Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Darkness Falls in Accra (1)

Accra is in the Dark Ages.

Ever since the load-shedding started, the country’s electricity provider ECG, has decided to ride on the back of the "load management programme" by continuing to deliver increasingly execrable service.

Yesterday, on an evening that was not supposed to experience load-shedding at 6pm, the lights went out, eliciting a collective sigh of resignation and frustration all-rolled-in-one. Calls were made, and it transpired that there was "a fault" in one of the stations near the motorway of Tema. Later, I found out that it wasn’t quite near the motorway, but somewhere around Tema. Not to mention the lack of consistency in the lies (you don’t even know where the genesis of the so-called fault is?) but to buttress all that is the frustration associated with feeling the lights will come on soon when you call, only to find out that the problem has not finished being worked on!

So it was that I would call around 7pm, only to be told that by 9pm, it would return. Dinner came and dinner went among intermittent sounds of generators in the silence, and we still experienced no power. By 10pm, my family and I were too tired to do anything, and so sleep overcame us not too long after that.

Suffice to say, my habitual evening walk with my pet dog, Fenix, revealed an estate engulfed in darkness, with a few generators left and right thundering into the night…and through out it.

Without a doubt, mosquitoes that work in the night had a field day, but I couldn’t help wondering who was truly bleeding us dry: the mosquitoes – or Electricity Company of Ghana?!

; ;;;;;

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Of Funerals, and Reflections of a Long (Ramadan) Holiday

It began last Friday with what many people consider to be a long holiday.

It was no intention of mine to make it any longer than it had to be – what with the ending of Ramadan fasting for our Muslim friends in the country being granted as a holiday – as I abhor four-day holidays like the plague, but nonetheless, it helped me obtain insights not just into myself, but into other social aspects of living in Ghana.

nice, aerial view of the Tetteh-Quarshie interchange (right)

The reason for the absence on Friday 20 October was for nothing less than the funeral of my maternal cousin. In tones reminiscent of the funeral I attended last year in April, I found myself marveling at the roles and utility of funerals in this country.

As far as my experience with Ghanaian funerals go, there is no hard-breaking news there: it’s a template of crowds – both family and well-wishers – clad in mostly black, and looking pensive, contemplative, and distraught. Funerals inevitably remind us that one day, the same fate shall befall us, but at times, I spend more time looking around at the hypocrisy in the air.

Barring my divulging of any personal family politics, I think it is sufficient to refer to that aspect that is, as F.Scott Fitzgerald wrote about the human condition in his classic the Great Gatsby, is always "quivering on the horizon". You have to always bear in mind in places like these that there is the maternal and paternal side of the family that is either battling for territory as to who should be seen to have organized things, like the poster, the names on the poster; the food; the reception; the eulogies, whatnot—or not.

My parents and I tend to belong to the latter category as we do not think this is what funerals should be about, but, you know, our family is far from the only one that is beset by this most asinine of considerations.

Another thing I realized was that I love the Central region, and it is not because we go to the family house there once in a while, but it is truly so green and so relaxing to travel on, especially now that the roads to that region having been improved considerably. The journey now takes something like 1hr,15 mins, as opposed to the 1hr30/35 mins that predominated travel times in 2004 and 2005.

On our way back to Accra, from the Central Region, we were stopped by police. We were amazed that police were doing random checks on a Sunday! Wow. In any event, what interested me more about having been stopped than the police officer stopping us was the greenery of the palm trees that had lined up on both sides of the road. Isn’t that just beautiful?


Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Why this Terrible, Morning Traffic on the Spintex Road?

I live some ten minutes away from work. I'm on the infamous Spintex Road, which I have blogged about many a time, and where you can even find my video of how dark it gets on that road, which I took in April 2006 here.

All that said, I cannot for the life of me understand why since yesterday, when I left home around 8.05am, I would arrive at work--some ten, fifteen minutes max with light traffic away--at 9.55am!!!!!

This picture is just to give you a snapshot of the scale of the traffic this morning. It was the same yesterday morning, too.

I suspect the culprits are the feeder, back roads, which people are using, which block the main Spintex road that this picture was taken on.

If you can check the two figures in fluorescent clothing in this picture, they are police traffic officers who are supposed to be directing the traffic. Where they are standing is the feeder road, which private cars and tro-tros alike use to feed into the main Spintex road. It leads to the Lister hospital area, where, regrettably, my very good friend Mrs.Nana Amma Osei-Ahenkorah spent her last days in late April this year, culminating in her passing over on 1 May...

I tried to be clever by taking this picture from the rear-view mirror, or vizor, and this is the clearest I was able to get. Can you see the line trailing allllllll the way upwards?

Question, now, is what to do about such execrable traffic conditions. My visceral take is to deploy more police on the ground so that they can equally discipline those commercial vehicles, like the one in the first picture, that try to force their way when everyone else also wants to get to their destination on time!!



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