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Opinions of Sunday, 12 April 2015

Columnist: Damoah, Nana Awere

Sebiticals Chapter 22: Hope doesn't cook yam

It is a season of goodwill and promises and good behavior in Amalaman from the Ogas who usually don’t exhibit much of the last attribute. Just yesterday, near the yard where I do walatu-walasa, I saw a billboard, sponsored by one of those groups that spring up only during the period of exercising our franchise or thumb-chise, to be precise, and which have a lifespan of a few mosquitoes combined. The billboard stated: “We shall defeat Boko Haram!” and it says this on behalf of the Amalaman Ahenfie Police.

When I recounted this sighting to Wofa Kapokyikyi, he said tweea! If only hope can cook yam. And he added that no matter how long you boil water, it will not turn into light soup unless you add pepper, tomatoes, salt and smoked herrings. Wofa greets you all.

It was Uncle Ebo Whyte who wondered whether the angel now running the days of the year uses a four-wheel drive. We are already in the second month of the year. It seems like just yesterday when we entered a brand new year! May we learn to number our days o, and apply our hearts to wisdom in redeeming them and making them count.

As is customary, at the beginning of a new year, the Odikro spoke directly to Sikamanians and not through Amakye the town crier, who is a club member with Wofa Kapokyikyi at the Liberty Club, whose members have successfully proved why water is the first member of the –OH family. You have forgotten the chemistry you learnt in P6, eh? Teacher Johnson taught us that when the ‘n’ in the generic formula for alcohol is substituted with a given number, a particular chemical can ensue. For years, no one had understood why drinking of water the morning after can charge a man having hangover, until zero was applied to the ‘n’ in that formula. It made sense then, and that proof should be in the name of the Liberty Fan Club, whose motto is Ye Bu Di Di!

In his speech to us at the community grounds, Odikro was worried about the level of cynicism in Sikaman and admonished all citizens to face the New Year with hope. These were his exact words:

“The new year holds a wide expanse of possibilities. Let us not enter 2015 with any cynicism or sense of limitation. Let us choose to fill the days ahead of us with hope and not despair. When we look ahead let us see all that we can achieve and let us work individually and collectively in the interest of progress.”

Wofa Kapokyikyi returned home that day and waited for Odikro. He reminded Odikro that hope, though a very good boost, does not cook yam.

See, I learnt many market days ago from the chief who used to sit astride the Unicorn in the Big City that hope is not a strategy. Cynicism is not cured by preaching and admonishment but by a demonstration that the causative forces that engender said cynicism are being tackled. You don’t speak to a sore to heal, you apply herbs to it.

It was Obaapanyin Potisaah who intimated that w’ani tua kuro a, wommisa ne nkwantia, that is, if your eyes see the town, you don’t ask the way to it. And if you continue asking the way when obviously you know it, one would begin to wonder whether you really want to enter the town.

Our elders say if you want to say something to Odomankoma, you say it to the wind; and when you go to Ahenfie and you wish Odikro to hear you, you tell the Okyeame.

So let this reach Odikro:

Tell Odikro that the citizens say they checked the meaning of cynicism from the Catechist and learnt that it means “an inclination to believe that people are motivated purely by self-interest.” Catechist also gave them synonyms like scepticism, doubt, distrust, mistrust, doubtfulness, suspicion, disbelief, incredulity, unbelief, pessimism, negative thinking, negativity, world-weariness, disillusion and disenchantment.

Tell Odikro that he is right. Cynicism has engulfed the village like an Obo Kwahu fog at dawn.

Let it reach the ears of Odikro that the citizens of Sikaman say that there is a cure to the cynicism and it doesn’t lie in proverbs and the cracking of them as if they were palm kernel. Odikro and his sub-chiefs know the way already and it is only the talkative who says that obroni has many clothes. Let Odikro know that we know he can shoot so he should shoot; that the hunter who only speaks with his intended prey loses his title and sleeps hungry.

The market women say when they go to Kumasi on the w’ato nkyene to purchase goods, the weight of the cowries seem to change drastically during the journey and they don’t understand.

Let Odikro hear.

The inhabitants of the land say when they sleep at night, their lanterns go off and mosquitoes sing in their ears. They say that even in the day, the sun doesn’t shine as bright as it used to in the past.

Let Odikro hear.

They say even during Bible reading last Sunday, when the Catechist was reading the Creation story, he forgot himself and said that after Onyankopon had separated the light from the darkness, there was dum and there was sor, the first day. Let Odikro hear that the matters of the land have affected even our thoughts.

They say let him hear that we are cynical because they don’t see the Ahenfie Police bring to book those who borrowed cowries from the chest of the State.

Let Odikro hear.

The inhabitants of the land say that things are moving slower than the speed of a wounded snail and that Opanyin Meisu’s son who came back from the Big City says that they usually share the national cake from house to house in the City and that the people living there are so many that by the time they get out of the middle of the City, the cake is finished. And the cake is very rich. Let Odikro hear that Sikaman is not the only Big City.

Sikamanians know how to talk and complain. Odikro knows that is our weakness. We all need to work on that, and change. Odikro talks too. Just like us. Let Odikro know that we want to change and so should he. And his sub-chiefs.

Let Odikro hear.

We want to hear more of what have been done instead of what is to be done. We want to hear him and his sub-chiefs use the past tense more often than the future and present-continuous tenses. Let Odikro hear that in Sikaman, it appears that our sub-chiefs are more concerned about the preparations towards launching a project than actually cutting the sod. And that after this ceremony, nothing much is done to implement. Tell Odikro that we wonder if they use all the energy before and during the launch and sod-cutting that there is none left to implement the projects. The pipeline is full of projects jostling for space and the drawing board has no more space. Tell Odikro that if only we can stop promising and focus on completing what we have already promised, Sikaman will such a promising place.

Let Odikro hear.

We have been bitten many times by reptiles so we test the potency of even ropes. Cynicism is not a genetic disease, it is acquired.

Please tell Odikro that we are praying to Nana Nyame to heal our cynicism but we implore him (Odikro) to help us put some ingredients into the pot of yam and fire under the pot because hope and words alone will not cook this yam.

An ounce of action is worth a ton of words.

Tell Odikro that the despondency in the village is palpable. The ‘vim’ is low.

Let Odikro hear.
Till I come your way with another sebitical, I remain:
Sebitically yours,

Sebitically Speaking is Nana Awere Damoah’s 5th book and the ebook version was published in March 2015. Sebitically Speaking is available via Kindle (Amazon),, iBooks Store, Barnes and Noble and other online ebook shops. It is due for launch as paperback in the second quarter of 2015.

Thumb-chise: Thumb + franchise
Walatu-walasa: Literally means ‘you dig, you collect yourself’, a term used for construction workers who do manual labour; used here in reference to a day’s job
Tweea: Exclamation, used in Ghana, an Akan interjection used to express disapproval or contempt for a statement
Y? Bu Di Di: Akan expression, literally ‘we drink so we can eat well!’
Odomankoma: God
Okyeame: Linguist in the chief’s palace
W’ato nkyene: Old truck used in the past for long journeys in the rural areas
Onyankopon: God
Dum: Lights off, darkness
Sor: Lights on
Nana Nyame: God