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Zubaida writes: Letter to my Mother

Good evening, oooppppss, just remembered we’re worlds apart so our time zones aren’t same. It’s 5:51pm in USA, it should be about 9pm in Ghana, you obviously should either be deep asleep beside daddy or by your toys….don’t tell me you don’t know the toys I’m talking about.

“…eminado eminado…you be my African…” by the Nigeria music goddess Tiwa Savage and Davido is playing. You need to see how one of the captains in the GAF Jude Anim is dancing here. The driver of the Fitz bus we’re on board decided to treat us to some African music after he saw our somewhat dull faces, with my Ghanaian values still alive in me, I offered my phone so we all can enjoy some good music on my playlist while we continue our five hours drive from Wagner College to Syracuse University in north town New York. You taught me those values so well you know.

Amusah, let me ask this question, aren’t speed ramps and rumble stripes the only surety to an accident free country? Asking because I know the USA is among the states that record low percentage of road accidents. Well, after having a good drive through New York and New Jersey thanks to Prince Sadik Alhassan I’m yet to see a single rumble stripe or speed ramp. So if accidents can be prevented by other means, why is my country a haven for speed ramps and rumble stripes? You remember that day I returned home to say I was disappointed in the former Tamale Metropolitan Chief Executive Gundadoo but didn’t tell you what he did? Well, now is the time to tell you that, he told me during an interview that rumble stripes emanating from almost all corners of Tamale is a deliberate attempt to reduce accidents”, ignorance or….?

Sorry mum for not inviting you on my first trip on the highway, I needed to catch up my lost sleep after three days intensive leadership training, my bad. My head aches as I type this but I can’t overlook our family values, “promises must be fulfilled” so I have to keep mine after promising you that I will keep you posted on everything that goes on here.

I have done some via phone but this I haven’t. “Do your own make I do my own….dem mama dem papa”, next on playlist, the track doesn’t ring a bell but I think I love it and I guess everyone else on the bus like it too, enjoy with us.

“W’agyimi anaa….fri kwan no so wati….aden wo kase ekwna no y3 wo maame di3 anaa,….ntiaya, aka alafie bio? rhetorical but interesting though and their characterized honking at all corners like scaring an animal off the road, I must say I miss those chaotic scenes in the cities in Ghana especially in Tamale, at least, we both do same when driving, hahahahaaa.

“efiefo) nono, )mo b3y3 )mo ni)ma no….” my second self came to play,  this was when I found myself standing by a road which had neither a traffic light nor a pedestrian crossing, I was like, gush; how the hell do I cross over? Thoughts became fears….”get your composer….my second self this time came so strong…herh y3 steady na wo w) abrokyiri wati”, so I pulled my collar and took my composure, abi you know your daughter’s swag during situations like this.

Slowly the driver stopped so I could pass and I must say it’s been like this anytime I found myself on streets without pedestrian crossing. Just like in Ghana, Amusah, not all intersections here are fitted with traffic lights but I don’t see pedestrians hustling to cross over,  drivers neither honk at pedestrians nor their counterparts making the atmosphere so peaceful.

Naa, this isn’t possible in any city in Ghana, I told myself because pedestrians struggle to cross the road even when there are pedestrians crossing. Lack of education, policies, or lawlessness? I need answers when I return.

I doff my hat for the few drivers who respect pedestrians as road users as well. “ohemaa forget obia, ohema what be the matter”, me I don’t know how come a Nigerian composed a twi song but that’s diversity right? I love that track because my ex, the Nigerian, your favourite boy would put that track on replay. Yeah, you heard me, EX, I know at this point you have a shocking look because I didn’t tell you anything about that, hahahhaaaaaa, I kept it to myself because I know you would come preaching to me if you found out now I’m far away so no discussion on that.

Gracias, some minutes to stretch our legs. That’s heart soothing because I get to sunbathe for fifteen minutes while others grab coffees at McDonald’s after sucking the cold air from the air conditioner in the bus. “It doesn’t rain in America”, do you remember that childhood myth? Well, it rains paaaa. The cats and dogs type too and yesterday was a rainy day with almost no sun here, you just can imagine how cold it was but still me gyi m’eni.

“Let’s go guys”, the Eastern African English assent came from one corner, aaahhhhh, it’s Taye again. This guy is time conscious, 4am is 4am and if you’re not at the basement, forget it. if! awwwwww, beautiful green view, plants glowing with so much life, rocks clothed in dull but beautiful sunray-like colours and hey, did I just see some whites on canons…31 years is too early to lose my sight so yes, it’s exactly what I saw.

309 exit is a beautiful exit point for vehicles heading to… Taye, our leader, a PhD student in Syracuse University  volunteer to the Mandela Washington Fellowship, the only one with a fair insight of the place is seated at the far end, can’t shout over for any information so least they call your daughter a bush girl so you can’t know where those vehicles exiting through 309 are heading. Next time I will ask quick so we don’t miss anything on trips.

Tannersville Avenue is what’s written on the signpost we just drove past but the road is just like you’re driving on the Aburi road just close to Peduase Lodge….hia, I forgot you’ve never been there before. Awwww, awesome view, eerrhe, back to the real business Amusah, New York is one of the busiest cities in the world, you know now but you can trust your daughter, I will fit in perfectly ok so worry not.

Eerrhhhee, where did the 4 wheel cars go? Can’t see any on the streets here not even on the highway….ooohhh, so that food for thought that the members of parliament are wasting the tax payers money on plush cars is true? Anyway, that’s a topic for another day. Dalesville is next on signpost. Mum, I must confess that I’ll sleep my eyes out tomorrow God willing. Oh no! tomorrow is a working day.

Amusah, you know what, even birds here have security and one can find himself in their mother’s kitchen in Nima should they be caught disturbing the “peace” as in peace of animals but didn’t our tourism minister and her hundred tourism ambassadors invade the Mole National Park with their convoy and an escort who had his siren blowing in the middle of the game reserve. She, together with her ambassadors, careless about the thousands of animals whose home is the reserve, no wonder an elephant chased them away…that feeling like…hooorrrr…woman, you can’t invade our peace, I can still recollect how you laughed your heart out when that news item by Blewu Nii Star was aired on TV3.

And the Larbanga community that killed the elephant because it strayed into their “farms”. What has happen to that? You know I’m a nature person and interested in the environment. Amusah, you’ll love the sight of how birds in the Ellis Island and Park live a peaceful life.

I know you’re aware the tourism minister is still at post because this is Ghana where ministers aren’t appointed because they have anything to offer but because of their allegiance to a political party. It’s the reason I need you to show your political identity after retirement so your daughters can get appointments.

Exit 91A1, Dikenes…just missed the rest but that’s my current location and the music is now entirely Nigerian, we’re celebrating the Eagles of Nigeria for their last win in the World Cup, say hi to Nyantakyi for me and the Bimbilla pride Anas Aremeyaw Anas.

Less I forget, I had good fufu with aponkye nam in Newark, the Adom restaurant, do check on my twitter account on @Dereal_Zami for my dance moves when I was told I could eat any Ghanaian food at the joint.

Using whatsapp was a hurdle, I don’t know if you can use twitter but your grandchildren can help, talk to your boyfriend Charles Kojo Gyamfi. My colleagues can’t wait for us to arrive in Syracuse so they jump on my banku and okro stew. Eat Ghana; Wear Ghana, eerrhhee, do you remember the tourism ministry also launched that but Amusah, that has become one of the usual charades, sad.

Ouch! Now this hurts, my sun glasses is messing up my eyes so I have to take it off, a minute…where were we old girl? Come see your children taking refuge in the bosom of others in the name of sleeping, now I didn’t tell you that.

“Ma me mpunam….wei 3y3 di3n nam? Opuro….squirrel? I see squirrels only when I’m in the Mole Park but old girl, here at Syracuse and Wagner campuses, I watch them each second on streets and you dare not touch them like I said, you’ll be deported home. Let me take a nap, we’ll continue our talks when I get to the hostel ok. Tell Charles I’ve seen his facebook messenger and will revert soon….

End today’s experience with a rare view of the Statue of Liberty. Your girl’s photojournalism spirit is at play, unfortunately, she didn’t bring her camera.

By Zubaida Ismail | USA

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