What Happens in Gambia (Part 1 of 1?)

If there’s ever another post on my stay here I’ll be sure to add pictures. For now though, please bare with me? Thanks. 

For those of you not too keen on following my pretend-photography on Instagram and/or Snapchat, I’d like to officially announce that I, Alvin Akuamoah, am in Gambia and frankly, have no idea what the fook is going on.

I am not going to get into what brought me here because that’s uh – well because that aspect of my life is someway and often feels out of my hands? And uh – I like to maintain some level of ME, and control, in the spaces I’m allowed to be creative in. Notice how my social media has nothing with me in black and white or some fancy legal quote or whatever.

I digress.

Gambia is the first country outside Ghana that I’ve ever been to. Which immediately points to the fact that coming here was also the first time I sat in an airplane. I know, at my big age. Judge not. Anyways, it was …. painful? I sat in what I later found out to be a “trotro in the sky”. The plane was rickety, the attendants wore discolored clothes and my ear drums literally tore to shreds both times we took off and landed. Oh and don’t get me started on the food. It was terrible. My first two days in Gambia, I couldn’t hear anything. The only positive was getting to sit by the window and like – literally watch my life for the last 20something years slowly fade away for what might be a year or more. I don’t even know yet. Oh and also, getting to spend time with my dad, God bless his soul. Considering how often we don’t get along, I thought his presence here, even if for a few days, was going to be a drag. Not that it wasn’t ooo. It was paaa. But also, we got to have certain “deep” conversations at many, many a dawn on our shared bed. (I knowwwww. Awks!!!!)

I’m sorry my narrative is all over the place, I’m remembering a lot of things at once. Oh did I mention I’ve been here for almost 2 weeks  already? A lots happened. Forgive me. Anyways –

We were met at the airport by “I’ve forgotten his name” – who we assumed was an employee of the hotel we were to stay in and like, literally seeing him triggered this thing that’s now become a recurrent theme throughout my stay here. I feel like I’m in a Pacesetters novel. Remember pacesetters? The bastard step brother of the African Writers Series? Here’s a couple of pictures.


In this story, Kofi, a Ghanaian travels to Gambia in furtherance of his studies and falls into trouble when one of his roommates sets sights on the wife of a reputable Alhadji. Will Kofi adapt and survive the harsh realities of a culture so similar, yet so different from his, or will he sink under the bellowing weight of his commitment to who he once was?

Pacesetters. Just the very Africanness of it all. The guy who picked us up had skin the color of dark asphalt. His dreads were short and kinky, his gaunt, on tiptoes,  and his  accent – a mix of Jamaican and scattered grains of English. He said “man” like Ghanaians say chale; But more times in one sentence than anyone I know has ever done. My dad was not pleased with his hair. Of course – LOL. And said to me (in twi) many times how he wasn’t sure we could trust him. But I thought he was cool. He played a lot of Lucky Dube and Bob Marley and like, I’ve always thought of Rastafarians as  trust worthy people. But don’t tell my father this. Actually, there was a brief moment where my dad got down to change some money, and I was able to properly talk to him and you know? Pretend to be abreast with reggae culture. I told him I loved “dancehall”, and that my favorite artist was Popcan lmao. I’d only heard of Popcan like a week prior, thanks to Ricky – a friend of mine, and the time we wasted driving around Legon in search of a cheap apartment. Wasted because we didnt get some. And like, I’m here now.

Life is such a bitch. SMH.

He whose name has been forgotten took us to the Hotel place we were supposed to stay and like, that was my second official disappointment, counting my flying experience. It turned out the place I had booked online was actually someones house. The caretaker/manager guy was really nice and everything but my dad and I were  expecting two beds instead of the one we were given, and a bathroom INSIDE our room. Did I mention that we were sharing said bathroom with the 3 other inhabitants of the house. LOOL. We put our bags down, we stretched small, boom – Light off.

Is this real life

Chale, Chale Chale.

We were tired, we were hungry, we said fuck it and asked the manager to show us where we could get food. Yes, in the dark, in a country both of us did not know. The male ego is a very strange thing. Luckily, he got his night watchman to walk with us. He was also rastafarian; only, he had this slow, snakey air about him. No wonder he would later do my father falaa and finesse like 2000 Gambian Dalasi from money he was supposed to use to buy provisions for me. But again, I digress. We marched along in the dark with literally no streetlight to guide us, all the while with me thinking how much I felt like a character in a book. With every burst of yellow light from a taxi, I imagined screeching tyres and screams, guns, my dad and I being shoved into a car. Imagine being black in another African country and thinking yourself worthy of a kidnapping. HAH!

Anyways, we finally found a place with a generator. I had chips with Chicken. It was okay aaa. My father had rice. The grains were tiny (like togyimi rice) but – also okay aaa. The light were back on when we came. I got the wifi password from the manager – whose room was directly opposite ours – and I told my Ghana people I had arrived safely.

I barely slept that first evening though, you know? I thought of the life I had left behind, the people I had left behind, and I really wanted to cry but, nothing; Because my dad was stressing (hes pretty old now. Shouldn’t have been putting himself through all those exertions), my mom was stressing (she’d been waiting on word of our arrival and the manager guy had given us a false password and we couldn’t use our whatsapp and we hadn’t bought a sim card at the airport and plenty things). I was stressing. Because everyone was stressing because of me. And like …. I couldn’t bring myself to accept that I was here because I did not work hard enough. And I have always thought failure only ever means that. It was someway lying there in the dark like that. Reflecting on my whats next and whatnot. But whatever. I closed my eyes, I forced sleep and I survived my first evening.

And I AM going to survive the rest of my stay here, I AM going to come out a better person, and I WILL enjoy this. Terrible start or not.


7 thoughts on “What Happens in Gambia (Part 1 of 1?)

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