Just Wanna Know

Revolutionary Propaganda Organ

Saturday, January 27, 2007

King Ayisoba

Continuing through the Christmas presents...

King Ayisoba is a hiplife performer and kologo (guitar) player from Bolgatanga in the Upper East Region. His lyrics in Farefare are great fun for me to listen to, but the music, produced by Panji Anoff for Pidgen Records, also features nice beats and great guitar work. Sort of like Amadou and Miriam with a hip-hop edge.

His appearance at the top of the Ghanaian charts points up a local variation of the continued fad worldwide for "Saharan" musical sounds, as Ghanaians start mining the North's rich musical landscape, ignored for so long.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Extra Gunpowder? Shocking!

Here we have the Chinese "gunpowder" green tea of legend and lore, the No. 2 attraction for tourists to Morocco (if you don't know what No. 1 is, I'm not telling you...) The story is that the term gunpowder refers to the fact that the leaves, balled up and very black, resemble the black powder of old musketry. Here we have another take on that idea.

This specimen was procured by family members in Tamale, northern Ghana. While millions of tourists come to Ghana each year, they tend to stay down in the south--forests, beaches, waterfalls--with one trip north to the game park and then back home. If they stayed a bit longer, they might find that some cultural patterns, particularly in the northwest, are very close to those of north Africa. One practice, the drinking of at-te, is nearly identical between Bole and Tangier.

Thus packaging that includes Arabic and French, spoken by nearly everyone between Bole and Tangier.


saddam, a reference to the shock or clash the caffeine will have with your sleepiness, but not without forgetting everyone's favorite dead tyrant.

shay ash-shin al-akhdar: Chinese green tea (note no reference to guns or powder)


The Vert de Chine: Chinese green tea (again, no reference to guns or powder)

Directions: boil it, steep it, make it cold. Keep cool and dry. (loose translation)


fax, email, quantity, producer, and Extra Gunpowder.

Then we have ASKIA: Askia Muhammad I (1442-1538) was the greatest Soninke king. After taking over from the legendary Sunni Ali Ber, Askia Muhammad I extended the Songhay empire to the greatest extent of any of the West African empires. During his reign, what is today Mali became one of the world's great centers for science and scholarship.

According to Wikipedia, askia means in Songhay, like saddam does in Arabic, "forceful one." So again, a political leader known for muscling his way into position is coordinated with the need to get started on the day and do the things that need to be done.

Finally, the visual cues: a soccer ball and an eagle. Yup. I got nothin.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007


Well, it uses English words, but it doesn't really work, except perhaps as avant-garde or absurdist poetry. The packaging came with a flashlight my brother found in a store in Tamale, northern Ghana.

The long text says:

Operation Method:
1 The regular whole light of magnet in the base and nece ssary position
2 the fan-shaped tooth which locks the organization establishes the lamp holder on different angle and position
3 is it down cigar head can pull out necessary
4wire insert some cigarette device
5in finish using directly cigar head to draw, in the rotationoverlayed before the wire is black through the head is deposited in In the shell of one

I guess I want to know:
(1) Was this a case of reading across or down or otherwise backwards/sideways in the direct back-translation from the Chinese characters, or
(2) was it a case of the layout getting garbled in some computer program, or
(3) is it just somebody's best stab for packaging heading to anglophone Africa (where, really, nobody needs instructions to figure out how to work a flashlight)?

In any case, where did "cigar head" come from?

I'm hoping Language Log or someone with some Chinese can help me out.

Titanic Football

Gators are reptilian ice bergs. Ninety-eight percent is below the surface, invisible, except for the nostrils and the two little eyes sticking up.

When the Ohio State band played "My Heart Will Go On" at halftime last night in Glendale, I wonder how many of the 37,000 Buckeyes who traveled to Arizona thought it was a bad joke. At that point OSU was down 20 points to Florida.

It was a moment just like halfway through the movie: half the Buckeye Titanic was sticking straight up awkwardly, just like Navigator Troy Smith right before being sacked, again. Half the team was already underwater, just like Engineer Ted Ginn Jr., who partied too hard after his opening kickoff return TD, messed up his ankle, and had to sit out the rest of the game. And Captain Jim Tressel could do little more than man the lifeboats.

At least the SEC was redeemed, after both Arkansas and Tennessee were defeated in theri bowl games. Here's Florida defensive end Jarvis Moss's comment after playing OSU:

"Honestly, we've played a lot better teams than them. I could name four or five teams in the SEC that could probably compete with them and play the same type of game we did against them."

And probable future presidential candidate John McCain got in his coin toss just in time, an early photo-op for 2008, when it will again no doubt be necessary for any successful candidate to find a way to carry Florida and Ohio.

Hey, sometimes even a sinking ship can be a goldmine.