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