Monday, November 19, 2012

The Broom Serendipity

My brother and I talk. Surprise! The nature of our conversations is not what surprises me. Often, it's the content of  the conversation and how helpless we both seem in finding solutions to the obvious issues we point out. So, my issue now is how to internalize the reasons why we are just good at pointing out the problems and how we do very little to resolve them. Is it hypocritical, to any extent, that we almost always end these discussions with plenty hmms and ahhs then resign to browsing the internet or watching TV?  Those critics; the ones who identify all the ills of an issue yet do nothing about it themselves have always annoyed me. I'm somewhat annoyed at myself right now. Many times over, I have heard the no-contribution-is-too-small narrative, you know, the whole little drops of water .. mighty ocean assertion. Do something!

He just told me he's now contemplating the idea of probably moving to the belly of the beast, become a yank, you know, migrate and live a fuller life in the U.S, then help someday if/when he makes it big! These are the underpinnings of the deficit of opportunity in our system. I have friends who have made tremendous progress with the hand they've been dealt in Ghana. Maybe I'm the loser that has not managed to succeed yet and therefore I blanket-qualify everyone into the struggling sect. My brother likes nice things, just go to his blogs or  and you'll see what I mean. He also makes observations of the most mundane things I have ever seen on a blog. He captures images of things that are so fervently humble that, it does not match his seemingly high-brow taste for the finer things in life. The continuity of this complexity in persona is drawn in that line from Jay Z's PSA: "I'm like Che Guevara with bling on, I'm complex."  I think a lot of the people I admire in our generation are battling this quagmire.

Consequently, we may never see these aspirations to fruition, unless we will-it into existence. Of course, its gonna take a lot more than will but that is where it can start. Sheer will power. I have become extremely efficient at pointing out the flaws of our severely under-developed country. Its easy for all of us to point out the corruption engulfing us; politically, religiously, culturally even economically. We have people living in mansions built on very bad roads or streets, inefficient water and sewage systems that make the bathroom shower trickle instead of sprinkle like it was designed to, countless vehicles on the road used for public transportation that are literally death-traps, they smoke more than Bob's entire weed movement sparked, smelly drainage systems that literally burn the nostril hairs, so imagine what they do to your insides? A majority of our people live in poverty, have little access to opportunity. A labor system that rapes the labor force, raw deal. Income disparity that will make the Chinese blush. The laundry list is endless and we manage to blame all the various causes of sudden death in our communities on the witches and wizards, the gods, juju and Satan,  never the glaring unsanitary conditions we live in. Or the greedy business owners, the madams and bosses that have little regard for their employees. Or the government workers who feel the need to take 4-hour lunch breaks and the managers that have ghosts on the payroll. Or the volcanic hole in our leadership structure. The answer to any mishap in Ghana is usually: "leave it to God". You have con-men masquerading as Pastors selling false hope and miracles to the masses.  Since there is so little for the common man to peg their dreams on, they buy the bullshit these hope-houses disguised as Churches are selling. Their desperation to be noticed by the pastor, that they actually contributed a larger 10% offering this month than the previous one, hoping that God's blessings will be rationed to favor them better this go-round. Here is a kicker; YOUR PASTOR IS NOT THE GATEKEEPER OF THE ALMIGHTY'S BLESSINGS!!!! We all know the problems we face or do we? How can we fix this? We should start by freeing our minds from the clutches of the religious and superstitious chains that have become as akin to our being as our DNA. It is even easier to give up on trying or making the idea of a progressive country that is drenched in the blood of maintaining the status quo a reality. We can be a productive people, have a stable economy, young women who don't have to depend on the married sugar-daddy to save her and her impoverished family, responsible men who don't spread their seed around as if they were in a germination contest, the rule of law, an unsaturated Accra. You get the pattern.

Here is my idea: The Broom Serendipity(trademarked). This is an organizational project I've been thawing since 2007. Its supposed to be a coalition of well-meaning Ghanaians/Africans who have one purpose; making a real difference. It has only one agenda: help the country and its people in whatever way possible. There will be no hierarchical order in the organization as an entity, just a legion of doers. We find projects of interest and go after making it right. I don't know what the outcome will be, or if anyone will join this movement but I gotta try to start this thing somehow. The older I get, the more I realize that, my goals and aspirations won't wait until I'm this obvious do-good-er millionaire that becomes one of the leaders that truly make a meaningful positive difference in our progress from the dark-ages. I wanna do something, anything that can help. So whoever has any ideas, lets reach out to each other and I'll do whatever I can, wherever I can. This is all because people like Kwame exist. Who gives a shit about our feelings? I sound like those preachy SU-types I loathed in boarding school, or the pseudo-good kids that always had a positive quote to deter you from getting your smoke on in those experimental teenage years, which is weird to say because I never smoked when it was popular to do so. I rebel for the sake of rebelling sometimes. I know, mad corny but these are the things that have kept me up for over a decade. Things have to change, so there is my 20 Pesewas. Out.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

GH Presidential Debate Puke

We can get carried away in inspiring moments like Obama's re-election. The magnitude of what he accomplished is even greater to me this time around than his first historic election, for several reasons that I cannot enumerate in this post. The heroics and unmatched stratagem employed by his coalition for a second run for office is a modern day political phenomenon. It is such a calculated and precision-driven machinery that caught all the right-wing obstructionists  off-guard because they underestimated the potency of the experience of a community organizer. This attitude of writing people off is basically at the core of why Republicans may never attract the moderate citizens of a society that is largely educated and nonreligious by demographic. President Obama's victory speech made me think of the conditions of my own home country, Ghana.

I certainly have toyed with the idea of political office and repeated many speeches and scenarios in private to explain what I believe can be a revolutionary moment to trigger a large change to the dynamics of our political leadership and methods of governing in Ghana. I usually wake up from this delusion, accepting fairly that I'm not sociable enough to even follow through with these lofty ideas. I am very certain that my calling is in the fashion industry and I intend to fully explore those ambitions.

We all love Ghana, or so we claim. I think the most well-meaning Ghanaians tend to be the type of Republican that writes people off just for the sake of feeling superior. Classicism is very dominant in our culture. I sometimes scoff and laugh at our professed disdain of slavery and how some of us condemn it so deeply yet we still carry on  with the practice in modern day Ghana. All those house-helps, pssssh. I have heard my own mother and her friends blatantly disregard the plight of the street-hawkers and the working-class, supporting the idea of pushing them off the streets or treating them as sub-human. They claim these handkerchief and sachet-water sellers are a nuisance and a disgrace to the country. An eye-sore if you will. I WONDER IF THEY TRULY BELIEVE THAT THESE GUYS HAVE A CHOICE. AS IF THEY GREW UP ASPIRING TO BE STREET-HAWKERS! It baffles me how degrading and elitist we can be in our society. The ones who have been exposed to western culture, traveled around the world for business and leisure constantly condemn the  dysfunctional  nature of our society. Its like we want the country to fix itself. What we fail to recognize, in my opinion, is; so long as we continuously employ the social construct of the have and have-nots, neglecting the idea that we are stronger collectively than separated, we will always wallow in the shadows of third-worldism, missing our potential ultimately.

The effort I put into watching the Ghanaian Presidential debate of 2012 could lift a boulder. I just could not make it through the mambo-jambo all the candidates were spewing. Seriously, it sounded like an elementary level debate for a popularity contest. Ghana has serious issues and we need serious people to tell us what their solutions will be beyond the usual rhetoric. I'm almost saddened by the fact that, the majority of the people these candidates seek to govern can not even comprehend the grammar used by these men. When you think about what our problems are, there are very simple solutions to them. However, the general mindset is that, public office is a mandate to pillage the finances of the nation for personal gain. This shows in the frivolous and unconscionable deals we strike with western companies to invest in our country. There are competent men and women who can lead our country to true independence and we should seek them out to assist with this process. We can not prosper if our idea of business and commerce is to buy cheap goods from China and anywhere else in the world so we can mark them up exponentially in the local market.

This was as random as it gets. I just felt the need to write about how hopeless the field of Presidential candidates seemed in that shallow debate. We can do better, we can grow a manufacturing  economy. We can expand the nation beyond Accra. We can have more than Akosombo as a source of energy. Northern Ghana will be great for wind-power. We can rely on solar power for many domestic and public power usage. We can demand that our own people be trained and hired for positions in these foreign companies that benefit from our natural resources. We can require that they fund infrastructure around the location of their various industries to support the communities they benefit from. We can make better deals than a 10-year tax-free ride for any foreign investor. We can improve the quality of the very despised made-in-Ghana products that we all refuse to patronize by bringing the Chinese manufacturers to train some of the locals to do what they do. Ghana can be prosperous but we need visionaries. People who can see beyond the brand new X5 purchased with public funds for the University of Legon girl who could pass for his daughter. We can do many things if we only demand better leadership. If we stop swallowing the lies of these con-artists parading through Ghana as Pastors, Apostles, Bishops, Public servants and all the titles they can muster to rip the people off. They are hope peddlers and nothing more. Ask yourself this; If God wants you to beg Him and cry everyday right along with giving him %10 every month just so some preacher can ride in a benz while you walk to church, when does he plan on blessing you? The God I believe in is not the one who allows you to suffer for the majority of your life only to become a success in your last year on earth, simultaneously striking you with sudden death and throwing your relatives into a life-long battle for the meager fortune you managed to amass!

Let us demand better because we deserve better and we can do better!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Crippling Satire

I love it. Sometimes, the crass that doubles as modern artistic expression is almost thrilling. Pac’s Makaveli album cover was controversial yet artistic. So is Pussy Riot. Political or religious, any form of satire begs a level of meritorious thoughtfulness. Also, It usually hinges on controversy.  The Game’s impending album; 'Jesus Piece' is controversial, crass and supremely wack. Nas's video for "Hate Me Now' was not crass but also missed its intended mark.  A.B Crentsill's "Moses" was banned for its blasphemous tone and I still assert that it was a crass song, a very funny one at that. I can already hear a gazillion non-thinkers labeling me as a hater for my opinion. Here’s a wrench for your grinders; simply churning out the word 'hater' does not make for a sound, valid rebuttal to legitimate criticism of an artist's song that reflects on us(Ghanaians) as a whole. If that long, uppity explanation for my rant here doesn't satisfy your ratchet mindset, here’s one more up your alley; call me a hater if you want, I don’t give a fuck. This is why I’m ranting; the song Uncle Obama irks me to the point of numbness. If it was meant to be satirical then it went crickets in all aspects except the controversy bit.

The touchy part of this for me is, two of the featured artists on the track are my schoolmates.One of whom I have the utmost reverence for his lyrical ability and artistic credence.The moment I saw the tweets about said song, I immediately wrote it off as a cheap gimmicky song engineered to generate a buzz. I wasn't being foolhardy in my abrupt  judgment of the song by its title. Nothing wrong with generating a buzz, please, by any means necessary! However, the opinions will follow, negative or otherwise and that is also part of the game. I'm shooting from the hip here as I haven’t tried to interview any of the artists on the song and I don’t intend to.

What was the point of this song? What the fuck was she trying to put across? There are no other names available in her creative head to whore out for publicity? I'll be honest, I was still salty and in panic mode after Obama's 'terrawful' first debate performance by the time I heard of this song. I was not welcoming any further negativity. I'm not even American and I think its a crucial election that Obama has to win. I'll save that for now. In my defense, I actually listened to the song, I still resent it as much as I did before hearing it. As a musician(I use the word very loosely in this context), if you are going to be controversial and garner international relevance and scrutiny, shouldn't you at least have a cause? Or, is it okay to speak on behalf of a marginalized, berated and disregarded people for the sole purpose of increasing one’s artistic profile as a one-hit wonder while bolstering the already derogatory and toxic view the West has of our people? I may be giving her too much credit here but her social visibility is worrisome to me.  I call this artistic responsibility. Let us(Ghanaians) have our Bob Dylan moment before we allow the Gucci Mane’s of our culture to be our spokespersons. Mensa and Mutombo are incredibly talented voices that can put a face to who the Ghanaian people are by telling our generations story. I refuse to accept that my generation and consequently, my entire culture is represented by some F-grade yahoo  artist with the wits of a mute. That I have to pause and answer to my work colleagues about who this Uncle Obama artiste is during my lunch break and listen to them attempt to have a pseudo-intelligent conversation about how Africa is advancing because we have access to YouTube! Really?

Nothing can be done about the song, its too late. For those of us with any level of concern for the progress we need as a people, I can imagine that we will not be seen at her concerts anytime soon. Exploitation of one’s own people should be made a crime. This is a glimpse of some of the dictatorial traits that scared my ex away(edge of desire). In all seriousness, I think that in an increasingly more globalized world, we should be very careful about what causes we champion and who we support as our leaders. It seems an overreaction until it begins to cast a stereotype so thick, our political leaders, business people and our citizens are generally viewed through the lenses of the 'Uncle Obamas'. Wake up.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Creaming Irish .... Malarkey

The world is so much smaller these days and I think people’s intelligence shrunk right along with it. The ignorance of the masses is more pronounced and colored for all and sundry to feast on. Uncensored and unadulterated access to spewing any pile of fecal matter in 142 letters, or a status update that is an infinite jambalaya of text-speak, spelling accuracy of a dyslexic autistic toddler and the coherence of a drunk homeless immigrant from Chad.

The reason for this rant; great friend of mine Lorraine, who won’t have casual sex with anyone at the moment because she wants it to mean something, brought up the event of Sarkodie being clowned on the twittersphere for his assertion that Irish Cream, the liqueur, to be precise, is an ingredient. Here is the quote: “I’m the missing ingredient in a perfect meal, Call me the Irish Cream

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His subsequent explanation: “Okk so just to clear things up 4 ma fans I am missing in da meal so I’m on da side now *irish cream*... N dat is after meal is done!!!

I don’t know whether to cry about the catastrophe that is his above sentence construction to explain his metaphorical  misnomer as judged by the vast Ghanaian twitter brain-bank or be mad at the folly of the group-think manner in which the masses applied their jokes-on-him moment.

I called my younger brother, sent him a voicenote actually, praying that he wasn't on this bandwagon train wreck of ignorance and that is when my heart shattered in more directions than traffic at  Kwame Nkrumah Circle.  I realized one thing through all of this, our culture is mostly skewed for a one-dimensional  isolationist way of viewing things. Simply because Irish Cream is not a prominent part of your general Ghanaian diet does not exclude it from being an ingredient. The larger point being, an ingredient by definition is simply the constitution of any given matter, be it physical or metaphorical. Forget the fact that the most important ingredient in the world’s most expensive coffee is manufactured through the poop of a Kopi Luwak(its an animal- look it up), the gravitas of this issue is quite disturbing. In its own glimpsing way, it could be one explanation for why a lot of our society seems to have such tunnel vision. I wouldn't go off on a tangent and lose your audience.

I am pleading with you to take a little bit more time to understand language a little better. Reading is far more enjoyable when you can make sense of expressions that are an anomaly to your programmed way of thinking. ‘Ingredients’ does not mean just tomatoes, pepper, yam, kontomire, mankani etc. Even the coal-pot can be described as an ingredient, it just needs context. In this context, Sarkodie’s use of Irish Cream in his metaphor is above reproach, grammatically ie. Better still, in any context it was accurate, I may not consider it the smartest metaphor but that is a matter of opinion.

This reeks of the same idea that every chocolate drink is Milo just as every toothpaste is Pepsodent type of thinking. For you TEAMCoolkids as named by my dear Lorraine, the world is much larger and far more challenging than the effort you exert in coming up with your best 142 characters to garner some two-second-fame on the twittersphere. Think your own thoughts, be sure of  your facts before you speak and most importantly,  be independent. So what I’m 30 and have only 3 friends, I’m still smarter than your father’s rich friend. LOL, seriously, it pays to be your own person rather than being a sheep that goes as the wind blows.