Friday, July 30, 2010

The Commodity of Children

They sell fish and nets and kids at roughly the same price. And the kids are human kids, not goats, but their parents are marketing them. They litter in tens and twelves: 3 may not survive ill-health, 5 to do the menial jobs, 4 for sale if the fish fetches low prices. Arrests hardly happen. Prosecutions never nail them. It may be Vigilante-Time.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

New Rule: One-Month Seizure

A driver sees the red lights come up. He’d rather not stop because (unlike the other people in the gridlock) he has somewhere to go...urgently.

Another driver swerves out of the traffic line and cuts a through-course across the hard shoulder. Street vendors just manage to sprint out of harm’s way.

A traffic cop halts both cars. He takes down the particulars of the cars and of the drivers. He calmly motions the passengers to come down. He takes the keys away from the drivers. The cop has no choice but to be firm. A camera blinks at him from a nearby pole or fence.

In 20 minutes, tow trucks arrive. The now-repentant cars are ‘craned’ up and whisked off to the government ‘Hold’ an hour’s drive outside Accra. They will hibernate there for 1 month.

1 month cannot run quickly enough. If the driver wants his car back, he must visit the ‘Hold’ outside Accra, and fork out the ‘fine’. The fine has a built-in rental for the space and care of the car.

A document is signed. It shows the fine has been paid. It is also a bond that on the third seizure, your licence will go, and on the fifth seizure, your car would go.

If I had the power to make a rule about life in Accra, this is what I think I’d do. Reader, what would you do with that power? What would you change?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Smallpox in Court in 2010!

Shame on the liked lawyer who ‘couriered’ his unwilling understudy last week to announce that he had the chicken pox, and could not continue his case. Today, he returned, hardly pockmarked, I must say. He announced that he’d contracted malaria and ... wait for this ... smallpox! Gosh, smallpox was ‘dinosaured’ in the 1970s. He was lying about the illness, no?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Seriously, the Police...

The police were not my friends. Then they curtailed the scary robbery statistics. They even charmed my respect and friendship. That means I’d slip them a little ‘something’ (money) every night. Last night, I was stopped four times by the police within twenty minutes. Each time, I was shunted out of the traffic line. It was just past 9 p.m. Each time, I had to “open your boot”. Each time, I had to flash my driving licence. For a while, I’d praised this ‘professionalism’. Then I realized they’d just wanted to extort money. Why? Because my boyish looks made me a likely soft target.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Modesty Means Long Life

In another Ghana glitch (also known as ‘movie’) an *Asafo team went off to war with the next village. Deep in the forest, where an ambush was likely to be sprung, the Asafo was chanting war songs, and their Goliath was leaping up-down, up-down like he was competing with the giant trees for height, when an arrow cut him down. I laughed so hard that I upset the neighbourhood dog-siesta.

*A troop of soldiers

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Senseless Movies in Accra

I just suffered through a gutter Ghanaian movie of machete brandishers, kidnappers for ransom and daylight murderers. It was missing just three things – a plot, rhyme and reason. I loathed it even more than the wanton-wickedness witchcraft flicks. If these mindless movies reflect this society ... hmm ... hmmm!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Traditional Marriage - The Colours and Others

The dressing is diverse: caftans, kabas, frocks, t shirts, short-sleeve open-necks, blouses and tunics. The colours are explosive: the official pink, turquoise, yellow, blue, white dresses with pink belts, flowers and glittering accessories: earrings, umbrellas, handbags, cell phones. There are slippers and shoes, sandals and mules. Kente, Adinkra, plain fabric and lace. It was a real picture-taking op; gosh, I’m glad I was there.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Praising Too High and Loud

So, at the traditional marriage, there are ovulating outsiders adulating and ululating too high. They’re singing of her beguiling beauty and calling him Adonis (both true). But they’re saying it too loud, too often, too unmistakeably clear. They break out at every marriage. They’re not happy for you, and put on a spectacle to conceal it.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Vows

Despite the blaring horns, the finery and frippery on the German limo, the wonderful glide down the aisle amidst the delightful decor in the quaint Italian chapel, the head-rush moment arrives at the exchange of the vows and the gold British bands.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Marriage Feast

The day before, the bride’s family women perch in a circle of wooden stools in the clearing between the huddling houses. They’re cooking Banku and Okra soup, Ampesi and Garden-Egg stew, Jollof Rice and Beef stew, etc, etc. The chatter is high in the beginning, but drains off every now and then, until somebody ‘bribes’ their enthusiasm with a round of safe alcohol. Some are not joining in – too many cooks will confuse the taste, I guess. But they burnish the banter, and provide substitutes. The kids are playing close by; hoping to be favoured with testing-tasting first servings. A neighbour sets up mammoth speakers and belts Hiplife tracks on the humid air. Passersby look on amused. The atmosphere is sizzling with expectation, and with preparation. My best friend’s traditional marriage.

Friday, July 16, 2010

My Best Friend's Ghanaian Marriage

If, out of character, I have been away from this space, it is all for good reason. My main man is getting married, and I am his best man. He's actually getting married twice as we do in Ghana. The first marriage, today, (the Ghanaian marriage) is what Ghanaians unknowingly call the 'Engagement'. The white wedding comes tomorrow. Preparing for the 'Engagement' was such fun. Not so much the running around as how all the women (the bride's friends, sisters, cousins, neighbours, etc come together to cook for over one hundred guests. While the men clean the compound, install canopies and arrange the chairs. I will serialise different parts of this spectacle, but I have to go help the groom now.

P.s. I take no responsibility for anything strange I may have written up there. I am not in my usual state of sobriety.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Economics of Football

I gape at the Beautiful Game: is one successful African footballer not more beneficial to his community than a highbrow hat trick of doctors or teachers or politicians? I may take out teachers because they give a golden gift and (together with doctors) they deal direct benefits. The ball juggler’s jewels, however, glitter indirectly, and are somewhat sentimental, but he regularly remits, right?

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Friday, July 9, 2010

Enye Wo Car N’eeko No?

Office Colleague, Tiger 3, is tottering home knackered. He stops to buy oranges on the way. As he carefully selects the best, the seller asks, “Enye wo car n’eeko no?” (Is that not your car moving off?). He drops the fine oranges and charges after the errant car. He does not make it. The car careers into a drain. He had left it in neutral gear on a sloping bend. The ‘area champions’ who go to his aid, end up picking his wallet. Then they turn around and ‘hold him hostage’ until his wife brings some money to pay for their car-salvage service. There was scant money left to buy oranges after that.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Dog Bites, Man Bites, Bosoms and Laps

Have you heard of a dog being treated for a man bite? Well, a colleague at work swears that in the movie Escape from Sobibor, a man interned at the concentration camp lay his teeth into the hinds of a prison dog set on him to prevent his escape. Ha ha ha ha ha! Otwiara Kose.

Another colleague, a buxom woman, pointed to her (lovely) lap as she referred to her bosom. She’d thought all her life that lap and bosom meant the same thing. Ebei, can’t a man do some serious work in peace. My sides are splitting from the laughter. It’s Silly Tuesday.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Whaaaat! No More Hot Fork on the Streets?

It’s said the Ministry of Information has “banned” the sale of movies rated X in Ghana. I do not know when such movies were ever legal. So I do not know if the Ministry is now saying it has created a new law. Further, doesn’t the ‘Ministry’ know that it does not have any power to make laws? I am all for enforcing the laws against obscenity, but I wonder if we will win against the market forces.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Readying for Your Coming

It’s only two weeks more -
The longest of the eight.
I’m sprucing up the house;
Polishing the rust in my heart;
Remembering the places we love to go to;
Doing callisthenics at dawn;
Sleeping earlier like you want me to.
I’ll be ready when you come.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Nothing Good Comes Easy

As seen unlawfully posted on an Electricity-Company transmission box outside the building I work in. Breaking the laws of the land and of grammar.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Village Flower

I was enchanted by a vestal village girl with an apocalypse body. In the magical moonlight spraying the countryside, she was skipping, frisking and entertaining among twenty craving ‘cannibals’. She performed with unawareness and white innocence – the same colour as her quivering quarter skirt. I did not want to go back to Accra.