Tamale – A Revisite


Last week Friday 31/11/2014 found me at the Internal Flights section of KIA aka Kotoka International Airport. I was on my way to visit The Alhassan’s. I timed myself to be at the airport thirty minutes before check in, as I always do when I am traveling by air; be it internal or international. Unfortunately [or fortunately] this is a habit of mine which I have learnt to adhere to with passion. My flight to Tamale was with AWA aka Africa World Airlines. I think there ia another airline that flies up to Tamale, Antrack or something of a similar name. I will check this out later and let you know.

I always feel nostalgic when travelling to Tamale. I have so many memories close to my heart of the place. My first contact of this Northern town was when my mother was transferred up there to head the Home Economics Department at Tamale Technical School, as it was then called in those day. I believe, correct me if I am wrong, it is now called Tamale Polytechnic.

My flight was uneventful. Onboard, we had the usual pre-recorded inflight safety announcements and we were airborne in no time. Fascinating was the fact that as the plane progressed to the shoreline and then make its turn up north, I could see my crib tucked away in Nyaniba Estates from my seat window. Forty five minutes later, I arrived in Tamale to find Andrew waiting for me.

We first took a ride to his Project called Oasis which is situated in the Rice area of Tamale. Don’t ask me the exact spot. Tamale has changed so drastically for me that get  any sensible bearings of the Town. He has so much passion for this Project, I sincerely wish him all the best. In a jest, he plans of having a Grill, Lounge Bar and a Soccer Room. There will also be a Roof Top drinking spot where informally dressed people can have a drink. The Lounge Bar will be exclusive and will only admit formally dressed client – understandably so. The Grill Bar will be outside and have tasty sizzling grilled food. The Soccer Room will be for watching football matches on wide screen TVs. The concept is simple and has the potential to be a winner. There will be no packing within the ground, which makes sense. Parking will be outside. As you can see, he is maximising the plot to provide service to his clients and not their cars [smile] From Oasis location, we headed home – Airport Ridge where the Alhassan’s live.

Tamale can easily be referred to as The Wild North. When I used to live there, cars and bicycles were the most commons means of transportation. Yes, there were others who had motor bikes, but in those days, that form of mobility was restricted to the “elite”. fast forward to present day Tamale, you have practically motor bikes every where. I think I can safely say that the number of people who use bicycles has reduced. The number of cars has increased. What actually makes Tamale the Wild North is the lack of understanding for simple road regulations. You have to see this to fully comprehend what I mean by lack of understanding for simple road regulations. I honestly do not think those in control of the vehicles have successfully passed a driving test. It is absolutely madness. The level of chaos is out of this universe. Actually I have seen similar chaos before. That was in Bangalore, however that was ordered chaos. It is obvious that those who have entered this environment were shell shocked and have gradually accepted this to be the norm.

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The other change I would like to write about is the current state of Tamale Secondary School, or rather Tamale Senior Secondary School, as they call it now. How a top secondary school of 20 years back could fall into its current state beats my imagination. Has been been any form of major upgrades to the buildings since I 20 years ago? No! Andrew took me round the school and my heart felt deflated. How could this have happened? Everything seems seriously run down. It will be certainly nice to see all these buildings properly renovated, but that will obviously take a miracle.

Tamale is growing very fast both in population and business but at an uncontrollable rate. I do not suppose one can control population growth in a town like Tamale, but something can be done about illegal structures that have been erected along the main roads. The foot paths by the roads have been hijacked by street traders, even to the extent whereby they over flow onto the streets themselves.

How do I see Tamale in the next 5 years to come? With plans to build an International Airport in the not too distant future,the future looks bright. A lot of land is being sold ans snapped up quickly. Buildings are slowly cropping up especially on the main road leading to the airport. For Tamale to grow intelligently, the people need to be educated. They need to be informed about constructive development, how to engage this and the benefits if it is engaged properly. The Town Planning Department needs to be more focused in the running and development of the Town. I feel that a lot of traders are doing their own thing. Everyone seems to be able to set up shop anywhere without proper authority. Tamale should not be seen as a Town of political interest. By this I mean development, most in terms of road construction should not materialise only when elections are due and the present political party in power starts splashing huge amounts of money towards this.

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I think the most difficult thing to do in terms of development in Tamale will be how to get the people, especially the street traders to understand that trading in the pavements is not the right thing to do. Then I suppose these same traders will turn round and ask the question “where can we trade from?”; which is a fairly valid question.

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Osu Night Market – Hosted By Naa Oyoo Quartey on CHALE


This is a first for me. I did not realise that there was a Osu Night Market. Come to think of it, I have a rough idea where this market is located. Entirely not my fault on being ignorant of this location, for reasons best known to me. These are some of the night scenes in Accra that make you love Ghana. I am no historian but I bet the selling of food at the night market has been going on for years. Can we call it “unadulterated” traditional food selling? It certainly stirs your appetite to see an assortment of various tasty foods being displayed. I will not say a lot but rather let the video educate you as it has me. Nice one Naa!!

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Flight BA0081 from Heathrow To Accra – An example of Excellent Customer Service


I always fly British Airways. Well, that is not actually accurate. When I started making regular trips to Ghana, my initial preferred airline was Virgin. Actually before Virgin started flying to Ghana, I took flew Ghana Airways once, then when they went bust, I flew with another airline that went to Ghana frequently – I cannot remember their name.  Anyway, after that, I flew BA once and then a few times with Virgin. For reasons best known to themselves, Virgin suddenly dropped the routes to Ghana and I found myself flying with British Airways [BA]. I had no problem flying BA. They were always punctual in departures and arrivals. The crew are always friendly and quick to step in when a passenger needs help. Everything slotted in just fine for a “World Traveller” like me. Many friends had issues, and some still do with the fares, but my way around that was to plan my trips when BA was either having a sale or to travel outside school holidays – tickets are always cheaper outside school holidays. I know a few people who would rather purchase a cheaper tickets with another airline that offered several hours stop-overs/transits elsewhere before arriving in Ghana. I cannot imagine myself engaging in such a trip. I would rather spend extra in having a direct flight than having to stop over at another airport for several hours only for the sake of saving money.

My trip to Ghana on the 14th of November started of with me driving to Heathrow in heavy rain. It rained non stop from Northampton to Heathrow. The driving conditions were absolutely horrendous.
Tip 1 – always check in as early as you can. The check in staff are very nice when the queues are short and hence they are less stressed. The advantage is that even if you are 3 – 6 kilos over the your weight allowance, they are sympathetic and will make you language as HEAVY and check you in.
Tip 2 – always engage in light conversation with the check in staff. They always appreciate this. After all, they are humans too. Ask them how their day has been so far and what time they knock off work. After checking in and buying a few things from the Duty free shops, I finally bordered my flight and airborne on time to Ghana. Then we hit a snag. The crew were having issues with the onboard entertainment. All attempts by them to resolve the issue proved futile. So we ended up not having any entertainment for the duration of the flight.

A couple of days into my stay in Accra, I tweeted BA informing them of my lack on entertainment and suggestion of a refund. After a couple of tweets between myself and @BritishAirways, my British Airways Executive Club account was credited with Avios Points. Well done BA. You have yet again proved that Customer Service is at the forefront of your airline operation and I look forward to flying with you anytime again in the not to distant future.

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Letters From My Mother – Looking Back


I grew up in that era where, as a student in a secondary school miles away from your parents, the only means of communication was by you writing a letter to your Mum/Dad or them writing to you. For other students who were fortunate to have their families living close, a visit was a convenient way to catch up with your family. When my Mum and I moved back to Ghana in the 70’s, I entered secondary school form One at the age of 11. My Mum was posted to Dormaa Secondary School to set up the Home Science Department there. After a couple years at Dormaa, my Mum had to leave for another postings in Kumasi, Sunyani Aburi and Accra. Instead of uprooting me from a perfectly good school and moving me , she decided to leave me where I was. So this is where we developed our fond habit of writing to each other; the conditions that presented themselves offered one logical means of us communicating, and that was by writing letters to each other. This carried on even during the school holidays because in those days, taking a trip from Darmaa to where ever she was, just for the period of school vacation was not worth it. The roads were herendous, not to mention the time it took to make such a trip. I always looked forward to letters from my Mum. One particular habit of hers was to correct my letters to her and send them back to me to review my mistakes. Of course at that time, i found this annoying. least did I know that she was doing me a huge favour. The other thing I appreciated about her letters to me was her handwriting, She had such lovely handwriting.

I do not think my Mum was one to embrace technology. I suppose it push came to shove, she would have made some effort. She never had a telephone installed at home. Even through she was an avid reader and was up to speed with how things were changing in terms of Information Technology, I strongly feel that information technology was the least of her worries.

When I moved back to the UK after my National Service, are main means of commnication was through letters. Whiles most people tend to throw away or distroy letters from a loved one, I have kept most of the letters my Mum wrote to me. I am sure if I search properly, I will find some more letters from her hidden away somewhere in my study.

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My Saturday Morning Interlude – A Walk to SurfLine Offices Osu. Accra


I am currently in Accra, Ghana preparing for a project to be kicked off. Prior my trip, I happened to come across an advert regarding fast internet access via 4G supplied by a new company in Ghana called SurfLine. I immediately became interested for a reason. My previous visits to Ghana have found me using mobile internet provided by Vodafone, MTN and TiGo. Non of them, I am afraid to say, were able to fulfil my needs. My current job with Rockwell Automation enables me to work anywhere in the world providing the location I am in has a good internet connection and that management also approves. My bandwidth requirements are not extreme. I use IP Communicator [aka CISCO phone] and access to emails, all through VPN connection to my company network. Vodafone, MTN and TiGo failed miserably in attempting to give me a constant reliable connect to the internet. So you can imagine my delight when I came across SurfLine’s advert. I arrived in Accra on Friday evening and the next day, Saturday, took a walk from Nyaniba to SurfLine’s offices just off Oxford Street.

Customer Service was very good. I was disappointed that they needed an ID card from me before they could register their SIM card in my name. I immediately informed the lady attending to me that this should have been a bold stipulation on their website. Anyway, with that out of the way, I was directed to another part of the office where my SurfLine Router was configured.

I am yet to take SurfLine through its pace. I will fire up my  work laptop tomorrow and see how it handles Voice Over IP. Using SurfLine on my Macbook Pro to surf the net has been a pleasant experience. I have had no break/drop in connections as I did when using Vodafone, MTN and TiGo wireless internet packages.

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CHALE! Trotro Diaries


One of the many reasons why I love  Accra, there is never a dull day in this City.

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At Church Today – Everyday Champions Church


Everyday Champions Church is simply an awesome place to be – at least every Sunday. As part of my duties as a church member, I  help out with car parking on a rota basis every other Sunday. Today was my turn and here I am with two other church members, Phil and Dave, who assisted in performing this task this morning.
We are currently going through a series “Be Stirred, Not Shaken” and had, yet another blessed opportunity to listen a to an exceptionally gifted young man – Sam Gill. Another description I normally tag to Sam is that he is ‘Articulately Gifted” in delivering the word of God. Keep up the good work Sam!

Time for a quick optic before it gets hectic parking cars

Time for a quick optic before it gets hectic parking cars

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