Wulugu Tales

Dear Nii Kpakpo,

your sister is in the capital on leave and she has grounded me here in the savanna not to travel anywhere soon mainly because of my traveling in recent days. whilst i cant really go anywhere, she is meeting people in exotic places in the capital eating exotic food and sending me photos. But Anyemi, i dont blame her. This is her leave period and she can have all the fun she wants without me in her hair at every turn and you know how i can get when i’m in my elements.

So Kpakpo you can imagine my non hesitation when my big man friend the banker asked me to get him goats or sheep from the savanna to cater for his guests at his mother’s funeral. This is me getting crazily excited because then it will mean that i was not gonna buy the livestock required right there in Tamale but will have to go to the outskirt towns to do just that. Upon plenty consultation, the obvious choice of Savelugu was too close and somebody told me about a market about an hour away in a town called Wulugu.

Wulugu is a small community on the highway from Tamale to Bolga and i won’t even deem it a village or town. The most noticeable thing about the community is the number of non governmental organizational projects going on in that community.  Almost all the foreign aid agencies that you can think of both secular and non secular have community and social projects going on in the community and for how long i cant really tell. The main thing about the community however is that they are mostly farmers who plant seasonally depending on the weather and as i visited the community it was groundnut  and maize season. The groundnut were just blooming and the maize had just been planted. The community is densely and sparsely populated at the same time.

Nii Kpakpo, earlier in the month you remember i had traveled the eastern veranda and my experience at Bimbilla in the morning was that their market opened as early as 6am with the livestock market as the first before even the produce sellers arrived from the villages around or wherever they were coming from. Old experience from the Savelugu market also confirmed same and as such i was confident that my travel to Wulugu would be pretty short and I’d be back in Tamale by midday to send the livestock on their way to the capital to meet their fate. On this note i woke up pretty early also to catch the very comfy big luxury buses heading out to Bolga that will pass through the community because if i waited until later it meant taking one of the small minivans that my legs usually didn’t fit into and very uncomfortable. Boss, when you are traveling such distances you cannot put a price on comfort especially traveling in the savanna. But that’s another discussion for another day. For now let’s just say by 6am i was already on a comfy airconditioned bus heading out to Wulugu.

Nii Kpakpo, it is very interesting just sitting on the bus and watching the landscape go by and also wish i had a powerful camera to take pictures of the sunrise and as the bus drove past some communities it was evident that open defecation is a thing of the savanna and all those NGOs trying to abolish it have a daunting task ahead of them. Men and especially women in just wrappers squatting to do their things early in the morning not too far from each other and mostly just chewing on morning sticks. The savanna is such a pretty diverse social entity and depending on what you are looking for there is so much to see.

After asking around after Walewale and getting directions from other passengers on the bus i got to the community very early in the morning when school children were heading out to school and when people were getting their morning chores done. I joined the breakfast revelers at the only local porridge aka koko joint. Kpakpo it you are a trained social worker like i am you will know that these are the places to tap into the community gossip and information.  So after buying a bowl of porridge i asked about my contact and was asked if i already called her. when i replied in the affirmative and said i had also told her where exactly i was, the people were satisfied and even one old man, obviously expecting some money from the stranger told me that my contact was his girlfriend. Oh! he got himself a breakfast fully paid for  by me to which he just kept talking giving a whole lot of information about the community.

Kpakpo, even before my contact arrived, it was this same old man that make me realize that firstly, it was wrong to assume that all the markets in the north were the same. The fact that i’d been to the Tamale market at Aboabo, the Savelugu market and even lately the Bimbilla market didn’t mean that i knew how markets in the north operated. He said the Wulugu market had a life of its own and came alive only after noon and that it was way after midday that the market was in full flight, somewhere around 4pm. wow! and here i was assuming i would head back to Tamale by midday. what was i gonna do all that time that i waited for the market to open up so i could get my livestock and leave.

My contact comes to the spot we are to meet and takes me to her home. walking in the community i realize that i’m just too early and people are now waking up and going about their daily chores. Back in Tamale i think we are too sluggish as compared to Accra by 8am people are at work and here i find people now taking their sheep out of the house compound to release them outside to go graze free range. You should’ve seen my face Kpakpo. Here i was thinking i was maybe too late for the market but rather i was too early and had to find a way of whiling away the time and resigning myself to a lazy day out of  my comfort zone in the Tamale metropolis.

However it was whilst I was waiting in the house that my host’s brother had a suggestion. Apparently, the sellers of livestock in the market use most of the morning to go into the hinterland in the bushes to buy from farmers who want to sell their produce and bring it to the market. So it was suggested that if that is the case and i didn’t intend to stay that long then he could take me on the motorbike to the bushes and we try to get some livestock even before it got to the market. wow! what an idea. A pretty good one. So dude brought out his motorbike and i paid for fuel and off we headed off into the bushes.

Nii Kpakpo Thompson, there are places in Ghana that when you’re riding or walking through you will ask yourself even if you are on the same planet earth. These places are like virgin spots on the planet where civilization hasn’t touched much less taken a hold of. The things i saw in those bushes within the one hour that we were on the motorbike are tales that need to be told by the fireside with bottles or as in modern civilization, at a pub with crates of beer.

Lemme tell you this though, one profound experience was an insight into the whole Fulani experience in the bush. almost everywhere we went to there were Fulani herdsmen who hardly come to town and this were the ones, my host explained, the boys bought the livestock from in exchange for stuff like palm oil and salt from the market. The Fulani hardly came to town unless they really needed something urgently. Their whole life was in the bushes. Furthermore, it also made me understand why people in communities all over Ghana were suspicious of them. The Fulani are very careful about who they deal with and very protective of each other. Whilst we were talking to them, there was always a sense of foreboding that anything could happen and that one particular Fulani in every group was a sentry on alert to pounce on any danger and avert it before it hit the community. This Fulani sentry usually looked pretty scary both in stance and poise.

The Fulani women stayed in the makeshift tents that were obviously temporary because of their nomadic life and their children, very pretty children who didn’t look anything Ghanaian but more half caste, went to the water sources to fetch water. Saw this pretty little gal and her brother and as soon as i took my phone out to take a picture they just scuttled into the bush.

Anyemi, after all that time in the bush came back empty handed because everywhere we went to the boys had beaten us to it. Out of consideration host mother decides to sell one of her stock for me and now i have enough to get one more animal and i’m done for the day. By this time it was already midday and information had been sent around that i was in the market for livestock. We got news that somebody had big sheep for consideration and we set off to go see it on foot. One  other thing that was obvious was that the livestock owners were actually absentee owners who had no idea how big their livestock had become but only suggested prices via phone to try to make as much as they could on their products. The market by then had started picking up with people beginning to bring their wares for sale.

After acquiring the livestock, it was time to head back to Tamale but had a brainwave to rather send the livestock directly to Accra where they were gonna meet their fate. This will save me the trouble and expense of transporting them to Tamale first before to Accra. The first option was the VIP station at Walewale where they said the luggage compartment was full and the next option was Gh Travel and the Nigerian loading boy charged me quite a penny for transporting the sheep to Accra. My only consolation was that i managed to get a place on the bus to get me to Tamale and this was another pretty comfy luxury bus. As if by design, just as we got on the bus to leave the rains set in and it rained all the way to Tamale till i got down.

Nii Kpakpo, some people can indeed be annoying. Here i was having spent the whole day looking for livestock and as a favor my contact has asked me to deliver a goat to a friend in Tamale at my own cost and when i got down from the bus in the rain it was a tussle between me and the goat and when the dude was asked to come for his goat, he said he could not come out in the rain. what is pork!

Anyemi, i was so furious i almost let the goat go and just went home to take a warm bath and sleep. But our mothers brought us up well and that was his saving grace. i waited for him in the cold till he could come and it was so obvious the dude was angry we got him out in the rain that when i said i’d come for my share of the goat pepper soup, he just  bundled the goat on his motorcycle and sped off. Honestly, i could care less. All i wanted was to get home and sleep. My phone batteries were long dead and I just wasn’t in the mood to call or talk to anybody on account of my tiredness. Come to think of it i’d been out of the house the whole day.

Anyways, this is an old story and this story had to be rewritten because every time i tried to publish it i lost it somehow. well, it’s written now and i hope it is published.

Kpakpo, until i come your way again with another missive keep keeping on. Now that our ex brother in law the old man has relinquished his throne, let’s see what happens in that land.

i still remain

your cousin in law,

Savannah Boy

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The Gang of Boys

Dear Nii Kpakpo,

I remember when I first came to town and I was very lonely not having any social connections and not really knowing anybody in town. Every day meant that I was at home if your sister went to work, it meant that I had to find ways of making myself excited and that was when I started writing the Tamale Chronicles of the events that I encountered and my daily interaction with the local people and residents of Tamale. This kept me busy and it was exciting to read the comments off social media especially since it was giving people a whole new perspective about the north not being a backwater.

Kpakpo it was this same social media that first got me into the group of volunteers who later formed the Swag Volunteers my first social group apart from church here in the savanna. But then I decided to explore and I met Jake online.

Jake is your typical laid back macho man (dude loves to go to the gym) who can whip up a culinary delight to rival any your sister (not your mother) will cook in the kitchen. With his dimpled smiles and very affable nature the women think he’s a man mountain. For some their first impression is that of “don’t cross this man” but later realize he’s just a lamb who looks like a lion and built like a bullion van. We started playing Scrabble at the club house and gradually it has become the circle for a social network that cuts across various facets of society and with connections to almost everything that goes on in Tamale.

Nii Kpakpo, several people joined the Scrabble club because it has become like the hangout for the elitist especially for people who have lived most of their lives in the south and have come to the savanna to either work or stay both temporarily or permanently.

Meet Obed the soft spoken banker whose work schedules keep him busy all week but at weekends when he’s not snoring “oh (my) bed” finds time to hang with the boys. Congratulations on adding another member to the family and the uncles are waiting to meet our niece.

Meet Ken. The first time we met Ken was when a housing agent brought him to see Jake (whilst we were playing Scrabble) about sharing an apartment and after the first two minutes of interactions we just hit it off. Ken is Jake’s house mate and they are two peas in a pod.

Meet Midas the local database for the circle of boys. Having grown up north, this dude is the main go to guy for whatever you need up in the savanna. A marketing professional he has branded himself forming a social network for himself that connects like a spider web to almost every activity and social groups up north. A team player through and through to have in your corner.

Chairman Marvin relocated to the savanna almost a decade ago and works in one of the foremost tertiary institutions. His work connects him with a lot of academic stuff but is down to earth and can easily be approached for advise and consultancy on any topic.

His twin is Dr Dan an optometrist. These are not twins by blood relation but like I said earlier, you need company in thee savanna and they have become fast friends when they came up here and as such have done almost everything together as brothers in arms. Dr Dan is one of the topmost people to see literally when you have eye problems. 😂😂

Mayeso! Mayeso! Mayeso! The Malawian expatriate consultant. We all love him with his happy go lucky attitude and how much he works hard and plays harder. Dude loves his chess and with a couple of friends actually sponsor the Malawian national chess tournament and hosts chess events back in his home country.

Should I call it an accent but you know how we Ghanaians can go all Brit on a person and sometimes we find his pronunciation funny. Heck! We even find his name funny. Kpakpo, mention his name again and try to see what it means in Akan. Let’s just say he really lives up to it on a good day. 😂

Kwame George we call him the sniper. Dude will create his own fun and enjoy it in his own way and even though a late addition to the group he’s proven the mantra “Paul amba ntem” to be true. Another man who works hard at making the world a better place and plays harder at creating fun to deal with the stressful moments.

Kpakpo they say you always save the best for last but unfortunately for security reasons I cant tell you about the patron for the Scrabble club we affectionately call The General. Whenever we shout thank slogan his response is “Don’t Tell Anybody” so lemme just shuush and wait till the day you get here to meet him in person. Sincerely hope he’d still be here when you come. Apart from seeing him on weekdays in his uniform and official car, you’d just pass him by any other day because he’s that down to earth and mum to hang around talking to young people about how to live life to the fullest.

Nii Kpakpo Thompson these are the brethren I have come to take as family and it’s not only them. The group has grown since we started playing and hanging out but the network keeps expanding with tentacles spreading pretty fast. Meet any of these guys when you come to the savanna and there’s nothing like boredom as we each experienced it when we first got here.

Just get here.

Well until I write another missive I still remain

Your Cousin In-law

Savanna Boy.

Clinton 

Dear Nii Kpakpo, 

Sometimes I wish I could post photos here so the pictures can tell you exactly what I mean. But heck! I’ve already told myself I’m gonna use words to paint the pictures hoping to make them as sharp as the pictures from all over Ghana that Unco Bufty or Uncle Yaw Pare capture with their high density camera lenses.

    So in this letter I’m gonna talk to you about Clinton. 

    Kpakpo, following the recent trends in the news and also for the fact that the other day there was a morning show that had the leaders of the Albino Society in Ghana (didn’t know such an organization existed) it is interesting that albinos have been in the society all along and we have treated them as equals. I don’t see the fuss nowadays of them fighting for equal rights when we have always treated them as equals. Maybe we have teased them more than some of our friends but still they are our friends too. Come to think of it we teased them that they couldn’t look at the sun directly and it was only during an eclipse that an albino knows what the sun looks like. But really who can see the sun.. 

    Remember we also teased them that every Friday they disappeared and we still have never seen an albino obituary till date. Chale! We do some oh. 

    Anyemi with where this story is heading you can guess rightly that Clinton is an albino. Yes he is.  

    Clinton is the funniest albino I’ve ever met in my life. Dude is pretty hilarious in a quirky way. As if to make him any funnier,  dude is a stammerer. 

    I’d love to be on an adventure with Clinton any day because dude has an easy going nature and he has a comeback for everything you say. 

    So we got to Kpassa, cramped in a taxi which after every twenty two minute or so drive had to stop to put water in the engine.  Yes I timed it. At the filling station the driver parked with his passengers side to the pump and I was wondering if it was one of those Lamborghini cars with the way he yanked the doors open upwards and got the two front passengers out. His fuel tank was a gallon sitting under the dashboard at the passenger side with a rubber tube connected to it from the engine. Driver had a few words with the fuel pump attendant and was talking politics to himself mostly (and to whoever cared to listen) how he could buy 20Ghana worth of fuel and it wont even fill his tank (reference to the four litre gallon under the dashboard). 

    Sitting four at the back and me holding on to the carrier bars on the roof, driving on a road that could comfortably host a series of oware tournaments, thats how we got to Kpassa.

    Nii Kpakpo Thompson it was whilst we were waiting for the Peugeot caravan (like the ones that were used from Circle to North Kaneshie when we were growing up), yes those cars still exist, that Clinton came over to join the car. He was to wait like everybody else for the car to fill up with passengers before we head out. 

    The Peugeot takes two at the front, four in the middle and three at the back and thus we needed about 4 people more to join the car before it set off or as passengers we share the extra cost and pay. Clinton’s reply to the latter suggestion was for the driver to waive his tax on each of the fares and use it to pay for at least two. 

    It was an obvious quip to the plenty taxes we pay as Ghanaians and also he teased the driver that with the rickety nature of the car if it even broke down, he wont have to call a tow truck but he’d have us passengers to push him wherever he wants. Kpakpo, is that familiar with any proposed tax? 

    Chale one of the gals waiting was a mate of his during his junior high days and she started saying how they had teased him in the village school as the only obroni and how per his status he had enjoyed “privileges” as a “whiteman”. Clinton stammered a response that he was sure that is why inasmuch as he wanted to be school perfect he was never selected. He had really wanted to position to boost his “whiteman” status so when he walked through town everybody will say that “there goes the white school prefect of the junior high.” 😂😂

    The layover waiting for just four passengers more to board the car lasted four hours and Clinton just kept us going with rib cracking jokes about his everyday life and work. 

    Once I tried to tease him that he was holding a trunking like a white cane. Being an electrician he had just executed a job and he was carrying around the excess trunking. Clinton just laughed at me and asked me ironically if I was an idiot (if only he knew) and didn’t I realize the sun was up and that whenever the sun is up albinos were partially blind? 😂😂

    Kpakpo, the car now got full but when we were ready to move Clinton was nowhere to be found. He’d had a friend pick him up on a motorbike to go find some food and run a last minute errand.  His former schoolmate called his line and so did the driver. When he picked up he said we should go on ahead and he’ll join when he could, as explained by the driver. 

    We had left the station driving five minutes when we saw a group of young men standing by the roadside flagging us down like there was an emergency up ahead and we stopped.

    The nature of the road is such that with the rains a gully or ditch might threateningly appear in the middle of the road and as such the people of the community warned drivers on the road when such gullies appear. 

     A minute later Clinton pops up from across the road and he asks the other passengers to shift so he can sit. He’d been fixing a wiring for a client and the boys were his lookout post for the car.  Immediately the door closes he requests for the air conditioning to be put on and also demands for a 50% refund because only one of his butts is on the seat and the other one will get numb after a few minutes of driving so he had to be compensated. We all burst into a laughter. 

    Kpakpo a few minutes later another band of youth flag us down and when we stop two of them get up on the roof of the car. Clinton calls them our “spotters” to spot where the gullies are even though they are also travelers. 

    On on we go and the inside of the car is stripped to bare metal scrap and we at the back experience more bumps than anybody. The “spotters” failed to warn the driver early about some speed ramps on the road (who needs speed ramps on a potholed road. Only in Ghana) and when we hit a couple of times, one woman had her forehead swell from the hits on the vehicle’s metal roof. The two women at the back demanded that the driver will take them to hospital when we get to our destination in Damanko and Dr Clinton prescribes first aid to bring the swelling down for which the driver provides a Chinese embrocation liquid to salve the swelling. There norr Clinton says the driver can take his time to get the our destination because even if it gets dark we have torches like mining lamps on two foreheads to guide us on the road. 😂😂

    Kpakpo, amidst the potholes that were actually craters and the unnecessary speed ramps we had several conversations on several national and social issues and to each discussion Clinton will always end it with a witty remark that will get everybody cracking up. Considering the time of day as early evening, his engaging nature kept the ride lively till we got to Damanko our destination. 

    With curfew approaching these was only one car on standby to Bimbila and we all rushed to make sure we got a place on it. Nobody really saw where the whiteman passenger disappeared to. 

    Anyemi I have met a lot of funny people but Clinton is one who really gets to you and leaves you content with your first meet of him. He’s a one time phenomenal person and I really do wish him well in all he does. Honestly he’s one person I’d like to see his obituary because I wish him a long happy life even as he makes people happy everywhere he goes. 

    He is pretty popular on that route, I heard, and I hope to meet him again someday. 

    Nii Kpakpo Thompson so that is the story of the hilarious stammering albino, the whiteman of Kpassa-Damanko, who can turn every sub against him into a joke to make you laugh. Easily the most enthralling person I met on my journey to the north via the eastern veranda.

    Till I write to you again I still remain 

    Your Cousin in Law, 

    Savanna Boy. 


    Eastern Veranda 

    Dear Nii Kpakpo,&

    I am finally home in the old estate house of the fine London woman that your sister and I rent behind the classy Gariba Lodge. You should’ve seen the relief on my face when I put the key in the lock and it opened and then I remembered that that part of the roof that was leaking wasn’t fixed so I rushed to the room to check the flooding level. Not that it would’ve mattered considering the rivers I’ve had to cross to get home. But to my utter relief it was pretty cool.

    Then I put my bag down and remembered that I had put the meter off since we weren’t at home. I go out to put the meter on and one of the readouts is 419.13.Anyemi I have no idea what that contraption is saying half the time and maybe since it’s made in China you can ask your Ghacem ad co partner for me what exactly it means.

    After I put the meter on I proceed to take off ALL of my clothes I’m wearing. I didn’t even wait to check what I look like in the mirror and take photos. I can feel what I look like and trust me it’s the way we looked when after school in primary school we didn’t come home straight but indulged in the small poles at the football field whilst the local team trained. The look that mommy looked at you and gave you canes seemingly according to the Omo that was going to be used to wash your school uniform. Sometimes even patch it.

    Nii Kpakpo I then walk barefoot to the bathroom (please don’t tell your sister this) and proceed to pour a whole bucket of water on myself. Chale I think I must’ve used half a pail of that sweet scented “alata samla” your other cousin Oko at Newmont makes. When I checked the dirt on the walls I thought I’d just probably scrubbed a mangy stray dog clean.

    But Kpakpo, thank God I’m home. Like I told you in the note, that Eastern veranda isn’t even fit to rear a monkey and I’m surprised nobody has taken it up. A journey that should be just about three hours al thing being equal, takes 12 hours all things being unequal.

    Lemme get some rest and I hope I can tell you all about it. I told you I have stories to tell huh.

    Well the stories are plenty and I will tell you all.

    God willing when I’m rested enough I’ll write to you.

    Until then I still remain

    Your Cousin in Law
    Savanna Boy

    Buipe Okada

    Dear Nii Kpakpo, 

    Your people are at it again. They have closed the major bridge that leads into the whole northern region at Buipe and well they said it is closed for repairs. 

    Again.  

    So when will these random repair works be done once and for all so we can travel at will and not at the whims of some capricious politicians sitting in an air-conditioned office in Accra and doesn’t use the road to Tamale but will fly? 

    Nii Kpakpo whilst some of us are full of complaints its harvest time for some people too. The young boys and youth who own motorcycles in the Buipe area and township have taken this opportunity to make a few bucks for themselves. The closing of the bridge means that traffic mounts on both sides but there is a sheer distance that needs to be covered across the bridge and only motorbikes can have access to the bridge during repair works. 

    Let me break it down.  So lets say you take a bus in Tamale after work it is most likely you wont make the bridge crossing before it is closed for repairs at 6 pm so to facilitate travelers not feeling stranded, lorry stations have been set up on both sides of the bridge by transport owners.  These cars will transfer the passengers from the one side of the bridge that is closed to those empty waiting on the other side to their final destination be it Accra or Kumasi. 

    But to move from one end of the bridge to board these empty buses is quite a considerable distance and this is where the boys come in. They transport the passengers to the waiting cars for a flat rate of Gh5 and just imagine the number of passengers that ply the route. 

    The Buipe motorcycles are an ingenious way of making money off passengers to be able to make it to the buses for onward transport. 
    Not only the motorcycle but also food vendors have opened a mini market where they cater for all the passengers needs when it comes to provisions, food and water. 

    Kpakpo, being a northern community that’s not new to to open defecation it can be safely assumed that the putrid smell of human excreta is very prevalent in the area and during the day visible traces are seen all over. The interesting thing is that at night you won’t see the extent to which the open defecation is widespread, only with your nose and you know how kuffourlike our nose is. 

    Anyεmi as at writing this letter the bridge has supposedly been fixed and as such traffic is back to to and fro but then it has been brisk business during the closure for the people living in Buipe and its environs. 

    What lesson this has taught me Nii Kpakpo Thompson is that the youth do not have to wait for government to create enabling environment for them before they say they have jobs but they should hone their senses to recognize opportunity and seize it when it matters most. 

    Let’s be the change we want to see in our society. 

    Till I write to you again I still remain 

    Your Cousin in Law 

    Savannah Boy 

    The Kumase More

    Dear Nii Kpakpo,

    so having seen the plenty videos that flooded social media on the new kumasi city mall and its grand opening, this savanna boy decided to go see it for myself. eish! you thought i would lose guard and be in kumasi and not even try to see it. forget it!

    the opportunity presented itself when i had to go help my brother in arms and solidarity, the headmaster extra ho, the letter head, the heading, Comedian Aglah organize his Pure Comedy 5 show in the garden city. this was the fifth edition and we wanted to make it big. the videos on social media came at the right time too because now the garden city had a mall and its denizens didnt have to come to accra to be in a ‘coded location’ at \west hills more’ with their 207 in the car park.

    the accra kumasi more has been born!

    there were several videos and i realize that some were intentionally staged like the one with the woman selling who receives a call that somebody wants to buy some of the stuff she is carrying on her head and the person is inside the mall and she was shouting over the noise in the mall whilst she was secretly recorded.

    the most hilarious videos were the ones in relation to the escalator and how people just stood by to look at other people use the escalator and the funny clip about an older woman using the one going down whilst she tried so hard to go up and finally commenting to somebody off camera that ‘adi3 nu enkor oh‘ to wit the thing is not moving .

    anyemi truth be told these videos gave me some wild ideas as to how best we could have a good laugh about various people in this country, imagine if a voltarian got on the escalator with his cat and the cat jumped out of his hands and he was trying to retrieve it.

    furtthermore, imagine too if a man in a smock got on the escalator and he fell down and almost got hurt but wouldn’t and started cursing in any one of the northern languages. if either of these went viral you can imagine the insinuations and the laughter that will cause.

    with all these in mind and laughing my head off i had to go see what the euphoria was all about for myself. so armed with me social media applications on my small phone i took a troski and headed out to see the mall. first impression was a wonderful edifice like all the shopping malls in Accra layout was the same with Kumasi City Mall boldly emblazoned on the side.

    kpakpo the first few people i met gave a me good laugh. these were the teenagers of the ‘coded location’ fame now having their own mall and it pretty much looked like everyone wanted to be associated with going to the mall and needed souvenirs that they had been there so you realize that each person carried an item or souvenir from a shop in the mall, usually Shoprite, and these were mostly very small items that were affordable. i saw some toothpastes, brushes and some usually bought food from the shops and at least i was impressed that they had bought something and they were not the usual revelers and window shoppers although that is the reason they had gone there.

    Nii Kpakpo Thompson, the ‘Kumase More’ was crowded. mostly teenagers walking in groups and just stopping anywhere that caught their fancy to take pictures. after all they have been there some. the euphoria was in the air and the dress code was on point. the impacts of the music videos these young folk watch was evident in their dress code and i honestly wont be surprised if a few of them actually came to the mall after watching videos on how to dress to the mall. tight pants and tee shirts with sneakers were very prevalent as to the poses these teenagers took for the photos to be taken. I saw several poses including the fork all pose and it was pretty obvious that these youth were thinking for the moment and not for the future. I know some of these photos will one day come to haunt them because of their posture in these photos. 

    Nii Kpakpo, there was I live band playing and this dude had sung for over two hours and inasmuch as he belted out good songs people only listened. And then a young gal approached him and asked if she could sing a song. Dude handed over the microphone and the gal requested the band to play a popular tune to which she added her own ad libs. Within minutes people started gathering curious as to who was singing like that and they were rewarded because the young gal sang the song with feeling and was doing some dancing behind the microphone that got everybody’s attention riveted on her. Her stage craft was awesome. 

    Chale anyεmi what I’m going to tell you now is highly confidential and don’t let the ash town folk had that I told you. I went into The Game shop to have a look at shop set up and patronage for myself and it was a pretty interesting experience. Firstly my travel bag wasn’t taken from me and I had to carry it inside. I’d actually hoped that they will tag it so I could leave it with them at the bag bay and go pick it up when I was ready to leave. But alas trick no work. 

    So here is me logging my bag around like the tourist that I am and I first go to see the balls. Before I get to the balls session I notice people standing all over by the stands taking photos, even with the shop attendants in uniform at least to proud that they had also come to the mall. I get to the balls aisle and I walk to the basketball, soccer ball and volleyballs. I pick a basketball with my grip, the flex style to show I have big palms, and I bounced the ball on the tiled floor.  one attendant comes to me kinda furious and admonishes me for doing that and bouncing the balls is not allowed. I ask who gave the directive and they said the manager and I just keep bouncing and ask for the manager. Attendant then says it’s OK but I insisted really meaning to ask the manager if the ball is supposed to played in the air. Since he said it’s OK and wont call me the manager I resort to do the same timing with soccer and volleyballs on the shelf. They just left me to it.. 

    Kpakpo now to the confidential bit. Amidst all this photo taking and posturing in the shop I walked past a couplets guys who upon first look appeared to be buying and stocking up a cart with drinks for a party. It is what I overhead them asking the attendant that got my head so up from typing on my phone to listen to them and be sure of what I heard. I thought I hadn’t heard right so when I got home I asked my host, the headmaster,  and he affirmed that it wap true that when he first heard it himself inside Melcom he was shocked. 

    Apparently the boys had called the shop attendant over to ask a question and then when she got closer they asked her “please if we buy more boxes of Voltic water is it possible to get a discount on it?”

    Kpakpo your people have brought their things into the Kumase more. They were asking for a discount on items they were buying there like you’ll buy in the market outside. I almost went over to tell them that in a mall supermarket like Game, that only happens when they’re doing promo bargains. But then who is this savannah boy to go poke my nose in their matter before they “summa” me before some court. Lemme just walk in peace. As I’ve told you please keep it between us oh.. 

    The things I saw at the more just stands to prove that now we have an European styled mall in the garden city people will turn it into a tourist center and not worry about traveling all the way to Accra just to see a huge market in a room. But I’m sure very soon the euphoria of the opening will die down especially when the teenagers go back to school after the Easter holidays. For now let’s just enjoy the moments. 

    Kpakpo, I’m also predicting that very soon social media wont be able to contain the viral videos and photos that will swarm our social media sites about actions and events at the kumase more. You keep my stone and I’ll collect it later. 

    Well we need Uber in ash town too because I noticed to go anywhere one gap to pick about 3 different cars heading to three different destinations just to get to a place which would’ve been easy if driving.  Theism system also needs to be improved but swamps don’t make it easy. Well let’s see what the metro assembly can do about that. It makes movement difficult and I rather was bored staying indoors the whole time. 

    Nii Kpakpo I think I better end here and we’ll watch and wait for the viral videos and photos from the “More” and will try not to make a mockery of our fellows from the middle belt. I guess I have no right to laugh because I don’t have a dagban more and maybe my people will do worse. 

    Anyεmi until I write to you again, I still remain 

    Your Cousin In Law, 

    Savannah Boy 

     

    Easter Kamina

    Dear Nii Kpakpo,

    The very first time I asked about spending Easter in Tamale I was told that during the whole Easter time Christians went to church and Muslims mostly stayed at home. Being a predominantly Muslim community I expected just that until there was an added twist to the information that I got. 

    Apparently Easter Mondays have always been exciting in Tamale and some people,  especially the youth, actually plan the whole year in wait for Easter Monday. Curiousity got the better of me. 

    Kpakpo it is said that after the war people were divided and formed several associations and at major holidays and festivals these various groups met and not only had discussions in relation to their welfare but also did recreational activities to foster solidarity amongst themselves and also other groups. This is how the Kokomba-Nanumba Annual games started and it’s pretty interesting how the ultimate prize at this particular event is a dog. But hey! That’s up to them and it is a story for another day. 

    The Catholic church in Tamale took it upon themselves to organize picnics for its members but open to the public and organized in various locations that were rotational on a yearly basis. Gradually it caught on and it became the go to event for Easter Monday within the Tamale metropolis. The event has been held at various Catholic dioceses throughout the metropolis until some youth started getting rowdy and then it was moved to Kamina and has stayed there since. 

    So especially during Easter these various groups mostly ethnic based meet at a selected location and have fun sometimes in collaboration and healthy competition with other ethnic groups. At these meets ethnic groups learn each other’s culture and traditions and apprise themselves of the similarities and differences within the cultures especially up north. Mostly there are more similarities than differences and these events therefore foster unity within the ethnic groups. 

    Nii Kpakpo so why Kamina. The Kamina barracks is the home of the sixth infantry battalion of the Ghana Armed Forces and every time there is unrest, usually ethnic, anywhere up north they are the ground forces discharged to dispel the conflicts. Somewhere along the line the base commander decided to provide a location for all these ethnic groups who were meeting at various locations to come together at the barracks on one particular day to have fun.

    So the Easter Monday picnic for the various groups and even the Catholic organized one, now has a location at the Kamina barracks. 

    I have mentioned earlier in one of my letters to you Kpakpo with regards to social gatherings in Tamale and let me remind you again. Tamale people normally move in groups. People will gravitate to a particular location knowing that it’s going to be fun. Unlike in places like Accra where you can just drive your car and go sit at the beach alone, in Tamale you will only do that when you know that other people you know are going to be there. If you don’t really know anybody and you go to an event you will be miserable because you’ll see people having fun and you can’t join in it.  Tamale folk have a weird way of making new friends. Somebody in the circle should know you and introduce you to the group and that indirectly acts as the person vouching for you and only then do you gradually get integrated into the group. 

    Elsewhere you can just go introduce yourself and all you need is a common interest. There was one time I remember during the dumsor era my Nigerian neighbors (my mother doesn’t like them) had DSTV and a gen set and it was a Champions League night.  I didn’t want to go to the streetside centres because I’ve had some bad experiences with them and so I just bought a double six pack of Heineken beer from the supermarket and when I got home just put my bag down and armed with my beer I went to knock on their door. “My name is Kola (they pronounce it the Nigerian way) and I live next door. I’m here to watch the champions league match”. You should’ve seen the wide grin on his face as I lifted the Heineken beer as my entry gift. And since then we’re not too close but we say hello to each other in the street when we meet. 

    My mother doesn’t know so don’t go telling her. 

    But yes Nii Kpakpo the Kamina picnic has gradually become the biggest event in the Tamale calendar year and I’m really surprised that there is virtually nothing about it online or anywhere else. People from all the various ethnic groups are represented not only ethnically but also people bring their families to spend time outdoors. If I’m allowed to say I’d say it is the Kwahu of the north with people coming in buses from other regions to participate. 

    Probably because it is a military base there are no banners unlike elsewhere to show various companies advertising or headline sponsoring but there are several business interests on display.  It was at this picnic event that I first discovered that there was a smoothie outlet here in the savanna and it is not so bad either. With several people from the south now relocating up north such business as pubs and pizza joints and catching up pretty quick. Furthermore they are staying open till late which is a good thing because people are working late more and will need these things after a hard days work as it is in the capital. 

    At the Kamina picnic the various ethnic dances are displayed and this one is a public communal dance where anybody can join. Traditional drummers are present and once in awhile they ginger and whip the crowds into a frenzy. Such a beautiful sight especially the energy. The atmosphere is all charged. 

    For the much younger ones there are also spinners with Djs to belt out the latest tunes and also whip their crowd into a dancing frenzy. Boys and gals huddle in group in the latest fashions available and with slick hairdos and haircuts to look good for the opposite sex.  After all it’s a festival atmosphere and anyone could get lucky especially since they’re mostly high school students down for the Easter holiday break. 

    You remember our days when we were in high school and of attended this interco events? Same feeling. I find myself watching them and their antics and smiling at myself. 

    In this social media era its is even surprising that even though plenty photos are taken nobody has hash tagged #KaminaPicnic and made it trend. Maybe I could talk to one of the radio stations to do a competition so people post the pictures they took at the event and let’s get some info on it online. 

    Nii Kpakpo Thompson this issue of writing about this event has been on my mind for over three years and I’ve put together a team of like minded people to brainstorm on how to put some of the savanna events such as festivals online. I really hope some good comes out of it. 

    Anyways hope you also use your media to help us project the north because as one of my stakeholders said it is difficult to sell the savanna and the negativity is easily perceived quicker. Good things can come from here too.  

    Kpakpo, this is me from us here. I will be glad if I see you championing the cause of the north. 

    Until I write to you again. I still remain 

    Your Cousin In Law 

    Savannah Boy