Sunday, 6 November 2011


Our kɔkɔsakyi!!!
For a thirteen year old he was simply larger than life. And he had this aura around him; a certain bespoke majesty which was further accentuated by his strapping height and flecks of grey. He tended to stroll from his bungalow on the path that cut through that lovely green field that hosted a zillion teenage feet wild at play year after year. I used to catch a glimpse of him through the Form 1 A window. Sam Parry. In his black trench coat silhouetted against the mists crafted by the harmattan and the restless ocean fairly close by. He was not just our headmaster; he inspired us. Mondays were special at Apam Secondary School under his watch. His charisma ensured that the assembly hall was uncharacteristically packed beyond its limits. On that stage his was indeed a command performance peppered with tales of wisdom and admonitions. The school choir would have set the tone. One song I remember rendered so touchingly by this choir was about kɔkɔsakyi the vulture. The song berated the vulture for its failure to make a nest and the pathetic fate that befell it whenever it rained. Our ancestors were clear in their minds about long term strategic thinking; hedging against the imponderables of life and existence. Kɔkɔsakyi’s ways were not worth emulating.

The rains Accra experienced recently showed our  kɔkɔsakyian ways. Our topmost city leaked so badly after just 10 hours (not even continuous) of rain. It was not just the marauding water that maimed, killed and destroyed but crucially the stuff it easily marshaled along with it: electricity poles, walls, garbage etc. Sure signs of urban blight, disrepair and utter neglect. I have been pondering this ever since: could Accra have survived even for a week the chain of strafing infernos of death that NATO unleashed on Tripoli? If this is what rains can do to us what about cluster bombs tele-guided by fresh faced youths (considered patriots by their puppet masters) for whom mass killing(morphed by some linguistic chicanery into a harmless term ‘sorties’) unleashes a certain techno-porn high?

How long Accra and other cities can survive the most severe blitzkrieg and march on for the next millennia? Is that not how our leaders are supposed to think?  Wuhan University my beloved alma mater in China has secret locations where the faculty can be kept safely in case of a catastrophe human or natural. The urbanscape in many ways betrays for me the architectural construct of the thinking of its elites; whether or not they are thinking in millennia or simply one rain after the other terms. And this brings me to some of the arguments brought forward to rationalize our nakedness after the rains. A typical convoluted one was that citizens who had built on waterways were the culprits to be excoriated. Sloppy thinking!!!! One needs a permit to build and other arcane, serpentine, labyrinthine processes. Who offers that? The authorities of course!!! So who should hold the can? Those who run the bureaucracies and their political masters. Not the citizens who have to deal with decapitating rents(frontloaded into advance payments); landlords who play God and rotten infrastructure(water, power, roads etc.).

Let us return to our kɔkɔsakyi. If the idea of the unity of opposites is anything to go by  this bird can teach our leaders a useful lesson after all. As a scavenger it is extremely diligent. If only we could even do that well Accra will be on to something.      


  1. Well crafted Prof. Your voice is loud and distinctly clear out there. I am happy to see the re-spraying of the big six status at our airport road about. This development was after your piece on the matter. Kudos Prof.

    Nii Armah Addy

  2. I guess the credit is for all of us!!!! Take care anyemi!!!!!

  3. This is well said.
    Nevertheless it raises one question
    in my mind.

    Are you saying that aftermath of natural disasters such as heavy
    rainfalls and hurricanes are as a result of bad leadership?
    because even America couldn't survive it's hurricanes?

  4. Thanks a lot Charlie and Mary for your kind words and support!!!

  5. XOXO appreciate the comment. I am saying that 5hrs of just plain lazy rains should not flood Accra. What will do with a rain storm pelting Accra over a week!!! There is a world of difference between NATURAL DISASTERS and what Accra experienced I submit.

  6. Thank you for your feedback. I share your sentiments.