Archive for blogging Ghana

Hard Lessons

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on September 15, 2017 by kola

I have always maintained that sports has shown me more in life than I ever learnt in thee classroom and recently this notion just keeps reiterating itself and incidents in sporting circles and in sporting activities keeps reinforcing the notion.

In the recent Barcamp Cape Coast that I attended I found myself caught in a passionate discussion with a basketball coach over the importance of sports to youth development. I was reminded of a convocation I attended in one of the leading private colleges in Ghana where a five year plan for the college was on the agenda and there was no mention of any sports. Yeah trust me, not even soccer. Suffice it to say that I had to raise my hand and draw their attention to that important omission.

I tell the youth I have the privilege to mentor that if they don’t do any physical sport they are harming themselves because sports not only acts as exercise but also serves as an outlet for the stress that living in this fast paced global world brings along with it. Not only just that but also there are plenty lessons from playing any sport. When you’re applying for a job and you write on you cv that you’re a team player yet you don’t play any sports how do you understand the dynamics of teamwork in a practical sense.

Today I played a game of basketball and from the very beginning we led in a game that the first team to get to a hundred points wins. At a point in time my team led by over twenty points and at the rate at which the game was going and the synergy within our team it was a foregone conclusion that we had already won the game. But hey! We actually lost the game.

Yeah we did!

Now this is what happened. We were at a crunch time having reached 94 to our opponent’s 86 that instead of luck concentrating on what had enabled us lead the game from the beginning, we were more focused on finishing the game quickly being tired. The bid to finish the game quickly, a narrow view led to my team losing focus of what was more important which is the method to that finishing rather than the finishing itself.

In basketball turnovers means that the opponents tended to have more of the ball and they utilized their possession more than we did and it paid off for them as they gradually inched past us at 99 to win with a single shot.

Painful as it was, it is easy to draw parallels of this loss to our real life everyday situations where we look at the goal and only think of the finishing and not what goes into finishing perfectly. People tend to be narrow minded and fail to consider the bigger picture which is this case would’ve been to just take time and consider all the options. Sometimes albeit all the warnings of people who have been there we believe we are doing the right thing until it doesn’t work out and we recognize our folly but too late.

Well, for me sports will not only continue to teach me lessons but will be what I affectionately call therapy because it keeps my head screwed on straight. I’d therefore advise that if you’re reading this and don’t do any sport, you do find one and participate in, not just watch or comment on. Remember you’re the only one responsible for your own well-being.

Like a always say it begins with YOU!!

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A Lion or A Dog

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on July 14, 2016 by kola

This article is inspired by a father and a son’s conversation they have in a car whilst the father drives to work and would drop the son off at school.

So the father asks the child “if you could have one animal as a pet would you have a lion or a dog?”
The child thinks for just two seconds and responds “a lion and the dog.” His father thinks his son hadn’t heard the question pretty well and was only reiteration the question whilst voicing it out loud so asks again to which he gets the same response.

“No no no! You can have only one, which one?” But the child maintains his choice and reiterates to dad that thats his choice.

Well I wouldn’t claim to know what is in the child’s mind and how modern children in these computer and data age process things but I have come to the profound realization that most of us find ourselves in such a situation. We are confronted by choices in everything that we do and usually it is either one or the other.

Personally I think that is a bit limiting. We were brought up in a situation and circumstances where choices made had to be in a box. Don’t look far. We spent most of our growing up and lives in the classrooms learning one thing or the other and how are our curricular designed. It is even worse at the tertiary level where you either tow the line of the lecturer or you risk failing whatever course.

Where is the room for innovation?
What choices do we have that are open ended?

Parenting has become equally challenging because of what Kiyosaki calls The Rat Race. Parents are chasing after money in a bid to give  a better life to their children that they have left the parenting in the hands of caregivers or teachers whom the children spend most of their time with. Imagine the influence these people have on shaping who these future leaders become.

Now back to the choices. As human beings we all have choices and the choices we make each have consequences that could go for us or against us. Whatever choice we make however it behoves on us to bear the consequences of these choices.

However it is important that we look critically at all the options available to make a choice. For the child once the father has asked that if can choose between a lion and a dog what stops him from having both. Either one that he chooses he believes his father can get it for him so why not have both.

For adults what a choice like that means is that you just have to work harder to cover for all the choices (options) in order to live comfortably. Hard work they say breaks no bones.

Life is full of choices and it is up to you to make the right ones.

Like I always say it begins with YOU!

Make the right choices.

PS
Thank you Alexander Adu-Lartey and darling son Aj for inspiring this.
Bless you!

Flooding and Spillage

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on June 14, 2016 by kola

Indeed the rains have set in again in the month of June and unfortunate events have started unfolding with the rains as they do every year. Last year the filling station disaster was the highlight when people lost their lives in the fire explosion at circle (may their souls rest in peace) and this year the only thing government could do was commemorate the first anniversary of their passing.

Did we really learn anything from the incident!?

Ghana is the only place I know who replaces one disaster for another. This year at Mampong Ashanti several people were buried as victims of a gas  explosion and the burial was an event done side by side with the commemorate of the June 3 victims.

Sad and pathetic.

So earlier I asked what lessons we have learnt from these incidents. It is not like we haven’t had precedents but year in year out the same incidents keep recurring and we just sit back and look on.

I remember a site engineer or whatever was fired on the spot at a press conference for one such incident but then whoever his replacement was, what new thing  has he brought to the position?

In a city gutted with filth choking the drainage even where they exist, what is the guarantee that the water will flow in gutters and find outlets. Water will always create its own path if you haven’t planned a path for it and when it becomes stagnant it does so in huge volumes.

Furthermore Accra being a low lying area it is always likely that parts of the city will experience heavy flooding and this becomes sad because vehicular movement and traffic is disrupted for hours end until the rain stops. So two hours of rain can cause a standstill of more than its equivalent hours of rain with its attendant worries of creating homeless people and people who have displaced by the rains through experiencing rain water in their homes or offices.

Oh! And what about those casual workers who sleep in the streets.  Rain for two hours in Accra especially at night and that means displacement for almost a million slum and street dwellers.

What about the lessons learnt? Some of us shrug our shoulders and place the blame directly on government but then the question I ask is who are the  constituents of government? Yes our gutters are choked, yes our drains don’t have covers and yes our attitudes to our environment is very bad. Do we really need any institution to regulate our attitudes? Who creates the filth that pollutes the environment and chokes the gutters and who are those that build on the waterways where the waters are supposed to flow freely. The government officials who take cuts and cut corners for favor why do they do that and to what end. Do they really have the interests of the people at heart? Very poignant questions but who is brave enough to answer them.

Our political leaders are busy canvassing for votes and every year the supposedly best mayor in the world is reminded that when the gods decide to take a piss, he needs to provide a chamber pot.

Meanwhile some of the dams are getting full and thus spillages have to occur so that dams don’t burst and this also got its attendant repercussions to communities living downstream of the dams. People are still building in such areas as if they don’t know the consequences or they expect that spillage wont happen.. Attitudes indeed!

The promises are too many and in an election year there will be a litany of them. It is high time Ghanaian folk realized that we cant really depend on the political leaders for  micro development but only on ourselves and each other. It is therefore important to form cooperatives and also to renew our mental development and change our attitudes. Let’s be concerned about our environment and not think that it is another person’s responsibility.

Accra is flooding every year but the main cause is not the government but ourselves. It is time to act now to forestall further disaster.

Like I always say it begins with YOU!

Life @40

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on June 14, 2016 by kola

image

It is a cliche that it is said that life begins  at forty but then how many have ideally given a thought to what has gone on in a person’s life before they got to that ripe age of forty. What are some of the dreams that the person has or had, have these dreams been achieved, what about fulfilment? Are they fulfilled as forty year olds.

Growing up we all had dreams of “becoming somebody in future” and these dreams were usually tied to age specifics. Oh! I want to finish high school by age 20 then university by 24, Masters by 27 and then get married by 30. Within this age bracketed dreams and aspirations there are some basic things that needed to be achieved as a done deal and this especially, most especially, includes financial freedom. It is only when you have financial freedom that you can dictate your own life obviously.

But here is a case this is Ghana and Africa and even at 45 some people are staying with their parents. African parents also have the mental configuration that “once you’re staying under my roof you live by my rules.” It is not so surprising that there is an anecdote going around on social media where a woman berated her boyfriend to move out of his parents house and he retorts that even Jesus was still living with his parents till he died.

Thats the African setting I’m referring to.

But generally that’s not the status quo. There are forty year olds who have achieved much in life and are fulfilled in what they do. The global economy has created an expansion of expression of ideas and talents that have made people rich thanks to capitalism and fortitude. At forty at least there should be something tangible that a person could say that they have done and if there is not it doesn’t mean the person has been a total failure but it still depends on what sort of ventures such a person has gone into.

Forty at least signifies a wealth of experience.

So yes here I am at forty and I look back and realize that there is nothing really tangible to show for it. There are no houses, no fleet of cars, no string of mistresses and girlfriends, no treasuries or bonds in millions and oh! Not even a wardrobe of shiny suits to boast of.  Not even a bicycle tyre or even a car jerk. What I life!

If you’re thinking I’m aspiring to be a guru of some sort and therefore shunning all material stuff think again.  I like the finer things in life and wont turn down the luxuries unless they come with a price of compromising my principles.

Was recently at the birthday celebration of one forty year old dude and noticed that the current trend in the capital for that age bracket was bald heads, grey beards neatly trimmed and the opulent display of pot bellies. Wow! People I knew who were skinniest back in school were now all “living large” and inasmuch as it is the current trend I was still taken aback. Furthermore it was like a competition of sorts who drove the latest model of a particular car, who had the best toys or who was “running” the finest mistresses and how much they spent on them..
Interesting indeed!

So yes I have a totally bald head by choice, my face is clean shaven half the time and I only get grey in my beard when I’m in Accra (must be something in the air) but God forbid I’d ever get a pot belly although I have a feeling I’m inching closer. 

Being a forty year old in Ghana now is an arduous task with lots of responsibility and obligations. People work hard and find ways of making it sometimes to meet the status quo and some don’t even make it. As my dad will say even though we are not young anymore this is the time to work hard and plan the future for retirement. Very soon that zeal to achieve will be there but not the strength to pursue what you really want to do.

Some people have chose the material, others have chosen their own path but for this forty year old I have chosen to invest in people. I believe everybody has the chance to better their lot and situation and everybody that I come into contact with should leave a better person. Well, it doesn’t make sense to many because it doesn’t make sense to me too but God being my helper that is what I have set out to do and been doing for years now.

It is not financially rewarding. If anything at all it is rather financially draining and thus very difficult a task but then someway somehow it always gets done and it is very fulfilling.

So I might not have a car, a house, plenty mistresses and girlfriends or the latest toys thus I obviously cant be in the competition with anybody as to what I have and don’t have but yes I’m happy. Seeing the smile on another person’s face after you have said a word of encouragement or exhortation or just helped out with your last one Ghana knowing you’re going to walk home makes me walk with a spring in my step on my way home.

My greatest thanks is to God for strength to lead a purpose driven life and for a patient wife who stands by me in all I do and will once a while chide me for being silly when I should be wise. I’m just a boy at heart going through life one day at a time.

Indeed life begins at forty and why the heck does my spell check keep spelling forty as “empty”. Must be a sign.  Maybe it means I’m at empty and I should just let God fill me up.

Come on the journey through life with me and let’s let go and let God.

Like a always say it begins with YOU!

Oseikrom Conversations

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on May 31, 2016 by kola

It’s always interesting conversations with all sorts of people when I’m in Kumasi. Granted the best place to hear the latest gossip is riding the trotro or in a taxi with the taxi driver.

So on this morning when Johnny Depp is in the news for wife battery I’m taking an adventure trip with the cutest missy  Abena Peprah doing a “Yewo Krom Adventures”, had this interesting conversation with a taxi driver on the state of social development in Ghana especially Ksi:

On taking a bypass

Me:  Oh nice! So they made a bypass to the cultural centre so you can avoid all the Kejetia traffic.

Taxi Driver:  Apuu! Which bypass? They just blocked te road and you don’t know what they’re doing there. As for this government it is the only one we wont understand ever. They keep increasing petrol when prices are down, looks like government officials are just greedy and chopping government money nyafu nyafu.

Me: But pro government people say they’re doing well oh. They got a green book outlining projects and are even doing adverts to show their achievements..

Taxi Driver: Apuu! As for that Mahama even urinal if he gets he’d cut the tape (literal translation), taking over jobs of even assembly men.  Wonder if we even have a vice president and what does he do everyday?

Me: (trying to move away from the politics) so you mean you don’t like this bypass? But I think its very necessary.

Taxi Driver: Oh nonsense! Boss, is it tarred? Yet they take money and you wonder whose pockets the money is going into. You’ll see them when we get ahead taking one Ghana from every car that passes here like a toll and still nothing

Me: Oh really?

Taxi Driver: Boss! See here. They’ve blocked the road and taking money yet nothing. As for this our mayor and his party they’re doing it too much and too blatantly. He’s outlined two projects and when they mentioned the cost you wonder if they take us for fools.

There was a siren in Adum near the post office that he says he wants to replace and the total cost of the project is 8 billion old Ghana cedis. Why? When the siren sounds is it going to sound for the whole Ghana to hear or just Kumasi here.

Me: Oh wow! That much?

Taxi Driver:  you think thats small he says he’s gonna refurbish the Prempeh Hall, thats just do some new external body works and the total cost is over 15 billion.
Masa why? Do we wash our faces upwards.
It is all a money grabbing venture..

Me: Hmmm

Taxi Driver: (going back to politics) And as for our president they say he’s a good communicator but how can he say that as for us Kumasi people even if he paves our streets with gold we wont ever be pleased with him. And he says Ghanaians have short memories so we’ll vote for him again. Indeed he’s a dead goat. How could he  say that?

Me:  (uncomfortable about the politics) So lets wait and see at the end of this year what happens..

Then we got off to go see the other symbol of Asante unity,  the buried sword of Komfo Anokye.

(Oh! The taxi driver mentioned that the mayor wants to glass it for 4 billion cedis)

The rest of the conversation is more social and I’d feel uncomfortable transcribing it here..

#GhanaTravels
#YewoKromAdventures
#OseikromChronicles

Giant Bullying Continues

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on May 13, 2016 by kola

So now we had been divided into our various classrooms from  A to D with the shortest in front method. The smallest freshmen have ended up in the A class and interestingly we were the most boisterous.
It didn’t take long for the seniors who reported to school later and the school authorities to realize that.
In the dormitories we were to discover and learn to sleep for the most minimum of hours.  The days of comfort, which was the week we had stayed for orientation were over. The seniors who were to act as “school fathers” had finally arrived and for some of us who didn’t know any such seniors we were the victims of constant molestation.

The freshmen who had school fathers were “protected” from some of the unnecessary harassment and the more “powerful” your school father was the more you were exempt from frivolous activities that went on on campus. If you had a school father who was not only popular in one dorm but was known all over campus then we say “you had chopped lotto” and those were had to come by. It involved a lot of giving away tinned fish and milk.

In this group of most feared seniors were The Bloody Cult led by Rev Bob Satan and they had the names of members etched on the walls and in every space where you couldn’t miss it. With names like Skido Ray, Shanton, Ofege and some other feared names which of those other seniors could touch you if you mentioned their names when caught by even the sixth formers.

Oh! They were all in Form 5 but they run the school.

Apart from this feared seniors there were the baby faced seniors who were the silent killers. These usually included the respective prefects of the various halls of residence. A senior on duty could terrorize freshmen so much that we didn’t dare go sleep in the dormitory  but ended up either in the dining hall or the general assembly hall with the mosquitos having a field day.

There were some seniors that we freshmen prayed will never come on duty because when they did it was uncomfortable for our existence. A senior on duty had oversight duty of every aspect of cleanliness and the smooth running of the dormitory. Some seniors extended this to even the freshmen food cabinets known as chop boxes in which we kept most of our food.

A chop box could determine what kind of family a freshman came from whether rich, average or poor. The rich chop box had a lot of tins usually sardine and milk, corn flakes and several items for a typical British breakfast plus local stuff like gari etc. So when a senior on duty took charge of the chop boxes then we were dead as freshmen.

Moreover if you didn’t have a school father who kept the items in your chop boxes in his care, then you were already on empty by midterm which was quite serious.
There were other immediate seniors who saw the freshmen as means of alleviating some of their burdens from the seniors and acted as secondary bullies. A senior sends them on an outrageous errand(to go fetch water from the school well about ten minutes walk away with a small cup to fill a large bucket) and they send you instead.

So apart from being bullied out of the dorms and sleeping in the assembly and dining halls, we also had to learn how to dodge seniors and be invisible even whilst  we walked on a campus which was oval in shape and one could be spotted everywhere. It was this trait that gave us some of us our nicknames that was to last for the rest of our stay on campus.  One dude learnt how to hide behind the nearest pillar or wall just to swerve the seniors from which he earned the nickname Artful Dodger from the book Oliver Twist which was the first book treated in the literature syllabus.

Freshmen were always being chased around by one senior or the other for some offence committed and sometimes when we heard that a senior was off campus it spelt a bit of a respite. We were made to understand the popular slogan “form one is a disease.. ”

From the menial jobs on campus to dorm duties, the first people to call by teachers and students alike was “FORM ONE BOYS!! ”

However if you neither had a protective school father or a loaded chop box with tins, there was always a way to find an exception from getting bullied. But that’s another story for another time.

#ThrowbackThursday
#HighSchoolChronicles
#SayNoToBullying

Giant Bullies

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on April 28, 2016 by kola

This post is inspired by the fact that it is being written as part of a new series I’m introducing on my blog,  #ThrowbackThursdays where every Thursday I bring you a story from my past.

Today’s story comes from September 1987  when a batch of 189  students were admitted into Ghana Secondary Technical School as freshmen. Ranging from between 10-18 years, the younger ones were easy prey for the seniors in school. This was especially true because we were so tiny and as such were easily bullied.

Interestingly the first few days we were even bullied by our own mates and it took a few days for us to reckon that they were freshmen like us. This is because we were the last batch of the Middle School Leaving system so we had to enter school with older guys who were more technically inclined and they formed the core of the 18 year olds.

In our system freshmen were admitted and got to school about a fortnight before the continuing students came to school but some seniors especially perfects were around to help with orientation for freshmen. But some of the seniors were not prefects and they were there to fleece the freshmen of whatever they could get from us being as innocent and naive as we were.

Thus began the nights of being rudely awakened at night to stand by your chop boxes for inspection. Every time they came some Freshers lost a tin of something, milk or sardine, and those who didn’t have were made to feel like they had the worst coming to them when school reopened. The givers were promised protection against bullies and were convinced it was the good seniors we were interacting with during those first days.

One particular senior with a crazy cut hairstyle introduced himself as Bob Satan, would come to the Freshers dorm at nee hours with a large jute sack and wake everyone up for inspection of boxes. By te time he left, about some two hours later,that jute sack was full. And he kept coming almost every other day for the 12 days we were in school before the school actually reopened.

How could Bob Satan be good and claim that he would be a protector against the other seniors. During orientation Bob Satan will be around to scare us that if we didn’t give him our food we were going to do the hardest menial jobs around the compound when school reopened and he could ask the prefects in charge to be lenient to those he liked.

So yes we endured this for days not only from Bob Satan but other seniors like him until the day we were all assembled together as freshmen in the school  assembly hall for our various houses and classes to be allocated to us. It was on this day that we had the revelation that even some of the “seniors” who had been bullying us the smaller ones were our own mates, Freshers like us, from another dorm who had taken advantage of the situation and also joined in the fray to bully us.

For what we did to them in retaliation, that will come in another chapter of this bullying chronicles.

After that assembly, we were grouped into classes from Form 1 A to D based on our physical sizes. We stood in one long single file and the headmaster just used a cane to divide the classes and took down names. Obviously some aspects of this was hilarious because you found an older student but due to his diminutive structure in the same class with ten and eleven year olds who were full of mischief and very boisterous.

Furthermore it was obvious that  the A class will be more fun than the D class because that was where mischief dwelled.

It was also at the same assembly that we were assigned to our various dormitories: eight in all – from Richie to Einstein.

School reopened with the regular and continuing students trooping in and then we were anxious to see if all the stories we heard about bullying in secondary school was true. We had just encountered seniors like Bob Satan and even some of our own mates. Were we prepared for what lay ahead of us?

For now we had survived the first wave of bullying. With school in earnest and all freshmen in our respective dormitories, we would meet different seniors and different treatments will be meted according to which dorm you were in.

Next week the story continues…

#ThrowbackStories
#HighSchoolChronicles
#BullyingMustStop