Sunday, 30 December 2012

Name the last African movie to make you cry:

When was the last time an African movie made you cry? Like really cry. You know, one of those films that you watch and you can connect with the story and believe the possibility of it being true and that raw realness coupled with a truly heart-wrenching plot just has you streaming either openly or silently to yourself.

Maami would be my answer.

I won tickets to see it during the Film Africa festival in London a couple of months ago. The film quality was impeccable, clearly shot by a director who understands the effect of varied of frames. It didn't feel like a camera had been sat upon a tripod somewhere in the corner of a room, like many other films do. Most importantly, Maami is the mark of a director who knows how to identify a good story. Maami is a novel which Tunde Kelani then visualised.

I want to buy that novel now (and I've said that about any book adaptation before). Maami is a native story. It's an accessible story and it shows me something I can believe. The reason I'm talking about this is because my sister recently went to the 'Contract' premiere in Ghana and as she has said for a few other African films, "would it really happen like that in Ghana? cos I feel like Africans are trying to apply an America storyline to their culture, and that doesn't feel real". The best films, (comedies, dramas, romances, witchcraft whatever the genre) connect with you. They move you through all your emotions, they have you thinking "could this happen? this could happen!"

The Media Is Society's Way Of Communicating With Itself. That means the message being given to the audience has to come from the audience themselves and I know that the majority of middle class Ghanaians attending premieres might decide that these films reflect their lives and I won't deny that really, but for the national narrative to grow, to add some organic reality, some unique West African-ness let's vary up those stories. Let's find those "Maami"-type stories. Let's be drawn to cry, even involuntarily, for good or bad. Let's harvest more stories from the ordinary person and sell our unique export - life in Africa.

Happy New Year guys!

p.s. I've not yet seen Contract and despite the sentiment of expressed above, my sister said she and my cousin really enjoyed it. So if you get the opportunity go to the cinema, support Yvonne Okoro, Hlomla Dandala and African film in general. I'm definitely looking forward to watching it. It's got my two fave actors, hands down.

p.p.s. Please actually let me know the last film to move you to tears either through laughing so hard or being genuinely sad. Twitter handle: @thebellower or in the comments down below.

"I don't really have a choice.. this is the only culture  know so well, I don't even think I could pray to God in English" - Tunde Kelani

Friday, 21 December 2012

Ghana Police vs Okada: Okada wins.

So someone help me out. Here's an article from Ghanaweb that the Okada business is booming again.

I'm not upset. In fact I'm very happy. Having had a few risky rides in Vietnam on the back of strangers' mopeds I must admit that I'm happy I can recreate those experiences in Ghana.

So take in mind that I support the Okada business. That being said there's an obvious problem that sums up why Ghana isn't developing properly. When the reporter spoke to the Assistant Commissioner of Police, Angwubutoge Awuni, who doubles up as the Commanding Officer of the Motor Traffic and Transport Unit, all he could say to the issue is that "Okada is still illegal in the country and those who engage in such acts should desist because it is dangerous". Furthermore, the fact that the Christmas season calls for more innovative ways to navigate the ever-so-congested cities of Ghana does not grant citizens right of passage to violate the law.

I disagree wholeheartedly that the Okada system is dangerous, the statistics will back me and all those Okada riders too. More people die from articulated trucks, dodgy minibuses operating as trotros, and 4x4s dangerously overtaking on highways as I have seen every time I've gone to Ghana. The police and  politicians are able to make such claims because they know people fear thieves on motorcycles, but as many Ghanaian films will also show you there are enough thieves operating in cars too. Thieves will do what they must and use what they must.

Away from my defence of the Okada system the reason for this post is simple. The law against Okada is clear. So what does the ACP propose for future action, knowing full well that the Okada business is not only existent but thriving and most likely to grow?

Answer: Public education (although I doubt it will be free given that the NDC won the elections, "we want 'quality [public] education' from the police not 'free'").

The police actually suspended enforcement of this law, although it's a very recent law so when exactly did they begin and suspend the enforcement? What is the timetable of suspension put on this law? They may even have to suspend the public education on the law, to educate people on how long they will suspend the law! What greater education is there than to enforce it. Enforcement should not necessarily mean jail or large fines for people. I'm just tired of seeing people break the law in full knowledge and view of the police. No matter the offence, the rebuttal from the police is always that public education is needed. Can people just do their jobs please?

I just think that the reason that people still urinate in streets and dump rubbish in gutters, drive recklessly and commit other offences is simply because they know that those with the authority to stop them won't have left the office yet. It's all big talk about compulsory motorbike leathers (ridiculous in Africa but true) and illegal paying passengers, but what all law in any country comes down to is the follow through. People won't change unless you implore them to, the country can't develop unless we actively develop it.

Postscript: if you must ban something, provide a worth alternative as lagos has done with the tuk tuk. Don't ban Okadas without introducing tuk tuks and don't ban street hawkers without introducin safe shoppin stores for them to work in. It's that simple.

Monday, 17 December 2012

My response to IMANI again.

I've not blogged in a very long while now. The last post published on here is dated 2nd December, but to be honest that was a throwaway attempt at starting another project - an Advent of Reflection - which very easily went to dust. In fact the last post I made that was worth anything to me was the Melcom post.

Now however I find inspiration in IMANI's look forward into the President's first full term. Firstly, as the 14 comments on Ghanaweb will show you IMANI prewrote this article and have not edited to reflect the fact that the EC has declared a winner. Some of the commenters think this shows IMANI to be NPP supporters, but I think it shows IMANI to be sweet f.a. It's simply a pre-prepared article to be valid in the event of a run-off between two parties that most of the political analysts in the country would have predicted. Even I questioned Abu Sakara as to where his loyalties would lie, on the assumption that a run-off was inevitable. THERE WAS NO REASON TO SAY THAT THIS RACE WAS NOT GOING TO BE ANY CLOSER THAN 2008. Nothing on paper pointed to a 1st round win for any party, absolutely nothing. It's a simple game of who can utilise the 'hand of God' best, and as Maradona knows very well, the 'hand of God' is a euphemism for one's own handy work - forgive the slight underlying bias, I was searching for a pun.

IMANI say to us that the government must focus on the five following things to ensure social and economic development:
1. Risk Analysis on all Government Projects
2. Reform the Pension Sector
3. Determine an optimal level of taxation
4. Avoid wasteful projects
5. Review the single spine salary structure for the civil service

Now I'm no economist. I don't care for the numbers, I don't care for stats, I live with my head in the clouds looking at a strikingly monochrome world. The Pension Sector and SSSS do not concern me. People need paying that is true, but I always thought the private sector was the most important for economic growth and job creation. IMANI's top 5 priorities are all very public sector and that is probably the problem.

IMANI is right in some areas though, for instance, the presidency cannot be the policy hub. It is theoretically unworkable in Ghana. For instance, if the NPP succeeded in overturning the presidential result but not the parliamentary one, what exactly does NADAA think he could get done in the country. Policies and change must come from the representatives in the parliament based on the values their people hold.

The harmonisation of projects, discussed through the example of the BVR, is another point I agree with, must every aspect of a Ghanaian's life carry its own biometric identification tool? It's wastage. Another thing we should address is whether some of these systems, especially BVR, is merely painting over the cracks. I'm not one to advocate copying the west, but here in the UK, they don't take my fingerprint to let me vote. Registration is simple, a letter and form is sent to your home (assuming you can read) you fill it out, with details who live at the address and are/will be eligible to vote. This is kept on record and houses are taxed accordingly. It is not in your interest to put more people than lives with you, on the register because you'll just pay more. If you don't return the form in time (for whatever reason, incl. illiteracy) someone comes around and verbally confirms with you and the same is done with that data as outlined above. You get your voting documents at your residence and if you lose it tough luck. But you know what all this would require to be implemented in Ghana? Roads, named. Houses, numbered. People, literate. How's Ghana doing on that front? Elections are the closest thing to democracy Ghana has. With all due respect it's the only time that the people have the politicians sweating. To improve them you improve the electoral system, through the harmonisation of data and the alternative method to registering and voting, which might actually help the governments revenue situation.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

What do you plan on rejoicing about during this Christmas season?

I'm doing the Christmas Devotional on the YouVersion Bible app.

Day 1 talks about Isaac Watts' Joy to the World and how joy resides with us, through Jesus. It also reminds us that Nehemiah (Nehemiah 8) celebrated after sharing God's word.

Finally, this brief devotional asks the above question and I've come to ask you because Ghana is about to enter it's 6th election of the Fourth Republic, my mother is currently safely on a plane from that country after spending 7 weeks there, a friend of mine went missing briefly and now he is found - in fact that has happened twice in the past 2 months (not the same person though), - I'm undertaking a Masters and rekindling friendships I had previously let die. I would say I've got a lot to be happy about.

Being connected to the NSPCC I know that is not true for so many other people. So I've chosen to appreciate everything I have, especially this season. I can only suggest you do too, trust me.

Ps 23:5

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Help me choose my dissertation!

Ok guys, I have to do a Master's dissertation. As I'm doing African Politics at SOAS, I can cover West Africa and know that there will be someone who actually knows what I'm talking about, which was not the case in my undergrad.

Trouble is I have to choose a topic. Here are the choices of things I've considered writing about:

1. The West African Brain Gain: Young Africans (by birth, or immediate descent choosing to head back to West  Africa and set up a life there, often choosing to take the corporate route rather than working for an NGO, perhaps because they see the continent differently).

2. J K Siaw (the life, rise and fall of Joshua Kwabena Siaw in relation to the political landscape of Ghana, from pre-independence to the PNDC regime and pushes for democracy).

3. The AFRC regime (the motivations, justifications and actions of the AFRC regime in 1979. How this changed Ghana's course of development and how it still lingers over present-day Ghana, if it does.) (Prehaps a comparison to similar/contemporary regimes in Nigeria)

4. Transition to democracy in Ghana and Nigeria (motivations, consolidation, successes, failures)

This isn't something you can just glance at and pass on by, I would really really appreciate your input on which you would like to read if you had to or which you think is least explored and in need of exploration.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

NPC - not a political party but key to elections.

Type in "NPC ghana" into google and let me know what you get. The first link will be for the National Population Council established in 1989 to advise the government on improving the lives of Ghanaians through  effective population management.

A couple of links below you will begin to find websites pertaining to news about the National Paralympic Committee. There's not much on these guys. In fact I reckon if I asked you to tell me below who Alem Mumuni or Anita Fordjour is, you'd be slightly tempted to google them. The above two are paralympians as you might have guessed. They are just two of a squad of 4. Four. Perhaps for me the four bravest Ghanaians I will ever read about because they've received no government backing. The government seems only to arrive AFTER the medals have been won.

The London Olympics/Paralympics really opened my eyes to many things. As a Londoner I must admit I had to come to terms with the fact that the Olympics/Paralympics had arrived, were changing lives, raising profiles and there was nothing my negativity will do to get London's tax money back. The way the UK rallied behind Team GB in the Olympics was inspirational and as a Londoner and a Brit, I felt that community spirit as I spoke to colleagues about how "Our Team" was doing. As a Nigerian, I felt the patriotism as I had to defend the Nigerian basketball team after the USA match. And I felt the national shame as a Ghanaian, thinking 'did I ever see a Ghanaian athlete in the entire 2 and half weeks, where were the boxing medals we expected?'

With the arrival of the Paralympics I felt all those patriotisms again. Nigeria as of Day 2 sat 10th on the table with 4 medals including 2 Golds. Much more than their able-bodied counterparts. Team GB was slightly behind target but nevertheless ahead of the USA (and that's really all that mattered, I muted my TV when 'The Star-Spangled Banner' played). Ghana we never heard much from, but I'll tell you what, I'm proud of them anyway. They were let down (them and the rest of their African counterparts) by mismanagement led by celebrity-chasing politicians. I will not cease in my mission to have more sports recognised and played in Ghana. Key to this is having a greater variety of athletes and the recognition that anybody can be an athlete. People with disabilities must be given the opportunity to decide their own destiny supported by the government whom they elect. They are not second class citizens, they can contribute just as much as anyone else. I don't want to see men and women skating around on skateboards around Airport Residential begging for money using the skills and muscles that could win them the Sprint or Sitting Volleyball on a world stage.

So as the elections approach, think not just of yourself and what these parties can do for you, Ghana, but also of your fellow Ghanaians and who has a vision and political will to do something for them.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

IEA VP debate

In case you haven't caught it yet, here is the Vice Presidential debate:

Thursday, 8 November 2012

The Tragedy of Melcom

I do not want to play the blame game so early after this tragic incident.Trust me, this is not something that anyone in their right mind should use to score points against anyone! When I first heard about it I feared for my mum's safety because Melcom is a well patronised company and I know that she goes into town often for many reasons. After finally making contact with my mother and thanking God for her life - she had intend to go their yesterday after missing opening hours the day before - I read more about the situation.

What startled me more than anything, more than those emotional pictures taken by Bob Pixel Photography, was the speed with which the Melcom company tried to distance themselves from responsibility. According to them they rented the place from a Mr. Nana Boadu and had been there for 10 months. Regardless of that, Melcom must take some responsibility for the incident as must the landlord and the city authorities. From what I know (Ghana rules may vary), tenants must do their own surveying of a property to point out any maintenance issues that arise. If at the point of signing everything is well, the tenant must be vigilant to make sure that the building is kept. The landlord - it being his asset afterall - must do the same. With this being a public building the need for these checks are even more paramount. It is clear, now, that this did not happen. I would expect a law suit from the government brought against Melcom and the landlord for negligence. People have lost family and loved ones unnecessary and must be compensated substantially by action brought by the full force of the government.

With that in mind it worries me that the President can come the the disaster scene, with no safety equipment on (no protective hat, or visible jacket) to speak on the negligence of safety procedures on the part of the authorites. The most ironic thing he has done in the past four years. The Mayor of Accra has also come out to say that the building had no permit, but if that is the case, how can he say this with a straight face? Everyone knew that the building was there so the Mayor must answer, if it did not have a permit, how was it allowed to stand for so long and then be occupied for 10 months by one of Ghana's most prominent stores. This wasn't a small illegal shack hiding in the shadows somewhere, it was a 6 storey occupied building that none of the authorities including the Mayor did anything about.

Ghanaians, dare I say it, we need to get angry about some things. Genuinely put pressure on people to do their jobs properly. The floods came last year and the authorities found someone to blame. Fires break out and then there's "the regulations aren't being upheld", disease has a mild outbreak and "regulations aren't being upheld" buildings collapse and "regulations aren't being upheld". Meanwhile when we realise this, post-incident, no one is held accountable, no one loses a job, loses money (by way of compensation), loses freedom (jail time for death by negligence, I think is fair). It must suck being the President of a nation that doesn't implement or follow any rules and doesn't face any consequences in the aftermath. You would think that after 4 years of being Vice President and then President of such a nation, JDM would put his foot down and start changing things for the better. I'm tired of Ghanaians dying because our government is too lazy to manifest the simple law of karma on regulation shirkers!

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

30 to go

There are 30 days to go until Ghana decides it's next President although if it is as close as last time, we might have to add a fortnight to that countdown. America has chosen to move forward with the incumbent and just like last time the NDC find themselves mimicking the same message "stay with us, there is more to do, but we are the best to do it". Whether that message rings true to Ghanaians this year is still yet to be seen.

I know who I would vote for if I was able to vote and that doesn't mean that I support them 100%, but I believe that this is the year that Ghanaians are going to stand up and say, "we voted you in, but that doesn't mean we will remain silent for the rest of the 4 years". I really see civil society taking a more active role in shaping government policy. It's now not just about holding up someone's manifesto of years gone by and marking them solely against what they once said they were going to do, it's about requesting things of your MPs and President during term and seeing a significant response to your request. We don't need anymore "re-elect us and it will happen", we need "we have heard you, and we have acted" and I think the Ghanaian public is now in the position where this is the type of leadership they want.

A good example of this would be Ghana Decides. This is an authentically grassroots movement that really took off in their iRegistered campaign garnering celebrity support and really catapulting a discussion forum in that campaign on why it is good to register. The average Ghanaian was given a voice and we could all see how well they responded to that. Things have become murkier for politics in Ghana since the death of President Atta Mills. There is a big possibility that President Mahama could benefit from a sympathy vote, or perhaps those who thought it was a done deal, will be spurred to cast their vote for him just to make sure. That is all very good for democracy as long as it comes from the people.

The IEA encounters and debates have been an eye opener. Not only via the content of these events, but the fact that they appear to be the only platform upon which Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidates are held to account. That in itself tells us much about the strength of our democracy and I think much needs to be done within the next four years to hold more personal and challenging interviews with the media and not just the traditional media, but New Media also. I had the pleasure of watching Abu Sakara's intimate Hangout with Ghanaians at home and abroad. I posed a question to him and whilst he did not directly answer it, his response gave me a greater insight into the type of person and leader he is and President he would be. That, strengthens the countries democracy, not simply pre-written scripts read out to debate questions in front of a distinguished and invited audiences.

There is 30 days, and one IEA debate left to go before Ghana decides. Anyone who thought one particular party had sealed the deal or were guaranteed victory or deserved victory for what ever reason should see how quickly opinions can change in the space of a week. Last Monday this was a battle between two giants in the political arena. 9 days later the CPP have managed to squeeze through the gap and make themselves real contenders for this race. I sympathise with Mr. Hassan Ayariga, as it seems he was judged more on his English than his vision. In 9 days his party has managed to vindicate him a little as Madam Matrevi performed relatively better in the VP debate. But if so much can change in just 9 days, think what could happen in the next 30. If the NDC and NPP become broken records and forget that there are other parties involved in this race who they just might need in a run-off (which is more than likely) they might just see the arrogance of being a big party become their undoing. Ghana decides.

The People's IEA debate

The twittersphere goes crazy when there's an IEA encounter or debate going on. It has led to a couple worldwide trends coming out of Ghana. That's a big feat considering how small Ghana is as a country and how even smaller it is amongst the internet population.

All the top bloggers and simply interested Ghanaians all have something to say as to the quality of the answers given. I do too! So I was thinking, we should all take a question that you think wasn't answered well, or that you have another answer for, take 3 minutes of your time and record an answer to it. 

Essentially this is an expansion of the "If I were President..." question in the Ghana Decides Tag.

For instance, in the IEA VP debate I felt the question concerning women, children and disabled could be answered better. So I will post a video saying what I would do (if President/VP).

This is just to gauge where people stand ideologically. Often the jargon at these events is too removed from the ordinary person, so I want to help make this election the result of a 2 way conversation between the electorate and the politicians.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Dark Horse: Dr. Abu Sakara

This is an expanded version of Dr. Abu Sakara's views without the unnecessary NDC-NPP war of words which clouded the IEA Debate. Before watching this I knew that Dr. Abu Sakara would be influential in this years elections but I didn't realise that he could really be a contender. If Ghanaians know what's good for the country, the CPP under Dr. Abu Sakara will no longer be the 3rd party in the country, but top 2. He  appears to me to be a visionary.

Before anyone complains about my endorsement of Dr. Abu Sakara, I am still non-partisan, but it is clear who won the IEA debate and that the debate showed the top 2 parties to be broken records. They did not all step up to the mark and that is a shame. The reward goes to he who tries.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Could the diaspora be Ghana's education answer?

Is it possible to kill to birds with one stone?

Ghana has highlighted a number of problems of within its education sector, including getting teachers. I also notice that there is a desire within Ghanaian diaspora to return to the country. Those who aren't interested in returning full-time do want to go back to help in some way (think about Me Firi Ghana's WAM Campaign) and British and American teenagers are familiar to the culture of going to Africa and Asia to teach. It helps CVs and boost employment chances. They are often faced with huge costs in order to gain such an experience, the majority of which doesn't go to the host families or host schools but stays in the organising company and the country in which the company is headquartered i.e. the UK, and US.

Israel tries to convince its diaspora to visit or relocate to the "homeland" in a number of ways including financing schemes for young returnees. Could Ghana not look at doing something similar? Young people, living out of Ghana, born at least one Ghanaian person could be funded to take part in a scheme, whereby they return to Ghana and volunteer/work to help build Ghana through teaching, or similar work. They are then recognised and endorsed by a leading politician/businessperson/cultural leader and this will boost their employ-ability and encourage a positive relationship with their idea of Ghana. The latter will increase the chances of them returning to Ghana on a more permanent basis, bringing with them their expertise.

I'm sure many Ghanaian parents would jump at the opportunity of sending their child to Ghana at a reduced rate (especially with current flight prices). It solidifies the relationship between the diaspora and the homeland and increases the chances of Ghana benefitting from a brain gain. Ghana should not just sit and hope that people would want to return, they should really make an effort to see it happen.

What do you think? Is this a feasible idea? Leave a comment or Tweet me @thebellower

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Why Ghana doesn't need Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings and the NDP.

'Ghana's former first lady to run for President' read the Reuters headline just at the beginning of the week. Of course its impact on the support that the ruling party command in Ghana despite the Deputy Minister for Sports suggestions, was unavoidable. The Rawlingses have successfully perpetuated a personality cult around their political career and this has benefited the NDC no end. It looked as though the NDC would have to convince its members that they still stand for the principles they always stood for, without the Rawlingses' support and not-so-silent guidance. They also had to complete the herculean task of proving that they were completely different from the NDP, essentially founded on exactly the same principles.

According to the Reuters article posted above, the NDC (henceforth 'the Congress') did not think that the NDP ('the Party') posed a real threat to them in the polls; neither did many political analysts and neither did I, truth be told. I don't think the NDP would have made a significant mark on these elections. I think Ghana has not yet faced the gender leadership question and I don't think they are ready to have that discussion. Therefore, the 2771 to 90 NDC primaries result is not just symbolic of how many people supported then-President Atta Mills, but also of how few people wanted a woman to lead them. This I thought was the Congress' trump card. They didn't explicitly play this card, but I do believe that subconsciously Ghanaians were repelled by the idea of a female President and all other things remaining equal, John Dramani Mahama would always collect the majority of left-wing votes. If the Congress were pushed to the point of needing to close the Rawlings question, their best bet would have been to blur the lines of difference between a Presidency of Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings and the tried and tested Presidency of her husband, JJ Rawlings. Nana Konadu and JJ Rawlings - the value is the same.

Ghana has been at the mercy of the Rawlings family for over 3 decades, both directly and indirectly. Many will recall that JJ Rawlings came into power first with a devastating coup and a military regime lasting 3 months, before handing over to a civilian government that he endorsed. He then collapsed that government and imposed a second military regime for 11 years before winning questionable elections in  1992 and completing his second term before handing over the mandate of power to John Agyekum Kufuor in 2001. All that time his wife was there behind him, very influential and never explicitly pushing for greater human rights, or more democratic accountability. Even as the Congress were no longer in power the Rawlingses as a pair sought to question and undermine the integrity and competence of President Kufuor and then President Mills when the Congress regained power. Can Ghanaians think of one point in time since his first attempted coup in which President Rawlings and his wife has respected the voice of the people and the democratic principles by which we now live?

The EC has saved the NDC from a sweat inducing campaign where they would have to differentiate themselves from what is essentially their political identical twin and declare independence from their ideological parents as any child (brain child or birth child) would have to do one day. I don't think that Mrs. Rawlings' disqualification works in NPP's favour. If anything it works against them as it takes a very big dark cloud from above JDM's head. Dr. Edward Omane Boamah's declaration is definitely off the mark. But one thing is certain. Where this disqualification benefits the NPP, it also benefits the CPP, PPP, PNC and the rest of Ghana. The Rawlings era, I believe, is now over. The EC created the headstone and it is up to the NDC and the rest of the Ghanaian political arena to recognise it and work towards the maturation of Ghana's politics marked by the strengthening of civil society and real communication between the everyday Ghanaian and his government, not just one family screaming the loudest.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Africa, solving its problems

Sister Deborah vs the US elections

A while ago Deborah Vanessa came up with this song. Now I thought it was funny crap, but I never expected her to have to explain her concept and video to CNN.

I've seen the comments and I think Americans and the rest of the world need to chill. Whilst she says it's not about President Obama, even just a bit, I'll take it with a pinch of salt. I think though that Americans need to remember that his surname comes from Africa, there are other Obamas in the world, there are other Romneys, not all Husseins and Mubarak and Camerons are related to the men who made those names famous. Chill guys!

Monday, 15 October 2012

Universal Suffrage?

What makes a voter.

Ghana seems to be struggling to define this. EC officials on MultiTV's PM Express back in April couldn't confirm or deny if a person born in Ghana brought up in Ghana with a Nigerian father and surname could vote or not. Instead, the official claimed it would nonetheless be a 'legal' issue. 

I don't get this. What makes a Ghanaian? An Indian child, or Kenyan child or :Lebanese or Nigerian child, born in Ghana, living Ghana, speaking Twi, Ga, Fante and Hausa, should not be any less Ghanaian than a child whose parents are both of Ashanti or Fante or Ewe lineage born and living in Ghana. 

It becomes clear at moments of elections, that Ghana is extremely exclusive rather than inclusive. 

The Panafest/Emancipation Day question.

On 12 July one Ghanaian wrote an article asking if things such as Panafest and Emancipation Day are worth celebrating in Ghana. The writer outlined that "The institution of the Pan-African Historical Theatre Festival (Panafest)... was in line with the country's historic role as the torch-bearer of freedom and unity on the continent."

I understand that slavery was a big part of African history and Ghana, accommodating 80% of the slave castles, has become a focal point for many people's reconciliation with the harrowing reality of slavery. However, must Pan-African history and identity be punctuated and defined by slavery. Is there nothing else for us to remember about Africa. I consider myself a Pan-Africanist with limitations. I think it is a problem that when we think of Pan-Africanism we only think about slavery, and the independence struggle. Is there nothing else to define an African but his/her struggle?

I went to Panafest and Emancipation Day in 2007. We attended some events at Elmina Castle and were treated almost like second class citizens because we were Ghanaian. That isn't a bold unsubstantiated claim, it's the truth, we were helped and looked after when they thought we were "foreigners" until one lady heard me speaking Twi to my driver, and then said "Oh you are Ghanaian, you must get up from here and please move to the back" I appealed, saying I was British and that I had attended early enough to get a good seat and would not be easily moved. She then decided to relocate us to the other side of the event. She gave no reason but proceeded to smile and curtsy profusely for the Americans and Caribbeans and even a Dutch mixed race family. In that moment, I felt like there was a difference between me and them at an event where Ghanaians were supposed to be affirming that there is no difference and that we are all family.

If celebrating Panafest and Emanicipation Day doesn't benefit the Ghanaian, in their image of themselves, their image of their country, why should it then benefit others. What is the purpose? You cannot have events like this in spite of the local population.  That's all I have to say on the matter, I have no solution in this case. I just think that if Panafest and Emancipation Day is to continue, it should be in line with the country's image as a freedom fighter and elevator of the African profile on the continent and so far they are able to do that, long may it continue, but if for any reason it doesn't or in fact devalues or orientalises the African in their own back yard, we should reconsider what is important to Ghanaians - tourism money or pride.

Bottled houses

The below videos are old but I don't want the innovations that they display to become old news too. It seems despite what we are being told about the need to be eco-friendly we aren't really doing enough. These bottle houses are ingenious and I'm hoping there can be some advancement on them to make it a real dignified viability. 

Be Inspired.

Monday, 8 October 2012

The Biggest Challenge

originally written 12 August 2012

I've just ended one of the most fulfilling jobs I think I'll ever have the pleasure of working. I worked as a Senior Mentor for an organisation called The Challenge Network who operate the National Citizens Service and are backed by the government.

It's an awesome job. When I first heard about it last year when I was in Singapore I was just excited by the prospect of getting paid to become G.I. Jane and to be honest that's hows I described it to my mates when they asked what I was doing in my summer of graduation.

My greatest fear going into this job was that me and young people just wouldn't mix. I have so many cousins who are younger than me and they are immensely frustrating. So many personal possessions broken, so many telling offs acquired because of my younger cousins. I know you feel my pain.

Going into this job I just thought, 'Oh Lord, I cannot be arsed for the frustrating pettiness of young people. I do not have time for their over inflated self-confidence and belief that they are God's gift to man.' But now I have come to the end of two sets of 3 weeks, with 2 sets of young people. I have mentored 21 young people in total. I can truly say, as my mother did in church today, that young people truly ARE God's gift to man. They have such bright futures and such brilliant minds. Underestimated minds. Underrated hearts. I have seen 21 young people defy all the descriptions that our media will confer on them. Whipping out banter with adults with the right balance of humour and respect.

There is not much I can say, because it's difficult to articulate the pride I feel having taken part in the The Challenge Network. Just remember next time you see a young person and you feel they've become an annoying waste of space, they are just YOUNG people, seeking direction, trust, and affection. Some of them didn't get any of that before they met us and you'll be surprised the difference those three ingredients can make.

Challenge Yourself, to respect Young People, and see how this world is turn upside down for good!

Ciao, Sardinia, Ciao!

Travelling again! Well, briefly.

My sister and I took a "before it all gets hectic" break to the beautiful island of Sardegna, Italy. It's a nice little big island. Honestly, it is much bigger than I thought it would be. We were based in Olbia and it took an 1 hour and a half to get to Porto Cervo by bus. By the way Porto Cervo by bus will set you back only 5 Euro. It was 4.50 Euro to get back, but I don't know if that was due to the time of day or direction of purchase. I didn't want to ask the driver just in case I alerted him to the fact that he could have pocketed an extra Euro off of us.

Ok so let's start with the beginning and Olbia. We touched down in Olbia Airport, Costa Smerelda in the afternoon and bought a bus ticket for a Euro each to get to our hotel. The Hilton is a bit out of the way and not on any busy streets. It's kinda like in a clearing with the only landmark next to it being a roundabout. I'm sure I don't have to tell you how unhelpful that is. In Italy of course, as you would expect through most of Europe, they speak their own language and have no desire of learning a more "internationally acceptable" one like English, so my sister and I had to work out from pointing hands and basic understanding of similar latin based words where we should go. It did not help that the pavements are practically non-existent and so the correct directions lost credibility very quickly.

Arriving in the Hilton Olbia we were greeted with big smiles and a welcome cookie. That most definitely made our day! Following a little rest trying to understand Italian TV and searching but failing slightly to find BBC World News we headed into town with our trusty Lonely Planet book in search of quirky shops and unique restaurants. If you order the "Sensation" at La Lanterna, you will definitely get what it says on the tin. It was sensationally too much for the both of us. Great with some dishes, awkward with others, but the culinary rollercoaster was worth it to really experience Sardinia in a fun way.

The food helped us put behind us the awkward hostility we experienced from one particular antique  shop-owner lady. She didn't seem to want to let us in and whilst I won't come out and play the race card, the incident did lead to my sister and I having a conversation about how black people are treated when they go places so I guess it had touched a nerve with us along racial lines. The woman  did eventually let us in after our pretty shameful "Inglesi, can we come in?" attempt at communicating with her. She looked at her husband (or some fella who clearly has influence in her life) and he said it was ok. I really do hate the "I'm British so I just say things louder and slower in English and you in your own country can attempt to understand what I'm getting at" behaviour, but sadly we had not yet sat down to practice any phrases and had to make do with what we knew.

The next day we realised that the only black people you see on this island, or at least in Olbia, are Senegalese hustlers - that needs its own blog post though. Perhaps the lady believed us to be one of them and not tourists - that too requiring its own blog post but until that arrives see my First Impressions post. Our second day took us by free shuttle bus supplied by the hotel to Bados Beach which also has a little bar/restaurant called BarBados. You can get your deckchairs and umbrellas there and at a discounted price if you quote Hilton Olbia. ;) (our little secret).  The water is nice, the sun was shining, you really can lie back and convince yourself that you're in Barbados if the budget won't allow you to get to the real thing. There are beach hustlers offering everything you need from sunglasses to sarongs and jewellery. It's up to you to buy. We didn't and I don't feel bad.

The third day we went to Porto Cervo with a little stop off before hand at a beach place I can't remember right now. Four fairly small but extremely popular beaches and we were there in low season! Essentially guys you're looking for sand, sun, sea. So call me ignorant but you can find that anywhere and if you're taking the recommendation from a travel book or hotel staff, be sure that many other people have done the same. We got a recommendation from a friend, but I'm guessing they may have done the above. Not saying it was too crowded, but I much preferred the space and roam that Bados afforded me.

The final day we just got to know Olbia better. There isn't much focus on the cultural and historical gems Olbia has to offer, but it is definitely worth taking a break from the beach to see. So that was Sardinia. Finished with a hotel provided taxi to the airport and then really chaotic airport check-in that you may only really expect in a film about a war-time African country, but altogether a beautiful island, a lovely vibe.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Watch them do their Azonto!

If you have not seen this yet, then I don't know where you've been.

FUSE ODG (you'll know his songs cos they begin with "it's fuse!") has started a competition to find the best Azonto videos this world can make. The first entry was good and being a Londoner I loved that it was shot on the Underground and Southbank. But this second one, filmed on yet another one of my stomping grounds - Manchester - was just taking it to another level. There are a few more, the Americans have done a robot inspired one and the French had a flash mob, but so far this takes the biscuit.


Will this be the demise of Ghana's STC?

How has it come to this? I read nowadays about this crisis around the STC (the bus service serving the country). There are rumours of lack of payment to benefactors and workers alike and as of this morning the government has decided to halt the auction of STC even after think tank IMANI has called for the company's outright sale.

Now I'm not going to claim to be a seasoned businesswoman. I am driven by principles of serving the people, not money or the bottom line, but surely it cannot be so hard to create a working, functioning, profitable transport system and maintain it. The market is there for it, we know that because when we think transport in Ghana we think of the throngs of trotros screaming "KaneshieKaneshieKaneshie!... AmasamanAmasaman!" Many people don't own a car but still need to get to the market, their kids need to get to school. So with that in mind. How have we come to this day, where it looks like the STC system is on the verge of folding.

I can only assume that our MPs and Directors and various 'important' people, chauffeured around in 4x4 have forgotten what life was like when they had to catch a trotro or negotiate with a taxi driver. The success of mass transport does not concern them because it does not affect, as with most things in Ghana. But this year is Ghana's coming of age. This year is a turning point. The presence alone of Ghana Decides to encourage registration and informed voting is a sign that Ghana's elections will really stand for something when it comes to buying all the false promises and myopic visions.

So my dear voters, when you think about who to vote for, do me and yourself a favour and don't vote simply on party lines. Think about who can keep the country moving, metaphorically and physically. Think about who has a plan and the acumen to avoid situations like this. The STC created jobs, and a real growing network would create even more jobs, so when MPs and Presidential candidates come to say they will create jobs ASK THEM HOW? Make them become more specific and clear. Challenge their vagueness and elusiveness. If they don't suggest reversing the ill fate of something as crucial as the STC network, then perhaps they are not the best person for the job. Having more people working in factories or as teachers makes no sense if no one can efficiently get to work.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Ghana Decides Tag: Election 2012 Video Campaign

Hey Guys, Ghana Decides are starting a new pre-election project. It's the Ghana Decides Tag for YouTube to be shared on all other platforms. I've copied and pasted the questions below from the Ghana Decides website. Get started on yours now, share ideas, build the nation.

How to Participate
  1. Choose five (5) Ghana Decides Tag and two trivia questions (see below).
  2. Record a video answering the questions and upload to YouTube using “Ghana Decides” and “Ghana Decides Tag” as part of your YouTube tags during the upload.
  3. Share the link to your GhD Tag video using #GhanaDecides on Twitter and Google Plus. Also post your link on the Ghana Decides Facebook page.
  4.  Tag 3-5 friends to also participate in the tag. Download the Ghana Decides Tag How-to Document and share.
GhD Tag Questions:
  • Identify yourself – Name, Location, Voter registration status
  • What was your experience as a first-time registered voter?
  • Do you plan to vote in this election? Why/Why not?
  • Do you think Ghanaians in the Diaspora should be allowed to vote in presidential
  • elections? Why/Why not?
  •  What is the most important issue for u during this election cycle, and why?
  •  What top two qualities would you expect of Ghana’s next president?
  • Which is more important and why – the party that governs or the individual who’s president?
  •  How do you say “Let’s have a peaceful election” in your local language?
  •  Where do you see Ghana in the next 5 years?
  •  Complete the sentence: My Ghana is…
  •  Complete the sentence: If I were president…
  •  Complete the sentence: Being Ghanaian means…
  •  If you could envision a “new Ghana” what would it be?
  •  On a scale of 1 to 10 how would you rate Ghana’s progress over the past four years?
  •  What criteria will you be using to select your candidate of choice? (eg. Party affiliation,charisma, personality, campaign platform, professional background, ethnic background, none)
Trivia/Educational Questions:
  • What is the date of Ghana’s 2012 presidential election
  • How many parties are vying for the seat
  • Who was Ghana’s first president?
  • How many presidents and republics has Ghana had so far?
  • What is the most common name held by Ghanaian presidents so far?
  • What is the legal age for being eligible to vote in Ghana?
  • A Ghanaian-American can vote in Ghana, true or false?
Here is a sample Ghana Decides Tag video.
More Info
Each video should be a maximum of 5 minutes, however participants are free to be as creative as they would like with their videos. Multiple entries are also fine. At the end of the campaign the most popular videos (by way of view count) will be compiled into one video. Additional activities planned include tweet ups and Google Plus hangouts inspired by video responses. If you have any specific questions you think we should include or suggestions on how the tag could be improved, email info[at] Tag, you’re it!

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Yoruba or No?: Yes, Yoruba.

You might remember my Yoruba or no? post where I presented to you the dilemma of whether to study Yoruba or not. In the end, SOAS accepted me. So I will be studying Yoruba. As such I will be adding to this blog a documentation of my trials trying to master what my dad has called "the most cultured language in the world".

I reckon to not confuse this particular blog any further than I have already (it started as a travel blog and metamorphasised into a political commentary) I'm gonna start a separate blog - details of which will follow soon.

If you are Ghanaian, please still follow my Yoruba journey because I reckon it's the same thing most African descendant Westerners have to go through - it just might make for an interesting read. ;]

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

#DearNigeria: support your paralympians

The paralympic team for Nigeria did amazingly well and recieved worldwide recognition, but yet they got no reception upon returning home.

The Nigerian Paralympians are our heroes and should deserve a heroes welcome.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Mandarin in Lagos, yes please.

Lagos will have their young people learning Chinese and according to BellaNaija, there is big debate as to whether this is a good thing or not.

What could be bad about it? There is no need for natives to be on the back foot in their own land because they can't negotiate with the new economic powerhouse that is China, on their terms.

I must say that Nigeria should also be doing their best to promote the learning of native languages (reading, writing and conversation) within their own young people and their diaspora descendants. The adoption of Mandarin as a language to learn within Nigerian schools is only a problem if it is yet another one-way imposition upon Nigerian culture and identity to the benefit of an alien culture, language and nation.

So really if we must debate the fact that our schools will teach Mandarin, the question is, will it be to compliment or replace our native (i.e. Yoruba, Igbo, Hausa) and presently adopted (i.e. English) languages?

All in all, I'm in favour of it. If used to strengthen Nigeria rather than re-suppress Nigeria we could be seeing the beginning of an even brighter future.

Land grab in Ethiopia by Foreigners from an irresponsible TPLF (Woyane) 'government'

Perhaps one of Africa's most vulnerable states, in my opinion, even though the AU is based there and most African countries contribute to its development Ethiopia's land is being used, not to help Ethiopians, or even other Africans, but rather people on other continents. What is the difference between today and a century ago?

Monday, 10 September 2012

#DearNigeria , from Ola

I really don't need to say much to add to this, but to build and support the movement I'm also going to post my own #DearNigeria soon. Please watch, like, forward, email, reblog, tweet and most of all post a response. It's important that if you consider yourself Nigerian, or African, or Afropolitan, or whatever label or non-label you want to attribute, that you take equal responsibility to pull Nigeria from its inertia.

And if you are not Nigerian, still make the effort to post a #DearNigeria video if Nigeria is able to sort itself out 1/5 of Africa's problems are resolved.  


Thursday, 30 August 2012

Does age really matter in elections?

The BBC has brought to all of our attention the fact that of the 13 heads of state to die in the past 4 years, 10 have been African. A couple were killed, but most of them died from the general expiration of their bodies, most likely due to their old age. Remember Africa's life expectancy is not very high.

Since the death of President Atta Mills last month, the NDC have been working tirelessly to sell President John Dramani Mahama to the people. After all, we know what type of President Atta Mills would have been going into a second term, but his successor hasn't quite built an image to relate to and sympathy votes just won't do.

According to this article the NDC are therefore playing the age card. John Dramani Mahama is 15 years younger than Nana Akufo-Addo. Given that Atta Mills, Akufo-Addo's classmate didn't reach the end of his tenure Ghanaians are justifiably cautious of falling into the same situation as this summer. However, the election for Presidency is not an individual one, it's a team event for two people and the communications teams of both parties need to present the facts to the people and allow them to have a more informed debate and a better informed decision come election time. The average age of the NDC ticket by election day will be 57 and 58 for the NPP. One year difference. When presented like that, the age discussion seems quite redundant and we are then able to consider other benefits and disadvantages of both teams. Ghanaians, like most Africans, respect the wealth of knowledge that our elderly members of society possess. There is a saying

"The death of an old man is like a library set ablaze" - Unknown

Yet, at the moment I don't believe this is a saying that any African leader can use in his favour over a younger opponent.

Given that both major parties are practically equal in age, Ghanaians must not be swayed by irrelevancies, like dust in the eye thrown out by propaganda machines. Ghanaians must think about whose ideology they agree with, and whose promises they are drawn to. Real democracy is presenting the people with options for their future, and their children's future and letting them decide, it is not cynically making mountains out of mole hills on things we cannot change - like the fact that we are ALL getting older.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

One Track Everything (2)

Following from my One Track Everything post, I thought I would share this article about Ghanaian athletes who went to this years Olympics. Many Ghanaians have complained about Ghana's showing (or lack of) in the Olympics. So when we're having one of those conversations, can we just think about it.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Does Ghana have a politics of insults because Ghanaians take things too seriously?

I argue with my mum alot, as any young person can attest to. You get to an age where you're a bit more confident in speaking your mind and your mind might not always agree with your parents.

Things often collapse into an atmosphere of silence and sighs when my mum tells me I've insulted her. Now I know when I've intentionally insulted someone, and often my mum is wrong about these allegations. Nevertheless, she'll tell everyone and they'll believe her because she is the mother. She is Ghanaian.

Yesterday, on the night that Nana Akufo-Addo gave a talk to the IEA, I found other Ghanaians overreacting just like my mum would, to one of my comments. I merely pointed out that given that NADAA was educated in Ghana under British rule and then in the UK it is weird that he would say aluminium in the (incorrect) American style of "ALUMINUM". You know what I'm talking about right? I'm hoping you've had that discussion about the weird way in which Americans pronounce/spell perfectly simple words. If you've ever been stuck in a room with a Brit and an American then I'm pretty sure you know what I'm talking about.

Aluminum - my dear American friends - is not how it's said, but that is all for another post. 

If NADAA was educated in America I could accept this mistake. It would clearly be a cultural thing that he had picked up. But along with it I would expect a slight accent, especially on the mispronounced word. Something that gives it a raison d'etre. But my dearest NADAA, has a strong posh British accent which occasionally will slip into a Ghanaian accent. (His accent doesn't bother me, I have many family members who sound just like him - that little merge of Accra-London living. It does throw me off slightly though, and that is why I mentioned it on the running commentary beside the live coverage on YouTube.)

Suddenly, (though not surprisingly) I had people telling me no one forced me to watch the Evening Encounter, suggesting that I was a NDC supporter and telling me that this election is too crucial to be pointing out the minor things. WOAH WOAH WOAH. First off, as much as I love Ghana, I can't see how a minor question as to NADAA's choice of pronunciation could ever lead to someone voting for the opposing party. And if for any reason ECOMINI or ALUMINUM becomes the tipping point for the electorate then we really should look at the value of our democracy. Secondly, unlike the Americans (who can still entertain comic critique and jest around their politics), we are not voting in the world's most powerful man. Heck! we aren't even electing the most powerful man in Africa! People. need. to chillax. The problem with over-reactive comments like the ones I received is that they become easy sparks for more serious replies and eventually an argument ensues where real insults feature and our politics are yet again devalued and put at risk, all because someone took unnecessary offence to a minor comment about their favourite politician, or even about themselves (if they are the politician).

When my mother drops the "you've insulted me" card in an argument. I quickly tell her how I didn't - or at least not intentionally, - and then I suggest we leave the discussion, because she's now in a bad place which will mean she doesn't progress the argument objectively. If the topic can be revisited at a later time, it will be. But if it is clear that she's harbouring negative energy, I'll leave it alone. I try my best to remind her (and those YouTubers) that some things do not need to be taken to offence so easily. Some things are a passing comment and if you agree or disagree you can join the discussion and give your reasons in a calm and thought out manner, or walk away until you've calmed down.

Relaying the incident to my sister, we both came to the conclusion that Ghana's politics can be volatile at times, simply because it is so very easy to offend a Ghanaian, my mother included. So when we all ease up, maybe our elections won't be such a do or die affair, and THEN we can start widening the discussion about how the everyday person contributes to the vision of the nation instead of worrying about protecting the peace in election time.

Opinions below please.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Ask Nana Akufo-Addo

Nana Akufo-Addo will be taking questions at the IEA tomorrow. Since I'm all for holding our politicians to account and really questioning their values I suggest that you vote on these questions to ask him.

Thanks guys.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Good news.

I've got some good news and I thought I'd share it because I'm just so proud about it.

I've been accepted to study MSc African Politics at the University of London, School of Oriental and African Studies.

In a year's time I will probably be 75% accomplished, if I think about all the big goals I have in life. I've wanted to do this course for the past 6 years. Now I'm nervous, as is expected but still, this is good.

Like the Saudi Arabian runner said at this year's Olympics: Live Your Dreams.

Monday, 13 August 2012

The Bold and beautiful...

Something else to share:

I found this on the accradotalttours blog. Absolutely love the sound quality to Kwabs voice. Have a listen, let me know if you agree:

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Becca - No Away ft. MI

New found love for this song, lovely video too.

Nke bo baya Miisumo bo

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Maliyo Games

In a few years time when I finally start doing with my life what I'm supposed to I'm sure this guy will be happy for me to say he's a mentor of mine. But as it stands, and given that I never seem to heed to the advice he has actually given I will just call him a friend.

I'm very proud of all he's achieved since going MIA early this year (by MIA I mean refocusing his time and location to Nigeria and the Nigerian market).

Hugo has developed a gaming website which can also be played on one's mobile. It focuses on environments and activities that the African user can relate to. This is all I've been searching for within the African Renaissance - Africans not trying to simply replicate the rest of the world, but build a world that is relevant to the local culture and market and that promotes our culture to the rest of the world. Please support it.

Check out his website
Try out the games.
Encourage your kids to try it out as a fun alternative to what we already have.

Live Your Dreams

At first I thought this "every team must field a woman" rule was yet another IOC imposition. To an extent I still believe that but I'm happy for this lady that she can perform on a global stage. For anyone in any field that is an accomplishment.

Live Your Dreams.

In a CNN interview the Saudi Runner advised "Live Your Dreams" I'm not that motivational. All credit to her, for her achievements and her words.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Here's a funny...

My future country of residence, Singapore, has a low birth rate and it is no secret that the government have done everything under the sun to promote Singaporeans getting together, getting married and having kids. It seems they've now outsourced to mentos, the mint company for some more inspiration on National Day.


Thursday, 26 July 2012

No time for it...

I really don't want to post this before publishing my post on President Mills' death but I'm afraid I must. It will be quick. I promise.

I'm not sure about other Ghanaians but I for one am offended and annoyed by the comments of JJ Rawlings on BBC concerning the health and death of the late President.  It seems that he cannot resist the urge to take every platform available to him, to promote himself as an omni-wise statesman (I use those words with much sarcasm and irony). It's an utter shame that Rawlings could not praise the late President for his conduct as President, he some how made it about himself yet again, by praising Mills' conduct as a Vice to Rawlings and connecting Mills' qualities to why he Rawlings, in his infiinite wisdom, chose Mills as Vice.

In addition, suggesting that Mills made a decision to die earlier and implying that this was irresponsible is frankly extremely distasteful. The man is dead and whether he died this week, or the week after he won elections is neither here nor there, he suffered and he died, he is our President and we must mourn and consider his family who have lost much more than we have.

It seems, Ghana still has one obstacle to overcome. The personality that is JJ Rawlings, in my opinion needs to be pacified. The fact that he could not avoid politicising the death of President Mills until the end of the week of mourning tells me AND SHOULD TELL ALL GHANAIANS that his spirit is not in tune with the vision and ambition of the nation. At least the opposition party suspended campaigns and return to Accra in respect, and I have heard nothing but positive words from them. Rawlings on the other hand seems hellbent on fueling and sowing conspiracies and elevating his image in this time of humility.

May the President's soul rest in peace and may Ghana's future remain peaceful and unified, maybe without the insensitive judgemental voice of JJ Rawlings disrupting it.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

I Graduated!

I graduated two days ago.
Would have posted on the evening of grad day except I was busy getting ill.

The past 3 years including the travelling around South East Asia, and living in Singapore and meeting the most amazing Americans, Europeans and Asians have been great. Life changing in fact.

I did expect to have some sort of life revelation - to find myself as so many Brits manage to in that part of the world. That wasn't really the outcome but I feel as though I've taught myself so much because of it and that's good enough.

Over the past few years I've met THE most talented and inspiring people. My friends, this summer, are all doing spectacular things and meeting important people, because they don't hesitate to take the opportunity when it arises.

If you are considering university, don't think about the cost, think about everything else. It's an invaluable investment into who you are and who you will become.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Congratulations: South Sudan

I wrote this last year with the hope to release it on South Sudan's first birthday but even I couldn't imagine things going as bad as they did. A Part 2 of this post will follow but until then, read this and think of how much things have changed. 

I'm half Nigerian. Those of you who know Nigerians, will know that their children's names are often literally translated into sentences which describes the circumstances in which they were born. I will call South Sudan, Abeke. It is Yoruba and translates as "We begged for her to caress her". Africa's newest child was definitely begged for and she is a testament to the African spirit of perseverance.

It is rare that people from the African continent have something to smile and cheer about. Except for the South African World Cup there haven't been many positives penetrating Western media. I can think of a few nice things - Ghana discovered and tapped oil, Nigeria had genuinely free and fair elections, Senegal got a massive statue just for the sake of it! North Africa have managed to depose all but one of their supreme rulers. South Sudan gaining independence after years of conflict and months of preparation trumps them all. It convinces us that even the deepest of conflict such as those we have had to witness in East Africa, can come to a happy ending. It tells us that in the face of drought and famine and whatever else is attacking the Horn of Africa, people can find comfort in a new identity, a sense of being and true equality.

But it isn't all plain sailing for South Sudan. They will struggle immensely. Most African countries can compare themselves - at independence - to other countries and claim that they were in fact more advanced than some of the world's current leading economies. One I always hear is Ghana vs Singapore or South Korea. South Sudan won't have the pleasure of looking back to "the glory days". They lack the infrastructure. For example, South Africa had to lend it's Air Force services for the independence celebrations because South Sudan doesn't have an Air Force, neither do they have roads or well-established schools. They don't have much infrastructure because Khartoum didn't invest in them when the country was whole. So they'll have to build the country from scratch which will be a feat and a half considering they might not get much help from the AU or wider community. The IMF encourage countries to seek private foreign direct investment, but given years of war and destruction, poor life expectancy and low literacy levels South Sudan won't have much to attract multinationals - apart from the fact that the eyes of the world are on them and in support of anyone willing to help the country. A good example of a successful split will be the Koreas and the juxtaposition of South Korea's wealth against North Korea's poverty.

South Sudan's story may not match South Korea's entirely but it has the possibility to be the new shining star on the continent. The world's newest country can boast of three things as it begins it's new life. The first is a children's hospital, which is so necessary right now given the droughts and resulting famine attacking East Africa and particularly its children. The second, is national unity. It will of course be a struggle to condition people to seeing themselves as fully South Sudanese rather than Sudanese but this is an independence that was pushed for from the grassroots and so I expect that encouraging communitarian ideals should not be so hard. The final, asset that the new country can boast is that it is rich in oil. Currently, the oil is under South Sudan but tapped and refined in Sudan and so there will need to be a deal between the two countries concerning who actually gains from the revenue of the oil. I would expect that eventually South Sudan will become a truly thriving independent country through tapping and controlling their own resources and only then will we have something to really celebrate.

Friday, 6 July 2012

A win on both my houses

Sarkodie from Ghana and Wizkid from Nigeria jointly won the Best International Act Africa in the BET Awards.

Congrats to both of them.

BUT. BET needs to fix up. What is this joint award bull that they keep pulling? When the most popular champions of Black Entertainment can't even show African talent the respect that they would show European or American talent, it's a sad day for Africans in the West. Sarkodie is frankly good enough to win the award outrightly, and Wizkid is good enough to win it outrightly too. Both artists are making it big off their own back and making diaspora communities proud of our heritage. What BET did last year and again this year is something I've expected from MTV or any awards show geared at not making other "races" uncomfortable with the idea that we don't need to be placed in a box and limited in our achievement or style.

The joint award in my opinion shows that BET doesn't rate African artists still. So I will tell Sarkodie and Wizkid and the other nominees: when you rearrange your awards cabinet to fit the BET award on, remember to keep your local awards front and centre because they come with a real appreciation of your work; the GMAs, the MAMAs, the Kora Awards and 4syte Awards, they are all worth so much more than a BET award because they will truly reverence you as you deserve. Even MOBO Awards are less condescending.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Ghana's Constitution Review: Presidents to pay tax

So the Constitution Review Committee was established by President Mills in 2010 to look at the strength and weaknesses of the 1992 constitution.

They've decided that Presidents should pay tax and this makes me, and I'm sure many other people, very happy.

I don't actually know how much the President earns but I know that Presidents don't pay for anything at all so maybe they should contribute to the state coffers.

I would also like the Committee to remove the clause that makes certain people immune from prosecution for crimes committed in the 1970s and 1980s.

Obviously it's too late to suggest any more alterations but if you are Ghanaian what else would you like changed?

Monday, 18 June 2012

Time to patent Kente

The US Ambassdor to Ghana has reminded the government to quickly patent Kente cloth to protect against the devaluing of the textile art from piracy. I agree.

I thought about doing it myself a number of years ago after learning that a woman had managed to patent a certain tartan design, but alas my youthful laziness meant I never got round to it.

imagine this in black
My friend came back from Africa with a kente print Africa map on a black shirt once [like the image on the right but in black]. I asked him if he had been to Ghana and if he had liked it. He looked puzzled and didn't understand why on earth I would be asking him about Ghana, since he had been to Africa only once and it certainly wasn't Ghana. Of course I was equally confused as to his reaction to my question since he was the one wearing a kente design on his top. Turns out he had gone to South Africa and bought the t-shirt there. Southern African textiles don't resemble kente in any way but still South Africa can incorporate the kente into their already flourishing tourist industry, at the detriment of Ghana's own efforts.

That is to say, if the kente is one of Ghana's USPs and South Africa trade in it without paying royalties, then what need does a tourist have to go to Ghana to buy a kente inspired piece like the one on the side, if they can make South Africa their one-stop-shop for all things African.

So when ambassadors suggest the swift  patent of kente, I think, why has no one (in government) thought about this before and how long will it take them to do it?

Until then, get your kente inspired goods while they're still cheap.

Friday, 15 June 2012

In Manchester We Face Forward.

My post are always so political so here is some light-hearted arty stuff for you special people!

In Manchester until September there is an exhibition named We Face Forward (from Kwame Nkrumah speech about being non-aligned). It exhibits African art. Really cool. I don't wanna feed you with too much because I don't want to spoil it for ya if you get the chance to be around Manchester. Below are a few photos I took. Enjoy.

I haven't been able to get round to all the venues so I'll add to my collection of photos in July when I return for graduation.