Up and Down the Kasoa Road
Kasoa enjoys a curious relationship with Accra. There is almost no break between the town, whose name betrays its humble origins as a small yam market, for Kasoa means “Market” in the Hausa language which is the lingua franca of Northern yam sellers who founded the town at a spot previously known as Bawjiase Junction. So the untrained eye could believe that it was still seeing a western outpost of the capital without realising that Kasoa is actually in the Central Region.
Despite the nearness to Accra, Kasoa is definitely not in Accra, let alone be Accra. Even the “newer” parts of Accra such as Adjiringano or Hatso have character because long before the land began to attract the kind of money chiefs could not resist, there were villages there. Kasoa was nothing but a woebegone roadside shack for overnight accommodation of yam tubers and their sellers. And it shows. Even now, Kasoa boasts the biggest collection of kiosks in the whole wide world, which could be a tourist attraction if the town fathers were minded to cash in on their sorry history.
As you can see, I don't like Kasoa and I liked it even less last Sunday. I will come to the reason in a moment but first come with me as we approach the wretched town from Weija. I had chosen to forget that the NPP rally was happening there that day as I drove to a friend's mother's funeral at Ekumfi Ekrawfo in the Central Region. I motored with a song in my heart for it was a beautiful morning, the kind of day that is wasted on Accra.
The first sign of the trouble ahead was a line of posters advertising the qualities of Prof. Frimpong-Boateng. I thought to myself why he had chosen Kasoa as his spiritual home. Then in quick succession came pictures and banners of all the other suspects: Nana, Cash, Hack the Man, The Brother-Also-Rises, Papa Ajasco… Then it grew into an intolerable flash of clashing colours hanging from anything that can hang anything. Gradually, I came upon the main square, and if I am truthful I must say the display had its own cuteness. It was too early for the rally itself so the signs only fluttered and a few sellers of anything necessary for human survival milled around. I passed by and went my way.
I chose to return early to catch some of the rally if possible. On the return journey I saw some of the posters I had missed earlier, especially of the Young Turks – Papa, Dan and Kwabena. Prof Surgeon had the best display in town, which was a huge balloon the size of a house; knowing him I won't be surprised if he manufactured it himself. His supporters had also commandeered the top of all shops lining one side of Kasoa's accursed road. But it was then that I noticed the one I missed most but here it was:
BY THE GRACE OF GOD
Nkrabea Effa Dartey
Next Leader of the NPP
There was something sad about the banner as if it knew that its owner was going nowhere in a hurry.
As it turned out, Nkrabeah's banner wasn't the only thing going nowhere. We were all going nowhere as a result of which the NPP, out for our votes, lost a lot of goodwill last Sunday. It was an impressive rally by all standards. The numbers were huge and thousands of young men and women paraded in newly acquired T-shirts and other paraphernalia of party support. The music was loud and the crowds supporting different aspirants showed good humour and sense of family. But sadly, the NPP rained on its own parade with utter bad planning. Let us amend that to downright NO PLANNING.
Sometimes I think that when Almighty God finished creating the first Ghanaian he presented him to Angel Michael. The Almighty looked upon His creation and saw that it was good, too good. So he suggested to the Angel that they deprive this creature of one quality that would plague him and his descendants even unto the last generation. So as a joke the archangel suggested “planning”, so they removed the back of the first Ghanaian's brain where the planning lobe should normally be located. The result is evident.
Otherwise, how could such a big party organise such a huge rally without any apparent sign that it didn't happen by accident? Let me describe the scene to you, even though I know that I lack the power to give a vivid and complete description because turmoil lacks form and content but I will try. There is a phenomenon in physics known as Chaos Theory, which tries to explain the apparent randomness of systems and how small changes can lead to big disruptions. Kasoa was the epitome of chaos without the benefit of theory on Sunday.
This is the rub: Kasoa has only one function in life, which is to let vehicles pass through it because the road was there before the town. The road passes through the town but it was there long before the town was born. The road is the only reason for the town. There are two roads actually, but one is a branch road so disappears rather quickly round the bend. The other takes you to and from Cape Coast, Elmina, Sekondi-Takoradi, Abidjan, Lome, Lagos and beyond.
Everyday, thousands of travellers go through Kasoa, not because they like the place but they must get there in order to get to their destination. The road through Kasoa is the artery that feeds the economic and commercial heartlands of the Trans-Africa Highways on our part of the continent. It should not be clogged even for a minute unless the purpose is to kill the vitality of sub-regional interconnectivity.
This is exactly what the NPP rally did. It brought hundreds of thousands of travellers into Kasoa who only wanted to zoom past. It was not fair and it was not right. It could and should have been prevented. The absence of serious planning took the shine off the ruling party's star event, and it is only good that the party bosses did not hear the comments made by the suffering hordes stranded in the heat in their vehicles.
Hundreds did the sensible thing and chose to get out and walk rather than get roasted in their potential metal incinerating coffins. Those of us who were stuck in our vehicles tried to find our own way through unknown back routes. These efforts led to even more chaos as many vehicles ended up at dead ends including a big truck that couldn't turn in any direction. Ironically, it was this government that succeeded in decongesting the centre of Kasoa so that traffic can flow unimpeded.
It took an average of two hours to go through the town; even for a veteran of the infamous Spintex traffic woes this was a bit too much. And please leave the police out of this; let us concentrate our fire this time on the ruling party.
On Monday evening, I watched the rally on television. It showed all the aspirants exhibiting brotherly love towards one another; Nkrabeah was in good voice and the President spoke with dignity and good humour. What TV failed to capture was the sweat, tears and gall of those of us caught in the vortex of a stormy situation not of our making or even liking.
In about two weeks from now the NPP will organise its congress at Legon. It will be at the height of Christmas shopping, and the Madina Road which is usually very busy will be hit by even bigger crowds and hundreds of vehicles. It will be a big test of the Party's ability to plan and coordinate events. An anxious nation will be watching.
Authored by Kwasi Gyan-Apenteng ([email protected])