The Press Conference
(As was by some rare decree of God arresting his venom, Gambia’s President has agreed to a press conference with Kibaaro News, JollofNews, Freedom Newspaper, GRTS, and the Daily Observer. Such decree put forth its symptoms only after Jammeh acquiesced to the Soothsayer’s plea in a bid to acquire new friends after Taiwan—friends that require a free press. The occasion proceeds in Dakar, Senegal)
SABALLY Ladies and gentlemen! I deliver a selective welcome—a warm one to those who agree with the President. And a fretful one to those who don’t! (Daily Observer jumps in)
OBSERVER (Gleefully) Your Excellency, any few words on the great projects underway?
FREEDOM (Charged) See? Praise-singer! For the heavens the session hasn’t even commenced!
OBSERVER Ye self-exiled lot! Perished be thy tongue—for the feat of thy Lord the President abounds: The airport where angels descend, university which instructs rocket science, hospitals which cure HIV/AIDS, roads so solid that New York trains can race on—
SABALLY (Expressly happy) Hail thee, mighty Observer! Thine light shall shine daily as sounds thine name!
FREEDOM Excuse me, Sabally—but I only hinted that the conference hasn’t even started. You didn’t even get through the welcome remarks.
SOOTHSAYER (Vehemently) So shall it commence now! The President’s appetite galore for questions!
JAMMEH (Instructively) Let he without tongue dastardly-situated spit words less traitorous. And he with quizzes patriotic encounter needs durable. (Jollofnews raises hand)
JAMMEH Yes, fellow over there?
JOLLOFNEWS Mr. President, why embarrass Gambia by declaring thine quasi-cure for AIDS? Imagine how foreign countries and their media received such proclamation—and Gambians in foreign countries receiving jeers,”Hey, doth thou hail from that African country whose president claims he solveth AIDS?” Wert thou mental?
JAMMEH (Shifting his gaze) Next question, please! Yes, fellow at the corner!
JOLLOFNEWS With naught but mischievous propensity doth thou evade mine enquiries!
FREEDOM (With a smirk) Mr. President, how did thou fare when I beguiled your Vice President and later cabinet ministers? Perchance they did worse than Sarah Palin versus the Canadian journalists!
SABALLY That’s a stupid question! And each media house is allowed only one question for the President!
FREEDOM Why didn’t you announce that at the beginning instead of watching the Daily Observer interrupt you?
SABALLY Shhhhhhh! No more words!
FREEDOM Dare not shhhhhhh me!
JAMMEH Next time, each would be allowed three words! Next question please—from next questioner!
KIBAARO What is it you carry in your hand besides the staff, Mr. President?
JAMMEH (Happily) The Qur’aan! Glad you asked that! See, I’m a true Muslim. I wish well for Gambia and humanity! In fact, the Qur’aan says—
KIBAARO That one shouldn’t spread mischief and wickedness on earth—nor shall one persecute.
SABALLY (Cutting in) You’ve exceeded the number of questions! Retire!
KIBAARO Order was, “Each media house allowed only one question for the President!” Am I right? I’m not asking the President any more. I’m asking Sabally! Where does the Qur’aan condemn dissent and free speech? Certainly, lots of deaths and disappearances remain akin to this presidents reign. Was Jawara’s the same? The Qur’aan demands explanation to the families of Chief Manneh, Deyda Hydara, Daba Marenah, Ello Jallow—the list sprints to infinity! A Gambian soldier explicitly mentioned how Deyda was murdered! Why question not Sanna Manjang yet?
JAMMEH (Furiously) Next question, please! Where’s GRTS? Speak not any questions?
GRTS (Shaking) No Sir! We’re only here to cover the event—I mean take videos!
JAMMEH With what tremor doth thou quake, O ye that issued from mine own investment! I only ask thee to ask!
GRTS (Still shaking) Sir, sorry, I mean Your Highness, Naseeru Deen, Sheikh Professor, Dr., Baabili Mansa, Field Marshall, Inventor of Samsung Galaxy and iPhone 21—
KIBAARO (With Jollofnews and Freedom) GRTS, thou canst but only pronounce a dirge to ethical journalism! Prithee retire!
(Jammeh, Sabally, guards and attendants rise and walk out)
JAMMEH Observer and GRTS can come along!
JOLLOFNEWS Birds of the same feather flock together!
KIBAARO Sanna Manjang needs questions! (Exuent)
ACT THREE Scene 2
(Enter Zeinab with attendants and guards)
1st ATTENDANT Your grace shall mind not the distractors—they only stir discomfort!
2n ATTENDANT (To 1st Attendant) Proceed thee, great pal, against sympathizers of Tutti Faal! This much noise seems to be charging from their wont.
ZEINAB (Rather loud) Tutti Faal! She vanished into that vapor from my nostrils. For I’m but a wind, scorching from Rabat! A gold-digger I’m not—neither a vixen, nor a home-wrecker!
1st ATTENDANT They clamor thou wastes the country’s resources. Rot their tongues be!
2nd ATTENDANT Did great Soothsayer warrant a press conference to work a riddle? Haply fare aught wasn’t trumpeted of thee by vultures who sharpen not claws for flesh, but pens for hearsay! Cursed be their trade!
ZEINAB Amen! They pronounce themselves exiled. I pronounce their conscience much exiled.
(Enter Jammeh with Sabally, Guards, and Attendants)
JAMMEH (Faking a happy countenance) Sweet Zeinab! My fair one from Morocco! The colorant of my sweet desires! The damsel in thee pokes at eternity! Let me dissolve my present troubles in thine immortal beauty, O cherished maiden!
ZEINAB Why condemn thy grace to that conference? Why dine with disdainful enterprises of stealth?
To be Continued, Insha Allaah