Up Atop My Roof So High: Notch 7 – What Aled the Goldsmith Cooked

Egya Ntori had been complaining about the lack of vitality in his chamber of chambers for years, long before he met Attakora Manu the returnee. Attakora had travelled to the Big City to check his hyɛbrɛ. The elders say when the arrow snaps, it returns to its roots. And even though the bird may fly wide and high, and perch on a tree, when it dies, its feathers fall to the ground. For, as long as I have been alive and perching up atop this roof of mine, I have never seen the earth reject its own. So when Manu couldn’t find succor in the city, he returned to his roots. To the village. With nothing in material terms. But not without tales of many colours.

He spent most of his late afternoons with Egya Ntori. Manu told his stories of the city, and Egya showed his appreciation by sharing his supper with him.

It was Manu who got Egya interested in a visit to the Lane. Manu told Egya that the Lane in the city housed maidens who could even resurrect the dead, and that vitality restoration was their speciality.
Egya Ntori decided one early morning to travel to the city to sample the delight.

All went according to the plan and he found himself an atia donko. She had an operating theatre where the kunfu took place. When it came to the negotiation of the occupancy fees, atia donko told Egya that it depended on the route.

“Route?” Egya queried.
“Yes, do you want by air, land or sea?”
“By air, of course!”

If something must kill a man, then man must go flying, Egya philosophied. He didn’t come all the way from the village to watch the sea!

The operation started and atia began to minister to Egya Ntori’s golf accoutrements. Egya was in cloud nine! But not all can run with horses and not tire.

It didn’t take long for Egya to cry out, “Parachute me down!” Egya was dizzy with delight! Ekiki no!

This week, I have been dizzy with all I have been seeing from up atop my roof so high. Things are cooking so fast and zigzagging the Zuckersphere like atoms in brownian motion.

I had been quite busy lately selling Graphic since Teacher Akwaah decided to abandon the trade. It has been hectic and my head gets immersed in the sheets, I mean of the books, and so I keep on missing the buzz of the town. This week too, because of the Ohum Festival taking place in the next village, the village gossips have been out of town. A good source of information for me, free too. So when I started inhaling the sweet aroma of the plenty nsempiisms cooking in the village, wafting towards with the gentle winds, I shouted out to my good friend and mentor Osikani Yvonne Euss.

“What’s cooking about cooking?” I bellowed from up atop my roof so high, even startling the goats passing in front the house, under the extension of my roof. Trust Osikani Euss. He is not the people’s boyfriend for nothing. He has filla papa. He gave me the full rundown.

But even before I could start listening to him, I heard a shrill voice coming through my Akasanoma radio. I got closer. It was Togbe Koku Aloski again. That son of a carpenter is wicked papa. He had his vice firmly attached to someone’s jugular vein, literally jugulating someone. I listened intently. The victim this time was Okyeame Twum, from the palace of Chief Tankaasi. Ei, the matter resembles your eye! Okyeame Twum was blowing is blowing what his Chief and the nwura warriors are supposed to clear! When asked some of the specific achievements are so far, he spoke about plans to enhance the plans that have been planned. Togbe Aloski didn’t relent, ei this man! He moved downstairs to minister to the man’s golf accoutrement. But unlike the case of Egya Ntori, Togbe Aloski didn’t ask about any dietary requirements of the Okyeame. He dug in with his incisors. Okyeame began to stutter and then did the ultimate: he had his Oga-at-the-top moment! It is truly a fearful thing to fall into the cobwebs of Togbe Koku Aloski. Avoid him if you can.

Within this same week, at long last, Kenyasi also became a great country. They now have a sitting President taken care of by the State, as well as a running President, taken care of by himself. I am so proud of them, and I told Rafiki Conso so when we met recently to have waakye communion and break some bottles.

Now, back to what’s been cooking. Ah, you too, take your time eh! Your ears dey sweet you too much! This year has seen multifarious debates about food and cooking, about colours of roots, tubers and plantains, whether mothers are supposed to cook for their grown-up children professors who visit Kwesimintim, the propriety of sharing pictures of home choow (can you please check quickly for that in the Courtesy for Boys and Girls book?), the role farting plays in the marital equation, the constitutionality of the husband in the sitting room whilst a tired wife cooks in the kitchen after arriving home from work before him (after a long day at work for both of them), whether it is in the Bible that a man who so enjoys such culinary pampering should donate his ATM card for the judicious use of his slaving or hardworking or loving wife (select the adjective you find suitable, say Hosanna), whether the central business district (with due respect to Hajia Hassi) is required for cooking meals that are worth coming home for (even for a spouse with a heart of gold), who cooks in the house – man or woman, whether the husband can expect food to be provided as he provides money for its provision, whether cooking is even overrated and we all need to install an Uber food app, for food on demand…

What did you say? You are asking what I think? Well, I have been trained to say nothing when I have nothing to say. But, my mind goes to this quote I encountered over a decade ago and never forgot. In many ways, this quote has influenced why I hardly write about marriage. And seldom debate about religion. Both are quite experiential. I forgot the source of the quote. I searched and searched and got the name of the originator just as I sipped sobolo up atop this roof so high. It was Lord Chesterfield who made that profound statement. He said: “In matters of religion and matrimony I never give any advice; because I will not have anybody’s torments in this world or the next laid to my charge.”

As for me, I am only an observer of the human Brownian motion, perching high atop this thatched roof of mine.

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Up Atop My Roof So High: Notch 6 – Sweet and Sour Social Media

I must have signed on to Facebook late 2007. Before Facebook, we had dabbled in hi5 and a few others. The main connecting tool for chatting around this time, and a couple of years before Facebook became mainstream, was Yahoo Messenger, and MSN before then. Gmail introduced a chat window within the email portal itself which collapsed faster than a pile of books on a seat in a car travelling on the Sakumono-Klagon road.
 
Then, in 2008, I published my first book. Of course, I didn’t have money to do any traditional publicity – on TV, radio, and in print. No one knew about my writing, and fewer still knew about my name, aside having a faint recollection of its resemblance to the surname of the learned priest who served on the PNDC. So, right from the beginning, I was constrained by lack of funds and advised by pragmatism to set out on a journey. A journey I believed in. A future I envisaged. To focus on using Facebook, especially, to showcase my writing, and my books. It was more of an experiment, but I felt deep within my bones that social media was going to change the media and how we both consume and disseminate information. And how publicity is rolled out.
 
I always say one of the first persons to appreciate where I was going with it was my colleague and friend Akofa Ata who gave me great encouragement, most of it by his subtle actions and then on a couple of occasions, verbally.
 
In the beginning, especially after Excursions in My Mind was launched in December 2008, I would go into inboxes, introduce myself politely, and say something like “My name is Nana, and I just released a new book which I want to introduce to you.” I made similar outreaches even before the launch. That is how come, at my first ever book launch, I got touched and surprised by some high profile persons who attended. For instance, I didn’t know the current CEO of Databank, Kojo Addae-Mensah, personally. Indeed, I have met him, even up to today, less than five times. Precisely, about three times, if I am right. But, he read me on this platform, and came for the launch. Madam Anna Bossman, currently Ghana’s Ambassador to France, accepted my inbox message and attended that 2008 launch. Two years later, she was the Chairperson for my second book launch. I call her Auntie Anna now, but we were not even acquaintances before Facebook. Frankly, there might have been no other way I could have encountered her. She was even then such a high flyer and one of the famous names in Ghana.
 
Since 2008, and on this platform, I have been able to get acquainted with so many people that I wouldn’t have been even employed to tie their shoes or clean their offices. Through this platform, I have grown and been accepted as a writer and author. For about three years, I was a columnist in B&FT but I can confidently say that Facebook was where many people who recognise my name and my writings encountered me for the first time.
 
And this platform has open doors to me. I got to contribute to two anthologies, one in Ghana and the other in South Africa, just through contacts here on this platform. Our publishing as a company was created right out of here, and the contents of our first book as publishers were gleaned off here – FaceOff With the International ‘MP’. I am currently working on a job I got to work on a book for someone who has never met me, based in Geneva. He only knows me from here.
 
Right from the start, I was clear in my mind that social media is not that virtual. I always said that the dividing line between virtual and real is now very thin, and is made of dew. So, in my mind, there is nothing like online behaviour or persona and real life/offline behaviour. You are what you display and showcase both online and offline. You are better off ensuring alignment between the two.
 
Facebook and other social media offer great opportunities to engage with great minds and the benefits are enormous. Mind what you allow to escape from your mind onto this canvas.
 
One last example. From WhatsApp. I share ads about books from Booknook to my WhatsApp status frequently. So I do get orders and requests from people I might not know personally. I got one such last month. The address was given as the Court Complex. I submitted the package to the courier company I use – Veritas – to deliver. The rider called me to say later that he couldn’t reach the client. I told him that the address indicated the floor number and the actual court so he should go there and ask for the person; perhaps he works there.
 
The next day, I asked the rider how it went. He said he had to sit in the court and wait for about 30 minutes before he could see the client and hand over the package.
 
The client was the Judge in the seat.
 
I later googled his name and was awed. Big man!
 
Social media is a two-edged sword. Social media is both sweet and sour. Social media is how you make it.
 
There are a good number of young people who are using this platform to build amazing businesses. Some are using it to procure lifelong mentors and guardians. Via this platform, you can enter boardrooms and drink deep from the founts of CEO’s minds. Many are making great friends right here, who are affecting their lives positively. The world has become flat and separating curtains have been torn for those who wish and dare and are desirous to step through the split partitions to engage and dine with greatness.
 
You can make it work for you.
 
Shalom and have a great weekend.
 
NAD, 03022018

Think Big, Start Small, Move Fast

27 January 2018

Speech delivered at Adonten SHS, Aburi
Joyful Way Incorporated Speaker Series/Outreach to schools

How many sing in the bathhouse?
How many of us won’t sing outside the bathhouse?
How many of us dream when we sleep?
How many of us forget what the dream was about as soon as we wake up?

(Raise up your hands please)

We all get ideas in the shower. Don’t you? Well, I do. Even without singing in my gravelly, guttural voice! But what differentiates successful people from the others, what sets apart those who make a difference on their generation from dreamers, what makes distinguished persons achievers, is that these people get out the shower, dry themselves and do something about the ideas.

Thomas Robert Gaines said “It is good to dream but it is better to dream and work. Faith is mighty but action with faith is mightier. Desiring is helpful, but work and desire are invincible.”

This same notion was articulated by John Hancook Field when he stated that “all worthwhile men have good thoughts, good ideas and good intentions – but precious few of them ever translate those into action.”

It is the translation of ideas, the deployment of strategy into action and the movement of blueprints from the drawing boards into the performance sphere that matters.

“An acre of performance is worth a whole world of promise.” William dean Howells

William J.H. Boetaker asserted that “the individual activity of one man with a backbone will do more than a thousand men with a mere wishbone”.

A number of posters had been displayed at vantage points in the Tema factory of Unilever Ghana where I used to work. One caught my attention once, and engaged my thoughts:

“Small deeds done are better than great ideas planned.”

James Rusell Lowell captured the same truism when he said that “all the beautiful sentiments in the world weigh less than a single lovely action”.

A former boss of mine, then the Supply Chain Director of Unilever Ghana, Stephane Achio, once remarked that we are generally excellent at mapping up extensive and elaborate action plans. Very meticulous, comprehensive and thorough, with all the fanciful timings and meeting all the specifications of SMART – Specific, Measurable, Agreed/Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound.

The problem is that most of these plans become what Andrew Ogutu, a trainer with Accenture years ago, dubs SPOTS: strategic plans on top shelves – left to accumulate dust, yielding no results.

I believe in baby steps. Our second son, Nana Yaw Appiah, commenced walking in September 2008, just before his first birthday. I was absent during the walking trials of his elder brother Nana Kwame, due to my peregrinations in 2007 so it was a personal delight to observe Nana Yaw’s walking development. Nana Yaw turned expert and confident over time. He evolved from crawling on his stomach, through crawling on all fours to holding onto objects to rise –enhancement, progress, improvement each day.

Brick-by-brick, step-by-step, taking the journey to the top one stair at a time. No one strides by moving both feet at the same time. I returned home one evening from work to meet a thrilled house – Nana Yaw had taken four to five steps without holding onto any object! A month later now, he was even able to walk backwards, dancing in the process!

See, the baby is not afraid that someone will say he/she is taking baby steps and not walking in the right way. The baby is not bothered.

Don’t wait to become an expert before you attempt converting your thought into action, for as Art Buck said “though good may come of practice, this primal truth endures: the first time anything is done, it is done by amateurs”.

However, it is significant to clarify that I am not advocating for baby thoughts on issues, for according to Mary Beard, though study without action is futile, action without study is fatal. Study, thought, contemplation must go hand-in-hand with action. “Contemplation is necessary to generate an object, but action must propagate it,” so said Owen Feltham.

“Think like a man of action, act like a man of thought.” Henri Bergson

When I sent text messages to my friends to notify them of the release of my first book ‘Excursions in my Mind’ and its impending launch, Sammy Owusu Asiedu, the brother of my close pal Eric Dapaa, called to congratulate me. He noted that he was even more impressed that I had gradually progressed from writing short stories for publication in the ‘Mirror’ to getting my book published. My first published story was in 1994, in the ‘Mirror’, titled ‘Showdown’, and my first book came out in 2008, fourteen years in-between.

This means that you should not despise small beginnings.

What do you have in your hands? That is the question God asked Moses, and that is the same I ask you: what are you doing today and yet despising? Take an inventory, and you will be amazed what future that holds, if only you will think what you can do with it.

I am known more as a writer and publisher now than even as a chemical engineer which is what I was trained in, or a manufacturing professional, which is how my career for the past 17 years has mostly been. But how did it start? It started about 40 years ago in a small school in Kotobabi.

Mr. Okpoti Manison of blessed memory had structured his school Providence Preparatory in Kotobabi, Accra, such that on the day before the vacation date, the ‘Our Day’, the entire school gathered for the entire day for plays, poems and dance. Each class had to perform a play, and parents and guardians were invited to watch. I loved the drama day. Knowing one’s parents were in the audience was always an added incentive to perform well. My earliest memories are of reciting a poem in my three-piece batakari, complete with a hat, the attire made from UAC cloth, where my dad worked as a driver distributing textiles all across the country. Small beginnings, appreciation of the arts, learning the rudiments of prose and poetry. Special tribute to Mr. Aidoo and Mr. Edem (we called him brother), two special teachers in Providence who affected my life for good. I remember being taught, in preparation for the Common Entrance, to answer the question: Write a story ending with ‘…and the boy learnt a lesson for life, that obedience is better than sacrifice.’ You ever wrote such a story? Small beginnings of creative writing.

At a point, especially around 2004, I felt and acknowledged that writing could be an important part of my life. The publishing dream can along later. But I started. Borrowing money to get my first book published and using all the annual work bonus to get my second book published. Big money. Did I get my money back? No, I didn’t. I tell myself that the £5600 (which will be GHS 36,000 or $8,000 today) was my diploma in publishing! Then, from 2008, I started actively telling people on social media about my writing and introducing my writing. I was also writing more and was quite clear in my mind that I had to write more books. I answered messages on Facebook. I engaged with people who read my works.

I had that big dream and I was working slowly and slowly. Today I have about 27,000 people reached by my single post on Facebook. I get people recognising my books, name and face.

After my first two books, I used the experience from my ‘diploma’ to self-publish my third book and to learn how to put the book on Amazon. As a hardcopy. I also researched on how to create ebooks on Amazon Kindle and iBooks. Last year, I tried audio books and spent a week or so learning about how to create CDs on Amazon. I learnt these from scratch, starting small.

Then I did my third, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh books. Then I learnt some more and did even more. Learning and applying.

From last year, my friend Akpabli and I sent up a publishing company and started moving fast! I resigned from my job in Nigeria and came home to focus on building my dream. We produced five books last year, including one book by an 18 year old ex-Aburi Girls student who wrote her book whilst a student here in Aburi, on a campus close to yours, at the age of 16. One of our books is one of the fastest selling in Ghana now, even read by the President and the Vice President.

Let me tell you about that 18-year old author. She is called Ashley Nadom Turkson, now a Communications Studies student at UCC. She always had a dream of being a writer and an author. She said the first six or so chapters that she wrote of Aseye’s Journey, her novel, got missing. She had to sit and rewrite. In September 2016, we had a book reading at JamRock Restaurant in East Legon. Her father brought her from school to listen to three authors and be inspired. Inspired she was and a few months later she submitted her manuscript to us. We used a year to finish the editing and publishing and in January 2018, we launched her book! Ashley says she is going to write more books! Her book is Amazon and her cousins abroad are reading her.

What do you have in your hands?

Proverbs 16:3 – Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.

But you must have a plan. Dreams should lead to a plan of action. Analyse, think, reflect. Some of us don’t like to think. We only worry. So think and brainstorm and organise and prioritise the steps. Write them down. Then start small. But start.

Some of us dabble in analysis to paralysis. We will think saaa and talk saaa and do nothing. It is called NATO: No Action, Talk Only. Desist from NATO behaviour.

“To do anything in this world worth doing, we must not stand back shivering and thinking of the cold and danger, but jump in, and scramble through as well as we can.” Sydney Smith

Prepare to start and learn. In engineering solutions, there is something called iteration. It’s a loop and the more you iterate, the closer you get towards a better solution to a problem. To your dreams.

We concur that Rome was not built in a day but in practice, we want to leap from lying in cots to walking in space. Orison S. Marden declared that “we live in an age of haste. Some people look at an egg and expect it to crow.”

Why do we despise the days of small beginnings? Why are we afraid to take infant steps? Why do we usually want to move from crawling to flying? I love a quote from Emmanuel Dei-Tumi’s book What I wish I knew before the age of twenty: ‘The elevator to success and wealth is always out of order and one has to use the stairs, one step at a time.’ A few friends have asked me how I got a publisher in the UK to publish my first book Excursions in my mind. My response? I sent a manuscript, responding to an advert in the Economist. Just that first step.

You have some grand ideas in your mental bank now – I can almost bet on that. So start now on the way to implementation. Take baby steps with the idea. “Think big, start small, move fast”, I discovered years ago.

In Scripture (Zechariah 4:10), the question is asked: “For who hath despised the day of small things?” Another version renders it thus: “Who despised the day when little things began to happen?” In some versions, it is the ‘day of small beginnings’. Many of us do, many of us despise such a day, many of us don’t give much thought to such a day.

Don’t despise the days of small beginnings, for they are many. I go through my old scripts and I get amazed about the stuff I wrote back then, not bad at all! Why did I not write more then, why did I not publish more often? What you are doing today with your talents, with your thoughts, with your ideas may look small, but every giant was once a sperm, an egg, microscopic. What we are and will be is and will be a totality of the experiences, lessons, failures, mistakes, flops we have; block upon block, piece by piece, small step after small step, for every man is built up “precept on precept, precept on precept; line on line, line on line; here a little, there a little; that they might go, and stumble, and be broken, and snared, and taken”, that is how we are built by the Word of God, that is how success is made of a man. Don’t underrate any step along the way, and be fortified by the thought of John Dryden that “mighty things from small beginnings grow”

When a review of your life is done by history, you will not be remembered by the immensity and plethora of ideas you had, but by those of that number you turned from idea into launch. Aristotle summed it up well when he said: “In the arena of human life, the honours and rewards fall to those who show their good qualities in action.”

Permit me to conclude by giving you homework. What I call Action exercises. Please write them down. Three of them:

1. List three top ideas you have for your life: career, personal development, studies…

2. Spend more time thinking of how to implement.

3. Decide today to start working on their translation into reality.

Many thanks for your attention and God bless you.

Nana Awere Damoah
Author/Publisher/Bookseller

Appendix

Some More Quotes for reflection

“Nothing splendid has ever been achieved except by those who dared believe that something inside them was superior to circumstance.” Bruce Barton

“Action may not always bring happiness; but there is no happiness without action.” Benjamin Disraeli

“Act quickly, think slowly.” Greek proverb

“Great thoughts reduced to practice become great acts.” William Hazlitt

“Iron rusts from disuse, stagnant water loses its purity, and in cold weather becomes frozen; even so inaction saps the rigours of the mind.” Leonardo Da Vinci

“Let deeds match words.” Plautus

“However brilliant an action may be, it ought not to pass for great when it is not the result of a great design.” Francois De La Rochefoucauld

“Suit the action to the word, the word to the action.” William Shakespeare, Hamlet

“What is done hastily cannot be done prudently.” Publilius Syrus

“Actions lie louder than words.” Carolyn Wells

“Thought and theory must precede all salutary action; yet action is nobler in itself than either thought or theory.” William Wordsworth

“The beginning of all things are small.” Cicero

“Are you in earnest? Seize this very minute. What you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Begin it and the work will be completed.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“Dare to be wise, begin! He who postpones the hour of living rightly is like the rustic who waits for the river to run out before he crosses.” Horace

“The beginnings of all things are weak and tender.” Michel de Montaigne

“The only joy in the world is to begin.” Cesare Pavese

“While we ponder when to begin, it becomes too late to do.” Quintilian

“The difference between getting somewhere and nowhere is the courage to make an early start. The fellow who sits still and does just what he is told will never be told to do big things.” Charles M. Schwab

“Experience is the hardest kind of teacher. It gives you the test first and the lesson afterward.” Anonymous

“Experience is the comb Nature gives us after we are bald.” Belgian proverb

“Experience is not what happens to a man. It is what a man does with what happens to him.” Aldous Huxley

Up Atop My Roof So High: Notch 5 – Chief Tankaasi Comes to Town

This week I wanted to take a rest from all my plenty watching, plenty seeing and plenty talking. So, I climbed up my roof to that special corner created on this thatched roof – a special flat portion which looks and feels like a sɔre kɔ adwuma mattress. Efo Gayon was the creator. That genius of a carpenter and roofing specialist.

I was really looking forward to a good nap. The weather was cool like the bum of a child after a swim in the Ankwaw River in the evening.

But just as I lay myself to sleep, I saw Chief Tankaasi rush past with demonic energy, with many young men in tow. Ei, I hadn’t seen Chief since the last Kundum Festival o. Some had said he was preparing to set up a sadder team than the one which was formed to rear guinea fowls, those same fowls that crossed to Guinea. The story was that he was waiting for the best time to release his sadder team to clear all the nwura which were beginning to engulf the village square like the moustache around Egya Putusee’s buccal cavity.

So, the story continued, Chief Tankaasi was praying and watching, but not hearing any of the lamentations of the villagers who were inhaling the exotic fumes from the decaying nwura. Chief Tankaasi was waiting for the right time to strike the fear of Amidu into the rubbish.

There was a story of a boxer, in the 1980s, who was in the fight of his life. He was on the receiving end, and the fight wasn’t going well. From his corner, his trainer bellowed: “Twa lɛ mɔ!” (hit him!) And he responded “Me na ŋomɔ mi ntiimi ɛgugɔ” (I swear by God, I am timing to hit his nose!).

Exactly what Chief Tankaasi was doing.

That time was to come soon when it was announced that the new District Commissioner was arriving with some kangaroos for the new zoo. Nana Tankaasi still wasn’t seen. He was busying in the forest preparing his rapid-response nwura police, ready to deploy. For is that not what we are good at in Sikaman, planning without action and analysis to paralysis? This time, frankly, no one had any idea if there was either planning or analysis going on. We just were told that Nana Tankaasi was reserving his best blow for the right time. And the right nose.

Then, we heard that the new kangaroo D.C. had set off. Still no sight of Nana Tankaasi. Still the nwura was growing in heaps and smells. The villagers were inhaling fumes and exuding lamentations which were evaporating like the morning dew at the sight of the rising sun.

The school was ready, the catechist was standing by in his tight suit which he had rescued from his portmanteau where it had been hidden since his wedding a decade ago, the pupils were expectant with their miniature flags in their hands, the Odekuro and his chiefs were seated in the community centre which had been cleared and tidied, by the citizens themselves, for the welcome ceremony. All waited. And waited. Till the sun finished his day’s peregrinations and kissed the door of his abode, bidding goodbye to the firmament and handing over the shift to the moon. Still, the assembly waited. In vain, they waited.

In the end, Soufreh the palmwine tapper saved the day. Soufreh ran into the community centre, for the first time ever seen without his palmwine gourd on his balding head. He ran straight to Odekuro with his urgent news, which explained why the D.C. hadn’t arrived. Apparently, when the D.C. got to Saamang, which was the town just before the village, he saw a high heap of nwura. He turned to his aide in excitement and asked, “Say, my friend, is that Mount Kosciuszko?” His aide, in turn, turned to the clerk they were travelling with, who doubled as the interpreter. The clerk should have blushed, but he was as dark as the Akyiase husband of three stool wives. The clerk kept quiet, for is it not better to say nothing when you have nothing tangible to say?

Appearance, they say, is deceptive; but smell is not. So, getting closer, the nunu scent from the mount of nwura hit the D.C.’s face like a mad man’s fart, as Teacher Shakiru would say. The nose of the D.C. took up a life of its own and started dancing kundum. He instructed his travelling party to turn around and he returned to the city. With the kangaroos in tow.

And that is how Chief Tankaasi came to town. Only after the D.C. bellowed. Chief Tankaasi is in town as I speak now. As to how long he will be in town and whether or not he will leave his sadder team of nwura warriors behind when he goes back to the forest, no one can tell. Only time has the answer.

Just like time answered the riddle of the adele bard.

It was Nana Asaase, that writer king who lives to sit under my thatched roof to sip communion wine with a calabash, who one day, whilst thinking whilst drinking, wondered aloud about who would sing the praises of the bard. I laughed. I shouted down to him that even though the heads of Aglah and Akoto may look alike, the thoughts in them differed. Our elders say that every household has a Mensah. For I know a bard who sings his own praises, accompanied by an adele drum for maximum effect; who effortlessly adjusts his songs to suit his hearers, who lives by the creed that it is right and proper for he who pays the piper – and even buys the pipe – to call for the tune and to even ask for the sol-fa of the tune to be printed on glossy paper. After all, what is the piper to do when pipes are becoming more expensive and clients lose the staffs of their flags so frequently these days?

Worry no more, Nana Asaase. Diviners now divine their own future and prophets have learnt to prophesy to themselves. For if the aserewa learns to fly without perching, the hunter should adapt by learning to shoot without missing.

PS: In the matter of the sleeping Chief Tankaasi, it was Wofa Kapokyikyi who was finally able to open the coconut of the matter and bring out the real entrails of the palaver.

He told me that when it was time to appoint the chief, Odekuro asked his chief advisor, the one called the Wind.

“Who is most suitable for this important role, seeing that I want Sikaman to be the cleanest town in Abibiman?”

The one called the Wind answered, “Oh wise one! May you live as long as Madiba and remain as lucid as KB even in your old age! You have asked an important question. Please let me consult the Oracle.”

The Wind went and consulted. The gods told her to inform Odekuro to select a Sweeper. But, when the message was being transmitted to the Wind, it was night and she being sleepy, he thought she heard the word she relayed to Odekuro.

Coming back, she bowed before Odekuro and announced, “The Oracle has ordained that you appoint a Sleeper.”

That is how come the Sleeper was appointed as Chief Tankaasi.

Chief Kofi Tankaasi ada saa since then.

Have You Celebrated Someone Today?

When Komla Dumor passed on to glory, Yaw Nsarkoh asked a question that has never left my mind:

“Do we celebrate one another enough?”

Especially whilst the persons are alive?

And it is not about huge eulogies.

It is about the respect we show one another

It is about the feeling for one another

It is about not saying “if it is stuck in someone else’s body, it is stuck in a tree stump”

It is about not tearing one another down

It is about not lying in wait for someone to stumble so we snicker

It is about rejoicing with others when they make it

It is about being happy when someone makes it as well

It is about celebrating our daily triumphs

It is about helping each other along

Have you celebrated someone lately?

NAD, 240118

Up Atop My Roof So High: Notch 4 – The Saga of Fiifi Sadam

Up atop my roof, I have scanned the village many times, seen many things and even heard many matters. But, sometimes, even if I have to grudgingly admit it to myself, I do get bored. But, in the eternal words of Dada Ntim, man must happy himself.

And that is what why I visit the court besides the old water pipe, operated by Nana Ohyia. Nana Ohyia my friend who is disabled in his limbs but quite able in all other aspects, especially intellectually. Nana Ohyia who writes so beautifully and used to be the village letter-writer of a sort. He had many pen pals abroad in those days when the post offices worked and when emails were still in the remote future. Nana Ohyia is also a sage, and I used to sit with him, chatting for long hours about every- and anything. It was much later that I got to know that he was actually related to me on my mother’s side, having been a stepson of my mother’s elder sister Mutwuwaa. We are all connected, you see.

So, to the court near Nana Ohyia I went, usually, just to kill boredom and to listen to the cases brought before them. Many of which as mundane as they come. It was as if some person’s just existed to litigate. The last Katawere called such people ‘mansonnaires’ – passionate, seasoned and, almost, professional litigants. Different from litigators, mind you, as lawyers, such as my Akyem-Dagbon friend who is learned, like to clarify. Never mind that, perhaps without spending time collecting legal knowledge at Makola (not the market), he would have been a mansonnaire anyway. But don’t quote me on that, I will deny it.

For instance, there was this friend of my mum’s who ate, slept, dreamt, woke and walked with manso on her mind. One day, when her children abroad invited her to visit them, she went to the court near Nana Ohyia’s water pipe and asked the court registrar to reschedule all her cases. “Me tu kwan aba”, she explained. Mansotwe was her twapia.

In the court, there were side attractions. The registrar’s suits and his mannerisms were two such highlights. The suits usually were good samples of fashion of yesteryears. The registrar spoke with an accent as closest to the British as one would find in the village. Usually, he was the exact epitome of one who was more British than the Queen. Long live the Registrar! For good measure, his hairstyle was special. Then, there were the supporters of the accused and the plaintiffs, and their comments during the sessions. Insightful.

But the boss of the court was the Magistrate. I don’t really remember the previous ones before Magistrate Amihere arrived. We all simply called him Magistrate. Magistrate, who later became our neighbour at Low Cost Estates and whose family became our friends, especially his son and nephew who were great pals. Magistrate was forthright and funny, tough and tactful, disciplinarian all the time. You didn’t joke in his court. I enjoyed his court sessions. The extra boon was that his spoken English was excellent so I expanded my vocabulary just listening to him in his court.

Oh, there are so many cases and stories that were memorable. I remember one in which a man was accused of stealing a hen. When the owner caught him right in the act and accosted him, the thief used the hen to hit the owner in the face; “He slapped me with the hen,” the plaintiff lamented.

The thief was jailed. Jail terms handed in the court were no small matters o. For stealing a goat (a favourite of the village thieves), a year or two as a special guest in the governmental resorts, also known as prisons, were normal.

Then, there was this case in which a man had connived with the person whose farm adjourned their family farm. The man (who was the plaintiff, let’s call him Akoto) had asked his neighbouring farmer (called Obenteng) to take his family to court over the plaintiff’s family farm, and argue that the land, on which the family’s farm was on, belonged to Obenteng. The arrangement was that when Obenteng was successful in getting the land from Akoto’s family, he would then divide the farm into two and give Akoto his share. Akoto was in court in that earlier case, testifying on behalf of Obenteng, against his (Akoto’s family). In the era where there were no documentation of land, especially farm lands, oral testimony was that powerful. With a member of the family testifying on oath, with such knowledge of the history of the land, the court ruled in Obenteng’s favour and claimed the farm for Obenteng. Akoto’s family was so pained that one of their own had so stabbed them all in the back and spent months agonising, try to understand why Akoto did that. But, surely, they didn’t know about the secret arrangement between the two.

Then, when the time was due for Obenteng to cede off Akoto’s portion to him, he refused. Obenteng’s argument was that there were no documents to show that he had made that arrangement with Akoto. Akoto sued him in Magistrate Amihere’s court.

In the case of Akoto versus Obenteng, Akoto began to confess how he went about lying so he could gain a larger portion of the family farm, through the deal with Akoto. In court, Obenteng was calm and only demanded that the court ask Akoto one question: “Where is the proof of the claimed agreement?” As a corollary, Obenteng stated that if Akoto was indeed part of the land he fought for, why didn’t his name appear on the suit that was filed in the initial case? Magistrate dismissed the case and Akoto lost all.

From my perch up my roof, I saw relatives of Fiifi Sadam carrying eight hundred and forty sacks, each filled to the brim with cowries, to Obenteng’s house. When I asked on what basis the transfer was being effected, I was told that Fiifi has agreed that when Obenteng’s car koba arrived, the cowries would be returned. And that the agreement was by verbal intercourse only. I remembered Akoto and only said “What’s Up!”

Shareholder Communique to GTV: Week ending 20/01/18

Dear GTV:

How are things going? Well, I should rather be asking “How are you coping?” after the MD was asked to go and visit his relatives in the village.

This is my weekly letter to you. I have two main issues as usual.

Local productions. Frankly I don’t watch GTV programs apart from the news and Sports Highlights. Any highlights of your weekly programs? Which ones should I not miss? I still haven’t seen your weekly program line-ups anywhere, either online or on set. Where are all the local productions? In the recent past, we used to even have Vodafone Icons and other programs to tune to GTV to watch. Programs that brought us to you at least more than twice a week. Please, let get back to some of the basics we used to love. Kindly use GHS 5 of my GHS120 for that purpose.

Second issue. I was tagged yesterday about the security expert you interviewed. We the shareholders have been working very hard to get Ghanaians to return to you and to pay up. Up your game in the choice of interviewees. You usually do great in this respect.

Cheers,

Your shareholder extraordinaire,
Kapokyikyiwofaase

cc Rodney Nkrumah-Boateng

Up Atop My Roof So High: Notch 3 – Trumpet Shallouts to the Homeland of Holes

Last week was full of both surprises and non-surprises, both home and away. Two major happenings, both involving Kaisers in their own rights, one riding in a Benz and the other in a Beast. Both events elicited loud shouts and rants and akasa-akasa, as we love it. I love it too. For who doesn’t like it when there is enough material to write about, eh?

 

Since last year, we have been waiting for the Senior Prefect to be appointed. This Senior Prefect, it has been promised, was to come and finally bring a closure to the mystery of missing kenkey from the pantry, for which the kitchen women and the pantry men have long been suspected of. You know, though, that rumours, which are filla which no get legs wey Kabelmetal no fit carry am sef, have been rife that both the Domestic Burser and even some of the Canteen committee members know something about the kenkey which took walks all by themselves. The last time, Aboko told me that the issue is not even with kenkey missing but there is also the issue of reduction in sizes of the kenkey and the usage of two layers of leaves to retain the overall size. In effect, the weight has reduced but not the volume. Aboko called it ‘Optical Illusion’.

 

So all were in anticipation of the announcement of who the Senior Prefect would be. The konkonsa people went to town, as usual, looking into the crystal ball. Or water, even if that cannot be said to be crystal. At least, it was crystal clear, for who is able to decipher the future from galamsey-coloured water? Names were sprinkled around like gari. Some said the man from Kotodwe was in a comfortable lead. Others said the Dagbon man who also hails from Akyiase could be named, as he is known to rant a lot about missing kenkey, even though he favours gobe (gari and beans) on Saturday mornings. But this man was rather ranting about the Senior Prefect needing a good CV. In the end, it proved to be a vital hint within the curriculum.

 

Well, one Thursday morning, up atop my roof so high, I saw entering the house (named so many times one doesn’t know which name to use for it except the old tried-and-tested House of Flags on Staffs) hosting the President a German Benz car, driven by a Kaiser. When the car came to a stop, out of it emerged this man whose body looked as rugged as a true German machine. I was later told his name is Saint Martin of Asisi and that his nose, though not as prominent as Akrobeku, also known as ‘Who Nose Tomorrow’, Martin’s nose could pick up the scent of fermented, hidden kenkey kilometres away. Our Senior Prefect has arrived!

 

Just around that same time, the two revered village gossips, Akosua Apontua and Esi Kumiwaa, passed in front of my house.  From up atop my roof so high, I overheard them say the Senior Prefect is also going to be called a pressicuter, because once he found someone who had missing kenkey in his possession, his main duty was to press his balls. Akosua and Esi didn’t say what will happen if the culprit was a lady, and I couldn’t shout loud enough to ask them. I will do so later and let you know, wai.

 

Meanwhile, there is still a lot of buzz in the village square about what the unveiling of the Senior Prefect would mean. Yesi, yesi, that trips to Mr Mark’s Drugstore has increased and that, on one occasion, the queue to the counter was so long and when one person tried to jump the queue, he was so violently restricted that he shouted, “Ebei! Who yoo’ed me?”

 

Things are knocking things already. Yesi, Martin of Asisi doesn’t like obeying speed limits and that when he was taught to hunt, try as they did, they couldn’t get him to learn to distinguish between otwe and adowa. Therein lies the main wahala. May the days ahead of us be interesting!

 

I told you things are happening. Because, still up atop my roof last week, I espied His Haircellency Rumpy Trumpy walk towards the Holval Office, with his trumpet by his side. He was meeting some people from Congress to decide whether babies who entered the USA as children illegally and have been brought up there to feel like Trumpericans could still remain, and not sent back to their grandfather’s countries. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), it is called.

 

In the said meeting, His Haircellency revealed by his pronouncement that he is an Ephraimite.

 

Once upon a time, the people of Gilead led by Jephthah fought against the men of Ephraim (not Amu). The Gileadites beat the Ephraimites well well and killed not a few. The surviving Ephraimites, with their tails between their legs, turned back and fled towards their homeland. However, there was one hurdle to cross: the river of Jordan. The Gileadites decided to set up an immigration check point at the bank of the river to conduct on-the-spot interviews and issue visas. The interview consisted of only one question: “Say ‘Shibboleth’”. See, the Ephraimites had the same problem as that bearded guy in a canoe which was drowning, and praying to the Lord to rescue him, he shouted “Lord, shave me!” The Lord indeed answered his prayers, his beard vanished, but he wasn’t saved, as he actually desired. The Ephraimites’ dialect had a differently sounding first consonant, which meant that they rather said ‘Sibboleth’. So, many of them failed the test and were denied visa. Unlike the DACA issue, the way the Gileadites stamped the passport was to kill the men of Ephraim who failed the interview. 42,000 of them perished.

 

His Haircellency, growing up, had a close friend called Sithole, from South Africa. However, you know how his Haircellency rolls. He and his friend had a big, big fight and they went their separate ways. The fight was, like, huuuge. His Haircellency swore that he will have nothing to do with that friend and all his relatives and even those from his country. So when the DACA issue came up, he just had one clear demand: keep out all the Sit-ho-les. However, because of Ephraimite roots, it sounded as Shi-tho-le.

 

The entire world is now in a huge uproar. And, understandably, Trevor Noah, who hails from South Sithole, is also pissed. They all think His Haircellency was talking about Holes, when he was only speaking of Ho-les. But what if he was talking about Holes. Are we not in a land full of holes – boreholes, doorholes, loopholes, potholes, peepholes…

 

My sympathies lie really with the US Embassies around the world who are being forced to reassure their Shi-tho-le hosts that their mutual relationships are respected. Really reminds me of the days of Jerryboom, when we usually had his people telling us what he really meant by what he said when we all heard what he said.

 

We can only thank the Lord that these embassy officials didn’t tell us they are not aware.

 

 

Up Atop My Roof So High: Notch 2 – Jerryboom and January Blooms

It was a cool harmattan morning and the country was in a simultaneous state of jollity and despondency as one administration was preparing to hand over to another, after the December elections of the previous year. The outgoing President was going to deliver the State of the Nation’s address to Parliament for the last time in that capacity, at least for that term. Old, new and aspiring politicians; incoming and outgoing Parliamentarians (by design or by voter decision alike), previous Presidents and aspiring ones, movers and shakers, ordinary citizens who had special passes that day, Ghanaians…all were trooping to the Parliament house to be part of history.

 

Two politicians walked up the red carpet into Parliament. Okay, let’s say it was one of them who was really walking on the red carpet. A former President, in a pensive moment and picking his steps, as if counting and marching to a silent humming in his head of his favourite song – o-za-mi-na-mi-na-na, o-za-mi-na-mi-na. Jerryboom on the march yo. From his right, almost in a submissive mood, approached a favourite of the people, an outgoing Mayor, he who is called Tsentse. Tsentse, who clamps both hands in salute to the Jerryboom and attempts to walk in tandem with him, perhaps to sing the song so the Jerry could walk well.

 

First warning. “Hey!” Jerryboom shows both palms to Tsentse, as if to say “Back off!” Tsentse backs off, momentarily. Tsentse tries again, this time with both hands clamped in his damirifa. J-Boom stops again, and shows both hands, palms out, again to Tsentse. I could hear him loudly, only in my mind, “Numo, I said ‘back off’”! Jerryboom continues his walk up to Parliament, o-za-mi-na-mi-na-na, o-za-mi-na-mi-na.

 

Tsentse waves at someone across the carpet, and turns and also smiles to the camera.

 

It was 5 January 2017.

 

The year has just started and the long journey through January had begun on a gloomy note, according to the Afrobarometer survey undertaken by Dr John OK on the real pockets of Sikaman. In the School Fees Week, usually celebrated in the second week of January, Ghana was celebrating twenty-five years when Jerryboom cast off his khaki trousers and shirts and picked up kente cloths and suits, deciding to dabble in democracy even though he repeated declared that he didn’t believe in it. I like such honesty. Is that what they mean when they say that one must grit his teeth and get down with it?

 

This time, the leaders, past and present, politicians, street hawkers, preachers, galamsey practitioners, parliamentarians, teachers, poets, writers and thieves – all of them gathered at the Black Star Square to give thanks to the most High for helping us keep the elephant in the bush, ei sorry, I meant the abongo man in the barracks. For the past quarter century, we have done well in maintaining the democratic experiment (that phrase eh!), pretending to vote for our politicians who sometimes pay us to vote for them, so we pay them when they are going out of office. We have managed to implement the system of ka bi, na mi nka bi (speak your mind, but allow me to also speak my mind). Never mind that we have taken that so seriously and literally that we have done more of talking and less of doing. Of implementation of the ideas we talk about. But, yes, we have done well in not disrupting our governance as we used to, and have had the longest period of a republic, having had three previously, the longest of which lasted for seven years (counting from 1960 when we became a proper republic till 1966 when Nkrumah was sent to Guinea to eat nkruma).

 

The three living Johns were there. First John, Second John and the Fourth John. A moment of silence was held for Third John and two of the Vice Presidents we have lost over the years – the Stubborn Cat Arkaah and the smiling Aliu. May their souls rest in peace.

 

As usual, there was much greeting and smiling and back slapping. Even on the dias. But not with all of them. Where two or three Johns gather, there is drama.

 

So it came to pass that a semi hand-shaking salute march pass was enacted. Fourth John was standing and Second John came by, with his walking stick in his right hand and his aide holding his left hand, helping him along. I admire how Second John, the Gentle Sexy Eyes, attends such important national events even though he is clearly advanced in age and it is showing. Second John, on seeing Fourth John, transferred his walking stick to his left hand, gave Fourth John a big handshake, and a bear hug, both of them beaming with smiles. Thousand megawatt smiles, as if the glitter from the smiles was sponsored by Bui. The two of them exchanged pleasantries and then Second John moved on.

 

Fast-forward and we then see Second John seated on the left chair by Fourth John, who was still standing. First John, the one and only Jerryboom, came along and shook the hands of the seated Second John, without maintaining eye contact. You know Jerryboom, always looking to the hills for inspiration. Then, he moved on to Fourth John and had a gentle touch of palms and then on he went. Still humming o-za-mi-na-mi-na-na, o-za-mi-na-mi-na.

 

It was 7 January 2018.

 

In an interview a few days later, when Fourth John was asked about that encounter and the clear difference in the two scenarios – Fourth verses Second John and Fourth versus First John – Fourth John indicated that First John’s mood determines his greeting style. In essence, the shorddy gets moody and his moods go on swinging safaris.

 

I say there is something in January where Jerryboom is concerned. Jerryboom’s bloom in January is becoming legendary. A clear case for a thesis investigation.

 

Hello January! Be kind to us and pass quickly! And smile to us, don’t be like Jerryboom in January!

 

 

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