Lecherous Lecturers: Preparing Your Student For the Lion’s Den

It’s not the kind of message I was expecting to receive to early in the morning, particularly not from the individual in question. He is a casual (and one of my more pleasant) acquaintances on social media. Our conversation has run the gamut from history, to music, to women’s issues…but never this.

“A friend of mine was sexually harassed by a lecturer at Legon and didn’t know who to speak to and she spoke to me. She wants to be discreet about it…”

Sexual assault on campuses is a global problem.

My heart immediately broke for this unknown girl. Her distress is not unfamiliar to me. Although I have never suffered the lamentable circumstance of being assaulted by my instructor(s), I know many women and girls who have. We were in grade 6 when the English teacher at my elementary school, Soul Clinic, closed all the windows and doors and shut my classmate in the room with him during break time, forbidding us from coming in during that half hour with a strict warning. I still remember how stricken with grief she looked when she finally emerged from captivity. She never was quite the same after that.

A new school year already well underway, and most of us who find ourselves in the noble position of parent/guardian have parted with our hard earned money to purchase books and supplies for our charges, further equipping them with the same advice that was handed down to us during our formative years.

“Focus on your books.”

“Don’t have too many friends, and make sure to pick the right ones.”

“Don’t eat everything in your chop box the first week. You don’t know when we will visit again!”

For all of our preparation, some of us will be marching our children and wards right into the waiting arms of sexual predators – men and women of depraved minds who will fondle, slobber and lash them with all gladness. It is afterward that the victim will have to make the impossible choice of speaking up and reporting a teacher with tenure or maintaining silence in hopes of passing their course. Either way, the child’s life is forever marked by the event. How can you prepare your child to face something like that when many of us don’t even entertain the occurrence as a possibility? Things like this don’t happen in our communities – good communities. They certainly wouldn’t happen to your well-raised child at a school as reputable as Legon.

And yet.

There is an almost willful ignorance about sexual the levels of sexual, verbal and physical abuse that pockmark our educational landscape. The façade of peace and perfection is more important than its pursuit, explaining why so woeful little has been done to protect students who have their education held for ransom by teachers and professors who feel entitled to their bodies. As a nation, we’ve been indoctrinated with this belief: You cannot challenge authority and hope to get any redress. Even though I felt a duty to try to help this young woman with any information I could find, I felt defeated from the onset. One after another, the responses to my query were met with scoffs, confirming that instinct.

“Here, in Ghana? Please.”

“You are lucky if you graduate from a Ghanaian institution without suffering some form of harassment or assault. Even the boys aren’t spared.”

“You can report it if you like, but the administration will always take the side of faculty.”

“My professor offered me a lift back to campus, drove me to a remote corner, pulled out his penis and demanded I give him a blow job. I screamed and insulted him, which caught him off guard. When I reported it to the head of the department, I was advised to let it go because, ‘My insult seemed to scare him enough’.”

Everyone was apologetic, but the fact was that this young woman would have to take her lumps with the rest of the culture. Could it be that this was really the case? Could it be that in 2017 – the year of the super computer and concept self-driving cars and all the other shiny technological advancements that we on the Continent have embraced – that there are no mechanisms for students to report improprieties meted against them?

My stubbornness wouldn’t allow me to believe it. Fate, who disguised herself as Dr. Akyana Britwum, rewarded my pigheadedness with an introduction to his mother, Dr. Akua Opokua Britwum, Professor at the University of Cape Coast. Her research and publications cover sexual harassment, the economics of violence against women, gender mainstreaming in Ghanaian Universities, gender and land rights, gender and leadership in trade unions, organizing informal economy workers as well as trade union participation and representation.

Dr. Akua Britwum. Source: UCC

We spoke briefly about the incident that was brought to my attention. This is a condensed version of our conversation:

“ Sexual harassment from unwanted contact through assault and rape is prevalent in our educational institutions in Ghana. The experience is widespread; deriving from our (mis)understanding of sexual harassment; for a number unwanted touching patting no the backside, sexual jokes, exposure to pornography are just jokes any not harassment.

Some universities cover sexual harassment during orientation for freshers; but our experience at University of Cape Coast (UCC) shows that the space is small and students hardly hear or able to understand fully what has been said. We are therefore working towards providing a dedicated space of about 2 hours for training on healthy sexual relations for students. It’s a system that was piloted this year.

A number of facilities (to report abuse) are available at various levels.  In our basic schools Girls Education Unit’s school-based facilitators and guidance and counseling coordinators (GCC). All second cycle schools have GCCs. The question is how effective such systems are for dealing with sexual abuse and harassment. The officers’ lack the needed training and gender political skills to deal with the issues that come before them. However as you guessed rightly, funding and staffing remain real challenges.

Victim blaming/slut shaming is a big challenge especially around what is called ‘provocative/decent dressing’. And you find ‘prominent persons’ and politicians pandering to this discourse. Some men even claim to harass women because they have been ‘harassed’ by the way they dress. But women cannot lay claim to same; that they have been harassed by men’s dressing so they harassed the men in retaliation.   So, a girl gets raped and she is blamed for being in the wrong place with the wrong persons, in the wrong dress. She should have known better; if she decided to spend time in bad boys’ company then she deserves the rape they met out to her. She is in short, a deserving victim.

The boys or men are absolved of any responsibility whatsoever for their criminal actions. Worst of all they do not carry any stigma for having raped a girl. She is the one whose dignity is soiled for ever. The situation gets more complicated if the harasser has some level of social standing. The poor girls are made to feel guilty for bringing harm to such men and their dependents. The choice that is forced on them; either they choose to live with their sense of defilement, loss of dignity. Or report and carry a burden of guilt for making their harassers suffer the consequences of their actions: Jobs loss, jail term, etc.

In fact, we find slut shaming or victim blaming is one reason why most girls will not seek redress in situations where they have been assaulted or harassed. Worst of all some even believe they asked for it.

And among those who do find the courage to report, a number just drop the case. They come under such intense pressure that few have the courage to pursue their case to conclusion.

As a caring society and ordinary citizens there’s a lot we can do:

We have to begin by reconstructing masculinities in Ghana:

Let’s teach young men that:

  1. They are responsible for their actions
  2. Just as they can control all other actions they have full power to control they sexual desires;
  3. That it is stigma to be a rapist
  4. Rape or sexual assault survivors are not morally weak;
  5. Women should be assertive and not a threat to men.

Let us teach young women that:

  1. No man has a right to her body;
  2. They have a right to say no to sexual advances no matter who it making the ventures;
  3. They can withdraw their consent to sex any time they feel it is not right;
  4. Single women who have never married are not failures

Every one should:

  1. Stop blaming the way girls dress as a cause of sexual harassment;
  2. Support girls who are harassed to seek redress;
  3. Criminalize men who sexually harass no matter their social standing.

She left off with this bit of encouragement:

Be heartened that now something happens and those assaulted or harassed can seek and obtain redress on university campuses in Ghana. In fact, everyone going through harassment should see it as their duty to report and ensure they follow through the process for redress.

Image Source: Unicef

We teach our kids to call 911/999 in the case of an emergency. We tell them to stop drop and roll if they are ever caught on fire. We better prepare young girls/women for every other eventuality than the ones they will most likely face: street, workplace or classroom harassment. As we’ve just celebrated the International Day of the Girl, let’s rejoice in how far women’s rights have come, but be realistic about how much further we have to go. Arm your girl(s) with the right information. If you are in Ghana and have been the victim of harassment or assault on campus, contact CEGANSA at 0246219788 and speak with an activist/counselor.

If you live outside of Ghana, I implore you to look up resources in your community as well. Let’s work to make classroom and workplace sexual assault a thing of the past.

 

I Support Africa’s Supreme Court Judges’ Right to Wear Those Ridiculous Robes

There was an article making the rounds on social media last week querying why African judges still wear wigs 50 years after the end of colonization. The question remains a post-colonial conundrum: What is so appealing about the trappings of a judicial system that robbed an entire continent of its freedoms and imposed foreign laws and mores? Surely, it can’t be the horsehair wigs and the Santa-esque cloaks…so what could it be?

The answer is: We may never know. All we know is that yesterday’s colonial subjects and today’s adjudicators are vehemently opposed to anyone snatching their wigs, end of discussion!

In the same article, a prominent Ghanaian lawyer, Augustine Niber, was cited as saying that removing wigs would reduce the “intimidation and fear that often characterize our courtrooms.” Kenya’s new chief justice, David Maraga indicated that he wants to revert to the colonial traditions. He wants to take the country back to the “old days”.

These are the sentiments of people who romanticize the period of brutal colonization, when men enslaved on rubber plantations were forced to watch as their children’s limbs were hacked off for failing to haul in the day’s quota; when retired African soldiers in the Queen’s service could be fired upon for demanding their pensions; when empires were carved up and families were forever separated by borders and boundaries created for the benefit of the invader. There is absolutely no good reason that an African judge in pursuit of truth, justice and fairness would willingly adorn themselves in the garb of a parasite that represented the very opposite of those ideals during its presence on the Continent. But it is Lawyer Niber who gives us the best insight into why those ridiculous red robes and horrendous wigs are embraced by her colleagues: African courtrooms must be places of intimidation, not impartiality. They ought to be nondiscriminatory, instead from the clerk all the way up to the presiding judge often serve as an extension of the oppressive behavior that operates against the poor, disenfranchised and (relatively) powerless. It should shame any practitioner of the law to boast in their contribution to creating an intimidating and terrifying environment for any person(s) seeking a fair adjudication of their case!

Sorry. You ain’t intimidating nobody dressed up like the extras on the set of the Griswalds.

This is exactly how British courts operated on the Continent: to create a perception that each colonized subject of the Crown was inferior and not an equal citizen before the law. This modus operandi replicated itself all over the British colonies, from India to the Americas, right down to the southern tip of Africa. The brilliance wasn’t so much in the formula, but in the British government’s steadfast ability to repudiate any alterations to that formula. That resoluteness paid off again and again with stunning –and more importantly – predictable results. That result was absolute power in the form of control of the people’s minds. Often, people with an unquenchable thirst for power will emulate the behaviors of those that they recognize as having attained that power, even if it was used at one point to dominate them. In common parlance, “it is my to chop.”

So yes: As a group that has yet to break free from the mental shackles colonialism, I think that it is absolutely fine –if not fitting – that African judges continue to wear their Christmas carol robes and Scrooge McDuck wigs. It’s a reflection of the stagnation of the culture, and we have no business misrepresenting ourselves as more advanced that we truly are.

The webpage for the UK Courts and Tribunals Judiciary provides a brief but interesting history on the fashion evolution of England’s courts. Prior to the seventeenth century, lawyers were expected to appear in court with clean, short hair and beards. The wig was not adopted until the reign of Charles II, when all of polite society was expected to embrace and wear them. In short, African judges and their surrogates have a conjugal relationship with the sartorial choices of a long dead balding English monarch who attended to his royal duties dressed as Liberace. But like culottes and fanny packs, there are some things you will never (ever) be able to convince some people to let go of, no matter how much it dates them or how ridiculous it makes them look.

The overseers of Britain’s judiciary system saw to it that their attire changed to reflect the times and/or changes in court structure:

When county courts were created in 1846 the black gown was also worn. However, in 1915 Judge Woodfall suggested that a new robe – similar to those worn by High Court judges – be introduced.

A violet robe was chosen, faced – to distinguish it from the violet High Court robe – in lilac or mauve taffeta. A lilac tippet and black girdle also formed part of the costume, which due to wartime conditions did not become compulsory until 1919.

When the conditions of war precluded the use of taffeta and violet dye, the court managed to pivot and make allowances for it until it became more feasible. I would think in countries where the GDP is nothing to crow about, an expenditure of $6,500 per wig ought to make their use untenable. It is a misuse of resources, and the funds for purchase are not reinvested into local economies. To their credit, some African lawyers have boldly suggested that the attire be altered to reflect a new mindset, use material more conducive to life in hot, tropical climates and just…contemporary. However, it is no easy feat trying to convince people in power to attempt anything new…or anything that is going to make their lives easier. My local police station in South Africa still has a drawer labeled “printed emails to file.”

I don’t like the robes that our African judges wear. I think the wigs are silly and far from “intimidating”. These men and women look like toddlers dressing up in great-grandpa’s clothes. But that’s why I support their use. It reminds me that at the end of the day, even our most formidable citizens can be very much like our favorite cartoon characters.

Edem Kumodzi is the Hero We All Need

If you’ve ever been stopped by a member of the traffic division of Ghana’s police force, you know you’re in for a loss. You will lose precious time and you will likely lose more than a few cedis in the wake of the encounter. The police delight in harassing particular motorists; taxi drivers, women and soft-spoiled looking men – easy targets who would rather shoo away an officer with a quick bribe than to go through the tangled, malignant process that is Ghana’s judiciary.

The police know this. The courts know it. It’s how the force and the courts supplement their paltry incomes. Bribery is the norm in Ghana.

Well, Mr. Edem Kumodzi, web developer, online entrepreneur, Father of Dragons and Holder of all Doors and no Dambs was having none of that. This is the simple story of how one man took on corruption and triumphed by obeying the rules and thrusting them right back into the oppressor’s face. Edem, in his own words, ladies and gentlemen:

 

 

This is the month of August, the days wherein hold Ghana’s “Day of Destiny”. *eye roll*. While a certain political party is sitting somewhere trying to revise Ghana’s history, the party and its supporters would do well to recognize the achievements of the country’s real heroes: Men and women like Edem Kumodzi whose souls are not for sale to  neither commerce nor corruption. Join me comrades. Join me as we anoint August 3rd as Automobile Owners Autonomy Day! Hail the victorious vehicularist!

Thank you for standing tall(ish), Edem. You have done the nation and all who will follow your example proud!

Intrigued? Confounded? Amused? You can follow Edem at @edemkumodzi and check out his e-commerce site (where you will find fabulous offerings, including copies of all my books) at www.storefoundry.com

Someone Show Swagger Mama Otiko This Chart

You ever get tired of repeating yourself? You ever just get bone weary of saying the same thing over, and over and over again? You ever wish that you could find the words to make the carrousel of madness come to a grinding halt? That must be it; maybe it’s the way we’ve been saying it. All us feminists, and human rights activists and people with common sense and decency…perhaps our semantics just don’t connect or compute with the rest of them. And by ‘them’, I mean Otiko Afisa Djaba and her merry band of patriarchal, rape culture supporters attempting to defend the woman’s most recent contribution to the debasement of the Ghanaian mind.

Otiko Djaba is a Ghanaian politician and minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection. Speaking at the 90th anniversary and Speech and Prize giving Day of the Krobo Girls Presbyterian Senior High School in the Eastern region, she concluded her soliloquy with the following admonishment for the impressionable students, saying:

“In conclusion, I want to say to you, be bold, be confident, be respectful. If you wear a short dress, it’s fashionable but know that it can attract somebody who would want to rape or defile you. You must be responsible for the choices you make”.

These are the words of the minister for social protection.

I can’t spend too much time on this, because everything that has been said on the matter on the supposed (bogus) relationship between rape and sartorial choices has been said an infinite number of times before. If you’ve read a book, read the news, watched Lifetime for any significant period of time – or hell – watched National Geographic, you will walk away with the understanding that the only responsible party in the act of rape is the person(s) perpetuating the crime. The rapist. Not the victim…the rapist.

otikoWomen like Mrs. Djaba are particularly dangerous in an environment governed by rape culture. She is a traitor to justice, although she probably believes her admonishments will positive long-term consequences. Quite the contrary. In putting the blame on girls who wear short skirts for their violent sexual assault, she gives would be rapists a free pass to use what they consider “provocative dress” as an excuse for their vile actions. Over the course of the 20th century, we saw and heard horror stories about women who were made to relive the incident of their attack on the witness stand.

“What were you wearing?”

“How much did you have to drink?”

“Were you flirting with him?”

“What did you think would happen if you were working at those late hours of the night?”

The treatment rape victims are subject has contributed to the dismal numbers of reported rape. Adding to how few convictions follow a trial, there is a sense among survivors that the follow up trauma is just not worth it. Otiko ‘Swagger Mama’ Djaba’s advice only adds rocket fuel to a freight train that’s long been running over rape survivor’s lives and teaches women and girls to blame themselves before such a possible attack happens.

Her statement, aside from being absolutely ludicrous, is completely false. Hemlines are not a factor in the propagating of sexual assault. If that were the case, there would be no cis/hetero male victims of rape…and yet the CDC reports that 1 in 71 men are the victims of rape. (I searched for statistics on male victims of rape in Ghana and found none.) What length were the skirts these male victims were wearing at the time of their assault? And what about the women who rape men? It would shock her and her supporters to know that this is a real phenomenon that stretches back centuries. I don’t blame her for her ignorance. Patriarchal systems have made it almost impossible to have a real conversation about sexual assaults on male bodies. Some aid organizations in Africa won’t even give funding to help victims of sexual assault if the reported statistics include men. Men in these situations are punished twice. Furthermore, it perpetuates a culture of silence that can only lead to greater frequency of rape, molestation and assault.

It might behoove Mrs. Djaba to take some extended courses in gender studies if this is the ministry she means to lead. Rape is a scourge on the Ghanaian populace, and it cuts across age and social status. Rapists are found in the slums of Agbogbloshie as well as the highest and most prestigious positions in the land. There is no way to “spot a rapist”. They are teachers, pastors, husbands, fathers, brothers and neighbors. They are not boogey men lurking in the dark. Most rape survivors are attacked by people they know, trust and/or are familiar with. That information needs to be a part of the national conversation and any ‘advice’ well-meaning but ill-informed people need to give. The circumstances under which people find themselves victims of rape are varied and complex, nevertheless they all have one thing in common: The motives and the intent of the rapist, those being to exert dominance, power and to fulfill a selfish and perverse sexual desire.

But lets talk about the boogey man, and what so many people think he/she looks like or where he lurks:

 

Screen Shot 2017-03-26 at 12.02.18 PM
Image source: Dailymail.com

An Iraqi refugee who raped a 10-year-old boy at a swimming pool has had his conviction overturned because a court didn’t prove he realized the boy was saying no.

The rapist, identified as Amir A, 20, violently sexually assaulted the boy in the changing room of Theresienbad pool in Austria claiming it was a ‘sexual emergency’ because he had not had sex for four months. This kid was swimming at the pool – a supposedly safe space – and had his body invaded in the most cruel and vile manner because this 20 year old man could not control his urges.

*****

While on Hajj, my friend’s cousin was walking back to her camp after completing her prayers. A man was following her, which was not out of the ordinary. There were thousands of people there and there is rarely an opportunity for privacy.

When they reached an alleyway the unknown man grabbed her, pulled her into the darkness, forced her face against the wall of a building and began to rub himself against her backside, stopping only until he had ejaculated through his clothing and onto her prayer clothes. He ran off immediately afterward. She was also in a supposed “safe space”: a pilgrimage to Mecca, where you would think that everyone’s mind was on Allah and dutifully fulfilling a pillar of faith. How could she know – or even fathom – that her fellow Muslim brother would have such vile thoughts on his mind at such a sacred time?

*****

I myself have written about my molestation at the hands of my now deceased uncle. I was 8 years old, barely pre-pubescent with a dry jheri curl. At the time he cornered me I had gone to my room to go and get a toy with my sister. After he stuck his tongue in my mouth, he turned to my sister to perform the same lewd act on her. Fortunately, my sister’s flight instincts have also been keen and on point. After she witnessed what he did to me, she ran out of the room. I on the other hand had not been so fortunate. I ‘let’ him do it, because it had already been drilled into me that adults were right and you always obey your elders. My reward for that obedience was enduring a sick feeling any time his name was mentioned and footing the bill for his funeral. Is the boogey man supposed to be your father’s blood brother? Convention says no.

At what point do we begin to counsel men and women about self control, rather than legislating bans on miniskirts, or forcing girls to cut their hair so as not to appear so ‘grown’, or ironing breasts of pre-teen girls in the hopes that a flat, disfigured chest will deter any unwanted attention? When will girls have the opportunity to experience the same freedom in their bodies that boys do?

mabuse.cameroon.breast.ironing.cnn.640x360

The irony of Otiko placing the blame for sexual assault on victims is not lost on many. This is a woman who sports a half shaven head, and who had to endure all kinds of denigration during her vetting process because of it. People said she did not represent Ghanaian culture, that she looked like a hooligan and loose woman who didn’t have common sense or morals. Those of us who defended her did so because we know that it’s not what’s on a woman’s head that makes her effective at her duties; it’s what’s in it. She was a symbol of the new, liberated Ghanaian woman who could defy convention and STILL earn the respect of the office she inhabited. These young, hopeful girls nicknamed her ‘Swagger Mama’, a moniker she apparently takes great delight in. She was cool, funky and confident and many high school age girls looked up to her. They still do.

So for her – Otiko Djaba in particular – to champion the most baseless tenant of rape culture and all its hypocrisy is not just shocking: it’s disappointing. And until Otiko does an about face on this issue, the woman herself will wind down the same path as her predecessor…as an utter disappointment herself.

But as always, I’m here with solutions. Perhaps this chart will help all involved and clear up any confusion.

ef9136203ab412b9d33addaac2360b9f

It ought to be clear, but today is Sunday and I know that in a Church Near You, a ‘man of God’ is preaching about how provocative dress makes men rape, so we’ll have to have this same conversation in the near future.*Blank stare*

Heaven save my son and brothers from such men who would instill and nurture such a demonic and weak spirit in them.

It Is Important That We Not Treat President Akufo Addo The Same Way That We Treated Former President Mahama

It appears that Melania Trump and Nana Akufo Addo completed the same course in Plagiarism at Trump University, the only difference being that Melania actually took credit for her “work”, saying with pride that she wrote her speech with very little help. Nana Addo has left his speechwriter to take the fall for his inaugural faux pas, which leaves many people (myself included) feeling some kind of way. All that NPP talk about personal accountability rings sort of hollow in the wake of this unofficial response to what is now an internationally recognized blunder. It’s one thing for the condescending Western media to carry a story…it’s a different beast entirely when Al Jazeera turns your error into headline. That’s how you know you’ve really FUBAR’d your job.

We can’t really feign shock at President Akufo Addo’s (or his aide’s) propensity for passing someone else’s work off as his own, can we? First of all, the New Patriotic Party has such an extensive and enduring hard on for being associated with the Republican Party – going as far as boasting about their twin elephant mascots and the coincidence of their parallel tenures in power – that they will do anything to imitate big brother…including, but not limited to pilfering intellectual property from Democrats politicians.

And let’s not act like NPP hasn’t been here before. The party that was supposed to represent a “change” in Ghanaian thinking and attitudes exhibited the same cultural proclivities for taking creative/intellectual property and passing it off as their own on several occasions. It is almost a year to the day that Kow Essuman – self-professed personal aide to then candidate Nana Addo – said that he would send back any invoice requesting payment for the unauthorized use of intellectual property by his party with a “NONSENSE” stamped on it.

We don't pay people and we don't attribute sources, either!!!!
We don’t pay people and we don’t attribute sources, either!!!!

It is now obvious that Nana Addo’s campaign team learned nothing from the experience. After all, since at the time they were only taking advantage of a lowly Ghanaian visual artist, their arrogance was warranted. It turns out that behavior was just a dress rehearsal for something much grander! On Inauguration Day, author Nana Awere Damoah playfully asked if those who had access to the brochure could spot any typos, a tongue-in-cheek reference to Brochuregate that dogged and embarrassed the country during the 2016 Independence celebrations. In a bid to outdo that gaffe, NPP saved the sweetest pepper for the proverbial waakye for the last. The PRESIDENT was going to parrot your favorite philanderer and warmonger and mine in 3-2-1…!

What a wow.

In an August 2016 interview with NTV, Hugh Masekela called Africans ‘bad imitations of those who oppressed us’. He intimated that Westerners don’t come to Africa to see Africans. They come to see the animals and the natural wonders, but don’t come to see US. Why? Because we are slowly, steadily, progressively losing our heritage and cultural identities in all spheres, politics and diplomatic relations most of all. Someone made the very poignantly observed hat in the history of all the brilliant and globally recognized thinkers that Nana Addo (or his aide) could have plagiarized, not ONE was an African. They had their pick from Patrice Loch Otieno Lumumba, Nelson Mandela to Ghana’s own Kofi Anan to draw “inspiration” from, but it appears these Black men weren’t good enough. Instead, they opted to cull from the inaugural speeches of Bill Clinton, JFK and George Bush, the lattermost whose excerpt was originally quoted by Woodrow Wilson, America’s 28th president who believed that Jim Crow and segregation was a benefit for Negroes. 

But you see, we cannot drag President Akufo Addo in the way that that they deserved, and certainly not in the way that their social media foot soldiers spent months dragging now Ex-President Mahama, because it’s Nana Akufo Addo and NPP at the helm, and both he and his party are purrrrfect. Did they not assure us on the campaign trail that the battle is Lord’s? Surely as its victors, Nana Addo is God’s anointed and appointed president and therefore impervious to imperfections? Major Prophet Sekou Nkrumah told us as much when he published this (misleading) meme of his father and a bespectacled boy on his personal Facebook page a few weeks ago.

Sekou wanted us to believe that this was a picture of his late father and Nana Addo as a boy. Turns out this was a kid from the South...of America.
Sekou wanted us to believe that this was a picture of his late father and Nana Addo as a boy. Turns out this was a kid from the South…of America.

Oh yeah. The party faithful loved that. Drank it up like Kalypo. The prophesy had come to pass!

As already mentioned, we cannot treat President Akufo Addo the same way Ghanaians treated John Mahama. Because reasons. And it is for those reasons that I posit the following questions as though there were being asked of Dramani Mahama and not his successor.

*****

Wow. So are really supposed to believe that after fighting for this position for 28+ years, you Mr. President didn’t have some exclusive, personal thoughts on what you wanted to say to the Ghanaian people? You haven’t been working on an inaugural speech since the 90’s? You didn’t have enough time to craft your own notables and quotables? Because I know if I had been rejected as many times for the office of the president as you have, I’d have some things I’d want to get off my chest. I’d have some things that needed saying, and I certainly ain’t pulling the words of Clinton and Wilson to reflect my mood. Is this what the words “I am a Ghanaian” represent now? Red, white, blue and Bush?

When I published my first book and had my first launch, I knew exactly what I was going to say and how I was going to say it. I may have run my ideas by a few people, but those were MY words. And when I drew inspiration from other authors, I certainly gave them credit because I know how long and arduous it is to think and write something memorable. Did your speechwriters run the inaugural address by you first and vice-versa? Did you approve it? Because if you did, it means you hired incompetent, unscrupulous speechwriters. How are the Ghanaian people supposed to have the confidence that you will hire competent, honest ministers, engineers and the like to steer the country towards much needed change? Why are you surrounding yourself with people who don’t even have the foresight to bring you water on a Harmattan day? Incompetence!

Furthermore, I knew exactly what I was going to wear.

And who decided for you to wear that kente? (The colors and theme of which I loved, by the way.) But WHO? Eh? It’s admirable that you harbor such body positive feelings about yourself and all, but don’t you think it was a little too early to introduce your mitties (man titties) to the nation? Every time you adjusted that massive cloth, we saw belly and moobies. Was there no ntama available? What about modesty? What about this generation that is looking up to you for guidance? Do you want big-breasted boys and girls to also be flashing their flesh for the public? I guess when you’ve made it to the top, you can bare it all, our sensory receptors and nightmares be damned.

Honestly, I’m glad the inauguration address was hampered by such and epic mess. I don’t know what Ghana would do if the office of the presidency weren’t a constant embarrassment to the nation, which is why I am grateful to the sitting leader of the nation.

What a way to launch.

You had ONE job, and all the slangs in the world can’t cover the fact that far too much of your speech was a sad carbon copy of white male thought and therefore, subversively, spoke to the white supremacist that is latent in every Ghanaian. How are we supposed to fight it when our leadership keeps nourishing it? You admit that our challenges are fearsome while quoting verbatim the words of an American. Chai!

****

But we must never challenge or  ask these questions of a purrrrfect president who represents a puuuurfect party. Nana Addo and his team would never be guilty of such laziness and pathetic faux pas. They assured us as much while they were trolling their opposition and trolled their way to victory. Only John Mahama and NDC would do such a thing. This is why I have taken the liberty of introducing you to your new Commander in Chief, Nana Dramani Mahamaddo.

screen-shot-2017-01-08-at-11-40-23-pm

 

Because NPP is perfect and because change as come.

screen-shot-2017-01-09-at-2-00-19-am

 

 

 

No. SHUT UP over there! Don’t tell me to chill. Do you know what it’s like to be waken from sleep with alerts from your Nigerian friends laughing at you? And to watch people you’re supposed to respect working over time to defend the sort of nonsense they devoted a years to decrying. YOU shut up!

 

 

Jerry John Rawlings Just Shaded Alfred Oko Vanderpuije To Hell


Former President JJ Rawlings is a man of many talents and titles, including but not limited to:

  • Coup Maker
  • Benevolent Dictator
  • Boom Speech Giver
  • Democracy Re-Introducer
  • Doctorate Holder
  • Peace Negotiator

Now, he can add a new title to his already impressive litany of appellations: Shaolin Monk. And not just any Shaolin Monk… One who has mastered all 36th chambers of stylistic combat. Because it is only someone who has been tested and weathered by time, intensity and adversity that could wordlessly quash the ambitions of a social climber such the Bearded One. Did you see this?

 

 

It was the block felt around the Continent. From Cape Town to Cairo, people are empathetically wincing from the ultimate shading that Accra Mayor Vanderpujie found himself subject to and eclipsed by. Did you see the way he fell aaaaall the way back? Oko is a man who lived through the 70s, and he knew exactly what time it was. When Shaft gives you that stare, you don’t talk back. You know a roundhouse kick to the head is coming so you take your cue stick and leave the bar if you don’t want trouble. Rawlings is Shaft and Vanderpujie is That Other Guy.

What did this man think was going to happen in the wake of these shenanigans? You just don’t run up on another Black man on the red carpet, like some star struck groupie, and expect to get a lollipop in return. What do you think this is? Carnival? Jerry ‘One Man, One Toilet’ Rawlings didn’t even have to say a word – didn’t even have to look the dude in the eye – before Oko Vanderpujie found his lane and obsequiously stuck to it.

That’s power. With a mere hand gesture, a grown man who has spent his entire career terrorizing Accra’s civilian population and throwing his clout around like an elephant marking its territory was disciplined like a class 6 pupil who dared to speak during the headmaster’s address at assembly.

The universe is full of visual wonders, and not all of us will be blessed to see them in our lifetimes. Aurora Borealis, a full Blood Moon, a volcanic eruption that gives birth to a new land mass are among these wonders. So too is Jerry Rawlings’ snub of Alfred Vanderpujie listed among those impressive natural phenomena. It was a display so dazzling that the ancestors stood and took notice. I can see Dr. Rawlings’ Scottish forefathers – Braveheart included- standing and applauding their son. His name will be mentioned in the halls of Valhalla with awe and trembling, and it is for this reason that for the remainder of our time here, we shall refer to him by his super-villain code name: Dr. Boom.

Some people have expressed their disdain for Dr. Boom’s behavior towards Oko. They say that he should have modeled his behavior after Barack Obama, who although having endured unpardonable insults from Trump and the GOP at large, was able to sit down and speak with either party, as a statesman ought. Barack Obama repeatedly displays magnanimity, they say. Obviously, I haven’t crept into Dr. Boom’s secret lair for his reaction to this criticism, but I would imagine his response to his detractors would go something like this:

Will you kip kwah-yet?!? Will you just sharrap over there? Ok3 mini? Barack Obama is what. Let me ask you a question: Is Barack Obama ME? I have toenails that have seen more adversity than Barack Hussein Obama has. I appreciate that the brother has had a hard time in the White House, but real talk, I’ve taken dumps that have endured more pressure than he has. You know why? Because African politics; that’s why. Obama only has a passing familiarity with the way this continent works. In his 50 years living on the planet he’s been here, what, 5 times? And then has the gall to tell us about how we need to run things. Lemme tell you something: I LIVE here. Do you know what kind of SHYTE I have to listen to from my co-leaders in ECOWAS alone? These people are not serious. But because everyone has an ego, tempered only by an army corps that they have to keep satisfied, there is a way we have to relate to each other. You can’t show fear. You can’t have shook feet. You can’t be too accommodating. Everyone is ready to show that he’s harder than the next guy. So when a nigga like The Bearded One steps outta line, it is incumbent upon me – nay, imperative – to remind him what zone he belongs to. There are levels to this. In the political atmosphere, there are levels, I said! Oko occupies the troposphere. I’m outchea in the thermosphere. Above me are God and the ancestors. So naturally, I reached deep into my spirit man and Mortal Kombatted him with my chakra.

mortal-kombat-9-screens-2

Call me when Barack Obama has flown a fight jet between a 10-foot space and lived to tell the tale. Then we will all have something to vibe about. I’ve set up an entire village for Liberian refuges. Dude can’t even get his government to talk about letting Syrians into the country beyond saying ‘no’. But you want ME to act like OBAMA?

indexBe like Barack Obama indeed. If this were a movie – say “Tropic Thunder’ – I’d be Kirk Lazarus. Obama would be Kenvin Sandusky… really smart, with just enough talent to pass for a decent character actor and grateful for the opportunity. Oko is Jeff Portnoy: just here for his farts. So no…I did not let him walk with me on the red carpet uninvited. If I executed the snub correctly, he should be hearing Ludacris’ Move B*tch from now until 2018.

 

****

I mean seriously. I don’t think Alfred Oko Vaderpujie understood what mindset Dr. Boom had to be in at that moment. The man was there to listen to the final eulogy for the party he founded and has guided for the past 30+ years, and Oko popped out of thin air and into his personal space like Jar Jar Binks at Buckingham Palace at teatime. Why???

Did you call me to come here? No? Well here I am!!!
Did you call me to come here? No? Well here I am!!!

The State of the Nation Address had to be a sobering moment for the former president. The demise of the NDC, for the next 12 years at least, is inevitable. Because if Mahamudu Bawumia decides to run in 2020 and proves himself to be true to who he was on the campaign trail, NPP will be undefeatable. The NDC is going to have to raise up a political rock star of Freddie Mercury proportions to even have a shot at the presidency in the shirt term. Does the NDC have a Queen front man waiting in the wings that we don’t know about? Doubtful. All of this must have been weighing heavily on Dr. Boom’s mind when this jester in a Hawaiian button-down shirt interrupted his thoughts and tried to keep step with him. If you were at a function to bury your vision, wouldn’t you have shut down the miscreant who has dedicated a portion of his energy to making sure that vision met an undignified end? Of course you would. Hence: BLOCKDT.

you-get-a-pjq3u5

May the enemies of your progress be blocked with the strength of the Rawlings Shade-Step-Windmill combo. If you employ this maneuver, your obstacles will have no choice but to fall. Watchaaa now!

Oooooooooh Johnny Mahama. Ah!

Dear Soon-To-Be-Formerly-Known-As- President Mahama:

I trust you are well. Me? Oh…I’m all right. I just returned from an arduous (but fruitful) trek to Cape Town and I’m resting up. I had limited access to Wi-Fi during my road trip, but I caught bits and snippets of the news where I could. As you may well imagine, I caught wind of your intended (now cancelled) ‘Farewell Tour’ that you were planning on embarking on in advance of Inauguration Day.

Image source: The Lead
Image source: The Lead

Sir. Sir! I cannot tell you how much it grieves me to be writing yet another letter to you for the very same faux pas you and I (Okay, fine. I) have been dissecting for the previous 3+ years . My last letter to you concerning such matters was meant to be just that: My last letter. But, here we are again…

My dear Brodda Johnny. Ah! Who do you have advising you? Is it the Oye Lithurs? Sack them ooo. Sack them! They are costing your legacy dear with these amateurish predilections. Farewell Tour for what? It’s like all the talking that pundits and lay people alike have done these 24 months has fallen on deaf ears. Certain Ghanaians are not happy, and announcing half-baked ventures like final self-congratulatory laps around the country on the government dime only plays into their hands. You said you would leave it to history to judge your accomplishments, but you are a media man. You were once known as a communications guru. Don’t let your present title lull you into a false sense of security. Know your audience! They are going to crucify you with every keystroke, every chance they get. Who is ‘they’, you ask? The Douchebags Once Merely Known as the Elite: the NPP and their affiliates who care more about perceptions about the country than the actual advancement of the country.

You may have caught that ridiculous hashtag #CNNGetItRight last week? Yeah. I saw that ish too. What a joke. #CNNGetItRight, but pregnant women are still sharing hospital beds and Ghana is still the world’s 7th dirtiest country. You should have seen them congratulating themselves over controlling/changing the narrative in the international media. “Hoorah! We got CNN to issue an apology! Now no one will ever truly know how polluted our rivers are or that we give our celebrity rapists the honor due a prophet!”

It was laughable.

And pathetic.

Yet these are the people you are trusting to write objectively about your single term as president of the Fourth Republic? My advice to you is to get working on your memoires quick as you can, get on the offensive and dispel all myths before they have a chance to germinate. Why? Because other than hateful redneck Republicans post-Trump victory, I have never seen a more miserable group of people than NPP supporters and party members. They have won the prize and yet can’t bring themselves to enjoy it without utterly denigrating the opposition in the process. You should see the way they talk about you on my newsfeed. You’d think you had spent your 6 years in the function of the president performing botched abortions and selling harvested fetuses to the Chinese at Kotoka for juju. Mind you, these are the same people who will descend you on like a hoard of blood-sucking bedbugs if you say pi about their precious Nana.

The behavior is stomach turning on its own merits, but considering these Notoriously Pompous Piss-takers (save a handful who have demonstrated laudable decorum) paraded themselves as the more refined – and therefore morally superior – alternative to NDC’s kubolor bend, it makes their actions even more insufferable. I am already looking forward to the end of the NPP regime.

This is where you come in, Dramani. Please listen carefully.

NPP is already setting itself up to stay in power forever. They’ve got charlatans out here ‘prophesying’ that the party will rule Ghana for the next 40 years. My guess is that this 40-year time frame is supposed to inspire awe in the mind and spirit of the hearer as it happens to be the exact number of years the children of Israel spent wandering in the wilderness. 40 is a divine number, abi? My Father. It’s so easy to see through these smoke and mirror “men of God”.

That’s not the point.

The point IS none of this is good for Ghana’s democracy. Your political rivals are going to paint NDC as perpetually and patently unfit to govern the nation and will do everything they can to discredit you personally and your party as a whole. If you truly love Ghana and you truly believe in the ideals of democracy, do all you can to stop this from happening. Don’t allow them to plant this root in the minds of the citizenry. The days of a one-party state are over for us. The idea may have served its purpose at a time, but no longer.

Here’s the rub. You can’t be announcing ‘Farewell Tours’ to tout your success for one reason only: Although some people benefitted from your policies and infrastructure implementations, the right people didn’t benefit. Those people are the middle class at large. See how nobody was minding you until the cedi fell sharply against the dollar? Nothing provokes the merchant class’ dander like messing with their money. Not street kids washing windshields for a few pesewas; not the choked drains in front of their palatial houses; not even the fact that the price of kenkey is 20 times more expensive today than it was in 1993. Nah. You mess with that foreign exchange, and you’ve got a real problem on your hands. Now suddenly everyone wants to Occupy Something. Have you ever seen the middle class organize themselves to demand federal funding into SITO schools on behalf of the poor?

Nyuggaaaa…

I get so frustrated with you sometimes, because you conduct yourself like you don’t know whom you are dealing with! I mean, this is a cabal of super villains masquerading as the Avengers led by that lamb from Zootopia. These are the very same people who held the country hostage after the 2012 elections because they felt they had a right to the presidency. They threw a massive hissy fit, the consequence of which was stymied investment into the country. Bruh, you were there! Instead of commissioning factories every second week, what you ought to have done was hold a series of open forums to explain your vision for the nation, for that current year and beyond, while also detailing how those first two years of the NPP’s veritable coup d’état interfered with your timeline and set in motion a series of setbacks leading to hurried social works projects. What happens when you hire someone to do something at the last minute? You have to pay a premium. We all know this, but it was down to you to put it into words that the people could understand and that the opposition could not deny.

I know these people are your friends, but bruh…they ain’t treating you like a friend. They will eat fufu with you behind closed doors and treat you like a leper on the playground. Playing nice with these folks is like punching yourself in your own face.

Here’s my advice.

After everything is settled and Nana Addo has gotten comfortable and well acquainted with the A/C units at Flagstaff House, you embark on a series of tours around the country. Go to the places that politicians rarely go to, beyond Cape Coast and Akosombo and the like. I mean deep into the hinterland where no one knows your face. Listen to the people…I mean truly listen. Take some rising stars within the NDC with you; men and women with passion and talent who have new ideas and are not afraid of doing the gritty work required of civic duty. Don’t take Stan Dogbe with you. Ask the people what plans they have for their future and what kind of Ghana they want to live in. Ask them how government and/or private institutions can partner with them to make those goals a reality. Spend a year or more in true dialogue with the people. You will find that the goals of the city-dwelling Ghanaian usually differ sharply provincial counterparts. Use that.

Take that information and build a Dream Team of political activists of good character. Groom them to think before they speak, so that they won’t make threats and use idle words like “I will release your nude pictures”, “Ghanaian women are cheap,” “Lydia Forson is a voice from the brothel” and “Show us your wife” when they are presented with a political challenge. Create a new culture in Ghana politics and elevate the discourse. Document everything, bruh. As in put it on film, hire a professional editor and commission screenings around the country when that dialogue complete. Call the documentary something snazzy like Whispers from Ghana’s Heartland… or something. You ain’t hired me to be coming up with docu titles.

Again: DON’T TAKE STAN DOGBE.

You’ve got 4 years to re-brand the NDC. Make sure your ministers show up for work and go over each piece of legislation with a fine toothed comb before it passes. It’s important that they are present and can hold the ruling party accountable. I don’t tell you any of this because I like your party. I really don’t…but I recognize that having a strong opposition is integral to a healthy political environment and critical to a functioning democracy. Unless some other third party springs up out of the woodwork in 2018, you guys are it. Just because you are not in majority rule does not mean that Ghana does not depend upon you.

All right, dude. I just needed to get that off my chest. I don’t want to hear about you making these sloppy political mistakes again, okay? Merry Christmas and fire those who have been giving you bad advice.

With someway love bi,

Malaka

 

Dear Mzbel, No One Else Will Say It, So I Will: I’m So Sorry

Mzbel:

I am not one of your fans. I can’t name a single song you’ve performed and up until yesterday I have been mispronouncing your name, referring to you as “Mmm-zee-bell” instead of “Mizz Bell”. I only have a passing familiarity with your person and your brand.

I only mention all this to let you know that what I am about to write does not come from a place of bias or fealty, but from compassion as a woman and fellow Ghanaian. And because I am a woman and a Ghanaian, I hurt for you. As a mother of 4 myself, I hurt WITH you. What I’ve seen you endure these previous days has been unconscionable. It is beneath the dignity of our humanity and every Ghanaian who condones this behavior must hang their head in shame and ask whatever deity they serve to cleanse and forgive them.

A friend sent me the audio clip of an interview you did after a mob showed up at your house and camped out for one hour, shouting for you to come out. It immediately triggered images of the Ku Klux Klan assembling outside of the homes and businesses of their quarry, hell-bent on a lynching that evening. I imagine the very “tough” men who stood outside of your wall would have been proud and satisfied with their display of ruthless violence. Like Klanners who collected bones and body parts of the lynched as trophies, they too will surely sit around with their friends over beers and gleefully admit that they too were there.

“I went to Mzbel’s house and shook her! Hahahahaa! God is good.”

Fine group of men. What valor they displayed. Surely their ancestors and all of Heaven are clapping for them for this display. Surely the people who have maligned you online for showing vulnerability in the face of this intimidation are equally proud of their viciousness.

The people responsible for these atrocities will never say it, so it’s left to me to stand in the gap: I am sorry. I am so sorry that you had to go through such terrifying intimidation and that your children were present as it happened. That your precious kids had to witness this beastly behavior in their countrymen, to whom they are supposed to show respect and deference after this.

I’m sorry that the voices of women’s groups and advocates are eerily silent in the face of this assault. One can only guess why the women who were scrambling behind the scenes formulating hashtags like #TheyThreatenedRapeAndMurder to defend one women are quiet when a woman who was actually sexually assaulted and robbed finds herself barricaded behind her doors years later. The cynic in me believes that this is their partisan bias fueling their silence, and my inner cynic is rarely wrong.

I’m sorry that we both come from a country where some women’s lives and right to safety are worth more than others because of age, political affiliation, class and ethnicity…

I’m sorry we come from a country where women are not believed about their assaults unless they are the perfect victim. Why would anyone believe YOU, Mzbel? You’re brash, sexually liberated and an unwed mother. You are not worthy in the eyes of our average pious citizen.

I’m sorry that your chosen profession – an entertainer – automatically makes you a celebrity, and therefore precludes you from participating in the political process by campaigning for the candidate you believed in.

I’m sorry scientists are not considered celebrities in Ghana and that the burden to excite the populace about the political engagement falls on artists alone.

I’m sorry Ghanaians in opposition are not mature enough to allow you the freedom to campaign for a candidate you believe(d) in without threatening physical harm in the wake of their fresh victory.

mahama-and-mzbel1-e1474017691406

I’m sorry that Ghanaian politics is so immature that you felt like you had to say and do the things you said in order to connect with the voting population.

I’m sorry you didn’t feel like you could elevate the discourse and still be heard, because honestly, our people’s frequency isn’t tuned into Reason, and the only pitch they seem to understand is Insults. If we are not shouting at, insulting and now assaulting each other, our voices are deemed to somehow lack strength. And as MPs and pastors show us every day, there is no better way to demonstrate your strength than my intimidating, denigrating and beating women.

I’m sorry that the same party that ousted the one you support – who called NDC hooligans and thugs – have exhibited the same hooliganism and thuggery both online and off. I’m sickened by their hypocrisy.

I’m sorry our people have lost compassion and decency. I don’t know how a person could listen to your narration and still find it within their spirit to call you an ashawo who deserves everything she’s getting because you made a parody of their preferred candidate.

I’m sorry Ghanaians are not mature enough to understand the use of parody.

I’m sorry Ghanaians can’t discern between fake news and real media outlets, and that real media outlets accept soli and end up distributing fake news. I hear some factions are expelling you to Burkina Faso based on a satirical fabrication.

I’m sorry satire – indigestible by our poorly educated population – has poisoned reason and killed the ability to engage in discourse.

But most of all, I’m sorry that in this new era, we are not Ghanaians first. That as this new dawn rises, it becomes clearer that Ghana is for some and not for all.

I’m sorry you had to find out this way.

mzbel-otanfo

 

Farewell, President Mahama

John.

Dude.

Chale!

How are you feeling right now? My spidey senses tell me you are relieved, but certain elements on Twirra swear you are despondent, based on the tone of the concession speech you gave last night. They forget that I know you better than they do, so we won’t mind them okay? I know you were playing it up for the cameras. I know you are happy not to have to deal with these Team D players you’ve picked up like cat fur on Scotch tape.

I mean, how would it look to all those who worked so tirelessly for your re-election (and 4 more years milking the cash cow that is the country’s coffers) for you to be smiling in the face of such a sound shellacking? You were convincingly contrite and it was one of your finest performances. I didn’t think you had these sort of acting chops within you. When they want to film your biography, don’t let Idris Elba steal your shine. Play yourself.

It seems the pair of us underestimated Ghanaians, my dear Brother John. You for your confidence in the brevity of their memories, and I for believing that there is/was no tipping point for Ghanaian discontentment. You were the Ike Turner to their Tina, the Mister. to their Celie; and like the female protagonists in both diegeses, Ghana walked away from you, your party and everything the NDC has come to represent, head high and heels on. No abuser ever really thinks his victim has the power to walk away until it happens, but here we are today on December 10th, 2016, with reality’s foot shoved way up several people’s jacksies.

You and I both know you never really wanted to be president. You are a fantastic Number 2 guy, and from many accounts, I hear are a genuinely nice person. But you were uniquely unqualified for the job to lead the nation, and that’s what’s gotten us to the myriad of quagmires Ghana is experiencing today. Your response to every quandary was to set up a task force. You appointed people who did not respect you, your office or their personal call of duty. You rewarded impunity and ineptitude on one too many occasions. All these proclivities constitute the old school ways of running a West African nation. If they weren’t, we’d be much further advanced socially than we are now. The fatal error for your party was that the old heads in charge failed to recognize that this is a new century, with new expectations and new technology. Ghanaians can never again have ‘short memories’ because the internet never forgets….and we all have access to data. Someone always has a clip of something you said saved in a file entitled “Mahama Receipts”.

Wow, man. You lost. I still can’t believe it.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m thrilled that certain people (*cough* Stan Dogbe *cough*!) will be out of a job and nowhere near a policy making position, but I can’t actually believe YOU lost. You were supposed to have it all: youth, good looks, and intelligence. But you got too comfortable, bruh. You treated your campaign – and the country, by extension – like it was a part of a line up for a low budget circus or reruns for Saturday morning cartoons. It was too unserious. You pandered to the lowest denominator of guy-guyness with such gems as “I can’t t’ink madness” and posing as an overfed, Ankara clad Usain Bolt on Facebook. Now look at us. I’m sitting here writing about the first single term president in recent Ghanaian history and you’ve got to live with people forever trolling you for that fact. This is patently unfair to both of us.

whatsapp-image-2016-09-01-at-10-36-27-am-1

There are two things you said in your concession speech – which I thought was pretty good despite what your tireless detractors say – that I found extremely poignant. You said that you have done your bit as president and that you would leave it to history to judge your contributions.

You were probably thinking of the interchanges you borrowed against and factories you commissioned and oversized sandals that you placed on the feet of impoverished school children when you uttered these words, but your contribution goes beyond that. You, sir, serve as a living example of a right way and an absolutely terrible way of doing things, and that’s not a bad position to be in. We can all glean lessons from your tenure, and those lessons are applicable in business, love, faith, etc.

  • Don’t wait to do things at the last minute. Don’t promise more than you can deliver.
  • Don’t take people for granted.
  • Don’t invoke God’s name in vain, unless you are absolutely sure the Almighty would hang himself on the cross all over again to bring it to pass.
  • Watch your words, because you never know who is listening.

The list of “don’ts” you enacted is endless. Nevertheless, these are valuable lessons, wherein you and your team instructed us with the domino of failures in policy and performance that we witnessed month after month. If your bootlickers and hangers-on had merely spaced out the scandals, you might have been forgiven and survived this lashing…but you didn’t listen to me. I told you after (and long before) Montie 3 that you would be left holding the bag, but you didn’t listen, John!

Arghh! Why do my eyes burn?!?!
Arghh! Why do my eyes burn?!?!

I am hurt. Your behavior in that regard is akin to my children jumping into our freshly chlorinated pool and screaming because their eyes are now burning. Didn’t I tell you the pool was not safe to be diving into? Didn’t I TELL you not to pardon those three dolts? But it was as if you didn’t want to receive wisdom!

All in all, you are a decent guy. Truly. You did the right thing by stepping aside. The nation needs to feel like there’s going to be shift in its course, even though for every clown in your cabinet, Nana Addo has his own variety. Dela Coffie is a douche bag, but Ken Agyapong is a b3ntwa nozzle. And there are just as many people preparing to get paid for their loyalty to Nana Addo’s campaign as there were when you came to chop. It’s Ghana politics. People have staked their last meals on this outcome. I grew up attending elite schools in Ghana, and we all know who the usual players are on either side of the aisle who are first in line for the biggest slices of pie.

As for the voting irregularities you mentioned, we know…we know. People are acting like the nation didn’t just use imported Indian indigo and recycled paper for balloting in this election. People were baying for results as if they forgot the process of voting and counting was not the colossal manual affair that it was. People are also acting like voting in Ghana is a completely linear process…as in we put our thumbs down, the votes get counted, a winner is declared, presto! Those who are honest know that there are many more moving parts and external influences behind the scenes, and that is why you did the right thing by just letting Nana Addo live out his dreams of following in his daddy footsteps before he dies. You made an old man happy, and God will bless you for that. But also, let’s not forget that NDC played dirty game by declaring yourselves the winner ahead of the official results in 2012 and the opposition played it back. Perhaps you could work secretly to be a vector for change for this sort of tit for tat politics? Perhaps not. It’s your prerogative how you live out the rest of your days.

Who couldn't love a face like this?
Who couldn’t love a face like this?

I’m going to miss you, John. I really am. I’m going to miss your infectious giggle, your denim tuxedos and the subversive art that you inspired. Making fun of Nana Addo when he screws up (and he absolutely will, because his last name ain’t Christ) will be seen as ageist and unfair. You know how we venerate our elderly, even (or especially) when they don’t deserve it. I can’t say with confidence that Ghana’s media elite will hold him to the same unwavering standard with which they held you.

But don’t you worry! Nana Addo and his team will never get a pass from me. I will be here to troll them on every broken promise; every time one of their MPs says something disgusting about women; every time a child goes hungry or homeless because of a policy they’ve failed to enact. Because they promised us better and now they must deliver.

Go gently into the night, my Deceased Ruminant. May the grass on the other side of the presidency be sweet, now that you’ve been sent out to pasture. Adieu.

Get Through Your Hump Day With FRA’s Brain-Itcher, ‘Happy Yourself’

It’s finally Wednesday!

Many Ghanaians will be heading to the polls; your Woman Crush Wednesday has reneged on doing argon oil review she’s been promising to do; you still haven’t lost any of the weight from stuffing your face during Thanksgiving and now your ONE good pair of holiday trousers is hugging your testicles like a long-lost cousin and you’re sitting on the toilet regretting your decision to scoop up that spicy veggie casserole roll-up that Erica from accounting brought to the office potluck. You should’ve just let Erica sulk – but no! You had to play faithful sidekick to her damsel in workplace in distress.

2d3d75ddaf02bcbc25e5c710bd36a533
Image source: Pintrest and my worst nightmare

Now look atcha. You have flames shooting out your backside and there’s a team meeting at 8:30 am.

On top of that, there are now officially only 16 more shopping days left until Christmas! *gasp!*

How are you going to cope with all the madness? Well, since Pharrell didn’t see fit to drop another Happy bomb on us and Taylor couldn’t shake off more time away infusing snake venom into her pot of Bad Blood, it is to Africa – Ghana, more specifically – we must turn to for the feel good song of the year. And it couldn’t come at a better time. You know as well I as do that 2016 clearly marked the beginning of the End Times. Fortunately, FRA released this fabulous ditty to help us dance our way out of this acid-fueled carnival that is the Chinese year of the Monkey. How apropos.

Hey. Hey! Look at me. I'm your president now.
Hey. Hey! Look at me. I’m your president elect now.

Before you click the link and listen to the song, I want to go ahead and say, you’re welcome.

 

Who is FRA? They are five Ghanaian guys that formed a band in 2015. They started out doing covers in 2015, performing live in venues all around the capital. There is a sad truth about live Ghanaian bands that few people are brave enough to speak – and that is it’s unlistenable. As in, it’s so loud and disjointed that you can barely hear the music for the sake of the noise. Nevertheless, we Ghanaians jam dutifully with the racket makers, because we’re a loving and encouraging group of people. Our reward for that long-suffering has been the development of groups like the Compozers and FRA, who feature the inimitable Kyekyeku on guitar in Happy Yourself.

The phrase ‘happy yourself’ is the common (wo)man’s parlance for the esoteric call to find joy within yourself. Essentially, it is the entire volume of The Secret summed up in two words in pidgin English. It makes the instructions accessible to the rest of us. Not everyone wants to listen to a lecture about methods to find sources of happiness, but I can’t think of one person who doesn’t like music. Everyone likes some form of music! And with this offering, FRA guides us through the process in three simple steps:

  1. Do the woogi mami
  2. Shuffle leg o padi
  3. Joromi

Make you happy yourself , ‘cause you owe nobody your life!

You see how good you’re feeling right now? That’s because this is that song from your childhood. This is Osibisa, Cool and the Gang, Earth, Wind & Fire and raucous summer holiday picnics with your cousins packaged in plantain leaf. There’s no way you can’t like this song. That would make you abnormal. This song will have you jammin’ like…

giphy

For me, Happy Yourself is the Febreeze we needed to mask the stench of the most stank year of recent memory. Nina Simone said it is the artist’s duty to reflect the times, but I say it is also their duty to help us get through them. For this, FRA has my thanks.

‘Happy Yourself’ is available on iTunes.