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When I started my career, learning to stride the Unicorn in the city that Osagyefo built, I had a Technical Director whose brother still remains the spokesperson of the President who married a Ghanaian and who speaks the language of the country he lashes each day like a native parrot of that nation. He is reputed to have reminded people who asked him to step down that the monarch of that nation was as old as he was and wondered why they were not asking her to relinquish power too.

During my first week, per custom, my Director called me to his office to chat with me and give me some tit-bits for life. One of his key points was that I should stay away from stating ‘On-going’ under timeline or update columns in any minutes of meeting I sent. He indicated that by so doing, I would showing that I wasn’t a serious manager and not keen on delivery. He said the least I could do was to state the extent of delivery per the intended deadline, and to give a tangible update at any given time.

This key advice never left me. It reminded me of a statement by one of my lecturers at UST who said that seeing ‘et cetera’ in an answer or essay by a student made him angry and that indicated a lazy student who didn’t want to exert himself to research or think. He used to blurt out ‘Who is to find out the et cetera – me?’

The no-ongoing stance by Charamba made me wary of promising deadlines I wasn’t sure of. It made me very careful of promises. It helped me remember my promises because it pushed me to make few of them, knowing that I had to track them and deliver. Within the Unicorn, I learnt that efforts meant nothing; only results counted.

It is with this attitude and training that I made it a pastime to track a couple of the promises given by our politicians and our leaders. They have a penchant of pouring out promises like water from burst Ghana Water pipelines, not caring where the water flows to, knowing that no one will follow the gullies or gutters the water creates. If our leaders and officials knew that we would track and measure what they say against actual performance, they would say little and deliver on what they say.

Let me just leave you with an exercise: just go through speeches given over the past year on what was said would be done on housing, roads, schools and the economy. Just take three such stories and find out about performance versus promise. Keep tracking. That could be your civic responsibility.

That would be measuring performance. We require performance monitoring not only in our private spaces. We need same in the public arena. We need that in our politics.

For we cannot improve what we don’t measure. No on-going here, anymore.

Nsempiisms. My mouth has fallen.

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In the early 80s, one of our teachers, Mr. Aidoo, used to teach us after school. We held those extra classes in the home of my classmate Paulina Aggrey (née Sackey). I don’t think it was cheap to attend and be part of those lessons. My dad was a driver and my mum a trader. My prep school was a good school but my parents wanted more for their little boy. They invested in my education. One of my dad’s favourite saying was that his children were his buildings.

Parents: the responsibility for your children’s education is not that of the state alone. You have a bigger role.

What plans do you have for your kids’ education? How much thinking time do you invest in that? How often do you chat with fellow parents and those who have done well with planning for theirs, for ideas about how to make yours as well and better? Have you started saving for their secondary and university expenses?

Are they part of your mental and financial budgets?

Do you make time to go through their homework? Do you make time to visit their schools and classrooms during open days or days when parents are allowed to come over to interact with teachers and staff?

Have you thought about and implemented extra curricular activities to augment what they get in school?

Their development will not just happen. It must be planned and the planning is part of your work description as a parent.

Nsempiisms. My mouth has fallen.

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Mr Avevor was famous in the neighborhood for his fierce protection of his three daughters. The beauty of his daughters was a popular topic of discussion amongst the young men in the area. It was said that if you as much as stole a glance at his passing Mercedes with an intention of catching a glimpse of any of the Avevor girls, Efo would stop his car, get out and give a warning shot!

Kwabena Afful was a new guy on the block and none of these warnings scared him. He tried to befriend one of the girls and when word reached Efo Avevor, he stormed Kwabena’s house and caused his arrest, accusing Kwabena of attempting to commit a crime against one of his daughters.

At the police station, the duty officer proceeded to take in Efo’s statement and asked him which of his daughters Kwabena had attempted to commit the crime against and specific crime it was.

Efo asked for sometime to go home and find out which of his daughters could be used to accuse Kwabena and which possible crime to accuse him of.

This week, I thought of Efo.

And I thought of how the BNI and the State of Sikaman behave.

Shoot before you aim.

Nsempiisms. My mouth has fallen.

In our factory in Amalaman, which we built from the ground (starting in 2011 and part of it beginning operations in 2013), there was water hydrant line that ran along the main drainage as one accessed the factory from the pedestrian entrance. This pipeline used to make me angry because the contractors couldn’t construct it in a straight manner. It was so crooked that I blurted out once whether the contractor couldn’t get his artisans to use plumblines. My colleague Femi reminded me that this was how straight the artisans could get the pipeline done with the plumbline!

When we were growing up in Kotobabi, our football practice consisted of playing socks-balls on small fields, with the goals marked by two stones of each side, popularly called “small poles”. Most of the playing was focused on dribbling and defending. Someone has theorised that this could be one of the reasons why we have historically produced great midfielders and defenders, rather than strikers. We didn’t practise a lot with proper goalposts and scoring in those standard post dimensions.

Effort is important to the result but the finishing is what makes the effort meaningful. Dribbling is meaningless if it doesn’t result in goals.

In the installation of the packing lines in our factory, I observed the attention to finishing that the European engineers exhibited. With their plumblines in hand, they set the machines and conveyors in place. Similar tools, different results. A clearly different mindset in respect of the significance of finishing.

Today, my mind went to these situations as I reflected on how many of the stories we have heard, read or spoken about haven’t been followed up to logical conclusions. How many of the issues we have in Ghana are left hanging, unattended, unresolved and swept under the conveyor belt bringing the next juicy story. That explains why our problems never go away, why our national sores always fester and why our issues appear familiar, all the time.

We love to partake in the marathon of national building but not necessarily to finish the race. Activity without progress.

We have to look to our finishing.

Nsempiisms. My mouth has fallen.

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Update on Wa School Project

#kokoko

25 March 2016

Kindly find attached update of expenditure as well as donations. Cash at hand is also indicated. Surplus will be held for our next project to be announced soon.

All items delivered to the school. These are: 45 high density student mattresses (plus 45 pillows donated by Ashfoam), 20 wooden desks, 4 wheelchairs and 4 pairs of crutches. A friend has also donated footballs which will be added to the items.

Official handing over is planned for Friday 1 April 2016.

Thanks for all the support.

NAD (for Planning & Implementation Team)

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There was this guy (let’s call him Akwasi Mainoo) in a church who, after every service and as the pastor stood outside the main door greeting the church members, would go up to the pastor and say “Well done, Osofo, you really gave it to them today!” He was a regular at church and quite prompt too.

Every message was for someone else but him and this worried Osofo greatly. He wondered when this guy would ever realise that the sermon and message was for him too.

One day, there was a heavy storm and when Osofo came into the auditorium from his office, only one person had managed to come to church. Our regular, prompt, ‘you really gave it to them’ friend, Akwasi.

Osofo realised that this was the perfect occasion to preach a special message only for Akwasi. Osofo went ahead and did a full service, right from worship time, praise and offertory, and he preached with vigour.

After service, he went forth and shook hands with Akwasi. Akwasi embraced Osofo, with tears in his eyes and said: “Osofo, what a great message you preached today! If only they had been here…”

I wrote about each of us, especially this year, deciding not to be conveyor belts for spurious stories that will be circulated on social media; political bullets which will be intended to spread mischief. When I posted it on Facebook, I saw how many people tagged others to ‘come and mend’ their ways. Only a few reflected to say how the message would change them, a sort of internal reflection.

In the midst of the spelling disaster in the Independence Day 2016 brochures, there have been lots of sharing of posts and documents especially from the ruling party which have issued with spelling and grammar. Many of them have been written by internet foot-soldiers. The impression being that it is with only foot-soldiers from the NDC who are at fault.

As with the issues regarding drugs and narcotics in Ghana, it helps when we all realise, and accept, that the canker does not wear party colours. Same with the spelling epidemic we are experiencing in Ghana. When it comes to atrocious spelling and grammar as used by foot-soldiers, one cannot distinguish between the otwe and adowa.

The curative message is for all of us to take. We are all here, and we need to listen for ourselves. No ‘if only they have been here’ attitude, please. Don’t be like Akwasi.

Nsempiisms. My mouth has fallen.

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After finishing 6th form in mid-1993, I was invited to help with vacation classes for the last batch of ‘O’ Level students at the secondary school in my holy village of Wasa Akropong, which I did from August till October. I thereafter worked through the school authorities to present my name to the National Service Secretariat and so I was posted officially to the school for my national service which I did from November, 1993 till December, 1994, teaching Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics and Core Science, for mainly the new senior secondary school streams. Before this time, I had spent some time teaching, during vacations around 1990 – 1992, at the middle school opposite our house at the Low Cost Estate, now called Bassanyin LA Junior High School, where my late uncle was the Headteacher. His nickname was ‘Therefore’.

On the matter of marking of exams scripts and general assignments, one of the first tips the regular teachers gave us during National Service was this: ‘mark the idea and not the grammar’. Their argument was that if one tried to focus on the grammar, the teacher wouldn’t consider the answers at all.

I have never been a fan of the new educational stream, mainly from the position that we expected too much from the middle schools which were upgraded to Junior Secondary Schools and which were expected do the same jobs that established secondary schools were doing between Forms 1 and 3. They may have the same contours but the cat and the tiger cannot perform the same jobs. Between Forms 1 and 3 in the old system, some fundamental issues not sorted out during preparatory and middle schools were straightened, as students were exposed also to various subjects and the teachers had time to groom and nurture. Forget for now my candid view that grammar and syntax styles are built mainly during preparatory school. As I argued in Sebitically Speaking, what we have created is a tale of two systems: where those who can afford it take their children to good schools which are able to provide better, above average, tutelage and the larger, regular system which is fed with government handout of educational repast, which is less than average.

This experience of mine is over twenty years old and the grammatical slide has continued, with more acceleration. The lack of reading skills, the evolution of technology and predictive text, the general lack of attention to details and excellence, the propensity to say ‘English is not our language’, the acceptance of shorthand in general texting…all these have conspired to bring us to the point where our national publications now read like the scripts I used to mark many years ago in Wasa.

This malaise has even affected official textbooks used by pupils and students. Full of grammatical errors. The GTV we knew, the GTV parents used to tell us to watch to learn English, is no more. Daily Graphic daily gives us grammatical and spelling bullets. Journalists are no longer benchmarks for great presentation and language. I won’t attempt to write about news portals, which sometimes read as if the articles were written in Twi and Google translate used to get the English versions.

My father was educated only to Middle School Leaving Certificate Level. My mum just about the same. But my parents read. My father nurtured in me the love of magazines, newspapers and books. I got from him the practice of walking to buy The Mirror every weekend and we would spend time reading it together. I caught him reading and I caught the bug. When my mum visits us today in Tema, I walk into her room to greet her every morning and to ask how she is doing. I always find her reading her Bible. My parents taught me about reading and they inspired in me the desire to be more learned than they ever were. Today, how many children see their parents reading anything apart from their text messages, Whatsapp and Facebook messages? How do we expect to raise reading children when the parents don’t read?

The effluent has hit the fan and the aroma has spread into our nostrils. Enjoy the nunu scent.

Nsempiisms. My mouth has fallen.

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