Go Volunteer the thing! Saturday shall not pass you by! #NVDay

Volunteer tinz
Volunteer tinz

So what are you doing on Saturday 21st? Nothing? You mean you will wake up, drag your lazy behind to look for Hausa kooko and koose, come and eat and then go back to sleep some more? Naa, you better be serious! Saturday is National Volunteer Day and it’s better you find some good to get your fingers dirty in, you lazy punk!

Ha! So talk of volunteering! I was in this guest house in Congo where it’s some women’s job to clean up and help anything we will need. I don’t ask them to do anything for me, me naa, I don’t like that! But one Saturday morning, one of them caught a volunteer spirit and when she saw I had put some rice on fire for my brunch, she hopped on it. “Oh, let me cook it for you, don’t worry, sit back and let me do it! Come back in 30 when it’s done!” I couldn’t even protest, I was like..ah! are you…ok! Ok? Lol

So she did my cooking, chale! Let me cut this story short na the memory kraa kills my volunteer vim. She cooked something like starch!!

Oh chale, starch oo! How a hungry me paa will come and find butter-soft rice sitting in the kitchen that somebody’s grown up mama has supposedly finished up as ready-to-eat, I couldn’t understand. I said a prayer for what Christmas jollof tastes like in her house!

So that is that! Did I tell you what the Ethiopians said they will do to the Nigerians? You know that the two countries have been paired to try and eliminate the other from qualifying from the World Cup next year, eh? The Ethiopians said they will send one troski-load of their world-famous pretty girls to go and catwalk in Nigeria players’ faces. Konfuse them and let them play nonsense so that their boys will win the right to the World Cup place..lol. Talk about volunteering spirit gone amiss.

So if you want to join the National Volunteer ‘thingy’, berra hurry yourself up and check out all the stuff going down on Saturday at nvday13.eventbrite.com. Unless you live under a mushroom, there’s bound to be one close to you! Or follow #NVDay anywhere a hashtag works. I think those guys at GhanaThink are just fabulous, aloo? They have turned a meaningless celebration of Kwame Nkrumah’s birthday into a volunteer movement as if all the Barcamp  Barcamp ish is not enough. Heeeyyy, go back and click on the link! The two Barcamp links. All are different things! Lazy punk won’t even take his time to read..smh! Smack Abocco on the back when you meet him in town for me, eh? Thank you!

So I’m out.

I’m not joining the volunteer day myself, and so what? Is it your concern? M’ada kraa! I will be flying into good old Accra on Saturday and just take it that I will be the one sleeping your morning sleep for you while you go round and dig worms, plant trees, sweep people’s backyards and share a hearty spirit one with another in the name of volunteering! Oya, be on your way!

One silly boy, that awesome childhood and a Golden Baobab Prize

I have some very silly old school mates paa. Like Yaw. Imagine last time on our group Whatsapp chat he asked us whether any of us had read some Enid Blyton book bi so that he can crack a joke based on the story. See his silly self. Nobody had heard of it kraa let alone read it. He spent his little years in England and he thinks Ghanaian basic education teachers have time for snow and winter and anything else apart from Jack and Jill (the poem) and A lion (the poem).  We’re busy watching By The Fireside and kwasasa aa, wo se Enid Blyton.

So I asked him, herh you Yaw, what do you know about Ananse and how any of his children came by their names? He offered up a warped spelling of Etikelekele that I forgave him for. Does he know what it feels like to go to bed dreaming of Okonore Yaa? Does he have any idea about swallowing of Yams through an armpit, like the replacement wife God gave Ananse? He can’t be serious asking about Enid Blyton.

StorytellingEnid Blyton my hard Ghanaian foot!! Where was he when Maame Dɔkono and Doctor Rokoto were doing “yɛ waane waane waane a, ɛyɛ brɔde, anyɛ mankane” in the full glare of GTV’s one-dimesional camera they bought when colour TV was not fashionable? Kyekyekule!! If you don’t remember that song with ‘Kofi Salanga, Lala Tilanga’ in it, you can’t be a real Ghanaian. And even the Choco Milo advert with plenty kids at the beach and Choco Milo Space Ship descending from Choco Milo heaven? Yaw can never be serious.

So yeah, it’s good to read books, eh! That reminds me of Golden Baobab‘s yearly prize. They got Golden Baobabsome scrumptious prizes for different categories of kids writing and just hop over to their website and check out this year’s competition. Yeah, thank me later. If you can’t write a cool kids’ story and submit deɛɛ, there’s no hope, my friend, no hope for you.

Yes yes, I know I’ve not been writing as much as you want to read but if I don’t write, you too just be there eh? What do you want me to do? I’m not even tickled koraa mpo.

Ahaa, I’m going. They said a simple issue called counting of pink sheets is taking grown men with grey in their hair a heck of a time in the Supreme Court. Ei, people’s fathers! And they will say they used to top their classes when they were kids. Me deɛ I’m done.

They have come Again! Just like Me!

Ahaa, Ghana! I’m back here for you. And we seriously got to talk! Pull a chair and siddown! All the way.

How come, I took a short break, a really short break, and by the time I’m back, our president is dead and buried?! Some people talk too much. I’m sure Mr Mills just got tired of especially all those loud-mouth radio-politicians especially, who know 20pesewas change about running a country and yet spend their whole day in their studio-constituencies, bashing him till kingdom come. Well, he sleeps now, you shameless shout-about parliamentarians! (oh hey, it just hit me after typing that that maybe they’re called ‘parliamentarians’ because their job is to ‘parler’, French for ‘to talk’..lol)

Signage in Memory. Opposite Accra Mall, Spintex road.

Ok, so Mr Mills, rest in peace. I was in Houston for a couple of weeks but yeah, I’m back and good to see new buildings spring up all over Accra’s skyline. Hasn’t changed the fact that people are still hawking on our streets and making it look bad. And yes, one more thing I noticed on my return: the campaign posters have arrived..lol. And the traffic.

Ok, so Ghana is plastered all over with a certain Mr This or Madam That shouting out skyscraper-high promises from fashion-weekly-style posters. These politicians can actually wear nice smiles, trust me! Every four years on their campaign posters! One woman will easily win her constituency seat not for anything she has done but the good job photoshop has done on her image. You’ll fall in love with that thing, I tell you! Painted a Mona Lisa out of her, bless her heart. God will bless all beautiful MPs. Amen.

So they’re at it again. One person says he’ll let us attend Senior High School for free and everybody is strangling the breath out of him. Please, the man is bearing on 70yrs..lol. I spent one evening at my barber’s and the conversation went from this to that to that other, going back and forth until he started a long speech I knew better than to interrupt. He had dreamt something..No, he said it came to him in a vision and I was the first person he was sharing it with. Ok, Mr Barber, tell me!

He bought almost all of his hometown up! All of it! You see, I grew up in Akuse, just 30minutes drive from his hometown that I know so well. Mr Nat says he bought up all of Somanya and built a sprawling estate out of the thing and gave it back to the people, each one to one house. And then he built a stadium. And rightly so, aren’t both Accra Stadium and Kumasi Stadium utter jokes compared to the one he’s built in his vision? Plus swimming pools and hotels and huge markets and wasn’t his heart so kind that after all that, he just gathered all his townsfolk in a winding queue and called out one after the other, “Here you go, take! Your keys to a house. You here, the pools is your inheritance, hey kids on the street, you never will play football on that bare pitch again, understood? And you over there, will you spend a week in my hotel for free, seeing that you were kind to me some time ago?” And that wasn’t I a kind sir to be the one on whom he tells his plan that nobody else has heard?

Ei, Mr Nat!! You bought the town! Razed it down!! Built new houses. A Stadium grand enough to shame Accra. And then you just dished out keys like a fork-load of Indomie?? Ha! Politician!

So you see, the politicians have managed to work everyone into campaign mode. Nat didn’t say he was going to campaign after that for the constituency seat oo. But this one deɛɛ, how can you buy up the town? I mean, how? Plus, wasn’t it these same Somanya people who refused to give MTN a piece of land to put their communication mast on? Hehe…stingy people!

Houston Sky one evening. Looks like God is a painter too.

Ahaa, what was I going to say? It’s been so long since I put a post here, I think this one came to clean cobwebs. So please vote in December but don’t vote for anyone who can buy you a town, eh? It usually has bad consequences. Let me settle back in properly and then I’ll find time to tell you beautiful tooli from Houston. Nipa nso yɛ dɛn??

Farewell, Mr President!

Today, Ghana lost her president! It’s the 24th of July 2012 and this day will never be forgotten.

I heard the news here in my workplace cafeteria from faraway Houston at lunchtime. Somehow, my appetite had gone!

It is not personal knowledge of Mills that makes me sit in my room now, three hours since I got back from work, unable to do anything but just grieve, that moves me to write. It is the heart of a willing man, a weak yet strong man, an insulted yet peaceful man, a President, which moves me to write.

When he became my president, John Evans Atta Mills carried upon himself the targeted ridicule meant for anyone who joined his government and who fell short of public love. For the sake of the people he worked with, he was insulted, yet he bore it. He defended his government and with it, endured the long, difficult days in the Castle when people scorned him for the errors of his ministers. They declared him dead many times before today! But he fought. He fought to keep his name and integrity intact. He took upon himself the shame that his subordinates would have taken. And in doing so, he crucified himself.

Let me say this! Mr. Mills was not the most popular president Ghana ever had but there was no other president, not even Nkrumah, who everybody in Ghana, from child to adult, boy to girl, man to woman, would address as Uncle! He was our Uncle Atta. Our President, far away, but close enough to think he was our parents’ brother. Our Uncle!

I mourn his passing. Ghana mourns his passing.

I got online to chat with my brother back in Ghana to know what was going on back home, right when I got back from work. Ghana is silent! I love my brother – his picture is my Facebook cover photo – and today, we all confessed that Uncle Atta’s passing has shaken us in a way that even our dad’s passing two years and a half ago, had probably not! Maybe then, we decided to be strong for the rest of the family. Today, it is impossible to be strong for all of Ghana! Even all of Africa!

I didn’t personally know the man, but I watched him. I learnt from him humility and fortitude of spirit, calm and a raging courage. And as I type this, alone in my room, I cry.

Even through his sickness, he wanted to continue to be president. And every muscle in him that moved him to say, “I want to be president for another four years”, said so because, in spite of the fact that we made the presidency difficult for him with our impatience, he loved us! He had a heart that was big enough to take it all, and a will that was too tried to be tested! There will not be another Atta Mills!

Fare thee well, Mr President! We will remember all your sacrifices for the good of our country, in sickness and in health, till death has done us part! Ghana, here lies a man, another like whom you will never meet.

Mr President, you taught us good, you taught us peace and you taught us God! Ghana will never forget you!

Picture credit: Leadership

You just have to love Accra

I spent some stressful day in Accra some days back, eh? Me kraa, I vowed to stay out of the capital for a long time till all the construction work is done.

Accra dey bee
Accra dey bee

Imagine: I set off like 5:45am from home far out in Akuse for a 9am meeting! I missed the meeting time not because of the length of the journey but because when I got into Accra of all places a full hour before the meeting time, I had to snail through unbelievable traffic right from the motorway till I got to the venue. Set that one against the fact that I spent more on transport picking dropping inside the capital than I did in getting into the capital and hwɛ, Accra people should take their Accra, w’ate?? Kai!

On returning, I got to Madina on this eventual day of the destruction of the old station and parts of the market to make way for the new road. Several dudes kept pointing that the station I was looking for was right up ahead, right up ahead, Oh, just keep walking – I almost ended up walking my way right out of the city, ahba! The station had been relocated to some old neglected site and no-one could just tell me!! I kept climbing over the rubble of the morning’s demolition, finding my way through the remaining half of people’s kitchens, shops and around some careless market women who didn’t mind selling their wares on top of the chaos. When I finally found my way to the station a full hour after I started searching, here I was, staring at the mother of all queues!! I kept going in an attempt to find the end of the queue, I almost collapsed. It was already 6:30pm and I had a 2 and a half hour journey ahead! I finally got a ride at 8pm so imagine!

When the bus got full too a, because all the drivers and other passengers were having a hard time finding the station, the transport fare duly got inflated, just like that!! A full extra One Ghana cedi! Oh chale!! When you’re looking for a bus home in Ghana and there are no options, like maybe it’s very late or there are scarce buses or there are chaw people looking to board, be prepared to pay up to fifty per cent increment, wae!! It happened to me that evening.

As usual, people started giving it to the driver’s mate when we set off. Only the devil can sanction such a jump in the transport cost! Aren’t all the drivers on this particular route just plain villagers? They should take this uncivilised behaviour to Nima and we’ll see if they can pay their dentist for a new set of teeth! And a whole lot of unmentionables my Christian self will not even permit me to type, oh chale! One woman even suggested that after charging all that, since the bus had no AC or radio, the mate better sing for us the whole journey or he return our change, no two ways! Some post-kaya man on the bus took that as a call for entertainment and disturbed us thenceforth with some unpalatable music from his loud China phone till we were grateful to have him get off!!

Ok, I’ll be returning to Accra again soon and this time, I hope I bring a better story. Whatever it brings, no place rocks like Ghana. I can’t wait till our 55th Anniversary next two weeks! Dɛdɛɛdɛ!!

From Ghana with Love

Today, I should share some original Ghana pictures with you all to start the year off. Some were taken in different parts of the country, others appeared in different facebook tags and the rest just surfaced!! Enjoy ankasa.

This chicken is happy, jollying itself across the neighbourhood, not knowing what in the name of soup is going to happen next!! Had it known…

Run away chicken
Run away chicken

Proud and shameless signboard announcing itself prominently on some streetside in Takoradi. We hear oo, Alhaji, we hear!!

Yoo, we hear!!
Yoo, we hear!!

Some proud repairman on the wayside had the high airs to question my reason for taking shots of his mess of a signage. Papa wei paaa!

Spot the correct spellings
Spot the correct spellings

There is no replacement for a good game of draught on the beach on a Saturday afternoon!! For these men deɛ, everyday is Saturday afternoon. Laziness papa bi!

Play and let me cut you Kwakwa
Play and let me cut you Kwakwa

And finally, one dude on Legon campus wrote his girlfriend’s name on the hard fleshy branch of a hopelessly spikeless cactus plant. Mosquito romance…you are the only sardine in my chop box!!

What does Millicent mean? Millimetre-centimetre??
What does Millicent mean? Millimetre-centimetre??

Oh, one last one. One last one!

Hot shot - No comments!
Hot shot - No comments!

Let the year bring us many unfortunate people to poke fun at, can I get an Amen on that!!

‘MAMA, MERRY CHRISTMAS!’ – ‘WOBƐRE EYI….!!’

Merry Christmas.

A New year dawns
A New year dawns

When we ruled the neighbourhood as little kids, Christmas was about mischief. Knock on someone’s door and run, call your friend out and point a water gun in his face or just go stake balloon lotto till you get bored. Try-your-luck: that’s what we called it! I have no idea why I never won any fat balloon on that thing…smh.

So Christmas is here again and come and see Ghanaian children singing all over about their dreams for a white Christmas. Snowy white Christmas! Cracked lips and Harmattan is all they’ll get. I hear some shopping mall at Spintex dressed a host of Father Christmases to give away freebies to taxi drivers….there was a looong queue…lol.

Ok, so enjoy the season. Let 2012 come and let’s get more action as we roam Ghana a little again, catching people to bash.

Today is Boxing Day. Be nice to everyone you meet in the way, lest ye be boxed, Amen!

ORIGINAL NOKIA BATTERY, PEN-DRIVE, MEMORY CARD, CARD READER, PROMOTION

You know what I‘m going to talk about, right? Yep, me too!!

There are some Oriental-looking kids who seem to have cousins in every city of Ghana that I have visited! They sit with their moms in a small circle and plot till they see a suitable prey and then they strike. When you pass by their little army headquarters and their mothers set them on you, these children will hold you, hug you, tug at you, pull you, follow you, just do anything to turn the world upside down on you till you give them a coin, a note, anything! The thing is, they look poor: dirty, unwashed, unkempt. And to think that their mothers couldn’t look after the first born but went on to have the second and then the third born to increase her little battalion of bandits, make them a real sight to behold from a distance while they fleece it off someone…lol. I have seen these kids at work in Kumasi, and they look exactly like those I saw in Takoradi. Those in the different parts of Accra deɛɛ, sometimes when I see some at Circle and they are able to embarrass me till I squeeze a few pesewas from my pocket, I feel like beating the crap out of those I meet at Achimota right after picking a cab, thinking “aren’t you the kids I just gave money at Circle??” Their mothers may be sisters!

Defend Yourself
Defend Yourself

Oh, but some Americans too can be shameful papa! On Black Friday, when all American shops oblige to beat down the prices of all goods on sale, there is usually a fat rush to get previously expensive goods on the cheap. In Ghana, that is what we call a PROMOTION…‘donkomi’, when you get to Makola. They are promoting you, your money, their shop, their goods, just come and buy oo, come and buy. Last week, while people were heckling each other to stay ahead in the queue to get the cheap stuff first, one woman just pulled a can of pepper spray like the apocalypse was here. She blessed, anointed and baptised the rest of her queue-mates with it, no mercy for dessert! Oh, their lives were never the same again. I guess she may have wished each of them a Merry Christmas as well while the security people bundled her away. The height of greed, as if America is not the world’s richest economy! Kindergarten kids koraa have stopped that. So 20th Century!

I was getting home from the mall yesterday when I picked a trotro at Legon. Some dude who kept repeating his name “Michael Acheampong, Michael Acheampong” was standing in this trotro and he told us his whole life’s story in that short period till I alighted. He had been stubborn, disobedient to his parents and had been sent to serve time in Nsawam Prisons for robbery! In the cells, they were served a fist-size of banku as lunch and the soup was a sorry apology to cuisine. In all his stubborn days, he wouldn’t listen. On the day he was thrown into jail, his dad told him he was on his own and shouldn’t expect any visits from him. His mother was more merciful, making sure he had a ration of gari every month! He, Michael, where was he going to keep this gari even? And if it got picked, anybody and everybody was a suspect!! Who was he going to ask if who has seen his gari?? Nsawam is like Ghana’s maximum security detention facility for those who don’t know. People frown at you all day over there like you are the one who read out their prison sentence. He went everywhere, and he means EVERYWHERE, with his gari. And at 4a.m., he would wake up and swap some of his gari with an inmate’s sugar and they would eat! He always gave out his banku, never developing the stomach to eat it. He fasted for days! The government will bring them bags of beans but it never, ever ends up in their food! When it does, it is like five little round ones ground in a cup of water. He lived in hell. But he was able to find pardon and escaped that horrible place, where he says people are gay out of no choice of theirs. That is ‘payment’ for the little pleasantries and semi-luxuries they can afford from each other!! For those who have no gari to pay with!

He survived that place and wants us all to obey our parents oo. He said all this in a trotro and I thought that sharing it here, you people might also hear it and that would give his message meaning!

Ok, just like those little kids who heckle you for money, EVERY town or city in Ghana has a joint where some young dudes sell you the items in the title. And they seem to be on a January-to-December promotion!! You can hear loud speakers blurting it from every corner you turn; “Original Nokia battery, pen-drive, memory card, card-reader, promotion” as if the ‘promotion’ is also an item for sale! And they may not even have all the items oo. It seems someone just recorded the thing and they play it saa, like music. Even orange sellers koraa will be playing…ok, ok, I’ve stopped!!

I’m going for Barcamp Ho today. I hope you will attend Barcamp Ghana on the 17th of December in Accra if you can make it. Between now and then you deɛɛ, just obey your parents, eh? And stay off the streets! The Christmas rush-drivers are back!

GHANAIAN TRAFFIC, SOME NIGERIAN DUDE AND OKYEHENE’S CHRISTMAS

Christmas is coming and Ghana is getting fidgety about it all again. Children are pestering their parents for toys and what-nots and big people too are planning parties and the like, looking for a chance to spare Christmas no forgiveness. In Ghana, we only know if Christmas is around the corner when traffic rises like some old woodcutter’s blood pressure. It’s happening again!

Accra traffic
Accra traffic

I went to Winneba last week, relishing the chance to run away from Accra traffic. Look at me, forgetting that it’s November and everyone has started doing their own Christmas shopping. Winneba too oo, in the middle of November, I went to sit in some traffic eh, me naa I wanted to come back to Accra and come and sleep. Oh forgerrabourit!! Winneba is way cooler then Accra kraa when it comes to traffic. I enjoyed the place and gave my sister’s neighbour an early Christmas gift, teaching her to drive.

I run to Takoradi on my last day at Winneba to pick up some stuff and look around, and when I sat down to eat some nice jollof bi at some joint around where that huge City Lights billboard is, here comes some Nigerian dude who sits across from me in the restaurant. I smiled at him, welcomed him to the table and the conversation began.

As we talked, I kept the innocent schoolboy smile. In all manner of bossy tones, this guy derided Ghana just like that, oh chale! Ghanaians will sit here and Nigerians, like him, will come and take all our oil money away. Nigerians are big! When they do stuff, they do it HUGE! For Ghanaians, small is cute and we like it like that! Not Nigeria. “See, wona good pastors don good well well! Di bad wons too no get shame. Our bad businessmen too fi chop your money better. Simple simple people for Nigeria fi show you money wey your eyes never see before. Wona population too make um easy say whether good tin or bad tin wey Nigerian person dey do, everybody go know say na Naija man be dat.” Then he went on to lecture me about how Swedru is the Yahoo capital of Ghana, when I told him I would leave our table and then just hop unto a bus for Winneba, the next town from Swedru. He actually laughed at me for not knowing how terrible Swedru is when it comes to yahoo boys. Oh, that is how Nigerians call fraudulent internet Sakawa boys oo. And he knew because some of his boys hang out over there. Then switching from pidgin now, “And all those pirate CDs that they sell on the streets in Accra and over here, I know where they even bring them all from in Nigeria. That one is just child’s play for the people who do it? They don’t even see anything wrong with it again, ah ah.”

Sam was a nice young man oo, but to boast about Nigeria and mention many negatives instead made me shake my head ankasa, when I was riding back to Winneba. We exchanged contacts for the fact that we were all interested in each other’s countries and then parted ways, maybe never to meet again.

One thing that Sam doesn’t know is that slowly slowly, it is Ghanaians who are chopping Nigerian people’s money!! It’s even laughable. The amount of money that Nigerians spend in schooling in Ghana every year is more than the money they budget for education in their country.

Winneba Sunset
Winneba Sunset

Yeah, so I was talking about Christmas in Accra. Go to the mall now and see the silly things they have hung over there. Ghanaians celebrated the American Thanksgiving Day here even more than Americans themselves koraa mpo. I’m sure some Ghanaians even had the famous Thanksgiving turkey koraa to top it! And why must it be turkeys alone that get slaughtered at Thanksgiving at all? I can guess it was a lack of turkey money that made me see those people on the next street slaughter a chicken on the day!! Hehe…na Thanksgiving too, is it by force? Some man went to insult the Okyehene and got summoned last week to the palace to come and clear his name. After a fruitless defense, he was asked to pay compensation with 72 snow-white sheep…loool. After all, Okyehene too deserves to eat Christmas meat…na nneɛma!

72 times Sheepish
72 times Sheepish

Okay, enjoy December and make sure you stay safe oo. No accidents and the like. Let’s see 2012 together and find more people to bash! It’s ok, your ears itch you too much, ahba…..