Archive for Kumasi

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.

 

 

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HOME IN 10 HOURS: The Journey (part 2)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 21, 2013 by kola

The bus is ready to leave and they realize a seat is empty. A guy who didn’t have a ticket is admitted into the bus when an occupant doesn’t show. He packs his bags on the bus and also gets down to handle some business. By the time he comes back, the original occupant of the seat had come back. What a loss! Moral of the story: if you get the chance take it the first time no fuss. (Reminds me of the parable of the ten virgins)

As I say good bye to the city of my birth, where everything is being renamed, I keep thinking how relieved I am to be leaving. Battery check, both batteries, data working, internet assured, seat adjusted to comfy level. Now let the journey begin. Ten hours to get home!

Thankfully the road out of Accra is a highway as if metaphorically the powers that be want to decongest the city although nobody is taking them up on the offer. All the way to Nsawam is the highway then the rough patches start. It is so bumpy that you actually feel it even though it’s supposed to be a luxury bus in good condition. You get bounce about quite a bit. Why can’t they just fix those places to the proposed Suhum overpass? Well we wait!

Three hours later we make our first stop at Linda Dor Rest Stop. This rest stop has the most expensive items I can think of. Small items usually cost about three times the market price and sometimes I wonder if it’s because of the location. Wanting something to munch on, I decide to buy my favorite packet of ginger snaps which usually sell at 80p only to be told it is sold at GHc2. Wow! Since it’s only that I want something to munch on and get my jaws moving, I decide instead to forgo the ginger snaps and buy some fried yam.

The Linda Dor Rest Stop is an interesting spot if you are a ‘human watcher’. People from all walks of life pass through there and you might even meet a friend or two going the other way or even maybe going the same way. It’s so much fun at times to see the various passenger buses stop and passengers dash off to go to the washrooms. Some people even walk lopsided because of the load they carry and are in a hurry to offload. There was this one time a guy couldn’t even stop to pay the 50p gate fee and the attendant attempted to follow him into the loo. Guy just put his hand in his pocket and threw a whole wad of bills at the attendant to hold on to. The look on the attendant’s face was worth putting on a billboard. It will sell anything.

It is this look that inspired me to start taking notes to write this article. But first I had to find paper to write my notes and hence writing on the inside of a paper takeaway of the rest stop. Taking a pen from the cutest girl on our bus, I start taking notes and folk look at me like I am from Mars. Mind you, I’m writing in the dark since the lights on the bus are off. The only light is coming from the video screen with Azonto Ghost Reloaded playing.

Kumasi passes by in a blur since I spend the whole time chatting with my crazy friends on whatsapp. Only reminder of that journey is when the bus stops and people get out to pee and incidentally it stops at the St Louis High School bus stop just near the school gate.

Techiman passes by in a blur of lights and quiet streets. Soon we are at first point of escort. (On a particular dangerous stretch of road plagued by armed robbers, the police and military people escort passenger vehicles till they get to a safe point)  We stop and wait for the first escort. It’s a beautiful night. Crickets chirping away and there is a full moon. It’s not too cold and I crave a romantic walk. Have a few candidates in mind. Most passengers are just asleep and I type away on my phone keeping in touch with friends. Very soon escort arrives and we move again only to stop again after another hour for the second leg of escort.

This is in the centre of a town that doesn’t sleep. Sellers are shouting wares and stuff: yam, bread, eggs (boiled and fried). Some of my colleague passengers get down to eat because they are hungry and they order eggs. All I can think of at this stage is the damage they can cause when they get on the bus with such gaseous bowels. I take a cue from how harmful second hand cigarette smoking can be and then I get down to order two fried eggs and three boiled eggs (boiled eggs cost GHc1 for all three) and eat them right there and then. If anybody decides to release gas in the air-conditioned bus, they are in for a surprise because I am going to reply in kind. Fire for Fire!!

I observe at the stop also that there are a number of 4×4 vehicles in the convoy of buses that are waiting to be escorted across. These ‘big men’ are on a journey to the north and it is obviously their first time because they look antsy and are still in their ties although they have lost the jackets. It is past one am in the morning. Wonder why they chose to drive when they could have flown to wherever they are going.

Before leaving Accra I had charged my phone batteries fully (my android phone is so busy I carry around a spare battery and the charging cords in my pocket for backup) and I knew that by Kintampo both batteries would have run out. Each battery lasts four hours approximately. I had made provision for charging at Kintampo. There is this young man who has set up shop at the filling station where the buses stop to wait for the escort. It just a table with extension boards and different kinds of chargers, which he uses to charge any model of phone you have for only 50p.

Ali, that’s his name, runs his ingenious business and stays up all night servicing customers. When university graduates are sitting in the capital jobless and unemployed Ali is an entrepreneur who not only sells phone credits to travellers at a time they need it most but also charges their phones for a mere 50p. Sometimes his chargers are so busy people queue up to charge their phones. Having called earlier, I get pride of place and somebody’s phone is taken out and mine fixed for some charging.

Usually on a journey like this, I find one cute lass to strike up a conversation with. This time I took up a conversation with this buxom Muslim girl. She was dressed the part. I revelled her with my travels all over Ghana and on a long roundabout trip to Zaria and back. All this while her older male cousin just looked on and gave me a don’t-you-dare look I ignored. She listened to my stories with rapt attention about the route she was traveling for the first time to see relatives in Tamale then she dropped the bombshell. She has just finished junior high school and was going to see her grandparents. BAM!

Wow! I instantly had goose bumps and now the stares from the older male cousin started making sense. She was just a young girl about sixteen or seventeen with the figure of a mid twenty year old. That made me almost twenty years older than she was. The male cousin couldn’t restrict the young girl talking to me but he also wanted to protect her from older men like me without being rude. I respected his stand so I just had to say a few words and have him whisk her away. It was her pen I was using to make notes for this article and I had intentionally held on to it as a way to open up a conversation which had been successful so I gave her pen back.

Soon we were on our way again and with my phone recharged made a call to my most favourite insomniac sweetheart Marian Boham and laughed for almost an hour until the networks set in since I was on the road. Networks keep fluctuating up and down in and out.

The black and white Volta towns of Yeji and Buipe passed in a blur since I started napping and before long I started seeing the walls of the SOS village which are on the outskirts of Tamale. I could envision home in sight. That is exactly what I tweeted ‘home in sight’.

The first thing that hits you when you get off the bus is the pure dawn air. Unlike the early morning smoke fumes that persist in Accra when people burn their rubbish at dawn.  It is four thirty in the morning and as if on cue the seven mosques in my community spring to life with the muezzins calling the faithful to worship. I have indeed arrived. Carrying my bags and tweeting, I trudge on home. After almost ten hours I had only four hundred meters to get home. My heart beats fast.

I pass by the public toilet that only smells at dawn when the children squat and do it on the outside (some are already present) and adults queue to go in and do their morning doodley at the adjacent one. The goats are out and about and the cacophony of noise goes on even that early in the morning.

Soon I’m at my door and just before I knock, it opens on its own. My favourite house guest Ivy stands there welcoming me home. That’s nice! And Wenzel too. I drop my bags and head straight to the bedroom where my twin and roommate is asleep. I have always loved watching her sleep and I just sit on the bed and watch her sleep for a few minutes. Sensing a presence in the room she opens her eyes and silently mouths my name and draws me into her bosom and into bed with her, even with my clothes on.

Finally I’m home. After ten hours!

HOME IN 10 HOURS: The Preface (part 1)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 21, 2013 by kola

So I spent a few days in Accra and I had to head back home. After the relocation, I have never seen Accra as home anymore. Yeah I sometimes miss the people, my parents, my friends, my students and some girls but Kola Ville Accra has just become a rest stop or a hideout when I’m in the city. I stay indoors half the time and I realize that if I don’t get online, folk don’t even realize I’m in Accra so I leave it be like that. I love it like that!

The Kola Ville Reloaded Party was a fun party as usual but had to intentionally close it early close to midnight because folk had meant to stay all night and with the rate of alcohol around, I figured it was much safer that we had a memorable event rather than one that will probably end in an alcoholic haze. As per the rules of Kola Ville events, whatever happens in Kola Ville stays in Kola Ville, that is all I’m gonna say on the subject.

This time around I had the privilege of marking almost 200 exam scripts that belong to my students at Methodist University College and one thing was pretty obvious. Our education standards are falling rapidly and we need to do something about it pronto. If this applies to other African countries than I beg to say that I weep for our continent. College students cannot even express themselves and some just do not understand the concepts at all even though they have been in class every day and time. Thing is we don’t have curious minds and whether this is ingrained is where we have to tackle it from. That discussion is also for another post.

(Gosh! I got lots to write on)

Why is it that when you are in a hurry to leave some place or do something everything conspires against you to delay you. Just when i am ready to prepare to leave the house, my mom calls me over to tell me that her favourite ringtone not working so i should see if can fix it. The woman has no idea even how to put on a tv at times especially if it is put off at the socket. Then I remember I have to clear the fridge of all food and drinks (drank a litre of coca cola in twenty minutes) and clear the dishes in the sink. Then I also remember I have to close all the windows and make sure even the toilet is flushed. The gas pipe has to be taken out of the cylinder. All electric gadgets have to be plugged out of their sockets. Wow! All this come to mind when I have only thirty minutes to catch the bus to begin the journey to Tamale.

I also remember that I don’t have a suitcase so my nearest thought is to use a pillow case. After all there are designer bags that look like pillow cases so I find my best designer pillow case (a Tommy Hilfiger) and pack my clothes into it. But I later realise that I can equally do the same with a suit bag and I use that one instead. Looks like a bag and is easy to carry and pack overhead on the bus.

Finally I get out of the house carrying my bags and straight away I hail a cab to take me to the bus station. Taxi drivers are the most critical persons you will meet in Ghana. They criticise everyone and everything and even their fellow drivers but themselves. The shortest route to the station has apparently been blocked by works on a bridge that links two communities, blocked in the middle of the day when traffic is busy. ‘The nonsense of it’ my taxi driver says, ‘why don’t they just do this at night when there is less traffic?’ He forgets that the people who he requires to do that work are also human beings who should be sleeping especially in this cold Accra weather.

We talk about a whole lot of things: girls, traffic, roads, food and life in general. Whilst I’m in a hurry to get to the bus station, this driver stops at a ‘polo’ joint and gets some of the pastry which we gladly share and eat whilst I try to call Nana Yaw the station manager to book my ticket on the bus. Nana Yaw doesn’t pick up but i don’t panic, been travelling this route too many times to worry about not setting off. We take the most direct route and get to the station just as the bus is loading and i get to see Nana Yaw who offers me the last ticket on the first luxury bus. I quickly snap at it when i realize that the cheaper second bus has already been fully booked. It usually has more local people and it’s quite noisy too since there are more children on that bus.

Traveling on a bus with people can be pretty interesting. Human beings are fun people to just sit and observe and you always learn a lot from them. The dynamics of human beings in an enclosed space determines how you react to things around you and if I was going to travel ten hours with these other almost thirty people I had to observe them closely.

On the bus first thing was to get the phone credits from guy who walked on the bus amongst a throng of other sellers who were out to make a buck off the passengers. These include bread sellers, drink for refreshments and sweets and fruits. There was even a jacket seller to cater for those who cannot stand the cold air-condition temperature of the bus.

I call my twin roommate that I have sorted myself out and got on the bus and the journey begins. Now I have ten hours to get home – stoppages and all.

 

 

*Polo – local biscuit made from cassava dough