Tag Archives: life

Journey To The North

Dear Nii Kpakpo,

So I got into a bus heading north and though initially I didn’t know the people but I was cordially welcomed and before long we were chatting like we’ve known each other for years. After all what other choice did they have but that they were stuck with me for at least the next ten hours on the long drive to Tamale.

Kpakpo it is said that a man is not measured particularly by what he has but more by the friends he keeps. Here I was the day earlier doing errands for your sister especially to do with some documents she needed from that monolith institution up on the hill with its cumbersome bureaucratic processes. You know how it is in the capital when you want documents instantly then you have to fill some forms which bear The Big Six on the front pages and as letterheads. So there was no way I could get the documents without it taking a hit on my pockets. Meanwhile here I was having to rush back to Tamale for a mentoring program at the local university so I had to rush to the Intercity STC to book a ticket for the next day to travel. But the big sign post in the cashier’s window NO BOOKING WITHOUT CASH really had me prepped for an angina attack. What was going on and where was I to mobilize funds especially since I was told there were only two seats left on the second bus for the next day.

Kpakpo here I was feeling stranded and then after saying a prayer decided to tell a couple of friends and see how it goes. Now lemme tell you why I chose the InterCity STC. The company just recently purchased new Scania buses and these buses are fitted with usb ports and power sockets for electronic gadgets. I know when that our cousin who likes beans a lot hears this he might even try to take his rice cooker into the bus and cook some beans whilst he travels. But yeah! The buses are fitted with usb ports, a freezer and has on-board toilet facilities (which I have never seen in use considering how some passengers will even go to the bush and you can smell them a mile away) and best of all they have wireless services on board. This is what will make social media and internet users wanna ride in these buses and I am going to spearhead a campaign that it becomes our mode of transport of choice at social media events or gatherings.

So yeah that is it.

Kpakpo after an hour of making calls and convincing the ticket lady to hold the ticket for me I walked out of the station with a ticket in my pocket. Every day when I wake up I say a prayer to thank God for life and for his many blessings to me and that includes my friends and then I say a prayer for my friends too for God to bless them as they go through their daily lives. I have some friends and even though are crazy will go to the ends of the earth just to have my back. Look at yourself. Lol

So from the station I stopped over at the Body Temple of ICGC  to see my basketball friends I haven’t seen in a while and I’m sure the receptionist was shocked at how the boys just run out to carry me into the premises telling her I was VIP when everyone else is supposed to pay before entering the premises. It was really good to see them and regrettably I couldn’t stay any more days so we could hang out.

Anyemi, it was just as I got home that I got a call that there was a company bus leaving the Accra Mall in the wee hours of the morning and most of the people on the bus were going to be in the north for the first time and they would love for me to be on board that bus. Wow! What was happening I asked myself? I already had the ticket for the Intercity STC and I had to go return it but still I wasn’t convinced I wanted to leave the comfort of the public bus for some folk I didn’t even know and whether they will even treat me cordially. ‘Human beings are someway’ as a friend of ours will say. But then again, every journey had to be an adventure so why not. Luckily when I called the number for the Intercity company the same lady that served me picked up and she was so courteous I almost said I was sorry for bothering her but I will still take the bus. The lady explained my options to me and even wanted me to hold on till the morning so I make a decision when I came to board the bus but I told her the other bus was leaving around 3am and then she agreed on a refund or I change the ticket to Kumasi for another friend who was traveling there in the morning. Refund won the debate.

Kpakpo, by the time I was done doing all these calls and getting home and packing , it was long past midnight and which meant I had barely three hours to get ready. I called to confirm that I will be on the bus, took a shower, ironed my clothes, switched to news channels to watch what was going on in the rest of the world and lay down to wait for the time so I could leave home and go meet the bus  at the Accra Mall. Oh yes! And for the first time ever I set an alarm so at least I had some noise reminding me it was close to time. I didn’t know this people and I did not for any reason want to create a bad first impression. It was gonna be a long drive.

So at half past 3 I was at the roadside with my bags debating whether to take normal trotro which is cheaper to the mall or to take dropping which was comfy. I was wondering if there were any Uber drivers up by then. Well, since I still wanted to make an impression the dropping won and thankfully the taxi driver was very chatty and we have an interesting conversation on the drive. Within minutes we were at the mall since it was the wee hours of the morning and there was virtually no traffic on the roads. Moreover using the N1 we could almost wish we had another car to race with. There was no sign of the bus when I got to the mall but when I called the contact I was supposed to call I was asked to come into the station behind the mall and there I realized the company had a small office there and that was the pick-up point. The bus hadn’t arrived yet and after greeting those that were around I settled to wait.

Nii Kpakpo it wasn’t too long when the driver arrived and he was driving a new Ford Transit 14seater van and that put a smile on my face because I knew I had made a good choice. Before long we were chatting like we had met before and we were telling each other stories of travels to parts of Ghana to the delight of the rest of the passengers waiting. We assured them that inasmuch as it was going to be a long drive they will have fun along the way and should just enjoy the journey. The driver told me that he had suggested we leave that early because of the Buipe Bridge that was usually closed for repairs daily at 2pm and we needed to cross the bridge before its closure, else the alternate was to drive to the Bole-Bamboi-Sawla-Fufuiso road that will add at least four hours more to the journey. As for the alternative we didn’t even want to consider it at all so we set timelines and told the passengers that there will be minimal stoppages on the way until we got to the bridge. One passenger that was delaying was left behind because he could not be specific as to where he was as at the time we were ready to leave. At exactly 5am we set off from the Accra Mall.

The women went to the back seat and amidst giggling, gossiping and teasing each other we drove off. This soon petered out since it was obvious because of the time we were leaving peoples’ sleep patterns had been affected and before long most people were asleep. The timelines that I had set were pretty effective by my estimation and I understood why when I told the driver that I was estimating we get to Kumasi in four hours he just laughed. We hit the Ejisu roundabout at a quarter to eight but then the traffic in Kumasi driving through the center of town was crazy and we spent another hour manoeuvring through to get on to the Tamale road via Offinso. We picked up another passenger in Kumasi and by now the women in the car were awake and complaining that they were hungry.

Kpakpo inasmuch as we jokingly say that you can buy anything in traffic in Ghana it is very true for Accra and Kumasi cities. Driving through the traffic there was food that could serve a full British breakfast: oats, toasted bread and eggs, milo, milk, burfloaf, sandwiches and somebody even carried porridge. But alas our women didn’t want any of this but they preferred a local breakfast of some waakye or banku or probably some early morning fufu with some herbs and bushmeat. The discussion of what to eat on the bus also generated its own laughter and truly Ghanaians we laugh at our pain. Having gotten to the outskirts of Kumasi and out of the traffic the driver then stopped at a place where there was waakye for the women to buy breakfast whilst him and another passenger found a fufu joint and went off to have their own meal. They were the last to get on the bus and then we set off again with a further warning of minimum stoppages.

Time for people to start chattering again with food in their bellies but very soon, sleep took over again. The next stop was in Techiman to refuel and have passengers stretch a bit and use the washroom. Whilst they did that I quickly rushed over to see my cousin who was at a shop just a street away. The Linda that we used to know as a little gal is not so little anymore and she has grown into a lovely young woman helping her mother at the store and managing some of the business. She’s become the Techiman La Gata after the telenovela character. I know I should soon introduce her to my other sweetheart in the town, the svelte community nurse Vee but soon. Every time I show up there people are curious as to who I am because I relate to her by the love I have for her and we laugh easily. It was a quick pop in and I just hugged my aunt since I haven’t seen her in a while and told her I was passing by on a journey to the north and wanted to come get a blessed hug from her. She followed me to the bus and when the other passengers saw her and after the introduction one particular man started already calling me in-law mischievously. We set off again heading to Kintampo but passing through Tuabodom which also led the women to sing the old song that had once been a national hit and we laughed over it.

Kintampo is the center of Ghana and the town thrives on traveller trade because most of the buses that ply the north and south stop over there thus there are several rest stops. There was one time I remember we stopped over very late almost midnight and GN Bank van was still working giving announcements for people to come deposit their monies from daily sales for safe keeping. The town never sleeps because buses pass through almost every minute of the day. However we didn’t stop at Kintampo since we had already stopped at Techiman and we drove past heading to the bridge which was now our target because we intended to cross it before the close down time of 2pm. We were on track. We got to the bridge with still an hour and half to spare before closing time and just after we crossed it we were all clapping for our driver. He had made good time. It was then that I suggested whilst we were getting some snacks including tiger nuts, aka atadwe, that we get the driver some guinea fowl (akomfem) eggs to celebrate his feat. Moreover he needed to take a break of at least ten minutes which we insisted on so he had to find a place convenient to park the van.

Nii Kpakpo, just as the driver parked the van and got out I opened the door for those who wanted to stretch a bit to come out of the van and the very first lady who was eager to get out tried to come out of the van. Just as she put her leg down and her full body came into contact with the heat outside she jumped back into the cooler confines of the van. The action was very short-lived but very funny because just as she put her other foot on the ground out of the van the heat wave caught her straight in the face and she jumped back into the cooler confines of the van. At this time just before the rains is the hottest season in the north. The average temperature daily is 38 degrees and the passengers didn’t understand how I was feeling so cool in the heat and I told them that sometimes I felt I was solar because I have always been energized by the sun’s rays and it felt good to be back in the northern sun. One of the ladies commented ‘then we can’t live here oh’ and to which I replied that they will get used to it if they lived here and my experience the first time I visited Tamale.

When we set off again we knew that the next stop will be in Tamale and we even passed the Intercity bus that had left Kumasi at 6am that morning on the way. To impress the other passengers I put my wireless device on and caught the Wi-Fi from the bus to prove that indeed there was Wi-Fi on that bus and why I believed it was the bus of choice. Approaching Tamale and people were taken aback by the development and their impression that the place was a backwater changed instantly to be confirmed the next day when I met them that they will give consideration to a chance to relocate up north to stay.

The long journey gradually was coming to an end and all I could think about was the food that the boys were going to have at lunch. Every Friday are special days at The Observatory, a particular table set in Club Enesta, a restaurant in the very heart of Tamale. I was in contact with the chef and I had already told the boys to take a photo of the food I’d be missing but they didn’t know that I had made arrangements that just when the food was placed in front of them I will appear to eat some. I could just imagine the look on their faces. And Oh! I achieved that perfectly. Got to lunch just in time to just wash my hands and join in the meal after dumping my bags on the floor.

Nii Kpakpo Thompson, you see how this letter is long, so also was the journey long but in the end we made it. Considering the aftermath of accidents all over the news and casualties I give God the glory and thank Him for traveling mercies all over the nation. It is not by intelligence or might but just by His favour, grace and mercy that we travel as much as we do safely. Keep praying for me that I will enjoy safe travels in these parts as I bring you more stories from up here. And paddy, hurry and get your show on the road. I’m still waiting for the day you call me and tell me you’re heading up here or are here already. Like we will paint the savannah with its own sunset.

Till I write to you again I still remain,

Your Cousin in Law,

Savannah Boy

 

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Founders Day 2016

Dear Nii Kpakpo,

just recently another Founder’s Day passed and as usual it was declared a holiday in Ghana. this is the day that has been put aside also as a National Volunteers Day by the GhanaThink Foundation where people are encouraged to get out of their comfort zones and do an activity voluntarily to help their communities. these activities could be any activity that persons recognized as could benefit the society either communally or in general.

several activities were lined up countrywide and these activities included cleaning up designated areas such as lorry parks, town centre or beaches, health awareness walks, health screening and blood donations, donations to orphanages and spending time with the orphans, spending time with basic school children teaching basic ICT skills, rehabilitating school buildings and painting and even community outreaches among several others.

Kpakpo in the savanna for example various activities were lined up to cover several days since the day itself was on a Wednesday and activities were lined up both for the day itself and for the Saturday at the weekend.

For the Wednesday there was a clean up and health awareness walk in the center of Tamale where the main taxi rank area was cleaned to the market area. the health walk was to create awareness on some female diseases where health personnel gave seminars on personal hygiene and how to prevent some female diseases.

the main activity however was the painting of a six classroom block of a basic school in a community in Tamale. anyemi, the people that came out to paint was a motley crew of various professionals and down to earth people who on a regular day will not don overalls or even carry paint brushes but for the sake of volunteerism came out to spend time painting the community school.

Kpakpo, i would lie if i said it wasn’t fun. whilst we painted, various discussions went on with regards to various issues and it was also a time for networking.

after the introductions fellow volunteers just walked up to each other and amidst the banter and lively camaraderie the painting went on. the clothes designer interacted with the lovely women who could be models for his clothing, whilst also keeping a conversation with the award winning photographer to be featured on his blog and the celebrity feature blogger was busy soliciting for a supply of eggs and gizzard from the poultry farmer volunteer whose little two year old boy was being attended to by the high school graduate waiting for her results to go into the university.

the aid worker was being teased that she had missed her calling as a painter or an artist whilst the author showed obvious signs of his childhood forays and his bald head bobbed up and down holding a very long scroll brush painting the upper parts of the wall whilst the tallest painting volunteer was concentrating on putting the Bluetooth music speakers at a point where they would have the most effect so there was music to dance, sing or hum to whilst painting. Kpakpo, i am not forgetting the Hub incubator entrepreneur who’s first act on reaching the painting site was to spread out his waakye and eat first, claiming that without energy no work could be done.

now you understand when i say it was a motley crew of volunteers out to have fun whilst doing something worthwhile for the community. the headmaster of the school was very grateful for the gesture.

Nii Kpakpo Thompson, the activities planned for the weekend included a graduation of the Reading Clinic children and i hear it went pretty well. these children had undergone four months of being taken through reading and writing skills to not only equip them for academia but also be peer mentors in their various communities.

the Founders Day initiative of volunteering on that day has come to stay and for some of us it is not only a one day activity but a daily one for us as we go through our lives getting out of our comfort zones and giving back to the community in any way we can whilst also supporting various initiatives we believe in. let us invite more people to find a cause they can support one way or the other both materially and financially. there are so many causes out there.

well i am done here. till i write to you again let us keep spreading the word of volunteerism and instill the spirit in other people.

i still remain

your cousin in law

Savannah Boy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday Eclipse

Dear Nii Kpakpo,

The ‘aircrips’ (eclipse) has come and gone with its ‘hullaballoon’ and as usual Ghanaians hyped it out of proportion. Like the usual doomsayers that we are we were told not to watch it with our eyes or we go blind because of one thing or the other that is never spelt out.

Oh yes! As Nana Awere Damoah says in his book I Speak of Ghana, the Ghanaman’s gullibility is legendary. “Gullibility will take us only to Golgotha or even a worse place.” We just do without asking.

We see the sun all the time but no explanation is given as to why on the day of the eclipse alone, when you take a look at the sun directly you will go blind.

Is it not the same as in all adverts when we hear of Terms and Conditions but we are never told what those terms and conditions are?

Nii Kpakpo, I intentionally stayed off all social media so that I don’t really get to hear all the explanations for the eclipse but what I couldn’t avoid was the television news and studio discussions on the effects and perceptions of the eclipse.

Here are a few I have heard and compiled that I thought I should share with you;

The Chinese people said that when the eclipse is happening, the dragon gods are eating the sun. This means that a new dragon was taking over in the kingdom and spiritual realms.

The medieval English believed that the eclipse was a time when the wizards and druids had their meetings and evil magic was about to take over.

But it was the Ghana version of explaining the eclipse that bowled me over. Social media has been rife with political and economic explanations to the eclipse and some are pretty funny and interesting.

Politically, Ghanaians are saying that the NPP (previous government) gave us a total eclipse where there was total darkness and the NDC (current government) only managed to give us a partial eclipse mainly because the money for the full eclipse has been ‘chopped’.

The hardships are in 5th gear whilst the performance is in first gear thus making the engine very hot. The debate now is whether to change the driver or change the gears whilst maintaining the driver.

Socially, Professor Amamoo-Otchere, on the GTV forum, interpreted the eclipse to mean that, “our society is becoming too negative”, adding that “the eclipse was a sign that Ghanaians must emerge from pessimism and think positively.”

Ghanaians are saying that the Electricity Company of Ghana has extended its lights off to the Heavens but apparently they failed since they couldn’t cause a total darkness so they had to do load shedding/sharing even with the sun.

Somebody’s view on the issue when invited to see a program on a television station at the same time as the eclipse: “abeg we will be watching the Partial eclipse . Due to high tariffs we are only getting a partial one and so we would not miss it for anything wai.”

Nii Kpakpo, listen to this conversation I read on social media;

ogyam: kwata you ready for the eclipse?

kwata: ready how?

Ogyam: with your glasses and things…

Kwata: to do what?

Ogyam: haba… to watch it!! why? won’t you see it?

Kwata: see eclipse for what? ibi him go make Mahama stop chop money? or make Woyome pay back the money? if eclipse cannot reduce the price of petrol or electricity, I beg leave me out!! Why should I spend more money watching something which won’t change anything?

Ogyam: infact you get case…

Don’t we just love our country Ghana, Kpakpo!

Somebody also made this statement on another social media site:

“Knowing Ghanaians, I won’t be surprised to see a delegation going to the Flagstaff House to thank the President for giving us the eclipse”.

Finally the icing on the cake was applying the Ghanaian gullibility to the ‘airclips’ involving the Telcos:

“If da eclipse did not happen in your area, it is due to network problem. Text Eclipse to the short code 203875646564426 on all networks. Thank you!”

Is that a short code Kpakpo? Looks more like a recharge code.

Nii Kpakpo as for us in the savannah, they are saying that the ‘airclips’ was only 60% here whilst it was 80% in Accra. Even in ‘airclips’ matters the southerners have more than us in the savannah regions. This is even attributed to developmental gaps so much so that even eclipse is not distributed equally.

Oh I love my motherland Ghana!

Well Nii Kpakpo, whatever the ‘aircrips’ means to you, it has come and gone. The lessons we have learnt are there and I am sure there is more to be learnt. As for the interpretations, you know our people will always be ingenious with coming up with funny stories.

Let me end here and till we talk again, enjoy living in this country.

Your Cousin in law

Savannah Boy

Hot Weather

Dear Nii Kpakpo,

the heat season is here again and we in the savannah are having the last vestiges of rain. after every rain, the sun opens its mouth so wide you would think it was our maternal grandmother at Adabraka yawning with her toothless mouth wide open.

very soon too the harmattan will be on us since it is fast approaching the end of the year and truly i can’t wait to walk in town and hear the sounds of people’s heels cracking with dryness as has been fabled happens here in the savannah. they say it gets so dry that you hear people’s skins rub and make sounds such as when you rub an inflated balloon.

it is absolutely not true!

they say the best time to woo a girl in the savannah is when it is harmattan because her true beauty will shine out when the dryness hits her skin. i think this only applies to those that belief that beauty is only skin deep. but for me and you, we both know that beauty goes beyond what kinda skin creme a girl uses. beauty comes from deep within.

Kpakpo, one thing i can be very glad of in these parts at a time like this however is the availability and the blessing of the option of taking a shower any time of day. the water company here is doing so good a job that water is running through the taps the whole day. that is a very rare occurrence, such as the eclipse, even in the capital city.

even the eclipse is not so rare anymore because i have seen a few in my lifetime and in days of old, people never even saw any until they passed on into ancestorhood. i wonder what is really wrong or if the world is coming to an end. or maybe we are aware of it now that we have gadgets to detect it and we know exactly what it is – a freak of nature. well….

Nii Kpakpo, you know i love the sun. its rays have some revitalizing effects to it which the doctors say is vitamin D. i love it so much that sometimes i think God created me to run not only on adrenaline but also on solar energy.

well, the heat is upon us and as such we need to dress appropriately as Africans to be able to stand the heat. as for some of our people who do the white collar jobs with no air condition, i pity them. but man must eat.

and for those who have to stand in the open air to make ends meet, i wish them well too. man must eat!

Kpakpo, come to think of it, i am feeling hot and i have to go take a shower – no bucket things!

catch you on the flip side.

till then it’s still me

your cousin in law

savannah boy.

Savannah Chronicles

Dear Nii Kpakpo,

I am back to the savannah after spending over a week in Accra. As for the stories I have to tell about Accra, they will surely fill an encyclopedia on urban city living.

Accra has always been fraught with frustration and the bureaucracy is so frigging annoying I don’t want to get into it. I went to my former place of work to check on some money due me and we could not even find the forms that I had put in. later when we found the forms, under layers of drawers and in some tattered file I was told that it would further take about a month to process since three signatories had to endorse whatever cheque was issued to me.

Then I asked what was prevented them for sending the forms to the signatories NOW since they were in their air-conditioned offices only to be told that they were probably busy. What abject nonsense! Without checking on them you tell me they are busy and as if signing my cheque was not part of their duty.

Well I had to calm down and be glad that at least the process had begun after they had already delayed it for 4months.

Nii Kpakpo, what is this I hear about our favorite school Oreilly. Their land was taken away and GES had to relocate them and then a whole lot of brouhaha. But finally a philanthropist good Samaritan presented them with land and even went ahead to build them a few classroom blocks.

Then at the commissioning he made statements that have come to be referred to as #NunuSaint.

He said that every Tom Dick and Harry is embarking on strike and that if we the citizens can’t make sacrifices for the nation then we should pack out and leave the country.

This I hear earned him the well deserved title of ‘Toonoo of the Week’ on the Weekend City Show of your bald cousin and friends.

Well honestly Kpakpo, I don’t know what was going on in the man’s head when he said that because I know you know that some of us have opted to stay in this land of our birth by fair or foul and even you went on a stint in South Africa and decided to come back to help build our nation.

Every Tom’s Dick is Hairy indeed! #Nonsense

Nii Kpakpo, I am back in the savannah but not after I had passed some time under the Ofankor overhead. Chale! The air that passes under the overhead is a welcome relief from the hot air that pervades the whole city of Accra. Now I understand why folk just take a break there and then just go to sleep.

The city is so choked my friend and people still leave here every day for Hustle City because they assume there is a better life there. Just yesterday I saw two truckloads of girls packed on the back of a truck heading out in the midst of goats and sheep.

Kpakpo, since you are not replying to my letters I have gone into collaboration with another friend of mine in Obamaland and she writes on Reflections of life. So she writes to me and I reply on the cultural practices and systems of both our societies. In essence Reflections meets Chronicles and thus far it has been fun for both of us.

I am back at post and there is so much going on here. My first order of business after I got here was to go report myself to the beans joint to greet the old lady who gave me her usual toothless smile of welcome and asked in Dagbani if I had traveled for a while. I could only nod a yes.

Recently, the prepaid meters have been introduced here and the people are already complaining about the rate at which the units are running like rabbits into burrows upon seeing an eagle. Very soon, there will be demonstrations up here and I won’t be surprised.

Now that the president says that even ministers should pay for their own electricity it means things will take a dramatic turn in every part of the country. But we will wait and see what happens.

Kpakpo I have to rush into a meeting with my coordinator right now so we will catch up with you later.

Till then.

Your cousin in law
Savannah Boy

Savannah Enterprises

Dear Nii Kpakpo,

Boss how are you doing and how is Hustle City this wet weekend morning.

You know, I miss the humor program of your other cousin, my fat roommate on your rival radio station who makes fun of prominent people who have goofed in the past week. The most memorable one that I remember and always sets me laughing is the one on one of our female presidential aspirants who was being interviewed via cell phone and she had to excuse herself to take her phone into the loo to pee.

That gets me cracking every time I remember it. I even still have that excerpt in my audio notes on my phone. My God! What a woman.

It’s a the weekend again and instead of my usual aerobics at the old savannah stadium followed by basketball with the boys and the usual banku/ kenkey sit down that comes with it, your cousin has dragged me to the outdooring of our second savannah godchild. She was named Aseda (thanksgiving) and characteristically she doesn’t have any of those telenovela names that Hustle City girls pick up as a result of watching too much television whilst on maternity leave.

Kpakpo, isn’t one of your children called Aseda too. Oh! These days children in Ghana are all called Aseda, Ayeyi or Nshira or one of such names with attributions to God’s nature.

Oh! And the birth couple’s first born is called Nshira too. So now they have Aseda to complete it. Wonder what’s next.

As it is the weekend, you know that definitely there will be either shopping or marketing but you know your cousin will not miss an opportunity to drag me along, whilst I will in return also not miss an opportunity to try to make up an excuse to wrangle out of it.

For once in a few months I have managed to wrangle out of this one with the excuse that I was coming to write you a letter, but not without payment of course. These days, whatever you exempt yourself from with women, there is a cost to pay and you only hope and pray, as a man, that it is not too expensive.

For me this time, it is the use of my little Chinese gadget that puts the world in the palm of my hand. Kpakpo, your cousin has taken over my android phone and made it hers and I can’t complain because I want to have my piece of mind. She claims I am always on the gadget and talking to the other six point nine billion people in the world but I am always ignoring her. So to make peace, I have handed the gadget over to her.

What she doesn’t know of course is that I am getting a new one pretty soon and it’s much more advanced than this one and if I don’t give her this one, I would be forced to give her the new one. (sticking tongue out)

On weekends the three major supermarkets in this part of the savannah are operating. These are the Melcom, Quality First and Forsmuel Shopping centres.

Eish! Wait oh. Forsmuel’s owner is an Adventist and as such they do not open for business on Saturdays since it is a Sabbath.

The other supermarkets therefore take advantage of this and rake in as many clients as they can.  I mention these three because they are the biggest and most visible shopping centers in town. There are others that are supermarkets but they are not as big as these three.

Kpakpo, shops here do not operate with the same sense of urgency and money aggressiveness you find in Hustle City. In the city, some shops even have people sleeping in the shops so that they ensure that shops are open as early as 6am to at least cater for the early morning clientele of corporate folk going to work who might want to stop by a shop to quickly get a purchase.

The first time I came to the savannah, I remember I needed a new light bulb and since your cousin’s driver comes to pick her up early in the morning, I decided why not jump in for the ride to town, since we were residing quite a distance from the town center. See me, city dweller, coming to the savannah with the Hustle City mentality.

They dropped me off in town around 6.30am and I had to comb the whole of town just to find an electrical shop that was open that early to get a light bulb. And I still didn’t get any. There was no shop open. Even when I decided to go into the main market to check out for myself how stores operate, even in the market itself, there were no shops opened.

Shop owners started arriving and shops starting opening around 8.30am same time as the banks open for business and I was surprised that even some of the banks opened their doors at 9am. To me, this was a bit kind of strange because if even the shops will not open before 9am, the banks too?

Suffice it to say I got my bulb around 9 am and headed for home but by then I had learnt an important lesson which I keep to this day. In the savannah, inasmuch as people seem to be in a rush physically, they are really not in a hurry and do things at a comfortable pace. There was no need to bring my city slick mentality to think that any shop owner wanted to attract any clientele at that time of day so they had to open. Moreover who are those who form that clientele?

Usually in the city, it is those that were going to work early to avoid the traffic and can spare a second or two to drop by a shop to get something they needed. In the savannah, there was no rush and no traffic so almost everybody gets into their comfortable pace and do things according to that pace.

I also realized later too that by 8pm even the major supermarkets and shopping centers were closed so if you wanted anything in the savannah, the best time to get it was to get it between the traditional working hours (between 9am to 5pm) give or take an hour or two.

The same applies to the pharmacies, some of which even extended their closing time to 10pm.

So what it means is that by 10pm in the evening, economic activity in the savannah is shut down to near zero leaving only some of the pubs operating around that time especially at the weekend. I had the rude shock of my life when me and some visiting friends walked into a pub just before 10pm and we were told that they had closed. 10pm Kpakpo! On a Saturday night and the attendant was already packing to go home and locking the doors. Like your grandmother (God rest her kind soul) liked to say: ‘this can’t happen in kojokrom’.

There are various enterprises springing up in the savannah because of the influx of the southerners and their southern palates. People sort of want a semblance of what exists in the south, as they are used to and so entrepreneurs are also growing smart to establish businesses to suit these tastes.

One such enterprise is Tacorabama, a pizza outlet that has been set up here by some very astute business people. It’s an eatery that not only serves pizza but other continental dishes and has the ambience of any pub/restaurant that you will find in the south thus also serving as a social hangout.

Kpakpo, you know the way boys boys like to hang out and watch their soccer especially EPL and Champions’ League. Yes! Some young man has also established a pub for such a hangout where young men hang out to watch these games and sometimes premier new movies on a large flat screen or projected on a wall. Even though most of the clientele have their own means at home, since that’s the trend, they still prefer to be out there to have a few beers and make as much noise as they can watching these games and especially the extended arguments that comes with such audiences.

Since we are talking about enterprises, there is no way I can leave out the loan sharks. The short term loan financiers and insurance companies are also here oh. Bayport services (notably) and even some banks are breaking into the hire purchase trend of buying where the bank finances and gives a line of credit that the customer will have to clear with little installments monthly. The insurers are also coming up with interesting insurance plans to suit the savannah lifestyle.

With livestock and agricultural produce also being relatively cheap in the savannah, many enterprises are springing up to act as a conduit from the savannah to the southern parts. At first it was individuals who did that but with more and more people being interested, it is gradually becoming a lucrative business so corporate bodies (even courier services) are becoming involved.

Kpakpo last but not the least of the enterprises that I can identify in the savannah caters for the fashion sense and taste of relocated southern folk in the savannah and savannah people who want to look trendy, as pertains to fashions in the south. Yes, I’m referring to the different African print dresses and shirts, with the bags and slippers/shoes to match especially for the ladies. It is very important that the labels of notable fashion houses in the south be on them to show their worth.

So in essence fashion from dress design and fashion houses such as Alfie Designs, Nallem clothing and pkog (the ones that come to mind) are pretty much a big deal in the savannah. That is not to say that I have noticed that some of the savannah designers train in the south and are even better than some of these fashion coming in but because the dresses are coming from Accra, their value is more.

Kpakpo, I have noticed one particular astute design house buy smocks wholesale from the savannah, supposedly take it down south to have their logos imprinted on them and then resell them to their savannah clientele sometimes at 5 times the price of the original smock that was bought. Or they design shirts with the smock material (which they buy cheaply) used as decorations and the value of these shirts are very exclusive and thus very expensive.

Is this not the same thing that we accuse the Europeans of doing to us Africans when they buy our raw materials at prices they dictate and then process it and sell them back to us at exorbitant prices yet we still buy because we assume it’s prestigious to buy European products? This is right here in our motherland.

Well, they still have clientele who patronize them so who am I to say that it’s expensive. If I can’t afford it doesn’t mean somebody else cannot. After all, it is still patronizing made-in-Ghana products.

Kpakpo, with all these enterprises it is obvious that this part of the savannah is very lively and bubbly. It is growing so fast and I just wish the powers that be will recognize the potential and shift attention in more developing areas rather than those flying birds that lay only six eggs and the trees that got burnt even before they were planted. We do indeed have some leaders paa oh anyemi!

Furthermore, another thing boggles my mind. Having given the active timeline of daily activity of the savannah capital, I remember at one time a curfew was instituted from midnight to 4am in this place. Kpakpo, how in the heck is a curfew like that going to work when naturally by 10pm to 6am the savannah practically shuts itself down. If this is not a bureaucratic gimmick to keep the savannah perceptions, I wonder what is.

Now you understand where my conspiracy theory is coming from?

Well, I have said my piece.

Kpakpo, when are you going to find an excuse to come visit me in the savannah so that we do some of our favorite pastimes together?

Did I tell you we are trying to put down a proposal to take over and manage a nightclub here? It is one of the enterprises that if managed well can generate a lot of capital and me and a couple of friends are trying to look into it.

Hope by the time to decide to take time off your Drive Time Daily show and drive into town (just kidding, I know you will fly) the nightclub deal should have gone through and we will chill. Even if it doesn’t, we will still have fun other ways.

You know how we do it. This time we are going to do it savannah style (gangam style with fugu).

Oh Chale! Can’t wait for that day.

But till next time, keep keeping well.

Your ‘enterprising’ cousin in law

Savannah Boy

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