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‘Stream of consciousness?’

BY: Brig. Gen. Dan Frimpong (Rtd)
‘A militant message couched in uplifting form’ … Fela Kuti. Photograph: Leni Sinclair/Getty Images
‘A militant message couched in uplifting form’ … Fela Kuti. Photograph: Leni Sinclair/Getty Images

Musing over the weekend on my next article, I recalled a lecture at the University of Cape Coast years ago when Professor Wole Soyinka set the audience roaring with laughter after an interesting confession.

He stated that as a poet, he goes to the beach, and looking at the waves splashing down, he writes a poem.

Years later, when he reads interpretations/attributions made to him by university students in “Poetry Appreciation” examinations about what he was thinking of when he wrote the poem, he laughs his head off.

This is because he never thought of those brilliant ideas students credit him with.

Recently, I found myself in Prof’s situation.

“Stream of consciousness”

Impressed with my April 24, 2021 article Where are we going? a reader praised my use of the “Stream of consciousness” style.

Like Wole Soyinka, I did not think of that at the time of writing!

“Stream of consciousness” is a narrative style that depicts the multitudinous jumpy unconnected thoughts that flow in a writer’s mind. This is before such thoughts are arranged/compartmentalised into logical boxes to make sense to readers.

Jumpy thoughts

Trying to understand some world events both past/present, I remembered Thomas Yaw Kani, the Twi writer whose books we read in primary school in Kumasi in the early 1960s.

With my brain in first gear, my mind went to Ghana football: the controversy over the use of Cape Coast Stadium and the last-minute switch to Baba Yara Stadium, Kumasi.

Also streaming in my mind was the non-naming of Ghana’s squad with less than a week to go for the first-leg against the Green Eagles of Nigeria in a World Cup Qualifier on March 25, 2022. It ended goalless.

Violence/deaths at Wa and Bawku, with the Moderator of the Presbyterian Church kneeling praying at Bawku for peace also streamed through.

Thoughts of the Immigration Officer murdered at Hamile welled up.

My mind then jumped to TV news that, villages around Asankragwa have virtually been taken over by Chinese “galamseyers.”

The locals have literally been bought off by Chinese with their money-power. There is even a clinic for Chinese only.

My mind then raced to Russia-Ukraine, before jetting back to Nigeria to settle on Fela.

Fela
Doubtlessly, Nigerian musician Fela Anikulapo Kuti is one of the most gifted world-class musicians Africa has ever produced. However, without any fear of contradiction, Fela was as talented as he was reckless/controversial.
He seemed to believe in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar saying that,
“Of all the wonders I have heard, it seems to me most strange, that men should fear; Knowing that death, a necessary end, will come when it will come!”

Fela courted death!

In his song “Trouble sleep, yanga wake am,” the lyrics in Pidgin-English state,“if cat sleep, rat go bite him tail, wetin idey want?”

Simply, if a rat bites the tail of a sleeping cat, what does it want? Fela answers his question himself saying that “palaver, idey want, palaver igo get!

It just wants trouble, which it will get!

In the 1980s when Fela composed this song, he confronted Gen Buhari’s military regime frontally with running-battles with the army.

He also created a township for his musicians and his 40 wives, called the Katakula-Republic!

Zhombie

Having sung what the rat should expect biting the tail of a sleeping cat, Fela curiously, probably like Julius Caesar who rejected a warning not to go out on the Ides (15TH) of March in 44 BC, went ahead to record a song against the military titled “Zhombie!”

He described zhombies (military) as brainless people who just did what they were told to do including killing, without thinking!

Could Fela’s behaviour feed into the French philosopher Voltaire’s quote that, “man is rational in that he can think, not in that he thinks?”

Fela did not need a soothsayer to tell him the consequences of his actions!

Eventually, his Katakula-Republic was burnt-down with grievous bodily harm to himself, and his old mother who was thrown down from a storey-building!

Observations

For Ghanaians who advocate violence as a conflict-resolution option, take a look at the current carnage in Ukraine. On March 21, 2022, Mariupol was reported destroyed with over 2,500 killed.

For violence-justifiers/lovers, no Ghanaian who has seen the suffering/death and destruction we see in war-ravaged countries when we go for UN Peacekeeping will ever glamorise violence as an option.

The sight/stench of rotten human flesh in Cambodia/Rwanda/Liberia, etc., scarred some of us soldiers for life!

Fela’s violent confrontation with the state (military) only resulted in death and destruction. Whatever the outcome of the Russian-Ukraine War, humanity will be the loser! Already, fuel price, and therefore everything has escalated!

In Ghana, perhaps a month’s orientation for future MPs, exposing them to the dangers in any of the failed states Ghanaian peacekeepers operate in, will educate them to avoid using incendiary rhetoric which promotes violence. Without peace, Ghana cannot develop. Give peace a chance!

Leadership, lead! Fellow Ghanaians, wake up!

The writer is Former CEO, African Peace Support Trainers Association, Nairobi, Kenya & Council Chairman, Family Health University College, Accra. E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.