Freetown, Baby!

Cannavaro by jc2010sl
May 20, 2011, 1:44 pm
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One of the oddest things about the expat life is having staff working for you. Guards man the gate at your apartment, cleaners tidy up after you, messengers in the office run errands and drivers take you “hither and thither”, as well as generally managing your life. I read PG Wodehouse for the first time the other week and was struck by the similarities between the faithful Jeeves and my driver, Musa. Maybe not the digressions into poetry (from classical to romantic), but the laconic “Yes, sir”, “No, sir”, and the ability to deal with any situation with minimal fuss were eerily familiar. Car slides off the road – Musa gets it back on track. Petrol shortage in town – Musa will find some. Something stolen – Musa knows where to look for it.

He is a man of few words and two passions; God and football. He is a regular church-goer at the Wesleyan Chapel in Lumley, where he sings in the choir. When I asked him what he’d like from the UK when I made my last visit the answer was immediate – a good Bible. Maybe it’s his religious faith that gives him such eternal optimism regarding the fortunes of Arsenal FC. Victories are confidently predicted before each match, whether we’re playing Birmingham or Barcelona, and each defeat is met with the same shrug of the shoulders and confident assertion that we’ll win next week.

Driving in and out of State House I noticed a lot of people call him “Cannavaro” – I presumed after the diminutive Italian who captained them to World Cup victory. “Musa, do they call you Cannavaro because you play in defence?” “Yes boss.” I thought for a moment, “but he is short and you’re tall. Why Cannavaro of all defenders?” Hunched over the wheel, he let out a small laugh, and gave a classic one word response: “Aggression.” Placid off the pitch, it appears the game unleashes an alter ego. I can’t imagine any other situation where Musa would be described as aggressive, least of all while singing from the stalls.