Archive for November, 2013

Hourly Musings

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on November 19, 2013 by kola

Woke up with a song on my mind
Lord I lift up my hands
I lift up my eyes
Have your way with me
Every step that I take
Every move that I make
Lord have your way with me………

Women have an internal peace
That they only find in religion (Christ especially)

Or in the arms of a man.

Watching her sleep
In between breaths, breasts and soft snores

Pretty sight!

She did not recognise my number when I called
For someone she claims to love?
I am hurt!
It’s not right but it’s okay.

Threesomes and handiwork

The tap starts flowing with sputtering sounds
Need to avoid flooding in the house.

Need to find a pen
Or pencil

Or use the tab!

Put all these thoughts down

Noise from the bed
Mutterings about loneliness
And neglect

But I have been here
The whole time
Watching you sleep prettily

Just my mind floating …..

Where’s my gadget
It’s already morning
I have to check morning posts on social media

Bernadette’s motivational Daily

Nana Damoah and his Dummy crew
Speaking of Ghana ..

My messages and mentioned tweets

To post to not to post too
It’s too early

Eish! My mind
All this in half an hour..

And a day is 24hours..

Life goes on…

#HourlyMusings

The Fire Festival

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 15, 2013 by kola

At the time of going to bed as at 2am I could hear ‘jama’ songs in the distance. These are usually songs we sing or composed locally accompanied by drumming and dancing, and can be about anything at all -from morals in society to praise singing to hero worship or castigating or just plain rhythmic noise.

Kept wondering who it was all about but went to bed anyway because the body needed its rest.

Since I don’t listen to radio in Tamale, there was no way I could explain what the singing, drumming and dancing was all about., I left the morning politics shows back in Accra and even though some affiliated stations here still transmit the live Accra feed, I hardly listen.

It is later in the day as I sit in a taxi that the radio announcer appeals to people to maintain peace and decorum at the fire festival, that I realise what it’s all about. I have been in attendance for the past two years even when I wasn’t living in Tamale and I made it a point not to miss this one.

I won’t bore you with what the fire festival is all about since Wikipedia has already provided an insight into its origins and a brief history.

Being part of the fire festival is really worth the experience. There is one line in the Wikipedia article that I love so much and it says that the festival might sound dangerous to an onlooker. It’s true most people who come to observe this festival have heard about the brandishing of very sharp cutlasses and the indiscriminate firing of muskets, and thus keep a safe distance. But the fun is really being in the throng of people parading the streets amidst drumming, dancing and singing. That is when you get a true feel of what the fire festival is all about.

It is very interesting really to see a people perceived to be violent, having all the tools for a violent action, yet proceeding in an orderly chaos in celebration of a traditional festival.

I think this is a common case in Ghana as a whole country where we act like everything is wrong and threaten to take action yet we just fold our arms and look on just for the sake of peace. Nobody wants to be accused of being the one for disturbing the peace and that pretty much takes care of radicalism in all aspects of Ghanaian life and culture.

Unlike in other areas where the people have to be sensitised on issues at stake so they can comport themselves, here in Tamale everybody is already aware that there needs to be a fun filled celebration and are out to have as much fun as they can have without getting into trouble.

Guy steps on my foot whilst trying not to be scared at the sound of a musket and instantly apologizes. Heck! I was in one such event somewhere in Accra and same thing happened and guy was rather blaming me for not getting out of his way quickly enough.

Perceptions! Perceptions!

I have seen Tamale mob justice in action but this time mob action is rather there to stop any misunderstanding and potential fights. Tamale is full of youth bands and groups and it was lovely seeing them collaborate to have an intense fun filled festival. One would think that they will be clashing with each other but instead they were sharing crackers and aerosol sprays so they could blaze away.

One group in particular didn’t have girl dancers but had drummers and made lots of loud noise. But joining forces with the group with the girls made it more colourful because the gyrations were more. These northern girls can do a mean jig and the dance is all centred in their waist.

The fire festival this year was less rowdy and very short lived because it had almost fizzled out just after midnight with pockets of people who still had crackers and firearm ammunition still blazing away. The motorbike shows then began on the streets and riders showcased their skills.

In earlier years there have been cars involved in the skills parade and it’s amazing how with such large crowds there have hardly been casualties. Furthermore the motor king cabs had also had their own side show, with the rollerbladers delighting the crowds with their antics. This year all that was visibly missing.

I wonder if it is due to the economic hardships or that these displays cannot be done in the ‘first gear’ government system. They really add to the colour and fervour of the festival.

Various groups of people represent at the festival from all walks of life. There are the tourists, afraid to whip out their cameras for the sake of being robbed, until they see locals like me with our Nikkons and iPads walk through the crowd taking pictures and they realise they are safe.

There are the students from the south attending schools up north who are as curious as the national service personnel to see if what they heard of the festival is true. These ones stand on the pavements or on the stairs of storey buildings, an assuming safe distance from proceedings on the Main Street.

Groups of people also just come in to support their friends in the parade and they holla at them as they pass by where they are standing.

Groups of girls dressed to the nines also following the crowds and making themselves very visible yet coyly avoiding the prancing men who are also there more or less for the same purpose of getting the attention of these girls.

As much as there is a lot of drumming dancing and singing, there is also a lot of cross dressing, face painting and masks. Some folk disguise themselves so they can be noisy and rowdy in anonymity. This is our own Halloween too.

The fire festival later fizzled into a street carnival when somebody drove in some music system loud enough to draw attention whilst it drove around playing the latest tunes in hip life and dagbani music. The crowd could just not stay still. Dancing in the streets.

The final group of people present at the fire festival were the sellers especially ‘pure water’ sellers. Vendors were on hand to keep dishing out food to the hungry in their shops and this included the latest Ghanaian food craze, indomie.

As at one am, even mashed kenkey sellers were still in the town square hoping to make a buck.

If according to Wikipedia, this festival is to find Noah’s son who didn’t get on the ark then this son will be lost for over a million years and more and with all the fun folk have, it’s no wonder the son has never been found because nobody is really searching for him.

Festivals like the fire festival are the last vestiges of our tradition and culture and we do need to do everything within our power to maintain them. Our culture is our identity and without it we are a lost race.

It is therefore important that we don’t condemn our culture based on foreign and western perceptions or some misguided prejuces. It is important to understand what the particular culture or tradition is about and why it was instituted and this is an individual effort so we can defend our identity.

Like I always say, it begins with YOU!

Legion Day

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 12, 2013 by kola

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Today, 11th November, marked the day in remembrance of fallen soldiers in the various wars of this world. Men who gave their lives so me and you can enjoy the kind of freedoms we enjoy today.

This occasion, which has come to be known as Poppy Day is observed in memory of those who lost their lives in the two world wars and in conflicts around the world.

On Monday 11 November 2013, the 68th Remembrance Day Anniversary was observed by almost all Commonwealth countries, some Non-Commonwealth States, a cross section of international organisations, groups and individuals. The day is marked with parades, memorial services and wreath-laying ceremonies.

Tamale also marked the day with a parade at the Legion Square where there is a statue of the unknown soldier.

The day is marked as important observance because at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, the guns fell silent on the Western Front for the first time after 4 years of continuous war. The day also signified the signing of the Armistice between Germany on one hand and the alliance of Britain, France and Russia on the other hand.

In view of this, 11th November was initially referred to as Armistice Day until after the Second World War when it was renamed Remembrance Day; in honour of all those who lost their lives in the two world wars and other conflicts around the world.

However, in recent times, in typical fashion of not honoring our heroes, these veterans have been neglected to fend for themselves and they go through hardships. A recent story carried on MyJoyOnline indicates that most of these veterans regret even fighting for Ghana.

The war survivors, some of whom are bed-ridden, accuse government and society of neglect. The veterans claim their only source of income is the symbolic artificial poppies sold by the Veteran Association of Ghana to support members’ welfare.

The veterans also lamented on being heroes on paper, to have survived the war, but that they didn’t feel like heroes because they weren’t treated like heroes in their daily lives after their return. Veterans of the Legion have been known to struggle for food, accommodation and no healthcare provision is made for them. They are therefore old and weak.

These are men who fought for the safety, peace and democracy we enjoy today and yet we leave our heroes to rot into oblivion whilst some of our leaders who weren’t even born then live in opulence?

It is high time we shed our mediocrity as a nation and a continent and pay homage and respect where is due. Our heroes need to rise from the doldrums of obscurity that we’ve placed them to the high pedestal of recognition. Let us not wait till one day in the year when we remember them and try to assuage our guilt fir neglecting them by making them present at a parade to honour them.

For me, it’s more like saying they exist only to be seen once a year – at the remembrance parade.

Proper measures should be taken in the care of these veterans and it is important that we all add our voices to their struggles. Let us make enough noise for attention to be drawn to these veterans and thief plight and somehow the policy makers will take note.

Like I always say, it begins with YOU!

Fire in The Salon

Posted in Uncategorized on November 11, 2013 by kola

The way we have lambasted some of the service providers in this country unabatedly has become a phenomenon that is here to stay. The Public Utilities Commission, Energy Commission et al have been set up, not as autonomous units but part of the government apparatus so what do you expect? The heads of these commissions know where their bread is buttered.

But then it beg the question what happens to the people these commissions are supposed to have their interest at heart and serve? But that is a topic for another day.

This is the same for some of the public services like the police, prisons and fire service. Governments of the day have come to realize the importance of these services and tried to augment and make better not only their conditions of service but also improve working equipment.

With response services, fire service has new fire tenders whilst new ambulances have also been provided for the ambulance service and as much as possible various mobile clinics for some hospitals.

Where am I heading it with all this harangue?

I witnessed a fire outbreak in Tamale recently. It was a hair dressing salon that burnt down. The salon, as usual, was not the only shop in that particular spot and location and there was a chance the fire could spread very quickly to the other shops and gradually prove more dangerous as it spread.

The first observation I picked up from the fire was that Ghanaians have now become more discerning and responsible, maybe up here in the hinterland. Whilst some onlookers tried to help put out the fire with sand and gutter water, some witnesses quickly whipped out their phones and dialled 192, the emergency short code for the fire service. I have witnessed and seen reports of fire outbreaks in Accra and instead of calling the fire service, witnesses have whipped out phones rather to take pictures for social media, as if to prove that they were also present during the fire raid.

Or they will rather call popular radio stations instead.

Typical Ghana, for a long time the number was not picked but when it was, a fire tender was at the location in under ten minutes. Onlookers were very impressed.

And oh yes! There was water in the fire tender. Lol!

The other observation I made was that it is important that we teach the population how to deal and control fires. When the shop began to burn, some boys who were around tried to help put it out by trying to get inside the shop by breaking down the door (glass door protected by a metal mesh gate) which proved unsuccessful. With all the chemicals exploding and all the gases from tense chemicals floating around, it would have been a bad idea.

Furthermore when the fire got worse and they realised they could not put it out, they should have tried doing damage control so that the fire will not spread to the other shops and prove more dangerous.

If only they knew how to deal with the various kinds of fires, they would understand what sort of fire they were dealing with and act accordingly. This is why public education should be intensified.

But then this comes back to my last article on reading. Do we need the government to organise programs and workshops so that we can learn about fires and the dangers associated with it? Now as we head into the dry harmattan season, any dry thing can easily be combustible and the hot sun reflecting on glass can even start a bush fire or any such fires anywhere.

It is high time we learn how to deal with fires, and prevention is half of dealing too.

We should also have all the emergency numbers committed to memory so we know how to easily access help when the need arises.

Ghanaians have not lost their sense of comradeship and sympathy for our fellow beings. Somebody actually suggested that a silver collection be done there and then for the unfortunate owner of the burnt out salon but that idea was quashed. I was intrigued that it even crossed the person’s mind at a moment like that

It takes just one person to make a difference.

Like I always say, it begins with YOU!

My New Craze

Posted in Uncategorized on November 9, 2013 by kola

READING!

Yes Reading!

Seems to have become a lost art in our current dispensation as Africans and it is what is accounting for most of our woes on the continent.

The culture and tradition of reading has been lost on Africans so much so that it is said that when you want to hide something from the African, put it in a book. This statement has been addressed on many platforms and I won’t beat an over flogged horse.

But seriously we need to consider where we are headed to as a continent if we won’t educate ourselves by or through reading.

Our academics and lecturers will be quick to go on strike because they haven’t been paid their book allowances but how many of them churn out any new research or ideas in any given year? Oh yes! I know some of my colleagues will take me on when they read this but I have to say it.

In our primary and preparatory schools how many of the teachers force to cultivate the habit of reading into the future leaders that are entrusted into their care? Do they not give excuses that reading is a talent and if the chills doesn’t want to read you can’t force them to? What sort of mentality is that?

In my days as a teacher in one of the plush Montessori schools in Accra, I instituted a read a book a week assignment and it was tough at first. But when the pupils realized that some people were contributing in class and sharing stories, they felt left out and started reading too. There was no specifications on the books to read. Very soon it caught on and even I was having new insights into some of the books I had read.

My latest project till the end of this year is to download as many books as I can and make sure I read them all. I’m already in the phase where the insomnia allows me to read blogs. Blogs are the current info sources and personally I think they are better than books because you see the person’s raw thoughts even before the publishers put their restrictions and sometimes, more often than not, the works are unpublished.

Our leaders, because they haven’t cultivated the habit of reading, just skim through documents and sign contracts without reading the fine print. Since the ‘whiteman’ knows that the African is lazy with reading, in signing contracts they put the pleasing parts first and the clauses maybe after 300pages. Since the first part is palatable and he’s most usual ya selfish greedy leader, he signs the contract with it getting the full picture.

Moreover, does the African leader of today care about the future when (s)he’s no more in office?

Many of Africa’s policy statements, especially those that involve donors and sponsors, have been flawed because the leaders didn’t read the whole document before they signed.

Let us take it upon ourselves to make reading a priority for all Africans. In your own small way encourage a child to take up reading and when that child becomes a leader a future, that child will give credit too you for shaping their lives.

But how can you show or teach what you don’t know? Therefore the onus lies on you to take up reading yourself so you can be adequately informed of what goes on in this world of ours.

Like I always say, it begins with YOU!

.

Sunday Eclipse

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on November 6, 2013 by kola

Dear Nii Kpakpo,

 

The ‘aircrips’ (eclipse) has come and gone with its ‘hullaballoon’ and as usual Ghanaians hyped it out of proportion. Like the usual doomsayers that we are we were told not to watch it with our eyes or we go blind because of one thing or the other that is never spelt out.

 

Oh yes! As Nana Awere Damoah says in his book I Speak of Ghana, the Ghanaman’s gullibility is legendary. “Gullibility will take us only to Golgotha or even a worse place.” We just do without asking.

 

We see the sun all the time but no explanation is given as to why on the day of the eclipse alone, when you take a look at the sun directly you will go blind.

 

Is it not the same as in all adverts when we hear of Terms and Conditions but we are never told what those terms and conditions are?

 

Nii Kpakpo, I intentionally stayed off all social media so that I don’t really get to hear all the explanations for the eclipse but what I couldn’t avoid was the television news and studio discussions on the effects and perceptions of the eclipse.

 

Here are a few I have heard and compiled that I thought I should share with you;

 

The Chinese people said that when the eclipse is happening, the dragon gods are eating the sun. This means that a new dragon was taking over in the kingdom and spiritual realms.

 

The medieval English believed that the eclipse was a time when the wizards and druids had their meetings and evil magic was about to take over.

But it was the Ghana version of explaining the eclipse that bowled me over. Social media has been rife with political and economic explanations to the eclipse and some are pretty funny and interesting.

 

Politically, Ghanaians are saying that the NPP (previous government) gave us a total eclipse where there was total darkness and the NDC (current government) only managed to give us a partial eclipse mainly because the money for the full eclipse has been ‘chopped’.

 

The hardships are in 5th gear whilst the performance is in first gear thus making the engine very hot. The debate now is whether to change the driver or change the gears whilst maintaining the driver.

 

Socially, Professor Amamoo-Otchere, on the GTV forum, interpreted the eclipse to mean that, “our society is becoming too negative”, adding that “the eclipse was a sign that Ghanaians must emerge from pessimism and think positively.

 

Ghanaians are saying that the Electricity Company of Ghana has extended its lights off to the Heavens but apparently they failed since they couldn’t cause a total darkness so they had to do load shedding/sharing even with the sun.

 

Somebody’s view on the issue when invited to see a program on a television station at the same time as the eclipse: “abeg we will be watching the Partial eclipse . Due to high tariffs we are only getting a partial one and so we would not miss it for anything wai.”

 

Nii Kpakpo, listen to this conversation I read on social media;

ogyam: kwata you ready for the eclipse?

kwata: ready how?

Ogyam: with your glasses and things…

Kwata: to do what?

Ogyam: haba… to watch it!! why? won’t you see it?

Kwata: see eclipse for what? ibi him go make Mahama stop chop money? or make Woyome pay back the money? if eclipse cannot reduce the price of petrol or electricity, I beg leave me out!! Why should I spend more money watching something which won’t change anything?

Ogyam: infact you get case…

 

Don’t we just love our country Ghana, Kpakpo!

 

Somebody also made this statement on another social media site:

Knowing Ghanaians, I won’t be surprised to see a delegation going to the Flagstaff House to thank the President for giving us the eclipse”.

 

Finally the icing on the cake was applying the Ghanaian gullibility to the ‘airclips’ involving the Telcos:

If da eclipse did not happen in your area, it is due to network problem. Text Eclipse to the short code 203875646564426 on all networks. Thank you!

Is that a short code Kpakpo? Looks more like a recharge code.

Nii Kpakpo as for us in the savannah, they are saying that the ‘airclips’ was only 60% here whilst it was 80% in Accra. Even in ‘airclips’ matters the southerners have more than us in the savannah regions. This is even attributed to developmental gaps so much so that even eclipse is not distributed equally.

Oh I love my motherland Ghana!

Well Nii Kpakpo, whatever the ‘aircrips’ means to you, it has come and gone. The lessons we have learnt are there and I am sure there is more to be learnt. As for the interpretations, you know our people will always be ingenious with coming up with funny stories.

Let me end here and till we talk again, enjoy living in this country.

 

Your Cousin in law

Savannah Boy

Oral History

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 3, 2013 by kola

 

“Oral histories are a dying art, which is sad indeed, for they show the appropriate respect for the lives and experiences of those who have come before. And, just as important, they document those remembrances, for once those lives are over, that personal knowledge is lost forever. Unfortunately we live in a time now where everyone seems to be solely looking ahead, as though we deem nothing in the past worthy of our attention.”

–          Bestselling Author David Baldacci in his Author’s Note as prelude to his book Wish You Well ©2000

 

Is it a coincidence that this Virginia born author will relate to the importance of oral history in his novels? Did you know that there is a Jamestown in the state of Virginia that was created around the same time that Jamestown was created in Accra? Both have a parallel history.

The Pocahontas story comes from the Jamestown, Virginia when the British sailors met with the native Indians and the Indian princess had the desire to learn of the culture of the foreigner and ended up marrying one of them.

Jamestown in Accra was the main colonial harbor of the Gold Coast and a fishing community developed around it. It was a busting industrial town during the colonial days.

Now compare what has become of both Jamestowns. One is a very well developed tourist attraction whilst the other is still an overpopulated fishing community, almost a slum. Your guess is as good as mine which is which.

Fast forward years on and what has happened to Africa. We who used to solely depend on oral traditions to pass down lessons and history down the generations, to the extent that Trevor Roper contends that Africa had no history prior to the coming of the Europeans because Europeans brought reading and writing to Africa.

What happened to our rites of passage where youth learnt to be adults, what happened to apprenticeship, what happened to drum language, what happened to our tradition and culture?

What happened to our traditional folklore, taboos and myths, our songs that we sing, the tunes we even used to whistle and all that late night under the moonlight By The Fireside tales?

Did we give them all up for ‘modern technology’?

Have we chosen the ‘whiteman’s education over ours?

What happened to sitting at the feet of the elderly to learn words of wisdom?

Oh Africa! What happened to our traditional griots and praise singers, who sang the history of our societies and kingdoms? They sang of great men in our societies worth emulating. They sang of sacrifices made so we the descendants can live the life that we do today.

Now it is all left to just a week in the year, when we ‘celebrate’ our festivals. Festivals are the last vestiges of our identity and culture. And now gradually we are losing that too because these occasions have become occasions not only of grandeur but political platforms to lure people for the ultimate sacrifice of the thumb in the name of democracy.

I won’t belabor this point. Let us do our own bit in learning from the elderly. Their experiences matter. There is an African proverb that says that what an old man sees sitting, a younger person will not see sitting atop the tallest of trees.

Our aged folk have been neglected because we don’t see the essence in learning from them and deferring to them the necessary respect. They are living encyclopedias on the African condition and when they pass on, those libraries are lost if not tapped into.

Unfortunately, we are culprits of the second part of the quote. We live on like we have no past. But Bob Marley (reggae icon) reminds us that ‘in this great future you can’t forget your past’ (if you do not know your past how do you know where you are going (your future).

History is needed so we can learn from the past and correct the mistakes our forefathers made. In every aspect of our lives, there has been a precedent. Why do you think the Old Testament in the Bible is still relevant in The Book even with a new covenant in Christ?

Everybody else is looking into their history apart from those whose future lies in their history – Africans.

 Nana Awere Damoah asks in his new book I Speak of Ghana:  “why is our history looking and sounding more glorious than our future?”

There must be something wrong somewhere. Let us find it together. Sankofa! Let us go back to our history, embedded in our oral traditions and find solutions to our African problems and move on.

The Chinese have done it, the Jews have done it, Europe has done it, the rest of the world has done it, what are Africans waiting for?

Ask the next older person you meet about the past and let’s shape our future.

Like I always say, it begins with YOU!