Friday, January 23, 2009

Guess Who is Debating The Issues?

I had every intention of further editing what should've been today's blog entry and then posting it but my little brother Ato, who some readers will remember from the bacon incident that I mentioned in a different blog entry titled A Ghanaian Breakfast, made a comment this morning which compelled me to change plans. I dropped him off at his school, the University Primary School at Legon (UPS) as I usually do, glad that he didn't throw up in my car today. (By the way, Ato claims he does not vomit when he takes tro-tro, but posh cars make him vomit. Imagine that!). At UPS, Friday is the big day for club activities so the Girl Guides wear their blue dresses, the Brownies wear their brown attire, the Boys Scouts wear their khakis and boots, those in the football club bring their footballs and so on, so just as we got there, I noticed other students wearing their club attire. Curious, I asked Ato why he wasn't wearing his and he answered that he's in the writers and debaters club and that club has no special attire. If there's such a thing as an internal groan, I did it. Another writer! Why couldn't he be in the drama club or drumming and dancing club, Red Cross or even the science club? Twelve years ago when I left UPS, there was something called the Young Writers Club, but I don't recall that they did any debating. So I pressed him further to ask what they debate on. His response?
"We debate the issues!"
Ei, ei, ei, Ghana has indeed moved forward. Twelve-year-olds are debating the issues! The way Ato said they debate the issues left me quite impressed because I certainly wasn't debating the issues when I was in JSS 1 (middle school). Now with a smile forming on my lips, and pride growing in my heart, I humbly asked, dɛm a? ɛbɛn issues dɛm na wɔ debate? (tr: Is that so, what are some examples of issues you've debated) I was really starting to feel cheated out of a wonderful educational experience since this same school had not empowered me to discuss the issues when I was there. Then Ato said "caning, and why caning must be abolished". (caning = the act of beating kids with a cane, a normal part of school life in Ghana) Oh my goodness! I started laughing and could not stop. By this time he was out of the car, holding on to the door. He cracked a smile and asked me why I was laughing. My response was "awo to me car no mu ma me nko" (tr: you close my car door and let me go). I laughed my way out of there. Here was I thinking that the kids were discussing education, healthcare, job creation and employment, the economy and so on, so out of touch with young people's concerns when indeed, the issues for twelve- year-olds in Ghana have not changed that much since my time...


  1. Funny! I was also wondering whether 12 year olds were discussing ex gratia payments for ex Presidents. I have to say I am glad they are discussing issues within their own world view.

  2. Great, what they're doing in the schools then. I am more happy that they're learning to think and debate than about the issues themselves.

    Oh, Esi, are you sure that 'caning' is a normal part of school life in Ghana?

  3. Aww, Esi, he sounds cute. Now don't laugh, but Ato like me gets car sick. It doesn't happen when I sit in a "boneshaker" trotro but in airconditioned "posh" cars... I don't know how it works. Funny enough it doesn't happen when I am driving. (Not that my car is posh:-))Go figure!
    Those issues matter to me though, Esi. Why should they be caned? Its silly to hit a child... It just is.

  4. canning (lashing) is definitely an issue to be discussed by 12yr olds... cos they feel the whip on the buttocks...aaaiii...squeezed face....'agyeiiii'.....painful...

    so yes they are debating the issues

    and i hope (and i'm sure) they debate ESBs for prez and other political sense and nonsense all in a beautiful mix...

    if you doubt it, just lay your points on the table before any of this kids and invite them to a trade...

    and now Esi, i could almost touch that smile that started forming on your lips (borne out partly by a nostalgic recall)...

    ain't this life just a wonder!?

  5. LOL! At least it's a start. Besides, as long as it's an issue they can relate to, it is okay. :)

    ~Linda B.

  6. Woarabae! I am disappointed that you were trivializing the issues that matter to this 12 year old! I wish I had debated about "caning or school uniforms, or cutting my nappy hair" when I was that age. You have to start somewhere!

  7. Yeah, you guys are right. As Nana Yaw pointed out, what's more important is that they're learning how to debate. It's just the way Ato said they debate the issues! It raised my

    @Nana Yaw, I asked Ato this morning and he said they still cane them for talking, not doing homework, and not getting their homework signed by a parent. When i was there, it was the same. If the class prefect writes names and you're "among", you get lashes. And if your class prefect was kayna 5, and you talked all the time like i did, then u knew you were going to be lashed all the time! So in time, you just accept that schhol yEdE naaso abaa wo mu (tr: school life is good but it comes with caning)and caning is normal. Ato did say though that they no longer lash them if they're late for school. Instead they make them pick litter. If you know something I've missed, please share.

    @kayna5, so do you still get car sick now that you're grown up or did you never grow out of it? I worry for the poor boy. Can you imagine if he goes on a date paa and his date picks him up in a nice car and he throws up in her car! That will not be cute!

    @Max, you're giving me ideas for another blog entry-All the stupid things we had to endure in elementary school! It's funny that you mention cutting ur nappy hair but i remember that in our school,girls who had long hair were asked to braid it and the school officials were against perming the hair before braiding but most people still permed the hair.

    @novisi, seems to me like you have your own primary school stories to tell. I shd do a blog entry about that.

  8. Hahaha! You got me with that class prefect thing. I rem one day in class 5, KAT and I didn't write names and "mental" teacher came and said "Give me 10 names of those who were talking." and I honestly said "the whole class was talking." The whole class got 2 lashes, KAT and I got 4 each! Hurt like hell but at least I didn't make any enemies!:-)

  9. Ghana is a popular country. Kind Mormons and best soccer team in Africa.