Talking Drums

The West African News Magazine

Tarzan, John Wayne and Cornflakes

A Touch of Nokoko by Kofi Akumanyi

Every morning at wake-up time of seven o'clock, my four-year-old son who has a problem getting up from bed unleashes a series of piercing noises which on a quiet day can be heard several blocks away. This primordial noise has given us all in the home plenty to laugh about in the initial stages but lately I have been considering whether to do something about it as it is beginning to go beyond a joke and causing a lot of embarrassing moments when the neighbours want to know what it's all about.

In case you have not guessed what that noise is I can tell you that it is the famous jungle-call of TARZAN and I can assure you that the jungle-man himself cannot do it better. Since arriving in the U.K. a few months ago, the four fixations that my boy has acquired are John Wayne, Boy George, Kellogg's Corn Flakes and of course, Tarzan.


Oh, for a way to stop the onslaught of television and advertisements! The only chance open to me to stem this 'unhealthy' addiction is, as far as I can determine, not possess a television set in the house, a proposition I must immediately admit I cannot enforce in my home; not a chance. I once tried it and nearly precipitated a major crisis.

Against this backdrop I could not agree more with the writer of a letter in one of the national dailies in which he complained about what he described as 'a bit of a joke' practised by food manufacturers (and I must add advertisers in general) on unsuspecting consumers at whom their goods are aimed.'

The issue at stake concerns an advertisement by the manufacturers of Mars chocolate and I quote: “If the authorities”, fumes the irate writer, “allow the manufacturers to have a joke on the unsuspecting public where does that leave the innocent consumer? On the sidelines, trying to work out the rules of the game, without adequate information. It is high time that the odds were swung in favour of the authorities, we hope they play the game with the interests of the consumer in mind.”

'Mars chocolate gives you strength' What does the manufacturer mean by these words? Generally, such reference is to food of high calorific value usually in the form of sugar. It is unfortunate that this highly refined food provides no other vital nutrients at all, thus a body fed on energy as sugar is liable to become depleted of essential vitamins and nutrients.


The chocolate bar has only two things to offer: an addiction to sugar and dental cavities. Why should manufacturers be allowed to make any greater claims? Mars (the planet) is the best place for them. End of quote.

Considering the fact that cocoa is the mainstay of the economy of my home country - the production of which has fallen dramatically over the years, not-withstanding - I suppose I should be praising the advertisers for their sales promotion efforts but I am tempted to add a broadside of my own for emphasis.

The other day right in front of my friends Tarzan - John Wayne - Boy George fan offered a free demonstration of the power the television has over him. Immediately after the Kellogg's Cornflakes advertisement came on he rushed to the kitchen and grabbed a box of cornflakes and shook it rhythmically with the little boy in the advertisement — all pure child's play, you may say. What was missing was the cornflakes. His anguished crying on realising that there were no cornflakes in the house was such that I had to rush to the corner shop to replenish the stock.

Now, when a boy of four wants cornflakes for breakfast, lunch and dinner it becomes quite obvious that I need urgent help to sort out this strange behaviour. My friends, some of whom have been in this country for many years (and by necessary implication know what they are talking about as far as these things are kid to see a child psychologist.

"Not bloody likely," I said suddenly, getting very angry. "Just because the boy loves Tarzan, John Wayne, Boy George and Kellogg's Cornflakes doesn't necessarily make him a candidate for the psychologist's couch."

"Well, calm down. Nobody is saying that he is behaving abnormally, but.."

"Don't ever let me hear you use those words again…”

"What I mean is that most children go through this phase when they first arrive here. My son got hooked onto computer games. It got so bad that he used to spend whole days fighting astroids and other space invaders."

"So what happened, eventually?" I asked.

"He gave up."

"Just gave up the fight?" I asked. I couldn't believe my ears.

"Exactly, when the television packed up and I refused to replace it. My wife and I had endless quarrels over it. You don't know what is peace until you've been without that electronic contraption."

"I'm beginning to see your point. I either get rid of the television or get rid of my son. That's a very helpful suggestion, thank you very much"


"Check this one out with your local G.P., you won't regret it." My friend advised. But before doing that I decided to conduct a little interview with the boy. To find out why he likes John Wayne, Boy George, Tarzan and Kellogg's Cornflakes.

"It's because John Wayne has pistols and shoots all the bad guys," he said.

"What about Boy George? He doesn't shoot anybody, does he?"

"Oh no," he exclaimed with surprise "Silly; he sings nice songs and dresses like a girl."

"I see, but Tarzan?"

"Tarzan loves animals and swings in the trees like a monkey. He is wonderful isn't he?"

"Yes," I agreed "But tell me, what do all these people mean to you?" I asked. He was quiet for a moment.

"What do they mean? I think they all eat Kellogg's Cornflakes, don't they Daddy? Isn't that why they can do what they do? Isn't that so?".

I mean, after such a brilliant explanation, who needs Mars bar chocolates or psychologists?

talking drums 1983-12-19-26 Government through mob action - kotoko win africa cup