1. Notes About Life, From My Notebook.
My kpokpolomaja notebook has been super super slow for sometime now – like waiting for like five minutes for something as simple as deleting a few letters in a Word Document.
Now, I’ve to wait a few hours to let some clean-up software, which someone installed for me, do its job. Apart from the memory capacity of my notebook being more than eighty percent used up, there seems to be too many duplicates of far too many documents and folders et al. Part of the sweet woes of playing writer : draft and revision upon final draft that never remains final.
The waiting is neither fun nor funny, but it does look like it’s going to be so much worth it after all. This long wait will be the end of all other waits, which when added up, will be far far more than two hours – not to talk of the accompanying joy… Oh, I can see the signs already. I’ve experienced the signs already: my playlist is churning, pouring goodness like some-T-in…
Sometimes the drudgery and difficulty that the journey becomes have more to do with the noise from the cluttering, the unnecessary burden of many a weight and luggage…than it has to do with the journey itself.
Sometimes, just sometimes, we are the very problem we are on the look out for. Or we carry the problem.
Sometimes, there is just no enemy. Yes, I said that.
Sometimes, all (wo)man has to do is to
Sometimes, somewhere in this thing called life, freedom happens.
5th March 2015
Sitting large and low in plate is
…brown: wheat bread
red: ketchup spread
sprinkle of groundnuts.
Standing steady and ready beside plate is
Yeah-llow! glass-bottled pineapple juice –
28th August 2014
2. An-Other Accra Floods
One day, just when we are all about forgetting what has come to be, whenever the season of rains come, I will tell this story of how water reduced (wo)man and matter and more to nothing. I will tell this story of rivers that we long saw coming and we all pretended to be surprised to wade through, get stuck in and even die or get burnt in.
I had to wade through waters from the smaller footbridge at Kaneshie to as far as the Pamprom junction, all because everywhere was flooded and not crossing the (bigger) footbridge was a much wiser, safer thing to do. I then had to scale one of the rails in the middle of the road and wade my way again to the Kaneshie Police Station, hover around for an hour or two and get home around 1 a.m. (Forget that in about five hours, I had to be at work, as it could not have been the news about my being missing or dead that made it work in those few hours, and not my live, very person and all.) This is but part of my story. All these. And this is just one of many more stories and considering the damages and deaths which are still being counted, mine is even no story at all. I agree.
Because this story did not end on a tragic note and will never end up as a statistic in some book of records at some public department or ministry or some new committee that will never be opened again, yes the forgetting and regretting can continue. Besides, the damaged and dead go with it all, here in Ghana. It is a ritual.
Right now, let the counting of losses and grand drama of what-a-shock-s continue. Right now, let the circus of re-chanting of what-should-have-been-done-s and re-polishing of old old what-will-be-done-s go on.
Soon the rains will stop, the anthills will rise, and the amnesia will begin.
Soon, I will tell the story…
4th June 2015
rickety priest leant on lithe walking stick and prophesied: “I hear the sound of rain
her footsteps thundering behind
her billowy rolling children.
I smell the scent of rain
in the gritty swirl of sweat and
heat and dust and green!”
Our lips simply, limply, repeated the refrain:
“Oh let the rains come
Let the rains come
Let the rains come quick for us
Lest we perish.”
(For we cannot afford the argument of our minds:)
“Let the rains come spoil our dire rituals
we have long been actively lazing
for far too long in quarter-hearted supplications
Let the rains come beat us so hard that
we throw the hands lifted
of rains and gods and fields and all
and we rush home for dear life.
Oh, that it rains so hard (so) we sleep so tight
and we forget our hunger
and rush to tend the dying tendrils the morrow
with emptier stomachs for motivation
Let it rain so hard for so long so that
we forget to come back to give thanks and…
we remember – only too late- we don’t need rain
for that long
so we go praying the gods for draught-of-sorts
After I adapted *Rain Again into a short drama, it featured in Accra Theater Workshop‘s An African Walks Into a Psychiatrist’s Office and Other Stories. Rain Again‘s format as shown in this blog-post is a simplified version of the original.
3. Of Art and (Art) Education.
For one thing, TRUE Art is not JUST Art, another Art. And. Teachers don’t JUST teach. Not all Teachers, at least.
Only yesterday, I was enthralled with six pieces of short drama performed by my students. I learn daily, from my students, more than I probably teach them. And one thing I have learnt about this Learning thing is that people learn best by doing, doing whatever is meant to be taught and learnt; that people learn best not just by modeling but more so by doing, doing BY THEMSELVES.
In fact, my little knowledge about Education, and my not-exactly-little experience as a teacher/tutor over the years convince me that CREATING is not only the highest level of learning, but also, the most potent, ultimate evidence of learning (whether you understand Learning as in Psychology or as in Education) having ACTUALLY taken place.
For Literature in English, and for our studies in drama this term, I settled on Efua Sutherland‘s Edufa and Ola Rotimi‘s ‘The Gods are not to Blame‘ were the set texts. Yesterday’s pieces of STAGED drama-s were a term (group) projects which I had assigned to my students.
Some of the best poems I have read were written by students, my students. And many of them will later tell me they did not know that they could enjoy, much less write poetry until I ‘asked’ them to. I continue to coach the handful who clearly show both talent and commitment to the calling… Soon, I will share one of such poems in my next blog, a continuation of the Fifteen Pieces of Literature… one. In another term (individual) project, these student poems were original and varied, and the (individual) collections were bound into portfolios.
I can say more, but let me not bore you. I can say more, but remember not to play, not to underestimate, no to break a Teacher’s heart. Never.
If you like, ask [Ayi Kwei Armah’s] Ocran…
* * *
Ocran continued. ”I’ve had six, maybe seven students pass through my hands who really had something, and I hoped they would want to do good work. Artistic work, with clay, ebony, paint, with textures, shaping things to say what is inside themselves. You were one. But the best, I’ve never been able to make them understand. You all go off to do Physics and Medicine and that stupid Law and things like that. I’ve never succeeded in understanding that.”
”You don’t consider writing too creative, then?” (Baako speaks here)
”Words, ” Ocran said with a light shrug. ”Words. No. Too many words are just lies. You can’t fool any
one with things that have texture…”
– Ayikwei Armah‘s Fragments
15th July, 2015
after the Bell bends, breaks
school’s petty prisons and stages,
Life flies out to play, to be
24th Sept., 2013 and 29th Sept., 2015
5. Two Ghana Cedis, Two Greats…
For some personal reasons, I would rather not talk ‘politics’ -whatever it means and whatever form it comes in- here on Facebook….but tonight, I’ve had to break that ‘taboo’.
…Madiba. Nelson. Mandela.
Mandela. Nelson. Madiba…
A day or so before, that primary school song/poem about the grandfather’s clock kept ‘ticking’ in my mind. Its lyrics. Its import. Its moral. What not.
Then this afternoon, for some queer reason, I kept looking at my Two Cedi note. The Nkrumah bit, especially. I thought about his not-so-recent centenary celebrations. The ensuing debates from all quarters about the celebration itself, his ideals, his policies, his ‘good-s’ and ‘bad-s’. Hate the man or love him, I’m yet to see what we, as a country and as a continent, have ACTIVELY learnt from the spirit, the essence, of the man. Nkrumah.
So if grieve this night, it is not just for South Africa and maybe, just maybe, not just for MADIBA per se- why, the man served his generation and many others to come far too well, and he lived long to tell the story, plant the vision and maybe, see the legacy in bloom and again, maybe, catch glimpse(s) of the fruit bud. I’m not too sure about the fruit’s ripening, in ready to be eaten.
Whatever be the case, however, the man, Madiba, has done more than his fair share for Africa and probably, for the whole of humanity. Over the years, through the good, not so good, difficult, hard, bad and ugly times, Madiba’s words and works speak for and of him. His works and words will continue to speak.
But like Nkrumah and many others who have taken leave on this side of eternity, will we heed their THE message? And how well, and for how long are we going to?
So if I grieve this night, I grieve for Africa’s present, and if I’m not being a pessimist, for her future too. Whatever happened to selfless, serving, visionary, proactive, productive and godly leadership? Whatever happened to leaders full of integrity, dignity, impact and inspiration?
MADIBA is ALSO gone NOW. We pray he rests in perfect peace. Meanwhile, where are those to hold the fort, to keep stoking the fires of the ‘aluta continua’ chant across the continent, the world? Where are those who are not just willing, but are committed to deliberately work towards making all the difference that Africa, and the world, desperately need? Where are those who would rather defy every odd to still stand tall, having counted the cost and paid the full full price? Where are they? Where are YOU? Where are we? And where are we heading to?
To borrow Alan Paton‘s words, I ‘Cry the Beloved….(CONTINENT)’.
In Ayi Kwei Armah‘s words, I pause from my cries to ask if ‘The Beautyful Ones are (STILL) not yet BORN‘?
And to end it all, mikɜɜ
Yaawɔ jogbaŋŋ, Madiba.
Damirifa due, Nelson.
Rest in Peace, Mandela.
5th December 2013
cooked up in a cozy crazy corner somewhere
is another radical plot
to topple the people at the top
to jerk the common boat
but they forget
whether we all knew
whether we all eschewed
the plot or not,
we’re all into it together
we all sink in together
thanks for our common complacent mediocrity
thanks for their lack of nothing but tact
thanks they turned and became and replaced
the very people they had toppled
Long live the craze
Long live unrest
Long live distress
Short live progress
Short live us
short live us all!
After being finalist in Poetry Foundation Ghana’s (2012) Political Poetry Competition, *Revolt was published at One Ghana One Voice.Revolt‘s format as shown in this blog-post is a simplified version of the original.