The Christmas holidays are over. This time of the year is one I sometimes loathe because of the human and vehicular traffic. I know I am not the only one. Welcome to the life if you share my sentiments. Anyways, before the holidays, I got the opportunity to learn so many things in a day when young men and women from all walks of life met at the Ghana-India Kofi Annan Centre of Excellence in ICT on December 17.
The event was to highlight the importance of appropriate partnerships and corporate engagements in ensuring the success of projects, spurring wealth creation and economic growth. It featured mentors who shed light on how attendees could use successful partnerships and mentor support to scale up projects and businesses. I get people asking what BarCamp is, anytime I’m seen in a Barcamp T-shirt (Too bad I didn’t get one on Dec 17.)
BarCamp is simply an ‘unconference’ – an ad-hoc gathering of people with the simple desire to share and learn in an open environment. Unlike a conference, at a BarCamp everyone is both a speaker and a participant. The content is provided by all attendees based on their interests. Barcamps in Ghana bring people interested in Ghana together for an informal networking forum where attendees share ideas, discuss interests, network and learn how to add value to their lives and make impact in their communities. Since you now know what it means, here are the five things I learned from the event.
Iron sharpeneth Iron
The Bible says in the book of Proverbs that, “iron sharpeneth iron.” There is no better way to understand this than to attend a BarCamp event. If you thought you knew something, you go for the event, listen to other people and realize that you need to know more. Most often than not, you get some extra points and add to yours. In the “Art of Leadership” session, I met some vibrant leaders who shared a lot about leadership. I got the chance to be sharpened since leadership is a “skill.” Writers who went through the “Creative Writing” session would also testify to the fact that they got sharpened after the event. It’s better to be sharpened once in a while like a knife so you would cut through pieces of bread, materials etc so easily. Don’t wait to corrode before you act.
Mentorship is the way to go
One question was raised which caused a lot of debate. The question was “why are there few women in ICT?” I remember sharing ideas on this with a host of my friends including Kwabena, Ato, Prince, MacJordan and Amma Baffoe. I kept wondering even after leaving the premises. One answer I found was that, there are few mentors for the women in ICT. I know some of our women are in the field and very soon, Ghana is going to have a lot of prominent women who would serve as mentors. Enough of that and back to the mentorship part…. There was speed mentorship earlier in the morning. Nothing beats sitting beneath an elderly person and getting all the knowledge you can. We learn more from our elders than we do in a classroom. They have been in that position before and certainly know better so it’s so easy to tap into their knowledge and make good use of them. Creative Writing, Acting, Fashion, Banking to mention but a few were some of the knowledge imparted. One could easily get a business card from a mentor and bingo… you get the chance to forge a relationship for the future. Ghana has mentors and the young ones must realize this and make good use of them before all the knowledge is sent to the grave.
Ghana is equally greener
We keep on talking about brain drain. I know very well that it isn’t going to stop today but here is the catch: even if it’s greener at the other side, you would still have to mow the grass and also take care of the weeds. The same applies to the grass in Ghana. There are so many opportunities in Ghana. They are just wearing work clothes and seem so gargantuan. We refuse to see these opportunities. The likes of NandiMobile makes you believe that, Ghana is indeed a land of opportunities if you can see beyond the horizon. Success stories from various people who started from nowhere tend to uplift the spirits of others and that is exactly what BarCamp Ghana served. The motivation, the vim, the spirit was there and I tapped into that. Let’s mow our own grasses. Let’s make Ghana a better place to live. We can do it!
We already have the future think-tanks, Gates, Zuckerberg and Jobs of Africa
I wrote an article on the 5 lessons we could learn from the legacy of Steve Jobs (May he rest in peace) some few months ago. I must say that, there are some Ghanaians who could rise in this world and be the Jobs and Zuckerbergs of this world. The kind of ideas that are in people’s minds beats my imagination. At Barcamps, you realize how great some people think and that is contagious. Even if you have nothing on your mind, an idea suddenly pops up when someone is sharing a story. Yeah…. People started with nothing and are making something. I know very well that those people won’t rest but will aim for the stars.
I got to meet a host of these men and women. When I was young, I had a friend who would say, “Take me as a friend now because if you don’t, one day, you will join a queue just to see me.” Since our words are very powerful, he is the pastor of an Assemblies of God church in Accra and of course, you have to book an appointment if you want to see him except some of us who took him as a “friend” and can now call him to meet us anywhere when we need him. Networking is very important. It opens doors and BarCamp offers such an opportunity.
Our children/grandchildren will have the coolest of mothers.
“The surest way to keep people down is to educate the men and neglect the women. If you educate a man you simply educate an individual, but if you educate a woman, you educate a family” said Dr. Kwegyir Aggrey. At Barcamps, you see women exchanging ideas. The days where the woman’s place was the kitchen in Ghana are over. The days where women were so scared to stand for their rights are over. We are in the days where women are conscious of their environment, tech-savvy and are determined to make waves in the society. I am told BarCamp Tamale had a lot of women attendees than all the other Barcamps this year. It is a step in the right direction. I only hope there would be as many women as men next year and the years after. BarCamp isn’t for men. It isn’t a tech event. It’s an event where people choose their own topics so we can share ideas on them. I therefore entreat women out there to discard that notion of a tech event and embrace BarCamp. Even if it’s a tech event, the women are supposed to be there since we live in a tech world and one cannot afford to miss out. Nonetheless it isn’t a tech event as it encompasses a host of topics that arise from the attendees.
We can all make Ghana a better place. This nation belongs to the youth. Africa belongs to Africans. I learned a lot from BarCamp but have shared five of them. Let’s hear what you also learned. God bless you and see you at the next BarCamp event.