Archive for Travel

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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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.

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!

Cursing the Tree

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on October 14, 2013 by kola

In the Solomon Islands, when the people want to clear the forest for planting or development, they just gather around the big tree, stand around it holding hands and hurl abuses at it the tree – they curse it.

Slowly and surely the tree begins to wither and it dies on its own.

This is a story that I heard from the movie ‘Like Stars in the Sky’ and it set me thinking about our environment.  The way we leave our environment to go to ground (no pun intended) is rather appalling.

In the wisdom of nature, the environment itself has systems in place to forestall any disaster and replenish itself in case there are any such things.

The story is told of a particular island when a tsunami was about to happen, the animals sensed it first and the people realized that the animals were all moving in a particular direction and therefore followed them to a particular mountain top. All the people of that particular island were saved by following the animals to that particular place.

Have we really noticed how the environment itself has indicators when a disaster is about to occur. When dark clouds form the birds circle around the trees one and all and you know whether it will rain or not when they don’t settle down pretty soon.

Took a trip to Jasikan recently and noticed that logging has taken alarming new forms where large trees are cut down and not replaced. Even the cutting down of the trees destroys the vegetation around it because the trees are felled illegally and not by experts so the trees just fall on other trees. Gradually the trees in the forest are all destroyed and then the land is exposed to the vagaries of the weather. Erosion and land degradation set in and mud slides are a common occurrence on vegetation without cover.

Civil society organizations such as National Disaster Management Organization, Water Resources and Environmental Protection Agency advocate for measures against environmental degradation. These include creating buffer zones and planting trees and also taking care of water bodies within the communities.

Somehow we find ourselves cursing ourselves just like the people of the Solomon Islands curse the tree.

The cliché that, when the last tree dies the last man dies, is very profound because trees account for the human existence.

As we curse the tree and we curse the environment we hurt ourselves by our very own actions and that is detrimental to our human existence.

Now let’s relate this to our existence. It is important that we all come together to agree on what is good for our environment and just not leave it to civil society to take the responsibility for us.

Just as the people come together to hold hands to curse the tree, they do it together. There is total agreement that it is what they want.

Trees are important for our existence. Plant a tree today and prevent or report it if you think people are destroying trees in your community.

Let’s do our bit to keep Ghana green.

A Green Ghana is a healthy Ghana.

 

Like I always say, it begins with YOU!!

Arise African Youth!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on September 5, 2013 by kola

Image   About a year ago a friend of mine Dr. Naa Sunkwa Mills was asked  upon invitation by the Ghana Think Foundation (a vibrant and youthful group, she says) to speak on the theme “Making an Enterprising Environment For An Emerging Market”.

This set me thinking aloud. 

Throughout history Africa has not only been a source of raw materials but also a place to market European goods. The premise that Africa is an emerging market is skewed because we are made to think so. 

Africa as a continent produces over 60% of the world’s raw materials yet we are poor because we do not process these raw materials ourselves but then we consume them when they are turned into finished goods and then sold back to us. We are the markets. Colonialism and imperialism has had a deep impact in these deep seated feelings that we can not do it.

In order to create an enterprising environment for an emerging market, we as African youth first need to understand the power we have to determine what a market is and to take control of the market. He who controls the market stands to gain from the interactions in the market be it trade or anything whatsoever. 

To control the trade means to understand the environment in which we are trading and this understanding can only be done when we understand the market trends and what our trade partners expect. This can only be done by education.

Invariably, Africa has lagged behind in the development of the rest of the world because we haven’t had the courage to wrestle and come to terms with the power that we have on the rest of the world as the largest producers of the raw materials needed for the industries of the world.

The youth have neglected their education or policy makers have not put in education policies that benefit these skills. If these skills are taught in our educational systems at a very tender age, African youth will be well equipped to understand the vagaries and vicissitudes that come with market trends and businesses all over the world.

It is important that youth take education seriously especially comparative education where they are aware of impacting events such as slavery and colonialism on the African continent and how this has affected mentality and perceptions of Africans both home, abroad and in the Diaspora.

Africans have to delve back into African traditional modes of personal relationships which are not selfish and then we understand that our traditions mapped out a simple life with rules and regulations that guide all relationships no matter what the link, be it business or personal. 

Customer service comes to note in this. In trade, the customer is paramount because he is the client and the consumer. This consumer has his own taste and preferences and has the right to make a choice. With different options available, it becomes important to woo this consumer to your product. But what do we see in Africa. The producer acts as if he is doing the consumer a favor and customer service has been thrown to the dogs. I am sure that every reader of this piece has his/her own experience of customer dis-service and probably not just one. I have had the occasion of blacklisting a couple of Ghanaian establishments online for poor customer service and general neglect.

It is imperative therefore that African youth rise up and take the reins of our destiny for ourselves. Africa will depend on its youth for development but till the youth educate themselves to be able to bear the mantle, Africa will remain in the doldrums of obscurity and oppression not only to the rest of the world but to its own self.

Like i always say, it begins with you!

#ThinkingAloud

Relocation Chronicles

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 20, 2013 by kola

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Moving into a new community can be very stressful and needs careful attention especially when it has to do with the reason why a person is moving into a new community. If even a new community is sometimes seen as a stressful one, imagine what it will be like moving into a new region altogether.

Recently I have been attempting to relocate into a new region in Ghana that is different in culture and systems from what I have been used to my whole life. Imagine living my whole life in Accra interspersed with a few years’ stints in secondary school in Takoradi and Cape Coast that provided my only contact with a community outside Accra in my teenage years. It was only when I got to the university that through sport, I got to interact with international community along West Africa especially in Nigeria – Lagos, Ibadan and Zaria. Furthermore being on the Coordination and Orientation Team on the University of California Study Abroad Program has also brought me in contact with American students studying in Ghana.  America is said to be a melting pot of all cultures.

However thanks to learning I have read about various cultures all over the world and my studies in African culture and religion have exposed me to the cultures of Africans wherever they are. So pardon my digression but back to my relocation to a different region.

Relocating to Tamale in the northern region of Ghana, predominantly Muslim is a far cry from the life of hustle and relative comfort I am used to in Accra. Especially with the northern savannah regions being marginalized by the colonial masters resulting in it’s lagging behind when it comes to development and social infrastructure. Furthermore, the perception about the north that exists in the south is not favorable at all. When you tell someone you are relocating to the north, they ask what is wrong with you and if you are leaving a comfortable life down south where at least you are in a position to manage into a place where you are uncertain.

But I have come to realize that human beings are generally afraid of the unknown and as such would rather not venture into the unknown especially if the perceptions about that unknown are very mundane. Southerners only interact with the people from the north they see in the south and therefore generalize that they are all like that. But what they fail to do is realize logically that even they southerners are not the same. They generally don’t like to travel but the cliché ‘travel and see’ is very true in this case. If you refuse to travel then you cannot make informed judgements on a people. Sometimes even books don’t give you the full picture because the writer would have been writing from a certain perspective that you do not really agree to. You have to be there to see for yourself.

What interests you have when you travel can prove very key to relocation to a new area. These interests are what make the relocation so much bearable. For example, the sights can be so breathtaking that you will not want to see it alone but to share it with the rest of the world. This generates a further interest in photography to capture these sights. Chronicling my travels through pictures on social media have turned very fascinating results and a large following interested in the perspectives I give on my new location in Tamale.

It could also be the food. What do you like about food? As a friend recently pointed out, there are two groups of people when it comes to food – those who eat to live and those who live to eat. Which one are you? What will affect which one you are considerably is also the price of the food in the location area you find yourself in. if the food is cheap you will want to sample everything. Soon you become a culinary expert on foods because at least you can compare the food between your new location and your former location. I have been found to be using a toothpick as a stylus in recent times because of the amount of meats I have to sample every day as I walk along the streets of Tamale.

The people in the locality you are moving to influences greatly how you will fare in your new location. Most Africans are friendly and will welcome new comers but then it is up to the new comer to know the culture and systems in place so that you can conform to these unwritten rules and regulations. This will ensure that you have a peaceful stay within your new locality. Sometimes some of these customs may sound bizarre especially since you are from a different locality but you still have to conform. No cultural system is too bizarre and nobody is above a cultural practice no matter how mundane and outmoded you will think it is. Northerners, predominantly Muslim stick to Islamic practices and although there are Christians living up north it doesn’t mean that these Christians will not conform to the practices. I have found some of these cultures outmoded and sometimes funny but hey, they are what make living in the north interesting and sharing these practices is more fun even than living them.

The more relativity a person has in a new community or locality also ensures that life in the new locality is bearable. When family and friends are around then one is assured that at least there will be familiar faces. For the past 10years the number of southerners that have migrated to the north for work and other purposes have increased steadily. Furthermore, those northerners who came to study in the south are mostly going back to serve and work in their local homesteads and this has influenced  the need for rapid development of the savannah area in terms of social amenities and general standard of living.

However, there are some drawbacks and setbacks that come with relocating to a different area and paramount among this is the language barrier. Cultural diversity will ensure that you blend in but then when the language is spoken the look on your face says it all. If one can manage it, it is important that the language is learnt at the shortest possible time to facilitate easy access to conversations and life in general. It is interesting to note that some of the language will be the same in your language but will mean differently sometimes with funny consequences. In Tamale, whenever you greet the response is ‘Naa’ which means ‘cow’ in my krobo language. Now does it mean that every time I greet anybody at any time of the day, they call me a cow?

Cultural diversity for you.

Being used to life in Accra which is so fast paced, living in Tamale is kinda slow. The systems work slower and life is much on the relaxed side. It can sometimes get frustrating but if one is not careful before long one is singing to the same tunes that exist in the system. Conformity is key however.

Generally, relocating to a new community can be uncertain and sometimes stressful but then the onus lies on the individual to adjust and make the best of it.

 

Food is Good!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on May 7, 2013 by kola

 

ImageFood is important for the human body because it acts as energy source for the body’s activities. It is therefore important that the human body is fed with adequate and the appropriate food for it to perform its functions accordingly.

It is in this regard that the World Food Program exists to provide and regulate one of the three basic human needs. Food is therefore very important and as such every human being has to develop food eating habits that are appropriate to the human condition. I will not delve into the different types of food because that is not what the focus of this essay is.

Recently, I have been charged with bad eating habits which I am aware of myself. It is rather interesting that when a human being has bad eating habits we recognize it ourselves but the rectification is always problematic due to time and usually work constraints. Sometimes one just forgets about food because of a situation one finds him or herself in.

My eating habits have been thrown out of sync especially since I started living alone. But that will be a thing of the past soon. Just this morning I had a typical breakfast, normally, in about 3years. Yes that is how serious my condition is. I do not usually make a fuss about food and it got worse when I started living alone. My partner used to find it very frustrating that I find eating a chore especially since African women grow up to believe that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. What this means to an African woman whose partner doesn’t eat that much is that he doesn’t love her very much because she has no access to his heart. What has become evident in these modern times to these women is that the modern day man has different criteria for selecting his woman and sometimes her culinary skills are on the bottom of the list.

African men of today will select their mates and partners based on education, confidence, wit, sense of humor and the ability to blend into any situation. They will also be selected based on beauty and compatibility. Wow! That’s a lot of info but that is not the issue here. That is a topic for discussion on another day.

As for the food, we all eat and definitely we will all eat sometime no matter how busy we are. Your eating habits may not be as bad as mine or they might even be worse. But please if you are reading this, find time to eat something and keep that body of yours healthy.

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