The Bard of Dzelukope!

Words are not really my niche like that. I periodically go for the Ehalakasa talk parties, but I guess my appreciation for the deeper and finer African poetry and prose started when I met a young chap in Bontsetse’s room some years back in college. HIs interesting name is: Kurt ‘Kuvuki’ Woelinam Dziewornu-Norvor. Brilliant chap he is, and this piece he shared with me years ago, I share with you today. When I first read it, I felt it!

For me, it embodies that freedom, sadness and bliss that Mark Twain captured in his Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn classics.

Enjoy my favorite verses of the piece: Larry Johnson.

My name is Larry Johnson.

I have seen Shakespeare in action and danced with Lady Gaga;
but never took a cue from his satirical philosophies,
neither did (I) learn from her wild fate in elusive dreams.
Hamlet had a weakness, I have a weakness too;
I drink like a fish and stagger like a palm tree facing the Monsoon.
Who is to blame? Destiny or fate?
Contentment indeed comes from within.
You and I cannot change or control the world around us,
But we can change and control the world within us.
My Mother once said to me, if you become a soldier you will be a Major,
If you become a monk, you’ll end up as the Pope Benedict.
Instead, I became a writer and ended up as myself.

My name is Larry Johnson and I fell in love.
I believe in myself enough not to doubt my relationships or my decisions.
I am a lovable person, who gives as much love as I receive.
The truth, I never got the love I gave in return; I am scorned.
Her name is Adzo, my heart, my night and my sun.
Eve gave Adam fever and Adzo was my fever.
She saw the ignorance of my youth and I was a fool for her love.
ADZO broke my heart, shattered my dreams, yet I love her.
Today I sit on the shores of Keta and mourn; Adzo now lingers in my subconscious,
gone and never to return; Sweet Adzo, my love for you is unending.
Indeed I am still Larry Johnson but broken hearted.

Check out his other works here at his blog, and please make sure to tell him to make his blog as vim as his writing!

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Ain’t nobody smiling…

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It’s was my birth month in August and I am grateful for my life and the journey it has been.

That is me up there, young, naive, sad, lost, puppy eyed….and a very sad looking, gloomy face. Interesting thing about this picture is that there was a party going on around me, and I chose to be gloomy. For a long time, this was how I was living: always seeking external validation, angry with the world and many MANY other negative emotions. If I have any regrets, that phase of my life might be it.  No regrets though, looking back, I am grateful I passed through it; (luckily) I had great mirrors who showed me who I was and who I could be if I chose to change my perspective of life.

I chose right, I chose to live fully.

Weekend City Show and Djellaba moments.

Typically, I try to keep it at one post a month; so when I do more, it probably means it might just be worth it!

Saturday 18th July, I wake up at 6am, do my usual routine: clean the abode, deep breathe, visualize, crap  etc etc. At 7am, I tune in to Citi FM, to listen to Ramy’s show, it helps start my Saturday right with humor, positivity and high energy! He didn’t fail me at all. He dropped some quintessential Ramy jokes and some great word plays – Lexophilia it is called. 31 minutes later, I switched over to Joy FM as I heard that the crazy duo, Ato and Rudy were back on radio.

The next hour and thirty minutes were pure ROTFLMAO moments! I was supposed to have been working out during the period, but I just couldn’t concentrate. There was a third partner in crime with the duo – Araba I think her name was and she was just the right partner. No wonder they were smelling her like that. Her backing vocals to Ato’s R-Kelly song was worth a Grammy – no be joke!

My Saturday and in fact the whole weekend was great thanks to these great radio personalities – and of course plenty thanks goes to the parliamentarians and second-first lady for providing useful content, which in Rudy’s words are indeed not sexually transmitted.

If you are in Ghana and you don’t listen to either the Citi or Joy FM Saturday morning show, you’re missing out big time. And no they’ve not paid me payola for this.

After the show, in a very high spirit and absolutely beaming, I stepped out to engage my neighbourhood .(I was visiting an Aunt for the weekend)

In recent times, I have come to love the functionality of a Djellaba as a very useful piece of clothing for the Sub-Saharan African man, considering the obviously hot climate and Fela’s Gentleman song; as such, I am most likely to be seen dressed in one at home or in the neighborhood. Being a Saturday too, the Jehovah Witnesses were abroad; sharing the good message of God and those beautifully designed magazines (I’m a sucker for the Awake one – great content!). Now, coincidentally, this particular weekend also happened to be the weekend of Eid al-Fitr.

Now it gets interesting. Pay attention.

In my nicely nurtured goatee, Djellaba and over smiley face (thanks to radio), I definitely looked like a Muslim ready to celebrate Eid al-Fitr after a month of fasting! I guess the Jehovah Witnesses thought so too. They didn’t even give me eye contact to even think of sharing the good news with me – or even give me Awake! Oh Chale! When it finally dawned on me, I burst out laughing. The power of wrong perception.

So, in my usual go – getter attitude, I decided to approach any Jehovah Witness myself – after all, I wanted the new Awake magazine. Unfortunately (they must have been reading my ‘Muslim’ mind) none of them appeared in my vicinity again. Oh Joe!

The experience immediately cast my mind to M.anifest’s Suffer song and how people have been wrongly judged due to their name, race and religion. Who said we don’t unconsciously judge?

Anyway, the Saturday eventually ended well; Awake or no Awake. My great Muslim neighbors brought me some good food and I didn’t joke with it koraa.

Lots of Love to all my Muslim people I haven’t seen in awhile. This one is for y’all. Happy Eid, and I look forward to the bigger one.

Adukrom, Foase-Kokobin and back.

Two amazing people were buried this month. In my opinion, their lives were lived fully; though they will be sorely missed, it is for the reason that they lived fully, passionately, meaningfully and adding value to people that it will be so. I knew one personally – though only briefly and the other; I wish I had known, maybe even briefly.

Have you ever met someone and from the get go you just felt good about them? Your inner being, for some strange reason which rationale cannot explain just knew that there was something right about them; some kind of good virtue(s) seemed to radiate from them. That was my first impression when I met Dzig’s couple of years ago. She seemed so peaceful and calm and like that generation of women, there was motherliness radiating from her – the kind which wants to feed, pamper and protect even when you physically become way bigger than her. She was a very nice woman.

We buried her over the weekend, and I was there to honor her memory and support a friend who is more like a brother – J.K. Her final resting place was in Adukrom and there is a lovely story to this which I can’t help but share. Simple, but truly lovely. Adukrom happens to be the hometown of her husband; apparently, they had both arranged and agreed to be buried in the same place. Whilst many were touched by J.K’s dad’s tribute, the depth of the love they shared was evident by this rather simple choice of final resting place. This is true love; the kind that the dozen or so telenovela’s on our T.V’s are not showing – and they are now asking me to pay more TV license fees (sigh).

J.K appeared strong throughout, but the sunglasses didn’t fool me; when the casket was being lowered, a couple of peopled raised their heads up in some sort of defiance – defiance of the tears which wanted to freely flow. J.K was one of them. Me too.  Joe, wu y3 den koraa a, wu be su!

In a part of the world were top level managers can be somewhat cold and overly arrogant, the kind of love which was shown throughout the burial of the late Kwasi Brenya was evident that he did not fall within those labels; matter of fact, he was not a manager, he was a leader!  A little research on him reinforced my belief that you can be a good leader and human being at the same time – especially in Africa. Here was a man who was pivotal in creating what is arguably one of the most prominent and successful indigenous conglomerates in Ghana and I had never heard of him. His genuine interest in people was quite obvious: I am a great lover of good music, and the development of various generations of contemporary Ghanaian music was influenced by this man – definitely, his pivotal role in managing one of the most successful media groups in West Africa did much to promote Ghanaian music and artistes as a whole. Specifically, managing one of the all time greats is a different story altogether. The effects of living a life aimed at giving value to other people, increasing their worth holistically is something which was clear in Mr. Brenya’s life.

Another great lesson I learned from his funeral ceremony was this: When you live, do all the good you can and work hard, really hard; develop yourself and those close to you in all regards, especially financially – for life is best lived in abundance (Nay Sayers can choose to live in darkness) so that when you go, you will be celebrated in style and sorely missed.

Work hard, play hard, die fly!

Undeniably, all this funeral business touched me Someway Bi; but I was inspired and enlightened by the perspective of King Mawuli on our way back from the mountains: death as not necessarily an end, but maybe just a beginning; somewhat like the process for the formation of a beautiful butterfly. Our days on this earth might be  our wormy days; when we go to sleep and the silky treads of death wrap around us, we might only be changing form to become that awesome thing of beauty which far surpasses the worminess we once were…Papilio.

 

 

New Playlist: Rap, Soca and Brymo.

New month, new playlist.

I remember as a kid, I used to love the Saturday morning Weekend CIty Show on Joy 99.7 fm. Back then I didn’t know who used to host only that he had a great music mix and funny jokes (which somewhat helped my intellectual development). Imagine my surprise when I find out that the same man – Rami,  now hosts my current favorite Saturday show on Citi 97.3 fm!  Chale, the man made me reconnect with my past couple of weeks ago considering I haven’t enjoyed a great radio show in while. Ever since he played Byron Lee’s Soca Butterfly some weeks ago, I have infused some Soca into my current playlist for good reason.

Soca is one happy genre of music and you can’t help but dance when it plays. The Soca artiste who really fascinates me is Black Stalin. Black Man Feeling to Party makes me definitely want to party and assuredly can make him Calypso King for me anyday. It was Burn Dem which really got me ROTFLMAO. When I actually listened to the lyrics as against just dancing to the song, I laughed endlessly and had it on repeat the whole day. Mehn! makes me imagine what I’ll do when I get the chance to usher people in at heaven’s gate myself.

This month’s playlist is filled with some rap songs too. Paedae aka Omar Sterling’s Nineteen Ninety and Sarkodie’s New Guy are definitely on it for much more than their obvious trending appeal. I like the ‘too-known’ mannerism and lyrics in them period! My favorite line in Nineteen Ninety being: ‘…the only high be skydiving; which kind high be this?..’

I haven’t yet added Flowking Stone and PonoBiom’s collaboration – We Bad but it is a great one.

My main playlist focus though has been with Brymo’s Tabular Rasa album.

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Yup, I know, it was so last year right? But I have the Palm soup syndrome – (They say) Palm soup never tastes nice when fresh, eat it (and in this case listen to it) some 2 days after and it tastes glorious as all the ingredients would have dissolved well well.

Brymo is a champion! His Instrumentalists are champions!! Every song on the album is champion; no wonder quite a number of good reviews have been written about it and deservedly so.

Femi is definitely my favorite; Why? it has an Agbadza feel to it and being from Agbadzaland, I can relate. But what really ICBM blew my mind was that amazing transitional portion of the song (around 2:04) where just as he sings: ‘ ….make our body collide…’, the guitar effect comes in: wah-wah-wah. I go giddy.This is music!!! Ah omor, you too much.

Definitely, Prick no get shoulder gets me smiling in a devilish way but the meaning is deeper than my deliberately shallow mind would want to comprehend so I’ll leave it as such and keep on singing: ‘Prick e no get shoulder, e put en head, the rest enter’ hehehehe.

The conductor who manhandles the bus driver in 1 Pound is reminiscent of a fight I recently saw in Madina market between a trotro mate and his driver. While it was quite hilarious, I wonder why before they fight, they have to remove their shirts and puff their chests while breathing heavily – chale, the fight no start sef be this?

The deepest emotional connection I made with the album was with the song Dear Child. It reminded me of some of my own granny’s words and ways from back in the day. I’m sure both Brymo’s gran and my Sister Paris are up there in heaven watching us do our thing.

I cannot but agree with the many people who believe this is an album even Fela would be proud of. Most definitely.

That’s it for the music.

Ahhh…so when I was not listening to the good music, I was bonding with an amazing person I met last month check that story out here (with her permission of course).

FFL. RiRi (Coded)

I met her as I was leaving the library. I wasn’t going to talk to her but the force insisted so I did. Thank God for Dumsor! (finally something good came from it) because when she got to a very dark section of the road, she paused to contemplate whether to proceed; and there I was, Sheepdog, to guide her through the treacherous darkness!

We ended up talking for about 5 minutes afterwards and I found out she loves the arts, music and acting. I completely forgot to call her till after a week when I had to call an Aunt who has a name similar to her’s. My gosh, i meet and talk to people as a daily routine but to meet someone so jovial and passionate about life – maybe this is my first this year.

She also loves Rihanna and red lipstick. She is exuberant but deep down, she’s quite introverted. I don’t remember what she looks like, but we sure do have some great conversations.

Take some time out to randomly say hi to some stranger this month and make the world better. You never know the butterfly effect you’d have.

I nearly died!

We recently lost a good woman. A mother. In this day where some ‘mothers’ can take their (footballer) sons to Mallams so that their brains will ‘wonyor’, we truly lost a mother.

My good friend, JK Stone lost his mum last week. Oh mama Dzigs you left us too soon!

This would have been my shortest post because I’d have ended up there; yet, something happened to me last night and divine providence demands that I continue this piece. I nearly died last night. A scorpion stung me in the chest!

Well, by the time I had finished editing the Dumsor piece and written this short piece for Mama Dzigs, it was well past 12 midnight. I took a quick shower and retired. Couple of hours later, I felt something moving on my chest. I don’t really know what happened but I guess might have slept on it because it stung me and my body’s reaction of fight and flight obviously kicked in. I pounded the critter with my fist and bolted outta the bed. It took me a full 2 minutes to unfreeze and comprehend what had happened. I proceeded to check for others just in case. Luckily there weren’t any – and luckily it wasn’t a big one.

SAM_1241Yup, that’s him/her.

Interestingly, I didn’t notice the swelling till this afternoon. I’m fine now and  I’m frigging happy to be alive, and to know that in my most vulnerable mode, the old man up there looks out for me. It is also evident that my purpose is not yet over.

This is much more reason for you also to #Live: No regrets, No excuses!

#Dumsormuststop. What it really was.

Dumsormuststop, was more than just a procession/vigil/demonstration or whatever the media and public would like to call it; the general media coverage, analysis and reportage was lacking in depth my opinion so I have chosen to do a better job so that the efforts of all of us who were there will not be wasted!  I can write in an unbiased, uncensored way because sometimes such feelings and expressions best convey the true meaning of the message; plus, I don’t have to fear about loosing my job for not writing in a trending manner. For the record, I must say that the current Ghanaian media is not fully aware of it’s potential.

Anyway, let’s get to it.

Saturday 16th May, 2015, the creative industry in Ghana leads the Ghanaian public on a vigil/walk/demonstration to express dissatisfaction about current light off problems – but was that all it was? I believe not.  It was instigated, organized and led by a new generation of Ghanaian: a younger, more assertive, rebellious and restless generation. A generation whounderstands that the darkness we are experiencing is only an expression of the darkness of our minds and hearts. A generation that understands that erratic lights out is just one of the many social ills plaguing our society. A generation that has found it’s voice through it’s creatives; a generation finally awake – hopefully.

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When you possess light within, you see it externally. ~Anaïs Nin                                                  

The opposite is also true

 

SAM_1161We got to this state of affairs because of the failures of a redundant cultural system and generation.

SAM_1175‘We are a generation of action’. – Elorm Adablah (E.L)

This was much much more than it was interpreted to be; this is a youthful generation stepping up, to prompt us all of a deteriorated and still deteriorating system thanks to failure of other generations to utilize effectively their God given freedom – the freedom of expression- amongst others.

When did it become normal in our society for basic human needs like electricity and water to be a luxury? When did acquiring good grades for young women become dependent on how good you can sex your pot-bellied, he-goat lecturer? How bad is it that the police on the street can be bought for GhC 1 and a Benz 207 bus first manufactured in 1977 can still be road worthy? When did we become renowned for our time ethics, earning us a GMT different from Greenwich? When did it become normal for people to shut up and allow corruption to become so rampant? When did abnormality become normal? When did Pastor or Politician become the only professions little children dream of? Why did we become so passive?

I believe that these are some of the deeper questions which were really being asked at the vigil.

The organizers and participants might not know it, but their actions might just have put in motion a much needed social change. Of course the many nay-Sayers are cynically asking what effect the action will have on the current situation…..hmmm; from the little History I know and my misunderstanding of the Chaos theory, no ‘small’ action goes unnoticed in nature especially when there’s so much decay. Change is coming.

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There was a ban on noise making? Ahh, the noise was loud! (I think the gods of the land koraa were in support cause them no vex with the noise)

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed it’s the only thing that ever has.
-Margaret Mead

 

 

Current Playlist. What I’m feeling

I really liked this year’s Ghana Music Awards for the fact that deserving artistes were recognized. So big up Charter House! We love it when good music is appreciated.

Talking of good music, I have been using the Deezer service for the past weeks and I absolutely love it just because for once, (correct me if I’m wrong) there is a service which provides a whole assortment of contemporary African music!

My music preferences and rantings have mostly been skewed towards the rather unknown, Indie, or old-school stuff for the only reason that I feel  the music quality is better.

So these are the newer songs I have been listening to for perhaps the past 3 weeks with my older stuff.

R2bees – Makoma

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Any song that has an intro of ‘this is highly spiritual’, has to be highly spiritual, equally entertaining, or be the biggest scam of the century –  like MayPac; but, Makoma by R2bees is no scam. Without a doubt, it is a contemporary classic. I like the fact that the experimental nature of the group is paying off and catching on. These Tema youngmen, from their inception  have never followed the trend – they have created them. This song is timeless and has shown that they really understand the art and business of music. My only unhappiness was the video. Now don’t get me wrong, it was a good video, shot by arguably one of the pioneers of the current videography movements we are experiencing – Nana Asihene. However, I felt the abstract nature of the video didn’t capture the feel of the song. Maybe I have been subconsciously programmed to associate palm-wine feel high-life songs to village scenes and an enactment of the story in the song etc, but that’s exactly the point. It’s like having Fan yoghurt or chilled Coca Cola on a bloody hot day – it just feels right!

But that’s me. Great song no doubt and I’m doing DJ Black’s Wofa B’s dance on it.

Kwabena Jones.

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His dzimi face perpetually cracks me up. Yeah Mein!

Most people have not even heard of him yet and it’s sad oh! Great music! Thank God for Deezer! Check out his album: Songs I Wrote When I Was thinking the Things I Was Thinking So I Recorded It Yeah Mein! (yeah that’s the title). My favorite song on it is Can U Boogie dan Me? Really can you?

Dark Suburb.

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These guys make me see a bright future to Ghanaian music, though they embody darkness. When I become a father – soon, I now truly feel that I can share the music of my generation such as their I dey feel you die and the ‘who dey craze’ song (what’s the title? they performed it at the VGMA’s) with my children without being shy. I mean if the originator of this hip-life movement is impressed with them, it’s gotta mean something.

Joey B – Otoolege

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Joey B is another artiste who I can rightly label as experimental and progressive. He plays with various genres and makes it work successfully. Otoolege is the most played on my I-pod shuffle! He’s good with the language and combines nicely with Samini Alhaji 1.

But as for me, no woman will do me Otoolege because I am a super chompia!

Sarkodie – The Masses

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Straight to the point, from the heart, truthful and in your face. It asks a lot of Ghanians questions about their passive nature. I respect an artist who knows when to address relevant social issues and addresses it well. He offers a from the ground perspective and you have to respect him for doing it. Another reason I’m into this song is that Sark is showing people in the creative industry – the ‘star’ labelled people that they have to realize the influence they can have in bringing about social change. I hear there is a star-studded demonstration coming off soon. I hope it doesn’t become a high school ‘i was here som’ Instagram gimmick. Bless you Sark!

New Swing Sextet – Monkey See, Monkey Do.

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I like different things. I like this song mainly for the salsa influence and the musical nature. Get’s my monkeyness on.

In a couple of weeks I’m sure I’ll have a different playlist and I will share on my next playlist post.

Live!

In Ghana, Charlie does not mean friend oh!

Charlie? Chaplin?

First off, let me define some terms because I’m sure most of y’all have read the title of this post wrongly. So look at it again and come back…….

According to Wikipedia, Charlie \tsa-li\, is a common nickname for Charles and less commonly for Charlotte or Charlene. On the other hand, Chale \tsa-lay\is a Ghanaian word of Polysemous properties  so I can’t begin to define it – Chale.

I have some great Nigerian friends whom it took me about 4 months to teach how to pronounce Chale properly. They were in the habit of saying Charlie and it really used to upset me that my wonderful Ghanaian word of multiple meaning was not being pronounced well. I can pardon my naija massives especially when I currently hear how they even pronounce Sarkodie: \Sar-kor-di\ paa! Lool. But imagine my vexation when throughout last year and this year too! some big local brands were misspelling the word. Herr Chale! Word to the branding and marketing team of those companies: Chale, Charlie no be Chale oh! Aaah.

Now that I cleared that off my chest, lets get down to the main business of the day. Some people (boring people) have the misconception that Ghana (Accra) is boring. What?!!!…. but no time for me to get emotional; so I decided to create a hangout guide for enjoying Ghana/Accra from a #RealerNo point for view.  Shouts to my friend: Peagama for sharing his private top spots to hang out with me, that inspired this.

Disclaimer: Nobody is paying me to advertise their place. I take no credit for knowing these places and do not by any means propose they are the only vim places.

Music – Real Music

If you are not a clichéd person and really want to experience great music and performances, especially from Indie artistes, you are in luck these are my top places.

Alliance Francaise Ghana: Throughout the year, Alliance hosts great musical concerts featuring great artistes both main stream and underground. The quality of shows there is awesome! Anytime he’s in Ghana, Blitz is likely to play here. EL had a major concert, the BARS concert last year and it was packed. The beauty is that the damage is cool koraa. The highest I’ve ever paid for an excellent show was GhC20 p33! Chale! Checkout their website for events.

And oh yeah, aside from music, I gotta say that they are the current leaders in organizing contemporary urban cultural events in Ghana. No lie.

Goethe Institute Ghana: Another great place. There is a weekly jazz gig here. And regularly, really talented acts also play gigs here. While I am at here you want to check out their website also for events from weekly film shows amongst others.

Nubuke Foundation: For me, Nubuke is mainly two things: Contemporary African art and culture, and Poetry. Ehalakasa is poetry and spoken word in Ghana. The associated ambient music and occasional invited guests can bring any roof down – any day!

Ok, so this is for starters. The first quarter of 2015 is gone and my guess is for some of you, the stress has started building up.  Make sure to check out the links to places above, and schedule to go for some of the events. I’ve found some of these events to be the best de-stressers  (especially the music gigs). Who knows too, I might just meet you there!

PS: If you are a ‘scholarly’ person who wants more info on ‘Chale’, Check this blog post out. Very educative and interesting.