Death’s Digital Etiquette

I originally wrote this a few years ago after the passing of Komla Dumor. The topic it covers seems especially poignant today; not just on account of Major Mahama’s funeral, but because of the departure of yet another witty, intelligent, glorious young patriot who I won’t name for reasons explained in the piece.

Mourn the living today, because the ancestors’ gain is our genuine loss.

If there is one thing that Ghanaians do better than anyone else, it is death. Not dying; anyone can do that. Death, however, is very much ours. Our Nigerian cousins can keep their banquet-like super weddings:

We have Death.

Entire weekends can be spent hopping from funeral to funeral. Cross-country, for those who can afford the time and money. We have bank loans that target the bereaved because that’s how much money we spend sending off the dead. And that’s what it’s all about really: honouring those joining the ancestors. Our funerals involve heavy mourning followed by heavy celebration. We place that much bearing on ancestry. The past. Where we’re from. The white man may have changed our attitudes towards many of our traditions, but they couldn’t touch death.

Death is ours.

You see it in coffins carved to the point of high art along the Ga coastline; or in the absence of obituaries in newspapers, because the space is taken up by funeral announcements. Why focus on one person’s passing when you can take money to advertise ten? We advertise death on mega-sized billboards across the city; not just to show off, but because – although specific details are often kept private – death is an experience shared. Everyone must know so that everyone can get involved.

How then do we do death when sharing is increasingly such a digital experience?

Nothing brings this question into sharper focus than the events online following the recent passing of the broadcaster, Komla Dumor.

As I type, the ancestors are yet to receive Komla, but they have surely heard word that he is on his way to them. I am sure that they are as shocked to receive one so young and so brilliant as we are to have lost him.

Word of his sudden passing started making the rounds early on Saturday the 18th of January. When death happens, Ghanaians call family wherever in the world they are. In an Africa where the mobile phone has become a fixture across space, age, class, and such, text messages, Facebook updates and emails started flying around. One or two websites posted the story. The rapper, Sarkodie, tweeted that he was waiting for confirmation from the BBC. There was something comical here: waiting for confirmation of the passing of a local son from the mouthpiece of the old colonial master. To be fair however, this was a special case: Komla actually worked for said mouthpiece, doing his part to change the popular African narrative of negativity into a multifaceted one telling the story of all the Africas: rich, poor, young, old, north, south, black, white and everything in between.

As the leaked news was eventually confirmed, people scrambled for explanation. Komla was a public figure, savvy (and Ghanaian) enough to have a Facebook page, as well as a presence on the likes of Instagram. While some dug up and shared pictures they were lucky enough to have taken with Komla, others ploughed through Komla’s online photographs. Very soon, someone had posted a picture of one of Komla’s children with the caption, ‘Is this child too without a father?

Somewhere, a line had been crossed.

It would perhaps be crossed again when a Whatsapp conversation between Komla and a close friend leaked out and went viral. The message was recent, ending with Komla thanking God as he walked out of a meeting in which he had landed the job as the BBC’s point man for Brazil 2013. However, it also divulged arguably private details about the state of his health, and pointed fingers at an unnamed few who had caused him considerable stress at work.

Courtesy of an active few, Ghana has a heavy presence across social media. Ghanaians are engaging with the internet – in one way or another – in increasing numbers, from posting pictures on Facebook to holding simple conversations on Whatsapp. We download indiscriminately: not just movies, music and TV shows, but – importantly – images. Few businesses in Ghana use original photography to advertize their wares. Ludacris seems to have had his hair cut at every barbershop in the city. Rihanna, Beyonce and Denzel will each be surprised to find how many little boutiques they have modelled for across Accra. If any law exists here banning the use of anything other than original images in their advertising, it has been broken a million times over. In such a space, what is Death’s digital etiquette?

We share. We share. We share.

But do we feel?

I read a recent piece I can no longer find about a hierarchy of grief; about the right of the bereaved to not hear of (or be assaulted by) their loss from strangers.

I agree.

 

#YouGonLearnToday

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This is for the many people who have told me over the years that they wish they could attend one of my classes… but haven’t been able to make it up the road to Ashesi.

The always-awesome Nubuke Foundation have given me the chance to present a public lecture this evening as part of their ‘Ghana Must Go’ series. I plan on using the opportunity to connect a lot of dots together including:

  • The importance of meme culture
  • The significance of Shatta Wale and his entire movement
  • White Jesus
  • Oprah
  • Fake News
  • The merits of Pidgin English
  • Your parents’ addiction to Whatsapp
  • Heritage Africa
  • And all manner of seemingly random stuff…

… all in the name of getting education out of the classroom and out into the streets.

It’s at 7pm, it’s free and it will be followed by a DJ set by Eff the DJ.

And you’re very invited.

Before & After

 

Images by Sena-8402

Today marks exactly two years since I first kissed the woman I would subsequently share my life with.

Born of a cocktail of chance, heart and insanity at Kotoka International Airport, that kiss was when our companionship began. Sure: we celebrated a year of being married a few weeks back. But (though beautiful as it was important) our wedding was merely social validation for something we already held true. I know I still owe everyone an explanation (incoming) for what made me ‘change my mind’ about marriage. For those who can’t wait, let me sum it up in a word:

Shari.

I learned the meaning of divorce at the age of 7. A year or two later, I told my grandmother that I would marry as soon as I turned 18. My mother had just moved my brother and I from London to Cape Coast and I had already heard about people having problems abstaining from something called ‘sex before marriage’ (or as we kids called it, ‘Oh James!‘ because that’s what Bond Girls always exclaim before the screen faded to black). Early marriage seemed the obvious solution to my purity-culture-indoctrinated mind. I remember how hard Grandma laughed, but I did not care: I was going to marry as soon as I could. Years later, I – of course – discovered that there are other variables to the damn thing.

Many variables.

So many variables.

Today, I remember all the people who dismissed me as not serious (or worse). People who thought I was waiting for perfection. All the advice (“don’t be so scared of divorce” and “expand your horizons: you’re expecting too much from just one woman” still stand out). I remember trying (to the point of tears) to make relationships work. The agony of defeat when they didn’t. With regret, I remember hearts broken. And I remember eventually locking my heart in a box so it would stop hurting people. People including myself.

All these things exist in a nebulous time in my life that I will henceforth refer to as ‘Before Meeting Her’.

‘After Meeting Her’ on the other hand has been a period marked by a daily kind of joy. Two years is too short a time within which to celebrate a relationship. I’ve always looked with immense skepticism at young couples publicly celebrating their love (with beautifully orchestrated and posed-for pictures) on social media. My awe is reserved for grandparents who still laugh with each other after years of love and struggle, the way my step-grandparents did (before Grandpa left Mamaa – and all of us – a few years back). Years from now, I hope Shari and I still get in the car to go to events, only to turn around because we would much rather just spend time laughing in each other’s company. I hope that we are still as comfortable with each other as we are now, sharing everything from finances and duties around the house. And Love. I hope we remain awash in it.

Two years into this thing we have, I am thankful.

Possibly the warmest person I have ever met, Shari is a force; one who daily shifts my life’s motion towards light. She is better than me at so many things. She reads and plans and hoards and curates. She has a better ear for music than I do, and this weird ability to absorb a song after one listen, forcing us to be VERY CAREFUL about what we listen to, lest a maddeningly annoying song gets stuck in her head for days on end. She is a professional I have much to learn from, only just beginning to understand the extent of her potential: the kind of person who receives compliments graciously but has yet to believe them.

This is the woman I’m lucky enough to love.

Images by Sena-8396

(Photos courtesy of Sena Kpodo)

 

What I’m Feeling: Part Two – Mapping Accra’s New Cultural Scene (August 2016)

As I explained last week, there is a lot more local content than just music that I’ve been feeling recently. So – as promised – here is my non-musical accompaniment to last week’s list. Again: those in the know will already know most of these, but – in the immortal words of Fela Kuti – “who no know go know”.

Cornfields in Accra

13419066_282892668718036_1329141475390550252_nIf you have not gone to see Cornfields in Accra – the annual end-of-year exhibition of the KNUST’s Painting and Sculpture Department – happening now until the end of August (ignore the flyer date: it’s been extended) at the Museum of Science & Technology (opposite the Tigo HQ) – you’re really, really, really missing out. And next time, don’t miss the launch: it’s always busy, but the artists are on hand.

The AccraWeDey Podcast(s)

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More than just listening to the podcast(s), I have watched the entire AccraWeDey movement for the past year or two, and – alongside Signatures and Swaye Kidd’s CulArtBlog (and each in different ways) – I really think they are the successors to what we were trying to do with DUST magazine back in the day: curating Accra in a manner that speaks as much to conscience and community as it does to style.

Others often focus solely on things that are shiny and largely inaccessible (think of all those write-ups you see in international newspapers talking about how Accra is the new cool, for example). They fail to capture Accra’s spirit and all the things that bring us together across all the other things that could divide us. Accra We Dey rise above all that to find depth, and I cannot help but be proud of their hustle.

Signatures Magazine

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At the launch of Issue Zero, Signatures’ co-founder – Jason Nicco-Annan – jokingly introduced himself as (being better known as) Julian (DJ Juls)’s little brother. I hope that mess is over now. Sure: Juls was in the mix, but every single page of Signatures jumps with the same attention to detail and eye for beauty, trends and movements that Jason possessed way before he was Associate Editor back at DUST. 

Issue Zero was a good test run. Having heard a few rumours, I’m very much looking forward to Issue One.

CulArtBlog

Ending the post-DUST troika is Swaye Kidd’s CulArtBlog. There is more than one Accra, and Mr. Kidd seems the man most in touch with the one that I inhabit. I am pretty sure CulArtBlog has covered every single artist I featured on last week’s list. And more. If you are looking for what’s going on in underground Accra, CulArtBlog is a pretty good place to start…

AccraDotAlt / The Chalewote Street Art Festival

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… and AccraDotAlt is a good place to end. About a decade ago, there were a number of us who each set out to shape an alternative Accra to the mainstream before us. DUST was a part of that. SoulNMotion was a part of that. PY Addo’s Bless the Mic was a part of that. The Kweku Ananse Show on Vibe FM was a part of that. There were many more, but of all us, the last entity standing – if not stomping – is very much AccraDotAlt and we have all thrown our collective weight behind Mantse Aryeequaye and Dr. Sionne Neely’s brainchild and all its cultural fruit: Sabolai Radio, the Talk Party Series, and of course, the big one… like winter in Game of Thrones, Chalewote is coming. Peep the AccraDotAlt Radio blog too: the artist updates ahead of this year’s event are pretty dope.

YoyoTinz

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The recent Sarkodie & m.anifest beef was the best representation of the evolution of Ghanaian hip-hop/hiplife/GH rap (or whatever you choose to call it) into a genre that has begun placing as much emphasis on lyricism as it does on its ability to move your body. It was no surprise when YoyoTinz hosted a talk on the topic: they are the outfit who have done the most to champion the genre – past, present and beyond mere promotion – into something that is dissected, documented and discussed.

The Studio

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Another creative collective who have my attention and respect is the one including photographer, Francis Kokoroko; illustrator/graphic designer Sena Ahadji; stylist Mawuli FudogloDJ Steelo; producer Yaw P, and more. Besides being better dressed than you, they have been curating some of the finest artists and talks of 2016 in the Osu-based studio around which they loosely operate.

The Nubuke Foundation + ANO Ghana

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One of my favourite art spots, Nubuke is all about recording, preserving and promoting Ghanaian art, and they have been supportive of younger artists and groups, including the Accra Theatre WorkshopEhalakasa (Alliance Francaise Accra gets a shoutout for doing the same). The last time I was there, I saw the latter half of one of the best ever performances I’ve seen by the force, talent and majesty that is Poetra Asantewaa.

That event was organized by Nana Oforiatta Ayim who – in addition to her cultural research work with ANO Ghana – has been doing a magnificent job of making Gallery 1957 more than just a commercial art space, but a home for excellent programming around the younger, fresher faces of Ghanaian contemporary art.

Nuku Studio + The Beyond Collective

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More than just taking pictures, photography is art too and there is probably no collective in Accra that is more of a testament to this than Nuku, whose workshops are as much about photography as they are about philosophy. Nuku’s Nii Obodai and Seton Nicholas also play roles in Beyond: a collective who have very much been in the business of setting new standards for art out here. I cannot wait for Beyond 3.

Bright Ackwerh + the Kuenyehia Prize for Contemporary Ghanaian Art

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Attending the unveiling of this year’s Kuenyehia Prize with Mrs. A-G a few months back, we wanted Bright Ackwerh to win but we didn’t think he would. His art turns many industry conventions  on their head. Besides being digital in creation, understanding Ackwerh’s work often requires an understanding of Ghanaian popular culture and whatever topics are trending on local radio/Twitter. His works are thus far more accessible to the ordinary than they are to the elite or to any (career) appreciators of fine art. Not unlike the FOKN Bois, Bright’s work makes you laugh as much as it makes you think.

I let out a shout when Bright was announced the winner. And I really have to commend the Kuenyehia Prize (and its founder, Elikem Nutifafa Kuenyehia) not only for having the vision to award Ackwerh, but also for existing in the first place; for finding a way to support contemporary art. Not for personal profit but at personal expense and for the sake of community.

It’s a beautiful thing.

Tea Baa + Cafe Kwae + The… Spot Just Off Spintex I Won’t Name

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The three food & drink joints I’m in love with at the minute, particularly on holidays. I have spent almost everyday of my summer break writing (and randomly bumping into awesome people) at Kwae. While Republic will always, always hold a special place in my heart, Dedo Azu’s Tea Baa has become the place I’m most likely to DJ at (heck, I’ll be even there next Friday 19th). Oh, and while you’re there, make sure to pop in to The Shop by Eyetsa next door: purveyors of very dope ish.

Dedo and I share similar tastes in music. More importantly, there’s no dancefloor at Tea Baa: great for DJs like me who play sounds from off the beaten track and who don’t want dancers complaining because we’re not playing enough Lil’ This/That or whatever the hell else is popping on Billboard.

(Update: visited Zen Garden in Labone last night, and I have a feeling they too will be chopping my money soon).

… and as for the Restaurant-I-Refuse-to-Name, I’m deeply torn about letting people know about it lest people flock there and it ceases to be the hidden gem that it is.

So here we are.

The Thing My Crew & I Will Launch Next Week

Hints above and below, but – as of the time I’m typing this – it’s not next week yet.

So you’ll just have to wait.

 

 

What I’m Feeling: the August 2016 Comeback Edition (Part One)

It’s been awhile since I did one of these.

Regardless, here it is: my monthly occasional once-in-awhile rundown of music that I’m feeling right now. Today’s edition is all local (to avoid clashing with something I’m a part of on another platform that will reveal itself in a week or so. I’ll update this post with a link when it drops). A couple of these are a little dated but – like I said – it’s been a long time. Besides, dopeness is timeless.

Warning: it’s pretty packed. Up next, I’ll do a non-music one. We’ll see if I can keep it up. Here goes.

Kuvie

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A couple of months back, I wrote my thoughts on how I thought Kuvie had low-key invented a new genre/subgenre of music or something. I would later see him do a live music set as part of DJ Keyzzz’ BeatPhreaks Live gig at Alliance Francaise, and it exceeded my already high expectations. I would definitely pay money to go see Kuvie headline. He hasn’t let up since then, especially on the named ‘Grind’: Vision DJ’s collaboration with Ayisi Ican (AI). One of my favorite tunes of the moment by my favourite producer of the moment under the auspices of one of my favourite DJs.

RedRed – How Far

The most important/topical/urgent song on this list. Awhile back, RedRed – the outfit consisting of M3nsa (who is still cedi-for-cedi the most complete Ghanaian artist in existence and needs to bless us all with another solo album ) and ELO – dropped a video with a live performance of what sounded like a sparse, next-level electronic rework of the Ghanaian national anthem. It got a lot of my people excited. After it finally premiered on Ms. Naa’s Ryse & Shyne – suitably on independence day – Malaka wrote a whole blog post about it. There was awhile there when I thought the lyrics would date because the President ‘solved’ dumsor bi saa.

False alarm.

VI Music

The admiration I have for Adomaa extends to her entire crew, really. VI Music is fast becoming less of a label than it is an entire creative movement encompassing Adomaa herself, and the collective dopeness that is Akotowaa, Robin Huws, Reynolds the Gentleman, Tronomie and more. More than just their music, I like the whole ‘squad’-ness of their operation and how they really are not about fitting into modern Ghanaian musical templates; even with each other. Their sounds are actually diverse as heck. No artist here sounds like the other. And even their artwork drips with attention to detail.

The Gentleman could be Ghana’s Wizkid. He sure has the energy (as anyone who was at the Afraba concert can testify). Unlike Wizkid however, he is also a producer, which might be why he sings about more than just how he wants to part with his money on account of someone’s ass/body/waist/dancing/whatever (And the occasional song about poverty. Don’t get me wrong: I love Wizkid. But daaamn… he always sings about the same things). I don’t know how my people will respond to that, but it works for me.

Robin Huwes is all about love, stripped-down acoustics and a genuine vulnerability rarely heard around these parts:

My (adopted baby cousin) Akotowaa beautifully blurs the lines between spoken word, rap, singing and the good old fashioned art of actual songwriting on IWITP. And I love it:

Adomaa’s brother (& my former student) Tronomie just dropped his debut track, ‘Breaking Bars’. I’m hearing Kwabs and Gallant influences (at a time when few musicians out here have probably even heard of those two): not a bad thing at all.

VI gives me hope.

DJ Juls feat. Mr Eazi x Eugy x Sarkodie – Teef Teef

It’s beautiful to see a good thing come together. Juls has been crafting this African-sample-heavy sound for years without getting the due he deserves. For awhile, I thought he’d left it behind to explore other (equally dope) sounds with his homeboy Mr. Eazi (their creative collaboration is to Ghanaian music what Martin Scorcese’s partnerships with DeNiro and DiCaprio have been to Hollywood). But then he comes back with this. Beats 1’s Julie Adenuga named it the sound of the summer and she’s right. If this is not on your playlist, you’re failing.

Cina Soul – Julor

I was late listening to Cina Soul’s brilliant single, only doing so after the homie Paa Koti schooled me to it and my mind’s twin, Debbie Frempong insisted to me that it features what may be the most flawless vocals she’d ever heard from Ghana. And then I learned that it was produced by Elidot’s former student, Odunsi and that it also features different-sounding raps by the man M Dot. Cina (who really is the sweetest human being in person) just dropped her EP, and while  I don’t think it quite matches the brilliance of this track, it’s clear that her potential is crazy. Watch this one.

IFKR ft. Odunsi – Omo Gbono

I should be mad at Ashesi’s finest two DJs – K3V and Franklin – for keeping from me the fact that their Major Lazer-loving asses are also creating original ‘afro-EDM’ tunes. But by the time that synth-y sound drops after the chorus, all is forgiven really. Fun track. I’m curious to hear what else they are cooking up.

Odunsi ft. Okuntakinte – Happy Hour

Odunsi is the future. There: I said it. I remember thinking this when EDWVN drew my attention to his tracks Nasty Horns and Nikki. Crisp production. Diversity. Imagination. The man whose influence is felt on the last two tracks I mentioned has also released an EP and my favourite cut by far is this one, featuring his (unapologetically controversial) Ashesi  classmate, Okuntakinte, who is on good form here.

Villy & the Xtreme Volumes – WMM (Wia My Money)

Villy has been owning Accra’s live music scene for a few years now. He reminds me of two of my old friends from London – Lyric L & Ty: artists whose live performances are so on point that they make fans of people who have never heard their music before. Villy’s EP Humanimals shows musical growth and this is showcased perfectly on this angry, Miles-Davis-sampling, African blues track, WMM.

African leaders: come take your subs… and bring us our money while you’re at it.

Worlasi

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Yoyo Tinz have been evangelizing about Worlasi for a minute and it’s easy to see why. Charisma, a unique style, lyrical depth and locally-relevant content that all Ghanaians can relate to all make Worlasi a contender. He shines on features, as he does here with m.anifest:

And – just like King Kendrick – he’s dropped an EP of unreleased tracks:

Honorary Mention

YG & Nipsey Hussle – FDT

Hardly local, but I must admit that it does capture a few of my sentiments on a topic of potential international significance. The part two featuring Macklemore and G-Eazy is on regular rotation in the Ankomah-Graham household.

Speaking of part twos, stay tuned for Part Two. Next week. Maybe.

Montie: a Time for Anger

“If this country collapses, we will start from the homes of those who say it should collapse. I’ve told you and God has also opened the way. These judges who are trying to put oxygen in the raging fire, I know all their houses. I know where the judges live in Accra here. I can show you. I know their quarters; the Supreme Court Judges. I also know the High Court Judges. If they dare, they should bring something, it will start in their residences, in their neighbourhoods…”

“When we finish them, then it’s over. Then we come and govern our country because they don’t wish this country well so they have to go. When we say farewell to them, then those of us who wish well for this country can hold on to the country and govern this country. So you, they should sit there and think because they are Supreme Court judges, they can do anything…”

For reasons I’m yet to understand, I have deep reserves of patience. I can end a year counting on one hand the number of times I’ve felt anger. It’s usually a brief feeling. My brain kicks in: “What’s the point? Let it go.” I usually do.

Last week was different. I spent parts of it trying to contain an anger in my chest, keeping it from crushing my lungs, wrapping itself around my throat, and choking me from within, on its way to my lips.

The Montie Affair

Last week, the Supreme Court found three men from the radio station ‘Montie FM’ – Salifu Maase, Godwin Ako Gunn & Alistair Tairo Nelson – guilty of contempt, sentencing them each to four months in prison and a hefty fine. They had threatened members of the Court with violence and death during a live broadcast (more or less thirty-four years to the day that the body out of which the ruling party was born infamously killed three high court judges).

In response to the court’s judgment, a petition has been created, asking President Mahama to pardon the trio through a constitutional provision that gives him the discretion to do so. It has apparently amassed thousands of signatures, including those of several high-profile ministers of state whose inclusion has raised many an eyebrow.

The arguments for freeing the Trio vary. While there is some consensus that the crime was indeed grave, there is also consensus that the four-month sentence was ‘harsh’ (strange: I understand it is not the maximum sentence for such crimes) and that the three should be freed, as ‘they have shown remorse’ (don’t most prisoners?) In an official statement, the NDC framed the judgment as an attack on free media and freedom of expression (something disputed by the Ghana Journalists Association).

I’ll say this:

One of the first things I was taught during my law degree was that the law does not exist in a vacuum. Just because the President has the constitutional right to exercise discretion doesn’t mean he should. Context is everything and there is a lot of context to sift through here. There are others far, far wisermore informed and wittier than me who make compelling counter-arguments and perspectives. I hope the President listens to those perspectives as much as he does the cacophony surrounding him.

Baring My Biases

I have long believed that the ancestors reserve some of the darkest corners of the underworld for radio presenters who place party politics above a love of country, especially during the election season. I have marveled at the recklessness of presenters and panelists on stations often owned by politicians or their financiers; at how regularly such pundits push hard-won press freedoms to their absolute limit – taking us to the brink of violence with them – with utter impunity.

In places where the opposition is limited or ineffective, journalism is incredibly important. To call it the Fourth Estate does not do it justice. Journalists are our defenders. They become our daily opposition: doing the research, asking the hard questions, holding power accountable, advocating for change, risking their lives to help us all see the truth through the smoke; giving us the information we need to make informed decisions. It is noble, underappreciated but important work. It is central to democracy.

I responded to the Supreme Court ruling on the Montie Trio with relief. Finally, someone was holding these pundits-pretending-to-be-journalists accountable in a manner within the boundaries of the law, in a way that the National Media Commission has (understandably) not been given the teeth to.

Anger and Empathy

“At the risk of seeming ridiculous, let me say that the true revolutionary is guided by a great feeling of love… We must strive every day so that this love of living humanity will be transformed into actual deeds, into acts that serve as examples, as a moving force.”

These words – by Ernesto Ché Guevara – are ones I try to live by. Anger too is a moving force, but it moves in a different way. It can twist Love, subverting it and transmuting it into something unrecognizable. I have had difficulty fitting anger into my worldview.

Back when I was on Twitter, for example, there was a news story (I forget which one) that prompted me to go on a rant about anger being ‘unconstructive.’ It provoked a series of annoyed tweets from my friend, KinnaReads, who called me out for my ‘kumbaya’ position, reminding me (if I recall correctly) that anger has a place, whether it is constructive or not. We discussed it offline and I came to agree with her. I just didn’t see how to reconcile it with my worldview.

I believe in (impractical) things like empathy because the act of stepping into someone else’s shoes – however different they are from me or however we disagree – humanizes them/their position, which in turn helps me see the entire picture.

It leads me closer to Truth.

I’ve always presumed that anger is incompatible with love and empathy. Last Sunday however, I was reminded that it isn’t:

How Hill House Helped

After expressing my anger and dissonance to my Friends Meeting last Sunday, we discussed some perspectives that helped me to connect more than a few dots:

1. Empathy is cool, but it has to be complete

Much as I disagree with what they do, my inner pacficist forces me to empathize with the Montie Three. They are people too. They are afraid of jail. They have families. They are sorry. Etc etc. Empathy demands that I acknowledge that they spoke so passionately for a reason: the ongoing mess over the voters register – an important matter that should concern us all. Their frustrations clearly ran over.

That said, someone at Hill House who I have endless admiration for reminded me that my empathy should also extend to the judges whose lives were threatened. It should extend to their families. It should extend to Ghanaians who wish to live in a peacefully country that is not pushed to the brink in the name of party politics and the punditry of stations like Oman, Gold and Montie. Or Ghanaians who want to leave the dark days of killing judges behind. It should extend to the 13,000 or so remand prisoners who have been scooped up from our streets on suspicion of crimes and have since languished in jail waiting for one common trial – not even at the Supreme Court, mind you. It should extend to their families who haven’t seen or heard from them since.

2. Anger is a secondary emotion

Anger is usually a product of fear. So when you feel it, it is worth asking oneself what fear is behind your anger. For example, as a dear friend’s mother pointed out at the meeting, there is a fear in parts of the world that is resulting from all the various civil rights advances and the perception of being under attack. That fear has now become an anger that is threatening to undermine those liberties and advances.

My anger is the result of a fear that media impunity will result in our country plunging into chaos. It reminds me of Rwanda’s Radio Television Libre des Mille Collines: the station that catalysed the Rwandan genocide.

One’s response to such anger should always be to slow down: pause, think, reflect… and only then to react. If the Montie 3 had done this, they wouldn’t be in their predicament today. And we wouldn’t be facing yet another prospect of party politics being placed over the national interest.

3. Jesus and the Whip

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I always forget about John 2:15.

The anger itself isn’t a problem: it’s human. Divine too, apparently. The issue is perhaps what you do with your anger. Again, perhaps this is where the Trio slipped and as my good friend put it at the meeting, “punishing people is the price we pay for having standards.”

So what am I doing with my anger?

It’s made me think. I’ve shared it (first at the meeting now here). And I’m adding my voice to those calling on the President to not undermine the Supreme Court (it’ll be constitutional but, as I mentioned earlier, the law does not exist in a vacuum). I’m afraid I’m not his biggest fan, but that does not deny him my empathy too. I suspect that he needs as much pressure from everyone else as he has from that petition if he’s going to make a decision in all our best interests, and not just those of his party disciples.

Dear Generic Ghanaian Radio Station

  1. Why should I tune in to your station specifically: what exactly what makes you different?
  2. Have the bulk of your presenters/DJs been mostly poached from existing stations (and offered back to us like some radio version of a reshuffled cabinet)? (if not, skip Question 3)
  3. If so, why do you think regurgitating so many familiar voices will result in fresh, awesome content for your listeners?
  4. Do your presenters/DJs play awesome music/create fresh content that is actually different from everything else on radio? (if yes, proceed to question 6)
  5. If not, then what exactly is your purpose (kindly refer to your answer to Question 1)?
  6. Is your real purpose less to do with providing choice & quality content and more to do with making money for your generic owner?
  7. Is that enough of a reason for me to tune in to your station?
Well, okay then.