Tuesday, 30 June 2009


When I was much younger, I had dreams of becoming a professional formula one driver, or at least racing cars as a hobby. Recently I have been forced to develop a new hobby; it’s kind of like dodge ball...let’s call it dodge-hole...potholes, that is. Welcome to Ghanaian roads, Obstacle Course 101. Beginner, intermediate or expert all take the same test, your success rate determines your expertise.
A Nigerian friend of mine once told me about potholes in Abuja which can cause accidents on their own. I remember having a good laugh. But I’m not laughing now.
Our roads are fraught with enough danger as it is, and now with the rains come extra pot holes.
A short time ago I came across one and I could swear it had been dug on purpose. It had design,contours and style; the sheer size and depth of the hole was awe-inspiring [in hindsight I should have taken photos]. But I was disillusioned to find that I hadn’t made a discovery worth an entry in the Guinness Book of Records, as there are some all around; but probably not as ‘wonderful’.
Potholes - great and small.
Their effects are varied, but all unpleasant both for the car and the driver. I am now sure they are unpleasant for pedestrians as well: On the Spintex road, I witnessed a tro-tro driver, in an attempt to dodge a pot hole, create a tsunami wave which completely drenched an unfortunate passerby in muddy water. Of course he sped off to escape the insults and curses that would surely follow.
Maybe I’m silly, or just fussy about having smooth roads so I can play Rick Ross’ Speeding and imagine I am Lewis Hamilton; but while other drivers seem to have accepted life with potholes and simply dodge them, others all the while complaining. Some neighbourhoods are enterprising, they fill theirs with stones, but if you drive a low suspended car this won’t be good news for you either.
Who is in charge of potholes? [I think they are worth having their own ministerial portfolio, don’t you?] Or will we wait until a spectacularly horrifying accident occurs as a result of a predatory pot hole, before we take up arms? Some may even argue that action now is pointless as the rainy season is ongoing, but doesn’t a stitch in time save nine? and I don't mean the patching we're so fond of.


I am beginning to wonder why we shoo vultures away on sight, when they are our cousins. We Ghanaians have such vulture-like tendencies, that is it a wonder we have not grown feathered wings.
(Why Vultures? Because it is said that they don't build nests, but perch where they can while the sun is out. But suffer during the rainy season because they don't have a prepared place to shelter)
The rains are here again, and as usual we seem surprised. As if we didn’t know that they would come. The papers are full of complaints ...loss of property, loss of life, general disorder caused by flood waters.
Is it déjà vu? Or were the headlines the same just last year?

Ah, let me ask a question...didn’t we know or haven’t we learnt that stuffing the drains with rubbish during the dry season would worry us when the rains come [as they do every year?].
Didn’t you know when you were building on a waterway that there is a rainy season? Or the price was just right? Oh, did you say you didn’t know it was a waterway? That responsibility squarely falls on the officials who issue building permits. [Is that the town and city planning officials?] But then again, did you ask? Let us be man/woman enough to admit our folly.
But no, as usual, we’re playing out favourite game – the blame game. Which government caused it? Which agency did it? Let us blame it permanently on Kwame Nkrumah, who is dead and cannot answer and on [...in pe, setin pe...] the Ministry of Women’s and Children affairs.
Sound absurd?
Not more so than the blame game.

When the sun was scorching and the heat was sweltering we had no problems, so we didn’t search for solutions. Now it’s pouring and our tears are mixed with the rain.
I don’t want to sound mean but ‘ese moara’. If you continue to live in a flood prone area year after year in the same house, then ese woara. It is true that finding accommodation is a problem, but think about the cost of continuing to live there. What if you lose your life? [or your child’s who has no choice but to live with the silly adults]. I do not have figures to back this, but I am sure the cost of damage to property is huge; and damage not easily be erased. I am picturing broken walls; destroyed furniture [that is if it was not swept away]; stained and smelly mattresses; walls, now two-toned, the bottom half brown; carpets now trays for stones, mud, sand and whatever else the receding flood waters will leave behind.
If you dry it out or buy new ones and do nothing about your situation, ese woara.
Demolition exercises have been proposed, so maybe that will be some relief. But it will probably be short lived. I’m sure next year by this time, we will be tuned in [again] to our favourite programme, ‘what the rain has done’
Am I a doom monger?
Me, I live in a flat, on the second floor, nti ese moara.

Generally Chaotic Banking

The day after the shocking death of music deity and icon, oburoni/obibini Michael Jackson I was sent on an unfortunate errand. [unfortunate, as used here means unhappy]

I was sent to Ghana Commercial Bank :(

Let me tell you a bit about my history with that bank. Before starting university, it is almost required to have a bank account, so quite excitedly my friend Phyllis and I went to GCB to open bank accounts. This enthusiasm was short lived, because getting money from GCB – ATM or banking hall is usually like trying to pry open a tortoise shell. Soon we abandoned the campus branch for the one at Prempeh II Street in search of better service. The straw that broke this camel’s back was minor, but I had just had enough. I was broke [first prerequisite to be a student] and was heading to Mecca [Accra- to my benevolent money- earning parents]. I had dutifully kept just enough money for my pilgrimage, and any encounter with a ground nut or water seller, for example, causing any spillage of goods would ground me. After waiting in line forever, the teller, stoically informed me that I could not be given the amount because I had insufficient funds.


Almost in tears, I explained, that it was simply not possible. Try as I might, they insisted I had withdrawn the money and forgotten that I had. There was nothing that could be done.


The rest is not important but I will forever be grateful to my friends who made my pilgrimage possible. As soon as I returned to Kumasi I opened an account with Barclays, and another with Ecobank as insurance. Never again.

So I cringed when I had to do my father’s bidding. It sounded simple enough: He had deposited money into my account from a branch outside Accra. All I had to do was go to the bank, and withdraw it for the benefit of another person.

Michael’s passing has reminded us all of the fleetingliness of the fraility called life, and I didn’t intend to waste mine at GCB. At the GCB branch at Osu, I was assisted by a wonderful security man who was immensely helpful; he really sped up the process for me; and I am very grateful. [I wonder if it was because he assumed I was a relation of a member of staff, who I asked to speak to...hmmm].

Most banks utilize a system called networking; it connotes speed, convenience, and ease of transactions. Not at GCB. The money had not arrived in my account – ‘insufficient balance’. The teller, several times, insisted that I check to make sure the money had been deposited. So I called my father. I was then informed that the network had been down earlier (as usual), but since been restored; and an assurance was given that the transaction would go through.

I sighed. I was not surprised, nor disappointed. In fact, they had lived up to my expectations. My father’s text summed it all up for me: ‘You tried. GCB inefficient’

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

City life v town life

I am a ‘city girl’; not excited about peace and quiet or birds singing. I am very used to ‘city living’ with its cosmopolitan things – like cappuccino; jazz, sushi; boutiques, Vietnamese cuisine, cheese shop, milkshakes, a mall can now be added and more. All equal more expense, the sacrifice for being in the capital. But this is the general way of life I could say I knew.
...until I moved to Kumasi to attend university. I heard ‘horror’ stories about burgers, and fufu being the only meal served in eating places. I swore never to change, and resolutely returned to Accra at regular intervals to re-immerse myself in ‘civilisation’. Somewhere along the line the 4 – 6 hour journey wore me out and I began to spend more and more and more time in Kumasi. Soon enough twi became my preferred language and I began to enjoy many aspects of living in Oseikrom.
Four years after, I must admit that Kumasi grew on me. Don’t get me wrong, I don't think i'll trade Accra for it, but I won’t mind semi-long stays. Unfortunately, I have noticed one effect of living there that is affecting my way of life in Accra. I have become a very ‘cheap girl’!!
Let me explain, the standard of living in Kumasi is superb for student life. A little can go far. A lot has u living the life! There is a price for everyone, billionaire right down to the beggar. Food, transport, entertainment [though limited] is all cheaper. What else does a student need? I discovered shops, salons and braid centres with marvellous talent at amazing prices. After enjoying this for four years, I find myself becoming very upset in Accra. For example, to go club-hopping in Accra I am required [actually, my date, but...] to shell out [sums I now view as huge] for a girl to have a good time. I now have the notion that boutique and shop owners are highway robbers, out to get me; food sellers are trying to rip me off; and all taxi drivers are thieves. Even salons are against me, some giving me sleepless nights by charging 428.6% more than some of their counterparts in Kumasi for the same styles.
It’s not that I cannot afford it, but it kills me to think that even if I add my transport to the amount I’ll be charged in Kumasi I’ll still make a small savings!
There are very expensive places in Kumasi, don’t get me wrong, no one can waltz in with coins and buy out the high street but it’s easier to make some savings. It is however true that a lot of items and products a cosmo girl is used to cant be found on the market Kumasi...at least not easily; and when found usually at a cutthroat price. But hope Kumasi business owners won’t act like typical Ghanaians and increase, across board, prices by 1000%.
Never thought I’d say this but I’m so going to miss Kumasi.

Announcing My 2012 Presidential Bid

Very recently I read in one of the dailies that 10% of all road accidents are caused by drunk driving. 10%!
I was very alarmed, but not for the reasons that you think.
Allow me to digress. I attended Secondary School in Cape Coast and University in Kumasi, whilst living in Accra. Not to mention excursions, visits and occasional funerals. So I have done my fair share of travelling by road around the lower part of Ghana. Naturally, I am concerned that the roads I regularly ply are apparently disguised death traps; and thanks are given to God each time a trip is completed successfully.
Now, I was alarmed because only 10% were caused by drunkenness. Think about it, there are thousands of accidents yearly, some fatal, some more horrific than others – but statistics none the less. I thought of it this way if there were 2000 accidents, for example, 200 were caused by drunk driving. So what caused the others?? If 10% of those drivers were drunk, then 90% of them were sober and in their right mind [the latter is a mere assumption]. Try drawing a mental pie chart to assign percentages.
I realized that drastic, unfeeling, measures must be put in place. 
So maybe I should run for president, win, implement my scheme, and then step down.
First I will order all drivers off the road. [In my perfect Ghana, the rail, river and other forms of public transport will be available and running, so the economy doesn’t shut down] I will then declare all of them guilty! ...Guilty until proven innocent...To hell with human rights and procedure. Every driver would be required, at an inquest, to prove him or herself ‘roadworthy’.
Under my rule, all trotro drivers will automatically be disqualified. They would have to submit themselves to intensive brainwashing and concentrated driving school programs. They would only be let back on the road after writing and passing a test. Forgive my silliness but it seems to me that the following categories of drivers are usually picked for trotros.
A. Those who cannot judge distances; resulting in indiscriminate crossing or rudely lurching into the lanes of other vehicles.
B. Those with no regard for traffic regulations; for example stopping right in the middle of the road, used by other vehicles, to pick up and drop of passengers.
C. Miscellaneous for example, rude; uncouth; mentally challenged; retarded; stupid; imbeciles et cetera
D. All the above
Taxi drivers would be put under the microscope, as they tend to exhibit trotro like behaviour at times and  often lapse into craziness.
As for articulators and all those heavy truck drivers they will straightaway be arrested, because they are likely to be arrested anyway, if not for one offence, then another. Their cars will give them away. If they do not look roadworthy enough or look  likely to break down and obstruct the main Accra-Kumasi highway, especially the road to into town, Adum – Guilty! Overload – Guilty! Too much smoke – Guilty! Signs of hitting another vehicle or person – Guilty!
Private users too are very troublesome, especially younger drivers who enjoy games like Need for Speed and Grand Theft Auto.
My harsh and radical procedures, if left alone by corruption and who-you-know will definitely clean up our roads. Only innocent drivers with good eye sight; validly and properly obtained drivers’ licences; road worthy, non-polluting vehicles (at least not excessive); load-within-limits; driving within speed limits and observing all road regulations can drive.
But I realize this policy, when announced will alienate about 98.87% of the voters I need to win, probably including you...and my political opponents will floor me on the campaign trail with my own offences, no matter how minor
So how’ll this problem be solved??? Campaign manager needed!

Saturday, 13 June 2009

? blog??

I change my facebook status a lot...the question is "What is on you mind?" and quite a lot goes thru there; anyway my friend eljefe suggested that I should start a blog. He is usually full of good ideas, so i decided to actually take his teasingly handed out advice.

Gripe /graIp/: to complain, esp. in a persistent nagging manner
a complaint or grievance

I thought of millions of things to blog about, but I settled on this one for four reasons:
No.1. In my daily activities I seem to encounter a lotttt of nonsense, more than most people :) and I ususally like to let people know, which does not usually go down well with them at all. [Anger, shouting, scenes....even insults, lol]
2. I have a terrible temper, which i am trying to get in check. so this will be my therapy. Instead of releasing all my displeasure, i'll blog about it.
3a. When wronged, Ghanaians always leave everything to God. Not put it right. So the fool keeps on receiving prayers which could have been saved for better, more pressing matters.
3b.When people do complain, they never follow it with any action. they jus talk and talk and talk, and forget it...hence those of us who try become such bitches.
4.there are so many businesses, people, companies, etc branching out and providing innovative services to Ghanaians and they deserve commendation. They are going to get it here...they are also going to get it when they try to rip us off with substandard service or jus simple crappy behaviour.

I've been in a position where i've had to serve people before. They can be annoying, obnoxious, rude and uncaring. but at the end of the day the customer IS always right and deserves the best. Surprisingly, most people notice the effort, when it is made and that is good for business.

So i'll be keeping you posted.
There are quite a lot of topics i am sure you can identify with.....say......
.....security guards...told ya!!