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‘Echoes of Fate’ Part 1: Rope of Hope

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My name is Momodu Yakubu. My mother, Humu, used to be a tremendous trader in “gari” and tobacco, and my father , Momodu , was a respected peasant farmer. My mother used to occasionally travel to Bolgatanga with her business associate with huge heap of closely packed bags of gari in a cargo for sale. I am the first child, followed by two girls, Nuria and Jamila, and a boy, Abdulrahman (one after the other with at least two years interval between us), in my nuclear family. My mother suffered a crippling loss in her business and couldn’t recover ever since.

There was a woman from Bolgatanga who used to bring money to my mother to buy Gari for her and later come for it in a huge cargo. This business was booming and expanding with increasing velocity. Within four months, about five vehicles of enormous size could be heavily loaded to the brim with Gari enroute to Bolgatanga. This woman would then transport these loads across boarder to ivory coast and Burkina Faso for sale. My mother had worked with her for close to a decade.

Oneday, the woman suffered mild uneasiness and visited the local clinic in our area – she had come to buy Gari as usual. She was diagnosed with diabetes and was told to visit a bigger hospital for treatment upon her return to Bolgatanga. Heartbreakingly, she died after two weeks of her return to Bolgatanga. And with her death followed the gari business – my mother’s most valuable stream of income dried up when she thought the business was in its rainy season. Some destructive consequences of the woman’s death soon followed; a devastating crop of dispairing experiences quickly emerged and surrounded my family. My mother lived in a prolonged state of increasing grief; she cried for several weeks and became sick. She almost lost her sanity.

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Because the nature of my mother’s business meant that she always had money on her, even if it wasn’t a high pile, her crisis brought about crashes of hope in my home. My father farming to feed the family was always going to pose problems, not only because it takes seasons for yams and cassavas to grow and be ready for sale or domestic consumption, but also because he wasn’t a large scale farmer.

You see, my dear, I had a lofty dream of becoming an academic giant in African history. This dream was inspired by my reading of a certain big book, THE DESTRUCTION OF THE BLACK CIVILIZATION, authored by a certain African American academician, Chancellor Williams. I found this book in our District Library (I am, dear reader, going to use District and Constituency interchangeably throughout this narration, but my use of District will be prevalent) but could not read it all, by then, because of its size. I read this very short and particularly touching conversation in the opening pages of the book:

‘”What became of the Black People of Sumer?” the traveller asked the old man, “for ancient records show that the people of Sumer were Black. What happened to them?” “Ah,” the old man sighed.” “They lost their history, so they died” A Sumer Legend.’

I was very young, but this book altered my view on life, especially when the author said:
For, having read everything about the African race that I could get my hands on, I knew even before leaving high school that (1)The Land of the Blacks was not only the “cradle of civilization” itself but that the Blacks were once the leading people on earth; (2) that Egypt once was not only all black, but the very name “Egypt” was derived from the Blacks; (3) and that the Blacks were the pioneers in the sciences, medicine, architecture, writing, and were the first builders in stone, etc. The big unanswered question, then, was what had happened? How was this highly advanced Black Civilization so completely destroyed that its people, in our times and for some centuries past, have found themselves not only behind the other peoples of the world, but as well, the color of their skin a sign of inferiority, bad luck, and the badge of the slave whether bond or free?

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This book fanned the fire that burned the dry grasses of a feeling of inferiority in my heart and turned the burned futile field of self hate into a wet fertile soil of curiosity, selflove and serious academic ambition. By having a keen interest in school and Africa, the dream began to flower with power into reality. I wanted to become someone with mastery of the knowledge of African history. I wanted to impact lives and become a symbol of enlightenment, like Dr. Kwame Nkrumah is a symbol of African freedom and unity. I wanted to one day research into African traditions and culture, and author Encyclopedia Africana. I was designed to become a pacesetting giant. I thought I was right, for the light of my dream was very bright, but fear of what lies ahead consumed me after my mother’s debacle. I wished there was a way of resurrecting my mother’s dead business, so I could chase my dream without having to worry about who helped home.

Elderly sons are like second-parents in most families in my community: they have to strive hard, sometimes sacrificing their dreams in order to cater and push the younger ones ahead. Women were not given much priority because they would soon marry and start new families with their husbands elsewhere. When I was about fifteen, because my mother’s business collapsed and my father alone couldn’t feed the family, even after I passed my Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE), I was asked to quit school and help raise the younger ones. My dream started to fall in tatters.

My dear, it was not for nothing that I had lofty ambitions, for I was one of the very few students who could read and write in my Local Authority (LA) primary school by the time I completed primary six. As for understanding what we read, that was another matter. Just being able to read and write was a big deal, and if you could read and write, you were mostly given the task of writing names of late comers or being made the school’s prefect or being associated with something noble. The task of writing names of late comers mostly fell on my shoulders. I came to be identified with writing names of late comers to the extent that almost every morning at Assembly my name was mentioned to present names of late comers.

Late comers are students who fail to come to school, according to the school’s regulations, by 7:00am. Given that I was the writer of names, I was obviously expected not to be late. But sometimes, and those times were rare, when I happen to be late, someone had to fill my void and write the names. Being a writer of late comers, I was almost always the determinant of who gets punished for coming to school late – usually the punishment comes in the form of six lashes on the victim’s buttocks. This somehow gave me an evil appearance in the imagination of fellow students, as I was later informed.

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I was usually forgiven by the writers who fill my void when I happen to be late, but on one odd occasion of unfortunate privilege, a class five student named Nyamekyɛ was asked to write names of late comers. The boy wrote names, among which my name featured, and submitted to the teacher on duty that week.

At the morning assembly, the boy who wrote the names of late comers was called, in front of a parade of students in long stretches of rows, to mention names of those who were late. At the mention of my name, a loud collective shout of satisfactory triumph from students filled the air. Their most detestable enemy has been captured.
As I walked in anger to recieve my punishment of six lashes, delusion of reprieve conquered me, for I suddenly got the feeling that the teacher was going to forgive me. Every step towards the teacher increased this delusion – even if the teacher on duty’s no-nonsense temprement was a phenomenon to which everyone at the school had become accustomed. The teacher, however, stood with surprising ease; his left hand in his pocket whiles communicating with his right hand, which held a cane with the sort of sinister capable of frightening the hardest of hearts.

The teacher, slim and tall with dark, very-bushy mustache that would invite Albert Einstein to mind, did not have a sense of fashion that places the need on me to describe it as great, and his old, brown lacoste and blue over-sized jeans that morning are testaments to that. On one occasion, he wore a trouser that was torn at the knee level that looked more like a rag and, just imagine, XXL T-shirt, which did not help matters, for, by comparison, a scarecrow should be proud of its looks. In short, he usually dresses like he doesn’t received salary.

He was also a chronic drunkard, famed for always having a cane in his hand wherever he went on campus and his knowledge of science and maths. Just the sight of him sent chills down the spines of students. Severe fear appear to overtake onlookers whenever he holds a cane to punish wrongdoers.

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As I approached him, a lazy smile spread slowly across his face, first with sympathy, then mockingly; an indication of lurking danger. He directed me to bend until my fingers could touch my toes. My shoes were very large – in fact, too large for my feet to fit properly in them – and I held the front side of their end where my toes were to fit.

To my buttocks, he administered six lashes. These lashes were so hot, in fact, that it was with extreme willpower and self-control that I avoided shedding tears. The pain manifested itself on my face; I could hear students giggling and laughing, and my heart became flooded with rivers of bitterness, within which forgiveness drowned and beyond which banks forgetfulness ceased to exist.

The lashes left prints of swollen stripes on my buttocks, and I kept massaging my buttocks for close to two hours. Consequently, it was with great spirit of endurance that I managed to sit on my desk in class, even so I couldn’t sit upright. I was always turning my buttocks this way and that way to avoid too much contact with the desk. The pain was so much, for two weeks I felt its presence.

To such an extent was the depth of the pain that I concluded that the student who wrote my name had debt to pay. Accordingly, I started thinking of mounting a revenge against the student, but later thought it uncivilized. However, I did not follow my thoughts, my emotions were too strong and, burning with vindictive fury, I started including his name among late comers, whether he came to school late or not. I changed the time to suit my agenda; whether it was 7:00am or not, if I came to school before this boy, he was late. The poor boy suffered a series of serious pain each morning at assembly for almost a month before I stopped including his name. But today, as I narrate this, my heart is swallowed by regret.

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During break hour at school, especially Fridays, we play football together. Football of any kind was so rare then that if one had it one was treated like a king by one’s peers. We used to play a plastic ball, which had both soft and hard parts, with an even harder part; a thin line that melted to hold the soft and hard parts together. If one was not careful and one hits the thin hard part, one was sure to get injured, and getting injured then was as common as money was rare. There was only one professional leather football in the whole village, and it was owned my the town team – the result of an excruciating toil.

Sometimes after we break from school, fights breakout among us for causes of varying factors. These fights were mostly settled by wrestling. Wrestling was used among us to determine who was stronger than the other. It was a principal part of our culture.

Aliu was a boy of some two years ahead of my age. He was a boy of frightening aggression and explosive temperament, which was made worse by the fact that his most furnished gift was his great ability in wrestling. Maybe his wrestling prowess influenced his temper, because Aliu really loved fighting. Whenever and wherever there was a fight, he was almost always there as a protagonist. He was a stocky chap with some large bulging eyes, and what he lacked in stature, he made up for in strategy.

Having defeated many boys older than himself, Aliu had taken a permanent residence in our imaginations and came to be seen as a walking definition of a great wrestler. He was an always-aggressive and usually-technical wrestler, one with regular application of his brain over his brawn, and because of his outstanding ability, he managed to pull off some incredible victories against the odds in many battles. But, distinguished as he was both by the superiority of his skills and the ferocity of his aggression – plus his easily eruptive temperament – Aliu had one poor property; he lacked stamina. So for wrestlers who came on Aliu with a defensive approach, he usually struggled or get defeated. But it’s easier said than done. Defending against Aliu is sometimes worse than attacking, as I later found out.

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One afternoon when we closed from school, the stage was set for Aliu and I. He wanted to join us to play football at school during break time, to which the ball owner objected – this triggered Aliu’s much familiar but greatly feared anger. He said if he would not be allowed to play, no one would play, which forced unanimous screams of disapproval from us.

Among my age group, I was the most trusted and most proficient wrestler, equipped with both stamina and technical skills in equal measure; the closest thing to Aliu with an added advantage of stamina, but even my closeness was not close enough; the gulf in quality between Aliu and I was huge – he was that good and demonstrated his competence in various styles. When Aliu talked and I was the only one whose reply matched both the mood of his tone and his choice of words, I knew, and my colleagues too knew, that there would be a fight on our way home after we closed from school. So that was it, the way home would be a fitting arena for a grand wrestling showdown.

After school, Aliu approached me and started threatening me. My friends knew about only one outcome should I cross swords with him; I would be defeated, so they employed the service of their efforts to try to prevent Aliu from coming too close to me. But Aliu was as slippery as okro soup and so he eluded them and confronted me face to face. We stood staring at each other, with Aliu breathing threateningly. Then he pushed me and I returned the push, rather tamely. The murderous reaction my push inspired in him quickly offered a convincing argument to me that cowardice would not be my way to salvation on that occasion.

He burst forth with brute force. He charged towards me violently, teeth clenched, and I also charged towards him fiercely and fearlessly and, like gladiators of Medieval Europe, we collided. The wrestling was on!

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I started on the defensive and sought to block his moves. But showing a demolishing attacking efficiency on a scale that saps opponents’ energy rapidly and render them handicapped quickly, a defensive approach against Aliu invites more danger. Being fully focused and directing all my efforts towards avoiding a defeat became my premier purpose – I needed to be at my maximum competence to achieve that, even if it meant employing risky tactics.

But it was not as if being defeated by Aliu would be shameful to me, for the young chap had defeated many men mightier than I, and so it was a mismatch that I was even contesting him. I had nothing at all to lose against such a colossal wrestler, but I was defending as if the future of humanity depended on the outcome of the contest; as if I needed to avoid a defeat by all means to prevent humanity from immediate extinction.

But who would not offer stiff resistance against Aliu’s relentless attacks – attacks that were so violent in quality and extremely ferocious in degree that they demanded an abnormally high use of effort from me to endure. Right from the onset of the battle, it was clear that we both had the motive to win, but only Aliu had the means to achieve his aim.

Our friends formed a sort of circle around us with the way they positioned themselves while issuing various helpful tactical instructions to us. The circle they formed influenced the movement of we the combatants somewhat, and the wrestling became like a hell in a cell kind of battle, but only without a bell, or a belt. Only occasionally did we show the propensity to go outside of that circle our friends formed, and that was when Aliu’s blistering burst of aggressive swirling and pushing of me became too much for me to control my movement properly. At their most effective, the speed and scale plus the force and fury of his pushes and swirls made my feet move so painfully swift that I thought the ground was slippery – like we were battling on titled floor on which water has been poured.

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While the contest proceeded, my little brother kept bemoaning my lack of attacking display and lamenting my constant use of defense. “Yakubu, you are too defensive? You are fighting as if he is better than you.” My brother said, to which he got a cold reply from an older boy.

“Only if you know whom he is wrestling with, you won’t be saying this nonsense. You think he is wrestling with Aremeyaw, ehn?” The older boy said. Aremeyaw was the oldest guy among us, about four years older than me, but he was also the weakest. Even children of my younger brother’s age could boast of success over him in fights.
Almost immediately after my brother’s comments, Aliu knelt down with one leg while holding me, like he was about to beg a lady to marry him. This technique was meant to lure me into believing I could easily cover and press him to the ground with overpowering force. If I tried it, he would get up at once carrying me in a helpless position around his neck like a hunter carries an animal around his neck after killing it.

Knowing this trick very well, I refused to be baited. As he knelt, I stood still and refused to move an inch. This worried him, but he had faith in that trick and kept kneeling, this time waiting for my vigilance to sleep so he could get up at once and push me and try simultaneously to lock my leg(s) with his. But I remained alert like a security guard of World Bank and the disappointed Aliu stood up. The battle continued.

We had agility as our common denominator, but where Aliu exercised his dreaded aggression and showed superior finnese, mobility and enterprise, I countered with resilience and tenacity. He realized, consequently, that this daunting duel demanded more than diligent application of skillful marnovuers and aggressive utilization of muscle power. He realised that I was a man inspired, so he altered his tactics. But he might not have realized that his industry caused me troubles; I was greatly relieved when he changed his approach. However, there’s no respite in this contest. I was soon gasping for air as Aliu started pressing and stretching me beyond my limits. And when I refused to buckle under his sustained pressure, the foiled Aliu failed to maintain his momentum and his attack lost its potential.

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We wrestled for close to an hour. The sun was scorching and the both of us were sweating profusely. But one of the reasons why the contest lasted that long was because I was defending more. In fact, defending was the only thing I was doing: before undertaking any attacking chores, I made sure I fulfilled my defensive duties. Combined with the foregoing reason was the fact that despite his dominance throughout the battle – the intolerable pressure to which he subjected me, his menacing display of a desire to decimate me and his constant pressing and continuous stretching of me – many spectators agreed that it was an occasion when Aliu did not touch his most devastating heights.

As the contest proceeded, I grew into it and abandoned my defensive approach. For the first time, my friends observed that I was trying to do something that resembled an attack. They could barely believe it. They could barely believe I was trying to do something to put the almighty Aliu to the ground. I pushed Aliu backwards with brute force to get him to commit mistakes in order to sentence him to defeat. My friends thought it was a moment befitting cheers, so they began to boost my morale by cheering me up. This unsettled Aliu, but my attempt was only vaguely threatening; in costly betrayal, my composure left me when I needed it most and Aliu exploded again in a series of blistering attacks that culminated in a glorious opportunity for him; he locked my left leg with his right leg and raised me. My only attempt at attack ended in trouble for me.

Everywhere became quiet as Aliu contemplated his next move. I was struggling to set myself free and regain my balance, but his passionate grip on me was so firm it was as if I forced my hands out of his, parts of my hands would cut and remain in his hands. Given these conditions, all possibilities of my avoiding a defeat vanished. I remained helpless in his hands. But in a dramatic, even miraculous, twist of fate, Aliu lost both his advantageous balance and his much needed composure. In his attempt to cause me greater damage than the laws of physics permitted – and contrary to the opinion of his capabilities – he tried to raise me to the limits of his hands and tilt himself backwards before throwing me forward to the ground. What the laws of physics prohibited, he thought his abilities permitted.

When he raised me a little beyond his chest region, the upper part of his body became exceedingly heavy – too heavy for him to avoid falling, and so the mighty Aliu; the all conquering wrestler with unquestionable right to wrestling authority, against the odds, awkwardly fell to the ground with me on top of him. The mighty has been defeated by the meek. My friends could barely control themselves. They quickly surrounded us and separated us, much to Aliu’s renewed energy and anger. From that day, Aliu lost his respect and suffered an erosion of confidence. Too much had cost him so much.

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After the fight, my brain kept replaying the match and giving me solutions to some of the problems I faced during the duel. Many ideas came rushing down my mind – ideas like what I should’ve done when Aliu was stretching me and putting me under pressure and what I should’ve done to have easily defeated Aliu. Yes, my brain was talking about defeating Aliu easily. The brain is capable of many things, including absurd fantasies.

I was the first child – and a son – so the only option for me was to endure pain within my bones and farm to help home. To that end, I was pushed by the combined effort of unwritten societal laws and unfortunate circumstances to start supporting my family at the expense of my dreams. I had a farm, but I was regularly discouraged from venturing more into farming just by looking at the state of the life of farmers in my community. Despite working extremely hard, rewards for farmers in my community have been hopelessly inadequate. Without the aid of farming machinery and no money to employ labourers to work, I looked destined to travel on the same path as other farmers. I had no holiday, everyday I went to farm, yet my farm could only be enough to help feed home. In the rainy season, without being comforted by umbrella or raincoat (where would I get those?) I was constantly confronted by an early morning dew on the grasses that grew along narrow pathways and the water that remained behind to mix with the clay soil to form long stretches of mud along the pathways to the farm after downpour. Sometimes when strong irresistible wind accompanies the rain, long stretches of blady grasses by each side of the pathways would be forced to push and interlock each other like wrestlers, blocking the way and requiring great will for one to move ahead. I was mostly beaten by rain.

At night, insects cried and flied; their high cries were supported by bass from frogs. The night was never quiet. Sometimes, and those times were many – less than always, but more than occasionally – my little brother, Abdulrahman, would ask me who gave birth to those insects and frogs, whether they pray, whether they have farms and where they sleep. I usually answer him based on my mood, so the same question can have different answers.

Night times in the village are interesting times and there are some beliefs associated with them. One does not whistle at night, it attract snakes. One does not point a finger at the newly emerged moon, one’s finger would disappear for that. In the village there was no electricity, and lantern with kerosene as fuel was the most prevailing device for light. One man from the nearby town brought “video” there occasionally to show for money. He would mostly place a notice of the movie he would show by sticking its “poster” against a plywood and place it at a vantage point, usually the market square.

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At around 5:00pm in the evening, two boys would roam the whole village ringing a bell and shouting to indicate that there would be a movie show in the evening. One of the boys would be ringing the bell, “Gbleeeeign, Gbleeeeign, Gbleeeeign,” then the other one would be shouting, “Video.” They would repeat this till they finish roaming the whole village. In the evening, they would get to watch movie for free.

Everyone stays outside, except those in the house where the movie is shown. If you pay, you receive a stamp in your palm. Because getting money was difficult, sometimes some people would pay for a day, receive stamp and spend the next day protecting it from cleaning. They would go every length to protect it against fading.
The man who usually brings the video is called Bra Kudjo. From him, we watched quite a tall list of movies, from Ghallywood and Nollywood to Hollywood, ranging from titles like, Aku Sika, a Ghanaian movie of plaintive content, Issakaba, an action, spirit and African-proverbs packed Nigerian movie, to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s famous Commando.

In the afternoon, Bra Kudjo would dry the batteries of his TV remote in the sun for a while; this is supposed to charge the batteries somewhat, but if this fails to work when it’s time to use the remote, he would remove the batteries and reinsert them into the remote and slap the remote “Kpa, Kpa, Kp, Kpa” a few times, if this doesn’t work – and it works mostly – he would put the remote somewhere and start pressing the necessary buttons on the TV.

In the village, because everyone knew someone and because families were deeply interconnected that they form a complex network of blood relation, it is difficult to tell who is not a relative of whom. So, at night, after Bra Kudjo had shown “common this” (common this was a locally deviced term to mean the first short film shown. Its aim was to attract people, after which everyone would be asked to move out and pay – and re-enter) we children would go to one of our aunties in the house where they show the movie and hide inside her room. When it was time for “Abɔnten go” (an Akan word “Abɔnten” means outside, added to the English word “go” to mean it was time for everyone to go “outside” and pay), we would remain hidden. After a considerable number of people had entered, we would sneak discretely and join them to watch the movie.

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But Bra Kudjo was a man of ill temper. If a child is seen sneaking to join the crowd, that child had better ran back to be saved to avoid contact with Bra Kudjo’s cruel cane (which was, in fact, a copper wire).

But in the abscence of Bra Kudjo’s movies, and there was mostly a long absence of it, story telling was the most common occurance. My mother was an expert at it.

Night was growing and children had gathered with their mothers. My mother gathered us, with Abdulrahman already deeply asleep on a mat beside her. Children from other houses hurried to our home, they didn’t want to miss anything. It was stories time, they sat round, with latern in the middle. The fire flies had started passing, the moon was born only a week ago, so it wasn’t very bright, but the stars somehow atoned for it.

One of the children sat on a winged-ant. The pressed insect forced its way out, and, out of anger, stung the little boy without mercy. The boy screamed at once, stood up and started shaking himself, making sure the night was filled with his distressing cry. “What happened to you?” The other children asked. The crying boy had no answers for questions. A quick check was quickly done using the lantern and the ant was seen marauding aggressively about as if it was on a mission to terrorize whoever came too close to it. The children burnt it with a red coal and everybody resumed their seat. The weeping boy’s desire to feed his ears with delicious meals of tales was robbed from his heart by the ant, for despite all attempts to calm him and make him listen to the tales, he refused and went home. “Check well and make sure you don’t get stung by another ant,” my father said, went and sat back in his bamboo seat that bend backwards like a bed, his hands supporting his head and his right leg crossed over the lap and knee area of his left leg – the right leg shaking voluntarily. He was also listening to the tales.

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“Time for tales” began one of the children, a girl. “Let Awai Mammatu tell us some tales,” she said. “Okay, are you all ready?” My mother asked the children. “Yesss! We are,” the children answered.

“Okay! Long, long ago,” started my mother. “How long ago?” One boy interrupted. “Stop fooling, or you will go home,” a rather hostile reprehension from an older boy sent the little boy coiling back in his shell of submission. He offered an unsolicited apology, “I am sorry.” But the boy’s voice lacked poise. “Leave him!” My mother said, “Okay, let’s do it this way. Once upon a time, ” My mother changed the introduction. “Time! Time!!” The children chanted. “There lived a young man. He was a hardworking young man of about three years older than quarter of a century.” My mother stopped and took a bite of her colanut, after which she continued. “After years of farming, he concluded that his efforts deserved better than his returns. In other words, he felt that what he was receiving was not in proportion to what he was giving. He decided to consult a priest to ask him why this was so and if there was someone spiritually behind his failure. When he went to a priest, he presented his problem and sought for solutions.”

A little girl interrupted with a question, “But aunty, what does three years older than quarter of a century mean?” Then a boy of about a fifteen years old shouted instructions, “keep quiet and listen.” But my mother replied the little girl, “It means Twenty eight years.”

My mother continued, “When he consulted a priest, the priest gave him an assignment. He was told that the assignments were two, but one will be fulfilled by him and the other by the priest. His assignment, so said the priest, was the most important – without it, nothing can be done. The assignment was that he will bring fifty gallons of his own sweat. It doesn’t matter how long it will take him to gather it.”. My mother was getting to the conclusion, but my father interrupted with a correction – at least that was what it was meant to be. “If you don’t know the story, who asked you to narrate it?” my father asked a little rudely and continued, “The young man was led to the priest by his friend, who had told the young man that their lives were too miserable. They both went to the priest and the priest gave them the assignment. When they started the assignment, his friend gave up in the first six months, but he persisted and resisted all temptations to quit. Now, with this correction, continue from where you left, woman.” My father said.

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“You have just added something new and called it a correction, it’s not part of the original story. Anyway, for the sake of the children, let me continue.” My mother hammered home her point and continued, “It took six years for the young man to gather fifty gallons of his own sweat. When he presented it to the priest, the very impressed priest asked him how he got the assignment fulfilled. Then he told his story. He said in order to gather more sweat, he increased the size of his farm and stayed longer at work. He had very little time to be with friends. He was mostly busy and always disciplined. The priest listened keenly as the young man brought his story to a close. In conclusion he said he was there not to proceed with the money rituals, for he has achieved more than he ever thought possible for himself. Then the priest told him that if he had been told earlier to go and work extra hard, he would have thought it insulting because he thought he was already working hard enough. “Much of our problems are not caused by other people,” the priest said and added, “but by excuses and neglect of our responsibilities.” My mother concluded. After few stories from my father, we all went to sleep.

Sometimes we those who have our farms on a particular pathway organise ourselves and clear the blady bushes by the path. But because the stubborn grasses have a disturbing attitude of refusing to die and a glowing desire for growing quickly, we usually leave them for long periods before clearing them (again), in order not to waste energy. In the dry season, the previously muddy brown pathways become hard and harsh, having been pounded by moving feet and patched by the hot baking sun. At the height of my mother’s business, I had several shoes and slippers, some of which I wore to farm and others to school and other social functions, but after her loss, it didn’t take long before I outgrew some and the rest got damaged out of constant pressure, except a pair of loyal slippers which seemed to have understood my condition and, with resilience, persevered with me in silence. If my father was the head of our home, my mother was the heart of it: when her business suffered, the economic life of my family had difficulty in breathing. Because I had only a pair of slippers for all social functions, like ceremonies and festivals, and any other functions, I usually walk barefooted to the farm and, under my feet, the baking brown paths provide me with lessons one can only get through experience.

Meat of any kind was so scarce in our home that the little that was available was reserved for my father. Meat only becomes sufficiently available to we the children during festivals. Giving this background information, it is easy to explain why festivals are so important to we the children. But it is not so easy to explain to children born in the comforting conditions of financial stability what having a pair of slippers meant to us.

Among we the children, only my youngest brother was usually given meat (very small to prevent him from crying). To ensure that I also ate meat, I had to engage my youngest brother in story telling and other forms of child persuasion. Otherwise I had to engage in the most demanding enterprises (in terms of the intelligence required to succeed) in order to eat meat; namely, stealing meat from a pot of soup. This was a risky enterprise to undertake and to be caught doing it is easier than to escape. The punishment for getting caught was so severe that it induced terror in we the children always. But despite the the harsh punishment associated with it, I considered the rewards of succeeding to be worth the risk. I always make an attempt to steal when neither my mother nor my father was around. I also avoid being seen by my siblings. The process is long and involves a lot of caution. Mostly I succeed.

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But one day, while carrying out this operation, I was caught by my mother. What my father did to me that night was more than a beating; it was a belligerent assault.

We ate carbohydrate meals everyday, and, resultantly, my siblings and I developed overhanging bellies, which were so large my father said he observed that my belly entered his room minutes before my whole body did when he called me into his room for a family meeting one day. Life refused to smile; it was harsh.

Life was harsh, but fate was gentle. After a year of farm work , my father’s childhood friend, about whom I do not boast sufficient knowledge to give you vivid description except that he was my father’s childhood schoolmate, discussed my academic life with my father and took interest in supporting me after learning that I had passed the BECE. He was a resident of Tamale, but he made me attend the Senior High School in my district, at his altruistic cost. He could not support my Tertiary Education because he had gone on pension by the time I was ready for Tertiary Education. I looked destined to end my school life in SHS until a certain lady called Adwoa decided to rescue my then dimmed dream from dying completely. Adwoa was a wonderful girl who met me by fate and helped me. To put the weight of her help into perspective, without it I would have been not better than a miserably underemployed fellow complaining about everything around me and bemoaning the struggles of existence.

PART 2 LOADING.
Written by Mohammed Yekine Gifted.

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Introducing Bisayen! Ask Us! & Touch Us! Project: A Campaign Revolutionizing Breast Cancer Support and Education

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Global Outreach Consortium, an NGO focused on providing complete health care to the underprivileged, announces a significant milestone in the fight against breast cancer with the launch of Bisayen! Ask Us! & Touch Us! Project. This is an innovative project dedicated to providing comprehensive support, education, and empowerment to breast cancer patients, their loved ones and women in general. At the thrust of this campaign, is the Toll-free Helpline 0800 332200 (MTN) and 030 8249430 (other networks).

Breast cancer remains one of the most prevalent forms of cancer affecting women worldwide and it is the number one cause of cancer diagnosis and death from cancers amongst women in Ghana. It impacts negatively on the lives of individuals, families and communities during the period of diagnosis and quest for treatment every year. In the face of such a challenging journey, access to reliable information, compassionate support, and personalized guidance can make an immense difference in a patient’s experience and outcome.

Ask Us! & Touch Us! Project: A Campaign Revolutionizing Breast Cancer Support and Education

Ask Us! & Touch Us! Project: A Campaign Revolutionizing Breast Cancer Support and Education

Bisayen! Ask Us! & Touch Us! emerges as a beacon of hope and guidance, offering a lifeline for individuals navigating the complexities of breast cancer diagnosis, treatment, and survivorship. The innovative helpline is staffed by a team of compassionate healthcare workers, all dedicated to providing unwavering support and reliable information to those in need.

What sets Bisayen! Ask Us! & Touch Us! apart is its holistic approach, designed to address the diverse needs and concerns of breast cancer patients at every stage of their journey. Whether seeking clarity on treatment options, grappling with emotional distress, or simply in need of a listening ear, callers to the helpline can expect empathetic guidance and practical insights tailored to their unique circumstances.

Ask Us! & Touch Us! Project: A Campaign Revolutionizing Breast Cancer Support and Education

Ask Us! & Touch Us! Project: A Campaign Revolutionizing Breast Cancer Support and Education

The project is already underway with the training of facilitators in patient-centered clinical interviewing methods as well as regular hospital and community activations. “We understand that every breast cancer journey is unique, and we are committed to empowering individuals with the knowledge, support and training they need to navigate this challenging path with resilience and hope,” said Dr. Priscilla Vandyck-Sey, Executive Director of Global Outreach Consortium. 

The two-year project offers a wide range of opportunities, including:

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  • Educational Resources: Access to up-to-date information on breast cancer myths and misconceptions, diagnosis, treatment options and common side effects of treatments amongst others.
  • Emotional Support: Confidential counseling and emotional support for patients, their families and general population.
  • Survivor Connection: Opportunities for patients to connect with others who have faced similar challenges, fostering a sense of community and solidarity.

Bisayen! Ask Us! & Touch Us! identifies as a testament to the power of compassion, knowledge, and shared experience in transforming the breast cancer journey. By offering a supportive lifeline to those in need, we aim to not only improve outcomes in breast cancer treatment but also to uplift spirits and inspire hope in the face of adversity.

For more information or to reach out for support, please visit www.globaloc.org/bisayen/ or call the toll-free helpline above. 

Together, let us stand united in the fight against breast cancer, one call, and one conversation at a time.

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Travel Bloggers and Portable Triple Monitors: A Perfect Match?

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Today’s travel era is the era of digital nomads. Many travel bloggers love to spend their time visiting various exciting destinations. They capture great images and turn them into creative content that inspires many others. They need modern portable triple monitors to do the desired editing work efficiently and flexibly. Many travel experts find this gadget a game changer.

Besides, these compact and high-resolution monitors enable travel bloggers to multitask seamlessly. It covers everything from editing photos and videos to managing their social media and researching new destinations. Let’s discover how these innovative tools can elevate your travel blogging experience!

Travel Blogger’s Daily activities and responsibilities

Researching destinations

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Undoubtedly, researching destinations is the most crucial daily activity for travel bloggers. It includes the effort to dive deep into the potential travel locations to uncover unique stories. The research process includes studying the local culture, history, and the exciting attractions in the new places to explore. With the help of a tool like a Mobile Pixels Trio portable triple monitor, it becomes easy to research the destinations effectively.

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Writing and editing content

Travel bloggers’ next daily activity is writing and editing the content. It encompasses the creation of engaging, informative, creative, and visually appealing posts. A process to do great work involves drafting detailed travel guides, personal narratives, destination reviews, unique experiences, and more. Moreover, the bloggers carefully edit the work to ensure the content’s clarity, coherence, and grammatical accuracy.

Managing social media

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Another primary daily task is managing a travel blogger’s social media. It usually includes sharing strategic content across various platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. This job comprises creating eye-catching posts that can engage the followers. It also adds the responsibility of responding to the comments and analyzing the engagement metrics to refine the approach. The bloggers also collaborate with other brands and influencers to participate in travel conversations.

Editing photos and videos

With writing and editing, another essential daily role that adds some fun with creative efforts is to edit the photos and videos. It helps travel bloggers transform their raw images and footage into captivating content. The work process includes picking the best shots, adjusting the light, color, and contrast, and adding creative touches. The helping hand in this work for the travel bloggers is a great photo and video editing software. It helps in creating compelling travel content.

How Portable Triple Monitor Benefits Travel Bloggers

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As you have read about the daily roles of a travel blogger, you can understand that it is full of work that needs help from digital devices. With a portable triple monitor, all the above-mentioned daily tasks of a traveler can become seamless. The following are the significant benefits this device offers to travel bloggers:

Enhanced productivity

The first benefit of using a portable triple monitor is enhanced productivity. These monitors enable users to multitask to simultaneously manage research, writing, photo editing, and social media. This setup effectively streamlines the content creation process and reduces the time spent to switch between tasks.

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Improved workflow

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Travel bloggers can experience an improved workflow with the portable triple monitors. These devices facilitate the fast transition between tasks. Hence, travel bloggers can skip the applications. Therefore, travel bloggers can better organize and manage multiple projects with ample screen space.

Portability and convenience

Portability and convenience are the most crucial advantages of using portable triple monitors for travel bloggers. These monitors are lightweight and compact. It makes them easy to carry during short or long travel journeys. It will not add bulk to the luggage of the travel bloggers. This benefit maintains a productive workflow regardless of any location.

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MTN GHANA CEO STEPHEN BLEWETT SPENDS TIME WITH STUDENTS IN ABURI AS PART OF 30 DAYS OF Y’ELLO CARE

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The CEO of MTN Ghana, Stephen Blewett, led a group of MTN Ghana employee volunteers in a groundbreaking ceremony at Aburi Presbyterian Secondary Technical School to kick off the construction of a container-based e-library. This project is part of MTN’s 30 Days of Y’ello Care activities.

During this year’s 30 Days of Y’ello Care Campaign, MTN Ghana will set up two container-based e-learning libraries. These libraries will be equipped with computers, internet access, textbooks, storybooks, and additional reading materials to enhance the teaching and learning experience. The first library will be handed over to the school’s management by the end of the campaign. Additionally, another e-library will be constructed in Sunyani in the Bono region.

Speaking at the school’s assembly hall packed with an enthusiastic group of students, the CEO of MTN Ghana, Stephen Blewett, encouraged the students to take their studies seriously. He emphasized that they are the future leaders of Ghana and the world. Blewett stated that the next greatest scientist, president, and CEO could be among the students, but achieving these aspirations requires dedication, hard work, and passion. He assured the students that MTN is committed to supporting them in becoming future scientists, inventors, or leaders by providing computers and digital facilities to underscore the importance of technology in their lives. Stephen emphasized that technology is crucial for building a strong future.

The headmistress of the school, Mrs. Joyce Appiah, applauded MTN for selecting her school as one of the beneficiaries for the project. She pledged their support to MTN Ghana for the successful completion of the project.

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MTN employee volunteers will not only establish a container-based e-library but also create a smart farm equipped with smart devices and irrigated by a digital borehole. The volunteers will play a part in drilling the borehole as part of the ‘Quench and Connect’ initiative. Nationwide, the volunteers will also organize digital literacy workshops for students and teachers.

This year’s 30 Days of Y’ello Care theme is “Education for rural and remote communities”. In line with the theme, MTN Ghana employee volunteers will implement a specialized program called “Quench and Connect.” Volunteers will assist in drilling digital boreholes in schools experiencing water shortages, enabling students to concentrate on their studies.

MTN Y’ello Care is an annual employee volunteerism program across the MTN Group, allowing staff to participate in community development projects in countries where MTN operates. The initiative, which was started in 2007, has had a significant impact on millions of people and hundreds of communities across the continent. At the end of the program, the country with the most impactful projects wins a prize of $100,000 to be reinvested in community projects.

The 21 Days of Y’ello Care programme takes place in June every year. However, this year, to commemorate the 30th Anniversary of MTN’s operations, the 21 Days of Y’ello Care has been extended to 30 Days.

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King Promise Talks About Latest Single on Apple Music’s Africa Now Radio

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King Promise Talks About Latest Single on Apple Music’s Africa Now Radio

This Week’s Episode Features a Conversation With King Promise, and the 5 Hottest Tracks of the Week! Tune in to Africa Now Radio with Nandi Madida this

Friday, June 14th at 9a Lagos/London / 10a Johannesburg/Paris / 1a LA / 4a NYC on Apple Music 1 [ and broadcast on  YFM Accra every Sunday at 2pm, YFM Kumasi on Saturdays at 3pm and YFM Takoradi on Saturdays at 6pm]

Cover Star Interview
Ghanaian Afrobeats star King Promise joins Nandi Madida via FaceTime on Apple Music 1 to talk about his latest single, “Continental (feat. Shallipopi).” He also discusses his new album, ‘True To Self,’ his creative process, and what he loves about contributing to culture.

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Nandi Madida shares the 5 hottest new African tracks of the moment. This week’s selection includes new tracks from Oxlade, Ravanny & Harmonize, Stonebwoy, DJ Stokie & Sobzeen feat. Lington, and PHILA DLOZI.

Tune in and listen to the full episode this Friday, June 14th at 9a Lagos/London / 10a Johannesburg/Paris / 1a LA / 4a NYC on Apple Music 1 at apple.co/_AfricaNow [and broadcast on  YFM Accra every Sunday at 2pm, YFM Kumasi on Saturdays at 3pm and YFM Takoradi on Saturdays at 6pm].

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***

King Promise Tells Apple Music About the Global Popularity of His Song, “Terminator” 

I love to contribute to my culture—the goal has always been global domination through our music as Africans. The fact now the world is catching on—even they are late but they are welcome to the party—I’m blessed, not just as a Ghanaian, but as an African in general. It’s so beautiful to see the world latching on to what we’re doing, love it and appreciate it.

When “Terminator” dropped, it was another level of what I’m doing, for me. It was such a blessing to have a record known all over the globe; it’s just so beautiful. After that it’s just been back-to-back with “Paris,”  “Perfect Combi,” “Favourite Story” and now finally the album, so I’ve been super proud of this whole movement right now.

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King Promise Tells Apple Music How He Felt No Pressure To Deliver With His New Album, ’True To Self’ 

It’s always been [about] having fun for the music, becauseI feel like that’s when you make the magic. When you overcalculate it and you overthink it, you lose a spark, and this is something I learned from the OGs before I became established in the business. It’s good to be a perfectionist—I like my things perfect—but there’s also beautify in the flaws, so it’s always to a certain level.

There’s really no pressure—I never go to the studio like, “I need to make a hit today,” you know? I go to the studio making music that I love and giving it my very best, because obviously I believe I’m blessed with this talent and I really don’t need to overthink it, and that’s really how I always move in what I do. It’s never really pressure, it’s more like excitement… it pushes me to want to do more.

King Promise Tells Apple Music What Inspired the Title of His New Album, ’True To Self’ 

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Life and growth [inspired this album title]. I just got to the point where I felt the most important thing and the best thing you can to do to yourself is really lean into your originality and what you represent, and where you belong. All those things are important in making you grow into a better person. I’ve always kept it 100 with my music. I don’t do music because of what’s popping, I make music that I love, and I’m actually true to myself.

With a few things happening in my life at the point when I started working on the album, it just felt like [it was] the right title to call it, because I thought I’m gonna go back to the basics. I’m allowing myself to be vulnerable, allow myself to be a superstar, allow myself to be a fan, and allow myself to be an artist.

King Promise Tells Apple Music About His Song, “Continental (feat. Shallipopi)” 

It was one of the very last songs I made on the album. My friend GuiltyBeatz produced it. I hadn’t seen him in almost a year because he’s been travelling the world—I know he just finished an album with Tems—but finally he came bearing gifts, like “Bro, I have something for you. I was just waiting to see you, when I made this one I knew it was yours.” Then he plays the “Continental” beat and I’m like, “What the hell is this?” It was just a match made in heaven, It was so perfect. When I got through those first lines I was like yes, this is truly ‘True To Self,’  and I just took it from there.

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Eventually I was talking to my manager and I said that Shallipopi will sound good and it will bring out another side of him. He heard it and was crazy about it, and I’m happy for what we’ve put together. He came to Ghana, we shot the video and everything’s beautiful… I can’t wait for everyone to hear it.

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Zipline and CorpsAfrica Partner to Address Critical Blood Supply Needs in Ghana

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Zipline, the global leader in instant logistics, and CorpsAfrica, a global NGO that recruits and trains educated African youth as volunteers to live and work in rural, under-resourced communities, have joined forces to tackle the critical need for safe and adequate blood supplies in health facilities across Ghana. This partnership aims to increase blood supplies through a series of comprehensive initiatives, leveraging the strengths and reach of both organizations to save more lives.

Despite the importance of a reliable blood supply for effective healthcare delivery, recent data has revealed a troubling trend of low voluntary blood donations in Ghana. In 2021, only 26% of the 173,938 units of donated blood were collected from the general public (as opposed to family members and immediate friends of the recipients), and in 2022, this percentage slightly decreased to 25.3% of the 179,765 blood donations.

To combat this issue, Zipline, as part of its corporate social responsibility efforts, has been actively working over the past several years to increase the availability of blood at various hospitals in the countries where it operates. In 2023, for example, Zipline collaborated with the National Blood Bank in Ghana to organize 41 blood drives throughout Ghana, successfully collecting a total of 2,780 blood units. Similarly, Zipline’s work with the Rwandan blood system has translated to a 55% reduction in maternal mortality, according to a study by The Wharton School.

“We are committed to addressing the critical blood supply needs in Ghana. Our partnership with CorpsAfrica will significantly amplify our efforts, enabling us to reach more communities and save more lives,” said Miki Sofer, Senior VP of Partnerships at Zipline.

Zipline and CorpsAfrica will collaborate with the National Blood Service to coordinate monthly blood drives at different locations nationwide. This partnership aims to organize roughly 80 blood drives in 2024 – a substantial increase of more than 100% from what Zipline organized in 2023. The effort is expected to yield about 6,000 blood units. 

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“CorpsAfrica is thrilled to collaborate with Zipline on this vital initiative,” says Liz Fanning, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of CorpsAfrica. “CorpsAfrica Volunteers across Ghana are eager to support these blood drives, enhancing sensitization campaigns, and mobilizing community support.”

The partnership looks forward to engaging community volunteers in various districts within the Zipline operational areas in Ghana (Omenako, Ashanti Mampong, Vobsi, Sefwi Wiawso, Anum and Kete Krachi) to actively participate in awareness campaigns aimed at promoting the importance of blood donation. Church groups, schools, and members of local communities are largely targeted to participate in this exercise. 

Beyond the blood drives, the partners will also conduct awareness programs and provide training to healthcare professionals on effectively utilizing different blood components, such as Fresh Frozen Plasma (FFP), for specific medical situations. By enhancing the understanding and awareness of Zipline and CorpsAfrica’s capabilities, more health facilities can leverage the support offered in accessing essential blood products when needed.

“We encourage everyone within the region to be on the lookout for our publicity materials announcing dates and locations for the next blood drive. Together, let’s work to make blood available to save the lives of those who need it the most,’’ said Sofer.     

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Pinky Pecks proclaims herself as the change in a male-dominated industry

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In a recent interview on Anidaso TV, rising music sensation, Pinky Pecks made a controversial statement that has sent shockwaves through the industry. (more…)

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