Archive for October, 2013

Thinking of Ghana!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 30, 2013 by kola

 

So a good friend of mine Selorm Branttie, on a visit to Kigali in Rwanda, put this observation up on his Facebook wall and the discussion that followed was like a seminar session I will like to share.

I have made editions to make it readable and I agree with most of the sentiments expressed in the discussion although they are not mine.

 

Hmmm Ghanaians and their mouth-mouth…

The streets of Kigali are so clean and orderly, even the traffic lights have timers everywhere, streetlights working, not even a single polythene bag on the street…

Tiny Rwanda… producing Tea and coffee…. 

Ghana: Cocoa, Gold, plenty PhDs, plenty planners, plenty civil service people… One Ghanaboy with me was commenting about the fact that we city people pay 5% of our bloated electricity bill on streetlights….

 

“You know you are in Ghana when street lights are visible decorations by day and invisible shadows by night.” 

– Nana Awere Damoah in his latest book #ISpeakofGhana

 (Then the discussion starts)

Well, I said it and will say it again, give Rwanda five years and Ghana would have to go study development there. I am really concerned about how we practice development. No one (leadership) seems to listen around here (Ghana).

(sigh) Concert Ghana! The Rwandan story is a modern example of the possibility of an African nation to develop if they put their minds to it.

I am telling you, I am so impressed. The nation seems to have some character and you only need to be there for an hour to see it all. This is a nation going forward. You won’t believe this was a nation that only in the 90s was a disaster country.

 It is the cleanest city I’ve ever visited in Africa. 

Check out their boda boda aka okada (motorbike taxis) and you will love a ride at the back of one. Even their Bodas have one thing in common, even the helmets are all green or blue, with sun visors which are even uniform. Unbelievable really!

It’s amazing. Every rider has a helmet for the passenger and they have the same colors!

This is a country with a visa on arrival for all Africans. They make regional integration begin to make sense. It’s a mindset that Ghana must get.

 Yeah! It’s true the streets of Kigali are clean. They have a no litter policy that’s ingrained in the citizenry unlike in Ghana where even the ‘educated’ litter indiscriminately, it’s even mind boggling.

It is very obvious that until we get the filth out of the minds of our people, we will still be stagnant and we are all aware of what happens when there is stagnation.

‘We’ can’t get the filth out of the minds of ‘our’ people since it has to be a conscious effort on their part -of course plus fines and public education.

But really maybe what Ghana needs is to make the punishment for littering so expensive that people will think twice. 

Honestly don’t know what else can be done about the current breed of Ghanaians because find it interesting that when we move out of Accra to other smaller towns the amount of littering is either less or even non-existent but come to Accra and it is like stepping into the capital of a rubbish heap! 

Everyday as we pass by the Korle lagoon and the Kpeshie lagoon, the level of rubbish in there and the stench is just so overpowering.  As far back as 1998, remember seeing fishermen at work in those lagoons and it wasn’t degraded but then what happened? 

What the hell is wrong with us in this country?!! 

Must there be a gun to our head before we do the right thing??

What is seriously wrong with us?!

Where is our sense of discipline or what ingredient is it that we lack to make these work?

Tough questions lie behind the Rwandan “miracle” which Ghana’s elites will suffer hallucinations from just imagining. Maybe we have too many intellectual idiots in this country. (emphasis mine)

‘We see Ghanaians aspiring to great things on TV and read about them on the Internet, encounter intellectuals on social media and I feel this pride and I tell myself really Ghana is making it. But then I step out to into town or travel outside Accra and see the filth, degradation and poverty and ask myself where are these same Ghanaians to make an impact??’

It is hard to believe we are a country full of stupid people (pardon my harsh language) but I see everything that goes and I wonder if maybe we’ve all lost our sense of reasoning because the really stupid things that go on in this country just makes you want to pack baggage and leave (cc: Brigadier Nunoo).

We were already on our way out but choose to stay here. That’s a sacrifice if you didn’t know. The ultimate sacrifice some of us made was to stay in Ghana and try to make this work.

In Rwanda, they have a 7 year term of office but that alone is not enough. The quality of their leadership makes it happen. It is high time we started asking very pertinent questions such as what good is this democracy in Ghana.

Would a visionary autocracy perhaps been a good thing to first set the precedence for Ghana? Is Kigali’s semi-dictatorship a model for Ghana to copy? Do we need a ‘benevolent’ dictator in Ghana?

Paul Kagame doesn’t take nonsense and he kicks ass! Our leaders are a bunch of sissies who only look for the next pile of cash to steal!

When drivers are arrested and fined in some cases for offences they had committed, a political meal is made. Okada owners have had a field day because they squeezed the balls of the politicians and they were given the green light because it was around elections. This is the type of leadership we are endowed with.

The question is whether even some of the top civil servants undergo any performance reviews themselves. If they did, it will solve some of these problems

It is obvious from spending time in Kigali that everything looks fine but there are also lots of interesting political problems that the visitor doesn’t have to engage with. The cracks could be revealed once you go below the surface, that there is quite a bit of anxiety.

 It’s like the usual thing we do in Ghana, talk about democracy and praise Malaysia for economic strides.

Some of us are tired of the talk, we need action. Is it not obvious we all know what the problem is and have ideas how to solve it but have the ‘ostrich syndrome’. So the question is: what do we do about it?

It truly is an individual resolve and we need to stop the frigging intellectual discourse and descend to the grassroots. But then, even the so called intellectuals are the worst culprits so where does that leave us? 

The grassroots is all about grit and independent thought that has all but abandoned us. However let’s not forget that Ghana’s soldiers did a great job in Kigali in her darkest hour.

It will be nice to look out for each other and to champion a new leadership agenda offering another perspective to how leadership must be practiced. Hopefully, it is proposed that it will have a curriculum of studies which if followed through, will go a long way to give us the progress we need. The solution is simple. It offers different perspective in conscious education, helping to take care of the mind.

Feel free to join the cause by following The Africa Leadership Agenda on Facebook.

It is high time we roll up our sleeves and get some work done and it must begin at the grassroots. It’s important also that we have this kind of discourse to bring like minds and other stakeholders on board to find solutions.

We talk of change so longingly but we as a people don’t have the commitment, the dedication and the preparedness to shut up for a minute to think and work – always yapping about nothing.

Note: Kigali is in Africa, not Europe.

Some of us are forced to think that maybe war is a positive transformation tool. Japan, Germany, Europe in general and ultimately the USA all had a great transformation after years of war and guess Rwanda is naturally following suit. The toughest political decisions and developmental policies can easily be implemented under such conditions.

People sit in Ghana and titillate themselves that “Ghana is the gateway to Africa.” Obviously, the sayers of the above statement have NEVER travelled anywhere else in Africa.  

For Ghana to work, it depends on YOU.

Like I always say, it begins with YOU!

 

 For the full discussion:

 

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Revolving Doors

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 28, 2013 by kola

As I sat in the banking hall in Unibank Kumasi, I observed clients come in through their revolving doors and it was interesting to relate the different ways people approached and came into the banking hall through those doors, to life.

We all have different approaches to life and that tells on how we live life. Our hopes, dreams, mannerisms and behaviors are all tied to the way we see life. Life can be heaven or hell or a mixture of both, a pleasure or pain, a mixture of both again, but one thing I know is that we all as human beings want to live life to the fullest.

Our various experiences shape our reactions to other experiences that might not be necessarily hinged on a particular experience but then there is the need to recognize that the various aspects of our life and the lives of other human beings in so interwoven to each other. This brings to mind the philosophical saying by Descartes and his humanitarian contemporaries that ‘man is not an island unto himself’.

In walking through those revolving doors, people were going in one at a time. This made me realize that no matter what situation and how rich or poor you are, you are responsible for your own actions. A person has to choose when to walk into the revolving doors to get to the other side and this you do alone. Whatever and however you do that is up to you.

When I tried entering the revolving doors with another person, I came to the realization that inasmuch as there were two people, it was quite uncomfortable since the other person kept clipping at the heels of the other in the partitioning.

Furthermore, whatever goes on in that short time that the door revolves from outside to inside the banking hall is entirely an individual thing. Well, I didn’t fart to test this assertion but then it was imperative that one had to get into the doors to get inside the banking hall.

This applies in life that it needed an action to move from one phase to another. To move from outside in the sun, to the cool air-conditioned interiors of the bank for a transaction, there needed to be an action and that was to step into the revolving doors to take one to the other side.

Whenever we pray to God to change our situation and then sit back and fold our arms, how then do we expect the prayers to be answered? There is the need for an action to be taken and then the prayer can be achieved.

Some people were afraid to even walk through the revolving doors whilst others just did not know how to stop when it got to the banking hall and just kept going on and ended up outside again. There was this one guy who only ended up in the bank after a third attempt. No! He wasn’t dumb. He just did not understand how revolving doors worked.

And that is life. Perseverance and faith will get you through a lot of revolving doors but you need to take the first step.

Like I always say it begins with YOU.

God be with you.

 

 

Random Thoughts

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 28, 2013 by kola

 

The other day I sat under the bridge at the Ofankor barrier in the capital city. Whenever I had walked past the new overhead, I had seen people lying under the bridge and wondered what it will be like and who they were. The breeze under the bridge is unparallel and compared to the heat in the city, it is a refreshing rest.

So I ask myself, is the stereotype of people lying under the bridges and streets true especially that they are homeless? Well, did I prove the theory wrong?

But then what is it also with the stigma that comes with the stereotype. Do you see anybody lying under the bridge no matter their condition as a homeless person?

Even when I lay there with my laptop between my legs and my travelling case by my side?

Of all the days I spent in the capital, apart from being at home, this was my most enjoyable solitary time. Time under the bridge gave me ample time to meditate on the socio-economic systems that exist in our country. It also gave me time to reflect on life in the capital as compared to life in the periphery.

I came to the realization that life in the capital is so rushed and usually monotonous. Leave home early in order to avoid traffic, get to the office, stay and work in the office till very late sometimes, back home to watch television, if there is time, then off to bed.

Then it all begins again the next morning.

Apart from on weekends when there is time for social gatherings like weddings usually, few funerals and plenty naming ceremonies.  Does the baby boom mean that these days the only recreation for young adults is sex and just plenty sex?

But as I leave the city behind on my journey back home, I leave all the stress and the frustrations behind me gladly.

You should see the smile on my face as I sit in the front seat of this car.

Goodbye Accra, till we meet again.

JUDGE DREAD

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 28, 2013 by kola

As I left Tamale for Accra one early morning I was dreading what I was going to meet in the city. Urban life has taken a new dimension for me since I relocated to Tamale and I have always felt a sense of dread when I was heading back into Accra especially.

I have discussed this with friends and I have realized that it isn’t just me who is feeling that way but then it’s a general feeling that pervades an individual who has lived in the city for a long time and now experienced what is like to live outside the main capital of Ghana.

I have met individuals and couples who hardly ever come back to Accra even though they were brought up in Accra and some even attended all their schools in Accra. By a twist of fate they now live in Tamale or elsewhere outside Accra but hardly visit Accra unless on work visits which for the longest time last about a fortnight. I met this couple in Tamale who were both brought up in Accra and came to Tamale to work, met here and got married and for about 12 years have only been to Accra just a few times, only to visit family.

They will not relocate back to Accra especially now that it is almost choked they say.

So on this fine breezy dawn as I head towards the hotel where I am going to meet my friends to head out to Accra, various thoughts run through my mind.

I am happy about one thing though. Having gone on a social media hiatus, I am guaranteed anonymity. My whole life has been on social media as per almost minute by minute updates on one social media or another as to my whereabouts in this country. Facebook updates, Twitter tweets and mentions, Instagram pictures, Foursquare locations with Whatsapp and Viber whilst I answer emails always ensure that my body can be located within a hundred meters of the last post.

All these media are also linked up so that a post on Instagram automatically updates to Facebook and Twitter same as Foursquare location and Whatsapp which constantly keep tabs on me.

So being off social media has been a great plus to my anonymity and also getting closer to my real friends via text messages and somehow I couldn’t bring myself to deactivate my Facebook account so the messenger works even though when i choose not to update my status I still remain anonymous to some extent.

Before I embarked on the journey I took the night off to read Nana Awere Damoah’s I Speak of Ghana, his latest book on his essays on the Ghanaian situation. He truly delves into the situation of the Ghanaman and amidst anecdotes and ribald truthfulness, the Ghanaian situation is pointed out so aptly that once you are a Ghanaian you can identify yourself as the one he is referring to. The book is a handy manual to what we mean when we say we are proud Ghanaians.

This is the only review I will give of the book anywhere. The reviews are plentiful and I suggest you go get a copy for yourself. It is available online at http://www.smashwords.com or contact Nana Awere Damoah at ndamoah@yahoo.co.uk. Have a good read.

The first dread that comes to mind as I leave Tamale for Accra is the rate of ‘dumsor’ in Accra. In Tamale, you hardly hear of long hours of lights out such as is experienced in Accra and having heard that the ‘load shedding’ has now become ‘load sharing’ (semantics) it is obvious that I will dread heading into a place with such irregularity of electricity.

Not to mention the increase in the electricity tariffs affecting how much I buy for my prepaid meter for my apartment in the city.

The next dread is the transport fares that exist in the city. Transport fares are the number one money drainer in city life ahead of food and utility bills. It is even worse if you have a car and company does not provide a fuel subsidy. Fuel prices having gone up means that it costs more to travel around town, at your own convenience, even if you have to hire a taxi or just take a trotro (cheapest).

How was I going to survive in a city with so much traffic everywhere and with such polluted air? In my various travels throughout Ghana, I have come to realize that the only place where the air has a smell is in Accra. The only time you get fresh air in Accra is after 10pm in some selected areas (of course not places like Korle Gonno or Agbogbloshie which have permanent smells) such as Ridge and in the outskirts mostly, if they don’t have dusty roads. Or on some high-rise building rooftops.

Accra people are gradually becoming so used to the recycled air-conditioned office air and it is not surprising that respiratory diseases have gone up. When I got home, every member of my family had a cough. How interesting is that!

Another dread as I head into Accra is the fear that I will get back into my lifestyle as a party animal. There is so much stress in Accra that partying is used by some people to totally de-stress and the more rave the party (with brownies) the better.

This is one of the main reasons why I had relocated to the north. Partying was gradually becoming a part of me and being the life of every party meant that I was socially required to be at almost every function. So I dread being in the capital for a week or more because then if any of my social circles had a party then you know I would be there.

Well this dread really had foundation when on the very evening of getting into the capital there was an all night party by no other than my Party Crew circle. It was a blast too but I decided then that I would have to be careful not to fall into the habit of partying hard on this trip.
It was especially nice to know that some die hard party friends even in Accra had taken the same stance since it was not a friendly venture on their pockets.

Partying costs money.

The greatest dread of all was leaving my twin all alone in Tamale. I have come to grow very fond of spending time with her and the jokes we share. There are ups and down in the relationship but it is always fun to have her around.

Lately, we are becoming the best friends that we have always been and leaving her alone makes me dread how I was going to miss her for a whole week.
There are decisions to be made and plans to undertake. Also there are spiritual exercises to take and all these we do together. To be away for a week was going to be dreadful but some things had to be done.

On the drive to Accra all this go on in my mind and this dread is founded on logic and reasoning. Inasmuch as I miss folk in Accra, I don’t miss the city one bit. The city is choked and still more people keep arriving in the city thinking it is the land of their dreams.

Unfortunately all these people do is to put more pressure on the social amenities in the city and government can only do so much to cater for everybody. Moreover businesses are there to make profit and as such especially the Telcos, are making money off the city dwellers. This is making the city very expensive to live in and the world index for most expensive habitats to live in now include Accra as one of the cities.

Well, my time spent in Accra albeit being frustrating, largely was fun seeing some of the people I have missed. They made up for the dread I had felt heading into town. I was right about the frustrations and having a few holidays during the days spent in the city boosted the fun.

Kudos to all city dwellers and I say Ayekoo! You guys are pretty amazing and doing well living under the conditions you live in.
Please don’t misconstrue this piece as casting aspersions on your lifestyle. Remember I used to be one of you too until recently.

God be with you!

Frederiksgave Plantation

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 21, 2013 by kola

I had heard about the slave plantation at Abokobi in Accra but did not know where exactly it was located. My first thought was that it was a slave stop site where the slaves stopped to rest on their way to the coast.

The first encounter I had of it was to see a picture of the stream that runs through the place. Then I finally had the opportunity as a resource person on the field trip of participants at the INSRAT Historic Society of Ghana Teachers of History in High Schools workshop.

It was exciting as it was the first time for me to get to know this place too.

Abokobi is an old town just below the Aburi mountain ranges that became popular for its farming activities. The land is fertile so that even in the early 80s when the drought and famine hit Ghana, Abokobi was not much affected because of its location and the fertility of its land.

The inhabitants are mainly farmers and they cultivate cereals like maize and also palm oil and then bring the produce to the market in Madina to sell. These were the traditional farmlands of the Ga people.

Modernity however has caught up with Abokobi and its environs. The new capitalist economy means that the lands that were hitherto used to farmlands have been sold to private ownership and these private owners decide whatever they want to do with the lands. Inasmuch as a few of them still maintain the lands as farmlands, the majority have used the lands to build plush modern day houses to use as their homes to retire to.

These rich people in society have built mansions that they can retire to from their active service in the mainland and central Accra. These peri-urban areas have spread all over Accra and the owners of these houses are usually absent because of the distance from the central mainland Accra.

On the way to Abokobi lies the Pantang Hospital for the mentally ill. There was a time when this hospital was isolated from the nearest place of activity but now it is bursting with activity as the city is drawn closer to it.

Gone were the days when anybody seen in the environs of the hospital was considered a mental patient and therefore accorded the stigma that comes from society for being a mad person.

Another long existing place on the road to Abokobi is the Italian design and construction firm Micheletti. The firm has been there for years and there were many times when people have wondered what goes on in those plush design buildings.

This company is responsible for the building of the hockey stadium that hosted the African Hockey tournament in 2009.

Further down the road is the Abokobi land fill site acquired and owned by Zoomlion Waste Management Company Limited. In recent times there has been controversy on the effect of the land fill site on the residents of the area. They claim that the waste is not treated well. The land fill site is the dump ground for the waste of areas within the Accra East environs.

One just has to drive by the place and leave the windows to the car open to relate to what the residents feel when they make complaints about the land fill site.

There is an old Presbyterian church at the crossroads to the plantation site. It is obvious the church has been refurbished several times but its location is paramount in showing missionary activity and European presence in Abokobi.

The University of Ghana has a sign post on the crossroad showing the way to the plantation. A couple of mud houses still dot the road to the plantation.

It is interesting to know that Frederiksgave is in a cul-de-sac. It is situated at the last end of the road of the road from Abokobi in a place called Sesime. At the cul-de-sac is a sign post that tells visitors that they have arrived at the plantation site. It’s a signpost of the University of Ghana and Ghana Museums Board.

There are cobblestones leading up to the villa situated up a slight hill a short walk from the end of the road.

The caretaker of the museum is an affable man who welcomes visitors and gives a short history of the plantation. The plantation was the private residence of a Dutch man who lived there. He died interstate and as by Danish law, his property became the property of the monarch of the time, King Frederick.

Later on, Frederick gave over the plantation and villa to the Danish government hence the name Frederiksgave meaning Frederick’s gift. The plantation originally housed 21 slaves, 13 female and 8 male who lived in two thatched houses on the site next to the villa, planting coffee and tobacco for local consumption.

The villa was rebuilt as part of The Heritage Project, when archaeology students of the University of Ghana started coming over to do practical work at the site. For many years the site was not restored but one man Dr Beduwa-Mensah (of blessed memory) made it his pet project and the subject of his doctoral thesis.

Through his efforts, the Augustino Foundation, a Danish foundation, sponsored the restoration of the site that has now become a museum of Danish and Dutch presence in the Gold Coast inland.

In the museum, there is a list of slaves that were at the plantation and how much they were bought for. It is interesting to note that the slaves came from all over Ghana and even beyond.

It is imperative that some of the slave descendants will still be in Abokobi town but it will still be difficult to trace the lineages of such families unless maybe the traditional historians. This is because any such descendants would have been integrated into the society.

There are also documents relating to instances where chiefs brought over slaves in exchange for tobacco or even at one time a hammock.

The villa not only served as a Dutch residence but also an inland clinic for the Dutch presence in the gold Coast and there was a direct walking  route to Christianborg in Osu which was visibly marked with tamarind trees.

Whenever slavery is mentioned, our first thought goes to our forefathers who were shipped abroad to work in the plantations in the New Lands in the Caribbean and other parts of the world.

This plantation is a historical sight to show that some of the Europeans kept slave plantations locally and it was only when they wanted to usually punish some stubborn slaves that they sold them overseas.

it is now a Ghana Heritage site where tourists can visit and learn about slavery in Ghana.

Let us all stand together and say NO MORE to slavery.

Like i always say, it begins with YOU!

Cursing the Tree

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on October 14, 2013 by kola

In the Solomon Islands, when the people want to clear the forest for planting or development, they just gather around the big tree, stand around it holding hands and hurl abuses at it the tree – they curse it.

Slowly and surely the tree begins to wither and it dies on its own.

This is a story that I heard from the movie ‘Like Stars in the Sky’ and it set me thinking about our environment.  The way we leave our environment to go to ground (no pun intended) is rather appalling.

In the wisdom of nature, the environment itself has systems in place to forestall any disaster and replenish itself in case there are any such things.

The story is told of a particular island when a tsunami was about to happen, the animals sensed it first and the people realized that the animals were all moving in a particular direction and therefore followed them to a particular mountain top. All the people of that particular island were saved by following the animals to that particular place.

Have we really noticed how the environment itself has indicators when a disaster is about to occur. When dark clouds form the birds circle around the trees one and all and you know whether it will rain or not when they don’t settle down pretty soon.

Took a trip to Jasikan recently and noticed that logging has taken alarming new forms where large trees are cut down and not replaced. Even the cutting down of the trees destroys the vegetation around it because the trees are felled illegally and not by experts so the trees just fall on other trees. Gradually the trees in the forest are all destroyed and then the land is exposed to the vagaries of the weather. Erosion and land degradation set in and mud slides are a common occurrence on vegetation without cover.

Civil society organizations such as National Disaster Management Organization, Water Resources and Environmental Protection Agency advocate for measures against environmental degradation. These include creating buffer zones and planting trees and also taking care of water bodies within the communities.

Somehow we find ourselves cursing ourselves just like the people of the Solomon Islands curse the tree.

The cliché that, when the last tree dies the last man dies, is very profound because trees account for the human existence.

As we curse the tree and we curse the environment we hurt ourselves by our very own actions and that is detrimental to our human existence.

Now let’s relate this to our existence. It is important that we all come together to agree on what is good for our environment and just not leave it to civil society to take the responsibility for us.

Just as the people come together to hold hands to curse the tree, they do it together. There is total agreement that it is what they want.

Trees are important for our existence. Plant a tree today and prevent or report it if you think people are destroying trees in your community.

Let’s do our bit to keep Ghana green.

A Green Ghana is a healthy Ghana.

 

Like I always say, it begins with YOU!!

HIGH SCHOOL MEMORIES

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 11, 2013 by kola

It is very frustrating when you can’t sleep and then you are being forced to sleep. Usually happens so much that I have become used to the phenomenon.

Reminds me of those times in high school when the school authorities thought it was compulsory to have siesta after lunch because it was aptly assumed that the mind was tired and as such the body needed to rest. If you were a junior boy in the school, then sorry siesta was not for you. The seniors ended up sending you to each other that by the time you finished running those errands, siesta time was over and you had to go to move on to the next school activity.

High school holds some wild memories for some of us. There were seniors who were huge as trucks and we saw them as seven foot tall because they towered over us. And why won’t we see them like that because we were barely four feet and I for one was only eleven years old. Furthermore what was frightening was the sort of nicknames they had that was put on every wall space they could find. Names like Reverend Satan (I was coming from a Christian home), Ras Demon, Skido Ray, Nii Ofeygey (guy who first introduced us to weed – gave us a lecture on the positive effects of smoking weed) amongst others.

I had never seen such buffed and well oiled human beings in my life as I saw the Mr Muscle competition for the first time in high school. The competition was won by a black belt martial artist called Senior Shantung after one of the Chinese movie star characters that were prevalent at the time.

Let me tell you what made Senior Shantung so terrible to us newbies. This was a guy who had shoulders rounded like two fufu mortar bowls had been put in each shoulder. Guy was huge and used to carry around a ‘sack of goodies’ which was actually his spoils from bullying young boys like us for our tins of sardines, corned beef and usually milk. One day he gave the ‘sack of goodies’ to one of my colleagues to carry and this guy ended up dumping its contents on the floor because of its weight. It was the first time any of us really saw what the ‘sack of goodies’ contained and for our punishment we were given a plot of land behind dormitory to weed using torch lights at night. This was commonly referred to as ‘disco weeding’.

Mid terms were times when we were so glad to escape the bullying of seniors and go home and whenever we were coming back we dreaded the moments of hide and seek we’d have to play with the seniors to get out of the traps they set. One incident is printed vividly in my mind and I will never forget it.

This one time just as me and my cousin walked through the school gate, we saw some seniors sitting in front of the very first hostel playing cards and laughing and right next to them on the floor was a small circle drawn in the ground. Around this tiny circle was scattered various denominations of money and nobody touched it. It was as if they were oblivious that there was a lot of money of all denominations scattered on the floor.

Just as we tried to sneak by, we were called over and by now our hearts were in our shoes. We were each asked to stand in the circle, my cousin and me. Truth be told we didn’t know what to expect of these seniors because they were a crazy bunch. So we just stood at attention in the circle as we have been told and then we were told to close our eyes. Oh man! You have no idea how scary that was. So we closed our eyes and the next thing I felt was being lifted by my two feet off the ground, turned upside down and every shaken down like a chicken.

Wow! What was that? You open your eyes only to see senior Shantung, upside down with a grin on his face holding you and shaking you so vigorously that all the money in your pocket jiggled and fell onto the floor just around the circle. You were shaken so vigorously that every single item in your pocket fell to the ground. The only thing that usually didn’t fall out was the handkerchief in your pocket. Apart from that, every paper note and especially the coins given as change from the mate of the trotro that you rode to school was the first to drop. Only when he was satisfied that he had everything did he stop and put you back down. All this he did with just one arm. He had big palms.

The fufu and groundnut soup I had eaten before leaving home for school almost came rushing out because like we say in the local language ‘the soup had run into my head’. It was a pretty scary moment.

The fun thing about the old system of education (GCSE system) in Ghana is that whenever you left school after ‘completion’, your legacy remained for at least 5years which was the duration of the school system. As such there were instances where in later years we get to meet some of these seniors outside the walls of high school and they are the most gentle of men.

Met Senior Shantung a couple of years ago when apparently he was in Ghana on holiday from his post abroad in the British Army and he was only about 5 foot 10 inches tall to my 6 foot 1 inch height but Damn! Guy still had the shoulders of an armored truck.

Truly high school bears the best of memories but never beats the memories of university and college.

That’s where the real fun is.