Archive for life chronicles

Life @40

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

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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!

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Trends and Travel

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

It is no new phenomenon in Ghana that when one business comes up and it is successful everybody else jumps on the bandwagon and very soon it becomes ‘donkomi’. Lemme try to do a quick throwback to the most obvious ones that come to mind and I think most Ghanaians can relate to.
The first one is the business of travel and tours. When it became obvious that people wanted to explore the world outside our borders, travel and tour companies became plentiful and with it came what we call the ‘connection men’ the middlemen who could get you travel documents without the usual waiting time and the hassle. These middlemen were everywhere and they had ‘connections’ in the various offices associated with these travel procedures and indeed some came through for their ‘clients’. It was always for a fee way above what one would usually pay for the same documents going through the right channels (only to be bounced at the end). ‘Connection men’ were a sure way of getting the travel papers to go abroad.
But what brought the business into disrepute was that very soon there were too many of them and loads where swindlers and fraudsters. Gradually, it stopped being so lucrative.
Let us not forget the ‘space to space’ telephone calls too. At the turn of the century, mobile and telephone technology was getting advanced and cellphones were being introduced into the system. These were not like the cordless phones with ranges we used at home but cellular radio phones. Service providers like Spacefon and Buzz and Ghana Telecom were there to take of the market. They therefore rolled out their services to attract customers. Yeah! You remember some of the promos?
Stalls came up for those who couldn’t afford to buy one to go to these stalls and place calls to these networks at a cost and even sent text messages to call back. It was a lucrative business because one could call and get a handset holder wherever he was since he carried it with him everywhere he went. It was very easy, quick and efficient and also very lucrative. Very soon everywhere you turned there was an outdoor umbrella that became the advert for these space to space operators and this later transcended into the phone card and recharge credit sellers. Another lucrative business has died to copycat syndrome and everybody jumping on to the wagon.
The next one I can recall is the internet café boom. With the turn of the century, the world became a global village and the internet gained ground as the main form of communication and linking or hooking up businesses and business opportunity. People were therefore eager to get online and do one of several of the things the internet provided such as browsing, checking emails, looking for business opportunity amongst a host of others.
It was in this vein that the internet café boom came about. Every street corner had an internet café. Let me remind you that with the technological advancement phones were also coming up but by then they weren’t connected fully to data services and very few had that available from the service providers and very expensive. Internet cafes were cheaper. Oh yes! We had to queue at Busy Internet for well over an hour before you had you turn behind a computer console and when they were doing midnight to dawn promos, the place was still full.
But before long, the cafes became so many when service providers started giving out routers for the service and furthermore phones too became data compliant and that was the end of that boom.
Inasmuch as the copycat syndrome ruins businesses, the people who start it make a lot of money before the others jump in and for a long time they enjoy the monopoly that comes with it. For some of us who have patronized these places, it is good for us because it brings good competition and competition brings down prices.
Why am I going on about this in this article?
For a long time Linda Dor on the Kumasi highway has been the rest stop of choice where all buses stopped over for passengers to rest, have a meal and stretch their legs after being on the road for several hours. Recently there have been complaints about the prices of food and poor services at the rest stop and nobody has paid heed to lest of all the management of the outfit.
On a recent trip from Accra to Kumasi, the bus bypassed Linda Dor and some of the passengers were pissed because whenever you are travelling long distance, you factor in the rest stops so you don’t get bored or distracted. For a comfortable trouble free journey why do you have to buy food (when you are not hungry) from set off location when you can get such food halfway down the highway. So imagine the indignation when the driver just bypassed Linda Dor.
Unknown to some of us, there is a new rest stop opened just about 20minutes drive from Linda Dor which is more spacious and being new has access to the latest technology in rest stop services and management seems to take the comfort of passengers (clients) pretty seriously.
Paradise Rest Stop, so aptly named is spacious and it is an ultra-modern rest stop with fuel pumps, a mart and a food court where one can get all your favorite dishes including indomie, not forgetting the public places of convenience that is neat too. They have a mosque too for our Muslim brethren who will stop over to pray. There are times when I’ve been traveling and we have to wait for one Muslim or the other to finish his prayers before the bus continued on its way.
Paradise Rest Stop invariably is now in competition with Linda Dor.
Now the question to ask is what are the effects? Recently a friend of mine who stopped at Linda Dor noticed the visible change in prices and also the services provided at Linda Dor. The service providers are now more tolerant and are more smartly dressed than before. The washrooms haven’t been neglected for any amount of time (not that they were neglected at first) and furthermore the general atmosphere has changed. Now there is even music at the rest stop blaring through the loudspeakers to sometimes announce which bus is leaving so you can easily check your ticket to make sure that your bus doesn’t leave you behind or you don’t get on the wrong bus.
Competition is good and that is what usually copycat syndrome can do. Honestly I wish there will be more rest stops on the way so that passengers are spoilt for choice and the drivers on these roads are given incentives to motivate them to bring their passengers to these stops.
To the travelers on the roads, it is also up to us to be of utmost behavior and trust the drivers who handle us on the roads. After all for those few hours on the bus you have already entrusted him with your life and you have to assume that he will not trample on that trust you have given him.
Let us also be tolerant with each other as passengers because for the next few hours we are stuck with each other. If you don’t believe in coincidences, make an acquaintance or two and talk about how best to make Ghana our motherland stand out among the nations in Africa.

Safe Travel.
Like I always say
It begins with YOU!

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!!

Life!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on June 3, 2014 by kola

What is it with life
What is all this struggles we go through
Our inner most demons fighting
What is it with us
Being our own enemies

What is it with life
What is it with battles we brew
Others with success we always sighting
What is it with us
Being our friends’ keepers.

But in all this
The universe dictates
We sure can make it better
But who do we imitate
But the giver of life Himself.

What is this with this life
When struggles hit you in face
But to trudge on and survive
To look up to the Heavens
With the eye on the prize.

RIP Grandma Maya

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on May 29, 2014 by kola

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Just give me a cool drink of water

I shall not be moved

A brave and startling truth

Poems

On the pulse of the morning

Mom and me and Mom

My painted house, my friend and me

Then we complete collected poems

Great food, all day long. Eat joyfully not healthy

Life doesn’t frighten me

Then we collect the autobiographies

Singing and swinging and getting merry like Christmas

A song flung up to Heaven

We gather together in My name

 

Mother a cradle to mold

Phenomenal woman

Mrs Flowers

Renee Marie of France

It is the heart of a woman

Maya’s world: Mikale of Hawaii

Maya’s World: Angelina of Italy

Maya world: Izal of Lapland

Now sheba sings the song

 

I know why the caged bird sings

Poems by Maya Angelou

Conversations with writers

Letter to my daughter

Even the stars look lonesome

But all God’s children need travelling shoes

Wouldn’t take nothing for my journey now

 

And still I rise

Hallelujah the welcome table

Amazing Peace: a Christmas poem

Celebrations, rituals of peace and prayer

Oh pray my wings are gonna fit me well

Love’s Exquisite freedom

Kofi and his magic

 

you lived a life that blazed a path to creativity and inner soul searching not for the woman of African descent but also for the black race.

you taught us all not only to be women of substance but a race of substance.

you lived a life led with dignity, strength and a pride in who you are. 

a phenomenal woman

Rest in Peace!

 

RIP Dr Maya Angelou

 

 

 

 

 

The Fire Festival

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 15, 2013 by kola

At the time of going to bed as at 2am I could hear ‘jama’ songs in the distance. These are usually songs we sing or composed locally accompanied by drumming and dancing, and can be about anything at all -from morals in society to praise singing to hero worship or castigating or just plain rhythmic noise.

Kept wondering who it was all about but went to bed anyway because the body needed its rest.

Since I don’t listen to radio in Tamale, there was no way I could explain what the singing, drumming and dancing was all about., I left the morning politics shows back in Accra and even though some affiliated stations here still transmit the live Accra feed, I hardly listen.

It is later in the day as I sit in a taxi that the radio announcer appeals to people to maintain peace and decorum at the fire festival, that I realise what it’s all about. I have been in attendance for the past two years even when I wasn’t living in Tamale and I made it a point not to miss this one.

I won’t bore you with what the fire festival is all about since Wikipedia has already provided an insight into its origins and a brief history.

Being part of the fire festival is really worth the experience. There is one line in the Wikipedia article that I love so much and it says that the festival might sound dangerous to an onlooker. It’s true most people who come to observe this festival have heard about the brandishing of very sharp cutlasses and the indiscriminate firing of muskets, and thus keep a safe distance. But the fun is really being in the throng of people parading the streets amidst drumming, dancing and singing. That is when you get a true feel of what the fire festival is all about.

It is very interesting really to see a people perceived to be violent, having all the tools for a violent action, yet proceeding in an orderly chaos in celebration of a traditional festival.

I think this is a common case in Ghana as a whole country where we act like everything is wrong and threaten to take action yet we just fold our arms and look on just for the sake of peace. Nobody wants to be accused of being the one for disturbing the peace and that pretty much takes care of radicalism in all aspects of Ghanaian life and culture.

Unlike in other areas where the people have to be sensitised on issues at stake so they can comport themselves, here in Tamale everybody is already aware that there needs to be a fun filled celebration and are out to have as much fun as they can have without getting into trouble.

Guy steps on my foot whilst trying not to be scared at the sound of a musket and instantly apologizes. Heck! I was in one such event somewhere in Accra and same thing happened and guy was rather blaming me for not getting out of his way quickly enough.

Perceptions! Perceptions!

I have seen Tamale mob justice in action but this time mob action is rather there to stop any misunderstanding and potential fights. Tamale is full of youth bands and groups and it was lovely seeing them collaborate to have an intense fun filled festival. One would think that they will be clashing with each other but instead they were sharing crackers and aerosol sprays so they could blaze away.

One group in particular didn’t have girl dancers but had drummers and made lots of loud noise. But joining forces with the group with the girls made it more colourful because the gyrations were more. These northern girls can do a mean jig and the dance is all centred in their waist.

The fire festival this year was less rowdy and very short lived because it had almost fizzled out just after midnight with pockets of people who still had crackers and firearm ammunition still blazing away. The motorbike shows then began on the streets and riders showcased their skills.

In earlier years there have been cars involved in the skills parade and it’s amazing how with such large crowds there have hardly been casualties. Furthermore the motor king cabs had also had their own side show, with the rollerbladers delighting the crowds with their antics. This year all that was visibly missing.

I wonder if it is due to the economic hardships or that these displays cannot be done in the ‘first gear’ government system. They really add to the colour and fervour of the festival.

Various groups of people represent at the festival from all walks of life. There are the tourists, afraid to whip out their cameras for the sake of being robbed, until they see locals like me with our Nikkons and iPads walk through the crowd taking pictures and they realise they are safe.

There are the students from the south attending schools up north who are as curious as the national service personnel to see if what they heard of the festival is true. These ones stand on the pavements or on the stairs of storey buildings, an assuming safe distance from proceedings on the Main Street.

Groups of people also just come in to support their friends in the parade and they holla at them as they pass by where they are standing.

Groups of girls dressed to the nines also following the crowds and making themselves very visible yet coyly avoiding the prancing men who are also there more or less for the same purpose of getting the attention of these girls.

As much as there is a lot of drumming dancing and singing, there is also a lot of cross dressing, face painting and masks. Some folk disguise themselves so they can be noisy and rowdy in anonymity. This is our own Halloween too.

The fire festival later fizzled into a street carnival when somebody drove in some music system loud enough to draw attention whilst it drove around playing the latest tunes in hip life and dagbani music. The crowd could just not stay still. Dancing in the streets.

The final group of people present at the fire festival were the sellers especially ‘pure water’ sellers. Vendors were on hand to keep dishing out food to the hungry in their shops and this included the latest Ghanaian food craze, indomie.

As at one am, even mashed kenkey sellers were still in the town square hoping to make a buck.

If according to Wikipedia, this festival is to find Noah’s son who didn’t get on the ark then this son will be lost for over a million years and more and with all the fun folk have, it’s no wonder the son has never been found because nobody is really searching for him.

Festivals like the fire festival are the last vestiges of our tradition and culture and we do need to do everything within our power to maintain them. Our culture is our identity and without it we are a lost race.

It is therefore important that we don’t condemn our culture based on foreign and western perceptions or some misguided prejuces. It is important to understand what the particular culture or tradition is about and why it was instituted and this is an individual effort so we can defend our identity.

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.