Building Relationships We Can All Be Proud Of

Sunday, 24 June 2012

MEMORIES FROM THE 8Os: THE ONES THAT MAKE ME SMH



I LOVE this weather...this whole June weather. It reminds me of the 80s; not the PNDC revolution or the 83 famine; gosh where were you during the famine? I was in Tadi; where else could I have been. Bloody experience I wouldn’t want my children to have. It’s not even about the hard times that made people work two or more jobs to make ends meet that this weather brings to mind. Ah but those were the good old days when America and England came to Ghana... for once these bloody lazy bunch of 13 million cowards ruled by a lost Scotish actually really seriously worked their lazy behinds off before they could eat. Ah but that is not what this weather reminds me of.

This weather sublimely reminds me of my childhood. Yes. But there are things you need to know about this boy. 

First, there was a discontinuity between my height and the distance on the ground. In simple English, I was too tall for my age that the actual width of a gutter or culvert appeared smaller when I looked down at it. The next thing you would hear was someone screaming out to my mum, 'Madam your son has fallen into the gutter again!!! Can’t he see the gutter?' I damn well see it!!! But it looked more like a backyard gutter than a 2feet wide drainage!!!!! So up till date, I still have scars on my legs to show for the 2x per week gutter drops...Any gutter; from the gutters in the estate to the Zongohoods. Yea. I could smell a stench and tell you which gutter it was coming from. Yea, I was falling that much into them.

Secondly you must be acquainted with the fact that I had a big head They used to tell me, if a plane was flying overhead and I looked up, I will fall over. Luckily anytime a plane flew above, I was mysteriously in my father’s hall so that theory was never proven.

Thirdly, you must also appreciate the fact that from a very tender age I did not like my name. Somehow people sensed it and always had one different name for me or the other. There were those who called me by different derivatives of my original traditional name. Yes. Egya Bowuah. To some people, Bowuah sounded like Gunshot. Smh. They better get their ears checked. So depending on an individual's level of sophistry, I was either a pistol or a shotgun or a machine gun. Pistol went like Bohuuuaaa!!! Then I would start crying! But Pistolers never shot my name to my face. They hid in their rooms or behind trees and shot at me when I passed... Bohuuuuaaaa! Then the Shotgun. Gosh, the sound freaked me out! Kik3, kra kra (Sound of the cocking gun - can you imagine) Boooohuuuuuuaaaawwaaawaaaawaaa! That was when I start looking for a stone. But I could run too...so depending on who was holding the gun, I could run and catch up and give you a dirty beating or I will hurl a stone at you and run away. Aaahh My favourite... the Machine gun... kkkrrrrr... then the silence... and the person would actually walk to my ears and shoot it in... boohuaagagagaggagaggagagagaga! Obviously these were grown men and women who would beat me as well if I opened my mouth...so I would fume and give them some hand gestures...behind their backs... of course.

There was Mister Kwaw who for some strange reason chose to call me Oldman! Why meeeee?????! But then Egya Bowuah was my grandfather’s name!

But I had a name for myself. Captain! Outstanding! I remember on Saturday mornings and school vacations when kids came to my house to play. How many of you remember the pushing of tyres on the streets? Yep, we had a commercial car, so we kept piling the worn out tyres so we could either play with them or burn them when we spotted a snake in the hood. Snakes hate the scent of burning tyres. We also had guns...guns made from wood and exhaust pipes of cars... Please don’t park your car for more than a month, we will cut the exhaust pipes and use them for guns. If we had guns, then our mums were in trouble because we needed their match sticks to fire the gun. The miracle of a full Matchbox getting finished over night and yet no fire being kindled in the house.

All I am saying is, all the games took place in my house and I kept all the play things... the kids would come around to play. Good morning Daa. My dad would nod in response, Please we are looking for Captain. Then my dad will give them The Look and then ask them who this captain was... But then I would be lurking in the shadows....invisible to my dad...but very visible to the kids...and the punishment for mentioning my name was being sent home without playing the entire day... So they would rather turn back and go sit behind our fence till my dad went to work, than risk mentioning my real name.

Oh and I owned the football. So I was naturally the goalkeeper. If you scored me, I kicked you out of the game; if you were on my side and through you, they score me, I kicked you out of the game. Aside that, there were no rules.

And then there was Allan. We all called him Ellen. That’s how he pronounced it with a French attitude - Ellen. He had two other brothers. They all had bicycles. I had the crowd and the Loyalty of the boys. Allan was rebellious because he thought they had Bikes. I was the merciless Mafia Boss, and for his punishment, I banned the boys in the hood from riding his bikes. Can you imagine? Which kid wouldn't want to ride a bike? The guy could line all the three bikes in front of his house to entice the boys to switch allegiance... but nope. I beat them, insult them, humiliate them in front of girls... but still, they were faithful. I could teach some politicians a few tricks in faithfulness, people, I could. There were times some of the boys really got enticed...but there was always someone who will say, 'I will tell Captain.' That was enough. Around this time I was in my early teens... But for shagey and bully reasons all my friends were under 10. Simple. 

I also had a gym. I was 12 years or so when I started it. Yes, even at that age I was conscious of my abs...and the Johnny Bravo Looks. Don't hate. Do you think I slept overnight and got this 6-pacs of steel that sets off metal dectectors any time I am at the airport? I worked for it people... Since 19 kojo O o! And I was not the only one in the gym... The kids were there too... Did I forget to mention their ages? My right hand man, I can't mention his name, for good reasons, but I can describe him as best as I can, 'B.O.T.O as in Boto - Uncircumcised. He was 7 or so. He was more concerned with his Abs than his... well... not soo cute little man. Aye, finally they had to zap the bloody flesh off after he could not stand the taunting anymore. So I learnt he now shows it off more frequently. Friggin Perv!!!

Oh you also need to know about my entrepreneurship. Before ya'll got this craze about one preneurship or the other, I was! I was the kind of Bongreys Builder. Don't ask me what is Bongreys. Is it ball wheels or Ball Rails? I dunno know... and I don’t wanna google it. It kills the magic, don’t you think. Now we used these metal wheels as tyres for our cart... just a little similar to a skating board, only we sat on this one and got pushed.. And my favourite part, I had a girlfriend called Baaba; Allan's cousin, (Can you imagine - even she was loyal to me...boy, Gussman, The Mexican Kingpin, could use a crash course in Loyalty from me, I tell ya) she was half Ghanaian and half Italian? I suspect. Who Christens anyone and name them Ann-Maria if not the Italians? But she was tall, fair (of course she was biracial) and pretty...well that was then, I have not seen her since 1998.

But the point I am making is, I would sit on this Bongreys with my girlfriend and the small boys would push us on what was left of the asphalt road in front of our house. Me and Baaba. Captain... can we also ride? They would ask. And she will go like, eeii you people don’t respect eh - typical Ghana English. (Oh shut up bronyi p3t3 -white vulture- they would mutter). And they would push it to and fro from 2pm till 4pm in the scorching heat of the cruel afternoon on empty stomachs because their parents were either not at home or they didn't simply have food at home. Did I tell you this was in the 80s? Yea I guess I did. The period the IMF and world bank forced Structural Adjustment Programmes and Economic Recovery Programmes on the Military Regime that ruled us from the Castle. Ah But I mentioned the Scotman right? Good.

Then there were the Acquaahs and the Twenefuors and the lots... aahh plenty girls... I guess that is one attribute I have grown up with...surrounding myself with ladies and the beauty thereof, if you are a lady reading this; stop, look into the mirror and say to yourself  'I am beautiful,' and then come and continue. I will pause for you. There! Refreshing wasn’t it. And there was the wanderer who had no place to stay, so Sister Bea gave him her Kitchen so he could sleep there at night and go get his hustle on at day. That was the birth of The Legend Of The Kitchen Man. While he was away, his Vono (or however they call it)Mattress was ours to do anything you could imagine kids would do when no one was watching. Oh yea... We started that early.

There was my No.9 friend. You know what I mean by No.9 don't you... The only house on the entire street with Colour TV and Video Deck in the early 80s. Dad was a UN Peace Keeper; From Cambodia to Lebanon. And there were the other kids...the Zongo Kids who had 'Sysy' Films. Porn I mean...dammit! Let us leave that one here. Let us not talk about the fact that He had to be inside showing it, while we peeped through the windows at the same time watching out for signs of approaching adults. Now Just a button and kids are streaming it on their phones. Gosh I hate the internet right now.

We had our sanitary facilities going well. A neighbour had his broken down and had built a KVIP. Is it Kumasi Ventilated, Improved Pit-laterine? I guess. The irony was that he was a mason cum plumber...why didn't he fix his WC? Does it beat your mind that we all (kids who did not have Water closet problems at home) decided we wanted to use Mr Mensah’s KVIP? We were not there for that purpose at all... Why else did we always go in there when we were playing Maame and Papa...and why else was it that every day it was maame or Paapa who has a running stomach and the other has to take him or her to Mr. Mensah’s KVIP and the children locked out?

There was Christmas; well we still celebrate it. But nothing like then. We had Me, Ewusi, Akakpo, Kojo, Okoto (as in Crab) and two dreaded twin nephews of the Assembly man. But these were not just us; there was Siboglass. Man, the guy had special teeth that cracked glasses anytime he drank from them - Si Bo Glass. He and his Horde and the Zongo boys. And the Dada bees who wanted to be Hardcore- Ampy, Allan and Agya Atta. 

Before the government banned the use of Fire crackers, that was the good old days, I had a dog called Cyborg, named after Jean-Claude Van Damme's Classic Movie - Cyborg. Dogs can shiver out of fear, and panic too...and pee on themselves too... And Cyborg did shiver and ran into my mum on just hearing the crackers go off. He died at age 9...out of fear for everything rather than old age. May his dog spirit rest in peace. On his tombstone I insisted we write, Herein lies the castrated quarter-caste dog, Cyborg. Yea, don't hate, his grandfather was an Alsatian. In your face! Oh we haven't done the tombstone yet.
But the peak of Christmas was the building of our Christmas huts... Once again...area boys and girls... kept their silence in these huts..when no one was watching. That was when we tried out stubs of unfinished cigarettes dropped by the roadside by chain-smokers created by the mass redundancies that came with the revolution. The bad old days! 

There was Mr. Appah. He was reputed for being the toughest in the area; carrying out night patrols and chasing robbers off and all. Dude was the Marvel character in our lives. We can let them create a character like that right? Appah! Dayum!!! Well this particular Christmas came and we were doing our thing. The thing was an unripe pawpaw, cut from the top and the seeds removed, eyes and nose and mouth incised on it and a candle placed in it. Boy, that was some Dracula head you are looking at in the dark. So we put it in a footpath close to his house...around 8pm on the 24th December. He stepped out and was leaving his house for church... Then he saw this monster’s head in his path... eyes blazing, nostrils spewing fire and mouth burning brimstone... he paused, took a step forward...another and stopped. He looked left and right and bolted! 

Ah but there are so many stories of my childhood. Loads and loads of'em I can't tell in a decade. But it was nothing Computer, or goodie goodie story books and turf and pitch life. I read Geography and history books for leisure; Oh and African Authors too - Weep Not Child (Akodaa gyae su). By age 13, I knew the history of the world like the back of my hands and every country and its capital was entrenched in my head...until the Soviet Union broke up and the countries of the world suddenly became uncountable!!! What is with the Uzbekistan and all the stans? The Lithuania and the rest gave me the creeps; I couldn't even pronounce them let alone spell them. I gave up.

Childhood was about filth, dirt, fighting, teasing, beating, exploring, experimenting, building, significant others disciplining you as if you were their kid, climbing and falling off trees like ripe mango....oh and stealing mangoes. Now I don't know how to call these under 10s again...are they also kids? I bet if iPad were in my days, we would worship them and dance around them if our parents brought them out. Now an 8-year-old kid can make me uncomfortable when the two of us are given iPad to manipulate.

Oh before I forget. hahahha how can I forget this bit. My mum used to lock me up in the kitchen so we cook together as punishment. I will single-handedly prepare and bake cake or bake bread. But the highlights of my childhood would not be complete if I do not talk about my spiritual life. I was Baptised as an Anglican and my dad was and is still the church Organist. So naturally I had to be a Mass Server. I was twisted, the chief server, Uncle Mensah was super duper twisted. I quit the noble Order as quickly as I had entered. We had our irreconcilable differences!
 
Ah there are so many things about this weather that is cruelly sending me on a mind race through my crazy childhood of stubbornness, fun and free-spiritedness. If there was a way I could pay to time travel to my childhood even up till I finished Secondary school... I would. 

Let the rain come cus I love the memories on it pearly drops.     

~PG Sebastian~ 2012