Wednesday, July 05, 2017

I Am Because We Are - Ubuntu

The story is told of an anthropologist who proposed a game to some South African tribal children.

He placed a basket of sweets near a tree and made the children stand 100 metres away from the tree. He then announced that whoever is first to get to the basket would get all the sweets in it. At the sound of the whistle, all the children held hands and ran together towards the tree. They shared the sweets equally among themselves and happily ate them.
Why did the children do this?
"Ubuntu" - 'How can one be happy when the others are sad?' 'I am because we are.'

Should I live to the biblically stated age of 3 score and 10, then in all my almost half life on God's green earth, I have not experienced anything of the sort.
I would say someone point me in the direction of this place; I would so want to spend the other half of my life there, but first, let's replay the story.

An anthropologist proposed a game to some adults.

He placed a sack full of a couple of millions of US Dollars near a tree and made the adults stand 100 metres away from the tree. He then announced that whoever is first to get to the sack would get all the US Dollars in it. At the sound of the whistle, the adults took off, some pulling others down, some tripping others, those with weapons tried killing the others until finally, one, all bloodied, bruised and half limping made it to the tree.

It's not the place. It's the subjects; children.

Children inherently are wired to live according to the "ubuntu" philosophy. They play together, have fun together, are happy together; what's the point if the happiness is not shared? And then the adult factor takes over. The competitive adult. The adult who will play favourites. The adult who will pit one child against the other and let them feel the most important thing in the world is to be first. First in class, first in sports, first in everything.
Of course, for the first position to exist, there has to be a last position. So basically, children are taught to succeed at the expense of others. Children are taught to be happy when others are sad.

This anthropologist did the exact same thing. He tried to pit the children against each other by asking them to race to the tree; the first would get the basket of sweets. The children resisted and rebelled.

When I was in high school, we wrote an exam at the end of each term. In the examination room, we were seated according to our positions in the previous exams. From the back of the exam room we sat, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, to the last in the front row. I honestly have no idea what that was meant to achieve, but in all my 3 years in high school, no one moved from the first row (last position) to the last row (first position). The only movements were to the left or right. These were no more than two steps. No one wanted to sit in the first row. Why should I help you when we are all fighting to not sit in the first row? I'd much rather help myself and myself only to remain in the last row (or closer to the last row).

Thankfully, in the university, the system of ranking students did not exist. It was in the university that I experienced students helping each other out and forming study groups. If we all get a First Class, great; I do not have to fight you and make sure you don't get a First Class to ensure my First Class in ranked higher than yours.
But, by this time, it really is already too late. Children, now young adults, have the spirit of competition and succeeding at the expense of the other person ingrained in them.

'I am because we are.'
It is difficult, next to impossible to write a paragraph illustrating this statement. I doubt I know what it looks like.

But I could write a whole encyclopaedia filled with examples of, 'I am because I am', 'animal farm', 'when pull him down is the way to go', 'it's a good idea to be corrupt and line my pockets with taxpayers' money', 'when I love you is just words', 'when cheating has made me the happiest person alive', 'why worry about your happiness when all that matters is mine', 'swindling - that's the name of the game', 'so I deceived you, so I led you on and so what', and the list goes on and on and on.

Imagine the near utopian world we could live in if "ubuntu" meant something to all of us.
Our politicians would be looking out for our best interests and not looking out for just theirs. Our roads would get constructed properly because the contractor, wanting you to be happy as well, would not cut corners, doing a shoddy job just so he can line his pockets. Our psychiatric hospitals wouldn't be as full as they are because 'I love you' is more than just words. Suicide rates would decrease because people would not feel the need to lead others on and drop them when they feel like it. Crime would be non existent. There wouldn't be a need to steal, kill or destroy. No one would think about outwitting the other person. There would never be the need to lynch anyone, robber or not, accidentally or intentionally. Why?
Because, how can one be happy when the others are sad?

I once saw an inscription on the wall of a South African airport, and it read: 'if you want to walk fast, walk alone; but if you want to walk far, walk together'. I later found out it is an African proverb. It's amazing the great ideas we have here in Africa. I say ideas, why?
Do we practise them? Ever?

Friday, June 23, 2017

Damaged Goods

Roverman Productions in partnership with Vodafone, National Theatre & Joy FM present:

DAMAGED GOODS



An Ebo Whyte play

The Arkursts agree to participate in a television interview about their marriage with the hope that they can set an example for other marriages.

There, on live television, cameras rolling, to the full glare of millions of viewers, a stress event occurs; one which could potentially result in a full blown out family crisis depending on the management of this stressor and the coping mechanisms the Arkursts employ.

What happens? Does this event result in the Arkurts being thrown into a state of family crisis?

Find out at the National Theatre on 24th, 25th June, 1st & 2nd July at 4pm and 8pm each day. Tickets cost GH¢80.00  at Joy FM; Shell Shops at Airport, Dansoman, Sakaman, Achimota & Tema Comm. 11; Baatsona & Haatso Total; Quick and Fine Supermarket opposite UPS; Goil Shops at 37, Mile 7 & Sakaman; Frankies, Osu.

Alternatively, tickets can be paid for via Vodafone Cash at a 10% discount
1. Dial *110#
2. Select 5 (Pay Bill)
3. Select 2 (Other)
4. Enter short code - 110110
5. Enter bill number - i.e. time and date of play e.g. 4pm 24th June
6. Enter amount (multiples of GH¢72)
7. Enter PIN to confirm

Someway, somehow, we all have been damaged at a point. How are we moving past that? How are the people in our lives dealing and helping us deal with that?

DAMAGED GOODS - a fun play with a plethora of lessons to learn.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Mob Justice, Mob Injustice: Where is the Police?

A crime is committed, the perpetrator suspect is caught. The next logical step would be to call the police / report the incident to the police / send the suspect to the police. More often than not, this next logical step is ignored, omitted and a rather illogical step is adopted. The suspect is lynched. Mob justice? Where is the police?

Some 10 odd years ago, a robber attacked me. I lived, injured, but I lived. My brother rushes me to the hospital after the attack but was told to pass by the police station to pick up a hospital form first. We get to the police station, the police take a look at my bruised self, my brother reports the incident, obtains the hospital form, we are about to head on out to the hospital when one of the police officers stops us. He tells my brother the vehicle at the station has been taken out by another officer and he would be grateful if my brother could take the police to the location of the incident. My brother tells him his priority at that moment is to get me to a hospital since the extent of my injuries are unknown. Then we leave.

Thankfully my injuries weren't life threatening.
My brother and I leave the hospital after about an hour and head home. We are almost home when some guys in my neighbourhood stop the car. They ask me to come and identify the body of the robber (seriously). They'd chased him down after I left to the hospital, caught him, inflicted machete wounds on him and stoned him. Mob justice, mob injustice? Where was the police? Turns out a police officer from the station my brother made the report to arrived at the scene moments after the robber took his last breath. All he could say was if only he had been there earlier, the robber would not have been killed.
Where is the police? The police are inadequately resourced and lack access to logistics (a car) needed to perform their duties.
In situations where civilians chase a robber and catch the robber, what are they to do? Hold on to the robber until the police arrive? Transport the robber to the police station?

One morning sometime in the 90's, I heard a loud bang while sweeping outside. Later in the morning, I was sweeping inside the house when I found a bullet. I screamed, I shouted, my mum came running asking what was going on. I showed her the bullet. We looked up, and there in the ceiling was a bullet hole. How was that even possible? A report was made to the police and two police officers arrived at my house later. They stood marveling at the bullet hole while staring disbelievingly at the bullet, and joined everyone around in writing the incident off as a spiritual attack. Me, I was standing there thinking of stray bullets and trying to remember if I'd heard a chopper or a plane flying around before I heard the loud bang. I also remember trying to figure out if it was possible the shot had been fired from a storey building, and I remember wondering why the police weren't on the roof measuring, calculating, and looking for the nearest storey buildings. I was 11 years old. The police took the bullet away with them and we never saw them again. The investigation, if there was any, was closed (I guess).
Where is the police? Well, turns out the police are a tad bit too spiritual to think about investigating a crime scene. We're in Africa. How about writing off potential criminal activity as a spiritual attack.

A few weeks ago, I went to church and my priest shared the story of a similar incident that happened in his office. A bullet was shot through the roof. A police officer arrived after a report was made and he reeked of alcohol.
Where is the police? Indulging in extra curricular activities while on the job.

I've heard a number of cases where reports have been made to the police, suspects have been arrested and then released by the police without an investigation.

I heard a story in the news where a possibly mentally deranged man went on rampage injuring people and destroying property. A report was made to the police. A police officer gave pepper spray to those that made the report. He said he was the only one at the station and he couldn't leave since some people were being held for criminal offences at the station. The officer asked them to use the pepper spray on the man, subdue him and bring him to the station.
Where is the police? The police would like to think civilians with no police training whatsoever should perform the duties for which the same civilians pay taxes to ensure police offices get trained to perform.

Is it therefore a wonder that rather than send suspects to the police station, rather than wait for the police to obtain a vehicle and show up, rather than wait for the police who will rather engage in spirituality than do their job, rather than deal with a drunk police officer, rather than send a suspect to the police station who will only be released after no investigation, rather than have to transport a dangerous person to the police station, mobs would rather mete out instant justice?

In the case where I was attacked by a robber, after he was subjected to mob justice/injustice, his lifeless body was left in the middle of the road until the next morning when the police had it removed. The police also asked that I write a statement that morning and that was it. No investigation.
Is it a wonder mob justice/injustice keeps happening when the situation is not investigated, when the mob know they will go scot free?
Why mob justice/injustice? Where is the police?

Friday, May 12, 2017

The Girl Who Lived

The first time I read a Harry Potter book was some time in 1999, and I remember being so enthralled by the book; it was literally un-put-downable for me. I was in my early teens, and at that age, not much could hold my attention for the length of time this book could. I had no time for anyone or anything, and all I did was marvel at J. K. Rowlings' creativity, and I remember wanting to write as good as her when I grow up, and for my writing to captivate as many people over the world as her's does.
No, this post is not about Harry Potter.

There's this phrase used to describe Harry Potter in the books as, 'the boy who lived'. I thought it interesting. Little did I know years down the line after reading my first Harry Potter book, that phrase could be used to describe me.

Fast forward, November 2007 and I'm attacked by a robber. A robber drove up to me and tried to snatch my hand bag. That 'I-don't-even-know-how-to-describe-it', but possibly that penchant for bravado, could be stupidity too, you develop over the years after reading all the Enid Blyton books, Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew books and thinking you can do 0.000000000001 of what the heroes and heroines do kicked in, and I fought back. Stupidest thing I've done to date (that could have so got me killed). I didn't die. I walked away with minor bruises, my assailant, well, he wasn't so fortunate. He was killed. Not by me, but by a mob.
So now I like to walk around and think of myself as 'the girl who lived'. Well, I could have died, but I didn't, the guy who could have killed me rather died as a result of what he tried to do to me. Come to think of it, If I'd just given the guy my hand bag, he'd have walked driven away that day. He died as a result of my actions.

As 'the girl who lived', after so many years of thinking of myself that way, it makes sense that I should do something, make an impact, otherwise, what's the point? Harry Potter did a lot being 'the boy who lived'. He made it count by fighting evil. I'm so making my self conferred status of 'the girl who lived' count. I don't know what I'll do yet though. There are a number of possibilities; become president, save the world, feed the hungry - related to that, I'm giving my cake to the cleaner in my office right now and then I'll think up ways of making my existence count.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Adventures of Hadassah - The Bus Ride 1

All she saw and felt was sand, sand and more sand; a couple of stones too, but mostly sand. Hadassah couldn't believe it. How was this happening to her? Bad things happen to bad people doing bad stuff. Here she was, not exactly a bad person, trying to do something extremely good (by her estimation), but staring death in the face. And the worst part of it all (from her perspective) was for someone who would not walk into her bedroom with shoes that have walked on sand; sand that could have come from some gutter, sand that others might have spat in, sneezed in, blown their nose in, a variety of wild life (actually just domesticated animals) have emptied their bowels in; and here she was literally face to face with this same sand. Life as she knew it was over.
"Ouch! Ewwwww! HELP!!! Dear God! NO!!!!", she tried to scream above the din of the engine, but either she wasn't screaming loud enough, the engine was drowning out her screams, or nobody could/would help her.
The end was definitely here.

Hadassah was born into privilege. She wanting anything would be akin to a drowning man wanting a bath. There was this quirkiness about her; that coupled with her lack of want and need ensured she did not fit in. Try as she could (and how she did) she really wasn't cut out to be like the masses. Life in Hadassah's opinion wasn't fair. How she was excluded from living, from participating, from experiencing because of her origin was no more rational than excluding people for their gender, height or skin colour.

Rather than sit around and await a reincarnation into the right social class (the one that would ensure she got to be like everybody else), Hadassah decided to make the most of the life she has. On this day, she parked her car at home and took the bus.

Taking the bus meant walking a bit of a distance from her home to the bus stop, but she was determined to experience a bus ride at least once in her life. Armed with a sanitizer gel, antibacterial wipes and spray, she begun her journey.

After an uneventful 10 minute walk laden with curious stares from neighbours, Hadassah made it to the bus stop just as a bus heading in the direction she had decided to travel arrived. Hadassah got on board and carefully made her way to the back where there were empty seats. She'd just made it to an empty seat, emptied a tidy amount of antibacterial spray onto it, was just about to wipe it off with an antibacterial wipe when the bus took off, and with a plop, she hit the floor of the bus.
That was the mildest fall yet of the day for Hadassah.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Blackmail

Roverman Productions & Vodafone in partnership with Joy FM present:

BLACKMAIL



An Ebo Whyte Play

The strength of a woman is undeniably a force to be reckoned with.
Even when you cannot accept her for who she is, will not accept what she does as a part of her, and especially when you find it so easy to judge her knowing you have skeletons (of the worst kind) in your closet. Once she's made up her mind to be there for you, she'll do exactly that.

On the eve of his consecration to the office of a bishop, Reverend Elisha receives shocking news that his wife has been cheating with a member of their church. Before he could deal with this heart-breaking news, an even darker secret that was left buried in the USA rears its ugly head. It threatens to destroy his marriage further, and end his career as a renowned preacher in one of the biggest churches in Ghana.

Within 24 hours, he has to take a decision; one that has the potential to make him lose either his wife or his ministry or both.

BLACKMAIL shows at the National Theatre on 25th, 26th March & 1st , 2nd April at 4pm and 8pm each day. Tickets go for GH¢80.00 at Joy FM; Shell Shops at Airport, Dansoman, Sakaman, Achimota, Tema Comm. 11; Baatsona & Haatso Total; Quick and Fine Supermarket opposite UPS; Goil Shops at 37, Mile 7 & Sakaman; Frankies, Osu.

Alternatively tickets can be paid for via Vodafone Cash at a 10% discount
1. Dial *110#
2. Select "Buy Goods"
3. Enter Till Number - this will be 100100
4. Enter Amount (multiples of GH¢72)
5. Enter PIN to confirm

As is characteristic of every Ebo Whyte play, there's a lot of humour, fun, music, dance and a myriad of lessons to be learnt.
BLACKMAIL is the play to see!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

My Dream Road Sign!

That feeling when what you've been missing arrives, then you realise just how much you needed it, and you can't believe you've lived life without it (how did you even do it). That's how I felt when I saw my dream road sign.
And then I researched and found out that my dream road sign already exists, except it doesn't seem to be in use in Ghana, where I'd say it's very much needed. It wasn't included in the signs I had to learn and was tested on for my driving test (DVLA, really!!!). Unless it wasn't in existence at that time.

You know how it is like when you use a particular road so much that you could practically draw it in your sleep. You know where all the potholes are, or so you thought. And then one day you use this road knowing there's a pothole at a particular spot you can't avoid, but since you know this road so well, you know the speed with which you should go over the pothole, only for you to pass over this pothole and realise just how wrong you were. The rains and drivers with need for speed plying this road frequently, have resulted in that pothole metamorphosing into a pit.

You weren't supposed to drive over that pothole! You were supposed to stop, get out of the car, and push it over the hole! Too late, your car is most likely already damaged.
It really would be helpful if some warning was given as soon as you got onto that road. In other parts of the world, they're nice enough to give you this warning.


Not in Ghana.
But all's not lost, because I discovered this one right here in Accra.
No need to design new road signs. Roads and Highways, you know what to do!
The thing I don't get is there isn't a single pothole on that stretch of road, so why the sign?

I Am Because We Are - Ubuntu

The story is told of an anthropologist who proposed a game to some South African tribal children. He placed a basket of sweets near a tree...