stand for our rights but we can cast aspersions on the personalities of each other or incubate meaningless hatred and jealousy only because of cheap UTG politics. Politics in UTG is enigmatic.
The worst time to be a UTG student is always the beginning and the ending of semesters. You either struggle to register for your courses or are in the shambles of missing grades for the previous semester. Every semester, the same old problem and we cannot learn and evolve. It is the same as it was when I came in 2018. It’s just shambolic.
I first saw the word shambles making headlines during the last UTG politics and cannot really affirm who has made it popular but it’s the brutal truth. The poor portal system, lack of transparent leadership, and poor management. UTG is just another story on earth because we are just in shambles