Thursday, January 31, 2013

The logic of Hooliganism

“You Africans are hopeless, and so stupid.” The man accused, wagging a thick finger in my face. He’s of the European Stock, with the ragged appearance of some of those dirty tourists one encounter on the streets of Accra. His mouth was contorted into an angry snarl. The corners of his mouth foam with spittle. Bad breath emanate from his partially-opened; the odor was that of cheap alcohol. Most of his front teeth are missing. The lower lip showed some signs of laceration, perhaps from ulcer.

Unaccustomed to his type of brutal, unprovoked and direct aggression. I elected to ignore him. I continued to nurse my drink. He won’t, however, let go.

“Stupid, stupid.” He brayed, taking a mouthful swing from his large jug of beer. He shook his head as though he felt sorry for the world. He smells very badly and looks as though he hasn’t shaved in two weeks.

Since I believe that it is useless to argue with a man who, obviously, was under the direct influence of Lord Bacchus’ agent, I continue to ignore him.

The man rose unsteadily to his feet, raised the jug to his mouth and drained the content. He wiped the corners of his mouth with the back of his hand. Throwing a ferocious glare in my direction, he tottered to the bar and had a refill. He wobbled back to his seat and resumed his accusations.

“What do you find so stupid about the Africans. What are the reasons for your exasperation?” I finally managed to ask him.

He regarded me with hateful frown and declared, “I watch your African Football Championship matches,” he shouted, “It is so terrible, so stupid!”

“What do you find so terrible, so stupid about the African Championship matches. I thought it was a great tournament. It was so lively.”

“That, exactly, is the problem,” the man proclaimed, dispatching spittle in every direction. “You Africans are the same, stupid. You call that a great tournament?”

“What exactly are you objecting to? Why do you find everything so stupid, so terrible? What is bugging you?” I was getting a bit irritated by the incessant accusations. I came here to have a drink, not to defend the Black race.

“Who but a bunch of idiots go to stadium with drums?” He asked, throwing me a withering stare. I watched the whole tournament; it is incredible, unbelievable how stupid you people could be. In some of the matches, people actually dance the whole time, beating drums, horns and what do you call that long thing that make so much noise, ehm, Voodoozela or whatever! Imagine that! And your women, mama mia! God have mercy; they are beautiful. Some of those beautiful girls shake their well-endowed buttocks and breasts all the time and make man go crazy with desires. Fancy that! Imagine all those muscle-men beating drums the whole afternoon!” He bellowed contemptuously. He has managed to work himself into a sort of frenzy, the spittle flows freely.

I was taken aback by the silliness of his accusations. I find nothing objectionable in people going to stadium with drums. “What is wrong with having merriment in a stadium during a National or Continental Football fiesta? What is the whole purpose of sport if people cannot have fun?”

“That is the whole problem. When are you people going to learn, if ever?” He cried, “When are you people going to start to learn simple economics? When are you people going to start to understand the connection between violence and prosperity? When are you people ever going to learn that not everything in life can be reduced to dancing and the beatings of TOM-TOM drums? Take the case of our European Championship,” he paused to take a draft of his drink and then continue, “how many times have you seen drums in a European stadium? Now, be honest, how many times? None, if you’re honest with yourself. Why? Because Europeans are not as stupid as you people. We do not believe that drums belong in stadium.”

I had the feeling that I was talking to a raving loony. The accusations are becoming increasingly incoherent. I stirred the ice-cubes in my soda and lifted the glass to my mouth, but his next words stopped my action from been completed.

“Don’t you see the connection between violence and prosperity?” He asked, winking at me. His eyes were blood-shot.

“No, I don’t.”

“In Europe people go to stadium with knives, gudgels, bricks, baseball bats, tarers and lasers guns, pistols, grenades, rifles and occasionally some enterprising youth come with artillery pieces. Can’t you see how greatly that’s contributing to the economy of Europe?”

This, indeed, must be a certified lunatic. I checked the door to ensure that my path remain unobstructed, just in case he decided to become violent.”What is there to be celebrated about that?”

“Are you still blind, still stupid?” He cried, banging his fists on the table, rattling the glasses and ash-trays. He was like a child, whose cries are being mis-interpreted by its parents.

“I am neither blind nor stupid. I just cannot follow your lunatic train-of-thought. I don’t see what point you’re making. If you’re making any, that is.”

“Because we Europeans are such a clever people, see,” he cried, eye-balling me with his blood- shot eyes. “We clearly see the connection between violence and prosperity, and we took advantage of it. That is why people in Europe go to stadium with instruments of violence, unlike your wimpish people. The logic is clear and unmistakable, except to stupids like you guys: Whatever is destroyed must be rebuilt, simple, see. Is that not so? When we have our sport fiesta, especially football, everybody is happy. The whole thing is tied up to simple economics, a subject too complex for you Africans to master, ah! ah! ah! I shall explain it to you, since, it appears such simple logic is beyond your comprehension: See, before any major sport fiesta, the breweries and the distilleries worked overtime to produce enough drinks to lubricate the occasion. The suppliers are happy, so are the workers, who are paid decent overtime. The money trickle down to their bakers, grocers and rum-shop managers, see. On D-Day minus one, the fans start putting some money into the local economy by consuming inordinate amount of booze, drugs and things, you see. They are so inebriated that they could only stagger to the stadium, armed with every description of weapons. The authorities responded by deploying their own instruments of violence – police, armored cars, horses, dogs, helicopters and things, see. The dogs are well-fed so the dog- food factories’ owners and workers get their own share. Even the fuel suppliers are very happy, they get paid handsomely. Talk to any policeman, he’ll tell you that the police are also very happy since they get paid handsome overtime and hazard wages, follow me? So are the bus, trams and train drivers and conductors who also receive hazard pay, see, nobody is missing out. I tell you, the football match is just a side show to improve the economy. You can see that the real game is just a sideshow – it doesn’t matter who wins or loses, the reaction is predictably the same. At the end of the game the fans, further lubricated by drug and booze, are so plastered that when they troop out of the stadium, they could not help but started wrecking anything and everything in their path. They will overturn some cars, set alight some trams and trains. The police will respond by lobbing some canisters of tear-gas and charge at them with horses and dogs and truncheons. At the end, some few fans are hospitalized for fractured bones. The hospital staff are also happy. They are also well taken care of, with extra pays and things, see. Journalists, who also receive their own hazard pay, gleefully report the events. Don’t forget that the carnage also has to be cleaned-up. So the cleaning companies are also very happy. You should remember that they [cleaning companies] employ many Africans – think of what we happen if we dance in our stadia like you guys. We’ll have to deport all the African economic-refugees seeking political asylum in our countries in Europe. We manage our sports so well that everything trickles down – nobody misses out. Everyone is happy. When are you Africans ever going to learn, if ever? To think of all the charity appeals that have been launched in your behalf over the years, when you guys can do a lot to help yourself by becoming a little more violent in the proper ways. We keep sending you our expensive experts and our NGOs when you can do a lot of things for yourself. Check it out for yourself, which country in the world has developed economically without being sufficient violent? No, you tell me. The U.S. economy was built by unbridled violence. Europe’s economic prosperity was built on the violence Europe launched against the rest of the world. You only have to check your history books. Do you guys read anything aside from your lotto papers around here? Look at your own continent, South Africa is the most economically developed – it is also the most violent on your continent, see. Its economy was built on the state violence. Africa’s problem, I declare, could be solved overnight if you Africans will start to adopt the proper attitude to things, and stop treating everything as a cause for celebration. Do you know who my favorite people are?” He finally asked me.

“The Bolsheviks.”

“Wrong again” he cried, “it is the British.” He replied beaming with satisfaction.

“I am surprised. Why?”

“Because British fans are the only people left on earth who still knows how to vibrate with positive anger. No matter what you think of the British, you’ve got to admire the pugnacity of their football fans. It is sheer joy to watch British fans have a go at a city center. Destructions wrought by hurricanes pale in comparison to the havoc generated by those vibrant youth. Do you know why the British economy is going down?”

“I am sure that you’re going to tell me.”

“It is going down, precisely because of those so-called, stupid anti-hooliganism laws passed in the 80′s. Since the British government became stupid enough to restrain the ire of those dynamic youth with those stupid, liberal laws, things have fallen apart for the empire.”

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Accra Mayor playing Jesus of Jerusalem

So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! How dare you turn my father’s house into a market!” John 2;15-16

Politically adroit, superlatively ingenious, environmentally sagacious, economically dexterous, a socially-inspired masterpiece, divinely-motivated stroke of genius, attractively-packaged tour de force, an unalloyed work of pure genius…

Simmer down, my brother, what are all the big grammar for? You will break my head, o!

You! Where have you been? Why do you always vamoose when the big things are happening?

Big things, what big things, what exactly are you blowing all those grammar for?

My brother, I believe in giving praises where and when it is due; unlike some people that I know.

Your pull-down will get you everywhere. But what exactly are you waxing lyrical about?

Ah, you. Where on earth have you been? Didn’t you see the whole Mayor of Accra on the street personally driving hawkers of the streets? The man deserve a national award. Ah! The president should make him a minister; even a vice-president. I didn’t know that we have such patriotic, energetic and intelligent leaders in our dear land.

You! Is that what excited you so much that you have to expend all those big grammar?
For your information, Mr. President has announced his cabinet, and when did you hear that there was vacancy at the vice-presidency? So, a Mayor drives hawkers off the street, and that is enough to make you giddy with so much excitement that you have to expend all those big grammar?

Can you ever be satisfied? When will you learn to give kudos when and where it is due? You have written so many articles to castigate our officials for not doing their jobs. You have written uncountable pieces to wail against street-trading. And now, the whole Mayor went out to do precisely what you advocated and you still will not give him some praises. You are simply impossible!

I am very sorry that you felt that way. The action of the Mayor you so described is exactly what I railed against. We need solid institutions and policies to tackle problem, not some Mayoral fire-brigade approach.

You are simply impossible. So you don’t find it praiseworthy that the Mayor left the comfort of his office to go and bring sanity to our streets? Have you not been to Accra recently or are you too blind to see the transformations wrought on the capital.

Transformation, what transformation are you talking about? Which Accra are you referring to?

Please, please let us learn to give honours where they are due. You have always written to castigate officials for not doing their jobs. Today, we have an ultra-energetic, superbly-motivated Mayor who pulls all stops to bring sanity to the hawking problems of the capital, and you cannot even be charitable enough to heap some praises. The man left the comfort of his office to personally supervise the driving away of hawkers from the streets, and you don’t think that is praise worthy! Whilst you were resting comfortably in your house, the whole mayor of Accra was sweating on the streets, chasing the hawkers and the other ragamuffins defacing our national capital. And you cannot praise him!

You are not been fair to me at all. I have had occasions to salute our officials where I thought they merited it. But a mayor chasing hawkers on the streets to me is simply wasting his time. Those types of showy showmanship belongs in the movies.
But you have written loads of articles to complain about the problem of hawking in Accra.

So I have.

And you don’t believe the mayor is doing it right?

No, I don’t.

What on earth would it take to please you? You are really a hard-hat, do you know that?

I am so sorry you felt that way. If you have really read what I’ve written I’m sure that you won’t feel that way. I have also railed against our fire-men approach to serious issues…

Fire-men approach, what is that?

Fire-men are called out in emergency to put out fire. That is reactive. What we need and what I have consistently advocated is that our officials should be more proactive. They should sit down, make good policies and ensure that they are implemented. That’s all. A Mayor that chases hawkers on the streets is wasting his time and, to tell you the truth, is a complete disgrace to his Mayoral office. A Mayor’s time should be more valuable than to be wasted chasing miscreants on the streets. Gosh, what are the City Guards supposed to do when the whole mayor is chasing hawkers?

What do you mean?

Have you not been following what I was saying?

But I thought the Mayor was setting good example by leading from the front, as the military people will put it.

I think you get your military analogy all wrong. Except in few armies, Generals are hardly found at the front line. Generals are mostly esconded in command and control bunkers, where they busy themselves to set up strategies and adjust tactics to suit situational imperatives. Generals are very expensive pieces and are deployed with the utmost care. Have you sat down to consider what calamity would have befell the city had one crazed miscreant decided to visit violence on the Mayor? I wonder why our officials are always so security unconscious.


Yes, ah! A Mayor leading charges against hawkers imperils his life. We live in a dangerous world, and many citizens are too stressed out by the economic hardship that they might decide to become violent. But that’s not my main gripe about the whole thing.

And what would that be?
My main gripe is that our officials tend to mistake gyrations for motions; confuse momentums for solid movements and think that smokes are solid substance. They believe that as long as people can see that they are doing something, however silly, then they must be doing something right. That is our main problem in this country. We have ministers who are paid to manage ministries and assist Mr. President jumping from radio station to radio station running their mouth. They believe that they are doing great job by the amount of high decibel noise they can make on the airwaves. Nowadays, we have so-called Political Scientists at our universities, who are paid to teach students, but has now turned themselves into reviewers of the junksheets we call newspapers in this part of the world. The job of a Mayor is an onerous one, and it is one that calls for very strong administrative skills. It is his job to run the complex machineries of the city. This involves setting up the structures, institutions and the policies to make all the intricate parts run smoothly. It is more of a brain job than a brawn one. His job includes employing the people to man the various institutions to run the city. A mayor should have better employment for his time than to go on the streets to chase hawkers. He will only get lost without seeing the whole picture. Let’s not even talk of the financial loss. The Mayoral paycheck is far too fat for him to turn himself into a City Guard.

All you said could be true, but the Mayor also has to let the people see that he is performing…

No, he doesn’t. His performance should be so self-evident that people will know that he’s performing. His achievements should speak for him. His records of achievements should be his best trumpet.

But unlike you, some would like to see the Mayor performing.

You keep mentioning performing without actually saying what exactly you meant. If you meant that by chasing hawkers the Mayor is performing, I say that is utterly a wrong way to appraise a mayor. Apart from looking good on television, what exactly has the Mayor’s ill-advised and utterly stupid pyrotechnics achieved? Nothing, if you ask me. Were the hawkers driven off the streets of Accra? Yes, they were for a day or two. Today, they are back, with a vengeance. The menace of street-hawking is back like the mayor never did a darn thing.

But at least he did his best.

I certainly hope that was not the best he’s capable of doing. I think among our biggest problems in this country is that we are, like children, easily pleased. We are menaced by people who break laws to take over our streets, including pavements meant for you and I. But rather than demand that they be moved, we are dazzled and appeased by the Mayor of Accra, sweating profusely as he chased hawkers. He will go back to office where fawning officials will pat him on the back for a job well done. People like you will sing his praises to high heavens. Has the problem been solved? Of course, not. This, precisely, is our tragedy in this country.

What then do you suggest we do to get rid of the hawkers?

It looks quite simple to me. It is simply a question of enforcements of the laws. Part of our problems is that we enact laws but we fail to adequately enforce them. It is like our officials are afraid of enforcing our laws. In some societies that I know, officials enforce laws without fair or favour. It is time that we realize that it is the penalties that they will suffer that dissuade people from wilfully breaking the law. It is the fear of paying heavy fines that made people comport themselves when they decide to live in a civilized environment. But in our case, we spend time and money enacting laws which we left to gather dust without enforcing them. It is the knowledge that our officials lack the will to enforce existing laws that make people break them at will. We enact the laws without setting up adequate structures to ensure their enforcement, which goes to defeat the whole purpose. And we then left it to the Mayor to go around with his populous beard to try and enforce them. This is crappy.

You still didn’t say what exactly you will do in his position.

Ah! What I will do in his position is to sit with my colleagues and plan on how to implement our laws on environment and sanitation. We will strengthen the laws where they needed to be strengthened. We will enact new ones where necessary. But then we will put emphasis on enforcing all our laws to the letter without fair and without favour. In the case of street-hawking, it is quite simple. The penalties should be so heavy that few would like to pay it. If they do not exist, I will set up special courts to tackle the problem. The courts will be presided over by Special Magistrates, with powers to sit at all hours of the day, and on weekends and holidays. What I will do then is to divide the city into special zones and appoint Special Commissioner for street-hawking for each zones. Their remit would be to clear the city of hawkers within three months. They will have the power to appoint and train Guards to manage their zones. A coordinator will oversee their activities and update me accordingly. Do you know what is so regrettable about the whole thing?

You tell me.

All I said are actually not new ideas at all. Those of us old enough will remember the Health Inspector we had in the olden days. They had the powers to enter any premises and conduct inspections, and they also had the power to impose sanctions and fines. I remember how we use to be so afraid of them that we kept our houses spanking clean all year round. For reasons best known to us, we jettisoned the system, today most of our houses are pure hovels, and our streets are so dirty they will not meet the standards for pig pens in some countries. Nostalgia is not what it used to be.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A Leter to President John Dramani Mahama

Your Excellency,

Accept my hearty congratulations on your investiture as the president of our great nation.

Your responsibilities are great, your tasks onerous, so I can only hope that you find the time to read my little pieces of advices to you, with the hope that they shall find favour in your esteem.

Your rise to the presidency amply demonstrated your knowledge, wisdom and intellectual capabilities.

The only thing I will wish the gods to grant you now is COURAGE. Your Excellency, I did not mean this to say that you are a coward.

It is just that, your ascendancy to the presidency clearly demonstrated your possession of the other attributes; courage remain the single attribute you will require to make yours an outstanding presidency, and write your name solidly in the sand of times.

We, your compatriots, today remember our founding President Kwame Nkrumah with great fondness.

The reason that made us loved the Osagyefo was that he dazzled us with the brilliance of the architecture of his visions.

Despite his shortcomings as a human being, Kwame Nkrumah left legacies that made him the most outstanding African of last Millennium.

It was not for nothing that Africans voted him the greatest African of the modern times.

We remain eternally grateful for the immense contribution he made to our nation's development.

Ghana, indeed the whole of Africa, yearns for a new leader in the mold of Nkrumah.

Our people cry out for purposeful, selfless, courageous and patriotic leaders to demonstrate to the world that we Africans, indeed, are capable of managing our own affairs.

Your Excellency, it is only courage that would enable you to rise above partisan politics, transcend religious, ethnic or tribal divisions, and become a truly great leader which generations will remember with deep admiration.

Your Excellency, I repeat here what I have written many times that the gods cannot be blamed for our woes in Ghana, indeed in Africa.

Having enriched us with immense natural wealth; the gods have done their best parts for us.

It is how we manage these resources that will determine how far we go as a people.

It is our ability to use these resources most effectively that will determine the future of our nation.

Sir, the times call for very bold and radical steps to transform this country.

What we sorely need at this juncture of our history is a very bold and courageous leader to lead the radical transformation our country badly need.

All your predecessors that came after Nkrumah can be said to have done their best, but they all were handicapped by their lack of vision.

Yes, sir, it is the VISION thing!

What type of Ghana do you intend to leave behind?

Would you leave us with a vibrant and confident Ghana that is on an unstoppable industrialization trajectory, or would you leave us with a diffident, confused and neo-colonial Ghana that still import tooth-pick and mosquito coils and begs for 'donor' support every time?

Time is not on our side, Your Excellency: We no longer can afford to conduct our national affairs with the same lackadaisical attitudes of the post-Nkrumah years.

A year or so ago, I wrote an article to castigate your immediate predecessor when he gave a speech at the UN and touted the elimination of schools under trees and the provision of school uniforms as great national achievements.

Sir, we live in the 21st century and we no longer ought to be thrilled by such pedestrian 'achievements' in our national life. Our ambitions should be made of sterner stuffs.

We should not in this age be gratified by pictures of our president commissioning bore-holes and KVIP toilets; Sir, you should be seen commissioning dams and industrial plants.

Korea started life about the same time as our nation, but today Korean firms like Samsung, Hyundai and LG dazzle us with the brilliance of their electronics, scientific and engineering feats.

Modern China started life in 1949, just about eight years before we regain our own independence.

Today, China leads the world in many areas of science and engineering. So phenomenal is the Chinese Miracle that today the Chinese are readying a man to send to the moon in a few years.

You have travelled extensively in China, so I need not tell you how far the Chinese have progressed in terms of development.

History recorded that the Chinese made the transformation within a single generation.

The Chinese miracle did not happen per chance; it was a deliberate, courageous move made by the Chinese leaders to break with the past and transform their nation through their own efforts.

The Chinese were probably guided by the simple historical fact that foreigners, however benevolent, have never developed any country.

It is the citizens of any given nation that develop their countries. This is precisely where boldness and courage come in.

At this juncture in our national life, we no longer can afford to be counted among the under-achievers.

History beckons us to make the 21st Century the African Century.

But this will not happen by mere wishful thinking; it will come into being by conscious efforts by African leaders to lead their people into the Promised Land.

It gladdens my heart enormously to see how comfortable you look using your iPad. It shows clearly that you are abreast of scientific innovations.

Sir, I do not intend to be impetuous by offering you advices, but I will suggest that you, as a matter of utmost urgency, do everything within your power to reconcile the country.

Let no hawk within your party tells you that the opposition can go to hell; the margin of your victory suggests that a sizable numbers of Ghanaians did not share in either your political philosophy or your ideology.

Our disgruntled compatriots needed to be appeased and brought aboard.

Magnanimity is one of the hallmarks of great leaders.

Of course the main opposition party has behaved rather badly since the election results were announced, but that is where you should allow your wisdom and courage to shine through.

Our elders say that if children behave like children, the adult should behave like adult.

The nature of our politics makes the opposition stance predictable and understandable. Allow them time to lick their wounds, and then find the means to bring them aboard in the supreme interest of mother Ghana.

A house divided cannot achieve much; national development is impossible sans national peace, stability and cohesion.

As you focus on your Better Ghana Agenda, you simply do not need the distraction of an embittered opposition.

I suggest that you make national reconciliation your first priority and pursue it with vigour.

Another area you should address as a matter of urgency is the issue of the Ghanaian Diaspora.

For years, successive governments have paid lip services to how to tap into this huge pool of talents.

Your Excellency, in the course of my television interview programme, I have interacted with quite a number of highly qualified and hugely talented Ghanaian professionals, who perform at the highest levels of finance, governments and industry across Europe. I am told that a bigger pool exist in North America.

Almost to a man and a woman, they all burn with great desires to come and contribute their quota to nation-building. They all burn with the ambitions to see Ghana transformed into a modern, self-sufficient, industrialized nation as fast as possible.

These are not dreaming utopians, but men and women with the requisite qualifications to realize their dreams and ambitions if given the opportunity.

These our compatriots do their best wherever they find themselves, but they feel alienated and unwanted by alien societies, blinded by too much crass racism, to recognize their contributions.

I hope that you will make it top priority to find a way to bring Diasporan Ghanaians home and make them part of your agenda to transform the country.

Courage implies self-confidence; no nation has developed where the people doubt their own abilities.

Sir, you must be bold and courageous to lead a crusade to make us jettison our age-old colonial-mentality and neo-colonial mindsets.

Your best efforts will be retarded unless you can carry our people along. And it'd be difficult to carry them along if many of us continue with the mindsets that things cannot be done unless we take dictation from foreigners, especially white ones.

After over half a century of self-government, there is no reason why we cannot begin to do most things for ourselves.

Your Excellency, I wrote somewhere that the only difference between us and the countries we called developed is the quality of education they give their citizens.

My reading of history tells me that every single nation that became developed first made conscious efforts to develop its education sector.

That was the reason I asked before the elections that whoever wins must give top billing to the provision of quality education.

Sir, what is called for is a total transformation of our education from the current chew-and-pour system.

We need an educational system that allows and encourages pupils and students to think, to experiment and to innovate.

I see our current system as one colossal waste, because we continue to pour great resources into graduating people who are not sufficiently trained to think and solve problem.

Your Excellency, your main remit to your new education minister should be to revamp our education curricular within six months to a year, and come up with a system whereby children go through a thoroughly holistic education that includes civic responsibilities, culture, basic technical abilities and entrepreneurship.

Our education system should shift emphasis from the arts to the teaching of mathematics and the science.

History also teaches us that countries become developed only when governments repose enough confidence in the citizens to challenge them to solve problems and produce things for themselves.

Let me give a concrete example: we spend a good chunk of our budget on defence, as we rightly should.

The problem I see here is that we continue to think of defence only in terms of the acquisition of foreign armaments that other people have discarded.

Common sense alone ought to tell us that no one will sell us armaments for which they have not developed adequate counter-measures, just in case we get into a fight with them.

Our defence policy should be anchored solidly on home grown defence industries that could provide us with our own indigenously-designed and built weapon systems.

Sir, I do not know whether to laugh or cry whenever I see our bemedalled officials making speeches at the launch of acquired armaments.

If we begin with light arms, there is no reason why Ghana Armed Forces cannot be equipped with Made-in-Ghana arms within a year or two.

Experienced gunsmiths abound aplenty in the Volta Region, and all that they need is official sponsorship.

Sadly, our colonial mindsets made us criminalized artisans we should have called upon to aid our industrialization.

The Russians didn't jail Mr. Kalashnikov when he designed and built the AK-47; rather they encouraged him and gave him official recognition and helped him with government's contracts.

The US Army helped Mr. Smith when he designed the gun that bears his name.

Your Excellency, there are very important lessons we could learn here; one is that we need to shed our neo-colonial mentality and start to believe in ourselves.

Sir, countries are developed by leaders throwing a challenge to the people.

A prime example is President John Kennedy asking American scientists to send a man to the moon and bring him back within a decade.

Americans scientists took up the challenge and achieved the feat with ample time to spare.

We need not go to the moon but you, as a leader, can challenge our leading universities to come up with solutions to some of the challenges that we face.

Here are some examples I have in mind:

1. You can ask the University of Ghana at Legon to come up with ideas on how to clean up the Odaw River in Accra, and create a masterpiece that could be used for transportation, pleasure, tourist attraction, fishing etc, etc.

2. Challenge the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology to come up with affordable Solar-powered lamp that could be used to lighten up our homes, streets and roads.

3. Challenge the University at Winneba to come up with Civic and Cultural papers that would enable us take back some of the cultural traits we have lost.

We can begin with these three ideas.

And while we are at it, you can also challenge us to dream about how to link our two major cities, Accra and Kumasi, with a Canal?

You may consider this a legacy worth bestowing to us. Future generations will regard it with awe?

If our ancestors in Nubia and Egypt could build the Great Pyramids thousands of years ago without mechanic machines, there is no reason why the building of a canal should be deemed impossible.

We are handicapped only by the limits we place on our visions.

Sir, it is time we in Ghana also join the rest of humanity in dreaming big ideas.

The future, they say, belongs to those that believe in the beauty of their dreams.

Rather than keep waiting for help and assistance from foreigners, we can begin to generate ideas and look for indigenous solutions to our problems.

The experiences we will build up will help as we begin to tackle the myriad of challenges that we face. Successful implementation of our own ideas will also bolster our self-confidence.

Sir, I also think that you should be bold and courageous enough to tell us some bitter truths. Principal among this is that we are not a very productive people. Many of us are lax and lazy.

Many of our compatriots still go through life expecting manna to fall from heaven. They still expect to sleep for twenty hours a day, pray for the rest four hours and expect everything to be provided for them on a platter.

You must have the courage to tell us the simple truth that no nation of indolent gadabouts has ever prospered.

We cannot go about boozing up, refuse to read and expect our nation to prosper.

We cannot spend our days and night praying and sleeping and expect miracles to transform us and our land.

Your Excellency, as the first president of our blessed republic who appears to be hip and technologically-savvy, I sincerely hope that you will spend more time with our Engineers and our Scientists rather than parlaying with Priests.

I wish also that Your Excellency will be bold enough to tell our people that religion is strictly a personal matter between a person and his god, and should not be part of national affairs.

Your Excellency, the choice before us is stark and it is, put simply, this: do we want to continue with our hit-and-miss approach to development or do we make a clean, decisive break, jettison old prejudices, become bold and make bold, if painful, decisions about our future?

Sir, I wish you great successes.

Femi Akomolafe

Friday, January 11, 2013


Do not be ashamed of your poverty unless you got it dishonestly.” – Anon.

According to those who should know, humanity began in Africa about five point five million years ago when varieties of Australopithecus separated from their monkey cousins.

Through gradual gradation, we moved from that lowly beginning to what we call ourselves today – Homo sapiens, (supposedly thinking beings).

A new species of the human genus has evolved. Future researchers will again place its birthplace in Africa and time at circa the late 20th and early 21st century.

Morphologically, physically, genetically, mentally and intellectually the IMF-SAPIEN is the equal of the HOMO-SAPIEN.

In fact, future anthropologists will have big-time difficulties distinguishing the two species.

What, then, are the characteristics of the IMF-SAPIEN that made it a distinct specie?

To recognize an IMF-SAPIEN, we have to go beyond the physical sciences.

Neither biology, nor geology, nor anthropology, nor archaeology, nor chemistry will help us.

Only in its behavior does an IMF-SAPIEN differ from a HOMO-SAPIEN.

Only by studying their behaviors can we make a distinction between the two species.

We thus move away from the domain of physiology and enter the province of psychology.

How, then, do we properly recognize an IMF-SAPIEN?

Many features distinguish the IMF-SAPIENS from other species of the human genus.

Below we list some of the easily recognizable traits of IMF-SAPIENism, though not necessarily in any specific order:

The most significant trait is that the IMF-SAPIEN is a colonial being.

A colonial would be an adequate description of one under colonial domination, but an IMF-SAPIEN goes way-way beyond that.

For starters, a colonial subject always harbors the HOPE of gaining his (we are not being sexist here) freedom. He considers is position unnatural, and he is full of hope of freedom.

IMF-SAPIENS on the other hand has abandoned all hope of salvation.

Our unfortunate cousin does not believe himself capable of self-redemption; he considers his position the natural order sanctioned by the gods.

In fact, an IMF-SAPIEN appears satisfied with his lowly, colonial, lot.

Having abandoned any hope for self-redemption, the IMF-SAPIEN waits, with child-like helplessness, for others to come and rescue him.

Your average Homo Sapien knows that it’s stupid to be nice to those who do not know how to appreciate the gesture, never mind to reciprocate it, not so with an IMF-SAPIEN.

He keeps giving even when his generosity is used to lampoon him. He would rather starve than allow a stranger to go hungry. Centuries of ingratitude has not dulled his sense of mis-guided altruism

An IMF-SAPIEN sits on vast wealth whilst living in wretched poverty.

Few will contest the fact that Africa is the world’s most resources-rich continent.

How then do we explain the strange phenomena of our continent being the worlds’ beggar and the world’s basket case?

How do we explain why Africans are the world’s most malnourished, the worst clothed and the most poorly housed people on earth?

We need not mention the simple truth that we are the worst educated and the most ignorant.

How do we explain the strange phenomenon that makes Africans the lowliest of the world’s lowly wherever we live?

Why are UN pamphlets on hunger and starvation always adorn with pictures of Africans?

The IMF-SAPIEN has long stopped thinking. He has long abandoned efforts to solve his own problem. He has left his salvation and redemption to others. He has folded up his arms in abandonment and has left it for others to analyze and proffer solutions to his problems.

This can be the only explanation we have for the uncountable NGOs, institutions and Think Tanks Westerners have set up to maintain their stranglehold on our lives in Africa.

Or where is it possible to breath nowadays in Africa without a Western NGO telling us how to do it?

The IMF-SAPIEN is ravaged by poverty to the point of intellectual inertia.

He accepts without protest when others insulted him with their mis-analyses of his problems.

He believes when told that his problems are lack of democracy (he should have questioned why his situation hasn’t improved after over two decades of democratic experimentation). Let someone tell me what dividend Nigerians have gained from their democracy.

He accepts without murmur that his problem stemmed from the corruption of his government (he should have asked how the Americans’, Italians’, Chinese, and Japanese’ economies boomed in spite of their frequent corruption scandals).

He receives it solemnly when told that ‘bad governance’ is his major palaver; it never occurred to our unlucky cousin to ask what the nebulous term is supposed to infer?

Our IMF-SAPIEN cousin believes that over-population is at the root cause of his destitution (he should have questioned why that is not a problem in say, Holland, where about nineteen million human beings crammed themselves into a real-estate of forty-thousand square kilometers versus Sudan where a land-mass of two point five million square kilometers is populated by only about twenty-two million people. And that Angolans eleven million people have over one million square kilometers in contrast to the almost eighty million Germans who share about three-hundred and fifty-six thousand square kilometers.)

Oh yes, an IMF-SAPIEN loves titles and nothing pleases him more than to hold political office.

Whether or not it is a political office totally bereft of any real power or authority, the IMF-SAPIEN is contented to hold his sham office.

He loves aplomb and pageantry to no end. To make his day, give him a small piece of real estate, throw in a flag, an anthem, and equip some rag-tag band of delinquent ruffians with museum pieces and call it a national army, our strange cousin will find nothing ironic in celebrating his sham independence.

Adorning himself with all the brass and epaulets money can buy, he will be seen vibrating with joy on ‘Liberation day!’

Everyone the IMF-SAPIEN invites to his house is having the best time of their lives, whilst he continues to exist in grinding poverty and mendicancy: This is among the most obvious signs of IMF-SAPIENism.

Any society largely populated by IMF-SAPIEN is immediately recognizable by the fact that the aboriginals are always at the bottom rung of the economic ladder.

As pointed to, supra, the IMF-SAPIEN sits on vast natural wealth but does not benefit from them in any tangible way.

It is thus left for foreigners to exploit these resources for their own benefits. The IMF-SAPIEN lives in rat-infested, mosquito overwhelmed and vermin-plagued hovels in slum and ghost towns (a ghost town is a ghetto inside a ghetto); the foreigners live in walled mansions in ‘exclusive’ suburbs.

The IMF-SAPIEN crammed himself (44 sitting, 99 standing – apologies to Fela Anikulapo-Kuti), into ancient jalopies (trotro in Ghana, molue in Nigeria and matatu in Kenya) whilst the foreigner tool around his towns in the latest designer high-tech 4*4 jeeps.

What is also easily apparent to visitors is the fact that almost all the foreigners in his land are having the best times of their lives, whilst the IMF-SAPIENS wallow in abject poverty.

Or has anyone ever seen a European, Arab or Asian living in any of our numerous shantytowns, ghettoes and ghost towns in Africa?

An IMF-SAPIEN does not grow what he eats: Present-day keen observers and future archeologists will notice this unique feature of the IMF-SAPIENS immediately.

This being is easily recognizable by his eating habits. His foods consist of imported items: British mad cow beef, expired Australian poultry products, European foot and mouth diseased pig feet (yuk!), expired Dutch and Swiss milk products have become staple food of our unfortunate cousin.

Our strange cousin believes himself civilized by the numbers of ‘Fast (junk) Food’ outlets in his land! That these foods give him debilitating (diabetics, stroke, heart) diseases has not dissuaded our unfortunate cousin from consuming them with gusto.

Strangely our cousin, who has absolutely no conception of time, likes to eat at Fast Food joints!

IMF-SAPIEN does not eat what he grows: Like almost all other colonial-subjects, the labor of the IMF-SAPIEN is not employed in producing food for himself and his family.

No. His heavy muscles are engaged in producing what they tell him is cash crop. (If IMF-SAPIEN is capable of asking questions, he should have asked where the cash is, that he had employed his labor in producing over the years).

He should also have asked why it is possible for people who only push pen around in Paris and London to make more money that he, who slave upward of twelve hours a day in tropical sun to farm and produce cocoa.

Our weird cousin hates his culture. As Apostle Paul said in his Epistle to the Ghanaians 20:05:By their taste for foreign culture, ye shall know them.’

A society populated by IMF-SAPIENS must be a miniature (actually a caricature) of the metropolitan (dominating) power.

The IMF-SAPIEN has lost touch with his roots and most of his energies are employed in running away as fast as possible from his cultural roots.

Not only would an IMF-SAPIEN not speak his language but also, in speaking a foreign language, he must use foreign tones, mannerisms, inflections etc, etc.

A properly evolved IMF-SAPIEN would rather die than bear his traditional name.

Traditional African names have meanings and sometimes long history behind them; today many African felt no shame to bear totally ridiculous and meaningless foreign names.

The IMF-Sapiens’s mannerism consists entirely of mimicking other cultures.

Anything foreign is OK for the IMF-SAPIEN as long as it does not remind him of his own culture or traditions.

You can easily know when you get to a society of properly-evolved IMF-SAPIENS – Just listen to the leader talking to his people.

A well evolved IMF-SAPIEN society is the only place on earth where the rulers are addressing the ruled in a foreign language!

In these societies, no one sees anything wrong or ironic in societies where leaders address their own people in a foreign language!

Let us now consider the structures of the society inhabited by IMF-SAPIENS, albeit briefly.

The most notable feature of this society is structures (political, economic, social, sociological and psychological) erected that have no traditional or cultural base.

The political and economic institutions of IMF-Sapien’s society are based on alien, imported structures.

IMF-SAPIENS has long abandoned their traditional systems of governance and economic activities.

Their system of social organization is imported in its entirety.

What’s baffling is that the IMF-SAPIEN failed to grasp why these structures, which he badly-misunderstood, are failing him.

As mentioned supra, the IMF-SAPIEN is running away from his roots as fast as possible, we find him junketing from one foreign country to the other seeking solutions to his local problem.

Those who pretend to be helping him are swarming his land with their unemployed and unemployable youth, thereby solving their own unemployment problems at the expense of our unfortunate cousin.

We thus find the peculiar situation whereby those who created the problems are proffering the solutions.

This happens only in a thoroughly evolved IMF-SOCIETY.

In the sphere of spirituality, the IMF-SAPIEN is a lost soul.

Religion has been properly defined as the deification of the ancestors.

Every society creates its own religion and creates its own gods in its own image.

Not so for our peculiar and wonderful cousin.

As Apostle Paul warned in his Epistle to the Nigerians 20:05, “By their worship of foreign gods, ye shall know them.

With alacrity, our strange cousin made a bonfire of the images of his gods. With stunning speed, he adorned his temples with the images of other people’s gods.

How else to explain the burning by Africans of the wooden images of their own gods, only to replace them with the plastic images of a blond, blue-eyed European nailed to a cross in obvious agony?

No properly-evolved IMF-SAPIEN finds anything ironic in adorning his walls with the picture of a Caucasian Jesus the Christ – even one painted by the Italian artist Michelangelo!

Nothing makes our cousin giddier than imitating the religious rituals of other people.

Our cousin is at his best elements when he can recite off his head the ‘holy books’ of other people religions.

Our unfortunate cousin sees nothing wrong in adopting badly-copied religions of his ancestors in Egypt – both Islam and Christianity evolved from Judaism,which is nothing but ideological variant of Ancient Egyptian Religion.

The leaders of IMF-SAPIEN societies love titles, ceremonies and speech making, though not necessarily in that order.

The sight of the maximum leader spewing rhetorical verbiage on the television and the radios and the newspapers daily confronts a visitor to any IMF-SAPIEN’s society.

In these societies, the leader is the state and the state is the leader.

The only other personage competing with the maximum leader for coverage is invariably the numero uno’s wife.

Go and ask Mevrouw Kibaki in Kenya or Madam Goodluck in Nigeria.

Leaders of IMF-SAPIEN societies are simply beyond irony. The opulent live-styles enjoyed by these leaders bear no relationship whatsoever to the poverty suffer by the masses of the people they are leading. This is the only explanation we can adduce for the nauseating sight of well-fed African leaders, resplendent in the best attires money can buy, meeting annually and pontificating about their people’s suffering.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Music Review

A satire

Who asked Rita Tweneboah to sing?

To describe her first (and hopefully last) CD cum cassette as a musical disaster is to be guilty of inadequate vocabulary.

Nothing exists in the English language, or in any language that I know, to describe this incoherent, clangorous nonsensical piece Ms Rita foisted on us as a high musical achievement.

Any primary school singing group could have easily produced something better than the shit (pardon the scatological term) that made Ms Rita genuflected with enthusiasm.

Listen to her: “I thank the Almighty God for allowing me to complete successfully this taxing musical project,” she gushed to me breathlessly at the low-key, two-room affairs she shares with her manager cum producer at Alajo, a suburb of Accra.

The manager, a lanky lad wore dark glasses in the poorly lit room. A Che Guevera's beret lay on his head like a bird of paradise. The last part of a joint dangled from his enormous lip.

He accented her every word with a nod of the head.

He looked like one high on some performance-enhancement drug.

Why do we have to drag the gods into this bizarre musical affair?

Mere mortals, relying on their native abilities, have produced much better musical works. Ms Rita must be thinking that celestial intervention is a substitute for ABILITY.

If there is an award for the WORST CD EVER, Ms Rita will win it with ease.

The CD, the one I listened to, started as though a drunkard got hold of a guitar and started strumming un-rythmically. Then a fellow bibber apparently rescued a piano and punched the keys erratically. On top of this clangorous mishmash, Ms Rita attempted to sing - at least that is what she appeared to be doing.

A good musical voice might have save the day, but [alas] Ms Rita's voice will make you puke, yes vomit.

Track two follows the same mushy pattern. Let us not waste time on the next three tracks. In track six, Ms Rita decided to go for what must have appeared to her to be gospel. In a confusing pantomime of drums, noises, guitar, piano, horns, drums and keyboard, she wailed some imitation of spiritual songs.

Again, her voice spoiled the fun.

It is difficult to imagine what Ms Rita was trying to do in track seven.

As though telling herself: "I am tired. I am fed up with this whole nonsense. Let's get done with all these shit and be done with it."

The track opened with the guitars dominating and pushing Ms Rita's grating voice out of the way. The guitarists then went on an insane display of guitar pyrotechnics.

These fellows, apparently high on some chemical-enhancements, must have just left their fingers waddled on the wires without caring what keys are hit.

In track eight (blessedly, the last), Ms Rita performed a mournful rendition of another spiritual generously sprinkled with 'Gye Nyame,' 'Jehowah,' 'Awurade,' and 'Yesu.'

Again, her voice did the whole thing a great injustice.

Granted that Ms Rita shares her manager cum producer's bed, how did any self-respecting studio managed to get such a shoddy job out of its doors and stamped it with its label?

The managers of CD-X Studio, who recently were in the news boasting about their latest hi-tech equipments, should tell us what they were thinking before releasing this monstrosity to the Ghanaian public.

The listening public certainly deserves something better.

Are we to believe that good face (Ms Rita, with a full, dreamy African face, inviting sensuous thick lips and winning smiles is very beautiful), and gorgeous body (her succulent body, the stuffs dreams are made of, giggles to her every movement), is enough to get an album out?

So, OK, Ms Rita cannot sing, her guitarists do no not know one key from another, her keyboard player is both inept and insane and her horn-man is a crazy-banana, didn't her lyrics rise up to the occasion?

Not on your life.

It is not only that the woman cannot sing, she also cannot write music.

Although, in bold Garamond type on the CD jacket, she boasted that: "All lairics (sic) ritten (sic) by Rita Tweneboah," the fact of the matter is that Ms Rita simply cannot write - prose, verse, music or anything else for that matter.

How could she when she has problems with elementary grammar? Sample this:

“Along the cost we moves (sic) (she meant 'coast')
Move, move, move [2*].
Sea water in the Area Move, move, move [2*].
Plenty of sand and people we sees (sic) .
Move, move, move [2*].
We eats (sic) fish and shito .
Move, move, move [2*]”.

Alternatively, try to make sense of this - from track four:
“A child is an angel in the face of the mother (sic).
A mother is an angel in the face of the child (sic).
God is an angel of heaven .
Angels are messengers of our Father in heaven.
Who send us messages from our home, Jerusalem Oh, Jerusalem, Salem, Salem.”

What are we to think of the mind capable of producing such 'songs'?

Ms Rita's inability (perhaps, absolute incapability is a better word) to sing well is matched only by her sheer lack of dancing abilities.

Nothing evidences this more than her pathetic attempt to dance in the accompanying video which she showed to me with glee.

If her singing can be dismissed as a disaster, Ms Rita's dancing is pure shame.

Many a fine African lady can do justice to dancing by simply moving her body, not so Ms Rita.

In her gallant efforts to impress and overcome an obvious natural handicap, she turned herself into something like a robot programmed to pantomime a dance.

No matter the type of music being played, it was always the same steps for Ms Rita as though she is following a rigid dancing script.

Her style of dancing is like this: Plant your legs widely apart with your buttocks (yards and yards of it) sticking out; throw your left hand this way, your right the other, then shake your head like you've got an epileptic seizure, and you get a pretty good picture of what Ms Rita did in the video.

"We made the video in Belgium." She enthused to me as though a Belgium stamp of approval can mask a shoddy job and bestow legitimacy on a very poor performance.

In a bow to the trash that goes for modernity, Ms Rita's fashion designers managed to reveal more than they hide.

In some scenes, she wore ultra-miniskirts that are no larger than a Nigerian postage stamp.

Although naturally endowed with great natural beauty, Ms Rita's heavy make-up made her look like a cheap whore. The wigs are definitely Brazilian and the mighty boobs are suspiciously\conspicuously Silicone jobs).

In some scenes of the videos, we saw only heavy boobs and in some scenes, Ms Rita showed us that she’s hip as reveals some panty-less hairy-box.

Ms Rita has no business singing and less dancing. With her great looks, there must be something she could, conceivably, be good at - although, it is hard to imagine what that could be judging from her performance on the CD and the video.

This is a music sang by the untalented; produced by the inept and marketed by the amoral.

Don't buy this CD and don't accept the video even if it becomes a freebie - unless you need a paperweight or you want to aggravate your enemy.

If this CD ever sold a single copy, it would represent the triumph of marketing over good taste.

The Moral: in years gone by, musical giants like ET Mensah, ET Crentsil, Koo Nimo and others firmly planted Ghana’s music on the world’s cultural\musical map.

They played authentic highlife music that couldn’t be mistaken for anything else.

These hugely-talented musical giants were passionate about their role as their country’s cultural ambassadors.

Lamentably, like almost everything else in our dear land, our music scene is now populated by hustlers masquerading as musical artistes.

Disappointingly, we are today saddled by wannabee artistes who appeared not have heard the phrase that no one treat his imitator like an equal.

I wish that Ghanaian musicians will sit up and try and emulate their Jamaican and Senegalese counterparts by maintaining their cultural integrity.

Whichever part of our globe one goes, Jamaica is synonymous with reggae. And musicians like Baaba Maal, Orchestra Baobab, Youssou N’dour, Thione Seck et al have ensured that Senegal has become a force to be reckoned with in what European commentators like to call World Music.

Wise saying:

" Never use both feet to test the depth of the sea." - African proverb