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No where is gullibility and lack of thinking, not to speak of critical thinking, displayed than in the political arena and amidst politicos in Sikaman. Doing politics and being able to analyse and assess what is told you are not mutually exclusive.

Unfortunately, instead of being a tool of enlightenment, social media has magnified this malaise. All sorts of spurious messages are forwarded and shared without reflection.

Don’t let politics buy your mind for one pesewa.

Think.

A number of you who supported our Facebook Friends Outreach last year have been asking me what we will be doing this year. The team has been brainstorming and discussing over the past few months and have agreed on 2 projects to partner and support:

1. Cecilia Amoafowaa Sefa is heading a project to fence the special school up north. We will partner her on this.

2. Hotep Abeku Adams organised books earlier in the year for a school whose library was empty and called the initiative #BooktheShelves. He is now extending the initiative. He is working to build and shelf a community library in a rural community proposal.

These are the 2 projects we are supporting for this year.

I will provide further particulars this weekend.

Thanks a lot.

NAD, on behalf of the Planning & Implementation Team

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Chiefs, Elders, DGG, Teachers and Pupils

#DumsorMustStop

After the #dumsormuststop vigil, I walked back to where I had parked and drove home, via the Nkrumah Memorial Street (formerly known as Tema Motorway). Usually when I turn off towards Comm 20, I would get an inkling of whether we have lights at home or not by the illumination at the first gate of the Abbatoir compound. I usually approach this anticipation with trepidation. And if it is dark, my heart usually sinks.

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I experienced a new sensation yesterday.  It didn’t matter what I saw. My heart was light. I had joined hundreds to speak our mind as one. To voice our unified frustration with the state of affairs, epitomised by the dumsorification of our state. As one voice, we had demonstrated that we could be marshalled by our peers who feel passionate enough to step out.

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I was glad that the momentum of joint action is gathering and that it can soon be powered like a dynamo by its own internally-generated energy.

My heart was light.

And as I turned around the bend, the Abbatoir first gate was lighted.

I had light.

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Nana A Damoah:

TheAmpedhub reviews Sebitically Speaking.

Originally posted on The Amped Hub:

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Hallo people! Ok, so as part of my April readings, there was this one. I left it out of my post last week because of this review. I first read Awere Damoah early last year, which was his popular book, “I speak of Ghana.” Not a bad read – although I felt the humour was a bit too dry in some parts, and the commentaries were not as rich as I would have liked them, and so I was happy to have another from him to read. Mind you, this has not been published. I was privileged to get access to the review copy, which is a good thing, I think. Further changes can be made to make this more brilliant than it already is.

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I wrote this for the anthology Mother, edited by Kwasi Gyan-Apenteng and published in 2014. I am sharing it in full for the first time outside the book, in honour of the woman we call Auntie Esi “Chopbar”, one person I can’t stop loving enough.

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My mum has always been a petty trader, as far as I can remember. She tells me she was a pupil teacher before her marriage to my Dad. In my lifetime, she has sold plantain at the Mallam Atta market, cooked and sold red red (a popular Ghanaian dish of fried ripe plantain and beans – aboboi- with red palm oil), made and sold ice cream in cups (the ice cream was called ‘Abele Walls’, made from a solution of milk powder, frozen in a cup with a stick stuck in it), made banku which I helped hawk, following a co-tenant, who carried her fried fish, from Kotobabi through Ebony down to Dzoworlu close to the former Meat Marketing Board where The Dome chapel is now located and where we turned onto the rail-line, trekking into areas that have now become prime areas; run a chop bar selling fufu, banku, and kokonte, both in Kotobabi (Accra) and Wasa Akropong, my hometown, where my parents moved to in 1989. Indeed, in my hometown, she is popularly called Auntie Esi Chop Bar! Today, in 2014, my mum runs a small shop where she sells items ranging from spices through uncooked rice to bottled oil; a very hard-working woman who hasn’t taken a single vacation, as far as I remember.

Indeed, in my recollections of my infancy, growing up in Kotobabi, my experience of the 1979 AFRC coup was running from school to the house having been told that my mum had been arrested from her stall at the SWAG park, Abavanna Down, where she sold her red red. My fear that day of never seeing my mum again stayed with me for a long time.

I was eight years when my little sister was born, and, in a way, I could say she wasn’t expected! So, to all intents and purposes, I was my mum’s last born. I recall being teased by our co-tenants in our compound house that I had been dethroned! Yε tu wo adeε so, they teased.

Together with my driver-dad, my parents brought up eight children, four males and four females, in Kotobabi, a suburb of Accra. We grew up in a three-room rented apartment, in a compound house. Three rooms, because there was the main bedroom, which was used by my parents and the younger kids, who slept on mats on the floor; the second room, which was a combined sitting room with a bed on one side (my eldest brother used this), and which served as a bedroom during the night, when the chairs and tables were packed at one side to make room for mats and mattresses to be put on the floor for sleeping on. The third room was a kitchen space, but it was used to keep other stuff like water drums, and served as the storeroom as well. And don’t have the image of a kitchen with fridge, cabinets, electrical cooker, et cetera. Just think kitchen space! Nine other families lived in the compound house, and we all shared the same utilities – bathhouse, toilets, water pipe, etc. It was great fun living in this house and growing up in Kotobabi. We had the bare essentials, but were brought up to feel proud and content with what we owned.

As a last baby, I am told (and I recall faintly) that it took a long time to wean me off breast-milk. I am told I used to wait by the wayside for my mum and when I saw her approaching the house, I would prepare a stook for her to sit so I could get my evening helping from the milk factory!

So the bond between son and mum was very strong. However, it was tough love. As an ex-soldier, my dad was reputed to have such a strong blow that he hardly used it. I don’t recall him ever beating me. That responsibility was mum’s. But she did it with love. When it came to discipline, just a look or a shout from dad was enough to turn an executioner into meek man.

In the year 1986, I passed the Common Entrance Examination, and gained admission into Ghana National College, Cape Coast, for my secondary school education. And, in 1989, my dad retired from UAC and my parents moved to our holy village of Wasa Akropong. There, mum resumed her chop bar business and dad, after a few years being a driver for the local rural bank, lost his job, and had to take on menial jobs, combined with farming, to supplement the efforts of my wonderful mum.

Going through secondary school and later through the University was not easy as far as funds were concerned. At one point, my parents had about five of us in school, at various stages and they found it difficult going.

Mum never relented and from my viewpoint, her responsibilities towards the family increased. Not once did I see her exhibit disrespect towards my dad.

I could write volumes about the sacrifices they made, especially during my University days, and when the whole policy of cost sharing began. And these sacrifices are the ones I saw and observed. I am certain there were many others I had no idea of. According to Francis Bacon, ‘The joys of parents are secret, and so are their griefs and fears.’ But my parents held on and supported me, and I graduated. My graduation congregation was a joy both for me and my family, especially my parents, and as I walked towards the dais to receive my congratulatory handshake and a dummy of my certificate, their shouts were distinctly deafening (shouts of ‘Olu, Olu!’, as I am called by my family), and I rejoiced as they rejoiced with me.

In their marriage, my parents had their own share of disagreements and fights. When the disagreement was really heavy when we were growing up in Kotobabi, mum would take some time off and go to visit her village. In her absence, my late big brother (nicknamed Joe Base) would take over the cooking and running of the home. By the time mum returned, usually in a fortnight, my dad would have been so contrite, not least from the chobo that Joe Base indulged in!

In the difficult times of the marriage, she threatened many times to divorce. She kept moving her timelines; first it was when I finished secondary school, then it was when my little sister finished secondary school…what didn’t move was the ingrained priority of her children and family.

And this extended to others too. In second book, Through the Gates of Thought, I recounted one great lesson she taught me.

I finished my sixth form education at Ghana National College in June 1993, and came to Accra, the capital city of Ghana, to be with my siblings at Kotobabi. Whilst enjoying the break after a hectic time taking exams, I had a request from Amenfiman Secondary School (Amenss), the only secondary school in my holy village of Wasa Akropong, to come and help with vacation classes (tuition) for their O level students who were preparing for their exams the next year. I obliged with pleasure. I have a passion for teaching.

Having taught during the vacation, from August till October, I stayed on and got the opportunity to do my national service at the same school from November 1993 till December 1994, teaching Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics and Core Science.

When the national service period started, I was joined at the school by new service personnel – Dadzie (Gabot), Ammah (Sir Sawyerr), Amankattah (Makey), Bessah (Uncle Bee), amongst others. We also had some personnel in Wasa Akropong, who were not in Amenss. Most of these guys had grown up in urban cities and had no experience of rural life. So it was a whole different experience, a cultural shock and adjustment in most cases.

My friends in Amenss and I had a wonderful time, though in part this was due to the kindness of my mum. My mum was operating a local chopbar then in Wasa Akropong, that served traditional Ghanaian dishes – fufu, banku, kokonte (in secondary school, we gave it the scientific name ‘black calatus’!) with light soup and groundnut soup, with choice of mutton, fish and bush meat (game).  Twice a day, the three service personnel – Gabot, Sawyerr and Makey – and I (sometimes joined by Bessah) would troop to her chopbar, and help ourselves to some food, for free. In the evening, either we went to my parents’ house to eat or food is sent to our lodging. We used to joke that we ate six times a day, because we had both breakfast and lunch in the school and were supplied supper as well! This wonderful treatment from my mum caused Gabot to make his most famous statement: “Ekurase yε dε!” loosely translated as “Village life is good!” This practice continued daily for almost ten months.

Growing up, I observed my mum extend such kindness to many strangers, even to this day. Her philosophy, when I once queried her about her reasons, was that if she extended kindness to someone’s child who was living in an alien land, the same courtesy would be extended to her child when the situation is reversed. By her example, Mama taught us to be kind to others, especially strangers. John Billings advised that in order ‘to bring up a child in the way he should go, [you need to] travel that way yourself once in a while’. Mama travelled that way all the time.

In the Twi language, we have a proverb: “Yε obi deε yie, na wonso wo deε ayε yie”, meaning “If you treat someone else’s property well, yours will prosper as well.”

When I had the request to contribute to this anthology (in December 2013), I was spending the Christmas holidays in Lagos with my wife and our children, and it was a great honour to be able to take mum with us: her first time of flying. My heart swelled with pride when my siblings called from both Ghana and the States to tease her about how she found flying! I smiled as she recounted the feeling of seeing clouds below the plane!

My joy was fuller because this is a woman who gives so much, yet when she is given little in return, she embarrasses you by thanking you so profusely! Her home in Wasa Akropong is full of her grandchildren, and she works daily even today to keep them happy and satisfied.

If I am grounded today, if I remember my roots, if I respect my fellowman, if I am focused on hard work and making a mark in my society, I owe it in no small part to this gift that God gave to me as a mother. And if I had to choose again, Madam Elizabeth Somiah, affectionately called Maame Esi Chopbar, will definitely still get my vote.

I love you very much, mum. Happy Mother’s Day.

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In an information-saturated age where skimming through pages has virtually become the standard for reading, you know you got something unique when you find your head willingly buried in a book, checking out every line and with a smile. That is what Nana Awere Damoah gives you in Sebitically Speaking.

Inspired by Damoah’s late uncle, nicknamed Wofa Kapokyikyi, who was known for speaking his mind like nobody’s business, Sebitically Speaking is set around responsible citizenship and nation building. The 24-chapter read, which focuses mainly on Ghana with references to neighboring Nigeria and Africa as a whole, exposes the country’s vulnerabilities and highlights her prospects. With the economy, energy, health care, education, political process; even family, faith and morals forming the bulk of the contents, the subjects in this book aren’t what strike you as unique. It is how Damoah drums them home in a manner that transcends mere commentary to provoke action.

One key observation that cuts through this pool of personal accounts is how incredibly the individual’s lackadaisical attitude toward professional obligation mirrors what happens at the level of government. Why should an employee categorize the delivery of his child as an emergency when he had known for nine months that this child is on its way? Why should a government that had four years to prepare for a World Cup tournament term its obligation to pay members of the national team an emergency? Just as the old man seen struggling to finish a load of meat he set aside for himself while eating with others, government-led projects are dotted all over the place, many of them virtually abandoned, with hardly anything completed on time. “Rome was not built in a day,” Damoah agrees, but “it was built every day,” he argues.

As case after case rolls out in this book, character and responsibility is underscored, and these are linked effectively to the very foundations on which we are brought up as individuals. Damoah’s own upbringing, narrated in chapter 10 with incredibly humbling details, points to the sacrifices of hardworking parents, the eagle eye of a teacher who saw the potential of his student far beyond the walls of elementary education, and later in life, a professional head with an extraordinary sense of duty.

The style of expression in this casually-narrated but provocative read, which gets funny sometimes and emotional occasionally, is distinct. A chunk of the narrative comes as veiled expressions with obvious meanings. Yet, the bluntness that characterizes the bulk reminds you of the one person whose name runs through every chapter, the uncle to whom this book is dedicated. Evidently, Kapokyikyi’s piercingly candid vocalizations – helped habitually by booze – have found well-deserved credit in Damoah’s own intellectual freedom, growth and sense of humor.

“We are a people steeped in gullibility, combined with superstition; a very deadly mixture,” he writes in chapter 5. This chapter laments Ghana and Africa’s weaknesses in emergency preparedness and response, using Ebola as an example. It emphasizes the void left for myths and lies when our leaderships fail us. But the depiction of the citizenry who so easily get taken in by deceit draws a mixed reaction of humor and embarrassment. Who drinks medicine handed him or her by a stranger in a bus without questioning what’s in the concoction? Yet, how many times haven’t we seen this happening around us – if we are not ourselves the drinkers of this strange mixture.

In the end, Sebitically Speaking provokes our thoughts about who we are and our priorities as a people. It reminds us of what we have, how we’ve managed these things and why we cannot afford to continue in the direction we’ve been heading.

It may seem like so much was given out in this review, but that’s not the case at all: Nigeria and the okada experience got no mention; neither did Kotobabi and the latrine situation. One thing that makes this read interesting is how the different pieces of narratives blend into a coherent whole with a unifying message of responsible citizenship and nation building.

Antoinette Herrmann-Condobrey is a freelance journalist based in New Jersey, USA and a columnist for The Africa report.

Sebitically Speaking is Nana Awere Damoah’s 5th book. The ebook version was published in March 2015 and is available on Amazon Kindle, iBooks, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Azabiabooks and other online ebook platforms.  It is due for launch as paperback in the second quarter of 2015.

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If we had a couple of hundreds of Nana Awere Damoah in Ghana we would have:

1. Had the history of our state, especially its most recent one well preserved;
2. Put politicians on their toes consistently each day of our lives and hopefully affect the growth of our Ghana;
3. Had a compilation of the daily wahala of the Ghanaian so beautifully chronicled that we will love to read again and again while pondering on “how the heck we got here”.

In Sebitically Speaking, we get a compilation of the happenings in the Ghana most of us are not proud of but yet remain hopeful of its resurrection going forward.

If you have not been to Ghana before or have not been here in a while, this book gives you the perfect map with commentary to guide you through the heat of Paga, the wet enclaves of Enchi and Nzulezu, the not so clean shores of Accra and her surburbs, the forests of Bono and Ahafo through the galamseyed-destroyed land of Ashanti.

Whilst on this journey, NAD, as we all call him, reveals to the uninitiated some of the saddest comments, incredulous actions, lamest excuses and amazingly unbelievable heart of the Ghanaian to contain all that rubbish.

Sebitically Speaking should be the perfect gift for any public official you know; your assembly member, MP, DCE, NCE, Minister of State, Vice President and President and all those who are paid with our tax money.

Kwame Gyan is a Blogger, Social Media Activist and PR/Marketing Professional.

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