​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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Sebiticals Chapter 40: Sikamaliamentary Palava

I bring you very foamy greetings from the shed of Akwasi Sorfree, the best palm wine tapper in Wasaman, where, departing from his regular practice, Wofa Kapokyikyi is having a calabash of palm wine. He told me that from time to time, even Memuna gets tired of fula. No Liberty Fun Club visits today.
Wofa was quite pensive today. Me, I just sat and enjoyed the conversations around the benches under the shed.
“A fool in a pensive mood is not making any judicious plans; he is still a buffoon,” Wofa whispered, almost to himself.
“Ei, Wofa Kapokyikyi! Please explain.” I had no incline what he meant by that.
“My son, a rich man who becomes poor is still better than a poor man who is trying to become rich.”
“Ei! As for today, you are really swimming in parables.”
Wofa was not finished. “A mad man who gets cured still have some tricks with which to frighten children. And a fool who is assumed wise only has to open his mouth to clear any doubts.”

I had to get closer to Wofa Kapokyikyi to confirm whether he was in the spirit. He wasn’t. He was very sober, which was even more dangerous. For what a man says when drunk, he thought about whilst sober, and Wofa’s thoughts, when being cooked in his fertile mind, were caustic.
Oh yes, I bring you greetings from Wofa Kapokyikyi, who told me that Kotei the jack-of-all-trades, who recently graduated from village electrician to cable TV fixer, has finally come to install the apotowiwa on top of his roof so that his television set can now receive images from the capital.
Wofa says he has been following the proceedings, news, discussions, accusations, fights and all the drama from the House of State this year, and his mind was still trying to manage all the twists and turns.
“I love the state of our Parliament now. For every story, there are about four versions of the near-truth. And then the truth. I love it more when each storyteller calls the other a liar. Makes it even more colourful when the lied to is not believed, when he states his version of the truth which cannot be distinguished from the lies which the liar tries to discount.”
“Ei, Wofa, son of Premang Ntow and grand nephew of Bassanyin!” That was all I could say. I started to think that the palm wine wasn’t getting on well with the physiological mechanisms of my Wofa’s metabolism.
It is getting tangled and mangled and appearing far from simple eh? It is sounding convoluted and you are getting discombobulated eh?
Exactly! That’s the idea, to make you appreciate my confusion with the train of thoughts that Wofa was peregrinating today.
“You see, my wofaase, our big men in the House of State have given onto themselves the ‘Insult Privilege’. They have arrogated to themselves alone the power to disrespect MPs. To insult MPs. To fight MPs. They say to the ordinary people, ‘You have no right to disrespect us or to speak ill about us. We don’t need your help. We can do it ourselves. To one another.’ Who am I to disagree?”
Wofa paused and took a sip from his calabash. The foam formed a white line above his upper lip. I wondered how that line would have formed if Wofa had an Andamic moustache. He didn’t give me much time to wonder.
“You remember the accusations and counter accusations about the black polythene courier bags? You remember the naadoli-cowric statement that was covered with a polythene sheet? Did you see the fight that brought us good memories of the zoom-zoom days?”
I nodded. I did remember all of them, I answered.
I asked Wofa if the continuous use of the Insult Privilege wouldn’t dent the image of Parliament. 
He chuckled.
“How can you dent further a milk tin that has been used for various rounds of chaskele?” He said this slowly, nodding slowly.
He was done with his palm wine. Just one calabash. He stood up and held one of the bamboo pillars holding the roof of the shed in place.
Amakye the town crier who was sitting across us and had his transistor radio glued to his ears just increased the volume as we heard the latest news from the House of State. The voice within the radio said some of the big men of the house had used their special nkrataa to take some people across the cornfields and left them there. The radio voice said the man making the accusation was called Jon. Not John o, not any of the former Odikros.
We all said “Hmmmm”. Except Wofa, who said “Oyiwa!”
“Did you notice that in the visa matter of Jon vs the MP4 (apologies to Efo Kofi Gbedemah),” Wofa asked, beginning to walk towards the police station junction, at which we would turn left towards home, “ that only ‘nieces’ and ’wives’ were carried along, and not nephews or brothers?”
I followed him down the road, with my mind made up on one thing: palm wine is not good for my Wofa Kapokyikyi.
Till I come your way again, hopefully when Wofa Kapokyikyi reverts to sampling the normal spirits at the Liberty Fun Club, I remain:
Sebitically yours,

Kapokyikyiwofaase

Sebiticals Chapter 38: A Quiver Full of Deputies

 

In the school that Osagyefo built, up the Menya Mewu Hill, we had an electrician who was quite difficult to get to undertake maintenance work, especially to replace burnt out fluorescent tubes. One of the popular stories was that he was afraid of heights. This story was most prominent when there was the need to replace the fluorescent light on the wall of the Junior Block that faced the Administration Block. That fluorescent light suffered downtime mostly because it provided illumination to the most popular ‘tapping site’ on campus, tapping well defined by one of the old girls of Ghanacoll, Nana Shirely, in an interview with Abeiku Santana (a product of Menya Mewu, himself) on Okay FM, as “an intimate communication process”. Tapping usually happened between the end of supper and the start of evening preps and said intimate communication was best done in dum.

 

However, it was soon discovered that one of the quickest ways to get the electrician to respond to maintenance requests was to call him ‘Electrical Engineer’. Just say ‘Oh Engineer, we need so and so to be fixed or replaced’ and he treated the request with dispatch.

 

Wofa Kapokyikyi brought this story to mind this week when I went to his house to discuss the latest Sikaman festival of deputies and how Odekuro had just returned to the Ahenfie with a quiver of ministerial arrows. Wofa told me that even Odekuro Kantinka was said to have stated that a messenger in the house of a sitting Odekuro was better than a sub-chief in the house of a former Odekuro whose sun has set, no one wanted to be called a messenger. A minister sounded much better.

 

I bring you greetings from Wofa Kapokyikyi, from a Sikaman which is cruising into the future at a speed of 110km/hour, which my friend Kofi Yankey says is the required speed for anyone who wishes to be in a comfortable lead.

 

So it came to pass that when the deputies in Odekuro’s quiver were counted, they, together with the senior arrows, amounted to five score and ten. Odekuro Odieasem Nana Tutubrofo Dankwawura, the first Odekuro under the fourth Empire of the State with a compound name, had blessed us with a compound full of sub-chiefs and deputies. Wofa says the main lesson learnt is this: don’t install an Odekuro with a double-barrelled name. Like Osei-Kyei Mensah-Bonsu.

 

As Wofa Kapokyikyi discussed this matter behind Auntie Esi’s chop bar, Teacher Johnson joined us on his way home from school. As usual, his mind was in that acrobatic mode where numbers and figures did akoni aba like the flies behind the Zongo meat market. Teacher Johnson submited that Odekuro Tutubrofo had multiplied his percentage in the elections by two, added the number of his attempts at the annexing the throne, and rounded it down to the nearest whole number to arrive at the number of ministers and deputies in his quiver. Typical of Teacher Johnson, he just said this with the attitude of someone who wanted to offload the output of his mental excursions. As he left Wofa and me to continue our deliberations, he muttered that Odekuro had kept his best promise from Sikaman as to the intent of his reign going forward: one district, one minister.

 

Wofa was emphatic: the traditional council of chiefs and sub-chief is just too large. He wondered if there was any law barring the Odekuro from appointing two or more deputy Krontihene as well?

 

Wofa added: “My nephew, let me remind you that one of Odekuro’s main plans is to create new subdivisions in Sikaman. So assuming y is the number of subdivisions to be created, we can expect an additional number of sub-chiefs and deputies, mathematically expressed as 2y”.

 

Ei, Wofa, I remarked. He just smiled and told me that one cannot walk daily with the billy goat without acquiring some nunu scent; and that surely his association with Teacher Johnson has taught him to also appreciate equations, mathematically speaking.

 

Wofa also asked me if I had ever seen a lean elephant, even one that has been chased into the bush and returned after eight market days. I had no answer.

 

The next day after the sighting of the quiver full of deputies, Amakye the town crier was heard in the village square with a message from Odekuro. The message was to the point: the village was so dirty, the streets so cracked, the farms so weedy and the barns so empty that Odekuro needed many hands to rebuild as quickly as possible. Amakye didn’t say anything about how these workers were to be fed, seeing that the barns were so empty.

 

As I listened, I was reminded of another story, this time told me by Obaapanyin Potisaa.

 

A boy fell into a well with weak walls. The men of the village gathered around and debated now to rescue him. Kofi Antobam gave the best suggestion: “The walls are so weak but the rescue is so urgent that we need ten men to descend into the well to rescue the little boy”.

 

But who is to understand the ways of the royals who get to occupy the Ahenfie? It has been said that electoral campaigns are done in poetry and governance conducted with prose. How true. I am not disappointed at the predictability of these royals. Tells me my healthy suspicion of political talk and gymnastics is still relevant.

 

I can only speak from the point of view of the farmer that I am. If I have my farm and I am able to harvest my cocoa with twenty ‘by-day’ (pronounced baa-day) workers for a period of time, my peers would wonder at me if I suddenly increased the number to thirty but argue that you should judge me by how much I produce for the period. Without necessary having planted more trees over the previous year. My friend Mike Tyson (not the boxer) would scream overheads, and labour efficiency. Input is important per benchmark or trends over the years.

 

But Odekuro says the cocoa trees need more hands as they have grown taller and the farms have become more weedy than in the previous years. So we can only give him the benefit of the doubt. He says he wants Sikaman to become kra bɛ hwɛ so we should allow him some painters and designers as well. But we cannot ignore this, that one of the problems we have is the power of our parties over Ahenfie policy and resourcing, and its way of deriving political payment after election of the Odekuro. This garguantuan size of the traditional council cannot be said not to have been influenced by this consideration.

 

The debate continues in Sikaman, under the trees where dami is played, in Liberty Club where Wofa’s favourite is swallowed (and not drank), in the market place where the value of the cowries is still doing see-saw, and on the benches as the citizens sip Auntie Memuna’s kooko in the mornings. Some have said the end justifies the means whilst others say the means should have consideration of the size and state of the purse which is said to be the reason why we need to move fast, to restore to vitality. As the elders say, we use money to get money. Or do we, in this case?

 

One bright spot in this saga, however. How quickly Odekuro himself hit the village square with his explanation behind his quiver of deputies. Eish, brofo paa!

 

My friend Maame Ekua Boakye said it best: “Brofo, brofo saaaa na ya forgeti numbers no!”

 

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

 

Sebitically yours,

Kapokyikyiwofaase

Sebiticals Chapter 37: Your State of Being is Another’s Dream

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

Nsempiisms: Galamsey and The Wasanese

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)

Interview with Jamati – Nov 2008

**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.

 

 

Sebiticals Chapter 36: Coming In From the Cold

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