Palaver of the past (1)

A national weekly newspaper does not often disappear from the news-stands. So when the Weekly Spec­tator was not seen on the stands for a couple of weeks, many probably thought the Editor had gone on a honeymoon.

If it had been a private newspaper, one would have guessed that the pub­lisher had gone bankrupt after using the capital together with the profits to chase a beautiful fair-coloured girl.

In any case, the ‘Spectator’ is back on the stands, and as is customary of Sikaman Palava, a review of the past year must always precede current palaver. The past year was very interesting and political. There were some unpleasant­ries too when people were being roasted for being of a certain political breed.

Early in the year, however, news reaching the territory had it that punk youths were attacking refugee centres and black homes in Germany, meaning that Ghanaian hustlers were probably in some kind of trouble.

Sikaman Palava defined who a hustler is in an article headed HUSTLERS IN THE COLD.

“In Sikaman, if you are not lucky to be born into a well-to-do family, it means you are a hustler by birth. Right from the very onset, it becomes very difficult for your mum to feed you on Lactogen or Cerelac, to make you grow like a normal human being and not like a guinea-pig. So because she cannot afford it, you have to subsist on koko and use the breast-milk as dessert.

“Sooner than anyone would expect, your mother will start pushing banku into your tiny mouth ‘by force… Before you are six months of age, you’ve already started chewing hard plantain like a sav­age. With that as a major meal you are sure to develop kwashiorkor which means that you’ll have a well- defined pot-belly. So you become a small boy millionaire.”

This is how the hustling begins and one ends up in Germany washing plates to make money while being at the mercy of skin-heads who are armed with guns, knives, clubs and anything that can teach a black- man that Europe is not his ances­tral home.

The political game began in earnest when my uncle Kofi Jogolo was about to be chosen as the presidential candidate of a newly-formed party. In fact they elected him because of his charismatic moustache and by the fact that he sneez­es like Bill Clinton.

“No doubt that he was chosen to lead a very popular party. With such a piece of moustache, trimmed thrice a week by a Swedish barber who is paid in dollars, there was no way Jogolo could not have headed the party.”

There were many people aspiring to become the next president of the Repub­lic of Ghana. “You’ll see them in many colours and shades. Some are called Sika­man natives, but they are not qualified to be called such because they’ve stayed abroad eating hotdogs, hamburger, pork sandwiches and American suya. And they are around town with smiling faces to contest the presidency.

Soon began the game of political nonsense. “The devil is a politician. It has always been the leader of the opposition against the Kingdom of God. The devil, known in private life as Mr James Lucifer, is the author of the Satanic Manifesto and the inventor of hunger in Somalia.”


The devil also tells lies. “According to Kwame Korkorti the Council Korti, every politician tells an average of 38 lies a day- …Lying in politics has become a hobby, indeed an enjoyable pastime. What about intrigues and treachery? I hear it is going to be a game of embar­rassments using facts, figures and lies; and everybody is waiting for the hon­ourable Flight Lieutenant to declare his intentions before the game can really start.”

And the game really did start. In my article head- lined THE PALAVER OF STONE THROWING, I wrote, “When all were in doubt, it was Kokotako who prophesied that the Flight Lieutenant will be the presidential candidate of NDC, and that someone freshman too will aim a large stone at his head and miss the target “He had by not less than 30 metres.

“True to the prophesy, an idiot did aim a stone that crashed into the side-glass of one of the vehicles in the convoy that was returning from Apam. Appar­ently the person who did the throwing was not a marksman because the head of His Excellency was longitudes away from where the stone landed… In any case, the attempt is a dastardly one that must be condemned in no uncertain terms…

“Professor Adu Boahen of Kukrudu fame, I hear, also had a little showdown with some school children at Akatsi or Anfoega in the Volta Region. In spite another of the fact that he had written history books for the kids to learn to gain knowledge, they apparently did not like the Kukrudu slogan and therefore sought to sack the history pundit from their ter­ritory. I think that area had already been colonised by the Akatamanso politicians, so it seemed to the children that Adu Boahen was trespassing…

“Perhaps, he did not pour libation to the gods of Eweland before embarking on the journey to go and preach to the people the political philosophy behind the word Kukrudu. But I must say that such reception to political campaigners is not commendable.”

I then cautioned with special refer­ence to the stone-throwers, “To prevent violence, heads of political parties should undertake the task of admonishing their supporters to eschew violence, because when you throw a stone at somebody, next time someone will not throw a stone at you, but boulder. The person whose head you hit with a stone will continue to live, but when a boulder lands square on your head, it is most likely you’ll live to witness the handing over ceremony on January 7.

Because of the nature of the politics during those days, many homes witnessed turbulent times. Under the heading CALM AND THE BITTER LES- SONS, Sikaman Palaver revealed:

“Since the ban on politics was lifted, many homes have been on fire. Some men have even stopped giving chop mon­ey because they consider their wives as politically mad. If for instance the man tried to make the point that akatamanso will bring prosperity, the wife will insist that kukrudu is rather the way to heaven.


“…A man will growl at his wife like an underfed lion: “In the name of the elephant which has political vi- sion, I’ve placed a ban on the use of umbrellas in this house. I swear by my grandfather’s hernia that if you do not comply I’ll turn your neck’.”

People were not only concerned about politics during 1992. Accidents had occurred the previous year and there was the need to introduce road safety awareness throughout the coun­try, a task which was undertaken by Me­ridian Tobacco Co. Ltd which organised a Safe Driver competition.

Sikaman Palava acknowledged their efforts. “Whenever I board a vehicle, the first thing I always want to look at is the driver’s head. If the head is un-kempt, it means he is a careless fellow. If he has normal haircut, finely combed, it means I’m quite safe. If he wears punk, it probably means that he doesn’t have a driving license and is therefore a potential killer.

“When the driver is, however, a sakora, then I’m always prepared for anything including death. The whole palaver is that when a sakora man is at the wheels and is driving at about 90 kilometres per hour, there is every likeli­hood that the breeze circumnavigating about his naked head will make him feel like having his siesta.”

For sure, when driving at top speed while taking siesta can be the most dan­gerous risk imaginable.

Meridian Tobacco Company identified the various reasons why road accidents were rampant. A safe driver competition in 1991 and 1992 has brought a great measure of safe driving awareness from which the country has benefited.

As the year 1992 gradually wore on, politicians entertained high hopes and wishes upon which Sikaman Palava com­mented in an article titled ‘POLITICAL HOPES AND WISHES.’

“The funny thing about elections is that no contestant ever believes he’d lose until the final results show that all is not well. And in such an event, the loser is likely to blame the Mallam who divined that it would be a landslide in his favour. Another loser will blame the local pastor who prayed for him, and at least one loser is likely to get angry with the tigari- man who gave him 101 per cent assurance.

“When you become a losing contes­tant, it becomes very difficult to go back home with a smiling face. You’re likely to go home quietly and make straight for bed without taking supper. And your wife is certain to ask you whether you are on hunger strike.”

It was from the time when the parties started holding congress and electing presidential candidates that many politicians started getting disap­pointed. After congress, many went back home trying to force a smile and were welcomed back from the ordeal by their young children.

“Dad, you look tired, but I under­stand. Politics is not a small thing,” your son would say. “I realised that the num­ber of votes you had was nowhere near the top. In fact you were coming right from the bottom which means you are a good swimmer. Good swimmers normally come from behind, and I’ll advise you to start preparing for the next Olympics. As for politics, I’m not sure you’ll shine.”

The review of the past year

continues next week.

By Merari Alomele

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