Thursday, September 29, 2011

Human Sauna Selling Face Towels

Approaching midday on a dusty Dzorwulu dirt road, a sweaty, deep-fried dude in short sleeves was selling white face towels draped around his bare arms.

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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Man in Black (and Yawning Yellow)

Fifty-plus-old man; beating the motionless morning motorcade a pieds on the Kanda kerb. Oh, his shiny black shirt tucked into yawning yellow trousers; spotless black shoes (if you don't count a splodge of fade on 'pension' patent leather); sun-blocking black hat; reflective black sunglasses; oh, the meddling, messy sweat rivulet drifting down his right leg. He made the morning smile.

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Monday, September 26, 2011

Random Radio Experts

Another caught my eloping ear this melancholy Monday morning. It was ‘crystal’ that he merely chanced to know some jockey ‘jackassing’ close to the ‘effing’ FM console. Stepped off the stinky streets as Joe Shmoe, then sat in the studio as the Duke of Air-head-inburgh. What did we expect? Some more of the ostrich analysis.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Was Kwame Nkrumah A Young Criminal?

High-risk start, but it's out of the way. I've recently read a Malcom Gladwell book (again), and recently seen the murder-of-stowaways movie, Deadly Voyage. Both book and movie led me irresistibly to think about Kwame Nkrumah.

The book argues that high fliers owe their cachet to various elements: circumstances of birth; time and place of birth; a little ability; a little opportunity; a little luck; a lot social support.

The macabre movie re-enacts the true-life tale of Kingsley Ofosu, his brother and their more-than-a-handful colleagues who stowed away on a Russian or Ukrainian ship to France. Only Kingly made it (barely). His brother and fellow stowaways were bludgeoned, hacked and shot do death and fodder-flung to sharks or whatever lurks in the deep.

But I almost digress.

Nkrumah was born at a time when slavery had been abolished. Education in Gold-Coast-Ghana was possible to the level just before university. He had a reasonably rich uncle in Lagos, Nigeria. He obtained admission to an American university. He oozed oodles of ambition and whatever-it-takes.

Nkrumah saved some money; oh, just enough to buy him a few meals outside of home. He needed to get to America. What did he do? He stowed away on a boat. He was a risk-taker. But, he was not an non-calculated-risk junkie. He did not take the trans-Atlantic deadly voyage. The landlubber 'lotteried' his life only as far as Lagos. His uncle gave him loads of money. He returned to Gold-Coast-Ghana and paid for his passage to Britain, en route to America. He got his B.A., then M.A., the PhD.

Did Kwame Nkrumah commit peccadilloes (like travel without paying)? Yes. Was he jailed for any misdemeanour in America? Find out. Was his leadership of Ghana cruel at times? I think so.

But, in spite of everything, (or rather because of them, to think like Gladwell), Kwame Nkrumah was nothing short of an Outlier. A man with a lot of savoir faire and (to repeat) whatever-it-takes. Happy Birthday, Francis Nwia Kofi Nkrumah.

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Monday, September 19, 2011

Silent Feminists & Really Loud Dowries

The myriad meanings of feminism floor my simple mind. And when you have one meaning locked down, it gives you different layers. I said "Hi Sexy" to a friend on social media, and she censured me for "objectifying" her. I switched off, unwilling to deal with her eggshell self (more trouble if she reads this).

Now, dowries. The dowry is no longer token or symbolic in urban Ghana. Those who demand it require 'market' value. If you're a 'bogga', then pay in US Dollars.

Feminists. I haven't heard any feminists in Ghana demand abolition or 'price controls'. So, are feminists getting married; real dowry marriages?

Layers. Let's take one layer. Is it easy to ignore this obvious 'commoditisation' (forget 'Hi Sexy') because it's the parents (and not their daughters) who are 'selling' (i.e. receiving the dowries)?

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Friday, September 9, 2011

The Risk of Recent Reveries

Ghana. 1957.

How do you un-teach the colonial id? Teachers, teachers, teachers! Enter King Kwame Nkrumah.

Green graduates from lucent Legon are civically coaxed to desert collective-clan desires; no present need for all those bankers and lawyers and accountants. Go and teach! I will pay you better than them, anyway.

The rest is anti-heroic history. Nkrumah waned. Coming kings re-colonised and paid serf-rates to our educators.

Ghana. Present day.

Beware, all those people whose heads are sailing slick in oil-and-gas dreams. You may be the new teachers.

Damsel Twice Distressed

Last Tuesday at ten pm, a woman's Seat 'something' sedan struck a sudden flame which snarled to scorch the car to cinders. Other cars stopped to help; no less than twelve counted I. The guy who 'kerbed' his Land Rover first, and brought out a fire extinguisher (kind man, bless his heart) would not accept anything more than her thanks. Except for the price of his extinguisher- thirty Ghana Cedis! Who asked him to help?

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Sunday, September 4, 2011

Wisdom Over A Fufu Bowl

The women chow down massive mounds; the men just chirp and peck. Or so it strikes one at Lalas Local at 18 Junction.

My fulsome gob of Fufu & Goat-Light fast grows lighter; the women wolf down morsels; the men mouth up words.

The full facts flop in my face over a cleaned-out, soup-stained dish. The women go to eat; the men go to take the women there.

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Saturday, September 3, 2011

Death by Lightning

If it was a stroll in the park for all things evil to smite the blameless with a lightning bolt in the days before 'the light', why did anybody survive to be colonised?

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Thursday, September 1, 2011

Yeah, PermEnent...

As seen in the Spintex Road traffic. True to his promise, the gridlock was not permEnent. I reached the Mall only 15 minutes after I took this picture. The Mall was only 40 metres away.