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:
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
Sharon LaFraniere, Africa’s World of Forced Labor, in a 6-Year-Old’s Eyes, 2006
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
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
Samuel Okyere, ‘Shock and Awe’: A critique of the Ghana-centric child trafficking discourse” 2017
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
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.
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.
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) educated. They 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.”
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.
I just felt a burning desire to list all the class teachers I had in primary school. These women and one man played an important part in shaping me. If I have time when I’m back in Ghana, I would like to track them and visit. Especially my class 6 teacher. How about you? Do you remember yours?
Class 1 – Mz Asare, I think her first name is Christina. I remember how thrilled she was about my progress in class. You see, I had been jumped from KG 2 to class one because I already knew all the lessons for KG2. My mother, when she was on maternity leave after having my little brother was so bored that she spent her days teaching me things she had no business teaching me. One thing that really stands out in my memory was the afternoon i got into trouble because I said sorkorpimpim. It was a very naughty word and I don’t really remember who taught me or what it meant exactly (had to do with sex), but I said it out loud in class and horrified Mrs. Asare. It’s probably why she wanted to jump me to class 2 after a term, but my mother wouldn’t let her – she thought the other kids would pick on me.
Class 2 – Mz Darko. Elizabeth (I think) was a force of nature. Even now I remember her as an extremely confident woman. She also had the most beautiful shiny dark skin and curly hair – I learned later on that they were called jerry curls. Two moments stand out from my encounters with her; first, she cured me of my “cry-babyism” when she sharply reprimanded me about always crying to get my way. I was so worried about disappointing her as I was equal parts awed and terrified of her that I stopped! Second, she didn’t come to school one day because she was ill, so a substitute teacher took over the class that day and set us to writing get well soon letters. In mine, I wrote that I would bring her Lucozade. Lucozade was a sort of energy drink that my father swore by and I really did think it was the thing to drink when you were ill. I still do! Anyway, the next day I actually did bring her the Lucozade, making her so happy. She actually had tears in her eyes.
Class 3 – Mz Cecilia Boateng. I have one very sad memory from class with Miss Boateng. She didn’t do anything wrong – she was a kind, gentle soul. I think even then she had rather sad eyes. My sad memory was walking into class early after break time one afternoon and finding her sitting with tears in her eyes. She didn’t even notice me, and I didn’t understand why till I overhead some gossip from other teachers about four years later. Gossip that is not my place to share. It is sad that that moment has overshadowed any other memories I have of her.
Class 4 – Mz Millicent Obeng. She was a member of the Deeper Life Church. I remember this because she told me after I asked her why she wore no earrings and wore her hair the way she did. It was in her class that I decided to be a scientist. It was in her class too that I discovered my competitive spirit.
Class 5 – Mz Adanse. Another powerful personality – from her commanding voice to her “presence”. She had a way of walking into class and “filling” the room. It had nothing to do with her size, it was just the sort of aura she had. I liked her and used to visit her at her house which wasn’t far from mine. She also used to make meatpies and rock buns to sell in school and I used to help her carry the little bucket she put the pies in. She was also very good at caning. She used to strike fear in my little heart when she picked up her cane and thrashed some poor soul. I don’t remember getting caned by her, possibly because I was extra good so as to avoid a beating!
Class 6 – Mr Samuel Otoo. He really was my favourite. He used to chat with me at break time when I was going through my antisocial stage, and he took me seriously. In his class I decided to be an astronaut, an crime lab technician, a credit analyst and a professor in no particular order. He was always very interested and I lived for the days when my mother said it was okay to let him walk me home – he also lived near the school. After secondary school, I went by his house and found out that he moved. I don’t know where he lives now, but I would love to meet him again.
February 1st, 2014.
After a night spent tossing, turning, crying silent tears and making promises to my guardian angels and ancestors on duty I woke up with almost no hope of finding my phone. Then I heard that Vanessa’s iPhone was stolen at the beach on Saturday AND THE THIEF RETURNED IT. With my vim renewed, I made some other phone calls, and eventually ended up speaking to the Don of stolen phones at Kwame Nkrumah Circle. Let’s call him Pappy Show. Pappy Show said my gold iPhone hadn’t shown up at Kwame Nkrumah Circle yet, and that I should not worry, because no fence in her/his right mind would take an iPhone 5S. “You will get your phone back if it enters Circle”, he ended.
Angel Vanessa to the rescue.
I called Vanessa earlier to comfort her when I heard her phone got stolen. She didn’t answer, I guess she was too miserable to, but she called back after she got it back and I told her about my own missing iPhone and what I planned to do. That’s when she introduced me to two of her friends; the very well connected Kofi and the Buffalo/Panther Unit Policeman Daniel. I called them and we agreed to meet the next day to go and look for phone in Sowutuom. Charley, it’s never just twitter oh. Vanessa and I met through Twitter interractions! 🙂
On Monday morning, as I sat in front of Living Room, East Legon, waiting for Kofi and watching happy young couples pass by, I wondered how much I would spend on taxi fares. I certainly wasn’t going to make Kofi and Daniel take troski to Sowutuom. A phone call interrupted my money matters calculations. It was Kofi, “I’m in the blue car across the street.” Ladies and gentlemen, What a car it was! I couldn’t believe my luck as I clambered on board Kofi’s fully “nyanya’d” (air conditioned, to the uniformed) SUV. We picked Vanessa up from work (Yes, she actually left work early to join us!), then we picked Daniel the policeman up.
On our way to Sowutuom, I got a strange call from a person who was trying to reach a “Frank”. After initially dismissing it as a wrong number call, I thought again, considering the circumstances, I called back to find out who this person was and where he got the number from. He gave his name as Sellas and he said he was calling from Koforidua. I stored his number as “Suspicious Suspicious” and put that on the back burner.
At Sowutuom Agenda, we went straight to the area macho man, who I had befriended on my previous visit, to ask if he had heard anything new or seen our number one suspect Kwasi Takyi the taxi driver doing anything suspicios. During this conversation, “Suspicious Suspicious” called me.
S.S: “Hello, I called you earlier”
Me [pretending not to remember and signalling Kofi, Vanessa, and Daniel over]: “When? I don’t know this number, sorry”
S.S: “I called earlier and said it was a wrong number”
Me: “Oh okay, I remember now”
S.S: It’s about your phone. My sister found it in a trotro and she’s scared. Can we meet tomorrow so I give it to you?”
Me: “Where are you now? I’ll come and get it today?”
S.S: “Koforidua, you won’t get a bus at this time, let’s meet tomorrow”
Me: “Don’t worry, I have a car, I’ll drive to Koforidua right now. God Bless you so much for calling!”
S.S: “Okay, I don’t want you to worry so lets’ meet halfway”
Me: “Okay, Aburi, in an hour and a half? Take a taxi, don’t worry, I’ll pay”
Of course we had no intention of going to Aburi, so we went to Madina Zongo junction and I called, told him my car had DV plates and the police were giving me a hard time so he should come to Madina instead.
I won’t write about those tense moments when he wouldn’t answer my calls for thirty minutes, or how when he told me he was at Madina, it took another thirty minutes to find him. I’ll fast forward to giving him fifty cedis because he said the taxi fare came up to thirty cedis and he really didn’t want my money.
The phone was a little scratched, because someone had tried to remove the back. I don’t know, perhaps the person was trying to find the SIM card slot. The person had also attempted a Hard reset, but it was stuck on the screen where it asks for you to log in with your apple ID and password. I ignored all this. My new found police buffalo squad friends were furious. They wanted to go and get the taxi driver and question him, but I had no concrete proof that he was involved, and I knew of police interrogation techniques. I don’t have the necessary hardness to sanction that sort of thing. I also felt Sellas was just a messager, he was a little scrap of a thing, a teenager, by the looks of it. So even though the squad commander thought otherwise, I elected to let it go.
I still talk to Sellas. I even sent him money. Eventually, we’ll talk about the phone. We’ve tried to reform “criminals” with beatings and torture. I don’t know of a case where that method hasn’t resulted in a more hardened criminal. So I’m trying kindness. If Sellas is a thief, or linked to thieves, perhaps I can get him out of it. He might turn out great.
And that, friends, is how I got my iPhone back. And I spent 83.5 Ghana Cedis in total. 55 for Sellas,15 on credit for various gossip girls and boys I selected in Sowutuom Agenda, and the rest on troski fares. Not a bad deal at all. I would have spent that on a phone cover and a screen protector, so I got 5 cedi ones from Madina market to make up for that cost instead. Not bad. Not bad at all.
To God Be The Glory. We are pencils in the hands of the creator. Of course there’s a part four. I’m not a learner.
February 1st, 2014.
At exactly 3:17 am, I gave up on trying to fall asleep and decided to map out my iPhone retrieval strategy. I had calmed down somewhat during the night, and remembered that I would have to pay Madina Police if I took them to Sowutuom to find my phone. This wasn’t a desirable situation as I had left my job and I would be travelling to Cameroon (I’ll post about this later) in 2 weeks. Of course I had a budget for this trip, but my budget was a cedi budget and you guys know what happened/is happening with the economy. If you don’t know, read Efo Dela’s blog for an interesting non-expert analysis. In short, na money be problem waa and I could not afford to pay any policeman.
My mind started doing that thing that my architecture professors loved so much; connecting pieces of information I had come across from conversations with all sorts of people.
This is where I chip in a piece of advice – No matter how smart/wealthy you are, please don’t assume 1. nobody can teach you anything, 2. nobody can help you. Your salvation may come from the most unlikely place!
I remembered a friend I made in a troski once, a jack of all trades, let’s call him Onipa. Among Onipa’s several pick-up-line attempts was a line about being connected to people who “acquired” phones at Kwame Nkrumah Circle.
Piece of Advice number 2, for ladies, even if a guy trying to chat you up is repulsive, if he’s not being rude, there’s no need to be rude or mean to him. You can say no politely and part as friends.
Anyway, I called Onipa and told him about my phone, about the area from the email being Anyaa or Sowutuom. “Ah!”, he exclaimed, “If it’s Anyaa then you have no problem, I know a guy there who can help you. He knows a lot of “guys” in Anyaa. His name is Pince, call him. I’m not in Accra, I would have helped you myself, but with Pinch you’re in good hands”
That is how I found myself waiting for Pince at Awoshie Market bus stop at 6:30 on Saturday morning. Pince turned up, saw the map and said that area was called Sowutuom Agenda, out of his “jurisdiction”, but offered to take me there in his pick up truck! This was great because then I would save on taxi costs. On our way to Sowutuom, we picked up Pince’s friend Fire, an aspiring actor. Did I mention that Pince has directed a movie? The movie hasn’t been released yet because of financial constraints.
At around 9 o’clock Pince, Fire and I arrived at Sowutuom Agenda, and the map led us straight to an uncompleted building. There were 3 taxis parked in a 15 metre radius of the uncompleted building. I didn’t have the car number, I didn’t know the make or model of the taxi, and only vaguely remembered what the driver looked like (dark, tall, perhaps heavy). Remember, I was dizzy and in pain during the taxi ride…
We asked around for the taxi drivers, found number one and eliminated him because he was fair-complexioned. The 2nd driver had just washed his car, gone down the road with his friend and should be back soon, and driver number three was still asleep. At this point, I didn’t feel I was dealing with a hardcore thief, just someone who had found an expensive phone and was reluctant to return it to its rightful owner.
While waiting for driver number 2 to return and number 3 to wake up, I got a 2nd email at 10:30 with a 2nd location in the direction where driver number 2 was said to have gone off. I thought it was good news and expected to get my phone back, but in the meantime I walked round the area making sure to tell people about my missing phone. One of the points I stressed was that it was locked and nobody could unlock it but me (This is true, there’s no jailbreak for the 5S). I also told them that anytime it was turned on, It would send me an email with it’s exact location (This is not entirely true. Location email will only be sent if there’s a working internet connection). I got the opportunity to explain Google maps to 4 or 5 very amazed and impressed inhabitants of Sowutuom Agenda, taking delight even in my misery in showing them their houses and even the heaps of sand infront of some buildings. “Ah then this phone can buy a land”, one hairdresser said. Well, actually, yes, it can.
At about 12:45, driver number 2 showed up. I saw him coming from afar and asked the hairdresser if that was the driver because he looked kind of familiar. He walked straight up to us and said he heard some people were looking for him.
I asked “Do you remember me?” He responded in the negative.
“Did you pick someone up around Madina yesterday?”
” No, I worked in Kaneshie”
[NB. Kaneshie was flooded the previous day]
“Well, I took a taxi and dropped my phone in it. This phone has a tracking device in it and it has led me to your house. Do you live with another taxi driver or did someone else use your car yesterday?”
All this while, I was being very pleasant. I was smiling and using my friendly you-can-trust-me voice. Unfortunately, this didn’t work. Taxi driver number two, Kwasi Takyi exploded in anger! He yelled at me and said I was calling him a thief and said i could take his keys and go and search his room, among other things.
After trying to talk to him calmly and eventually realising he was drunk, Pince, Fire and Kofi’s dad (who showed up to help find the phone) suggested that I should go home and wait for the phone to show up online again. When it did, the plan was to go with the Sowutuom Police to retrieve it. I didn’t think it was a good idea, but after driving to location two with Kofi’s dad and finding no leads, I accepted defeat for the day. Day 2 without my iPhone- I was disappointed and very sad, but what could I do? I got in a troski and went home to Madina. One the way back, the phone was turned on twice in location number 2.
A guy tried to chat me up in the troski on the way back. I didn’t take my own advice. I eviscerated the poor guy. Sigh
The phone showed up at 6:45pm for the last time. I slept for about two hours, woke up around midnight and cried on my mother, who just wanted her laughing concert girl back.
On Sunday morning, she asked, Now will you go to church? I didn’t go.
All hope seems lost, but remember that the stone that the builders rejected became the chief cornerstone.
What happens next? Find out in Part 3
January 31st, 2014.
I lay in bed with a cold compress on my head to battle my old friends the migraine demons, and a hot water bottle on my abdomen to ease the cramps. It wasn’t a good day. I was reading a novel on my new iPhone 5S, a gift/prize from Nana Aba Anamoah for being her Twitter person of the year 2013, but from time to time, I would refresh my twitter feed on my trusty Sony Xperia S.
I was still coming to terms with the fact that I had an iPhone, so all I did with it at that point was to read on iBooks. Both phones were below 40% on battery power, and I was too comfortable in my dealing-with-the-pain position to go through the laborious process of looking for my chargers and plugging them in. Occasionally, I would drift off to sleep, but then a sharp pain would remind me that sleep is for the weak.
Now, the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) has as part of it’s mandate, a task to “remind” people in Ghana to always keep all gadgets fully charged. My friendly reminder came that afternoon, and after lying down for close to 45 minutes with no power, my room getting warmer, and my phone batteries quickly running out of juice, I decided to go over to my friends’ place to charge my phones and hang out till my power got restored. In 20 minutes I was standing at the roadside trying to get a shared taxi to Agbogba, but after about 15 minutes of fruitlessly flagging passing taxis, I decide to spend 7 Ghana cedis on “dropping”. At this point, my legs were really weak and I sank into the front seat of the taxi with relief. Usually I would make conversation with the taxi driver, but today I wasn’t in the mood at all. I got to Jude’s house, dragged myself inside, collapsed on the sofa and lay there for a while, forgetting the reason I went there in the first place.
As I have previously mentioned, ECG knocks sense into silly Ghanaians from time to time, and promptly in 45 minutes or so, the power went out at Jude’s place to remind Kuukuwa to always charge her phone(s). I couldn’t believe my bad luck and I belatedly fished for my phones from my bag. Now of course, bad luck comes in sets of three, so while I successfully retrieved my Sony Xperia S from my bag, the iPhone was nowhere to be found.
Adrenaline is the best drug for any ailment, and my cramps and headache disappeared as I frantically searched for my phone, both at Jude’s and back at home, realizing with a sinking heart that I had dropped it in the taxi. I dialed the number (I had a Glo SIM card in it), and nobody answered. Finally at about 6pm, the phone went out of coverage area. To put it mildly, I was devastated. What was I going to do? I just lost 1700 Ghana Cedis, a gift from Nana Aba! What was going to become of the blog post I had drafted talking about Nana Aba and the iPhone?!
I don’t have an extensive vocabulary of swear words, so after exhausting the 3 words I know well, I began to cry. I called my friend Kwabena, who was one of the only people I knew would understand the degree of devastation and be able to comfort me accordingly. As usual, Kwabena proved why he’s really extremely so awesome and to cut a long story short, he set up the Find My Iphone feature for me. Now, as soon as the phone got turned on, I would get an email alert with the time and location where it was turned on. I only felt a bit relieved however, because though I love maps (Google and Apple), I know the country I live in. More importantly, as an architecture student in the country, I learned that Satellite maps don’t work very well here. Still, it was a start, and a ray of hope pierced through the doom and gloom.
At 8:06pm, I received the first alert. “Kuukuwa’s iPhone was found near Accra” The attached map showed a spot around Sowutuom/Anyaa, an area I wasn’t familiar with. My first impulse was to rush to the Madina Police Station, write a statement or whatever and get some police personnel to go with me to get my iPhone. My mother and friends thought I should wait till morning, and so I did.
I did not sleep. I could not sleep.
End of Part One. Watch out for Part Two.
I write this with a heavy heart.
Komla Dumor is dead.
I’m remembering his big April Fools’ Day wedding prank, and there’s a little part of me still hoping this story too is some sort of prank.
I have many memories of listening to Komla Dumor in the morning… before school in JSS. His voice was absolutely delightful and my friend Suzzy and I had huge crushes on him. We had never seen him before, but that didn’t stop us from constructing elaborate teenage fantasies about the guy. Suzzy talked to him first; she was home with a flu (or something) and she called in to the morning show. I was so jealous. And then he left Joy fm, moved to BBC and the rest is history.
One of my favourite Komla stories is about his dropping out of medical school… about how he was a disgrace to his parents in 1992, and that “It was a long and hellish road back to respectability”
I didn’t see any of the struggles on that road, all I saw was Komla Dumor being amazing at the BBC and making me so proud to be Ghanaian.
I remember his smile- he had a big, slightly goofy, sincere-looking smile with a deep, rich laugh to match.
And his diction, Oh it was impeccable. The man could speak English!
Komla Dumor was a great man who achieved a lot in his life. I’m convinced that he would have achieved even more.
Professor Ewurama Addy died this week as well, and I tweeted about how great it is that she left an autobiography behind. You know, so we can read and imagine and get inspired by her life in those pages…
I know Komla Dumor was writing a book too. I hope he finished it.
Today, December 5th, is International Volunteer Day, “designated by the United Nations in 1985. It offers an opportunity for volunteer organizations and individual volunteers to make visible their contributions – at local, national and international levels – to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).”(Wikipedia, 2013) International Volunteer Day 2013 (IVD 2013) is a global celebration of young people acting as the agents of change in their communities.
This post is about some young (and not so young) people who gave time, resources and money to create some small change in Madina, Ghana.
BUILDING A PLAYGROUND IN THE NKWANTANANG SCHOOL, MADINA
It started with an idea from the GhanaThink foundation, based on some simple questions – “With everything we know about Kwame Nkrumah, what sort of commemoration would he prefer for his birthday? Parades, long boring speeches and a big party?… Or activities to improve Ghana?” The answer was a no-brainer… And that is how we made September 21st National Volunteer Day. People were encouraged to organise or join volunteer activities around the country. Social media was the main tool we used, and we got results!
My volunteer activity was about doing something WITH and FOR the people in a community. I thought of building a toilet at first, but that was too complicated for the short period of time I had to put it together (about 2 weeks), so after some thinking, I came up with the idea for a playground using low cost renewable and recycled material.
Disclaimer: It was also for my personal research in social architecture. I’ll share my exciting preliminary findings in another blog post… Later.
So I went to the site [which is in the school where my mother works] with the awesome Kwabena Akuamoah Boateng to get some pictures, take measurements, and make a short video. Then I put up this blog post with a call for volunteers and an appeal for funds. GhC 1130 was raised, with donations from Nana Aba Anamoah, Augustine Owusu-Ansah, Charles Lawson, Jude Nyoagbe, Andy Aryeetey, Kwabena Akuamoah Boateng, Daniel Asante, Abban Budu, and Kwabena Opoku Agyeman.. Thank you so much guys!
I also got paint donations from Michael Oti Adjei , from Azar Paint (through Ariel of GhanaThink), used car tyres from dealers in the community and food items from the teachers of Nkwantanang school, Abena Benewaa Boampong, Abban Budu, Annabella Boadi Misa, Ekow Atta Aidoo, and Jeanne Clark.
In the design and construction team were myself, Jude Nyyoagbe, Emmanuel Ofori-Sarpong and Edem Tamakloe.
With GhC 1280, and the help of students from Nkwantanang, the Assemblyman of the area, Emmanuel Ofori Sarpong, and my mother I bought bamboo, plants, soil, mats, cement, sandcrete blocks, wooden pallets, sand, stones, water, tools, paint, and food..etc. I also transported used car tyres and other materials to the site and even got extra as tips for some of the especially hardworking students.
HONOUR ROLL [List of Volunteers]
Osei Daniel Sarfo
Akua Akyaa Nkrumah
Domenyo Galley and his crew
Carl Glover Tay
Annabella Boadi Misa
Michael Akuamoah Boateng
Augustine Owusu Ansah
Kwabena Akuamoah Boateng
Jeanne Clark and family
Kinna Likimani and Kobby
Site for Playground
Initial Design Sketch