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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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…and the republic gets a bunch of freed gangsters and a brand new commissioner as a result

As I have invited you before to note, Jomo, in Ghana, every idea, every town or village, every individual and indeed virtually everything that has a name and moves, has a political label stuck on it. If you walk into a Ghanaian household, you can easily discern that the house dog or the family cat is either NDC or NPP, without looking at the collar of the pet!

Football clubs, musicians, boxers, football players, contractors, journalists, newspapers, pastors, bishops all carry NDC and NPP labels. So quite predictably, the president’s newly appointed Electoral Commissioner Mrs Charlotte Osei gets an NDC label, whether she likes one or not.

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When I was working at the features department of the Daily Graphic, the receptionist called one morning to say there was a man waiting in the visitor’s area downstairs to see me. I was met by a slightly-built man of average height in his early 30s, who looked a bit distraught and staggered on his feet. Although it was only late morning, he had clearly had one tot of the famous local gin too many, and reeked like a distillery. His eyes were bloodshot.

The receptionist and a few people around stared at us mwith undisguised curiosity as we stared at each other, the visitor and I. He called out my name with a slur and attempted a grin. Then it hit me hard and I gasped: He had been a classmate at Teacher Training College in the Northern Region in the late 1960s. I remembered him as a crack hockey player on the college hockey team. He had been a leading member of the youth wing of one of the factions in the Kokomba-Nanumba war which broke out in 1994 and killed about 2,000 people.

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An Afari-Gyan autobiographical memoir would in all certainty fly off the bookshop shelves at home and abroad like free tickets to Heaven and a biographical movie about Ghana’s legendary Electoral Commissioner make one great grandmother of a screen blockbuster, don’t you think?

The man has presided over national elections in Ghana for the past 23 years and presided over five presidential and parliamentary elections in a neat row!

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I love the sound of falling rain, Jomo.  It soothes the ear and calms the soul. Rain cools the atmosphere and rids it of dust, airborne disease germs and other lethal and health-threatening atmospheric pollutants. When the heat and dust of the dry season become unbearable, we usually cannot wait to see the torrents come cascading down again, but as every resident of the Ghanaian capital Accra now knows, there is always a big catch:

Nearly every rainy season comes with the ever recurring problem of floods, a problem that has been attributed variously to a poor drainage system, the ugly waste disposal habits of city residents who have made a pastime of heaping solid waste into drains, buildings standing in the way of flood waters and the incompetence of city engineers who appear unable to stand away from the problem, survey it form a distance with a critical eye and proceed to fix it.

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…in search of wele, keta school boys and an obroni wawu coat

Once upon an incredibly short weekend, I went with the missus to the Tema Community One Market to shop for dry fish fingerlings (Keta schoolboys), fresh cow hide (wele) and some fresh vegetables for a meal of Savanna ‘TZ’, see? The missus seemed to know her way around place and we were done with the task in minutes. About a month later, I ventured back to the place alone and found myself trapped deep in the Labyrinth of Crete!

Even a veteran bush ranger armed with a state of the art compass of the future will get hopelessly lost in that market if he is entering the place for the first time. A labyrinthine maze of needle-narrow passage ways form a very complex network of connecting routes through the vast expanse of stalls and storerooms selling everything with a name.

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There are now as many radio stations across our mighty republic as there winking stars in a galaxy. The problem with some of them is their obsession with advertisements.

 

Let a radio station in Ghana cultivate a sizeable audience, and the next thing you know,  every programme on the station is intermittently interrupted by kilometer-long, never-ending lists of dull and drab announcements purporting to be advertisements of all manner of goods and services.

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In one episode in Charles Dickens’s Oliver Twist, Mr Brumble is accused of stealing jewellery. Mr Brumble insists that it was his wife who stole the jewellery. His solicitor explains that since Mr Brumble was present when Mrs Brumble allegedly stole the jewellery, “the law supposes that your wife was acting under your instructions.”


Outraged by such bizarre legal logic, Mr Brumble retorts angrily and ungrammatically, that “if that is what the law supposes, then the law is a ass, a idiot. The law is a bachelor.” Thanks to Dickens, the law has since come to be symbolized by the long-eared beast with along face.

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