When were the good old days?

BY: Doreen Hammond
Doreen Hammond
Doreen Hammond

I chanced upon a conversation between two octogenarians at a wedding reception about the good old days.

They recounted their days at palm wine bars, walking barefoot to school and bathing in the village stream which had not been tampered with by galamsayers.

They recounted enjoying exciting night life with highlife music, concert party and cinemas. They slept in individual rooms at the university and were wooed by prospective employers after graduation.

They spoke fondly about living comfortably on stipends as young workers.

Back at home I asked my dad to pinpoint to me which era in our national life could be considered as the good old days.

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He admitted that growing up before independence they had enjoyed life in its simplest form at a time expectations were very modest and stress levels were low.

I wondered if what the two octogenarians described were the indicators for the good old days.

I moved on to my own time, having been on this planet earth for close to half of a century.

May be the days being referred to pre-dates when I was born.

Yes, I remember wearing maxi skirts and top coat in those days.

I remember that I had to do long walks to school daily and some children still did that walk without shoes.

In terms of public transport, there were very few vehicles and the bodies of most trotros were made of wood.

It was quite cumbersome to get on board, not to talk of the discomfort riding on them as compared to the luxury buses plying our roads today.

The top range private vehicles were mostly saloon cars: Peugeot, Datsun, Fiat and few others whose manufacturers were just producing the basics.

The V8, and other luxurious brands plying our roads had not been born.

The national road network was bad and this made travelling from a point to the other painfully slow.

A journey from Bolgatanga to Accra in a wa to nkyene truck could take five days to one week!

Foods were neither the genetically modified nor chemically induced type which have inundated our markets today.

All the children in the household used one sponge and one towel and my mum was often battling lice.

Accessing health facilities was a big deal; medication was not that common and people died from diseases that look so simple to cure today.

Some children were so malnourished (Kwashiokor) and had to be given nutritious foreign food aid at weighing centres.

Communication was very difficult.

There were no cell phones. One had to go and book calls at the Post and Telecommunications (P&T) for sometimes two days and go back there to be put through both international and domestic calls.

Mine were the videos, VHS cassettes and record dance days.

Going to school was a daunting task as the cane remained a regular companion.

Teachers carried their canes with utmost pride and used them to the maximum to put us on our toes and instill the fear of the Lord in us!

Then I fast forwarded to my children’s contemporary era where games have changed from hopscotch (tuumatu), chaskele and gutter to gutter to play stations.

The Internet and mobile telephoney are the order of the day.

It takes just the click of a button to be in touch with people thousands of miles away.

Going to school for many is no longer a drudgery.

School buses, taxis and private cars ferry most children to school.

The road network has improved dramatically and in some cases has more than halved travel time.

This is complemented by domestic air transport and availability of top notch private and public transport systems.

Our health system has improved in terms of both public and private facilities and personnel.

Even in terms of information sharing, we are better off as the Internet and live broadcast make it possible for us to view programmes across the globe.

The plethora of media platforms, radio, television, enable us to be part of the discourse across the globe.

Last month my cousin engaged a lady.

Guess what? They met on social media and courted for barely a month.

If this is not a simple life, then I don’t know what else is.

We have had different eras with different offers.

For instance, there was the era of the railways, Black Star Line, etc.

There was the era of the paper bag and now era of polythene bags and consequent environmental challenges intertwined with the era of cybercrime and sakawa.

Looking back at all these and how things stand today, I am wondering which era was actually the good old days. Any help?

Writer’s E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it./aamakai@rocketmail.