My Name Is Savage, But I am Not Savage

Big Joe 5“Whatever happens to me benefits me.” – Joel Savage

Why many do ask me if ‘Savage’ is my real name? Once a British woman told me she hates her name ‘Mrs Ball’ and worst of all, my father’s name is ‘Mr. Underworld,’  she said. Yes, many of us have strange names. Some do change and others keep them.

I was born Joel Savage, at Cape Coast, in the central region of Ghana, on January 19, 1957, to Justin Savage, a professional journalist and Nancy-Elizabeth Hudson, an accomplished seamstress and a sewing teacher.

Last year, during my summer holidays in Barcelona, Spain, I gave one of my books to a student I met at the hotel I lodged. At the computer hall, I was flabbergasted when I saw his friends laughing at my name. I pretended I wasn’t listening to their conversation.

Then on January 1, 2016, history repeats itself. At the Kotoka International Airport in Accra, Ghana, when ready to board my flight, an officer at the last checkpoint controlled my passport and the only question he threw at me is: How do you pronounce this word? Pointing directly to the name, “Savage,” I answered.

“Well, I’m glad that you mentioned it yourself, because I thought that may provoke you if I had said the same thing.” He said and gave back my passport to me.

If names have impact on people, then I am exceptional. I am happily married since 1993 and still live with the same woman. If I’m savage, uncivilized, cruel or a beast, my wife wouldn’t have been with me today. My three sons can stand behind me and tell everyone how caring and compassionate their father is.

What I know about myself is, I have intrepid sort of character. I don’t give up and no one can break me down physically, psychologically, emotionally or spiritually. In my life, I take any misfortune as beneficial and every problem as a challenge, because you can’t survive in this world if you submit to problems.

This is the reason many people are depressed, alcoholics or drug addicts. Because they don’t have the will power to fight and overcome those destructive tendencies. Savage is just a name but it has no influence on me. I believe in God and the Bible is my shield and Armour.

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Journalist Frankie Asare-Donkoh’s Wisdom Of The Ancient

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In the early nineties, when writing as a freelance journalist to some newspapers, including ‘Daily Graphic’ in Accra, certain journalists helped me to develop and acquired the skills in writing. Apart George Sydney Abugri and K.B. Asante, Frankie Asare-Donkoh played a significant role in my life as an aspiring writer.

I read many of the afore-mentioned writers’ articles and used their expertise to boost my style of writing, which turned out to be very good for me. Daily Graphic never rejects any article I submit. Sometimes, ‘Ghanaian Times’ will use the same article and change the title.

What makes Frankie’s articles more interesting is the way he articulates and combines his humorous writings. In my recent visit to Cape Coast, I posted a picture on Facebook and immediately heard Frankie’s voice. His comments reminded me of the good old days in Ghana, when contributing regularly to the features, while he writes a column ‘Frankly Speaking’ in Daily Graphic.

Frankie said “Dasssright – see the real Fantes (Ghanaians from Central and Western regions of Ghana) and their usual ‘abrofodzin. (White matters)  In my days at Graphic we usually teased our senior colleague Llyod Evans as being part of the remnants of European Imperialists immorality, and he would usually stop whatever he was doing and chase whoever said it. And here Uncle Savage, Uncle Smith, and Uncle Ephraim bring me those newsroom memories.”

“But one thing is certain: the coastal Fantes no doubt still lead the country when it comes to real ‘brofo’ (English) and it’s not surprisingly Uncle Savage from his Belgium base continuously and savagely takes on the Europeans any time they try to humiliate Africans. Kudos, my brother, you didn’t only inherit the European name, but also the language with which you tell them what others are not able to.”

While in Britain, Mr. Asare-Donkoh also worked on one of my books. I give my thanks to him and all the journalists that partially and wholly helped to shape my career as a writer. I have really enjoyed my profession without regrets.

Frankie Asare-Donkoh’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/fasado

Read ‘The Daily Graphic online.’: http://graphic.com.gh/

Exploring Slave Dungeons At Cape Coast Castle

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Tourists exploring a slave dungeon at the Cape Coast castle

The mere mention of slavery brings bad memories, as it harboured unimaginable evil act, as thousands of Africans were captured under inhuman circumstances into overcrowded dungeons and transported across the Atlantic to the New World. Even though slavery is long abolished, the African still bears the psychological scars, as he fights to regain his lost identity and respect among mankind on the surface of the earth today.

The slave trade in Ghana mainly took place at coastal towns, but I wish to write about Cape Coast, my country of birth, which was the center of the British slave trade for almost 150 years. Cape Coast is located in the central region of Ghana. It was the capital of Gold Coast between 1700 until 1877 when the capital was shifted to Accra. Ghana replaced Gold Coast when the country achieved its independence in 1957.

Echoes of sad music in the air can be heard from Cape Coast, attracting thousands of tourists including African-Americans and other Africans in the Diaspora to visit the place, where their ancestors were packed like a sardine into ships for slavery. There is a proverb in Ghana which says “Man doesn’t cry.” I’m beginning to question this proverb if it has any elements of truth because any African in the Diaspora who visits Cape Coast castle can’t hold back his tears.

The psychological effect and emotions over Cape Coast Castle, which still has the remnants of the  slave trade, are unbearable. President Obama, wife, Michelle and children can’t forget the experience of touring the preserved sites. One can’t escape the cold waves which go through the spine. Even though many Africans in the Diaspora haven’t been to Ghana to trace their roots or visit Cape Coast, others had. The Pan African Historical Festival, simply called PANAFEST is a cultural event which has brought thousands of African-Americans to visit Cape Coast.

Visiting Cape Coast Castle to understand the pain and suffering endured by the millions of slaves is an important step for African-Americans and other Africans in the Diaspora to be closer to Africa. It is sad to note that many hate to be referred to as Africans, even though history about their origin isn’t a fabricated story. It seems that’s the way to help forget this bitter experience, but there is nothing satisfying than visiting the continent of your origin to discover the reality aspects of a sad journey.

Forts and castles built by Europeans between 1482 and 1786, serving as slave depots are still visible in Ghana. Apart from the Cape Coast Castle, are also Elmina and Christiansburg Castles.  Ghana invites you. Be part of other tourists to visit Cape Coast, to see the male dungeon, female dungeon, remnants and the reality of cruelty of slavery, committed by White Slave Masters.

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