? What next

Choices are hard to make when they have varying consquences at all times.

The question still remains, “What is the next step, Charlie”

His last I heard

While one half of me felt desperate to hurry to the computer center to complete a task assigned to me by my boss, the other half longed to witness the party hosted by the outgoing vice chancellor of the university. The latter won the day perhaps considering the fact that it was one of his very last messages to a gathering in the university he has spent decades serving.

Earlier on, there had been a number of meetings at the Unversity Interdenominational Church (UIC) in preparation towards the incoming  crusade. I continued to Hill Top with Richard Nana Boateng, who had also travelled from Kumasi to pay his dues to the occassion.

The sound of loud music and ecstatic shours from the direction of the Vice Chancellor’s Lodge almost scared me away, but my persistence to witness the atmosphere won the day. On reaching the grounds for the party, the feeling was mixed. A relatively large gathering of service personnel for the university covered the ground area. While others danced happily, others relaxed on their seats and watched the personnels dancing with glee.

Before long, the VC’s face appeared from the backstage accompanying a thunderous jubilative welcome. His speech was very concise. Rev Prof Addo Obeng is noted for his characteristic diction and clear tone. The big silence on the ground was an indication of the crowd’s big expection. He thanked the service personnel for availing themselves to serve their alma mater. He further challenge members present to feel free to return and pursue further studies as well as work in the university. He equally encouraged all to give out their best so the image of the university will be lifted other than taking a nose dive.

The fast-changing atmosphere…

The extinct nature of the hall was apparent. One could easily justify this considering the fact that the Remedial Service Programme (RSP) is over. The real puzzle however lied on my floor. For a while I thought I had missed my floor or there is an information been hidden from me. Could I hook on to http://www.ucc.edu.gh to verify? No!

The voice of my roommate was the final proof I was on my floor at last. I had spent the previous night in the Volta Region on a couple of assignment. Many service personnel had left for the house, a sign that they’ve terminated their contract with the service agent and secretariat.

I seem to ask myself …how soon…?

A “Foughtnight” in the Volta Region?

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Friday (4th July, 2008)

All my colleagues had one question on their lips: “Would we spend the weekend at the various centers of the Center for Continuing Education (CCE)” Even on Thursday evening members of working at the CCE couldn’t give a 100% assurance that the weekend lecture on Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in Education was a certainty. With the knowledge that “if you fail to plan then thou are planning to fail”, we made ample preparation like gallant soldiers to respond effectively should we be called to teach/lecture at the various centers pursuing the post-diploma award education.

One vital quality worth developing in life is the ability to exhibit flexibility and quickly adjust to the latest developments in most endeavours. This outstanding quality saved my day. It was a bright and calm morning on Friday, 5th July 2008 when the call from my boss, Mr. J.K.E Edumadze broke my serene morning. His questions as to whether I had prepared for the weekend in sunyani and whether I was within reach was responded to in the affirmative. Then he continued: “Plans have changed; you are no longer going to Sunyani, in the Brong Ahafo region of the republic of Ghana. You are rather going to spend two weeks in Peki in the Volta Region of Ghana.” I maintained my calm, and gave a resounding response; “Yes Sir.” I heeded to his request to quickly come down to the office for further details. Breaking the news to Adwoa B. Amuah  was a challenge as we had planned to explore Sunyani together. As if to add insults to injury she just arrived the previous night. My week had been tiring- developing course materials, marking students’ scripts, helping in the organization of workshops for lecturers on web updating…and other personal tasks.

The busy morning schedule of my boss was apparent. He arranged for me to meet Dr. Duedu of the Primary Education unit of the University of Cape Coast to help with proceedings at the Institute of Education. My initial conversation with Dr. Duedu portrayed him to be a very busy man. His scheduler seemed tight. He rescheduled our meeting at the institute due to time constraint.

With enough coaching from Mr. Amenumey Dagbe, however, I started with the process. It was during my time at the “sacks room” that I had another view of the university: different personalities; the “galamsey advocates”; different duties for lecturers, etc. Our sacks labeled Peki- years one and two respectively was soon dragged out upon suggestion from Dr. Duedu. We patiently went through the process of crosschecking the question papers to be sent to the various training colleges. Two subjects didn’t tally, so we went through the due process of addressing this anomaly.

The mission was clear now- I was accompanying Dr. Duedu to Peki to invigilate/supervise the examination ready to be taken by students of the various training colleges nation-wide. I quickly strategize to counter any eventuality surrounding my quitting Sunyani lectures for the weekend. After convincing John Arthur and Lorraine Johnson, I managed to convince (more like compelling) Adwoa to pair up with Lorraine for Sunyani.

My personal preparation for Peki had begun: two weeks meant extra load; I packed more clothing and provisions. I met my boss for a last minute coaching. I was soon ready for the Volta Region- a region I hail from.

Saturday 5th July 7, 2008 (Departure Day)

The thought of traveling as a group or team seem to send shivers down my spine. I longed for a nice team. This feeling was quenched after learning I will be traveling with Dr. Duedu of the primary education unit of the University of Cape Coast. I began to recall this personality. He sure never lectured me for any course, and I’ve had no direct interaction with him prior to our time at the institute. My first impression about him was a busy man who remained careful in all his endeavours. Perhaps the best of him was yet to be discovered.

My previous night with Mr. Edumadze indicated I had to see him in the house for an amount of 200 Ghana Cedis. This was to “smoothen” the journey. I’ve heard enough from Mr. Dagbe concerning the nature of the place as well as the remuneration existing at the institute. When I got to the residence of Mr. Edumadze around 08:00 hours GMT, we drove to the residence of Dr. Duedu to be told he couldn’t return from Winneba the previous night, where he went to lecture.

By 10 minutes past 11, we were set for the journey to Peki. After a word of prayer from Dr, we set off; passing the house of the driver (Mr. Four Akumeny) and returning before focusing didn’t on our journey. Altogether, we were four persons on board the Opel Kadet owned by Dr. Duedu. Also with us was Mr.Asamoah Gyimah, my Measurement and Evaluation lecturer. The scenery along the roadside was refreshing and occasionally ushered me to dreamland or slumber land. Occasional conversation brought me back to reality often times as we traveled along the long stretch of road.

On getting to the capital, the mood really depicted a typical Saturday. Branching to Malam even made it more evident that we are traveling on a weekend. The apparent loss of business activities and “big men” in their big cars was enough evidence to believe that it was a non-working day. A beautiful side of the capital was worth seeing again and again. Shortly before the motorway were a number of state of the art building and modern road network design.

You could trust our experience driver for his relative speed. The least said about our speedometer on the motorway, all the better. We continue to enjoy little hindrances or obstacles on our road, which put as on a consistent speed, much more like a cruise control.

Our joy was, however, short-lived a couple of kilometers toward Akuse junction. At this stage the vehicle couldn’t respond to clutch and accelerator. Our natural response to stop was heeded. Sparking the car became impossible. It seemed to start with a weird sound. It continued in its adamant state. We were stuck! Our vehicle had broken down. It was barely 13 hours GMT.

The quality of teamwork was clear. Dr suggested it could be from the timing belt, while the driver went ahead to do a couple of inspection in the engine compartment. Meanwhile Mr. Asamoah Gyimah was talking to an experienced driver, who has been using an Opel for over a decade. His first recommendation was to check the timing belt. I ensured that things were intact, and joined Dr by the roadside to stop passing vehicles for assistance. The idea was to board a vehicle to the nearby town for a mechanic. Our persistence yielded fruit, and in no time Dr was onboard and a minivan headed to the nearest town. We had inspected the belt and had found in intact. What we failed to discover was the fact that the damage was hiding beneath! Well our mechanic diagnosed the problem after opening the belt’s compartment and sparking the vehicle. The belt’s inability to turn after sparking confirmed the fact that we were driving with a torn belt! We were fortunate to have a spare in the car. We were also cautious, knowing that fixing of the belt required a precise setting of other related parts. Our effort so far was in vain. The belt was the wrong size! Oops! A taxi driver who doubled up as an apprentice mechanic sped off to town to purchase the right size.

At last we were road-worthy. We had spent about 3 hours on the car! Everybody on the car was hungry except for Charles. He had actually taken some rice he packed earlier on in the hall. We branch to a filling station for quarter a gallon of engine oil. We purchased groceries at the station’s mall. We stopped to take our drinks and snacks. We were refreshed for the journey once again. Thanks be to God.

City view was fast fading from memory and was our God-created memories were being filled with natural scenes. The magnificent structures we admired at the city of Accra were suddenly replaced with buildings for rural folks. Worth of mention was the Adome Bridge at night. The arch of the bridge together with the awesome reflection of the night’s artificial lights made an object to behold!

After passing through various towns, we were near our destination (or perhaps one of our destinations). Peki was visible. Hurray! Well it was not received with much anticipation as the faces in the vehicle were fatigued.

On reaching the metal gates of the training college formerly called GOVCO and now Peki Training College, we began to heave a sigh of relief. Our dreams of getting settled was shuttered when we could not see the vice principal with a mere excuse that he is asleep. We left information of our arrival with him, and soon we were on our next journey after 20:20 hours GMT – Jasikan, also in the Volta region of Ghana.

I had very little observation on the way to Jasikan. Most of my time in the car was spent in Slumber Land. Yes I slept or dozed off with little interruption. If you care to know, I wasn’t the only victim. I think every body did it too. May be only the driver kept vigil. I was not very much bothered because I knew I would make observation on our way back to Peki.

By 23:40 hours GMT, we were in front of Dr’s house in Jasikan. It really looked promising to a tired body. The warmth inside confirmed it. With a whole room to myself, I did my than-you-Lord prayer, attempted several calls, and prepared to organize myself casually. I could not take the rice they had prepared for us.

The next thing I knew it was 04:30 hours GMT, my usual time for waking up on an uninterruptible night. It was Sunday in Jasikan!

On campus at last!!

At about 13:40 GMT, I could sense my new environment. My “foughtnight” in the Volta Region is over. It was really full of wonderful memories needless to say as well as challeging ones.

The subsequent days will detail my daily experience in Peki.

I welcome myself back home!!!