Pandji’s home on Osu Badu Street is an art collector’s delight and a haven for artistic souls. Upon our arrival at the gate, we are welcome by a concert of barking dogs that cause Emeka and Chriss to race back to into the safety of Snowwhite. “A Doberman! And other dogs!” they gush excitedly. Dogs?! Some are frightened and others become upbeat. “I love dogs!” declares Unoma as she walks into Pandji’s premises with confidence. It must be true; the athletic Doberman gives her a tail wagging welcome after a few initial barks and allows Unoma to rub its nose in a tentative, then playful manner. “The trick is never to look a strange dog in the face when it approaches you. Simply stand fearlessly still, cast your eyes away and stretch your hand out slightly for it to smell. No dog will attack you except it is maniacally groomed” Unoma asserted. As someone who has always loved dogs only in their harmless puppyhood, I am impressed how so easy, through this simple information, to cross the invisible borders of fear and befriend any dog.
We enter. We do our introductions, meet the house members. Nana, Pandji’s brother is an artist who owns a gallery on the ground floor. He urges us to come soon to explore his art and space. I glean beautiful creations from the gallery as we mount the steps. We move upstairs and into the house. The floor is made of solid wood panels, the walls inside of redbrick. Traditional African masks hang on the wall of the sitting room. Soon we learn that this house runs a no-shoes policy even in the bathroom! What? No shoes? No slippers, even? Hypochondriac alarms begin to ring, but it is needless. Pandji’s shoefree floors are as clean as clean comes-even more so the bathroom. The décor is arty and minimalist in a gruff masculine way. Nothing is standing anywhere that isn’t functionally needed.
Some of us fall immediately into conversation with the easy-going Pandji about our journey and an adventurer of some sort himself, he gives us the highs and lows of the Abidjan and Burkina routes but says he finds the Burkina option more artistically satisfying. He is full of praises for the late Thomas Sankara for his positive influence on Burkina Faso, and Africa within his short tenure as leader.
It turns out that Pandji is the free-spirited producer of “Cos ov moni”, a recently released movie shot in Accra in which Wanluv the Kubolov, the half Ghanaian , half Romanian musician featured. Posters of this work adorn the street just before the boutique of Mudi, the popular Nigerian dressmaker who serves the sartorial tastes of some of Ghana’s leaders. Wanluv, the helpful and friendly Tacitus K. Yabani, (Tacitus for short), the dark and smiley Mosquito who claims to speak Chinese, and the diminutive Motia are all members of a musical band produced by Panji’s company, Luu Vision Productions.
We also meet Hasira, who occupies a wing of the Osu Badu Road house with his wife and children. Hasira is an African-American who came visiting to Africa 10 years ago and immediately took to Accra and made it home. His daughter, a home schooled teenager recently earned high points and a space at the prestigious School of Dance run by Debbie Allen in California based on her local dance repertoire all learnt from right inside Accra here. A positive heart-warming story. Hasira says has had rough experiences at the border too, including waiting at the Togo end for all of 16 hours ‘cos ov moni” or on account of his unwillingness to give it! We are glad not to have experienced this sort of long drawn outlandish delay, but we recall our return journey at the same frontier in 2009 where some officials tried real hard to intimidate a certain gentleman who had arrived with the stream of traders, through shameless shouts, vicious eye-opening, rude finger pointing - all be‘cos ov moni”. The bedlam was enormous and we could hardly get a word in edgewise that they pleeeeaaase, look at our passports and let us through. When their superior officer came to check the cause of the bedlam and noticed our tired faces and cameras as we stood in the corner, we were let through immediately by the graft-wresting duo who gasped in Frenchified English, Journalistes? Journalistes? You should have said so!, as they ushered us with frightened kindness across the counter.’ We remember and laugh.
We fellowship late into the night with some of these wonderful, people, till our bodies demand a rest.
By Adenike Ojeikere