By Famara Fofana
The quartet of Bu Garta B, Bu Guda B, Kujalify and Papa Jerry on Saturday November 17, 2018 cemented their name in the annals of The Gambia’s creative industry with a string of comedy acts that left hundreds of people in ecstasy at the Alliance Francaise de Banjul along Kairaba Avenue.
Among the bevy of spectators were members of the National Youth Council and a handful of private entities that had put their weight behind the boys through the costumes and props on display during the night. Tellingly, beyond the glitz that punctuated the event dubbed Ranxa Bisaap, the show has yielded some notable takeaways worth reflecting.
Politics momentarily put on the pause button
For a country whose young people never seemed to grow tired of intense online shadow boxing, heated political bickering and ethnocentric trivialities, it was quite refreshing to see Gambians from different walks of life, gathered in unison and waiting to be entertained by a group of young artistes. Bright Stars Entertainment is simply box office. And for the audience, most of them from the University of The Gambia, it was money well spent. From the curtain raiser – performances by several emerging groups and comedians- fans were kept on the edge of their seats until that minute when the boys themselves made their final bow before their gaggle of fans. For hours, my fixation on the spectacle unfolding before me wouldn’t allow for any surfing on the net, let alone share with the so-called People’s Republic of Facebook the goings-on at Alliance Francais. Comedy, like good music, can be therapeutic for a troubled soul. I can safely say that many in attendance at the Ranxa Bisaap did forget about their earthly troubles even if it was just for few hours.
Giving meaning to the trivialized
Ordinarily, the theme of Saturday’s epic show Ranxa Bisaap would have been treated with the kind of Chaaxan that we in Jollof often tend to accord such local lingo, but being the creative force they are, no one could afford to treat Ranxa Bisaap Enterprise as the butt of jokes. Why would they? After all, no one is treating Assan Jobe and team as a bunch of never-do-wells. This goes to underline the fact that no matter how something looks flimsy or superficial on the surface, the extent to which one adds meaning to it can make a huge difference. This was the case for the much talked about, highly spicy sorrel soup which in reality does not even sit on top of most people’s scale of preference or barely does it appear on any local eatery as a menu either in part or a stand-alone diet. However, seeing Papa Jerry talk about his commercial enterprise with sheer business mindedness and making use of integrated digital marketing channels to sell his Ranxa Bisaap drew my attention to the technological evolutions shaping lives today and how our own agrarian community could tap into technology to maximize production and productivity.
Time to break away from the past and appreciate home-grown talent
What makes these boys and their craft so poignant is that for far too long, The Gambia and her people do not always seem to take pride or attach high premium to her own talent, particularly those making waves in the creative arts. That sorry state of affairs has not helped the cause of many who were left to wallow in dejection and frustration before they eventually called it quits, leaving them at the mercy of life-long penury. Well, all hope is not lost if the Bright Stars guys are anything to go by. Armed with decent education (one going to university and two others attending MDI), Assan Jobe, Pa Modu Yaffa,Yankuba Comma and Buba A. Jallow are in the league of their own. With the kind of potential and ingenuity they possess, enhanced by their star appeal, there is every indication that these lads will soon become world beaters. Given the level of patronage they currently enjoy, especially from young people, it appears our people are now shifting their mentality from decades-long indulgence towards foreign actors and actresses to recognizing and appreciating that which they own.
What now for the talented quartet?
As members of Bright Stars Entertainment grow in stature and fame, it is important they remain united, natural, grounded and not getting complacent, as most young people can be when popularity gets into their head. With a forward looking management team at their service, these lads are assured of the guidance they truly need at this formative stage of their career. The public, for its part, must continue to stand by them by showing in them belief. Perhaps, the most critical source of support will be corporate Gambia. If the country is to harness the potentials of these boys and reap the fruits of their hard work. In truth, talented young people of The Gambia do not often get the much needed corporate backing they deserve and even where such support were to come, it tends to be few and far between. This is not and cannot be a cause of concern for only Bright Stars Entertainment but all those emerging groups and persons moving to make their mark on The Gambia’s creative arts industry.
CRC theme song
In a move that can be described as the cherry on the cake, it was announced that the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) has given Bright Stars Entertainment the honour of composing its theme song. This development itself is symbolic and also comes as a massive seal of approval for a group of young men well primed to carve a niche for themselves. The stage is now set for a group that thrives on the diversity of its members. It cannot get any better.
Famara Fofana is the author of When My Village was My Village