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BOOK READING IN MONROVIA

In 2015, two Ghanaian writers Kofi Akpabli and Nana Awere Damoah gave themselves two targets: to do quarterly public book readings and to extend the activity beyond Accra. The aim is to promote reading and writing especially, among the youth of Africa. They dubbed it DAkpabli Readathon. 
To date, not only have the duo done several readings in Accra, they have extended their literary event to Tema, Kumasi, Ho and Takoradi. Actually, they have also pushed the frontiers beyond the country’s shores. In April this year, Nana and Kofi read to a delighted group of Ghanaian professionals in Lagos.
The DAkpabli Readathon team has been invited by Forte Publishing, which organises MONROVIA READS, for a mini-fest of reading, literary workshop and culture in Monrovia on 18 and 19 August 2017. They are also going to hold a mentor’s session for young Liberian writers. 

Our visit is also a cultural exchange event which will promote the neighbourly relationship between Ghana and Liberia, as well as taking reading and literacy advocacy across the continent. 

Author Profiles
Kofi Akpabli is a writer and a teacher whose latest work has been published in a new Commonwealth Non-Fiction Anthology launched in the UK in May 2016.  He is a two-time winner of the CNN/Multichoice African Journalist for Arts and Culture. Kofi has also won GJA and National awards in Culture and Tourism. He writes a travel column Going Places in The Mirror newspaper, published weekly in Accra.
Amongst his books are: Harmattan – a Cultural Profile of Northern Ghana, Romancing Ghanaland: the Beauty of Ten Regions, A Sense of Savannah – Tales of a Friendly Walk through Northern Ghana, and Tickling the Ghanaian – Encounters with Contemporary Culture. Kofi’s latest work Made In Nima has won a place in an African anthology featuring writers from 14 countries which was published by the Commonwealth in London. 
Nana Awere Damoah is a writer and a technical services consultant. A British Council Chevening alumnus, Nana started writing in 1997, when he won first prize in the Step Magazine National Writing Competition. He is the author of seven books: Quotes by NAD, Nsempiisms, Sebitically Speaking, I Speak of Ghana, Tales from Different Tails, Through the Gates of Thought, and Excursions in my Mind. His seventh book, Quotes by NAD, has just recently been published as an ebook and paperback on Amazon.

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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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lion cage

There is a popular cartoon that has been making the rounds for years.

 

Let me describe the progression in the scene for you.

 

The scene opens with actor standing in front of the cage with the lion locked behind it. The director briefs the actor that when the ‘action’ cue was given, the actor is to open the cage and free the lion. The lion will chase the actor around as the actor acts scared and distressed. The director then assured the actor that he shouldn’t worry about the lion harming him.

 

“Don’t worry,’ the director said, ‘the lion would eat you. It is written here in the script.”

 

“All well and good,’ the actor replied, “you might have written the script, but the question is, ‘Has the lion read the script too?'”

 

In the run-up to the 2016 Elections in Sikaman, the current governing party trained some gyatas and got some actors to go to town with those gyatas. It is clearer by the day that not everyone read the script.

 

Sebitically speaking, the NPP is reaping the results of its militarization in the run-up to the last elections. I pray that what is happening with the Delta, Invisible Forces, Azorka Boys, Kandahar Boys and associated vigilante lions, which have grown from cubs, will be a lesson for the future.

 

As I reflected on the journey to this place of violence, I realised that it is only the unobservant who would say where we are is as a result of magic. There was a build-up, gradually. At least, I saw it. And going through my previous posts on social media, I found quite a number of signposts.

 

In May, 2015, I had a short exchange on a friend’s page who called foot-soldiers of NDC the “most useless” she had ever known. I retorted that all political foot-soldiers in Ghana are useless, including those of the NPP. The propensity for foot-soldier nonsense is no respecter of party colours.

 

I asked her not to worry if she disagreed with me on my assertion as I didn’t intend to convince her. You see, one doesn’t need to use words to convince anyone about the characteristics or potential shenanigans of foot-soldiers; the foot-soldiers themselves will, by their deeds and utterances.

 

So after that, we entered the season of the foot-soldiers as the parties started their primaries. My friend was soon impressed.

 

In the run-up to the last elections, I made a statement on my Facebook wall that ruffled not a few feathers. On 25 March 2016, I wrote:

 

“I have observed a trend over the past few years. The NPP is trying very hard to shed off its middle-class, book-long tag and to show that it can also talk rubbish and meet the NDC boot-for-boot. Gloves are off. The NDC is trying very hard to remove the rural, mass, rough and violence-inclined tag and appeal more to the middle. Gradually, the NPP is resembling the NDC of old and the NDC is resembling the NPP of old.”

 

I leave you to judge how this has played out. You be the judge.

 

My only comment is that the gloves were never put back on. The vigilantes are knocking their masters with ungloved fists. And in the gut too.

 

The previous year, on 15 May 2015, I had this from an excursion in my mind:

 

“What do the teeming semi-literate, usually unemployable and mostly irrational foot-soldiers of our political parties want from their inordinate support for their parties? And from the victories of their parties? The answer to that should lead you some sober reflections. That has a great impact on the quality of the output from our political leadership. And on what we achieve as a nation between election campaigns.”

 

A few days later, on 21 May 2015, I wrote: “The foot-soldier nonsense has started in the NPP.

 

On 7 November 2015, I quoted the Communications Director of the NPP in a post as follows:

 

“’We haven’t done a good job of teaching party supporters tolerance…’ Nana Akomea. Very poignant. This phenomenon of party foot-soldiers. It will bring us some big wahala one of these days. Soon.”

 

Party foot-soldiers have seized toilets, seized constituency party offices, seized party officers, seized national party offices, burnt party offices, chased district chief executives out of their offices, stormed court premises, turned into pseudo-armies and continue to enjoy political support.

 

On 7 February 2016, I wrote on my #QuotesbyNAD page: “This foot-soldiers-going-on-rampage-at-will nonsense must be stopped. One day they will have nothing else to vandalise but their leaders who fail to call them to order today.”

 

That day is precariously close.

 

One day soon, these same party foot-soldiers will seize the Flagstaff House and seize the

President.

 

We have already seen the back-and-forth with the court case involving the Delta Forces 1 & 2 teams.

 

In Arrow of God, Chinua Achebe wrote that the man who brings home ant infested firewood should not complain when lizards start to visit. According to Nana Ampadu, in his song “Woyoo woyoo”, a leopard who goes on a pilgrimage to Mecca doesn’t turn into a vegetarian. Even if he becomes head of a masalachi.

 

What we are experiencing with the vigilante groups in the NPP follows the principles of the Newton’s First Law of motion which states that every object will remain at rest or in uniform motion in a straight line unless compelled to change its state by the action of an external force. When a car is in motion, the occupants travel at the speed at which the car is moving. When the car stops, the objects in the car (including the occupants) still travel at pre-stop speed of the car. Unless an external force changes their state, and restraints them. Like a seat belt.

 

The vigilante groups are still travelling at pre-elections and pre-inauguration speed. The governing party, their party, needs to find restraints to keep them in check and change their state. As quickly as possible.

 

This gyata who has even seen the Promise Land is asking for barbecued officials for dinner. With a serving of sobolo.

 

The feeding of foot-soldiers has emboldened them to go out to hunt for themselves. Soon, if unchecked, this reared gyata will break loose and start chewing live meat.

 

Till I come your way with another sebitical, I remain:

 

Sebitically yours,

Kapokyikyiwofaase

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Going through archives and came around this piece I had shared in October 2008. Hope you enjoy it.
 
Sharing on ‘My favorite character of the Bible – David’
Joyful Way Incorporated, Godlive House, Accra, Ghana
18 October, 2006
 
Dannie Adapoe (Prayer and Counselling Director), who I called Efo Erasmus, has done two things to me since I returned to Ghana from school. My first JWI meeting at Godlive since my return from the UK was last week 11 October. I had gotten to Godlive house early, since I didn’t want to go through a lot of traffic coming here. As I was preparing to settle in the office and relax before the meeting started, and was chatting deliciously (!) with those around, Laura Nmai-Dsane came to give me her phone to talk to Erasmus. “Damoah,” he said “welcome back. Ministry still goes on! Come right now to Busy Internet and pick me. We are going to pick Rev. Awotwe (our preacher for the night) from his house!” Who am I to refuse my Director?! And the rains decided to pour that evening too! After the wonderful period of testimonies and Rev. Awotwe’s sharing, and just as we were about to go into the announcement time, Dannie flexed his directorial biceps again. “You koraa, who is your favourite character of the Bible?” “I don’t have one!” I replied. No luck for me. I was asked to share about my non-existing favourite character anyway!
 
It is such a good feeling to be back. To be back to fellowship, to friendship, to laughter in Godlive, to the cracking of toffees and the sharing of fanta! To teasing in the house of the Lord, to solid Christian doctrine and teaching and practice. To ministry, to evangelism, to sharing our lives. I missed Joyful so much, which means you all.
 
Allow me to start with a story I received from my friend Dr. Moses Ademola, who is within a cycle of friends who share about African renaissance and how Africans living abroad can either return home to Africa or give back what the continent has helped us with.
 
Twelve hundred years ago, in the city of Baghdad, lived a genius named Al-Khwarizmi, who was one of the fathers of algebra. In fact, the word algebra comes from the title of his book Al-jabr, which for centuries was the standard mathematics textbook. Al-Khwarizmi taught in an institution of learning called the House of Wisdom, which was the center of new ideas during Islam’s golden age of science. To this day we computer scientists honor Al-Khwarizmi when we use the word algorithm, which is our attempt to pronounce his name.
 
One day, Al-Khwarizmi was riding a camel laden down with algebraic manuscripts to the holy city of Mecca. He saw three young men crying at an oasis.
 
“My children, why are you crying?” he enquired.
 
“Our father, upon his death, instructed us to divide his 17 camels as follows: ‘To my oldest son I leave half of my camels, my second son shall have one-third of my camels, and my youngest son is to have one-ninth of my camels.'”
 
“What, then, is your problem?” Al-Khwarizmi asked.
 
“We have been to school and learned that 17 is a prime number that is, divisible only by one and itself and cannot be divided by two or three or nine. Since we love our camels, we cannot divide them exactly,” they answered.
 
Al-Khwarizmi thought for a while and asked, “Will it help if I offer my camel and make the total 18?” “No, no, no,” they cried. “You are on your way to Mecca, and you need your camel.”
 
“Go ahead, have my camel, and divide the 18 camels amongst yourselves,” he said, smiling.
 
So the eldest took one-half of 18 – or nine camels. The second took one-third of 18 – or six camels. The youngest took one-ninth of 18 – or two camels. After the division, one camel was left: Al-Khwarizmi’s camel, as the total number of camels divided among the sons (nine plus six plus two) equalled 17.
 
Then Al-Khwarizmi asked, “Now, can I have my camel back?”
 
These young men had information about prime numbers, but they lacked the wisdom to use the information effectively. It is the manipulation of information to accomplish seemingly impossible purposes that defines true wisdom.
 
The Bible is replete with tonnes of wisdom for our consumption and usage/application. In our application, we need to think out of the box and extend the domain of our application beyond just what we will call our Christian lives. And we will see the massive impact that will bring to our lives.
 
David the King has fascinated me a lot through my study of the Bible. The lessons from David for me cover day-to-day activities, leadership, emotional expressions and human relations, among others.
 
1. The first mention of David in the Bible is in 1 Samuel 16 when the Lord decided to cut off the Kingship of Saul and choose another King for His people. When Eliab the first son of Jesse had passed and hadn’t been chosen, the Lord gave Samuel an incline into what His (the Lord’s) criteria was: Not appearance, not height, not the things man looks at, the outward appearance. Hail the heart. God looks at the heart. Remember that Jesse himself hadn’t tipped David for anything that day. “There is still the youngest, but he is tending the sheep.” In the fields, the Lord was preparing him for great things. A few lessons from this passage. Don’t let anyone look down upon you because you are young (1 Timothy 4:12). That has been one of my driving Scriptures in my Christian life. But set an example. David used his field experience to learn a lot of things about God and about life in general. In his testimony to King Saul before fighting Goliath, David asserted that he learnt to trust in God and to fight in the fields (1 Samuel 17:34 – 36). No calling in the Lord’s house is a low calling. Whilst you wait for the so-called higher post, or calling, what are you learning now? In your job, at that entry level job, are you learning? Are you working with all your heart, and setting a good example? Because when the time for promotion comes, it will not be based only on your future potential (it will be assessed) but mostly on your demonstrated potential, on what you have been able to do so far.
 
2. David’s ability to serve was displayed again in the house of King Saul. David entered Saul’s service as a harp player, but in a short time, “Saul liked him very much, and David became one of his armour-bearers.” Do you know the amount of trust you need to became an armour-bearer of the King? In battle you have to be closest to him, and you could betray him easily. Remember, Saul asked his armour-bearer to kill him. David was a servant. And in time, when he became King, he had faithful servants too. Most of us want to be bosses without being subordinates. We want to jump from A – Z, without even stopping at Y! I also believe that faithfulness begets faithfulness. If you are not faithful to serve and to your leaders, I won’t promise you faithfulness when you get into a position of leadership.
 
3. With service came humility. The humility of David even shone when he sinned and was rebuked by Nathan the prophet. With humility came the ability to listen to reason. David listened to the pleading of Abigail. I wanted to write an article titled “The Arrogance and shallowness of the modern day charismatic Christian”. We have become very proud Christians today. May the Lord heal us of our pride!
 
4. One of the fascinating characters of David for me was his ability to wait for his due time, and not to rush the hand of God. David was anointed to be future King at a young age. In the period between that and when he actually ascended the throne, David killed Goliath, became army commander, ate at the King’s table, befriended the King’s son (and became his friend rather than a rival), escaped assassination by the King, became the ladies’ favourite character in their songs, obtained the support of key priests (men of God), forged alliances and friendships with Kings of surrounding tribes (like Moab), was pursued relentlessly by an increasingly unpopular King, who had fallen out of favour with both Samuel and the Lord. In short, David had all the ingredients for a popular coup d’etat! (1 Chronicles 11: 2 – read this). But David waited for his due time. Do we not sometimes rush the prophecies and promises of God for our lives? God needs no help! However, when you wait, use the time to build on what God has given you. God prepares us with our daily experiences. We learn by tuition, experience and observation.
 
5. Intricately linked with the fourth point was an unflinching policy of David not to touch the Lord’s anointed and to honour the leadership of Saul. I talked about faithfulness begetting faithfulness. David exhibited it and by this gave an example to his men that you don’t kill the person God has appointed over you. As my friend Geoff Anno likes to say, “Don’t election people and turn around to punish them [with your lack of support]”. I am crazy about this policy. When God elects a leader over me, I give 150% support and respect to that person. I don’t care whether that person is young, old, male or female. At one of our Quality assurance team meetings when I was in Unilever, we did a pick and act session and our oldest employee then, Ataa Sowah, picked a question: “Does it matter if your boss is younger that you are?!” His answer has stayed with me and it will forever. Ataa said: “It doesn’t matter. Just respect the chair.” In other words, whoever sat on that chair becomes sacred. Two examples. Following the threat issued by two Asante groups lately, one of the leaders of those groups was interviewed on Joy FM, and he reiterated that the Asantehene is not to be discussed at all. When the interviewer pressed that this was untenable under the constitution, and in this era of freedom of speech, the man retorted that as far as the Asantehene was concerned, there was no freedom of speech. He ended by saying: “Let me put it this way: He is our God! As soon as he ascended the throne, he ceased to be an ordinary person.” In the film Johnny English, Mr. Bean (Rowan Atkinson) was the top agent in the British spy agency. When he managed to foil the attempt of a French impostor to become King of England (after getting the Queen to abdicate), Mr. Bean by mistake found himself sitting on the throne of England, with the crown on his head! At that very moment, when he issued an instruction to arrest the impostor, it was obeyed with dispatch. Let’s follow David’s example in this regard.
 
6. I believe this next lesson from the life of David follows from the respect David had for authority. He elicited massive loyalty from his men. 1 Chronicles 11:10 – 47 describes some of these men. Read the account of Three who broke through Philistine lines to draw water for David, because he had said that he longed for water from the well near the gate of Bethlehem. And you know, David didn’t drink that water at all, offering it to God. He even had defectors joining his ranks. I believe apart from reaping the fruits of the respect and honour he had sowed into Saul, this loyalty also came to David because of his human relations and management, and his ability to identify with his men. He was able to weep with his men when the Amalekites raided Negev and Ziklag (1 Samuel 30). He wasn’t afraid to let his people see him broken and weak. Why is it that as leaders and managers, we are so afraid to do this? For me, not drinking that water from Bethlehem, obtained as such great cost, was a great symbol to his men. David honoured his men, as depicted when Abner was murdered, when the King himself walked behind the bier and wept for Abner. As King, David enjoyed massive loyalty as well. 2 Samuel 3:36 summed it well: “…indeed, everything the king did pleased them (the people of Israel).”
 
7. I like David’s ability to love and to forge friendships. His friendship with Jonathan is deep, and I have a complete article on this that I will make available on the notice board. 1 Samuel 18 recounts this friendship. In the article, I noted the following attributes of this friendship: love, trust, sharing, identity, togetherness, affirmation (bringing out the best in your friend).
 
8. I admire David’s ability to laugh, to dance, to weep, to mourn. As men, we have a lot to learn from David about that. As a leader, I found weeping before the Lord to be great therapy. David did it and he found strength in the Lord his God. He wept for Abner, he wept when his first child with Bathsheba died, he knew when to weep. But he also knew how to take comfort in his God and to move on in life. He knew when to leave things in the hands of God and to acknowledge that God knew best.
 
9. David was a family man. He loved his children, even when they rebelled. Enter Absalom. Even in the heat of his son’s conspiracy, he was able to say that the army should be gentle with his son. For his sake. And he cried that he would have died instead of Absalom. What love from a father. This lesson comes stronger to me now, for my son Nana Kwame. David ended on a good note. Check how others ended (I Chronicles 29: 26-28, II Timothy 4:7).
 
10. I will end with this final attibute: David kept his promises. He kept his promise to Jonathan to look after his descendants, bringing Mephibosheth to the palace to live with him. He kept his promise to Abner and was distressed when Joab murdered him. Actually, in his handing over notes to Solomon, David asked that Solomon dealt with Joab. He was a man of his word.
 
I could go on and on, but I have to end somewhere! I haven’t touched on the lessons from David’s fight with Goliath; I haven’t touched on the fact that he was human, like us, sinning and yet having the heart to confess and to come stronger to his God; I haven’t touched on his desire to have his bed kept warm, and so marrying Abishag at a tender age. The Bible is careful to note that David didn’t have intimate relations with her, just heat exchange! Ei, David!
 
David was a man, just like us, but he walked with God so well, that God declared him a man after his own heart. He became a mighty man, a great King, and a wise ruler. His humble roots remained with him and he always remembered where God had brought him from. May the lessons from the life of this great man teach us also to trust in our God and to serve Him with all our heart.
 
God bless you richly.
Nana Damoah
Accra, Ghana
October 2006

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The Vodafone Ghana Music Awards (VGMA) for 2017 (covering the performance year of 2016, I believe) was held yesterday 8 April, 2017 at the Accra International Conference Centre. As an avowed old duade who has over the years drifted away from the path of current music trends and the new school genres, some of which I don’t understand and many of whose artistes I don’t know, I do not have the habit of staying up to watch the usually long program that runs into the early hours of the following day, usually not starting on time.

The best I do, in the past years, have been to ‘watch’ the program on Facebook (mostly) and Twitter, following the posts of dedicated members of CAG – Couch Analysts of Ghana, whose witty commentaries from the red carpet moments to the moment when the top award – Artiste of the Year – is awarded, makes for better entertainment than the program instead. Notable members of CAG are Kwame Gyan, Kofi Obirikorang, Andre Jnr, Francis Doku (he is normally off duty on VGMA days as he attends in person and could be relied upon for inside information), Nuerki Ata-Bedu, Lawrencia Elikem Zigah, Prosper Afuti, Kofi Yankey and Ayimadu theDukeofGH.

I was planning to follow the same path this year. Until I checked a WhatsApp message from my friend Kwabena Poku, which indicated that the show would be telecast live on DSTV, which meant Kapokyikyiwofaase the Old Duade could also watch from Amalaman and show fellow Duades like the MP of Facebook South, Hon. Rodney Nkrumah-Boateng, that duades move by sizes.

Predictably, during the build-up to the show, old duades like Rodney and Prof HKP were asking what VGMA meant. Rodney said it stood for ‘Very Good Men Abound’ and Matthew Ayiku wondered if it was a contraceptive. Well, you now know who influenced the new way of pronouncing VGMA. Vagima, is it? These Old Duades will kill me shy! See, the best pitch you can make to an Old Duade, when helping him to understand what the VGMA stands for, is to tell him that it is the ECRAG Awards. ECRAG stands for the Entertainment Critics and Reviewers Association of Ghana. At one point, it was ACRAG. More on that later.

For the red carpet session, what first hit me was the Red Sea dress. Then I saw a train, actually lots of trains. Frankly, the trains had it. My humble view was the red train of the Red Sea should have on wheels and a barricade put around it for safety purposes. I loved the fact that most of those questioned on whom they were wearing (apart from themselves) mentioned designers (the old duade terms are tailors and seamstresses) in Kumasi et al. A good showcase of our pride in our own. My best red carpet moment was when Nana Ama McBrown appeared. She comes across to me as so real, someone who takes life easy and makes the most of it, enjoying every moment.

As Elikem the Tailor (shouldn’t it be Designer, as in current-speak or is it bespoke-speak?) and Mundi (yeah, forget that it was my first time of seeing her name) rounded up the red carpet session, it occurred to me that I hadn’t actually seen any red carpet. Many of the CAG members put my intrigue to rest: they indicated that this year, it was decided that one of the red carpet hosts would wear the red carpet.

Then we were cued in for the program itself to start. And, I got my first major disappointment. We lost the feed. For a couple of hours. What a missed opportunity to showcase Ghanaian music to the entire continent and to show we have also arrived. I lost a lot of vim due to that, but how for do? As we waited, the CAG members went back to their previous red carpet posts and expanded them. We needed to keep busy.

Fortunately, the feed was restored and I got back onto my sebitical couch. As you would see as you read on, I didn’t attempt to do a critical assessment of songs and genres and awards. It is clear that I am not qualified. There is a limit to which a duade can act as ‘youthe’ (apologies to the Katanga folks). So I will share a few thoughts of the performances and some reflections from the past, as to how we can improve the industry.

First of all, the program ran for too long. Far too long. Did I hear that this year’s was to be quite efficient? It must have run for at least five hours. We should improve that.

The performances are not well-rounded. These are shows and must be choreographed. The big stage was not fully utilized and many of the performers looked isolated on stage. After the first two or three acts, I admitted, reluctantly, to myself that my time had indeed passed. I couldn’t even catch the words of the songs. Then Becca performed. At least I knew her songs. Then Kinaata got me with his Tadi Fanti. There is something just exotic about Tadi Fanti in song. Naadze naadze. Reason why I still miss TH 4 Kwagees. Okay, you got the duadeness vibe, forgive me.

Charles Amoah and Naa Amanua lifted the game for me. It was clear Charles Amoah rehearsed with the band. Even the band came to live! What energy! Performance! You know what they say about old wine and taste, right? But, in there, I wondered how come our highlife stars seem to have “better” longevity compared to our hiplife stars. Many of our hiplife and new stars just come to pass, as it were.

Stonebwoy was good. Even before I started listening to him, just from his appearance, it was evident Stonebwoy had scripted and rehearsed his act. That’s performance. Even though I didn’t get any of the words he didn’t sing in Ga. Sarkodie was great and I was gladdened by the young ones he sang with; more on that later. My revelation of the evening was the young Kwame Eugene.

From many of the performances, it seemed to me that many of these new artistes sing only in the studios and do not do any further voice training and practice. It shows when they sing outside studios. And they felt uncomfortable or out of sorts on the performance stage. Mastery of the stage is not learnt on big stages. It is learnt on the circuit, and even off stage. Many of our young artistes need to work on their craft. Work it!

On the production itself and the telecast, the visuals and sounds were not synchronized. Felt like an 80s Chinese movie. Was the theme for the stage design inspired by some science fiction cum space travel sort of thing?

The moment when the deceased actors and actresses were remembered was touching. May the departed stars rest in peace.

Charterhouse, the event organisers, seemed to have briefed the presenters of the awards to say “…and the nominees are…” and then the video rolls. They should be told that when you use such a leader in a statement, the subsequent sentence must flow and make sense. Well, the video starts with “…the Vodafone…blah blah…” Not kosher. Next time, if using the same style for videos, the presenters should rather be briefed to ask for the video of nominees to roll, for example, “…shall we now get to know the nominees?”

I stayed up paa, I did. But, in the end, the duadeness of a man cannot be hidden under the bushel. I fell asleep two awards from the ultimate. I woke up about 20 minutes later and made a post of congratulations to Joe Mettle, who made history by being named Artiste of the Year, the first one in the gospel genre.

After all, I could always blame my delayed post on the epileptic nature of Amalaman networks and the dry-season-tv-ness of DSTV.

So I said I would not say anything about the classification of awards but just allow an old duade this one. After all, old age must be respected, no? My friend Andre Jnr brought my mind to the classification of Kinaata’s Confession as highlife. I was confused too, but I took it that the definition of highlife has changed when I wasn’t paying attention. If I were thinking the same as the ‘youthe’ Andre, then perhaps I can safely brag to Hon. Rodney that there are duades and then there are High Duades, anaa?

Back to how old duades would relate to the VGMAs and how we used to experience music awards in the days when we were we, my mind again went to ECRAG and I wondered, again, why we are unable to sustain some of the brilliant nurturing and apprenticeship programs we had in the past. For instance, I am attempting a review by this write-up. In the days of yore, one could rely on the reports of professional critics who had gone through mentoring and training. Indeed, the critics and reviewers were the ones who organised the awards. I remember stalwarts like Uncle Nanabanyin Dadson, under whose tutelage Francis Doku developed. What happened to ECRAG? For sure, we have entertainment writers now but do we have critics and reviewers?

On the subject of apprenticeship, and on my disappointment with the quality of performances, I thought again of how the highlife legends we have today were nurtured by those before them. For instance, Akwasi Ampofo Adjei aka Mr. AAA, Dada Thick, the Shining Star, who passed away in 2004 and is acknowledged as one of the biggest names in Ghana’s highlife genre, trained and mentored similarly big names in Ghana’s music industry today such as Abrantie Amakye Dede, the founder and leader of Apollo High Kings International, Ali Baba of Mahu Odo Anya Shock fame, K. K. Kabobo and Cudjoe, popularly called Papa Shee, who was one of his dancers. Just an example. Nana Ampadu had in his stable many young singers who grew up into their own. The young learnt from the old and then detached to develop their own nests. I am gratified to know that Sarkodie has under his wings some young artistes like Strongman, whose punchline “Mi rap ɛgyina Circle sɛ ashawo” got me blinking twice! This morning, my friend Kobby Blay sent me a link for the Trumpet song and I learnt that Sarkodie featured Medikal, Strongman, Koo Ntakra, Donzy and Pappy Kojo. We need more of those. Apprenticeship of the young under the old.

We must build an industry with collaboration and not beefs, whatever that means.

From my sebitical couch in Amalaman, this has been Kapokyikyiwofaase reporting for the Sikaman News Agency.

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Once upon a time, in the land of KwaMan, the natives of the Bibiman forest decided to hold a drinking and thinking bout with their counterparts in the forest across the Talantic river, called Bronikrom . After all, didn’t the elders say that yɛ nom nsa, na yɛ fa adwen? Truly, as we drink, we think at the same time.

Considering that it has been long decided that alternating venues was a good idea, the leaders of both forests decided to hold the drink-think session in Bronikrom. Also, due to the long distance between the two forests, the herdmen of each Bibiman tribe was selected to go on this journey.

However, there arose from the tribe of Bongo a man crying in the wilderness, questioning and lamenting. The Man from Zeh family of the tribe of Bongo wondered whether the food in Bibiman was not enough to feed the herdmen from the two forests, whether the hamlets of Bibiman were not worthy enough to house the Bronikromers and whether enough Bibimanian houses and donkeys could not be marshalled to take the natives of Bronikrom around during the drinking and thinking festival.

“Is this rocket science or common sense? Or something I am missing?” the man from theZeh family of the tribe of Bongo concluded.

All of Bibiman listened and nodded and wondered, not for the first time, where the Zeh man got his wisdom from. Efo Dogbevi was the first to respond: that the love of borborbor precipitated such wisdom from the innermost parts of a man. Teacher Johnson added that it could be the Zeh man’s love for nsempiisms. Obaapanyin Potisaa said it was rather the nectar from the serwaanic well that was making the Zeh man so bold, especially in the year when the entire universe was singing ‘Be Bold!’.

As the Bibiman still reflected in silence, a loud voice, with a high pitch, rose from the heart of the forest. Eyes and heads turned. Few ears could recognise this voice and not many eyes could recollect this face. But his words were to enter the book of legends.

Wofa Kapokyikyi was one of the few who indicated that they knew the owner of the voice and told me that the man was from the Kwa family of the tribe of Meh, from an old family of high priest.

The Kwa man delivered his high words and also wondered why after many years of waiting with serwaanic patience, the Zeh man didn’t hold his return to Bongo to receive the daughter of his father-in-law and swim in the Tonga river of Bongo. The Kwa man wondered whether the kofi brokeman along the banks of River Bongo were not fit for the guests at his nuptial festival and whether the canoes on River Bongo were not deemed worthy to cater to the transport needs of his guests.

“Is this rocket science or common sense? Or something I am missing?” the man from the Kwa family of the tribe of Meh concluded.

Again, all of Bibiman heard and nodded, and wondered whether the men of the Kwa family were related to the Zoom-Zoom.

But as Bibiman reflected in silence, a chemical reaction was slowly taking place. It turned out that according to the laws of manasematics, a punch delivered on social media in the presence of trolls and enabled by the magic of screenshots underwent a chain reaction into a high post.

This was a very high post, which flew high and was shared by many high people who were either high on admiration or on payback vim. My friend Jeffrey Tong put it more sebitically, stating that the post “flew high with the banner of nsempiism across the Talantic oceans and beyond”. Which is true, because when the goat was using its backside to spread semi-solid effluent on the walls of the village’s house, its posterior was also getting painted. In this high post-erio-painting, the nsempiic cover of the nkrataa that Kapokyikyiwofaase penned was an unintended beneficiary.

Many years ago, on the hills of Menya Mewu, a boy who had just arrived in the school that Osagyefo built was asked what his favourite food was. He hadn’t been around too long to know that the delicacies from his village didn’t sound too well in the city and needed some brofolisation when being mentioned. Same reason why Nii Okaitey responded to the same question by saying that his favourite food was corn balls in tweed jacket on a plate of calamari with ogyemma sauce and a guard of honour of sliced shallots. This other boy wasn’t that suave yet. He said his favourite meal was brɔdze dwow (what the Fantis call roasted unripe plantain). His friends started calling him Brɔdze Dwow. But this boy was a fast learner. He decided not to protest the name and fight the teasing. With time, his nickname was upgraded to Brɔdze J and by the time he got to the senior stage of his education, everyone was calling him Senior BJ.

It was on the Menya Mewu Hills that Kapokyikyiwofaase discovered that a tease should expect to be teased. Learning to manage your period under teasing fire was part of the game of learning teasing ropes. To ride the crest and manage the trough and glide the waves.

But this strategy was not employed by the Zeh man who decided to shot from the trough. And the Kwa man countered again.

The KwaMan trajectory then went through block factories, radio studios, Zuckerberg deactivations, back alleys and front alleys. Until the next big thing happened in Sikaman when, as usual, the KwaMan saga was thrown under the conveyor belt that brought the next saga.

Oseeey, Sikaman!

Meanwhile, somewhere in Sikaman, a manager of a celeb is planning to rent a Nana Kwame to deliver a high comment so the celeb can block to follow a KwaMan trajectory. Not a bad idea but this is what Wofa Kapokyikyi says: not all animals can run and not be classified as crazy. Indeed, not all celebs who bring their hands close to their heads are called Abodam.

Wofa Kapokyikyi is also drinking and thinking; after all, he is also a person! As for me, I know no rocket science and I am still searching for common sense.

But the Kwa man’s response to the second epistle of the Zeh man had me muddled. He wrote, thus: “Your response fit (sic) into fundamentalist theories of epistemic justification”.

Eish!

So let me ask a common man’s question o. What is the best way to understand this second response: rocket science or common sense? Or something I am missing?

Till I come your way again with another sebitical, I remain:

Sebitically yours,

Kapokyikyiwofaase

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In the first year after Odekuro Obenfo Yohani Atta Nikanika died, there arose a new Odekuro named Odekuro Okasafo Yohani Mahani Nikaboka, son of Dramaha, who also was a scribe, an Otwerefuo. Odekuro Nikaboka was said to have a friend from the land beyond the cornfields who was as wise as Solomon.

One day, a messenger went crying in the wilderness, proclaiming this special friendship of the mighty one with the wise one and the magicians of the land and all the citizens rose up with one voice asking to know if this friendship was real or that it existed only in the fertile mind of Amakye the towncrier. When Agari the chief of the Ahenfie scribes was asked to speak to the citizens on behalf of Odekuro on the said matter, Agari decided to speak to the citizens on behalf of Odekuro before speaking to Odekuro to find out what he should say on Odekuro’s behalf.

It came to pass when Agari had spoken to deny any knowledge of Odekuro about the existence even of the temple Solomon built, let alone its builder, there was night and then the day followed.

As each day brings its own wahala, so the next day reveal a new tale from a different tail. Agari the Chief Scribe, having spoken with Odekuro to now ask him what should be said to the magicians and citizens on Odekuro’s behalf on the matter, came back to the market square to deliver another version of the tale of the day before, shifting the direction of the story from north to south.

It was then that Wofa Kapokyikyi said his famous words, that whatever Agari said must be allowed to cook for one day and one night.

Time passed and Odekuro the son of Dramaha continued to rule and Agari continued to grow. Soon, the citizens of Sikaman grew weary of the ways of the son of Dramaha and asked him to go tend to his farms and enjoy his days in the arms of the wife of his youth. In his stead, they anointed and installed Odekuro Odieasem Nana Tutubrofo Dankwawura. There was evening and the morning, a new day.

In the morning of the new day, Odekuro Tutubrofo went out hunting for sub-chiefs and deputies and came back with smaller stools to share amongst the chosen few. As per the practice of the traditional council, the names of the called were submitted for consideration by the sub-council appointed by Abrewa to probe the backgrounds and characters of Odekuro’s called. The vetting council sat day and night to decide which of the called would be chosen, for had it not been said that many would be called but few would be chosen?

Wofa Kapokyikyi had told me years ago that the way from the called to the chosen was through a narrow gate and, sometimes, the called tried to lubricate the narrow gates.

So when yesi-yesi started filtering that Egya Gyarko, son of Boakye (who had been called by Odekuro to man the power house to support the nika-nika of Sikama) had supplied judicious helping of lubricating oil to ease the joints of the members of the vetting sub-council, all ears were itching for the filla. But it turned out that filla no get legs, na Agari dey carry am.

Wofa sent me out to get him the full rundown and I did that with alacrity. I didn’t have to go far. I met Ziboyo behind the Ahenfie and he told me that the summary of the matter is this:

Agari said Munchinga said yesi JoeWise says yesi Egya Gyarko gave JoeWise the lubricating oil to give to Munchinga to give to Agari and his friends so they could keep wide open the narrow gates so Egya Gyarko could pass on to the glory of the chosen few.

A good case study of Yesi-Yesi?

When I told Wofa Kapokyikyi, he repeated that if Agari was involved, then thawing was required. There was evening and the morning, a new day.

In the morning of the new day, JoeWise went shouting from the rooftops that he didn’t give any lubricating oil to Munchinga. The entire village was confused.

When Agari was asked whether he was sure it wasn’t JayWise he was referring to, instead of JoeWise, he clarified that he didn’t deal with JoeWise or JayWise, but rather with Munchinga and that only Munchinga could tell who was the source of the lubricating oil. The chorus was unanimous: “We want Munchinga! We want Munchinga!”

When Munchinga, who had just woken up from a deep sleep and was rushing to a funeral at Ankosia, was asked whether he had received any lubricating oil from JoeWise, he said ‘Walahi-talahi!’ and swore by Allah the Magnificent that he hadn’t even seen lubricating oil in his entire life. The confusion became basaaa!

When Odekuro was informed about the basaacious commotion that was brewing in the Sikamanian pot, he went into a conclave with Abrewa and the Tufuhene. The steaming pots that were brought to the entrance of the Ahenfie, just before the three – Odekuro, Abrewa and Tufuhene – exited from the inner chamber, gave an hint of the decision that had been taken. The Tufuhene confirmed it a few minutes later: a ko-num-tee was set up to drink some tea and deliberate on the palaver.

More thawing time. There were many evenings and many mornings. And market days came and went.

The morning of the new day after many evenings, the verdict of the ko-num-tee was declared to the entire village by Amakye the towncrier, as follows:

The metemetemism of a rumour does not metamorphose a rumour into fact.

The ko-num-tee said Agari had indulged in yesiyesimisms and found him guilty of ko-num-tempt. When I asked Wofa Kapokyikyi what that meant, he said it meant Agari attempted to drink some of the tea from the chambers of the ko-num-tee. I was even more confused.

But just as I tried to seek clarification, Efo Dogbevi, the letter-writer who lives at Anloga, who was passing by, overheard our conversation and asked Wofa Kapokyikyi a question, as follows: “Wofa, if a cat steals fish, another cat accuses him of that act and the accused cat denies it, leading to a committee of fish-loving cats being set up to investigate…do you expect the committee of cats to publish a report that confirms that cats love fish?”

I don’t remember what Wofa Kapokyikyi said in response. What I remember was only that Wofa asked me, when Efo had left, whether Efo was also part of the catholics.
I could only turn to my favourite book: the Book of Nahum. And say hmmm.

Till I come your way again, with some chinginga to soothe my confusion, I remain:

 

Sebitically yours,

Kapokyikyiwofaase

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