Ramadan Savannah

Dear Nii Kpakpo,

The Ramadan fasting has come and gone and with it its attendant proclivities such as the careful walking about town with all 8 senses alert such as to hear a spit fly at you at cross angles (probably from somebody riding a bicycle), to sense the mad rush to meet the prayer deadlines at the mosque and if you’re not too careful you get a ‘lah illah lah’ moment. Did I tell you about that one?

Kpakpo, there was this day I had just finished playing basketball and I walked to the roadside to get a taxi home. I went across the street to get some ‘pure’ water and just when I stepped on the pavement there was this motorbike rider heading straight for me at top speed. Instead of applying his brakes dude just kept saying ‘lah illah lah’ repeatedly. I had to jump on his handlebars and use them to throw myself to the side and even when he slowed down to look back at the shaken me, all he still said indignantly was ‘lah illah lah’, shaking his head and off he went on his way.

Considering that I had just almost been knocked down by a motorcycle I found the whole incident pretty amusing. Friends on Facebook were worried but when I narrated full details – the indignation on the man’s face, his sense of urgency to get where he was going –  even your sister’s first reaction was to laugh her head off.

Matter oh!

Usually I also time my fast to coincide with the Muslim Ramadan fast since I do most of my breakfast outdoors on my way to work. If it is not the one cedi beans joint then it is the two cedi waakye place down the road on my way to work. Or even the bread and egg guy who never stops smoking. Honestly I have never seen him without a cigarette stick in his fingers or stuck behind his ears. Or of course that jollof place where the woman gave me the plenty change and she told me that was the right price for the food.

Some of the food vendors do a partial cooking in the evenings to cater for those who break their fast. Some wake up very early in the morning and end serving food by 5am but this is quite stressful if you have to cook for the evening too.

Some others like my favorite breakfast of plantain and beans just go cold turkey and pack their cooking stuff into storage for a whole month. There is no cooking at all.

Kpakpo, all these places that cook during the Ramadan serve their foods at 3am or after 6pm when they break the fast and by that time I have sorted myself out already. Now that is all in the past because the Ramadan fast is over.

However in the wake of the Ramadan fast, the festivities follow. This year’s Ramadan holiday, falling on a Monday, means that in a place where the least thing causes people to go on holiday, a major event like this will serve as a trigger bigger than any atomic bomb you can find.

It has been two days after the final prayers, two thirds of the shops in Tamale are closed and folk and their families are clad in white all over town heading in different directions in hordes. Obviously they are congregating in public squares such as the chief’s palaces and also in various traditional family homes to celebrate the Eid.

I hear the day after can be equated to the Christian Boxing Day where gifts are shared and people sit together to eat communal meals. Nii Kpakpo I hope you don’t need religion to overemphasize what this communal feasting means. Contrary to what people think about the savannah people they are a very family and ethnic oriented society. I know putting it like that makes people see things the way they want to see it but the good aspects outweigh the bad because intermarriages have ensured that these ethnic societies are interwoven into each other.

Nii Kpakpo Thompson so my people up here in the savannah have taken a few days off. They are probably taking the whole week to celebrate passing of the Ramadan fast and it is a party hopping week from one party to the next. Apart from people involved in private, white collar and some blue collar jobs, most people just stay at home during the week and for some of us our weekends have started early.

Today on my way to work I realized that fares have been increased again and It was done when people are still in the celebratory mood so that they hardly notice it but I’m yet to verify if it is official or the taxi driver just found a way of cheating his passengers for a few coins.

Furthermore even though the fast is over, the food vendors are not back yet apart from those who were cooking the evening meals. It is imperative that after one whole month of being away I’d have to up budget my one cedi beans and plantain because prices have gone up otherwise either I don’t get satisfied or I will be cheating them. Nii Kpakpo you know I like cheap side but I’m not heartless like that.

Nii Kpakpo Thompson, as you know social media and basketball is keeping me sane here. As for the Portuphy issue it still hasn’t changed but I’m giving him and his president one month more and if I don’t see any rectification or changes I’m taking action. I hear the man is going to put himself up as a candidate for the national chairman position for the ruling political party. Well, let’s wait and see.

God has been good so far but inasmuch as Grace is abundant, there needs to be action.

Talking of action, the organized labor demonstration went on as planned up here too but very few people went out there to protest. Most of the positions in government agencies here are political and nobody will want to risk their daily bread to go carrying placards. In a country where union leaders are political positions this was bound to happen. The labor front is not unified enough to stand against the government.

I stayed at home in bed all day.

Any3mi! Life goes on up here and it’s obvious the only people making money are the politicians and the retailers including chain store owners. The latter because no matter what, people need basic amenities in life and where else can they get them but in the supermarkets and market stalls.

Then let’s not forget the foreigners. As for the non-governmental organizations, a lot of them are just empty shells waiting to collapse too. They are just hanging on to straws since it is getting increasingly difficult to source for funds from foreign donors and those which belong to the foreign organizations have also cut their funding.

Well, now what keeps me afloat is the little business I have on the side where people use me as a middleman to get stuff for them from up here in the savanna and I bill them a little for my time and transport. It could really be a lucrative business if I had the startup capital but for now let me build the client base.

Ghana is hard and sometimes when I hear the news I weep for the country that has so much potential and bad leadership. It is about time we took the country into our own hands and my friend The Empress was surprised when I said we should scratch the presidency and make the leader of government business be chosen by his peers hence there will be no partisan interest. Everything remains the same but we won’t elect a president by majority vote but the leader of government business will be elected by his peers and he has to work with them for the good of the nation.

Not these selfish bigwigs that we have at the helm of affairs. With a system like that, it is nationhood first although it is bound to have its challenges too.

There is still hope and as I am wont of saying these days Kpakpo, I hope the light at the end of the tunnel is still bright enough to point us in the direction to get out of the economic tunnel we are in now as a nation.

It is well my brother. Even the phrase has become a cliché.

Your Cousin in Law
Savannah Boy

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