09 December 2004

Ndaanan: Second Issue - part 1

The Gambia’s only literary publication
Second Issue:

It will be difficult, in order to be honest and fair to all favorite readers, to make a short summary on a whole issue of Ndanaan as promised. Every issue, as well as the second issue, is so interesting and so full of fun to read, that it will do injustice to Ndanaan and to those behind its conception to make a brief summary of any of the issues. A beautiful unsigned editorial opener welcomes the reader. Then it explains the objectives set from the start to create Ndanaan. ‘Great things come from small beginnings.’ Ndanaan is not meant for graduates and it does not discriminate in its choice of author or text. It was ‘for all Gambians who wish to publish poems, short stories, plays and other creative works but could not simply because no such outlet existed here before.’ This was the spirit nurtured by the founders since the first issue, and this spirit guided them to the second issue.


The second issue is made up of 48 pages. Forty-nine if A note on our contributors is included. There are five stories, one play, a book review and fourteen poems. In this issue, three female contributors had their works included and two of them are students in ‘a local high school’. The third female contributor was at the time living abroad with her husband. The female contributors, some of whom have their names given in abreviation, are Mrs. Ralphina De Almeida (a poem entitled Sun, Rain, Wind, Tropical Elements) Tamba B. (a short story entitled The visitation), and Ndungu ( a short story entitled Traditional Folk Tale – She that Would Not Be Ashamed – The 3 Tasks Of Penda). The other contributors in this issue are Dr Lenrie Peters (A book review of Mother Is Gold by Adrian Roscoe), the late Charles Jow (A beautiful story entitled The Pond), Mr. Gabriel J Roberts (a play entitled A Coup Is Planned), Mr. Swaebou Conateh (a poem New Africa), Mr. Hassan Jagne (three poems: Split Life, The Cacatarr, December in the City), Mr. Hassum Ceesay ( three poems: The Cotton Tree, Behind the Looking Glass and The Palm Wine Vendor’s Song), Mr. George Lapedon-Thomas ( an untitled poem), Mr. Salif Kujabi (a short story entitled The Fall of A witch Doctor), Karra (three poems entitled Song, The defeated and Anticlimax), Mr. N’jogu E. M. Bah (a short poem entitled Sleep without Dreams) and Mr. Junkunda Chaka Daffeh (an untitled poem).
Mr Swaebou Conateh wrote, at the end, a special introduction on El Malick Faal where he expressed his contentment on El Malick’s poems which are inspired by the Negritude of Leopold Sedar Senghore. In the introduction, he wrote:

"The following, which I term his Negritude poems are good and in some instances rather original especially in the style he uses: Black Woman, Kora, My Mother, My Little Home, A Night of Moonlight. The Circumcision, and New Orleans which are in the same category of Negritude poems, I find to be less successful. In a work like the Kora, El Malick Faal succeeds very well in the way he combined traditional methods of oral recital to a largely western way of presentation.
El Malick is not well known at the time but his poems have expressed a lot about his country the Gambia. Conateh concluded:

I like the following poems best of all, however. Tide of Koina, (perhaps the first really great poem about the River Gambia), Night of Moonlight, Midnight in Bathurst, The Neglected Boy, The Blind Love (not for the style but the theme chosen), Black Woman and My Mother. The author does well when he takes up social causes as in The Neglected Boy, and is fairly successful in his contrast of country/town themes."

Mr. Conateh did however mention earlier that he found El Malick at his worst when he moralises about motherhood, patriotism, God and Life. He based this judgment on the poor use of images of common places in The Gambia which do not catch well with the themes dealt with.
Unlike the last issue, the presentations will be done author by author starting with the ladies.

Tamba B.

She is introduced as a senior student in a local high school and belonging to the few female contributors. This introduction is far from being adequate and this is one of the major setbacks of Ndanaan. Tamba B. wrote a very short story (a personal experience no doubt) entitled Visitation. The story is written in the first person and the setting is in a room but the place is not specified.
It is about 3am and the protagonist is fast asleep when a noise wakes her (assuming Tamba is the protagonist). The door, left wide open by the narrator before going to bed, is now half close. A moving hand holds her bag, and drops it after a while. Five minutes later, after the hand disappears, the narrator gets up to inspect the bag. It contained D1.25 and 75 bututs have disappeared. ‘My visitor must have been really broke!!’ concluded the narrator humorously.


She is equally introduced as a female contributor from a local high school. She wrote a beautiful traditional folk tale entitled She That Would Not Be Shamed – the 3 Tasks of Penda. Like the Aesop’s fables, the Fontaine’s fables or our talis and lebs, this story has its moral lesson. Penda is born of a mother who masters the fine arts of magic. Her mother promises not to see her daughter ever put to shame. Panda grows up with a beauty to be envied. The king, hearing of such beautiful a creature and enraged by the beautiful things said about her, comes to take her as a third wife with the intention of destroying her. He will defy her with three difficult tasks.
Penda’s first task is to cultivate rice on barren land whiles her co-wives are given fertile land. The ever watchful and protective mother will reassure her and advices her to go home and worry about other things. Not only will her harvest exceed tremendously the quantity produced by the two other wives together, but it filled all the store houses and the King had to ask the reapers to bring no more.
Her second task consists of milking a bull and use the milk to prepare the king’s breakfast when the other wives are given heifers for the same reason. How could a bull produce milk? That will not worry her mother, however, who will tell her to collect the urine of the bull in a calabash and keep it like she would do with milk. Whiles the other wives run every morning with their ‘runny’ and unappetizing milk accompanied by porridge, Penda will present a creamy milk which looks so thick and appetizing that the king will hardly look at the others’ food as he gluttonously gulps Penda’s.
Her third and last task turns out to be more challenging. The other two wives are all pregnant but Penda is not. The King, who is traveling around the kingdom, asks to have a son from the wives who will be heir to the throne. How can a non-pregnant person produce a child? That is Penda’s challenge and, as usual, she turns to her mum, desperate for help. Her mother, however, seems not be worried as she instructs her daughter to:

Go to the forest, and look for a certain tree called “Dubuumi”. Hew off a branch and cut two sticks, both of exact size and shape, from it. Go back home and keep them in a basket under your bed. (p31)

Where Penda was very worried, she needs not worry no-more. Her mother assures her of no shame and it will happen as the mother requires. On the king’s arrival, the other wives will precipitate to show the king their male children, the possible heirs of the throne. As they had to do their preparations in a “flabber dash’ manner, they get ridiculed in front of everybody. However, they are certain Penda will not be radicalized in front of everyone, but thrown out of the kingdom. They know Penda was not pregnant on the king’s departure. They know no woman can ever deliver a child without a pregnancy so this time, they are certain Penda’s days are over. They were wrong. First of all, as everyone waits impatiently, Penda takes her time to prepare her children. For not only has she got twins, but the children are of so exquisite a beauty, that it melts the heart of anyone who sees them. Penda takes her time to wash, cloth and perfume her children. An hour after the king’s order, Penda requests for her children’s route to be well prepared as they will not walk on bare ground. Everything is done as she requested, but not without the king fuming with anger and impatience. He sees this charade as a way of fooling everyone on Penda’s part.

As soon as Penda’s children appear, suddenly everything became blue, the sun, the trees, the houses and even the ground (...) Such uproar arose from the crowd of the children’s beauty and Penda’s own magnificence, that the words of the king could scarcely be heard, there and then the king admitted defeat and Penda became “the Queen” from that day.

Let’s be contented with what we have and admire what others have. We should restrain ourselves from over envying others and wishing them evil when we can offer them love.

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