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24.11.2002 Feature Article

Tarzan And The Principle Of 'Zakotoza'

Tarzan And The Principle Of 'Zakotoza'
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Rhapsodies On "Kindness" - Verse 5

Two and a half decades ago, in Achimota School, when yours truly was a fine, young Sergeant- Major in the cadet corps, we had a popular jingle, a meaningless drivel as they all are, that we sang during Friday afternoon route marches. It goes like this, When you wake up in the morning - Zakotaza. The dress you wear - Zakotoza. The Cloth you wear- Zakotoza. Bend down and let me see your underwear. Zakotoza Bay - bee Zakotoza. By quite a tortuous stretch of one's imagination, especially if you are prepared to soar into edifying flights of fancy, the message conveyed by the song was that, outward impressions do not represent inner truth. A lady you see in the morning may look all clean and neat, in dress and cloth, but if you check the state of the underwear... Zakotoza ba-by Zakotoza So it is with Sir Yves, Tarzan, Chief Executive of the Volta River Authority, one of the select few men who have the singular distinction of needing a shower in their offices, because they sweat profusely, even in air conditioned rooms. Arrogance had seen no equal until the 'knight of energy policy' thumped his chest loudly to declare that Ghanaians should be prepared to sleep in darkness if they are not prepared to pay increased tariffs(double 'f') for electricity. Like Moses commanding the Red Sea to part, Sir Yves declares that "Akosombo Kanea Asa". (The era of free electricity is over). When you wake up in the morning - Zakotoza! But by a trick of the imagination, Tarzan justifies the tariff (double f ) increases by saying it is meant also to protect the "poor rural folk" who buy from "inferior but more expensive sources", whilst the relative rich are subsidized by the government. The dress you wear - Zakotoza! Of course, once tariffs (double f ) are raised the, the rich will still be able to pay for electric power, and the poor might retrogress into the smoky fumes of the palm oil fuelled 'bobo' lantern. The cloth you wear, - Zakotoza! And yonder, across the Accra Plains from the Akosombo Power plant, sits Valco consuming as much electricity as all Ghanaian citizens combined, and yet paying less per kilowatt-hour than the poor citizens of Ghana. Yet "Akatia" Yves does not beat his chest and slap them with a 220% increase. Instead he directs his bullying arrogance at the poor Ghanaian. Bend down and let me see your underwear, Zakotoza ba-by Zakotoza! But St Yves is not only guilty of the sin of arrogance. Arrogance never moves alone. In the psyches of the members of the powers that be, arrogance combines with ostentation for quite lengthy innings. For why else would St Yves, in his quest for realistic tariffs (double f) and cost cutting, decide to import Volvo luxury cars for his management staff. We sincerely believe this to be part of his Poverty Reduction Strategy Program. Volvos designed for smooth roads are now about to ply the death traps of Ghana. And how long before they become dilapidated? I bet not more than three years. But Yves says they will import more. And Sir Yves is an honorable man! Zakotoza Ba-by Zakotoza ! He hath spent US$50,000 of taxpayer's money on renovating his mansion. Did this in Yves seem ostentatious? Yet Yves says it's only for his personal comfort. And still Yves is an honorable man. Zakotoza Ba-by Zakotoza! When ostentation hand in hand with arrogance "walks the earth abroad", and finds convergence in one being, psychiatrists are wont to suspect some insecurity in such a being, and Sir Yves does show symptoms of such a disorder. His metamorphosis from British Energy Policy Advisor to the P(NDC), to Ghanaian Presidential Candidate, whose UGM won not a single seat in Parliament, up to his elevation as VRA boss by Kuffour, who happens to be the "small boy" of Yves uncle Victor Owusu, should count as one of the prettiest tales of riches-to-more-riches in the Ghanaian establishment. Incidentally it is reported Victor died in penury in England whilst Sir Yves was reducing poverty for his management staff. Koto ma me hwe wo to ooooooh! Zakotoza ba-by zakotoza. Sorry I could not resist the Twi version of the chorus! And along the way Tarzan has picked up many a flowery ornament to adorn his inflated ego. The most flowery of these is his beautiful wife, the erstwhile PNDC Secretary of Information and Education, who despite her feminism, shed the rather bland name Aryee for the more formidable Wireko-Brobbey. According to my respected cousin Kwaku Sakyi-Addo, Junior Jesus kicked her out because she "smiles too much". Today the Revolutionary has turned Priestess, heading the 'Salt and Pepper' Ministries whilst cashing serious money as Chief Executive of Ghana Chamber of Mines. Zakotoza Ba-by Zakotoza! So if you knock at their door and you tell the gate man - not the one who got four years for stealing Yves' golden bed sheets - that you want the Chief Executive, he will ask you, "Which one?" Zakotoza Ba-by zakotoza! On a more serious note however, it is not that we are against any increase in tariffs (double f) per se. Rather it is this attempt to bully Ghanaians into subsidizing a giant multinational that so irks us. Also if the government could raise the value of labor of Ghanaians, then increasing tariffs would not adversely affect the pocket of majority of Ghanaians. But in a country where the minimum wage is about $1 a day, how much more can you bleed the common man. So as Tarzan pursues what he calls "system transformation" at VRA, we cannot help but envisage a combination of dictatorship, devolution, transfers, dismissals, culture of silence, usury and of course cold showers, as only Tarzan can. By the way did you know that the Bui dam is back in the works after Tarzan had categorically stated that the whole idea had been shelved because of environmental concerns? Is it because the consortium that is supposed to build the dam had Dick Cheney, the US Vice president on the board? Zakotoza Ba-by Zakotoza! In the long run, tariffs (double f) will be raised and my poor grandmother in Akwadum village will get no "latrinecity", but she will be okay because "latrinecity" is "tiefikrom" and tierfikrom is "city of shit". As for Tarzan, like his namesake in the comic book, he will continue to swing until he falls and hurts his hairy balls. And the Achimota cadets will keep marching on Fridays singing, Bend down and let me see your underwear, Zakotoza ba-by zakotoza!

Kwesi Yeboah
Kwesi Yeboah, © 2002

The author has 34 publications published on Modern Ghana. Column Page: KwesiYeboah

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