- Ananse and the Food Pot – https://booknook.store/product/ananse-and-the-food-pot/
- Birthday Zoo – https://booknook.store/product/birthday-zoo/
- Ananse and the Pot of Wisdom – https://booknook.store/product/ananse-and-the-pot-of-wisdom/
- Bempong’s House – https://booknook.store/product/mr-bimpongs-house/
- Escalator – https://booknook.store/product/escalator/
- The Baobab Tree of Salaga – https://booknook.store/product/the-boabab-tree-of-salaga/
- Lami’s Nightmare – https://booknook.store/product/lamis-nightmare/
- Uncle Spider’s First Law – https://booknook.store/product/uncle-spiders-first-law/
- Grandma’s List – https://booknook.store/product/grandmas-list/
- A Saint in Brown Sandals – https://booknook.store/product/asaintinbrownsandals/
- Kenkey for Ewes and Other Very Short Stories – https://booknook.store/product/kenkey-for-ewes-and-other-very-short-stories-2/
- Besewa and the Honey Pox – https://booknook.store/product/besewa-and-the-honey-pox/
- Highlife Time 3 – https://booknook.store/product/highlife-time-3/
- Suma Went Walking – https://booknook.store/product/suma-went-walking/
- I Speak of Ghana – https://booknook.store/product/i-speak-of-ghana/
- A for Accra – https://booknook.store/product/a-for-accra/
- Becoming – https://booknook.store/product/becoming/
- Recipe for Light Soup – https://booknook.store/product/recipe-for-light-soup/
- A Gift for Fafa – https://booknook.store/product/a-gift-for-fafa/
- It Takes A Woman – https://booknook.store/product/it-takes-a-woman-pre-order/
- Ananse Stories Book Set (5 books) – https://booknook.store/product/ananse-book-set-5-books/
- Death and Pain: Rawlings’ Ghana – The Inside Story – https://booknook.store/product/death-and-pain-rawlings/
- Of Women and Frogs – https://booknook.store/product/of-women-and-frogs/
- Unforgettable: Living a Life That Matters – https://booknook.store/product/unforgettable-living-a-life-that-matters/
- The Girl in the New Dress – https://booknook.store/product/the-girl-in-the-new-dress/
- Grandma Goody’s Story: From Gold Coast to Ghana – https://booknook.store/product/grandma-goodys-story-from-gold-coast-to-ghana/
- Lulu Goes to School – https://booknook.store/product/lulu-goes-to-school/
- Who Told the Most Incredible Story: Vol 1 – How Dog’s Nose Became Dark and Other Stories – https://booknook.store/product/who-told-the-most-incredible-story-vol-1-how-dogs-nose-became-dark-and-other-stories/
- Queen of the Night and Other Stories – https://booknook.store/product/queen-of-the-night-and-other-stories/
- Once Upon A Time in Ghana – Volume 1 – https://booknook.store/product/once-upon-a-time-in-ghana-volume-i/
- A Slim Queen in a Palanquin: Verses and Chants for Children – https://booknook.store/product/a-slim-queen-in-a-palanquin-verses-and-chants-for-children/
- Ananse Goes to Britain – https://booknook.store/product/ananse-goes-to-britain/
- Is There Not A Cause…to Rant? – https://booknook.store/product/cause-to-rant/
- Bukom – https://booknook.store/product/bukom/
- A Visit to the City – https://booknook.store/product/a-visit-to-the-city/
Get the full list here: https://booknook.store/shop/page/3/?orderby=popularity&s&post_type=product
*Tracker data from May 2018 to December 2018. Data Source: Book sales information from www.Booknook.store
The Hill and the City – Creating GH Readers
Speech delivered at Reading Spots Conference
10 August 2018
The world of books is the most remarkable creation of man. Nothing else that he builds ever lasts. Monuments fall, nations perish, civilizations grow old and die out, and after an era of darkness new races build others. But in the world of books are volumes that have seen this happen again and again and yet live on, still young, still fresh as the day they were written, still telling men’s hearts of the hearts of men centuries dead. ~ Clarence Day
In this era of information explosion, it is a real tragedy if the Scripture ‘…my people perish for lack of knowledge’ should apply to anyone. My friend Geoff Anno asserts that ‘If six months from now, you do not know twice what you know now, you will be left behind.’ And I agree with him. There are a great many people today who stopped learning the moment they finished ‘school’: University, Polytechnic, secondary School, vocational school, et cetera. They just stopped learning.
Learning is acquiring knowledge or developing the ability to perform new behaviours. It is common to think of learning as something that takes place in school, but much of human learning occurs outside the classroom, and people continue to learn throughout their lives. The best and longest lasting school is the school of life, the Self-Tuition school.
Continuous learning, sadly, has ceased to be a national character. Knowledge is power, it is said, and this power must be searched for daily, a truly continuous process.
There are four common methods of learning continuously, as follows: by experience, by observation, by listening and by reading.
Today, we want to talk about reading. How do we build citizens who learn continuously, through reading? How do we ensure that the wisdom in the hills of knowledge around us trickles to the city? How do we create a reading nation, knowing that a reading nation is a thinking nation and a thinking nation will evolve into one with citizens who are forward-looking, not mediocre, anchored to the rock yet geared to the times, not gullible?
The great men of our world have been readers; they have been learners. Jesus read, and it showed in His sermons. Paul was well read. Nkrumah read. Martin Luther King Jnr read. Abraham Lincoln didn’t have what you would call a formal education, but he taught himself through reading. He actually studied law books he found at the base of items he had bought at an auction, and he became a great and effective lawyer and President of the United States of America. Lincoln talked of his love of books: ‘The things I want to know are in books; my best friend is the man who’ll get me a book I ain’t read.’ One of the all-time great Presidents of America, Theodore Roosevelt, read. He was reported to have died with a book under his pillow.
In February 2016, my business partner and friend Kofi Akpabli and I treated an audience to a book reading event at the SyTris Bookshop near the A&C Mall. The event was organised by Writers’ Project of Ghana. As I entered the venue with my family, my children exclaimed, “Wow! So many books to choose from, we don’t know which one to choose!” Each of them picked books, with Nana Kwame picking a condensed edition of a book series he had been borrowing from his friend next door.
They set me back by some good Ghana cedis when we left after the event, but my heart was warm, knowing that my wife and I had succeeded in making our children excited about books and reading. So how did we get onto this path of making readers out of my children? I said ‘path’, because I don’t consider that my wife and I have reached yet – it is a journey.
The answer to that question, for me, goes way back to my upbringing, to Kotobabi. Maybe, even before that. Even before I was born.
My father was educated only to Middle School Leaving Certificate Level. My mum just about the same.
But both of them were great believers in the power of education. In my mum’s tribute at my dad’s funeral in 2006, she recalled that my father always insisted that his kids were his houses. On many occasions, he told us that education is everything, and sought to encourage us to go the farthest in our pursuit of knowledge. He said that if he had used the money he spent on our education on houses, he would have had many houses!! My dad taught himself further after school, in the Army and through books. He read a lot and passed on his love of books to me as well. Anytime I went to visit him in the village, I was certain to send magazines (Time magazine, BBC Focus on Africa) to him. At the time of his funeral, I still had the order form I had filled to subscribe BBC Focus on Africa magazine for him. In the village, he subscribed to the Daily Graphic, Mirror and Graphic Sports. And he had lots of books that I devoured.
My parents read. My father nurtured in me the love of magazines, newspapers and books. I got from him the practice of walking to buy The Mirror every weekend and we would spend time reading it together. I caught him reading and caught the bug while at that. When my mum visits us today in Tema, I walk into her room to greet her every morning and to ask how she is doing. I always find her reading her Bible. My parents taught me to read and inspired in me the desire to be more learned than they ever were. I caught the reading bug from my parents. And from my teachers such as Mr Edem, who we call Brother. Today, this man still buys books from my bookstore Booknook.store. Right from Aflao, so I dispatch to him by bus. The man is still influencing me over 30 years since I left his hands.
Today, you complain that Ghanaians don’t read. Are you reading yourself? Do your children catch you reading? When was the last time you read any book apart from the Bible you read weekly in church or daily during your devotion?
Today, how many children see their parents reading anything apart from their text messages, WhatsApp and Facebook messages? How do we expect to raise reading children when parents don’t read?
So In 2015, Kofi Akpabli and I came together and gave ourselves two targets: do regular (preferably quarterly) public book readings and extend the reading sessions beyond Accra. Our first collaboration, however, was in 2011 when we had a joint book signing event at Sytris Bookshop, Osu, Accra. Our first public reading was in January 2015 when we read at a venue called Totally Youth, owned by the late Eva Lokko, which she gave out for free for such events. We read from 10 am till 5pm and had about 4 reading sessions – hence the name ReadAThon: A Reading Marathon. So far, we have done multiple readings in Accra and Tema, and gone to Ho, Tarkwa, Takoradi and Kumasi with the Readathon. Last year, we were in Lagos, Nigeria and Monrovia, Liberia.
With eleven (11) books between us including popular titles Tickling the Ghanaian, I Speak of Ghana, Romancing Ghanaland and Sebitically Speaking, we set on this mission to make reading hip again, and to take writing and reading to the level of pop culture. Elsewhere, public readings and book signing are top-notch events that receive distinguished patronage. As society is pushing for the consumption of made-in-Ghana goods, we believe that we should not forget about made-in-Ghana books. It is our belief that this is a great vehicle of change, to help to literally fuel the literary drive across Ghana.
Our main focus: to make reading for pleasure hip again. Not only for the classroom.
So how do we get Ghana reading again? This has been a question on our minds as we continue our reading mission. I have asked this question a few times on my Facebook wall over the years and as I prepared for this conference, I asked again. A number of friends, some parents, shared their thoughts and I will be sharing some with you during the rest of this speech.
The question before us is simply this:
What are some of the ways and means we can use to get Ghana reading again?
I formed a Whatsapp group of parents who want to get their kids reading and we share ideas on there on this topic. Solely that, with strict rules about what to post and what not to post. Not your regular GH Whatsapp group where recycling is the rule. And we borrow books amongst ourselves, mostly for the children. On the bus to Techiman yesterday, one of our members – Abubakari Halidu, National Sales Director of AirtelTigo – shared a picture with these captions:
They asked her: “How did you persuade your child to read instead of playing with smart devices?”
She said: “Children don’t hear us, they imitate us.”
But first of all, let me state it unequivocally. As a parent – Get caught reading! Children do what we do and not necessarily what we say.
What legacy of knowledge acquisition are we leaving our children? Cicero noted that ‘To add a library to a house is to give that house a soul.’ I read somewhere that you can gauge how much a man loves knowledge by comparing the size of his library to the size of his television!
Over ten years ago, I saw a documentary on North Korea, which emphasised the life and role of the former Korean President, referred to as the ‘Great Leader’. One instruction the Great Leader gave to his country struck me, to wit: “A child should always have a book in his hands. He must read always. He should never be without a book, not even for a single day.” I agree with him.
We must get books into the hands of children. Start them early. Don’t be agree if they play with them and destroy them in the process – I have lots of books at home without their covers! With my children, I always had books around them. Of course, they saw us reading. Fortunately, they saw me writing too. And lately, as a bookseller, they see me selling books and they have greater choice! Downside being that they eat into my profits! During marriage counselling before marriage, our counsellors told us that we should always speak to them as adults, even when they were babies and not to use baby language, because children are smarter than we think. We took that to heart as parents. I took them to book launches and book readings. I took them to bookshops. Each time I travelled, I brought them books instead of sweets and candy and chocolate. These days, when I travel, they actually call me to remind me to bring them books. Airport bookshops always see me, and that is where I spend my per diem. We have enrolled them in a community library.
That has been my experience so far. Permit me to share with you now the thoughts of my friends on Facebook as they contributed to the question I posed. You will find that a number of them touched on what ReadingSpots is doing already – you are already contributing to the mission to get Ghana reading again!
Korklu Laryea, my big sister and friend, a librarian in Tarkwa actually called me and said: “Nana, tell them to start them early. Parents should read. They should read to the kids. They should not fight the technology (or challenge) that mobile phones and tablets bring. I download word games on my tablets and my nephews and nieces play with them, and learn more words. Parents should start reading to the children early.”
Kwame Owusu Nimako: Get them young. My first books at 6 years old turned me into a reader.
Efua Akwa-Yeboah: Charity begins at home. Parents investing in books…School libraries stocking relevant books. Local libraries…NGOs…local government involvement (Hello, ReadingSpots!)
Jennifer Nimako Boateng: Get them to develop an interest in reading from young age.
Emmanuel Asakinaba: For the teens who are yet to develop the habit, start with short colourful stories written in simple, not-too-literary language. We run a project in the Kassena-Nankana West District in the Upper East Region. We make available copies of the Junior Graphic and encourage them to read the short stories…We have seen considerable improvement in reading habits.
John Schaidler: Nana, I would love to discuss this further with you. Research suggests that one of the biggest factors that gets kids reading is choice. More books, more choice, more kids reading. Of course, great books that kids love make it easier, too. I also agree with Emmanuel above. Short, colorful, simple–engaging. As the saying goes, there are no reluctant readers, just kids that haven’t yet found the right books.
James Anquandah: We must establish community reading clubs in as many communities as possible (hello, ReadingSpots!), involve parents in these activities, encourage the production of more localized content to stock our libraries, schools and homes and make reading an activity and fun-based thing. If they enjoy the fun that comes with it, they will want to read more. If children have access to reading materials at home, in school and the library, we are assured that that generation will kickstart a reading revolution
Nana Esi Oppong-Boateng: Establishing community libraries.
Francis Appiah Acquaye: FreeBooks. I asked Francis, “Who pays for the production of the free books? Or the supply?” He responded by saying that “Government pays for production and BookNook.store pays for the supply.”
In response to Francis, James Anquandah wrote: Free books won’t solve the problem. Rather, let government commission local writers to produce content to stock all libraries. In this case, others get to read the same book and you promote a sort of communal reading culture. If you give them out, readers will stock them at home after reading when others may be disadvantaged. No writer, by the way, is willing to go through the tedious publishing process for free.
My comment on this was to refer to what the Canadian NGO CODE had done in Liberia where they commissioned local writers to write children’s books and distribute to schools.
Solomon Ofori-Atta: Start from the grass root…the children.
Jude Nii Otu Anim: Book Clubs!
Prince Alec Douglas Gaisie: When I was kid my father used to punish to go to my room and read and come out the next day. I was thinking he was punishing but by the I reached PRESEC form 1, I could read about three story books a day in addition to my learning. We must develop and motivate the children with different rewarding systems and they would catch up and they would never forget. We were having bed time story books.
Akosua Aboagyewaa Asiedu: We can do so by encouraging reading among the kids in preschools, by creating reading clubs (not those clubs that call themselves reading clubs but do everything else apart from reading) give the kids reading assignments which will in turn force the parents to help their kids to read(by so doing get themselves reading) and then give the deserving kids appropriate rewards so it becomes exciting. Starting with the kids can help.
Archibald Dadzie: It all down to parents to encourage their kids to develop the habit of reading. Read bedtime stories to your kids from birth and they will love story telling which will encourage them to read more. My son at age 10 read two books per week. Regulate the use of smart phones and tablets for playing games by kids and encourage them to read hard copies of story books
Pearl N Afua Acheampong: Organising periodic reading sessions at public spaces. Allowing young people share their stories and helping them refine their art. I would gladly be a volunteer.
Korklu Laryea: Parents reading to their children even before they start school makes a huge difference. A reading parent raises a reading family, I believe.
In response to Korklu, Ama Ewusiwaa wrote: Very true, did same with my daughter.
Great inputs, don’t you think? Not much to add except to say we must get serious with getting our public libraries operational and attractive. Many in my generation remember visiting public libraries as children. Many in our children’s generation haven’t been to any public library in their short lives. We have to remedy that. And quickly.
We are living in an era where everyone seems to have the urge, appetite and desire for fast things! Reading and appreciating what we read is fast becoming a practice of the past. And it is worrying. There is nothing that satisfies like a good book!
Allow me to end with this quote from Sir John Herschel: “Were I to pray for a taste which should stand me in good stead under every variety of circumstances and be a source of happiness and a cheerfulness to me during life and a shield against its ills, however things might go amiss and the world frown upon me, it would be a taste for reading.”
May we all be committed to building a Reading Ghana. Ghana must read again. And here, I salute what you are doing in Reading Spots and I wish you greater success! A special salute to the co-founders Cat Davison and Francis Yeboah – you guys have inspired me so much!
Let’s get caught reading and get our children reading. Ghana must read again. Ghana will read again. And we shall have the city coming to the wisdom hill, each with his or her container. For knowledge is free at the hill. Just bring your container.
Nana Awere Damoah
For the book lover in Ghana, main issues mitigating against satisfying book cravings are as follow:
– Availability of titles
– Finding the right one-stop bookshops where they can get the books they crave and
– With the increase in traffic in cities, the inconvenience and frustration of hopping from bookshop to bookshop, and the associated stress.
For book lovers outside the capital, especially, these issues are compounded by lack of access to well-stocked outlets for books.
BookNook.store, a fast-growing online bookstore operating out of Ghana, is here to meet both the needs of authors and book lovers alike. BookNook is the bridge between author/publisher and reader.
Check out our brand new website at http://www.booknook.store and browse your heart out! New titles are being added everyday so do keep refreshing and browsing!!
And do not keep this great news to yourself – share with fellow bibliophiles!
Booknook.store: Satisfying your book cravings!
Too many thoughts
As I go through
The gates of my mind
Resisting the urge for comparison
But then again reflecting
On this poem
I have been musing over
For the past few weeks
Why I Gripe
When I gripe about my land
It is not because
We haven’t come
Than when we started off
We could have gone
Why I Gripe
When I gripe
It is not because
I don’t see
That we are better
Than most of our neighbours
Today when you talk
It is not geographical
Why I Gripe
When I gripe
It is not
For the fact
That we are better
Than the worst
We are worse
Than the best
Why I Gripe
When I gripe
It is not because
I am not thankful
I can see
That what we see
As the future potential
Is what should have been
Why I Gripe
©Nana A Damoah, 2013
This is me, your old friend. Ah, you remember me, don’t you? Of course you do.
I am the foreigner. I am the one who visited you many many moons ago with my siblings and told you things that you found amazing and showed you new ways of looking at things you already knew way back when you were the cradle of civilization.
I am the one who told you that you had no history because history that is barely written is no history. I am the one who told you that oral tradition is inferior to written literature and who told you that you had no past before I came to you.
I am the one who discovered you. I am the one who marks the beginning of your history and your stories, because you started to exist after I found you. Ah, you know remember, right?
I am the one who told you that your culture and traditions are of no consequence because I brought to you stories of better tidings. I taught you to use words like ‘fetish’ to describe everything you did that I didn’t understand. I told you to discard your ways of dressing, how you kept your hair, how you use your beads, how you pierce your ears and noses and other parts of your body, how you drew intricate designs on your body and how you worshipped your God. We even discussed ways of the bedroom. Don’t be shy…you know we did.
I introduced you to a new way of life. And how receptive you were and still are!
But I am back. I am back to tell you that some of the things I told you to stop doing…you can start doing. Oh yes. Because we have moved on. You can go back to your ‘fetish’ way of worshipping because we have also found it. You call it witchcraft, we call it magic. Our churches are now even emptying, as we find the spaces they occupy better used as pubs. You should see the one where the bar is situated right on a former altar.
You can now draw on your bodies. You called it drawings, we call it tattoos. You can pierce, because we found the piercing way of life too.
And, oh, I told you that man to man is not good, right? We have changed that too. We have even moved on to sleeping with animals.
How long will these new changes last, you ask? Well, we are still evolving.
In the meantime, if you do have any troubles with rewriting some of the laws I taught you to draft and implement, I am ready to help you.
You know I am just a call away. You don’t need a mind of your own when you have mine.
I appreciate so much that you listen to me and implement my ways. This is how friendship should be.
PS: In your last letter, you asked what my stance is on polygamy. I am now experimenting with that, and also with polyamory. I shall advise on that soon.
A few months after Odekuro Odieasem Nana Tutubrofo Dankwawura ascended the throne of Sikaman, and during one particularly cool evening as he sat under the royal palms in the gardens of the Ahenfie that sits atop the hill beside the Ehyire river, as he sipped his sobolo fortified with a little something for his stomach, he reflected on the hard and long journey from his days when he was called Willie. He remembered names, names, some of which had been consigned to the pages of time. He thought of the son of He Who Had No Father, his bosom friend. He sighed.
His mental eyes went over the land. His heart was heavy but his soul was grateful. Grateful that there still remained time and chance to appreciate the loyal ones who stood with him. His mind saw and he said to himself, I see.
But Odekuro could not rest, his mind was restless. His beloved Gholoriah saw her husband in deep thoughts and knew she had to leave him to battle on, trusting as always that when he needed her, he would pour forth his inner thoughts and share with her.
Later that night, Odekuro tossed in bed. He could not sleep. Then he woke up and ordered that the book of the chronicles be brought in, the book that contained the records of his struggles right from the days when he tangoed with The Giants, both Gentle and Humble. He wanted to know if there was anyone in there whose dedication and loyalty had not been rewarded.
And, lo, there in the annals were found that in the land of Osei, there was a man who had provided fuel for the soldiers of the struggle, who had given to the troops, who had defended the flag and colours of the elephant that Odekuro rode to victory.
“What honour and recognition was given to this man, whom you call Wofa Eye See?”
“Nothing has been done for him,” his attendants answered.
“What?!” Odekuro bellowed.
He called for his chief adviser, also known as the Wind.
“What can we do for Wofa Eye See that would be commensurate with his valour and dedication?”
The Wind responded, “Long may you live, oh Odekuro! You have asked right. For just yesterday, one of your advisers told me that Wofa Eye See loves to dance and also to travel.”
“Ah!” the King beamed, “then we shall dispatch him to the land south of the Limpopo, to dance with Jay Zee the Zumite, who resides in Soweto.”
So it came to pass that to Soweto went Wofa Eye See.
As for all that Wofa Eye See saw in Soweto, all that he did and the Sikamanians that he catered in the land south of the Limpopo, are they not written in the book of the annals of the emissaries to the Zumite?
However, Wofa Eye See saw that the people of Sikaman do not read and, being afraid that they might not read the annals, he decided to tell his own stories of what had been recorded about him in the annals and what he saw in Soweto.
So it came to pass that when Wofa Eye See returned to Sikaman on his annual visit to the Temple, there was much drumming and dancing and jubilation that he had wrought exploits in the land south of Limpopo. And Wofa Eye See, wearing a linen batakari, danced before the Lord and his people with all his might, and the shout of rejoicing went up from the empeepeetude that thronged the courtyard of the assembly, with the catchphrase “Wofa Eye See! Wofa Eye See!” The louder the chorus, the harder Wofa Eye See danced, dancing just as the Zumite did. And all who saw remarked in admiration, saying to one another “Indeed! Wofa Eye See has been with Jay Zee!”
Then a voice arose among the empeepeetude, saying “Wofa Eye See, speak to us, before we die!” The chorus was picked up and soon there was a loud, repetition of “Wofa Eye See, speak to us, before we die!” reverberating across the courtyard.
Wofa Eye See, with sweat on his brows and same dripping down his beard and running down on the collar of his robes, looked upon the empeepeetude and smiled his blessings, saying to himself, Oh see how they love me!
Then he went to the nearby Sono Mountain and sat then. The empeepeetude still followed him and gathered around him. Then he began to teach them, saying:
“Blessed are the holder of empeeple cards, for their time in come.
“Blessed are those who have mourn in the past under the Hedzolites for they will now be comforted.
“Blessed are the foot-soldiers, for they shall be catered for first.
“Blessed are the owners of the new patriotic passports, for they are more Sikamanian than others.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for political jobs, for their mouths shall be filled with sobolo, asaana and a little pito.
“For man shall not live by bread alone, but with a little Blue band and jam.
“Blessed are the Patrionians, for theirs is the kingdom of God.
“Blessed are you when people truly say that you used to speak against the favouritism that you desire now. Rejoice and be glad, for your time to chop has come and great is your reward here in Sikaman and in the land south of the Limpopo. For in the same way, they lamented and whined against the Hedzolites whose song Yentie Obia they rejected. Know ye, and be comforted, that Sikamanians have the memory of ants, and forget as quickly as the morning dew lasts.
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the ways of politics in Sikaman. I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them and entrenched them. Verily, verily, I say onto you, until Nii Ayi Bonte relinquishes his stool, not the least of you shall be overlooked for a job before another without an empeeple card. For you are more Sikamanian than all. Take it or leave it.”
The empeepeetude heard these words and were glad. And they went their way, rejoicing and singing the praises of Wofa Eye See.
But some wondered if Wofa Eye See said the mind of Odekuro Tukubrofo. As to that question in their minds, I will leave you to reflect on same, till I come your way with another sebitical.
I still remain:
What I cannot understand is why people use air-refresher to deodorise the loo after using the loo to poo. The resultant odour – an unstable, immiscible combination of organic ketones and aldehydes, and inorganic komininis – is non-biodegrable, lingers longer and diffuses faster. I prefer the natural smell, which is more friendly to the nose, and even if not, dissipates faster.
The use of that air-refresher is a new age thing to try to mask the inevitable. It is akin to an attempt to call a slap a ‘friendly massage with slightly more force than usual, administered with instantaneous alacrity over a limited surface area’. That does nothing to the fact that a slap, a good one, like the type delivered by a fufu-pounding, farmer-turned-soldier leaves the recipient reciting multiple Hail-Marys as he literally feels heavenly, what with the stars he sees.
You see, there are some poo scents no air-refresher can cure or eradicate, even if sprayed with one of those fancy fire-fighting helicopters we see on CNN sprinkling foam over forest fires.
The elders say that when one has carried both water and akpeteshie, he knows the difference. In weight. But also in smell. And when someone has chewed the gong, the challenge of chewing the stick used to beat the gong is like a stroll in the Efua Sutherland park. I have sampled smells and know that there are smells and there are smells. Scents move in intensities. Not all scents of poos are the same. I have known the poo scents across a wide spectrum and there is no way you can compare the scents in the Pigfarm and Kotobabi maami, also called Prempeh Down, public toilets to those in Alisa. Scents mu scents. There is the champions league scent and then the local league scent. Different lanes.
The public latrine has a distinctive smell around it. Note that, unlike the poo in Alisa or the one in a typical ‘water closet’ (cistern), the one in a typical Accra public toilet is more than a day old. Even there, there are differences and over time, improvements have happened.
In the days of yore, when Rawlings chains were beauty ornaments and don’t-touch-me ruled both ghettos and high-rise apartments, way before KVIPs, the pan-type latrines were the portion of those of us who lived by the highways and byways around Pigfarm, Kotobabi, Lagos Town, Nkansa-Djan, Alajo, Nima, Maamobi and Kawukudi. Pan latrines both at home and near parks; the former if you were lucky and your compound house was organised enough – first, to collect contributions to pay the latrine man and, secondly, to have a scrubbing timetable that was respected by all the individual tenant families. For the latrine man was not a patient man to owe arrears. If his tolerance threshold, which was shorter than the thumb of a year-old baby’s, was reached, he would still perform the duty of removing the up-to-the-brim pan but change where he emptied it. A new scent from the centre of the compound house is usually the first warning that he had visited and left a souvenir.
For those who didn’t have such an organised compound, trips to pan-latrine public toilets were like daily pilgrimages.
And, for these pilgrims, the scent is usually not a main concern when the primary issues are weightier. Imagine a guy who lives near Maxwell Hotel having a urgent collect call from Papa Nature at the godly hour of 2.53 a.m. Imagine further that this call is of the semi-liquid, semi-solid, semi-demi-gaseous nature, that is accompanied by brass band music in the tummy, in F-major, ‘F’ for ‘fush’. Imagine that this combination of immiscible contents of the bowels has the attribute of impatience as well, knocking eagerly at the door of no return.
The call recipient has to get off his mat or straw bed, aka sorekɔ adwuma, and peep outside to be sure no armed robbers are on tour in his area. He then has to find this torchlight which has the habit of vanishing under the sitting room sofas which have been packed against one wall in the room so the other members of his large family can spread their mats on the floor. He then has to tip-toe around so he doesn’t step on the big head of that son, that head which was spread out like an African map, occupying space. All this while, he continues to hear the rumbling in the jungle of this tummy…
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.