Monday, November 29, 2010

Come, Wine, Dine and Dance. Again!

And thou shalt rejoice in thy feast, thou, and thy son, and thy daughter, and thy manservant, and thy maidservant, and...the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, that are within thy gates.

Thank God Christianity came with some freedom from the shackles of our past. Scriptural verses on joy and happiness abound in the bible that frees man to pursue some happiness for his own good. If nothing at all, I know for a fact that it is more healthy to be happy than to patronise hospitals.

In my last message, I paused on a joyful thought. The night of the dinner came, for once there was an occasion when it was considered proper to indulge regardless of who was watching. In that cold December night, my people were busy having fun: wining, dining and dancing! And the day been boxing day, the bazaar was just fantastic!

But even as I reminisce now, there are some lessons I learnt which may make sense to you as well. By the time the program started, we knew right then that we have bitten more than we could chew! As our invited guests were getting seated, we had to contend with the pressure at the gate, many people had come to pay whatever price to enter! Willy and Adolf were tasked to MC the program, I joined Grace and Helena (both are MRS now) to be in charge of welfare. Since I was quite freer, I came to the gate...

Before I could sell any ticket to anyone, I explained to the couple there would be not enough food to provide them. Drinks were in abundance. Thinking they would go away, they just didn't mind. "We have had our fill with food, today is 26th remember?" They would remind me. And yes, the party was 'jamming' enough to let go because of food. At the gate I sold more tickets than we sold all week!

I was still there when Adolf called out that it is time for the organisers' speech, a sort of welcome address. As I stood at the pulpit, Willy and Adolf on each side, the high table filled to capacity with statesmen, executives, and businessmen&women, dinner tables beautifully decorated and candle-lit, sweet looking people (singles, married, and still searching people) gleaming with surprise and wonderment at our joint success, I was inspired to say what I did't plan on. I don't remember exactly all what I said, but I remember the applause that followed. In brief, I challenged the leadership of the town, from the palace to politics to the chapels to give the youth a chance. Then the honour was mine to declare the feast officially started. Of course music and dance followed.

Right about then, our ladies started serving wine and later on the main meal. Then the major problem kicked in; how do we determine who paid earlier or at the gate? Everyone was demanding a full plate. I quickly rushed out to order more from our cook and she gratefully served me on the spot. Thank God! I walked that five hundred metres back to the venue, carrying the meal, and was in time early enough to satisfy our 'hungry?' customers. lol

For the next hour or so, there was this joyful staccatic noise of happy people seriously enjoying their hitherto newest, freshest, most jamming Christmas party ever! We were overjoyed!

Like all executive gatherings, we let time for speeches. Something politicians and the clergy capitalize on to reach out. But before any of them could speak, we sent out a passionate appeal to the people to contribute to the event so we can continue to organise it every other year.

The then DCD, Mr Sarfo Katanka, was first to speak, followed by the MP, Emmanuel Gyamfi, and then it went on... Thankfully none of them ended without donating 'something' to the cause. In the end, we were beautifully surprised the amount we realised. We all knew the Dinner Dance had come to stay. It's new name was born that same night: Annual Fund-raising Dinner Night. It made sense this way in that, for a fledgling youth group, steady financing is an essential requirement.

This year, hopefully 26th December, 2010, The Jacobu Youth Association (the new organisers) shall continue the good work those three rugged youngsters started. It shall be the seventh.

And it keeps getting better. So YOU are cordially invited!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Come, Wine, Dine and Dance!

Enjoyment can wait. Do not be in a hurry to rush into the pleasures of the world like the young antelope who danced herself lame when the main dance was yet come.
                                                                                                           Chinua Achebe, No Longer At Ease

Funny. I read this book from the African Writers' Series when I could barely understand a line. So I chose to do the good thing, I'd read the book anyway and try to write down every line that interests me, just like the quote here.

As a growing youth in Africa such warnings regarding happiness can be heard in every other house. Chasing happiness is tantamount to succeeding to fail to many our old folk. Tradition and culture ensured that, to bring us up to the thresholds of propriety, we deny ourselves some petty joyful moments. Little wonder funerals continue to gain much influence on the way we indulge. Here, every one who is at a funeral rite is at liberty to 'remember' that day someday. That's the only moment tradition frowns on propriety! So we weep, drink and get drunk publicly. On top of that we dance publicly regardless of who is watching. Funny...

Thanks to the initiatives of some three rugged young men, Jacobu now needs not only wait for times of mourning to indulge. There is a joyful better replacement - dinner dance!

In the year 2004, I happened to part of the three guys who 'did not know what to do with their time' but dared to introduce the most foreign concept since creation to the good people of Jacobu. We resolved to change the undoubtedly stale nature of things when it comes to finding a befitting place to belong as young adults at ends of year. We created a party of some sort where it would be proper for the modern Jacobite to indulge in a descent style just for a night. The Annual Dinner Dance was born to be reborn every December as we all remember the birth of the Christ.

Of course we had our hurdles to cross. I am talking about the time when there was no place to fit the standard of a guest house, club or lodge. I am talking about the time when most of elderly folks thought music for dance was for vagabonds. I am talking about the time when it was still considered improper for a young unmarried adult to publicly go out with the opposite sex. I am talking about the time when almost no one knew what dinner dance looked like! (I am being careful here)

We also had to contend with the few enlightened ones who thought spending time at such events, in the night,  is like the biblical pleasure-seeking that Solomon refers to as vanity in the book of Ecclesiastics.

But God knew we would not give up. Not as long as I am in the group, because our intentions were good. So he sent some sweet ladies along to augment the fort. We had the unflinching help of Grace and her cousin Helena, both from Adolf's family. They would go out with the PR work on the rich, we would go out to the guys we knew had serious girlfriends, to convince them to take these girls out the proper way! The ladies offered to do the necessary shopping. With Willy and Adolf, we were 'many' enough to approach the newly inaugurated district assembly to let out their guest house to us. In the end we had the place for free! And a very nice venue it was then!

Then came the problem with tables and chairs, decorations and who will cook that 'huge' meal.
All things work beautifully in its time. A young lady had just opened a fast food joint; and so we were her very first 'order'. High Auto Soundz agreed to play for us (at a cost) but he gave chairs for free; as for tables, the three of us had to go round schools begging resident heads to offer us their office and teachers' tables. That too we had for free. But we had to carry them to the venue ourselves - on our heads!

Three days to the program, we had just sold ten (10) tickets. But we had ordered fifty plates! Drinks are always returnable so not much headache there. Where are the so-called guys?, I kept asking myself, for it was getting tiring. Soon the other two suggested we called it quits. Of course their voice was feeble so it went unheard.

Two days to the program and we had a call from our MP that we should come home. He was coming with his family! The DCD called us to his office asking for permission to speak to the gathering tomorrow. The bank manager promised he'd be there and so were many of the bankers! Soon we had sold close to fifty tickets! The happiest Friday ever! Real TGIF! lol

Then the night came. On Sunday 26th December, 2004, the maiden event of the soon-to-be-annual-dinner dance was finally born!
End of year in Jacobu has never been boringly same since then... for the main dance had come.

Monday, November 22, 2010

All I Have - Myself

...and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.
                                                                                                                     John 6: 51b

Last weekend I went home to MC a friend's wedding reception. On the way, the songs I was playing on my phone's headset caused me to be all smiles. I'm sure there were some co-passengers who might be wondering why I kept whistling (softly) the music, why I kept gazing upon the foliage passing by and what might be so 'right' with me that kept me smiling happily.

I always am happy to apply my talents to a brother/sister's good cause. Really, that fulfills me. And I like it.

But I am not all the time happy anytime I visit home. There are certain things I simply cannot ignore no matter how unpleasant they be. And many are those things! And these things take my joy away, many times.

Where my family stays at Jacobu is first on the list. So close to a river that has, over the years, been polluted by our women folk whose business it is to produce cooking oil from palm kernels. That river is their main water supply 'system.' In the rainy season, the area is an eye-sore to stay at. In the dry season, we have some respite. Our environmental happiness depends on the whims of the weather. In any of the seasons, thick smoke from the kernel-mill is a force to reckon with. Fresh air is expensive where I stay.
The house my father could afford to build is only a two-room structure with a make-do kitchen built by my mother to keep her kitchen ware. As they occupy one, the other is forced on me so, once I am home, my folks could feel my presence the way they want it - 'close and together!'
My mother has been raising some cousins of mine (four in number), plus an ever joyful boy who was named after me. Paa Kwesi is his name.
Sharing accommodation with these folks is a daily daunting challenge especially since all of us are handicupped to build yet another space for them.

What does a young man think of such dire reality? I nearly said harsh reality.

Yet never have I been greeted with tears of sadness! Just a day home is enough a hope-builder than all days spent in lecture theatres and libraries!
In the house I am greeted with hope and welcomed with joy. When they see me, they see hope. My mother keeps saying to me, "If God will not grant my desires, I pray him to grant you everything of praise."
My father would say, "I thank God for you. At least you have so far reached everywhere I only dreamt of. But you did all this still sleeping under my roof, no matter how poor it looks."

My cousins try to put up their best behaviour once I am around for their 'big' brother has come home. My name-sake wouldn't want to sleep anywhere but with me on my bed! (And I must wake him several times a night so he won't pee on my sheets). And he calls himself 'Obrempon', after me!

My kinsmen, I do not seek to tell you a tale. I am telling you a life of a man born in a manger but carries the promise of a new world. This is not a story but a life breathed into a man in the land some of us have grown to dread. If I could have hope, regardless how little, amidst such misery, eternity is the limit for any other like me who simply believes his/her life is for a higher purpose than the bad s/he sees.

I remember that day Jesus told his people the quote above, they were outraged that the man could dare say, take my flesh and eat! They should have known better to decipher he really meant behold my life and learn from it. If the boy born in that manger is to grow to become the King of the New World, my goodness!, it isn't too much for God to turn that dusty city on the hill into a jewel on the mountain using you!

Come let us built the city walls for they still lie in ruins. I am ready. And all I have is my flesh which I shall give for the life of the old city. Jacobu, where my home is.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Power of Will

I have brought myself by long meditation to the conviction that a human being with a settled purpose must accomplish it, and that nothing can resist a will which will take even an existence upon its fulfillment.
                                                                               Benjamin Disraeli

I remember the days in Jacobu when we used to sit in front of the bank talking about how the future could be for us and for our community. We would talk so much about what our elders could have done right and what necessitated the present comeuppance of high illiteracy rate, poverty, weak chieftain authority, teen-pregnancy and of course the then deplorable (main) road.
Such a talk could go on for hours. Sometimes I don't really remember how we ended our talk but we get up and find a cosy place to wine down, like all good friends socially do.

As I grew up, I came to a point when I knew by instinct that none of those futures we projected could come out of nowhere. Should I desire to be in that future, I must will to make it happen. Daunting as it sounds, I believe I have some powers to cause things to happen my way. All I need is a will.

Willing to expend one's life bringing a deprived community forward is a noble ambition but not every girl will fall for a man whose dream it is to befriend a village where he was born. God have mercy!

But I am willing. Yet I cannot do it alone. No one can do it all by him/herself. It must be done with common unity in the community.

Jacobu's will must include every house of authority in town: the palace, the shrines, the chapels, the assembly, the markets, the schools, the sports fields, the farms, and the state. I am talking about writing the blueprint for the world tomorrow.

This way, we get kings and commoners, leaders and followers, teachers and students, farmers and traders as well as the merchants, the aged and the young, priests/priestesses and the men of God coming together to decide a new destiny for the old city.

Once the will is made, no individual is left off the hook to sit in apathy to 'see' what tomorrow might bring. No, we consciously begin to create our tomorrow in the now signature! Like the motto of  the communist manifesto which reads, "From each in accord with their abilities, To each in accord with their needs." A whole new community shall have been born!

Jacobu needs your will in writing her will. Our contract with society is such that we bless it with our noble ambitions, and it grants us the desires of our will. That is how The Plan works. So has it been from the beginning, so shall it be in the end.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Fear Not

It is impossible to have courage without fear. If we don't have any fear, we're not living in faith. Faith always demands that we do something we know we cannot do on our own, and this challenge often causes us to fear at first. Fear, however, is a positive thing when it gives birth to courage. Let your courage come to life as you trust God. Jesus loves us to do the impossible because the impossible is always possible with God!
                                                                       Dr Myles Munroe
                                                                      (The Power of Vision)

Once the faith is born to rise up to the challenge, we have to be prepared to face the fears. We cannot run away from that. Read of any social change activist, they all had their special fears to overcome, daily.

Seeing Jacobu in the eyes of faith brings with it myriad of fears of everything imaginable - from that of family witches, enemies who portray as friends, that of our past ( how bad our record has been), fear of poverty, and most of all, that of failing.

But for how long shall we let fear rule the land God gave to us? Yes I know your fears are legitimate, but I also know that they are all part of the enemy's plot to have us enslaved in lack, depravation, poverty, and in the dust age. God forbid that these evils will rule when holy generation like us live.

Who have the prophecy? Isn't the promise to the youth, that it is our call to raise the ruins? That the rebuilding of the wall is our duty? And that Jesus commands us not to fear? I am all out to face whatever the challenge, come what may.

The Jacobu Youth Association has taught me one thing among several that I will forever cherish; Once you start to run your errand, your detractors will be the first to 'advise' you. Believe me they mean everything they say. They are sure you cannot succeed. But the trouble is, it is they who are sure of your failure, YOU must insist on your success! And you shall succeed, And prosper!

Fears are almost a legitimate part of us. They come to test how far we can be courageous. It instills the discipline in the person who is bent on succeeding; it empowers one to be the very best s/he can be. And fear brings out the God in you! How else shall we measure your faith?

Come to Jacobu, your homeland. The so-called witches are no longer potent. Poverty is becoming a thing of the past. The dust is fading away, giving way for tarred roads and streets. The dilapidated structures are crumbling, come let us plan new edifices to serve our future.

I declare you FEAR-. Come let us uplift the standards of living here in Jacobu - The City On The Hill.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Responding To The Call

The youth must be imbued not only with a keen spirit of patriotism, but with a sense of lofty socialist ideas which will enable them to think and act in the best interest of the community as a whole but not in the interest of themselves as individuals.

Of course our first president did not mean to say that we should not take our individual interests seriously, but being who he was as a perfect symbol of man of the people, Dr Kwame Francis Nwai-Kofi Nkrumah is saying we (the youth) should be encouraged to put others first. This assertion is strongly supported by any man (and woman) who rose above the all-too-humanness and became great. Jesus, Ghandi, Dr King, Mandela and he the Osagyefo, all put their lives out so the community they were in could be better than they met it.

My father once taught me: "If the glory van is passing, try to get on board!" At first I took it lightly, but I grow to value the wisdom my father always shares in his little acts of fun.
The average young person asks, "What at all is the country giving me that I should give back in return?" This is not only flawed thinking but a sad reality of our time that people who should be thankful rather grow bitter with complaints. Many fail to read the signs of the times. I have nothing but believe me, I have everything!

Think again, my fellow villager, name any great man in the worlds of science, religion and politics who had it all cooked up before rising to that greatness. Remember Jesus, Anokye, Ghandi, Yaa Asantewaa, Nkrumah, Otabil, Gates, and Obama. What did these common people have before registering their names in the history books and the books of prophecy? They all were born like you were; in a village, into poor dysfunctional homes, in a deprived communities, drunk bad water, some had no schooling whatsoever and many didn't really work in the environment you find yourself now. Yet in these lack, they CHOSE to stand up and be counted. I tell you they have a glorious future! What are you waiting for?

One ancient Athenian leader, Pericles, said;
The man who takes no interest in public affairs is more than harmless, he is useless!
It may sound too vulger but he who knows Pericles knows that he was one of the finest statesmen the world had known. He ruled in times when Athens had more troubles than solutions but stayed the course, and with tenacity, turned the mishaps of the Greeks into a "golden age". That is the source of the term in Ghana politics these days.

Jacobu is not far from attaining its prophesied golden age. Not as I see it. The vision is always before me and I make time to scribe what must be so the youth may respond to the call.

Willy, my good friend, said a time ago, "God does not call the equipped, but he equips the called." So long as you heed the call, my kinsman, you shall be provided with ALL that is needed to bring your vision to fruition to his glory.

What matters now is what you make of all this. Why is Kwasi Mensah of all people who must tell us this? Do not forget God is no respecter of persons. He CHOOSES to call whomsoever he wills and equips them to do his bidding. It works best for those who CHOOSE to attend to the King's business; their bread shall not be lacking. Never!

Jacobu deserves better. Her turn-around is not far from your wishful thinking. It can be done! God believes in you, the ancestors did. I heard them when they used to sit on the only tree which was upon this mountain.

Why turn around to point accusing fingers at those who CHOSE to leave homelands to work in yours and call them names when you do not avail yourself for anything worthy of praise?! Just shut up! Let them be, for I tell you, the little progress you see around is necessitated by the presence of these so-called foreigners. I am a witness.

Today we have some of our kinsmen beginning to come home in the sweet sense of the term. Mensa-Bonsu has blessed the town with a guests house and a school facility. The first of it's kind since creation! (God bless him). What does he expect in return? I am sure he is just happy to make things better than he met them.

I want to grow and do more, and even better, than he did. I am also aware of the standard he has set. Not an easy one but I also know with God, all things are possible!

What's your call?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

When The Youth Arise

Joel 2:2b
a great people and a strong; there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after it, even to the years of many generations.

I saw in one of my many visions of my beloved land, a rising of people whose number I cannot count, and whose strength is unmatched. They looked so young you may call them children. But they were old. Some were as old as to the seventh-old on the soul age calender. They had everything our fathers only dreamed of: knowledge, speed, vision (not dreams), accuracy and the ability to bring their ideas to fruition. They are  fearless, humble, patient and they have faith. They look up to hope and smile to the crying generation that, good news cometh!

I called to them by their names. Few answered. They looked in my direction and saw me holding a scroll. It was the map our ancestors charted when they met under the giant tree. For it was their custom to gather when the moon is full and dream how our day shall look like.
During those times our mothers made sure the fire is kept burning; so the evening chill shall not overpower the aged into the still night. Our sisters kept the wine gourd filled and carefully put on the soft cloth pad so that the content might not pour out.

It was on those nights I scribed what the elders said. The scroll I hold is the destination our ancestors saw us walking. They knew too well that if any of our clansmen are going to take us to where we are destined, the young must be allowed to lead. The Youth must be granted hearing in the council of elders. Nothing should be kept secret from them. They must be shown our way in statecraft, uphold our heritage and be proud of our distinctive politics. They must be allowed a time in nature so they could hear the bird tweet and the fragrance of the herbs. I wrote also what they said about letting the youth enjoy themselves as long as they hurt no one and themselves.

So the young men and the the daughters mingled in the moonlit night up into the dawning of the coming day. Joyful laughter everywhere filled the sleeping ears. The night creatures lullabyed the silent night. But I was busy writing the scroll - the way of the youth today.

I wake every morning and look around to see which young one is taking the charge. I see but a little flock. Where are the rest? I ask myself. They are coming. I am answered.

Today, the crown of the mountain is on the brink of losing its dignity. The chapels are no longer feeding the flock. Our hand findeth it hard to feed the mouth. Our children are begetting children. Our leaders willfully lie at the gathering - where everyone comes to listen. The day for trade sees no merchants but petty traders. The young man spends more days imbibing than thinking. They have refused to marry from the neighbour's home as our forefathers taught our fathers to teach us. The leading voice is dying of age...

Arise! Young people. The prophecy is in your favour! Quicken the spirit in you. For it is giving you by the Odomankoma himself. To be his eyes and ears, his mouth and voice - his son and daughter in these endtimes.
You have strength beyond your wildest imagining; you have the dexterity of a divine warrior; the treasury is opened up, the door still hangs ajar, waiting for your entering; it is of you that  the prophet writes:
Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations: spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes; For thou shalt break forth on the right hand and on the left; and thy seed shall inherit the nations, and make the desolate cities to be inhabited.

Your people call out to you, wherever you are under the sun. Jacobu has longed for your arrival since the times our elders smoked under the mighty tree that was upon this mountain.
The city set on a hill can not be lost. We are alive for a higher purpose, bigger than the mind can fathom. And we are the destiny that lead to the destination.

Get up and start leading NOW!

The land is rife for your ideas. Come direct the next step. I bet you we shall find our purpose together. For I, even I, am a youth. Our future is intertwined to our hearts so we shall move as one people. I have answers to your problems, you have answers to my problems. We are the solution to the challenge(s). The challenges are many because the solutions abound.

When are you coming home?

Raising The Ruins

And they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations.

Any son of the great forest from where we claim our origin must begin to heed the call of the prophets; time of rebuilding is now. Jacobu too has caught the eyes of God.

The city on the hill starts to shine forth like the morning sun. And I see its rays pervade the forest trees through to the thickets. The other creatures see it and with one accord, we all behold the coming days as the best our forefathers prayed for when they began pouring libation.

The city is now governed by foreigners simply because the indigines fail to read the signs of the times. To many, these days are like any other. Poor perception blinds the so-called sons of men to have lack as their lot. Courage that a time ago was the hallmark of our young men has been dulled by vain-glory. Today, the average Jacobite feels no connection to his motherland. So when we cry, it sounds like chaos - a staccatic noise of a scattered people.; people who have lost their history.

But just ahead of the horizon a new call has gone out. To those who have taken the pain to keep the map of where their grandfathers begun it all: why they chose to settle on this mountain, how we fought the white oppressor, and how much we prayed the gods to bring us into the light.

Today, my village is now on the road into the city. When the world thinks, it considers the little homestead where I was born. For it was in this humblest of homes that I was taught to uphold my beginning so I can be able to read about our next stop. I read with diligence. The pages were many. Some had to be of help and thank God!, help comes in abundance!

Just look up. See with your eyes and start counting if you can. Jacobu, too, has a whole new breed of sons and daughters whose portion is nothing but the very best of everything our own. Be not alarmed for we come in peace.

Our purpose is to re-build the ruins of old, the devastations of many generations. Just as the prophet foretold.

The call is out! Come home my people. Come with the little you know, come with the lot you possess, come with the very best of you. You are all we want. Nothing else. Come let us continue from where our elders left off so this city on the hill can be the lighthouse to all around.

Until Jacobu is lighted up, darkness shall continue to engulf the surrounding settlements. A tragic reality that must be blown out as soon as possible!

Come let us decide how to build our gates so the enemies can't come in to steal and to destroy and to kill. Come let us plan where to build the new schools, the community centre, the game fields, the palace, the streets; please come let us pray together in the chapel where we were baptized.

The rivers are drying up. Come let us invoke them to flood again. So we can have somewhere to swim in fresh waters.
The lands are being degraded. Come let us offer a sacrifice to appease the gods so we shall have the former bounty of harvest.Come so that our gold shall be dug to fill our treasury.
The forest is being depleted. Our fellow creatures are been driven to extinction. Come so that we may hear the birds to sing to us again. Come let us go hiking where we used to go for firewood.

When you come, ask of where the Jacobu Youth Association meet. Take a seat and feel at home. I will be there to welcome you back home.

We shall meet, soon.