Korle Bu Nostalgia

So I find myself back two nights and a morning in the korle bu nurses flats where I basically grew up. My formative years were in that neighborhood and they were such nostalgic moments as I walked the paths I used to walk as a child and even as a young adult.

The first notable thing on the first evening was the absence of youth sitting outside engaging in the usual ‘intellectual arguments’ almost always centered around soccer. Bands of youth will sit on the walls in different locations in the neighborhood having a chat out of the heat in the rooms.

These youth groups were easily identified by age ranges and it was always spot on that every evening these youth will be found in the exact same location having healthy, noisy conversations on various subjects in the evenings till late or the wee hours of the morning. This was always to the irksome reactions of the parents who didn’t have older youth to participate in these chattering or even parents who felt that the noise generated by the ‘intellectual arguments’ was bothering them.

When this happened in our neighborhood, the fellas just almost always decided to take a walk and then joined the other nurses’ children in the ‘old quarters’ who were almost always found on the pavement and walls of the Allied Sciences school right by the roadside, having their own ‘intellectual arguments’.

A merger was always informative and fun.

The first thought that occurred to me not seeing this usual sight is that the administrative machinery had finally clamped down on the youth activity in the neighborhood. Some parents were always against it and in recent times, there have been some reported incidents when a shop had become the meeting point for the youth who had moved out, become corporate executives in their own rights but converge in the old neighborhood to bond with those few who were still there in nostalgic times.

Such a shame to see such a lively neighborhood now gone quiet as early as 8pm. Especially with the heat indoors, it is amazing how quiet the whole neighborhood seemed.

In walking the length and breadth of the neighborhood I realized just how small the whole place was. This is a place where it was fun growing up. It was our universe. Right from the korle bu junction (which has now been walled with a gate – I jumped that gate again since it was locked when I passed there) to the neem tree circle to MOH School to Bishop Bowers JSS and through the bush to the gas filling station, that was the extent of our universe. The whole place looked claustrophobic and small and yet this was our world as children.

The pavements that we used to do hopscotch (sorry tumantu) on, the walls that we did tag it’s on you (sorry amaohey) the pavement where we played four corners and hit/hurt our toes whilst playing holes, damn! Walking the neighborhood brought a lot of nostalgic memories.

But it all looked small this time. Went to the senior nursing officer’s blocks N/I where I used to live and wow! walking behind the block on the drying line path I couldn’t fathom how we had survived in those small cubicles. The rooms look very very small. What it brought to the fore was the kinda sacrifices our parents might have suffered for us their children so we could get the best out of life.

Oh yes! I remembered a chicken coop was there even when we played soccer and a rabbit coop in Block J with Mr Schwinger (Cockroach. RIP) and his bangers.

At N/H and N/J I walked the front of the building where we used to play our soccer games. Those blocks were our stadiums till later we cleared that field that is still in use today. I couldn’t fathom how we could have had a gala in that twenty meters of space that could only park eight cars (yeah I checked). The mango tree of Block H is now springing up again as it was totally cut down.

I remember it as being for the older youth and we the younger youth were afraid to even pass in front of it since that was their meeting point having their own moments and smoking whatever they were under those trees.

At Block N/F I remembered the Auntie Lizzy moments. How many of us didn’t think that woman was loony but we tended to understand her as we got older and for me personally I grew up admiring her resolute no nonsense attitude to work and life.

We had a happy childhood and those days were fun.

But now, it is fascinating that all this seems lost in the rat race – the hunt for the cedi. Even though folk complain about everything in Ghana, there is still no time for fun. Last time I checked, when we were living in the flats, very few people had motor cars. I remember how big a deal it was for your parents to own a car back then even if it was a company car. Chale!

Walking the neighborhood these past days, I realized there was no space for some people to even park their cars. The cars ranged from the latest Mercedes E 230 ??, a sleek green sports car, several four wheel drives and country cars so much so that now every single space on every block is filled with cars and some still park at the Accra Chapel now Accra Community Church.

Thanks to the health workers rebate on importation of cars? Well I don’t know.

I thought they said nursing wasn’t paying. But then I agree these are all not nurses and I see the dependents of nurses are not so dependent anymore since some are very independent but live off the government largesse. Well that is to be expected. After all, this is Ghana.

At Block N/I for example, I remember there were only 4 cars as we used to live there but now there are over 15 cars to that block alone as even the ‘gardens’ have been converted into parking lots.

Pretty interesting sight.

Noticed an innovation too that I found quite intriguing. Almost every block now has a tap in the garden especially the senior nurses, matrons blocks as is same for the other blocks. Even at Block F they have a series of hippo polytanks (4?) to support the taps so that they augment the water supply to residents of the block.

No more walking to the nurses training school to fetch water which was fun because we guys used to see women in nighties in the wee hours of the morning.

After my walk through the neighborhood, decided to use the korle bu junction exit which is now a small gate which I didn’t know was locked at certain times.

Walking that route brought memories of when that place was bare before Prof Frimpong Boaten built the flat for his cardio nurses. Also brought memories of the whiteman’s Alsatian dogs that bark all day and night and friends who lived on that lane. How about the bar that existed or was it a comm center there later on where we used to converge and watch the girls come past.

Now since no cars use the road, the vegetable growers have taken it over an planted gardens watering it with manure from wherever and the usual gutter water. All this we have ate and still eat because their best clients are the waakye sellers in the different locations in Accra who buy veggies from them.

I remembered my first altercation with one of the security men who were given Tazzer guns to prevent young men like me from jumping the wall when it was built. I told him if he touched me with that gun, I was gonna kill him on the spot with a thousand volts of electricity. Apparently he had no idea the effectiveness of the weapon he had in his hand and he got so scared he just let me pass.

Lesson learnt that day is that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing and guy never bothered me again.

This time there was no security guard but the gate was locked and even though the police barrier at salvation was on the other side of the wall, I just could not see myself going back round to pass through the gas station area. So I just put my tablet and other items on the wall and skipped over it. Simple!

Felt so good to be young and rebellious again.

Well, there is not much to say about the morning I found myself in the neighborhood but then as has become normal in Ghana, people were rushing off to work and they didn’t even notice me standing by the Accra Chapel gate observing it all.

The security man at the church asks me ‘may I know you’ and I reply ‘no you may not but I want to go into the church to do my quiet time’. Then he says he cannot allow me to do that to which I am dumbfounded. Last time I checked, a church was supposed to be a sanctuary to seek God’s face huh.

Well I was in for a bit of mischief as usual so I decide not to mention any names but tell him I used to worship there and live in the neighborhood so if he could just let me pass. He is still adamant and finally he says he will need somebody to identify me. So he goes in to call the watchman who I know very well does not remember me. I could easily have identified myself (I was the single largest consumer for his wife’s roasted groundnut biz) but remember I’m in mischief mode.

He also says then we will have to wait for the pastor to come in before they can allow me have my quiet time at the church premises. Luckily a woman comes by and after looking at me head to toe says they should allow me in the church premises but not into the church hall itself and keep an eye on me because strange things have been happening lately in the church.

I say ‘yes I know. Stranger things are happening in Accra as a capital’ with a straight face.

So now I sit outside and call a student of mine who lives in the flats and attends church and sometimes studies there to come so I look through her long essay for her. It is when she gets there that they realize that I’m no stranger in the area and my personal watchman goes away.

Very soon Uncle (Rev) Addo, one of my favorite persons whilst growing up in the neighborhood comes along and I hug him and we exchange pleasantries and I tell him I’m in town for a few days and have relocated to Tamale blah blah blah and how is ministry and family, the whole nine yards. I see even my student is befuddled I’m that popular and the woman who allowed me entry in the first place had her mouth open. Funny indeed!

But by then I was done and heading off anyways so I said my goodbyes. The security man now calls me back and pleads with me that he is sorry and I shouldn’t be offended to which I say he shouldn’t worry but I understand he was doing his work obeying orders from above. I walk away.

Well folks, that was my foray back into the neighborhood that nurtured me and made me who I am today. I thought I should share this story with you so that we know how best we can maintain our associations that we have formed whilst growing up.

In an era where connectivity is the order of the day we should cement these relationships.

Mentorship programs can be formed and keeping track of linking businesses in our various fields will go a long way to make our very lives and the lives of our families easier.

We have forged friendships and relationships of different kinds and we need to keep them alive.

So reach out to somebody you grew up in the same neighborhood with.

Like I always say it begins with YOU!

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6 Responses to “Korle Bu Nostalgia”

  1. Nice piece by the Legend himself… A little correction, “Accra Chapel” now called “Korle Bu Community Chapel.”

  2. Haha, I love this! I grew up in Korle Gonno (http://mpakoo.wordpress.com/2014/02/02/korle-gonno/), your poor, unfortunate neighbours to the south. Many were the troubles we’ve caused in the nurses’ quarters. We used to simply refer to the whole area as ‘Quarters3mli’. When we’re sacked from school for not paying fees, we go home to change and immediately set off mango hunting at the quarters. Pupils of MOH used to watch us little dirty children holding sticks and walking about in pursuit of mangos. At Accra Aca, one of my classmates remembered seeing me often at his school compound in MOH as we threw stones to harvest the mangoes. Haha. More than onces dogs had been set loose on us. We’ve had some close encounters with snakes. I remmeber many of the places you mention. Nice one!

    • I went to Shalom Shalom and my best friend lived just down the road from the current Lighthouse Cathedral so I know the Chorkor_KG_Mamprobi_Laterbiokoshie area pretty well. Lived my whole life in the area.
      Oh Yeah! KG guys are always fun but always saw us as Dadabees so even during football matches you wanted to use “takashi” to win yo way.
      But it’s al good.
      I’m glad you like it.

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