At Disability Workshop

Dear Nii Kpakpo,

It had been an interesting few days here in the savannah since I got back from the Bearded Man City. I also hear via the great horn that there has been some interesting developments in the Bearded Man’s camp.

Kpakpo, please confirm for me whether it is true that the Bearded man himself has joined the one Ghana blues crew in the streets since he has no office because some gong gong beaters have taken over and sold the office from under him?

Oh my people! When will we learn to be our own Merchants and not depend on the pittance this oyibo sakora sends us whilst drawing blood from our scrotum.

As for my local indigenes of the Bearded Man city, the less said about them the better. If only they could sell the Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Guinea would have been Bay of Pigs by now with the Golden King having a resplendent palace smack in the ocean.

Kpakpo we are even lucky that gold rush fiasco didn’t happen on our shores but on Atta Fante’s and the black gold ‘woyel’ went to the Aximmites.

Like Chale, you know say matter come. Feuds and old wounds will be fested all in the name of riches.

Thank God for little mercies.

Our people are some way oh! Remember even the dead ‘bonsu’ at Chorkor and how we monopolized it?

Oh! And to think when we do things out of the ‘borrum’ of our hearts we have to ‘Nunoo scent’ boom it up with ultimate threats not to boil even hot water for our tea, in the kitchen.

Now we know where the fair tree climbing former giant soldier learnt how to boom from, after living with my people his whole life. It is rather the ‘takashie'(headstrong) attitude that our people have which gives vim even when a guy twice your weight is sitting on your chest in a fight to say that you are going to get up and kill him.

My People!

But Kpakpo, that is not what this letter is about today. You know me and your other bald cousin find our politricksters laughable because of their antics. We always laugh at them and they still end up tops because they have the last laugh. They are growing fat off our laughter since it is expediently appropriate to use politics as a route to looting the country’s resources.

We will rave and rant on radio and elsewhere, but they won’t budge. Those raving and ranting feel cheated out of the opportunity to do same so why bother.

The reason I am writing this letter is to tell you about my most favourite people In the whole world – Persons with Disabilities (PWDs).

Nii, you know I was very instrumental in building the Bakabri Audio lab! which is a digital studio to train gifted visually impaired persons to play musical instruments and also record own music. We teach rhem the rudiments of music, ICT and also sound engineering. The Bakabri Audio lab is managed by a blind musician Boaten Kodua- Akyeampon in his living room at home until we can find our own place. Training is free.

Well, why am I going on about the PWDs? Today I attended a workshop on community development and how it was important for development to take into consideration the persons with disability.

At the workshop the PWDs were educated that “disability is not inability’ so therefore whatever disability they had they had to to worry because they shared the same rights with the the rest of the population.

PWDS have a right to education, a right to security, a right to justice, a right to freedom, a right to all the rights that other persons have. They are not second class citizens Kpakpo and heck, some even do better than able-bodied folk who are just plain lazy and feign disability to beg for alms.

Nii Kpakpo, have you wondered what the disability washrooms look like? Haven’t you been curious to check? Well I satisfied my curiousity by walking into the disability washroom at the Accra Shopping Mall the last time I was around. Well, it wasn’t the ladies room so don’t get any ideas. All I can tell you is that it is an interesting sight in there and you need to see it for yourself. It is like a washroom for midgets if you’re even as short as I am.

Recently, I think I have become an advocate for placing disability features such as ramps, lower door handles, etc on public structures so that the diasabled are not left out. Also development parameters shouldn’t exclude the disabled because they are also people just like me and you.

Nii Kpakpo Thompson, let me tell you an interesting incident at the workshop. You know how almost everything is carted on a motorbike in the savannah. I have seen motorbikes carrying motorbikes (not dragging or towing) and even one time I saw a guy carrying a wardrobe he has just purchased on his head and riding pillion.

Heck! When my fridge got spoilt, the fridge repairer put it on the back of his motorcycle and I even helped him carry it and place it there. I was too shocked to complain of or voice out my fears.

One resource person, a senior lecturer at the savannah university, had to go meet another engagement at a place about 20mins drive away from the workshop location and his driver had not come. He therefore had to rush out when he got a call that his time was up. The chairman of the event just offered his motorcycle keys to one of the workshop assistants to go drop him off. I was wowed!

I kept wondering and laughing to myself. If this was in Accra, the resource person in question would demand an aircon taxi service, if possible, to take him to his destination. I was awed because of the simplicity of life these people live here. Here was a senior lecturer taking the offer to ride pillion to a high profile engagement.

There were no airs about him Kpakpo and he gratefully thanked the chairman and walked out with the assistant to be taken to his destination.

Niiiiiii. Kpakpooooooo. Thompson!

In the wake of the Madiba funeral I couldn’t help myself but laugh all the way through the workshop. I truly had fun. You know how I see the fun side of almost everything. This time I’m referring to the deaf and dumb sign language at the workshop. A sign language guy sat in front of the deaf and signed away all the presentations to them and they also replied since the workshop was highly interactive.

Nii, I found myself wondering if any of them was schizophrenic with all the signing going on and the way the interaction flowed it was very obvious that they were communicating. Then a wild thought occurred to me during one heated debate. How does a deaf and dumb person sign when they are pretty pissed.

I didn’t have long to wait and one young woman was angry at some of her colleagues taking advantage of the system over the rest of them when it comes to applying for scholarships. She expressed herself quite glibly and it made me realise that sometimes when a dumb person is angry, they can actually speak coherent words which is much unlike some stammerers whose words are not heard at all even though they will not be classified as dumb.

As Uncle Ebo will say, “life is someway”.

Well Kpakpo, for me it was a fun day albeit learning how to relate to the disabled in society and also help spread the awareness that they are not second class citizens but just like you and me.

Also learnt some slogans like ‘not everybody can do everything but everybody can do something’ to help develop our communities and also that ‘disability is not inability but a different ability’.

Well, Kpakpo hope you help spread the word especially to the politicians that even though they are disabled, PWDs still got thumbs too.

Nii, what plans do we have for the Christmas season. Let me know if it will be attractive enough to drag me to Bearded Man City especially since the Big Man himself is now a Merchant and Traffic warden and most likely will have no residence by the day Christ is born.

Till then..

Your Cousin in Law
Savannah Boy


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