When the harmattan hits you in both nose and pocket, when your nose and your pocket begin to bleed simultaneously, when your dry face begins to do you ‘who are you, who are you’, then you start to believe those who say that this year 2018 has been declared “The Year of Taxtion”. Welcome to the Nanamattan.
In secondary school, we used to say “last days are dangerous”. What we failed to realise to realise is that first days are equally deadly. And 2018 has brought this truism to perfect light. I don’t know what our leaders ate during the Crossover, Crawlover, Shoutover, Rollout, Boozeover or whatchamacallitover. But whatever it is, that thing caused them to start 2018 with Taxtion! A clear intent of action to tax! Ah, I get it. Someone just whispered in my ears that the Scripture read at the leaders’ stepover was 1 Kings 12: 11:
My father laid on you a heavy yoke; I will make it even heavier. My father scourged you with whips; I will scourge you with scorpions.
So, as soon as 2017 turned its behind and waved ‘ba-bai ooo!’ the taxtion taps were turned on. The first taxtion came from the house of my neighbour Gustav Tsatsu Vroom, popularly known in our hood as GTV.
GTV was managing his matter small small without wahala. He and his wife could even afford to use their Xmas decorative lights as disco lights till March of the next year. Hakuna matata. Then he decided that his house was too quiet so took a decision to throw an open invitation to the GTV party, with gate fees starting from GHS 36. For two or more family members, one could pay GHS 60. And stay for a year mpo. Come and see the people who have entered with binoculars, magnifying glasses, white clothes to wipe the louvres to check for dirt, etc. This party will pap papa! Ei, I just saw Rodney Nkrumah-Boateng looking under the carpet! Asem aba!
When the party fee was mentioned, many were the voices that rose to lambast GTV for his yeye things. The calls of yentua reverberated across the nation. Then, cantankerous people like Rodney said to themselves with wicked grins “Why not? GTV has been keeping its heavy drapes drawn so that none of the neighbours could peep inside. What an opportunity to enter and do mfifiimu!” This stance started to gain currency. Some were also stimulated by their love of freedom and hatred for embarrassment. For, the man GTV is both wiry and wily. He needs the party fees not just to maintain his house, but also to buy food for the guests, hoping that some will remain for his own nourishment and that of his family members, who are many, it is rumoured. To make plans double sure, he convinced the head of the courts to issue an edict to encourage the neighbours to pay up, or else…
So, to the house of GTV the neighbours trooped, to pay or rant. The payers increased and the ranters remained. Some ranters joined the payers and some ranters dug in. Well, we live to see.
But this reminded me of another incident, again as the year started. In my 2016 Sikaman Awards, the Yɛ-Wɔ-Kromer of the Year was Bozoma Afiba Saint John (née Arthur), who was then Head of Marketing for Apple Music. Currently, she is the global Chief Brand Officer of Uber. An icon and a leading voice. A Ghanaian, she was in town for holidays and the African Leadership Initiative West Africa (ALIWA) was organising a brunch with her at the Labadi Beach Hotel. The moderator was to Kwaku Sakyi Addo. The flyer for the event started appearing on Facebook with a number to call and a question like ‘Are you in town next week? Would you love to have Brunch with Bozoma?’ Of course! Who wouldn’t love to have a close interaction with Boz (as her friends call her) and break bread, with a little waakye thrown in? Then, as people called the number and found that the Akans were not joking when they said that beautiful things seen by the roadside are not built, propped up and maintained with air but with money, a few grumbles were heard. What is Ghana without a few grumbles, eh? We were born to rant. I smiled.
Yesterday, 4 January 2018, the event took place. And it was a well-attended session, the nuggets shared were deep and the attendees were from diverse backgrounds, creating the avenue for awesome networking. I learnt a lot, and loved Boz more. How do I know all these? Because I watched the full playback on Facebook Live, on the Citi FM (TV) page. A good lesson reinforced. Cry your own cry. As my parents taught me years ago, when in hard straits, say “I am suffering”, not “We are suffering”. I always tell people that the real movers hardly talk or make noise. And those who will actually take action rarely have time to talk plenty.
As we saw in the attendees at the GTV party.
But the taxtion taps still flowed. This time, we heard a big burst and the sound of rushing water. We rushed to the house of Daniella Victoria Larteley Ankrah and found red bags floating in the river of aid that flowed from her garage. Auntie DVLA, as her admirers called her, was sitting at the base of the big tap and smiling. She had decided to distribute copious amounts of first aid to all: one citizen, one first aid bag. You only had to drop a token of over GHS 108 for the privilege.
This year will be fun. I like this Year of Taxtion already.