Red Friday Installments: Are We Occupying the Wrong Places?


I am walking around in Shoreditch (obviously looking for Bricklane), and I come upon this installment of what are essentially a row of 20 containers hosting bakeries, indie music shops, clothing stores and places to get knick knacks.

In London, this is trendy.

In Ghana, having containers is an eye sore.

Same things, different countries, different institutions, different methods of cultural appropriation. Same. Containers. Though.

In East Legon, right near the shell station, there is also a ‘container rowe’ as my friends like to call it, with hair salons, vegetarian restaurants and two clubs (literally next to each other) that sort of just sprang out of no where.

And people have complained… and why shouldn’t they? Where are the zoning codes? Where are the urban planners that should guide this? Why is no one paying attention to the fact that an otherwise residential, suburban area is being imposed upon by a lack of proper planning and coordination. Does anyone care… at all?!

That is what I ask myself… everyday. On the trotro. Walking home. Visiting Schools. Going to Hospitals. And when I say anyone… I mean leadership. And when I say care.. I mean, do their jobs anymore. Such that… what I am really asking is, do leaders do their jobs anymore?

Do. Leaders. Do. Their. Jobs. Anymore.

From sanitary pads… to football… to fuel shortages… to water… I mean, how difficult is it to maintain.. how difficult is it to, a minimum, not destroy?!

I was meeting a friend the day I found myself in Shoreditch. A fellow Ghanaian studying to come back and use his new found shiny degrees to start some businesses and build up productivity. But he was fettered… nay… he was downright defeated.

When would this happen?

When would this happen?

We talked about #OccupyGhana and what people were doing about it, and I said… right now, we are building momentum. Laying the foundation for peaceful, democratic change. But I brought up the absence of leaders. Namely… spiritual, cultural and political. The greatest movements of time… the ones I am most enamored with (ie. Civil Rights) were largely led by ordinary people following ordinary people— who happened to be leaders in small ways. Pastors… leaders of political groups… muslim leaders… musicians. What does it take to get people angry, we wondered? What does it take for righteous indignation to turn into something more… palpable?

So then I wondered… musicians…hmmm… is it that we have been asking too much of the wrong type of leadership? Maybe… in fact… we should occupy Live FM… or MTV Base… maybe we should occupy churches, and mosques, and temples…

Maybe we are agitating the wrong people? I mean… it seems intuitive that you would agitate people elected to do just the things that you are asking to be done… but lets ignore common sense. Let’s throw rationality and thought to the wind.

Maybe instead of making songs about Africa, Sarkodie (whom I love by the by… so take this in stride) should be rapping about political overthrow– sending rallying cries, while Pastors encourage their members to take our Holy Ghost fire to the Flagstaff lawn and launch spiritual missiles. Maybe we should have painters… our own Banksy’s and Dali’s creating images that use their brushes and canvases to invoke dialogue and assembly and progress.

Maybe we are occupying all the wrong spaces.

Today is #redfriday and I am wondering, what would it take to get a critical mass of artists, spiritual leaders, musicians, unions and civil service leaders at the helm of this all?