Several times, my cousin the evangelist and former keyboard player for the popular 1970s dance band, Adam’s Apple, must have veered sharply and dangerously towards suicide, the bosom friend of the most severely tormented and tortured of souls. Which was why in the late summer of 1995, when I returned to New York City, after a year’s teaching stint as a Visiting Lecturer at Indiana State University, Terre Haute, Indiana, my parents promptly advised me, the next day, to consider taking up residency with my cousin, then the astute all-purpose Assistant Manager with one of the branches of the HSBC Bank, located in the basement of one of the twin-towers of the World Trade Center that came tumbling down apocalyptically like the Biblical Tower of Siloam, in the Earth-stopping catastrophic carnage that was seismically heard around the world, on September 11, 2001, and became globally known as the World Trade Center Disaster, and then the World Trade Center Carnage, and then later simply known as 9/11 or 9-11 or 9-1-1. When my cousin first moved into his new one-and-half-bedroom apartment, my now-late father used to spend nearly every weekend with his favorite nephew. It was almost like a high-alert suicide watch.
My cousin was an all-purpose astute, if not an outright genius, Assistant Bank Manager, because he never took any of his annual two-week vacations without him being called back to work, two or three days into his vacation. He was simply a workhorse; I guess you could even say that he was married to his work. He was often the first employee to arrive in the basement of the World Trade Center Tower in which his branch of the HSBC Bank was located. And so the Branch President of the bank gave him a copy of the keys to the bank, which meant that he had the additional responsibility of ensuring that his branch of the bank was always opened up on time, that is, by 9 am sharp. On most days, he arrived at his workplace before 8 am. Often him being recalled from the start of his vacation had to do with the fact that more than any other employee at the bank, my cousin had such uncanny facility with the cyber networks of the bank that but for his lack of a college degree – in just about any academic or professional discipline or specialty – he would have easily ended up as the Vice-President of his branch of the HSBC Bank or, better yet, a Vice-President at the National Headquarters of the HSBC Bank.
Lacking a college degree was likely one of the major errors in judgment that my cousin ever made in his life. And this egregious error in judgment may very well have cost him dearly in terms of prime and well-paying employment opportunities. Not very long ago, one of my cousin’s secondary schoolmates from their Abuakwa State College days in the early 1960s, he was a year behind my cousin, we shall call him Osagyefo Sintim-Danso, bitterly lamented to yours truly that when he met my cousin right here in New York City, in the early 1980s, and discovered to his blistering disappointment that Cousin Kwasi had not earned even as Associate’s Degree in any field of endeavor, he almost fainted with shock, sadness and deep sorrow. To this day, whenever we meet and talk on the phone and his name and/or whereabouts comes up, Osagyefo Sintim-Danso would wistfully express his deep sorrow and disconsolate disappointment. “My brother, I can bet my bottom-dollar that if your cousin had wanted to earn three PhDs in any fields of endeavor, he could easily have earned them. I vividly remember when he used to teach forms four and five students Physics and Additional Mathematics (here in the United States called Calculus), when Kwasi was only in form two.”
For more than a decade, my Cousin Kwasi served as the Assistant Manager at the World Trade Center branch of the HSBC Bank. The Akan have a saying that goes as follows: “If God does not decide to kill you, you will never die.” And so it came to pass that just a little over a year before the twin-towers of the World Trade Center came tumbling down, Siloam style, the HSBC Bank nestled in the basement of, I believe, Tower-Two of the twin-towers of the World Trade Center, was relocated across town to the Eastside of Downtown Manhattan, by the banks of a major street called Whitehall, if memory serves yours truly accurately. And then one day the globally infamous Mr. Osama Bin Laden and his equally globally infamous Al-Qaeda network hit the twin-towers with two hijacked commercial passenger airplanes and then, literally, all hell broke loose, with these two giant towers tumbling down, slow-motion like melting plastic toy-like towers or minarets.
We would live together in the same upscale one-and-half-bedroom third-floor apartment in Kew Gardens Hills, in the Borough of Queens, New York City, for some four years. My Cousin Kwasi’s life – he is a dozen years older than I am – has been quite eventful; perhaps really no more eventful than the life of any other diaspora-domiciled Ghanaian man of his age who made the same sort of mistakes that he made with his life’s choices and judgment calls. You see, Dear Reader, I had intended to tell the story that I am presently narrating about a couple of weeks ago, when the name of the Kumawood actor/actress by the name of Tracey Boakye hit the banner news headlines of Ghana’s entertainment industry and media. Ms. Boakye is a Kumasi-resident actor/actress. In Ghana, they still use the semantically derogatory title of “actress,” which actually means “little actor,” whereas here in the United States of America, thanks to the #MeToo Movement, the use of the title of “actor” is fast becoming a unisex designation for both male and female performers of both the proverbial silver screen and now, increasingly, the digitized audiovisual screen or television screen.
Anyway, Tracey Boakye was recently shown in an interview smugly and confidently boasting that she maintained a routine schedule of “riding” her platoons of boyfriends the way any reasonably well-heeled Ghanaian actress hails a taxicab, jumps into it and nonchalantly dismounts from the same a multiple times over the course of a short span of time. She would in just a couple of days later hit the entertainment news headlines once again and be reported to be apologetically beating a radical retreat. This time around, Tracey Boakye would be bitterly complaining with a visible tinge of sadness in the tone of her voice, and remorsefully claiming that legions of relatives, friends, acquaintances and fans had phoned, emailed, tweeted and used other forms of social media platforms to vehemently express their displeasure and utter disgust with the contents of her interview. In short, she had flippantly made her rather outrageous remarks little expecting that she would almost immediately be inundated with a flurry of bitter complaints.
As a fairly well-established actor and producer with a remarkable following and a sizeable bank account, by her own public testimony, Tracey Boakye had taken the casual liberties of a successful performing artist to make light of an aspect of Ghanaian culture – that is, the strictly expected decency of personalities in the public domain – which many a Ghanaian is very concerned about. You see, as a quite notable, if not a prominent, Christocentric charismatic religious leader, many of his congregants and his media audiences, at large, expect “Prophet” Badu Kobi to seriously play the societal function of a role model and a problem solver, instead of being so presumptuous and feeling gratuitously superior to the very species of humanity whom the leader and founder of the Glorious Waves International Church claims to have been Divinely Ordained and Anointed to help protect and succor to their needs and aspirations with good leadership and wise counsel, instead of downright disdain and moral and social rejection.
Alas, having so harshly and contemptuously rejected his own people and, in effect, God’s people, Mr. Badu Kobi can only be expected to be redeemed through the contrite and apologetic expression of humility and repentance. If he cannot do or go through any of the following processes of moral and spiritual “rebooting,” as prescribed by the very Divine Providence whom Mr. Badu Kobi claims to have been groomed and/or anointed by in order to faithfully and dutifully serve the most vulnerable and the deprived and destitute in society, then, of course, it logically goes without saying that the leader and founder of the Glorious Waves International Church stands the risk of eternal damnation and downright rejection by God.
You see, Dear Reader, the fact of the matter is that the general image and reputation of the Asante Woman as a “player” or “man player” has been out there for so many years and decades and, perhaps, even generations that it has become virtually impossible these days to be able to tell the fact of whether a licentious remark, such as was reportedly made by Tracey Boakye to a well-known entertainment journalist, was purely made in jest, as the renowned Kumawood actor-producer claims or it was not. Then again, the most logical question to ask at this juncture is the following: Does it really matter in the kind of culturally ambivalent moral climate in which we live and which the overwhelming majority of our youths find themselves these days?
*Visit my blog at: kwameokoampaahoofe.wordpress.com Ghanaffairs
By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., PhD
English Department, SUNY-Nassau
Garden City, New York
August 5, 2019
E-mail: [email protected]
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