Memories of the Electricity Company of Ghana - Kofi A. Amoako

On, off
On, off
On for a while
Off for a while longer

On during the day
Off during the night time when the moon is late
On when the television is broken
Off when the final match is showing

On when nothing needs freezing
Off when the morgues are overcrowding
On when the clothes are drying on the line
Off when it's time for ironing

On when the charcoal is plentiful
Off when there's a kerosene shortage
On when there's nothing to do
Off when needle needs threading

On when nobody's home
Off when the party is still young
On when there are secrets to be shared
Off when we need to see the faces of strangers

Dear Electricity Company of Ghana,
Turn it on when I need to see my scars, my memories
Turn it off when I cry and feel vulnerable
Turn it on when I mouth "I love you" to my dear
Turn it off when my lover feels shy
On those nights when rain bounces on the roof.


Dela Bobobee said...

This poem definitely makes an interesting subject to me because of two main facts. On one part, it has a mixture of ambivalent nostalgia, and on the other hand; it has an ironic twist with a humorous undertone.

In my opinion, the only way a typical Ghanaian residing in Ghana would look at this piece, is to reflect back on the funny old days when things were exactly like the ridiculous picture the poem tries to paint here. The poet can be pardoned because of just one word in its title – “Memories” – but to an outsider, say another foreign national just like our own dear friend Jabulani Mzinyathi , the reaction would be the same….a question … Huh? Jabulani asked one question and made one definitive statement that perhaps need an answer and further clarification, just for the sake of others like him who may not really know about the true picture of what is really on ground now. I guess poetry when handled well could be another form of social diplomacy, public diplomacy, and economic diplomacy because of the diverse images it tends to paint positively or negatively to its readers about the subjects of its thematic preoccupation, especially when it includes the name of a country. It then becomes a national issue.

1.Are there power cuts over where you are? I mean in Ghana?
Yes, just like your Zim which is still experiencing them, there are also power cuts in Ghana, but on a very limited scale and in different circumstances as the case may be. It is however pertinent to note that Ghana in recent times, has greatly improved in the area of power supply, the power has been relatively steady. When there are power cuts they don’t really last that long, except in special circumstances where maintenance works need to be done, which in most cases there are prior announcements made on the radio to sensitize the residents of such affected areas in question before the work is carried out.

2.Your second point is not really a question but rather a definitive statement.
“It is out of simplicity that we get greatness. “ Yes, indeed Ghana has come a long way through the tortuous road of self-realization and self-improvement.

Late last year 2011, there was uproar in Nigeria when there was an announcement that Nigeria intends to import electric power from Ghana. There was a radio phone-in programme in Nigeria, and most of the comments from the contributors were very acerbic in nature. Some said how can that small and poor country Ghana that we deported and humiliated her citizens who roamed the streets of Nigeria and begged for menial jobs, now be the one to sell electricity power to Nigeria? Yes, it is true that Ghanaian nationals were deported from Nigeria twice when there was an economic downturn in Ghana. But what surprises me most is that when Ghana first deported foreigners during the Aliens Compliance Order of the 1970s, she did not make any serious case out of it. It rather ridiculous the way some Nigerians made a very huge case out of theirs. Well, all that is really a thing of the past and under no circumstance will the government of Ghana think to re-introduce it. Ghana is a signatory to an Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) protocol that allows citizens of member countries to move about and settle wherever they want to pursue their livelihood. But the fact remains that while things have greatly changed for better in Ghana some failed to see it as such.

(To be continued)

Dela Bobobee said...

It would be recalled that Ghana has one of the largest dams in the world, and in 2009 celebrated her ten years of uninterrupted power supply. Presently the ruling government in Ghana has concluded plans to begin export of electric power to Nigeria and other West African countries by 2015. Ghana presently has competitive advantage in the area of power supply over other neighbouring countries, including Nigeria. The country intends to increase her current 2000 megawatts of electricity to 5000 megawatts with the hope of selling surpluses to needy countries including Nigeria. Ghana also intends to consolidate on its existing energy infrastructures by exploring alternative sources of supply, including solar power and biomass resources, to ensure that the target of selling power to other West African countries was achieved by the next four years. Authoritative sources say that the Akosombo Dam built by late President Kwame Nkrumah has the potential to supply the entire West Africa with electricity if fully utilized.

The poem Memories of the Electricity Company of Ghana - Kofi A. Amoako
In one way can be interpreted by making allusion to Psalm 126:1- A Song of Ascents.
“When the LORD turned again the captivity of Zion, we were like them that dream.”
-King James Bible (Cambridge Ed.)

“When Lord Jehovah reverses the captivity of Zion,
we will be like those who rejoice!”

-Aramaic Bible in Plain English (©2010)

Oh. I prefer the English Standard version (© 2001) –

“When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream.”

On a lighter note, and also on a metaphorical one can glean both the serious and humourous nature of this poem and go ahead to appreciate its entertaining aspects. It also appears that in some unique circumstances, the “Turn it off” even becomes desirable. Lol… Well done, Kofi A. Amoako.
“Dear Electricity Company of Ghana,
Turn it on when I need to see my scars, my memories
Turn it off when I cry and feel vulnerable
Turn it on when I mouth "I love you" to my dear
Turn it off when my lover feels shy
On those nights when rain bounces on the roof.”

WELL DONE - The Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG)!
Long Live Ghana!

Kofi A. Amoako said...

hey Dela. Thanks for putting a little more body to the piece - i especially appreciate the insight that your comment provides.
It is interesting that 'power' can be taken for granted even though so much surrounds it with respect to economics, politics and even social dynamics.
I was writing this definitely out of nostalgia-which was definitely intensified after my recent visit to Ghana. And you're right, in looking back, the 'turn it off' in some instances was desirable. And perhaps it is ok to appreciate such instances, whilst not forgetting the urgency with which we want the power to be 'turned on'