It used to be "doo daa ham" that dominated the glossary of terms of the ghetto in The Gambia. Ghetto has its own technical terms, doesn't it? In the ghetto, youths have their own ways of insinuating their plight to their colleagues, while they converse. Some words or terms they use could be funny or even absurd but does have a meaning; I bet the moon,
it does. "Hi boy, how are you? If you ask a friend the answer is obvious, "ah... just managing".
As someone who spends most of his time home, brewing green tea and reading and listening to music and less time at the ghetto, I was curious to know what transformed these boys into full-fledged managers. Could it be because they have gone through some of these management institutes? Or is this a new title that the ghetto boys confer on themselves with less respect to academic credentials or job status? Do they want to impress someone by calling themselves managers? I yawn to know and so I am required to be just little inquisitive. And to satisfy my curiosity, it calls on me to learn from the youths, "the managers". But what is nerve-wracking and intellectually upsetting is the fact that I can't just carve a hypothesis for my new study because I don't know where to start and none of the managers would come to my sight. I decided to take a walk around town to virtually all the ghettoes where I sat to chat with friends and to play "detective" to see if there is anything that I can pick up on their lips. "Hello guys, how are you doing?" I asked. "Ah... boy we are just managing", they responded. "Huh, there they go again, an inexorable term, just managing", I couldn't help but murmured in my mind. And as we exchanged words on our usual ghetto talks, I tried to push the boys to explain what lies behind the term but couldn't make a hole in it. From where I sat to a farther place my eyes couldn't reach, all pillared youths, the managers. They are managers, it is obvious they have a reason to call themselves managers but what do they manage at the ghettos, markets, and the streets.
The first journey to the ghetto couldn't afford me a breakthrough, but it did teach me something, because at least, I was able to know that the boys neither attend any of the management institutes nor do they want to impress someone by calling themselves managers. And so I have a sense of direction. A direction that led me to investigate the plight of this boys in my quest to unravel what lies behind this recent "just managing" fever that grips almost (three third) of our youthful population. As I swept my face to the left and began to brush away, someone who would unconsciously give me what the journalists call tip-off just came to my sight. "Hey boy, how are you doing?", I asked and he replied, "Ah, I am just managing". I couldn't wait to ask, "What are you managing?" "Ah... to survive in the Gambia, one has to accept and learn to live by the rules of opportunity cost", he replied. But as inquisitive as I was, I wanted to know if the boy is an economist but he insisted that he is a victim of the economy, and that I would learn by myself what he means by everyone having the need to learn to prioritize things since the economic plight won't permit one to have all. Is he alone the victim of economy?
When I walked my way home from the ghetto, I became bored and wanted to brew green tea. As I went to the shop to buy a match box, the shopkeeper told me that a match box costs one dalasi and fifty bututs. Just 50b increment, not too bad, I said to myself. As I was brewing my green tea while reading, My father called me and sent me to buy a 25 kilos bag of rice which I bought at the cost of D450 in the past week. And when I got to the narr shop, the shopkeeper insisted that I could only take the bag of rice home if I put D490 on his counter. "But sir I bought this bag of rice here just last week at the cost of D450 and today, just a week time you are adding D40 on top of it", I said with fury. "Yes!" He said vehemently. I paid the price and took the rice home, while thinking of a logical explanation to give to my father for the price hikes. When I got home, thank God my dad was also "just managing" and he understands, probably, why things are how they are. The next morning I went to attend a job interview at one of the institutions, I was thinking that I was going to attend the interview with just some few people. But upon my arrival, guess what I have found out, 15 frustrated job seekers and I couldn't wait to ask the first three persons I have met about what they were doing there and they both told me that they were there for an interview. One of them so intelligent to see that scar of surprise in my eyes said: "Hey do you know how many people applied for this job? " We are the lucky ones to be called". lucky! And still having to put up a fight with 15 people for a single job, I helplessly said. "Hey, are you talking to me?", asked the boy standing next to me. "No, no, no, I am just, I am just fine", I replied, as if he asked me how I was doing. Funny, isn't it. This is just the last of the four interviews I have attended and probably I am being so stupid to fail the first three of the four. These days if you are putting out a vacancy announcement on a paper, you had better expect to receive more applications than your whole institution can employ. "Boy, will you allow me to write and give your tongue a break!" not you comrades, I am just talking to one of my boys sitting next to me here in my house. A friend of mine, as I was writing this feature came to visit me, brewing my favorite tea, complaining to me about a problem I can't solve. He said that his uncle who resides in Germany and sends containers loading cars for sale just complained that the amount of money that he was charged the other time he brought his containers, per car, has been increased by an amount of ten thousand Dalasis. Staggering, isn't it.
While this feature remains a summary of what lies beneath the "just managing fever", and carved in such a youth-centric way, it only gives the story a youth face; there is another thing worth mentioning; that is the word of the man who said "I have been working for many years as a driver for the government, but my salary doesn't reach D2000. Tell me, what will I be left with when I buy a bag of rice, pay transport fares out of it, my green tea, condiments?: "it is even finished at the second need".
Could this be the reason why everyone learns how to manage. Well, if you want to know how I am doing, I am also just managing. I have no choice but to join the rest of the managers and manage alongside them as it becomes the better path to trade. Aha.