Thursday, 18 July 2013

Spanners, monkeys, men and morons…

A couple of years ago, while spending a relaxing weekend at a friend’s house in England, we got into a heated discussion about Ghana and Ghanaians. Luckily, we had tonnes of chilled beers and lots of barbequed red meat to calm frayed tempers. The primitive and atavistic nature of man dictates that meat and beer can deliver enough ‘umph’ to both spark up and dispel violent encounters between two men.

He had carelessly and flippantly suggested that ‘Ghanaians are a mediocre set of people, mediocre in everything they did…’ Although I completely agreed with him and I had my reasons for doing so, I was less clear as to why he’d said so. Cue argument…lights, camera, ACTION!

Generally speaking, Ghanaian craftsmen, artisans civil servants don’t show pride in anything that they do so their efforts always come out looking unplanned, half-assed and generally ‘shitty’ looking.’


I’m afraid that there was no amount of chilled beer or honey barbeque sauce and Jack Daniels drenched red meat that would have me arguing against THAT particular point. I mean seriously, I had recently graduated from one of the supposed best technology universities in Ghana and arguably West Africa. A university where not a single elevator in ANY of the high-rise buildings worked

NB: You should know that every single residential hall had an eight (8) storey high-rise component.

Recent school of thought regarding the lift situation was not;

‘Oh, since we’re a technology university, let’s utilize our ‘technology-ness’ and have them repaired to inject some modernity into the school. If that’s not a good enough reason, then at least let’s fix them for the disabled students, lecturers and numerous visitors to passed through this (clearing throat) ILLUSTRIOUS institution of higher learning.’


Instead it had been suggested, for serious consideration, that the lift shafts be gutted and converted to garbage chutes so that untidy, lazy-ass and often dumb students could simply walk up to an elevator and fling their garbage down the shaft for mind numbingly easy disposal.

Congratulations KNUST. Way to go!

There IS an inordinate amount of mediocrity in Ghana and it exists at every level, EVERY SINGLE STRATUM OF GHANAIAN SOCIETY! Everyone reading this piece, and has lived or is living in Ghana, can give me one, if not more, examples of an experience of Ghanaian mediocrity of grandiosely biblical proportions. You wouldn’t even have to think too much to come up with one.

Here are a couple of my experiences.

Marauding mechanics!

Everyone knows the term ‘spanner monkey’. I mean they’re commonplace in almost every country. Morons masquerading as mechanics who don’t know the difference between an engine and fridge let alone a wrench and Allen key. Ghana seems chock-full of these idiots. I mean, the worst mechanic I ever took my car to in England completely botched the work (exhaust muffler replacement) but;
Kept the upholstery inside the car spotless.
  • Didn’t damage any other thing except the one thing he was working on.
  • Returned my car to me spotless and fresh smelling.
  • Gave me a complete list of other things I should look out for.
  • Didn’t steal my car battery and replace it with a dud (No, I am not joking!).

Even this incompetent monkey moron mechanic realized the need to try and appear professional so as to continue with me as a customer.

Fast forward to Ghana.

Similar situation, different car, different problem (spark plug wire replacement).
Car handed to mechanic in pristine condition, only juddering when driving.  Car returned to me as follows;

  • Greasy boot prints strewn all over my seats (including baby’s car seat).
              (How the fuck does a mechanic get his boot prints inside a child’s car seat?)
  • Driver-side mirror completely shattered.
  • Bonnet release cable yanked and ripped out of its restraints and dangling haplessly inside the car.
  • Excess bolts and nuts that obviously came from my engine! This is not IKEA furniture. Surely ‘Kofi Broni’ knew exactly what he was doing when he put them in there.
  • Old, greasy spark plugs carelessly left on the front passenger seat passively transferring black grease onto the upholstery with every jerk of the car.

Completely un-f*cking necessary.

By the way why does every Ghanaian mechanic’s yard have to look like an Autobot took a royal greasy dump of mangled metal on the ground?

In pain? Like I give a sh*t!

A dear friend of mine recently had the all too common unfortunate experience delivering her baby in one of the so-called better hospitals in Accra. I’ll spare the hospital the shame of being named (37 Military) in this blog. Now, hospitals are nasty, scary and usually uncomfortable places with bad food, big machines, weird smells, doctors and nurses. Nurses are supposed to be the antidote to doctors. Friendly, helpful, caring, professional, empathetic etc. Not in this hospital that shall remain unnamed (37 Military).
It all started when the nurses borrowed stole half of the supplies on the list they ask all expectant mothers to bring. Oops! Guess this can be forgiven since it is well-known the Ministry of Health simply doesn’t consider medical supplies as critical to the running of a hospital. Ah well!

Anyway, it then continued when they refused her husband entry into the ward to help her through the delivery of their child. Apparently potential fathers try to get into the maternity ward, not to help their wives through the difficult process of birthing, but to look at other women’s vaginas.

It got worse when they [nurses] politely but assertively told her that since she had enjoyed the act of sex that ultimately brought her here, she might as well now shut up, grin and bear the sheer agony she was going through. Seriously readers, I’m not joking!  It was essential that she not yell in pain and disturb them as this distracted the nurses from the job they were actually there to do, chat!

I’m not exactly sure but I think the worst experience was when a demon nurse scolded her for shrieking in pain during a particularly fierce and nasty contraction. For good measure, she [demon nurse] decided to, without warning, shove her fingers up my friend’s lady passage to check how far she’d dilated. ‘My friend, keep quite! You haven’t reached there yet!’ was the comment that followed.

Cruel. Abusive. Unnecessary. Unprofessional and Mediocre.

 Nurses let me remind you of your oath to us all;

‘In the full knowledge of the task I am undertaking, I promise to take care of the sick with all the skill and understanding I possess, without regard to race, creed, colour, politics, or social status, sparing no effort to conserve life, to alleviate suffering, and promote health.

I will respect at all times the dignity and religious beliefs of the patients entrusted in my care, holding in confidence all personal information entrusted to me and refraining from any action which might endanger life or health.

I will endeavour to keep my professional knowledge and skill at the highest level and give loyal support and cooperation to all members of the health team.’


  1. Brilliant writing. I could not agree less. Thou one thing I have learnt it - got money, got service. Ghanaians are used to live in "dashes" rather than their salaries, and whilst it is a cultural phenomena, it will not not [arguably shouldn't be ] changed any time soon, it would help if more people understand the wrong morality behind it and provide adequate service to everyone... After all, what happened to the Bibles' verse " upon other as you want to be done upon you"???

    1. Thanks for your comment Ediite. I think you're absolutely right about the 'dash/token handout' thing. I think it's because most Ghanaians are not paid sufficient salaries, especially those that work for the state; fire service, police, nurses etc. But honestly, that's the case in majority of countries, even some industrialized ones. However the thing is that those professions (Nurses, doctors, police etc.) take up their fight with the state and try their very best not to affect their customers negatively. In Ghana though, the customer is the one that suffers the most.

      Anyway, thanks for your comment.

  2. Too many thoughts floating in my minds. Got one. Nurses. In Ghana. Horrible unpleasant creatures of darkness. In all honesty I am more worried that I may have become a part of this culture, that I am as unprofessional as the rest of the populace
    SMH :(

    1. Lack of professionalism and mediocrity far too common in our society. I'm sure you're right, for even those of us who know better, it has infected some aspect of our professional lives.
      Did I ever tell you the story about the lady at one of the top banks who asked me to come in so that she could complete the process of opening my new account? Well, I turned up at the agreed time, she sent the security man to come and tell me that to take a seat in the waiting area as she was in a meeting and would be done in 45 minutes.

    2. Hahaha I believe that will suck.