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Savanna Highlights

Dear Nii Kpakpo,
Yeah I know I haven’t written in a long time but it is not due to being busy or anything but rather to me not finding my mojo to write you a letter. Sometimes I feel plenty has happened that it is not new anymore and therefore there is no need to tell you because I have already done it in one missive or the other.

My Tamale has grown into a cosmopolitan city and you know inasmuch as that is good for development and we can rub shoulders with other cities in the world, cosmopolitan life has brought with it its attendant problems. More and more people are increasingly migrating into Tamale especially from the south because when they look up north, this is the most developed and fastest growing city at the moment.

Nii Kpakpo, truth be told when people tell me they have heard stories about the development of Tamale but they haven’t been here in the last ten years I shake my head because even in my five years of relocation who would have thought that Tamale will grow this fast. The migrant community and the businesses that have come up north are all using Tamale as their bases.

Hey, now talking about bases, what is it I hear about our governments, the past and the present signing an agreement with Americans with regards to military bases in this country. Well, I know that the American Peace Corps have bases and safe houses dotted all over Ghana and whoever thinks these people are really here to volunteer to help out should be as blank as a the newly polished blackboard (with batteries as we used to do in primary school) not knowing how America promotes her capitalism. For me up here though I wonder what it involves for us the citizens in the supposed backwaters and how this is going to affect us and the implications for the country as a whole.

Any3mi, let’s just wait and see.

Nii Kpakpo Thompson, there have increasingly been highlights from Tamale that has spread across the country and even gone further international. Lemme give you an example in King Ayisoba. He is a musician and entertainer and his brand is music has won him many awards locally and internationally and he hardly spends time in this country because of his bookings abroad especially in Europe. The guy has British folk, who we know to be very conservative, bleating like goats as they sing along to one of his popular songs that has the hook of the sound of a goat bleating ‘meh meh meh’. Well maybe I should go on twitter and ask our friend and brother the former British High Commissioner to Ghana who is always taunting his namesake for taking that four wheel government vehicle and getting caught. Hee hee hee! That should be fun to ask him what he thinks especially since he’s also an advocate for Ghanaian music.

(Over here @jonbenjamin)

Tamale music is going pretty far and crossing international boundaries with the likes of Macassio and Fancy Gaddam belting out hit tunes and doing collaborations with popular local artistes and even some international artistes. Apart from our music there are individuals who are competing with the doyens of their professions in the south and coming away with awards like our own radio presenters Kwaku Oduro and Ewurama Attoh (@ramalish) both of Kesmi Fm taking awards as Best Presenters in the country and not just the three regions up north. Let’s not forget that Alhassan Suhuyini of Alhaji and Alhaji fame of Radio Gold and now a honorable member of the House of Parliament representing Tamale North, also started his radio career in Tamale. That is pretty commendable and I’m sure that even though such awards mean that they can move anywhere they choose to stay here in Tamale and work diligently. I’m sure you might also have heard of Geoffrey Butta the Graphic Corporation photographer who now has about 7 local and international awards under his belt and is still as unassuming that you will pass him by unlike some in the business that carry airs and charge exorbitant prices just for a shoot.

Kpakpo, events here are pretty rare to meeting the standards in the capital or Kumasi but when they happen they are a happy occasion for people up north to showcase what we have got. Hitherto, events were limited to traditional events like drumming and dancing and mostly cultural displays but now there are musical concerts, music and album launches, video and movie premieres and once in a while a cinema even though our cinema hall is now a classroom block and a chain of store warehouses. The last time I even heard there was a karaoke event but looking at the photos of the event it didn’t really look like anybody went there to sing. Most people went there to hang out and do something different. In a cosmopolitan society, if events don’t come up that frequently everything seems to come to a standstill and stale and people just need to exhale or do something different. It is unpardonable that events organizers think that they wont get the necessary market when they bring shows that are a hit in the capital and other cities up north when there is a large migrant community who have relocated from the south who are hungry for such events. Check with Uncle Ebo Whyte and Latif Abubakar who have brought their stage plays up north.

Well, anyemi, life goes on for us here and like I keep saying you should visit soon. Businesses are opening up quickly that you can say rice paddies and well I promise to write more often from now. Talking of promises, what is this I hear about our round bespectacled Commander in Chief being nicknamed King Promise but I’m sure he can’t sing for shizzle.

I still remain
Your Cousin in Law
Savannah Boy

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The Builsa Way

Dear Nii Kpakpo,

So I hear the Commander in Chief and Head Apex of The Sakora Trio (the others are his vice and the speaker) as part of his campaign promise to deal with the thievery in the state coffers has set up a particular office with a gargantuan monolith to head it and this dude don’t fear whoo..

Kwპპ! The opposition made plenty noise but finally his day of vetting came to pass. It was during this vetting that one of the slanted hat wearing folk, the leading mouthpiece of the opposition asks if he wanted to solve issues the builsa way.

Come and see the thick forehead vein of our monolith appointee throbbing like lizard just fallen off tree gidigidi (you know that’s not the reference I had in mind especially since Valentine Day was yesterday 😂) and answered in his usual brash manner. Also our Ghana people made issues out of it because they have the notion that anything coming from or referring to the north is violent.

Well Kpakpo was reading my usual whatsapp messages and came across this article of someone who stayed amongst the Builsa and explains what it means to solve matters that way. Read on.

SOLVING AN ISSUE THE BUILSA WAY

In 2011 when registering for my national service, as mandated by the scheme registrants were suppose to choose three regions. I then chose Upper East, Upper West and Northern Region. Luckily for me I had Upper East Region specifically Sandema the capital and the Paramountcy of the Builsaland.

Just because I wanted to explore the north. My family was then worried because of the unstable nature of the region during 2011/2012 Bawku issues but I still insisted to go because even my village Alavanyo Kpeme was not cool either.

The first day I arrived, I was invited by my Assistant headmaster to enjoy some Builsa Pito in Wiaga a village near by as customs demand and to thank me for accepting the posting to his district. At the bar I overhead my Asst. Headmaster calling an oldman passing by his “slave”. So I quickly asked him if slave trade still exist at the North? He laughed and replied it is an ethnic joke among the northern communities.

From that day I’ve been a witness to several of that which if you are new you may think those involved were fighting.

Among them is solving an issue the builsa way which very common expression in the region which personally I have used several times during my stay in the Builsaland.

Historically and Traditionally, Builsa people don’t engage the services of herdsmen. They tend to their own cattle. During the dry season, they allow their cattle and other livestock to go free range, since there were no crops to destroy.

But this is not so during the rainy season. At this time the Builsa people make their maize, millet and groundnut farms within 10 to 200 metres from their homes. At this time, you dare not allow your cattle to go free range.

What used to be the practice in the olden days was that a particular child or two in the family were mostly responsible for grazing the family cattle several miles from home. Generally, these boys and girls would spend several hours on the savanna grasslands, far away from home, tending to the family’s livestock while their parents worked on the farms close to the home.

These “cowboys” were known to be very strong and tough because they spent most of their lives tending to cattle in the hilly, savanna plains and often encountered numerous dangers. If any disagreement arose among the stick wielding cowboys, the usual means of settling their difference was to drop all weapons and engage in one on one combat.

The sort of wrestling the Akans call “ntam.” Only that the Builsa version comes with an interesting but potentially “dangerous” twist; the combatants used their heads in this combat. Head – to – head bumps.

With time, the practice found its way into various Builsa communities which became one of their traditional games, wrestling.

Solving matters through one – on – one combat so that afterwards the defeated party wouldn’t complained of been cheated.

Now there certainly must be a detailed explanation as to how the saying became a common one among the educated class in Northern Ghana but I was told it was used for the first time in one of the secondary schools, probably Navasco, and gained popularity with time.

Among the educated class, to settle an issue “The Builsa way” means to settle it through a fist fight satisfactorily without hurting each other been hurt.

Builsa people are very lovely, generous and people loving people but wouldn’t allow you to take them for a ride. They are mostly physically strong and always make victory their hallmark.

One thing I love about them is their respect for elders and tradition.

I’ve really missed their staple food Tz and bitter soup as well as their local drink frofro and almighty pito.

…By Efo Worlanyo TSEKPO

Former Upper East Regional President, NASPA

Nii Kpakpo Thompson so there you have it. I’ve always insisted that you tell our people down there that we don’t walk around in a war zone up here but it is a peaceful society and we need to understand the cultural values whilst we try to bridge the gap between the north and south.

It’s people like us and Efo with have been up here whom need to spread the stories of the savanna to create that awareness.

Until I write to you again, I still remain

Your Cousin in Law,

Savanna Boy.

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

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