Abby writes: Time No Dey
I procrastinate as much as the next person but one thing I cannot stand, for the life of me, is when issues requiring urgent attention are slowly attended to, if not completely disregarded…which for the most part applies to the manner in which our nation is being managed.
In moments when these frustrations are shared, instead of support, the very same citizens being robbed of a decent lifestyle by the State, rather defend their ineptitude with the excuse of insufficient funds in the national coffers, which I find to be absurd.
I suppose this speaks to the larger characteristic of the Ghanaian society; one in which critical thinking is collectively suppressed because groupthink ensures continuous favour and grace from the ruling class…a ridiculously false assertion at that when the elite stays gatekeeping and restricting access to resources.
E no be say money no dey. Me den you plus Barima Sydney all dey spy how dem dey chop wanna money nyafu nyafu. The thing be say intent never dey, as in dem never make up dema mind to do nothing give us. Change occurs in incremental stages. When we ask for improved roads, I anticipate our leaders recognising the fact that continuously outsourcing our design and manufacturing to the Chinese or Brazilians is not sustainable. I would expect a change in attitude about technical training institutes, provide students with the right skills, funnel them through to construction companies for service or internships, award these companies with contracts to build and maintain infrastructure suitable to our way of travel. Highways are good and all but can we have separate routes planned for our trotros? Who better to understand how that will work but Ghanaians?
Even when we attempt addressing critical issues, our abysmal culture of maintenance means we do not get value for effort input. Classic example being the purported planting of 7 million trees in Ghana. This is an initiative worth lauding however, given what we know about our people and bureaucracy, I cannot help but keep my excitement in check and wonder how frequently these trees will be attended to and cared for to ensure their sustenance?
It is definitely not about an absence of resources because almost every issue we face is irrevocably linked to the negligence of the State in improving education and advancing our research methods and capabilities. The more you equip citizens with knowledge and myriad skill sets, the easier it is to allocate funds to various ministerial departments for developmental work. Our seemingly inability to (re)imagine the feasibility of such initiatives is also by design with the constant consolidation of power. Should decentralisation be revered by the State, perhaps we would have a different set of needs to worry over.
We no be magicians to change these leaders wonna minds so rydee wetin we fit do when dema complacency and self-interests dey get support from the system as is? Where do citizens even start from with successfully disrupting our style of governance as it is now? Besides protests leading up to independence, most of our recent political history is marred with military influence disrupting the path to change. Unfortunately, we have experienced one too many times the damaging effects of military interventions as well as their inexperience in addressing economic challenges.
Chale, time no dey o wey the whole country dey go to shit, so wat we for do? How we fit mobilize for structural change and development? We no taya plus the Nyame bɛyɛ attitude sake of if He fit do something nanka he no do am by now? At what point do we recognise the power we have as citizens in demanding better governance?
Cyril writes: The Curious Case of Not Trying
The Philadelphia 76ers are out of the 2021 NBA Championship contention. Sport is rife with hyperbole but in a pivotal game 7, with both teams tied with 3 wins each and needing to win to progress into the Eastern Conference Finals, Ben Simmons just had a moment that likely changes the trajectory of his career. The Australian point guard spurred the chance for an ‘easy 2’ with a dunk and instead opted to pass. A chance to tie the game and possibly take the lead if he got fouled was wasted.
A lot has been written, discussed and debated about the curious case of Ben Simmons. An elite basketball player with a very glaring and confusion weakness—he is shit at putting the basketball in the net. Like confusingly bad for a professional who has had countless opportunities to be at least average in this respect. It is not an unreasonable expectation to have of someone who earns ~$35m/year.
Maybe it’s arrogance on Simmons’ part for believing his defense and passing skills will be enough or a genuine mental block that’s preventing him from even attempting to improve his shooting but dear readers I’d be lying if I said watching Simmons’ situation play out hasn’t been super relatable.
Fundamentally, we are weird. How else can I explain the personal development changes we know are good for us that we fail to implement despite the consequences for not doing so continuing to bite us in our ass? We call it a setback, shake ourselves off and proceed to do nothing—inaction. Now, I can hear you saying (cos my internal voice is screaming this at me as well), “you do not know what that person is going through” and “changing isn’t easy”. All true. The mental battles we fight are unknown to everyone unless we disclose them and even then, we spare those around us the full weight of the pressures and discomfort we feel. We judge others harshly when we perceive them as not trying. It’s worse when they keep having various opportunities to just take a step in the right direction towards fixing the thing that we all can see needs fixing.
We are quick to brand others with the inaction tag all the while simultaneously defending ourselves from being tagged as such. Afterall, do they know what you are going through? This piece started out as an attempt to hold a mirror up to ourselves as basketball fans as we collectively write a player off because of the perceived refusal to get better. As for what it ended up being, I will leave that to you. I will share my opinion on what this is; it’s a reminder to be kinder to myself when I fail to try. I want to try. I will try. I am trying — but right now, it looks like I am just doing nothing about it.
Abby writes: High on The Hog
Legend has it it was customary for baby Abby to have two bottles of mmore koko (corn porridge) back to back…well with a crying break in-between, signalling for the second bottle. For as long as I can recall, I have always loved food. I would always watch and observe older women in my family use different methods and recipes for different occasions. Every step is infused with rituals to some degree from the silent prayer prior to slaughtering an animal and the processes taken in preparing them for consumption down to the setups for said final consumption all vary from one home and society to another.
I started off cooking simple things to nourish myself with when adults were absent to help satisfy my cravings. This would eventually evolve into me being the human blender for almost every other meal, fufu pounder or banku maker alongside learning the basics of soups and stews. My favourite part of all these processes growing up though, was the Saturday morning grocery run to Market Circle in Takoradi. My feet knew exactly where to take me for the exact ingredients required given the requested meal by the adults. The positioning of traders also meant one had to have a strategy for shopping in the market. The entrance you first enter determines the subsequent paths and overall length of your trip. It just always felt like a magical communion with all the people and products sending ones senses into overdrive.
The labour involved aside, I also really enjoyed eating meals together with relatives, more so from the same bowls. It is a level of bonding I cannot begin to describe which was and remains comforting and warm to the soul.
Watching High on the Hog evoked some measure of familiarity and kinship in our culinary practices. From Benin to South Carolina; the overarching theme of the show is an exploration of the connections between African and African American cuisines. Succinctly captured in a statement made by an interviewee, “communities change but the history remains the same.”
The entire production is a well told narration of the pioneers of American gastronomy persevering through continuous oppression for the well being of their communities. Although this was mainly African-American centric, I would be curious to see an elaborate version connecting Caribbean and West Indian cuisine to Africa with a look at its position within their political economy.
Without giving too much away, High on the Hog is an easy watch with historical research one can easily appreciate. Do give it a watch on Netflix, rate it with a thumbs up and share so hopefully the establishment invests in more shows like this.