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A literary critique

Letter to Jomo is a socio-politico-cultural mine of information which I recommend for aficionados of literary writing, and serious journalists who can learn from a style that takes their profession away from the mundane to a higher plane.

Many more will find pleasure in reading the letters for the beauty of language and matter in them as well as the accuracy of information that they provide. Generations to come will find them readable, enjoyable and a repository of information on Ghanaian social history.

Professor A. B. K. Dadzie

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George Sydney Abugri is a prolific, multi-award winning, Ghanaian newspaper journalist. He trained as a science and mathematics teacher, but migrated to journalism after a decade of teaching. 

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What is it with the Chinese and sports stadia in Africa, do you know, Jomo? The very first and last time I saw China’s President Hu Jintao, he was busy commissioning a magnificent international sports stadium built free of charge by his government in the Tanzanian capital Dar es Salaam and creating a zillion-kilometer long traffic jam along a major street close to the stadium.

Have I ever told you before, how by a stroke of happenstance on that day, I lodged at the Dar es Salaam Movinpick with the Chinese president, who had an entire wing of the facility all to himself and how I got into a spot of real bother with some security guards on account of Mr. Jintao’s presence at the Movinpick?

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We were taught this nursery rhyme in the very early 1950s about a bloke called Roger who died and went to his grave, see? A mango tree is planted over old Roger’s head. The tree grows tall and its fruits are ripe and ready to fall. A bloke comes along and plucks them all. This gets old Roger hopping mad in his grave. He jumps out and fetches the intruder a hefty knock, sending him sprawling to the ground…

When scenes of indeterminate environmental stimuli unfold before our eyes at the funeral of our departed president, who can blame us for joining the ranks of those inclined toward superstition and the metaphysical, Jomo?

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Standing rooted to the middle of a room for three millenniums trying to figure out what the hell it was I came in to pick up, has become a daily source of annoyance but is probably a smaller price to pay in the ageing process than the crinkly mass of grey that keeps capping my skull, Jomo.

One of the other less mundane sources of daily annoyance is the deliberate mixing up of politics with matters of social organization and order. Consider this: Ghana has managed to rise up to the topmost ranks of the list of countries in the world with the worst road accident fatalities.

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We have lost our sovereignty all over again, Jomo, not to any marauding colonial geopolitical adventurers this time, but to the rabid sharks of the international money market: Imagine providers of goods and services refusing payment in a sovereign nation’s currency and demanding payment in the currency of another country!

If this is not stark, raving lunacy, then my name is Okomfo Baron Munchausen. To take the madness far beyond psychiatric comprehension, Jomo, the authorities seem to find this discreet theft of the steel-hard won sovereignty of our great republic normal.

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What shall we say about the late president Mills who suddenly died on the nation and come to think of it, quite literally on his feet, on Tuesday afternoon? That strange though it may sound, he won a race he did not finish and became the first president in the nation’s political history to die before the end of his first term and only four months to the next elections?

That he paid his dues in patriotic service in full, having served as university teacher, vice-president, taxman, football club administrator and president?

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The buzz in town, Jomo, is that while foxes and vermin have holes to crawl into for some shut-eye after dark, the distinguished mayor of Accra could soon be as homeless as the tramps and squatters he has hounded out of unsightly clusters of make-shift dwellings in the capital and some of its suburbs in recent times

What is worse, Jomo, Mayor Vanderpuiye may have to start working from under a big shade tree at the Holy Gardens or some vacant car garage large enough to hold his files and computers. That is unless he is planning to ask us over-taxed tax payers to give him the money he will need to rent an office.

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Like a model all set to receive the pageant queen’s crown, a totally, physically transformed Amina Mohammed graced the pages of newspapers this week, a suddenly full-bodied, angular, buxom, voluptuous woman wearing a smile requiring only the slightest stretch of the lips to set the world alight. Strange, Jomo. Inexplicably strange, this world.

At the beginning of her politically-charged trial, the 25-year old mother of three was as haggard, apparently traumatized and skinny as an already famished refugee at the end of a one-year hunger strike. Relatives did their best all the time to keep her face shrouded from the lenses of predatory television and press cameramen.

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