Tag Archives: Accra

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!!

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THE STRANGEST TALE FROM FLOODED TIDES! ACCRA

Accra has been flooding. Geez, this is October. People have lost their houses, property, a lot! It’s been outrageous. Oh, dear me! It just started again, the rain! It’s 2minutes after midnight on the 31st of October.

Flooded Accra
Flooded Accra

I’m in Accra. Last week, when the floods swept the city, I was in Takoradi. The whole thought that I had just left Accra two days earlier was some weird thing for me. When I came back here, I saw the streets had been swept clean of all the nonsense we throw on them but again, I saw that more than just nonsense was gone. Lives too!

My sister told me a tale on strange tides from where she had come. It was sickening. This is it. A woman had been driven out of her house by the flood waters at Kasoa. She was holding a baby and the current was strong enough for her to despair whether they were going to make it. Between her house and the safe place was a drain and a tree. She wanted to get to the tree and hold on to it without being pulled away by the rising waters, pity. There were people on the other side who wanted to help her with her baby but the current was strong and none could cross the drain. Then this desperation caused the woman to think: let me hurl my baby across to safety and then I can muddle the current to grab the tree. It breaks my heart now even….

People were ready on the other side to grab her baby and so she threw her baby across the drain. A mother’s desperation to save her baby so she could be the only sacrifice if she doesn’t make it! At least, let the baby live. And with the force of the current now, she couldn’t hold the baby and grasp the tree effectively. They’d all be swept away.

Her baby fell in the drain!

Oh God.

And got carried away! Swept away!

The woman clung onto the tree for dear life. I can’t come to imagine how she felt holding that tree like one crucified, unable to jump in after her baby, how she will live the rest of her life knowing that she was the last line of defence for her baby’s life. Her baby died.
I’m so sorry for this woman. This is a sorrowful episode. I don’t know her, have never seen her, don’t even know her name. But if I think about what a child means to a woman, it’s all too heart-breaking.

It’s 20 minutes after midnight now and the rains are getting stronger. This is the kind that could easily flood again. I don’t know how much we will have to endure and for how long but I will stay up tonight and observe how much rain will fall. And I will pray. That is sometimes the only tool you have, looking out of your bedroom window in the dead night at the droplets coming down with no intention to stop.

I hope no one dies again. I pray.

RAMADAN RAZZMATAZZ PLUS A GUY WITH A FEW LOOSE SCREWS

I want to be carried in a kayayo’s basin this month. Oh, why are u laughing? I’m serious!!

Ahaa, it’s Ramadan, the Muslim fast. I have had a couple of experiences with Muslims since they started fasting so let me blurt it all out before their fast ends. Right now, they will spare me if I say something wrong.

All the best waakye in every neighbourhood is sold by a certain Hajia, tell me I’m lying!! All the Hausa kooko u buy on your way to work is sold by a certain other Hajia, bettings!! And then the grilled meat, the best are sold at Nima where almost everybody is a Muslim.

Ok, you see, there was once that I got to the station at Achimota, looking for a bus home. It wasn’t very late too oo but some mate came and said since there was a winding queue, they were going to charge one Ghana cedi flat!!! Instead of sixty pesewas. How they rained unmentionables at him in that queue?? No mercy at all. He was all sorry for himself before the bus got fully boarded even, people swearing at him that they’ll send him back to the village he came from before he gleaned even five extra pesewas from them. It was pathetic. If he had done this at Nima on a normal day, only he will have an abnormal day: kokooko someone will land a blow on his mouth, so help him God. Ahaa, so we boarded that bus and were of before the mate knew what was going on. Sixty pesewas we all paid him, na nneɛma!!

Not exactly a Trotro
Not exactly a Trotro

Ehen…there was a pretty Muslim lady seated beside me on that bus, prettily adorned in their mayafi, who didn’t utter a word when we were busily offending the mate. Holy Ramadan times are not for picking petty squabbles in a trotro when the East is there to be faced, so she was mute as the word all through. I guessed the month called for it or else her voice would have been most welcome in that loud castigating chorus!! And gladly would she have offered it.

Yeah, yeah the other day I was coming from Accra to Achimota again when our bus picked up a heavily rastaed man who had a few loose screws up his head, how would anyone have known?!! I’m sure he’s been making a chimney of his head, those people smoking saa, like it’s a square meal. Immediately the bus set off he started talking out loud, cursing all Ga people till kingdom come, saying that aren’t they all Nigerians who migrated here and are now claiming Accra to be their own?? “‘Ile Ife’ that’s where they came from!!! If they misbehave, we’ll burn all their houses down and gather all of them in one corner before they’ll see yes!! We’ll show them we own the land. And that foolish Rawlings, he thinks we don’t know him!! He and all the Ewes, foolish Togo people!! They are here!! Look, if it wasn’t Boakye-Gyan!! Boakye-Gyan!! like Rawlings is a small boy!! We will sack all of them to their Togo. Foolish people! Even we are not saying anything. We will burn their cars, we will burn their foolish houses and we will show them where power lies.” You see, when people are seriously doing their holy Ramadan, you are here, with no manners whatsoever, spitting nyaa to whom it may concern!! When he got down that bus, wasn’t there a general uproar over how silly some loose-heads can be?? We just drove on!!

Ahaa, on the same day, I felt so sorry for a young, pretty kayayo girl who tripped over the pavement and fell with the heavy load of goods on her head, the poor girl. She looked Muslim too, with the insignia of her religion showing, and I pitied her that she should carry so big a burden while she fasted. Sorry wae!! I felt so much to blame, I don’t even know why?!! Ahh well, I just said my sorry and walked past her too.

Ok, so yeah, my loudest greetings to all the Hajias who make all the good food at the street corners and still have no moral right to taste it to see how good the salt and spice are because it’s Ramadan. The food still maintains the quality too, so yes, I doff my scraggy hat for them. Please, Ramadan, pass fast so that they can eat, wae. And take your hungry self and go and jump into the sea, na adɛn??
Ok, I’m gone. Christmas is coming.

BACK TO GHANA- UNLOCK YOUR MIND – GARAGE48

One Team
One Team
I love stuff like BarCamps and idea-sharing meet-ups and I can’t seem to have enough of them. Guess what’s being launched today??? Garage48!! Yay!

Ok, don’t start giving me that “what is he talking about?” face because I have been away for a very long time. Let me tell you what this one is about and you’ll see. You’ll forgive me quickly.

Garage48 is the ultimate original solution to reversing brain drain and improving local innovation. Think about it. More Ghanaian peeps study abroad, acquire skills and then never return. Some companies also insist on hiring expats who are paid ten times our local salaries (plus work permits, working cars, working accommodation, working everything) and who leave after a short time. And all this while, some brilliant Ghanaian mind that can do the same thing is being wasted. Not anymore!! There is a project that is bringing employers and back-to-Ghana employees together. And this is only one of the projects at the Accra launch today the 15th of May.

The project is called the Back to Ghana project and they have an audacious task ahead which they are bracing quite nicely. Let me put it in my friend Ethel’s own words, who is part of the team.

Back to Ghana brings back home talents from abroad and connects them with Employers and Business opportunities!
There are a lot of companies in Ghana who hire expat because they want somebody who has learned in foreign university and have experience of working in Europe, States, wherever. But there is a lot of Ghanaians out there with same values. So why hire an expat for who you need to get a work permit (which is very expensive) and who most probably will leave after few years working here when you can hire a Ghanaian with same knowledge and who does not need a work permit to be hired in his home country and who would be a much more permanent and more loyal employee.
Or if you have gained your business management degree abroad – very good! But come and start your business back home – it’s easier here!

I totally agree with this project. And why not, it’s about bringing all those wonderful Ghana peeps back home. Anything for Gh. (Guest blogger Abena calls Gh her own modified version ‘jee aych!’ It’s cool, ankasa, anaa?!!)

So Garage48 is supposed to bring creative innovators together. People who have a solution to local problems like matching home-seekers with landlords, an EazyResponse app that helps schools get in touch with parents via constant notification, an Electronic Personal Assistant , Housing Directory, a Unified Public Private System for document sharing, archiving and retrieval by institutions and an online retailer. That’s awesome.

So, drag your lazy, home-sitting behind all the way to the Kofi Annan Center today and witness the Ghana launch and I tell you you’ll be a better person for all you’re worth. And support the Back to Ghana project.

Follow their feed on twitter with the #GARAGE48 hash tag and get more info from their site here. Thanks to my Estonian pal Ethel Köök for drawing my attention. And look out for her group too, launching the Back to Ghana project. Site here

So what are you still waiting for, eh???

TWO FISTS, TWO CORNERS AND ACCRA IS READY FOR ACTION YEAR

No oo! It’s not even what you’re thinking. Granted, this year is action year, ok.

Over here in Ghana, we greet ourselves so much every time of the day and that’s good. Before the Christmas break, I met a pretty African-American lady who insisted her name is Yenbere. It’s not Jamaican. It’s Akan for “Our time.” I think it was influenced by the World Cup. Very nice lady who kept going on and on about how Ghana is a nice place with nice people and we don’t even know it. I walked beside her listening to all her goings-on, smiling to myself. We don’t know it?? She hasn’t even been to Nima before to warrant what she’s saying. I just think those people love Ghana more than any other people alive.

Over the holidays, my little cousin was poking his new toy into the cell phone mouthpiece in order to show it to his gran on the other side. Oh, forgive him…he’s only two. But that’s the beauty of innocence. He couldn’t believe that the phone doesn’t see. And when everyone tried to explain it to him, here he goes bawling so loud you’ll think we ought to be taking instructions from him instead.

I was going to the café the last time when I overheard two people barking at each other on the top of their voices. Ok, I don’t speak Ga very well so I had little idea what they were talking about but the man was holding a huge spade and at every word, he will wave it threateningly at the woman standing across the street on the other end of the conversation. I mean, this is serious!! Why isn’t there a crowd?? Somebody should stop them before it gets any worse. But I decided to mind my own business like everyone else and probably watch from a safe distance. So there I go.

After a few more minutes of supposedly heated exchange, the two burst into laughter. No, true!! How could they just make up so easy? I was confused. That was when I realised that all along, they weren’t arguing. Not at all!! I had experienced the proverbial weight of the Ga language in all its majesty and I didn’t even have to pay for it, thank you very much. I felt foolish but I was amused too. For free.

Two weeks ago, fuel prices went up. That was a beautiful showpiece there at all trotro stations. See drivers immediately jump at the chance to double their charges and make good banter among them about how business is booming. But in Ghana, we have rules with fuel increases and they usually go like this: Increase fuel prices, transport fares go up, drivers and their mates exchange a few blows for dear life with confused passengers and then some kind of consensus is reached. Then everybody is happy.

So, last week, we got to the “exchange blows” part when some taxi driver dropped his passenger friend off at Kanda beside TV3. Oh, did I say friend?? It wasn’t funny at all. Come and see grown men heckling each other over 10pesewas!! Screams of “You will pay” and “I won’t pay” were spread all over listening eardrums, enough to make newspaper headlines embarrassed and look incompetent. Two grown men!! It took the counsel of onlookers to plead the two men apart and that wasn’t done after chapters and chapters of cursing too. They hadn’t had enough. I bet you, if that young man needs a taxi for an interview he is late for, he better walk if that driver is the only he can find. Period. After all, what did it mean when the driver screamed his last “Neeext time” as the crowd dispersed??

Ok, over the last two weeks, I started this new blog on African poetry and boy, am I loving it!! So check that one out too and leave a comment for me, eh?? Oh, stop kidding and be kind. We’ll keep poking our noses into Ghanaian people’s cooking pots over here and be doing serious things on that other page, or?? Thank you, thank you.