Thursday, April 16, 2009

Thursday, April 09, 2009

If God dey love Naija and Ghana the same as Switzerland, den why he for do we so?

Ibi like say God no dey love Ghana den Naija. Weytin make I talk so? Weytin be say yesternight around 3 am den I no dey fit sleep so I dey read newspaper wey I read som story. Ma broda, ma sista, dat story convince me say true true Chineke dey love Switzerland pass Naija den Ghana. Allow me to make my case.

"The story" which is entitled "Prophet T. B. Joshua" was on page 3 of the 4th April edition of the The Mirror, a Ghanaian weekly. The writer does not say what s/he's trying to communicate so I, like any reader, was left in the unsatisfactory position of trying to get to the heart of the story. After reading the article, I think the writer wants to show that God has a special plan for everyone by using the prophet's life story as an illustration. If this is not the writer's intention, well, s/he can't blame me for getting it wrong. I swear if you gave that article to five independent readers, and asked each of them to tell you what that article was about, you would get 5 different answers...but I digress. Perhaps i'm regressing into typical Ghanaian mode - critiquing the quality of things I have not tried to improve. You no dey do notin but somebody try a, den u go say ino dey bi. wey life dat?

Back to the article, i'm not challenging the idea that God has a special plan for his children. That could very well be true, but to accept the bishop's account of his life as a valid proof of God's plans in action would necessarily lead me to the conclusion that God does not love Ghana, or Nigeria, as much as he does some other countries.

Here's the summary of the bishop's biography. His childhood dream was to become a soldier but "unusual occurences" which we're being asked to interpret as divine, "impeded his goal of fulfilling his childhood dream". Now readers, let's take a look at these supposedly "unusual occurences". He passed the entrance exam required for the Nigerian Defence Academy at Kaduna and was invited to go for an interview. He boarded a train which was to take him from Lagos (where he lived) to Kaduna. The train broke down on the way. Consequently, they were stuck in the Jebba -which according to the article is somewhere in the bush- for 6 days. He did not have a means of getting to Kaduna and so he missed the interview. In the bishop's own words "this is how the ambition to enlist into the military was aborted by what was obviously an act of fate". Even though he was upset, his mother told him it was willed by God and so he came away from the experience a changed man and "began to look at whatever came his way with a more mature mind whose focus was on God alone". The article goes on to talk about other incidents which interrupted this education. Four times, he was unable to take an exam he had registered for because he either "forgot his acknowlegement card" or was involved in an accident en route to the exam venue. Four times!

The article does not mention how we went from someone who could somehow not get his act together to take an exam to a prominent "prophet". The prophet is said to be on friendly terms with "highly-placed foreigners" if foreigners are in some way special. Apparently his foreign friends include kings, queens, princes, and princesses from Zululand in South Africa, Former president of Zambia Chiluba, former president of Congo-Brazzaville Lissouba, President of Gabon Omar Bongo and surprise, our very own president of Ghana Prof. Atta Mills! If all these is to be believed, this prophet is the kind of person people pay attention to. If he says God did it, who am I to challenge it?

So against my better judgement, I am going to grant that all that happened was willed by God. Having done that, I now need to have a chat with God, woman -to- woman.

Chat with God
God, you must have planned it in such a way that everyone on that train with the prophet also had to be stuck in the bush for 6 days. Nigeria lost money in 2 important ways: for six days, all these people did not contribute to the economy, and for six days, the train company did not earn income from the particular train which broke down. Why do you let this happen only in Nigeria and Ghana and other countries like ours? 6 days? God, did you really need six days? Why did you have to make it cost our country so!

Also, God, why did you have to let the train break down to prevent him from making it for the interview. You could have just made him fail the exam! That would have saved all the other people from being stuck in the bush for days. Why do you keep doing this to Naija? To Ghana?
I know that sometimes you do things to glorify your name but this one, this one just makes me think I don't understand you.
And, God, we both know that if this had happened elsewhere in the world, the prophet's mother would have sued the train company or at the very least complained about them. God, you of all people must know how much Ghana and Nigeria need that. The complaining would have gotten the train company to ensure their trains don't break down, or better, put in measures to send another train to pick up the stranded people the same day or at worst, the next day. Complaints would have led to a more efficient service, and yet you made us miss such an opportunity for redress because of one prophet? why?
Lastly, God, you know I want to get to know you better, so why did you make me read this story and not believe it? All part of your plan, huh? Ah well...maybe you made me write this blog entry so one of the comments will bring me to a better understanding of your ways. I await in anticipation.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Ma weni nsɔ nea wo wɔ - Be content with what you have

This morning on my way to work, I was feeling quite happy listening to some India Arie when I had a moment. One of those moments when you feel the universe is trying to send you a message because too many things come together to give you a jolt. I was listening to "There's hope", and reflecting on the following lyrics...

Back when I had a little
I thought that I needed a lot
A little was over rated,
but a lot was a little too complicated
You see-Zero didn't satisfy me
A million didn't make me happy
That's when I learned a lesson
That it's all about your perception
Hey-are you a pauper or a superstar
So you act, so you feel, so you are
It ain't about the size of your car
It's about the size of the faith in your heart

Off in the back country of Brazil
A met a young brother that made me feel
That I could accomplish anything.
You see just like me he wanted to sing
He had no windows and no doors
He lived a simple life and was extremely poor
On top of all of that he had no eye sight,
but that didn't keep him from seein' the light
He said, what's it like in the USA,
and all I did was complain
He said-livin' here is paradise
He taught me paradise is in your mind

As I am bopping my head to this song, one of the street sellers approaches my car. He's selling gum, mints, and other candy and i'm thinking...gosh, how much does he make in a day, and how can i be discontent with my lot when I pass by people like this everyday? Just then, I see the inscription on his square wooden container in which the candies sit. It reads "little market" on one edge and "ma weni nsɔ nea wo wɔ" (tr: be content with what you have) on another edge. The encounter has inspired me to count my blessings.

Today, I'm thankful

1. For my fiance, and my family and the opportunity to love them.
2. That I have a job I like.
3. For my funky hair, and all that it represents.
4. For good health and laughter, and madness.
5. For books, and laptops, and my ipod and eyesight and even kindle even though I don't have one yet.
6. For sunshine, and beauty in unlikely places.
7. For friends who buy me books, take me to french restaurants and to see independent movies.
8. For friends who gossip with me, and make me laugh, and remind me how flawed we all are.
9. For friends who inspire me to be more than I am, and those who show through their actions that it's possible to change the world.
10. For friends who teach me that it's not enough to be smart or rich or even famous and that you have to be good person too and that maybe in the end, that's what matters because people will forget your brilliant speech, and your wit, but they'll never forget how you made them feel.
11. For music, inspirational people and peace.
12. For the opportunity to meet so many good, good men before I got cynical.
13. For the courage to pursue dreams and the support of friends when I doubt myself.

Most of all I'm thankful for life and the freedom to live it. What about you? What are you most thankful for today?

The many hoops you'll have to jump through before you build your house in Ghana

Be warned. This is a rant. I notice i'm complaining a lot about life in Ghana now. I guess the scales finally fell off from someone's eyes:)

For the past several months I've been trying to get proper documentation for a piece of land, but it is taking so long, and there's not a thing I can do about it.

First I had to find a surveyor to come do his magic so he could give me some paper showing the land and its location in latitudes and longitudes. I pay this guy but it takes him 3 weeks to produce the document because he has to get it signed in some head office and things take a while there.

Finally i get this document. Then I pay someone else (the chief's relative) to get me a registered indenture and that takes 3 weeks.

Then the indenture has to get signed by the chief and all who co-own the land with him. Some of them live far away in Suhum. But all the signatories must sign and they all want their cut so I have to pay them all. sigh. I've done this, but a week has gone by already and still, only the chief has signed. Thankfully I've only paid half the money so hopefully they'll speed it up since they want the rest.

Next, I have to get a land title certificate. I don't even know where I need to go to get this. Does anyone here know? Is there a way to do it quickly?

Following that, I'll need to get a building permit. Will I be able to do all this in the next month? Someone said it will take at least 3 months to get the land title certificate! I'm already tired. Why does it have to be so hard? Will I have any money left to build that hollywood crib once this is all over?

Thursday, April 02, 2009

How to Teach Your Child to do Laundry, Ghanaian Style.

One of my earliest memories is of a learning moment in kindergarten. We'd been taught to write numerals, and I'd gotten everything except how to write the number 8. The hand movement required to write it was too complicated for me. My inability to write this number had become a source of great stress...stress I received from my teacher.Back then, I considered myself pretty smart. I was the girl who could do it all. If only one baby was going to say a poem during the annual school show, that kid would be me, so i fancied myself to be special. Then one day, I saw a little boy who i thought was dumb (yep, even at that age, we had learned these things)write 8. I was looking at his book, hehe, and I saw him write one small zero on top of another. The result was something that looked like 8, not a perfect 8, but still a 8. Aha! From then on, I knew how to write eight. My teacher could not have taught me this: she may not have wanted to teach me a short cut, or she may just have continued to explain it in her old complicated way...old people speak, and sometimes that does not work.

Point being, children learn best when they learn from someone who speaks their language such as another child. That's why I've decided to share with you a simple, step by step method which was written 15 years ago on 31st March 1994 by yours truly. If you need to teach your kid to wash, use it. Even if you don't have a kid, I'm sure you'll get a kick out of reading the essay:) or it will remind you of how it used to be when you first started doing your own laundry or washing as we say it in Ghana. My comments are in blue.

How To Wash A School Uniform.

In Ghana, most people wear the common school uniform. (lol, i guess in a child's mind, all people wear uniforms...people being children) That is the shirt and a pinafore or shorts, and this is how to wash it.

Firstly, you fill three buckets with water. And you get your soap. After that you put the uniform in the first bucket. You wash the collar, the armpits and then you wash it all. Then you squeeze it and put it in the second bucket. After that you come back to the first bucket and wash the pinafore. That one too you smear the soap on it and wash the top and then the down one and put that also in the second bucket.

You wash the shirt and the pinafore all over again in the second bucket. Squeeze it and put them in the third bucket.

In the third bucket, you don't add any soap to the uniform but just rinse it a bit and take it to the drying line and dry it. You must hold the clothes firmly with a peg on the drying line so that it does not fall of the line and get dirty.

This is how to wash a school uniform.

PS: The next essay was written in class 3. There is a great line which I just have to share so you can ignore the whole essay and skip to the part which is highlighted in red.

My Teacher

My teacher's name is Mr. G.E.M. Ata
He is 57 years old
He is dark in complexion, he has white teeth (who doesn't?), brown eyes and black short hair.
He lives at Achimota house number 14 (hmm, i wonder how i knew this).
He have two children one girl and a boy.
He is a teacher at University Pri. School. He teaches very well.
He have toath for about twenty five years. He have a baby bence (hehe, what exactly is a baby benz? I'm sure i knew what i meant then, but i certainly don't now:)
My teacher is very ornest (haha) and gentle.
He likes beating children who tell lies.
I would like him if he was my father (aww).
He likes eating plantain and beans.
The game he likes best is football.
I like him because he is a good teacher.

PPS: The conversation about cheating has been very interesting and relevant. I'm going to write another entry soon in which we'll try to understand if cheating is bad.