​Sebiticals Chapter 43: What Wofa Eye See Saw In Soweto

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:
Sebitically yours,

Kapokyikyiwofaase

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Chronicles of Konkobilito

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…


Nsempiisms: Education Cures Poverty

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

Nsempiisms. My mouth has fallen.

MADE IN GHANA book launched!

Thoughts Shared During Launch of MADE IN GHANA (Written by Rodney Assan and Fui Can-Tamakloe)

First of all, hearty congratulations to Rodney and his friend Fui. I wish I had had the confidence to publish my first book at their age. But I am glad they are doing so; after all, shouldn’t our children and those coming after us do better than us? That gives me immense joy.
I have on many occasions challenged the assertion that the best way to keep a secret from a black man is to hide it in a book. My business and literary partner Kofi Akpabli and I were in Monrovia last month for a reading event and that is one of the refrains we realised Liberians had internalized: that information in books are hidden from Liberians forever. I was sad to hear that, even though I saw what they meant. I also challenge the statement that Ghanaians don’t read.
My counterpoint is that when you give Ghanaians, and, by extension, the black man material that speaks about his circumstances, that tells his stories, that captures experiences he is familiar with, that speaks to his mind and soul, you will find that he will respond. It is like having a bowl of fufu served to you in the Kalahari Desert. Just a sip of the soup would make you go hhmmmm. 
This is why I believe that we need new writers and we need new storytellers. We need new names on our literary landscape. Again, I believe each of us have stories to tell. We need Ghanaians telling stories from Ghana for Ghanaians and the world.
And when we have done that, we need to make reading hip again.

Which is why my friend Akpabli and I have been going round the country and now extending to the continent reading to people from all walks of life, demonstrating to them that reading for pleasure is pleasurable.
So far we have done multiple readings in Accra and Tema, and have also been to Ho, Takoradi and Kumasi in Ghana, and Monrovia and Lagos outside Ghana.
Recently we have added book publishing to our activities, helping writers to achieve their dreams of seeing their works in print and in ebooks.
The love of literature and of reading is an entire ecosystem that should encompass writers writing and getting published, writers having their books distributed well and getting paid, writers interacting with readers and the public in activations such as reading events, the media reviewing these books and publicising them, libraries being activated and made attractive to both old and young, and parents getting caught reading even as they impress on their kids to read.
I heard during the intros a number of you saying you don’t read. What you were saying is that you don’t read outside the classroom. 
For some of us, all the reading we have done is before we left school. If all you know is what you learnt in school, then you are on the way to being obsolete. For the world is changing fast and if all you know today is what you knew 6 months ago, then you have been dead for 6 months.

We are doing our bit and you being here to support these young writers is part of that march towards making Ghana a reading nation again. For, a reading nation is a thinking nation and a nation that thinks doesn’t glorify mediocrity and stupidity. A thinking nation plans ahead and executes.
Congrats again to Fui and Rodney.
Let’s see your second books soon!
~ Nana Awere Damoah 

1 September 2017

Accra, Ghana

Liberia Meets Ghana Cultural Exchange 

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.

​Waakyenometric Observations

with inputs from Naa Oyo Kumodzi and Elsie Dickson

You know it’s a Fanti woman behind the waakye when she has no meat but rather chicken
You know it’s a Fanti woman behind the waakye when she has no boiled egg but rather spanish omelette
You know it’s a Fanti woman behind the waakye when she has no wele but rather sausage
You know it’s a Wasa woman behind the waakye when the stew is splashed onto the waakye, like thick palmnut soup, instead of being spread
You know it’s a Ga woman behind the waakye when the gari is as exotic as kpokpoi
You know it’s a Fanti woman behind the waakye when baked beans is added to the ‘salad’
You know it’s a Ga woman behind the waakye when the waakye is sticky and can be eaten like Ga Kenkey
You know it’s a Bono woman behind the waakye when she has bush meat as part of the “accessories”
You know it’s a Fanti woman behind the waakye when the fish is broasted
You know it’s an Anlo woman behind the waakye when the waakye is served with a side of akpavi kalami
You know it’s an Asanti woman behind the awaakye when she has smoked poku fish instead of fried fish, and she breaks off what you buy from the main one
You know it’s an Ewe woman behind the waakye when the gari is mixed with one-man-thousand
You know it’s an Kwahu woman behind the waakye when she sells the stew and shito separately from the waakye. You pay more you want stew or shito, or go home to use your own shito and/or stew
You know it’s a Fanti woman behind the waakye when sardine is added to the ‘salad’
You know it’s a Fanti woman behind the waakye when you can buy sardine instead of fried fish
You know it’s a Ga woman behind the waakye when stew has more pepper than the shito
You know it is overrated and overpriced when the waakye queue is too long 
Yet you know you will queue nevertheless if you are in the spirito-waakye-realm
Because you know that only the partaking in this food of foods would peace reign in your culinary soul 
Let me know when you find your rib of waakye
Happy waakye morning!
© Nana Awere Damoah, 040817
Pic credit: Abena Asantewaa Krobea

Sebiticals Chapter 41: Have You Seen the Gyata You Reared?

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

My favorite character of the Bible – David

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

From My Sebitical Couch: VGMA 2017

 

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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