Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Sporting a Grassy, & Kebab-Filled Evening--Is this Accra?

About two Fridays ago, I was waiting to be picked up from work to go home, when I decided to pass by a new place not too far from my place of work, called “Easco Secretarial Services”. They show, well, films occasionally; sell DVDs—of the Nollywood (Nigerian) type and Western VCDs; and mobile phone covers.

There was this film showing with Lorenzo Lamas. You’ve heard of him haven’t you? He’s this muscly guy with many series to his name, especially "Falcon Crest" of the eighties.

So there I was watching the film, and wondering “why does this guy never get shot?” Then I decided to put it down to three options:
a. he has a powerful gun
b. he’s too darn fit/sexy
c. poor script-writing

The film looked SO eighties it made me cringe.

Even the testosterone-pumped young, local men watching didn’t find it too difficult suggesting option#c.

It was an interesting way to while away the time, though.

But fast-forward to last weekend.

Saturday was a blast…

…in the sense that I blasted away this:

weedy garden Posted by Hello


weedy garden#2 Posted by Hello

Not my garden -- the weeds in the garden, which are becoming the bane of my miserable existence.

That’s not quite true. Just a tad melodramatic. Manetville is a lovely place to be, and even though suburbia is somewhat reminiscent of "American Beauty" (though it’s always been there way before the film), it can make you miss city-life. Most of my life has been spent in suburbia, and though that has brought a degree of stability to my sometimes-predictable life, it has also made me aware of that fine-line that divides attitudes in the land of bourgeoisie to that of the land of the so-called hoi-polloi. In other words, I have encountered more horrible people in suburbia (hey, Pet shop boys!!) than I have in the city.

Some might say that is ironic.

When I did live in the city (back in Brussels), it was only for four years, and I was too small being tossed and turned in the playground of the apartment we were living in, with my brother and parents, that I only re-call taking the tram, which was one of the BEST experiences of my life. Even then, I was hidden in between my Mum and Sam to notice anything significant about city-life—apart from the strange noises coming from our neighbours next door—and strange looks by the denizens of Woluwe St.Lambert, 1020 Brussels, Belgium, who though being black was tantamount to being an alien. We used to live literally two minutes away from the very popular Woluwe Shopping Centre. Sam taught me how to ride a BMX bike--hell, he taught he how to RIDE!--on the compound there, plus many numerous experiences.

But I digress.

Saturday was a good day, because, for once, I felt that I was in my element.

I do so enjoy mowing the lawn, and no-one understands it. Must have something to do with my star-sign.

I am a Bull, you see, or Taurus, and my sign is supposed to be munching grass a lot of the time—much like my star-sign cousin the cow.

Well, blow me away with that lay-man philosophy…

Putting the petrol in the engine, and making that pull of the cord thingy, only to hear it rat-tat to life is SO exhilarating. So when that was done, I spent almost thirty minutes mowing the whole garden, as well as the sides of the house.

And it was GOOD!

My neighbour later saw me weeding (with a cutlass), and with a smile on her face (one that looked very incredulous), she greeted me. She almost always sees me wearing a shirt/tie for work, or at worst, cleaning Dad's car when he and Mum come to stay with me—but weeding the lawn with a cutlass? That must have been rather abominable to her. She has hired help—and I don’t.

I just wasn’t trained to have hired help, if I can do my own washing, ironing, whatnot.

Fast-forward to the afternoon, when we went off to North Kaneshie. Actually, Makola. Make that Makola Market, which is in the bustling and vibrant heart of the city.

I got Mum a brolly—that’s umbrella to you and me non-Brits—for something like ç15,000 (fifteen thousand cedis only!!). That’s less than 2 Euros—and it was a darned good one, too. That was wholesale price.

Must go to Makola more often! A ceiling fan, there, was going for almost ç300,000, which is almost €30 (Euros). As for that I cannot make the comparative price check, as in Belgium, rarely does one find houses with ceiling fans, what with the weather being what it is—rainy, very hot, or snowing. But very hot means a standing fan. And as that lasts only about three months, why buy a ceiling fan??

Fast-forward to the evening, which was a bit of another blast;-)

I went to this Jazz festival thingy. I have the sheet in front of me (that contained two tickets for Saturday and Sunday 8 May): "The “Accra International Jazz Club” in conjunction with Du-Bois centre is hosting the 2nd “Accra Jazz Festival” Inside, it explained that the Jazz Club had been “founded in April 2003 by Stefan Frowein and Jimmy Beckley".


Stefan Frowein is this guy:

"European Union

Stefan Frowein (Ambassador of the Delegation of the European Commission)
The Round House, 81 Cantonments Road
P.O.Box KIA 9505, Accra
Telephone: 00233-(0)21-774094, 774236, 774202 "


The Ambassador of the EU to Ghana! Jimmy Beckley—well he came to talk about Jazz on Thursday last week on CITI FM’s Breakfast Show, and even played some small jazz tune. On the radio that is.


The Jazz night was supported by Taysec, Honeymoon Mattress; CITI97.3fm; Kofi Setorji; 87.9 Atlantis Radio; Goethe-Institut Accra; XEROX OSU.

If ever you are in Accra, and feel like contacting Jimmy Beckley, here’s his ONETOUCH and SPACEFON number respectively: +233-208.141.050; 0244.225.808.

(AM I getting paid to advertise these people?);-)

Seriously speaking, I arrived at the W.E.B DuBois Centre behind Al-Wac stadium (not too far from Burma Camp (the military base) ) The first picture you see when you enter the small bar-area is that of Martin Luther King in a contemplative pose; Kwame Nkrumah is on the right (actually, his picture is hanging in front of the bar); and finally, Malcolm X’s is right behind you as you enter.

These, in my book, are three of the greatest Black Men that ever lived—two from the US; one from Ghana. Good stuff. A seriously fantastic tribute to W.E.B. DuBois who apparently had his remains brought to Ghana.

What a guy…

Even though the place was more populated by white people (some US accents, a lot of German ones), the place began filling up with more black people. I couldn’t figure out whether they were all Ghanaian ones, but I must admit that there were a few very good-looking women (black) who were SO well-manicured they had to come from suburbia-land. I shrugged. I didn’t really care much for trying to even chat them up.

Plus the fact that my bum was not a very presentable state given my trousers—hell, there was lights out when we got home from Makola. So no time to re-iron my trousers;-) Let alone any *electricity* to iron them;-)

Seriously, though, I didn’t much care for chatting up, especially because I am now very much into G, but it did make me realize how VERY easy once a guy goes to a public function alone (though this was hardly a function!), he can be driven to distraction. G couldn’t make it regrettably, but I made sure I had a GOOD time.

Jazz, for whatever anyone can make of it is one seriously different type of music altogether. It isn’t just about instruments being played anyhow. Or about syncopated rhythms either. {Yes, I do remember my GCSE Music!!! // syncopated-- adj : stressing a normally weak beat}

It’s more about what music can come, or express itself through your soul, as it were. There was something Jimmy Beckley said to me whilst he was getting a drink, and having Malcolm X’s picture look down at him. He said that jazz is about expressing "yourself through music—not just about making any noise, which is all too-tempting".

He was suggesting that with Jazz you have to know the code—as it were—and be ready to break it. That’s the mark of the REAL jazzman – not one who engages in a cacophanic whim of drums-cum-saxophone-cum-bass guitar all rocking away in their syncopated ways.

The Jazz group—Café du Sport—a German-based group were FANTASTIC.

Sad to say that they were even better than the African Jazz players.

Though that’s not entirely fair, as I didn’t go on Mother’s Day, so I cannot proffer any insights into the Jazz there.

However, what I will offer is a waxing lyrical of this group.

The lead-player, a thirty-something good-looking German guy (piccies to come soon!!), had been playing the saxophone since the age of 14, and touring with the big bands. So Jimmy Beckley told a couple of us.

Good stuff.

On top of that, the music was right out of the 60s/90s repertoire. There was a mix of the Herbie Hancock type of Jazz, combined with the funky {and very very personable} Candy Dulfer of the nineties, and some contemporary jazz, which is heavy on saxophone and bass, and drums, but less on trumpet.

Which has just struck me: jazz a la trumpet seems to be more of the sixties type of jazz; these days, the saxophone is SO heavy. Remember the 90s song “Lily was here”?. That featured Candy Dulfer, too. And the saxophone also featured VERY heavily with Café Du Sport.

Pity I couldn’t record any of Cafe Du Sport's.

In any event, after one “Gordon Spark’s”, and three very spicy kebabs (nicely marinated), I found myself digging to the music instinctively. The saxophonist was almost surreal. When he talks, his voice is so reluctant (not because his English is good in the German-speaking-English kinda way) as if he is shy, but when he starts playing that sax, he moves, and contorts to the rhythm of the bass and drums like a snake.

It was SO cool.

To the extent that I felt rather unabashed in going right close-up to the band and taking a picture. Several, actually!

Must have been the Gordon Spark talking;-)

They played with a local Ghanaian percussionist, who was equally brilliant.

A most entertaining evening.

I left around 11.30pm—thirty minutes before it closed, got a cab, after walking circa 20 minutes, and rushed home to tell all (ie my parents) and sleep a very pleasant one.

Fenix missed his walk. He wasn't amused.
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