Up Atop My Roof So High: Notch 2 – Jerryboom and January Blooms

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!

 

 

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Shareholder Letter to GTV: Week ending 13/01/18

Dear GTV:
Trust you are keeping well. How is the collection going?
This is my weekly letter to you. Today I have two main issues. 
First, please get an official spokesperson to be speaking on the TV Licence matter. How multiple officials are speaking ajar and in various directions is not helping your matter. Quite incoherent. Today, this; tomorrow, that. 
Secondly, as a leading shareholder, I have been inundated with tags on misspellings on your screens. I am fed up with the screenshots. Granted, some of them, like the ‘fowls’ for ‘fouls’ one is like four years old, but there are recent ones. Can you please use GHS 20 out of the GHS 120 I have paid within the last month to hire a proofreader? I will be issuing directives on what the rest of my payment should be used for.
All the best for the rest of the week. Btw, I loved watching Kwabena Yeboah on Monday’s Sports Highlights. That guy is evergreen. Hope you are working on a succession plan for his show.
Cheers,
Your shareholder extraordinaire,
Kapokyikyiwofaase
cc Rodney Nkrumah-Boateng

Sebiticals Chapter 25: Eggnomics and the rape of the State

**An excerpt from Sebitically Speaking (2015), by Nana Awere Damoah
 
===========
 
Since last week, the sound of goats has trended and even as I write this Sebitical, oh Reader, I smell Joe Louis in my nostrils. Ah, Joe Louis!
 
That was the name of a billy goat the Damoah family owned when I was very little, at Abavanna Down, Kotobabi. Joe was the proud owner of a sparkling white beard with streaks of black. Reminds me of Wofa Kapokyikyi’s proverb: Abodwesɛ tintin na yɛ de yɛ kramo ni a, anka aponkye yɛ mallam, that is, if the only qualification for being a good Moslem was having a long beard, the goat can be a mallam. Joe Louis would have certainly been a scholar! Anyway, Joe could be gone from the house for days providing community services to the area’s nanny goats (see, our family has always been philanthropic) but none of us worried because we knew he would be back. And when he decided to come back home, we could smell him miles away and would go to the main street, ‘flowing’ him ‘fans’ : Jooooe Louis! Joe the Billy Goat had no wife but most of the nanny goats were proud to call him husband. Wofa Kapokyikyi greets you all, with a touch of aponkye flavour.
 
“How much does an egg cost?”
 
That may seem like a simple question but it is quite complex. The answer depends on who is asking: an individual or the State.
 
During the early years in my career, I used to travel across Ghana on trade visits, to customers and markets, to monitor quality in trade and also pick up some market intelligence. Once, we visited this trader in a kiosk in Saltpond. We asked her the prices of the products of my organisation.
 
“It depends,” she replied in Fanti.
 
We probed and she explained that the prices depended on who was asking.
 
“How much will this product be for someone like me?” I asked.
 
Without batting an eye, she responded “Awoa? Enkyɛ me dze bɛ bo wo tirim!”, meaning she would have sold it at an exorbitant price to me, since I was with a Trooper, and well-dressed.
 
So how much an egg costs depends on who is asking. If it is the government, then you know what’s up.
 
One “Ghc2.50″ for your pocket.
 
In 2014, a group of friends, spearheaded by a Facebook group I am part of, decided to renovate a primary school building in Apagya, Ghana, which had had more than half of its roof ripped off during a rainstorm in early 2014. The other classrooms which though had their roof intact experienced leakages when it rained. That initial idea expanded to include repairing the foundation of the building and the floors of the classrooms as well as repainting the entire building. We later painted the adjoining block for the junior secondary school. We raised funds from friends and family via social media (and a group of Apagya citizens in the diaspora) and delivered the project within five months.
 
Fund-raising started in July, actual work began in August, works were completed in November and handed over to the community the same month. In all, the team spent Ghc22,466 out of a total of Ghc23,074 raised. The project also had support from the Apagya community, which provided timber for the works and communal labour, as well as donations in kind of paint and bags of cement from the District Chief Executive and some Apagya citizens. The scope of works comprised removal of existing roofing sheets and carpentry; re-roofing of all six classrooms plus headmaster’s office; installation of fascia boards; masonry works to foundation and floor screeding; installation of doors and windows; and painting of walls, windows and doors.
 
The question has been asked, and quite rightly: how much money would have been needed for this project, had it been done by either the District Assembly or central government? And how long would it have taken? The second question is easier to guess: much, much longer. The situation that needed fixing, at least the roof part, had existed for at least four months until we decided to fix it. Initially, even getting the district engineer to visit the school to assess the damage and give the planning team estimates for the costing proved futile. The District Assembly supported only at the tail end, with forty bags of cement. The first question cannot be answered correctly, but one can guess. It would have taken at least twice the amount we spent.
 
Eggnomics at work. After all, it is aban (government) money.
 
The role that public procurement plays in the rape of our nation’s resources is like the elephant in the room: we all see it but fail to talk about it. A friend once said that when public servants and politicians are excited about a project, one just needs to scratch the surface to realise that what really tickles them is the procurement bit. And the 10%. Only the dumb politician or public official steals all the funds for a project. The smarter ones skim off the project and yet deliver it.
 
The story is told of two classmates, one European and the other African, who finished their studies in Europe and each went back to his country, ending up in politics. After ten years, the European guy (let’s call him John Bull), invited his African friend (let’s call him Yaw Mensah) to his home. John had built a magnificent edifice as his home and Yaw was so impressed.
 
“How did you manage to do this in ten short years?” Yaw asked.
John smiled and led him to the window, pointing through the glass:
“You see the bridge over that river?”
“Yes,” Yaw replied.
“2%” John told him.
“You see that tarred road on the left? 3%. You see that community hall? 2.5%”.
 
Yaw nodded…and returned to his country and continent, promising to return the favour by inviting John one day to visit him.
 
A year later, Yaw did exactly that. When John got to Yaw’s house, he was lost for words!
 
“How did you deliver this in just a year?!”
 
Yaw smiled and repeated the drill.
 
“You see the bridge over that river?” Yaw pointed.
“But there is no bridge!” John replied, puzzled.
“Exactly,” Yaw agreed, “100%!”
 
The Daily Graphic of 18 March, 2015 (page 60), reported that a six-unit classroom block and a teachers’ bungalow had been inaugurated at Agyareago in the Konongo-Odumase Municipality at the cost of Ghc409,000. Funded by the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund) and the District Development Fund respectively, this classroom block included a staff common room, an Information and Communications Technology (ICT) centre, a store and a library.
 
In October 2014, Dr Papa Kwesi Nduom, his wife Mrs Yvonne Nduom and Groupe Nduom (GN) handed over a three-storey ultra-modern dormitory to his alma mater St. Augustine’s College in Cape Coast. The total cost of the project was Ghc500,000 and included the main dormitory (with a capacity to accommodate 150 students), accommodation facilities for teachers, an Information Communication Technology (ICT) centre, study room, library, visitor’s room and a courtyard for recreational activity. This total cost also included mattresses for the dormitory and beds and sitting room furniture for the teachers’ flats. The project was delivered in 12 months.
 
The Headmaster of St. Augustine’s College, Mr. Joseph Connel, remarked: “In fact this dormitory is a dormitory with a difference. Looking at all the ten dormitories we have, this is the only dormitory with a stairs in-built and upgraded with modern facilities and very spacious with staff accommodation attached for housemasters to be able to check on the students.”
 
The question to ask again: for how much would the government agency have delivered this same project?
 
To answer this, let me give you some more instances and reports, using the example of six-unit classroom blocks, consistent with what the Daily Graphic stated earlier. I have used two main sources: the official Government of Ghana news portal whose reports are mostly from the Information Services Department (ISD) and Ghana News Agency (GNA), with respective dates indicated:
 
28 February, 2011 (GNA): Ghc261,000 six-classroom block with office for the Maabeng Senior High Technical School inaugurated by the District Chief Executive.
 
21 May, 2012 (GNA): Ghc162,318 six-unit classroom block, store, office and library for the people of Nkyesa and surrounding communities in Asante Akim South district of Ashanti region commissioned and handed over by the MTN Ghana Foundation. An additional Ghc10,000 was provided for procurement of furniture for the classrooms and library.
 
22 February, 2014 (GOG/ISD): “The First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Mr. Ebo Barton Oduro, yesterday said government was committed to education, and will do everything possible to enhance teaching and learning in schools. Mr. Oduro who is also the Member of Parliament (MP) for Cape Coast North, said this when he commissioned a three-unit classroom block worth more than Ghc220,000 for the Kakumdo Metropolitan Assembly (M/A) Basic School in Cape Coast.”
 
23 July, 2014 (GOG/ISD): “The Municipal Chief Executive (MCE) for Techiman, Mr. Phillip Oppong Amponsah has inaugurated a six classroom block with ancillary facilities for the Methodist Primary school. The six classroom block has ancillary facilities such as a library, ICT Centre, furniture, two (2) urinals and four (4) seat water closet (WC) toilet facilities as well as a [sic] burglar proof. The project which started in 2009 was funded by the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GET Fund) at the cost of Ghc230,000.00.”
 
23 September, 2014: “The Ashanti Regional Minister, Hon. Samuel Sarpong has inaugurated a new six-unit classroom block for Krapa M/A primary school in the Ejisu-Juaben Municipality of the Ashanti Region. The project, valued at GH₡450,000 was initiated and funded by GETFUND and would accommodate school children and teachers who for some time now had been studying in temporary structures.”
 
14 November, 2014 (GNA): Ghc 183,000 six-classroom block with ancillary facilities for Roman Catholic Primary School at Wagambu in the Mion District of the Northern region built by the Catholic Diocese of Yendi and handed over to the authorities of the Ghana Education Service.
 
3 March, 2015 (GNA): $61,820 six-classroom block and community toilet facility built by Compassion International Ghana, an NGO, inaugurated and handed over to the chiefs and people of Breman Jamra.
 
11 March, 2015 (GNA): Ghc280,000 six-classroom block, with an office, library and store, built and donated by the children of [the] late Jacob Bonful and spouse Mrs Elizabeth Bonful, built for the Methodist Model school at Sokoban-Ampabame, Kumasi.
Take particular note of the differences in costs when done by a private or corporate entity versus when done by government. The Opposition has had cause to complain about this and we shouldn’t disregard it.
 
We have still not forgotten the hullabaloo that greeted the news that Ridge Hospital was to be rehabilitated and equipped at the cost of of $250 million. The expansion was to provide the Hospital with ultra-modern facilities and a 420-bed capacity. In the heat of the discussion, I could only remember that for $60 million, my organisation in Nigeria had built an ultra-modern 1000-ton per day palm oil refinery, tank farms, packing hall, equipped with about five packing lines, utilities such as sub-stations, boiler house – the entire works.
 
We have only finished the debate on the $29 million rehabilitation works at the Kumasi Airport, taking into consideration that the Ethiopian Airports Enterprise (EAE) is planning to construct three new airports in Ethiopia at an estimated cost of US$ 64.5million.
The official residence of the Head of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), which was previously occupied by her predecessor Justice Francis Emile Short, was being redesigned with several variations and renovated at a cost of Ghc182,000. A critical assessment of what constitutes that cost buildup will be an interesting journey in amazement.
 
We shouldn’t forget so soon, the episode of the former Speaker of Parliament, Rt. Hon. Ebenezer Begyina Sekyi Hughes, who illegally took away furnishings from his official residence at the end of his tenure. These items would have been replaced, at cost to the State, with the principle of eggnomics.
 
As the nation seeks to plug holes in its burgeoning expenditure, procurement is a low hanging fruit, easily plucked through inflated project costings, and suppliers’ mark up (to also cushion against late payment from government). We must look at the quality of work and whether we even get value for money. How many times have we not seen road projects deteriorate as quickly as they are completed?
 
I even speak of projects which actually took place. Some projects don’t. But the expenditure takes place.
 
So how much does an egg cost? Tell me when you get to know the answer when government is buying it.
 
Till I come your way with another sebitical, I remain:
 
Sebitically yours,
Kapokyikyiwofaase
IMG_2400
Sebitically Speaking

​Nsempiisms: Bringing Up Mono-Linguals?

Last week, on 19 September 2017, I was honoured to be part of the launch of the 11th edition of The Spelling Bee, and had fun doing a reading of my piece “You Know You Are In Ghana When…”. Thanks for the opportunity, Eugenia Techie-Menson (aka Mawn Van Boven) and well done for the amazing experience: audience, ambience, content, speeches, performances, theme…

Yes, the theme. THE RELEVANCE OF THE MOTHER TONGUE IN LITERACY.

The thoughts shared, the documentary screened of young people who can’t speak in their mother tongue or in any other local language, the looming danger of our grandchildren not speaking any of our native languages because their parents — our children — cannot teach them because they cannot speak the languages themselves…I haven’t stopped thinking about it all.

My little girl is being taught Twi as a subject in school and, this week, she brought in homework, to list five local or indigenous games in which songs are sang. We had fun trying to remember some and took the fun a notch higher by calling my mum on phone, who excitedly gave us three types of games. As we tried to get one last one, Mama called back and said “Adonko koraa, nea ɔmo to wɔ TV so no, ɛno nsoso yɛ agorɔ ni bi!”

I could literally feel the joy oozing from her as she contributed to her grand-daughter and namesake’s homework.

At home, my wife and I communicate primarily in Twi, she speaks Fanti as well but my Fanti is terrible (apologies to my grandma Abokoma and the etsew I ate in Cape Coast for seven years on Menya Mewu Hills) and Ga, when we don’t want the children to understand what we are saying. Their nanny is Ewe but speaks Ga mostly so, in addition to what they have learnt in the Ga classes at school, Auntie Mary has taught them some Ga so these days they are able to follow our Ga convos. Perhaps it is time to learn Ewe? But I digress.

We have been lazy as parents in speaking directly to them in Twi or Fanti. Well, let’s say I have. Wife mine has done much better. My more positive action, perhaps, is taking them to Wasa at least once a year for the past eight or so years, so they can get immersed in the language and the customs of their people much more.

On our last visit, in August this year, one of my sons was annoyed when a relative, when he responded in English whilst she spoke Twi to him, retorted “Ka Twi!” I explained that he understood but, perhaps, is also afraid of his accent.

Yes, so though they understand the language fairly, they speak it not like I do. So there is surely a gap, and I was rudely nudged into revitalised action during the launch of The Bee.

I have started speaking more of Twi now with the children, directly.

I don’t want them, or their children — my grandchildren — to be what the Country Director of Young Educators Foundation (who run The Spelling Bee), Eugenia Techie-Menson calls ‘mono-linguals’. They will not be so, not under my watch.

Will your grandchildren speak your language?

Nsempiisms. My mouth has fallen.

Nsempiisms: Education Cures Poverty

Manasseh Azure Awuni once said that “you cannot explain the concept of poverty to some one who hasn’t gone hungry before.”
I am for any initiative that reduces the burden on parents in educating their children. Education, for some of us, was the only social mobility vehicle we could get on. Education, for some of us, was our only chance out of poverty. Education, for me, is the ultimate leveller.
But for scholarships, I might not have gone through school. In my final year in the University, when user fees were introduced, it was not easy for me. Thank God it was only for a year, in my case.
For sure, the standard of our education is not like it was. And for sure, education has become more expensive. But we have to start the climb back from somewhere. 
Can we sustain the funding? The answer to that question lies in the sittings of the Public Account Committee.
“The promises and pretenses of politicians in Ghana seldom impress me. But I regret that a matter as important as education is now also trounced by partisanship!” Kofi Akpabli, in the anthology Mother.
That is the bigger tragedy in Sikaman today.

Nsempiisms. My mouth has fallen.

​Sebiticals Chapter 42: An Ecclesiastical Paulogue to the Manasonians

In the first year of the reign of Odekuro Odieasem Nana Tutubrofo Dankwawura, there were rumours and reports of malfeasance in the corridors of the temple. When asked for the meaning of the word ‘malfeasance’, the scribes of the land explained that it was the situation where the incense from the burnt offerings had malodor. One of the major scribes, a man from the Manasonians, took upon himself to open the windows into the temple so both Jews and Gentiles alike would sniff the nunu scent and testify.

Meanwhile, many years before Odieasem ascended the throne, there was born a man known as Saul. This Saul later attended the institute of high learning in Rome and was introduced to Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Kant, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Marx and Socrates. He also learnt the ways of Sulla, Julius Caesar and Marcus Aurelius. Right from the high tower, he took a garment of pure Scottish fabric and, with letters from the bearded philosophers of the land, set off to uphold the virtues of the Universe.
One day, on his way to Okponglomascus, suddenly a voice sounded around him and a light flashed.
The voice called out: “Go ye towards the road to Fanoafa and ye shall be told what to do.”
In Fanoafa lived a disciple of the Brand, a Sammenitan called Hatta. The word came to him: “Go out on the Fanoafa road and ye shall find a young man in Scottish garb, who ye shall take onto thy fold; for he is my chosen instrument to build and sustain the Brand.”
Picking up his rod, the Hatta the Sammeritan went forth by the Way of Avenor and took the long road towards Okponglomascus where he met Saul. Then Hatta, the man of Sammenria, held the hands of Saul and blessed him, saying, “Brother Saul, ye have been found worthy of the Brand and selected by the Voice; the Voice that spoke to you on the Okponglomascus road has directed me to you, so you might be imbued with dumornic fervour to serve the Brand and build it and sustain it, as a standard to all who shall come after thee.” 

Immediately, Saul started speaking in slangs and praising the Voice, rejoicing that he had been counted worthy of the working for the Brand. When the power of the Voice had descended on him, the Sammeritan blessed him and said, “Henceforth, you shall be called Paul Grace, for upon this foundation I will build the Brand.”
The Voice was with Paul and worked mighty and great deeds through him. And the Brand grew and many were added to their numbers. Among the deeds wrought through Paul and the servants of the Brand included a one-on-one with Junior Jesus, after his second coming and when he had visited the temple to cast lots. This feat was unprecedented and the fame of the Brand soared and soared. The philosophers of the land saw all that Paul had done and were pleased and honoured with a coat of many colours.
In the church at Fanoafa were many teachers and prophets: Rekced who was also called Sonny, Romud from the house of Oheb, Neerod who was one of the mighty women who had served right from the beginning of the church and Paul. As the Brand grew and grew, one day, as the servants of the Brand were meditating on the Way, the Voice spoke and said, “Set apart for me Paul Grace and Hatta the Sammenitan, for they have more work to do in unearthing and nurturing more disciplines to serve in more churches modeled after Fanoafa.”
So it came to pass that after the disciples had fasted and prayed, they sent them forth as apostles of the Voice. The two of them, sent on their way by the Voice, went down via the Appian Way and turned towards the place called The Blood Is A Crowd and over the Bridge towards the Road of Liberation, proclaiming the Way of The Voice wherever they went, doing good and making disciples of all men. 
The first church they planted was at the centre of The City, where Paul found and converted a young man known as Elva, who was full of grace and power. Elva was beloved of Paul.
Sometime later, Paul said to Hatta, “Let’s go back and visit the brethren between Fanoafa and here and see how they are faring.” Paul wanted to take Elva with him, but the older apostle from Sammenria wanted to keep Elva at The City. The two apostles had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Elva remained at The City but didn’t lose his relationship with Paul. Paul loved Elva with all his heart. Paul set forth and went through Ganaria and Sankaria, eventually pitching his ministry at Labonicia, from where he continued to speak to the churches, including the church at Manasonia.
And it was at Labonica that Wofa Kapokyikyi met Paul Grace and fell in love with his sermons from the Mount every evening. Wofa wasn’t along: people from far and near would come and drink deep as the Apostle Paul taught and instructed and also brought philosophers to espouse on Plutonian and Aristocratic ideas as well as those for the down-trodden.
With the passage of time, the Brand continued to grow and expand and more where added to their numbers, including a man called Azur, from Manasonia who came wailing and sniffing and looking under the eyes of corpses. In the meantime, there arose in the land a leader of the scribes called Yennom son of Frail. He was learned, both in letters worked for and those acquired. 
In the eighth month of the first year of Odekuro Odieasem Nana Tutubrofo Dankwawura, Azur went looking into coffins in the house of Paul of Jos. Some of the coffins had been closed and sealed and locked in the vault. Not only did Azur open these caskets, but he did them in the open, just outside the temple gates. The harmattan winds carried the nunu scent into the corridors of the temple and permeated everywhere. 
The ‘shenanigans’ of Azur, with the support of the Brand, didn’t go down well with the retired priests and servants of the temple. And some of the scribes, who began releasing epistles upon epistles cautioning against exorcism. Azur retorted that exorcism wasn’t banned under the Torah.  
Things came to a head when the major Scribe, Yennom bar-Frail, released his epistle, directed towards no-one but targeted towards the discerning. 
There was uproar in the land, from both Jews and Gentiles and from the Sadducees and Pharisees. Counter epistles were written and posted on the city gates and on the walls of the land. One epistle was jointly written by the Watchmen. One of the signatories was a Nyarkonite, who was a retired opener of caskets.
That is when Paul gave his seminal ecclesiastical paulogue to Azur, reminding him of the tenets of the Brand and admonishing him not to dilute the Way of the Voice, keeping it holy and sacrosanct. The Sermon covered over forty scrolls, according to the scribes whose duty it is to record the annals of the land. The Sermon chronicled the history of the church of the Brand and the canons of the Way. Paul spoke with spiritual vehemence, saying “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.” 
And being in anguish, he spoke more earnestly and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.
After the Sermon, there was uproar in the land, with the Watchmen saying perhaps the apostle had been affected by his association with the house of Jos. And when the Nyarkonite, who was used as an example of how not to behave in the Way, came to affirm the methods of Azur the Manasonian, the people of the land looked up to the heavens, for a word from the Voice.

In the meantime, the people reached out for their favourite book in such moments: the book of Nahum. Even Wofa Kapokyikyi, who is not usually bereft of words, is reading Nahum.

Hmmm

As for Yennom bar-Frail, he won’t be forgetting his epistle in a hurry, as we await the casting of lots soon. Will it be the one epistle that determines how he gets to manage the letters after his name, either procured or awarded?
Till I come your way another day with another sebitical, I remain:
Sebitically yours,

Kapokyikyiwofaase

​Waakyenometric Observations

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

Nsempiisms: Building the House of State

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.

Nsempiisms: Indiscipline or Deficiency

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.

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