Friday, February 24, 2012

Move it fast, chale!

"Chop my money! Cos I don't care... cos I get am plenty". "Amanda, Amanda! Sɔkɔdɛ! dɛ, dɛ! Sɔkɔdɛ!" These are the two songs dominating 'inside my head' recently. What is Sɔkɔdɛ? I hear it is about 4play. No, not for play but foreplay. Foreplay is not always about sex, it could be a forbearing of what might happen next. And what happens next might not necessarily outdo what just happened. But anyway, you can judge if these songs are relevant to this blog post after you read to the end. Cos I'll try hook you so you do. If you skip a bunch of lines, leave a comment so I do better next time. "Pushaaaa!".

So some context. At my age, I live with my aunt and I don't have my own place. If you went to Accra and asked for rental rates & agreements in and around where the 'action' is, you might understand why. So let's not delve into that. I love my family. I get to support them and be useful by being near and available. As I live with others, I have to live under rules. The world operates like that. If it doesn't do so somewhere, show me, lemme see if it might work for me. As part of these rules, I have to be home 'around' 9pm because things shut down at home. Folks go to bed (Ghanaians sleep early - bad news for primetime tv & night clubs), gates are locked, German Shepherd must be released, etc. It's Airport Residential Area alright, arguably the most expensive place in Accra, but armed robbers like challenges. These rules are precautionary. I have and need to live with them, for my own safety and reasonably.

Yes, I have a curfew. It's better than what you see in various countries that have unrest. Or maybe not. I've overstayed it a few times. Last night, I overstayed it again. I left a Barcamp Takoradi planning meeting late, chatted up some Legon students about their future plans that I missed giving the taxi driver directions, missed the relevant turns, so had to alight and light up another taxi driver's wallet back in the direction of where I stay. On my way, I realized I didn't have phone credit (yes, I know the telco wishes I will mention its name but I won't) so I stopped to buy some. This made me reach home later, circa 9:45. "Ato, the gate is locked, orders are that they shouldn't be opened". The German Shepherd starts barking as if it needs more beer. Because even though it's seen me in friendly conditions since August, it still barks at me like am a stranger cos I've never given it food at 2:33pm.

When this has happened before, I've been able to lyric our security guard to lock up the dog (who will chew me up with the first opportunity) and my 20-something cousin who I wish was on my side more. This time, I'm not ready to do the convincing cos it looks like a 'lost case'. E don spoil. Where do I sleep tonight? Hotel room? I could sleep at Villa Monticello (the most expensive hotel in Accra) for a night and beg the owner (who I am related to) to not charge me. "Long thing, e go turn long story". Screw the hotel option. Which Good Samaritan will save me? Nearest haven option happens to be a work colleague who is a nice person. I call her up, she gladly accepts to host me and she lives a 5 minute drive or 23.3 minute walk away. Wait, the phone credit I bought is lost. Now, I've lost my bed, dinner, etc plus my phone credit. I'm not prepared to lose 'more money' chartering a taxi. And 23.3 is a great number, so I'll take the walk.

Walk for 23.3 minutes in the dark alone? This is +233's abode aka Ghana aka Ogyakrom. It's dangerous to walk alone in Airport Residential Area in the evening. Motorbike rider lowlifes/riffraffs/thieves ride around robbing people. It's documented. But maybe because I love Ghana so much and chose the walk because I've lost money, love the number 23.3 and have time to burn, no one will rob me. It's gonna be a routine walk. Heck, I never really felt safe doing such a walk in unknown places in the USA so why worry about doing it in a known place in Ghana? Good to go. Start the highlife playlist, listen to Ghanaian music, sing it aloud, maybe someone thinks am a mad man and doesn't mess with me. Or maybe someone thinks I'm walking alone, have a laptop, listening to music that's on the radio and is wearing a nice shirt. Merry christmas for armed robbers. Yeah, like joke like joke.

So I start the walk. I keep on looking back making sure no one is following me. I did this when I was walking in Hillbrow, Johannesburg with a friend in a heavy human traffic area anyway. No one is following me. No motorbikes are coming through. All cars passing by are too busy speeding and if they are slowing down, they hope I pay them to give me a ride. At some point, I thought, upon all my plenty friends and folks who know me, can't anyone drive by (and not shoot or rob me but) and help me? Oh wait, I could have announced that I needed help on Twitter. Why did I even forget that? Anyway, I feared maybe the cars passing by might be like... "rich-looking young man walking long distance is looking for trouble walking alone at night and needs to be taught a lesson". So they might call up the motorbike robbers anytime soon. Walk fast, Mighty African. You have 3 junctions to go. Keep on singing. "Ɔdɔ mmɛtu me awɔ yi mu, wɔ yi mu, Ɔdɔ mmɛka me ho hye, Ɔyɛ ɔbaa pa, ɔbaa pa, ɔbaa pa"

At some point, I saw a shadow coming towards me. Kai! I was so scared, I stopped, stood by a gate, waiting to see who this dude was. I didn't see anyone. Shit! It was my shadow, magnified by some bad driver's car's headlights. Whew! A few motorbikes come by but they are speeding so fast. They are not riding this late because they want lonely folks to rob, they want to dodge the traffic. But yeah, that scared me too. I am shameless but I try to be fearless too. But why should I be scared? I love Ghana and God, Ghana and God won't let anything bad happen to me in Ghana. I don't watch horror movies. If I watch one with you cos you love horror movies, I really have to love you. It's around this time that I was singing 'Otoolege'. Ei, mepɛ no o nti, nanso ɔfa me sɛ otoolɛgɛ (otoolɛgɛ).

Soon enough, I had finally made a left turn and was a javelin stone throw away from my destination. I started singing louder. "Why the heck are all of you asleep while I am not and looking for a place to lay my head?" Wake up and hear me sing, I'll tell you my name too so you vote me when I appear on Vodafone GH Icons. I passed by some dude sitting on the street and made sure he heard me singing. When I finally got to the apartment complex where my colleague lives, I sang a few more lines and asked the security guard if he knew what song I was singing. "Ofori Amponsah". Yes, correct for 2005 points. He had to call my colleague to see if she's around, expecting me, blah blah blah. "Do you do this procedure for everybody who comes here?", I asked him. Cos if you are doing it because I am dark and it's dark, then "fire burn you!". He let me in, and led me to my colleague's apartment. Thankfully, she was expecting me so I was let in with no trouble.

So then I told her the short story. Now you have the long story. And the morale of the story is, "Mr. Mighty African, move it fast! Move out into your own place. Get a move on with your life". Yeah, I get the point. I should get someone to chop my money (proper). Get my own place so women can visit me easily and chop more of my money. Get my own place so I can set up for the lucky lady who actually get to really chop my money. Because if I don't, this story will be 4play for worse things to come. "Bedadabe". "Wobɛte sɔkɔdɛ! dɛ, dɛ! Sɔkɔdɛ!". Does this story have something to do with the songs? Hope you read thoroughly enough to decide. More vim to us all as we pursue our agendas and endeavours without fear or shame or risk.
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