GOING INTO THE DRAIN: GHANA ROADS AND ANY USER WHO ISN’T A MOTORIST.

He hurtled downhill from the administration block. It was an unusual sight to see after prep; a cyclist going at it. He weaved between us with ease. Just then ahead of us was a car also moving uphill, presumably a teacher on his way back from town. He blew his horn and we gave way. The startled cyclist looked up a little too late. He veered sharply away from the vehicle and faced a mass of white shirts. He moved again and his progress was halted cruelly by the storm gutter on the shoulders of the road. His head smashed on the gutter lip. His arm and leg were similarly pinned against the wreck of his bicycle. He lay prone. The whole incident was like a scene in a movie. Such a grisly scene will not be forgotten so easily.

To this day I dislike riding my bicycle on roads with open gutters. Sad because that means they are practically everywhere. About a week ago I witnessed a gutter being constructed on my street. The whole incident from that prep night from years back played itself in my head. I have pondered on countless occasions what would have happened if the gutter was covered. As it was an isolated event I looked at the bigger picture. Aside from the obvious reason that people dumped their rubbish into open drains which eventually blocked them there are other reasons why open drains are not good for the Ghanaian. My topmost priority is the unavailability of sidewalks on most roads for the Ghanaian pedestrian. Many roads in residential areas and even some commercial areas are narrow. The gutters which flank these roads are often quite large. This predisposes pedestrians and cyclists to careless motorists who feel they have a larger right of way. The situation worsens when there are instances of parking on such roads. It becomes one way and a pedestrian has to strafe past the car and hope any advancing motorist would be patient enough for him or her to pass. You can imagine what a child would do in such a situation. The child would attempt to run by quickly.
When you take a look at most of Tema (the established communities) and some parts of Accra you notice that most of the gutters are covered with concrete slabs leaving holes in the covers for rain to pass through in case of a storm. Such a design provides a natural sidewalk for pedestrians to walk on. Sadly they are deteriorating as some motorists park their vehicles on them, notably truck drivers or those operating heavy machines. Age is also a contributor and we can see this type of drain design quickly disappearing.
As a pedestrian and occasional cyclist I believe adding a sidewalk by covering drains and gutters by roads would be most beneficial. It would also curb the primordial practice of pouring rubbish into open drains in the belief rain water would carry it away.

The Things I Am

I am,
Arrogant,
Self assured bastard,
Ready to believe the world will twist in my favor.

Craven,
Lily livered,
Yellow bellied,
Cringing at the first sign of danger,
To save my mottled skin.

Amorous,
Ready to believe in love,
Not the faux sob-tales on tv,
But on the rollercoaster ride hitched to life.

Smart,
Intelligent enough to see what is,
All the time,
Even when my heart breaks.

Foolish,
Stupid enough,
To believe,
In Jesus,
And not to acknowledge the great accuser,
Satan,
That bringer of light,
Lucifer.

Cocky,
Crazy enough to take risks,
Without actually knowing where the deep end is sometimes.

Calculated,
Picky enough to push away jollof with fish,
And knowing when the boys have had enough of FIFA to go home,
Slipping the sheet of paper in the exams room,
In return for a favor of future glory.

Hardheaded,
Bullish enough to be arrogant,
Or cocky,
Amorous,
Or just plain craven.

Friendly,
Lonely enough,
To fill my head,
With delusions,
Stirred by real people.

Alone,
Liquid enough,
That I can be poured into a bowl of friends,
To be frozen into shape.

Imperfect,
Makes me beautiful,
A perfectly structured chaos,
Even when I have a rift a mile deep running through me.

Elastic,
Flinging crap out of my way,
And containing crap
Without flinching.

Silent,
My favorite weapon,
It brings down friend and foe alike,
Ends the suffering,
Its blade needs no whetting.

Tattletale,
Prone to blabbing,
Spilling secrets,
And sowing discord to reap friendship.

Nervous,
Pissing my pants yellow,
In panic,
Because the coloreds dyed the whites.

Hard,
Full of tensile zeal,
Brittle and ready to break,
Snapping under pressure.

Soft,
So I can take a beating,
And not bruise,
Though it hurts like hell.

Vain,
Always trying to catch my reflection,
Even in a dusty window pane.

Oblique,
Blunt and crude,
Oblivious,
To what might be good and wrong,
But what could be bad and right all at once.

Glib,
Owning a tongue with a Midas touch,
Gold is but cold sustenance.

A liar,
Lumbering and slow,
Trying to cover my tracks in broad daylight,
While my soiled linen waits in the marketplace.

These things I am,
Define one thing.
And will not endear me to you,
Because they remind you of one thing,
You are also as tainted and flawed,
Mirrors of each other,
We are but human.

© Sena Kodjokuma 2014

The Educated Illiterate: A Cycle of Mediocrity

“ GENETICS OF A FUTURE GHANAIAN
Mapping the educational DNA of a sample of the future Ghanaian citizen is an arduous task.
When finally a double helix strand was extricated I beheld a curious phenomenon,
A largely malformed genome sequence wearing a mask,
Of otherwise healthy proteins.
In the educational genome was a horror
The likes of which would petrify any concerned Ghanaian social scientist
The genes responsible for language were mutated
Corrosive sentence construction and alien spelling were its outstanding features,
In that of spatial and algebraic analysis a series of cognitive genes were simply absent.
This same awfulness surged through the entire strand I was examining,
Dismayed I sat back and refused to continue.
For my greatly weakened heart could burst and cause me great trouble.
A lifestyle of mediocrity had seeped into the genetic coding of future generations
If Darwinian evolution theory is correct a large chunk of the population of Ghana would be wiped out.
If managing to steer the incorrectly assembled ship to shore is the biggest feat we the crew can boast of,
Then the fate of the cultural species of the Dark Continent hangs in the balance.
Dark times lie ahead for Ghana and indeed Africa if this genome is not reconstructed.

© Sena Kodjokuma, 2014 “

At the time of writing this post I am distraught at what I have just witnessed this week. I was marking the scripts of visual arts students on an exercise I had given them. As a fresh graduate doing my service to Ghana in the educational field this was a big cause for alarm. Basic sentence construction and spelling mistakes were rife. From the generation which is a few years away from taking over the helm of affairs in my country I could only foresee gloom and dark times ahead.
A negative culture of mediocrity has permeated the Ghanaian educational system and I do not blame the children. They have learnt this at the basic level knowing absolutely nothing else. I am not proud to say the average educate Ghanaian of my generation does not enjoy creative reading. Corruptive influences of shorthand writing and the Pidgin English spoken by both literate and illiterate Ghanaians is a massive influence. On the side of the coin there are bright students whose passion for knowledge reflects in even the way they eat. These brilliant few however risk being overshadowed by the mass of miseducated hordes who know little else but myopia and misguided superstition handed down to them.
I have little more to add but brood over a vicious cycle where youth empowerment meets miseducation from childhood. The era of the educated illiterate is looming fast if the stakeholders of my beloved country Ghana fail to act in time.