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Monday, July 14, 2008

Today we have naming of parts…

Place names everywhere can be fascinating when they tell a story or refer to a mystery. On the other hand (as in the UK) they can be a clogged-up banality of flowers, trees and shrubs. Laburnum Groves and Avenues, Oak Streets, Ash Drives and the like may have had a cache when the empire-building middle classes flexed their monetary muscle in the late nineteenth century but, as the new towns and villages began their post-second world war spread, they became part of the property developers’ incongruous spin in glossing over constructions that lacked a single brick’s worth of aestheticism.

I once lived in the Derbyshire hills in the aptly named Dirty Lane End Cottage. I don’t suppose I effected any improvement to its environs as a consequence! I have lived in Norwich which boasts the strangely macabre White Woman Lane. There was also, somewhere, Hanging Dog Lane. In Norwich, also, there was a pub called The Murderers but its name was changed owing to someone’s misplaced sense of propriety. I observed to a taxi driver as we were heading to the outer parts of North London, recently, that The World’s End was the ultimate name for a pub, as it would draw in all the angst-laden for miles around. He laughed and said it would be interesting to know how many suicides had drunk there before topping themselves. Come Apocalypse Now, I think everyone’ll be crowded in there or in any one of the other five similarly named, he could think of in London, alone.

These thoughts have been precipitated by my first week or two in Accra where nomenclature takes little notice of property developers but is a mix of folk lore and recent incident. I’ll add more examples as I go along with these blogs but two or three will start the train off.

In the area where I am living there is Puppy Junction, where you can buy a pup, Jacuzzi Junction named after the revelation that a former President of Ghana had had one installed in his house, there, Give-us Your-Wallet Junction where ambushes and muggings were once rife and I Only Ate Corn Junction, where some poor fellow was found beaten and left by the roadside having nicked a head of corn from a nearby plot.

Naming by the people for the people!

In a blog, soon to come, I will list some of the ways that God has descended upon the Ghanaians, infiltrating every aspect of their private and working lives. To whet your appetite, God Never Fails is the name of a small business that installs and mends car brakes!


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