It was a cool harmattan morning and the country was in a simultaneous state of jollity and despondency as one administration was preparing to hand over to another, after the December elections of the previous year. The outgoing President was going to deliver the State of the Nation’s address to Parliament for the last time in that capacity, at least for that term. Old, new and aspiring politicians; incoming and outgoing Parliamentarians (by design or by voter decision alike), previous Presidents and aspiring ones, movers and shakers, ordinary citizens who had special passes that day, Ghanaians…all were trooping to the Parliament house to be part of history.
Two politicians walked up the red carpet into Parliament. Okay, let’s say it was one of them who was really walking on the red carpet. A former President, in a pensive moment and picking his steps, as if counting and marching to a silent humming in his head of his favourite song – o-za-mi-na-mi-na-na, o-za-mi-na-mi-na. Jerryboom on the march yo. From his right, almost in a submissive mood, approached a favourite of the people, an outgoing Mayor, he who is called Tsentse. Tsentse, who clamps both hands in salute to the Jerryboom and attempts to walk in tandem with him, perhaps to sing the song so the Jerry could walk well.
First warning. “Hey!” Jerryboom shows both palms to Tsentse, as if to say “Back off!” Tsentse backs off, momentarily. Tsentse tries again, this time with both hands clamped in his damirifa. J-Boom stops again, and shows both hands, palms out, again to Tsentse. I could hear him loudly, only in my mind, “Numo, I said ‘back off’”! Jerryboom continues his walk up to Parliament, o-za-mi-na-mi-na-na, o-za-mi-na-mi-na.
Tsentse waves at someone across the carpet, and turns and also smiles to the camera.
It was 5 January 2017.
The year has just started and the long journey through January had begun on a gloomy note, according to the Afrobarometer survey undertaken by Dr John OK on the real pockets of Sikaman. In the School Fees Week, usually celebrated in the second week of January, Ghana was celebrating twenty-five years when Jerryboom cast off his khaki trousers and shirts and picked up kente cloths and suits, deciding to dabble in democracy even though he repeated declared that he didn’t believe in it. I like such honesty. Is that what they mean when they say that one must grit his teeth and get down with it?
This time, the leaders, past and present, politicians, street hawkers, preachers, galamsey practitioners, parliamentarians, teachers, poets, writers and thieves – all of them gathered at the Black Star Square to give thanks to the most High for helping us keep the elephant in the bush, ei sorry, I meant the abongo man in the barracks. For the past quarter century, we have done well in maintaining the democratic experiment (that phrase eh!), pretending to vote for our politicians who sometimes pay us to vote for them, so we pay them when they are going out of office. We have managed to implement the system of ka bi, na mi nka bi (speak your mind, but allow me to also speak my mind). Never mind that we have taken that so seriously and literally that we have done more of talking and less of doing. Of implementation of the ideas we talk about. But, yes, we have done well in not disrupting our governance as we used to, and have had the longest period of a republic, having had three previously, the longest of which lasted for seven years (counting from 1960 when we became a proper republic till 1966 when Nkrumah was sent to Guinea to eat nkruma).
The three living Johns were there. First John, Second John and the Fourth John. A moment of silence was held for Third John and two of the Vice Presidents we have lost over the years – the Stubborn Cat Arkaah and the smiling Aliu. May their souls rest in peace.
As usual, there was much greeting and smiling and back slapping. Even on the dias. But not with all of them. Where two or three Johns gather, there is drama.
So it came to pass that a semi hand-shaking salute march pass was enacted. Fourth John was standing and Second John came by, with his walking stick in his right hand and his aide holding his left hand, helping him along. I admire how Second John, the Gentle Sexy Eyes, attends such important national events even though he is clearly advanced in age and it is showing. Second John, on seeing Fourth John, transferred his walking stick to his left hand, gave Fourth John a big handshake, and a bear hug, both of them beaming with smiles. Thousand megawatt smiles, as if the glitter from the smiles was sponsored by Bui. The two of them exchanged pleasantries and then Second John moved on.
Fast-forward and we then see Second John seated on the left chair by Fourth John, who was still standing. First John, the one and only Jerryboom, came along and shook the hands of the seated Second John, without maintaining eye contact. You know Jerryboom, always looking to the hills for inspiration. Then, he moved on to Fourth John and had a gentle touch of palms and then on he went. Still humming o-za-mi-na-mi-na-na, o-za-mi-na-mi-na.
It was 7 January 2018.
In an interview a few days later, when Fourth John was asked about that encounter and the clear difference in the two scenarios – Fourth verses Second John and Fourth versus First John – Fourth John indicated that First John’s mood determines his greeting style. In essence, the shorddy gets moody and his moods go on swinging safaris.
I say there is something in January where Jerryboom is concerned. Jerryboom’s bloom in January is becoming legendary. A clear case for a thesis investigation.
Hello January! Be kind to us and pass quickly! And smile to us, don’t be like Jerryboom in January!