The 2015 change

I haven’t made a post in ages and now writing here feels weird—like stripping in public. Well, what better way to revive the blog in a coma than to reflect on one of the most impactful years of my life. 2015 was the year I graduated from college. It was the year I gave into severe habits that come with senioritis. I disappointed myself with horrible grades in my final semester of college. I intentionally became the recluse that most people already assumed I am. I embraced the warmth of my blanket almost 24/7 rather than the company of friends and family. I satisfied the barest minimum of performances required of me by my part-time jobs/projects and college classes and was satisfied with it. 2015 was the year that I was jogged out of the reverie of 20 years of continuous schooling into the realities of being 100% responsible for my controllable future.
Essentially, it was the year I chose to be least bothered by any circumstance or person. And as much as I developed bad habits and still entertained some detestable, yet sweet and sour addictions, I also got so absorbed in my failures over the past years (a hint of depression can be perceived here). I am the best actor I know and I got away with believable lies when concerned loved ones were kind enough to try to meddle.
I tend to be the purposeful realist and cynic. I exaggerate truths especially if they are negative and have to do with me. It is only natural that I would fail to see the little victories and progress that should have made me a happier person. Interestingly, I never really lost sight of God and His mercies, even though I hardly ever acknowledged Him as much as He deserves. I am glad, however, that I was able to see through the gloom to become a better person. Failure taught me a few shareable things!
Only dwell on the past when it has higher stakes in determining the future
Memories that don’t make you happy suck. Yes, and they steal from you. They steal your momentum, your smile, your ability to bounce back. I applied to several jobs and reached out to as many career opportunities but never succeeded at most. I beat myself up about the frustrations of not putting enough effort into scoring better grades, into preparing more adequately for job interviews, into studying harder. On the flip and positive side, none of these self-sabotaging actions helped me get a great three-month internship working from home or a job as a faculty intern at Ashesi University College this year. I wasted precious emotional energy and time wallowing in misery and self-doubt. Time and energy that could have been invested in bouncing back even harder and higher!
Pick yourself up and don’t fight others who are willing to help
It was hard getting my head in order. It was hard telling myself to STFU every time I got lost in debilitating thoughts but I did anyways. At least, I was willing to try. I tried but failed several times and God was still watching. So what did He do? He placed helpers in my way. It was only left for me to accept the help. I was stubborn but, fortunately, Vanessa, one of the helpers, was obstinate. We formed the best personal growth enforcement team I’ve ever known. We are not perfect, but at the very least, we are largely effective. I was now on my feet. What next?
Be proactive and fight yourself
I had to fight. You are your greatest enemy. If you haven’t come to that realization yet, then you don’t know yourself that well. Edwin, one of my brothers, visited home during the last weeks of 2014. He had grown a lot. He had learnt a lot. He didn’t understand why I was (mentally) stagnant, of sorts, career-wise. He said to explore more, try different things—new things, experiment! I was slacking, he said. I had to fight for what I wanted. Every day in 2015 was a battle against my lethargic self to be more proactive. The hustle was real. I wanted to write more, read more, take online courses and search for or create career development opportunities but my blanket, Japanese anime and my pillow were not in agreement. I had to confront and fight my greatest enemy. I started fighting my inertia only after graduation—sleeping only when necessary and being more mindful about decisions and plans. I decided to be less lazy. Though it was too late for my final grades, I believe my spirit is still alive so there is hope. That’s what matters.
Don’t lose sight of the good things and people
Vanessa once mentioned that what I considered success was so ideal that I had lost sight of the little victories I had which filled my bucket of successes, though seemingly infinitesimal. I hated to agree, but it was true whether I chose to see it that way or not. I had helped people understand concepts better in school and aided some friends in overcoming certain difficulties. I successfully completed daily tasks at work. I went out of my way sometimes to offer help when the need arose as a student and even now as a worker. To acknowledge this was to accept that patience, along with consistent baby steps towards better, productive habits was essential. She was not the only positive influence. I had good friends who helped in many other ways. I was a part of the Navigators Bible Study in school; everyone in the study helped me make sense out of my life as it were.

So yeah … 2015, no matter how small, was a success! For that I am grateful to God and the great people He placed in my life to reinforce the successes I took for granted over the year.
I don’t know what lies ahead. No one ever does. So I’ll do what I know is best; to believe that there is hope and in the only one who actually knows, God. I can and will form an even perfect personal growth enforcement duo with Him.
I think I still have the heart to leap over more troops and attempt to destroy more battlements. I’m too young to slack!
*STFU: – (abbrev.) Save The Freaking Unicorns

Apathy – A passive lifestyle: Part II

something I pulled off Google
something I pulled off Google

The auditorium was more populated now by people and a slowly growing pool. No one did as much as turn a head. They were crying for more blessings. And these are the people who would complain their country is in shambles, point fingers, some possibly might pray for the state of the nation and then say the leaders are doing nothing. But if our very people are too apathetic to simple challenges how much more the money/power hungry individuals amongst us who are ready to take on the vilification and propaganda of the media. They would only create the impression that things are being done while nothing actually progresses—we have 57 years of proof.

so my story continues…After 30 minutes of waiting, a fancily dressed man comes along with his iPad or some other tablet and takes a two minute video and some shots of the leakage. With no sense of urgency he looks around for more cases, finds none and saunters away. Mind you, the cleaner boy had still not arrived. 15 minutes down the line (now totaling about 45 minutes), a team of two men came to survey the place tiptoed over the lake, studied the source and looked busy about it. They took pictures too with smart phones while unconsciously disrupting the service. They left.

The long and short: nothing was done until an hour and 15 minutes later when three cleaners arrived and mopped up the water. It reminded me of the sinking ship metaphor used to describe the difference between conservatism and liberalism I learnt in Social Theory class. The metaphor was an illustration of the reactions of proponents of these opposing political views that would have ensued if they were on a proverbial sinking ship in the middle of the ocean. The conservatives would patch up the cracks which let in the water to postpone the impending demise of all, whereas the liberals would dismantle the ship analyze the problem and rebuild it in the middle of the ocean risking the lives of others in the act. Here in the church, the sinking ship is the auditorium upside down; the rain—the ocean and the doers—conservatives (me, my brother and the 3 minute heroine). As for the liberals, we had none. The two photographers were potentials but they didn’t deliver. Well the theoretical relationship ends here…I just thought it was cools to link this to political theory.

All I’m saying is even in church, Ghana’s primary social center, is rife with apathy and stoic nonchalance to matters of the greater good. Everyone is selfish. Who should pick up the mop? Certainly not me, not while I am praying for a financial breakthrough. It’s in the DNA, hard coded passiveness to issues of society. This little event taught me how people had to be told what to do before they would move a muscle—the cleaner boy, and how much time and effort it would take to make Ghana what we want it to be. The leaders are part of us, in fact they are us…it is high time we picked up the mop and did something for the collective good.

Wow! This is the longest post on my blog, coming in two parts. If you reached this far (without skipping) then either you love reading or don’t want to hurt my feelings when I ask you. Thanks and tell me what you think.

Apathy – A passive lifestyle: Part I

Apathy – A passive lifestyle: Part I

I went to church on Independence Day. Yeah, I love my creator like that. I arrived early, with my family, despite the threatening signs of rain, for the short prayer meeting. Soon the rain began its torrential descent onto the roof. We were already beyond its reach or sight; the tinted, sound proof windows prevent any external distraction. But someway somehow the rain managed to find me right at where my brother and I sat. The roof started to leak. It started with the trickle and then the heavy single drops which gradually gained volume, momentum and consistency. The single cushioned seat which bore this wet burden was sipping the fresh water. My brother was first to noticed this, to which he drew my attention. No one else seemed to have noticed and even if they had, showed no indication.

I should probably give a more picturesque view to the environment. It was during worship or the beginning of prayers. If you’re a perpetual church goer, you most likely would agree that at such times the line between worship and prayer is virtually blurry and you can’t really tell the difference between the two. Let me not digress any further. We chose to sit at the top floor, consciously trying to create as much distance between ourselves and the deafening speakers. So we were surrounded by a sparsely seated few (about 57 souls) at our hideout. No one could ever hear a drop of water in the chapel unless it was louder than the screams of the demon-possessed. So it was only left to the eyes to notice. Everyone was involved in communing earnestly with God and none could be disturbed.

Thanks for the patience. Now back to the main issue. Seeing that the rain, desperate for my attention, was two rows of seats in front of me, I could not ignore it. The rain won. It was no more a single seat but two which were taking the heat from the roof (about 3 meters high above). My brother thought it best to let the chairs get soaked to prevent the water pouring over and reaching a wire running across the floor much further ahead. He headed for the mess and positioned the chairs to better receive the water. Another waterfall broke loose along the same row of seven seats. He fixed the chairs better so they could get well soaked. I’m sure he was attracting a few confused looks even though all this was at the back rows of the church. Still no one made a move to right the ‘wrong.’ Prayer continued and so did more new rain leakages. There were now three major leaks with several streams. The growth was exponential.

Then a lady, maybe middle-aged, with some sense of urgency, walked from our right and cleared the area where water fell, relieving the chairs from their predicament. Now the tiled floor suffered. I didn’t wait for her to complete her intentions when I rushed down stairs to look for some plastic container to prevent potential electric conduction and mass shocks through the water. My brother was in support. By using the chairs as a make-shift absorber, he was buying time. It would be easier to dry wet chairs than have water near the electricals.

I rushed down three flights of stairs hoping to catch sight of janitor tools. They really hide their dirty laundry well. At the ground floor I made a quick assumption of where the store room could be, took a peak through the slightly opened door and saw what I needed—several containers. I opened the door to reach out for them when I realized I was not the only inhabitant of the room. They were having a friendly chat, the boy and the girl, clad in orange polo shirts labelled with their cleaning company’s name. Their facial expressions…? Light shock, confusion and that “ah well…let’s be silent, he might go away sooner” look. Nothing new… I asked for the tiny buckets my hands already owned, made a feeble attempt at explaining why–they didn’t give a damn–I left.

Our top floor hideout had gathered crowd. But new comers were sure to avoid seats near and around the water. I placed the buckets where the leaks were greatest and continued my plea to divinity. The buckets were not wide enough. The tiles took too did well to load shed the water across a wider area. Few minute later I went down to the store, now with confidence since I was certain of the location and the occupants. I asked that one of them followed me to see something interesting in the chapel hall. With much reluctance the boy followed. I showed him the mess-turned-pool-turned-lake now making a slow sturdy descent down the terraced step-like floor. He quickly rearranged my buckets to new water dropping points and left. I thought he was going to suit up and call for back up. Time was the arbiter now…

The Zone

I just stared. I liked the way he smiled intermittently when he spoke of his annoying little brother. I thought his gestures were cute and the way he hardly kept eye contact was teasing—what was he hiding? He spoke while scribbling what seemed like the outline of a nude lady on his notebook. His whispering stopped abruptly and so did his sketchy artwork. Something had broken the peace of my surreal experience. I didn’t realize I was smiling sheepishly until I turned swiftly to the left, seeing the crossed look on Dela’s face as if expecting me to say something. The rest of the class giggled.
Nudging me into a better sitting posture he whispered what I later came to know as an answer to the question Dela had asked. I was lost and this was not the first time. With an elaborate shrug, the lecturer moved on. I was mortified. maybe I should stop sitting next to him or shouldn’t have chose the same classes in the first place. What was I thinking?
Then I remembered my pen had a use. I picked it up, held it over my blank page and stared at the PowerPoint slides projected on the screen in front of the class. It was an hour into the class and everything looked so foreign that I almost forgot the class I was in. But hey! I couldn’t wait till it ended. After all Cyprian and I could hang out after this class since it was both our last for the day.
Mid semester zoomed in and I watched the components of my final grades play the downside of a roller-coaster. On the other hand we were closer friends now. That was important. But every thing changed when he asked me out. It was so sudden and out of the blue. I could not get a word in edgewise after his question. I was in my own panic world now and could only see his lips mouth out words as the walls of the restaurant closed in on me. speechless.
“I think you’re a great friend,” I replied with a smile. I sounded like a broken record making a last attempt on the last four beats of a song, “…and I don’t want us to mess up this special friendship.” He seemed crushed but his smile did not waver. I beamed with a much broader smile while my insides screamed at me, “You just friend-zoned your longest crush!” What had I done?

Post-modern worship

A right title?

worship-hands copy“They were many in the congregation. The auditorium was filled with whispers and cries and prayers amidst raised hands and bent knees. The atmosphere was solemn and saturated with goose bump-raising worship. The slow and moving tunes that the instrumentalists artistically created was emotive. The lead choir singer began to hum a tune into the microphone. On cue, the choristers, identifying the tune, continued with the song. The DJ (disc-jockey), located beside the organist at the side of the stage, started a slow but regular sample beat which gradually picked up pace in speed. When the beat reached a considerably apt beat, the preacher began to speak, interlacing the song with rhyming words crafted from the word of God—spoken word. The church was filled with song as the congregation sang along and raised their holy hands to the heavens. After the first chorus, a lady touch in her spirit stepped out from among the choristers on the stage, took a microphone and began to rap! Then it happened! The church was all the more energized and moved, voices grew stronger and louder in earnest worship as worshipers began rocking and jamming with the beat, most with their eyes closed and arms waving in the air…!”

DJ
Take a look at how loads of people are swayed by the lyrics, styles and beats in “worldly music.” That’s why I don’t really get convinced by those who claim they listen only for the beats. The song comes with the whole package! You love it because of how it makes you feel and, for deeper listeners, what it makes them think about.It was a conversation about how creative some hip-hop beat was, while @franklin_25_8 and I listened to points of “eargasms”. Jamming to the track was inevitable. Our random conversation unexpectedly but gradually took a different turn to why gospel music was not this appealing to the youth of today. Maybe it was the way the media presented it to the world or probably solely its innate “dope-ness” or both. Why are most gospel rappers’ beats not as “dope”? Possibly their themes are not as interesting as other hip-hop songs? Then the what-ifs sprang up. What if praise and worship was done hip-hop style. What if these gospel rappers were as lyrical and thematic as Kendrick Lamar and had beats as imaginative as Kanye West’s. We crafted this post-modern worship scene in effect.

So what if this worship scene was what we saw in church on a Sunday morning? What would go wrong? Because as far as I’m concerned, if Christians, really and earnestly communicate their thoughts and sincere words of worship to the most high, they will be heard. However, the question of whether it would be accepted by God as a suitable form of worship came up in our discussion. Does God have a laid out set of ceremonial acts in which he wants to be worshiped? To answer that question, it will be best to inquire from the Lord himself, we concluded.

The conventional Christians would definitely look down on this with critical disdainful eyes of disapproval. The new wave of contemporary Christians who relate better to the new and upcoming genres in Christians music are the ones who would most likely be the most patronizing of this manner of worship. Should this actually be defined by conservative societal practices or thoughts? Less than two decades ago, no one would have imagined that there would even exist >>gospel HIP-HOP<<! I mean, really gospel hip-hop? After all those truth about hip-hop videos which criticized not only the artistes of the genre, but the genre itself, a new kind was born—one for Christianity!

In any case, post-modernism is catching up with us gradually. I wouldn’t be surprised if I enter a church one day and see a hand full of people standing like they do when the choir starts to sing; waving a hand and clasping their chest with the other in response to the rap of a Christian minister on stage, mid-service. And they would be as moved as any person in today’s “normal” church would be.

It is coming. It is inevitable and will soon be ineffable.

PS: I was listening to Lecrae’s Gravity while writing most of the article. You should check it out!

Lingo semantics:

dope: (adj.) really cool and worthy of jamming to. [noun: dope-ness]

Jam: (v.) the act of rocking to dope music. [continuous tense: jamming]

eargasm: (n.) the wonderful feeling in your ears when you hear dope music which makes you want to jam

-8:49am, 6th June, 2013.

Marxism in the Accra Mall.

written on January 10th, 2012.
The glaring disparity between the activities of the economic classes represented in the Accra mall can be hardly ignored, especially on a very busy evening. The Accra mall, currently the largest shopping mall in Ghana, attracts all sorts of patrons; mostly foreign nationals residing the country and Ghanaians from all walks of life. Apparently, considering the average prices of products in the shops, the expected market for the mall is mostly the cream of the Ghanaian society and the foreign nationals; visiting and residing in the country for that matter. However, even less subtle to the average viewer is the existence of key features which hint on the embracement of values of the bourgeoisie, by the proletariat in a bid to reach an equal economic status as the bourgeoisie hence the existence of conflicts between the two economic classes. The purpose of this academic paper is to discuss the life as it is at the Accra shopping mall from the Marxist point of view.
A classic scene in the Accra mall is one with which the car park is two-thirds or more full and has a considerable amount of cars filing in and out of the entrances in slow fashion due to the traffic jam. The two glass doors to the shops to the mall are literally choked with a crowd of young people in their best of clothes of age range roughly between eleven and twenty-five. These youth are most likely busily tapping on their phones or IPods and chatting in loud voices. An interview with few of them reviewed that this act was regarded as hanging out with friends whereas hanging out with friends for the remaining patrons of the mall means watching movies at the cinema and eating at the food court amidst chatting. In the shopping mall on the other hand the food courts are occupied with people eating and others in the cinemas and yet still others are dragging trolleys full of products from the shops. Inferred from this scene is the fact that the bourgeoisie lifestyle is seen as the idea way of living by all characters in the mall. The lack of recreational centres in Accra is a contributing factor to the presence of most of the youth in the Accra mall.
There is a kind of pressure to keep up appearances in the shopping mall. The higher economic class in the shopping mall, who normally are economically sound, tend to display their affluence in their apparel and their spending nature. In order to fit into the crowd, the standees outside and along the corridors of the mall are compelled to put on their best of clothing. The mall therefore conveys the image of a place which is bourgeoisie-dominant. The proletariat characters, the numerous standees, reinforce the lifestyle of the bourgeoisie by imitating or attempting to behave like they were in a similar social standing. Multiple window shopping and hanging around the mall are habits which can be ascribed to the proletariat characters in the mall.
The standees of the Accra mall are generally ignored and devalued. The prices of goods sold in the mall, state the kind of market that the shop owners of the mall are targeting. Due to price discrimination of goods and food sold in the shops within the mall, goods of the same kind that can be patronised by the average Ghanaian in other markets at more affordable prices, are far more expensive in the mall. This suggests that the values of the lower class are grossly ignored. The mall was not designed for the proletariat market. Despite the market for which the mall was made, the presence of the lower class in the mall reinforces the fact that thought their conviction for economic equality holds they still wish to attain the economic status of the bourgeoisie.
Another group of characters in the mall who fall under the lower economic class is the workers in the mall. They work tirelessly to earn for themselves their daily bread whereas within the same context, the upper classes who attend the mall do so luxuriously and for mere entertainment. This is portrayed even more vividly during weekends. The workers in the mall try to make ends meet by working even on weekends; days which those of the upper class use for entertainment and luxury. The proletariat hardly has an option other than to choose to invest their free time into productive activities rather than afford luxuries.
The government plays a very laissez-faire role in this situation. The capitalist nature of the government concurs with the policies that business enterprises like the Accra mall establish. The furthest the government goes in curbing such discrepancies between the economic classes is the institution of income leverages such as the Single Spine Salary Scheme, instituted for civil service workers. It justifies why policemen and women began frequenting the mall and leaving with trolley loads of products after the increment of their salaries; they had risen to the status of middle class. The government also, intervenes by appealing to the capitalist tendencies of individuals of the bourgeoisie to allow the less economically fortunate to benefit from facilities such as the Accra Mall.

"Beyoncé y3 illuminati."

This came out of the blaring radio in a trotro. The afternoon was hot and I was on my way to withdraw some few cedis from my scanty bank account. My pockets were dry and I didn’t even wield a wallet. In this dire financial situation of mine, this statement snapped me out of my sad reverie/reflection into the bustling life in the disorganized and filthy surroundings of atomic roundabout. Apparently, there was a heated argument on this local radio station as to whether or not Beyoncé was a member of the secret society, Illuminati.  The altercation was in Twi, a common local dialect. I was totally baffled at the way the lady’s voice defended her proposition that the famous black American pop artiste had Satan as the source of her success in music. I looked around me, through the windows of the now stationary vehicle, in an attempt to find an ounce of a link or relation that this gossip had with our lives as hustling Ghanaians. And till this day I still search. I used to blame and criticize our incompetent leadership for the appalling and retrogressive state of the environment and economy of Ghana. I wrote about these issues in almost all my academic papers and no doubt was awarded good grades in effect. I still do anyways but realized there are more powerful but irresponsible players in this one-sided political game-the media. With the power and influence over the thoughts and actions of the population at large, the media is the best tool to change the mindset of Ghanaians. However, the status quo suggests this fourth “arm of government” is either ignorant of the power they wield or have no value for it. There are more pressing issues and concerns of Ghanaians that need to be brought to the notice of our leaders, however skilled they are. The need for better education systems to make our citizens better thinkers rather than blind partisan believers which the rote learning our schools encourage make us. After thousands of graduates make it through their university education they are faced with the harsh live of redundancy on the pothole-filled streets. There are hardly any policies which support the employment of these many in the corporate world. Even more depressing is the inability of these graduates to notice the opportunities in the challenges they face in order to establish companies of their own. At the same time numerous foreigners saunter the streets of our city and live our dreams, carrying buckets loads of cash out of the country on daily basis. Even if you cannot capture the important things which would encourage the development of the infrastructure or institutions in the country, the least you could do is attempt to educate the general public; remind them of the need to avoid throwing trash through their windows when driving; the importance of saving energy in home; ways to prevent fire outbreaks; how to dispose of non-degradable waste;–the list is endless. We should prioritize effectively. If the job of development was to solely be the duty of the greedy leader, we would wallow in complaint and squalor for the rest of our poverty-stricken lives. Wasting air waves on useless gossip won’t change a thing!