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By Kwesi Atta Sakyi
1st April 2013
(Dedicated to the Memory of Chinua Achebe, my hero) MHSRIP I was dead tired and exhausted that Monday evening when I arrived home from work at about 8.30p.m., having left home at 6.30 a.m. as is my usual routine. I slumped heavily into the sofa in the sitting room, switched on the T.V. and vacuously and absent- mindedly began ingesting whatever was being telecast. My mind wandered widely over a welter of issues and I began reflecting on the day’s work. Then I decided to catch up with my supper which my housemaid had left prepared on the dining table. There was the usual ground fresh tomatoes, chilli and onions, with fried tilapia fish and maize pasta, commonly called nshima (like Ewe akple) or sadza in these parts of Southern Africa. That was usually my main meal of the day.
I ate voraciously and ravishly as I was famished. I left some portion of the food for my live-in housemate who likes keeping late nights quaffing either the Zambian brews or Johnnie Walker. He also likes his exotic whiskies, especially Johnnie Walker Black Label, Jack Daniels and Jameson. I gave up long ago on whiskies and hard stuff in general, though I do a bit of the beers, abstemiously. I decided to catch up with some loads of school work for which I thought I could burn the candle from both ends. Hardly had I started marking when I felt a heavy sense of lethargy and I gave up. I thought and reflected on the fact that being a teacher is sometimes humdrum and drab lifestyle, because unlike any other profession, work always follows you to the house, whether it is a holiday or not. And you had better meet deadlines set to give feedback to students.
A good teacher will never finish correcting school work nor will he stop researching or preparing for his students. And to have been doing this continuously upwards for 43 years is a feat, but also a real boredom! I was sitting in the settee in the hall having a reverie when suddenly the heavy meal of nshima took its toll on me and I drifted off into a sound and deep but short- lived and reinvigorating sleep. A few minutes later, I woke up with a start and I dashed off straight to the bedroom, turned off the light and slept off like a piece of teak log. (I have a bath once a day in the morning). Then, I had wonderful and interesting series of dreams. In my dream, I dreamt that there were very many tall skyscrapers which had been built all over Tema and Accra, and they were so huge and tall that I thought they looked like parts of Shanghai in China, or Hong Kong or Singapore, even though I have never been to any of these places before.
(I just see them in movies or pictures). Then I saw a huge harbour built at Winneba, my hometown, with wide marine drive autobahns running parallel to the littoral, with some roads radiating and veering off to form ring roads through some by-passes and interchanges. Like those of the George Bush Highway at Malam, and Ako Adjei interchanges in Accra. The skys- crappers in Tema fronted the darkish green hue of the Atlantic Ocean and made it look like approaching New York harbour from the sea, beholding first the Statue of Liberty against whose silhouette are the gigantic skyscrappers, including the old Empire State Building, among others. In my dream, I also dreamt that all the dilapidated buildings in Accra in Jamestown, Chorkor , Maamobi, Mamprobi, Osu and Labadi had been demolished and been given a facelift, using pre- fabricated materials from China. Accra indeed looked spick and span, like one of the islands in the Caribbean, especially Bahamas.
I saw that the Korle Lagoon had been dredged and big ocean liners were making their way all the way from the Atlantic Ocean to the middle and inner parts of Accra, near Korle Bu Hospital and Accra New Town. I also saw marvelous and exquisite holiday resorts lining the banks of the Korle Lagoon Waterway, like the ones we usually see in Miami Beach in Florida or Costa del Sol in Southern Spain or Southampton in the UK. The Korle Lagoon Waterway was looking like the Riviera in Paris or the Thames through London. I also dreamt that thousands of Chinese had integrated into Ghanaian society and were marrying a lot of Ghanaian women, who were preparing them various sumptuous Ghanaian dishes, such as my favourite onuahue or apofo anto or onankapopo in Winneba, where fresh fish is cooked with onions, tomatoes, pepper but no oil. The Chinese had taken over fishing and mining in Ghana, and they had huge trawlers which were hauling in lots of fish to land, apart from successfully engaging in fish farming up country, in the hinterland. Coastal towns such as Sekondi, Elmina, Apam, Keta, Shama and Moree had been swamped by the Chinese fishermen.
There was fish galore during the fishing season, called ebueibuei in Winneba. I dreamt that a bullet train was in operation in Accra, with the journey from Accra Central to Tema taking only five minutes. I also dreamt that the Chinese had built many underground tube stations and vehicular traffic in Accra had been massively decongested with the mass metro transit modes in conspicuous operation. The journey from Accra to Kumasi by the bullet train was sub one hour. In my dream, I saw that many world class manufacturing plants had relocated to and sprung up in the surrounding areas of Accra in places such as Ashiaman, Amasaman, Adenta, Nsawam, Kasoa, Oyibi, Bortiannaw and Old Ningo. I saw gigantic cranes lifting huge crates of Ghanaian bottled whiskies and gins made from Alomo Bitters, Akpeteshie (ogogoro bom kutuku, apio, VC10, or Kill-me-quick).
Those were destined for the far eastern countries of China, Korea and Japan. I also dreamt that all the major world class universities had started opening offshore campuses in various parts of Ghana, and these included Oxford, Cambridge, Liverpool London, Harvard, UNIPEN, UCLA, Greenwich, Chicago, MIT, CALTECH, Johns Hopkins, Sorbonne, Bologna, among others. I dreamt that there was a shortage of both skilled and unskilled labour so much so that many Ghanaians in the Diaspora had returned home to spearhead major research activities and they had never felt as happy as they did on their return to their native land.
Paa Kwesi Mintah had been appointed VC of one of the universities, and he was made Emeritus /Regius Professor of Global Knowledge with a chair sponsored jointly by ExxonMobil and Tullow Oil. That the university in Ghana had adopted the Japanese maxim of Karioshi or work till you drop dead at the age of 80! I dreamt that the work culture and ethic in Ghana had changed for the better, with people working from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day to increase productivity and GDP growth( Of course, as we say here in Zambia, ‘more money in your pocket’. I dreamt that through the support from our foreign benefactors, Ghana had become a net exporter of food items. In my dream, Ghana had been transformed into a country with no politicians or political parties. Instead, we had proctors or invigilators who had taken over. All the political parties had been banned and most of the ex-politicians had turned paupers, begging all over the place.
Some had turned preachers, preaching in the open spaces and confessing their misdeeds while in government, and begging for remission of their sins. I also dreamt that all those who had sticky or magnetic fingers had all their fingers sewed up together such that they could not steal from government coffers. The proctors or overseers had supernatural powers as they were all-knowing and all-seeing (omniscient and with omni- directional range). They had radar-like heads with antennae and they could detect crime from any place.
If anyone managed to steal and he was caught, the proctors treated him or her to electric shock beams from their eyes, which would make the thief dissolve and evaporate into thin air. In fact, the police force was dissolved and BNI officials had nothing to detect so they were deployed to work on cocoa and shea-butter plantations, where the supervisors were Indians, Koreans, Chinese and Japanese. (SADA had become a sad affair so it was replaced by a new outfit called GHANADA- Ghana Accelerated Development Agenda). Some were made to rear guinea fowls which were mainly reared not for their meat but as pets. A company called Akomfemco was in charge.
The proctors censored all the radio and TV stations as they used space shuttles to jam noisy and lying stations. Radio stations were automatically shut off if their noise levels went beyond certain decibels or if they began indulging in insults, innuendos and invectives or broadsides. Citizens who committed minor offences were imprisoned in well developed and civilized underground earth stations, which were underground cities. Their punishment was not to be allowed to see the sun again. Lack of vitamin D made them develop into hideous and grotesque forms, resembling apes and baboons. Gays and homosexuals were castrated and their organs were harvested and exported to countries where they would make proper use of them. Such exports earned valuable foreign exchange for Ghana.
Since Ghanaian men were said to be, on average, the second nation on earth with long pendulums, the organs were in high demand throughout the world. The castrated goons were put in charge of their own sex members who were in the psychiatric hospitals and asylums. I also dreamt that there was a giant squirrel in Accra which had powers to make tax revenues and money from tolls disappear under a huge tunnel beneath Jubilee House or Flagstaff House. The squirrel was a pet of the senior proctor.
As the senior proctor had relatives abroad, a lot of the money disappeared into foreign and offshore accounts through judgment debts. There was one powerful proctor who denied people from having megalomania or big dreams. For example, if you started dreaming of building a mansion or a brobdingnagian (Jonathan Swift in Gulliver’s Travels) apartment beyond your normal income, especially the one with a heliopad, he would immediately send electric shocks to jolt you up from your day-dreaming and megalomania. Since in my dream there were no politicians, there was no propagandist talk of building castles in the air, or promising every Ghanaian, oil from grass, or a delivery of the moon or the Golden Fleece.
Free education up to tertiary level was guaranteed under state largesse and eleemosynary economic arrangement of, ‘to all, our needs are needful, to each, their needs are needless’. This philosophy was encoded in small red books which citizens had to memorise and recite off the cuff, to the chief proctor examiner- general. The philosophy was broadly emblazoned on the parapets of all state buildings throughout Ghana. People worked and spent from a common pool, though those who worked hard had bonuses and pocket money. There was less corruption and no diversion of taxpayers’ money into political party coffers or individual private accounts.
In my dream, I encountered a pastor who could make you easily acquire the gift of glossolalia or speaking in tongues. He charged people heavily before imparting that gift. He had made Ghana a Mecca of glossolalia, as tourists from all over the world flocked to his church at Kokrobite in the suburbs of Accra. The pastor also claimed that he had the elixir of life which could make you look forever young. Some known heads of state who were in their 70s and 80s, who did not want to retire, were flocking to his church from all parts of the world. He was earning Ghana valuable foreign exchange through taxes.
However, there were rumours that the powerful pastor derived his powers from being a coprophagist (eater of shit). The powerful pastor even gave a press conference to demonstrate how to convert faecal matter into highly nutritious food, especially to feed university students who need it for academic excellence. The pastor, among his long list of feats, boasted of having discovered a patented way of empowering people to have super-computer memory, whereby they can memorise and recite the whole bible from cover to cover or the Talmud or Bhagavid-Gita. People who were interested in poetry, songs, jingles and looney tunes had gone to his website to purchase the secret formula of memory enhancer. Of course, the pastor also had genital enhancers for those who wanted to look Rasputinian. Sadly enough, many women divorced their men who acquired it.
The pastor also doubled as an electronic and mechanical engineer. He had invented a machine which like a webcam or camcorder or video camera, could record your dreams via an encephalograph. The super camera could also rewind back into time to reveal your childhood. You could also fast forward it into the future to give you a glimpse of things to come. Einstein’s relativity law had been practicalised. The pastor claimed that he would single-handedly decongest Accra and stop the construction of the new airport at Old Ningo or Prampram because he was going to launch a travel machine which would act like a magic carpet that we read about in the Arabian Nights.
His trans- instant transporter (TIT) would get you anywhere provided you keyed in accurately the exact google coordinates of where you wanted to be or go. His machine made the study of Geography, Mathematics and English a desideratum and conditio sine qua non for every living being on earth who needed to travel. The machine could only be produced in Ghana. All the petroleum and giant MNCs producing cars, suddenly became Luddites baying for the banning of the sale of the machine in their countries, but consumers paid less heed to their entreaties.
After all, it is a global village. The pastor also had proprietary rights to another machine which was cable-less electricity tapped by wireless from a source in outer space, and from the centre of the earth. It made hydro, thermal and nuclear power stations irrelevant, obsolete, and subsequently, Ghana was made free from electricity blackouts or the Dum-so (off-on) electricity blues. After the invention, the Akosombo and Bui Dams became tourist attractions. The Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) was consigned to some Chinese scrap company to scrap it down. With the new TIT machine making travel easier, people began building on the highways tarmacs and railway tracks. In my dream, I also dreamt that the proctors ruling Ghana had decreed that all Ghanaians should stop eating meat and concentrate only on fish and vegetarian diet. After 5 years of the enactment of the decree, the domestic and wildlife population in Ghana doubled and Ghana had become a major eco-tourism destination like Zambia, Kenya, South Africa and Tanzania.
As a result of the meat eating ban, sheep, goats, cattle, pigs and chickens began to be kept as pets all over Ghana. A very strict law was passed in parliament which provided for AMA and the various Dictrict Assemblies to dissemble all abattoirs and to send inspection teams to homes to conduct population census of all domestic animals, and capture the data electronically in a modern doomsday electronic compendium. Sensors were placed in all human settlements to detect the smell of cooking meat. Some pets found their way into their master’s bedroom chambers and your guess is as good as mine. It was rumoured that some pets went missing in bedrooms or they were sexually abused.
The proctors issued copious red books detailing the relationship which should exist between man and animal. It was said that all animals are equal to human beings and in fact, some animals were a little more intelligent than some ghanaweb goons who concoct and peddle lies. The red book stated that since animals behaved by programmed instinct, they were superior in disciplinary behaviour than so many Ghanaians, except that people of South East Asia were those who were far superior to animals, hence their phenomenal economic growth. The great red book enjoined Ghanaians to imbibe animal discipline by talking less, criticizing less, listening more and not judging anybody.
Since most animals graze on grass and herbs and remained healthy, without cholesterol or high blood pressure problems, Ghanaians are to learn from this ancient wisdom imparted to animals and kept as a secret from many humans. The red book continued by stating that those who eat meat tend to be overly aggressive, pugnacious, bellicose, belligerent and boisterous. The book averred that red meat is especially dangerous as it created high levels of libido, fecundity and promiscuity, which will lead to onset of STDs, HIV/AIDS and other diseases. Because of these great philosophical teachings in the red book, some humans decided to start harbouring ideas of mating with animals to raise intelligent offspring. Chickens in the night were heard squawing, cackling, crooning,….
Heterosexuals and gays all joined together in arms, protesting against the abuse of animal rights and also against abuse of their conjugal rights, as most of their spouses had deserted them and were living in hen coops, piggeries, mangers, dog kennels and horse stables with their live-in animal lovers. Hmmm!!! Had a series of dreams, eh!
The proctors quickly put down the protests as culprits were either castrated or had some chips inserted under their skins to keep track of their movements. In another dream, a mammoth behemoth had broken free into town from the Bono Mountains and strayed into town. That primordial elephant (Osono Kokroko) resorted to drinking up all the water bodies in Ghana, including the Volta Lake. The proctors tried their hardest to use their supernatural powers to tame it but it was to no avail, because it came from another realm. Its droppings coalesced to form a huge mountain which blocked the access routes between northern and southern Ghana. Strangely enough, only northerners could penetrate through the mountain to the south and they were taking over all the top jobs.
Southerners complained to no avail. The Korobotic Mountain created by the fecal matter of the mythical elephant created a big obstacle to Ghana’s development because millions of guinea fowls and tons of grain produced under SADA could not be transported south where there was famine. Before long, a small boy called Nyansani Nasni emerged from nowhere and charmed the elephant away into the bush by the melliferous music played on his flute. The boy averred that his real name was Akomfem Mununkum, an incarnation of Okomfo Anokye. The strange elephant was never seen again. Again in my dream, I saw a huge whale (Bonsu Kakraka) emerge from Atuabo in Nzemaland. It started drinking up all the oil from the Jubilee Field and the oil rig Kwame Nkrumah was beached by the whale’s gymnastic antics in the sea when the Ghana Navy engaged it in a maritime battle.
The Ghana Navy and Air force were called in to deal with the beast but their missiles were no match for the mythical whale. The Chief Proctor called in the Commandoes (Special Forces) to contain the situation but before they could deploy to the scene, the whale developed wings and flew into the skies. It left Ghana oil-less. In my dream, there was also the episode where I dreamt that some strange monkeys had descended upon Ghanaians and were causing mayhem to men and women. The women were raped irrespective of their ages and their breasts were bitten off to make them have flatter chests and look like men. Later, the dreadful quadrupeds set on the men folk by raping them from their behinds and biting off their genitals, such that they started menstruating like women.
The head of the monkeys, known as Akupa Bogeh, announced that their actions were meant to have a unisex population so that there will be no marriages. He said the Central Statistics Office would have to change their census or demographic parameters. Before long, one of the Ghanaian pastors from the Church of the Living Bitters found a magic wand and he spirited away the merciless and marauding monkeys. Deep in my sleep, I dreamt that a huge hideous looking dog appeared from nowhere and entered the Supreme Court premises in Accra. It was a whale of a dog. In the presence of the Chief Justice (CJ), it committed contempt of court by barking umpteen times before it left a big foul-smelling dog shit on the pile of papers on her table.
All the bigwigs and the learned fellow fraternity in the court scampered in different directions, because the stench from the dog dropping was highly toxic, to say the least, it was nauseating and abominable. When AMA were called to come and clear the shit, they arrived with several trucks on which were inscribed names like WOYOMEGATE, AKOMFEMGATE, ECGATE, DUMSOGATE, OPEN-AND-CLOSEGATE, SADAGATE, WEIJAGATE, ISOFOTONGATE, STRIKEGATE, FLAGSTAFFGATE, BULLIONGATE, among others. When the IGP was intimated to come and rescue the situation, he complained they lacked equipment for handling strange dogs. Besides, he was not motivated because he does not receive generous and gratuitous gratuity like the honourable parliamentarians do.
The dog started terrorizing residents of Accra. Its bark was worse than its bite. AMA boss finally decided to bring in expert dog handlers from Israel. Before he could put in his call to the Mossad Chief, the mischievious dog had entered the Supreme Court surreptitiously and had chewed up all the dockets, dossiers, electronic files and all incriminating evidence on the Election Petition case had mysteriously disappeared. The pink sheets had been shred into smithereens. The strange mythical dog had used its powers to erase all the electronic evidence on the computers and even the back-up storage media. The Supreme Court dismissed all cases of political nature and declared them lapsed because they had overstayed and been overtaken by a new political dispensation of no politics or poli-tricks.
The CJ was in court in the middle of a judgment when a note was handed over to her by a court marshal. The note read, ‘you are hereby subpoenaed to appear before the apolitical chief presidium of the proctorate of the proctorian prefecture of Ghana. The Supreme Court is hereby disbanded and all its actions declared null and void and non-sequitor. All other subordinate, appellate and inferior courts hereby stand dissolved. All cases are to be directed to the proctors.’ End of message. The last dream I had was when I dreamt that I saw zombie-like creatures who looked like extra-terrestrial beings with black enamel armour or carapaces, looking like ancient knights of valour. No bullet could penetrate their carapace, which also acted as bullet repellant. The zombie-like creatures went about seizing people’s cars, monies and valuable material possessions.
They were armed robbers on the highways, market centres and indeed, everywhere. The police were afraid of them (police per se, consisted of ward or country vigilante groups headed by a proctor). Interestingly, those new breed of armed robbers did not rob to enrich themselves but to redistribute to the majority poor. They were modern Robin Hoods. The robbers had strange powers to set fire to anything they focused their attention on. They could do that by remote control and they nearly burnt down the EC and Foreign Affairs offices. They caused a lot of bushfires in Ghana, which decimated a lot of our flora and fauna. Most affected were turkeys, guinea fowls and guinea pigs on SADA farms. Millions of trees also got burnt down.
Onlookers surmised that nemesis had caught up with Ghana, or we were having to pay for our karma or receiving our just desserts. SADA project of tree planting went up in smoke and only a large tract of barren and scorched land was shown as where once there was a SADA Forest Reserve. Words which readily came to mind were, ‘Ehy3 wo bo! Wayo jibiti. Kalabule. Greedy Bastards. Graft. Malfeasance. Injustice. K3t3hy3ase porowee. Hmmm! Some thoughts, eh! Juxtaposing along these are the often bandied around terminologies of the rule of law, natural justice, due process, transparency, accountability, probity and integrity, human rights and constitutionalism.
Thinking aloud, I sometimes wonder who might have invented these high-falutin words which seem ethereal, surreal and unearthly because only angels can practise them to the letter. Even in so-called advanced countries, we hear of huge scandals, scams and almighty deals which once in a while, make the headlines when the crime busters have cast their nets wide. The difference between Ghana and those advanced countries is that, there, the law works and the wheels of justice do not grind to a halt. Digressing again, eh! As I drifted towards the end of may dream. I dreamt that many African countries, including Ghana, had been arraigned before the International Criminal Court or ICC at the Hague for not meeting the MDG milestones which were set by the UN under the watch of our own man, Busumbrum Kofi Annan.
It was a foregone conclusion at the sittings of the international jury that Ghana and others were going to be fined a huge amount of money for project creep or slippage. I dreamt that a huge umbrella-like dark cloud (kukrudu-akatamanso agweradaa) cumulus cloud was hanging over the whole of Ghana like an albatross or the sword of Damocles. The malevolent cloud did not show any signs soon of having a silver lining, nor giving us some flashes of thunder to see some hope in our dark labyrinthine tunnel. I dreamt that the smog-like cloud was making it hard for people to breathe. Some Ghanaian nurses and some youthful entrepreneurial scientists had made improvised oxygen masks which they were vending off at exorbitant prices and making a fortune. The life-saving mask was far beyond the reach of many indigent and impecunious citizens.
My cell phone alarm went off and I was jolted from my bed. I thought I had slept like Rip Van Winkle for 20 years. Of course, Van Winkle had drunk the wine from those barrels which the strange red-coat clad dwarfs and waifs had given him in the Catskill Mountains near the Hudson River, somewhere in Alleghany. I checked my hair to see whether I had become bald like Winkle. None of the above had happened.
To celebrate waking up from such a long dream, I broke protocol and reached for a half bottle of Johnnie Walker Black Label at the head of my bed, which I kept for my visitors. I needed to exorcise the bad dream. I poured some four fingers or double shot, poured some libation to the gods of Ghana to dispel the bad omen, and downed the glass of brownish stuff neatly down my throat. I began to sweat profusely like a pregnant fish. It steadied my nerves and cleared my brains of the cobwebs from my dream. Hopefully, the alcoholic beverage would be therapeutic in removing butterflies from my belly, get the toad out of my throat, perhaps to kill off the nematodes in my pot-bellied stomach.
I trusted the whisky would take care of all trichostronglidae and nematodes (worms), for I detest catching a bout of nematodiriasis. When I checked the date thereafter, it was the 1st April 2013. I said to myself, ‘What an April Fool dream!’ My phone rang and my cousin Paa Kwesi Mintah in Sylvia’s Restaurant in New York was on the line. He intoned, ‘Cousin Namesake. Have you heard the latest greeting in Ghana? A colleague professor, Akadu Mensimah came over at the weekend from Pennsylvania and she was staying at the Astoria. She said, people greet, ‘ Mema mo dum soo oo.’ Then you reply ‘Yaa Mahama. Maama. Omansuo Kufuor gallon. Jato Julor necklace….,
Cousin Paa Kwesi Mintah warned me, in his telephone conversation, not to leak the latest tit-bit in the grapevine to Professor Kwame Okoampa Ahoofe Jnr Phd, because he was likely to steal the idea for his next novel and make money out of it by vending online. I promised Cousin Mintah that I would keep glum over it. As a man of honour, my word is my bond or as they say in Latin, ‘Meum dictum pactum.’ I throw away salute to all una Ghana wey dey inside Ghana proper proper oh! You don try well well. Una you ibi people of the moment. Make you kuku tanda kul33 kampe! We go see una soon oh! Twa, Omangye aba. Tufiakwa!
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