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.

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Why I Gripe – a poem

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
Any further
Than when we started off
But because
We could have gone
Much further

Why I Gripe
When I gripe
It is not because
I don’t see
That we are better
Than most of our neighbours
But because
Today when you talk
About neighbours
It is not geographical
Gut global
Without borders

Why I Gripe
When I gripe
It is not
For the fact
That we are better
Than the worst
But because
We are worse
Than the best

Why I Gripe
When I gripe
It is not because
I am not thankful
But because
I can see
That what we see
As the future potential
Is what should have been
Our present

Why I Gripe

©Nana A Damoah, 2013

Dear Africa

Dear Africa,

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.

Later then.

Your friend,
The Foreigner

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.

​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,


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 


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

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