Saturday, April 30, 2011

Sea Horses

How’s your integrity today? Good?

Without using Google or a dictionary or any other source (but your brain) what’s your split-second answer to the following question? (It’d be more fun to post your answer before checking to see if you’re right).

Is the Sea Horse a mythical or real-life creature?













(Picture credit - biology-resources.com)

Friday, April 29, 2011

Breaking Eggs in the City of Accra

As early as I can remember, my twin was a very strong-minded person who could not be swayed easily from his assumed position. One case in point is a game we used to play – this by all my siblings and I. we’d catch one person unawares and throw an object at them with the shout “catch”, and they'd instinctively reach out and salvage it. Now my twin does (and did) not like surprises*. I caught him off-guard once and started flinging eggs out of a dozen-crate. He watched the first one arc through the air, hit him in the chest and plod to the ground, and two, and three, and four and six and eight. He watched them all break with a wicked chuckle and gleam in the eye. When I threw the twelfth egg in stupidity and disbelief he made to catch it, but his brain must have quickly reset itself to the position ante, so he withdrew his outstretched hand and let the last one fall. That’s the amazing man that is my twin.

*About his not liking surprises, I may tell you one day about how I woke him up with a well-placed fart a few inches from the middle of his face. Disgusting? Well, I loved it!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Heavy Load, Heavy Pants in the city of Accra

A young porter-boy on the Spintex Road conveys a bulky barrel full of something weighty on his clean-shaven head. The barrel, it’s the size of a compact car, and I’m wondering what’s in there when my eyes catch the droop of something. He’s trudging along with 2 other boys – one in front and the other behind. Whether it is pitiable penury or purloined prison or pop culture, I don’t know, but the purpose of the boy behind is to hoist up his sagging jumbo trousers which flop below his knees with every few steps.

Monday, April 25, 2011

All Roads Lead to "Square One" in Accra


Accra can be exciting for those who loathe the herd mentality. One long holiday, and the flock ‘spooked’ to see Adams Apples or the Fabolous Concert or some pool party whose name I forget. The original mind, on the other hand, has ‘owned’ a sprawling, not-crowded city to explore and revel in – and it has been electric. There’s one last chance today, but the herd is already heading to the beach or the Accra Mall.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The African Court

It is said that when your neighbour does you wrong you have two options. You can take them to the European Court. There, lawyers and the judge would determine the matter. You may take them to the African Court instead. There, the spirits would determine the matter. If you refuse a summons to the European Court, the judge will send the police to bring you. As for the African Court, you simply cannot refuse a summons – you will find yourself attending whether or not you wish to. You can bring an appeal from the European Court to the African Court. The reverse is not true. A final difference: the European Court tends to punish by fines and prison and declarations; the African Court’s punishment tends to be incantations, insanity and life-and-death issues.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Scrambling for Sleep in the City of Accra

Sleep is no longer a free fancy in the city of Accra. You have to purchase sleep with your soul itself in some swanky Ridge or Cantonments neighbourhood. Or if you live on the obliging outskirts, you can catch a scrap of sleep, after you’re too traffic-tired to savour sleep. And you seem to have to wake up as soon you hit the sack because you must flee from home before first light if you want to make it to work before brunch time.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

We Must Be Mad in this Country, Ghana

Today, I saw a sad photo exhibition and book launch on mental health in Ghana. I will not recover until after Easter. Do not get me wrong – it was a brilliant piece of work by Nyani the ace photo-artist. It was excellent. But to see people in slave manacles because they have some mental health ailment tore at my heart. But that was not the worst of it. Many such persons are ‘yoked’ to tree trunks by the leg (through a hole just big enough to slip the leg through and fastened with a big, big nail sure to scratch a nasty, painful wound if the ‘prisoner’ tried to escape, or maybe impale them if not cut off a part of the lower leg and foot).

A nation is only as civilised as how it treats its prisoners ... and mental health patients.

But it is poverty too. Families cannot afford about 25 Cedis (about 13 Dollars) a month to pay for the drugs that would create the right chemical balance which would make us call these unfortunates normal.

So they are shackled and manacled to prevent aggression or injury to themselves or embarrassment to their families.

When I saw it, I asked blogger Fiona: What country is this? I knew the answer; I feared the answer; I feared facing up to more evidence about the different layers of existence in this country.

There is a lot of work to do. More important than wasting venom on a corps of misguided journalists who published an inaccurate (not wholly untrue) article about internet fraud in Ghana. I kept quiet about that one because I did not care what they wrote.

I do care about our low level of civilisation and that we treat mental health patients even worse than convicted felons.

If you are also touched, repeat after me:

"I pledge myself to the service of Ghana with all my strength and with all my heart."

Sunday, April 17, 2011

I'll Never 4give You (Pt 2)

She called. An old 'associate' trying to find a way to get into my phone book again. Some people too. You want to talk to me and you go the round-about way and pretend that you won't forgive me for what?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Harbin’s Hidden Hurrah in the City of Accra

Friday evening along Accra’s car-crowded coastal route. As you cruise past the hallowed twain of La hotels, you gain a rocky, bumpy construction dirt-land on the way to Teshie. Drive carefully past the leftward Military Barracks and rightward Next-Door beach ‘place’; a two-storey high converted warehouse stands up on the right. Slow down, or you may miss its shabby, scrubby drive-in.

Harbin shows off a bowling alley ten-games wide and a video-game arcades with racing cars and bikes, dancing light pads, shooting hoops, shoot-em-ups and pool tables. It’s all neatly arranged in two not-very large spaces with two enclaves for the reception and a bar in the room ‘ante’.

Harbin is pure, unaffected and down-to-earth delight. It’s best to invade it with a mini group of four to eight. It’s good on Saturday and Sunday too, although it’s ready to close at eleven. I had so much fun knocking down the pins on Friday night, and I have a torn lawyer’s tunic shirt sleeve to prove it.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Yellow Pagoda Skirt


Bright-yellow-early-morning shock, cascading from your sylphlike hips right down to skimming-the-ground. Forming four or five pagoda roofs in its wind-swept flow. Something sacrosanct must dwell under it, but (before I can stick around for an un-defiled duel) the demon driving behind blows his evil horn to move me along, and I can only think to write about you.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Psycholinguistic ‘Prostitute’

Men who act this way must be barred from politics for life.

You’re not man enough to take her on in a popular vote, so you call her a prostitute. Your evidence – she’s not married. She has two children. She’s had different lovers over time. That’s your case!

Rubbish. You know how this society sees women who receive a nightly wage for a bodily transaction. It’s psycholinguistics. You don’t fight fair to win. You label your female opponent that way to win. Politics is not just about winning.

To everybody practising the psycholinguistic ‘prostitute’ political prank, some village is missing an irreversible idiot, and you are he.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

3 Events That Have Shaped My Life

When I was only 4 or so, I fell out of an upstairs window but didn't hit the ground below. The telephone cable entangled my foot, flexed and bounded me back in. I was slightly concussed.

When I was about 14, my father compelled my twin and I to kill a sheep for Christmas. I learned the value of life (any kind) then, and have not taken anything that lives and moves for granted since then.

When I was 17, pretty Chantal from Cote D'Ivoire broke my heart. She was 18. I'm not sure if I really ever recovered from it. I started writing poetry as a means of dealing with it. I've not stopped writing since then.

Can you think of any 3 of your own?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Dealing with Gbagbo – The Limits of Reason

I have been haunted by images I have witnessed and imagined of Laurent Gbagbo since yesterday. Yes, he must stand trial for the alleged murders, rapes and beatings of civilians by his followers – he has political responsibility (and let us not forget the alleged murders, rapes and beatings of civilians by Ouattara’s men too).

But why was he pictured being dragged out of the President’s official residence? Why was a TV crew in the room at the Golf Hotel when he was wiping the sweat off his body and changing shirts? And why did the first soldier to reach him in the bunker allegedly slap him? Why?

If he allowed his men to commit beastly crimes, are his captors any better for their treatment of him? Have both sides not acted outside the limits of reason?

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Oldest Thing I Own



The oldest thing I own is an old book that belonged to my Grandfather. It is about 50 years old. It is a book on jurisprudence - the philosophy of law - and he wanted to be a lawyer. Unfortunately, he did not go far enough in formal education to be a lawyer, even though he made it to magistrate (career magistrate). I loved him to bits.

He called me "Senior Brother", and died before I discovered I wanted to study law. Maybe I did it for him. He died sitting up in a hospital queue. He was 84 and very ill, but nobody would let him jump the queue.

I have never read that book - I never may. It holds much more than just the complex writing in there: life, love, sentiments, a deep bond.

What is yours? What is the oldest thing you own? What's the history behind it?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Who Would You Wait in a Line For? Or What?

The longest I've lingered in a line has to be between freshman registration day at the University of Ghana and waiting to cast my ballot in the 1996 Presidential Election. It must have been 6 hours apiece.

But, God, I really hate to be held up in any kind of queue for anything. Come to think of it, I wait in 'line' all the time as a lawyer waiting for my case to be called in court. Shucks. Need to change jobs.

What 3 things would I gladly wait in long lines for?

1) Maybe Lil Girl after she's been away for a while.
2) Maybe Obama (or Nelson Mandela), if he will actually exchange a sentence with me.
3) Can't think of anything else.

What about you?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Mmm, The Pleasure of Reading

While the ‘Benighted Estate’ spent last week and this week jousting over politics, International Children’s Book Day slithered past almost unnoticed. World Reader, Golden Baobab and the Read Worms Club (Ashesi Uni) travelled to Adeiso (Eastern) to read with school kids.

The kids have been provided with electronic readers by World Reader so they can read books without turning pages. Mmm, pleasant. World Reader is a not-for-profit. They are doing this as a calling.

The reader pilot programme is running at Adeiso, Kade and Teacher Mante. Adeiso is the kid’s-gloves child. The kids have e-readers, Saturday readings with visitors from World Reader and Read Worms. Kade has just the e-readers, and at Teacher Mante the kids just have government books or government no-books.

After a while, Adeiso, Kade and Teacher Mante will be compared, and we all know what the scale would be.

E-reader providers, African-content promoters, and undergrads with purpose are coming together to build a sparkling future for our kids, and it hardly makes the news! It’s at once one of the most wonderful, heart-warming, ‘smileable’ things I’ve heard of since ...

Monday, April 4, 2011

I’ll Never 4give You

Anon text message I received from a UK number while writing my blog post for today:  I’ll never 4give u.

My reply: Dunno who this is but Matthew 6:14-15.



Friday, April 1, 2011

April Fool? Remember Wilkinson & Downton

1890s England. A regular at a public house told the owner’s wife that her husband had been seriously injured in an accident and was lying in a ditch with broken bones at Leytonstone. He asked her to bring 2 pillows and a cab to take her battered husband home. It was untrue, and he was only playing a practical joke on her.

The harrowing news however caused a violent shock to the woman’s nervous system, causing her to wretch and her hair to turn white. She suffered other forms of permanent injury and incapacity including mental distress. Her husband was put through expense trying to restore her health.

Her husband sued the juvenile joker in court for damages, and the court held that the fool who thought he had jokes was liable to pay damages for his wilful lies which had injured the poor woman.

Play your pranks with care on All Fool's Day and every other day.