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BOOK READING IN MONROVIA

In 2015, two Ghanaian writers Kofi Akpabli and Nana Awere Damoah gave themselves two targets: to do quarterly public book readings and to extend the activity beyond Accra. The aim is to promote reading and writing especially, among the youth of Africa. They dubbed it DAkpabli Readathon. 
To date, not only have the duo done several readings in Accra, they have extended their literary event to Tema, Kumasi, Ho and Takoradi. Actually, they have also pushed the frontiers beyond the country’s shores. In April this year, Nana and Kofi read to a delighted group of Ghanaian professionals in Lagos.
The DAkpabli Readathon team has been invited by Forte Publishing, which organises MONROVIA READS, for a mini-fest of reading, literary workshop and culture in Monrovia on 18 and 19 August 2017. They are also going to hold a mentor’s session for young Liberian writers. 

Our visit is also a cultural exchange event which will promote the neighbourly relationship between Ghana and Liberia, as well as taking reading and literacy advocacy across the continent. 

Author Profiles
Kofi Akpabli is a writer and a teacher whose latest work has been published in a new Commonwealth Non-Fiction Anthology launched in the UK in May 2016.  He is a two-time winner of the CNN/Multichoice African Journalist for Arts and Culture. Kofi has also won GJA and National awards in Culture and Tourism. He writes a travel column Going Places in The Mirror newspaper, published weekly in Accra.
Amongst his books are: Harmattan – a Cultural Profile of Northern Ghana, Romancing Ghanaland: the Beauty of Ten Regions, A Sense of Savannah – Tales of a Friendly Walk through Northern Ghana, and Tickling the Ghanaian – Encounters with Contemporary Culture. Kofi’s latest work Made In Nima has won a place in an African anthology featuring writers from 14 countries which was published by the Commonwealth in London. 
Nana Awere Damoah is a writer and a technical services consultant. A British Council Chevening alumnus, Nana started writing in 1997, when he won first prize in the Step Magazine National Writing Competition. He is the author of seven books: Quotes by NAD, Nsempiisms, Sebitically Speaking, I Speak of Ghana, Tales from Different Tails, Through the Gates of Thought, and Excursions in my Mind. His seventh book, Quotes by NAD, has just recently been published as an ebook and paperback on Amazon.

with inputs from Naa Oyo Kumodzi and Elsie Dickson

You know it’s a Fanti woman behind the waakye when she has no meat but rather chicken
You know it’s a Fanti woman behind the waakye when she has no boiled egg but rather spanish omelette
You know it’s a Fanti woman behind the waakye when she has no wele but rather sausage
You know it’s a Wasa woman behind the waakye when the stew is splashed onto the waakye, like thick palmnut soup, instead of being spread
You know it’s a Ga woman behind the waakye when the gari is as exotic as kpokpoi
You know it’s a Fanti woman behind the waakye when baked beans is added to the ‘salad’
You know it’s a Ga woman behind the waakye when the waakye is sticky and can be eaten like Ga Kenkey
You know it’s a Bono woman behind the waakye when she has bush meat as part of the “accessories”
You know it’s a Fanti woman behind the waakye when the fish is broasted
You know it’s an Anlo woman behind the waakye when the waakye is served with a side of akpavi kalami
You know it’s an Asanti woman behind the awaakye when she has smoked poku fish instead of fried fish, and she breaks off what you buy from the main one
You know it’s an Ewe woman behind the waakye when the gari is mixed with one-man-thousand
You know it’s an Kwahu woman behind the waakye when she sells the stew and shito separately from the waakye. You pay more you want stew or shito, or go home to use your own shito and/or stew
You know it’s a Fanti woman behind the waakye when sardine is added to the ‘salad’
You know it’s a Fanti woman behind the waakye when you can buy sardine instead of fried fish
You know it’s a Ga woman behind the waakye when stew has more pepper than the shito
You know it is overrated and overpriced when the waakye queue is too long 
Yet you know you will queue nevertheless if you are in the spirito-waakye-realm
Because you know that only the partaking in this food of foods would peace reign in your culinary soul 
Let me know when you find your rib of waakye
Happy waakye morning!
© Nana Awere Damoah, 040817
Pic credit: Abena Asantewaa Krobea

**Rough notes of what I shared during breakout session at #iHAV2017 Conference on 27 July 2017**
iHAV Conference: Breakout session on Small Actions, Big Difference
What do Teshie Nungua & Ikorodu roads in Accra & Lagos have in common? Answer: Traffic. And what causes traffic on these routes? One major cause is the practice of people crossing the roads indiscriminately, at many points. Cars stopping for a couple of seconds for pedestrians to cross compound over many cars and leads to traffic. Small actions compounding to make big differences.

“Small actions, big difference” – Unilever slogan. We say little drops of water make a mighty ocean. Same with actions.

Think Big, Start Small, Move Fast 

I came away from my visit to Dr Wereko-Brobby aka Tarzan with one main lesson: Engineers do, they are doers. They are solution providers. After the talk must always come the options and then prioritise to implement.

The Radio Eye example. Just start.

How to start? You can only start by starting. The first time anyone did anything, he did it as an amateur. 

Start simple, get fancy later.

iHAV poster and the focus on implementation. 

We tend to talk too much and do little.

We tend to focus on analysis to paralysis.

Today’s post on church fund-raising and community service

Facebook & DGG & Apagya- 22k ghs 

Community projects – Nsawam, Wa, Volta school

Reading clinics 

Economic growth – all around us

Solution leads to income
The educated African seems only to be conditioned for steady state conditions, to feel comfortable only when conditions are certain and all risks have been fully analysed and covered.
The educated African is the most afraid to take risks on his dreams.
====

Reading from an earlier Nsempiisms
Earlier this year, my friend Abena Krobea shared a video about a young Malawian inventor called William Kamkwamba. In the video, the young man recounted how famine was ravaging his country in the early 2000s and how he had to drop out of secondary school. Determined to still educate himself, he decided to frequently visit the library of his former school and to read books, especially science books. From one of those books, he learnt about windmills, and decided to build one himself. Not having the requisite materials, he visited scrap yards around his house and salvaged bits and bits including bicycle parts, and PVC pipes, and built his first wind mills that powdered his house with electricity and also pumped water for irrigation. Awesome stuff! Inspirational!
In this TED talk by William, he made a profound statement: “I tried it. And I made it.” He made a move with his ideas, he took a risk on his dreams.
When I watched the video and as I personally tango with the many ideas I have that I haven’t tried, knowing what I to do and yet not doing it, procrastinating, thinking of how to do it perfectly, yet holding back and worrying about the passage of time, giving me a headache, I looked at William and I am provoked to take the pill of action and welcome my relief.
But it is not that easy and that is when I decided to write to you and share my reflections.
At a book reading at Rennie’s Garden, Dr Ruby Goka told us that one of the worse things about being a doctor or a medical student is that when one got ill, he or she only imagines the worst of possible illnesses. 
Same with the educated African. The educated African seems only to be conditioned for steady state conditions, to feel comfortable only when conditions are certain and all risks have been fully analysed and covered.
The educated African is the most afraid to take risks on his dreams.
Not so with many entrepreneurs who need to take a plunge into uncertain waters. Not so with William, who tried it and made it.

I have been following the debate about the modes of tithing and giving in a screenshot being circulated online. Let the debate continue.
It made me take an excursion in my mind and to reflect, again, on how some of the home-grown churches have managed to raise funds to support their various activities and even venture into initiatives such as micro-finance organisations and educational facilities. Churches and para-church organisations that are not supported by any foreign donors.
It tells me that if we get our acts together, we can generate sufficient funds to run our own country and development. Already, figures show that remittances from abroad by Africans outstrip foreign donors fund inflows into the continent. I am certain the same trend applies to Ghana.
Aid hasn’t been used to develop many of these churches. Perhaps, I should say ‘foreign aid’. This doesn’t apply only to urban areas; it is replicated in the rural areas where even with minimal funds, citizens are able to raise money to build edifices for churches.
How I wish we apply that same “can do” mindset to our national development. 
Unfortunately, outside the church, we mostly lose this sense of responsibility to build, and take on a cloak of entitlement. Kwaku Sakyi-Addo wrote about visiting a village with some non-Ghanaians and having a meeting in a magnificent church building, where the elders of the church asked these foreigners to help them build a place of convenience. Taflatse, a place to squat so they stopped doing it in the bush. When Sakyi-Addo asked how they built the church, one of the elders proudly explained how they raised the edifice by their own funds.
Development will be a partnership between state and citizens. We must not lose our “communal labour” principles and look up only to the central government. Our forebears raised LA schools – schools built by local assemblies. Let’s not contribute and build only when implored from the pulpit.
We can do it. 
On our own generated fuel.
Nsempiisms. My mouth has fallen.

Yesterday at the Media Meet with the President, there was a display of an attribute that disturbs me.

The moderator, the Information Minister, set the ground rules for the Q&A time: one question per person, make it snappy.

Not a few of those who had the opportunity to ask questions decided to ignore the instructions totally, asking two and sometimes three questions, even after a couple of warnings.

It is a character that irks me. We all think we can outsmart the system. It is either indiscipline or an inability to follow simple instructions.  

It is that same trait that makes people climb the curb to avoid traffic and then create more traffic in the process.

It is that same trait that makes people want to jump queues in the bank.

It is that same attribute that makes people want to bribe to cut corners.

We want to grab as much as possible when we have the stage. We want to eat as much as we can when it is our turn, not caring about those behind us.

The above are the examples of indiscipline. 

But there is more. 

Perhaps we just don’t know how, or care, to follow instructions. 
You put up a post and say people text a particular number and not call. They will call.
You say people should send details into your inbox. They put the details in the comments’ section.
You ask people to get in touch via a particular email (not your own) and they send the mail to your inbox.
Someone is to give a speech and you ask him to use 15 minutes, he ends up speaking for 45 minutes.
A student presenting his project is asked to wrap up in 2 minutes and he proceeds as if he has one more hour.
Yesterday’s session was revealing in these respects as well, aside the questions.
Indiscipline on display. Or plain deficiency.  
Nsempiisms. My mouth has fallen.

lion cage

There is a popular cartoon that has been making the rounds for years.

 

Let me describe the progression in the scene for you.

 

The scene opens with actor standing in front of the cage with the lion locked behind it. The director briefs the actor that when the ‘action’ cue was given, the actor is to open the cage and free the lion. The lion will chase the actor around as the actor acts scared and distressed. The director then assured the actor that he shouldn’t worry about the lion harming him.

 

“Don’t worry,’ the director said, ‘the lion would eat you. It is written here in the script.”

 

“All well and good,’ the actor replied, “you might have written the script, but the question is, ‘Has the lion read the script too?'”

 

In the run-up to the 2016 Elections in Sikaman, the current governing party trained some gyatas and got some actors to go to town with those gyatas. It is clearer by the day that not everyone read the script.

 

Sebitically speaking, the NPP is reaping the results of its militarization in the run-up to the last elections. I pray that what is happening with the Delta, Invisible Forces, Azorka Boys, Kandahar Boys and associated vigilante lions, which have grown from cubs, will be a lesson for the future.

 

As I reflected on the journey to this place of violence, I realised that it is only the unobservant who would say where we are is as a result of magic. There was a build-up, gradually. At least, I saw it. And going through my previous posts on social media, I found quite a number of signposts.

 

In May, 2015, I had a short exchange on a friend’s page who called foot-soldiers of NDC the “most useless” she had ever known. I retorted that all political foot-soldiers in Ghana are useless, including those of the NPP. The propensity for foot-soldier nonsense is no respecter of party colours.

 

I asked her not to worry if she disagreed with me on my assertion as I didn’t intend to convince her. You see, one doesn’t need to use words to convince anyone about the characteristics or potential shenanigans of foot-soldiers; the foot-soldiers themselves will, by their deeds and utterances.

 

So after that, we entered the season of the foot-soldiers as the parties started their primaries. My friend was soon impressed.

 

In the run-up to the last elections, I made a statement on my Facebook wall that ruffled not a few feathers. On 25 March 2016, I wrote:

 

“I have observed a trend over the past few years. The NPP is trying very hard to shed off its middle-class, book-long tag and to show that it can also talk rubbish and meet the NDC boot-for-boot. Gloves are off. The NDC is trying very hard to remove the rural, mass, rough and violence-inclined tag and appeal more to the middle. Gradually, the NPP is resembling the NDC of old and the NDC is resembling the NPP of old.”

 

I leave you to judge how this has played out. You be the judge.

 

My only comment is that the gloves were never put back on. The vigilantes are knocking their masters with ungloved fists. And in the gut too.

 

The previous year, on 15 May 2015, I had this from an excursion in my mind:

 

“What do the teeming semi-literate, usually unemployable and mostly irrational foot-soldiers of our political parties want from their inordinate support for their parties? And from the victories of their parties? The answer to that should lead you some sober reflections. That has a great impact on the quality of the output from our political leadership. And on what we achieve as a nation between election campaigns.”

 

A few days later, on 21 May 2015, I wrote: “The foot-soldier nonsense has started in the NPP.

 

On 7 November 2015, I quoted the Communications Director of the NPP in a post as follows:

 

“’We haven’t done a good job of teaching party supporters tolerance…’ Nana Akomea. Very poignant. This phenomenon of party foot-soldiers. It will bring us some big wahala one of these days. Soon.”

 

Party foot-soldiers have seized toilets, seized constituency party offices, seized party officers, seized national party offices, burnt party offices, chased district chief executives out of their offices, stormed court premises, turned into pseudo-armies and continue to enjoy political support.

 

On 7 February 2016, I wrote on my #QuotesbyNAD page: “This foot-soldiers-going-on-rampage-at-will nonsense must be stopped. One day they will have nothing else to vandalise but their leaders who fail to call them to order today.”

 

That day is precariously close.

 

One day soon, these same party foot-soldiers will seize the Flagstaff House and seize the

President.

 

We have already seen the back-and-forth with the court case involving the Delta Forces 1 & 2 teams.

 

In Arrow of God, Chinua Achebe wrote that the man who brings home ant infested firewood should not complain when lizards start to visit. According to Nana Ampadu, in his song “Woyoo woyoo”, a leopard who goes on a pilgrimage to Mecca doesn’t turn into a vegetarian. Even if he becomes head of a masalachi.

 

What we are experiencing with the vigilante groups in the NPP follows the principles of the Newton’s First Law of motion which states that every object will remain at rest or in uniform motion in a straight line unless compelled to change its state by the action of an external force. When a car is in motion, the occupants travel at the speed at which the car is moving. When the car stops, the objects in the car (including the occupants) still travel at pre-stop speed of the car. Unless an external force changes their state, and restraints them. Like a seat belt.

 

The vigilante groups are still travelling at pre-elections and pre-inauguration speed. The governing party, their party, needs to find restraints to keep them in check and change their state. As quickly as possible.

 

This gyata who has even seen the Promise Land is asking for barbecued officials for dinner. With a serving of sobolo.

 

The feeding of foot-soldiers has emboldened them to go out to hunt for themselves. Soon, if unchecked, this reared gyata will break loose and start chewing live meat.

 

Till I come your way with another sebitical, I remain:

 

Sebitically yours,

Kapokyikyiwofaase

I bring you very foamy greetings from the shed of Akwasi Sorfree, the best palm wine tapper in Wasaman, where, departing from his regular practice, Wofa Kapokyikyi is having a calabash of palm wine. He told me that from time to time, even Memuna gets tired of fula. No Liberty Fun Club visits today.
Wofa was quite pensive today. Me, I just sat and enjoyed the conversations around the benches under the shed.
“A fool in a pensive mood is not making any judicious plans; he is still a buffoon,” Wofa whispered, almost to himself.
“Ei, Wofa Kapokyikyi! Please explain.” I had no incline what he meant by that.
“My son, a rich man who becomes poor is still better than a poor man who is trying to become rich.”
“Ei! As for today, you are really swimming in parables.”
Wofa was not finished. “A mad man who gets cured still have some tricks with which to frighten children. And a fool who is assumed wise only has to open his mouth to clear any doubts.”

I had to get closer to Wofa Kapokyikyi to confirm whether he was in the spirit. He wasn’t. He was very sober, which was even more dangerous. For what a man says when drunk, he thought about whilst sober, and Wofa’s thoughts, when being cooked in his fertile mind, were caustic.
Oh yes, I bring you greetings from Wofa Kapokyikyi, who told me that Kotei the jack-of-all-trades, who recently graduated from village electrician to cable TV fixer, has finally come to install the apotowiwa on top of his roof so that his television set can now receive images from the capital.
Wofa says he has been following the proceedings, news, discussions, accusations, fights and all the drama from the House of State this year, and his mind was still trying to manage all the twists and turns.
“I love the state of our Parliament now. For every story, there are about four versions of the near-truth. And then the truth. I love it more when each storyteller calls the other a liar. Makes it even more colourful when the lied to is not believed, when he states his version of the truth which cannot be distinguished from the lies which the liar tries to discount.”
“Ei, Wofa, son of Premang Ntow and grand nephew of Bassanyin!” That was all I could say. I started to think that the palm wine wasn’t getting on well with the physiological mechanisms of my Wofa’s metabolism.
It is getting tangled and mangled and appearing far from simple eh? It is sounding convoluted and you are getting discombobulated eh?
Exactly! That’s the idea, to make you appreciate my confusion with the train of thoughts that Wofa was peregrinating today.
“You see, my wofaase, our big men in the House of State have given onto themselves the ‘Insult Privilege’. They have arrogated to themselves alone the power to disrespect MPs. To insult MPs. To fight MPs. They say to the ordinary people, ‘You have no right to disrespect us or to speak ill about us. We don’t need your help. We can do it ourselves. To one another.’ Who am I to disagree?”
Wofa paused and took a sip from his calabash. The foam formed a white line above his upper lip. I wondered how that line would have formed if Wofa had an Andamic moustache. He didn’t give me much time to wonder.
“You remember the accusations and counter accusations about the black polythene courier bags? You remember the naadoli-cowric statement that was covered with a polythene sheet? Did you see the fight that brought us good memories of the zoom-zoom days?”
I nodded. I did remember all of them, I answered.
I asked Wofa if the continuous use of the Insult Privilege wouldn’t dent the image of Parliament. 
He chuckled.
“How can you dent further a milk tin that has been used for various rounds of chaskele?” He said this slowly, nodding slowly.
He was done with his palm wine. Just one calabash. He stood up and held one of the bamboo pillars holding the roof of the shed in place.
Amakye the town crier who was sitting across us and had his transistor radio glued to his ears just increased the volume as we heard the latest news from the House of State. The voice within the radio said some of the big men of the house had used their special nkrataa to take some people across the cornfields and left them there. The radio voice said the man making the accusation was called Jon. Not John o, not any of the former Odikros.
We all said “Hmmmm”. Except Wofa, who said “Oyiwa!”
“Did you notice that in the visa matter of Jon vs the MP4 (apologies to Efo Kofi Gbedemah),” Wofa asked, beginning to walk towards the police station junction, at which we would turn left towards home, “ that only ‘nieces’ and ’wives’ were carried along, and not nephews or brothers?”
I followed him down the road, with my mind made up on one thing: palm wine is not good for my Wofa Kapokyikyi.
Till I come your way again, hopefully when Wofa Kapokyikyi reverts to sampling the normal spirits at the Liberty Fun Club, I remain:
Sebitically yours,

Kapokyikyiwofaase