Feature Article of Tuesday, 27 October 2009
Columnist: Mensah, Al Kobby
I am Al Kobby Mensah, from the Western part of Ghana, specifically New Takoradi and had my basic education there too. I continued to Cape Coast, located in Central Ghana for my secondary school. I moved on to Greater Accra for my higher education but in the meantime had a brief stop in Kumasi, where a very dear female friend had lived because she was born there although she comes from my hometown, Sekondi -Takoradi. Throughout my stay in all these places, Kumasi in Ashanti region, Cape Coast in Central region and Accra in the Greater Accra region, I made great friends who have become central part of my whole being and have contributed immensely to who I am. Before relocating to the United Kingdom from Ghana, I had never been to the Brong Ahafo region but surprisingly, I ended up marrying someone from that part of Ghana, who, although is a Brong by tribe, had lived in Accra all her life. In fact, it turned out to be that she was not born in the Brong Ahafo region, her parents’ hometown nor Accra, which is her adopted hometown. She was actually born in Bolgatanga, in the Upper East region, and she continues to hold a strong affection for. I have been to Bolga before when I was working in Ghana but it was so brief that I couldn’t make friends there. Although I couldn’t make friends with the natives in Bolga, I actually worked with colleagues who happen to be from there but had lived in Accra and Kumasi throughout their entire life. I also was to have a strong relation with the people of Upper East aside my wife. It happens that my very close friend, who I moved to Sheffield from London with, to study here, and who also inspired me to take on a PhD as he holds PhD himself, happens to come from Boku. Recently, his mum visited us in the UK and referred to me as his son. This is not the usual ‘my son’ syndrome as we are used to in Africa but because she said I look exactly like his son, my friend, in stature wise, mannerism etc and so I am her son.
Back in Ghana, I have another family tie to the other two regions located in the north. Wa, the capital of Upper West is where my cousin’s ex fiancée is from. Although they are no longer together, myself and this cousin’s ex fiancée still keep intouch. She still refers to me as ‘my elder husband.’ Tamale, the capital of the Northern region, is where my room mate at the Institute of Professional Studies, the place I had my tertiary education in Accra, comes from. We were very close buddies and tend to run day and night shift in studying. We will take turns in sleeping and waking each other and never disappointed each other. We still keep intouch. Again, back in Ghana, an elder brother of mine is married to an Ashanti, deepening my bond with the Ashantis. My sister, who I follow, is married to an Ewe, deepening further my bond to the Volta land as I already have an Ewe brother, who is the first child of my Dad. His mum is our first mother because she is my father’s first wife, then my mother who is the second. Polygamy, in my father’s youthful days in Ghana was common. Back in Ghana again, our first girl, married a Ga and now my wife’s elder sister is also married to a Ga making my bond with the Ga land much stronger. Back in Ghana again, I happen to work with a guy who was a president of a club based in the University of Cape Coast that the company I worked for established and manages. Although we were friends, we were not that close, however I happen to meet this guy at the University in UK and became room mates. Now we are buddies to the extent that I am the one he falls on when he needs something from the University here in UK because he is back in Ghana now as I remained to pursue a PhD. This guy is from Kwahu, the Eastern Region of Ghana.
Now in religion. Although I am a Christian and so is my immediate family, actually my Dad’s brother is a Muslim and so is his family. We frequently pay visits and had stayed at his family home on countless occasions. My best and learnered friend I share thoughts with, who is a Ghanaian but only met him when I came to the UK is a Muslim. He is the most intelligent guy I have ever met. We appear on radio talk shows together as we both host it and write newspaper articles together. I have good friends who are Sikhs, Atheists, Hindus and what have you. The question of who am I, I can argue, falls within the frame of my inner and outer self, which is my personality as well as close and distant relations around me as they contribute to my world view. Beyond Ghana, I am sure I can count at least 10 countries that I share blood relations with but time may not permit me. I hope to do that another time. For now, I can confidently say that I am the totality of all the places that I have mentioned in this piece, making me an embodiment of Ghana. If so, what will motivate me to incite ethnic and religious tension amongst the vary people I have strong relations with; relations that are made of blood? Look within you, whoever reads this piece and you can see the entire humanity in. You are everyone that resides in this world and this is the value I leave with you all. Hate no one, for you hate yourself if you do. Pass it on!
Note: This piece was inspired by the works of ‘The Foundation For A Better Life.’ Upon seeing the organisation’s ‘values’ adverts on CNN about human values such as help, courtesy etc, I was moved to ponder what other values shape my life that I can pass on to others: it was love, I found out. Go on! Search your soul and you will find at least one that defines your life and can pass it on! (http://www.values.com)
By Al Kobby Mensah. A PhD Candidate in Political Marketing, University of Sheffield, UK. Kobby_mensah@yahoo.com