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Opinions of Monday, 27 June 2011

Columnist: Damoah, Nana Awere

Fearful things in Sikaman Part 2

(With notes and ideas from Yvonne Amenuvor, Bernadette Adjei, Elijah Atta-Aidoo,
Rodney Nkrumah-Boateng)
It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of a fire outbreak in Sikaman. The
first challenge is which number to call, and will the call go through whether you
are using a landline or mobile? Two years ago, Zain instituted some numbers we could
use to reach the Fire service, Police and Ambulance service during emergencies
I called each of those numbers as I wrote this article; response: "The Airtel number
you are calling is switched off."

I googled and found that the Service's website is On the site, we are advised to "Call 192- from a
neighbour's phone, phone booth or mobile phone, call the Fire Service on 192. Tell
them you are reporting fire at (give vivid location of fire)." I decided to try it
and call the number from my Airtel mobile. Response: "The number you are calling
cannot be reached."

The second challenge is how to give directions to your house, if it is a domestic
fire, for a quick response. Our street naming system in Sikaman is still not
functional, despite the good work done so far by Google Maps. I doubt the Fire
Service know about Google maps though, and in any case, even where street names
exist, there are no signposts to help them. Pray that the fire outbreak is not in
the evening or at dawn, because the most significant links in any direction
instructions in Sikaman work only during the day - the groundnut seller, the waakye
seller, Alhaji meat shop. Add the fact that most new developments in urban areas are
way ahead of the ability or willingness of metropolitan and municipal authorities to
catch up and the fear increases a thousand fold.

Third challenge is that of accessibility to most homes. And if it is a fire in a
market like Asafo or Makola, the fire tenders can only get to the main entrance of
the market and continue the journey on foot, at best. To start the investigations
and not to quench any fire.

Then there is the issue of fire hydrants. Most of them are either non-existent or
not functional. Fire tenders are known to rush to the venue where there is fire,
only to complain that there is no 'water in the tender'. Hopefully, with the supply
of 54 new fire tenders to the service this month, our Fire fighters can fight
highrise building fires, above four storeys. Otherwise, pray that you don't fall
into the hands of such a scenario, it will be fearful.

It is a fearful thing to live in Sikaman and have a medical emergency in the night.
You drive to the nearest private clinic/hospital (a nice flashy ultra modern
facility that charge outrageous fees), so you can seek IMMEDIATE care, only to be
told there is no doctor or they don't handle that kind of emergency so you end up
going to the very far away government hospital by which time if you are not lucky
things may have deteriorated.

It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of a 'good school' in Sikaman. They fix
fees as they please (some of the fees make you wonder if the children are actually
in the Senior High school), whatever you say at the Parents Teachers Association
(PTA) is not considered, and 5 year olds go through interviews for admission into

Sharing his story, my pal Elijah Atta-Aidoo recounts: "I remember going through an
interview at Akosombo International School back in 1990. I started vomitting when it
got to the colors and shapes session. I guess I was either frightened or was just
not ready for a drill of that sort before a panel of three."

Indeed, as part of the preparations towards your 5-year old's interview, the parents
need to pray for boldness, willingness to talk and a good mood for the child. Some
children just decide not to speak at all at such interviews! Why blame them? I
started school at age four, and definitely would have had nothing to say if I
attended an interview at 5 years, in English! For the where!

It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of a hungry, angry, unemployed,
disgruntled footsoldier in Sikaman. Especially if you are a government appointee,
specifically a District or Municipal Chief Executive. You either get chased out of
your office or have the President sack you for incompetence. Incompetence here is
defined as the inability or willingness to deal favourably with the footsoldiers,
including demands to award them road contracts. Many of these footsoldiers know not
the difference between a shovel and a large spoon, except the fact that they look
alike. Forget the difference in sizes.

It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of a person selling land in Sikaman, be
it a chief, a family member or a land agent. The first hurdle is how to get the
proper document signed, and delivered to you. Secondly, you have to deal with the
likelihood of that same portion of land being sold to three or four other persons.
Then, the hussle of getting the land registered and transferred legally to you.
Then, having gone through all that, if you are not ready to develop your land
immediately, you have to pray that no one interpretes your lack of development of
the land as lack of interest and builds on your behalf. His building. You have to
remember to visit the land frequently to ensure such a person does not start the
foundation. Otherwise, getting it demolished may take years. To solve all this, you
may have to engage the services of the non-political footsoldier. He is called a
land guard.

It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of a fake pastor in Sikaman. It is
becoming increasingly difficult to understand the proliferation of pastors in
Sikaman, with all sorts of doctrines, names of their churches, and nicknames. And
even wierder and varied are their ways of working. Some consult exclusively in
hotels now. The temple of the Lord is no longer posh or adequate enough for them to
use. I like to scan the radio stations from time to time to listen to some of the
preaching and on-air consultations. Recently, I heard one of such pastors say that
he now does emergency consultation, and was arguing that if any pastor tells you he
doesn't charge, that pastor was lying or being insincere because the materials used
for their work (annointing oil, and all manner of materials - including coca cola,
lime, oranges) needed to be purchased. And also airtime was expensive. Everyone who
called into the program for advice was advised to come quickly
to his church, for one-on-one consultation, because most of their problems
certainly couldn't be taken by a prophetic word spoken by faith. It is indeed a
fearful situation, when one ponders how easy it is to call one's self a pastor in

It is fearful considering how gullible christians have become in this land of our
birth. Quick fixes are what people look for. And that is why even though it is a
fearful thing, many continue to fall into the hands of these fake pastors.

It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of a mobile phone company in Sikaman.
If there is rain, or threats of rain, know that you are going to have a useless
handset in your hands soon. You meet a long lost friend in town, you want to 'flash'
him so he can store your number, yet you get a message saying his phone cannot be
reached. Yet he is standing right next to you, phone in full working order, blinking
nicely. Ah, network problem. You don't know whether to wail in frustration, emit a
hollow laugh, curse loudly or simply bite your lip till you draw blood.

It is a fearful thing to access the private Ghanaian media. You pass by a news
stand, and the plethora of newspapers jostling for prominence scream at you with
their banner headlines proclaiming political armageddon. And in the vast number of
cases, the headline does not reflect in the story. 'Minister whacks X' turns out to
be that the minister simply chided X. You lick your lips in anticipation of a
salacious story, only to come away dejected.

You tune your radio expecting to hear debate and instead you wonder whether you are
listening to haggling fishmongers on chorkor beach. Half literate sycophants of one
party or the other hurl insults at each other with the speed of light in what passes
for debate. Incoherent, ridiculous arguments. You trawl through the channels. Same
story. Finally, you switch off, grab some APC tablets and lie down in a quiet, dark
room till your migraine passes over. Fear Sikaman media and live long!

Source: Nana Awere Damoah