Archive for Adventure

Matters Arising

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on May 15, 2015 by kola

Dear Nii Kpakpo,

It has become very imperative that I write to you constantly especially with the several issues going on in the country. Chale! A lot of things are happening and we as a nation need to sit up and do our part as the citizenry to make this country work. Honestly, if we say we are going to wait for government then we are doomed because this government appears seemingly clueless as to what is going on.

Either that or the government is intentionally ‘punishing’ the people for the greater good of staying in power in the next elections. Well, such Machiavellian principles have always been proven to work and I’m sure this is no exception.

I was just thinking out aloud the other day and I was wondering what kinda human being will want to change a government that allows a grown man to play oware the whole day with his friends and then at the end of the day the member of parliament of the area sends his representative to over to the group to give each person gh5 and at the end of the month they are on government schemes that ensure that they are paid about 150gh monthly?

Kpakpo, there are people in Ghana breaking their backs to make a living and to make ends meet. These are the people feeling the pinch of the tightening economy. But whilst they patiently wait for Election 2016 to attempt to get this government off the seat of power, the government is also dealing with making promises and showing signs of letting these promises work in the hinterland where the people matter and where the real votes are. These grassroots folk are simple minded folk and very easily convinced.

So let them rave and rant in Accra and do all the demonstrations that they want, but where it matters most, the government is sealing the trust of the people. After all nobody forced anybody to live in the capital which is congested and already choked with pressure on social amenities.

Nii Kpakpo Thompson! Now to lighter issues. The other day I happened to be walking by the cluster of public toilets and I noticed that the attendant was not available. It set me really thinking about some issues. Mind you this was around one am in the morning whilst I was trying to find your sister some food she was craving for. You know that happens once in a while and if she doesn’t get what she craves then it means nobody in the house sleeps cos she can’t sleep either.

I was thinking really hard that around that time since it was a public toilet then it meant that anybody who wanted to use the facility actually used it for free. Since the attendant cannot be present all 24hours of the day but the facility was there all the time it meant that somebody could actually just use it every day for free if they knew the attendant’s schedule. Is it not the same thing that happens with the Telcos and then they say they are running promos of cheaper rates that these odd hours as if they were doing us a favor?
Well that was what I was thinking. But you should see the dressing of some people when they are going to the public toilet in the morning. You would think they were going for an event. Well, it is an event too isn’t it?

Kpakpo, the rains have started but whenever it rains the relief only lasts just a few hours. Imagine that it rains for 3hours the previous day and the very next day the sun is out and the morning is quite cool but by noon sun is high overhead at heats unbearable. Well, we are gradually getting used to it so not worried much. I hear visitors to Tamale complaining that the place is hot and I wonder what they expected when they were coming here.

The #iBelieveInReading project is going very well and I have been getting interesting and very touching letters from parents and teachers who want books for their children and pupils so they can personally supervise their children to read. This has been very encouraging for me so I can get more books to give out freely so we can inculcate a habit of reading into Ghanaian children. Moreover I have been encouraging them to use the public library more since there are more books in there that will broaden the children’s minds.

This has become imperative following the recent listing of Ghana as last in the list of countries with the best education systems. As for that one I don’t even want to talk about it because if I started I won’t finish now. Suffice it to say the politicians have their own twist to that and it is such a shame. Let’s not forget that they even want to make education free in this country.

Nii Kpakpo, furthermore I have joined a team of ‘Volunteers with Swag’ who are a support team for any voluntary outreach program that will happen in the north. The group aims at being available to support both materially and physically in all philanthropic activities up north. Recently we have come to a decision to form such volunteer groups in every region so that volunteers are available for every program and these organizations will be under the umbrella Ghana Volunteer Program put together by the GhanaThink Foundation.
The savannah is growing very fast and with it attendant problems of being a metropolis. There are migrant workers from the other parts of the other regions seeing Tamale as an oasis and also a stopover on their way to the capital. Well, I wish them luck in their endeavors.

I haven’t stayed put much this few months but I intend to this time and let’s see how it goes.
Kpakpo, lemme end this letter here and leave you to the petty bickering that is happening between your celebrity friends on the #DumsorMustStop demonstration. They are so frivolous and I won’t even want to get into that one too. I’m sure it’s a humor point for you since one of the proponents is supposed to be a humorist and the other is a movie icon.

Oh shit! I said I won’t get into it.

Till I come your way again, let us keep hope alive and well, I’m not sure we got any tunnels in Ghana but only pipelines where all our plans are in so I cannot say there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Shalom!

Your Cousin in Law
Savannah Boy.

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Ghana Must Read

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 30, 2015 by kola

Whenever I read English written by students in college or university, there are times I really cringe at the sort of English that they write. It is true that spoken English is much better than written English but sometimes you wonder if truly they speak the kinds of English they write.
This trend I’m sure can be blamed on social media and the short message sites that have pervaded our system nowadays. People write as they hear it and even expect you to read as you see it hence it ends in some shorthand that could look like Gaelic and not really English.
Everybody seems to be complaining except those who are writing this atrocious English. In a group on Facebook recently, some guy became an instant celebrity by describing an incident that happened to him in a trotro and honestly for some of us we thought it will only take a cryptographer to decipher the words that were used because they looked like English, sounded like Gaelic and read more like cryptography. However, the simple essay, if only we can call it that, got over a 1000 comments with half those comments just making enquiries as to what exactly the story was. The other half was the mischievous ones just making sure of perpetrating the guy’s celebrity status and I won’t be surprised if he ends up putting it on his CV, as is obvious nowadays, that he’s a very social person who makes a post on Facebook and gets over a 1000 comments. That is the measure of his sociability.
If you think I’m kidding about people using Facebook as a measure of their sociability check out Nana Abynah, the girl in the middle of the one minute premature ejaculation sex scandal on Facebook and she now has a fan page with the status as a ‘Public Figure’. Now go figure!
Now the question I keep asking is what are we doing about all this? Are we just sitting back to laugh at the English, which pretty much tells our state of mind, or we are going to make efforts to deal with it one way or the other. If we are going to choose the latter, how are we going to go about that?
Some of us believe that the reading culture of the nation is at an abysmal low and as such one very important aspect of cultivating vocabulary and experience is being lost. With the pervading influence of the internet and social media sites, more and more people are neglecting the habit of reading, even if they had any, and it is important that this is learnt at a very tender age.
To this effect, the I Believe in Reading Campaign, as I have dubbed it, was set into motion. Yes! It is a personal campaign for which I have pledged myself to support anybody, individual or organization, who is doing anything at all to inculcate a reading habit or bring back reading into Ghanaian culture.
Together with my partners, Bliss Butterfly Network and Africa Youth Writers Organization, November 2014 was declared Book Collection Month and over a thousand books were collected. Over 600 books out of the total collection were children’s books that were donated to the Tamale Regional library Children’s section. Over 200 books were also distributed to individual children chosen at random and even random children who showed interest in reading on the streets. After all it was such a random child that inspired the whole project.
The project also signed a memorandum of understanding with the Regional Library to tag along and provide volunteers during the outreach programs of the library in the dusty hinterlands in the northern region. This is to ensure that even people in the far flung communities also get to read from the mobile library van.
Obviously the focus is now on children and inasmuch as it is cliché we believe in catching them young and believing that a reading child is a leader in future. The children are the future of our nation and it is better we start early and imbibe the reading culture into them to inspire them and boost their confidence so they don’t get to become some of the adults we read from on Facebook and also we read their college essays and cringe.
Throughout the year various organizations have programs slated for reading and writing all over Ghana. Africa Writers Youth Organization in collaboration with iHav Foundation is setting it off with the Pieces for Peace Project which seeks to distribute over 500 books to 500 children in schools in Tamale and Tema. They need all the support they can get.
I know of some projects too by Pastor Francis and his organization in Bolga and I pledge to support them too just as they supported the Book Collection Month and Pieces for Peace.
If you have any project that is to inculcate reading or any aspect to improve reading in this country please let me freely inform you that you already have one volunteer here.
Call me up on 0244526203 or send me a message on Facebook, Kola Nut.
That is me doing something about improving the English of Ghanaians. You can also contribute one way or the other, so find ways of supporting.

Join us let us make Ghana a reading nation.
Like I always say
It begins with YOU!!

Accra City Blues

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 2, 2013 by kola

So much is going on in the capital city that we in the periphery, especially in the savannah, are wondering what is going on and why some people have to think that Accra and its sentiments express the views of the other millions of Ghanaians spread all over ythe country’.

Damn! We are rocked by political scandals, not to mention the looting of state funds as evident by the Public Accounts Comittee hearings.

What is really going on I wonder.

GYEEDA, SADA, etc have all made ghanaians proud to beat the title theirs corrupt nation in the world.

Well what can I say but that we have been given fair warning by one presidential staffer, is he former, that if you can’t stand the corruption and the stomach politics aka chop chop, you can pack your bags, find your passport and just leave.

Maybe Nunnoo Travel and Relocations will facilitate it. After all he could afford to relocate a whole school when even the government could not.

as for the AMA and its Toilet Chronicles, the less said about them the better. In the savannah, most things are free range and that goes for shitting too without saying. The savannah metropole assemblies have almost no problems in that department at all, I think.

Reently the President commissioned the Nkrumah Interchange and whilst it was going on, sellers were barred from making a living, for security reasons? Like all projects in Ghana we are waiting too see how long this project will take and in the trend we are going , how much chop chop before the project is completed.

i keep saying for this land of our birth to work and move forward, it doesn’t only depend on the quality of leaders we have (so far quality is whack) but also the collective effort of the citizenry.

Accra is just a small part of GHANA and sentiments expressed in Accra may not be the sentiments of the majority of the people in Ghana. But still let us be circumspect with what we say about or whatever happens in any part of the country.

like I always say, it begins with YOU!

 

 

 

 

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!