Hola Mi Gente!

April 27, 2012 § 3 Comments

–          I had this brilliant idea of unlocking my dongle (Ghanaians call it a pen drive or modem even though it’s neither) that way I could try out the other junk services. I managed to complete two of the three steps before the thing sort of crashed- disabled, is more the right term. I passed it on to my young cousin to re-download the vodafone mobile connect software. This was on April 2. After the darn thing was passed around with people I’ll never meet promising to unlock it, and my patience had finally worn thin, I got my huawei dongle back yesterday! I refused to do cafes, so that meant I’d be without internet until today. It should’ve been yesterday, but the thing still wasn’t working, and I had to go into geek mode installing drivers and enabling a few devices before I could get online. Had I taken the dongle back to vodafone, I’m sure nothing good would’ve come out of what would’ve been a wasted day. So…this is why I’ve been away.

 

So, what happened in April?

 

–          I’ve been in a lot of pain all month. I think even if I didn’t have the dongle issue, I probably would’ve avoided writing, which would’ve required my sitting, which aggravates this thigh problem I have. It all started when I came to Ghana. I noticed early on that I’d wake up with some new joint pain, and it was always in a different bodily spot. I didn’t pay too much attention to it because the pains would go away after a few days (but resurface a month or so later). I didn’t have this problem in the U.S., and it was only until this past week that I realized I never have this problem when I sleep-over at my aunt’s place. The problem is these inflexible latex mattresses! I sleep on my stomach (picture “Captain Morgan” or someone rock-climbing) and have done so since…well, forever. But I think this has caused some injury in my left thigh/hamstring/hip…basically every where around my left femur bone is out of whack, and most days I have to roll out of bed and painfully stretch (with squats) for 20 minutes before I can walk or sit. If you met me now, you’d notice how stiff my left leg is. I’ll have it checked out soon, but I’m somewhat cynical in feeling my money would be wasted on a “professional” who wouldn’t be of any help.

–          I made a few trips outside Accra in April. I went to Somanya, Larteh, and Koforidua. The latter because I was nearby, and the others for clay. I’ve been trying to build a brick oven the last two months (it’ll be finally done next week!). The whole thing is a two-workday job over three days. You’d think that should be relatively easy, but then again, you don’t live in Ghana. If I had Loews or home depot here, I would’ve done the whole thing by the end of February, but I don’t have that luxury. It’s nearly impossible to find burnt bricks. Clay is nearly as elusive, i.e. if you’re relying on others to do the work for you. This is a d-i-y country. If you really want things done right, you either do it yourself, or micromanage to make sure it’s done how you want it done. The first “builder” quoted 2000-4000ghc to my uncle when he inquired. When someone quotes a figure WAY outside your budget, where do you begin the price negotiations? A few number-crunching and I realized someone was trying to hose me. I thanked my uncle for his search, and started my own search. I searched and got my own bricks, and after a long, long search, I found clay right in my own neighborhood! So, hopefully if all goes well, I’ll be cooking some delicious meals from that oven by the 2nd week of May. I’m going to treat myself to a good job well done with a day at the beach this coming Tuesday at Kokrobite.

 

Local Issues

–          There’s really only one, and bare with how I write it out. There are 70-some-odd ethnic groups in Ghana. WE ALL CAME FROM SOMEWHERE ELSE! Let me say that again: WE ALL CAME FROM SOMEWHERE ELSE! When I was young, and even before I was born, a Scottish/Ghana skinny air force punk name Jerry John Rawlings (John is actually his original last name). Rawlings’ mother is/was Ghana, specifically Eve (ancestrally of the Volta Region, formerly German Togoland…blah, blah.. we’ll do Ghana history later). The guy is somewhat of a walking contradiction. He’s hard to pin as this or that, but two things I’ll always give him are: his love of Ghana, and his ambitious nature. I always admired him as a kid. He once came to Alajo after a nasty storm which flooded most of the town. He didn’t fly over or observe the mess from a safe perch. The guy was literally knee deep in the trenches. He was the true definition of folksy, not the ‘who would you drink beer with’ B.S. we had to endure from Repubs and the U.S. media during Bush vs Kerry.

Rawlings was also what some would call a benevolent dictator. He didn’t rule Ghana with an iron fist, but he did a bit of cleansing when he assumed power after Hilla Limann, which wasn’t exactly ethical or legal. As an adult, I know enough to understand some of the motivations behind his actions, but I would’ve done things a bit differently if I had been in his position. This cleansing (and I’m in no way trying codify it in any nice language) removed a host of military heads who Rawlings deemed trouble for the nation (although, it was equally for his personal benefit). Anyway, most of these jokers were Akans, largely Asante. Do a simple wiki search and besides Ankrah and Limann (spl?), every one of those men is Akan: Afrifa, Akuffo, Busia, etc. His detractors’ animus over the years grew past the person and his PNDC ruling party to more personal stuff like his wife and lineage. On the lineage thing, they honed on his being Eve and this false perception that he favored natives from the Volta Region over others. When I was younger, this hatred of Eves by Akans, and by Akans…-sorry, but this was nearly entirely Asante (this is not to say all Asante are tribalists who despise Eves; I have enough Asante life-long friends I’ll gladly lose a limb or two for who aren’t like this, and the grand majority of Asante aren’t this way. It’s just the nuts among them that give this impression). So… they went from behind-the-back whispers to gossips to radio propaganda, to the internet blog commentary, and now outright pronouncements by sitting MPs (I’ll never call any of these idiots “Honorable”!).

These people are very similar to Republicans in the U.S. In fact, they like to model themselves after the Republican Party. If you know me personally and know how I feel about republicans, then you’d have a good idea how I feel about the NPP. I can’t stand individuals or groups of people who feel they’re somewhat entitled to one thing or another; like it was their natural right to possess, and the NPP plays this tune very well. Btw, I can’t stand the NDC, either, so don’t dare call me their apologist or supporter. But from what I’ve seen since my youth, wherever and whenever you see any of these tribalistic flare-ups, your best bet would be that there’s an Akan and an NPP person involved.  

So when this needless voter registration process began, both main political parties for whatever reason started provocations. It was false rumors about why registration machines were malfunctioning; with the NPP suggestion it was attempts to suppress voter rolls in NPP strongholds by Atta Mills. Then this grew to their objecting to people registering for this or that reason. Then the NDC retaliated by doing the same. Mind you, almost of all this was happening here in Greater Accra. THEY’RE FIGHTING OVER VOTER REGISTRATION! We aren’t even voting! Then both factions started marshalling their goon squads to intimidate voters, and when the NPP, who seem to feel the presidency is their natural right, which must be theirs come December- when they couldn’t have their way in Odododiodioo – this is Ga Mashie of all places: Korle, Jamestown, Gbese, Bukom, etc, one of theirs, Kennedy Agyapong called on Akans (what he really meant was Asante people; everything is coded here) should arm themselves and attack Eves. He did this on his own radio station as he’s grown to walking out of other radio stations when hosts object to his language and insist he retract some of his caustic statements. If you’re in Ghana, he’s also the owner of NET2 TV station. Virtually every movie shown on that station is stolen. I’ll bet every pesewa I have that this guy hasn’t paid a single penny in royalty for all the movies shown on his channel. He’s so brazen with his actions that just last month; his show broadcasted a bootleg version of a movie starring Dwayne Johnson while the movie was being shown at Silverbird Cinema! And this is what we call “Honorable” in this country.

Anyway, this is where we are. The NPP hails him as a hero; the NDC goes overboard in their treason charges and attempts to send the guy to the ICC. I’d convict him of lesser charges and make sure he serves 2 years minimum, but what do I know. It’s too bad Indoom and the PPP aren’t yet presented as a better alternative to the other two.

 

I started reading the Bible written in Akuapem Twi. I want to study Akuapem Twi, Ga, and if possible Eve. I don’t want my every other word to be English and still call myself multi-lingual. I have a stronger command of French than I do Ga, which is very sad. Anyway, this is the only way I can study besides being in Akuapem, but I understand about half of the words of the chapter I’ve read so far. I hope this doesn’t become a fruitless and depressing exercise. 

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§ 3 Responses to Hola Mi Gente!

  • Yvonne says:

    Mike, I have a lot to say about your article, but with my boys all over me, I’ll try and make it simple…..I lived in Ghana the first 20 or so years of my life. And for the first 10yrs I thought the presidency was an inheritance. Also, if you had family who were kiiled because they owned Peugot (forgive my spelling) or had in their possession the highest cedi denomination, then you will definitely be singing a different tune. I witnessed the 1992, 1996 and both the 1st and 2nd rounds of the 2000 elections. From reading your articles I realized that since you left the country when 1995/96 you did not return until recently. Anyway, I left Ghana in 2001 and returned 2003, 2007 and recently 2010….the longest time was 3 months in 2010.
    All I can say is that, one can feel the difference in the atmosphere in that country….If you owned the same business for over 40yrs, like my father, you could tell the difference!!!

    the Akans, Akans, Akans…..NPP is not a party for the Akans and neither are the NDC predominantly Eves or Gas…..I have heard the tape of the so called “I declare war in Ghana today” and no where did he say that Akans should kill, hurt Gas and Eves…..Don’t get me wrong I do not condone such talks or actions….

    I guess if you own a number of businesses in Ghana and employ thousands of Ghanaians (Akans, Eves, Gas, etc…) like Ken Agyapong maybe it gets in over your head……

    Anyway, let me pause here,……

  • Mike says:

    Btw, I am Akan- Akuapem to be exact… (If I tried really hard, I could see my hometown from my porch) …I’m also Ewe as I won’t just ignore those genes. When Rawlings took over from Limann, a tank came to our house in Kokomlemle to look for a relative’s husband. I was too young to remember (probably age 1), but when you hear about how your mom hid her three kids under the bed while soldiers did room-to-room searches eventually killing the woman in her bed, you don’t exactly warm to figures like Rawlings, those who came before him, and those who followed and/or those who feel it’s their turn to mouth off or do worse.

    As for differences- (I’m guessing you’re referring to economic growth since Kufuor? correct me if I’m guessing wrongly), I’m a tough critic on whether there have been any real positive differences. J.J. for all his wrongs kept Ghana politically stable (relative to most African states) since 1981. His economic and social efforts were marginal at best, but for me that stability allowed many to start and maintain their own businesses including many in my family- even if they were largely small businesses. Kufuor and Mills didn’t impress me, either, but the foundation from Rawlings shouldn’t be overlooked if Kufuor is to be given any credit for any accomplishments. Neither he nor Mills assumed their mantles of a nation in ruins.

    One of my problems has been what has been this constant demonization of either Gas or Ewes- something I take very personally. I can’t tell you how many times in the past year I’ve heard negative comments about either ethnic group by people who assume I’m just like them until they realize I’m part Ewe. Just this week I rode a trotro home with two johnny-just-cames who were chatting “nkrine fuo ny3. m3n ko ware bio…”na omo wo 3ha so? (referring to our area near the valley of the Akuapem hills)” Accra may not be my “hometown” as we like to explain hometowns in Ghana. But it is technically my hometown. I was born at Korle Bu. I grew up in Kokomlemle, Alajo and Dansoman. So when people come here to bad-mouth Gas, I get annoyed. You move into someone’s ancestral home and then speak bad of them.. it’s a nearly weekly thing, and what pisses me off often is that it’s almost always coming from my own people (those 2 were from Ejisu, they claimed). This is in stark contrast to what I knew to be Accra and Ghana growing up here, and as I’ve grown up, I’ve development lil’ to no patience for those attitudes. It’s on tv and worse on radio; and very pervasive on several social sites where anonymity allows those cowards to say the worst.

    I, too, have heard of the businesses and people Agyapong may have hired. Great! But for me, it’s all for naught, if one uses those accomplishments to wash over their putrid attitudes about other ethnic groups or rival parties. He did insinuate that Asantes should met out to Ewes in Kumasi what he felt was done to NPP supporters in Odododiodioo. When you leap from skirmishes in a small constituency in Accra to calling for people from an ethnic group to be attacked in a large city several hundred miles away, you’ll get zero sympathy from me- even if we belong to the same ethnic group, and even if you claim your wife is Ewe. It’s like a white southern racists claiming he isn’t because he has black friends. The fact remains: he’s still a bigoted racist. Akuffo-Addo told (during a rallying speech) a gathering in the eastern region “y3n Akan fuo…” (I’ve read the whole speech in full context)…why should a party leader who’s also its presidential candidate use such inflammatory language and give further inferences that theirs is an Akan party.

  • Kwaku says:

    Yvonne, either you did not listen to the tape properly or you heard what you wanted to hear. It said very clearing that Ewes and Gas in Ashanti region should attacked in retaliation for what he is alleging is happening else. As an MP who is supposed to be responsible that is not the right way to go even to deal with a perceived wrong. Also owning businesses employing people doesn’t give one the licence to disrespect or insult people from certain tribes.

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