MERRY CHRISTMAS OH, OH, OH PART 1

Posted on December 17, 2009

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In Ghana, the Harmattan heat starts to build accompanied by cool evenings and misty mornings. Eid-ul-Adha, marking the end of Hajj, comes and goes and Farmers’ Day, a national holiday, is celebrated. The silly Santa replicas appear along with the tacky decorations and scruffy little over-priced fake trees. Christmas is in the air!

STORE SANTA

Getting out his big boots for another trip around the world, Santa noticed that they were dirty and needed a good clean. He called Mrs Claus, but she was late for something and asked one of the hardworking elves to do the job. Santa’s response, “OH,OH, OH.”

Last weekend Charity went to Dunkra, her family village near Lake Bosomtwe, to visit her mum. Returning home to Four Villages, she remarked on how many funerals there were in every village she passed. “Guess you know Christmas is coming with all the funerals going on, oh, oh, oh” she said.

“Ya, it makes sense with relatives coming home from abroad to help bury the dead and be together with friends and family at Christmas, ” I remarked.

“Ya, and more donations too,” added my wife.

All this got me thinking about the oh, oh, ohs of Christmas in Ghana. Now not to stereotype or generalize, but Four Villages Inn has a few big examples of public service, not private sector as described above, capitalizing on the Christmas season.

1. Committees might push through touchy issues-holding meeting close to Christmas when people are occupied. A number of years ago, Four Villages Inn received the Mayor of Kumasi’s personal assurance that we would be able to present our case to stop the construction of what we thought was an illegal structure next to Four Villages Inn. The mayor told us in his office that we would be invited to the next meeting of the Kumasi Strategic Planning Committee, which the mayor chairs, However, the next meeting was held on a December 14th without us and authorization was given to our so called neighbours to start their project. Trying to get the minutes of the meeting was impossible at the time.

LOVE THY NEIGHBOUR

2. Court cases are often decided around Christmas. use your imagination….A few years ago, after three years before the High Court and three judges, our court action to stop the construction of the same illegal structure was denied and the owners were granted permission to build. Now here’s the crunch. There was not one argument made in court over all that time by either lawyer, for the defense or for the prosecution. And in his judgment, which can only be described as fatuous, the judge argued that because the municipal authorities had found nothing wrong with the construction and had approved the construction ,the court would find in favour of the builders. So much for the separation of powers…

Well, time often tells the whole story in Ghana. Between that court decision and today, inflation has skyrocketed and the cedi has been devalued about 50%. Which means? Building on hold!

What’s for sure there was never any intention to use the structure as a private residence as dictated by the lease and the zoning. Incidentally the owners, a couple, really are neighbours. You can see the wife’s house from Four Villages and the husband’s house is in the next section of this first class residential neighbourhood! They had bought the plot next to ours way back in 92 on speculation. HA! HA! HA! Enough said.

3. Often at Christmas, friendly civil servants drop in for attention….won’t go there….

and lately 4. Often at this time of year there are reports of police harassment on the roads. One particular scenario is drivers being pulled over for going through a red light…when the lights have not been working!

But all in all, we have got used to the vagaries of life here…and usually what goes around, comes around- a good definition for a fledgling democracy…HO, HO, HO!

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Posted in: GOVERNANCE