Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Ringing Lemons in the City of Accra

Would you accept a spanking new car which only drove in blind reverse? What dark torture might you devise for the man who sold you a wonder drug that lay wicked waste to your enchanting flower garden only to immunise the weeds as they defile your grounds? And though you may not be American, what would you think if you heard that GWB had hurriedly dispatched the sons and daughters of good American families to some senseless killing fields with no radio contact with their commanders?

So, what’s in a name? Simple, ego! The reason why we do not reject names that are simply not working, or are no longer working: Great Britain, The American Dream, The Dream Team, African Unity. See my direction? So, what’s in a name? Arrogance, snob appeal!

The City of Accra (as safe as she still is) is no longer the haven that she used to be. Every Accraian has a cell phone, or will soon acquire one. It is for security. The emergency lines have not been taught what an emergency is. While les sinistres are chasing you at night or tearing down your door, it makes sense to call your best friend and say simply, “Robbers, help!” Then, while you’re bound up and counting possibly your last seconds on Earth, your friend can call around for the police or whoever will help.

But how can we get help when the lion of service providers takes down the service for eight disquieting hours on a weekend night? It happened on Saturday. And when I was going to bed at 3 am, so many Accraians were crippled ceramic ducks.

They turn our lovely phones into lowly lemons; curious cars that only drive backwards; skyscrapers without stairs or elevators. Because of the snob appeal, Accraians will continue to use this service provider. A new addition is coming to town. Three million breaths wait, bated, expectant! Nokia did not make my phone to be a monument to inefficiency, silence, impotence.

Friday, June 27, 2008

The Child

Is your heart of the whole
In what it is you’re doing?
Or do you sometimes wish
You were doing something else?

Do you do it with a free mind
Or is your hand forced to it?
And even when the end feels right
Do you think you could do more?

Do you think you’re in the right place
Or are you moving at the wrong pace?
And if life should end today
Would you regret your options made?

If life is one hard game
How are your pieces playing out?
Is there a burning need
Or hunger in your soul?

Do you meet the morn with hope
And go to bed with a light load?
Do you take the time to stop
And ask yourself: is it worth it?

Whatever you start to do
Do you finish what you start?
And are these questions really meant
To be answered? None at all!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Azumah Nelson, National Hero II

So, the Lion of Africa could not even scratch a hairline fracture on Ayers Rock (Uluru). Wait, that is mighty unfair! The rock is already an awesome, eerie red, so its bruises could hardly come to show, no?

Azumah stood in high water’s dreaded way for the love of the children. I heard he called up the Aussie Cat to donate some Aussie dollars to a Ghanaian cause. The sly feline, licking a double old wound inflicted by the Gladiator of Accra, would not let a cent pass without an avenging duel. He knew he was younger and kept in much the better shape.

And, yet, in the final rounds, the Tommy cat tail-between-legged all over the ring Down Under, fearful that the lion had one puissant paw stroke left in him. Azumah did it for the children, and came out unscathed. He is twice the man he was, when he woke up this morning in a Sydney Hotel Room.

Azumah Nelson, National Hero I

And when the bell chimes, he must lock his eagle eyes on feline Fenech’s claw-paws, not blinking or retreating; thinking, while not imposing.

Between ducking the birdshots on the fly, like quail, and skipping on his semi-geriatric legs, he must freeze his granite mind on his former glorious fights, and recall the one sucker punch which never failed him in a deadly duel.

Then, he must bide his ticking time, and (if he’s not already been pulverised by the vicious and younger man) he must wantonly unleash a deadly dumdum to break the atlas and axis bones in the vain vertebrae of the Aussie Cat.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Tuesday Twilight Traffic in the City of Accra

The clashing cultures of the farming forest and the fishing coast have left me in a tangled skein as to whether Terrible Tuesday is a labour or leisure day. It should be arch relief to blame the bustling market squares for the passage gridlock. Sadly, I do not note more muscle-bound yam pedlars or lane-hopping hawkers, at high noon Tuesday, in the City of Accra.

The giddy malaise infects every artery out of the pulsating heart of the city, as Tuesday rudely farts its motor fumes and perspiration in the weary and famished face of the homebound Accraian. And it all won’t evanesce until way past the boring evening news, or benign bedtime.

So, who (or wicked what) is gushing trebly into the City of Accra on Tuesday, that doesn’t sweep this way on any other day? There must be some overrun answer prostating somewhere. Or am I soaring above the city authorities? The traffic is terrible, and somebody’s thinking is blatantly bagatelle-blank.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Feeling the Same

When a lone bird soars above
And flowers passed don’t bring a hug
When a wink or smile is spurned
And the seat you saved is void
It’s all about feeling the same

A touch that made your heart explode
That smile you know you’ll never forget
The words you said but never thought
The selfless things you did for once
It’s all about feeling the same

When half your day is spent forlorn
And your pining crosses into dreams
When your world is your bedroom
And radio songs bring silent tears
It’s all about feeling the same

Every human one-on-one
Man to woman, woman to man
The things we do without the thought
The smiles, the tears, the indifference
It’s all about feeling the same

Friday, June 20, 2008

Check-Check in the City of Accra

In countless peopled crannies in the City of Accra, sheet wood and cardboard stalls defy realty regulations, and stand pretty prismatic; painted in red, yellow and white. Attending aft the counter is a boy or two or four (never a girl), sometimes completely bandaged with chef civvies – high hat, apron and all. He’s slightly obscured in sight and sound by all the frizzling, sizzling and smouldering.

A disorderly throng (never a quiescent queue) lays swinish siege to the kitchen kiosk, shouting three different orders in befuddling price variations (the fare is never more than three, what d’you think this is, a royalty restaurant?) The cooks will never muddle an order, a dazzling piece of magic.

The food is hot and generally safe. A quick and easy business for otherwise unemployed young men. A curious question though: why don’t women do check-check?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Night Markets in the City of Accra

The daylight gathers up her see-through dirndl, and strides out of the city centre with the frayed and frazzled workers ... and sluggish stragglers. As the city lies naked and exposed, we lustfully espy her prize assets which were hidden earlier on by the detumescent denizen - pavements; walkways; road signs; wide and clean block facades, in the sepia evening light.

As the sun plunges her curtains, a few street lights catch an ecru flame, but the open-space glamour does not last long. Scores of Accraians flood into the wan light, carrying tables and chairs and sacks on carts. This is the Accra Night Market setting up. Kenkey, suya, shoes and phones; clothes, virility drugs, cheap perfumes; fakes, dupes, knock-offs, ersatz goods.

Other tradesmen hover around the edge of the elfin light, preferring to do their business in the dark: the skin trade, muggers, loafers, Ali Baba’s forty thieves and the dishevelled and moonstruck men retailing a whole lot of powder!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Ode to Myself OR to the One I've Lately Come to Like

O how quiet the world becomes
And so clearly every thought throbs
The last clever word you said
Last time we met
The parked Camry you sat on
Your smooth, tight jeans
The little, short sneezes
In the light evening air
Delicious, faint fragrance swirling in my head
O how breathless the moment grows!
So soft and sharply, strikes every pulse.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Fridge Raider

she rained on my house,
with no gathering clouds,
not stirring the slightest wind.
she swept into the kitchen,
swinging her big and puffy bag.
she said she was inspecting,
and needlessly shouted questions
at me in the living room.
when the sky cleared,
and left the kitchen quiet,
and she was gone,
my fridge had walked out in her bag.
my filching cousin!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Ugliest Woman in the World

A curious old man, who was born blind, spent the whole day, everyday, sitting in front of his humble house listening to footsteps hurrying past, and trying to tell from the smells what kind of person was passing by. He grew tired of seeing the same old nothing all the time, and devised an unusual quest which would take him on an intriguing journey around the world. He was going to find the ugliest woman in the world!

He calculated that, from all the accounts of the world being deliciously filled to the brim with delicate-mannered and fine-featured women, he’d have to walk for three long days at a time, before he would stop and ask for directions to the house which the ugliest woman haunted with her hideous presence every grotesque day.

Day Three

Blind Man stopped at the first house he came to at the break of dawn. He rapped on the door and kept doing so until somebody came to open it. He said:

Pray show a blind man that you’re kind;
Where may one the ugliest woman find?

The blind man could not see to tell whether the person opposite him was smirking or standing still, shocked. But after a while the answer came, sweet and comforting to his keen ears: Just go down the street to the last door on your right.

The blind man went down the street to the last door on his right and rapped without stopping on the wooden door. Somebody came to open the door and, from her fragrance, she was a woman.

Have pity on a poor blind man who’s seen no thrill that life commands;
May I touch you with my hands?

The question hung frozen for a while and then the answer came along. She said, “Sure, go ahead.”

He put his fingertips lightly to her face, and found it coarse and bumpy. Surely this was the ugliest woman in the world. But he found her tall and full-bosomed body strongly appealing to his fingers. He changed his mind and thanked her very much with “You’re the most beautiful woman in the world.” Then he went off on his way.

Day Six

The blind man came to low, little gate and found it opened on the shove. He banged on the short little door repeatedly till somebody opened it. It was the voice of a woman, except she sounded like a man. And from where the speech came out, she was a ? dwarf. Surely the ugliest woman in the world.

Have pity on a poor blind man who’s seen no thrill that life commands;
May I touch you with my hands?

The answer rolled out without hesitation, “Sure, go ahead”.

His fingers found knobbly joints and crooked limbs. Pure ugly! But as he turned to go on his way she said, “You must be tired and hungry from walking. Why don’t you come in to dinner with me?” He left the dinner table that night feeling he’d just been with the prettiest woman in the world.

Day Nine

The blind man came to a huge mansion and made to knock on the giant gate, but a guard on duty blocked his path and asked him to hobble along. Hugely disappointed by his failure, for such a splendid house had endless space to hold the prettiest and the ugliest at the same time, the old man fixed his sight on the long road ahead and started the lonely walk.

“No, let him in.”
“But, Miss, he’s just a dirty, blind beggar.”
“Let him in.”

He found her young and totally charming. Sweet smelling, gentle voice, cultured speech; the prettiest woman in the world. But after playing the honourable hostess she asked him to do something little for her.

“I saw you walking down the street and knew my chance had finally come”
“What is your wish, ma’am?”
“There is an old man sleeping by a swimming pool near the gate you came through”
“Pardon me, ma’am, but I did not SEE the man or the pool.”
“Well, he’s my husband. I want you to stab him in the chest with your white rod on your way out. I’ll pay you anything to help me get rid of him. Since you’re blind, it would look an accident”.

Later, on his way, the blind man thought to himself, such a physically pleasing woman, sweetly concealing a hideous heart. He was not sure whether she was beautiful or beastly ugly. He was sure a person could not be both.

The blind man’s quest was taking him far from home, and he was nowhere near discovery. He had not found an ugly woman yet (or had he?). How then could he hope to find the ugliest woman in the world.

[Writer’s Note: this story is in the draft stage and must end here. But when would he find out that he’s on a useless journey?]

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Accra, It’s All Right to be Middle Class

When the stuffy colonialists guffawed their way out of here with their poniard noses in the hot air, they caved a vaginate vacuum behind. The locals clambered harum-scarum into the gaping hole, and strained their monkey best to mimic the egressing Europeans. And the clerical clique opened its eyes, delighted to find a little space in the formerly out-of-reach middle class.

Now, Accra is a city of the really ridiculously rich. Haute Couture clothes, dazzling jewellery, big, shiny cars and many-peopled malls are her defining character. A Little America is radiating out of the simian circus in sound and sight and wispy wishes. The seeming phiz has two low levels: an artificially oiled and funded upper class and a raw-nerved, resentful lower class. Old money and aristocratic name stand jaded and one-upped in the fringes jaundiced at anyone who (like them) dares to breathe or give a happy, life-savouring smile.

The numbers are staggering. The upper class is stiflingly stacked with true and pretend wealth. The modest middle class is shrivelled and shrunken to the sheer shower of cold, daily ridicule. “Why are you so old fashioned?” “Why are you so uncool?” “Why are you so quietly dressed?” “Why are you hiding so much skin?” “Haven’t you noticed that everybody goes to shop there?” “Why are you still driving that car?”

My favourite has got to be the well-designed website of a hugely popular radio station. They love to post pictures of the ‘happening’ places and events in the City of Accra. Every palsied pretender poses like a superstar. So, who’s signing autographs? Who is going where to see whose programme?

My dear Accra, it’s really all right to be middle class.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Life's Not Fair

Life’s not fair
And life is not so smooth
You will fall down again
You must rise up again
Sad to know someone suffers much more than you can bear
Love will creep up somewhere

Life’s not fair
Money can’t grow on trees
Honesty is not gold
Someone’s prettier than you
The one you’re sure is meant for you is in another’s arms
Someone you know just died

Life’s not fair
Hard work is second best
Feelings we must express
Some people we can’t stand
The children bombs will kill in the next senseless war
Your pay is not enough

Life’s not fair
And life is not so smooth
When your senses swim in joy
You make the most of it
See, you and I have come to know so well we can’t deny
That life’s not fair.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Life of Distress

A man with an ex
And a wife
And a mistress

Deserves only wrecks
And a life
Full of distress

Sunday, June 8, 2008

IT Professionals

between booting early
and shutting down
at night,
they live the day in jargon:
interface, protocol,
defragmentation, zip,
compress, trojan.
the self-importance
of a growing group.
they think they are
Homo Sapiens 9.0

Saturday, June 7, 2008

No Lending to a Fool

he had magazines –
sport, politics,
quick reads on investment,
cars, houses, fashion
and prayer books in one room;
a two-way mirror in another.

when he finally met them,
he always knew
who to lend to,
and who to turn away.

Friday, June 6, 2008


Poor Edgar
Illegitimately sired
Illicit copulation
Incomplete fertilization
Inclement incubation
Invidious parturition
Ugly and mean
Incurable criminal.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Eating Supper at Eleven

It’s 10 O’clock in the night. The children went to bed at 8, tired, hungry, exhausted and unwashed. They just dropped, one after the other, to the crumpled sheets on the floor, like poisoned flies. They slept in their school clothes. There was nobody to care if they had clean clothes for school the next day. If there were no clean clothes, no decent clothes or no clothes at all, the ones they were sleeping in could have been washed and hung to dry on the balcony or in the room under the fan.

A car came creeping up the quiet, sleeping street towards the stately house a little past 11. As it turned onto the compact, clay driveway with the loose little stones on the surface, the man servant heard the wheeze of the old, little engine and the grating of the tyres, and rushed to check the rice on the fire. Perfect, just a little soft and mushy, the way the master liked it. The car came to a gentle stop at the carport. Charles, the man servant, walked briskly to the door, but its occupant was already out of the car. He held a black, cuboid briefcase which he swung slightly in the direction of Charles. Charles caught it with practiced ease and croaked, “Welcome, Sir”.

The master settled in his beer-and-TV chair, called for his beer and turned on the TV. In those days, there was just the national broadcaster, GBC-TV. The 10 O’clock news (which was never broadcast at 10 O’clock) had come and gone. On, was the programme, ‘Contemplations’. Why anybody would bother to feed philosophy to the hungriest inhabitants of the third world was a stroke of genius which the present writer’s obviously simple mind struggles to comprehend.

Not long after the beer came the food. It was 11.30. The master must have remembered, then, that he had children germinating somewhere in the big government house.

“Where are they?”

“They are all asleep, Sir. I’ll wake them up to come and eat.”

And, so it was everyday that the children would go to bed dirty, hungry and tired in their school clothes. Then they would be rudely woken up to straggle downstairs like zombies at about 11.30 to eat dinner, and go straight back to bed.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Working From Home in the City of Accra

Six, before the sun ascends. You’re hairy-screeching, whistling through the hermetic highways and halting abruptly here and there, utterly uncertain to make it before eight to the pinched square inches you work in, or, if you make it on time, in how many pieces would you straggle up the stairs? You finally make the office scene, barely believing how you gave the runaround to scraping or bumping your car. You’re still singeing and seething from the hideous habits of the hoi polloi on the streets or the hoity-toity hoi polloi in the cars.

Imagine soothingly waking up at six, and taking calm, no-frenzy steps through your hygiene to a brilliant breakfast. The moments are still many for you to slip with ease into your “office space”, peacefully tucked away in a corner of your home. Rush Hour 1 is spent lapping on cool morning nectar, running the email trail and breezing through full-office-day work quietly and efficiently. All that goodly time, you’re keeping the corner of your eye on things at home. Wonderful day!

Paperless offices; remote access; high fuel prices; traffic-time costs; the surreal stuff that cleverly combine to make this dream so real, so sensible. After moderately high initials, the magic model makes for office cost savings and happy workers, no? The only outstanding obstacle becomes the old-fashioned boss. They need to see professionals do face time at the office desk; not wholly necessary once the job gets done, but a compromise on the wagon. Stay at home through the rush hour; show your face three times a week from eleven to three!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Nice She Looks, Bush She Is

Two dashing playboys in bespoke, slick, black suits lounge in a stylish drawing room, on a softly lit evening, wetting their wealthy whistles on expensive brandy, smoking choking cigars and deviously debating their thrilling chasing sport.

One is pulpit-preaching the virgin virtues of feeding on a fixed field of victims. He exhorts, “I’m against the cruelty of juggling more than five…”, when a fiercely fetching feline-featured woman with mostly invisible clothing on her sleek ebony skin raps on the door, and lets herself in, with lazy, libido-liberating moves.

A boy-butler (or whatever he is) appears on cue to show the sultry siren upstairs. As she sails behind him through the wide archway, she tartly trails her skilful, flexible fingers on the spotless white wall! Shocking!