RUN IN YOUR OWN TRACK

Why? Why?
Why do you allow the faintest smiles that form on your face to suddenly fade?
As if your little successes were mosquitoes and that of others was the repellent called Raid.
Everything you do, you compare with that of others
When you hear your friend has done this, instead of you to be happy, it gives you the shudders
You look in the mirror and you feel like you’ve failed
You are still on your track but you feel like you’ve derailed
You will never be happy when you compare
It will bring you nothing, it would only bring you despair….and that’s beyond repair

Run in your own track because you can never be the same as the next person
We run in different tracks and in different tournaments
And each of us would be drapped with different ornaments
Stop looking down on your achievements
You envy your colleague’s promotion, would you envy his interment?

Concentrate on getting YOURSELF better
Because if you would look critically at it, you would find out……
Your east would always be someone’s west
Your good may be someone’s best
Your enemy, obviously someone’s guest
What you call a pet is someone’s pest
What American’s would call head restraint, the Brits may call headrest
What may taste so sweet to you, someone else would detest. Kofi Annan died in his sleep, someone else died through cardiac arrest
So why do you worry your heart? Haven’t you realised life’s not a contest?

Run your track with contentment
Don’t veer into someone’s track

Usain Bolt and Gabriel Sellasie both wear spikes but it would make no sense for them to race
Our tracks are different!
Mine may be longer than yours. Yours may be a faster run than mine
In all however, understand that your race is with yourself….getting better than you were yesterday, not with another person.

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Wrong ‘meat’

Setho had been fruitlessly searching for a job for three years after leaving the university. To say life was frustrating for him would be an understatement. He had tried so hard to find one but everywhere he passed, he hit a brick wall. He met an old friend from junior high school and after telling his plight, his old pal introduced him to a trade he himself was involved in….. scamming. He gasped in disbelief and disappointment at the beginning but his fears were allayed somewhat when his friend explained that his kind of scamming did not involve the use of blood money or ‘sakawa’ or anything of that sort. It just involved the use of the ‘adwen’, the mind.
“The mind eh?”, he asked. “Just the mind bro. Look at me very well. I was just like you, probably worse. I have been in this mind business for just two months, two months! And now look at me”, his friend said, turning around so that Setho would properly look at his Ralph Lauren shirt and Gucci jeans. Setho caught a glimpse of his friend’s gleaming Rolex watch. “Just two months? What have i been doing with my life Oko?”, Seth asked. “Probably just wasting it my friend. Just look at how old you’re looking”, his friend remarked sarcastically. The words Oko said forged themselves into a jack knife and shredded Setho’s heart into small pieces, the sizes of kelewele.

“O charley, but you too, have some restraint with your words eh. Things are hard for me but chill”,Setho,”at least be empathetic.” Oko laughed sarcastically and sort of apologised. After that, he asked, “Are you more bothered about what I said or because what i said is true? Anyway, i would teach you to fish. This job as i said earlier makes use of the mind. You know what people fear most in this world?”
Setho thought for a second. “Death?”, he asked. “Look at you! You see you’re not that dumb afterall. People fear death. So why don’t you use that knowledge to your advantage?”, Seth said.
“Cos that would be unfair?”, Setho uttered. Oko frowned. “You i can see you want to remain in the poverty”, he said, turning to leave the scene. Setho held him and begged him to stay. “Sorry sorry, go on. I’m listening please”, he apologised. Oko continued. “As i know and you also said, everyone fears death. Imagine that? The thing that’s most assured in this life is what we fear the most. Euphemistic isn’t it?” “You mean ironic?”,Setho tried to correct.
Oko got upset again with Setho. “Aboa! You know literal devices but i have the money”, he blurted angrily. Setho apologised again and begged him to continue. Oko continued,”Okay, i make my money strategically, i call it the SCT. SCT meaning Scare and Collect Tactic. Call someone, scare them enough and wait for money transfer notification. I cannot say everything here. Let’s go sit somewhere private.”

Days later, Setho felt he was ready for business. He had been under Oko’s tutelage for days and he felt definitely ready. First, he had to visit a busy mobile money shop, keenly listen to the customers as they give their phone numbers to the operator, write down as many numbers as you can, select a ‘victim’ and start work. ‘Victim’ selection was perhaps the most daunting of all. The temperament of the victim, amount of money the victim deposited or withdrew from his or her account, demeanour, how the person speaks and their looks were of paramount importance. He had watched Oko get a 300cedi transfer the day before and despite all the promptings from his conscience, he knew there was no turning back. What has his conscience given him after school? Nothing!

Setho decided to use one of his very old sim cards for his trade. After going through the process of selecting his victim and all, he placed the call. As the line started to beep, his heart rate increased. The line dropped. He breathed easy now. “Whoa….this isn’t child’s play oo”, he thought. After taking three deep breaths, he called again. Someone at the end of the line picked.
“Yes, who is this?”, the voice asked. Kofi backed away from the phone momentarily, cleared his throat and with all the acting skills he could garner and spoke in a hoarse voice. “Allo, am i talking to Cynthia? Cynthia Twumasi?” The line was silent for a moment. “Allo!”,Setho called again. “Yes, yes this is Cynthia, who are you and what can i do for you?” Setho recited some incantations he made up and said, “Ma name be Gbagbatome and i be powerful spiritualist. Cynthia eh…you get enemies o. Plentey plentey enemies. Yua friend just getting up from here. She bring me yua photo to killing you. I almost killing you spiritually eh but the gods say i should waiting small.”

Setho heard Cynthia sigh at the other end of the line. “Someone wants to kill me? Who and why?”, she asked. “It is eh, not importante rat now. I was just about kill you when the gods gave me yua number. They say you be special woman. So make i aaa give you option. Erhhh either you send me money to call back the spiritual arrow wey i send back to me or better, or better, make i send the arrow to da person wey she wan kill you. You understand what adey talk?”
Cynthia replied,” So you mean the spiritual arrow is destined to come hit me where i am presently and when it does, would it be painful??” Setho was taken aback briefly but held his own. “It would hit you..and you would die without knowing.” Setho noticed he had spoken a clean sentence in English. Afraid that his cover would be blown, he threw in a couple of pidgin. “You go die oo. You go die sudden sudden.”

There was a long pause, then Cynthia said calmly, “I think i would prefer that.” Setho’s composure was thrown off gear for a second. “What you are saying? You want to die?”, he asked. “Yes i want to die”, Cynthia replied,”As we speak now,whoever you are, i am holding a revolver to my head. (She turned the cylinder of the revolver. It revolved for a while before she stopped it abruptly with some dexterity) The only problem now is that i don’t really like my bedsheet to be stained with so much blood when they come for my body.”

Setho instinctively hanged up. What the heck did he just hear? The lady he wants to scam with the fear of death already wants to die? This wasn’t in the script. Whew! His phone rang. It was Cynthia. He yelped in fear and cut the line. As he was thinking about what just happened? He had a text alert which read, “Hey Seth Mensah, right? You’re surprised i know your name? I would have lied and said the gods gave me your name. Well, an electronic god did give me your name…Trucaller app? Have you heard of it? You better call back or i would write a letter with your name in it and accuse you of threatening me with murder.”
“Lord God of mercy!”, Setho exclaimed, sweating profusely at this point. “What on earth had he gotten himself into?”, he asked himself. He had heard the unmistakable sound of the revolver and he knew it was real. He called Oko, his scamming teacher. Nothing broke his heart more than hearing “The number you have dialled cannot be reached at this moment.” Cynthia called again. His hand shook as he picked the call.

“Yes. Cynthia i’m sorry”, Setho started. Cynthia laughed at the other side of the line and asked ,”So you speak good english now? Anyway, i really want to die right now. I was hoping to kill myself quietly but when you first called, i thought it was just someone idly calling. Then you called the second time and i was like wow, maybe this caller wants to play audience to my suicide. And then i picked up and heard all your gibberish and i was impressed you know. You Ghanaian right? You did so well with the strange accent, are you an actor?” Setho was silent. A harsh voice erupted. “I said are you an actor?!!!”, Cynthia asked angrily. “No madam, no please. I am just an unemployed idiot who followed wrong advice. Please i am sorry”, Setho replied.
Cynthia calmly said, “You know in my life, no one even looked at me for a second…my parents even. I have no friends, no one i can call family, i don’t even have enemies to call my own. I have always always Seth, i have always been alone. Really, it’s tiring. I’m tired Seth. That’s why i want to leave. I wanted to leave silently when you came, i realised i did not have to leave alone. You are the audience i need to see me off. I don’t know why but i feel i have the attention i needed, the attention i have always asked for but never got. So thank you. Stay on the line and hear me breathe my last please. That’s all i ask. If you cut the line, i would write your name and get the police on your heels. You know they can now always find us with phone numbers, right?

Setho had no idea the lady he saw that morning at the mobile money shop was planning suicide. She looked pretty and well groomed. She looked like someone who would have a lot to lose if she dies. That was one reason he selected her. The other reason obviously was the amount she had deposited in her account. It was quite substantial. Setho tried to advise. “Cynthia, you don’t have to kill yourself. Life is more important. It would get better. Trust me i have been there. I have had moments where i have wished to end it all. I have suffered insults and depression due to unemployment but i believe it would get better. Maybe not today, but tomorrow. Hey why don’t we meet and talk?”, Setho tried to reason with her.
“Bye Seth and thanks for your time”, Cynthia said almost inaudibly. Setho felt the unthinkable was just about to happen. His eyes opened widely and he loudly called out, “Cynthia! Please!” But then he heard the loudest bang in his ears. It was so loud he dropped the phone like it was a hot metal. He held his ears in pain and felt a tear streak down his cheek. This prey he chose was wrong ‘meat’.

A country of blackmailers

I could only watch about 8 seconds of the Ashaiman accident video. The sight of our women lying bloodied on the street with boxes of tomatoes scattered after being ‘plowed’ by a truck sickened me. I hear one person has been confirmed dead and scores have been severely injured. I thought about what would happen after- it would be on the news, local assemblies and government officials would go inspect the scene, donations would be made then that’s it. Life would return to normal.

We are a country made up of blackmailers who are not ready for development! I’d tell you why i say that with four examples starting with the Ashaiman accident. Imagine what would have happened if say three days ago, a task force was sent to evict those sellers from the streets. You would watch the news later that evening and hear the street sellers with red bands on their arms and heads saying things like “Where does government want us to sell? This is where we get our daily bread from. We have gone for loans to do this business. How are we going to repay these loans? Government is wicked. Is this what you promised us? The elections would soon come around and we know what to do!” Selling on the streets is not only bad but it’s dangerous, and they know it, however the task force would have been met with serious resistance.

Just look at how filthy our streets and drains are! Plastics everywhere! Plastics are drowning us! Serious countries that actually wanted to solve this problem banned plastics outright. In this country, whenever there is a call to ban plastics, that is when some so-called associations would come out and say “O if there is a ban, about hundred thousand people would lose their source of livelihood. We must go back to the negotiation table. This ban would affect people, etc”. You would wonder, so our country should remain filthy just because of the pockets of some people? The will to ban the plastics would just die like it wasn’t even alive in the first place. It would rain, the towns would flood, people would die, there would be a memorial fund for the familes, cycle continues.

Let’s go to our banking sector. We all have knowledge of the two banks that went under last year. What you might not know is that that incident cost the Ghanaian tax payer over 2billion cedis. Yeah, that’s what it cost us. There’s this 400 million cedis minimum capital requirement that Bank of Ghana has directed for banks to have at the end of 2018. This is just to ensure that in times of crisis like what happened last year, depositors would not lose their monies, at least the BoG can secure funds to pay depositors. Just last week, some local banks started saying that due to they having difficulty in raising that amount, they would need more time, else 5000 jobs would be lost before the year ends. You see the blackmail there? If another bank goes down, we the same people would accuse the BoG of looking on while the banks do what they like.

Fisherfolk for years have been complaining about the dwindling fish stocks. The ministry of fisheries therefore decided that to help save the fish stock, there would be a ban on fishing for a month to help the fish population recuperate. The same people who claim they need help now turn and accuse those they asked to help of trying to take away their livelihoood. It’s crazy if you think about it.

The saddest part of the story is that governments usually yield to the blackmails. Governments are afraid to lose the next elections and therefore cowardly put away their plans. I have seen this over and over again with different governments. Are we ready for development at all? I do not think so. We are not ready to change! And we sure do know how to blackmail!

Some sh** just won’t go away

Abena lowered herself onto the seat and straightened her back as per her usual protocol. Her eyes fell on the funny inscription sellotaped to the back of the toilet door which read ‘See how much fun you’re having?’. To cap the entertainment, the inscription had a big smiley emoji that looked straight into the eyes of the guest. It made her giggle. She giggled the more when she realized she was in her boyfriend’s family guest toilet, transfixed on an inscription and giggling to herself. She wondered why someone would go to the extent of creating amusement in a visitors toilet. But she quickly remembered what Fred often told her about his family: they are very funny people. Anytime he said that, she felt it was just a ploy to get her to meet his parents. Now she knew it wasn’t.

She froze for a second as she felt a big escape from her rectal cavity and into the toilet bowl almost simultaneously confirmed by a splash and an unmistakable sound. She hoped no one heard that from outside. The visitors toilet was not too far from the dining area where she, Fred and the rest of the family were having lunch. Or, was it dinner? Whatever it was, the situation was still too delicate to give herself bad press. Only God knew how she managed to quieten the farts that preceded the bowel emptying process. How she hoped Fred had taken her to the toilet in his room upstairs.

Things had escalated pretty quickly between her and her new found love. She had dumped the not-too-serious Akwesi and his useless love games! Beyond funny inscriptions, Fred’s parents were really nice people. The little time she spent with them at the table was great. They tried to make her feel at home, but, you know, meeting your prospective in-laws for the first time can be very disconcerting. You ought to act like this perfect angel. Sometimes you have to fake smiles and laugh like a psychopath, polish your diction and feign interest in whatever crap they’re talking about. It’s in such settings that words like really, wow, and yes please come to the party.

It was therefore crazy when in the middle of the meal, Abena felt a tug, by her stomach walls, which carried a simple message – Get up. Go to the toilet now!!!
“Really? Really? Here? These my house people do not disappoint. They are at it again”, she almost screamed in her mind.
“No, maybe I could hold on till I get out of here”,she tried to assure herself.
As if her digestive system heard her defiance, it tugged again, much harder than the first.
“Excuse me please, I’d like to use the wash room”, she requested in hesitation.
“Hesitating to leave the hosts by the dining table? What sort of bourgeoisie crap is that?”,she asked herself as she walked awkwardly to the toilet, Fred graciously leading the way. What if there was another guest who got up first to use the washroom? What on earth was she going to do? Abracadabra the poopoo out of her system?
“Sister puleeease!”, she reasoned with herself.

As she sat on the WC musing, straightening her back and thinking about Fred’s family, she felt another escape, smaller than the first. A wave of relief streamed through her body. She had tried to go to toilet that morning but her system just wasn’t ready to let go. It was when the car took off that she felt a ‘missed call’. She was already en route for dinner and so ignore she did. Unfortunately, her system started calling back once the dinner started.
“How long had she been in the toilet?”, she wondered.
“Five minutes”, her wristwatch indicated. It seemed like eternity to Abena. What would her in-laws be thinking? She got up and her eyes met the deposit in the WC. She looked away immediately, not in disgust but in fear. Come see the sizes! Who would have thought that this abomination could come out of such a pretty girl? Four times she pulled the toilet roll and four times she cleaned herself, tossing the defiled tissue into the toilet bowl each time. Her pantie went into position and so did her rather long skirt that had virtually swept half of Fred’s house.

She turned the lever on the cistern and as engineered, the water gushed into the toilet bowl in earnest. “Shhhuuuuuuuuu”,it sounded. She watched the t-rolls suctioned up. The smaller deposits disappeared as well, but the worry started when in the final seconds of the flushing, the very big deposit was still floating majestically in the bowl, looking as if it had not even heard that any material, big or small, paper or faecal was being flushed.
“What the heck!! Sweet Dearie”, she said under her breath. She needed to get back to the table urgently. She heard the water fill up. Vital seconds were going but she had to try the second time. She turned down the lever again; this time harder.

“Shhhhuuuuuuuuuu”,the water gushed again. She looked intensely at the excreta, as if to warn it to vanish this time around. The giant, defiant piece of faecal matter just rolled about like a chief dancing in a palanquin. The gush ended and it was back to square one.
“What one earth did I eat yesterday? Aluminium balls?”,she asked; anxious and perplexed.
She knew Fred and his parents had surely heard her flush twice and would be asking questions. Valuable seconds passed and the cistern filled again.
She tried the third time. The sh*t just wont go away.
Maybe this is a sign she thought. Maybe this was a sign that this relationship wasn’t going to work. Maybe this is a sign that she has to go back to Akwesi and his ‘hwiiiitim’ kind of toilet.
You know what hwiiitim is? The hwiiitim kinda toilet is the toilet facility that you squat over a hand dug pit and when you ‘release’, your deposits gleefully free fall into the bottom of the pit, without a parachute. Yeah, that’s what hwiitim is.

At this point, her sweat pores had opened freely. She was sweating like a pregnant fish blown onto the shore to be shown to the sun for three minutes and to be carried back away.
“God please don’t let this happen, pleeeease”,she prayed.
Just then she heard footsteps coming towards the toilet. Someone knocked.
“Is everything alright in there, Abbie?”, Fred asked.
She had to think fast. “Ermm, not too fine at the moment. Just ermm, a little vomiting, I think I might have eaten something unwholesome in the morning. Don’t worry. Its not that bad, I’ll be fine.”

Abena could have sworn that she heard the unflushable piece of toilet laugh at her lie. How she wished there was a scrubbing brush in the toilet to break it into smaller pieces. There was none, probably because that toilet was hardly used.
“Okay, but I’m here, please let me in so I could help. My mom’s a doctor, you know”,Fred said concerned.

Abena was desperate now. She would try for the last time. If it doesn’t work, she would ask Fred to bring her a bucket of water. The problem with the alternative is that everybody would begin to surmise whats up if they should see Fred carry a bucket of water to the visitors washroom.
She flushed again, it didn’t work and she asked Fred for a bucketful of H2O. With anger and showing the middle finger to the defiant piece of sh*t, she emptied the bucket into the toilet bowl. Everything in the bowl rose up turbulently and even more turbulently disappeared.
“Some sh*t just wont go away till you do something drastic”,she thought, sighing heavily.

YOU CALLED HER A WITCH – a mothers day special

YOU CALLED HER A WITCH- a mothers day special
Jonathan Mensah- February, 2012
(Edited May,2018)

Photo credit: Foreverblackeffusion

You know you actually made her feet swell?
You made the sweetest things taste like a piece of hell in her mouth.
You made her sleep like a log because it was hard for her to sleep in the position she wanted.
Yet, you called her a witch.

I was there when the nurses told her to shut up and that she wasn’t the first to give birth and definitely won’t be the last.
She almost slipped that day at the hospital, guess where she held first? She held her protruding belly to keep you safe. I don’t want to go to the delivery room. Her screams of pain are still too vivid in my memory. O I shudder to even think about it.
All these, but you still called her a witch.

Do you know how many parties she missed?
Do you know how many invitations she turned down because her shoes just won’t fit?
She missed her best friend’s wedding because of you and your killer kicks.
You made her once firm breasts fall like the 6:30!
Just because of your insatiable appetite for breast milk-you were always thirsty.
You competed with your dad for the mammary glands and you won.
The poor man had to make do with droopy flaps the rest of his life.
Still, you had the guts to call her a witch?

Do you know how many sleepless nights she had?
How many times she prayed when you were taken ill?
Yet all you did was to cry and pee and poo and cry and pee and poo and cry some more, pee a lot more and poo even more.
It got to a time she couldn’t tell the difference between your pee and your poo; she just cleaned you with a heart as soft as silk.
I still cannot believe you called her a witch.

She shielded you from your dad’s anger.
She pleaded on your behalf when you got into trouble at school. Do you remember when that bully tried to hit you? She rose to your defense like a lioness protecting her cub. The bully never touched you anymore. He ran at the mere sight of you. It was your mother that did it.
Yet, you opened that mouth of yours to call her a witch.

You swore her food was the tastiest. You swore her drinks were the most refreshing.
You swore her hugs were the tightest. You swore her smiles were the truest.
When you saw her, you saw discipline, you saw virtue, and you saw hardwork.
So what changed?
Is it the wrinkles that have grown on her face and skin?
Or the few teeth she has lost that scare you?
Or is it the fact that she cannot stand straight anymore?
Maybe her eyes look gloomy now, like they have no life in them but trust me when I say the gloom in her eyes hasn’t caused her to change the way she sees you.
She still sees you as her precious baby.

Of course she now acts a bit strange.
She cannot remember her own name very well, how much more yours?
However, she’s still the same woman who smiled and said, “I have a child. I have a baby. Look, here’s my baby!”
She’s still that same woman.

Maybe today you see her differently but her love for you is everlasting.
Even when you threw her out of your house, the love never changed.
Even when you dodged her at school because you were ashamed of her dressing, she still loved you.
Even when you refused to eat her food because you were in a hurry, she was sad but her love did not cease.

You called her a witch. You regret it but too bad you realized it when she was lying in a casket!

“David,I’m pregnant”-Bathsheba (Short drama)

When Bathsheba told David she was pregnant. (A short drama)

David: You are such a deceitful treat. You planned this all along, didn’t you? You’re trying to hold me in your entangling mist. I am a king and that makes me a target. How can you get pregnant so fast? How do you convince me that it’s not your kind of ploy?

Bathsheba: O David my king. You accuse me wrongly. How and why would I lie that your baby has held up my monthly bleeding? Have you forgotten the day I begged that you don’t enter my loins? That you don’t bring disgrace to me and to Uriah my husband and your faithful warrior? While he was out there in the wild, defending your territory, you were here, plundering his.

David: I plundered nothing! It was a mistake! This should not have happened. What doubt doesn’t linger in my mind, that your claim is false? And that this child doesn’t belong to someone else?

Bathsheba: Insult me not my king! My pain is already immense. I am crushing already under this pain and guilt I’m suffering. You can accuse me of everything but not of this. It is yours my king and I know in your heart, you know it too.

David: It is not!

Bathsheba: The God of Israel who you worship bears me witness. I could swear on this very throne you so comfortably sit on. I could swear on the day you slew the giant on the battlefield as a boy. My king, this child I carry, is your own flesh and blood. My only mistake was to bath at that hour you were walking on the roof of your palace. I guess it is my curse. It is my very name- Bath-sheba. My name is my curse. My beauty is my curse. The suppleness of the mountains and valleys and ranges of my body twisted your senses and led you on. But..but…remember when you sent for me, I had no hand in it. When I walked into your palace, I had no hand in it. When you led me to your bed, I tried to tell you to stop. When you started undressing me and started…..

David: Enough! Please don’t remind me. I know very well what happened that day. Gosh! What have I become? I led my sheep through the wilderness and not one of them was hurt
Now look at me-i leave my sheep, my soldiers at the mercy of whichever-ites we are fighting now. Which -ites are we fighting now sef? Is it the Amalekites or Jebusites? I cannot even tell. Now I have another problem on my hands. I have to do something.

Bathsheba: My lord, whatever you do (kneels), let no harm come to me your servant and my unborn child I plead. I pray you, let not my name be disgraced. Let me not be used as a ‘hit and run’ statistic.

David: What is a hit and run?

Bathsheba: My king, you do not understand but those reading do. If you know you know.

David: Listen woman, get up. Go home. There is always a way. I remember the day the bear came for my lamb, I found a way to get it back. I am King! I would find a way. I would find a way. Go home, I know what to do.

“I’M TIRED OF BEING A POTENTIAL”, Ghana cries.

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This March, Ghana turns 61. It’s been sixty one years since Dr. Kwame Nkrumah declared that the struggle for independence was over and that we were ready to hold the reins of our destiny. How time flies! We have come quite a long way as a people and as i sit to ponder over this nation i cherish so much, i ask myself what it means to be Ghanaian. I ask myself if we are where we were meant to be as a people. I was certain about the first question but i sadly wasn’t so sure of the latter.

What makes us Ghanaian? How do i answer that question? I remembered a video i watched that came from a certain supposed affluent country in Africa. In the video, there was this huge and long truck carrying what appeared to be a fruit juice in transparent bottles, stacked up to the very top of vehicle. I saw at the beginning, a group of young men stealing the juice from the back of the truck as it was stuck in very slow moving traffic. Within seconds, the theft had graduated into a whole community thing. People from the neighbourhood without shame just ran to the side of the road and stole as much juice as they could carry, smiling as the went back to their homes. This happened in  broad daylight and the community conspired to steal from the moving truck without conscience. They continued to steal till the vehicle got out of the traffic. I was bewildered! I was awed! Though Ghana is far from being a perfect country, all i could think in my mind was, “This would never happen in Ghana”. I may not have said who a Ghanaian was by this example, but i knew who a Ghanaian wasn’t.

In my life as a Ghanaian, i have come to meet people from all over the country, from the north to the south, east to the west. I have had the opportunity to live in other parts of the country and i could beat my chest and say, there isn’t much difference between us, no matter the ethnic group or religion. It’s almost like once you have the tag ‘Ghanaian’, you have a certain calmness and grace about you. I have heard stories of people from other countries who said they could easily tell Ghanaians from citizens of other countries because of certain peculiarities we share as a people. This is a country that Christians and Muslims stand side by side, people from different ethnicities mingle and that is something we cannot brush aside. It is something we have to deepen and make stronger as the years go by.

Am i proud of my country? Yes! Would i want to be Ghanaian in my next life? Yes! But is Ghana where she’s supposed to be at? That’s where i would slightly look down and say, “No, i don’t think so”. From the time i could read and understand English, there has been one phrase i have probably heard more than any other in the news items on radio and television- “Ghana is a potential……”
First, there’s nothing wrong with being a ‘potential’ but it becomes worrying when that potential remains a potential over several years. It’s like a pregnant woman carrying a baby. That pregnant woman is a potential mother and everyone expects that that baby would at a point, come out! In that case, the mother is no more a potential mother, but a mother. When after the due date the child is not coming, it means something is wrong either with the mother or the baby or both. Ghana has been called a potential in many many things, but if for sixty one years we still remain a potential, there is obviously something wrong with or in Ghana.

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I believe if Ghana was human, she would cry out that she was fed up with that label. How many times haven’t i heard when i was growing up that Ghana had a huge tourism potential? I cannot count. We pride ourselves of being hospitable people. Being hospitable is a good thing but that is not the only thing tourists are looking for. You cannot have tourism with badly managed tour sites. Sites where sometimes tourists get there and they are told the tour guides have gone to farm? Are we supposed to be taken seriously? I remember my visit to the Kakum National Park. Awesome awesome place! A park that could rival any other park in any other part of the world, but have you seen the road that leads there? It’s so glaringly bad! We cannot see? That this road needs urgent fixing? I don’t get it! We are blessed with a shoreline. Exquisite beaches and all that, what do we do with them? We fill the beaches with filth! Potential tourism destination? Probably when we hear ‘potential’, we feel it is bound to happen by itself. It doesn’t work that way.

We ought to be proactive as a people. For a country that prides itself as the first sub-Saharan country to gain independence, we need to lead! We need to show the way. At this point in our lives, we should not be heavily depending on legacies of the first president. We should have built on it! That is what progress is about- building on what is there. However, not only are we dependent on post-colonial legacies, we have left them in ruins. Look at the Tema motor way that was constructed by Dr. Nkrumah. I used it a few days ago and on the entire stretch from Accra to Tema, there was no single street light-not a single one. The potholes were scary and many and this is a road that has toll booths that collects money every day and night from the populace. The accidents and lives that have been claimed on that road, let’s not even talk about it. So now people pay tolls to go and try their luck on a death trap road? You pay a toll to go see if you would die or not? You see we would remain a potential if we don’t find ways to solve our problems!

It’s easy to say Ghana is a potential bread basket for our sub-region. It’s very easy to make that claim. Do we just pay lip service to it? I was in Class 6 when my teacher told me that over 50% of Ghanaians were farmers. Really? Do we know the amount of rice that is imported into this country a year? We import over 500million dollars worth of rice into this country per year. And recently, there have been ridiculous importations like tomatoes and onions from countries closer to the Sahara than we are. Is our country that arid? No! It is our commitment to agriculture that is arid. It’s dry and just lip service. Google ‘Land of Chocolate’ and guess which country you would see…..Switzerland. Now tell me how many cocoa trees there are in Switzerland-probably zero. If you don’t own what you have, other’s would own it for you! Ghana together with Cote D’Ivoire produce 60% of the entire world’s cocoa. So how possibly are we still price takers? I have seen with my own eyes, cocoa farmers living in abject poverty. These farmers get just 5% of all the proceeds on cocoa products on the world markets. Where does the 95% go to? Your guess is as good as mine. In 2007 Malaysia came for oil palm seeds from Ghana. Ten years later, they are the second largest producer of oil palm with over 20million metric tonnes produced in 2017. In 2015, they generated 16.1billion USD from palm alone…something they came to take from here. We produced just 520 thousand metrix tonnes in 2017. See the difference…520,000 to 20million metric tonnes. It is not the potential, it is what you do with it. Didn’t we have the potential to be the top producers? We did!

Our politicians must change. We must start demanding more from them as a people. I find it sad when i hear NPP and NDC arguing over who had a better Credit Rating when they were in charge of the governance. Credit Rating is simply how viable you are as a borrower country in the eyes of the lender. What’s there to be proud about in being a borrower? It’s a mindset that is going to put stress on future generations. Our debt stock stands at 138billion cedis. That is about 30billion dollars using the average rate of exchange. That is stress! We must move away from the borrower’s mindset. Going cup in hand makes you a slave, they would tell you what to do and at the end, indirectly take everything back while you pay the debt with interest.

Move along the streets of Accra Central and you would find hundreds of thousands of people, both young and old, selling whatever they can find. Provision shops line every street. It makes me wonder what impact these petty selling makes on the economy of the country. How much profit can you make when you import something and sell for small profit? When would you be able to expand and employ others? It’s the same money that is circulating within the economy. To expand an economy, we have to produce! All these Asian economic tigers realised that they had to produce in order to grow. We cannot continue import and import, building the economies of other countries while we wait for miracles to happen in our own.

We are a beautiful people, no doubt. We are a great nation, no doubt but we cannot rest on our oars. The world is moving ahead so fast and we should not be left behind. Let’s do the right thing in our own small way. Why would you drink a sachet of water and throw it on the ground? A country that cannot manage something as basic as waste? What then can we manage? Gold? Oil? Why would you go to work at 10am instead of 8am just because it’s for the state? Why would you blatantly disregard road traffic regulations? Why would you take a bribe before you do something the state pays you to do? Pardon my Twi but there’s a song that says ‘S3 )man b3 y3 yie aa,efiri me ni wo’. To wit, the development of a country depends on you and me. No one would do it for us. Ghana is crying because her people are not being Ghanaian enough. Ghana is crying because she’s tired of being called a potential. Ghana wants to achieve. Ghana has to achieve!

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Education in Finland

Education in Finland

I have heard good things about the educational system in Finland. I watched a short documentary on it and what i found out just blew me away. Decades ago,their educational system was so bad, their students could just not compete with students from other countries. They therefore brought on some ideas:

-No homework:Students in Finland do very little or no homework at all. If there ever is,it would take 10minutes tops.

-Less than 20 hours of school a week:They have just 4 hours of school a day and this includes a one hour lunch break. One school principal said, if students study too long, their brains would simply stop learning.They have the shortest school day and school year in the Western world.

-The average student speaks two or three foreign languages fluently aside their national language.

-No multiple choice exams.

-No standardised tests: They believe every child is different. It would therefore be unfair to grade all students using one standard paper. They believe if you teach students just to pass standardised tests eg. BECE, you have not taught them anything.

(Now this is what hit me so hard)
-All schools in Finland are equal! : Parents don’t care which school their children go to because everything School A has,School B has also. It’s illegal to create a school and make students pay tuition. There are therefore no private schools there. This means politicians and rich people make sure the schools are always well resourced because their children go there.

Does that remind you of the Ghanaian situation? Our politicians don’t give a damn about our public schools because their children go to the ‘big big’ schools in Ghana or abroad because they can afford it. I doubt if the children of the Minister of Education or GES boss attend any of our public schools. How on earth do you expect them to care enough?

-When building the curriculum, students play a vital role, telling the curriculum builders what they want to learn.

-The main aim of teachers in Finland is that the student should be happy….HAPPY…that’s it.

These few ideas they put in place has made Finnish education a wonder in the world. You might want to ask, how is such a ‘relaxed’ educational system churning out the best students in the world?

A student in Ghana would go to school at 7am,close at 3pm, do extra classes till 5pm, comes home to do a tonne of homework and go for weekend extra classes. When school vacates and they’re supposed to be enjoying the holidays, they are made to go for vacation classes. All these are geared towards passing BECE or WASSCE. Something must change.

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..the day Valentine’s day went sour…

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Today is the 10th anniversary of one of the most heartbreaking Valentine love stories of our time. It happened when we were in senior high school, and with the permission of the ‘victim’, i would try to recollect it…..King James Version style.

Valentine 1:1 And as the sun went down, Oddoye was siteth in the dormitory awaiting good news from the junior he had sent.
2 And it came to pass that the junior brought him good tidings from Kirsten. She had agreeth to meet at the venue he had proposed.
3 Earlier that day, the gifted artist Jonathan had draweth on a postcard and had it delivereth to the damsel.
4 As Oddoye dressed in fine linen, he sprayeth a great deal of perfume from the canal towns of the Mediterranean. As he walked to the venue, he was full of joy, expectant of a great wave of love.
5 He had managed from the income that his father gaveth him to take care of himself on campus, to buy beautiful things for Kirsten.
6 There was a teddy bear from Egypt, a rose flower from the gardens of Gethsemane, chocolate from Tetteh Quarshie’s backyard, wine from the oasis of the Sahara, a valentine card made from the highest quality pyparus.
7 And when he set eyes on Kirsten, he did see that all was not right. And he asked,”Why has thou a sullen look on thy face? Did thou not like my gifts?”
8 But Kirsten answered,” Why doest that? How does thou see me?” And Oddoye was confused. He was in a relationship with the damsel. At least, that’s what he thought.
9 And then Kirsten opened the bag that containeth the gifts. She took out the teddy bear. She threw it bamm at Oddoye.

10 But Oddoye understandeth it not. He felt his heart thump. He wanted to say something, but the words came out not.
11 Then Kirsten taketh out the chocolate, and that also, she did throw.
And the valentine card and rose flower and that she also did throw at him.
12 When she taketh out the wine, she said to herself, “If i throwest this wine at him too, this boy would die and his blood would be on my head”.
13 So she restraineth herself, and left the bag there, walking away from Oddoye and asking, “What does thou take me for?”
14 As it was in those days, students did not sleep early on Valentines day and therefore some noticed what was going on behind the classroom.
15 Oddoye,as confused as he was,picketh up all his rudely returned gifts and put them back in the bag. The heavens bore him witness that he was confused.
16 At that time,kokonsa students who neared the scene tried to ask him what was going on but he minded nobody. All he wanted, was to show some love for his Ethiopian girlfriend.
17 He walked back to the boys dormitory dejected and with rumours spreading already of the yawa that had just occurred, it was a very sad distin.
18 At that same time Jonathan Mensah and Obed Bortey,sworn friends of Oddoye were violently awoken from their sleep by two other friends; Dela Dumenu and Ebenezer Kermah.
19 As the four friends walked to Oddoye’s dormitory, they saw that indeed, word had gone round the entire school of the Valentine heartbreak.
20 Beloved,if that is how fast the Word of God spreads,like we would all go to Heaven.
21 As his friends sacked all the juniors out of the dormitory, Oddoye began to recollect exactly what happened behind the classroom block to his friends and the other seniors. Tears flowed freely from his eyes.
22 But Jonathan said, “Oddoye don’t cry, for these things happen so that the glory of God can be seen”. You can say he didn’t know what he was saying. He had never been hit by a teddy bear.

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Why dem cane the prince – A true story(pidgin version)

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(photo insert is not the real photo of Prince Kyei)

My mind check like computer oo. I dey n)) then  i dey kai chaw things e happen from ma nursery time to ma primary all. I dey kai then time me then ma paddy Henry crash two teachers dema fight for the headie in office inside. I dey kai some girl dem dey call am Joyce Dinson. This girl bost Bernice Nyarko in money wey e talk e bi me abost the money. But them catch am later. I saa nso dey kai ma first and last fight with Prosper Ketey in class four. Charley, more time, ago talk about all them stuff but today, i wan focus on the way dem lash ma paddy Prince Kyei for class cos he literally say sh*t for class.

Na we dey class 5 for Future Graduates Institute, wey we get some visiting teachers from England. Abi you know, dem menes dem come aa, na class dey jom cos of the gifts and nibis dem dey give we for answering dema questions. Dem dey give we stickers, then pencils then dem things all. Dem  teach we poems then  things. One poem saf dey go like: “Kookaburra sits in the old grand tree,merry merry kind of the bush is he. Laugh kookaburra,laugh kookaburra, gay your life must be.” Make i shun all this kiddie nibis before boys start dey diss me for dema head inside.

Yeah,so the white woman come wanna class e come do dictation. You know that time na i be shark! I sure say i score all. No be ma fault,abi you know, na boys get head! Na wanna class teacher dey there, e dey mind in own business. E do like e no we see sef. As the white woman dey write the words for the board top so say we go see wanna mistakes, Prince Kyei, (e dey front seat) see say e make some small mistake for the dictation inside wey e talk “O shit”.

Charley! There n)) the white woman bore gidigidi, she dey shout shout then things wey e dey point Prince Kyei dey talk say,” Look at what he said in front of me. Look at what he said in front of me!” Na we all we freeze. ‘O shit’ k3k3? Na ‘o shit’ wey almost every bro dey talk by heart wey this woman, you bore laidat?

I see say wanna class teacher saf e conf briefly. E no know how he go act saf. Wey this white woman too charley,she dey insist on the ‘Look at what he said in front of me’. I conclude for ma head inside say, this be clear case of misunderstanding. The mind wey the boy take say that thing nu, e no be the same wey the woman too take am. The woman dey think say the kiddie dey diss am or somtn.

There n))) life make slow motion give me wey i dey remember all then times we dey talk ‘o shit’ wey problem no come top. Like say you go buy ice cream wey e fall don, what you go talk? E no be ‘o shit’ you go talk? Hmm, Mr. Odoi tinup wey e take cane. He whip Prince like the boy go commit murder la. As he dey whip  too, e dey talk say,”How can you say that in front of your teacher? (lash)”.
O na i bore gidigidi. I sure say Prince talk then thing like a thousand times in front of wanna class teacher. Why say all those times, wanna teacher no do am anything? But cos of obroni dey complain so he for react?

As Prince go tap down,charley,the boy start dey cry gidigidi. I make sad. The whole class make l333m charley. Na i be kiddie but na i dey feel say wanna teacher for take in time explain give the woman say the boy no mean am as an insult. We for no react just cos some bro dey find something offensive. Or he fit call Prince come outside then educate am say dem words no good,so he for apologise to the white woman,e no be so?
Anytime i kai that sh*t,sorry i mean anytime i kai that event, then i bore. I dey wish say na we for handle am differently. Prince Kyei, sorry okay?

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