Friday, 24 February 2012

Objective 2008 analysis

For people who are involved in making this year's elections in Ghana more democratic and credible, I read this journal article and thought it was a good  read:

The successful Ghana election of 2008: a convenient myth? by Jockers, Heinz; Kohnert, Dirk; Nugent, Paul. The Journal of Modern African Studies 48. 1 (March 2010) 95-115

I dunno perhaps you will need a university log in since I found this through my university library. It's good to look at objective criticisms, so that we know where the hurdles will be and how we can overcome them.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Support some eager students

I'm head of the University of Manchester's Delegation to the Harvard World Model United Nations.

We are trying to raise sponsors and ad hoc funds to get us to Vancouver. If you could go to our blog, follow us on twitter, and add us (and like us) on Facebook. That would be very much appreciated!

We do have a PayPal account on the side of our blog. Do not use it, we are having some technical problems so it's best to message me if you think you can help financially in any way.

One Problem in Ghanaian "movies"

Another GhanaBlogger Emmanuel Kumah in his Personal Development Blog recently posted 5 Reasons You Shouldn't Watch Ghanaian Movies.

Here are those reasons:
1. They are not intellectually stimulating.
2. They include the use of foul or abusive language
3. It makes you poor
4. You watch others get rich
5. There is exposure to intense nudity

It this last point that makes me cite this blog this weekend. Upon reading that point and seeing a picture of the exposed backside of Majid Michel that accompanies it, a few directors (who double up as their own/ each other's producers) came to mind. Number 1 is Socrates Safo. I've not known myself to have seen a title of his that I haven't felt disgusted by, or immense pity for the people of West Africa. It's funny that this blog comes up now, because I recently read an article detailing a letter that Socrates wrote to a Ghanaian newspaper accusing them of slander and ruining his reputation. He threatens the possibility of a law suit against the paper. I would love for him to do so. I think enough of us GhanaBloggers could garner support for the paper who are just saying it as they see it.

Socrates Safo's films are pornography pure and simple. They wouldn't even make it onto the BBC before midnight. They're not "watershed" type movies that you might be able to show after 9pm, they are 2am type movies that one might watch because they have insomnia and cant find the remote. He, as a director and producer, is a joke and disgrace to the Ghanaian film industry and his actors, I feel, are much worse. They have the power to put directors like him out of business but they choose to chase the money rather than the art of acting. These actors try to fool us that they're are true artists in the field because they are able to convince their audience that they were really in the moment in each scene. What they refuse to recognise is that the Ghanaian population believe that so and so is having an affair with so and so following a movie because a) historically our storytelling has been based on fact (or at least we are susceptible to thinking things are as they appear) and b) in our culture a guy and girl spending so much time with each other means somethings going on (ok that's not necessarily true but whatever).

Like Emmanuel says in his blog, people take the things they see and hear in these films to heart, they believe that this is how they are expected to behave too. Therefore, they see constant portrayals of relationships as solely based on sex and money and they create that type of network around them. The characters constantly show disrespect for each other and for their elders and this is emulated by Ghana's youth.

I guess my main problem is not aimed at these so-called directors or actors. My problem is the regulation of this industry. There is not certification system or regulation on a films distribution. There's no top shelf or back room for a perverted adult to access these titles. Instead they are sold amongst the family friendly titles, shown in front of children, glamourised by big premieres in the county's number 1 cinema. This is unacceptable. There should be regulation on how many of these types of films can be produced each year, financial punishment for producers/directors and actors who flounce these rules. There should be regulation on who distributes these films, how and where, and they should not be allowed to be nominated in the the group of normal films in the GMAs.

But until action like that is brought in through law created by parliamentarians, and until violation of such rules becomes a criminal offence, I would agree with Emmanuel, don't waste your life watching Ghanaian movies, send out a message to the industry that Ghanaians inside and outside of the country will not tolerate what we are seeing now. Let Socrates understand that it isn't slander from the newspaper that is killing his reputation, but it is actually his own actions, his own films that people are coming to see for what they are - trash.

although I find Agya Koo movies to be hilarious and he too is campaigning against the disgusting films  permeating the industry, so maybe we support him still and watch his movies! :D

Friday, 17 February 2012

Patriotism in Attire

I think that every Ghanaian Member of Parliament must be made to wear traditional attire in moments such as the State of the Nation address. 

I have long thought that the success of a country relies primarily on its self-identity and I think this self-identity is manipulated in the tangible, visible rituals. For example, wearing "international business attire" when dealing with African issues will not promote the sense of pride in the African way of doing things (aka patriotism) that will lead someone to find the best possible solution for their country (or continent). Before you dismiss this argument, ask yourself why diplomacy is not carried out in surfer shorts and wifebeaters. In the UK, uniform is very important and further the standard of that uniform is important. Why? Because Headteachers believe that being in a uniform unique only to your school (when all other schools are also wearing uniform) creates a sense of community, belonging and pride in your school and ensures better behaviour in school.

This is the basis of my argument to an extent, but it is also coupled with other more abstract political arguments such as the Asian Values argument provided for the Asian miracle that has occured in a post-colonial world. East Asia (and India to some extent) show a pride in their identity, culture and beliefs as something that should and will dictate their everyday behaviours and not just when American presidents come to town. I think that this confidence in Asia by Asians has been a large factor in their story and being able to couple the benefits of the Western system with age old beliefs and traditions to create a hybrid that works for one's people is paramount to sustainable development.

My final argument is one that may be familiar to those who took part in occupy nigeria. Many said they believed their leaders were pandering to the wishes of the Western firms and governments. I think the general feeling among Africans in the continent and in the diaspora, is that those governing the continent do not take pride in it (evidenced by the whole entity that is the new AU building). African leaders do not have a mind of their own to lead and dictate the development of the continent, or at least they pretend very well that they don't. But the continent is not full of kids, we need not be babied by foreigners. A lion cub grows up and very often challenges his father for the pride rather than wandering off to establish his own. If that lion cub wins, no one talks of his father again, and the said lion cub must now make the decisions and me confident in himself to do so. The independence movement was the challenge, but now we have the pride, will we have the confidence to make the decisions for the pride?

How does this all add up? This post is not supposed to be anti-West. I live in the UK and I benefit from all it's policies, to be honest I dont think I would have the balls to suggest any changes to the country's foreign policy either. It does upset me though that in matters of domestic politics, or at times when the president (or his ministers) are representing Ghana to the world, they stand there trying to fit in to a culture or club that isn't truly theirs in an often ill-fitting "international business attire" suit. The Kente is not only for days of village festivals. I realised I felt this way when I used to see Umaru Musa Yar'Adua standing next to John Agyekum Kufuor, and when I now see Goodluck Ebeli Jonathan standing next to John Evans Atta Mills. In those moments I feel more Nigerian than Ghanaian and I reckon it's because the Nigerian presidents stood there so unashamedly, unapologetically, (typically) arrogantly Nigerian, whilst the the Ghanaian presidents stood there sending out a "do you think they'll let me into the English Country Club with this suit?" message.  And that type of divided thought (not saying that is exactly what they were consciously thinking) will not save a country from being royally screwed when the big foreign multinationals come knocking at the "Gateway to Africa".

p.s. I hope to one day do a proper study of the correlation between culture and development and if at all these things like traditional vs international business attire actually has an effect on a country's growth. When I do perhaps you'll agree wholeheartedly will this post.

UPDATE: I stumbled across this article on the Guardian African Network. Read it and agree!

Something About The City

Here's a song by a very talented old friend of mine,Vivienne Youel. I thought I would share...

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Africa must trade with Africa

I found this video by the World Bank in a blog that I follow called Africa Unchained:

I thoroughly enjoy what Emeka brings to the fore through his blog so perhaps you would like to follow him also.

I have a post in my drafts talking about this topic of Africa trading with Africa which I might publish soon. Until then, I hope you will look at reading Neo-Colonialism by Kwame Nkrumah. It does not just highlight the evils of the West's relations with Africa as you might expect. He also gives his solution to the African trade situation.

It's funny that decades after he was deposed and died, our leaders are now "discovering" the policies he deemed necessary to execute from day one of independence.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Well done Zambia.

In football we often confuse destiny with statistics. We talk over how a team is destined to win because on paper they are the strongest team - they have the most players playing in Europe or it's been some many months, weeks, days and hours since they last won and frankly their people are getting restless and therefore it must be destiny for them to win because anything else would be unacceptable. This type of mis-analysis is often the basis of much of the England hype at World Cup moments and it's been adopted into African football. Ghana haven't won the African cup of nations in 30 years and all but one of our squad play outside of Ghana. Ivory Coast haven't won in 20 years. I believe in terms of squad location they mirror Ghana. Zambia couldn't be more different. All but one plays in Southern Africa, mainly in Zambia itself. They've never won before, they've not quite had the glory days (owing to the plane crash that so ruthlessly stole their glory days before they had begun) and they were never considered contenders in this tournament - even with half the giants excluded.

But Zambia showed Africa what the continent risked losing to a foreign-type analysis of success. Destiny is divine, it is not statistics. 19 is not a round number, numerologists will not have a field day with it. But on the same coast that fate took Zambia's glory days, 19 years later, fate gave it back. I don't think it was by chance (or even the luck of Asamoah Gyan) that Didier Drogba missed that penalty, I think Zambia needed the win much most than Cote d'Ivoire and God saw that. 

I beg anyone to explain to me otherwise. How it was that Ivory Coast and Ghana rated the top two on the continent could have such different results, Ghana just scraping fourth (although we could all see the poor performance from the opening match) and Ivory Coast reaching the final to go out in penalties? Neither of them finishing the tournament as statistics would dictate. Both losing to a team who before now was more a spectator than a participator. We Africans are superstitious people. I think if anything this year's Afcon confirms our beliefs. The prayer session by the Chipolopolo as celebration confirmed our beliefs. God chooses the time, not statistics.

Congratulations Zambia.