Saturday, 14 December 2013

Me, at a typical Ghanaian Function

The program was supposed to start at 09:00 but the time was changed to 11:00 the day before and people had to hurriedly call invited guests to change arrangements. The place wasn't too far from where I lived so I wasn't too bothered. I left my room at 10:00 knowing I should be there in 45 minutes max. The driver started moving in an unfamiliar direction and when I asked about it, he said it was a short cut. The journey that was supposed to be 45 minutes ended up being an hour and 20 minutes. Everyone had decided to take the short cut that day!
It was my sister's induction into the Ghana Medical Association and I was peeved that I was going to be late. These were highly educated people and I knew they would be time conscious. I entered the auditorium at 11:25 and the program hadn't began. I also noticed that more seats were being brought in. Each inductee was supposed to have only two guest but some of them came with entourages. A very typical Ghanaian trait. The security at the gate couldn't drive them away so more chairs had to be brought.

When the program started, one of the executives took the stage and, “I'm sorry for the delay it was...” and the audience went, “...due to circumstances beyond our control”, and started laughing. It was all too familiar. All Ghanaian programs seem to begin with this excuse.

There was a choir there and the MC asked them to sing. The music was really good but it was obvious they were being used as a time wasting strategy after their fifth song. By now the audience was getting impatient. It was 12:10 and what they had come to see hadn't started yet. It turned out they were waiting for the members of the council to arrive and finally they did, at 12:20.

The program started and there was this man in front of me who just refused to sit down. He was carrying his iPad over his head like he was at a political demonstration. I tried so many times to tell him he was blocking my view but he didn't seem to care. I shifted slightly to my left and so did he, to my right and he did same. I couldn't help but feel he was doing it on purpose. He also came with a lady and two kids. All this while the lady was struggling to keep the kids calm. Between the man and his family, I managed to miss most of the event.

He finally sat down after the oath and started playing the video. He couldn't wait to do this at home? The video was making noise and everyone was turning round looking for who could be so uncouth. The irony is, he kept scolding his kids to keep quiet even though the video was making more noise than they were.

To add a traditional Ghanaian feel to the induction, each inductees name was to be played on talking drums as they were mentioned. It was obvious the drummer hadn't practiced for this. The MC prolonged the reading unnecessarily by asking the drummer to beat the drums again when the sound didn't sound like the name. Sometimes he would get it right after the third try and there were 68 names! I was wondering if this was necessary. More often than not, the drummer got it wrong and the MC asked him to play again. Thankfully, we managed to reach the end of the list after a few 1000 years.

Then the MC asked if anyone in audience had a word of advice for the newly inducted Doctors and one parent stood up and went to stage. It was supposed to be a short speech but the man got stuck on stage and kept going on and on and on! I noticed one lady among the newly inducted Doctors hiding her face. I suspected that must be her Dad. The audience started clapping to encourage him to end his speech but he either didn't hear them or thought they were enjoying his speech. Either way he went on till the MC got fed up and came for the mic.

Program over. A lady came to give the votes of thanks. If you have ever been to a Ghanaian program you know the general format.

Parents were hugging their children who were now full doctors, pictures and videos were being taken everywhere, the usual. Then I noticed one man who seems to be jumping into everyone's picture. He would see a video being taken and would silently walk in the path of the camera. I had no idea who he was but anytime he tried to photobomb the pictures I was taking I would pause and wait for him to pass. I wasn't going to allow some creep in my Sister's pictures.

The refreshment was outside the hall and guests were supposed to wait for the inducted to take their share first but no one was obeying the rules. Refreshment was just some pastries and a bottled drink. People would finish theirs and go for more so many times obviously trying to get full on small chops and pastries.

I didn't come with my own car so I had to scurry home. The journey home is and the hustle of the Ghanaian public transport system is a story for another day.

PS: Congratulations lil' Sis, or do I have to call you Dr. lil Sis now?


Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Ghana, One Year after Elections

It's been a little over a year since elections. Remember whoever you voted for? Do you still think you made the right choice? This country has lots of issues and I doubt any of the candidates could fix it but at least, if we had voted for Hassan Ayariga, we would probably be laughing so much our woes would be a bit tolerable.

Or we could have voted for the CPP, at least we would have gotten a chicken each. I was really curious how this was going to work but I guess I will never find out.

Productivity in the first six months was reduced drastically thanks to unreliable power supply and what was in my opinion a very needless election petition. Most people do not agree with me that the petition was needless. The prevailing argument being, the petition strengthen our democracy. No it did not. I never for even a second thought that the court would over turn the election results. Not because I thought the election was fair (I'm not saying it wasn't) but because it was just impractical. In Africa, after every major election, the losing party quickly refutes the results they nag and nag and results are maintained. This petition was a grand waste of time and money.

While this exercise in faultily was going on, the rest of the country was literally burning. Market fires everywhere. Not a week went by I which we didn't hear of one market or the other burning. As usual, someone these fires we politicized. The theory was that, political enemies of the ruling government were the pyromaniacs behind these fires. The president even went to get some 'Special Investigators' from America to come help investigate these fires. Till this date, we've not heard the findings of these investigations.

Anyone with an iota of sense would have realized that these fire were cause by a combination of the sporadic power outages and the power electrical wiring in the said market. Seven months of load shedding and market fires and just when the load shedding was over, the fires ended. Of cause, they would have us believe it was a coincidence.

After seven months of not getting the electricity we were so dearly paying for, long suffering Ghanaians were rewarded with a 78% increase in tariff, 2.5% increase in VAT, numerous increases in fuel prices and a general increase in prices of commodities. Then came the strikes, Doctors, Teachers, Nurses, Lawyers, Pharmacist and even at one time, taxi drivers.

It went up even further, now, fan yoghurt is GhC1.00 😭😭😭😭

Granted, the president couldn't be blamed for all these problems but at a point in time, it didn't look like he was in control of the country. The ministers were on various platform making one ridiculous statement after another. Ministers were contradicting each other and it just felt like the country was a kindergarten class without the teacher.

Then a few weeks ago the president announced that he and his member of parliament were taking a 10% pay cut. This was seen as a good sign by some and others felt it was to score political points the rest of us were just indifferent. Then a few days ago, one minister grandly said workers should follow their example and everyone should take a pay cut. Pause...

It hasn't been all gloom but the rays of sunshine have been far between. What do you remember about the year under review?