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.