My Grandfather Was a Yellow Journalist Rascal

Recently, in Language and Literature class, we began to learn about the progression of mass media communication, which led also to a discussion on yellow journalism.

Yellow journalism is basically tinted pure journalism (duh. Hence the yellowing). Newspapers became less serious, so to speak. Rather than being grave and professional, journalism became humorous and sensational. It appealed to an audience who not only wanted to be informed, but wanted to be entertained.
Now this grandfather of mine, Charles Seth Ofori, bore a certain dislike for this prefect/monitor of his, and so he got together with some of his friends and decided to publicize their dislike for him in the form of a…newspaper. They got permission to do this under the pretense of the desire to enrich their writing and journalism skills. Ha!
I may be mistaken, but I believe this newspaper was called “The Monitor.” (Doesn’t that sound just a bit stalkerish to you? Beautiful double entendre though.) It badmouthed this monitor, and revealed things about his life and his actions. They hand-write it (they had too much time, chale) and they pinned it up periodically on the notice board.
I suppose you’re wondering how come, if their intents were so unholy, they were allowed to keep The Monitor going on for so long. Well, see, nobody could actually form legitimate claims against them, because they changed the names of everyone involved in the stories. As far as anybody was concerned, all they were doing was creative writing. Rascals.
-Akotowaa =)
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My Future Is A Melange of False Certainty and Certain Dreams.

Let’s not pretend like I know where I’m going in life; I don’t. But the course of my academic life certainly suggests I do – falsely, of course. My Higher Level courses: Geography, Math, Physics. My Standard Level courses: French, Language and Literature, Information Technology in a Global Society. You can totally see where I’m going with this, right? Probably some technical or technological job that will keep me moving all around the world? Language and French look like peripherals that were added because it was required…

No. I realize now that I don’t want to be an engineer, and I’m kind of sort of failing math. My desired career path doesn’t even have the faintest thing to do with physics; I want to be a housewife.
Why, then, am I doing this combination of subjects? There are two explanations: the reason I am doing these subjects and the reason I am not doing other subjects.
I’m doing these subjects – the ones that look practical and stuff – because I’m a generally knowledge-hungry person. I actually desire to know about the physical world and how stuff works, and the math is just supposed to support the physics. I’m doing Language and Literature so I don’t have to do plain literature, which bores the living daylights out of me. I’m doing French because I already know how to speak it to an extent, and so there’s less pressure on me to learn something entirely new.
I’m not doing subjects typically expected of me, like Visual Art or Higher Level Literature, mainly because words and art are passions for me, and I’d rather they stayed that way, instead of turning into tasks that pressurize.  Pressure often manifests itself into intense dislike, with me. And you can’t tell me that “you’ll never know if you never try” mantra, because I do know, I have tried, IG art turned into a headache, and I bombed IG Literature. I’d also rather not be told how to express myself, because these are the only areas of my life where I feel personally free.
What would my ideal life be? Well, I know what it wouldn’t be. Those women who want to be high-class businesswomen, lawyers and famous entrepreneurs or scientists…I’d probably hate that. I want to create, inspire, but mostly just love. I can do all of these plus have the freedom to move around, if I am a housewife, who is not actually required to be at a certain place.
In actuality, I want to be a writer. Nothing I do makes me happier. It can be stress, working with deadlines, but once I know I’m not getting judged for my content, it’s stress that I enjoy. These things are my dreams. How much trouble do I have to go through to achieve them?
Call me whatever is opposite of a practical person, but I believe more in self-fulfillment through joy and satisfaction than self-fulfillment through success. This academic year, I’ve spent more time focused on life in general, rather than grades, and it’s probably not academically healthy, but I generally am; I’ve improved my own mood, attitude and mental health a lot by letting go of the pressure I put on myself to do well in school.
Obviously, teachers won’t like it. My focus appears to be severely misplaced. But when you think about it…I could die at eighteen, or nineteen, or twenty. I’d like to feel at least satisfied with the course of my life, even if not with my achievements. And if I get a 7 in math but did it at the expense of forsaking my writing time, I will not be happy. I speak from experience, not hypothetically. Also, I find it hard to see how my grades will matter in the afterlife.
Formalities bore me. Academics qualifies for me as a formality. What will I study in college, then? Ha – that’s a funny question. Do I even have an interest in attending college? That’s a more relevant question, which I can actually answer with: not if it requires me to do things formally.
I’m a Bohemian by nature. I cannot envision myself EVER carrying out a mathematical investigation or disproving a physics theory.  I can, however, clearly envision myself leading a brainstorming discussion on how to improve a product’s advertising, or 3D graphic designing a model or toy, or heck, even investigating dinosaur fossils. But who is going to pay school fees for me to study paleontology or animation?
So, I suppose until then – then being the indefinite future – my future’s prospects are a melange of false certainty and certain dreams.
-Akotowaa

Direction

How much sense does it make
To suffocate at the hands of an enemy
Who claims to love you
More than your own life?
The irony.
As if it was ever theirs to love!

There is no kind of adoration
That ignores the pleading cries of,
“I’m dying inside!”
All for the sake of a thing that almost everyone seems to have
But few really want,
And those who think they do
Have no clue about
What life is.

Life is
A collection of moments that nobody really knows what to do with,
As displayed by humans’ constant searching for something unattainable,
Even if it’s practical.

So now I’m suffocating,
And everyone is my enemy.
And dear Enemy, I would learn for you if I could,
But “the only thing getting in the way of my learning is my education,”
And repeatedly, I find myself trying to succeed,
In a system God knows I wasn’t born for.

The remaining mysteries are all of them, save one.
Why? What? When? How? Where?
The “who” – is me. Who else?

If by now, I have not abandoned coherence entirely,
Though my expressions have failed me again,
And left me in my vicious cycle of stagnancy,
I am wondering if my problems are worth existence,
So, how much sense does it make?

-Akotowaa

Not all dairy be Dairy.

Sigh. You miss all the good things when you’re in school. It seems as though my grandfather is not the only one in the house who forms blog-worthy stories in his daily life. This happened a few weeks ago, and this one involves my dad William Delali Ofori Snr, and my brother, William Delali Ofori Jnr.

Delali (my brother) was sitting in his room watching movies as usual, and then he got a craving for chocolate. I believe these spontaneous chocolate cravings are hereditary, inherited by my brother an I from our mother, who happens to be a chocaholic. Anyway, he wanted chocolate, and Mum didn’t have any and wasn’t prepared to go looking for some so late, so his only option was to call Dad and ask whether he could possibly pick some up before he came back home.

It is probably irrelevant information here, but my brother has an American accent. I don’t know why, exactly.

Delali called Dad’s mobile. After a few rings, he answered.

“Dad, when you’re coming home, could you please buy me some Dairy Milk?” he asked.

“What? Dairy Milk? Yes, yes,” said Dad. “Do you need anything else?”

“No, that’s all,” said Delali.

And he waited patiently until he heard the honk of our father’s car at the gate. Upon arrival, Dad told Delali to help carry his shopping out of the car. He handed Dela a polythene bag full of cartons of full cream milk, saying, “Put it in the fridge.”

He did what he was asked.

When all the shopping items were safely packed away in their respective storage places, Delali realised he had not seen the one thing he had asked for. Disappointed and slightly agitated, he went to my father’s room to make inquiries. Dad was lying down on his back, tapping on his phone. CNN commentaries could be heard from the television. Delali walked up to Dad and said, “Daddy, you didn’t get me my Dairy Milk!”

Dad looked genuinely shocked. “Yes I did. It’s in the fridge,” he said.

Delali went to the refrigerator to investigate. Still, there was no chocolate.

He went back upstairs, now a little more than slightly confused. “Daddy, it’s not there,” said Dela.

Dad, convinced that there was something wrong with my brother’s eyes, personally accompanied Delali to the kitchen. He opened the fridge, pointed at the glaringly obvious diary milk and said, “Isn’t that it right there?”

You may now start laughing.

Yes. Dad bought fresh milk which, clearly should have qualified as dairy milk, because it comes from dairy cows, doesn’t it?

Following this incident, he was patiently and humorously corrected, and since then, my brother has been receiving Cadbury chocolate on a regular basis. =)

-Akotowaa =)

Perfect Prefect Shenanigans

Grandpa was not an innocent boy in school. This is one of many shenanigans, soon to be released, now in his retirement, when nobody can catch him. LOL.

I thought this particular one would be better if written from the perspective of my grandfather, Charles Seth Ofori.

I never quite understood what it was that set prefects and monitors apart from the rest of us civilians. They got extended time before lights-out to study. As if we didn’t all attend the same classes and write the same exams. Even worse than that was the logic-lacking allocation of resources. Every once in a while, the Powers That Be of Achimota School provided us without necessary toiletries. But for some reason I just couldn’t not fathom, the prefects and monitors always got more toilet roll than the rest of us. You can’t imagine how incredulously I laughed when I discovered that.

“Ah!” I bellowed. “Is it not the same food we are eating? What makes them think that a monitor can shank more than the rest of us?” And I continued to laugh.

What irked me the most, however, had to have been their beds.

I don’t know what the girls had in their dormitories, but we the boys, our beds were made up of three wooden boards placed across two adequately spaced trestles, before a mattress, blankets and sheets were placed on it. I think that should have been fair enough accommodation for all of us – but clearly, whoever put the prefects in charge did not share my opinion.

The prefects, when given their position, were allowed to elevate their beds – like pedestals, as if their sleeping arrangement gave them the right of precedence over us. They did this by placing blocks under the four corners of their trestles. It raised them a worthless further six inches or so off the ground.

The only benefit I ever could see of these raised beds was an avenue for the playing of practical jokes, which is exactly what we used it for.

………….

The sentry stood at the mouth of the door, watching the figure of the older boy disappear down the hallway.

“Is he gone?” I asked.

“Shh!” he reprimanded. The five of us in the room waited for a few more seconds, until the sentry finally said, “I can’t see him anymore.”

We all sprang into action then – the sentry remained at the door; the other four moved to the four corners of the monitor’s bed, while I remained standing, to supervise. It was a delicate task, really. Each person had to shift just one block of the three under each corner far enough to be unstable, but just right to keep the illusion of stability. The whole plan would go to shreds without the power of optical deception.

“Hurry up,” I told them. “He could be back any minute!”

Just as they finished, our sentry whispered in alarm, “He’s coming!”

We all briskly returned o our beds, lay there obediently and pretended to read. Even I must say now that we must have looked like we were definitely hiding something. Upon entry, the monitor regarded us with suspicion, but, finding nothing exactly askew, he disregarded his gut feeling.

Misplaced blocks.
Misplaced blocks.

“Put your books away,” he commanded. “It’s lights-out.” He did not leave his position in front of the door until, after thorough scrutiny with those beady, over-analysing eyes of his, he assured himself that everyone was present and in his bed, with his eyes closed. Satisfied, he turned off the lights and went out to study for a few more minutes.

Nobody had moved a muscle by the time he returned, but I can assure you that not a soul was genuinely asleep. Pretending, with our eyes closed, we waited in anticipation for the climax.

The monitor closed the door behind him, and he walked towards his bed. Ever so slightly, every head inclined.

Then it came – the mighty “GBAN!” that signalled that the King had indeed fallen – literally – from his throne.

Every dorm heard our laughter that night. We must have woken up the whole wing. My own stomach cramped up from laughter. I can never, ever forget that day.

He became a doctor, that prefect. And I’m eighty-one right now, but I tell you that still, whenever I see him, I make sure to have a good laugh at him before we separate – not because he deserves it, but because, quite frankly, it was HILARIOUS.

-Akotowaa

The Price of Insect Pleasure

This is a true story, told to me by the one, the only, **drumroll** Charles Seth Ofori.

When Grandpa Charles was a little boy in Vakpo, there was a certain delicacy that almost all in the village were familiar with: locusts. (Darling, don’t scrunch your face up in disgust; my mother confirms that they are absolutely delicious.) Because they were familiar with this peculiar erm…dish, they also knew the uh…adverse effects it had on one’s digestive system. Charles knew this too. A certain friend and neighbour of his, however, did not.

This person was not named in the retelling of this story to me, but for the sake of this story, I shall christen him with the easiest Ewe name I can think of: Togbui.

So, Togbui was not only ignorant about the locusts’ effects; he had, in fact, never tasted any. Then one day, an individual whom I assume was either very pitying or highly sadistic, introduced Togbui to fried locusts. I’m sure you can tell that what ensued was a kind of painful pleasure.

Take your current favourite food. Imagine as much of it in front of you as possible. Now erase all memory of its taste in your head so that when you dig in, it will be like the first time. Just imagine it. Will you be able to ever get enough? If your imagination is wide enough, maybe you can understand Togbui’s ecstasy and powerlessness to stop eating. I must here resort to borrowing an overused quasi-pidgin phrase to describe his fervency: “He dey go oh!”

Eventually he stopped. There are limits to all the human body’s capacities, after all. Togbui had had his fill. However, what we are aware of that he probably wasn’t was this: a great many good things come with equal or larger prices.

…Which would explain why, the next day, more than an acceptable number of people could hear his loud grunts of agony from the latrine.

Don’t laugh. Someone is there, genuinely suffering in a wrestling match with his bowels, and you dare to laugh! What cruelty! But Charles laughed. My goodness. Why didn’t anyone warn him, eh? Is that how mean people are? I don’t know how long he stayed on the toilet, but I can confirm there was much pain and sweat involved. They should have fed him pawpaw.

That’s the other thing. Not many industrially manufactured medicines were available, but there were, of course, the herbs and the natural laxatives – but even those often took a while to take effect. Our poor Togbui was hence forced to endure that pain until the waste decided for itself that it was ready to depart from his body. Meanwhile, Charles Seth Ofori continued to laugh his head off.

I think it would be safe for me to stay away from locusts as much as I can help it.

-Akotowaa =)

The Vicious Cycle of Stagnancy in My Life

I could be so much more than I am now. There are so many abilities I possess and could have cultivated by now – but I haven’t. Why? Because of this vicious cycle of stagnancy in my life that can actually be summarised in three words: lack of time.

The cycle is like this:

  1. Get inspired. It may be something I was exposed to, something I discovered on the internet, a person, a programme, it doesn’t matter. The result of this stimulant is either the development of a new passion or the resolution to resurrect an old one. So, that’s step one: I make up my mind to basically dedicate my whole life to this interest.

2. Acquisition of equipment. Whatever I need to cultivate this new habit I want, I get. If it’s writing, maybe I’ll buy a dozen notebooks; if it’s graphic design, I’ll download a million softwares; if it’s gaming, I’ll buy a bunch of second-hand games etc. I hardly fail to get what I need. It might actually be the easiest part of the whole cycle.

3. Throw my heart and soul into the project. My guy, if I, Ivana Akotowaa Ofori, decide to get obsessed…wahala don come. Like, I won’t let go. It can be all I talk about, all I think about, the reason for my own malnutrition or sleep deprivation. It does not matter. The passion will surface, and it will be evident. But will it last?

4. Get distracted by life. Now we have entered into the deteriorative part of the cycle. Life always seems to find a way to distract me, somehow. I hate it. The primary culprit is, of course, school. It’s not like I find most of the things I’m doing there relevant too. (There’s something really wrong with the way SOS-HGIC makes its students feel, but that’s for a different post/rant.) When deadlines and things which you, according to the jacked-up society, “have to” do, get you, things start going downhill. And I may try, for a while, to make myself able to do all the things I want at once, but I ain’t superwoman, you see. It either results in me getting such little rest that I feel sick, or drastically bombing every test and/or assignment that comes my way.

5. Become depressed. Hey, it’s not like I CAN’T do everything I want. I probably could…if I was a Cullen, or any other kind of creature which does not need sleep to regain the necessary brain-power required to perform tasks. But at this point, it’s like the powers that be are forcing one to choose: “Do you want to excel in the life you create for yourself? Or do you want to be a pro at the life that society insists is the way for you to become successful in future?” For some strange reason, society always wins – perhaps because they outnumber me 7 billion to 1 – and I end up unhappy with my lot, and move through my designated routines like a bloody depressed zombie. GAH.

6. Take a break. They come in different forms. Maybe the end of major exams, or vacations from school, or brief trips out of the city or the country or attending a “helpful” programme. At this stage, I evaluate my life, conclude that I have achieved nothing, and become disappointed in myself. On the other hand, though, due to the illusory release from certain societies’ captivity, I start to believe that life is not so bad, and that I can possibly do anything and everything I want, and that life can never bring me down again.

7. Start looking for inspiration, and end up back at stage 1.

But darling, I ceaselessly end up back at stage 5! Over and over and over again. And this is why I have concluded now that I will probably never amount to anything in life. (In case you’re wondering, I am, at this moment of my life, at stage 4, already dreading progression into stage 5, which, I believe, is scheduled for November.) If you have any idea how to solve this problem (that does not involve me killing myself, neither physically nor metaphorically), please tell me, because I’d love to hear it.

God help me.

-Vana