Eko Encounters: De-Scorched Words and The Fools Camp

Lashibi, 29 December 2012

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The King is Naked


My friend Qouphy Obirikorang had challenged a few of his writers friends to tell him the title of their last articles for 2012. This was yesterday. Within hours, Q and Bernadette Adjei had both penned their amazing articles. I had no idea what mine was. Or would be.
No, I wasn’t suffering from writer’s block.
On the contrary, I had various ideas floating like electrons in their activated states in the coconut which sits atop my neck. I considered whether the post should be about serious politics or rather I should write about humorous observations which abound aplenty around me. In the end, I just decided to create a potpourri and leave the classification to you, my esteemed readers.
In April this year, I moved to and started working in Eko. If you still don’t know which city is called Eko, then welcome to my blogs and to the land of amala. Eko thrills and intimidates in equal measure, and the inhabitants contribute in no small measure to the kaleidoscope that one experiences in this bustling city.
Yesterday, my friend Kofí Akpabli and I interacted with a small group of American students visiting Ghana on a study abroad program. Their leader and lecturer is an old friend of mine from Tech days, Ephraim Nikoi. My book Tales from Different Tails was a recommended text for them as part of their preparations and we met to discuss their questions about the book and the stories.
Kofi asked them what were their first impressions and feelings, having been in Ghana for two days. The answer one of them gave was “It was odd and interesting to be in the minority for the first time in my life. I felt that I stood out in a crowd.”
Ghanaians have a running, unending debate with our Eko cousins about accents and pronunciations of words. For the first time, I was in the minority in that in the office, and it was hilarious seeing my colleagues trying to pronounce words like Ghanaians whilst I attempted their style. I quickly realised that when in Eko, I used their pronunciations so I could be understood! So so preshor! But I reverted to Ghanamanic ways right at KIA.
What we haven’t focused on, however, which is the Ekotic unique choice and liberal use of some words we utilise sparingly in Ghana.
The Eko man, when put off by someone’s behaviour, have no qualms starting his feedback to the person with “You are a fool!” and actually asked further “Do you know that?” or worse, “Do you agree?”.
Exotic words such as “nonsense”, “imbecile” and “idiot” are as normal in daily conversations as taalia in a pack of hot waakye.
The Ekotic person doesn’t coat his/her words like scorched eggs, as we do in Ghana. Words are said as close to the inner feelings as possible. Not so in Sikaman.
If there is something that is changing in me, albeit slowly, it is the lowering of height of my bund wall that contains nonsense and my emotional quotient for suffering fools. It is an attribute I am working on, to reduce the bund wall further.
Yesterday, on Facebook, there was a post by one leading member of a political party in Ghana, who indicated that our nation has seen the climax of what he termed “political stupidity and intellectual dishonesty” and observed that Ghanaians tolerate fools and “glorify idiocy”. He concluded his post on a very harsh note.
My friend Jonathan Agyemang’s response was succinct: “The fact that this post is up is still up here bears testimony to this line of yours: ‘Unfortunately Ghanaians have a lot of tolerance for fools and most times we glorify idiocy’.
A couple of days ago, I shared that in 2013, I plan to be less of a fool and suffer fools less.
Some have averred that the bane of Ghana is that the educated class, others choose to call it ‘the middle class’, have found their own solutions and decided to go mute as speaking out and telling it as it is exposes one to all sorts of verbal vituperations. This is said to have contributed to our slow and perhaps stunted rate of advancement.
I have decided, with the right application of respect, decorum and etiquette, to de-scorch my words and share my views. I will no longer stay in the camp of foolish advisors who insist that the Omanhene is wearing expensive kente when all he has on is a band of dirty see-through lace.

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