Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Fighting Crime by Sacking the Police

Mexico’s police are in a wanton war against thugs, drug traffickers, kidnappers, escaped prisoners, robbers, criminals. It’s ‘the trenches’ – nobody’s winning. The Mexican police are corrupt; they play both felon and catcher (but I wonder if this isn’t true in most countries). The government has sacked 3,200 of them (that’s 10 percent); another 1,000 may follow soon. That country must feel on sure ground, unthreatened and unmolested. Ghana probably needs to axe more than 50 percent of her own force, no? But, in the time it took to train replacements, the recidivist ruthless robbers would wipe us all out.

Monday, August 30, 2010

What I'd Say to My 16-Year-Old Self

What's with the rough, pineapple face? And quit being such a wuss. Walk over and say hi to that girl! She won't bite!

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Sunday, August 29, 2010

One Law I'd Abolish

Dangerous Risk Adrenaline Suicide by Fear of Falling

The crime of 'Attempted Suicide'. If I could reverse one law, this would be it! What business of the State is it, if I remove me from this world?

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Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Mistake

Even in your silence,
I feel the vital sense –
the telling thrashing about
of your throbbing heart.
That is true love, no doubt.

Even behind the pretty eyes
that turn soulful and soft
each time you look at me;
and through your wordless signs
I feel your love, for sure.

*Poem written in my past for the wrong person.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

I Wish I Could Take This Back

There's no bigger critic than a guilty conscience.

About 5 years ago, I knew a girl called Josephine. Pretty, quiet, good - and she was my friend. But she changed her phone number. She gave the new one to me, but I did not save it. I went to her house, but they'd moved. We were really good friends. I think I must have hurt her. If I could take back something I've done to someone, I'd take back the silly way in which I lost contact with Josephine.

Is there anything you've also done to someone that you wish you could take back?

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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Barbie Dolls and Peacocks at the Accra Mall

I was just speaking with Old John. I asked him to tell me about markets long ago in this land. He said before colonisation, there were no fixed marketplaces where you could go and buy stuff daily.

There was a ‘watering hole’ where people and peoples from North and South met on scheduled days to barter salt for fish, cotton for iron, kontomire for cane rat, kola for white clay. When the goods were finished, they’d barter news. A man took a fifth wife; a woman had her Badu Dwan (a celebration of her tenth child); a boy and girl were banished from their town for festive fornication.

When the news is digested, messages would then change hands (or ears). A man sends his love to a maiden – he sends it with a guinea hen. A woman sends a half-piece of calico cloth to her daughter who lives with her sister at a far-off place.

Then, I told Old John about the Accra Mall; about the overdressed Barbie dolls and Peacocks that flock its corridors and spaces from morning till midnight. Old Man John said he was little surprised. Pre-colonial market day was also a time to show off wealth, magic, beauty, wives, horses, cattle, sons and daughters.

Old John thought the fixed market was introduced by European merchants to enable them offload their little-needed goods of European cloth, alcohol, guns and gunpowder, tobacco, mirrors and hats(!) to Africans!

So a mall may be American, but Accraians remain African!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

A Gormless Ghanaian Game

Is it a Ghanaian game to gather gaudy clothes, glitter across the city, and haunt the hippest hangouts, just to see what Thomas, Richard and Harold are doing and to amuse oneself with hating and false laughter?

Friday, August 20, 2010

Education – Another View from Ghana

The Value of European Education? Puh-lease!

“Vincent Khapoya notes the significant resistance imperialist powers faced to their domination in Africa. Technical superiority enabled conquest and control. Africans recognized the value of European education in dealing with Europeans in Africa. They noticed the discrepancy between Christian teaching of universal brotherhood and the treatment they received from missionaries. Some established their own churches. Africans also noticed the unequal evidences of gratitude they received for their efforts to support Imperialist countries during the world wars”.

So I found the above paragraph here on Wikipedia. There are many truths in it. But I am not sure about the statement about Africans recognising the value of European education. The more I think about it, the more evidence I stumble upon that European education was useless to, and destructive of, the original African way of life. Even the things that shock our sense of human rights and humanity today (in our Europeanised minds) may not have been so bad in Original Africa. And before anybody starts listing dehumanising practices to me, I will simply say “Hiroshima” and add that Earth would have been safe.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Education – A view from Ghana

Atavistic Parrots*

Pencil-pushing parrots who speak the good English of their bird trainers. That’s what I think when old people cry that the standards of education have fallen. The standards had nowhere to go and fall. They were always low! And deliberately so!

The colonial educational policy was to train “natives” to be clerks: paper-filing, routine-thinking, data-memorising clerks. Simple truth! Fortunately, the system worked for the old people when they were colonial clerks, as well as when they became post-colonial bosses of even more clerks.

Now the world has moved on, and yet Ghana still uses the same old techniques. The educated elite rules the country, but it maintains or reintroduces policies to educate our children into colonial-esque clerks, who pass out non-equipped to be anything cerebral; anything that can think!

The education system today is just like it was yesterday. It was made for clerical training even in the universities! So, the atavistic parrots should please shut up! And some 'real' expert should please design a custom-made system for our poor kids.

*Parrots, because all they do is talk, talk, talk.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Mechanics of a Curse

A girl in a compound house* loses her phone in broad daylight. About ten people were close enough to have filched the phone. A day steals by, and the phone has not been found. The ‘Landlord’ calls a house meeting. There is fulsome denial all round, and free-flowing suspicion-spiel. In the middle of the din, the victim takes a white egg from under her clothes, calls on a deity with a disturbing name to slay the thief, and shatters the egg on the floor. Two of the cruellest accusers immediately drop to their knees, and confess to the crime in rapids and waterfalls. The Landlord prevails on the girl to revoke the murderous curse. She calls for a bowl of water with a charcoal chip in it; this she sweeps over the egg remains. Then, there is peace. The curse is revoked. Is everything really that easy? I lost a pocket calculator I really loved seventeen years ago. I want an egg right now!

* Compound House - A house with a walled compound and several detached or semi-detached rooms or apartments usually given out for rent.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Scrambled Eggs, Scrambled Signals and Rejected Calls

While the police binge on scrambled eggs with their pay rise, armed robbers have ‘sexed up’ with ‘NASA’ equipment which scramble phone signals within one-hundred-metre radii, so victims cannot ‘SOS’. MTN fixates on sponging up each Ghanaian communication Dollar and Rand, and randomly retires the call signals at night, so all our calls are rejected. Where does that leave us? Between a rock, a hard place and a gunpowder store. To the credit of the police, even though their rapid-reaction teams are arriving about ten minutes too late, at our untraceable homes, at least they are arriving.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Uncivil Servants in the City of Accra

It’s like squirting shit in your face. At the General Post Office on sunless Friday to pick up a package, the watchdog women of the Customs are all pitchfork-frowning and hell-not-helping. This is the baby truth. The men hardly help too, but they handle you politely. These people stonewall you for thirty pinball minutes; then they tell you at 4 pm that they close at 4 pm; come back on Monday. For more of the same shit, doubtless. They don’t know yet what’s wrapped up in my pack, but they loathe me already. Envy? Well, I'll return on Monday to see their cesspool faces.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Ghana Gospel Singers*

Job Requirements

1. Must be able to string 2 or 3 bible verses together.
2. Must sing in Twi and, sometimes, Ga or Ewe.
3. Must be able to sing-n-wheeze like a choking cricket in a can.
4. Must dance with zulu-energy and try ridiculous dance moves.
5. Must like formation-dance background singers.
6. Must be able to grin like a Cheshire cat for 3 minutes.
7. Must be prepared to act out sad and ecstatic scenes.
8. Must be able to cry on demand.
9. Must drink Oestrogen syrup every morning, if a man.
10. Must dress like a peacock or like a peacock with most feathers removed ;-)

Bonus Requirement

Must be prepared to symbolize success in flashy cars and humongous houses.

* While I stand by my post, I admit that gospel singers in other countries can be a class act!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Why I don’t go behind my house

Forty-something year-old mama, in the house behind, in our matchbox-size, hugging-house neighbourhood, why do you lie in wait (surely that's what you do) for my Sunday-sneak to the clothesline, and ‘ghost’ on me from your side of the three-foot wall, in your ice-blue negligee with stubborn nipples poking out and chubby side-boob folding out, to ask me questions about the law?

Monday, August 9, 2010

Merlin Would Have Whupped Komfo Anokye

In a raffia skirt, black body ‘pasteled’ with white chalk, hoary horsetail whisk gripped in one hand, white chicken-egg cradled gently in the other, he twists and turns, hops and leaps, chanting, mocking, menacing, panting, until beads of sweat cut rivulets into his body paint. After a very, very long time, Komfo Anokye is ready to cast a spell.

In a minute, Merlin would have whipped out his willow wand and turned Komfo Anokye into a porcupine (kotoko) with a single abracadabra. So would Harry Potter. So would Baba Yaga. So would Yaztromo. So would Gandalf (whether White or Grey).

I could say more, but I think the point is made. Are we where we are because of some cultural defects?

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Rocking-Kiosk Girl

The tan Khaya* kiosk where the soft-faced, busty girl-with-the-hair-like-a-wild-animal retails phone airtime is my final night-time stopover before home. It’s both for the card and the chance to hold her luscious figure in my glassy-eyed gaze and wistfully wonder “there is the love of my life in another world”. Last night I was late, the kiosk was closed and I thought she’d hurried home. Then, as I pulled away, the kiosk began to rock-n-bob, and I heard a gleeful girlie gasp. So, this was home.

*A type of African Mahogany tree

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Shit Storm

We all get the tummy trots from bad food, sweets, spices or fear. The other day I compared notes with friends and colleagues on the cold sweat, malaise and black eye of the rapid runs. We shared startling similarities.

For most people the shit storm makes landfall (or shall we say intestine fall) after midnight.

Most people can hold in the runs while on the move (in the city) but when they get home and near the toilet, the muscles relax and any obstacles or delays and, pffffff, it trickles down the legs.

The runs are sometimes held back by a solid pellet which when ejected with a mistimed foolish fart turns on the taps of Montezuma’s Revenge.

The trots dislike sudden moves; for when the first drop dribbles out, the funnel flares and the faucets overflow.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Breaking* in the Name of Love

Accra is pocket-size - everybody knows almost everybody else.

Imagine a fringe friend who’s secretly married warming up to your sibling or close friend. Do you tell on them ‘already’? Would you shut your bill (you parrot!) and mind your own ‘beeswax’ and let people deal with their issues (or tissues, since this will end in tears)? Or will you tell Angelic Acquaintance to fly away quietly forever and nothing more said?

*Breaking – a Ghanaian English word meaning to tell on someone in order to upset their plans.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Hiplife Video Vixens in the City of Accra

As far as Hiplife goes, I shine up to the songs that I do before I see the videos. It is not a statement on quality, though I don’t think mighty much of them. It’s about the video vixens. They seem to need to wear minimal clothes to bump, grind and gyrate their boiling bodies. Is there only one way of dancing to Hiplife? Is it not an art form that must develop, innovate and reinvent itself all the time? And Hiplife naturally thrives on immediacy and present-pulse. It reflects what is happening today, right now, at this very moment! Then it fast fizzles out and returns revealed in different sizzling styles. That’s the thrill of our Hiplife. So if Hiplife means all that’s cool, en vogue, stylish and ‘now’, you really have no effing excuse wearing out-of-vogue-and-never-returning, ugly-in-itself-God-what-was-the-tailor-thinking fashion simply because it helps us to delicious 'dishings' of your delightful desserts.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Un-I-Doing in the City of Accra

They grumble that divorce is competing healthily-unhealthily on the sombre-statistics table in the nuptial city of Accra. Some propose that today’s talented women are anti-BS and will make you gorge yourself on some. I have double doubts about that. Other people whine that young people are getting hitched for wretched reasons. I’m open to looking into that. Is love the only right reason? What about respect? Convenience? Empathy? Need?