I nearly died of CO poisoning

This year has been difficult for me. This is because I left my job at the university, suffered carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning and lost all my investments. I don’t normally talk about challenges in my life. But for the first time in eight years I have decided to blog about my misfortune which occured in June this year and is still affecting me.

When I left my job I started a school where I offered ICT programmes for the youth. I put all my investment into the school. My office was in the heart of Accra and little did I know there was a gas station with a silent generator plant right behind my office window. I was unknowingly breathing in CO about eight hours a day. Then I started experiencing headaches, shortness of breath, severe weakness and was rushed to the hospital on the sixth day. I received oxygen treatments. 

I have closed down the school and haven’t worked since and have moved to the outskirts. Luckily lessons had not actually started so no student suffered the effect of CO. My investment in the office rental, equipments, advertisements etc. is all gone. But I’m glad I have my life back.

CO poisoning makes you feel like your heart is about to fall out of your chest especially when you crouch. CO is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas which makes it very difficult to detect by the senses. I didn’t suffer any permanent tissue damages otherwise it would have been very bad for me. One of my American friends says in the U.S. the gas station will be made to pay my medical bills and compensate me for all my losses but that rarely happens in Ghana. 

Since I left the hospital and came home, I have not been able to recuperate my losses. As the year gradually comes to an end I have become very depressed. 

Wavering Dispositions

There are two conflicting reasons, presumably, why dispositions waver:

Fear: The fear that you might not get what you want and the fear that you might get what you want.

Tears: Tears of sorrow and tears of joy or pain on one side and joy on another.

Anger: Anger at the world and anger at yourself.

Love: Real love, unreal love and unrequited love.

Progress: Progress of the true self (hidden among other selves) and competition from the other selves.

Peace: Inner peace against outer conflict or vice versa.

In this way the soul becomes a bungee, pulled in opposite directions, thus making the individual temporarily confused, spiritually wearied, not knowing which way to go. But all this is normal and temporary. This only happens to one whose consciousness is self-healing and reconstructive.

The key to healing is to keep company with people who love you, who truly care about you and who help bring out the best in you.

Invidia

There was no woman so

Perfect in his eyes than her.

And there was no man so perfect

In her eyes than him.

And it came to pass that his 

Soul was glued to hers.

They loved eachother with

A love so pure.

The moon and the stars sang 

A chorus to their love.

So that half the angels in heaven

And half the demons in hell

Envied them.

African Culture and Philosophy: A Look at Libation

At almost every ceremony especially marking the different stages of the journey of life (i.e. birth, puberty, marriage, funeral etc.) a drink is offered in Africa, to the invisible forces – Gods and spirits. This is called libation. Libation was usually carried out by a chief’s linguist, a priest or in their absence any elderly person knowledgeable in the customs of the community. The liquid poured could be alcohol, palm wine or even common water dependending on what is available and it was poured with calabash. The people gather in a semi circle behind the linguist, looking on. The linguist then proceeds by addressing the prayer hierarchically to:

1. The Supreme God as creater of life, followed by several appellations by which the supreme God is known such as Mawu, Sogbo-lisa, Mawuga etc.

2. Mother Earth for supporting life. In the language of the Ewe, sky god and earth god were called Sogbo and Lîsa. Together they ensured rain and bountiful harvest.

3. Ancestors for their protection, blessings and guidance.

4. Deities etc.

Sometimes names of specific ancestors or deities are mentioned in the libation but it is generally a prayer of thanksgiving. The person pouring the libation may follow the thanksgiving with further requests for protection, peace, good harvest, many children etc. In this way one can get what “purpose” means to the indigenous African or what the African aspires to and those aspirations were no doubt humanistic. For instance wealth meant a large family size.

After libation the remaining drink was poured for everyone present to drink. A word of advice here: if the ceremony was an important ritual (concerning outdooring, apprenticeship agreement or some kind of contract) one’s partaking in the drinking means an approval or witnessing of the occasion. You drink means you approve of or agree to whatever happened. It’s not heavy drinking – just a sip. So the best sign you will see of those who diasapprove of the ceremony is a refusal of the drink without any excuse or worst still failure to show up. Assuming a problem occurs later after the ceremony, you could be called as a witness. If you claim ignorance of the problem, the elders would ask: “Were you not there, did you not partake in the drinking?”

Perhaps the most important observation of African traditions is that godism was a way of life. One does not wait for saturday or sunday before going to the shrine or pouring libation. Religion was fused with practical life. 

But for colonialism, African culture and philosophy would have evolved and flourished in a unique way benefiting its people. Africans would still have been influenced by the outside world but in a positive way. They would have learned to improve their own indigenous inventions, philosophies, customs, economies and way of life. In a subsequent post I shall demonstrate that there was authentic spirituality and moral laws in Africa long before any missionary entered Africa with the Bible. Because the implied hypothesis (even among some Africans) was that had the missionaries not come to Africa Africans will know nothing about morals or God.

To be continued….

Don’t Give Up

Don’t give up.

People are like trees.

There is time for everything.

A time to germinate, 

A time to grow leaves,

A time to undergo pollination 

And a time to bear fruits.

Every individual plant

Follows its own timeline.

The bigger the tree the

Longer it will take to grow.

The baobab grows slowly

But once it matures it becomes 

The biggest tree in the forest

And lives for four hundred years.

Everything truly great takes time.

Don’t give up.

There is a hurricane in my heart

There is a hurricane 

In my heart. It’s sudden, 

Prolonged and merciless.

What a hurricane causes,

You already know.

– Rain, thunder, windstorm.

The scars are scary.

Are you sure you can handle

Hurricanic love?

You are beautiful.

The beauty of your soul is 

Enough for my healing.

Kluvi Susu (Slave Mindset)

The word “Kluvi” in my native Ewe language means “a slave” and “susu” means “mindset.” Kluvi Susu is therefore a phrase I will use to describe what I see in the behaviour of some Africans.

It was at the Berlin Conference of 1884, that Africa was divided like a piece of cake, by European nations for the sole purpose of colonialisation and exploitation. The Belgians claimed ownership of mineral rich Congo and enforced its borders. The Germans claimed ownership of Transvolta Togoland which is now part of Ghana. The British claimed ownership of Gold Coast (now Ghana) and Nigeria etc., the French took Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Benin, Guinnea and a host of others. Bacause of rivalry all of them created borders and enforced their borders. More than 60 years on after so called independence, African nations still enforce these borders against fellow Africans. As a Ghanaian you will need a passport just to cross the border into Togo which is literally a walking distance from my village.

As a young political activist in South Africa, Mandela travelled all over Africa requesting assisstance from other Africans to fight the South African apartheid government. He came to Ghana aiming to see Kwame Nkrumah, who was then president. Many African leaders supported him with money, military training, logistics and other resources. Today black South Africans turn on their fellow immigrant Africans and set them ablaze. And this is not the first time. Are we a reasonable people at all? Who is the enemy? Who exploited South Africa for more than a century? Who established the Group Areas Act and Bantu Education Act to suppress black South Africans? Who imprisoned Mandela, Sobukwe and a whole lot of others, many of whom died in prison? Who was responsible for the Sharpeville massacre which saw the murder of 69 black South Africans? Was it fellow Africans? Alas! “Kluvi susu” is still working in us after many years of so called freedom. If we attack our brothers and sisters, then we are not thinking right. 

South Africa has a big problem regarding the education of its black youths. As Africans, we are all one people – whether Ghanaian, Nigerians, South Africans, Zimbabweans, Congolese etc. Lynching other Africans will not solve any problem in South Africa, it only makes a mockery of us blacks. It’s a shame. National identities should not supercede racial ones especially because these identities were imposed on us by the colonialist. 90% of all ideas circulating in Africa now are not originally African.

If African Philosophy is taught to these young people in South Africa they will abandon “kluvi susu” and begin to see other Africans as brothers and sisters. We are all one people. I have held this view for a long time, though without concrete evidence, that colonialism (with its related ideologies) irreparably destroyed something not only in the African society but also in the African mind. If our own culture now seem alien to us how can we prove that we are not fools. If we are divided and fighting eachother how will we move forward? Unity is progress.

Finally, years ago, someone argued that colonialism is nothing like slavery and that I should not link the two. Well, I do not adopt such narrow views. To put it bluntly both colonialism and slavery have exploitation as their absolute motive. If the slave master exploits you in your native land it’s called colonialism. If he carries you in chains across the Atlantic Ocean into other lands and exploits you there it’s call slavery.