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I bring you greetings from Wofa Kapokyikyi who, finding me in a low mood over the past weekend, downloaded one of his choice proverbs. Me nya wo aye, eye musoo, he told me, meaning that it may be wahala trying to become like someone else. He told me that in life we all have our races to run, and different roles to play. And for the first time ever, Wofa Kapokyikyi gave me a non-Sikaman quote, using the words of Alexandre Dumas, that “there is neither happiness nor misery in the world; there is only the comparison of one state to another, another more.” I was surprised and I told him, that I didn’t know he read many books. He smiled and told me small boys are young.

I thank you, Wofa.

I spent the weekend of 5 and 6 March 2011 dabbling in two of my delights: spending time with the youth in Cape Coast and ministering with Joyful Way Incorporated in Takoradi, now christened Oil City or OilKrom.

I was privileged to be invited by Nana Ama Ghansah and her Nhyira Foundation to speak at the Gathering of Visioneers Conference in Cape Coast, bringing together pupils and students from Junior High and Senior High Schools in and around Cape Coast.

It was not all talk, though. We had some good music. On the bill was Michael Oware Sakyi, aka OJ. I had heard a couple of his soings but had neither seen nor heard him live. Two of his popular songs are Obi Nya W’aye and Koso Na Koso, which he released in 2003. I was impressed with him.

Before singing his last song for the afternoon, OJ shared with us his story, where he had come from, how far God had brought him, how his experiences and desires combined to make him who he had become, and provoked our thoughts that God had made each one of us unique. Then he sang Obi Nya W’aye, loosely translated from Akan as ‘someone wishes he/she was like you’. He asked us to sit quietly and listen to the lyrics. It was good advice.

The story is told of a man, let’s call him Kwame Nkrabia, who was so frustrated with life, his lack of success,and the non-achievement of his dreams that he decided to end it all. He was broke, in debt, with no hope of recovery. After begging for a few months, he felt he didn’t even have the strength to go on begging. One day, he left town, to hang himself.

Finding a forest area, Nkrabia selected a tree whose branches were strong enough to ensure the rope held. To delay any chances of his body being found, he decided to remove his clothes, leaving only his underpants. As he tied the noose, he detected some human activity in the undergrowth. With amazement, he saw a man kneeling by his discarded, tattered clothes, carefully folding them, whilst muttering a prayer for a good find. Nkrabea aborted his suicide mission.

Someone gave a testimony of expressing gratitude and appreciating that his lack of shoes was not that bleak, considering some had no feet. In secondary school, any time I was broke with no food in the chop box, I could thank God that I was able to eat in the dining hall, fresh food, not like the sopi boys who came from the nearby villages to help in the pantry so they could go home with the leftover food, what we discarded – actually not much so the sopi boys had to sweep the tables to take the crumbs and spills from our plates, literally.

It is good to compare yourself to your peers, to calibrate, so as to encourage yourself to do more. But we should always remember that our paths in life are different. Even twins don’t have the same characteristics, a friend reminded me at work this week. Even Siamese twins disagree on what to do from time to time.

As my friend Dr Bisi Onoviran said, “you shouldn’t compare yourself to others – they are more screwed up than you think.”

There is always someone who will admire something in you, wishing to be you. Who you are today is someone’s dream.

But that is not to say you have to remain at this point. You can only become better from today, as you keep on. But the journey forward is enhanced with a positive appreciation of the path you have trodden, lessons learnt and gratitude of the present. It is only then that you can practise what Eugene V Debs called ‘intelligent discontent’ which he stated “is the mainspring of civilization”. That discontent which says “I am grateful for what I am, but I can be more”.

What is eating you up? Could it have been worse? Reflect and take action to improve, to go ahead, to be better.

Till I come your way again with another sebitical, I remain:

Sebitically yours,

Kapokyikyiwofaase

My earliest memories of my holy village, very first faint memories, are of asking my late paternal grandfather Nana Premang Ntow II why he was sucking the chocolate bar instead of chewing it. Apparently his teeth had taken a Wassa leave at the time. I don’t recollect what year that was. But I recollect that in 1980 we attended his funeral in Akropong, travelling in the VW Beetle owned by Oldman Briscoe, the famous CATholic friend of my dad’s. I recollect the apaa that took place in honour of this late Omanhene and particularly remember tasting duck meat (whatever it is called, apart from dabo-dabo) which was part of the spoils of the apaa. During the apaa, any livestock not contained in a pen or in a house and found in the open, found itself on the highway to the royal soup.

My next big visit was somewhere around 1983 when we went by a sleeper, an overnight train, from Accra, boarding from Dzorwulu station, to Tarkwa and continuing to Akropong by road. I recall my late brother Yaw Appiah running after the truck taking us back to Takoradi from Akropong as he wept. He was a student then at Amenfiman Secondary School, the local second cycle school to which my dad sent all my siblings who make it to the secondary school, so we could reconnect to our roots and not become Accra people. I only changed from Amenss to Ghana National because my class six teacher convinced my dad to send me to a science school so I would become a medical doctor because I was good at science and mathematics. Amenss didn’t offer science. I was later to remedy this deviation from the norm by undertaking my national service after sixth form in Amenss between 1993 and 1994 as a mathematics and science tutor, and also teaching during my first two years at the university, during vacations. Indeed, my two siblings, Yaw and Ntiako who made it through the sixth form, also did their national service within the traditional area, Yaw at Wasa Asikuma and Ntiako at Wasa Anyinabrem. According to my big brother, “Anyinabrem is 12 miles by land, sea or air. No matter where you pass to that village, the distance is still 12 MILES. That was the old lady’s first teaching post.”
Thus begun my romance with my hometown. When my parents relocated to Wasa Akropong from Kotobabi in 1987, when I was in Form 1 at Ghana National, I started travelling alone between Accra, Cape Coast and Wasa Akropong, spending many hours on the road. Those days, a journey from Accra to Wasa started at dawn and ended at midnight, in the OSA Tata buses. One reached his or her destination, either way, with the hair coloured ginger. 
I had many happy times in my village as a boy, during vacations from boarding house and during my national service days. Being taught how to ride a bicycle, how to swim and fish in the Ehyire river by my best friend in the village, the Wasa-Frafra boy called Aboko, who I saw again last year when I visited. Aboko taught me how to speak my mother tongue properly, having been born and brought up in Akropong. His family are very much indigenes of the village. We went together to the stream to fetch water for all activities except for drinking, as we usually harvested drinking water from the roofs when it rained. We took long swims in the river, besides women who were washing their clothes right there. I learnt to push trucks and go to the farms to weed and harvest. My mum operated a chopbar so I learnt about bushmeat, and how to roast and dissect it. Happy moments, that built my pride in my holy village.
One of the major stories around Wasa then was that when it rained, you could find gold nuggets in gutters! My traditional area is rich in minerals, especially gold, and galamsey boys were popular then. You could identify them when they walked through town during market days, with their swagger, colourful dresses and bling bling. They made money quickly and spent it quickly, and they were raided often by the police. Even though lucrative, galamsey was seen as illegal and the citizens ensured, with the police, that it was under control.
Every year since I finished the university and started working, I have gone back home to visit. And for important family events especially funerals. Even whilst working away from Ghana, I still kept that tradition, taking the children with me also as they were added to the family.
I visited my holy village of Wasa Akropong last December, 2016, and I was ashamed of what my hometown had become. China town! With so many Wasanese that I couldn’t even see my own people!
It had undergone a Chinese Invasion. Our Chiefs in collusion. With chinese signages everywhere! The rivers now look like milo drinks with expired milk. Parcels of land look like cooked beans mixed with gari and palm oil. 
Nottingham University has a campus in China, and another one in Malaysia. It is traditional for students to transfer from China to the UK for a year for their studies, like a study abroad program. One of the strengths of the multi-national, multi-cultural heritage that my alma mater has. When I finished my course in September 2006, I stayed for a couple of weeks helping as a student volunteer for the International Welcome week for Nottingham Uni, where we helped new international students settle in and get acquainted with the UK, with Nottingham and with the school. One day, just as we were wrapping up for the day, we got information that two buses of students had just arrived in the school from Heathrow. The buses were filled with Chinese students, full of life and adventure. As an aside, the Asians are sending their kids to school abroad and really educating them. Part of their success story, not a fluke. In Nottingham University, we used to say that out of every five students you encountered, three were Asian and two were Chinese. An Iranian friend joked once that it felt like Chinatown. They enriched the programmes and were an encouragement to most of us, as we struggled through our courses, reminding ourselves that if they could learn to speak and write English, sometimes only perfecting it during their studies in the UK, and pass their exams, those of us from Africa who were mostly taught in English from primary school had no excuse not to pass. But I digress. 
Landing at Kotoka Airport on 18th February, just last week, from Lagos, I saw so many Chinese travellers coming into the country that I was reminded of that day in Nottingham. I am sure many of them will be going to Wasa. To continue the gold rush, to continue decimating our lands, with our complicit consent.
A writer observes patterns and is wary of coincidences. So I found it quite significant  that the first foreign delegation to visit the new President on his first working day in office on Monday 9th January 2017 was from the Chinese embassy. 
We read history and wonder why our ancestors sold their kith and kin for rum, schnapps and gunpowder. Yet today we sit and watch as we sell ourselves cheap to the Chinese (and many others by extension and in other activities apart from galamsey) for yen, fried rice and sweet & sour soup. Acting as if we are a people available for rape by the rest of the world, turning our backsides up and supplying our own petroleum jelly. 
Aren’t we ashamed of ourselves?
Nsempiisms. My mouth has fallen.
(This piece is part of the speech delivered by Nana Awere Damoah on 25 February 2017, during the launch of his latest book, Nsempiisms)

**I am posting this for the first time on this blog. This interview was done with Jamati Magazine and posted online on their website on 19 November 2008. It was conducted by Awo Sarpong Ansu.

 

  1. Tell us about yourself. Who is Nana Damoah?


My full name is Nana Awere Damoah. I was born in Accra, Ghana and reside in Tema with my family – my wife, Vivian, and our two boys, Nana Kwame Bassanyin and Nana Yaw Appiah. I have lived all my life in Ghana except for my year’s study in the UK.

 

My background is in Chemical Engineering, with degrees from University of Nottingham, UK and Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana.  I studied in Nottingham as a British Council Chevening scholar. My entire working career has been with Unilever; currently with Unilever Ghana as the Production Manager for Foods. I served, from 2002 to 2004, as the National President of Joyful Way Incorporated, a Christian evangelistic music group formed in 1972, with branches in Ghana and associates spread all across the globe.

 

My hobbies are reading, writing, watching movies, being with friends and mentoring young people. My friends tell me I am quite jovial!

  1. Tell us about your book, Excursions In My Mind.

 

Excursions in my Mind is a collection of reflective essays and poems, supported by quotations from literary sources, the Bible and contemporary leaders. These reflections cover a broad sweep of issues that confront the average individual in everyday life, and touch on key issues such as self-help, leadership, love for one’s parents, nature of friendship and daily walk in faith in contemporary life. The topics are selected as randomly as events and circumstances confront the average person but are cogitated and ruminated upon, over and over again in my mind, intertwined with my own experiences and stories, a sort of perambulation in a labyrinth, but with an eventual egress, escorted by cogent lessons for life’s improvement.

 

Excursions In My Mind is published by Athena press (London).

  1. What message are you trying to convey in the book?

I believe there are two modes of conveying a message: by what we say and by what our actions say; the spoken or verbal verses the unwritten.

 

The written message I seek to put across is that life is a business to be worked at and lived, not just dreamed about, and that in doing this, we need to be ‘learning people’ – there is an example, a message, a lesson, a warning or a moral you can discover in every scene of the play that is your life; he is never old who continues to learn and he is already old who ceases to learn. As Harvey Ullman stated: “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether this happens at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps on learning not only remains young but becomes constantly valuable regardless of physical capacity.”  With my scripts, I seek to instigate thought, provoke reflections and educe action.

 

The unwritten, tacit message, what I endeavour to convey with my literary accomplishment is this: as an African writer, who is in a technical discipline (a practising Chemical Engineer), it is my aspiration that via my literary work I can enthuse our youth to experiment and not to let their scope and influence on their generation be bounded or restricted by their training, to discontinue restricting themselves to the box when they can go beyond the perimeter and reach the pinnacle of their potential, to grasp the verity that talents cannot be tamed and should be employed for the universal good of mankind.

 

  1. You are an Engineer by profession. When did you start writing?

I wrote my first poem Prayer – Lift, Lay, Leave in 1992. My first story in the ‘Mirror’ was in 1995. My work won the 1997 Step Magazine National story writing competition.

 

My short stories have been published both in the ‘Mirror’ and ‘Spectator’ and my poems in magazines on KNUST campus, during my undergraduate years. The essays that have been published as Excursion In My Mind and are still being written were started in 2004 and I sent out the first one via email to friends on the 4 October 2004.

  1. You always hear that people don’t read anymore, and that Africans don’t read. What is the literary scene like in Ghana?

Awo, you’ve just stroked a string in my heart! ‘Books and Knowledge’ is actually the first chapter in my book. We don’t read and I don’t believe it is a predicament of only Africans, though our plight may be more acute. It is a crisis of our generation, which has been brought up on fast foods, fast cars, fast visuals and videos, fast everything! We still have a long way to go in Ghana and the state of affairs is exacerbated by the paucity of publishing houses that should be churning out relevant books that tackle our African and Ghanaian issues and values. I must say I have been encouraged by the effort of Readwide in Ghana lately.

 

A new set of new writers are coming up after the golden generation of Ama Ataa Aidoo, Ayi Kwei Armah, Efua Sutherland and Atukwei Okai; this is encouraging. We don’t have a dearth of writing talent, I am sure of that. The formation of book clubs also must go on, we need to excite our people, especially the youth to read. We still have a long way to go, and we have only now started the drive upwards after the decline. I hope I am contributing my quota with my book.

  1. Do you have any advice for other aspiring writers?

I would say they should persist in writing and exploring avenues to publish. I have published in newspapers, on notice boards, in brochures, in student magazines, through competitions, through emails. My book is a product of four years of writing and circulating my thoughts to friends via email. Think big about where you want to take your writing to, start small but move fast!

 

And keep in mind, a writer is worthy of that name only when she writes! Gerald Brenan captures it most succinctly: “It is by sitting down to write every morning that one becomes a writer. Those who do not do this remain amateurs.”

  1. Where can our readers learn more about your work?

 

I keep three blogs of my work.

 

Essays in the ‘Excursions in my Mind’ series are updated at www.excursionsinmymind.blogspot.com, my poems can be found at www.patmoscollections.blogspot.com and all my short stories are at www.storyloom.blogspot.com.

 

My book is also available on amazon.com and amazon.co.uk.

 

 

Dear Wofa Kapokyikyi:

I bring you warm buharattan greetings from Amalaman where we are on auto-pilot, if you were to believe what the papa deceive pikin people are saying. Well, to be fair, they are not the only ones saying that. The Rock of Aso neighbours are also saying same. Oga Kpatakpata has been visiting herbalists in the land beyond the cornfields and has gone beyond his originally advertised return date. There are many stories making the rounds, Wofa. Some say the herbs that are needed to be put in the pot to be cooked for him to inhale, he sitting on a stool with the hot steaming herb-infused, pot in front of him and layers of blankets covering him, those herbs, they say the herbs are a bit scarce now due to climate change and how much the snow has fallen this year. Some people also say that the herbalists are as slow as a wounded snail so their journey to the land of herbs is taking a bit long. Others also say the Oga is just tayaaed, and need rest, insisting that it is only the infirmed tortoise who feels the cold and blames it on the weather. In the meantime, Wofa, we wait as the country drives itself. So they say. Ei, these yesi-yesi people.

I have been watching events in Sikaman from afar and wanted to share a few thoughts with you, Wofa. On 5th February 2014, I wrote on my Facebook wall:

“Forget AFAG. Forget CJA. Forget footsoldiers. This is a year of citizen demos. Small small ones. They will start with roads and unfulfilled promises and upgrade. I can hear the sounds of a toad which is getting to the limit of intake of water.”

Later that year, on the 1st of July, a motley collection of mostly professionals, who are usually classified as the “middle class”, stepped off their social media accounts, went beyond their online rants and demonstrated with their feet, waking to the Flagstaff House to occupy.

That was the beginning of hitherto unconcerned Ghanaians, who had learnt to create their private solutions to public problems, wearing their voices and coming in from the cold. That simmer swelled and gained momentum and found expression in the massive defeat of the ruling party in the 2016 elections.

Legend has it that the tipping point of the struggle for Ghana’s independence started after the return to the then-Gold Coast of Sergeant Adjetey, Corporal Attipoe, Private Odartey Lamptey and their comrades who, as members of the Gold Coast Regiment, went to Burma to fight in World War II. The story goes that having fought alongside other nationalities and having calibrated their skills against same, they were imbued with the awareness of the fact that they were equally capable and wondered why they couldn’t be in charge of their own destinies. Well, the trigger point was the non-payment of their due pension and provision of promised jobs, but that awareness from the mountain top experience, where they viewed across the terrain and found their voices, counted and culminated in the 28 February Christiansborg Crossroad shooting.

A people who gather momentum from the freedom of finding their voices hardly go quiet again. From 2014, many a Ghanaian started on a journey of shedding her cloak of silence and picked up an armour of citizenship that had a breast-plate to repel insults.

Insults! The tool used by the Sikaman politician and his cohorts to frighten ordinary citizens from commenting on issues. Usually when loses the capacity to argue intellectually (or perhaps lacked the capability in the first place), the person descends to the level of using insults. I remember a story of one musician being asked how many times he smoked weed, Wofa.

“Once in a blue moon,” he responded.

The interviewer probed further, asking “How often does the blue moon appear?”

“Everyday,” the musician answered, not missing a beat.

The use of insults happened every blue moon day, and sadly continues. So with time, citizens resorted to playing safe and wearing clocks of silence that had been sewn under the culture of silence, when the former Odekuro, whose lineage transcends the cornfields, reigned.

But Sikamanians shed those cloaks! They found their voices and these voices, having found the harmony of singing a war song that could drive a party out of power, will not go silent as the new Ahenfie inhabitants settle in and attempt to maintain the status quo. These voices will not go back into the cold.

None of the parties in Sikaman have enough card-bearing numbers or staunch supporters to win elections on their own. None of them. From previous election trends, it is clear that the most the parties can pull on the strength of these dedicated numbers is about 45% of the total vote cast. To cross the 50%, parties need the swing voters, the so-called neutrals (which is really a misnomer, in my view, as no one who votes is a neutral!). The problem with these swinging safari folks is that they are too-known! They speak their minds with their thumbs, which have attributes of the pendulum.

I dare say, Wofa Kapokyikyi, that if one drew two circles representing these swinging safaris and those who wore their voices from 2014, the two circles will overlap very nicely and the intersection would contain a good number. A very good number. Voices that have come out of the cold.

Already Odekuro Odieasem Nana Tutubrofo Dankwawura and his sub-chiefs are feeling the new Sikamanian. The momentum built by the Sikamanian from the near-occupation of the Ahenfie meant that even though the new Odekuro and his men and women hit the cornfields running, the pace of Sikaman was faster, and is also fueled by impatience.

The issues that sent the former Odekuro out of the Ahenfie will not be changed overnight, but the environment that nurtured the issues and gave them life must change. Odekuro better note that. And he must note also that a key component of the past few years has been that culture of talking plenty that doesn’t cook yam. There is much work to be done, and it is the time for business un-usual. Sikamanians have had enough feeding of propaganda to last them decades so we want a different menu.

Long may the voices find expression in keeping Odekuro and his men alert, Wofa. May these voices not lose the audacity to question. Every Sikamanian has the right of exercising the “effrontery” to ask questions. The day we lose our appetite to question is the day we die as a country.

Till I come your way with another sebitical missive from Amalaman, I remain, as always:

Sebitically yours,

Kapokyikyiwofaase


End Notes

AFAG: Alliance for Accountable Governance

CJA: Committee for Joint Action

Tayaaed: Adulterated form of the word ‘tired’, pidgin

Amalaman: Nigeria

Sikaman: Ghana

Sikamanian: Ghanaian

The DAkpabli team is excited to announce the Guest Author for the first quarter of 2017!
elizabeth-irene
Elizabeth-Irene Baitie is a Medical Laboratory Director and a multi-award winning writer of contemporary children’s and Young Adult (YA) fiction.
 
Her first book, A Saint in Brown Sandals, was published by Macmillan in 2006 for junior readers and was awarded the Macmillan Writer’s Prize for Africa that year.
 
Her YA novels – The Twelfth Heart, The Dorm Challenge and Rattling in the Closet – have all been awarded the Burt Award for African Literature.
 
Elizabeth-Irene lives in Accra and is married to Rami. They have three children.
 
Join us welcome Elizabeth-Irene onto the reading train and do catch her at an event near you soon!
 
#GHReads #ReadGhana #DAkpabliReadathon

In the days of yore when we were we and we roamed the highlands and lowfields of the university of spiritual training, which later was given a coating of the name from Nkroful, there lived an obroni-trained herbalist in the big herbal centre near the road that ran from the abode of Odekuro right into the bosom of Otumfuo. 

Teacher Croffectus told us many market days ago on the hills of Menya Mewu, which existed side-by-side with the valley of the swinging monkeys, that everyone needed to be aware of two aspects of self for life’s journeys and to also made decisions on careers: aptitude and attitude; what one’s gumption quotient was and what his behaviours and idiosyncrasies inclined him towards.
What Teacher Croffectus failed to add was one’s debiatitude: how one looks like.
This herbalist in the herbal centre near the road looks like a fitter mechanic. Our view in the land of spiritual training was that an obroni-herbalist is supposed to look dadabee kakra, and not to have features that made you look up at the ceiling instead of admiring the handiwork of Odumakoma Nana Nyankonpon. One of the reasons why perhaps Kapokyikyiwofaase didn’t even consider the suggestion of Premang Ntow’s son, that Premang Ntow’s grandson became a herbalist. The debiatitide.
The legend was that during the period when even Nii Saddam reduced the length of his drumming sessions and gave time to the lesser business of reading his books, when men and women alike chewed the midnight kola and burnt the evening osɔnɔ, when Sir RED roamed the rooms muttering “minfitɛ gbɛmen average” (I am destroying the cumulative average of students) and admonishing students to draw any line even if they couldn’t make head or duna of the isometric drawing questions….during that period of exams, many are those who thronged the herbal centre for some relief from pain and stress, from the toils of preparation for exams and from the stress of not making enough time for one inte or the other, and the repercussions thereof. 
The story continues that this fitter-herbalist used to prescribe herbs just as you stated your ailments and many who exited his consulting room found out, when they compared tales from not different tails, that they were given the same herbs, even for different complaints. They soon concluded that the herbalist listened only with his hands.
So, one day, Nii Saddam, also called Kule, decided to get to the root of the matter. When he was ushered into the consulting room, he just sat and didn’t utter a word. But Fitter-Herbie had started scribbling away and prescribing herbs!
“But you don’t even know what is wrong with me!” Kule indicated.
“Ah, but don’t you all have the same illnesses and symptoms during this time?” Fitter-Herbie retorted.
I bring you warm greetings from my Wofa Kapokyikyi who told me that whilst it is true what our elders say, that even though heads may look alike, the thoughts in them differ, sometimes when you see how one particularly-shape head is modeled upon a neck, one can sense that the thoughts in that head have been experienced before in the past, and soon enough, the pouring out of those thoughts confirms the suspicion.
Like the stance of the Fitter-Herbie, many times when one considers the happenings in Sikaman, one gets the feeling of Ghana vu. Many times, the trajectory that issues take, like the path of a quadratic graph that rises and falls, that ‘pours water’, a line that accelerates to a crescendo and falls, like the crest and trough of a wave, seems too familiar. In Sikaman, many times when the matters hit, one just gets the sense that we have been here just the day, the week, the month or the year before, and one could almost predict the path ahead of the issue. 
The steadfast problems of our land never ceases, their recycling never come to an end. They are renewed every morning, great is our faithfulness in traversing roads just travelled. 
How are our new politicians different from the old? How different do we address our issues? Are our national scripts rehashed just for new actors?
Zimbabwean writer NoViolet Bulawayo wrote a novel entitled ‘We Need New Names’. Yes, in Sikaman, we need new scripts. We need new ways of doing things. We need new stories. We need new politics. We need to change the narrative. We need new mentalities of citizens. We need different heads and fresh thoughts from these heads, mixing in a national cauldron where each thought acts as an ingredient to produce a national meal of positive progress that delivers tangible development.
We can’t continue to be that predictable. We can’t continue to peregrinate as if we have no destination as a nation. We must get off the road just travelled and find new paths.
We need new names. No more Ghana vu.
Till I come your way next time with another sebitical, I remain:
Sebitically yours,

Kapokyikyiwofaase

Kojo Mɛtɛɛ was a notorious thief in my holy village. It was rumoured that when he entered a room, he could smell exactly where money and valuables had been hidden and go straight for the kill. Or rather, straight for the steal. Those were the days when bank vaults resided in the inner entrails of mattresses, the ones made with straw. When there was fire, mattresses burnt with expensive swag.

One day, my big brother Joe Base, in a bid to protect his savings from Kojo and The Gang, hid his money in such an obscure place that he forgot where he had hidden it! After hours of trying to find it, he gave up and called Kojo, who stepped into the room, closed his eyes, sniffed the air a bit and laughed.

“Bra Joe Base paa, it is under the carpet,” he pointed.

Kojo loved stealing the coconuts from the backyard of the local rich man, Opanyin Nemi. He would scale over Opanyin’s high wall and climb the coconut trees, plucking the coconuts so they fell outside the compound for his gang members to collect. He did so with his eyes looking out for Opanyin, whose single-barrelled gun, also called ti aborɔferɛ (pluck down pawpaw), was feared.

One afternoon, as Kojo was up a coconut tree, he saw perceived movement in Opanyin’s house. His friends whistled to warn him but as he craned his neck to investigate, he lost his grip and started falling…

Tum!

Silence…

One of his pals whispered over the wall, they were afraid Kojo was either badly hurt or was dead.

“Kojo Mɛtɛɛ, w’awu anaa?” (Kojo, are you dead?)

The response came in, slowly…

“Mi nwu yɛ o, na pua na mɛ pua.” (I am not dead, but I have been shortened!)

I bring you greetings from Wofa Kapokyikyi, who has been following the issues in The Gambia over the past weeks from his stool at the Liberty Fan Club.

Ei, Wofa said it o. He predicted that Papa Jammeh, like Gbagbo, baa gbo last show. Papa Jammeh, like the proverbial fly which didn’t listen to advice, has followed the corpse into the grave.

After losing the elections and conceding and dis-conceding, Papa J wanted to copy the senior Papa J but he didn’t follow The Handbook well. You negotiate indemnity clauses and transitional provisions before the elections and not after. It was Haillemariam Lemar who said that Jammeh was so sure of winning the Gambian elections that he didn’t even attempt to rig it! That surely must explain why Papa J missed the sequence.

Then, he proceeded to dig his feet in. The regional Council of Chiefs said no but only Papa J said yes. Even when his akyeame and sub-chiefs said a new dawn had come, Papa J still said the sun was shining brightly on his coast.

One of the key weaknesses of dictators is that they do not realise it when the applause is either gone or it has become faked. They refuse to get it when they lose favour. In leadership as in life, you need to know when to move before you are pushed.
I always get amused and surprised when African leaders don’t want to step down honorably after service. My reason is that we have so few ex-Presidents for the many opportunities that exist for such experience in the international community.

That was my position with Gbagbo.

With Papa Jammeh, I am not that clear. Perhaps he analysed that bit, apart from his fear of not resting in peace, and came to the conclusion that he is not employable after stepping off the stage as Head of State.

After advising the fly for so long, the regional Council of Chiefs decided to show the corpse to the fly, to let the fly know its potential sleeping partner. The corpse was escorted by soldiers from the land which had carved out a bit of its belly for The Gambia and which almost enveloped the small nation. Other nations, including Sikaman who had ancestral spirits crying for retribution, also provided troops. Amalaman provided iron birds, who could spit fire. These troops started marching “left, right, left, right”, singing “O-zami-namina-mina-mina”, in that deep voice of the senior Papa J and came knocking on the doors of The Gambia. It was a sight to behold, numbers stretching from the East to the West.

According to the BBC, “The Gambia’s entire armed forces are made up of only about 2,500 troops.”

Let me sikamanise that for you. The entire Gambian Army will not fill 100 VIP Yutong buses. Our National Theatre and the Conference Centre are all we need to sit the entire army personnel in the Gambia.

The story is told of a new Inspector-General of the Ahenfie police who was informed about some of his men extorting palm wine and cowries from citizens as they returned from their farms. He disguised himself one day and went out to investigate. One of the policemen gave him such a tough time and took all his palm wine at a checkpoint. When he removed his disguise and the policeman recognised him, the junior kotiman saluted clumsily and blurted, “I sack myself, sah!”

When the Chief of Papa J’s Army saw the multitude of soldiers from accompanying the corpse, he weighed his options and stated that the palaver at hand had nothing to do with soldier matter. “I won’t commit my men to any stupid fight”, he said, and proceeded to take selfies.

Wise man. The toad should not sweat on behalf of the lizard which chews pepper.

Most armies that spend their time terrorising their own citizens spend less time actually preparing to fight real soldiers. I hope the Gambian Army still knows how to fight.
You should consider the size of your head before you challenge Etikelenkele to a Head War. When Etikelenkele was a child, he was restrained by his parents from watching birds fly above his head. That act disturbed the equilibrium of his body. His head was that gargantuan.

Wofa Kapokyikyi told me that it was an African proverb that eventually make Jammeh to jɛ jɛmɛ.

“It is a Mozambican proverb”, he said. “If you want to swallow a mango seed, you first of all calculate the diameter of your anus.”

So, I am told that in the heat of the developments, Papa J asked for Teacher Johnson who brought a pair of dividers and took the dimensions of the posterior orifice of the J. It was less than pi.

Papa J just gave up.

One of Papa J’s main demands for his days outside The Gambia will be the provision of a good washman. Spare a thought for those white gowns. If that request is not met or if the new washman cannot wash with Omo so it shows, Papa J may have to change to khaki gowns. Afterall, our elders say that sankofa is not fatal.

One clear bright news is that the Home-based African Herbalists Association (HAHA) just gained a high-profile permanent member.

Papa Jammeh eventually was uprooted like a seedling. Initially I wanted him to be uprooted like a yam but he got lucky. This was a seedling approach.

See he has been transplanted! W’apua! He has been shortened!

I see the Jammeh cloud has a silver lining paa. His silly move makes it much much easier for him to be made to account for his atrocities in the past. What he feared, that he would be tried when he handed over, that must have led to this stance, will come on him. On a better platter.

In the end, at the final exit point from The Gambia, Jammeh should be given a ride in a wheelbarrow across the border.

Till I come your way next time with another sebitical, perhaps atop a wheelbarrow, I remain:

Sebitically yours,

Kapokyikyiwofaase