“I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past”—Thomas Jefferson, 3rd President of the United States of America (1801 -1809).
We have resolved to go soft on hard news when we start a new year. Perhaps, it is because we have had too much trouble thinking through the hard times over the past year and do not want to be remembered just how bad it has all been. So, let’s pretend that 2018 wasn’t that bad after all. We didn’t lose any money to Menzgold. We didn’t waste more than a thousand lives on our roads. We didn’t make a sorry mess of our football in 2018. We didn’t suffer the contorted spaghetti of the impunity and populism of our politicians.
On the last day of 2018, my favourite radio stations decided to go soft on the hard, newsy matters of the year. They empaneled ‘soft’ people to thank God for a good year, project goodness into the ensuing year and relax our nerves as we open a fresh page. So, we have also resolved to spare you the trouble of digesting the hard tissues of the perplexing issues that made us sad in 2018. Indeed, I chose a soft venue to write this edition. I am seated in the comfy sofas of a coffee shop in Osu and I have just ordered cappuccino.
A beautiful young lady walks in and heads straight to the order counter. She sits in the chair opposite me to wait for her coffee. “Hi” she gestures as our eyes meet. “Hello darling, Happy New Year” I shot back. She quipped, rather impatiently: “Not yet; in a few hours, maybe.” “That’s smart,” I complimented. Soon, her coffee was ready and she joined me at my table. We started chatting about everything from slayqueens to fake prophets to the economy.
She is one of the 1.8Million Ghanaians who invested in Menzgold. She didn’t say exactly how much money she pumped in but she sounded really concerned. “The year has been very bad for me,” she concluded, occasionally pausing to diss the bigger powers for not stepping in earlier. She was, however, conscientious enough to admit that the greedy choice was hers to make and she made it quite greedily. “Well, let’s hope 2019 brings better tidings,” I assured. “We hope so,” she submitted, as she exited the shop.
We own the many choices we make as we journey through the vicissitudes of life in these poor parts of the Jordan. Around here, you are buffeted by forces otherwise unknown to man on a good day. On either side, you are confronted by militant ignorance or rational ignorance (words I learnt from Bright Simmons). Either way, you have to contend with some ignorance as you try to make your life count in the bigger scheme of things. Soon, you will realise that not all things that can be counted truly counts. Just count your blessings.
Yet, you must count yourself lucky to be alive in the new year. 2018 was full of surprises, heartbreaks, some great stuff and a few lovely moments. We are on the cusp of opening a new page into 2019. At this time, even the unrepentant buffoons among us pretend to do what Socrates can do. We all join up to examine our lives. The unexamined life is not worth living. So, let’s examine how 2018 panned out.
I started 2018 on a big high; I had a baby girl on 31st December, 2017. She is exactly one year today as I write. Bless her. I named her after my mum. I don’t want to remember the accident on the way when we were driving to the Osu Hospital. It was my fault; perhaps I was too excited. I cut in sharply into the lane of the oncoming van. Only a little damage was done to my car. Theirs had no scratch. “Oh Honourable, you cross us…” My wife’s mountain belly greeted them as the driver approached our car. “Oh Madam, sorryoooo.”
God in colours
By examining our lives, Socrates also meant that we should take a look at our professions and check how well we did. I left my full-time job the same day my daughter was born, to enter the turbulent waters of private communication consultancy. It had been long on the cards, and had suffered two miscarriages and a still birth. It was time to be born and what a painful joy it has been. You can only understand the praise only when you know the pain.
While I still live the pain, I was comforted by some great news from some great friends. In Ontario, Raphael and Meghan had another lively boy they named Milo while Isak and Alison gave us Esther. Far way in South Korea, my first son’s godfather, Professor Gwanggil Jeon, had become an academic highflier, stamping his distinguished scholarship on the maps of some reputable universities in Asia. The trio of Raphael, Isak and Gwanggil, my roommates when I lived in Canada, remain my most endearing revelation and urgent realisation that God lives through men in many colours.
Fun in 2018
What good things did I do in 2018? The most urgent and persistent question in life is what are we doing for other people. We live in deeds, not years; in thoughts not breaths; in feeling, not fingers on a dial (Philip James Bailey). Honest people are rare in these parts. My mason was one of them. He died shortly after we had started working together. I adopted his son. Good lad.
2018 also had some very funny moments. My house girl nearly proved that she suffers a mild form of militant ignorance when she returned from an errand to buy Daily Graphic with old German newspapers sold as toilet paper. My gateman also asked if he could borrow a ‘hundred’ charger. Hundred chargers? Well, he meant ‘Android.’ I might as well buy him 100 phones.
Soon, it was time to leave the coffee shop to prepare for the CrossOver service. But not without some take-home trivia from an old friend who walked in. He had just received an engagement list from his prospective father in-law. The items include a laptop. Serves him right. He met her on Facebook. In 2019, I hope to attend their cable wedding in cyber space with emoji flowers.