Ghana Politics Does Not Need a “Third Force”

Over the years, several Ghanaian civil society groups, politicians, and ordinary citizens have suggested that Ghana needs a “third force political party” (GhanaWeb, 2015; BusinessGhana, 2020; ). In a recently conducted poll by GhanaWeb, “3,205 people representing 62.43%” of all respondents responded ‘Yes’ when they were asked “Do you think it is time for a third political force other than the NPP and NDC” in Ghana?”

These calls for a Third Force in Ghana’s politics are not new. In the course of my historical research, I came across this notice (image below) published in the Daily Graphic in 1979.

Calls for a third force political party now in 2020 aren’t likely to change much, just as they changed nothing in 1979.

Because a third force, or even a fourth or fifth, is not the way to attempt to fix the problems that we associate with having only two dominant political parties. We do not need any more powerful political parties to join this game of musical chairs that is electoral politics in Ghana. What we need is truly equitable and representative systems that see and treat all of us as worthy of living in safety and comfort. But while we work towards that, for a start, no political party should be able to grab and control as much power and resources as the NPP and the NDC currently, and the CPP in times past. And one way to achieve this is to take the money out of politics.

More about how to take the money out of politics later, but first, a brief story:

I had conversation some years ago with a then aspiring aspiring Member of Parliament for the Ayawaso West Wuogon Constituency. Among the things we talked about was how difficult and expensive it was to run for political office in Ghana. He told me that he had calculated – from consultations with various stakeholders and gatekeepers in the constituency, and other politicians – that he would need at least USD 200,000 to get even close to having a campaign. Not a successful campaign – that would cost at least three times that – but a campaign that would get him noticed. He also said that while those seemed like high figures, it was much higher for other “hot” constituencies and political positions. It was also lower in other regions, and so he had been advised to try running in the constituency that his hometown is located in, but because he did not really know anyone there, it might actually cost him more to run a campaign there because he would have to spend more to access influencers, gatekeepers, and voters.

Apart from those high figures, two things struck me from our exchange:

  1. That someone would consider spending USD 200,000 on a parliamentary election campaign in Ghana just to get noticed. Noticed by who? For what? To what end.

  1. That it is considered perfectly normal to go to parliament to represent people you have no community with, in places you have barely lived in, just as long as you can cough up enough money to pay people to organise votes for you.

Our “bad” political system is not set up for “good people” to “change” it.
As we have seen in recent times, it swallows these so-called good people whole. And then regurgitates them either broken and defeated, or more often re-formed in the image of the system. This is in large part due to how expensive it is to contest for political office in this country. In effect, if you are not already extremely wealthy, by the time you get into parliament, the presidency or other elected offices, you would have a lot of people to pay back. And even the people who were already wealthy and so did not have to borrow money and promise favours in exchange for financial support, will have to replenish their coffers.

Now, taking the money out of politics looks like this (for a start):

  1. Removing cost-related barriers to entry such as expensive nomination forms and filing fees. Apart from helping to clean up the processes, this will make it easier for non-wealthy people who actually represent their communities and community interests to run.
  2. No more “bribes“, “incentives“, “motivation”, or “gifts” for delegates. Aside the costs of transportation and living expenses during the congresses, anyone who wants more should not be a delegate anyway. And anyone trying to offer more is a candidate who is already corrupt.
  3. Rules against extravagant electoral campaigns, and an upper limit set for how much a person can spend on a campaign.
  4. An upper limit to the number of campaign posters. This will also help reduce the extra unsightliness and pollution that comes with campaign season.
  5. An independent, multiparty commission with civil society and general public representation that oversees electoral malfeasance… which is not a part of the Electoral Commission.

There is also a lot of work to be done about the perceptions of people in the country concerning politics, politicians and publicly elected officials. It is disappointing that so many of us live in such fear… the fear of death from diseases we cannot afford to treat , the fear of death from poverty… that we look upon public officials donating money and houses to individuals as something heartwarming, something to be encouraged. It is unfortunate that not enough people ask the important questions such as where the money comes from, why a few people are singled out to be saved because their cases got to social media, and why our health and social welfare systems have been underfunded, mismanaged to this point. We, as Ghanaians, have to want the country to work for everyone in it – instead of only for those who know big men… or have connections. It’s just not fair, it is not right, and it is not a dependable or sustainable way to build a nation.

Rather than creating, or attempting to create third force political parties, we should direct our energy towards fundamentally changing the nature of the political system. There is an overwhelming amount of work that has to be done to make a Ghana that is for all of us, but for a start, let’s take the money out of politics.

Archive Digitisation Project: Looking for Team Members

                                                                          

BUILDING EARLY ACCRA: AN ARCHIVE DIGITISATION PROJECT

The Building Early Accra Project (bEA) is looking for self-motivated, enthusiastic, and organised people to join our project team in two roles: (1) Assistant Project Coordinator, and (2) Digitisation Officer. Our project aims to digitise an important collection of architectural documents pertaining to construction in Accra from the early 1900s in order to make them available to future generations. The project is funded by an academic research grant and the duration is 12 months in this first instance.

 

THESE ROLES ARE RIGHT FOR YOU IF:

You’re excited about taking on new challenges, even if they are in new and unfamiliar terrains. You are good at thinking and learning quickly.

You can clearly and confidently communicate your ideas and opinions, whether in writing or verbally.

You’re available starting mid-to-late January, 2020.

Having years of experience in similar roles and/or relevant educational credentials is desirable, but not essential. (Volunteer roles and internships count as experience). For clarification or inquiries, email km79@soas.ac.uk.

 

APPLICATION PROCEDURE:

Find detailed information about the different roles below. To apply, send an email to km79@soas.ac.uk with a cover letter and CV stating which role you wish to apply for. The deadline for submitting applications is 7th January, 2020. Applications submitted after this date will not be considered.

 

  1. ASSISTANT PROJECT COORDINATOR

Reports to the Principal Investigator (P.I.)

Remuneration: GhS 25,800 – GhS 30,000 for 12-month period, depending on experience

 

MAIN DUTIES:

  • Assist the P.I. in coordinating and supervising the bEA project and related activities.
  • Assist the P.I. to supervise the project team and associated personnel, and liaise with relevant stakeholders in order to ensure project success.
  • Sort, prepare and digitise Archival Material according to project guidelines and standards.

 

REQUIRED:

  • Proficiency in Microsoft Office Suite.
  • Demonstrable ability to work with minimal supervision.
  • Strong organisational and creative problem-solving skills.
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills.

 

GREAT TO HAVE, BUT NOT ESSENTIAL:

  • Experience in a similar organisational, management or leadership role
  • Relevant educational qualifications
  • Experience with historical research, archives, architecture and related fields.

 

 

 

  1. DIGITISATION OFFICER

Reports to the Principal Investigator (P.I.) and Assistant Project Coordinator (A.P.C.)

Remuneration: GhS 24,000 – GhS 26,400 for 12-month period, depending on experience

 

MAIN DUTIES:

  • Assist the P.I. and A.P.C. in implementing the bEA project and related activities.
  • Sort, prepare and digitise Archival Material according to project guidelines and standards.
  • Develop and implement archival systems for the archival materials according to project guidelines and standards

 

REQUIRED:

  • Proficiency in Microsoft Office Suite.
  • Demonstrable ability to work with minimal supervision.
  • Demonstrable experience (education or work) with archiving.

 

GREAT TO HAVE, BUT NOT ESSENTIAL:

  • Degree or Diploma in Archival Studies, Archiving, History or related fields.
  • Experience with digitising archival material
  • Experience with using digital imaging equipment (such as scanners and cameras)
  • Experience with historical research, archives, architecture and related fields.

Bibliography – “Ghana child slavery: When seeking context overlooks harm”

I wrote an oped for Aljazeera about the current conversation around CNN’s documentary about child slavery around Lake Volta in Ghana, and the larger issue of challenging negative depictions of Africa and Africans.

Read the oped here:

https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/ghana-child-slavery-seeking-context-overlooks-harm-190329101911983.html

 

 

For those looking to do further reading on this issue, Find some more sources here:

 

Emma Seyram Hamenoo, Emmanuel Aprakru Dwomoh, and Mavis Dako-Gyeke, “Child labour in Ghana: Implications for Children’s Education and Health.”, July 2018
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/326545928_Child_labour_in_Ghana_Implications_for_children’s_education_and_health

Sharon LaFraniere, Africa’s World of Forced Labor, in a 6-Year-Old’s Eyes, 2006
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/29/world/africa/29ghana.html

Agbenya, Lilian, “Child Labour Trafficking in the Lake Volta Fishery of Ghana: A Case Study of Ogetse in the Krachi west district of the Volta region”, 2009
https://munin.uit.no/handle/10037/1866

Report of the FAO Workshop on Child Labour in Fisheries and Aquaculture in Cooperation with ILO” Rome, 14–16 April 2010. http://www.fao.org/3/i1813e/i1813e00.pdf

Victoria Nyarkoah Sam, “Child Labor in Ghana: A Multidimensional Analysis” 2016

Click to access CHILD_LABOUR_IN_GHANA.pdf

Samuel Okyere, ‘Shock and Awe’: A critique of the Ghana-centric child trafficking discourse” 2017
http://www.antitraffickingreview.org/index.php/atrjournal/article/view/266/250

Dela Afenyadu, “Child Labour in Fisheries and Aquaculture, a Ghanaian Perspective. The FAO workshop on child labour in fisheries and aquaculture in cooperation with ILO‐ FAO” 2010

 

How The Old Man Died and Other Stories

He was a very respectable man.

He had been involved in politics and governance for more than 48 years – almost as long as his country’s existence as a polity.

He was fabulously wealthy, and although his wealth came from his government roles and connections, he had managed to mask that fact so cleverly that people swore he came from pre-colonial money and that corruption had nothing to do with his numerous assets. Only his wives and children knew his real origin story – he reminded them anytime he thought they were being ungrateful, which was all the time.

He had a mild heart condition… Comfortably under control… Monthly visits to the best private doctor in all of the United Kingdom guaranteed that.  His health was top priority, so he took the best drugs, ate the healthiest meals and exercised regularly with his highly-recommended French personal trainer.


He was currently driving on the softly rolling hills of the village which was more or less his property. It was a cool afternoon, and in a fit of boredom, he had uncharacteristically decided to drive himself.  It had been well over a year and he had missed the feel of the subtle subtle subtle hum of his brilliantly-restored Rolls Royce beneath his fingertips. As he drove, he wrinkled his nose in distaste at the poorly appointed hovels along the red dirt roads. From time to time, he would pass by a farmer on her way home, her head supporting an oversized load, and reluctantly nod almost imperceptibly in response to her frenzied sycophantic smiling salute.

“Poverty is a state of mind” was something his pastor always said, and in those moments he agreed wholeheartedly. He was hardworking, and even though he started life like them, his perseverance had brought him far.

With a self-congratulatory smile, he passed by the swirling brown river that split the village into two and thought about the payment he should have received about a week ago from the Italian mining outfit. With a slight frown, he decided he would instruct his lawyers to send them a stiff letter as soon as he got back home – he did not like people who did not pay their bills on time.

It was in that absent-minded moment that disaster stuck.

A group of little children suddenly dashed into the road, chasing a small animal and not bothering to look around first – cars were, after all not often seen on that village road. He swerved sharply, and his body released a cocktail of stress hormones, narrowing vital arteries and causing his not-so-strong heart to skip several beats. He had the presence of mind to brake just before he crashed into a tree, but had no extra energy to signal the boys, who were at this point staring wide-eyed at the car and it’s mysterious occupant.

The eldest amongst them grabbed the hand of a girl who was about to run towards the vehicle. “Don’t you remember what grandma said?! He doesn’t like it when people go near his car. He will arrest you oh!”

And so they stood uncertainly as he sat for about ten minutes and then slumped forward in the seat. When the staring game got boring for them, they ran off to find another rat – the nice fat one they had smoked out was long gone now.

It was almost 4 hours later when a yawning Ama told her mother the weird story… and 8 hours after that when Ama Maame mentioned it to her friend Adjo on the way to their farms… and another 6 hours till Adzo told Kingsley, the cook from the big house who was gossiping away in the market as usual… And because the big house was so big, and the old man didn’t like how the servants smelled, it was another 5 hours before Kingsley heard that the old man was missing.

By the time they found the car, he was barely breathing. As there was no doctor at post in the little community clinic he had “donated” some ten years ago, he had to be rushed to the nearest city hospital. There were no beds in the first one they got to, and his son Maxwell, doctor and Chief Director of Public Health wasn’t answering his phone, and so he was rushed to another hospital.

 

There, they sat – secretary, cook, driver and old man in a Gye Nyame plastic chair, for 2 hours… until a distraught Maxwell ran in, barking orders at nurses and orderlies.

He secured a VIP ward for his father in less than 20 minutes.

 

It was too late.

The old man died.


 

 

other stories…

The autopsy showed that the death was quite avoidable. Apparently the simple, nonsurgical procedure that would have saved his life could have been performed by a 5th year medical student. It was such a pity that the community clinic was not resourced with basic personnel and equipment.

Maxwell and his siblings were devastated. They resolved to make sure a thing like this would never happen again.

Each sibling immediately started making arrangements for personal clinics and doctors for their mothers’ house.

Selina, the youngest, also a doctor, started the first air ambulance company in the country.

Motherfuckitude by Poetra Asantewa – Some Thoughts

Disclaimer: I only do this for art that tugs at my heart and mind. The last time this happened was for Asa’s Bed of Stone. Fyi, this is not a review. Furthermore, you can listen to Poetra’s EP here.

Poetra Motherfuckitude

Listening to Motherfuckitude back to back for a while reminds me of thoughts I’ve thought and shelved for a while… Like how great most of my generation is at being simultaneously connected and detached. I sense this duality in Poetra’s art in general. I mean.. we’ve had to be great at straddling and expertly navigating a number of worlds. We weren’t born into connectivity – we came of age in it. [Side Note: When I see all those articles moaning about how young people spend way too much time online or how the world is going to shit because these young people spend all time on their phones, I snort in amusement because these people have not realised how great we are at adapting and evolving. We balance “real life” and “social media life” (assuming those are actually two separate worlds, but that’s a discussion for another day) because there really is no choice for us. If I video a concert while watching it does it mean I am not enjoying it? If I check out what other people are tweeting about the show I’m watching while watching it and tweeting about it myself does it mean I’m not watching it? I hang out with friends in real life and in real time on twitter all the time – our conversations weaving and wafting online and offline – No biggie.]

Same way Poetra weaves and wafts – No biggie.

Track by track? Why not?


Naked Listeners is chock full of quotables and preach-sister-preach moments. Not sure what I mean about the weaving and wafting? It’s a constant theme throughout Motherfuckitude and in this first track you begin to experience it. The arrangement is just sublime. The bells. The bells. The bells. 

P.O.A takes me back to awkward moments as a teenager crossing over into my twenties – competing thoughts all up in my head – trying to find my feet, my place in the world, sometimes wondering whether I should even bother. It’s about her personal battle with art, plus observations about the field she’s intimately connected to, yet as I listen, I put myself in her shoes and think of my own (fading) struggles to find my spot(s). 

No Panties is a good one in this collection of good ones. Though it’s not my favourite, I can certainly see why it seems to be so many other people’s favourite track off Motherfuckitude, AND it’s not just because she has no panties on. It’s littered with subversion and rebellion which may not be so subversive as it seems to be fast becoming the ‘in’ attitude now… I remember when I first realised Poetra could sing – like really sing. It was at an Ehalakasa event at Nubuke foundation, she came out with a now long-forgotten guy accompanying her on the guitar and charley, it was beautiful.

The Poetry Ain’t Shit melody is delightfully upbeat for such a depressing refrain. The message is familiar – it ties in with P.O.A in rather nicely. And as always, the ever present (does she even realise she’s consciously doing it? do we?) weaving and wafting… weaving and wafting. 

Masked Commoners is another one that clearly brings out that straddling or different worlds I’ve referred to. It’s quite heavy in terms of the theme, but in a good way. There’s commentary on the worlds we live in today; with the uneasy couplings and balancing acts we continue to contend with in our daily lives. As an aside, I would like to note that the music perfectly matches the words.  

All Love is light and breathless. It’s the sort of track I would imagine playing in the background when I’m a perfect date with a person I expect to break up with in a few weeks. It’s the sort of lighthearted yet serious, breathless yet measured anthem for heart-wrenchingly painful moments you know a bottle of wine and 2 bars of chocolate can fix. It draws you in – promising an easy listen – and you fall for it… listening twice.. five times and then it thrusts you into your feels… and then you shake your head with a wry smile because Poetra got you. It’s ditzy brilliance. It’s my favourite.


In conclusion? I love Motherfuckitude.

That funny way Ghanaians see Ghanaians…

This is in response to Nana Ama’s post, among other things. It was not easy to write, because a lot of people I respect and admire fall in the category below…

I would like to start by saying that I was very disappointed in the Black Stars after they let us down in Brazil. I did not expect much from the GFA or the government for I knew they were in it to make as much profit as possible – be it political or financial profit. I also did not begrudge the boys their large bonuses although I thought the sums were just too much, but if that is what they agreed on, then they deserved to be paid. It was the manner in which they forced the authorities to pay them that infuriated me. You see, I have low expectations of the politicians – and they never usually have the love and support of the majority of Ghanaians, but the Black Stars have… they did, and they broke my heart.

…………………………………………………………………………………………..

It is a sadly common trend for certain Ghanaians to say or write things like “Ghanaians are <insert patronising description>”. I hear it on radio all the time, I see it on online forums and in comment threads and it is unfortunate that this is how people conceptualise themselves and their people. I won’t go into the undertones of inferiority complex that underly this kind of thinking. Usually, the maker of such damning, broadly generalising comments is Ghanaian, but when they make these comments, they aren’t referring to themselves – no, they are different, they are sensible, they are intelligent, they are open-minded and they are (well) educatedThey are perched on a high pedestal, looking down on the “stupid” Ghanaians who have “short memories” and will certainly forget dumsor and the mismanagement of an economy because of one trophy. Seriously?! They know that “2 hours of borrowed electricity from La Côte D’Ivoire would make Ghanaians think that everything is okay with the country. Seriously!?!

And it is not an attitude that is unique to them, it is rather widespread in this “educated” class of Ghanaians. They, ironically like the orientalising Westerner who looks to the “other” to reassure himself of his superiority, look to that average Ghanaian who represents everything that is the Ghana they love and hate, to reassure themselves that they have escaped the “mediocrity”. It is in religion – Christianity for instance, where people have no problems with the “posturing” of the likes of Duncan Williams, but condemn Bishop Obinim for being a charlatan. It’s complicated, but if I had to explain it in one line, I would say “It’s simply because Obinim is not as brɔfɔlised.” Brɔfɔlised is such a great word… Loosely explained it means he does not have the respectability that comes with the ability to speak fluent English. I will admit now that I have had that attitude in past, and I would have still have more than a healthy dose of it by now if I hadn’t gone through some personal troubles that made me seriously reconsider how I looked at others. And it is true that I still relapse into that mindset from time to time – it’s not easy… In fact, I’m frightened of what I might become post-Oxford, but that’s another blog post for another day. Saying “Ghanaians are like….” or “Ghanaians dier…” in that tone of voice is terribly condescending. You know that hot flash of anger you feel when you read a generalising “Africans are <insert stereotype here>” from a white person? Well, it is not quite the same in terms of power dynamics at play, but you catch my drift don’t you?

It’s as though they do not think that other people can compartmentalise their emotions. That anger at the GFA and Mahama’s government can coexist with the ability to recognise the hard work of footballers, and the joy of seeing a son fighting the demons of his father can be relished while criticising the incompetence of the system that manages him.  Do a quick search on social media sites on Black Stars, bonuses, GFA budget and government. You will find out that people ARE upset about the wastefulness of the GFA, the size of the bonuses and the general shadiness of these things BUT they are also proud of the boys for playing hard and making their nation proud. No need to throw out the baby with the bathwater – something Ghanaians have always known.

This “I’m-glad-they-didn’t-win-because-the-government-would-have-capitalised-on-it business” is rather silly.

“A win would have given us a false sense of importance and sent the government into believing (what the cool people describe as) their own ‘hype’ – that we are truly the best on this continent.”

Firstly, LOL.

More seriously, I spent my energy (rather uselessly) wishing the Black Stars wouldn’t qualify in the first place, because barring the obvious futility of sitting on one’s arse and wishing things, that would have made more sense. The amount of money the government would have spent on the tournament would have been close to zero… but you see, once, they were in, and through to the final, a win would have been the only way to make ourselves feel better about the money that was spent – money that WAS spent REGARDLESS. So, as useless wishes go, wishing they wouldn’t win once they were already in the final was pretty useless. The consensus on the loss is that the Black Stars did their best, but were not lucky – I can see how a smart propagandist (like Hanna Tetteh, brilliant at this sort of thing) can use the scenario to generate ‘hype’, but… never mind

That said, I am not surprised that Nana Ama is so convinced about this “short term memory of Ghanaians” theory. She works in radio as a kind of permanent panelist on a breakfast show. Now, the breakfast shows I listen to – on Joy fm and Citi fm are … interesting. The purpose seems to be to pack as much content as possible into the time period allocated. So, we get something like a 10-minute newspaper review, then 15 minutes of ranting about something, followed by very condensed sports football news, followed by 15 minutes of an “interview” with some corporate organization promoting their new product, then some social media trends, oh and some sort of message of motivation followed by a promotion of the radio station’s Easter corporate football tournament and then… you get my drift. It’s easy, I suppose, to assume that people get easily distracted from things that matter to them when you’re working in that context and always searching for next big news story, “forgetting” to follow up till 3 months later perhaps on yesterday’s breaking news story. Certainly, there is a desire for this kind of programming in Ghana and this is why they are so successful, but I personally find that I can only put myself through it once or twice a week.

And frankly, if you work in radio and want people to not to forget issues you feel are important, just keep telling them. You have a platform. Can’t be that hard, surely.

People say La Côte D’Ivoire needed the trophy more, and I am inclined to agree. Only a true football fan knows the euphoria that comes from winning trophies and how your whole day can change because your team lost a match. Do not make the mistake of underestimating the power of something you do not understand, and a time when it feels like “Ghana is the devil’s pet project” (@niilexis, 2013), winning a tournament after 33 years could colour a hopeless situation hopeful again. There’s a reason why Nkrumah invested in sportsmen and athletes even when the country was in a precarious situation. I won’t explain further – if you understand, you understand.

Also this is not really about the AfCON, it’s about that funny way Ghanaians see Ghanaians.

Of Museums, Really Old Things and Weeping By the Rivers of Babylon

When I touched down in London town, I just could not wait to see all the museums and old things. As a certified history buff, I knew I would enjoy the City of London thoroughly. I remember going to the national portrait gallery and gawking at photos of the Brontës for instance… as if I didn’t have the same photo saved in the photos folder on my laptop. I was in museum mode. I was in heaven.

As the days progressed, as I walked through the city, looking at old things – old buildings, old paintings, old statues, even old graves – I said to myself “Clearly these are people that understand the value of preservation of culture”. So why did they loot and steal and destroy other peoples’ culture?

I couldn’t help but remember that night in Kumasi, when I wept while reading a book by Richard Austin Freeman – Travels and Life in Ashanti and Jaman. I felt like I was walking with him through the now destroyed city of Kumasi when he noted ”

“The wholesale destruction of native houses that took place when Kumasi was burnt down by the British troops in 1874 is likewise a matter for great regret on the part of anthropologists”

Same Anthropologists and Historians that would later say that the African was an inferior human being, seeing as (s)he had no history. Ironic. Painful.

If a young British person wants to study history of british architecture, that’s easy. Let’s take the element of recorded/ written history out. They can simply go and look at the old buildings in London. Me, a Ghanaian that wants to study history of architecture here? Nothing.. My only resort is journals of British explorers and missionaries. Heartbreaking – who knows what prejudices clouded their thinking? Who knows if we can trust their words and sketches?

In preparing for my mock exam, I came across a question: “British Colonial Rule Was Inherently Pragmatic. Discuss”. What’s there to discuss? Of course it was. Destroy a person’s history and watch them struggle for years, FOR centuries to find themselves.

In an African Studies seminar the other day, an archaeologist noted wryly that the ruins of an amazingly well-constructed and elaborately planned town in South Africa are believed to have been put there by aliens. They’ll rather believe that aliens from outer space came down to Southern Africa and constructed a cattle-herding town than accept that people with dark skin did that.

And it’s not just white people. In trying to justify my selection of a topic for my M.Arch thesis, one lecturer flippantly remarked “History? Which architectural history? We know it all already – mud houses with thatched roofs”. Not surprising, because in studying history as young architecture students in Ghana, after Egyptian pyramids, we hear nothing “good” about precolonial architecture of Subsaharan Africa. Do you know that homes in the ancient city of Kumasi had “flushable” upstairs toilets before they had them in Britain? No you didn’t. Did you know that the water closet was “allegedly” invented by a black slave? Probably not. Do you know about the Aban? I didn’t either till I came across a photo caption in some obscure record. The Aban was a stone palace constructed by Fante builders where the Asantehenes kept all the state gifts and other important items. You can guess what happened to the Aban.

Where is our history? Destroyed, Demolished. And there’s nothing I can do about it.

By the rivers of babylon, there we sat down
Ye-eah we wept, when we remembered zion.

The Accra Furqan: An Ottoman masterpiece in Accra

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Though it’s still under construction, one cannot help but be impressed by the mosque on the Kanda highway. It is a beautiful example of Ottoman architecture, and the arches and perfectly formed domes, in spite of the forest of wooden formwork, give hints of the elegance that is associated with Islamic architecture.

The Accra Furqan, also the Ghana National Mosque, is a gift from the people of Turkey to the people of Ghana, and with its impressive series of domes and semi domes, it has the potential to be one of the most beautiful buildings in the city.

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See the flag of Turkey up there?, and those are some of the skillful workers. So many domes!

 

Constructed with 4000 cubic metres of concrete and 700 tonnes of steel, the Accra Furkan is far from solid or compact. True to the Ottoman architectural style, the domes seem almost weightless, and combined with a clever mix of courtyard spaces and arched walkways, the building manages to appear huge and yet “light”.

Erdiogan Getinkaya’s design is influenced by the Blue Mosque (or the Sultan Ahmet Mosque) in Istanbul as well as the Selimiye Mosque. The 8000 capacity mosque is scheduled for completion in late November, just in time for Ramadan Prayers.

 

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I made some friends 🙂 They’re the 2 of 3 Ghanaian workers there. The project has an unbelievably small workforce!

 

There are 50 domes in the Accra Furqan building, the largest and main dome sits at a height of 36 metres from the ground and is supported by 4 2.1metre diameter columns at 20 metre intervals. At each of the four corners of the mosque building is one 62 metre high minaret where the “muezzins” will perform “adhans”. The exterior of the building will be finished in polished marble, with the domes cladded in lead.

The facility as a whole will contain a school, health facility and a home for the National Chief Imam.

 

 

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Architect’s Rendering , not even half as beautiful as the mosque under construction