Critical news: Stealing our kra

Sydney Casely Hayford

Thu, 10 Jul 2014 Source: Casely-Hayford, Sydney

I am on a morning run to Korle Bu hospital, my sixth run so far to give a basket of fruit to Arnold, a bosom buddy recuperating from minor surgery. I have come to understand why everything is so underserved in this hospital, stories of horror float in the car park making the trip to the surgical ward one tentative step tripping after the next.

But that is not the story. Wednesday, I decided to make a detour to avoid the early mortuary road traffic and bypassed through the suburbs of Chorkor. It has been a while since I went that way and I was intrigued by the change.

I slowed down at “Naa Dede Best Tillapia” to buy credit and Kwei Fio (I only got to know his name later) was hollering, slaps to his backside, his teenage mother bent on marking his butt for life with a leather belt. It was a bit too much and I stepped out of the car to reprieve (now) my boy and urge Ashikai to hold up a bit.

Well, Kwei Fio was on a “no one cedi, no school” protest and “authority mum” was damned if she would accept this challenge to her parenthood. She had offered Kwei Fio fifty pesewas but he said the reduced “wage” would dent his toffee-acquiring image at school.

I pleaded, I succeeded and we came to a compromise. Things were tough, sales were very slow and Ashikai needed her son to give her more time to resolve this.

So I offered to give Kwei Fio’s one cedi a day allowance a bump and help with the regular payments as long as he went to school everyday. We agreed that I would send the money by mobile money and Kwei would go the MTN office just across the road with his mother’s phone every week and collect his allowance, which Ashikai would dish out by the day.

But it was what Kwei said when he was bucketing a bath by the side of the road that prompted this write up. Sobbing and hiccupping in between as he washed head down, he muttered loud enough within earshot in Ga, “o yi mi aa hu, mi doro f33 e su”.

I need a local language symbols database. Anyone out there to help?

Translated, Kwei was complaining that Ashikai had beaten him so severely, his testicles had shrunk. Said in Ga, it has more impact. His testicular “kra” had been breached.

I chuckled all the way home, wondering why Kwei felt emasculated rather than victorious? His protest had secured his school-going perk for at least a term.

I am proud of him not accepting the reduction in fees, and we have since become good buddies. He calls every now and then to say thank you. My future citizens advocate.

So this is July. Second half of 2014 and we are waiting for all the measures Government has put in place to take hold and roll out the “Better Ghana” program. We are developing our own “home grown” solutions to the “challenges”. Ashikai is also hopeful.

Up till now, I have not heard or read a coherent passage about what we are growing at home and what we are addressing, since Government talking heads say solutions are working, we are blind to all that they are doing and we refuse to see the good.

The only persons who seem to know what this economy is all about are Moody’s and Fitch and they are not saying too much in favor of the “free range, home grown”.

This past week, Moody’s downgraded Ghana’s international rating to B2 negative. A radio station was concerned enough to call and ask, “na si 3 ni s3n?”. We talked about it in the local and they thanked me for explaining this “alien” term.

But what the West does not understand, and we defy all economic logic, is how we are managing this country.

Development economists have evolved theories on predictability of interacting parameters, and by extrapolation they expect certain related outcomes despite their weak clutch about Ghana; the fact that we do not capture and reflect accurately the complex intermingling of the informal sector in the overall economy in Ghana.

Not that we understand it any better ourselves.

But it could be very simple if you look at it closer.

The ancient Chinese described Qi as "life force". They believe Qi permeates everything and links their surroundings together. They liken it to the flow of energy around and through the body, forming a cohesive and functioning unit. By understanding its rhythm and flow they believe they can guide exercises and treatments to provide stability and longevity.

Now if you are aware of the relationship between Kra, mogya and ntoro, you will see the similarities.

Woman transmits mogya or abusua within a person, while the male donates the ntoro (soul or spirit). Added to this is your kra, which can be any one of seven forms derived from the day of the week you are born. Your person is thus shaped by these life forces, nurtured in a clan.

Interestingly, the many economic questions Moody’s and Fitch want answered are situated within our belief in tomorrow and a future managed on our behalf by religious belief. So like the Chinese we are inseparable from the spirit world, except the Chinese have found a formula that works.

This NDC Government’s debt accumulation reflects the overconfidence it has in its ability to sustain revenue and GDP growth. They have grossly underestimated the impact of their forecasting error rate and led us into a future of heavy debt, as the payoff leverage appears more attractive on paper but compounds the fragility in the economy with unsupported overconfidence in repetitively failing solutions.

The risk of becoming a failed state is mitigated only by the implanted belief of Ghanaians that as long as the Lord is watching over us, we will sail through.

No historical statistic can capture the faith factor in predicting the future. That Ghanaians are hopeful and look to our leaders to establish a link of dependency on the spirit world is the only reason we are not on the streets.

Government has overestimated their knowledge about our economic future, suggesting that religion will provide intoxicating tricks to mitigate failure. “I don’t have answers to this problem” seems harder to say and accept, than “God will see us through”, which is easier on the political ego.

So when Nana Akufo Addo brought up the issue of retrogression, it is historically accurate and can be seen in the macro statistics of the economy.

But how real is it and did the reverse “midas touch to dust” comment fuel or disturb our religious risk mitigating beliefs? Does the political rhetoric work better at this time of crisis or push us deeper into religious mystique?

A group of concerned citizens marched to an “occupy flagstaff” beat. Labeled middle class, they dared the wrath of Government and presented a petition of twenty odd demands.

President Mahama responded through his aides, to say he cares and will endeavor to look at their list. End of story?

We quickly shifted our minds to the 10,400 SHS students who will have to go to school to pick up their allocation of sanitary pads and not miss classes during their periods, which Nature bequeathed on them so they can propagate Homo sapiens. It is too frivolous to make a meal of it. There are bigger issues in the monitoring and report back of such previous schemes, none of which we know the impact.

We give out free uniforms, free food, free textbooks, and we are going to give free shoes, yet the children are still not attending classes regularly. Eh bei!

And now we are running out of avenues for redress. Our Government is simply taking away our “kra” to fight on and seek finer ways of living, piling our plates with more than a fair share of corruption scandals.

Government and the Ghana Football Association violated the Foreign Exchange Act when they flew three million dollars cash in a plane to Brazil. Who is going to stifle this cacophony? Even the Institute of Chartered Accountants made a rare statement with a full page in the Daily Graphic bringing up its concerns.

But the electricity supply seems to have stabilized somewhat, more consistent and it cannot be because ECG wants us to watch more of the World Cup. It appears there is a fix in the supply side from the TICO plant. I hope I am right.

Ghana, Aha a ye de papa. Alius valde week advenio. Another great week to come!

Columnist: Casely-Hayford, Sydney