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He is probably the most important person in the republic but no one ever remembers him. He rarely gets into the news until a sudden natural disaster strikes. That is usually when people begin grumbling that he failed to warn all and sundry about the coming mishap. If you think I am referring to the weatherman, you are dead right for all three points on offer for accuracy.

In the wake of the frightening manifestations of climate change emerging by the day, he is going to become even more important than all the news headline-happy politicians and so-called celebrities who keep making all the news. There appear to be significant changes in the features of the harmattan as we have always known it and I wish I could track down the weatherman to explain.

Before I explain why I need to interview the weatherman, let me draw your precious attention to curious facts about the harmattan, its characteristic severity in many parts of the Northern, Upper east and Upper west Regions and its changing features along the coast:

If the windiness, dust, depleted atmospheric moisture and atmospheric fogginess that have plagued Accra in recent weeks can be so severe in the national capital which is so close to the sea, folks might imagine what the weather is like up on the Savannah and especially those towns and villages close to the border with Burkina Faso and the rest of the Sahel.

Up on the Savannah, the harmattan has typically always been so severe that regular acquaintances meet without recognizing each other, because of the effect of the moisture-sapped, extremely dry and wind-swept dust on the physical appearance of people!

Then there is the severe cold in the mornings: “Going to Congo” was a common expression on boarding schools campuses across the northern Savannah in 1960s early 1970s. You only went to Congo if there was an acute shortage of water on the campus or the extreme chill of the harmattan at dawn made it impossible to take an ice-cold bath before class lessons.

Going to Congo meant washing the head, arms and legs only. You then combed your hair, smeared your skin with shea butter and came out all groomed, fresh looking and spruced up like the smartest dude in town, while in fact, you were all smelly armpits and sweaty skin under the outer garments.


The term was probably derived from the story of the Ghanaian troops who went to the Congo during the Second World War. Water was scarce and they learnt how to take a bath without really taking one.

The harmattan has remained dry and dusty alight, but except for the first few weeks this season, this harmattan has come with an uncharacteristic warmth that can only have something to do with climate change. The exact words are global warming.

Our greater preoccupation in recent weeks has not been the harmattan though: Whatever it is that drives reason and logic appears to have run riot and spiralled out of control in our republic and national sanity seems doomed to follow suit. That is what we have been worried about in recentt weeks

Imagine the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission approving the hiking up of electricity  and water tariffs by monstrous margins of between 60 and 50, while public sector wages remain the same.

To add to power consumers’ woes, new ‘development’ taxes have been added to the new tariffs.  In the process, an apparent mix of billing errors and strange mathematical calculations by the ECG, have turned electricity supply prepaid meters into something not too unlike the infamous malfunctioning coke vending machine:


You toss a coin into the machine and wait for your bottle of coke but nothing comes. You throw in another coin and the darned machine guzzles it up and refuses to deliver. It goes on until in your frustration, you start to kick the thieving machine with your foot but only wince in pain for all your troubles

There should be ways of protesting such cheating: Long before a chap called Mr Kofi Kapito led an agitated band of demonstrators through the streets of Accra protesting steep hikes in utility tariffs, I had always advocated that electricity and water consumers congregate in the streets from time to time and do some crazy and wacky things within the limits of the law, to draw official attention to our needless suffering when it comes to water and power supply.