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Archive for the ‘Creative non-fiction’ Category

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

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​I am having a good conversation with my friend Jeremiah Buabeng on Facebook.
He commented on my article, titled “Donkorantumi: The Chalky Road to Rome”, thus: 
“Wow! This is beautiful writing. The flow is perfect. Choice of words on point. Truly engaging piece. I don’t even know what literary device best describes your use of Odikro, Kontihene etc in place of the original titles. Is there such a device, Nana?”
Below was my response:
One of the reasons why many of our contemporary writers are from the non-literature fields and mainly from the sciences and engineering fields is that we are not encumbered by the strict techniques of writing and not constrained thereby. So it frees us to experiment. Long way to say “I don’t know!” Hehehe. Wo na wo bu device! 😛
When asked which genre I write in, etc, I usually struggle.
Poor Engineer. I just write. I leave the classification to others.
Having said that, in Sebiticals, what I tried to do was to tightly weld together the techniques of traditional story telling, creative non-fiction and oral tradition.
I experimented with general creative writing in my first two books and in the 4th book, honed storytelling in Tales, especially in the short story “Truth Floats” but all these came together nicely in Sebiticals. Listening to the audiobook of Sebiticals, I was myself amazed at some of the expressions I had penned. Taking over the voice of Kapokyikyi also helped to release me. So it was a bit like a throwback to my acting days as Opanyin Brebuor.

For me, art and its forms should be like a river, flowing in various directions and finding its variegated levels.

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**There were three Sebiticals that didn’t make it into the published book, Sebitically Speaking, because they were written after April 2015 when the final manuscript for editing of the book was concluded. This article, written in July 2015, was one of them. I am working on the 2nd edition of Sebitically Speaking, to include these articles. Enjoy this one.
 
PS: Someone had asked me to include the chalky episode in a future book and I told him I had written on that in the past. Well, here it is.
 
====
 
I love reflecting on some of the old joys of my growing up years and, recently, I have been curating photos of yesteryears, which I have titled ‘Do You Remember?’ These pictures tell us, somehow, of a past Ghana that was more structured and better organised than what we have now, reminding me that, in many ways, our Sikaman past seems brighter than our future. An entire topic for discussing in a sebitical soon.
 
Earlier this year, I indulged in watching old movies set in Ghana. No one can miss movies by Kwaw Ansah in such an exercise. So I watched Love Brewed in an African Pot, Heritage Africa and Kukurantumi: Road to Accra.
 
In Heritage Africa, the main character, who wanted to appear and act more British than the Queen, had changed his name Kwesi Atta Bosomefi to Quincy Arthur Bosomfield and had risen to become the District Commissioner of Accra in His Majesty’s Gold Coast. One aspect of the film stayed with me. His mother, played by the legendary Alexandria Duah, gave him a family heirloom which had been passed on from generation to generation, amongst the male heads of the family. It was believed to carry “the soul and pride” of the Abusua; his late uncle had been the previous custodian and now it was Kwesi Atta’s turn to hold it in safe custody, to be his source of strength and pride, to be held in trust and passed on to the next generation. As soon as his mum left, Kwesi took this family treasure to his office and showed it to his British boss, who expressed his admiration of the artifact. Kwesi asked his boss to keep it as a gift from him.
 
A few days later, Kwesi visited his mum in the village and the old lady’s first question to him was whether he was keeping the heirloom safe. When Kwesi told her he had given it out to his boss, the mum wailed loudly and exclaimed: “Ebei Kwesi Atta Bosomefi! Sukoo pii yi a ekɔɔ yɛ yi, ɛnsua nyansa kakra enfiri mu a?” meaning “after all your long years of schooling, did you not learn or gather any wisdom?” The film editor translated the question as “What happened to all the classroom education?”.
 
In my holy village of Wasa Akropong where my Wofa Kapokyikyi runs things, we say that there is a difference between home sense and school sense. Indeed, Kapokyikyi would say that adwen nko, na nyansa nko, which literally means that not all who have brains have wisdom. It also means that knowledge must be applied with wisdom. For instance, a wise man knows when to open his mouth and when to close it, when to talk and when to hold back; wisdom is the right application of knowledge. I read once that knowledge is not power; it is the right application of knowledge that is power. Otherwise, there wouldn’t be so many powerless knowledgeable people in this world. I bring you greetings from Wofa Kapokyikyi.
 
So wisdom is evident in whatever language it is expressed in. I have heard some foolish stuff expressed eloquently in English and have lapped at sense spoken in Twi. So I don’t get this so-called elitism because someone cannot speak English. Some of the wisest in our history have not been in classrooms and only a visit to a palace or rural gathering would confirm that.
 
Two incidents over the past week have set me on this excursion in my sebitical mind: the chalk talk in Kukurantumi (ah, it reminded me of Kwaw Ansah’s Kukurantumi: Road to Accra) by the wife of Kontihene and the inclusion of Madam Akua Donkor on Odikro’s visit to the Roman citadel.
 
The chalk talk and the subsequent apology brought to mind a story Wofa Kapokyikyi told me.
 
One Sunday morning, Opia was both broke and hungry, but he decided to still go to church in his Sunday best. He donned his white shirt over his favourite trousers and passed by Auntie Esi’s chop bar to fill his stomach before church. He bought fufu with palm nut soup, but couldn’t afford meat. Auntie Esi put two pieces of okro on top of the fufu to decorate it.
 
Sitting by him on the bench was Nimo, whose fufu was surrounded by a guard of chunks of bush meat, with an assortment of dead goat legs – his delicacy.
 
Opia couldn’t help but steal occasional glances at the meat pond in front of Nimo.
 
As Nimo tried to cut through the tough goat leg, one stubborn tendon stretched like a catapult and released a stream of palm soup which landed on the front of Opia’s white shirt.
 
“I am so so sorry,” Nimo immediately said.
 
“Sorry sɛn? Me de ɛyi nam!” Opia retorted, reaching out to Nimo’s asanka. Meaning, “…you can’t just say sorry. I will take some of your meat as apology!”
 
Can we get the Kukurantumi apology in chalk, please?
 
In analysing the event, I found, first of all, that Kontihene’s wife was telemo-ing a matter which wasn’t hers to carry. The headmistress indicated that if you wanted to speak to God, you spoke to the wind. I have never heard the wind respond on God’s behalf. Secondly, Kontihene’s wife is not from the Sikaman Education Service which has rightly taken up the case, but haven’t provided any chalk yet. Finally, clearly, whatever message was intended to be transmitted in response to the chalk request was lost in translation. Wisdom and knowledge didn’t converge.
 
Wofa Kapokyikyi tells me that this chalk talk is causing some headaches in the surrounding villages. As the election year approaches, the chiefs are expecting the politicians to remember the road to their respective villages. They are in a dilemma about what to say or not. Traditionally, they would ask for more support for their roads, hospitals and agriculture. Especially when the politicians from the ruling party visit. How would the responses be this time around? Would they be asked to reach out instead to the citizens of their villages home and away to support them instead? Would they be told that whatever the government is doing for them is only undeserved favour, even though it is done with their own taxes, from their sweat? Would they be told “We won’t give you roads today or tomorrow?” Wofa tells me that the headaches are not responding yet to the akombam.
 
As an aside, it must be tough being a social media political apparatchik. An issue breaks and you defend your party’s interest like Kapokyikyiwofaase defending waakye. Then the person you are defending admits she erred and then you have to quickly find another tune to sing.
 
Spare a thought for such friends. The hussle is real.
 
When the new Oga Kpatakpata in Amalaman was being enstooled, Odikro, who played a pivotal role in engaging all sides of the political divide in the run-up to the elections, attended. At the same event, one of the leading opposition leaders in Sikaman, Madam Akua Donkor, was also seen at the ceremony. At the time, there was no official confirmation from Okyeame that Madam Donkor went on Odikro’s tiasiɛnam. This week, Odikro was in Rome and when pictures emerged of those at the various functions, Madam Donkor was seen, with her trademark smile.
 
Ah, you know that Sikamanians can talk. Immediately, there were choruses of ‘What is she doing there?’, ‘Can she even speak English?’, ‘Why is she always on government trips?’
 
On the other hand, as usual, were those who drink palmwine with the Ahenfie guards and workers who retorted that the complaints were coming from people who walk with their noses in the air and think that because one doesn’t speak English, that person couldn’t think.
 
So, for the records and with the permission of Wofa Kapokyikyi, let Kapokyikyiwofaase insist that wisdom is clear in whichever language one speaks. So that shouldn’t be an issue. A person who spews nonsense in English will sound the same when the message is translated into Hausa.
 
Beyond that, however, the questions must still be asked. Why is Madam Donkor on these official trips? Is it because she is an opposition leader? Is it because she is a farmer? What role was she playing on the Italy trip? Was it to gain insights at firsthand how agriculture can be linked directly to industry? Where is her farm?
 
How does she represent the nominal farmer in Ghana?
 
In Sikaman, I find that we have difficulties in delineating policy questions from political questions and because we tend to make the messenger and the message joint from both the transmission and reception ends, most messages are lost and make redundant.
As someone posted on my Facebook timeline, even chalk leaves a political mark. Let’s learn to distill all the wisdom we can from whoever we hear, and not raise any dust on our road to Kukurantumi.
 
Till I come your way again with another sebitical, I remain:
 
Sebitically yours,
Kapokyikyiwofaase
 

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​Fresh on Amazon in paperback!
Listed as one of the top ten exceptional non-fiction writers from Ghana by Gird Center, Nana Awere Damoah brings to his readers another must-read, this time a fast-paced, short, straight-to-the-point, shot-from-the-hip, collection. The author proves why he is seen as one of the rising voices of his homeland, using words to speak truth to power. 
“Nana Awere Damoah is a multi-talented writer [who] believes in creating his own style anytime he writes. In his non-fiction writing, Nana introduces a diversity of style using poetry, storytelling and satire.” Gird Center 
“I envy the mind of Nana Awere Damoah. Nsempiisms is deep, insightful and piercing, yet Damoah’s writing flows with breezy simplicity.” Kwaku Sintim-Misa (KSM)

Click link below to buy:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/1537746413/ref=mp_s_a_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1477543457&sr=8-5&pi=AC_SX280_SY350_FMwebp_QL65&keywords=damoah&dpPl=1&dpID=41CBSMiexxL&ref=plSrch
Grab your copy like NOW! ☺
#Nsempiisms

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Nsempiisms, my 6th book, is done and should be on Amazon by close of the week.
 
Working to get copies into Ghana by end of November.
 
Thanks for all the vim and thanks to my editor James Anquandah and book designer John Benjamin Yanney of multiPIXEL for all the hard work.
 
Kwaku Sintim-Misa said this about the book and yours truly:
 
“I envy the mind of Nana Awere Damoah. Nsempiisms is deep, insightful and piercing, yet Damoah’s writing flows with breezy simplicity.”
 
Thanks KSM.
nsempii-cover-3d-1

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​**One of the 3 Sebiticals not published in Sebitically Speaking.
Many years ago, I read a quote which I have been looking for in the past few months but can’t find. The writer of the quote stated that he hardly gave advise on relationships (marriage) and religion, because he didn’t want any persons to blame him (the writer) for their woes in this life or in the next.
I have generally followed that advice. I hardly write about direct religious advice and I can count only about two articles of mine which are dedicated to marriage. And this is out of over a hundred full articles I have written over the more than a decade of active writing.
Last week, actually on my birthday, 3 June 2015, Accra experienced one of the worst flooding I have seen in my life. This coincided with one of the worst fire incidents that nation has ever known as well, when a fuel station near Nkrumah Circle due to an explosion of a fuel tanker. Initial reports indicate that fuel from the tanker leaked and was carried on the surface of the flood waters to a nearby fire source. As of writing, about 150 people have been reported killed from that incident. Many of the dead were sheltering away from the rains when the fire started. A dear friend of mine had left the same fuel station just 5 minutes before the blast. The total death toll from the combined fire and flooding incidents is currently over 200. 
May the souls of the departed rest in peace. 
And may we who remain behind ensure that, together, we create the environment and nation that prevents such catastrophes from happening.
As we mourn, I believe that our faith should find expression in our response to the needs of the afflicted and poor around us, and in our giving to assuage their pains. Our faith should speak through acts of charity. For instance, the least we can do as Christian churches is to donate all offerings this month to relief efforts. We should do even more. Dip into our vaults and give succour to the afflicted. 
Do an act of kindness this month.
Which is why over the weekend after the flooding, I used my Facebook page to engage my readers and followers on the principle and act of tithing, giving and accountability in our churches and religious organisations.
I have always maintained an unorthodox approach to tithing and how I disburse my tithes.
I was taught about tithing in the Scripture Union. Which is an evangelistic organisation. I felt comfortable then to give my tithes to SU and still do. So my foundational appreciation of this duty is to give for the furtherance of Christian outreach. 
My understanding is that when money is brought into the house of God (read: christian evangelistic organisation), it is to be used for three purposes: maintaining the house, supporting the workers in the house and feeding the outside world for which the house and religion exists: the poor, the afflicted and the needy.
So I continue to tithe, which means I set aside a tenth of my income. And I give to chrisitian organisations and also give out to support outreaches. Outreaches here include to the poor, afflicted and needy. 
Which means even when I see a needy student who needs funds to finish school, that person falls within my scope. If I see a poor person in my society, that person falls within my scope. If there is a project to bring relief to a community, it falls within my scope. I don’t believe that my money needs to go through the conduit of an organisation for it to be blessed enough to express christian charity and love to a recipient.
Note that I haven’t mentioned ‘church’ so far. I see that as a subset of the total universe I have defined above (recall your mathematics and sets).
I find many of our churches forgetting that we exist to affect our world and not necessarily only by the noise we make through our loudspeakers. 
This month, use your funds directly to affect a poor, afflicted or needy person.
This proposal generated a lot of responses and varied views. In our discussion on tithes, a few people made a submission that I summarize as below:
“Giving of tithes is an instruction and must go to my church. My responsibility is to obey that. How the money is used is not something I should concern myself with. It is something only the pastor(s) is/are accountable to God for.”
I was, and am, still shocked. If accountability does not and cannot start from the church, then I am not sure how we can hold anyone accountable in this land.
Perhaps I have been ‘spoilt’ by my training and association with Joyful Way and Ridge Church.
Right from the beginning of my time in JWI, I was shocked with the detailed and tough questions asked at Annual General Meetings (AGM). We used to joke that if your first meeting as a JWI member was at an AGM, you would wonder if it was a christian organization, with the Executives questioned on their stewardship and accounts.
Audited accounts are circulated to everyone and lines of expenditure and income outlined are scrutinised. The Executives would give account for each year of stewardship.
The group has a constitution which governs it and which is followed, with regular reviews as and when. The Executive body reports to a Board.
Ridge Church has its board, has AGMs and accounts given each week on preceding week’s inflows.
Perhaps my expectations of accountability in our churches are utopian.
But, back to the point of giving this month to help those affected. 
Let me leave you with some more questions:
What did you do last weekend to help someone affected by the floods? 
When was the last time your church did an outreach or donation to the needy, poor and afflicted?
Does your church have a program to support such people? Even within the church?
Do an act of charity this month.
Think about various ways you can help. If a group of people could set up a hot-lunch spot today to share food with the communities affected by the floods. They need clothing, mattresses, water. A few people have set up fundraising activities; find one and support. You can lend a helping hand whether you are in Ghana or not.
You can also join efforts to clean up your community. 
Whatever you do, don’t be on the fence. 
We are one another’s keeper, and the shoes could be on your feet the next time.
Till I come your way again with another sebitical, I remain:
Sebitically yours, 
Kapokyikyiwofaase

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Culled from The Mirror, 8 July 2016

Writers Nana Awere Damoah and Kofi Akpabli have held a reading session dubbed ‘Tickling the Nsempiisms’ at the Vidya Bookstore in Osu, Accra. 
A small but devoted group of book enthusiasts turned up for the event which Nana Damoah later described as “one of their best book readings.”
The pair started their collaborative activity in 2014 and read in public places to book lovers three times in a year. 
The last one before the Vidya session was in January, this year at Sytris Bookshop, near A&C Mall at East Legon in Accra. Before then, they read in December 2015 at PaJohn’s Place, also in Accra. 
The reading sessions attract people from various backgrounds: students, university lecturers, civil servants and writers. 
“We were so encouraged by the over 50 book enthusiasts who attended, listened, asked questions, giggled and stayed on after the reading to interact at Vidya. We continue on our journey to make reading pleasurable again,” Nana Damoah told The Mirror.
Mr Akpabli also said requests were coming in from book lovers outside Accra for them to consider holding sessions in other regional capitals.
Mr Akpabli is a columnist of The Mirror and has twice been named CNN-Multi-choice African Journalist for Arts and Culture. 
His books include Romancing Ghanaland – The Beauty of 10 Regions; Harmattan- A Cultural Profile of Northern Ghana and Tickling The Ghanaian -Encounters With Contemporary Culture.
Nana Damoah holds a Master’s Degree in Chemical Engineering and his books include Sebitically Speeking, Tales from Different Tails; Excursions In My Mind, I Speak Of Ghana and Through The Gates of Thought.

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