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Nsempiisms

 

 

 

 

Nsempiisms

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nana Awere Damoah

SEBITICALLY SPEAKING

 

Copyright 2016 © Nana Awere Damoah

 

 

All Rights Reserved

 

No part of this book may be reproduced in any form by photocopying or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage in a retrieval system, without the written permission of both the copyright owner and the publisher of this book.

 

 

 

Author’s Contact: Nana Awere Damoah

Email: [email protected]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also by Nana Awere Damoah

 

I SPEAK OF GHANA

TALES FROM DIFFERENT TAILS

THROUGH THE GATES OF THOUGHT

EXCURSIONS IN MY MIND

SEBITICALLY SPEAKING

 

Nana Awere Damoah was born in Accra, Ghana. He holds a Master’s degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Nottingham, UK, and a Bachelors in Chemical Engineering from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, (KNUST), Kumasi, Ghana. Nana spent all his secondary or high school years at Ghana National College, Cape Coast, Ghana and speaks fondly of growing up in the suburb of Kotobabi in the Ghanaian capital, where he started his education at the local Providence Preparatory School.

 

A British Council Chevening alumnus, Nana works with PZ Wilmar in Lagos, Nigeria. He is an associate of Joyful Way Incorporated, a Christian Music Ministry in Ghana, where he was the group’s National President from 2002 to 2004.

 

Nana started writing seriously in 1993 when he was in the sixth form and has had a number of his short stories published in the Mirror and the Spectator. In 1997, he won the first prize in the Step Magazine National Story Writing Competition. His writing has appeared in StoryTime ezine, Legon Business Journal, Sentinel Nigeria Magazine and the anthology African Roar (StoryTime Publishing, 2010).

 

He is the author of five other books and has also contributed to two anthologies. He keeps two personal blogs at www.nanadamoah.com and www.nanaaweredamoah.wordpress.com.

 

He is married to Vivian. The couple and their children, Nana Kwame Bassanyin, Nana Yaw Appiah, and Maame Esi Akoah, are based in Tema, Ghana.

 

Dribbling Without Scoring

 

26 March 2016

 

In our factory in Nigeria, which we built from the ground (starting in 2011 and part of it beginning operations in 2013), there was water hydrant line that ran along the main drainage as one accessed the factory from the pedestrian entrance. This pipeline used to make me angry because the contractors couldn’t construct it in a straight manner. It was so crooked that I blurted out once whether the contractor couldn’t get his artisans to use plumb lines. My colleague Femi reminded me that this was how straight the artisans could get the pipeline done with the plumb line!

 

When we were growing up in Kotobabi, our football practice consisted of playing socks-balls on small fields, with the goals marked by two stones of each side, popularly called “small poles”. Most of the playing was focused on dribbling and defending. Someone has theorised that this could be one of the reasons why we have historically produced great midfielders and defenders, rather than strikers. We didn’t practise a lot with proper goalposts and scoring in those standard post dimensions.

 

Effort is important to the result but the finishing is what makes the effort meaningful. Dribbling is meaningless if it doesn’t result in goals.

 

In the installation of the packing lines in our factory, I observed the attention to finishing that the European engineers exhibited. With their plumb lines in hand, they set the machines and conveyors in place. Similar tools, different results. A clearly different mindset in respect of the significance of finishing.

 

Today, my mind went to these situations as I reflected on how many of the stories we have heard, read or spoken about haven’t been followed up to logical conclusions. How many of the issues we have in Ghana are left hanging, unattended, unresolved and swept under the conveyor belt bringing the next juicy story. That explains why our problems never go away, why our national sores always fester and why our issues appear familiar, all the time.

 

We love to partake in the marathon of national building but not necessarily to finish the race. Activity without progress.

 

We have to look to our finishing.

 

Nsempiisms. My mouth has fallen.

If Only They Had Been Here

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13 March 2016

 

There was this guy (let’s call him Akwasi Mainoo) in a church who, after every service and as the pastor stood outside the main door greeting the church members, would go up to the pastor and say “Well done, Osofo, you really gave it to them today!” He was a regular at church and quite prompt too.

 

Every message was for someone else but him and this worried Osofo greatly. He wondered when this guy would ever realise that the sermon and message was for him too.

 

One day, there was a heavy storm and when Osofo came into the auditorium from his office, only one person had managed to come to church. Our regular, prompt, ‘you really gave it to them’ friend, Akwasi.

Osofo realised that this was the perfect occasion to preach a special message only for Akwasi. Osofo went ahead and did a full service, right from worship time, praise and offertory, and he preached with vigour.

After service, he went forth and shook hands with Akwasi. Akwasi embraced Osofo, with tears in his eyes and said: “Osofo, what a great message you preached today! If only they had been here…”

 

I wrote about each of us, especially this year, deciding not to be conveyor belts for spurious stories that will be circulated on social media; political bullets which will be intended to spread mischief. When I posted it on Facebook, I saw how many people tagged others to ‘come and mend’ their ways. Only a few reflected to say how the message would change them, a sort of internal reflection.

 

In the midst of the spelling disaster in the Independence Day 2016 brochures, there have been lots of sharing of posts and documents especially from the ruling party which have issued with spelling and grammar. Many of them have been written by internet foot-soldiers. The impression being that it is with only foot-soldiers from the NDC who are at fault.

 

As with the issues regarding drugs and narcotics in Ghana, it helps when we all realise, and accept, that the canker does not wear party colours. Same with the spelling epidemic we are experiencing in Ghana. When it comes to atrocious spelling and grammar as used by foot-soldiers, one cannot distinguish between the otwe and adowa.

 

The curative message is for all of us to take. We are all here, and we need to listen for ourselves. No ‘if only they have been here’ attitude, please. Don’t be like Akwasi.

 

 

Nsempiisms. My mouth has fallen.

The Sorry Spelling Saga

 

11 March 2016

 

After finishing 6th form in mid-1993, I was invited to help with vacation classes for the last batch of ‘O’ Level students at the secondary school in my holy village of Wasa Akropong, which I did from August till October. I thereafter worked through the school authorities to present my name to the National Service Secretariat and so I was posted officially to the school for my national service which I did from November, 1993 till December, 1994, teaching Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics and Core Science, for mainly the new senior secondary school streams. Before this time, I had spent some time teaching, during vacations around 1990 – 1992, at the middle school opposite our house at the Low Cost Estate, now called Bassanyin LA Junior High School, where my late uncle was the Head teacher. His nickname was ‘Therefore’.

 

On the matter of marking of exams scripts and general assignments, one of the first tips the regular teachers gave us during National Service was this: ‘mark the idea and not the grammar’. Their argument was that if one tried to focus on the grammar, the teacher wouldn’t consider the answers at all.

 

I have never been a fan of the new educational stream, mainly from the position that we expected too much from the middle schools which were upgraded to Junior Secondary Schools and which were expected do the same jobs that established secondary schools were doing between Forms 1 and 3. They may have the same contours but the cat and the tiger cannot perform the same jobs. Between Forms 1 and 3 in the old system, some fundamental issues not sorted out during preparatory and middle schools were straightened, as students were exposed also to various subjects and the teachers had time to groom and nurture. Forget for now my candid view that grammar and syntax styles are built mainly during preparatory school. As I argued in Sebitically Speaking, what we have created is a tale of two systems: where those who can afford it take their children to good schools which are able to provide better, above average, tutelage and the larger, regular system which is fed with government handout of educational repast, which is less than average.

 

This experience of mine is over twenty years old and the grammatical slide has continued, with more acceleration. The lack of reading skills, the evolution of technology and predictive text, the general lack of attention to details and excellence, the propensity to say ‘English is not our language’, the acceptance of shorthand in general texting…all these have conspired to bring us to the point where our national publications now read like the scripts I used to mark many years ago in Wasa.

 

This malaise has even affected official textbooks used by pupils and students. Full of grammatical errors. The GTV we knew, the GTV parents used to tell us to watch to learn English, is no more. Daily Graphic daily gives us grammatical and spelling bullets. Journalists are no longer benchmarks for great presentation and language. I won’t attempt to write about news portals, which sometimes read as if the articles were written in Twi and Google translate used to get the English versions.

 

My father was educated only to Middle School Leaving Certificate Level. My mum just about the same. But my parents read. My father nurtured in me the love of magazines, newspapers and books. I got from him the practice of walking to buy The Mirror every weekend and we would spend time reading it together. I caught him reading and I caught the bug. When my mum visits us today in Tema, I walk into her room to greet her every morning and to ask how she is doing. I always find her reading her Bible. My parents taught me about reading and they inspired in me the desire to be more learned than they ever were. Today, how many children see their parents reading anything apart from their text messages, WhatsApp and Facebook messages? How do we expect to raise reading children when the parents don’t read?

 

The effluent has hit the fan and the aroma has spread into our nostrils. Enjoy the nunu scent.

 

Nsempiisms. My mouth has fallen.

Saaaaaarrrrrdine!

 

6 March 2016

 

Growing up in Kotobabi, we used to walk to Abavanna Junction in the morning just to wait and shout “saaaardine!” when construction workers were driven past on their way to their sites, parked in the bucket of tipper trucks. This was many, many years ago when one could find golden fish in the Alajo gutter.

 

No one should fight for journalists re: how they literally climbed up to the ultra-modern vehicle they used to cover today’s event at a point.

 

The journalists have demonstrated many times that they love how they are treated. In my day job, there is a basic rule that you can refuse to work on the grounds of unsafe working environment or absence/non-provision of appropriate personal protective equipment. No one forced them up that mobile platform.

You get what you tolerate.

 

A good Independence Day event. Glad I could watch it online.

 

Past lunchtime here in Nigeria. Let me go find some saaaaaardine to face my eba.

 

Nsempiisms. My mouth has fallen.

[* Ghana @59 *]

 

6 March 2016

 

Ghana is 59
Should I rant
Or dance
Sikaman is 59
Should I pray
Or play
At 59 I ask
Ama Ghana
Which is
Brighter –
Your future
Or your past
Ghana is 59
Should I hope
Or cope
My nation is 59
May God make
Ghana great
And strong

All Celebretey be Celebretey

 

2 March 2016

 

In the wake of the exploits chalked by Abraham Attah of “Beasts of No Nation” fame, for which we are all proud, there have been innuendos cast at so-called local stars and statements made to the effect that Abraham is an example of a real celebrity. A friend of mine has categorically stated, perhaps sebitically, that there is only one celebrity in Ghana. No prize for who his pick was.

 

This feeds into the oft-debated question of who really a celebrity is. The dictionary definition is that such a person is well-known or famous. The follow-up question is within what domain or space should the person be known to qualify as a celebrity?

 

That second question is my main focus. Does Abraham qualify to be a celebrity only because he went to Hollywood? Does that stage give him more clout than a Ghanaian stage? Is the domain called Ghana enough to make someone a celebrity because he is famous in Ghana? Do we need external validation to confirm internal qualifications?

 

My answer is that we have to create our own stages such that our stars can shine and be celebrated as such. At home. Abraham is no more a celebrity than Wiyaala or Amakye Dede or Yvonne Nelson is. Until we come to that point where we don’t demote the priest who used to serve our needs to junk status just because a new priest has come to town, all our priests will skip town. Indeed, in many ways, we have spread this attitude across various facets of our social construct. We used to call a footballer a “professional” only when he played overseas. Note that I didn’t say “abroad”. It means that playing in Togo didn’t count!

 

We don’t need to dim the lights of our home-based stars for Attah’s light to shine. Let’s celebrate all we have: either locally celebrated or externally-eulogised.

 

Nsempiisms. My mouth has fallen.

Emergency Response Absence

 

18 February 2016

 

Joy FM NewsNight is examining emergency preparedness and response in the aftermath of the Kintampo accident.

 

See, unless we start speaking with bluntness about the state of affairs in our nation, we won’t improve.

 

For some of us who travel across Africa and not just across West Africa, it is clear how far we are being left behind as a nation by others who a few years ago couldn’t hold a torch to us. Our politicians continue to blow grammar in praising their abilities to throw crumbs our way, when they are in power, and join us to lament the mess they have created for us as a nation, when they are out of power. The only people who remain with the mess at all times are you and I, the ordinary people.

 

There is zilch emergency response in Sikaman. The best health policy is the grace of God and if you don’t have grace and money, you will die faster than the rate at which sim card prices fell.

 

Our leaders continue to praise themselves. The slide downwards continues. The people look on, afraid to talk. Content to be in political camps.

 

Long live the farce.

 

Nsempiisms. My mouth has fallen.

Do Your Kids Catch You Reading?

 

14 February 2016

 

Yesterday (13 February 2016) we entered the SyTris bookshop near A&C Mall for the book reading by Kofi Akpabli and I organised by Writers Project of Ghana, my children exclaimed “Wow! So many books to choose from, we don’t know which one to choose!” Each of them picked books, with NK picking a condensed edition of a book series he had been borrowing from his friend next door.

 

They set me back by some good Ghana cedis when we left after the book reading but my heart was warm, knowing that my wife and I had succeeded in making our charges excited about books and reading.

 

You complain that Ghanaians don’t read. Are you reading yourself? Do you children catch you reading? When was the last time you read any book apart from the Bible you read in church?

 

A lady who attended said her sister thought it was odd for her to set off from home to go for a book reading event. A book reading? Her sister promised her she would be the odd Ghanaian out of the lot, assuring her that she would find only expatriates at the event. She took pictures to prove her sister wrong and was glad to observe that she wasn’t odd after all.

 

We had many in the audience who were experiencing their first public book reading outside the classroom. For Kofi and I, this was our third book reading in 3 months. We are on course on our agenda to make reading for pleasure hip again. Poco a poco.

 

Get caught reading.

 

Nsempiisms. My mouth has fallen.

Don’t Be a Conveyor Belt

 

3 February 2016

 

One day a guy posted a picture of a plane using a bad and unconventional ladder for passengers to alight because the regular ladder was not available. It was shared with the tag “In Mahama’s International Airport”, or something to that effect, insinuating that it occurred at Kumasi airport. I immediately told the guy the plane looked like an Aero Contractor plane (the picture only showed the first two letters of the logo) and that Aero doesn’t fly to Kumasi. The guy told me he hoped I was right. I said there was no hope in that; just plain analysis. I later saw the same picture on a Nigerian site that it happened in Nigeria. Then a video surfaced which made it clear it was an Aero plane. I told the guy – he said he hoped I was right. I gave up.

 

This year a lot of nonsense and falsehood will be shared by all politicos from all parties, sebitically speaking. On air, on line, in print, by phone, by any means possible. Just to get mileage from the mischief.

 

Don’t be a conveyer belt.

 

Nsempiisms. My mouth has fallen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gossiping Gone High-Tech

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25 January 2016

 

What is a gossip’s best attribute? I will tell you: The ability to propagate and spread information he or she hasn’t even verified.

 

Are you a gossip? I am sure you said ‘No way!’

 

But we have many gossips on Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp. Yes, you and I. We share news items which sound and read more fictional than Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves. We don’t pause to crosscheck. We only want to be the first to say ‘Ei! Have you heard?’

 

And when this gossipy tendency is mixed with gullibility and is thrown into the political arena, you have a tool more dangerous than an atomic bomb.

 

Social media has made gossiping so easy. This election year, gossiping will reach sizzling heights.

 

I have said that in election years, everyone will attempt to buy your mind for a pesewa. The response? Take every news item or post with a container of vacuum salt. Analyse. Doubt. Critique. Use your mind.

 

Think before you forward.

 

Hello, my name is NAD, I am a high-tech gossip but I am working on early retirement from active service.

 

Nsempiisms. My mouth has fallen.

 

Cry Your Own Cry

 

21 January 2016

 

When an issue breaks, I usually prefer that the opposition doesn’t pick it as an issue and run with it on behalf of citizens. You know why? Because once it becomes an issue between politicians, it becomes a game of football, a friendly match between politicians who are opponents in public and friends in private; the issue takes the form of the ball to be kicked about only on the field of play without any intention of scoring goals that count to the benefit of the citizens.

 

When politicians challenge each other, they are on a familiar terrain. They are comfortable. They understand their language. They have a lot of rehearsed responses and a long list of dropdown excuses. They automatically go into the mode of ‘you did it too; but only worse that we are doing’. The same nonsense, only managed better.

 

When citizens, ordinary citizens challenge politicians; when they challenge their governments on issues, the politicians become uncomfortable. They don’t know how to fight citizens who act only in their individual and national interests.

 

Don’t expect the politician to fight your battles for you. For a politician is the one who will ask YOU to die for HIS country.

 

Cry your own cry.

 

Nsempiisms. My mouth has fallen.

 

Whose List Will You Believe?

 

5 January 2016

 

I have seen the list of 50 under 40 Ghanaian influencers and also followed the debate on whether the list and the outfit that put it together are both credible or not.

 

The debate reminds me of how we treat the list of Presidential awardees every year. Most of the time, we either focus on only a few names or tire ourselves out with arguments about the perception that most of the people on the list are friends of the ruling party and government. Which, to me, is sad.

 

I made time a couple of years ago to check out the names on one such national award list and was motivated by the stories behind the names. In our bid to bastardise, we usually miss lessons from the backroom stories.

 

Such lists are like the results of Miss Ghana or Miss Malaika: each person has a different view.

 

So this is my view: I have chosen to reflect on the names on that list. I didn’t know quite a number but for their peers to consider them worthy to be voted on means they are doing something worthwhile. I am checking their stories for some lessons and motivation.

 

We don’t celebrate one another enough.

 

Nsempiisms. My mouth has fallen.

Reggie ‘N’ Bollie

 

22 November, 2015

 

I have been following the exploits of Reggie ‘N’ Bollie in the UK X-Factor competition. The name ‘Reggie Zippie’ rang a bell but I didn’t remember Bollie’s name.

 

I just spent some time checking out their old songs.

 

I first listened to Reggie’s song ‘Virgin’. It was a popular song.

 

You remember the song ‘You May Kiss the Bride’? It was a huge hit back then. Bollie sang it.

 

Both of these songs are about 10 years ago.

 

Again, the 10,000 hour rule comes to mind. Keeping at it, working at one’s craft, 4 hours a day, taking about 10 years to hit the top.

 

Malcom Gladwell wrote about it well in ‘Outliers’.

 

In Sebitically Speaking, I wrote about the power behind the platform performance and stated that “The quality of the performance one has on the big stages of life is usually determined by the quality and quantity of preparation time spent off stage.”

 

What is it that you are working on that you feel is taking too long to be noticed? Keep at it – many examples abound. When the door of opportunity opens on a big stage, only the preparation you have diligently done will make it possible for you to own that stage and move on from there.

 

Keep dreaming. Keep working. Keep walking.

 

Nsempiisms. My mouth has fallen.

 

PS: The duo finished second in the X-factor competition.

 

A Hurricane Hits Home

 

3 November 2015

 

On November 2, 2012, I watched CNN in the evening and saw the recovery work being undertaken after Superstorm Sandy hit the US. Some areas didn’t have electricity and there were long queues for fuel at gas stations which were rationing the little they had. There were pictures of people with red gallons standing in line for hours to get fuel for heating purposes. Cars roamed the cities for gas, running out and being left behind. I saw a picture earlier that day on Facebook of residents in some cities waiting to charge their phone from the dynamo of a bicycle. Uncle Ben Dotsei Malor posted a picture of the ground floor of the UN Building in New York full of those charging phones and iPads.

 

My heart went out to the people in these cities.

 

The scenes quickly reminded me of Accra, and Lagos.

 

But these scenes were a result of a phenomenal natural disaster.

 

The similar scenes in Accra and Lagos are with us daily.

 

We are been haunted by results of our inefficiencies, our ineptitude, our mismanagement and our inability to build on what we inherited at independence, and results of a brighter past that we have supervised to turn into a black present with a bleak future ahead of it.

 

Why?

 

In the past few years, as I commuted between Lagos and Accra, I have had the opportunity to engage with some young men on the flights, sharing my long-held view that soon (and even now), my peers will be in positions of authority, running our countries and the change we desire will (or is) be ours to implement, and imbued with the determination that we don’t turn into the same leaders we berate. But every one of them has looked at me with mild bemusement mixed with amusement. Thick with disbelief at my idea that we can change the despondency we feel all around us.

 

I have listened to our political campaigns over the past few years and I heard little or no audacious plans to change the status quo, to transform our country.

 

We live in the midst of a hurricane each day. But we shouldn’t despair even though the signs on the wall don’t give hope. If we think we can do nothing, what is the use of living in Ghana working and hoping?

 

There is hope yet, but we need to take one another’s hand and step out to make our future better.

 

Here is my hand – will anyone join me?

 

My mouth has fallen. Nsempiisms.

Incubating Corruption

 

29 October, 2015

 

The rot and corruption in our society did not start when people got to national political positions.

 

It started from the preparatory school when the class prefect failed to write the name of the most talkative person in the class because the talkative was his best friend, and rather put down the name of another person who only talked sparingly and even added ‘DP’ (double punishment) against the name.

 

It started from the secondary school when the dining hall prefect could dissolve tables (that is how we described the incidence where the prefect could decide that the students in the dining hall were not enough, combine tables and take the entire food on a vacant table) and use the extra food to feed his own cronies.

 

It started when the school prefect decided not to punish an entire class because he had eyes for a pretty lass in that class. It started when in campaigning for positions (as happened in my school where voting was done for prefects), opponents could tear down posters of contestants for the benefit of a bowl of gari (grated cassava) with beans.

 

It started when that senior boy could bully the poor junior boy and take away his two tins of sardines that his dad had slaved to provide for his son.

 

It started in the university when Student Representative Council (SRC) executives used our monies to travel and chill abroad.

 

It started when we didn’t speak about the rot within our peers and lambasted our national leaders, watching on as our peers, tadpoles then, grew into mature, corrupt toads.

 

It will not cease until we start tackling it now among our peers.

 

The friend of yours who is shouting with you today against the establishment, will he or she behave differently when it is our time?

 

My mouth has fallen. Nsempiisms.

Think As You Read, Speak or Listen

 

27 October 2015

 

As writers, there are many times when we know what is engaging our minds, the words are oscillating in our minds but we want to get them out well-packaged. The time lag, between this state of reflection and the actual production of our thoughts in words that our readers can consume, could be days, weeks or even years.

 

Once a while, however, one must break this usual process of incubation to production by just pouring out just as is: jumbled. Ramblings. I call them logoligi musings, without form or structure, just like the taalia that sits atop my favorite waakye.

 

I am in one such period of flux, where thoughts rush across my mind like the presidential convoy speeding to a funeral.

 

The political silly season is once again upon us and the actors are out in force in the arena.

 

As the years go by and as we engage in more elections, we seem to retrogress and our conversations become more bizarre. And the electorate, you and I, seem not to get any wiser.

 

Nowhere is gullibility and lack of thinking, not to speak of critical listening, displayed than in the political arena and amidst politicos in Sikaman. Doing politics and being able to analyse and assess what is told you are not mutually exclusive.

 

Unfortunately, as well, instead of being a tool of enlightenment, social media has magnified this malaise. All sorts of spurious messages are forwarded and shared without reflection.

 

The young people in politics today, our peers, are even thinking less than our fathers who we complain failed the nation.

 

From now till December 2016, the battle for your mind will be fought in earnest.

 

Don’t let politics buy your mind for one pesewa.

 

Think.

 

Nsempiisms. My mouth has fallen.

 

 

Should The Palm wine Tapper Only Drink Palm wine?

 

19 October 2015

 

As I read the various thoughts and views on the supposed ‘defection’ from gospel music by Ofori Amponsah, my mind went back to one of my musings, the resultant article I am still reflecting on. It is actually a question: a Christian writer or a writer who is a Christian?

 

What is the difference? Or is there a difference?

 

I asked a few friends some months ago to share their views on this question, and the answers were varied and interesting. There was some consensus on the definitions, though:

 

A Christian writer writes about topics which are mainly derived from the Bible and seeks to provide exposition and insight to biblical truths. Such a writer would treat topics like speaking in tongue, do miracles still exist, the fruits of the Spirit, what does the Bible teach about tithing, and how to make it to heaven.

 

A writer who is a Christian, on the other hand, is not limited in his/her range of topics and expresses his or her views on social and political issues around him or her. This writer may introduce subtle notes about his faith into his write-ups.

 

The creative space is wide, deep and high enough to accommodate both types of writers.

 

Question: which of these two do you think I am? If you answer me, I may tell you later about my journey to choose which path.

 

So back to Ofori Amponsah: does he only have to be a Christian (or gospel) singer? Can he not be a singer who is a Christian? Why does a creative have to withdraw only into one subset when he decides to follow Christ? Would it be a sin if a Christian sings highlife? By the way, the last question is not right, because highlife is a vehicle and not the content. Are we saying as a people that everyone who sings highlife is a non-adherent to the faith? What, then, would we say about those, like me, who love our vintage highlife songs? Okay, don’t answer.

 

Or let’s use the expression ‘secular music’. As in the opposite of gospel music. My dictionary defines secular as ‘not pertaining to or connected with religion (opposed to sacred); for example, secular music’. Does the Christian go through secular experiences? What are the secular topics in our world? What are the secular issues? Should the Christian not speak to these topics as well?

 

It was Uncle Ebo Whyte who challenges us once at a Joyful Way camp meeting when he asked us why the group had no songs on love, for instance. He asked: “Don’t chrife boys woo girls?” We all giggled.

 

The Christian is in a space called the world, and he is exposed to the issues around him. If the Christian would affect his world, he must affect it outside the four corners of his church and the member of his faith. He must be able to speak to people both within and without the church. The topics he must speak to go beyond what we, in our limited minds, call the “issues of faith”.

 

The treatment of such a wide range of topics cannot be done only by Christian writers, by the definition above. We need writers who are Christians.

 

The songs we listen to for various reasons need all hands on deck: written, composed and sang by both gospel singers and singers who believe the gospel.

 

Creativity cannot and should not be fenced in.

 

So, to Ofori Amponsah: play as the Spirit leads you. Use your talent as you are led. Play in His key. Glorify him with your voice and song. Affect your society. Don’t let anyone limit you in what you can do for your society.

 

My mouth has fallen. Nsempiisms.

Impartial But Not Neutral

 

30 May 2015

 

When Peter Ala-Adjetey was appointed as Speaker of the 3rd Parliament under the Fourth Republic in Ghana, the then-NDC Minority in Parliament went to pay him a courtesy call. In their deliberations, they implored him to be as neutral as possible in the discharge of his duties.

 

He responded by reminding them that his leanings are known and that he used to be NPP Chairman.

“I cannot be neutral,” he admitted. “I can only be impartial.”

 

This statement by the late Speaker never left my mind and has influenced my conduct and comments on public discourse.

 

I have voted ever since I qualified to do so.

 

So I am not non-aligned. I am not neutral.

 

But I try as much as possible to be objective and impartial.

 

Thank you, Rt.Hon., for this timeless lesson.

 

Nsempiisms. My mouth has fallen.

My Daily Ghana

 

22 March, 2015

 

A Scam A Day

A Scandal A Day

Sika Die Each Day

A Letter A Day

Never A Dull Day

Of Rattling Beads

 

15 January 2015

 

 

You don’t need to tell me

About the quality of

Your faith

I can deduce that

From your actions

You don’t need to tell me

About the quality of

Your education

I can deduce that

From your words

You don’t need to tell me

About the quality of

Your upbringing

I can deduce that

From your behavior

Quality beads

Abrewa says

Do not rattle

A good thing

Opanyin says

Sells itself

You don’t need to tell me

Anything
All of who you

Really are

Shows.

 

The Double-Man Question

 

17 September 2014

 

In Ghana National, Forms 2 and 3, we had a Mathematics Teacher called Double Man, shortened as Doboo. He was tall and huge and was not disinclined to lifting students off their feet when they misbehaved. He was a gentle soul, most of the times, and loved his job. He could be driven to tears when his students could not understand what he was teaching, even after his patient tutoring.

 

One of his favourite questions, when a student was hard of learning, was “Awala, ɛben adze na ɛyɛ buɛi wom?”, meaing what really are you good at?

 

As I reflect on Ghana and governance this evening, I can’t help asking this government:

 

Awala, ɛben adze na ɛyɛ buɛi wom?

 

Nsempiisms. My mouth has fallen.

When An Apology is An Apology of An Apology

 

12 July, 2014

 

I work in Nigeria and one thing that amused me initially was how people were quick to say sorry when they consciously do wrong and you bring it to their attention. What moved that amusement to anger and shock was how when the person said sorry, he got angry when you still went further to reprimand and demand reasons. It is as if just saying sorry is enough to cover all ineptitude.

 

The government publicly acknowledging that we are in difficult times is not enough. Sorry is not enough. Why? Because if you don’t know and understand how you moved from A to B in your journey south, no amount of optimism can prevent you from moving towards C in the same direction.

 

What brought us to this difficulty? What could we have done better? How do we reverse this trend?

 

These are more important than just simple acknowledgement.

 

This is only part of the full picture.

 

Nsempiisms. My mouth has fallen.

OccupY

 

7 July, 2014

 

No need for permit

No need for physical

Convergence
Occupy
Where you are

Occupy
Your space

Occupy
The globe

Occupy
The mind

Occupy
Space
Just don’t

Occupy
That fence

Get involved

For Ghana

 

#redfriday #occupyghana

 

Sweet Pain In Two Acts

 

3 July, 2014

 

Act I

 

Yesterday at work, we had a visit by our Africa Region MD. As we went round the factory, he told me he lost a bet for the Ghana-Germany game. He said we played well in that game.

 

We laughed about it and I felt proud.

 

He then asked me about Ghana, commenting on the depreciating cedi.

 

I didn’t laugh.

 

I had a Skype chat with a Malawian friend now working in South Africa. She said it was sad about Ghana and how they used to look up to us as an example.

 

If you smell burning materials from your house and you pretend it is only your items which are being barbecued, it is up to you.

 

Act II

 

I am seeing an emerging new Ghanaian. Who now reads and comments. With anger. Expressive. Even people who usually wouldn’t make their views known. It is happening online. On blogs. On news portals. If I were a politician I would be scared.

 

Because no one does shadow boxing forever. Soon he will be boxing for real. Things are bubbling and the Occupy demo may prove a tipping point.

 

As an observer of social dynamics, I see a movement of atoms in the crystal lattice. Slowly.

 

Nsempiisms. My mouth has fallen.

 

A Twist of the Mouth or Thumb?

 

28 June, 2014

 

We have to reflect more about the past, appreciate where we are, so we can better the future. More than a few people are disillusioned about how our current government is performing. And what its priorities are.

I say that the shape and beauty of a building is determined first at the design stage and then when the construction begins, one can ensure it proceeds per the blueprint.

 

What exactly were you expecting of this government? What did it say it will do? Think back to Campaign 2012. What do you remember as the key promised deliverables, the elements of the contract we signed in December 2012 at the polls? What is the blueprint we accepted?

 

A nation does not develop on slogans. Hope is not a strategy. Navigating the economic terrain towards sustainable development is not fueled by euphoric fervor alone.

 

It takes planning.

 

What is Ghana’s blueprint for development? What economic model are we following? Where are we going from here and how?

 

2016 will be here before long and the speeches and rallies will resume.

 

Ask questions. Analyse what you are told. Raise the bar. Vote for ideas and not just slogans. Don’t just twist your mouth or your thumb.

 

We only get what we tolerate. And if we exhibit a craving for nkatie burger, surely we will be fed peanuts. Or even peanut-flavoured chippings.

 

Of nothing.

 

Nsempiisms. My mouth has fallen.

Obimanso Thoughts In Bronya

 

26 December, 2013

 

Just sitting and reflecting this early morning on a year gone by quicker than the rate at which electricity credits run in Sikaman. And also listening to Kafui Dey on Radio XYZ – it must be the first time I am listening to the station, though I remember them most importantly for being the first site from where I got to know about the passing of Egya Atta. I do visit their website from time to time, but never tuned in. This will not be the last time, I like what I am hearing.

 

The excursions in my mind this morning take me to the street captioned, ‘Ghanamanosyncracies’ and on this street, I started reflecting on some characteristics I found about Sikamanians this year. Actually, confirmed this year but stuff I had observed for a while. Especially on social media and which I have experimented with in my social communication and interaction.

 

In no order of priority:

 

1. Links don’t work if you wish to have folks read something. Copy from the website and post as a note or in full in the status update. Similar thing applies to emails in some cases in the corporate world. With the fast pace of life, clicking a link is too much work.

 

2. If the stuff you wish to have read is lengthy, it is better to share it subsequently in smaller paragraphs. Twitter has taught us that already, abi?

 

3. Sikamanians will always narrow the subject for discussion into NDC or NPP, even if you are discussing the different walking styles of a termite.

 

4. Don’t think because you have communicated once, it has sank in. After weeks of sending text messages about my second book in 2010, someone asked me, ‘Ei, are you an author?’ This person had been receiving such text messages since 2008. Same thing happened this year for the launch of I Speak of Ghana.

 

5. Most Sikamanians don’t read after the first few characters, especially in a text messages. Keep it short and simple (KISS).

 

6. Facebook is a great place to learn not to keep your emotions on your sleeves. If you want to comment on social and political matters, you have to learn quickly to do what my friend Innocent Kwame Kpornu advises: Squeeze your anus instead of your face when you get some ‘some-way’ or ‘off-tangent’ responses and get tickled in the wrong places. In this case, since no one sees your face, squeeze the backside effluent pipe instead of your fingers!

 

7. Many people may not comment but they read and form opinions. Be mindful of what you share.

 

8. Social media is your voice, and becomes your personality. What you post here is quotable and can find its way onto an official portal. OK, so Justine Sacco has taught us a lot about that anyway. No need to add more.

 

Nsempiisms. My mind, not my mouth this time, has fallen.

Not-One-Sense

 

19 June 2013

 

Nonsense is when the trotro driver blames

The passengers for running out of fuel

Nonsense is when the police blame

The robber for the police’s inability to catch

The robber

Nonsense is when bank blames

The ATM for running out of cash

Nonsense is when lactating mum blames

The husband for her running out of breastmilk

Nonsense is when a nation blames

Its development partners for running out of cash

Nonsense is when the engine blames

The caboose for too slow a pace

Nonsense is when a government blames

Its political opponents for unexplained happenings

In the country

Nonsense is when the government blames

Anyone else but itself for inefficiency

We need a greater appreciation

Of responsibility in Sikaman

We need more

In Africa

It appears easy to govern

Claim glory for when things go

Well

Blame others for when things go

Wrong

When something happens

Ask –

Did it happen under my watch

Or did it happen before my time

If the former,

Find someone to blame

If the latter,

You know who to blame

It is all not sense

Africa!

Where nonsense makes sense

 

(with lines from Qwarme Erzuah)

 

How To Be A Good Politician in Africa

 

1 May, 2013

 

The good thing about being a politician in Africa is that you can always blame someone for your woes and non-performance: your predecessor, the past government, your detractors, the opposition, witches, the weather, imperialists, enemy forces, the ineffective civil service, the West, EU, neo-colonialists…the list and probable ‘enemies of your progress’ are endless. As long as you can blame, you will be fine. And, oh, you can also blame the electorate for voting you into office and giving you such an onerous task.

 

In the end, the blame goes back to the electorate, the common citizen, who is called upon to do more to make the politician more effective. To pay him more, to make worthwhile his sacrifice of leaving his lucrative and better paying job to serve the citizen.

 

As long as there is someone to blame, there is no problem.

 

With this backdrop, the art of promise making is fundamentally akin to shooting at the stars with arrows. If the target is not hit, blame the wind. Or the arrow, which maybe was under-weight. Or perhaps the bow that was used was tampered with by the opposing side.

 

Deadlines are put on wheels and made as mobile as possible. Promises are repeatable, new every month or at most every election.

 

Sadly, the politicians are not alone in this. Many of us sing their tunes and hail them in this circus of dancing around the burning bush. Did the elders not say that he who gets a bad haircut should be blamed as well for not speaking during the barbering process? Oh, sorry, the citizen just got the blame again. But this is deserved.

 

Unless we wake up and demand more accountability, unless we challenge the words we are fed and question when told a harbour will be built in Obo Kwahu, until we come to the point where we vigorously upgrade our expectations of the performance of our political leaders, we will continue to be fed crumbs. And we will eventually be blamed for not asking for it to be at least mixed with peanuts.

 

Nsempiisms. My mouth has fallen.

Long Live The Farce Called JSS/SSS!

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14 July, 2012

 

The JSS/SSS is a complete failure, and the earlier we admitted that as a nation and stopped this farce, the better it will be for salvaging the education of the future generation. One of the cornerstones of the educational reform was to vocational training in addition to mainstream theoretical courses.

 

At the beginning of the journey downhill, some workshops were built in some schools. 20 or so years later, ask if any of these workshops that were supposed to teach the students vocational skills exist or are still being built. 

 

How could one ever think that LA Middle School ‘B’ which later became Bassanyin III Model JSS could train students the same way that Aggrey Memorial Secondary school taught students in Form 1 to 3? 20 years later, nothing has changed. Sorry, there has been change – for the worse. Universities realised the watering down of secondary education and extended 3 year course to 4 years to compensate. 

 

With the JSS system, young boys and girls come out of JSS at around 14 years, neither young nor old, and with no skills, and with low grades so can’t continue.

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Enter the phenomenon of streetism. And selling of dog chains. And PK chewing gum.

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Middle-income parents who can afford it are taking their children through the O and A Levels still. 

 

Who are we kidding? Sadly, the Emperor is naked and the little boy who is to shout to bring us all to reality is naked himself. Long live the farce!

 

Nsempiisms. My mouth has fallen.

 

When the Past is Brighter than the Future

 

8 January, 2013

In 1983, I was not yet a teenager but I remember vividly the journey to Wasa Akropong. Before this visit, I recollect an earlier visit when my grandfather passed away and we had to be in the holy village for his funeral. That was in 1980 and I remember the number of animals killed during the apaa, the practice where a curfew was announced for everyone to lock up their animals; any stray animal seen not locked during the curfew hours found its way into the pots of grieved mourners. For the 1983 visit, we travelled on a sleeper train from Accra to Tarkwa and continued to Akropong from there. It was a great experience for an Accra boy; we used to see trains run from Accra to Tema through the Dzorwulu station, which we could see from our vantage spots in Kotobabi. So riding in one throughout the night, with all the stops in all those remote villages, was like fairy-tale.

During my National Service, done in my holy village, my colleagues and I travelled on a train from Tarkwa to Takoradi, another memorable experience.

The last time I checked on our rail services in Ghana, the only lines running are the Nsawam and Asaprochona routes; I am doubtful that the Nsawam route is running now.

I had an interesting discussion with Sam and Elsie Forster the morning of 15 August, 2010, and that same evening, I engaged with my friends Kwaku Badu, Bob Palitz, Julius Sowu, Hannatu Sulley and Ken Ansah on Facebook, trying to remember the name of the spot where as a kid, I used to go and ride bumper cars. Julius and Hannatu came closest in giving us the location: right next to the Pioneer Tobacco Company (PTC) building opposite Wok Inn and what used to be a GOIL petrol station at Nkrumah Circle.

Kwaku Badu added: “Nana, remember afterwards we will go to Dans Bar for some lovely drinks and ice cream! Come to think of it, Ghana was very very nice in the 70s”, a sentiment echoed by Hannatu who said “Wow…..good old days in the 80s and early 90s – na Ghana yɛ dɛ (Ghana was exciting)!”

Bob Palitz, with his usual unusual way of looking at things humorously, asked: “You mean there was a time in Accra when you had to go someplace special for bumpy cars, rather than encountering them everywhere as we do now?”

When I watch Ghana Television (GTV) now, in the midst of the proliferation of TV stations, I reminisce about the past. In the days when we had only GTV, there were some great programs we looked up to. Thursday theatre, Akan drama, great movies, etc. Apart from about two programs on GTV, it is very original programming.

So the question in all of this perambulation in grey matter (Ace Ankomah’s way of describing the excursions in my mind) is this: How is it that with the passage of time, Ghana becomes less and less of “very nice”, and in our reflections, the past seems brighter than the future? Isn’t that a serious aberration?  How come that in most of the topics we discuss, it seems that what we enjoyed in the past hasn’t improved but rather deteriorated? Consider our educational system, our road network, our hospitals. Of course, we have seen improvement in telecommunications, for example.

How can we work together that we will not only recall the ‘good old days’ but admit how we have added to those days and turn the verdict in favour of the future: so our children and the subsequent generations can look to a brighter future?

Nsempiisms. My mouth has fallen.

 

 

Connect with The Author Online:

 

Twitter: http://twitter.com/ndamoah

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/nanaaweredamoah

Blog: http://nanadamoah.com

Email: [email protected]

 

 

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Nsempiisms

  • ISBN: 9781310818219
  • Author: Nana Awere Damoah
  • Published: 2016-03-27 13:05:18
  • Words: 8622
Nsempiisms Nsempiisms