​Sebiticals Chapter 42: An Ecclesiastical Paulogue to the Manasonians

In the first year of the reign of Odekuro Odieasem Nana Tutubrofo Dankwawura, there were rumours and reports of malfeasance in the corridors of the temple. When asked for the meaning of the word ‘malfeasance’, the scribes of the land explained that it was the situation where the incense from the burnt offerings had malodor. One of the major scribes, a man from the Manasonians, took upon himself to open the windows into the temple so both Jews and Gentiles alike would sniff the nunu scent and testify.

Meanwhile, many years before Odieasem ascended the throne, there was born a man known as Saul. This Saul later attended the institute of high learning in Rome and was introduced to Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Kant, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Marx and Socrates. He also learnt the ways of Sulla, Julius Caesar and Marcus Aurelius. Right from the high tower, he took a garment of pure Scottish fabric and, with letters from the bearded philosophers of the land, set off to uphold the virtues of the Universe.
One day, on his way to Okponglomascus, suddenly a voice sounded around him and a light flashed.
The voice called out: “Go ye towards the road to Fanoafa and ye shall be told what to do.”
In Fanoafa lived a disciple of the Brand, a Sammenitan called Hatta. The word came to him: “Go out on the Fanoafa road and ye shall find a young man in Scottish garb, who ye shall take onto thy fold; for he is my chosen instrument to build and sustain the Brand.”
Picking up his rod, the Hatta the Sammeritan went forth by the Way of Avenor and took the long road towards Okponglomascus where he met Saul. Then Hatta, the man of Sammenria, held the hands of Saul and blessed him, saying, “Brother Saul, ye have been found worthy of the Brand and selected by the Voice; the Voice that spoke to you on the Okponglomascus road has directed me to you, so you might be imbued with dumornic fervour to serve the Brand and build it and sustain it, as a standard to all who shall come after thee.” 

Immediately, Saul started speaking in slangs and praising the Voice, rejoicing that he had been counted worthy of the working for the Brand. When the power of the Voice had descended on him, the Sammeritan blessed him and said, “Henceforth, you shall be called Paul Grace, for upon this foundation I will build the Brand.”
The Voice was with Paul and worked mighty and great deeds through him. And the Brand grew and many were added to their numbers. Among the deeds wrought through Paul and the servants of the Brand included a one-on-one with Junior Jesus, after his second coming and when he had visited the temple to cast lots. This feat was unprecedented and the fame of the Brand soared and soared. The philosophers of the land saw all that Paul had done and were pleased and honoured with a coat of many colours.
In the church at Fanoafa were many teachers and prophets: Rekced who was also called Sonny, Romud from the house of Oheb, Neerod who was one of the mighty women who had served right from the beginning of the church and Paul. As the Brand grew and grew, one day, as the servants of the Brand were meditating on the Way, the Voice spoke and said, “Set apart for me Paul Grace and Hatta the Sammenitan, for they have more work to do in unearthing and nurturing more disciplines to serve in more churches modeled after Fanoafa.”
So it came to pass that after the disciples had fasted and prayed, they sent them forth as apostles of the Voice. The two of them, sent on their way by the Voice, went down via the Appian Way and turned towards the place called The Blood Is A Crowd and over the Bridge towards the Road of Liberation, proclaiming the Way of The Voice wherever they went, doing good and making disciples of all men. 
The first church they planted was at the centre of The City, where Paul found and converted a young man known as Elva, who was full of grace and power. Elva was beloved of Paul.
Sometime later, Paul said to Hatta, “Let’s go back and visit the brethren between Fanoafa and here and see how they are faring.” Paul wanted to take Elva with him, but the older apostle from Sammenria wanted to keep Elva at The City. The two apostles had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Elva remained at The City but didn’t lose his relationship with Paul. Paul loved Elva with all his heart. Paul set forth and went through Ganaria and Sankaria, eventually pitching his ministry at Labonicia, from where he continued to speak to the churches, including the church at Manasonia.
And it was at Labonica that Wofa Kapokyikyi met Paul Grace and fell in love with his sermons from the Mount every evening. Wofa wasn’t along: people from far and near would come and drink deep as the Apostle Paul taught and instructed and also brought philosophers to espouse on Plutonian and Aristocratic ideas as well as those for the down-trodden.
With the passage of time, the Brand continued to grow and expand and more where added to their numbers, including a man called Azur, from Manasonia who came wailing and sniffing and looking under the eyes of corpses. In the meantime, there arose in the land a leader of the scribes called Yennom son of Frail. He was learned, both in letters worked for and those acquired. 
In the eighth month of the first year of Odekuro Odieasem Nana Tutubrofo Dankwawura, Azur went looking into coffins in the house of Paul of Jos. Some of the coffins had been closed and sealed and locked in the vault. Not only did Azur open these caskets, but he did them in the open, just outside the temple gates. The harmattan winds carried the nunu scent into the corridors of the temple and permeated everywhere. 
The ‘shenanigans’ of Azur, with the support of the Brand, didn’t go down well with the retired priests and servants of the temple. And some of the scribes, who began releasing epistles upon epistles cautioning against exorcism. Azur retorted that exorcism wasn’t banned under the Torah.  
Things came to a head when the major Scribe, Yennom bar-Frail, released his epistle, directed towards no-one but targeted towards the discerning. 
There was uproar in the land, from both Jews and Gentiles and from the Sadducees and Pharisees. Counter epistles were written and posted on the city gates and on the walls of the land. One epistle was jointly written by the Watchmen. One of the signatories was a Nyarkonite, who was a retired opener of caskets.
That is when Paul gave his seminal ecclesiastical paulogue to Azur, reminding him of the tenets of the Brand and admonishing him not to dilute the Way of the Voice, keeping it holy and sacrosanct. The Sermon covered over forty scrolls, according to the scribes whose duty it is to record the annals of the land. The Sermon chronicled the history of the church of the Brand and the canons of the Way. Paul spoke with spiritual vehemence, saying “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.” 
And being in anguish, he spoke more earnestly and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.
After the Sermon, there was uproar in the land, with the Watchmen saying perhaps the apostle had been affected by his association with the house of Jos. And when the Nyarkonite, who was used as an example of how not to behave in the Way, came to affirm the methods of Azur the Manasonian, the people of the land looked up to the heavens, for a word from the Voice.

In the meantime, the people reached out for their favourite book in such moments: the book of Nahum. Even Wofa Kapokyikyi, who is not usually bereft of words, is reading Nahum.

Hmmm

As for Yennom bar-Frail, he won’t be forgetting his epistle in a hurry, as we await the casting of lots soon. Will it be the one epistle that determines how he gets to manage the letters after his name, either procured or awarded?
Till I come your way another day with another sebitical, I remain:
Sebitically yours,

Kapokyikyiwofaase

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MADE IN GHANA book launched!

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

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

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

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

1 September 2017

Accra, Ghana

Liberia Meets Ghana Cultural Exchange 

BOOK READING IN MONROVIA

In 2015, two Ghanaian writers Kofi Akpabli and Nana Awere Damoah gave themselves two targets: to do quarterly public book readings and to extend the activity beyond Accra. The aim is to promote reading and writing especially, among the youth of Africa. They dubbed it DAkpabli Readathon. 
To date, not only have the duo done several readings in Accra, they have extended their literary event to Tema, Kumasi, Ho and Takoradi. Actually, they have also pushed the frontiers beyond the country’s shores. In April this year, Nana and Kofi read to a delighted group of Ghanaian professionals in Lagos.
The DAkpabli Readathon team has been invited by Forte Publishing, which organises MONROVIA READS, for a mini-fest of reading, literary workshop and culture in Monrovia on 18 and 19 August 2017. They are also going to hold a mentor’s session for young Liberian writers. 

Our visit is also a cultural exchange event which will promote the neighbourly relationship between Ghana and Liberia, as well as taking reading and literacy advocacy across the continent. 

Author Profiles
Kofi Akpabli is a writer and a teacher whose latest work has been published in a new Commonwealth Non-Fiction Anthology launched in the UK in May 2016.  He is a two-time winner of the CNN/Multichoice African Journalist for Arts and Culture. Kofi has also won GJA and National awards in Culture and Tourism. He writes a travel column Going Places in The Mirror newspaper, published weekly in Accra.
Amongst his books are: Harmattan – a Cultural Profile of Northern Ghana, Romancing Ghanaland: the Beauty of Ten Regions, A Sense of Savannah – Tales of a Friendly Walk through Northern Ghana, and Tickling the Ghanaian – Encounters with Contemporary Culture. Kofi’s latest work Made In Nima has won a place in an African anthology featuring writers from 14 countries which was published by the Commonwealth in London. 
Nana Awere Damoah is a writer and a technical services consultant. A British Council Chevening alumnus, Nana started writing in 1997, when he won first prize in the Step Magazine National Writing Competition. He is the author of seven books: Quotes by NAD, Nsempiisms, Sebitically Speaking, I Speak of Ghana, Tales from Different Tails, Through the Gates of Thought, and Excursions in my Mind. His seventh book, Quotes by NAD, has just recently been published as an ebook and paperback on Amazon.

​Waakyenometric Observations

with inputs from Naa Oyo Kumodzi and Elsie Dickson

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

iHAV Conference: Breakout session on Small Actions, Big Difference

**Rough notes of what I shared during breakout session at #iHAV2017 Conference on 27 July 2017**
iHAV Conference: Breakout session on Small Actions, Big Difference
What do Teshie Nungua & Ikorodu roads in Accra & Lagos have in common? Answer: Traffic. And what causes traffic on these routes? One major cause is the practice of people crossing the roads indiscriminately, at many points. Cars stopping for a couple of seconds for pedestrians to cross compound over many cars and leads to traffic. Small actions compounding to make big differences.

“Small actions, big difference” – Unilever slogan. We say little drops of water make a mighty ocean. Same with actions.

Think Big, Start Small, Move Fast 

I came away from my visit to Dr Wereko-Brobby aka Tarzan with one main lesson: Engineers do, they are doers. They are solution providers. After the talk must always come the options and then prioritise to implement.

The Radio Eye example. Just start.

How to start? You can only start by starting. The first time anyone did anything, he did it as an amateur. 

Start simple, get fancy later.

iHAV poster and the focus on implementation. 

We tend to talk too much and do little.

We tend to focus on analysis to paralysis.

Today’s post on church fund-raising and community service

Facebook & DGG & Apagya- 22k ghs 

Community projects – Nsawam, Wa, Volta school

Reading clinics 

Economic growth – all around us

Solution leads to income
The educated African seems only to be conditioned for steady state conditions, to feel comfortable only when conditions are certain and all risks have been fully analysed and covered.
The educated African is the most afraid to take risks on his dreams.
====

Reading from an earlier Nsempiisms
Earlier this year, my friend Abena Krobea shared a video about a young Malawian inventor called William Kamkwamba. In the video, the young man recounted how famine was ravaging his country in the early 2000s and how he had to drop out of secondary school. Determined to still educate himself, he decided to frequently visit the library of his former school and to read books, especially science books. From one of those books, he learnt about windmills, and decided to build one himself. Not having the requisite materials, he visited scrap yards around his house and salvaged bits and bits including bicycle parts, and PVC pipes, and built his first wind mills that powdered his house with electricity and also pumped water for irrigation. Awesome stuff! Inspirational!
In this TED talk by William, he made a profound statement: “I tried it. And I made it.” He made a move with his ideas, he took a risk on his dreams.
When I watched the video and as I personally tango with the many ideas I have that I haven’t tried, knowing what I to do and yet not doing it, procrastinating, thinking of how to do it perfectly, yet holding back and worrying about the passage of time, giving me a headache, I looked at William and I am provoked to take the pill of action and welcome my relief.
But it is not that easy and that is when I decided to write to you and share my reflections.
At a book reading at Rennie’s Garden, Dr Ruby Goka told us that one of the worse things about being a doctor or a medical student is that when one got ill, he or she only imagines the worst of possible illnesses. 
Same with the educated African. The educated African seems only to be conditioned for steady state conditions, to feel comfortable only when conditions are certain and all risks have been fully analysed and covered.
The educated African is the most afraid to take risks on his dreams.
Not so with many entrepreneurs who need to take a plunge into uncertain waters. Not so with William, who tried it and made it.

Nsempiisms: Building the House of State

I have been following the debate about the modes of tithing and giving in a screenshot being circulated online. Let the debate continue.
It made me take an excursion in my mind and to reflect, again, on how some of the home-grown churches have managed to raise funds to support their various activities and even venture into initiatives such as micro-finance organisations and educational facilities. Churches and para-church organisations that are not supported by any foreign donors.
It tells me that if we get our acts together, we can generate sufficient funds to run our own country and development. Already, figures show that remittances from abroad by Africans outstrip foreign donors fund inflows into the continent. I am certain the same trend applies to Ghana.
Aid hasn’t been used to develop many of these churches. Perhaps, I should say ‘foreign aid’. This doesn’t apply only to urban areas; it is replicated in the rural areas where even with minimal funds, citizens are able to raise money to build edifices for churches.
How I wish we apply that same “can do” mindset to our national development. 
Unfortunately, outside the church, we mostly lose this sense of responsibility to build, and take on a cloak of entitlement. Kwaku Sakyi-Addo wrote about visiting a village with some non-Ghanaians and having a meeting in a magnificent church building, where the elders of the church asked these foreigners to help them build a place of convenience. Taflatse, a place to squat so they stopped doing it in the bush. When Sakyi-Addo asked how they built the church, one of the elders proudly explained how they raised the edifice by their own funds.
Development will be a partnership between state and citizens. We must not lose our “communal labour” principles and look up only to the central government. Our forebears raised LA schools – schools built by local assemblies. Let’s not contribute and build only when implored from the pulpit.
We can do it. 
On our own generated fuel.
Nsempiisms. My mouth has fallen.

Nsempiisms: Indiscipline or Deficiency

Yesterday at the Media Meet with the President, there was a display of an attribute that disturbs me.

The moderator, the Information Minister, set the ground rules for the Q&A time: one question per person, make it snappy.

Not a few of those who had the opportunity to ask questions decided to ignore the instructions totally, asking two and sometimes three questions, even after a couple of warnings.

It is a character that irks me. We all think we can outsmart the system. It is either indiscipline or an inability to follow simple instructions.  

It is that same trait that makes people climb the curb to avoid traffic and then create more traffic in the process.

It is that same trait that makes people want to jump queues in the bank.

It is that same attribute that makes people want to bribe to cut corners.

We want to grab as much as possible when we have the stage. We want to eat as much as we can when it is our turn, not caring about those behind us.

The above are the examples of indiscipline. 

But there is more. 

Perhaps we just don’t know how, or care, to follow instructions. 
You put up a post and say people text a particular number and not call. They will call.
You say people should send details into your inbox. They put the details in the comments’ section.
You ask people to get in touch via a particular email (not your own) and they send the mail to your inbox.
Someone is to give a speech and you ask him to use 15 minutes, he ends up speaking for 45 minutes.
A student presenting his project is asked to wrap up in 2 minutes and he proceeds as if he has one more hour.
Yesterday’s session was revealing in these respects as well, aside the questions.
Indiscipline on display. Or plain deficiency.  
Nsempiisms. My mouth has fallen.