Category Archives: Memories from the Ghanaian Diaspora

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

MEMORIES OF GHANA – AND INTRODUCING THE ISHEST GUEST BLOGGER ABENA

Okay oo. I have been chatting up Gifty Abena Otiwaa Arhin!! Wow, stupendous name for a marvellous lady, ha! She’s turned out to be the greatest fan of this blog and she keeps telling me the oohhs and aaahhhs. So I was like, Ok, why don’t you just guest-blog for me once? And people, I have been laughing saaa. She’s going to be our resident guest blogger from outside GH. I thought Ghana-lovers were few!! So, from the Ghanaian Diaspora, Abena says:

Ghana At heart
Ghana At heart

I have waayy too many memories of Ghana o, but I’ll try and write about the ones that are particularly vivid in my mind. First let’s start with the asoma asoma.
Asoma Asoma.. ooo charley, this was an exercise on its own o. No wonder I had such great metabolism. After school, you get a cup and make some quick gari soakings, and then right after that, the asoma asoma begins. The errand-running! Go buy me some tomatoes from the woman at the pipe, Go ask the neighbors for some “egya” to light the coal pot.
Were you one of those kids who forgot about the things you were supposed to buy the minute you arrive at the store? Well, I was one of those kids, and I remember when I was about six years old, and my Twi wasn’t all that great, and my aunt asked me to buy “kawu” ( that grey-ish thing that is added to okro soup to make it extra slimy, at least I think that’s its purpose). So I went to the woman at the store near our house, and the minute I arrived at the store, I forgot why I was sent to the store in the first place. But I refused to turn around and ask my aunt again, so I proceeded anyway and I said to the woman at the store:
–“ Maame meretɔ adeɛ” ( how I came up with kalikway, I don’t know)
— “Wotɔ deɛn??”
–“Meretɔ kalikway”
–“Wose wotɔ deɛn?”
–“Meretɔ kalikway”
–“eii.. na deɛn so ne kalikway”
** by this time the woman is just laughing at me and asking the people around if they know a thing called “kalikway”. So the woman decides to actually ask my aunt what she asked me to buy. She takes a couple of steps forward and yells my aunt’s name, and my aunt opens her bedroom’s back window and answers. (can you say close-knit neighborhood?)
–“Sister Akos, deɛn na wosoma akora yi sɛ ɔnbɛtɔ?”
–“Ɔtɔ kawu”
–“Ooohh kawu. *laughs again** ɔbaayɛ ɔse ɔtɔ kalikway”
And that was how I got my very first nickname.. kalikway. From then on, my aunt made me pronounce every item before leaving the house to buy them.

Food
Oohh sweet, amazing, tasty Ghanaian food. I haven’t had some Ghanaian dishes before like tuo zaafi, but the ones that I’ve had are pretty delicious like fufuo. Ok, now I know there are some rare Ghanaian species out there who don’t like fufuo, and I always say to them, what soup did u eat the fufuo with for you to not like it? Because the awesomeness of fufuo depends mostly on the tastiness of the soup. If the soup is bland, then the whole meal will be bland, but if the soup is chicken soup (GH style not these Campell chicken soup in a can) or nkatekwan or nkate konto with angwa (tr:snails) then I don’t see how anybody cannot like fufuo. (yes it’s fufuo.. fufu is the brofolized version). Then you have ampesie and nkontomire stew, yɔɔ kɛ gari ( noo oo all you asante and akyem people it’s yɔɔ kɛ gari not yɔɔ kɔ gari, hehe don’t worry I always thought it was the latter too), jollof rice, waakye, hausa koko, koose, tea-bread, tom brown ( why is it called tom brown?), nyaadowa stew, mpihu aka mpotompoto, omotuo, palm-nut soup, yɔɔyi, etc, the list goes on. By the way, am I the only one who thinks that okro stew/soup tastes much better when it’s a day old? On the first day I always prefer to eat banku with pepper instead of okro stew.

Games
Aww games. I think girls had more variety in games than boys. We had ampe, those hand games like Robert Mansa goalkeeper number one, we also had those bam bam bambaleeya games, skipping rope, oh and of course “nkuro” where we practiced our cooking skills with empty cans of tinned tomatoes, sand, and anything. The songs we sang along with these games were the best! For example “bam bam bambaleeya” what exactly does that mean? Aha nobody really knows. Check out this post by Esi Cleland on Ghanaian childhood songs. The post and the comments say it all.

Family
I grew up with my aunt, grandmom, and a million cousins in one huge house. ( well not really a million but close to). It gets even worse during the school vacations when other cousins come over to spend the vacations. Sometimes I went over to spend my vacation with my other aunts and uncles and cousins in Accra. Good times there as well…. Going to Nandos, Frankies, etc, and then at the end of the vacation you return with provisions like Kalypo (eii does Kalypo still exist?? ) . Aahha and whenever school re-opened you flex small with your provisions. I remember one time I returned to school with these flower-shaped wrist watch and a fruit-scented eraser, and a soft bendable ruler. Ahaha the way I made new friends eh… nyɛ small.

Oooohh Ghana..good times…good times.. The place where I learned how to ride a bike and fell into a bush while learning it. (yep I have the scar on my right leg to prove it). The place where I had amazing time-managing skills (one of the rare benefits of ECG’s on and off wahala, u learn to finish all of your homework while the sun is shining, and iron all of your school uniforms when the power comes back on). The place that would forever be my home. I miss you like harmattan pawpaw (why do Ghanaians say that eh? I need to try harmattan pawpaw and see how it tastes like)

Follow me on twitter @Delalorm and follow Abena @notasinglestory