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Fearful Things In Sikaman (1)   
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It is a fearful thing to be in thick Accra traffic and to have an urgent call from Nature. The first confusion is how to manage the heat in the car and the heat in the alimentary canal simultaneously. Second challenge is how to control the pedals without disturbing the delicate equilibrium achieved as the mind goes into analytical, scanning and zooming mode: where to go?

The options aren't a lot. According to my friend Kafui Dey, you could park the car, leave the hazard lights on, walk quickly to a nearby hotel, smile at the receptionist, find the nearest washroom, sweet relief. Get back to your car, pay the towing charges and drive back. The best solution, actually; just that it is assumed that you can reach the hotel safely, one will surely have to walk with circumspection and calculated steps.

Ebo Beecham believes the nearest bush calleth, but bush in Vanderpuje's Accra? Scarce and what if you are in central Accra? Another friend suggest prayer, but here too, you can only do silent prayer. Don't start blowing away in tongues, you need all the control to concentrate!

During the Ghana @50, one of the main plans was to construct washrooms and rest stops along the major highways. As happens many times in Sikaman, the talk is sweet but the execution is sour at best or usually nil. We are still expecting those.

It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of a Sikaman policeman. If it is not your license, it will be your insurance tag which is checked. If both pass, you will be asked for your warning triangle. If you have that, you will be asked to show your fire extinguisher. Bring it out and you could still be asked to produce your first aid kit. Don't be surprised when the kotiman asks you for your torchlight. At noon. If you don't have it, prepare for some time wasting. Your time. Could end up in court. Or your money in the policeman's court. A guy was stopped around 5pm and asked for his torchlight. He argued that it was not dark yet. The policeman asked him where he was staying and when the driver told the policeman, kotiman stated that there was no way the driver could get home before dark, so he still need to show the torchlight!

The highway patrol guys, those with the speed gun, pray you don't get into their trap. They have a special ability to hide around sharp bends.

In Ghana, drivers on highways are like brothers; if you are attentive, you can usually pick up the warning signages that the police are ahead, from the cars coming towards you. The signal is a high light, followed by one finger pointing to the ground, repeatedly. If you miss that, you aren't lucky.

Reminds me of a story I heard. The highway police realised for about 30 minutes that all the vehicles from one direction towards them slowed down metres away and the drivers smiled at them when they passed their temporary checkpoint. They were puzzled. After a while, Chief Inspector, on a whim, asked one of his boys to take the bike and go around the bend to see if the vehicles were getting any advanced warning. The rider didn't have to travel far. A little boy decided one day to put his ingenuity to good use. He was standing about 100 metres from the police checkpoint, with a placard reading 'Slow Down, Police Just around the corner'. Little boy was getting all the tips from the drivers!

I was 'arrested' once between Cape Coast and Takoradi, on my way to my holy village of Wasa Akropong. I must have been travelling around 70km/hour, the limit just after the town I passed was 50km/hour. The policeman flagged me to stop, and to get down.

"Boss, where do you stay?" He asked me, after giving me a note to report to the court in Tarkwa the next week Tuesday.

"I stay in Tema."

"Where do you work?"


"Can you come to court in Tarkwa next week?"

"No, I will be at work."

"Hmm, so what will we do?" He asked me.

I didn't answer. Told him it will be difficult.

He left me to attend to another victim. About five minutes passed.

One of his colleagues came to me.

"Boss, what did my friend say?"

I told him, I was to report at the Tarkwa court the following week.

"Boss, where are you going now?" I told him.

"Hmm, Wasa Akropong is very far, and your time is going too. So what should I tell him? I can talk to him to 'do something'"

Over 30 minutes later, I was 'set free', to go and sin no more.

The speed guns used are not always calibrated. My friend Harry decided to take them on one day. He was so sure he was not travelling at 70 km/hour (interesting how many times that speed shows on their screens), because he had seen another friend on the road and slowed down to wave, or something to that effect. He challenged them, insisting that the equipment was faulty. He asked that one of the policemen drive his car, turn and come towards them at a high speed, so he stands by the recorder to check its efficacy. Turned out that the reading stood at 70 km/hour, regardless of the speed of the on-coming vehicle. He was dispatched with 'Go away with your too-known!'

My writer friend, Qouphy Appiah Obirikorang, related his story. "Those highway patrol cops are really dreadful. Got busted on the Tema-Akosombo road, cop charged me GHc 5, I had only GHc 10 notes, cop took the note, I ask for change, cop sarcastically asked me whether he looked like a forex bureau!"

Ei, kotiman want to catch you, only God can help you!

It is a fearful thing to be accused wrongly by a girl in a Sikaman school. I have attended co-ed schools all my life but it was in the secondary school that I learnt, very well, that when a girl makes a complaint against you, the likelihood of getting your side of the story believed is very slim. I used to joke when in the University that when I wanted to visit a washroom in the Central Classroom Block, I was very careful to double check that it was the gents I was entering. Any mistake and any shout, and mankind could be branded for life. In general, it is a fearful thing to be on the receiving end of a girl's wrath. Even the greatest wrath in hell is said not to match its ferocity.

It is a fearful thing to miscalculate the swallowing of a morsel of gari and beans and not to have a cup of water close by. It happened mostly in secondary school, in the dining hall where water was not served on the tables (well, during the time I was in school, perhaps things have improved now). You are able to recognise a victim when you see the person sit still, very still, for some time, as if in meditation, and then nod solemnly. The time between the start of the stillness and the nodding is when the morsel takes its sweet time to travel down the oesophagus, via peristalsis to the stomach. That movement must not be disturbed, otherwise a blockage of the system can happen, leading to a gasp for breath. Even if water is available, the volume needed to push the morsel, like a fluid pushing a pig through a pipeline, should not be too much, lest a back pressure is experienced!

It is a fearful thing in Sikaman to be in a position of authority and to have your sponsor who helped you to that position hit at you and criticize your every move. It is even worse when he nominates another person, closer to him that he (the sponsor) is to you, to replace you when you duly expire.

It is a fearful thing in Sikaman to go to the Ohene Djan Sport stadium to watch a match betwen Kotoko and Hearts and not sit with the right group of suppporters, that is, those supporting your team. You will learn a great lesson in sycophancy and masking of feelings that day. For every good move that your team makes, you will have to show the reverse emotion. You will learn to cry with your opponents, smile with them, rejoice with them and celebrate their goals with them. If you lose concentration and jump up in jubilation when you team scores, know that you will not sit again, and start saying your 'Hail Marys'.

It is a fearful thing in Sikaman to have your car breakdown on the Tema motorway at night. Firslyt, no car will stop to help you. There are so many crooks around these days that one can never be sure if the person flagging you to stop on the road is genuinely in need of help or not. Next, you cannot trust those who come out of the bushes to help you. Some have said that most of the farmers by the side of the motorway have more implements than the usual crocodile matchets and hoes. Some of them have tools that will put any regular fitting shop to shame. Thirdly, you can not be sure that your car parts will be intact later, if you left the car there. These days, we are lucky there are some 24-hour towing services available. That is, if you have their contact numbers. If you are unlucky to have zero credit on your phone, there are no phone booths on that stretch of toll-paying road. Then, how do you get home from there? Above all, there are no streets lights on the motorway. It is a fearful thing.

It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG). Especially these days that I hear they receive interns from NEPA on industrial attachment. Woe betides you if you postpone the ironing of your clothes to a morning of an important meeting, and wake up to find that the ECG duty officer has had itchy hands again. Or the rains start falling at dawn...

It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of a Sikaman tailor and the seamstress, his sister. It is only when the tailor sees you coming that he picks up your attire to work on. Leave and he leaves your work to attend to that of the new customer he sees approaching his shop.
Source: Nana Awere Damoah Author, Through the Gates of Thought / Excursions In My Mind http://nanaaweredamoah.wordpress.com/ www.excursionsinmymind.blogspot.com http://www.facebook.com/pages/Nana-Awere-Damoah/38014968940 Email: [email protected]

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