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January 2011


This is the spokesman for the slimy bastards. We have taken over a small territory in a very popular town in the former Trans Volta Togoland. We had initially intended to co-exist in peaceful harmony with the humans here. But a few rogue worms, our wayward brethren decided to stray into the town to cause havoc – creeping out a few humans. We expect them to be dealt with. But not like this.

Why send a whole national army to flush us out of this place? It’s like killing a mosquito with a sledgehammer. We can tell that whoever ordered the military intervention in this small matter might have been either deceived or confused or both.

First we have been wrongfully described as ‘army worms’. That’s not true. We are just worms. Simple, creepy worms. We don’t belong to any army. That’s why we are quite amused that a whole military battalion has been ordered to come face us. Someone might clearly be under an illusion that we have staged some sort of a military invasion, simply on the basis that we have been called army worms.

Secondly, and most important of all, our own intelligence suggests that the man who ordered the military intervention is under some sort of pressure to send his soldiers elsewhere to get rid of a very silly man, who is doing his best to take his country to war again. He wants his soldiers to stay home and so what better way to tell the world that his soldiers have better things to do than show that their hands full – with worms!

We get it. But we want to make it known to him that we will fight back. We are worms. We don’t give up easily. We can’t allow ourselves to be defeated by a bunch of soldiers who do not know how to pick their battles with other soldiers, choosing instead to pick on poor, creepy, slimy bastards like us.

We have been to different parts of the world and we know that it is not the job of soldiers to fight worms. That knowledge emboldens us and we are encouraged and confident that we have almost won this battle. We shall defeat these soldiers. They don’t scare us. Chemicals do. And you don’t need soldiers to apply those chemicals, do you?

“…bold to defend forever the cause of freedom and of right…and help us to resist oppressors rule, with all our will and might forever more.” – Ghana National Anthem

There was a time when Africans stood up for what was right, even at the peril of their lives. That was the period before independence when so many Africans felt colonialism was wrong – debasing.

Then there was everything to fight for. Kicking out the colonial master was tough but it was also heroic fun. Nkrumah enjoyed it and he was happy to see the flat backside of the Queen. The likes of Patrice Lumumba were more than delighted to start eating croissant baked by Africans.

But then oppression took another form. The white man was gone and the black man who took charge decided to do worse than the white colonialists. Africans slaughtered Africans. Africans stole from Africans. Africans jailed Africans without any just cause.

Voices of dissent were silenced – sometimes, forever. Africans became afraid. The continent appeared to have suddenly been turned into a poultry farm full of spineless chicken.

For decades, most Africans – perhaps, with the exception of those in South Africa – endured oppression. As they were denied life’s basic necessities, they looked on without so much as a murmur as their national coffers were looted by a greedy, privileged few. “Give it to God,” became a continental mantra.

Then out of the blue, the people of Tunisia decide that they have had enough. Defying blazing guns and brutal kicks, they take to the streets demanding that the oppressor must go. They never gave up until the oppressor took to his heels.

Now, one can’t help but feel that the African might just have rediscovered his spine and will not tolerate oppression any longer. Some of the oppressive leaders are scratching their heads, wondering if their people would turn on them next.

What happened in Tunisia should happen in Zimbabwe, Equatorial Guinea, Sudan, Niger and in practically every African country where politicians and the powerful elite have ridden roughshod over the people for far too long. The people power that chased the colonial oppressor must be reignited. The Tunisians have shown how. Surely, the fire must not be doused.

So, you’ve been privileged to be made captain in an aircraft. The previous pilot wasn’t doing a particularly good job even though he felt he deserved adulation for being able to navigate the plane through some turbulence. He was so full of himself that at some point he decided to buy himself a gold medallion.

“If no one sees the good I’ve done, I do,” he said. I’d reward myself.”

The passengers were not as impressed by his efforts as he was with himself.

So when the time came for him to land the plane, the passengers decided that they would not allow the co-pilot he had anointed to take over from him to handle the plane. You see, he had failed to take the plane anywhere near where the passengers needed to be and it was felt that there was no need to take any chances with his co-pilot.

That was when you came in. Against all odds, the passengers reposed an appreciable amount of confidence in you. It wasn’t unanimous but it was good enough to take you into the cockpit.

There were suggestions that you were not in very good health and that if you were allowed to be captain of the plane you might suffer an epileptic attack that could make you lose control and crash the aircraft into some mountain somewhere. You conceded with humility that you had a “problems with vision” but assured that you were well able to take the passengers to where they needed to be – as close as possible to the promised land; the land flowing with milk and honey, where even the children walking the streets in tattered ‘pieto’ would be brimming with hope for the future.

You were told that your leg of the journey would take four hours. If after the four hours, passengers and shareholders felt you were doing a good job navigating the aircraft and riding smoothly through turbulence, they would be inclined to allow you four more hours in the cockpit.

You pick your crew. A good number of them do not seem to know what they are about. You also seem a bit clueless.

You start looking for someone to blame. You claim the previous pilot left the aircraft in pretty terrible condition and you are doing all you can to put it in flying condition. You seem to forget that the moment you entered the cockpit, you were told you had four hours to take the passengers as close as possible to where they needed to be.

But you just sat there in the plane, fidgeting with the buttons and constantly complaining about the previous pilot. Suddenly, two hours have passed and you are still on the ground – taxiing. You’ve been taxiing for two good hours and you are running out of fuel. All you can tell your agitated passengers is that the plane is ready for take-off. Really? And you think they should be impressed? Do you think you can take the passengers anywhere near where they should be?

Saying that you are ready for take-off has sparked a wave of anger that could only add to the weight of the aircraft. There is a lot of murmuring in the main cabin. The only ones who are not complaining are your friends and cronies who are in the first class cabin. Of course, they are eating choice meat and drinking the finest wine. No one expects them to complaining. They think you are doing a good job – at least with the taxiing. Whether you take off or not, they have enjoyed whatever you’d call the flight.

But those in ‘ecomini’ class are mighty pissed.

They know you have almost squandered the opportunity they gave you to make a difference; you’ve wasted their time. Two hours after you entered the cockpit, they are not any nearer the Promised Land than they were when the previous pilot and his crew were kicked out. All they are saying is that they can’t wait to kick you out of the cockpit.

What are you going to do?

Go down on your knees and start praying. You need a miracle. Pity. Those things are hard to come by these days.

I once met a Ghanaian medical doctor who was working as a taxi driver in Toronto. He needed the money to pay his way through school so he could get a qualifying certificate to practice in Canada. That was in 2007.

In 2008, I met a Ghanaian architect who was also driving a cab in Washington DC. He had gotten so frustrated here he decided to migrate. America has treated him well and as he grows older, he’s contemplating returning home. Having driven a cab for more than a decade, he has built three houses in Accra and has garnered sufficient capital to return home to, possibly, start his own practice.

Somewhere in 2001, as I sat in a ‘trotro’ at Adenta waiting for it to fill up I saw that the driver was reading TIME magazine. He would occasionally shake his head and smile to himself. Curious, I asked what he was reading. That sparked a very revealing conversation. He told me that he was a marine engineer in Germany. He had come home on vacation and he likes to drive the ‘trotro’ he had bought for his mother because the passengers help him “to test the pulse of the nation.”

Can anyone tell me that none of these three men could one day become ministers of state? Only a fool would think that it is wrong for anyone who once worked as a taxi driver to be given a ministerial appointment. If a bar keeper has been appointed a minister – and we are told she’s still a member of the team – why can’t a (former) taxi driver occupy the same position?

…I am warming up…

I’ve been away, taking a rest and trying to live like I were in Utopia – no pains or stress but lots of fun. It’s been quite an enjoyable escape.

Whiles I was at it, a New Year strolled by.

This is just to wish everyone who visits this blog a very Happy New Year. When you’re lonely, I wish you Love. When you’re down, I wish you Joy. When you’re troubled, I wish you Peace. When things seem empty, I wish you Hope.

I pray that this is a better year than the previous one. After all, our leader says this is going to be his “year of action”. At last, he realizes that he is running out of time. Hopefully, not all his actions would bring as much pain as the recent hikes in petroleum prices.