A Day’s Wait

Short Story
By Ernest Hemingway

( From The Cockcrow, a compilation of short stories, drama, and poems by John A. Sackey and Lawrence Darmani ) The Cockcrow is available in all bookshops in Ghana.

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THEME OF FEAR OF DEATH

This very short story was centered on the theme of fear of death. Schatz, a nine year old boy contracts influenza and behaves strangely. His father tries reading to him but the boy seemed to be deep in thought.

He had apparently confused his high body temperature reading to a different temperature reading his friends talked about in school. Unknown to his father, Schatz had been waiting to die that day until he opened up to his dad. Hence, the tile A Day’s Wait
This story teaches children to learn to ask questions to clear any confusion, doubt or misinterpretations about ideas or concepts. If Schatz had done that he wouldn’t have suffered psychologically that whole day. Though the boy was courageous enough to embrace death it was not necessary.

I have read a book by Ernest Hemingway titled The Old Man and the Sea. It was an action driven book full of lessons and themes.

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POEM

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This was a poem I submitted for my poetry assignment at Ghana Baptist University, College, Kumasi. ( AKOSUA was not the original female name I used )

TITLE

PHLEGMATIC AKOSUA

Maiden from the coast
Men see as a toast
Beauty engulfs you like the
parrot
The heart of men go pum! pum!
when they see you
Soon you settle with one

=======================

By your nature
you are under no pressure
To leave your home of pleasure
Where you have stayed more
than a thousand years
Alas! your lack of worth has
made you a worm

========================

Moving slowly on the career path
like a snail
Not wanting to climb the
promotion ladder
Open your eyes and see the pie
Smell the pie
In the career hut

========================

Enough! enough! of your
beautiful ugly nature
Which is a glaring open secret
Time awaits your action
As wrestlers in the ring
You phlegmatic Akosua arise for
change!

(Every temperament has a beautiful ugly nature – thus strengths and weaknesses. Do you know yours?) 

image source: cleverism.com

Ripples

Short Story

By Peter Paul Adolinama

( From The Cockcrow, a compilation of short stories, drama, and poems by John A. Sackey and Lawrence Darmani )


A Social Issue


This story unfolded around the life of an unfortunate 14 year old girl called Amina. She was given into marriage to a man old enough to be her father. Amina was never seen smiling during her two years marriage in her husband Mba Sayibu’s house.

Sayibu was a wealthy man known for marrying young girls. Amina became his fourth wife. As a fourth wife she enjoyed so called privileges such as spending more nights with her husband, attending functions with him and cooking for him. She had to endure her husband’s hot temper and lived in perpetual fear of him. She also had to endure the jealousy of the third wife, Safia, who was also as young as she was but had been in the marriage two years earlier. This eventually led to their constant fights.

Two years into Amina’s marriage, thus at age 16 and in the process of delivering a baby girl, she lost her life. The baby, Abiba (Abi as the short form) was entrusted into the care of the first wife Mama Adamu.


Guess What?


At age 14, Abi suffered the same fate as her deceased mother Amina. She was to be given into marriage to an irresponsible, stingy, grown up man. What do you expect from a man who marries young girls? He would definitely also give his teenage daughter into marriage.


A Message From The
gods Verses The Medical Report


What really surprises me is the fact that Sayibu never learnt his lesson of losing the 16 years old Amina to childbirth. According to the post-mortem report, she died because her womb wasn’t matured. On the contrary, her husband’s family ignored the medical report. They rather consulted the gods who said that it was the girl’s destiny to die young. Really?

Mama Adamu gave Abi her mother’s diary when she also reached 14 years and was about to be shipped off into another death trap called marriage.


The Diary


The content of the diary was a symbol of the story’s title: Ripples. Apparently, Amina’s mother had said that her granddaughter, Abi, would also be given out into marriage at the same age 14 and would suffer the same fate as her mother and even her grandmother.


Light At The Tunnel

The author gave hope to Abi. This hope was in characters of Mr. Ambrose Yakubu, the primary school headteacher and his daughter Jamila. Mr Ambrose  had waged war against child marriages. So, on the day Abi was supposed to be shipped off into marriage, Mr. Ambrose together with officers from the Social Welfare Department and the Police rescued her. Finally, Abi saw light at the at the end of the tunnel.

A Social Problem

The author, Peter Paul Adolinama, creatively addressed one of the problems facing young girls in Ghana, Africa and the world at large. These young girls who are given into marriage suffer all forms of abuse. Most are given off into marriage due to tradition and poverty in their families. They eventually have to unwillingly drop out of school, neither are they allowed to learn any vocational skills. I can visually imagine the sad lives of these teenage wives and mothers. Men who engage in this practice must be arrested and imprisoned.

All Hope Is Not Lost

There are child marriages taking place in Bangladesh, Ghana, USA,  Malawi, Syria, Nigeria and many countries in the world.
The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals call for global  action to end this human rights  violation by 2030.
There are many NGOs fighting against child marriages all over the world. Examples are:
1. Plan International ( https://plan-international.org )
2. Girls Not Brides ( http://www.girlsnotbrides.org )
3. UNICEF ( http://www.unicef.org )
4. UNFPA ( http://www.unfpa.org )

Debbie, Sandy, and Pepe                                       

Short Story

By Merrill Corney

( From The Cockcrow, a compilation of short stories, drama, and poems by John A. Sackey and Lawrence Darmani )


I am sure any animal rights activists who reads this story would be proud of the two main characters. They are Debbie and Sandy. The author seeks to draw readers attention to two very important issues of life.

First, Debbie and Sandy showed compassion to a baby bird they found alone. They took care of this bird who was later named Pepe by Debbie. The author chose to use these two young characters to teach us about the importance of taking care of animals. Debbie and Sandy are a sharp contrast of the children in my neighborhood who chase after lizards with long sticks. The girls actions also reminds me of a reality TV show called Amanda to the Rescue. Even though, Pepe died, the moral value of the roles played by these sisters is that animals did not create themselves. God created them and He created humans to care, provide and protect His creation.

Second, the author wants to echo this message: God exists! When Debbie asked her mother whether birds go to heaven when they die, she responded that she didn’t even know if there was a God or not. Hold on! The answer was found on the calendar Debbie turned over for the new month. The Bible verse on the calendar soothed Debbie’s pain of the death of Pepe. It also told us that God exits and He does not forget any of His creations be they humans, animals or plants.

Debbie, Sandy, and Pepe is a very short and interesting story in The Cockcrow. I would encourage parents to buy this book for their children and guide them to read. This can even be a bedtime story. It is available in all bookstores in Ghana.

The Cockcrow

Short Stories, Drama, and Poems Compiled by John A. Sackey and Lawrence Darmani

The Cockcrow is a compilation of short stories, drama and poems for Ghanaian junior high school students. This is to introduce and also prepare them for literature in the senior high school.


     READING IS A HEADACHE  

Why didn’t I read this entire book when I had the opportunity to embark on my national service at a junior high school form 1 class? You are wondering what the problem was? The form 1 students could not read! Yes, with the exception of about 7 students out of 30 plus students, the rest couldn’t read their English textbook and the The Cockcrow. So, the only story we could tackle amidst struggles was Debbie, Sandy and Pepe. Reading is a headache to most Ghanaian children.

       WHY IS THIS SO?

Is it the fault of teachers, parents or the students? I know that this question will definitely spark a debate. Since, I teach in a government school, I will skew my argument in a particular angle.

I have personally observed that most parents whose children are in the government schools don’t really care much about the educational needs of their children. These parents fail to buy story books for their children. They don’t monitor their home work. They don’t pay periodic visits to the school to fine out the academic performance of their children. All the work is laid on the teacher. But it shouldn’t be so because parents are also stakeholders in education. Until these are addressed we will continue to produce students who can’t read in both English and in their dominant local Ghanaian language. And if students cannot read how will they answer examination questions?

      My intention

I intend to only review the stories and drama in compilation. My next post will tackle the first story in The Cockcrow.

This is a list of the stories and drama compilation in the book.

1. Debbie, Sandy and Pepe (story)

2. The Old Man and His Children

3. The Delimma of a Ghost ( drama)

4. Ripples ( story)

5. A Day’s Wait (story)

6. Tell my Son to Hold On to His Gun ( story)

7. Oliver Twist ( abridged and simplified novel)

8. The Girl Who Can ( story)

9. Sosu and the Bukari Boys ( story)

10. The Generous Hunter ( story)

11. Home Sweet Home  (story)

Afriku

BRIEF BACKGROUND

Haiku is a short Japanese poem with nature as its central theme and Senryu also tends to be about human foibles.

THE REAL DEAL
It amazes me how Agyei-Baah,  an African, a Ghanaian and an Ashanti could fall deeply in love with this foreign genre of poem and even Africanize it. Hence, his collection’s title Afriku. He added a guide to the pronunciation of Twi sounds. This is what he penned down as his dedication.

My pleasure for your leisure –
It’s for you , Africa –
Celebrate!

Another beauty of this collection is the poet’s ability to translate the poems from English into Asante Twi a major dialect spoken in Ghana. This serves as a very good bilingual purpose for readers.
An example is;

morning dew –
perhaps heaven weeps
for mankind

Asante Twi translation


anɔpa bosuo –
sɛsɛɛ ɔsoro su gu
adasa so


The poet exhibits humor and irony in this example;


noisy corn mill –
the operator’s son
in a peaceful slumber


Asante Twi translation


nikanika dan mu
ɔyamfoɔ ba a wada
nnahɔɔ


This is another beautiful piece;


mama’s soup –
trying to adjust
to my wife’s


Asante Twi translation


ɛna nkwan
mebɔ mmɔden sɛ
me yere deɛ bɛtere m’anom

noisy corn mill –
the operator’s son
in a peaceful slumber


Asante Twi translation


nikanika dan mu
ɔyamfoɔ ba a wada
nnahɔɔ


This is another beautiful piece;


mama’s soup –
trying to adjust
to my wife’s


Asante Twi translation


ɛna nkwan
mebɔ mmɔden sɛ
me yere deɛ bɛtere m’anom


This is very funny but if you were once a student you would agree that;


school memories –
all the farts concealed
by shifting my chair


Asante Twi translation


sukuu nkae
mframabɔne a mede sieeɛ wɔ

m’akonnwa twetwee mu

In our African environment malaria is a constant trouble as a result of mosquitoes;

a pause
in my dream
mosquito bite

Asante Twi translation

pitiribɔ
wɔ me daeɛ mu –
ntontom ka

I will finally end here with this piece for you to reflect on;

Shea butter market
sellers hold the sun
in water sprinkles

Asante Twi translation

nkuto dwom
adetɔnfoɔ de nsupete
kyekyere owia


CONCLUSION

The poet did not disappoint anyone who believed in his ability to Africanize this Japanese genre of poem. He has told the African story in his collection – Afriku through his creativity and deep thinking ability.

Edufa


Book : Edufa
Genre : Drama
Author : Efua T. Sutherland

           MY STANCE

I will review this story on the basis that it begins and ends as an African tragedy. As Africans, we hold dear our cultural beliefs and values. These cultural beliefs and practices make us unique and sets us apart from other races. In general, culture is described as the way of life of a group of people.

TRUTHFULNESS IS IMPORTANT

In the drama Edufa, the main character Edufa, in his quest to escape his death as predicted by the diviner, hides the truth from his wife Ampomah and manipulates her into pledging her love for him. He doesn’t tell her the consequences of her pledge. Hence, making her a substitute for his death. When Ampomah falls gravely ill, the entire household lie to the Chorus that she is well and is only sleeping in her room. Edufa, again refuses to admit the truth to his father Kankam when he accuses him of being the cause of Ampomah’s illness. Africans hold truth as an important integral part of their being. This is why during the outdooring of a new born baby, water and local gin are dropped on the baby’s tongue to admonish him/her to be truthful at all times. So, Edufa’s refusal to be truthful makes this literary work an African tragedy.

  THE AFRICAN MARRIAGE

Africans put a lot of unnecessary pressure on wives to at all times prove their love for their husbands. This is the reason why Ampomah naively promises to die for her coward of a husband. She as an African wife has no choice other than to prove her love when her husband cunningly asks the entire household who loves him enough to to die for him. Imagine what would have happened if she had kept mute or had not promised to die for him. She would have been insulted, branded a witch or even an opportunist. This undue pressure on African wives drives home the point that the story is an African tragedy.

THE AFRICAN BELIEVES, OUR DOWNFALL

Another African tragedy in the drama is our belief in diviners, spirits and witchcraft. If Edufa had not consulted a diviner he wouldn’t have been aware of his impending death and his wife would have also been spared the ordeal she passes through. In my opinion, the diviner’s role isn’t relevant because everyone would die even including him. This reminds me of the 90 year old woman Akua Denteh.

She was accused of witchcraft and beaten to death in broad daylight at Kafaba, a village under Salaga in the Northern region of Ghana. Hmm! What a tragedy! This African animalistic world view casts a dark spot on us.       

       RESPECT FOR ELDERS


The last tragedy evident in the story is Edufa’s disrespectful attitude towards his own father. When Kankam confronts his son, Edufa, about his wife’s illness, he insults his father and even accuses him of being envious of him and being the enemy. Obviously, the African society frowns on children disrespecting their parents.
 
              WRAPPING UP

This story is an African adaptation of the Greek play Alcestis by Euripides. The writer was creative enough to weave her story around the Ghanaian culture. I will encourage everyone to get a copy of this book and read for knowledge and fun. Plus, it’s just a very short story that you can finish reading in a few days.

Defending Your Brand: How Smart Companies Use Defensive Strategy to Deal with Competitive Attacks

Author: Tim Calkins

Year of Publication: 2013


        ABOUT AUTHOR

  Tim Calkins is a clinical professor of marketing at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. Other books under his authorship are Breakthrough Marketing Plans and How To Wash A Chicken: Mastering the Business Presentation.


               GET THIS

 Before I dive into the synopsis you may ask what a brand is. According to Wikipedia, a brand is a name, term, design, symbol or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers. A few examples are MTN Ghana and Vodafone Ghana as telecommunication brands. Lipton tea as a tea brand. CNN and BBC as news broadcasting brands. Successlink Consult as a travel and tour brand. Ghana International School and Harvard College as education brands and Samsung as an electronic manufacturing brand.

             SYNOPSIS

 The moment you start reading the first few pages of this book, Tim impresses on readers that in the world of business, competition can’t be left out. Whether you are a big company or a small/medium size business have it at the back of your mind that somebody or a company somewhere is planning on entering your kind of business. You must protect your position in the market against new entrants. A new entrant means a drop in your profits or market shares. Hence, the need for the need for defense strategies. Business defense includes everything a company does to react to competitive threats. He does excellent work to explain that whereas growth strategies include all the proactive steps taken to build your business such as advertising, new product introduction, cost reduction efforts, promotional offers, defensive strategies are your response to your competitor’s moves.

 There are not many books written on this topic because some of the tactics employed aren’t supposed to be in the public domain.


         I DID, YOU WOULD TOO

 Reading this book is not cumbersome because of how he weaves in real life business establishment’s examples to support every issue he raised. At a point the reader will have an a-ha! moment. This book is simply a pack of knowledge. You will be able to relate to it even if you aren’t in the business field.

 Interestingly, Tim states that this book is primarily for people who lead organizations, companies be it small or big, or a charitable church organization. But I see it as an oversight that he didn’t mention teachers, married couples, health professionals and indeed any individual at all. I hold a personal belief that we are our own unique brands even as individuals and we must also master the art of defense because our whole being is a company and what we stand for is our brand that needs to be defended from intruders just as a lioness would her cubs.

 On the other hand, I’m blown away by his presentation on the moral lessons learned from what happened between the movie rental company, Blockbuster, Netflix and Red box. In his quest to create awareness of the importance of defense strategies, he expatiates on the subject of financial challenges businesses might face and getting to know your competitor by gathering information. Social media also plays a key role here. He also advises that lawyers be consulted in areas which bother on state laws on business.


               IT’S A WRAP!

 To wrap up, Defending Your Brand has not disappointed me at all. It has succeeded in exposing the various interesting, enlightening and sometimes shady tactics used by smart businesses to stay in their game.

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