Savannah Perception

Dear Nii Kpakpo,

How are you doing? Did you call your cousin and thank her for me like I told you to, for my TLC when I got caught in the rain last time? If you didn’t then it’s unto you.

I am laughing so hard as I sack the small boy using my machine to watch Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa back in high school smoke weed and portray an American society that our youth are trying to copy blindly. Hey! Did they really legalize weed in California. Eish! Those American students that I have been having come over to our university will be having a field day papa.

Kpakpo what is making me laugh is what the perception is of people in the south who have never been to the savannah. A couple of perceptions run through my mind and I thought I should share with you.

Not so long ago, a group of comedy jokers had a show up here and I think for most of them they were expecting that they would see some of the local girls at the show so they could make fun of them. These young lads of the Comedy Bar somehow were truly disappointed when they came to rather meet enlightened young men and women, highly educated mostly like yours truly who appreciate a certain class of jokes.

Comedy Bar (as it has come to be known) in Tamale I can say wasn’t a total flop but then it had its moments. They quickly had to change their repertoire of jokes to suit the audience. Some of the jokers were pretty astute in doing that especially the two with the biggest heads.

Kpakpo, do you have a big head?

Because it looks like the size of the head of a fool or joker relates to his ability to adapt quickly to changing situations. My commendations go to my friends DKB (current host of Boys Boys Show on Viasat One Tv) and David Aglah (Kumasi based dummy banker comedian) for their astute nature of adaptation. These are two good friends of mine and I can tell you the size of their heads will leave you dizzy if put on your neck.

Kpakpo I know you have been Master of Ceremony for some shows and you have your own repertoire of jokes to liven up a show. But the host of that particular show, David Oscar, was as abysmal as his show on Tv, Laugh A Minute. He’s the only person who laughs for a whole minute throughout the duration of the show. His internet based jokes were ones we had heard over and over again since the audience was all computer literate. I even noticed a couple playing a game on their iPad when he was on the mic. Oh Shame!

But DKB made a profound observation that day in relation to perceptions in the south about the savannah. It was honest albeit funny. He said that when he was told he was to come to the savannah, he almost didn’t come, although he was assured the money was good, but the only thing that convinced him to come was his curiosity.

Kpakpo, the man said he was curious but he wasn’t stupid so he set out to protect himself. He believed from the stories he had heard about the savannah that he need to get a battle helmet because bullets were flying everywhere and he shooters were on motorbikes and bicycles. So he had wanted to go to the military surplus store to get a helmet but there was no time. He professed his love for the savannah and jokingly said he might even reconsider and take a wife here. If only he knew the stringent Muslim rules he would have to go through.

Yes oh! Some people reading this will think it is too farfetched but Kpakpo that is the gravity of the perceptions of life in the savannah. People think it is like living in the wild and there is fighting everywhere. They believe you can’t even talk to an indigene and he/she will erupt in anger and stab you.

When your cousin was moving here, both our parents had a hard time accepting it because there had been a war here? Wow! War doesn’t last forever and even Madam Sir Leaf has rebuilt the Taylor’s disruption and destruction in her land. I think she’s done a good job so far.

Eish! Talking about them too, what happened between them and our ‘borla’ lions? I’m sure they zoomed through the red tape and were caught by the B.I.R.D (original name for World Bank)

Kpakpo, your fellow media people too are not helping the case of the savannah at all. Anything small about the savannah is headline news. Look at the story of the medical students who went to a party and had food poisoning. It was on the front page of the motherland premier newspaper. What did students attending a party have to do with anything?

Imagine the guy who one early morning was going to work and experienced the never occurring traffic in the savannah capital and heard some people singing. He quickly whips out his phone and calls a peaceful station to narrate breaking news that the youth of the savannah are rioting over something ‘inconsequential’.

Truth be told, yes they were youth. Yes they were singing. But they weren’t irate youth as portrayed by this news reporter who didn’t even go near because of fear.

But if he had been brave enough, he would have realized that these youth were rallying and singing for morale to lift off and remove from the savannah highway a Telco mast that had fallen smack in the center of the highway thus causing the traffic.

This is the kind of reporting and perceptions I am talking about Nii Kpakpo.

Another example is when people indulge in a bar fight in some obscure village, it is headlined as breaking news on radio and it is even more juicy when a couple of people are hospitalized or die. Oh Yeah! That is major news for the people down south to say that savannah people are violent.

Oh yes! What of when that loudmouth oga said that he will fight to the last drop of his blood to defend his ethnicity and was it at Odododiodo? It was no news because even the people of Abossey Okai or even Accra Central Makola market were not concerned. It didn’t get that far.

But let one savannah man just call one news reporter with a recorder, and say that he is going to defend his homestead (just his compound) and put ‘Allah wu Akbar’ at the end of his speech. We would be rushing to find his bank account details and ties to the gun totting Shabba people or even if he’s a mainframe dancer to Al Quaeda.

Maybe he will even play Guru’s song in the background whilst he makes his defense speech. Ha ha.

Kpakpo, please check the map and you will realize that this particular savannah region is the biggest of all the regions. It stretches from one border to the other breadth wise. It has an Ivorian border and a Togolese border. That alone should tell you the size.

The capital, Tamale, is geographically like 2 times the size of Greater Accra region: yes, that is Accra and Tema. Thanks to technology you can check all this give or take a few kilometers on your iPad or android gadget.

Kpakpo, I am saying all this to point out that when something is happening in an obscure corner of the savannah, it doesn’t affect the whole savannah as is the perception in the south. To the extent that sometimes the Ministry of Interior just places a curfew on the capital without truly verifying the facts of the situation on the ground.

Honestly this savannah boy thinks that some people somewhere are pulling strings so the situation stays like that because they get to put more money in their pocket than usual and when there is nothing happening, then they instigate some actions to justify the perceptions. But hey, that’s just my dysfunctional conspiracy theory mind talking.

The savannah has been marginalized and accelerated developmental projects have been put in place so the area can at least catch up with the south. But sometimes Kpakpo, I think the local people themselves are not helping people like me to put them in a good light by the way they behave.

They are so passionate about everything that even a simple conversation can end up in argument that an outsider would think would escalate into violence but then that is just how they are. After tempers cool down, they all walk away.

Well, I have said my piece. Now even my laughter has disappeared because this is dear to my heart.

One last thing, Kpakpo.

One day my mother called me and there was noise in the phone she asked why and I said that I was sitting on the back of a motorcycle, which is the main form of transport here. She went bananas and assumed that just as the ‘okada’ boys zoom in the wrong lane in and out of traffic in Hustle City, it is the same way they do here.

Would you believe she actually ordered me off the bike on the phone and refused to talk to me for days because I didn’t get off the bike? At my age, she still worries about me in the savannah.

Imagine what she would do when she hears I go for late night walks just before midnight here too as I used to do in Hustle City in my Accra City Blues project and that I’m planning on buying my own bike.

Well, that is mothers for you. Protective to the core and I still love her to bits.

Please when you pass by the house, say hello to her for me and tell her that I am okay.

Kpakpo, please talk to your media boys to be more circumspect with news of the savannah. The local languages stations are usually the worst. They have agents here who want to justify the money they are being paid from the south and that’s how I see it.

We beg!

Your cousin in law

Savannah Boy

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2 thoughts on “Savannah Perception

  1. hmmmm…….seriously and they call dem selves MEDIA….they are a disgrace for making my Bahamas look bad………………..am moving der.

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