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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dear GTV:

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

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

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

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

Cheers,

Your shareholder extraordinaire,
Kapokyikyiwofaase

cc Rodney Nkrumah-Boateng

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

It was 5 January 2017.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

It was 7 January 2018.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

Shareholder Letter to GTV: Week ending 13/01/18

Dear GTV:
Trust you are keeping well. How is the collection going?
This is my weekly letter to you. Today I have two main issues. 
First, please get an official spokesperson to be speaking on the TV Licence matter. How multiple officials are speaking ajar and in various directions is not helping your matter. Quite incoherent. Today, this; tomorrow, that. 
Secondly, as a leading shareholder, I have been inundated with tags on misspellings on your screens. I am fed up with the screenshots. Granted, some of them, like the ‘fowls’ for ‘fouls’ one is like four years old, but there are recent ones. Can you please use GHS 20 out of the GHS 120 I have paid within the last month to hire a proofreader? I will be issuing directives on what the rest of my payment should be used for.
All the best for the rest of the week. Btw, I loved watching Kwabena Yeboah on Monday’s Sports Highlights. That guy is evergreen. Hope you are working on a succession plan for his show.
Cheers,
Your shareholder extraordinaire,
Kapokyikyiwofaase
cc Rodney Nkrumah-Boateng

Up Atop My Roof So High: Notch 1 – My Year of Taxtion

When the harmattan hits you in both nose and pocket, when your nose and your pocket begin to bleed simultaneously, when your dry face begins to do you ‘who are you, who are you’, then you start to believe those who say that this year 2018 has been declared “The Year of Taxtion”. Welcome to the Nanamattan.

 

In secondary school, we used to say “last days are dangerous”. What we failed to realise to realise is that first days are equally deadly. And 2018 has brought this truism to perfect light. I don’t know what our leaders ate during the Crossover, Crawlover, Shoutover, Rollout, Boozeover or whatchamacallitover. But whatever it is, that thing caused them to start 2018 with Taxtion! A clear intent of action to tax! Ah, I get it. Someone just whispered in my ears that the Scripture read at the leaders’ stepover was 1 Kings 12: 11:

 

My father laid on you a heavy yoke; I will make it even heavier. My father scourged you with whips; I will scourge you with scorpions.

 

So, as soon as 2017 turned its behind and waved ‘ba-bai ooo!’ the taxtion taps were turned on. The first taxtion came from the house of my neighbour Gustav Tsatsu Vroom, popularly known in our hood as GTV.

GTV was managing his matter small small without wahala. He and his wife could even afford to use their Xmas decorative lights as disco lights till March of the next year. Hakuna matata. Then he decided that his house was too quiet so took a decision to throw an open invitation to the GTV party, with gate fees starting from GHS 36. For two or more family members, one could pay GHS 60. And stay for a year mpo. Come and see the people who have entered with binoculars, magnifying glasses, white clothes to wipe the louvres to check for dirt, etc. This party will pap papa! Ei, I just saw Rodney Nkrumah-Boateng looking under the carpet! Asem aba!

 

When the party fee was mentioned, many were the voices that rose to lambast GTV for his yeye things. The calls of yentua reverberated across the nation. Then, cantankerous people like Rodney said to themselves with wicked grins “Why not? GTV has been keeping its heavy drapes drawn so that none of the neighbours could peep inside. What an opportunity to enter and do mfifiimu!” This stance started to gain currency. Some were also stimulated by their love of freedom and hatred for embarrassment. For, the man GTV is both wiry and wily. He needs the party fees not just to maintain his house, but also to buy food for the guests, hoping that some will remain for his own nourishment and that of his family members, who are many, it is rumoured. To make plans double sure, he convinced the head of the courts to issue an edict to encourage the neighbours to pay up, or else…

 

So, to the house of GTV the neighbours trooped, to pay or rant. The payers increased and the ranters remained. Some ranters joined the payers and some ranters dug in. Well, we live to see.

 

But this reminded me of another incident, again as the year started. In my 2016 Sikaman Awards, the Yɛ-Wɔ-Kromer of the Year was Bozoma Afiba Saint John (née Arthur), who was then Head of Marketing for Apple Music. Currently, she is the global Chief Brand Officer of Uber. An icon and a leading voice. A Ghanaian, she was in town for holidays and the African Leadership Initiative West Africa (ALIWA) was organising a brunch with her at the Labadi Beach Hotel. The moderator was to Kwaku Sakyi Addo. The flyer for the event started appearing on Facebook with a number to call and a question like ‘Are you in town next week? Would you love to have Brunch with Bozoma?’ Of course! Who wouldn’t love to have a close interaction with Boz (as her friends call her) and break bread, with a little waakye thrown in? Then, as people called the number and found that the Akans were not joking when they said that beautiful things seen by the roadside are not built, propped up and maintained with air but with money, a few grumbles were heard. What is Ghana without a few grumbles, eh? We were born to rant. I smiled.

 

Yesterday, 4 January 2018, the event took place. And it was a well-attended session, the nuggets shared were deep and the attendees were from diverse backgrounds, creating the avenue for awesome networking. I learnt a lot, and loved Boz more. How do I know all these? Because I watched the full playback on Facebook Live, on the Citi FM (TV) page. A good lesson reinforced. Cry your own cry. As my parents taught me years ago, when in hard straits, say “I am suffering”, not “We are suffering”. I always tell people that the real movers hardly talk or make noise. And those who will actually take action rarely have time to talk plenty.

 

As we saw in the attendees at the GTV party.

 

But the taxtion taps still flowed. This time, we heard a big burst and the sound of rushing water. We rushed to the house of Daniella Victoria Larteley Ankrah and found red bags floating in the river of aid that flowed from her garage. Auntie DVLA, as her admirers called her, was sitting at the base of the big tap and smiling. She had decided to distribute copious amounts of first aid to all: one citizen, one first aid bag. You only had to drop a token of over GHS 108 for the privilege.

 

This year will be fun. I like this Year of Taxtion already.

 

Afehyia pa!

 

Sikaman Awards 2017

Sikaman Awards 2017

Compiled by Nana Awere Damoah

Contributors: H Kwasi Prempeh, G.R. Kwadjo Opoku, Yaa Frimpomaa Ayim Apeatse

1. Loss of the Year: The death of Major Mahama. His gruesome death is a scar on the nation’s conscience. May it cause us to reflect more on our nature as Ghanaians and our love for our fellow man. Never again! The death of Professor Francis K A Allotey is equally painful. A legend! One of the world’s leading mathematical physicists. May their souls rest in peace.

2. Most Favoured Hooligans of the Year: Jointly won by Delta Force, Invisible Forces, Azorka Boys, Kandahar Boys and associated vigilante lions.

They have been very active and contributed to the negative entropy in the country. They have seized toilets, seized constituency party offices, seized party officers, seized national party offices, burnt party offices, chased district chief executives out of their offices, stormed court premises, turned into pseudo-armies and continue to enjoy political support.

3. Footballer of the Year: Uncle Woyo Meh. Continues to dribble around many hurdles and courts and refuses to drop the 51-million ball.

4. Most Silent Politician: The Honorable Lord Mayor Unko Dr Tsentse ABS. He’s been quietly learning the braids, sorry, ropes in Parliament and will explode again with a dance, soon.

5. Culinary Event of the Year: When Bastie ate Banku for dinner, massaging Banku like jiji, forcing Banku to face the wall. Banku will bounce back, for sure. This was just a little okro slip.

6. Census Enumeration Officer of the Year: Wofa Eye See. He recounted Ghanaians and successfully segregated the citizens into two categories: those with the preferred political identification cards and those without. For this feat, he was awarded the nation’s highest political honour: The Order of the Calabash.

7. Most Efficient Party of the Year: NDP. Once the 2016 elections were over, they went – back – on leave. They will be back in 2020. By the way, who is the Chairperson of the party?

8. The Most Silent Public Official: The Accra Mayor aka AMA Chief Executive. The successor to Uncle Oko Rick Ross. After pulling down the billboard proclaiming Accra as the “Proposed Cleanest City” (is it in Africa or the world), he joined the Secret Service. Errm, what’s his name? If only the billboard had stayed…

9. The Most Active Ministries: Sanitation and Special Development Initiatives. They were so active we saw their achievements on paper, just the way we like it in Sikaman.

10. U-Turn of the Year: Towing tax that was towed to rest.

11. Significant Number of the Year: Zero. It decides the viability of websites.

12. Apology of the Year: This is a tight race between the one given by Agari and the one delivered by Wofa Aye See. Agari apologised after he said Munchinga said yesi JoeWise says yesi Egya Arko gave JoeWise the lubricating oil to give to Munchinga to give to Agari and his friends so they could keep wide open the narrow gates so Egya Arko could pass on to the glory of the chosen few. The konumtee found Agari guilty of not being guilty and when he was asked to apologise, he said ‘If you say I should apologise, okay, I apologise!’ As for Wofa Aye See, after saying NPP-nians are more Sikamanian than the rest of us, he sii’ed peg and said he was standing by his words. Less than 24 hours later, he apologised that the peg he siii’ed wasn’t held by Pioneer Nails so was not that strong. Interesting issue with both Apologisees (apologies to Opanyin Agyekum) is that their signatures are quite errrrm…revealing. Perhaps Signatures of the Year?

13. Ornament of the Year: Anklet

14. Book of the Year (unpublished): The Kwasi Botchwey Report. Every publisher in the world is after it.

15. Writer of the Year: Valerie, the owner of the Chainsaw. She finally managed to overthrow the Citizen Vigilante.

16. IT Project of the Year: Referred to by many as a software, the $72 million SSNIT enterprise solution project wins this hands down. And, yes, the system is even down – not working as expected. Once it starts working optimally, we shall finally know the actual cost. What a project – one that continues giving and receiving.

17. Word of the Year: Distin (noun). It has various forms too. For instance, the verb is distinate. Adjective: distin (Ah! What a distin car!). You can continue the conjugation!

18. Most Used Word of the Year: Vigilantes.

19. Doctor of the Year: The SSNIT Doctor. He reminded me of the down-trodden man, the Sheik. Floods, certificates, komininis…you get the drift.

20. Ambassador of the Year: Wofa Aye See, High Commissioner to the land of Jay Zee, the Zumite. South of the Limpopo.

21. Had-I-Known Practitioner of the Year: I won’t mention any names. You can’t do me foko!

22. Kumawood Movie of the Year: The General Mosquito Quenches Armed Robbers Part Onnnne and Two. The encounter between the Mosquito and the Armed Robbers. At the sight of the 6-pack of the Mosquito, the robbers fled for their lives! We are still not certain whether the story is fiction or true-life.

23. Building of the Year: The Mahama Bungalow, and the Vice-President’s mansion (still?) under the construction, and the ‘1975’, which just took a comfortable lead. This award is tight. Who wears the crown?

24. Haircut of the Year: The Otiko.

25. Debt of the Year: The US Embassy announced that it owed Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) plenty money and it has been pursuing the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) for two years to secure and pay bills for power consumed within the period.  ECG insisted that the US Embassy didn’t owe a pesewa. Oh, how I wish all those I owe would have such blank memories!

26. Assertive Clause of the Year: “Take it or leave it!”

27. Fight of the Year: Amongst the Electoral Commissioners. Is it over yet?

28. Clapback of the Year: Nana Kwame’s response to Manasseh Awuni Azure.

29. Rant of the Year: Paul Adom-Otchere on Good Evening. His tirade helped to keep the standards of The Brand.

30. Most Silent Chief: You paaa? Abi you know dada.

31. New Group of the Year: PepperDemMinistries. They have managed to excite and vex in equal measure. That is the purpose of spice, abi?

32. Shifting Target of the Year: The establishment of the Office of the Special Prosecutor.

33. Unclear Political Promise of the Year: One District, One Factory. Does it imply that we shall get a factory in each district or the government would build the factories or they would only facilitate the enabling environment for the factories to be built? How do we judge achievement? By the way, ten months into the new administration, how many factories have been established and/or running? Remember Komenda.

34. Jail Breaker of the Year: The Ghana Cedi. The Vice President said “the cedi has appreciated in value. When we came in, it was running…essentially we have arrested it.” As the year progressed, Cediman escaped from jail and started running again. Seems it has slowed down the speed for sometime, though. Trotting.

35. Security Company of the Year: NDC. For successfully guarding the Kwesi Botchwey Report.

36. Diplomatic Announcement of the Year: Two of them, happened almost days apart. The announcement by the US Embassy that former Presidents and Members of Parliament (MP) win now join the queue like ordinary Ghanaians when applying for US visas for their private visits; and the letter by the UK High Commissioner to the Speaker of Parliament announcing that the British government had blacklisted three current serving Members of Parliament (MP) and a former MP from entering the UK for indulging in visa fraud. According to Citi FM, “a confidential letter the British High Commission in Ghana wrote to the Speaker of Parliament, Prof. Aaron Mike Oquaye and sighted by citifmonline.com accused the MPs of facilitating the entry of some of their relatives to the UK using their Diplomatic Passports.”

37. Future TV viewers of World Cup of the Year: The Black Stars. We will all watch Russia 2018 from the comfort of our homes. No special kenkey. No special flights with ‘dollahs’. No co-efficients.

38. Video of the Year: President Nana Addo’s response at the media engagement with President Macron and his answer to the question of more French aid to Africa. The video trended across the globe and is still causing waves. Honourable mention goes to the engagement between Oko Tsentsen and Papa J before the inauguration of President Nana Addo. 

39. Facebook Pages for Trending Discussions (these accounts set up series of special topics for discussion and garnered a lot of following): Mamavi Goh, Abena Magis, Mbir, Francis Ocloo.

40. Hashtag of the Year: Very close contest between between #PepperDemMinistries and #Justice4Her.

#StopGalamseyNow gets honourable mention.

41. Chief Mischief Officer: Francis Obirikorang.  

42. Facebooker of the Year (Male): Sir Awareness General Francis Kennedy Ocloo (MHLL, CGAA, BoF, FoF, OGF1)

43. Facebooker of the Year (Female): Abena Magis

Sebiticals Chapter 25: Eggnomics and the rape of the State

**An excerpt from Sebitically Speaking (2015), by Nana Awere Damoah
 
===========
 
Since last week, the sound of goats has trended and even as I write this Sebitical, oh Reader, I smell Joe Louis in my nostrils. Ah, Joe Louis!
 
That was the name of a billy goat the Damoah family owned when I was very little, at Abavanna Down, Kotobabi. Joe was the proud owner of a sparkling white beard with streaks of black. Reminds me of Wofa Kapokyikyi’s proverb: Abodwesɛ tintin na yɛ de yɛ kramo ni a, anka aponkye yɛ mallam, that is, if the only qualification for being a good Moslem was having a long beard, the goat can be a mallam. Joe Louis would have certainly been a scholar! Anyway, Joe could be gone from the house for days providing community services to the area’s nanny goats (see, our family has always been philanthropic) but none of us worried because we knew he would be back. And when he decided to come back home, we could smell him miles away and would go to the main street, ‘flowing’ him ‘fans’ : Jooooe Louis! Joe the Billy Goat had no wife but most of the nanny goats were proud to call him husband. Wofa Kapokyikyi greets you all, with a touch of aponkye flavour.
 
“How much does an egg cost?”
 
That may seem like a simple question but it is quite complex. The answer depends on who is asking: an individual or the State.
 
During the early years in my career, I used to travel across Ghana on trade visits, to customers and markets, to monitor quality in trade and also pick up some market intelligence. Once, we visited this trader in a kiosk in Saltpond. We asked her the prices of the products of my organisation.
 
“It depends,” she replied in Fanti.
 
We probed and she explained that the prices depended on who was asking.
 
“How much will this product be for someone like me?” I asked.
 
Without batting an eye, she responded “Awoa? Enkyɛ me dze bɛ bo wo tirim!”, meaning she would have sold it at an exorbitant price to me, since I was with a Trooper, and well-dressed.
 
So how much an egg costs depends on who is asking. If it is the government, then you know what’s up.
 
One “Ghc2.50″ for your pocket.
 
In 2014, a group of friends, spearheaded by a Facebook group I am part of, decided to renovate a primary school building in Apagya, Ghana, which had had more than half of its roof ripped off during a rainstorm in early 2014. The other classrooms which though had their roof intact experienced leakages when it rained. That initial idea expanded to include repairing the foundation of the building and the floors of the classrooms as well as repainting the entire building. We later painted the adjoining block for the junior secondary school. We raised funds from friends and family via social media (and a group of Apagya citizens in the diaspora) and delivered the project within five months.
 
Fund-raising started in July, actual work began in August, works were completed in November and handed over to the community the same month. In all, the team spent Ghc22,466 out of a total of Ghc23,074 raised. The project also had support from the Apagya community, which provided timber for the works and communal labour, as well as donations in kind of paint and bags of cement from the District Chief Executive and some Apagya citizens. The scope of works comprised removal of existing roofing sheets and carpentry; re-roofing of all six classrooms plus headmaster’s office; installation of fascia boards; masonry works to foundation and floor screeding; installation of doors and windows; and painting of walls, windows and doors.
 
The question has been asked, and quite rightly: how much money would have been needed for this project, had it been done by either the District Assembly or central government? And how long would it have taken? The second question is easier to guess: much, much longer. The situation that needed fixing, at least the roof part, had existed for at least four months until we decided to fix it. Initially, even getting the district engineer to visit the school to assess the damage and give the planning team estimates for the costing proved futile. The District Assembly supported only at the tail end, with forty bags of cement. The first question cannot be answered correctly, but one can guess. It would have taken at least twice the amount we spent.
 
Eggnomics at work. After all, it is aban (government) money.
 
The role that public procurement plays in the rape of our nation’s resources is like the elephant in the room: we all see it but fail to talk about it. A friend once said that when public servants and politicians are excited about a project, one just needs to scratch the surface to realise that what really tickles them is the procurement bit. And the 10%. Only the dumb politician or public official steals all the funds for a project. The smarter ones skim off the project and yet deliver it.
 
The story is told of two classmates, one European and the other African, who finished their studies in Europe and each went back to his country, ending up in politics. After ten years, the European guy (let’s call him John Bull), invited his African friend (let’s call him Yaw Mensah) to his home. John had built a magnificent edifice as his home and Yaw was so impressed.
 
“How did you manage to do this in ten short years?” Yaw asked.
John smiled and led him to the window, pointing through the glass:
“You see the bridge over that river?”
“Yes,” Yaw replied.
“2%” John told him.
“You see that tarred road on the left? 3%. You see that community hall? 2.5%”.
 
Yaw nodded…and returned to his country and continent, promising to return the favour by inviting John one day to visit him.
 
A year later, Yaw did exactly that. When John got to Yaw’s house, he was lost for words!
 
“How did you deliver this in just a year?!”
 
Yaw smiled and repeated the drill.
 
“You see the bridge over that river?” Yaw pointed.
“But there is no bridge!” John replied, puzzled.
“Exactly,” Yaw agreed, “100%!”
 
The Daily Graphic of 18 March, 2015 (page 60), reported that a six-unit classroom block and a teachers’ bungalow had been inaugurated at Agyareago in the Konongo-Odumase Municipality at the cost of Ghc409,000. Funded by the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund) and the District Development Fund respectively, this classroom block included a staff common room, an Information and Communications Technology (ICT) centre, a store and a library.
 
In October 2014, Dr Papa Kwesi Nduom, his wife Mrs Yvonne Nduom and Groupe Nduom (GN) handed over a three-storey ultra-modern dormitory to his alma mater St. Augustine’s College in Cape Coast. The total cost of the project was Ghc500,000 and included the main dormitory (with a capacity to accommodate 150 students), accommodation facilities for teachers, an Information Communication Technology (ICT) centre, study room, library, visitor’s room and a courtyard for recreational activity. This total cost also included mattresses for the dormitory and beds and sitting room furniture for the teachers’ flats. The project was delivered in 12 months.
 
The Headmaster of St. Augustine’s College, Mr. Joseph Connel, remarked: “In fact this dormitory is a dormitory with a difference. Looking at all the ten dormitories we have, this is the only dormitory with a stairs in-built and upgraded with modern facilities and very spacious with staff accommodation attached for housemasters to be able to check on the students.”
 
The question to ask again: for how much would the government agency have delivered this same project?
 
To answer this, let me give you some more instances and reports, using the example of six-unit classroom blocks, consistent with what the Daily Graphic stated earlier. I have used two main sources: the official Government of Ghana news portal whose reports are mostly from the Information Services Department (ISD) and Ghana News Agency (GNA), with respective dates indicated:
 
28 February, 2011 (GNA): Ghc261,000 six-classroom block with office for the Maabeng Senior High Technical School inaugurated by the District Chief Executive.
 
21 May, 2012 (GNA): Ghc162,318 six-unit classroom block, store, office and library for the people of Nkyesa and surrounding communities in Asante Akim South district of Ashanti region commissioned and handed over by the MTN Ghana Foundation. An additional Ghc10,000 was provided for procurement of furniture for the classrooms and library.
 
22 February, 2014 (GOG/ISD): “The First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Mr. Ebo Barton Oduro, yesterday said government was committed to education, and will do everything possible to enhance teaching and learning in schools. Mr. Oduro who is also the Member of Parliament (MP) for Cape Coast North, said this when he commissioned a three-unit classroom block worth more than Ghc220,000 for the Kakumdo Metropolitan Assembly (M/A) Basic School in Cape Coast.”
 
23 July, 2014 (GOG/ISD): “The Municipal Chief Executive (MCE) for Techiman, Mr. Phillip Oppong Amponsah has inaugurated a six classroom block with ancillary facilities for the Methodist Primary school. The six classroom block has ancillary facilities such as a library, ICT Centre, furniture, two (2) urinals and four (4) seat water closet (WC) toilet facilities as well as a [sic] burglar proof. The project which started in 2009 was funded by the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GET Fund) at the cost of Ghc230,000.00.”
 
23 September, 2014: “The Ashanti Regional Minister, Hon. Samuel Sarpong has inaugurated a new six-unit classroom block for Krapa M/A primary school in the Ejisu-Juaben Municipality of the Ashanti Region. The project, valued at GH₡450,000 was initiated and funded by GETFUND and would accommodate school children and teachers who for some time now had been studying in temporary structures.”
 
14 November, 2014 (GNA): Ghc 183,000 six-classroom block with ancillary facilities for Roman Catholic Primary School at Wagambu in the Mion District of the Northern region built by the Catholic Diocese of Yendi and handed over to the authorities of the Ghana Education Service.
 
3 March, 2015 (GNA): $61,820 six-classroom block and community toilet facility built by Compassion International Ghana, an NGO, inaugurated and handed over to the chiefs and people of Breman Jamra.
 
11 March, 2015 (GNA): Ghc280,000 six-classroom block, with an office, library and store, built and donated by the children of [the] late Jacob Bonful and spouse Mrs Elizabeth Bonful, built for the Methodist Model school at Sokoban-Ampabame, Kumasi.
Take particular note of the differences in costs when done by a private or corporate entity versus when done by government. The Opposition has had cause to complain about this and we shouldn’t disregard it.
 
We have still not forgotten the hullabaloo that greeted the news that Ridge Hospital was to be rehabilitated and equipped at the cost of of $250 million. The expansion was to provide the Hospital with ultra-modern facilities and a 420-bed capacity. In the heat of the discussion, I could only remember that for $60 million, my organisation in Nigeria had built an ultra-modern 1000-ton per day palm oil refinery, tank farms, packing hall, equipped with about five packing lines, utilities such as sub-stations, boiler house – the entire works.
 
We have only finished the debate on the $29 million rehabilitation works at the Kumasi Airport, taking into consideration that the Ethiopian Airports Enterprise (EAE) is planning to construct three new airports in Ethiopia at an estimated cost of US$ 64.5million.
The official residence of the Head of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), which was previously occupied by her predecessor Justice Francis Emile Short, was being redesigned with several variations and renovated at a cost of Ghc182,000. A critical assessment of what constitutes that cost buildup will be an interesting journey in amazement.
 
We shouldn’t forget so soon, the episode of the former Speaker of Parliament, Rt. Hon. Ebenezer Begyina Sekyi Hughes, who illegally took away furnishings from his official residence at the end of his tenure. These items would have been replaced, at cost to the State, with the principle of eggnomics.
 
As the nation seeks to plug holes in its burgeoning expenditure, procurement is a low hanging fruit, easily plucked through inflated project costings, and suppliers’ mark up (to also cushion against late payment from government). We must look at the quality of work and whether we even get value for money. How many times have we not seen road projects deteriorate as quickly as they are completed?
 
I even speak of projects which actually took place. Some projects don’t. But the expenditure takes place.
 
So how much does an egg cost? Tell me when you get to know the answer when government is buying it.
 
Till I come your way with another sebitical, I remain:
 
Sebitically yours,
Kapokyikyiwofaase
IMG_2400
Sebitically Speaking

​Nsempiisms: We need new funerals

I saw a WhatsApp post on the accident in Tema where boulders from a truck fell on a BMW saloon car and killed two of the passengers. The post called the accident ‘bizarre’.

This was my response:

“Not bizarre. Accident waiting to happen. Will happen again soon. When we act as if safety is in God’s hands only.”

As a people, we don’t operate with failure in mind. In our factory in Nigeria, a worker working at height, when reminded that someone had fallen at the same site whilst working without fastening his safety harness and reprimanded on why he wasn’t in his harness even though he had it around his waist, did the ‘tofiaka’ sign over his head and said his Chi (guardian angel) wasn’t asleep!

When you sit in a trotro next time, take a moment and reflect on what will happen if there is an emergency in the car and passengers need to escape. Many of the passengers will die or get injured getting out. The root cause of the exit won’t cause much wahala.

I go back to my favourite model of Ghana: the Tema motorway, which in all practical terms has become a street. We have vehicles making unauthorised U-turns again, cutting right into the fast lanes. I have seen about two such areas. We are watching on. When (not if) an accident happens tomorrow due to such unsafe acts, we will cry “Buei!”

But that is a situation that is waiting to fall like boulders and smash lives.

Perhaps we are just a people that doesn’t value lives. As Kofi Akpabli writes in his essay “This is how we say goodbye”, our funerals are so colourful that sometimes we look forward to them.

Perhaps, just perhaps, we desire more funerals.

Nsempiisms. My mouth has fallen.

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