A Celebration of Highlife Time it was!

Accra turned out in style and strength to support Prof Collins, Anansesem and DAkpabli to launch Highlife Time 3. What an amazing time together to honour the illustrious man called Collins! What a gathering of greats! What a celebration of Highlife through the ages!

The main band Hewale Sounds got every feet tapping, Koo Nimo got every head nodding, Prof and son Kojo got every face smiling, veteran and new musicians who got pulled up stage got everyone reminiscing, Chieff Moomen and Fapempong Acheampong got every mind mesmerised…and on and on the acts got every heart melting.

Our host – +233 Jazz Club – was simply amazing.

Whitney Boakye-Mensah: Your decor was just mwuah! You gave colour to the entire venue and event!

James Anquandah our dependable editor and proofreader on this project – yedaase!

Our courier partner Veritas, you were je, ensuring all tickets and associated drops were delivered on time, in full!

Biggles Media, Multipixels and Type Company: you designed the book, got it printed and designed and printed all the promo materials and banners used for the launch. Ayekoo!

Our sponsors – Margins Group, Joy FM, Citi FM, Joy Prime, Citi TV, WearGhana, THREADEX…you supported us to deliver!

Our MCs Mamavi Owusu-Aboagye and Kojo Akoto Boateng and auctioneer par excellence Kafui Dey, you deserve your accolades – dues paid in full, worldwide!

Diana Seade (D.S. Seade): coordinator extraordinaire!

To the entire team of officiants and DAkpabli/Anansesem protocol – Anny Kareem-Abdi Osabutey, Frank, Sekyi-Brown Reginald, Nana Elikem, Gilbert Poku and so many more…bless you!

Highlife Time forever!


Up Atop My Roof So High: Notch 10 ‒ Naught In Action

We are living in a promising country now, my dear brothers and sisters. Everyone is promising. Even those who are not known for keeping their promises are promising this time that they will keep their promises. Did our elders not say that the state of the momoni’s rot started from its head? So it came to pass that the promising streak entered the Ahenfie and caused Odekuro and all his elders and sub-chiefs to also be so promising. What a wonderful world.

Our village has expanded ankasa, I tell you. Perched up atop this roof of mine, I can see in all directions. I see that the houses now stretch on the Farmers’ Road right up to Goromesa. As for Saamang, it has joined Old Town decades ago and one can now walk along the winding road down from the Old Palace to Saamang, buying pure water at every turn. Moseaso is almost a replica of the suburb that Aboko lives in.

I was with Aboko some months, as we caught up on times past. The good old times when we fished and swam in the Ehyire river and went to Adankasa – that fount of gushing water under the bridge – to fetch that soothing water for the sole purpose of keeping in the mmefi-scented cooler (pot) in the corner of Bombay’s room, that round earthen pot that could rival the functions of any modern-day refrigerator. That water that one drank and only uttered a long ‘Aaaaah’.

I sat with Aboko in front of his shop, as he started work on a piece of woodin cloth I wanted him to turn into a nice shirt for me. Aboko has become the best tailor in the village. We watched the stream of people pass that early morning – some to school, some to their farms, others just loitering. I saw many new faces. I had stayed up my roof too long, I mused to myself. Need to come down often and mingle.

I asked Aboko about the new people and he confirmed that the gold rush has brought new folks into town. As well, we were now a district capital so new developments were happening, new offices had been opened, new businesses had arrived, and the numbers had swelled. A boy passed by and I could recognise him. Oh how he had grown. I told Aboko that the guy looked familiar.

“Oh you know him,” Aboko exclaimed, “he is the son of that cousin of your dad.”

Ah, yes, I should have connected. The son of Wofa Kodua the old soldier. Kodua the son of Opanyin Kodua of Sadisco Hotel, the reigning hotel in town in those days of yore. The venue for all the concert parties in town then, and the starting point for the manufacturing processes of many unclaimed children.

I decided to play a game with Aboko: count how many out of fifty random passers-by that I could identify. The result was abysmal: too many new faces.

“That is why Odekuro is asking for the new identification cards to be issued,” Aboko told me.

Indeed. It made sense. The reason.

Soon after the encounter with Aboko, Kontihene was all over, imploring that when the chance is given for us to take our fotos, we should rush there in our Sunday best. I understood and prepared.

It is not as if we were hearing this for the first time. The previous Odekuro, the one who was famed to eat death, had also told us the same thing. It didn’t happen. His two successors said same. Again, no show. When the current Kontihene was asked if this time our fotos would be taken, especially when the arrival date of the photo-drivers seemed to be driving around, Kontihene gave an assurance that his earlier assurance of an assured delivery of the national identification system was still assured.

We believed him. I did.

Then Obenefo Safoa appeared on the scene and told the Daily Grafitti that he had just picked up the keys to the mummy truck bringing in the photo-drivers and that he, Safoa, will be driving and bringing them himself. Come and see clapping, and chats of “Safoa has the keys, Safoa has the keys!”

So, on the promised date, I climbed down this roof so high and went to take a long bath in the bathhouse behind the house, the one made of blocks arranged like a box. I entered my room and applied Saturday Night Powder in all the right places. I put on the kente that I inherited from my late teacher-uncle called Therefore. Then, smelling like a million cedis and feeling divine, I walked to the community square, where we usually hold funerals and where Obenefo Safoa was to bring the photo-drivers. Even some of the young girls turned to check out the owner of the fragrance in motion. I smiled back. I was still on the road, I told myself.

When I got to the community square, the place was empty.


Had I missed the day and time?

It was only when I enquired later that I was told that the whole exercise was actually a proverb. And that I should have been wise to decipher the swerve in the name of Obenefo Safoa’s organisation which was tasked with the identification program.

NIA – Naught In Action.

It was that day I that I realised that even though I knew from Chinua Achebe that proverbs are the palm oil with which words are eaten, I needed to add some wisdom yams to my proverbs, to be able to rightly understand and interpret the times.

Schooled, Educated or Learned?

Speech delivered at Mini Explo, Joyful Way Incorporated Phase 2, Cape Coast

Venue: Wesley Girls High Schools

A few weeks ago, I was going to a meeting early in the morning at Ofankor, near Pokuase in Accra. I boarded a trotro from my house at Lashibi and alighted at T-Junction, near Trade Fair. When I am going to Labone or Cantonments areas, that is what I usually do, and from there I pick an Uber to my final destination. On this particular day, I reasoned that there would be traffic on the way to Achimota Mall, where I was to meet my business partner and my regular book designer who was to meet me there with a dummy of a new book we are working on, titled Highlife Time 3. With traffic, I envisaged that the surge at that time of the day would take my final Uber cost up through the roof. So, I did something different. I opened my Uber app, indicated my pickup location and destination, got the estimated fare and hailed a regular taxi, negotiating like a boss. I got about GHS 5 savings on the estimated Uber fare, and also, with the regular taxi, without any associated surge increases.

There are many people who like to argue that what they learn in school is not relevant for the real world out there. Such people say that because they don’t know the power of application. We go to school to learn how to learn. And learning is a lifelong process.

At about the age of ten, my Dad gave his first prophecy about my future career: his son will be an Electrical Engineer. He gave the prediction after observing me move a light fly with a piece of wire! When I was ready to enter the Secondary school, he changed his mind with the aid of my teacher: a Medical Doctor I will be. My headmistress insisted I studied Biology in sixth form due to excellent grade in Biology. I read Mathematics. I wanted to study Computer Science in the University; my Mathematics tutor changed that! Finally, I decided on a course that could give me the opportunity to satisfy all these myriad desires, prophecies and talents, which could challenge me, and open doors to a thousand careers. So I studied Chemical Engineering – at both bachelor and master’s levels.

I love Chemical Engineering. One of my favourite courses was Thermodynamics, taught by the funky Dr George Afrane. Thermodynamics is full of chemistry and calculations. One of the tools of problem solving I learnt during this cause is iteration, as part of optimisation. Iteration is defined as “repetition of a mathematical or computational procedure applied to the result of a previous application, typically as a means of obtaining successively closer approximations to the solution of a problem.” Iteration involves starting with what one has and then you improve the solution, by looping, by repetition, by trial and error, step by step to the enhancement of the solution.

What I had done with the Uber experience on my way to the Achimota Mall was pure iteration. A week later, I took it further when I downloaded the Taxify app and used it to compare the Uber rates. With these two sources of data, I was able to better negotiate with a regular taxi just last week when I went to Tema Community 7 from my home. I got three variables to choose from, to maximise my choices and to get the best use of my resources.

I had applied my learning from over 20 years ago.

The real world beckons, my dear brothers and sisters. You are a sum total of all the experiences you have had up to this day. How will you apply what you have learnt here? And will you be one seen as just schooled or one who has been educated? And will your education end once you leave school or you will be a continuously-learning person so you can move from being called educated to being referred to as learned?

One of my pastimes is watching old movies set in Ghana and these days you can get some of them on YouTube. Films like I Told You So, Heritage Africa. No one can miss movies by Kwaw Ansah in such an exercise. So a few years ago, I watched Love Brewed in an African Pot, Heritage Africa and Kukurantumi: Road to Accra again.

In Heritage Africa, the main character, who wanted to appear and act more British than the Queen, had changed his name Kwesi Atta Bosomefi to Quincy Arthur Bosomfield and had risen to become the District Commissioner of Accra in His Majesty’s Gold Coast. One aspect of the film stayed with me. His mother, played by the legendary Alexandria Duah, gave him a family heirloom which had been passed on from generation to generation, amongst the male heads of the family. It was believed to carry “the soul and pride” of the Abusua; his late uncle had been the previous custodian and now it was Kwesi Atta’s turn to hold it in safe custody, to be his source of strength and pride, to be held in trust and passed on to the next generation. As soon as his mum left, Kwesi took this family treasure to his office and showed it to his British boss, who expressed his admiration of the artifact. Kwesi asked his boss to keep it as a gift from him.

A few days later, Kwesi visited his mum in the village and the old lady’s first question to him was whether he was keeping the heirloom safe. When Kwesi told her he had given it out to his boss, the mum wailed loudly and exclaimed: “Ebei Kwesi Atta Bosomefi! Sukoo pii yi a ekɔɔ yɛ yi, ɛnsua nyansa kakra enfiri mu a?” meaning “after all your long years of schooling, did you not learn or gather any wisdom?” The film editor translated the question as “What happened to all the classroom education?”

In my holy village of Wasa Akropong, we say that there is a difference between home sense and school sense. Indeed, my Wofa Kapokyikyi would say that adwen nko, na nyansa nko, which literally means that not all who have brains have wisdom. It also means that knowledge must be applied with wisdom. For instance, a wise man knows when to open his mouth and when to close it, when to talk and when to hold back; wisdom is the right application of knowledge.

David was an applications person. He did horizontal application. When he was to face Goliath, King Saul asked him if he had fought such a battle before. You remember what he said? He referred to his time fighting the wild animals who came after his sheep when he was a shepherd. I Samuel 17:33-37 has the story:

Saul replied, “You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a young man, and he has been a warrior from his youth.”

But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.”

Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you.”

On my way to Cape Coast yesterday, on the bus, I was reading an ebook titled ‘One Click: Jeff Bezos and the Rise of Amazon.com’, written by Richard L. Brandt. You see, I am now a bookseller, among other things, having taken a break from over 16 years of working in factories, to build a few businesses based on my passion; so I am learning a lot from the life of Jeff Bezos. In the summer after high school, Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon and his friend decided to create a summer school to teach fifth graders for two weeks. They taught them ‘about fossil fuels and fission, interstellar travel and the prospect of space colonies, black holes and electric currents’ etc. The author of the book quotes the two young teachers as saying that ‘we don’t just teach them something; we ask them to apply it’.

Be like David, be like the kids that Jeff and his friend Uschi taught. Be people who apply what you are taught, not in a vertical way but horizontally. Not in the silos of the fields you were taught in, but lateral or horizontal applicators, across fields.

Be lifelong learners. Geoff Anno, a former Music & Productions Director of Joyful Way Incorporated, Ghana, said that ‘If six months from now, you do not know twice what you know now, you will be left behind.’ And I agree with him. The world and information is moving so fast that if you don’t keep abreast and updated, you will become ‘colo’. A waterbody that is not refreshed with fresh supply of water smells. There are a great many people today who stopped learning the moment they finished ‘school’: University, Polytechnic, secondary School, vocational school, et cetera. They just stopped learning. Don’t be like them. Continuous learning will make you a better and well-informed person each day. Continuous learning will improve your marketability each day, and make you more productive for your employer. Continuous learning will guarantee that six months from now, you will not be an ignoramus.

Learning is acquiring knowledge or developing the ability to perform new behaviours. It is common to think of learning as something that takes place in school, but much of human learning occurs outside the classroom, and people continue to learn throughout their lives. The best and longest lasting school is the school of life, the Self-Tuition school. Four common methods of learning continuously are: by experience, by observation, by listening and by reading.

There is a lot you can learn each day by observing those who are better in various fields than you are. Observe your boss as she conducts her day-to-day work, and learn. Observe your subordinates or juniors as they work and ask questions when you don’t understand anything. Anyone who is afraid or shy to ask questions never learns, never grows. There is a lot to learn from our experiences; every experience is an instruction, a chapter in our life, and you should continuously summarise key lessons from it. By listening, one can learn a lot. Listen to what people say, take notes of insights that come your way.

And when you have learnt, apply. Don’t be a sponge that only absorbs. Note that a sponge worthy of its name works. It scrubs. A soaked sponge should be put to work. So apply what you learn for it is by practice that one perfects. Remember my Uber example. Apply your knowledge to Ghana’s problems; it is in solving those problems that your education can be useful to the society. I read once that knowledge is not power; it is the right application of knowledge that is power. Otherwise, there wouldn’t be so many powerless knowledgeable people in this world.

And then learn again. And apply. And learn some more. To apply. Always focus on planning, doing, checking or reviewing, and then acting to finetune. And then starting the loop again. It is a powerful tool for continuous improvement introduced by a man called William Edwards Deming, whose support and expertise helped Japan become what it is today in world class manufacturing, after the second World War. It is PDCA, the Deming Cycle. Plan-Do-Check-Act. Did you realise I just applied a principle I learnt as a quality assurance professional laterally to life in general?

Today, what I do is far from what I learnt in school or even learnt in industry, working in corporate life. My activities now as a book publisher, bookseller, writer and author are quite different from my mainstream training as an engineer. Or are they? In some ways there are different, but that is only if you think in the silo mode. Because I see myself as an applied engineer, utilising my skills across these varied fields.

In 2005, Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple, gave a commencement speech at Stanford University. I wish to end with the concluding part of that speech, quoting verbatim:

“When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow named Stewart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late 1960s, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors and Polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: It was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.

“Stewart and his team put out several issues of The Whole Earth Catalog, and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue. It was the mid-1970s…On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: ‘Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.’”

I wish to say same to you: Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. That is the only way you can be on the path of continuous learning and application, iterating, optimising, creating solutions, making mistakes, learning, questioning, implementing, solving and making a mark on your society.

Then, we can say, in the end, that you are not just schooled or educated, but as a learned person, or more aptly a learning person, you are affecting lives.

God bless you.

Nana Awere Damoah

19 May 2018


Introducing BookNook.store


For the book lover in Ghana, main issues mitigating against satisfying book cravings are as follow:

– Availability of titles
– Finding the right one-stop bookshops where they can get the books they crave and

– With the increase in traffic in cities, the inconvenience and frustration of hopping from bookshop to bookshop, and the associated stress.

For book lovers outside the capital, especially, these issues are compounded by lack of access to well-stocked outlets for books.

BookNook.store, a fast-growing online bookstore operating out of Ghana, is here to meet both the needs of authors and book lovers alike. BookNook is the bridge between author/publisher and reader.

Check out our brand new website at http://www.booknook.store and browse your heart out! New titles are being added everyday so do keep refreshing and browsing!!

And do not keep this great news to yourself – share with fellow bibliophiles!

Booknook.store: Satisfying your book cravings!

Up Atop My Roof So High Notch 9: Scented Like Sabolai – A Tale of Two Sisters

In the good old days when the owner of a black and white television in a compound house was automatically elected the House Overseer by his or her fellow tenants, when children ensured they had bathed before 7 pm because they could be asked to go bath just when Talking Point finally wrapped up and either ‘Obraaaaaa…’ or ‘We are going…’ started playing, those days of mobile portable TV sets which were brought out and off their cabinet-like stands which doubled as the display spaces for long-emptied Milo tins and Quaker Oats containers…in those days, actors and actresses didn’t need any emotions to make their tears flow during performances. Directors favoured the application of Robb ointment, spelt R-O-Doubled Boh-Boh-Boh! A judicious application just below the lower eyelid was sure to produce copious rivers of denkyemic proportions. Ah, I miss those days of Abyssinia, Kojo Kwakye, Esi Kom, Station Master and them thems.

But, do not despair, fellow countrymen and women. The world has moved on and we have also gone organic. These days, all one needs to produce tears is to slap the tear-inducing aromatic chemicals from onions.

Yes, good old sabolai!

And I should know about sabolai. For in those old days again, when it was hip to walk from Abavanna Junction to Mallam Atta and back, when send to buy foodstuff from the famed market of that name, which was located behind Oxford Cinema – where we had great times watching films like I Trust My Leg, The Drunken Master and Snake in the Monkey Shadow – so that we could use the lorry fare we had saved to go watch watch new films at Maxwell Hotel…in those days, mum mine used to sell plantain in Mallam Atta market. I visited often and go to know most of her colleagues, who sold everything, from salmon to sabolai. So I got to know the scent of sabolai.

My friend Oklu, whose mum – the Iron Lady who was before Thatcher was, the lady we all called Manye Yo – sold smoked fish at Makola Market, will tell you about our escapades as kids, where we did NCNC – no contribution, no chop. When our trader-mums were away, we partied. Okay, I won’t be tempted to tell you here about the Maame ni Paapa games; Oklu will do the telling. At our parties, we served food we had cooked ourselves, with ingredients which had been contributed by each of us. And, like in the story of Esau and Jacob, each brought what was readily available by the trade of their mums. Some provided fish, some brought palm oil, some brought tomatoes. I usually provided ripe plantain and, with time, I developed the knack of outwitting my mum who arranged the plantains in a pyramid, with a signature secret design at the base of the pyramid which, when disturbed on her return, showed her that her stock had been tampered with! Her secret keys would have impressed James Bond, the 007!

But, thinking back now, I don’t ever remember anyone bringing onions, good old sabolai. Because sabolai has a great attribute: the scent nu. In those days, many homes favoured the Angola shallots. According to Efo Gabriel Ahiabor, writing in the Daily Graffiti, when raw chopped shallots, interspersed into ground pepper tomatoes, is used to tackle kenkey, banku, etsew or abolo, atop some grilled tilapia, the eater will sing Halleluyah Chorus in Ewe! But onions will leave an incriminating scent behind, so when a child stole them, it was much easier for the mum to find out that her child had the scent nu.
The elders say that when there is a charge that someone has farted, that is not the time for the ant called kehini to go strolling around where they are looking for the Farter. For, you see, the kehini smells. Worse that the average fart. Which is the reason why onion sellers don’t like trouble. They hardly go where trouble brews or trouble slaps.

Up atop this roof of mine, I saw trouble. Oh yes I did. I saw it all. I saw the approach. Then I saw the flash. Then, I saw the slap in slow motion. Like on the screen at Oxford Cinema. A snake in a monkey’s shadow? The sound of the landing hand on the succulent cheek reached me up here. Then I heard “Oh!” But, as quickly as the slap had been administered, I heard the enquiry, “Aren’t you the sabolai seller who refused to give me my change the last time I was at Mallam Atta?”

As Amakye the town crier likes to say, appearance might be deceptive, but not smell. We might be clear about how an onion seller smells like, but how does an onion seller look like?

It was Sam the Awoken who woke up the Slapper from her somnambulistic state and told her that she had slapped an innocent person.

And Aijah Itaf wept. The Slapper wept.

It was a deluge of tears of humongous proportions! The Slapper put on ash and knelt and rolled on the brown ground. She offered to massage the cheek of the Slappee who refused to turn the other cheek. The Slapper called the Slapee her sister and said the incident was just a tale between two sisters which must be settled at home.

The Slapper wept.

I was so touched that my eyes watered. But, just as I took out my wife’s cover cloth to wipe my tears, reports reached me up atop my roof so high that the tears were induced by sabolai. Kai!

Yesi yesi, Sam the Awoken passed on a bag of minced sabolai and asked Aijah Itaf to apply it just like mascara. And that did the trick. It made sense too. For, indeed, Aijah Itaf sheds copious denkyemic tears.

Cry, Our Beloved Fatti.

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.

Up Atop My Roof So High: Notch 8 ‒ The Meizianic Smell of It

It was the Ghangerian spices and soaps merchant, Yao Nsakoro, who first introduced me to the expression ‘the smell of it’. No wonder, the man has been smelling flavours, perfumes, palm oil and tallow half of his life. He said he learnt the term from the scribe Sonallah Ibrahim, who wrote the novel titled ‘That Smell and Notes from Prison’.

That smell. You see, up atop this roof of mine, I smell smells. Oh yes. And, even now, as I espy Judas the Carrot Seller pass by on his way to the meeting with those counters of silver shekels, I know the season of seasoning smells is at hand yet again.

Ah, the sound of the word ‘seasoning’ brings memories up atop this roof. Is there not a popular adage within the corridors of our village that well-seasoned words make for easy eating when, perchance, one is forced to take back his or her words? Words seasoned enough that they do not land the speaker in trouble, jail or an anyido-hole, whichever comes first?

The thing with seasoning is that the seasoning agent doesn’t have to be a large portion of the whole. Or, if you would permit this retired factory hand a little indulgence in pastimes past, I would say that the agent only needs to be a small percentage of the formulation. For all that one needs is a flavour.

And Akwasi Manu knew this well, his mother being a veteran chopbar operator. In the Science class in the LA Middle School ‘A’ near the Roman Catholic church building, Teacher Akwaah asked his class to list the differences between goat and sheep. Akwasi almost laughed out loud. What an easy question, he reasoned. He tilted his oblong head to one side, chewed the top of BIC pen awhile and started listing the differences, including this key insight:

“When you cook with goat, the light soup has wow pumeh-meh perfume; but when you make light soup with sheep, it doesn’t give wow perfume.”

Any connoisseur of pumeh-meh delights knows that all that one needs for the signature perfume in the light soup is for the head of the billy goat to have that distinctive smell at its zenith, just behind the horns. One doesn’t need to have a special equipment to pick up or evaluate that smell. A billy goat worth its salt, or a VIP ticket to join any light soup, exudes that perfume miles away and draws the buyer to itself. Such a good head is enough to power a big pot of light soup.

Akwasi is not the only one who knows the power of representative flavour, the significance of just the smell of it. So the story is told of a Blay Meizaiah who decided to soak his walking stick in a concoction of herbs, some of which were said to be of psychedelic nature. The story continued that Blay then travelled abroad with this stick which was smelling of the herb that is always the subject of songs of praise. At the airport in the foreign land, the immigration officers insisted that the Meizaiah was a carrier but he said he was as clean as an angel. They subjected him to delays and delays and searches and searches, yet found nothing. In the end, they had to apologise to him. Here is where the story ‒ my version ‒ gets interested. Akin to the guy who was arrested by a police man and after begging for hours, was asked by the police man “I accept your apology, but what are you apologising with?” Blay asked for compensation. And the compensation was worth the hustle and the smell of it.

As smells of the Carrot Seller, the spices that are being gathered for the pumeh-meh feasts which will attend this long weekend of the Messianic death and resurrection and the smells of the village’s multifarious effusions reach me up atop his roof so high, I can’t help thinking of the Meizianic adventure and how we love just the smell of things in this village.

We are content with just the flavour of things and not the full substance thereof. Just the tip of the apex of the iceberg.

So we launch an app that is supposed to help give us exact address codes. And then we are content that it only sits on our phones. The organisation whose name is on the app, instead of using it to ensure they can rejuvenate their near-moribund establishment, to take over deliveries to postcodes, installing post boxes in front of houses and using the new system to revolutionise their work, chooses to snore and enjoy the smell of it. I am yet to see a PO Box in any serious country in this present age.

We launch and pay good money for a program to name all our streets and link them up to banking system and identification database. We name a few streets, take a few pictures and go to sleep, patting our backs for being able to start the journey and taking a nap, under the influence of the smell of it. What is the name of your street of residence, and can a taxi driver just come to your house with a mention of only that name?

Where is the link between the GhanaPost GPS, names of our streets and the various institutions like the banks which ask for data? The last time I was in a bank, the official was still insisting that I sketch the way to my house and to indicate a landmark. I insisted that my street name is a landmark! In case you want to know, I had to still sketch!

We should be working on the basis of a development continuum. GhanaGPS and street naming should be linked. Codes are meaningless unless linked with house numbers and street names.

We spend good money on a national identification card program and build a huge edifice with only the smell of it. And then we take a puff of the smoke from the money we just burn, going round in circles and being content only with starting and not necessarily finishing.

A country stoned on only the smells of things.

Ah, I see Judas the Carrot Seller returning, labouring under the burden of a sack. It appears depreciation has affected the value of the shekels and increased the weight. That is the cue I need to get off this roof and go find myself a good billy goat for the weekend.

And, you guessed right, I will follow the smell.

Happy Easter!

SP is coming!

Opia: Charlie, are we allowing this School Prefect to be voted for without any atekyɛ thrown at him?

Obenteng: Let’s call the Cupboard Prefect. This German Kaiser must have some skeletons in the cupboard.

Soufreh (CP): Hmmm I have checked aaa, seems the man didn’t even keep his homework books here.

Opia: Asem aba. But, wait, can’t we just accuse him of being past his prime? An SP must be young. Othersiwe, how can he chase the bad boys like Moshi Dayan who skip classes and preps?

Obenteng: Bullseye! We shall accuse him of old age!

Opia: Oya! Hurry, before they close the doors to the Administration Block!

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