Where hides the child in us?

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It was a Sunday afternoon and I attended a wedding reception at church. It was an invite-only adult-only reception. On entering the hall, I realized the room was hot so I opted to sit outside until the distribution of refreshment. After all, isn’t that why we all go for receptions? 🙂

Naturally, I had nothing more exciting to do than to fidget with my phone and watch as others went in and out of the reception.

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At a point, I heard a small voice say, “Dzifa, come and let’s go.” Since I am called Dzifa, this caught my attention, although I knew I was not the one she was addressing. I noticed a child not older than seven holding the hand of a younger child and pulling her away from the hall.

A woman with them, their aunt/mum asked in anger where they were going. To this, the older child responded, “They say children is not among.”  I smiled. But then it got me thinking.

I don’t know how she had heard about being uninvited even before her aunt/mum had. But amazingly, she had just accepted this and was going away peacefully with Dzifa. Imagine she was ten years older, about seventeen. Imagine she was your age or my age. Will she do this? I know for sure that I definitely wouldn’t. My first action will be to ask aunt/mum why I am not allowed in and try to prove I deserve to be in.

Oh, yes. That was her aunt/mum’s reaction anyway. She was very upset at this rule. Why should she be given an invite but not be allowed to have her kids come along with her? She complained about this for a while and then asked the random lady sitting outside (yours truly :)) if she could leave the children with her for a while. I agreed, assuring her that I will be out there for a while.

Dzifa, the older girl (Joana, I came to know) and two others were left in my care. They screamed, played, talked…you know, did the things children have fun with.

At a point, Joana says, “If Sunday school was open, like we will go and play there and when the parents have finish, then we will go” (Joana’s grammar, not mine)

This young lady made me smile again. No care in the world. No desperation to be at the reception. She was just thinking of ways to occupy herself.

Somewhere, sometime, somehow in life, the child in us gets hidden. We lose our simplicity and trust. We worry about everything and assign reasons to why we are treated one way or the other.

Growth is necessary. Reflecting on the reasons why life happens this way or that is necessary. But sometimes, let’s be Joana. Let’s be simple, happy and free.

Be the child you once were once in a while in life. Life is too short to worry about everything.

Attention at First Sight

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This story could or could not be about me. Don’t ask.

Love at first sight is a concept I have never believed in. I mean how could all the chemical elements that combine to create this thing we call love happen in just one day and one moment? For my lack of belief, I like to call this encounter attention at first sight.

It’s been nearly six years since this happened but I have still been unable to figure out what it was. Was it the smile? The shy disposition? The cuteness that came as a result of the shy disposition? I can’t tell.

I attended my first meeting of a group in my church that late Saturday afternoon. Since it was a meeting to welcome new members, it was a day of introduction and interaction. This was going on when he arrived. At first glance, he intrigued me. Just by looking at him, I felt there were a lot of questions that I wanted him to answer. Only problem was I could not put a finger on those questions. Just when he had sat down, the moderator for the day introduced him and made a side remark about his late arrival. Everyone laughed while he covered his face shyly. I was not using Whatsapp then but I can say today that he really looked like the monkey covering his eyes. Of course, in a good way. In a cute way. A very cute way. I don’t remember what happened for the rest of that meeting.

The next time I saw him was at another church group meeting. This time, I was annoyed to realize he was part of this group as well. Worse still, he was the moderator for that meeting. I had struggled to keep his cute expressions out of my mind so seeing him was definitely not part of the plan for that day. I did all I could to avoid him.

About a week later, we had a retreat. Our group (the first one) was in charge of setting up. I got there at the required time and took active part in the set-up. The program went well. I paid attention. Not to him. Well, until the end when he was called up to give the vote of thanks. He walked up shyly. He spoke shyly. Confident, but shy. The curiousity I had on the first day returned. I silently ignored it. After we had packed up, it was time to say a prayer as a group when he announced that he had to commend someone, a new member who had impressed him by arriving early for the set-up and staying till the end. As he called on the group to give me a hand, my heart was jubilating at the prospect that I had caught his attention. Of course, that was not what I set out to do by responding to the call of duty to God but was glad that it had brought me a reward. Later that evening, he called to commend me once again. He had gotten my number from my ministry head. Wohoo! I was excited that we could finally break the ice.

Did that happen? Unfortunately, no. I had to endure the hard truth over the next few weeks – I was just a hardworking group member that he had commended.

The next heart-lifting moment came one Tuesday evening after Mass. I had put some books I was holding on a pew as our group shared the grace. Just when I was about to pick the books up, he grabbed them, gave me a wide smile and asked if he could walk me to my room. Of course I agreed. We took the fifteen minute walk chatting like friends who had known each other for years. I loved it so much. When we got to my room, he had an expression of wanting to stay a while but at the same time unsure if he could. I said nothing and he chose the latter.

Although he did not walk me to my room everyday after that, I was glad the ice had been broken. On the days he did walk me, we talked in a very relaxed way.

On the last day of the semester, he came by to bid me farewell. We talked as usual and shared our first true hug. There was something about that hug. A kind of confirmation that between all the walks and talks, I had fallen for him.

I thought the vacation was going to put a strain on our thin friendship. Was I wrong! He called me the day I arrived home. He called me every day after that. I called him too. The minutes we spent on the phone turned into hours. We sacrificed our sleep at night to chat. I finally got to ask him all the questions I could think of. The most interesting part was that the more I got to know him, the more he intrigued me. I never got to the point of knowing him enough.

One day, he broke my heart. Without knowing it of course. I finally gathered courage to ask about his love life. He told me that he had great ambitions to achieve before thinking about getting himself a woman who could be his wife. Ouch. I should have stopped there, right? But no. My desire to know him more did not die with those words.

On 31st night, I sent him a message thanking him for his friendship and for being a part of my year. His reply ended with a prayer that our friendship would go to greater heights. What did that mean? I pretended not to know.

Just before we resumed, he told me he would like us to have a discussion when we get back to school. I pretended not to think this was the moment I had unconsciously waited for. I convinced myself that there were several other things he could want us to discuss. The tiny voice in my head told me to stop lying to myself but I didn’t listen.

The moment arrived. We were sitting on my roommate’s bed. I could read the nervousness in his eyes. His words were fewer. He seemed restless. And then, he finally said it. He had found a treasure and that treasure was me.

I lost view of the world I was sitting in and entered another world. He smiled and I smiled back.

How I got my driver’s licence for the price of a driver’s licence

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Last week, I read a news item about a woman who has been arrested for duping people who paid to acquire passports through her. Among many comments on Facebook were several that were variants of “It is impossible to acquire a licence or a passport in Ghana the right way”. I decided that my very annoying story must be told just to prove it is possible. Now this story is not in any way suggesting that corruption does not exist in these offices or getting these seemingly ‘easy’ items is not quite cumbersome. I just want to prove it is possible, full stop. Just possible. Stressful, yes. But possible.

When I had to get my licence in 2009, I wanted to debunk the theory that it was impossible to get a licence the right way. It was the path I decided to choose. Coupled with the fact that I want to see the extent to which it is possible to survive in Ghana without paying a bribe. Great ambition, but difficult to achieve.

My first time in the DVLA office in 37 for my licence was in February, 2009. I do not remember the events quite clearly but I do know this initial stage was not painful. I filled the required forms, got my learner’s licence and was given a July date for my written test. I paid a total of GHS 36 that day. In July however, I had to prepare for school so I did not take the test. I had heard the penalty for changing a test date was GHS 5 so I decided to relax and take the test during my long vacation in June the following year.

June 2010. I  reported at the DVLA office to take my test. Before the test started, a security man (I believe) strolled round the room to check the test date slips. When he informed me I needed to pay the penalty, I simply asked where I had to go to, my GHS 5 ready. I got to the counter and the teller asked me to pay GHS 50. For a second, I thought she was mistaken. I asked her to repeat herself. When I realised I was really supposed to pay ten times what I had budgeted, I asked for an explanation. I was told my entire receipt had expired so I had to start the whole process again but I be allowed to write the test that day. I was confused. Why did I have to pay for a learner’s licence, learner’s plate and books that I already had because my receipt had ‘expired’? Really? Receipts expire? When they have no expiry dates? When the teller realised I was not willing to let the issue go, she directed me to someone in ‘higher’ authority. My main argument with this man when I went to see him was if the receipt really had expired, why was there no expiry date on it? He calmly explained to me that a meeting had been held in February that year (2010) to change the validity of receipts issued by DVLA from 3 years to 1 year. Okay. Fair enough. So there was some expiration period. But hold on. This meeting was held in February 2010. My receipt was issued in February 2009. Dear friends, should I be affected by this new rule? Thanks for answering no. This man however did not agree with me. When I argued further, he directed me to go and see his boss. I walked out. Walked out of that DVLA office with the intention never to return. I didn’t know how I would eventually get my licence. I just knew they had annoyed me beyond reasoning.

Fast forward to 2013. A friend had just gotten his licence from the DVLA office in Tema and the process had been smooth. Sharp! Off I went. That was in June 2013. The cost for the learner’s licence etc was now GHS 80+. I was given a date in September for my test.
examSeptember 2013. I got to the office before 9 am. I took my computerized test around 10:30 am. I must mention here that one of the invigilators tried to get me to change one of my answers that was supposedly wrong. Apart from the fact that I did not believe it was wrong, I did not go with what he said because I wanted a clean slate so that I can tell this story some day to you, my lovely readers. I must also admit I was scared I might end up getting a mark shy of the pass mark but I built up courage. Those are normal fears that come with challenging the status quo. My results came and I had passed! (I had 23 out of 30; the pass mark is 21) The invigilator laughed at me and said I could have made 24. I laughed and told him I had passed after all. After all, this no be WASSCE. Anyway. I was given a date in October for my on-road test.

October 2013. I reported before 7 am at the office. I used a friend’s car for the test. Apart from forgetting to turn on my traffic indicator light (‘trafigator’) twice, everything else was perfect. The instructor advised me to always remember to turn it on and handed me my forms for the next stage. I was told to come back in a week. Ah ba! Charley, this one diɛɛ, I was frustrated. A young man told my friend and I that there was ‘a way’ to get it that day. Oya! I run away. No temptation!

Later in October 2013. I reported at the office before 8 am. At the final stage, I was told I needed to return my learner’s licence. I had left it in my friend’s car on the day of the test. How careless of me! I was directed to pay a penalty for that, but apparently, that was not valid. I left the Tema DVLA office and went to my friend’s house around Ashaiman to pick it up. When I returned with it, two workers in the office were surprised I had gone all the way for it. But that was the only solution right? Of course. I paid GHS 70+ and I was done.

If you see the photograph of my licence (no, I wouldn’t upload it ;-)), you would notice I look very tired and upset. That’s exactly how I felt when I got back, but hey, I smiled at the end. I had my licence. For the right price. (About GHS 160 in total then) And I can tell this story. It was painful. It wasted my time. But it was possible. And that is the moral of my story. If you have the time and the patience, go through the right way of getting stuff in Ghana. If we are able to slowly put the goro boys and connection men (and women) out of business, maybe, just maybe, corruption would begin to decrease in Ghana.

The question I have once asked myself is : “What if I urgently needed the licence for a new job or something? What would I have done?” My answer, I don’t know. Maybe I’d advise you to seek these things when they are not a necessity yet. But admittedly, that is a weak answer. I judge you not for having no choice but to pay someone because you needed it done urgently. I only want to prove that is possible. Full stop.

Got some good or bad DVLA/ passport office experiences to share? Leave it in the comments. Thanks for stopping by.

Where would you be in 15 years?

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A few days ago, I was heading home when I met a man who knew me by my name and happened to know all my family as well. He had a very familiar face. After a few minutes, I got to know how he we knew each other. He was the cobbler (shoeshine boy) who used to come by our house regularly to polish our shoes about 15 years ago! He told his cobbler stand is currently at the bus stop. I smiled, had a brief chat with him and left.

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As I left however, he got me thinking. Why should someone be working on shoes for fifteen+ years and his only ‘upgrade’ is a kiosk at a bus stop?

Or consider the bag repairer who told my mum that he used to sew bags for GNTC back in the 80s. Do you know where he is today? He is repairing bags by the roadside with a tiny, barely visible sign board.

I thought about these and concluded that being too content has been the killer for these two people. A cobbler walks from neighbourhood to neighbourhood seeking to make at least 5 cedis in order that he can feed himself that day. After hitting his target, he doesn’t go on to do more. He seemly closes for the day, grabs some food and joins his friends around the single television in the market to enjoy a good football match.

I am not in any way suggesting that relaxing is bad. Or maybe, one ought to break his back as he works each day. I only think many of us (including myself) tend to be too content with the little we achieve and do not push ourselves to do more.

We all know our true comfort zones and our true limits. Challenge yourself more. 15 years is too long not to have a significant change in earnings or status.

The next time the lazy bug bites you, ask yourself, “Where do I want to be in 15 years?”

Wake up and do more!

Runaway Love

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This is a confession.

You are the first to know about this.

Do not tell anyone. No one!

Back in the days when I was in SSS, I was one of those girls who seemed “hard” but was very soft at heart. To be sincere, I fell for several of the guys that I interacted with but I made sure to always give this very cool look like I was so disinterested.

There was this particular guy who was just so so interesting! Let’s call him Kwame. I met Kwame during one of the Interco days that I was on duty at the Red Cross stand. The beautiful thing about being at the Red Cross stand was that you were not supposed to cheer but only work, that is take care of the hurt athletes. Of course, one has to chat while working, right? So you can imagine how beautiful being at that stand was! I could spend my whole time during Interco “working” with guys while my mates would be shooed away to “shi gyama” anytime they were caught talking to a guy.

So back to Kwame. Kwame is not your average good-looking guy but there was something beautiful about him! He had a way with words which was understandable because he was a good writer. He had really cute mannerisms as he spoke and he told really interesting stories. He came to the Red Cross stand to visit a friend of mine who was his mate back in JSS. She introduced him to me and that was it! We spent the rest of the time together chatting away. Ei. Sorry! I mean working. I left with a smile across my heart.

The following day, I went back to Interco. Guess what? It wasn’t Kwame I met this time around. I met his friend. Let’s call him Ansah. Oh Ansah! Ansah was cuuuuute! I mean how could a guy be so cute?! And his smile? Charley! His eyes literally danced when he smiled. I didn’t need to talk to Ansah for too long before falling for him.

Shortly after Interco, my school had our Speech and Prize Giving Day. Interestingly, both Kwame and Ansah came around to see several friends in my school. After my family had left, I joined my other friends to chat with Kwame and Ansah. When visiting time was almost over, the rest of my friends left to prepare for prep but I stayed to chat till the warning bell went. I was mesmerized! I doubt I learnt anything during prep that day. In fact, prep right after visiting time was such a mistake! But well. Those were the rules.

Two weeks later, I knew in my heart that Kwame and Ansah would come to visit. No, neither of them had written but I just knew it. Unfortunately, that was the day “my too known came”. I was angry with myself for liking two guys who were friends at the same time and entertaining them every now and then. When it was visiting time, I went off to hide my self in a room that people study in during visiting time when they are very sure they would not get a visitor because it is the only quiet place on campus during that time. I “learnt” throughout visiting.

A few minutes to prep, I went to the house to get a snack from the pantry. Virtually everyone I met told me of the two guys from Botwe who came to visit me. I was told they waited for so long to see me but no one could find me. I feigned surprise.

I think I hurt myself that day. I spent prep thinking about the conversation that never was.

Women. Why do we run away from love sometimes?

Trotro Drama

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If you stay in Ghana and you take trotro as a means of transportation on a somewhat regular basis, you have definitely witnessed some drama on the road. Whether it’s a fight over 10 pesewas (which is very valid because the mate would never spare you if you owed him :p) or a mate getting annoyed because passengers are putting too much pressure on him to give them change or a driver getting angry because a passenger insists on getting down at a place that is only a bus stop when the driver wants to pick up someone but not when he has to drop someone or passengers lambasting a “preacher” because his preaching is centered more on money than God, it is always quite dramatic and sometimes hilarious. I know you have definitely witnessed one of these but I doubt you have witnessed what I witnessed. Which is why I want to share this with you!

On that fateful day, I picked a car from Madina to Ashaiman a journey of about 30km that can take about 45 minutes when traffic is quite minimal. As usual, the mate began collecting the fare right after we had left the station. Somewhere on the dual carriageway around IPS junction, while the driver was in the inner lane, a passenger in the front seat told the driver to stop. The driver was visibly confused and so was I. Why is a passenger asking the driver to stop barely 3km into the journey? The answer came right then because it was an “urgent” situation. Apparently, as the passenger was giving his fare to the mate, his money had flown out of the window. All this while, the driver was still moving (obviously) and so he was now too far away from where the money had fallen. Stopping would therefore have made no difference but the passenger persisted. The driver kept insisting that there was no way he could have stopped, one because there was no bus stop there and secondly because he was in the inner lane. The passenger was very annoyed with the driver because he had lost 20 Ghana cedis which was meant to pay the fare for four people. As the communication went back and forth, tempers rose and it turned into insults. The insults started on a small level and kept increasing as the level of annoyance of both the driver and the passenger increased. The driver by that time was in traffic so he had the “freedom” to concentrate on the argument. And then! Guess what happened next? A punch came from the passenger and this was followed promptly by a punch from the driver. Oh, I forgot to mention. There was a passenger sitting in between the driver and the angry passenger. More about this guy later. Let’s call him the silent observer.

After the passenger received his punch, he got very annoyed, opened his door and walked across to the driver’s side. Uh-oh! The mate and another concerned passenger quickly ran over to the driver’s side to prevent our angry passenger from opening the driver’s door. Meanwhile, in the car, an elderly woman who had been advising the driver and the angry passenger with a motherly tone to let go of the issue quickly prompted the passenger sitting next to her to move to the front seat. They were both on the first seat. She then turned to me (Yes! I played a role :-)) in my seat beside the mate to move to the first seat with her. That way, the only seat left for the angry passenger would be the seat next to the mate. At least that would keep him as far away from the driver as possible.

Did I say only seat? Well, it was until my most favourite characters played their part. Two ladies who were also on the seat next to the mate decided there had been too much violence for them to stay in the vehicle. Of course, they didn’t say that with direct words but proved it with action. They picked their bags and with grim expressions walked out of the car. They did it so swiftly as though they didn’t want anyone to change their mind. And yes, people did try to talk them out of it. One of course because they felt the ladies were overreacting but also because they had gotten down at a point between Okponglo and Shiashie, where it would be almost impossible to get another direct car to Ashaiman. Oh, I laughed at them in my head and my heart. They made my morning!

By this time, our physical fight had been prevented by the mate and the concerned passenger. The driver was still insulting the angry passenger who was now sitting beside the mate not saying a word. Some minutes later, when all was calm in the vehicle, the angry passenger called out to the passenger in the front seat, the silent observer (He mentioned his name, but it’s lost in my memory). It was only then that I noticed that they actually knew each other. This passenger had stayed quiet throughout the entire fight as though he had never seen the angry passenger before. I found that both funny and smart. Anyway, the angry passenger asked the silent observer to pass his bag to him. He took another 20 cedis and paid the fare for himself and the three other people he was commuting with. I kind of respected him for that.

I got down at the last stop so I know for sure that no other drama happened in the vehicle. Hehe.

If you know me well, you know I narrated my dramatic ride to my family when I got home. Can you imagine that my parents actually felt I had risked my life by staying in the vehicle? Their favourite characters were also those ladies who left the vehicle but for different reasons – they believed the ladies had been the most sensible passengers. I’m rolling my eyes. Parents…

History Interview

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I had an interview today. An interview with Thasha, a student of anthropology from the Netherlands who is doing an internship with Leti Arts, a company in the Mest Incubator. Sorry, can’t say much about Leti and Mest because I want to talk about my interview but do follow their links to check them out :-).

The interview lasted a little over one hour – longer than I expected. It was however interesting. It left me reflective. It left me reliving my past and acknowledging stuff I had not thought about in years.

Thasha’s goal was to basically explore my past and how my experiences have influenced my current career path. I learnt several stuff.

1. I realised I was a more privileged kid when it came to my exposure to technology. More privileged than I knew then or than I had acknowledged until my interview. Growing up, we had several computers in the house because it was the ‘dump yard’ for used computers. Basically, any time my dad’s office was refurbished, employees bought the old stuff at very reduced prices. Since my dad worked in the IT department, he got a lot of computers and brought them home. I used them eagerly and happily like it was the most normal thing for all primary school kids in the late 1990s. But apparently not. Thasha told me that most of those she had already interviewed had one or no computer at home. Wow, was I privileged!

2. This is more of a question. Is the story of Ghana Airways in the history books of Ghana? Do kids in school today know anything about Ghana once having an airline and that the company was liquidated at a point? When I mentioned my relationship with Ghana Airways to Thasha today, it hit me that probably some kids of this generation do not know much about it. Or do they?

3. I left KNUST with the deepest respect for only one lecturer who taught me for only one semester. This was a  visiting professor from the US who made me fall in love with my course the moment I walked into his class the first day of lectures. Professor Oblitey is the only lecturer I met who was willing to sacrifice so much for us to understand the basics of information technology. You know the most touching thing he ever did? He climbed through an open window on a day that TEWU was on strike to open the door of a lecture hall so we can have a class. We were all so awed that day. He was a lecturer with a difference

4. I love kids and I love spending time with them. I know I love kids, but as I reflected on the interview and realised how each stage of my life had this love painted across it, I see how deeply I love them. And how much my heart yearns to spend time with kids. If I do not do something focused on kids somewhere along my career, I would die with my music left unsung. I shouldn’t do that to myself.

5. I talk about my passions more than I can show for. I love writing. I have no doubt about that. But I have little writing to show for it. I love quotes, but I do not have a record of them and so I could barely give examples of quotes when I had just told Thasha that “I get inspired by quotes.” Talk is cheap. I must talk less and do more.

It’s amazing what an hour taught me. Maybe I should be having interviews more often. But better yet, why don’t I interview myself every day? Why don’t I take time off to reflect? I realise how self-reflection gives you a lot to be grateful for and a lot to re-work on.

I hope you join me to take time off each day to reflect on our lives. There is so much to learn in the process.

Who pays the taxi fare?

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No. This is not another article of the role of a guy and a lady in a relationship and no, I’m not going to tell a story about which of them should pay when they go for dates. If that is what you thought you were going to read about, you can leave now.

Okay, I really didn’t mean. And thanks for staying.

So I know a lot of folks have had this very annoying experience but I really want to rant about it just because I want to. It was a Saturday evening and I was just returning home from an evening out with my buddies. As it usually happens after dark, the ‘trotro’ station was closed so I could only pick a loading taxi home. Of course I could pick a dropping, but I mean…really 🙂

So, I got to the station and unfortunately, I was the first person in the taxi. Arghh!!! I was dreading this! First person means a long wait for the taxi to get full. So I sat down. And waited. And waited. And waited. Then a second person came along. Phew! Not long after, a third person too. And then we waited. And waited. And waited. Oh! We really waited! At that point, I said to myself that I should call the driver to come move the car so that I pay the extra ¢1.50. But you see, spending extra money is not fun. So I told myself I would wait about 5 minutes. Maximum, 10.

As I was having this money conversation with my inner self, one person at the back said in twi, “Friends, let’s each add an extra 50 pesewas so the car can move for it is late.” Silence. He repeated himself. Silence. A few minutes later my ‘time’ was up and with reluctance in my heart but great determination to get home, I called the driver and told him we should leave. He asked me if I would pay and I replied with this tiny bit of confidence that we would pay. And my ride home began. Finally! Mr. Suggester who spoke twi was the first to get off. He gave the driver ¢2.00 and mentioned it to me. I nodded in acknowledgement. I silently waited for Mr. Quiet Man to pay. Luckily, he got off before me. He too gave the driver ¢2.00. And then! He waited for his change! What?!!! I mean I kind of expected it but I didn’t really think it would happen. Get what I mean?

When he got off, the driver commented that the man’s “head is hard”, literally translating that from twi. So from his comment, I thought he would take only ¢2.00 from me. No oh. I gave him ¢5.00, he gave me ¢2.50. Ah ah! And ah again! No, I’m not ranting about 50 pesewas. I’m just ranting about the fact that someone happily enjoyed an ‘early’ ride but was not willing to contribute. I know you must not judge a book by its cover but honestly, first impressions really count. I can easily conclude that this is the kind of person who lives to benefit from stuff but is not willing to contribute at the very least to it. But anyway, I didn’t see his face so luckily he technically still has a clean slate with me. And the driver. He sympathised with me but collected the 50 pesewas anyway. Hehe. Okay, I can’t blame him for that. He wants to make his ¢6.00 anyway. Nothing, not even sympathy must stop him.

So to conclude, there must be a point to this ranting right? Of course there is. Simple. Be willing to pay for stuff if you want to benefit from it. It’s totally human to want to spend less if you can. My earlier conversation with myself obviously shows that I didn’t want to spend much. However, if you must contribute something extra for a good reason, just do it! It won’t kill you! Yeah, Mr. Quiet Man didn’t ask for the ‘early’ ride, did he? So he is justified. No he isn’t. Speak! Speaking wouldn’t kill you. Too many of us suck things up when our hearts are burning inside. Speak. It’s that easy.

Start today! Contribute! Pay to benefit! Speak! Do it now!

When Death Strikes

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Death. The one certainty that we would rather not hear about. Death is so final. It’s just the end. Last stop. Last goodbye. Never again would that person be seen alive here on earth.

There’s something that rings in my heart so much with respect to friendship when a person dies.

We as a nation are mourning someone that really made a mark here and went on to make impact outside our country. God bless Komla Dumor for the impact he made and may his soul rest in perfect peace. 

So what has been ringing in my heart? Ever since we heard of his death on Saturday, almost every station (radio and television) has run a program on him, particularly mentioning the fact that he made a lot of impact. As I listen to these programs, I also hear a lot of people pass comments that are variants of “We remember people only after they are dead.” I cannot help but agree with them. I know you agree too. I have lost some two or three friends in the last few years. Just after they died, their Facebook walls were filled with messages from their friends and loved ones. Facebook walls that had been virtually empty for days, weeks or even months. So it’s true, we only remember people in their death. 

But then I ask, “Do we like to be remembered while we are alive?”

Take this whatsapp conversation that I bet you have had at least once:-

Sender: Hello

You: Hi

Sender: Wassup?

You: Cool. U?

Sender: Cool too. Where are you now?

You: In school. U? 

Sender:I’m also in school.

(After a few minutes)

Sender:Well, I just wanted to check up on you. Have a nice day.

You: Oh ok. Thx. 

But deep down, you get this feeling of wasn’t that an annoying conversation? Or you wonder if the person truly contacted you to just check up on you. 

Another typical conversation:-

Sender:Hi. How are you doing?

You:Good. U?

Sender:Good. Could I get ABC’s number?

You:Okay. (Number sent)

Deep down however, you are saying to yourself “<Sender’s name> only remembers me when he/she needs something.”

This trend is too common in our fast-paced world that people would rather communicate with their colleagues and those they have a deeper relationship with. You know, those 5% of Facebook friends that are really friends. They wouldn’t want to be known as the person who only remembers his friend when he needs something. Neither would he want to have an awkward conservation just because he wants to do his best to be “checking on” his friends. 

So really, are we to blame to remember people only in their death? Wouldn’t it feel awkward if a radio station simply decides to talk a lot about a person throughout a week just to praise his good works at a point in time? I do not know about you but it would sure feel awkward to me. 

So can we say man by nature does not naturally praise people as often as they deserve praise? I really wonder a lot about these but honestly, I have no answers. 

What do you think? What kind of friend would you want to be? 

-A whisper from Dzifa

My Voice, Your Voice

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My voice, Your voice.

A voice. It’s amazing how unique voices are. We are all so familiar with the fact that we have thousand-and-one friends but we can easily identify who is talking when we get a call from a not-so-familiar number no matter how long it has been since we spoke to that person. I think it’s even more amazing how a voice comes out in a person’s writing.

I attended Bar Camp Accra on Monday. It was a great event as always! (Thumbs up to Ghana Think Foundation and all the organisers). Coincidentally, the two breakout sessions I joined had a strong relationship with the uniqueness of a person’s voice. There was one on personal branding which emphasized that we need to discover who we want to be known for and present this real person inside us in the most authentic way. And then, the creative writing session strongly encouraged us to make use of our unique writer’s voice.

What am I driving at? Let me get to the point already. Apart from Bar Camp being an event to share a lot of thoughts about issues that affect us and how we would position ourselves to be change-makers, it is also a great opportunity for networking. As this networking happens, you finally get to meet the faces behind the twitter handles that you are all too familiar with. And that is what was amazing to me! The faces resonated directly with the tweets I see. I can’t say I had in mind what the people behind the handles looked like but really, when I saw them, I just said to myself, “He/She looks just like I had imagined!”

Let’s take the leaders of the two sessions I joined. The personal branding session was led by Jemila Abdulai and Sir Eric Seyram A. I was not following Eric prior to meeting him, so I cannot say much about him. But Jemila. Listening to her felt like reading one of her blog posts. The soft voice, the carefully chosen words that seemed to have been born from long periods of thinking, even her gestures was exactly like the Jemila I have all this while unconsciously imagined. And then, Kinna Likimani, the leader of the creative writing session. She too had that frank touch with every word polished with her love for reading – just like I see on twitter! These are just two examples. I can say almost everyone did not disappoint my imagination.

What has this taught me? I realise how much the true me is the true me. Just as the true you is the true you. A desire to be someone else is never going to benefit me in any way. It sure would not benefit those around me either. I am just so unique! There is absolutely no one like me! Just like there is no one like you! I know this is something that we have heard countless number of times but I just want to re-echo it.

Ending with some thoughts from Sir Eric Seyram A., take time today to discover who you are, what you do best and why you do it. The ‘why’ element is what is most important and what would make your personal brand sell to others. People like you or not because of that ‘why’ element.

Enjoy the unique you always! You are too unique not to have time for yourself so make sure you always give yourself some ‘me’ time. 🙂

-A whisper from me