On August 26, 2011, at the British Council auditorium, Kofi Akpabli, author of A Sense of Savannah: Tales from a Friendly Walk through Northern Ghana, launched his second book, Tickling the Ghanaian: Encounters with Contemporary Culture. In this book Kofi seeks to unravel what at all tickles the Ghanaian. Is it Sunday afternoon's after church Omo Tuo and beer, or when Ghana is 'beating' its arch-rivals in sports, Nigeria? Articles in this book include the two that won him the CNN/Multichoice Journalist Award for Arts and Culture back to back in 2010 and 2011, becoming the first journalist, in the award's history, to have won one category back to back: The Serious Business of Soup in Ghana and What is right with Akpeteshie. Following his usual humorous style of writing, Tickling the Ghanaian promises to be funny and educating. Kofi takes a different view of what we have perceived as always to be archaic. Kofi has eyes of details and tells his story the best way it could possibly be told.
At the launch were Nana Professor S.K.B Asante, Dr Esi Sutherland, Dr Kwaku Boakye - a senior lecturer at the University of Cape Coast (who was the reviewer) and Mr. Edward Boateng - Executive Chairman and Group CEO of Global Media Alliance. The book is currently available in all bookshops in the country.
How Cloths Tickle the Ghanaian
In today’s global village many would find it hard to understand why we make such a fuss about cloths. But the truth is that in Ghanaian society cloths mean the world. Beyond adding style and colour to our fashion sense their usage also reflects a range of values. Clothes also serve as mediums to convey traditional symbols and messages. While the utility value of cloths are almost endless a bulk of our proverbs and riddles are derived from them. In this discourse, find out what some folks do when they have a cloth and desire to express a particular gesture.
Ghanaman and the Rastaman - A Hair-Witness Account
This is a discourse on Ghanaians’ attitude to the rasta phenomenon. It is narrated through the writer’s own ‘hair witness’ account. Carrying the rasta hair-do from England to the ‘Motherland’ he evokes a range of emotions from people. Do you become a special person when you carry the Rasta image? There is also a psychological upper hand that one gains in close encounters. Find out what happened on the few times that people stepped on my toes and raised their head only to notice my rasta.
The Serious Business of Soup in Ghana
This award winning article takes the lid off the soup pot to reveal intriguing aspects of the Ghanaian character. When others sit at table they flaunt starter stuff, main dish, sauce, vegetables, lamb and the works. With us, it is all in the soup. Ghanaians love their soup. However, as it turns out, it is not everywhere that soup is king. Even in our West African neighbourhood, not everyone gives soup the attention it deserves. Bottomline? As soup-eriors in continental liberation, Ghanaians must continue to cherish their soup culture and make our nation great and strong.
The Rise of The Schnapps
No one walks to the bar to buy and drink schnapps. No one even serves it to friends when they visit. But due to a combination of factors, Schnapps has risen to become one of Ghana’s most important alcoholic beverages. The relationship between alcohol and power is well grounded in colonial history. When Europeans visited our shores to trade, their bargaining chips included exotic bottles of refined alcohol. Drinks such as Schnapps thus shared the same status symbols as guns. Schnapps may not be many people’s favourite drink but it is like medicine that must be drunk to keep cultural relations whole.
Between Tinapa and Boflot- Where did the old Taste go?
This discourse deals with taste and memory or better still the memory of taste. The meat of the matter is a simple question. Did our foods taste better in the past? The story also proposes the promotion of Ghanaian snacks and dishes which seems to be losing ground. This discourse reminisce akukor mmensa. And wonders why ‘ojenma’ pepper has stopped being a thriller. Is it the fertilizer or it is climate change? Or it is Christmas chicken tasting wrong.
Dongomi … Albarika- the Ghanaian Art of Bargaining
One thing tourists and other visitors to Ghana seem never able to grasp is the way we bargain over goods and services. When a price is quoted, the seller rather goes on to ask how much the buyer would like to pay. We bargain not because we cannot afford but because we must. Indeed, for certain items it would be rude if you didn’t ask for discount. While we trace the history of bargaining discourse we discover how ‘‘Albarika’’ a term denoting discount became linked to Adabraka, an Accra suburb.
Things We Do For Rings
How come some things escape your attention and against all odds, manage to remain outside your understanding? Do you have such a grey area; something ordinary yet you never have been able to figure out? I do. Wedding rings, engagement rings, promissory rings and the lot. In Ghana, our forebears didn’t bother one bit about rings. But as with many habits we have adopted, we’ve taken it to levels that would surprise the originators. Thing about rings is they mean a m to the F side of the gender scale. Why for instance, would a lady wear her engagement ring while she has the wedding band on? But are rings able to do what they are supposed to do? That is the 14- carat question.
The Truth about Fufu
In Ghana, we express serendipity by saying that ‘fufu has fallen into soup.’ This article shows how Fufu is a rallying point for families. For many enthusiasts fufu is life. It’s life attributes are typified by the mortar and pestle which are analogous to the copulation that leads to procreation. All said and done, fufu is not only about finger licking and tummy filling. According to a local myth, the fufu story is central to the creation of the world!
Ghana vrs. Naija- Rubbing shoulders with a Giant
When it comes to West African neighbours that come closest in likeness to Ghanaians, Nigeria offers a paradoxical prospect. In one sense, they are like us but in another... Nigerians are so interestingly different. In recent times Ghana’s showbiz scene reflects a huge dose of Naija influence. It’s all good. But there is only one problem- we Ghanaians hardly have it in our heads that we are a small country. All we know is that ours is a very, very important nation, abi?
Batakari Has Spoken
The Fugu smock is the most distinctive dress from Northern Ghana. Also known in southern Ghana as batakari, Fugu has evolved from a native wear to a recognisable fashion statement awaiting its turn at the international catwalk. In Ghana, the Fugu smock assumed great significance when President Nkrumah chose to wear it in declaring Ghana’s independence. Indeed, a look at the dais on the historic moment of 6th March 1957 would show that all his aides were in Fugu. Find out the reason for this dress code on the most important day of a nation’s life.
Why Kokonte is facing the Wall
There are issues concerning aspects of our culture that colonialism and our religious experiences have stigmatised. There are also issues which we have blacklisted because …well we really don’t know. The story of kokonte is one such matter. Check this: give the Ghanaian a ‘behind closed doors’ treat of hot kokonte with groundnut or palm not soup with okro representing. The beneficiary will come out sweaty and gratified after having swallowed and licked the fingers. But suggest to this same individual to serve kokonte at his own birthday party and the excuses would begin...
What is right with Akpeteshie?
With an active grass root loyalty, Akpeteshie is one of the most recognisable alcoholic brands in Ghana. However, all has never been well. For the right or wrong reasons the drink was outlawed in the past. Does this account for the defiance character Akpeteshie and its drinkers are associated with? Akpeteshie also has a very serious value proposition- that of faithfully serving Ghanaian traditional culture. This award-winning article shows why the love of Akpteshie makes some grown-ups weep, while others hate it with self-righteous anger. Most importantly, where does the law stand?
This is the way we say Good Bye
Funerals are big part of Ghanaian culture. They allow us to show the bereaved family that they are not alone. Today’s funeral process, however, is becoming a complex, money churning enterprise. This story explores the various types of Ghanaian funerals. Because a huge chunk of the average person’s savings (and borrowing) goes into funerals, the discourse raises issues which challenge the status quo. For instance, how does it make sense to lay the dead in an expensive casket only to deface it because thieves would dig it up? In some cases, contractors and professional mourners are recruited. Find out what happens when these enthusiasts arrive at the wrong funeral! Interestingly, the ‘funeral segment’ is the biggest chunk in Ghanaians’ participation in domestic tourism… Talk about fun in funeral.
I would be reviewing the book soon. Read my review here.