Archive for the Uncategorized Category

ZanGo, An Oral History

Posted in Uncategorized on May 15, 2017 by kola

zongo

Was it not Bob Nesta Marley who said that ‘in this great future we cant forget our past’ but in Africa have we really delved into our past? The history of Africa has been shrouded in white diaries and ledgers and told to us by adventurers, traders, missionaries and colonial exploiters from the archives of libraries in Europe.  What have we done as a people for ourselves and the black race going through slavery , colonialism and now neo-colonialism.

I believe as individuals we should tell the stories as we know it and any time I hear a story  of African history I have tended to share it so the information doesn’t end with me but then I strive to leave it for posterity. Inasmuch as the young these days are not bothered about the history, at least the very few who bother to be conscious of their heritage should have the material to read and learn.

It is in this spirit that i learnt a valuable history lesson about how zongos came to be formed in Ghana on a social media platform. For using social media as a learning tool and to enhance personal knowledge and development that’s a whole article and course on its own.

A simple question as ‘where are the hausas from?’ generated this whole discourse that I am going to share with you and I pray you get enlightened as I was after I had read through the whole discussion.

In the beginning there were suggestions from people on the platform saying that the hausa came from Nigeria, Niger, Mali, Cameroon, Chad and some even settled in Ghana. The consensus however was that the Hausa are the largest ethnic group and indeed scattered all over West Africa but some first settled in Prang in the Brong Ahafo region. It was revealed that the Hausa in Prang were brought in by the colonial governor as infantry to fight in the middle belt expansion wars with the Asante and therefore the Hausa spoken there is purer than that spoken in Accra.

The truth is that the Hausa as well as other tribes were in the Gold Coast before it gained independence to become Ghana. aside those that settled up north due to the Trans Saharan trade, others migrated down south to other parts of the Brong Ahafo, Ashanti and then Accra as we know it now. They have therefore been in existence for over a century.

A tribe indeed does not necessarily have to be a permanent location in a country to be a citizen of that country. the colonialist scramble put borders on the ethnic groups that existed within Africa for example the Ewes were divided into ghana and Togoland, the Nzemas into Ghana and La Cote d’ivoire, the Chambas into the eastern parts of Northern region and Togo and the Mossi into parts of upper west and Burkina Faso. there are myriad examples all over Africa.

Inasmuch as all these tribes existed before independence and were in the country then, they are Ghanaian.

However where they settled became known as zongos and the question then arises how the name came about.

The word is actually ‘zan go’. it is a designated quarters for Hausa settlers. even in Northern Nigeria which is predominantly Muslim there are zangos which only refers to an area where the hausa people due to their conservatism in religion  and culture, like to keep a closely knit society.

It is said that the word ‘zan go’ is actually a combination of two words ‘zan’ which is Hausa for ‘i am’ and ‘go’ which denotes the action of going or to go. This came about as a result of the taxation put on the colonists by the British colonial masters after they brought in 700 Hausa soldiers from Northern Nigeria to form the Gold Coast Constabulary. The Hausa usually refused to pay the tax in the settlements they were given, therefore they moved out to form their own communities which meant  that if you didn’t pay the tax ‘then go’ literally. ‘mu kafa zango’ literally meant let’s set up a quarter for ourselves.

There are zangos all over and they mostly have names and especially in Accra we have places like Fadama, Sukura and Nima which has grown into a cosmopolitan potpurri of other ethnic groups so you wont really hear it being called a zango like it originally is.

Nima is not really seen as a zongo because the Hausa were not given a chance to dominate the place. Originally there was the Kador, a tribe from Burkina Faso and Mali who were dominant and then the Fulani too. the Gas gave Nima to the Futa family who were Fulani and then other tribes from Togo and Benin, the Chamba, the Kotokoli and others found it as a good entry point to serve the colonial masters and other high ranking officials  who lived in Kanda, Ridge and Cantonments. It was also a general entry point and suitable place to start when one wanted to work in the capital. life in Nima was accommodating from the people to general living in terms of living expenses. People easily get integrated into such communities and you are given all the necessary assistance as if you were part of the community. Such areas promote communal living .

Nima is known as Tunbin Giwa, The Belly of The Elephant because all the foreign tribes are found there and because they are predominantly Muslim the lingua franca is hausa and that is what passes it for a zango.

Later settlements like Madina and Ashaley Botwe came as a result of the attempt to decongest Nima because of the plague.

The formation of one of these zangos has an interesting history not far from most of the zongos that were formed in the colonial era and the case of Sabon zongo is a case study.

In the early 1905-1910 the foreigners settled in Old Accra, around the High Street, Cowlane (Fulani and Hausa tended cows, Fulani and Zamrama people were traders along the West African sub region) the Hausa traded kola from the hinterland through the Jamestown Port. there was a central imam in the community who was the ‘Leader of Muslims’ and after his death there arose a succession problem. Mallam Neinu, was a mallam from Sokoto, so a petition was sent to the colonialists who decided that to salvage the issues of succession each tribe should just have their own chief chosen by themselves.

The Hausa chose Kadiri English, the Yoruba already had \Braimah who was given a chieftaincy by the Ga Mashie mantse, and who later married a Tagbon lady with the family name Peregrino. The Peregrinos were freed slaves from Brazil who had settled in Jamestown. The Fulani chose their chief as well as the Zamramas so every ethnic group had a chief instead of one central mallam overlooking all the Muslims.

The unrest didn’t stop but however continued among the Hausa because they believed that Kadiri English, being a kola merchant and very rich had used his influence to get himself made the chief and hence there was rebellion. The Ga mashie stool decided to relocate the aggrieved Hausa people to a place several miles away from the zongo lane which was the first properly demarcated and mapped out zongo community. So they moved and the boundary was set right behind where korle bu hospital sits now right down to the International Central Gospel church premises now straight down for about a mile towards the present zongo junction and up towards Radio Gold premises.

The chieftain however didn’t stay put where he was at zongo lane but being of immense wealth and influence bought lands directly opposite the resettlement and called it Zango Tuta and designated a chief there.

Mallam Nenus son was brought to set up the Sabon Zongo which literally means new zongo because the old zongo in Accra still owed allegiance to the chief they were disgruntled against being kadir english.

This is why on Eid day the Hausa at zongo junction ride on horseback through Tudu  through Adabraka to High Streeet and go round where most of the chiefs will alight  and walk the streets of Cowlane and its environs followed by a large crowd of women and children amidst brass band and traditional music and just make merry until everyone went home.

It must be noted that most Hausa in Ghana are from Sokoto and the Hausa language  has been adulterated to suit the location. There is the original Kano /Kaduna version and the accents are different depending on the location and also social factors such as intermarriage in the communities the Hausa found themselves in.  It is said that there was even an attempt to learn Hausa amongst the constabulary ranks and that also degenerated into a kind of patois.

Hausa people are said to be very loyal and this the colonial British used to their utmost advantage and has been a legacy handed down politically such that in political expediency politicians tend to go to these zangos to pick up followers to do their bidding. However this and the communal nature I believe can be harnessed to develop such communities and improve the lives of more people that live in these communities.

Well, I have picked up a bit of oral tradition of the formation of zangos in Ghana and this enlightenment will be a key knowledge to share and know how to relate to the different ethnic groups and tribes that live in the zango communities not as negative people but as hard working people whose grandparents migrated here and they are as Ghanaian as any other Ghanaian from anywhere in Ghana.

Spread the word.

Like I always say it begins with YOU.
As told by Alhaji Rabiu Maude. 

Accra 

0244267554

one love marley

Lets Get It Right

Posted in Uncategorized on May 3, 2017 by kola

 

road

it is indeed with great trepidation that i write this blog article. what is it with executing contracts in Ghana that we can not seem to get it right every time i would have loved to write a satirical piece about how we execute especially road contracts in Ghana but i am not in the mood to be creative but very blunt so that the whos it concerns will get it since they seem to be as shallow as the receding irrigation ponds in the savanna.

i will not even go into a list of the projects that i have been peeved about but then i will mention a few that affects the Ghanaian directly even though they all do.

contracts are given in Ghana and obviously they are geared towards facilitating free flow of movements of goods and services and even human transport from one place to the other albeit providing social infrastructure. but the execution of these contracts always leaves so much to be desired probably because the bidding process involves so much kickbacks that in the end the money for the contract is spread so thin that it results in very shoddy work.

let us examine the road in front of my house in Tamale that was constructed a fortnight before election and then you pass on it now and realize that it would have been better if the road had not been constructed at all. suffice it to say that we have enjoyed a relief from the dust for a couple of months.

how about the speed ramps that are springing up everywhere and i’m surprised to notice that there are even potholes on some speed ramps. how that is possible only they know. then the roundabout potholes that has been fixed nine times in four years at the Tamale Sports Stadium.

i know you are reading this and you know these are not isolated cases and we find them all around us. every time we are patching something. we have become patching technocrats.

now let us also take the eastern corridor road. i remember some government spokespersons touting that they had used it and the road was pretty passable and i was not surprised in the least when they only used the road sitting in their air conditioned offices in Accra and using computers to take satellite shots of a non existent road. and even if they did, it was in fully fitted air-conditioned v8 cars. the road is so bad that a cyclist doing a national tour for a cause called me to ask me where the road was. when i replied that by his location he was on the road, his comments are unprintable here.

to examine the timing of the projects if even they are to be executed is another thing. we never seem to get it right and it is only to the advantage and comfort of some people without considering the users albeit it is for the general good. let us take for example the renovation of the under bridge by pass, in Accra somewhere last year and the commotion it caused to commuters for the several days that this ‘renovations’ went on. people were stuck in traffic into the early hours of the morning even past midnight just to get home from work.

oh i hear the same is happening at the Tema roundabout now, just after the motorway.

somewhere early this year too the Yapei bridge which is one of the main connectors of the northern region to the south was also closed for repair works for the second time and i took to social media to complain but alas i am a lone voice in the wilderness. assuming you were travelling from Accra up north it meant that you had to get to the bridge before the closure at 1400GMT  every day or else risk waiting for it to be reopened at 0600GMT the next morning. what this meant is that all schedules within the north and the south had to be tailored around the opening and closing of the bridge for that long.

the first time the bridge was closed it was for several weeks and even in those first two weeks or so, there were no materials so the bridge was closed and yet there was no signs of work on the bridge. it happened again the second time and now i hear there is going to be a third closure.

what at all are we doing at the bridge that we can not have it done just once an for all and we keep creating this inconvenience for ourselves by people who sit in Accra and do not understand the ramifications of these decisions they make.

with regards to the other ‘renovations’ works, is it not possible to rather get to work when the roads are less busy to traffic so that workers can work round the clock to fix whatever has to be fixed instead of deciding to work at peak times of traffic?

i would have calculated this and said that all this sitting in traffic translates into man hours wasted but then i remember we are in Ghana and man hours do not really count. we sit in our offices and pretend to be working and wait for our salaries at the end of the month not guilt laden that we have nothing to show as output for the period. what is it therefore if we sit in traffic for a few hours when we do not get home to that comforting warmth at home and even that the electricity company have a say in it.

what a country!

i think it is high time the citizenry demand accountability radically and not let some bureaucrats determine how uncomfortable we get without taking into consideration how we feel whilst lining his pockets with our tax money and the freebies we offer them in the ‘responsible’ positions we have assigned them.

but this also starts from ourselves as it behoves on us to account to ourselves as citizens of this great nation. as John Kenned put it, we should be asking what can we for the nation instead of what the nation can do for us.

the president in his inaugural speech, as reiterated in his May Day speech, has asked Ghanaian not to be aloof but to do our best in participating in national development. this participation is not from the sidelines but then as national patriots it is a conscious effort of the individual to start with himself and then others can tag along. he was only saying what i have always said that it takes only you to start a patriotic revolution.

let the citizens demand accountablity from our elected leaders and civil servants.

let us arise and build a better ghana

like i always say it begins with YOU!

 

GadaMedikal Nation 

Posted in Uncategorized on April 12, 2017 by kola

The “Vagimas” have come and gone and as usual couldn’t just slide by with its quirks, pips and controversies. Inasmuch as I’d like to delve into the controversies first let me just mention that the event has never gone by without Ghanaians having a swell time whether positive or negative.

In a social media frenzy society it is obvious that whilst people’s eyes picked through the event with a fine tooth comb, their fingers will be busy with their internet access gadgets. It’s therefore not surprising that one can log on to any social media site Twitter, Facebook or Instagram being the most popular, and get a blow by blow account of the event as it unfolded. 

Furthermore following the right people can be a plus because it is only then that you enjoy a plethora of statuses with regards to the event being a healthy potpourri of sarcasm, funny quips, snide remarks and as is with social media, just plain “trolling” of persons at the event. One could end up going through a whole range of mood swings and emotions even more than either a woman at that time of the month or even a pregnant woman.  (Feminists leave me alone 😂) 

From the very beginning of  the show it was obvious that there was going to be a twist to this particular event. The red carpet was a stage and interestingly the hostess was bedecked in a flowing and trailing flaming red dress that could easily have been the red carpet. The people she in particular interviewed was a group of people, especially the ladies, with an interesting mix of fashion sense. It was so easy to recognize the four Spy Girls and other intresting cartoon action figures. 

As for her co host The Tailor, well it was the anniversary of his staged marriage proposal to his Big Brother wife and who can fault him showing her off that after two years they are still married. 

Fancy a northern artiste upstaging a southern based artiste at this particular event and the hullabaloo it has created. For some of us it’s not really the upstage but the question as to why of all the categories that Medikal was nominated the one Gadam took from him is the only one causing waves. 

I’ve been telling whoever will want to hear that the regions up north have their own music and film industry and some of the artistes up here have been able to go national in the main stream and once they get that far they’re international with bookings all over Europe all year round. Need I mention  Sherifa Gunu, Samini, King Ayisoba, Atongo Simba, Mohammed, Surina Issa, Wiyaala and a host of others. These are northern artistes mostly based up north and notice I didn’t mention VIP or Mugeez of northern origin. 

It is true that people up north love southern music and northern artistes have been fond of using southern “covers” with northern lyrics. I’d say this is them breaking their teeth. However the new crop of northern artistes have realized that with the right blend of authentic northern beats, mixed by quality trained engineers of northern origin, there could be a blend of northern music that is parallel to music from any part of the world. And yes! I applaud the ability to get this epiphany and the talent to explore it and make it work. If you don’t believe it just listen to Wiyaala’s latest album and inasmuch such am album wont win awards in Ghana, just as the albums of the Fokn Bois, the music will go beyond the shores of Ghana and not be stuck in some medical ward of Ghanaian underground music waiting to go to theatre. 
The new crop of northern artistes are not only talented but realize that they need management too of industry players to guide them in their activities. Thus in recent times we’re seeing more collaborations with southern artistes and even double concert bookings and this is geared towards putting them in the limelight. We now have artistes with fans not only based in the north but also to please the fan base in the south they highlight their own concerts. Fancy a northern artiste performing at the National Theatre and filling the place up. 

The television shows and cable networks are mostly in the south and as such when a southern artiste gets popular he’s interviewed on several shows depending on his manager capitalizing on his popularity. Northern artistes don’t have that privilege but still manage to break through courtesy of their fans. Sitting in a taxi right now and looks like the radio station is having a Fancy afternoon and everybody is singing. At the night clubs in Wa, Bolga and Tamale any time a Fancy Gadam music is played you know that’s when you can grab a gal and dance away to the tunes from the speakers. 

For those pundits who are creating that noise about Best New Artiste category it is important for them to realize that Accra is not Ghana and if even they used popularity to determine who takes that title Medikal would be nowhere near Fancy Gadam. Both artistes are talented guaranteed but those granting the awards deemed Fancy to win and oh! Check who had more votes. Northerners came out to support en masse.

Ghana is bigger than Accra and Kumasi and we shouldnt be deluded that being popular in the south means you’re popular up north too. If there is a lesson learnt from this particular edition of “vagimas” that will surely be it. 

One last thing as shared by my friend and pseudo bodyguard, Jacob Yawson in a round table discussion with Godwin Agoligi at The Observatory during lunch,  why can’t we just theme the awards night so we can at least create a cultural and tourist agenda with the awards. Let us showcase our rich culture and unity of purpose in diversity when we let our designers create clothes with African prints instead of the mimicry of caricatures of fishes,  animals and other things including cartoon characters that we find on our non existent red carpet. 

So that when you’re asked what are you wearing you not only mention the name of the designer but also the type of cloth and educate us on the name of the cloth. So for example at the next themed event Medikal would’ve hardened up and will be in a Woodin caftan called Enfamihu designed by Debby Couture when asked “what are you wearing?” 

Indeed this particular edition of “vagimas” will go a long way of creating trends. Joe Mettle won the Best Artiste (auto correct spelling Best Baptist 😂) and I love what one of the artistes said when asked if truly he deserved it and honestly I’d repeat it any day to anybody who thinks Fancy Gadam shouldn’t have won Best New Artist. He said ” if you want to know who the artiste is, just go out there and buy an album!” Simple words but very loaded. 

The critics and pundits will always be there to criticize and everybody takes home one thing or another from such shows. Whatever you took away I hope it helps you to be a citizen and not just a participant. Making a change in your own corner is not a corporate action but like I always say it begins with YOU! 
PS.

for more insight into northern music and film who better to guide you through than the Ghana Film Institute valedictorian of his graduating class Rabiu Fishbone who’s also a producer of a northern music show on the only northern television station NTV on Multi Tv. His blog is rafiufishbone.blogspot.com

And oh! If you still got problems after all this insight then I’ sure it’s not too risky to settle down to a Sister Debbie cuisine breakfast of One Kalypo and Two biscuits.. 😂

Ghana Work Attitude 

Posted in Uncategorized on April 6, 2017 by kola

Long read from a Dutch-Ghanaian gentleman as I read on a social media site. I believe it is worth every word he wrote. 

DOES  STAFF WANT TO AND KNOW HOW TO WORK IN GHANA?

March 31, 2017 
Sometimes I write based upon recent events, but I also write about things I see and hear and things relating to my educational or professional back ground.
This time I write out of frustration.

I have the wellbeing of Ghana and Ghanaians at heart, proof of that is my assuming Ghanaian nationality and frankly there is no other country in the world where I prefer to live (or die).  I used local content and local produced materials 15 years before both outcries for it became relevant to most Ghanaians.
But I have to admit to my fellow Ghanaians, that especially Ghanaian employees and service providers don’t make it easy for me. My wife a born and bred Ghanaian has given up long time, but I am not that easy, I hardly ever give up on my goals, targets and dreams. 
Where does my frustration come from?
My frustration comes from workers, employees or however you will call them and people who are providing services like; *mechanics, plumbers, carpenters, masons, and security guards but also shop attendants, petrol station attendants and many others.*
I always hear captains of Industry, employers and owners of companies complaining about high levels of taxes, lack of electricity, too expensive electricity, bad roads to their companies, bureaucracy, corruption and everything else.
But they are always carefully avoiding one subject: the quality of our workforce.   In general  (but there are exceptions) the Ghanaian worker doesn’t care about the quality of his job, and doesn’t have any feeling for his profession nor his customer/client. Sometimes they show a total apathy to work and just aim to dragging themselves to the end of the week, simply because they need an income.           
In Europe there is a saying for people with low ambition: “his only planning is to go to work and come home tired”, but in Ghana I mostly have the feeling that coming home tired is not part of our workers plan. It made it almost impossible to employ an honest hardworking, motivated person in Ghana!

Not only our soft cultural behavior, mostly coming down to not calling a spade a spade, a politeness, strong unions and high will and participation to strike against almost everything increasing production, a judicial system that fights tooth and nail for rights of employees, 50 years of almost total neglect of skills based education, lack respect of a well trained worker and low morals in general have created a very low quality workforce in Ghana.
I have worked with employees in the hospitality sector, printing and news sector, NGO’s, construction and several other sectors and the employees are mostly not fit for their job.
I read an article a few weeks ago, “China’s unfair competition for Ghana”.
I reacted and wrote: Why? Is it because a Chinese employee will work 6 days a week with his wife and children, goes 1 week a year on a holiday, (if he goes, mostly he doesn’t) and works dedicated and hard to deliver, even without supervision? That’s than an easy answer for me, so if a Ghanaian also does the same that would make it fair competition isn’t it?

Or do we expect the Chinese to come late (or not at all) when it rains, show up late (or not at all) after a public holiday, arrive standard late at work, work officially 5 days, but are there indeed 5 days but don’t really work, ask days off for the many funerals to attend, would that make Chinese competition fair?

The reason I got frustrated (this time) is the following:

My wife is running a construction company and 2 months ago had to fire her crew of 7 workers because we found out that whilst she was working, friends of her workers robbed our house. She called a friend in Accra and he said he could send masons and laborers.  He had plenty workers because there was not much work in Accra. On Monday they showed up 2 hours and 20 minutes late to start, but instead of starting to work, they all needed to eat first.    

After eating, they were all walking with their full bellies looking like they were not really in the mood to start. As you will understand they know exactly when lunch time started and took an hour break after which my wife had to push them to start again. By 1.20 instead of 1 she had everybody going but the next day she discovered that after she left at 4 the workers also had immediately stopped.       

This went on for a few weeks, in which they worked an average of 6 to 6 and half hours a day, telling my wife this is heavy work so they don’t work 8 hours. Than a national holiday, actually falling in the weekend was celebrated on a Monday. As every Ghanaian will understand (little bit more difficult for me because of my Dutch background) 5 out of our 7 workers didn’t show up, because of celebrating, 1 came on time and 1 of them showed up 1 hour later, complaining that he had to walk all the way to the work side because my wife didn’t wait for him.

To cut a long story short, my wife sacked all of them; naturally they left with most of the tools we provided, which is called stealing in the rest of the world, but we got used to that. My wife managed to get a new group altogether, or actually tried twice to get a new group, the first group didn’t show up, the second group postponed 1 day, but because she simply didn’t have a choice she accepted that and work finally started again.

I am, besides my daily job running a guesthouse, and my workers are mostly on time.
However I have some other small problems, like stealing and lying and as a result of that I had to lay off 4 crews of 3 girls in 2 years.

Tea, milk, jam, soap, cutlery, glasses and cups but also towels and even bed sheets are disappearing in no time. I admire my girls for their team spirit because even if all of them know who had stolen something they all declare they don’t know.        

I recently lay off another girl who I caught sleeping on the job (this time without a guest) and my “trusted” worker with me for over 6 years declared without blinking his eyes that he never knew the girl is sleeping and watching TV during working hours regularly.
This problem is definitely not a high class lower class problem, foreign and local nor black or white problem because most of my Ghanaian and some of my foreign friends (maybe not all of them understand employees tactics) all complain about low quality of work done, laziness, lying, stealing and low moral towards work of the Ghanaian workforce.

The public sector is not different, lying stealing, low work performance, absence and on top of this all corruption. 

To me the most annoying thing in the behavior of workers is the fact that when you complain about this behavior and low quality of a service provided, they react in a way that you should rather be grateful that they came to provide you the service. Let me end with one example.
I am quite handy myself and although not trained in plumbing, I can easily say that I am a better plumber than most people in Ghana calling themselves a plumber (I used 9 different plumbers over the past 10 years). The outlet of my toilet was leaking and I was simply not in the mood to do it myself, so I called a recommended plumber. After breaking one of the tiles behind the toilet and putting all back together he stated that he “fixed” the problem.  But when I put the water pressure back on and flashed my toilet I found out that not only my toilet outlet was still leaking, but now also my water supply was leaking. He was polite said sorry and started all over and when we tested again this time he solved the outlet leaking but the water inlet was still leaking. Trying to fix that he spoiled the float valve inside which needed to be replaced and when I finally started complaining he left and insulted me because he was doing his best to help and I should respect him for that instead of complaining about everything, he left without being paid, but called later that I owe him 2 days pay.                                                                                       
To cut this long story short, last Saturday I removed the toilet, replaced the broken tile, put in a new float valve and connected all to the outlet and to the water inlet in about 2 hours and not to my surprise there were no leakages.    
The result I am expecting from this article?
I hope that my article will trigger an open minded discussion in Ghana so we can all think about ways to tackle this problem, through education but also through informing our youth and training them in ways to work, like the rest of the competitive world because with this type of mentality towards work developing Ghana will be a difficult task, for this and any government to come.
I also hope that the Government of Ghana realizes that we need to train skills among our youth and pay attention to attitude change. Because when I calculate roughly what our society is losing in its attempts protecting ourselves against stealing, robbery and our general safety, I estimate that, that alone almost doubles labor costs in Ghana.
The costs of loss of materials due to wrongful use, spoiling of materials and tools due to unprofessional use is many times higher than that and we urgently need to extend our skills training to become competitive.
Ghanaians among you who have traveled have seen the differences abroad are complaining about exactly the same things as I, a new Ghanaian is complaining about. 
I will always remain positive, and I am sure we can improve, but we need a lot of help of other positive thinking Ghanaians to fulfill this enormous task.
My last remark: I hope no foreigner is reading this because it is a message to Ghanaians and not  meant for foreigners.
Written by

*Nico van Staalduinen*

Social Media Generation 

Posted in Uncategorized on April 5, 2017 by kola

This piece is written by my friend David Appiah Danquah who has his own brand of satire I admire him for and always manages to make you think things through when you’ve read what he has to say. 

David writes :

This week I’ve read a lot of commentary on my timeline about how to behave on social media, in particular deal with insulting comments and hostilities.

I’ve learned two things from all the comments:

The first

This generation is heavily invested in their social media personas more so than they are in their real lives. They’d be very successful in life if the reverse were true.


The second

The heavy investment in social media has led to this generation becoming less mature in handling confrontation and ironically more likely to be involved in a social media confrontation.
Let me explain the second point more carefully. When Black people were being killed left and right in America I heard a Police Chief in a very large American city explain why his officers had never been involved in police-related shootings for more than a decade. According to the Chief, he decided years ago to only hire military veterans, nightclub bouncers, security officers who had been involved in tense, high pressure and real life combative situations.
The Chief said some police departments in America make the mistake of hiring individuals straight from university who have never been in a fight their entire lives; never thrown a punch, never been hit with a punch, never had to calm a drunk person in a nightclub, never been shot at by an enemy, never been beaten up, bullied or attacked by another human being.
When they hit the streets of America, it is their first time in a high pressure situation, but now they are given a gun to maintain law and order. 

Imagine someone who has never been thrown a punch in their life being confronted by a large Black man who is acting aggressively? Of course they’d panic easily and use the only option they have to diffuse the situation: draw their weapon and shoot.
Now, the same is true of this generation on social media. Think about it. Like young police officers who are carrying guns on the streets of America today, many social media users were born in the Internet age, and given Internet-enabled mobile devices to interact with a world they know very little about. Thanks to the Internet, a teenager in Apagya can interact daily with another teenage in Seoul, having never had the opportunity to learn and understand Korean customs and sense of humor, likes and dislikes. 

The chances that a snide comment from one teenager to another would trigger a confrontation is extremely high.
The Internet has thrust this generation into a world without boundaries and social media has weaponized their daily interactions. 

The truth is many of you have been cuddled into adulthood from birth, protected by your parents and society. You have never been in a real fight, except for the verbal fisticuffs on your facebook page. And because social media has limited your physical interactions with other folks, your history of confrontation and aggression is limited to the digital world.
When I was a kid my friends and I did actual verbal insults. We use to call it “causing”. We would trade “your mother is so fat jokes” and the winner would be the one with the most painful insult. After that we’d laugh and go home to our wonderful mothers.
Nowadays, if I tell you to go f*** yourself, you’d block me from your Facebook wall with your admin powers or from whatsapp because you can’t handle it.

Well, go f*** yourself! (If you can’t handle this post) 

Me : David! 

David! 

David! 

Social media etiquette is about the individual. Interacting with people you hardly know doesn’t mean they’re not human. If you want respect you have to give first and it will be reciprocated.

Like I always say it begins with YOU! 

Pantang Chronicles

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on February 10, 2017 by kola

It is interesting how any time we hear of Pantang the first thing that comes of mind when  you are a resident in Accra is madness. well, asylum used to have the monopoly on madness in Accra and Ankaful nationwide but now there are several mental institutions dotted around the country.

For a long time the mental institution was placed out of the center of Accra so that residents basically had the whole area all the way up to Abokobi to themselves. however, with the recent expansion in Accra the place that used to be isolated from the center of town has gradually been merged into the area and beyond. This therefore comes with the attendant merging to the society and beyond in those parts. This means that the people who are now resident in the areas mingling freely with the inhabitants of the mental institution.

The story was narrated to me by a friend, a  resident, who was waiting at the taxi rank just at the hospital premises to get to town and took a seat on a bench. there was already a well dressed man sitting on the bench and thinking that it was probably a queue he greeted and sat with the man to wait for the taxi. After sitting there a while he noticed that taxis were coming and going and other people were getting on and leaving for town but the both of them just sat there.

Not long afterwards another man joined them and then another lady came too and they all sat on the bench and soon animated conversation started on the bench. The conversation really made no sense to my friend but he still sat there waiting for a taxi and even though several taxis came to the station they all went to the other side but none came to the side where they were sitting. he also noticed that people who came to the other side of the station kind of looked at him strangely sitting among the other three people but they just went ahead to sit in the taxis and left.

After having sat there for over an hour and several taxis coming to the other side, this man finally decided to heed to that my phone credit seller sitting a few yards across who had been beckoning to him for almost  the whole time he had sat there. apparently the phone credits seller had noticed that he had been there a while and wanted to draw his attention that he was in the wrong part of the taxi station. But he had wondered what a mere phone credit seller will talk to him about so he had ignored the beckons and just sat down. finally when his ‘bench mates’ all burst out in laughter at the same time for no apparent reason, he had heeded the phone credit sellers insistent and adamant beckons and just went over to listen to what the young boy had to say.

The first thing the boy asked him was if he had been waiting for a car all this time or was waiting for somebody to join him on the bench. It was then that he confessed that he had joined the queue on the bench waiting for a taxi so he could get to town but all the taxis seem to come to the other side of the taxi rank and not to where they were sitting for the past hour and he has been wondering why.

The young boy had a couple of his age mates seated by him and they all burst out laughing at him at his explanation and with an incredulous look on his face he asked why they were laughing at him. it was then that they told him that hitherto the patients of the mental hospital came to the station and worried the taxi drivers that they wanted to go to town and after a few incidents the drivers realized that they needed to take action with regards to how they got to the station. The solution was that bench was created  and became the particular favorite of the mental patients from the hospital and they usually sat there and made people think that they were also waiting for taxis.

Oh Joe! the people really had a good laugh at my expense” he narrated.

Finally he went to the other side of the station and whilst entering the taxi looked at his former bench mates talking animatedly and laughing hysterically and somehow it all fell into place. These people made him realize that the saying that we all have some madness in us is true and indeed after witnessing a road rage incident in town that same day, confirmed the statement that many are mad but few are walking the streets.

Furthermore, this narration has its own lessons for me when i heard it. this is that we relate to everybody with respect and treat people as human beings that they are and not stigmatize them at all. The well dressed people on the bench had conversations that were reasonable and apart from a few off key mannerisms, they looked as sane as anybody else and that is why my friend could sit with them for over an hour.

In the same way that the city has expanded, the world has become a global village and people and places are much more closer to each other. It is important that we as humans also adjust to these changes for benefits and personal development. It behooves on the individual to determine how to adjust. we all have a bit of madness in us but it is up to us on how best to use this madness to suit our lives and how best it will affect our relationships.

Like i always say it begins with YOU!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Invincible or Invisible

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on February 8, 2017 by kola

in recent times some of us have complained about the politicizing of everything in this country. i have said time and again to anybody who can read or hear that in this land of our birth even as natural an act as sneezing could betray your supposed political affiliation. you know how we sneeze and then instead of ‘bless you’ we say a few words? somebody might say ‘bless nana’ or another might say ‘i told you so’ and these sayings might be interpreted depending on who’s standing by to be political insinuations with reference to the occupant of the flagstaff house or the economic hardships still prevailing.

anyways that is the Ghana we have come to love with its nuance and all its unconventional methods and red tape only when it suits some people. but who am i to say.

so we all say change has come and then right off the bat we start hearing of the winning party supporters attacking supporters of the losing party. reports in the media indicate that known NDC supporters were attacked at home and beaten up.

further reports also indicate that some armed and rioting forces have started and it is still an ongoing process, are seizing public toilets, toll booths, government offices and all in the name of a popular slogan in akan ‘ma aban na aba so‘ to wit ‘my government is in power.

the group that has claimed responsibility for perpetrating these acts calls themselves INVINCIBLE (or is it INVISIBLE) FORCES.

back in school studying traditional religion and a host of other subjects, we always were asked ‘what is in a name?” this has always made me associate names with occurrences and try to delve into how a group chooses a name. there have been several political associations and just hear their names and you know what they are about even if they dont spell it out explicitly to you the name should give you a clue to their objective.

but here is one group perpetrating acts bothering on vandalism of state property and abusing the rights of people and nobody seems to do anything about it except that the ruling party now came out with a press statement to effect that the group was not a part of its machinery and that they were acting on their own. really?? so if they were acting on their own why hasn’t the law taken action against them and have them arrested thus setting a few culprits as examples to deter the others.

in Tamale i had my former office locked up when this group numbering about forty on motorbikes just stormed the district office of National Disaster Management Organization (NADMO) and Youth Employment Program (YEP) and asked the workers out only to produce locks they had brought themselves to lock up these offices.

the regional National Health Insurance office suffered the same fate and people who were  trying to register and do transactions who tried to protest were whipped physically leading to a stampede for everybody to rush out of the offices. i hear the same thing happened at the metro office of NADMO and before the police could get there to intervene these people are gone. sometimes they brazenly wait for the police and exchange words with them until the police drag them off the premises.

a typical Ghanaian will ask, what is all this? can we just not tolerate each other and live peacefully. the fact that your government is in power doesn’t give you the right to vandalize government offices and attack government institutions asking for the resignation of executive officers to be replaced by party loyalists.

this is where the issue is. if really we were thinking Ghana first, then the civil service will not have to be politicized and its machinery can run effectively devoid of political affiliation. but in the system where the winner takes all, it has become imperative to use Machiavellian principles in a democracy thus ensuring that all the heads of the civil service are loyalists of the ruling government so as to secure an agenda not contrary to the principles of the ruling party. in some jurisdictions, when government policy does not tie in with the civil service then you know there is a standoff.

all the ducks have to be in tow for a ruling government as we see happening in parliament but that is another story for another day.

so back to the invincible forces. i really dont want to speculate here but the question still stands as to what is in a name? what is the law doing about them and are they as invincible as they seem to be because people in civil service office are feeling their actions visibly.

what i can do as admonished in the ‘plagiarized speech’ is to be a citizen not a participant and do my duty to uphold and defend the good name of Ghana as per our anthem. to be a Ghanaian is a mindset that involves every individual that it is this individual mindset that will evolve into the collective.

mine is to raise the issues and set you thinking but then what to do is up to you.

so like i always say IT BEGINS WITH YOU!