Sunday, 24 November 2013

Young in Politics

This week Ghana's President John Dramani Mahama said that Ghana needs thinking graduates. According to him "we are challenged to produce the calibre of graduates who are critical thinkers to confront challenges". Tech-focused students are an advantage. What isn't clear though is whether the mark of a thinking person is that they are a graduate or whether "thinking" is the critical criteria to differentiate between graduates that Ghana is producing. I didn't want to touch on this because if you look through my tweets you will know just what I think of Victoria Hammah, but she is an example of the President using the former understanding of "thinking graduate" when searching for talent for his government. He and the Vetting Committee clearly thought she is a graduate and therefore she must be thinking rather than investigate whether this graduate actually engages in some substantial state-building thinking.

It's time for the thinking graduates (those graduates who truly do think critically, out of the box and against the grain), the radical and progressive graduates to stand up in the void left by Victoria Hammah. The problem is that the analysis of the whole Hammah saga seemed to conclude (note: it was a lot of old people doing the evaluation) that her youth explains her lack of composure in high pressure embarrassing moments (pre and post-election) and that her youth explains her mistakes whether we're willing to overlook them or not. That's not fair to the hundreds and thousands of other graduates in and outside of this country, who are young but mature in their thought; who can and want to help Ghana; and who are not given the opportunity because they didn't get involved in party politics on campus. Ghana doesn't just need thinking graduates, it needs thinking young people, teenagers and twenty-somethings (and thirty-somethings ;-] ) who are willing to take the country's future into their hands. It needs thinking young people who will put Ghana first and be willing to get their hands dirty even if that is literally cleaning out the gutter like The Be Bold Show did about a year or so ago.

Ghana's education system, as pointed out by JDM has been responsive to the challenges of the times. I might argue that Ghana is always trying to respond to something, we never pre-empt anything and that is the problem with our development. For instance, the quality of our tertiary education is important in our development but it's also quite irrelevant if after primary education the only people able to afford to continue with good education are those who could also afford to be educated elsewhere. Yes (if I'm being too subtle, I will point it out) I supported the Free SHS campaign. I've heard whispers of Ghana's youth being able to re-create the North African Spring. I'm not saying that we need to topple government, our democracy is still evolving, but young people, constituting over 50% of this country's (and this contnent's) population need not to just be critical thinking about our politics, they are to be thinking they are critical to our politics.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013


So I'm in Ghana. I'm blogging about my time here. I will do my best not to neglect this blog but, I can't make any promises, so follow me over to wordpress just for a bit. medaase wai!

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Something Beginning With GH

Leaving Date: 30th October.

This leaving malarkey is very weird. I've informed a few people. People who rely on me for things, and neighbours and my pastor but only some of my family, only some of my friends. I'm not sure if it's quite real yet and it's very scary. It's very possible that this year doesn't become what I expect of it y'know. I have all these ideas of things I want to do in life and my sister tells me I gotta work on becoming ABC in order to do XYZ so when I had focused all this attention on the XYZs that I was really excited about one day doing, I've now gotta divert my attention to the perhaps more boring, more difficult task of evolving into ABC whatever that may be.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Health costs

Make sure your vaccinated. Take all precautions! But just know that it's bloody expensive to be healthy. Yellow Fever costs upwards of £50, The full Rabies course can cost upwards of £150, some as high as £240 the NHS says between £120-£150 which is lies. They clearly have not done their research because I didn't find anything cheaper than £150.

My weekly malaria tablets cost £7.85, so this week cost me on the whole £207.85 and I'm not yet sure I've been given all possible jabs.

Yellow fever is crucial for going to Ghana. Rabies is advised for long stay. 

Friday, 20 September 2013

SBWG: Making the most of multi-citizenship

If you are a second-generation African, like me, and you're looking at starting some sort of life in Africa (even a transnational one) chances are you'll begin at your home country. The country that your parents come from. Lucky for me I get a choice of two: Ghana and Nigeria.

So the best way that I thought to symbolically mark my moving to West Africa was to maybe get a passport. I've been thinking about it and I've been doing some digging. Apparently, dual citizenship in Ghana is not all it's cracked up to be. I have been hearing stories of people facing suspicious questioning and being made to pay "fees" at the airport to be allowed back out of the country.

Practically, dual citizenship is still a complicated right in Ghana and even more complicated for those who are claiming it for the first time instead of reclaiming their Ghanaian citizenship after losing it by virtue of emigration.

Ideologically, the idea of getting a Ghanaian passport if you're foreign-born is really thought provoking. I'm happy to be seen as British when I'm outside of Britain, that's all by virtue of the passport I travel on. Presenting a Ghanaian passport at any border control, (including ECOWAS ones to enjoy visa free mobility) really hits home the idea that I can be non-British outside of Britain and that's not an identity I've prepared myself for. Of course, if I decided to get the Nigerian passport I would face similar, maybe more confronting issues about identity and how the world sees me.

Ahh. What a difference a passport makes.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Ghana's supply to CIV's power demand.

So I read on Ghanaweb that Ghana is going to be supplying Ivory Coast with electricity. Great idea. I know normally people (including myself) often rubbish the government's ideas but I hear this electricity is from the North of Ghana to the North of Ivory Coast and from what I understand the Northern regions don't use a lot of electricity anyway so there's a lot of surplus and what better way to use that surplus than to sell it to a friend.

In Singapore, I came to realise just how important these types of agreements are to keeping the peace (Singapore did at one time have animosity towards Malaysia but now they are both reliant on each other for water - pretty important to keeping the peace). Ghana has been rumoured in the past to have had a few disagreements with Ivory Coast, I think at one time they claimed Ghana's oil fields were actually theirs. So I'm hoping that the government include in any MoUs the clause that such foolishness should cease. And then we all live happily ever after.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

I really respect Nana Akufo-Addo. If I'm honest for the 2008 elections I said hands down he was the better candidate.

The Supreme Court verdict has been out a while and in his immediate speech NADAA came out to say he was taking a break from politics. This is something, among other things, that the big wigs in the NPP are struggling to accept. But they must. They must for the good of the party, they must for the careers of the lesser politicians and they must for the country.

For the party
1. Politics is a game of "bullsh*t". You put down a card, you're either honest or dishonest, and you leave it to your opponents to sweat it over whether they'll call your bluff. The risk of their next move is entirely in their hands. So hands down calling out NADAA as your flagbearer with yet three years to go is like playing bullsh*t facing your cards up.
2. The NPP and NADAA are not guaranteed popularity in the wake of the court case, especially since the NDC want to counter adulation of statesmanship lavished upon NADAA with the age old crime of causing financial loss to the state. (You already know I think the NDC are taking the piss with that one). Nonetheless, NDC supporters and those who don't particularly care for either party may buy the idea that the NPP sulkily dragged the country through 8 months of financial turmoil to selfishly win power. That is a possible opinion. NPP supporters may feel the same, since at the end of the day a party card doesn't mean you agree all the time. The party need to retreat right now from extra-parliamentary politics. They need to build their credibility as an opposition if they want to be considered a worthy ruling party. They need to yet again, let the NDC trip themselves up by trying to call the NPP's bluff on moves it (NDC) can't be sure they've (NPP) taken - hence bullsh*t.

For lesser politicians
1. There are two ways to climb the ladder in politics. Within the party and outside of the party in the public realm. Some people will notice that some Ministers earned their place by showing their mettle in the chamber. Others, you will notice became ministers or deputies without sitting in the chamber and I think we can openly say we notice a major difference in conduct and experience (must I give Victoria Hammah as an example?). Preferably, the President has been through parliament (I say preferably because I note that if anything was to happen to Mahama, Amissah-Arthur would be president without ever being an MP.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Road to Brazil 2014

Have you heard? FiFA rankings put Ivory Coast, Ghana, Algeria, Cape Verde and Nigeria as top 5.

Now I called it earlier this year when I said Nigeria would win CAF CAN. I'm not gonna call it this time cos anything goes, but if Africa want to avoid embarrassment I think these are our best 5 teams so let's all get behind them! Sorry Egypt, Cameroon, Senegal, Ethiopia and Burkina Faso (well actually, I'm not sorry for Burkina Faso).

Bring on Brasilia 2014!

p.s. I think Ghana need to play Ethiopia because tbh if we don't get the European-based powerhouses back in time, we might struggle against the others. It pains me to say it.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Who's inviting the diaspora?

I'm doing my dissertation and I came across this. (CLICK AND READ IT) I've got into a few twitter conversations about the necessary extent of diaspora engagement. It seems Africa is capable of doing it with multinationals  with the West  with the Chinese alone, why on earth would they need their deserting brothers and sisters. Afterall the money they sent home to cover everyone's school and hospital fees was just apology money.

I think individual African governments and Africa as a whole need to bring an unambiguous statement of intent. They need to draw up, very clearly, the boundaries for the diaspora. Right now it seems there are so many questions, very few answers.

Chalewote Festival

Gutted to be missing this, this year. Thought I would share so you can enjoy.

The Chalewote street art festival has been going on for a few years now.

Here's a map provided by the organisers.

And here's the e-zine so you know what's where when.

Do what you can and get down there. 

Thursday, 29 August 2013

#August29 #ElectionPetition : #TheVerdict

#August29 #ElectionPetition #TheVerdict

The above will link to long discussions about the election petition.

The Verdict is as follows:

1. Overvoting - Dismissed 5-4
2. Voting without biometric verification - Dismissed 6-3
3. Absence of signature - Dismissed 5-4
4. Duplicate serial numbers - Dimissed 9-0
5. Duplicate Polling Station Numbers - Dismissed 9-0
6. Unknown polling stations - Dismissed 9-0

On twitter there is undoubtedly a buzz and now the conversation has shifted from the emptiness of Accra to the celebrations of NDC supporters. John Dramani Mahama (well his media team) came out to celebrate online.

Nana Akufo-Addo released a speech by phone asking his supporters to take pride in the way they have conducted themselves throughout. Whether we're happy with the result or not, it's finished now. Let's hope we can use the next 3 years to avoid the problems that have blighted the country in the first 2 quarters of this year.

Chapter closed.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

The Run Up to #August29: Verdict Prediction

GhanaDecides as already put this question out there. How do we think the verdict will go?

To which I say:

This is a well-informed prediction. I'm trying to be realistic and not biased. My bias may lead me to want different things but how I see it happening is how I've described it above. I've said it's the best possible outcome because I think the outcome of the other option is not as assured to bring us peace. I don't think any party would take it lightly that they were in power for 8 months and then suddenly not. We will see if my predictions are correct. Let me know if you think my justifications are too.

Saturday, 24 August 2013

The Run Up to #August29: Winner Takes All versus Democracy

Now all this "power sharing" came from the idea that "Winner Takes All" is bad. The phrase winner takes all in the democracy context derives from the first-past-the-post (FPTP) method of candidate selection and often means majority government. It is what governs the way we choose our parliamentarians but not our President because the President requires 50% + 1 vote. Now we have two different methods of selection in Ghana. This also means that it is technically possible for the President to represent a different party from the majority of parliament. Someone said on JoyNews that we have "majoritarian politics" with the Executive and Legislature - that's not exactly true. Parliament is majority NDC and if Nana Akufo Addo was to win he would not import with him MPs to represent all the constituencies in which he manages to overturn votes. So he would be President with an NPP cabinet and an NDC parliament. But I've digressed a bit since the likelihood of that is slim to none.

Winner Takes All now means in Ghana that whoever controls the Presidency pretty much controls everything. Why? Because Ministers and Deputy Ministers do not need to be elected persons, in whom the public have shown trust. MMDCEs are also not elected but nominated by the President. The Assemblies are not elected. Everything leads back to the President. That means Ghana is a centralised democracy. It almost leads me to use the word democracy very loosely indeed. The winner would not take all, if there were greater autonomy in the metropolises, municipals and districts. The people could hold their local representatives to account and this would ease tensions against political parties on a national level. In Adenta, the Assembly is not happy with their DCE because she is not doing enough to promote NDC interests in the area, but the position of DCE is a state position, not a party position. She owes it to the people she governs to prioritise real life matters above the NDC's interest and if she's been making those correct priorities she's about to be punished for a job well done! See what party politics, winner takes all, we-care-more-about-3-little-letters-than-we-do-about-policies-and-development mentality does to our country. Even the Accra Metropolitan Chief Executive, self-titled Accra Mayor did not find it necessary to apologise for a massive mistake that was received terribly by the people of Accra until "his oga" the President ordered an apology and marched him down to an old lady's house for a photo-op to confirm the apology. Winner Takes All in Ghana means we live in a dictatorship, and we can change the name and face of the dictator and his crew every four years, if we choose to but the longer they maintain this dictatorial structure the harder it becomes to differentiate the difference between the two because our experiences of them (in the way they interact with us) are the same.

What is needed therefore is not power sharing between parties in the Executive but real decentralisation, real competition by policies and real governance by policies. I've spoken on how Ghana uses the #MyOgaAtTheTop mentality which is a product of the Winner Takes All structure of the country's governance. Change that and we'll all be winners taking what's needed!

[p.s. if anyone could put me in touch with other decentralisation campaigners in Ghana that would be greatly appreciated. my twitter handle is @thebellower ]

The Run Up to #August29: Judgement Day and Peace

Here are the buzz phrases in Ghana this week:

"Winner Takes All"
"let us share"
"judgement day"

Now I'm not surprised about "judgement day" Ghanaians always find a way to super impose concepts of religion into life. "Judgement Day" in Ghana takes two interpretations. One the surface it is simply the day that the verdict of the court proceedings will be announced and confirmed. But in reality in the minds of every Ghanaian, it is the day they will have to look back on all they have seen, said and done this year and ask "was it all worth it?" just as we will have to on the real Judgement Day. Judgement day in Ghana is a test for our temperament apparently, since everyone thinks Ghanaians are going to recreate, Rwanda, Cote d'Ivoire or Kenya up in the place! That all comes with no historical basis and for that reason I implore journalists and bloggers to refrain from speaking as if it does. Yes we would like to be declaring "peace" before rather than after chaos, but as my very Nigerian father likes to say "if I call you three times, it should be enough". Think about that.

 Now onto the solution to judgement day, to apparently guarantee this peace - "power-sharing". If I understand correctly this first popped up its head when Dr. Adjei (Chairman of the NDC) gave a speech at the NPP's 21st Anniversary in which he said "we've all been in opposition from time to time, we've all been in government from time to time, there's no need for winner takes all...let us share" (paraphrasing). It was received well by the opposition party, maybe because they were already in a joyous mood, maybe because everyone is now treading on eggshells in relation to disagreeing with people, maybe because that's what they wanted all along! Either way it was received well. Few others, including men of God have since come out to say that they've been praying for that all this while - I wish they would have told us earlier so we could have told them not to bother God with such foolishness.

A power sharing agreement does not help any country. I beg those who suggest it to name one country that has prospered economically, and in terms of progressive policies and successful implementation, as a result of power sharing. The two major parties in Ghana look to be closer to centre than they are to their own respective polars because they don't really campaign on policies but rather on what they dislike about each other and who can afford the most Chinese-made tshirts to distribute for free! In reality, they are different and even if they worked on their similarities for the next 3.3 years both parties have not had an impressive anti-corruption record. I fear as some have already pointed out that it will mean rife corruption of "you take some, I take some" all in the name of fairness and sharing that will leave Ghanaian citizens who are not in the political class powerless to demand reform. Multiparty democracy - it does what it says on the tin so stop this "power sharing" nonsense.

*UPDATE* I forgot to say that President Mahama also felt the same way as me, at the Times CEO Summit in the first half of the year he is quoted as saying "Ghana does not have the danger that Kenya has" CASE RESTED.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Preparing for the move.

So I initially set my date of departure at 1st October 2013. I was thinking "new month, new life, new environment" but in comes the need to be realistic and so I've had to set back that deadline to 15th October, which will give me the time I need to wind down after my dissertation and to enjoy all the goodbyes I have to say.

In terms of preparation to go, life hasn't really changed much for me since I wrote my post 'Preparation. Preparation. Preparation.' Today is 18th August 2013 and with 57 days to go I've not yet booked my ticket. I hear Tuesdays at 3pm is the best time to book a flight ticket cos the price is low, only problem is I always remember this... on a Wednesday evening.

I've got a box that I'm starting (see pic below). I've packed with the bare necessities such as long life milk, cereal, teabags etc. I hear now in Ghana the brands I'm used to over here in the UK sell for much more than Sainsbury's or Tescos price them. This is obviously because they are imported, which is understandable and so I'm importing my own and if I buy the produce I need on sale or at Costco/Bookers etc. the box becomes very much worth the shipping costs. So there's something to consider.

I don't know how to suggest doing this, but if you can find out if the items you want are relatively very expensive in Ghana (or the country you're heading to) then you can buy on sale or in bulk and ship them ahead of you. At the same time, please don't kill local industries. Ghana doesn't produce Cheerios, so I'm packing Cheerios, but they do produce rice, tomatoes, pineapples and mangoes, so don't pack those. Your endorsement of local produce might even encourage others to patronise the organic food made in their locality. 

BIG ANNOUNCEMENT: I'm Moving to Ghana

BIG ANNOUNCEMENT: (especially for all the Ghana-based readers out there) I'm moving to Ghana this year! It'll be for a year, or at least that's the time I've managed to buy from my parents, so in about just over a year from today they'll be asking me that foolish question "what are you doing with your life?" to which I must have a good response lest I release the truly authoritarian African Parent within each of them that they have so far managed (successfully) to suppress in their attempt to assimilate into British culture.

Am I excited? Hells yeah! Ghana is my home. It's where I might not feel comfortable but I definitely feel happy. I'm not excited to go just because it's now a fashionable place for the African diaspora, I've always wanted to head out there. I even told my mum that had I been bringing myself up I might have sent me to school out there. Yeh, big words.. which UK born young person would ever regret not getting sent?!!!?!?!

I've spent the past year trying to set up work experience and internships at a number of places. One of them with GRA. No not the Ghana Revenue Authority, but the Ghana Rugby Association. So I get to do something exciting, something I love, in a place that I love. This isn't going to find myself... I know who/what I am, I'm not lost, all roads have led to Africa for over a decade now. This is me going to sow the seeds for a happy existence, not getting trapped in the first graduate job I came across. Many people have advised me to work here for maybe 5-10 years and then eventually move my life over to Africa when I'm more stable. But all I hear when they say that is that I should put my life on pause and live some sort of Groundhog Day in the UK until I give up on thinking there is any alternative to life than the one they taught you at school.

Little tip for people: going travelling for a year isn't putting your life on hold if all you want to do in your life is travel. Working for a year or two or ten in one job, to have 1 year of travelling somewhere down your life track is putting your life on hold. Start as you mean to go along.

Last time I used this blog to speak about a long-term adventure was almost three years ago. Back then I was going to Singapore, a country I had visited once before and admired but knew very little about. This time round I'm heading to Ghana, a country I have visited 3 times before, sometimes get frustrated about and probably know too much about to make this truly exciting. What I do know is that I've only visited 4 out of 10 regions in Ghana and I hear there is so much more to be discovered in the other 6.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Please don't go Marge, wait small small. Things might change.

Can the Ghana government stop taking the piss. Really. It's time they take life a bit more seriously and stop thinking everything is about NPP-NDC and the Black Stars line-up. Here's an article stating that the government is going to be meeting heptathlete Margaret Simpson about her threat to switch nationality to Mauritius. She has enjoyed Mauritius' hospitality for 10 years so I think it's only fair that she represents them if they'll have her.

What I don't know is what this government expects to get out of an emergency meeting with Maggie. No one wakes and just decides well I like the weather here, let me stop representing the country of my birth and heritage. What happens is that they complain, and complain, and complain, and complain, and beg and beg and beg, and make-do whilst young bucks sitting in Europe on millions of pounds throw fits about bonuses which would represent less than half a day's wages on what they're currently being paid, and out-of-shape politicians who think the remit of their position applies only to the aspects of their job that they personally find entertaining, play a little father-son game of tug of war. They show no respect for people like Maggie, one might even say they treat them with contempt. But in the end, when people like Maggie grow tired, they host emergency meetings and advertise the fact that these meetings are taking place, because at the end of the day the rate of desertion from the sinking Ghana sports ship "doesn't speak well of the country".

What doesn't speak well of the country is a showing of 7 athletes at the biggest sporting event in the world, not even a football team despite us trying so hard to embed our footballing "success" into Brand Ghana. When other countries contribute hundreds, when even peer nations (in terms of wealth) have much larger teams which part of that speaks well of the country. When we overlook sporting heroes to rename stadia again and again after our best friends or best friends dads, or some of the largest sports in the world, and some of the cheapest sports in the world are non-existent in our nation because we've thrown all our eggs and some of our neighbours' into the one basket; when we can be certain that our minister of sport will be at a tournament although we're not sure whether we'll find a full line up of sporting stars that the minister's just forked out thousands to go and see (it's not a holiday he promises) which part of that speaks well of the country.

Now there are some sports that our athletes can't stop representing Ghana in, for instance, we've got Kevin Prince Boateng for life now. It's not a question of who he plays for but rather if he plays full stop and I think we can be guaranteed that as long as we keep making it to the World Cup tournaments we'll find him in a shirt at least for 1 month every 4 years. But the Deputy Minister for Youth and Sports shouldn't have to be having these types of meetings at all. If the whole infrastructure needs to be broken down and rebuilt then they must do it, but we must see better facilities so that athletes can train at home, we must see a fairer divide of funds, the GFA must find ways to pay for itself because after 30 years without a trophy they really haven't justified the money they take. The government must think of ways to promote local sports and local leagues to monetise them. We can no longer be giving random appearance bonuses and cars for coming second - I mean can you imagine!?! A refocus of efforts to new (to Ghana) sports - such as rugby, kayaking, swimming - and extreme sports such as paragliding, longboarding and the Dakar rally is necessary now.

Oh, and the obvious one of listening and acting on the needs of athletes regardless of the sport before they decide to switch nationality is always good suggestion.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Words versus Time

You would think, given that I'm half-Ghanaian, that I would be fine at funerals. After all, aside from football, azonto and kente, funerals are our most recognisable traits. We love them so much we mark more landmarks after a person's death than a lovesick teenage girl does of her first 'relationship'. Sadly for me, I'm not very Ghanaian when it comes to funerals or the passing away of friends.

Today I had to go to a funeral and I found myself crumbling. Once the tears started flowing they just wouldn't stop and as I looked to other people around me, it seemed that they were handling it better. I think the frustration at feeling like I wasn't handling it as I should made me even more upset. Woohoo for emotions. :/

Before today I had been trying to find famous quotes and scriptures from the Bible that would help me deal with losing someone younger than me. They're funny things, words. They can embed into some times and be so alien to you at other times. You know when your a kid and an older kid pulls rank based on age to tell you what to do and your trump card is "yeh well at least I'll live longer than you". Yeh, well as you get older your brain knows that isn't true, but your heart is dedicated to that mantra. So I know that God calls us all when he sees fit, but when the person is younger it just feels like the whole world of nature is flipped on its head. Words of comfort become alien, it all seems unfair because my heart is still very much dedicated to that mantra.

It all takes time, I guess. It took 3 days before I could think about my friend and not be drawn to tears but even after 3 weeks I'm still not as strong as I thought I would be. I just look back on almost 6 years of friendship and thank God for time. Time with him, time with others, and for we who believe in heaven, time with Christ.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Could our national anthem have more?

Is it possible to alter our national anthem just a bit. I'm not talking a massive reconstruction effort don't worry. It's just that my sister and I have always cringed at times when listening to the national anthems of former European colonies. Many of them are clearly based on a European score. They reflect the use of European instruments and because of their form, European languages. I think more of the indigenous culture should be infused into all national anthems, especially Ghana's. Just like many people might know and enjoy singing the American anthem even though they are not American, I enjoy singing the first verse of the South African anthem "Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika" if for any reason, it is relevant as much to me as an African in general, as it is to South Africans in particular - "Lord Bless Africa" (literal translation from Xhosa). And yes I know that the tune itself is actually based on Welsh hymn "Aberystwyth". The fact that I can overlook that piece of trivia attests to the power of the African language.

I saw a clip of Samini singing the national anthem before a boxing match. Now Samini doesn't really have a singing voice, I knew I wasn't going to be moved by his singing. But then I was moved by a little extra-curricular thing he did straight after. He set off the "Ghana, Ghana, Ghana Oseyie" call-and-response. In that moment, I had a clear idea of how many Ghanaians were really in the room. The men (I can only assume it was majority male) belted from their guts. Bellies full with fufu and kenkey it felt like a war chant for a moment (highly appropriate for the type of sport about to be undertaken). The Kiwis have their haka, we are equally as superstitious when it comes to our ancestors (maybe more!) The call and response is our haka equivalent. It envokes the Ghana of the past, present and future all at once. That, or "Tsoboi!", although I think Oseyie is better and in keeping with song time.

So yeah, Brazil 2014 is coming up guys. Wouldn't it just be amazing if when the world thinks our national anthem is over we catch them with "Ghana! Ghana! Ghana! Oseeeeyieee, yieeeeee yieeeee Ghana ooooo! yie, Ghana oooo yieeee ayieee!" just imagine.....

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Donate if you can

Hey guys. 

The young people I keep talking about are raising money for Victim Support. It would be awesome if you could donate even just £1 to it. Without ripping off Tescos, Every Little does Help!


Saturday, 20 July 2013

Memories of the way we were....

This post was requested and to be honest it isn't really aimed at the wider public just the young people I had the pleasure of beginning my summer with. I secretly wanted to do it a week ago but at the same time the cheesiness would have been cringeworthy and this is not a space for cheese or cringe. Here's five of my favourite memories there's more but I've got a dissertation to write ya get me?!

1. So obviously there's the marathon religion discussion that I spoke about in my reasons for ramadan post. That happened on the second night. Those involved will know how that conversation began... I resist the urge to make a joke right here. Arguably Top 3 best night along with the camp fire, and british bulldog. It wasn't because the two teams had a real conversation that I loved that night, it's simply the hilarity of what sparked it. Big lads were sleeping with one eye open ahahahahahaaa!

2. So, then there was of course British Bulldog. Yeh so British bulldog is a disgustingly violent game! I sprained my ankle in that game. Perhaps it's advised not to play BB in a soggy, slippy, slide-y field but we London kids get our kicks when and where we can! It's still a frinkin' awesome game and nothing would stop me from playing in the sunset of a wet Somerset field ever again, but just know... it's an extreme sport! Of course it becomes even more dangerous when you're the last person left and the entire field (some 50/60 people) are all out to get you with a slightly hench Nigerian man commanding them and goading you into making your first move across the line. I would not like to be that girl, it was sumink like a Gaddafi biopic!

3. First day of the week two, one boy - not in my team - asked me and my colleague to teach him and the others how to Azonto. (p.s. guys great track Lapaz Toyota.) We stood in a circle trying to teach them the basics, which they picked up... but then failed when things got slightly complex - we be adding little Sarkodie shuffles in there and whatnot! Jheez! ... Oh, and reminiscing about being 18 in a club to the young people was also quite funny. I don't know if we've prepared them well or scarred them for life. A mixture of the two will suffice.

4. The worst thing you could tell a group of young people staying in London walking passed Tescos everyday is that they can't go to Tescos any day! You know me and rules we don't mix so I promised my team I would take them to Tescos except that all had to change when one lad screamed in front of my boss "when are we going Tescos?!" You've gotta forgive him, he's not known for been tactical or discrete with anything really. But obviously I had to SHUT - THAT - DOWN before I end up getting a little word in the ear about sticking to rules and being a role model. No Tescos, half the young people frustrated with one boy and no ice cream for anyone. There's always September.

5. Finally, (BY FAR THE BEST DAY/NIGHT) camping with these ones was hilarious from the start. After getting all but one person to abseil down the side of a stone quarry we walked to a "camp site" in a farm of sheep. Of course there's gonna be the loud lad who's looked at the map like once but thinks he can direct everything. Of course instead of taking a first left out of the quarry he makes us take a right. Of course faced with a fork road where one option is gated off and the other is free he'll have us climb the gate, because of course! he knows the way cos he can read maps(!?!) And then we'll put up tents... yeh that'll be easy. I shouldn't go into the complications of putting up a tent. It's not easy and it's not like I was any real help at all. And I won't go into the food we had to eat because that was frankly quite erm.. yeh.

Thank God there was a camp fire with marshmallows and wood and "21 dares" turned into "31 truths" (a game that just had to make a second appearance on the last day of residential even though we didn't really get into it due to annoying people who really just wanted to hear secrets - gossipers ;D)! If your a young person and you wanna play 31 truths to find out who likes whom in the circle, don't take the piss by asking stupid questions like "what's your favourite ice cream flavour?" or questions of that calibre. Ask REAL questions. On the spot questions. And don't lie about liking or not liking the girl next to you because as they came to realise, there'll be a Charlene ready to shine the spotlight on you, quite literally.

That obviously was the first day that the information stock exchange started trading. It would then grow into a massive dinner time gossipfest in Kitchen F on the girls floor. What happens in the information stock exchange stays in the information stock exchange...

6. For a certain someone...

I think that's it though. No more to say cos this is a public platform. This wouldn't be a legit post if we didn't pay homage to the demi-god that is Trey Songz able to get many a girl to do many a thing without realising (as dodgy as that sounds its sadly probably true). In fact here is a song he blessed us with just in case you don't know what the hype's about:

Amazing right?! What was my life without him? 

*sigh* Right now that I'm over that... Here's to September guys!

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Second hand tyres in Ghana

The problem of second hand tyres is the problem of second hand everything in Ghana. JoyNews the other day asked second hand tyre dealers their thoughts on the ban of second hand tyres in Ghana. Many of them weirdly said that the new tyres from China were not as good as the used tyres from Europe because, get this, the Chinese tyres were made for a different climate but the Scandinavian and German tyres were made to suit the Ghanaian climate.

If anything this point to the lack of education in Ghana. To think that China's climate is different from Europe's or that non-Mediterranean Europe's climate matched that found in Ghana is frankly too sad to be funny. The lie that has been poured to the African that 'West is Best' is yet again manifesting itself in this saga and it may just cost our lives. What is interesting is that there are many people who feel as though their livelihoods will be taken away from them as of this September. Where is the entrepreneurial spirit Afro-optimists make noise about? In Kwame Nkrumah's day my grandfather faced a number of setbacks due to government bans on goods, it didn't stop him from diversifying and moving forward. Must it be the end of the world?

Unlike my post on the then proposed ban on second hand cars, I support the government on this policy wholeheartedly. No faze out time, just pure and simple, quick and painless cut off of the supply of sub-standard tyres, especially when Ghana suffers such a high rate of road accidents. That being said, second hand tyres serve more than one purpose. They need not find themselves back on the underbelly of a car. The government may wish to explain and suggest to these dealers the various things they can do with a second hand tyre. Yes I did just Google that phrase and offer it as a solution. If I can do that surely ordinary Ghanaian tyre dealers can too.

This is my favourite compilation of second hand tyre uses:

So once again, I guess all I'm saying is that if the government want people to change their lifestyle, be it hawking or selling second hand tyres surely it isn't too much to ask that they educate the people: Number 1 that new from anywhere is better than used from anywhere, #2 that China and Europe have a more similar climate than any of those places and Ghana, and 3. that tyres don't hand just one purpose, the most exciting, innovative and entrepreneurial brain will find other uses and kickstart the manufacturing revolution in Ghana out of a minor problem like too much stock of waste tyres. I just hoe the enforcers really do enforce this time, for the sake of lives on the road.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Summer of spirituality

I've been working on the National Citizens Service. The last day of the programme was also the first day of Ramadan for the Muslim youths participating, so I decided to join them in solidarity to the fact that they would not be able to eat any of the food at the party being thrown for them and their mates. I'm actually going to be doing the whole month of Ramadan this year and many of my old friends have come out to congratulate me already. It's only been one day!

The core reason why I decided to do it however began on Day 2 of the NCS. A comment by a young person sparked a 4 hour discussion about religion, spirituality and morality between 2 teams of 11 youths (22 in total). From that night, those two separate teams were one big family whereby my colleague and I couldn't distinguish the difference. In my opinion this was because they understood each others perspective. Later in the programme a young lad from my team, who had also been in that marathon discussion was inquiring more about Ramadan. He decided that he "could do it, that's easy". Of course come the day of fasting, he forgot himself a few times but tried to stay true to his fast when he was aware. It's up to you to decide if he officially fasted or not, for me his greatest achievement is understanding his friends better, understanding other communities and religions better. It took me back to thinking of that marathon discussion where one girl asked (I'm paraphrasing) "why are Muslims so violent?" After schooling her on the politics of information I told her and anyone else who was listening that the most important thing about being on a programme like the NCS - although they won't promote it as such - is to explore and discover other cultures, be challenged on one's opinion of someone's religion and be challenged on your opinion of your own religion.

Y'know when Lent comes round, since the UK is a Christian country, we are all asked no matter our faith to consider giving something up, to join in a religious festival and seek to be better people through it. Ramadan speaks so much more to those values for me, because you don't give up just one thing (for which I've often supplemented another) you give up everything, as Christ did. Young people should be encouraged in our schools to partake in Ramadan and to give up something (if everything is too impossible) the same way they are implored to partake in Lent. I reckon like the young lad they would find that it's not very easy, that their friends are extremely strong people who respect something much greater than material worth and that it doesn't take away from who you are to find value in what someone else is or believes in.

Ramadan Mubarak. God Bless.

Saturday, 15 June 2013

The Brand Ghana

Anyone who saw my earlier post about Lagos' brand video here is a shorter Ghanaian version. It focuses on the symbolism of the kente. Perhaps I spoke too soon about what I perceived Ghana to not be doing. Which is best Lagos or Ghana?

Thursday, 13 June 2013

The UK and Ghana & Nigeria

Chuka Umunna recently led a British delegation to my two home countries. He also half belongs to one of those countries. I knew he was going but I didn't follow the news of his travels because frankly I wasn't too bothered.

My sister then sent me an article of his post-trip analysis:

The UK’s shadow business secretary sees opportunities for British business in Africa, but warns against the repeat of past mistakes

From his busy office in London’s Portcullis House, rising star of the UK Labour Party Chuka Umunna has plenty of domestic issues cluttering his in-box - from a heated debate over corporate tax to the status of the UK in the European Union. But the young MP still found time to fly to Nigeria and Ghana this month, banging the drum for UK business abroad.

“The UK is running to catch up in the pursuit of opportunities in the Bric economies, but they are at risk of repeating the same mistakes in the past, by taking their eye off the ball in this huge, amazing emerging story - which is Africa,” says Mr Umunna, a half-Nigerian whose last visit to the country was in the troubled days of early 1992; the dawn of the Sani Abacha regime. “This time, I returned to a very different place. Nigeria tangibly feels as if it is on the up.”

But Mr Umunna is disappointed that British companies are not playing more of a role.  “The response from the Nigerian and Ghanaian business community is: “Where are the Brits? Where have you been? You are historically, and still are, our preferred partner. You are reliable, you produce a quality product, we like your legal system and you deliver on time. But where have you been at the time when the Chinese, the Brazilians, the Turkish have all been coming to invest here?”

The British brand abroad “is much stronger than we realise,” says Mr Umunna. “People see it as a badge of quality and reliability.” He highlights infrastructure and finance as key comparative advantages of UK businesses in Africa. “Nigeria is estimated to have infrastructure investment need of over $12bn for each of the next five years. There, I think, the City of London has a big role to play in providing unparalleled access to the markets and money for different companies,” he says, pointing to interest rates in Ghana and Nigeria which are in the region of 20-25 percent. In infrastructure, meanwhile, “we’ve got one of Europe’s biggest infrastructure projects in the form of Crossrail...with huge expertise in project management experience”.

Trade is the other side of the commercial coin, and there is progress to be made in this domain too. The Economic Partnership Agreements - the proposed trade agreements between the EU and the African, Caribbean and Pacific group of states - are stalling and the World Trade Organisation’s Doha Round is faring little better. Right-wing critics of the UK’s membership of the EU believe Britain could better engage with emerging market opportunities if it turns its attention away from Europe. But Mr Umunna - whose Labour party is pro-Europe - has no truck with this view.

“We are in a far better position to negotiate trade agreements with these other markets when we are sitting on one side of the table with our European partners - a collective of over half a billion people - negotiating with some of these very large countries, than we are if we are sitting there alone, on our own. Our membership of the EU can be the key that unlocks to the door to these emerging economies,” he argues.

He rejects the “defeatist” notion that the UK might find itself stuck in an EU status quo which fails to acknowledge changing global power structures, or to recognise the need for a fairer trade framework between developed and developing countries. “I am not satisfied that the trade playing field at the moment is totally fair. I think there is a consensus behind that view, and that is why it is really important to see some of these issues addressed at the WTO level and I’m really excited to see the appointment of the new head from Brazil,” he says.

Mr Umunna does not fear being stuck within the institution’s conservative tendencies. “Usually on issues - say, if you look at financial services, which is subject to qualified majority voting on the European Council - we usually always win. We manage to coalesce a majority around our position. It is only in recent times - given the detached approach at times that the government has adopted around Europe - that we haven’t been quite as successful. I refuse to accept the premise that somehow we will be inevitably defeated in this.” Reaching these emerging market opportunities, Mr Umunna believes, is better done with Europe than alone.

I like to give my opinion to my sister in my most basic vernacular. There's no point to politics if people don't understand it. So this was my very simple response to the article. 

He's right on one thing, the UK need to be in Europe if they are gonna take Ghana and Nigeria economically. The EU is pushing some agreement that is supposed to lower tariffs for European goods and also obviously provide return passage to some goods. France has successfully convinced the Franco-states but the anglophone states are not so quickly swayed obviously because the UK is really crap at making friends and influencing people, mainly because they think they will be fine alone (clearly bullisht). 

I think Chuka shows himself very clearly and the African diaspora orgs in the UK should stop being carried by the Obama comparisons. He's as privileged as half the Tory party, clearly the party like him since they let him take the lead on this trip (they have their own token West Africans). 

I just don't believe his analysis on the ground. Every African leader is singing from the same hymn book, China is a more preferential friend for investment. The Brits just can't come to Africa without the we-know-better attitude, they don't know how. They are trying now by using Chuka but the fact remains that they don't understand the politics of partnership when it comes to Africa. Would be interesting watching them try, with Brazil, China, India, South Korea, Malaysia, Iran, Turkey taking all but the last morsel of what Africa has to offer and countries like Japan, Singapore and Canada reading the patterns much earlier (and the US obviously having an advantage by virtue of who they are). That's a lot of established competition to fight through even if you do believe the clients "like your [imposed] legal system"!

So that's my opinion. Tell me if you think I've read the UK in West Africa situation all wrong. I don't tend to think like other people. :) *Update* In this case I think I am thinking like other people check this little article out here!

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Eko oni baje o!

Ahhhhh!! when I saw this video, if I were a more emotional person I may have shed an actual tear of joy! I just came back from Dubai - posts pending don't worry - and I returned to the UK with so many things in my head. What Africa (read Ghana) wasn't doing, what I wanted them to do, what was possible and impossible and of course, because I am Ghanaian to the half degree I even thought of all the excuses they had as to why they weren't like Dubai, namely that it is much each to built on a desert of nothing that a complex rainforest which is what West Africa is.

But I returned to the UK to find this video as I browsed through YouTube for the amazing things my countries (both of them) are doing. Occasionally I find things to rant about, but today "Eko oni baje o!" is my slogan. Without upsetting my Ghanaian family, Lagos is everything I expect from and want for an African city. The city's economy will be bigger than Ghana's when the Nigerian re-basing is complete. That is saying something. There's much more to say for the open representation of culture (you will notice that the banker, governor and few others are wearing traditional attire and looking good in it too!) Dubai is very similar in that respect. I will stop talking, now, I must just say that I'm so excited to be going to West Africa this year, a journey that will for the first time allow me to experience Eko first hand, live and exclusive!

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Let's have a race: Mayor versus Mayor

Some might argue that the job of the Accra Mayor is very difficult, after all Accra is the capital and with that comes more responsibility. AV the Accra Mayor has had a bit of problems promising all the promises he could in the wake of the market fires only for the Railway Authority to contradict him in the media and claim he had spoken out of turn because the pressure was on him.

On the other hand, the new Kumasi Mayor, Kojo Bonsu (KB) has not had the extra four years to settle into the post and on top of that he's facing a crisis of his own - crime. It could be argued that he has a tougher job. But he's come out swinging! I found through Chris Scott, blogger on MADinGhana, this article outlining some of KB's plans for Kumasi. He's going to restore meaning to the title The Garden City by planting 1 million trees. I've been to a legitimate Garden City - Singapore - and I know if it is achieved it will be so amazingly beautiful. Kumasi doesn't get half as much tourism as Accra, Cape Coast or now Takoradi and it doesn't get half the NGOs as Tamale, Bolgatanga and Wa, so it needs to really bolster what little appeal it can have and that will take more than just planting trees and guarding streets with CCTV.

That being said I'm happy to have a clear plan being set out for once. I sure do hope he doesn't become yet another promising-politician who never meets goals. AV hasn't given us as clear a plan. What exactly does Millennium City mean? It's a shiny vague buzzword that doesn't let us really measure or mark anything. I mean except for the MDGs when was the last time the word millennium was relevant to people? I was 9 when the word millennium had significant meaning. I think we need a more concrete plan by AV with dates and costings and pictures and CAD and whatnot.

Accra has a few advantages over Kumasi. The international airport and international status that comes with being a capital city. The fact that businesses are mainly based there. The beach! The fact that most internal migration is down to Accra.

Kumasi has the peacefulness. It's a perfect retreat for those wanting a quieter city life. It is home to what is by far the most famous ethnic group in the country and all the history that comes with that.

Both cities have similar population sizes. So let's see in 2017, which would be the best improved city in Ghana and which would be awarded the title of #1 city. Of course we know that Takoradi, Kasoa, and Cape Coast aim to throw a spanner in the works but the best Mayor will find a way to get around them.

Let The Games Begin!

Wednesday, 22 May 2013


Something exciting is going to happen and I hope you remember that I told you first.

On 8th June GEEDA (Gender Education and Enterprise Development for Africa) is launching at SOAS, University of London.

They are calling for papers on any of those topics, but the main focus is that it is a gendered discussion and primarily aimed at affecting development in Africa. How can the diaspora help? What can we do? What does Africa want us to do?

Your papers should be around 4000 - 5000 words and hopefully get to them by 30th May. They should aim to address the following questions:

GENDER: Who is defining the roles of African men and women?
EDUCATION: What are we teaching African girls and boys in school?
ENTERPRISE: How are women doing business and making money in Africa?
DEVELOPMENT: What is happening beyond the Millennium Development Goals?
AFRICA: Who is driving development on the continent?

Obviously I'm just telling you now so if you would like to submit a paper but you don't think you can make that deadline tweet me @thebellower or email Nathalie Montlouis at

This is NOT a diaspora only initiative. If you live in the continent please also contribute. Whereever you are in the world if you have an opinion please share it. That's how we move forward.

Thanks peoples!!!

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Mark Woyongo: Defence Minister defending himself

I take time out of my busy revision schedule to ask one thing? Mark Woyongo, what makes him qualified for his position?

I rarely feel the urge to side with Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings, but to be honest she can take his job since she clearly has more insight on it than he does.

In this audio (make sure you've enabled windows media player on your browser) he is challenged as to whether Ghana or at least the Ashanti region has suffered a break down of law and order. This guy doesn't think that the recent deaths in Kumasi is a sign of a break down of law and order. He doesn't think that the continuation of lynching of suspected thieves without fair trial and beyond the punishment prescribed by the law is a breakdown. The fact that the people don't trust the police to come, to arrest, to hold and to prosecute is apparently not a break down of law and order. The fact that people MURDER other people and don't live in fear of repercussions by the state is apparently not a break down of law and order. My God, if this is not yet a breakdown should we wait to see what is?

How many incidents of gun crime from nationals and foreigners must we see before we believe that the authority of law and order in Ghana has been disregarded by the people and their visitors. Take any news agency domestic and international, point them in the direction of any road leading from Accra and I promise you it would not be far until they find illegal immigrants wielding weapons, violating the law, undermining the local workforce, threatening local lives just to make a profit.

The other day trucks overturned on the Achimota road and the police couldn't even orchestrate the rescue mission. Local civilians did it. 2 people died. They might not have died if they had been responded to quicker but they weren't because the people waited for the police to do their job and only acted when it was clear the police were not going to.

What is hilarious is that  people like him don't want the country to move forward. His first defence is that "these events or things of that nature have been happening for a very looooong time now" and that they are "isolated cases". 7 deaths in 2 weeks, he argued was not the worst record in the country, as if the people of the Ashanti region should now sigh a sigh of relief. Further to that he committed what I can only call the crime against patriotism which is to say 'similar thing happen in 'advanced' countries and they don't complain so why are we?' The expectations of Ghanaian people on their government should not be measured against the expectations of the UK and US people on their governments. Different groupings have different values and in social issues like this, no country is "advanced". Ghana shouldn't aspire to have as many crimes as the US, Ghana should aspire to have as few as the people find acceptable. And if we must compare, I can confirm that 7 deaths in 2 weeks in London would be a problem, let alone for a city half the size, in a relatively more conservative society.

Overall the entire interview was deeply uninspiring. Mark Woyongo basically said "there are guns from the inside, guns from the outside, guns from countries that have been peaceful for at least a decade, guns from the other side of the continent, guns from the sky and guns from the trees, we know about them and where they are and despite the noticeable increase in gun crime I am now here to announce that we will in the future some time be looking to monitor, but not regulate these productions and to be honest all of this has been happening for a very long time that I kinda forgot it was a big deal from my bullet proof police protected 4x4, I thought jumping around the country showing my face would be enough to convince you that I'm worth my salary so now that you've highlighted that I'm not I'm not very happy I think you should sweep this under the carpet and we will address it when we find a mountain with a rug on top and still remember that out of 54 countries we are the 32nd largest and therefore we have massive borders to police, a burden no one else has to bear and even larger countries don't complain so hush little baby don't say a word...."

If you think I've been unfair, say so.

Saturday, 27 April 2013

My Official Defence of Ghana's Doctors and other strikers... March On!

I was initially going to blog about the MTTU on-the-spot-fine that is being propsed, but I think there is a massive elephant in the room that I've only casually referred too and not actually spoken about. 

The doctors' strike. 

If you are in Ghana and you are upset about the doctors' strike did you join #1SimpleStep

Kofi Thompson (I don't know what his profession is) wrote for Vibe Ghana on the topic of these strikes. The headline of the article was "Make Ghana Immune To Public Sector Strikes". I clicked on it because I agreed to an extent. A well oiled machine can negotiate better some bumps in the road. We should get to the point where MPs cannot hype up the situation to a matter of life and death, but let me not get ahead of myself. 

The crux of Kofi's article went as follows (I will provide my response in red):

No Ghanaian citizen resident in Ghana, ought to become a victim of striking and militant employees, of entities that come under various organs of the Ghanaian nation-state.

It really is intolerable that innocent people should die needlessly, for example, as a result of strike action by healthcare professionals, employed to work in government hospitals and clinics around the country. Nothing can justify that. Ever. Not in a civilised nation such as ours. Ok, really sensationalist from the off. He wastes no time. But is it intolerable really? The fact of the matter is that it is in the prerogative of workers to strike when dissatisfied with their employers. The state is the employer and the state is run by the government and we all know how incompetent many governments in Africa can be. Should doctors simply remain silent. Until when? Until elections, in order to convince their fellow citizens not to vote for the failing government? Would the reaction not be to ask why they didn't say or do something before? They have tried saying it, and the government has not felt the urgency to act and meet demands so now they are doing something and the same failing government is tarnishing them with imagery of murderers.

The time has now come for those who currently rule our nation, to take active steps to ensure that no employee of any entity under an organ of a nation-state, which spends over 60 percent of total government revenue to pay its employees, can ever hold Ghanaians to ransom, by embarking on strike action under any circumstances – without automatically being dismissed from their job. Firstly, a little minor thing but Ghana is not a nation state. Secondly, see above. Kofi's argument implies that the state is an incorrigible, always correct employer. We all know that's lies. 

There can be no justification for state employees inconveniencing Ghanaian citizens by embarking on strike action. 

After all, it is precisely because of the dedicated service they are required to render the people of Ghana and their nation, during their working lives, that the Ghanaian nation-state guarantees public-sector employees a pension for the rest of their lives: when they finally go on retirement. So Kofi argues that they should remain silent when they are upset in their under paid jobs because at least they will get paid some money (probably also less than it should be) when they leave the job they hated.

President Mahama’s administration ought to draw up a suitable bill to be presented to Parliament, and passed into law, which will outlaw strikes by all categories of public-sector employees. It is long overdue – in a nation that has to be globally competitive and disciplined in order to prosper. Let's try getting the Bill of Information and ROPA through first eh? One logologo line!

President Mahama and his administration, must learn valuable lessons from the extraordinary number of actual strikes – and threats of strikes – by public-sector employees, since their regime came to power in January 2013. 

He moves onto GOIL and state owned transportation, however keeping GOIL and others in inadequate hands just because it's government hands and the government can "legitimately" bully people is wrong. 

The funny bit and it DOES get hilarious is when Kofi Thompson argues: 

Instead of the short-sighted decision to find a so-called strategic investor to hand it over to, the present government would be wise to give the Intercity STC bus company to the commercial wing of the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) to run as a business.

It is just the sort of business that will thrive in the efficient and disciplined hands of the GAF – which is peerless when it comes to logistics. And whilst you're at it get rid of this thing democracy, roll back 25 years to when we were under the disciplined hands of the military. Disciplined, Ghana may have been, but poor, in fear, and an embarrassment it was also! Does everyone remember what the GAF did to the industries it confiscated. Really, you've got to be either stupid, crazy or on drugs to suggest handing over the STC to the GAF who are supposed to be focused on defending the land and supporting international task forces. This point just makes me laugh-cry in pity for people who think like this. If the GAF were so very good at business... - well I could go on with this point but I think you and I can list the countless reasons why this point was bull****. 

He continues: 

What is going on now, is only a dress rehearsal for the 2015-2016 campaign season, when Ghana will definitely become ungovernable – if laws outlawing strikes by public-sector employees are not in place by then – as its main political opponent seeks to make the Mahama administration unpopular. If the Mahama administration sows the seeds now, they will not give justification to strikes later but if they continue to insult people who frankly have a bigger daily impact on the country than themselves then they should expect problems later. And how popular do you think the country's largest employer will be if it stops all its employees from complaining and striking when the time calls. How many of you, when given the chance to choose your CEO would choose the guy who abolished the office christmas party or the employee feedback system and whose HR department added insult to injury by slagging you off to the customers. Come on guys, let's be real.

I do hope Kofi Thompson sees this. Maybe he could revise his argument. My twitter handle is @thebellower

If you agree with him tell me why? I initially thought, that making Ghana immune to strikes meant constantly reviewing the productivity and performance so that these things don't occur to begin with. I then also thought immunity was meant that the government could negotiate the appearance of strikes and official protests so that the doctors and others don't feel ignored, but clearly for some becoming immune to strikes means gagging people and tying them up so they can't resist. It means holding their families ransom when you've failed them... wasn't there a dictator with the same plan somewhere?

MTTU, Policing you.

I'm back guys! The essays took me away from really following Ghanaian politics but now I'm in exam mode and that gives me more time weirdly enough. First things first as you may have guessed from the post title, I want to cover the police fine system that I believe the MTTU want to bring in.

I watched this video made by a Ghanaian in America when the news first broke. I laughed almost the whole way through. It's 29 mins long so don't feel like you have to watch it, in fact if you feel like watching it will make you too tired to read my opinion then I can only suggest not watching it.

So if I'm correct the idea is that the police will be able to raise money from traffic offences such as jumping a red light or not having a road worthy car. That's fine. I cannot object, if people violate the law there should be consequences. Having sat in my cousins car a number of times, I prayed to God that someone would nudge him to look after his car better and drive better. I've only ever seen him drive sensibly when his baby and grandmother were in the car!

But the police shouldn't make it as if the objections are completely unfounded. There were complaints from the beginning that the police already take "on the spot fines" or bribes to look the other way and some of us will know it and that the suggested fines are so high that the police officers' pre-existing "fines" are more likely to be the order of the day, meaning the drivers won't take the state authority seriously and the state or police infrastructure doesn't take in as much revenue as they should.

The police told us those predictions were nonsense! As if we don't know Ghana! Fine. Maybe they are nonsense of drivers trying to dissuade the state from enforcing laws. The police should remain steadfast I thought. And they did. Until yesterday they announced that the fines have not yet come into place and that no police officer should be collecting money yet. They even went as far as calling it illegal extortion. So they understand that already their officers have taken advantage of the situation. Have they received any of the illegally acquired funds and if so will they return those funds? See the thing about this is that it raises the question as to how far they've thought this through.

Either, (1) no police officer has yet attempted to "unscrupulously" take money from drivers and therefore the message sent out yesterday from the police about themselves is very confusing, misleading and frankly bad PR. Or (2) the police will not take advantage of these fines to line their own pockets as they have for decades and as such all the detractors are trying to stall the enforcement of laws. Or, (3) they are doing it already/ will do it and therefore the police has just invented new methods of corruption in the country. They either havent thought it through because they lack the brain power to consider all the obstacles or they've purposefully created a flawed system so that the police can pay themselves.

Your pick.

What I do know of vehicular fines elsewhere in the world is that technology is key. Parking in the wrong place is recorded to a central database and the fine is sent to the registered car owner at the registered address of ownership. Speeding/jumping reds is also recorded electronically to a central database and the fine is paid online or in court.

So that means in order for this to go off without a hitch, the DVLA needs strengthening. To be honest, job creation comes by specifically creating traffic wardens/police dedicated to vehicular violations.

Sometimes I think officials in Ghana take little holidays to North America and Europe, see stage 5 of a system and then return to Ghana wanting to implement stage 5 of something without understanding how stages 1-4 came into being.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Multilingual African literature please.

This week I had to write my Yoruba essay. I decided to talk about language and identity. One thing that upset me when reading for the essay was the opinion of Onoge (I don't know the first name) that even if African writers adopted African languages today, they would still be unable to communicate with the majority of Africans.

My high school friend once read Harry Potter in German. Was there a need to write Harry Potter in German if it had originally been written in English? Why yes of course! Why? Because Germans love their language and will not roll over to English just because lots more people speak it. That's the reason why I spent 5 years learning French, because there are languages and the owners of those languages believe in their importance. Can we not train and hire translators to write Chimamanda Adichie's recent book 'Americanah' into Igbo and Yoruba, and Twi, and Swahili, and Zulu, and Hausa, and Wollof and must I go on. All of the languages listed have speakers who speak English, some even speak multiple African languages. If all goes well by my 25th birthday I would be able to speak Twi, Ga, Yoruba, French and English and by 30 I hope to add Swahili and either Zulu or Xhosa to those. I would be more than happy to translate a book written in an African language into another African language. 

That is not to say I have anything against African literature currently written in English, I'll be honest English is the only language I can read fluently BUT what I won't accept is people telling us that we must wake up to the "inescapable fact that our literary culture is part of the colonial legacy, not part of indigenous African experience" and thus we cannot change the structures with which we were left, or at least negotiate them better.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Who will defend the strikes?

This week we've had many announcements of strikes in Ghana. So much so that people are now calling for all the striking associations to come together and just have a day of public action for Ghana. The government is working hard to convince the Ghanaian public that the striking associations are not being fair and are not being honest. Yet again imagery of blood money is conjured when politicians refer to the doctors strike but they won't fail to mention that the ex-Gratia and the MPs wages are "constitutional". More than anything it is necessary that all of us speak for our fellow Ghanaians and defend them in their struggle with the government. The boy in the following video is speaking to the betrayal that we British students have suffered over the past 3 years at the hands of our Student Union representatives. I will spoil it for you - he withdrew his application at the end - and that's perhaps the best part of the vid because he recognised that he wont benefit directly from his speech but nevertheless it was important that he used his speech to speak for others who have been frustrated with the status quo. Could someone in Ghana do similar?

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Living Below the Line

A friend of mine from university is a Global Poverty Ambassador. Her and her husband are Living Below the Line to raise awareness for Poverty in our world. Follow their blog here and donate to the cause. I'm sure you'd agree it's a worthy cause. 

Monday, 25 March 2013

Let's Sell Africa to the Real World

Not so long ago I told you I had a post in the works. My essay is done and so I'm free to write. I hope you read the William Wallis article that Emeka Okafor shared. If you did, you may have come across the Chairman of the Nigerian Central Bank, Lamido Sanusi's article about Sino-Africa relations.

What's funny is that on this course I've been speaking about there being a multi-speed Africa. An Africa for the Presidents, and Africa for the "Afropolitans" and an Africa for the everyfolk. Every single one of these sections of society recognise the Chinese presence on the continent. It is very difficult to ignore if I'm honest. But what I feel some people have ignored, is the need to present this new Africa to the world. The real world. When I hear someone talk about working to promote Africa to the world they often mean sharing their country's truth with the rest of the continent and sharing their continent's truth with Europe and North America. Rarely do you hear about a magazine who's main aim is to be stocked on the shelves of Asian newsagents and supermarkets. A magazine thinks they've made it because they've got onto Walmart and WHSmith shelves, but the people really investing in the continent, and the people with the disposable income to invest in the continent are in the other direction.

When I sat in my International Politics class in Singapore, I recall my classmates being fascinated by me for being the first African they had met, I will admit that they were swiftly disappointed when they realised my accent was British and further let down when I explained that I was born and raised in London and had only visited Africa 3 times. I remember telling them, if it made them feel happy I would be their first African friend, but I know that didn't really work for them. When in Singapore I was told not to find and associate myself with an exclusively black group of friends (people in South East Asia are aware of West Africa's rising reputation in the drug trafficking industry) and in Malaysia, from what I remember Africans aren't taken as very special, if I can say it politely.

So Afropolitans across the continent are busy churning out an image of a creative, democratic, bright, colourful, rich Africa so the "world" can stop pitying us, but that is not making it Eastbound, and its only making it Westbound because its an alternative outlook for all those alternative people. China doesn't work in hard-power in Africa. They work in soft-power, they make us love them by building our stadia and our parliaments and our roads. They make us love them by basing CCTV offices in Africa and having African anchors. They make us love them by actively following a rhetoric and making sure it gets to the people - drowning out the doubtful voice of Western media which authorities themselves have called "a challenge". How have we made them love us? Do we work hard to change the profile of the Africa in the years between World Cups (when the world supports us because we are underdogs)? I will be over the moon when I return to Singapore and see ARISE, NAW Magazine et al on the magazine shelves of NTUC and when I see more wealthy black people enjoying holidays in the paradise islands of Thailand and Malaysia instead of them investing in coats and scarves for the icy cold LondonTown and New Jersey.

If we're are going to sell Africa to the world, sell it where it counts, where your footprint will make a real impression. 

Write for me - Paapa (Official Video)

For every African who ever left hoping one day they will return, and who know how hard it is to keep that promise to yourself.

Friday, 22 March 2013

Dear Mr. Achebe

Dear Mr. Achebe,

This is a short letter, I know you are very busy where you are. I just wanted to say thank you. I came to experience your writings quite recently and they spoke to me more than I could imagine. Your work opened a door for me to explore my heritage. Your person makes me proud to be Nigerian, and to be African. Your honesty inspires me to speak.

You are and always will be a legend and an inspiration.

With love and respect,

Monday, 18 March 2013

The Mayor - the role democratisation forgot

I'm slightly avoiding essay writing because it's not really flowing right now. I thought the best way would be just to jump-start my brain with a little post here.

A couple of days ago I read about a supposed 'coup' at the Accra Metropolitan Assembly. Essentially some people are not happy with the Mayor and instead of addressing their concerns, the Mayor's supporters thought it best to try to oust political opponents. Interestingly, the 'crime' was to alert the President - effectively the Mayor's boss - to the poor performance of his employee. No one thought to tell the people of Accra what their grievances were. And yet despite this discreet protest to the Mayor's conduct, officials close to the Mayor thought it best to take such rash decisions which would only end in public humiliation for the AMA and all those involved.

Something the public should have known about, but didn't know about, quickly became something they did know about because some people felt no one should know in the first place. Sounds confusing? Well that's Ghanaian politics for you!

I have one solution. It's a beautiful one. Innovative if I do say so myself! I guarantee you no one could have thought about it, especially not in the democratisation process of the nation. OK, brace yourself... here goes.... DEMOCRATISE THE AMA AND THE MAYORAL POSITION! wow! I just invented the lightbulb! Eureka! I have absolutely blown your mind, haven't I?

No? Well of course I haven't! We often get caught up in the free and fair elections for President and the subsequent hokey-pokeys at the Supreme Court to even consider how we could improve the public sector further. There is always work to be done and democracy in Ghana should not be judge simply by community get-togethers every Dec 7 or Dec 28 in an Olympic year. I'm serious about few things, but for this I've got my serious hat well and truly glued to my head. Non-partisan elections of Mayors based on experience, with appeals to civil society and not tribal or party support, is what Accra, Kumasi and all other serious cities in Ghana need. Why? Because with that will come real protocol for accountability to the people: grounds to vote for no confidence in the Mayor; REAL grounds to vote for no confidence in the Chair of the Assembly; development in the city independent of the political aspirations of the President and his cabinet; faster development in the city with clear resources at one's disposal; and hopefully a shorter #MyOgaAtTheTop ride when disaster strikes. It frees the national government to focus on the rural communities and smaller towns.

The candidates would have to be non-partisan because there's only so long I can take E Dey Be Keke before I'd want board the first Virgin flight outta there. The elections preferably would not be on Dec 7 in an Olympic year. I'm thinking sometime after Republic Day - no reason specifically, it would just be nice. The Mayor's term could then in theory overlap two very different governments and that would push him to fight for the interests of the city because its development would not be so closely associated with that of the national government, he would be accountable for the failure to improve the city and would not think his job is secure so long as he can call the President "Chale!" as is now the case.

There are so many other reasons for switching up the Mayor selection process from the farce that it is now. At the moment Accra's Mayor is living a #MyOgaAtTheTop life, but it is hightime his oga at the top becomes all the people at the bottom. Can we force this change?