Business in Ghana

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Sweating The Big Things in Life. Critical News, 9th March 2014

Posted by Business in Ghana on March 11, 2014

Sydney Casely-Hayford, sydney@bizghana.com

Mid-market Kasoa, I was sitting in a chop bar with a few local friends.  Well, I met them there when I stopped on my way to Winneba, hungry and thirsty, hoping for some decent fufu and goat light soup, garnished with okro, twisted intestines and wholesome kpakpo shito.  I also had very little cash on me and that was a major motivator for the diversion, rather than the palatial hotel a few kilometers earlier, where the price of a plate of Chinese rice and sliced beef cost more than five servings of the local chops.

I was on my way to give a motivational talk to students in Winneba, whom I understood were very down after they realized the state of unemployment after graduation.

It was my second trip into the bar.  My first was a quick U turn when I saw the little girl washing the bowls and blowing snot with her bare fingers at the same time.  A hasty retreat to the local plastic bowl kiosk, I picked out a decent sized eating one, light cream, and headed back.

Of course, Obroni was the butt of many jokes until they saw my dexterity, spoon fingers slicing and dicing the fufu, deftly scooping soup into the mold and the swallow.  Yes, to swallow fufu and not chew it, is what distinguishes us from the uninitiated foreigner and sets us culturally apart.

And when I complimented Aminatu on the wonderful aroma and taste of the food in clear Asante twi, I could have won the assemblyman elections.  That’s how I claimed local friendship.

But the atmosphere changed in a way I was not in any way prepared.

Aminatu’s estranged husband, an abuser and a bit of a local drunkard, arrived in a rage of jealousy, spitting venom and vitriol and spoiling for a fight.  His aura bittered my soup and client attitudes shifted immediately into defense.  It seemed a familiar stance and most of them intervened to stave off any confrontation.

Then he committed the unpardonable and labeled them rogues and vagabonds with nothing better to do than to come and ogle his wife under the guise of patronage.

Has anyone ever called you a “panyintoto”?  A useless grown up person?  Damn! it pains and I was one of the collective lot.

When that word came out, all mediation ceased, replaced with fisticuffs.  And it was when he pulled the knife that he knelled doom.  In Aminatu’s chop bar there are many weapons.

Three minutes later, it was over, he was bleeding from neck to abdomen and everyone had scattered, except me.  I sent for the local Kasoa CID, gave my eyewitness account and begged to be relieved so I could carry on to Winneba.

What strange friends that day.  The little fufu I had in me retched by the side of the road where I was forced to stop because my knees were wobbling and the car was all over the road.  The last time I witnessed such violence was at the inter-schools and colleges athletics competition in Accra Academy.

So when I read there was fighting in Bimbilla again about a chieftaincy dispute, I knew it was the last place I wanted to be.  There isn’t that much to do up North anyway, so when you have to go there to witness murder and maiming, it doesn’t really excite your tourism senses.  I don’t understand what the disputes in the Northern regions are about anymore, but I would like to think that we could resolve such matters.  Maybe the rule of law, maybe some effective conflict resolution, maybe just plain commonsense that says too much fighting will displace many people and not fix the problem anyway.  It is sad, but that is where we are up North.  And we have to manage it carefully that it not Boko Haram our way.

A gentleman called Kwame Gyan posted a message on his facebook page wishing Ghanaians a better backbone to take a stronger stance against corruption.  It has a lot to do with what is happening in the corruption arena in this country; and Airtel.  What did Airtel think they were doing?  They suspended the man without pay, thirty days, for speaking his mind to his friends.

Facebook friendship is a platform for a gathering of friends invited or requested by/to the page owner.  What was Airtel doing peeking into Kwame’s personal life?

I think Airtel violated Kwame’s privacy, sneaking a look into his facebook page.  Is this what friends do? Share personal thoughts and confidences and then go public with it?  Are they peeking into everyone else’s posting on facebook?  Maybe Kwame signed a contract that said they could do this and if he did, he just has to live with it.  It is a shame that Airtel is so scared of officialdom that they would penalize staff for encouraging fellow Ghanaians to get up and do.

But this is a reflection of our today’s democracy.  Many are suggesting we might be heading for a culture of silence again.  Me, I say tweeaa!  We are only just starting to talk.  Wait till we get the Freedom of Information bill enacted as law, another six years to go because neither the NPP nor the NDC has shown any inclination to pass this democratically exemplary law.

Anyway, the big thing of the week was when Africa Watch magazine released their headline banner, labeling Ghana a “Republic of Corruption”.  Oh, we are up in arms, worse than “panyintoto”.  One time they dared suggest that some MPs had “E” and “F” in the classroom of performance, now confirmed by their own who have suggested they have interpreters in Parliament so MPs can speak in any language they prefer.

I think this is for those who did not make the grade to SHS? Because I actually thought English was compulsory to that level at least.  But in some ways I agree that they need some help.  Spend a day in Parliament and lets discuss if you have the time.  SHS is also very expensive but will now become real because it is going to be a line item in the 2015 budget.

Then NPP party chairman Jake Obetsebi dared to mention the deteriorating corruption landscape.   The party bulls in the NDC moved out of Kraals and attacked his integrity, including anybody who appears critical of the NDC.  Hacker-man Fiifi Kwetey (I just figured this is one of his allied portfolios) made it very clear, you have to declare your party affiliation before you display your oral cavity to engage in politics.  This is part of why many are thinking a culture of silence is tornado’ing its way back into our life.

Not the same tornado that destroyed our carefully planned Independence Day celebration though.  That one was real and watered us for six hours nonstop.  METEO came under severe attack for not calling the tornado on time but I don’t see why JDM could not simply have called Anita De Sosoo’s dwarfs and asked them.  They are fully equipped with all the potions and incense they need, unlike the under-resourced and under-paid METEO staff that are so handicapped, they actually came on air to vigorously defend their delivery.

We have not jailed anyone for corruption in the five years of this government, yet the environment is replete with tags of corrupt officials and contracts.  Have you noticed how both RLG’s Agambire and Jospong’s Agyapong have both knuckled down, waiting patiently for things to blow over?  Same tactic by Agbesi Woyome and many others before them.  This is the “politica-tactic” in Ghana.  If you can ward the dates off, things will run out and Ghanaians will just say “adzo, after all sika no wa di a hwie”.

Nana Addo Danquah Akufo Addo came back to GH after six months resting someplace.  I hear his skin is lighter from the snow and poor weather in Abroad, but I have no evidence.  NPP faithful stormed his house and every backseat politician is supporting his next bid.

Will he have a new campaign platform?  JDM cleverly stole his Free SHS pitch to make it an NDC manifesto issue, so Nana your how far?  FREE WATER, abii.  It is far more important than Free SHS and will be cheaper to provide.  We have to “free-have” something!

Ghana, Aha a ye de papa.  Alius valde week advenio. Another great week to come!

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