December 12, 2017
By Nana Yaa Ofori Atta
If you live and work in my side of Africa, as in the wild wild West, you know what time of day it is. The Harmattan has arrived, as in very fine particles of dust blown by an easterly/north-easterly wind from the Sahel. It will hover in a gritty daze, for weeks (usually between December and February but with global warming and climate change…) over everything.
Extreme weather – wintry storms, freezing fog patches and a blitz of amber weather warnings – in former colonial Britain, the advent of the Christmas season and cheap airfares. Means the cousins, nieces, nephews and their friends from the Diaspora – those who have papers and can travel without imminent fear of Mr. Trump’s dawn immigration tweets or a sudden turn in the Brexit negotiations, will soon invade Ghana. Adding further to the traffic, the noise and the stress.
The top 10 performing currencies on this continent at some point in 2017, were: the Egyptian Pound; the Eritrean Nakffa; South Africa’s Rand; Botswana’s Pula; the Moroccan Dirham; Zambia’s Kwacha, the Sudanese Pound, Ghana’s Cedi (you know?!!), Tunisia’s Dinar and the Libyan Dinar. In Accra, for the duration of the dizzy season, the exchange rate for pounds, dollars, euro, anything of value, except of course African currencies, many of which you can’t give away even as a joke, will fluctuate.
Fortunately, the Diasporans have no staying power, they will depart by the second week of January 2018, weighed down by the double effects of our national diet of complex carbohydrates – kenkey, banku, brodi, apem, banku, akple, tuozaafi – and the pyramid of debt that comes from the onslaught of cousin/auntie/uncle coming to ‘greet. Cynical Ahasporans like me will apply shea butter to our parched skins and lips, with a wry smile. This harmattan too shall pass.