Category Archives: Africa

Four Word Story: Chale Wote Street Art Festival

                                

Walking through the streets of Jamestown was so different on April 14. It wasn’t a normal Saturday afternoon for me. It was one that gave me a lot of inspiration. It was the second edition of the Chale Wote Street Art Festival.

The festival celebrates the vibrant art traditions of urban life from visual media, experimental theater, and dance installations to extreme sports. It’s a very “young” festival since most people in the country aren’t aware of it.

For those of you who don’t know, chale simply means “friend” in Ghana and “wote” is a Ga word meaning “let’s go.” When you put both words together, you have “friend, let’s go” and that’s certainly what happened when I decided to go to the festival with some friends.

The Chale Wote street art festival taught me a few things….

#1 Chale, there are talented people in Ghana.

It was very easy to see talent all around. I was astonished at how some young guys could paint. Did I say guys? Maybe I am supposed to say boys.  The streets of Jamestown were painted. Some were done on wood and hung along the roadside. There were guys on skates doing dangerous tricks and they were incredible even though I feared for them most of the time. Don’t mind me…. I am just like that when it comes to people’s safety and health. There was a musical concert in the evening.  There were some technical hitches but that didn’t stop the event.

#2 It’s time for Ghanaians to embrace Ghanaian stuff

I am a huge fan of African fabrics, bracelets, shoes etc. I find it astonishing when people ask me sometimes why I wear them. You will never find me going “Britain” throughout the week. A few weeks ago, I was working at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital and decided to pass by the Cultural Centre to get a new African-printed bag. There was an exhibition so the stuff was pretty affordable. Unsurprisingly, I met more foreigners than Africans or Ghanaians. I really don’t know why we don’t like our own stuff. I don’t know why we don’t write our own stories. I don’t know why we don’t promote our own culture. I don’t know why we don’t love ourselves enough to love our own things.

At the Chale Wote Street Art Festival, you could see foreigners more enthused about Ghanaian dresses, bracelets, anklets, necklaces than the citizens. They love stuff made in Ghana… while we cherish those made in China. I just implore my fellow Ghanaians to love Ghanaian stuff a bit. Chale, the country is for us oo…. We are the only ones who can make it better.

#3 There’s another fun thing in Ghana and this time…. It’s free.

Christmas, Easter, Independence Day… oh let me take out Independence Day. It’s really celebrated by the Ghanaians abroad. Those of us over here don’t care about it, right? If yes, I believe there is only one thing that gets Ghanaians excited…. Football or let me say “The Black Stars.” That’s the only time the nation goes agog especially after a victory. The Chale Wote festival is another opportunity for many Ghanaians who want to have fun but have limited options.

#4 Chale, we are gradually placing Ghana on the world map.

Ever heard of the group, Generik Vapeur from France? Yeah, they were there and that was the climax of the festival for me. They are usually called the “Blue Men” and they brought more fun to the festival. Having such a group at the festival meant a lot to Ghana and the organizers. Tourists visit the country each and every day. Soon, Ghana will be on the list of Lonely Planet’s top 10 countries to visit. We can do it and we must. Check out more incredible photos by Nana Kofi Acquah on his blog.

Big ups again to Accra [dot] Alt and the French Embassy for making it happen this year too.

I hope to see you next year at the festival. Can Ghana be the top country to visit? Let’s hear from you.

5 Life Lessons from the AFCON/CAN 2012

I can’t apologize enough for not blogging for so long. I just needed to get myself a new laptop since the old one was giving me some unbearable problems.  I could have blogged from my phone but I prefer blogging using my laptop. Nonetheless, I am happy to be back and I have so many things to share starting with the African Cup of Nations (AFCON/CAN 2012.)

Lesson 1: You can always prove people wrong

Have people written you off? Are they saying you can’t make it in life? Do you feel let down and can’t continue because all you hear are negative statements about your inability to be great? Do you remember the favorites for this year’s African Cup of Nations tournament? People expected Cote D’Ivoire or Ghana to lift the trophy. Nobody, I mean nobody, ever imagined Zambia lifting the trophy in Gabon but they proved everyone wrong. They didn’t get discouraged for not being regarded as one of the favorites. They stood their ground, fought and conquered. You can do the same. You might have been ruled out. You might have been discouraged but never lose faith in yourself. Never make your enemies happy…. Persevere.

 

Lesson 2: Never underestimate an opponent

We live in a world where people are overconfident and take things for granted. They find themselves wanting when the very foundations they boast of get shaken by the storms of life. Zambia defeated both favorites of the tournament on their way to lifting the trophy. They did so well…. They fought well but in their match against Ghana, it was so obvious that the Ghanaians underestimated them. The Ghanaians thought it was going to be a walkover and were really shocked at the end of the day. Never underestimate any opponent in your life no matter how strong you feel.

Lesson 3: Missed that spot kick? Rise and move on!

Missing a spot kick is like missing an opportunity in your life. For those who don’t know, a spot kick is a free kick at the goal from a point (penalty spot) within the penalty area and 12 yards (about 11 m) from the goal, with only the goalkeeper allowed to defend it: awarded to the attacking team after a foul within the penalty area by a member of the defending team. We sometimes miss opportunities in our lives but that shouldn’t put us down. That should rather lift us and make us aware that there will be other opportunities in the future. Renowned forwards like Asamoah Gyan and Didier Drogba missed penalty kicks in the tournament. Even in the final, the latter missed a penalty kick but that didn’t stop him from fighting for his country. He battled till the final whistle. We are bound to miss some opportunities in life but we must learn to keep a cool head, learn the lesson and move on. Making mistakes doesn’t mean you’re a failure. It just means you’re trying and learning in life.

 

Lesson 4: Unity is Key!

Some of the powerhouses of African football were absent at the tournament. Countries like Egypt, Nigeria, South Africa and Cameroon could not make it to Equatorial Guinea/Gabon. It was however expected that, either Ghana or Ivory Coast stood a greater chance of annexing the trophy but that didn’t happen. Before the tournament, people were so concerned with the confidence in the Ghana camp. I saw that to be overconfidence. Others protested it wasn’t. At the end of the tournament, we all heard what the ex-coach of Ghana said. “When spider webs unite, we can tie up the lion.” – Asante Proverb.

There was little or no unity in the Black Stars camp as that missed penalty kick by Gyan evidenced. Ayew was the one going to take the shot by Gyan went and took the ball from him. We heard of misunderstandings in the changing room etc. Together, we are better!

 

Lesson 5: After every good fight, there is a reward.

All the battles in your life will end with a trophy in your hands. When Christopher Katongo lifted the trophy for Zambia, it was a joy to behold. The 30 year old who was crowned Best Player at the AFCON2012 was a symbol of patriotism, perseverance and wisdom. There were matches that he couldn’t even play the whole 90 minutes but he did so well anytime he was on the field. He led his country with pride. He made the players know the essence of the tournament. In the final, the Zambians really struggled against the Ivorians but fought really hard. You may be going through a difficult time in your life.  Just fight on because at the end of the battle, there is always a greater reward. You will surely make it!

Stop waiting for something to happen, go out and make it happen.

 

Start the year with Alikoto Clothing!

Christmas is over… everything is back to normal. I don’t get suffocated in traffics like the days preceding the holidays. Yeah… I hate traffic… both vehicular and human. I doubt if there is anyone out there who cherishes them but you never know because we are all different.

Before the holidays, people went shopping for clothes, shoes, bags and any other thing you can possibly think of. I got myself some African shirts. Oh yeah, I love African shirts, shoes, bags, sandals and anything made in Africa by an African since they are unique, simple and define me better. I have been a fan of African dresses ever since I was born. Why? Because my parents made me wear them all the time and I am more proud of them for that. I have come to love African dresses and I know the best from the rest when I see them.

“The finest clothing made is a person’s skin, but, of course, society demands something more than this,” said Mark Twain. I always tell people that a person’s self-esteem is sometimes directly proportional to the clothes he wears. As I was shopping before the holidays, I saw samples of the dresses of Alikoto Clothing online. They are on facebook, twitter and tumblr. Seeing an item online is different from seeing it in person so I called and booked an appointment. Nothing comes close to the service and hospitality they deliver when you call them.

I saw the clothes… different designs, different colors, different shades and different sizes. Gentlemen, you are going to be surprised by how unique these shirts are. The quality and naturalness are unrivaled.

Let me state five reasons why I love them:

  • They are 100% natural be them cotton, nylon, silk or polyester.
  • They are comfortable.
  • They are reasonably priced.
  • They look very hip.
  • They can be washed with the hand or machine.

I must say that Alikoto clothing connotes uniqueness, quality and timeless beauty. I am covered for the first quarter of the New Year. I will surely go back for more as they keep on making new and cool dresses for men and women. Did I tell you that, I got compliments from a lot of ladies when I wore one to church on Christmas Day? I was the envy of most of the guys.

Alikoto Clothing can be found on facebook, twitter and tumblr. Talk about a clothing line that’s also tech-savvy and loves social media. You can also call them on (233) 269-138-021. As I celebrate the New Year, I am going to do that in style…… thanks to Alikoto Clothing. Don’t be left out, guys!

“Know, first, who you are; and then adorn yourself accordingly.”  – Epictetus

5 things I learned from BarCamp Ghana

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.

Steve Jobs: 5 iLessons we can learn from his legacy

“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.” – Steve Jobs, 1955-2011.

Just when I was about to log out of twitter, I saw a tweet that said “Steve Jobs is dead.” In a bid to find the veracity of the story as I usually do when I hear stuff like that, I tuned in to CNN. Death had laid its icy hands on a visionary, legend, icon, entrepreneur and a man who turned technology around. I was however not surprised when I tweeted, “The average life expectancy after diagnosis with metastatic disease is just three to six months. Jobs battled it for 7 years. #thankyousteve” and had almost 100 retweets.

Tributes are pouring in from every corner of the world. He certainly touched a lot of lives with his wisdom, skill and ingenuity. The co-founder of one the world’s most valuable companies, Apple certainly left a mark. Apple now operates more than 300 retail stores in 11 countries. The company has sold more than 275 million iPods, 100 million iPhones and 25 million iPads worldwide.

Jobs’ climb to the top was complete in summer 2011 when Apple listed more cash reserves than the U.S. Treasury and even briefly surpassed Exxon Mobil as the world’s most valuable company. There will never be another Steve Jobs. His life teaches some lessons and I would like to share them with you.

1.       Never despise smaller beginnings

Born February 24, 1955, and then adopted, Jobs grew up in Cupertino, California — which would become home to Apple’s headquarters — and showed an early interest in electronics. As a teenager, he phoned William Hewlett, president of Hewlett-Packard, to request parts for a school project. He got them, along with an offer for a summer job at HP. Jobs attended Cupertino Junior High and Homestead High School in Cupertino, California. He frequented after-school lectures at the Hewlett-Packard Company in Palo Alto, California, and was later hired there, working with Steve Wozniak as a summer employee.Following high school graduation in 1972, Jobs enrolled at Reed College in Portland, Oregon. Although he dropped out after only one semester,he continued auditing classes at Reed, while sleeping on the floor in friends’ rooms, returning Coke bottles for food money, and getting weekly free meals at the local Hare Krishna temple.Jobs later said, “If I had never dropped in on that single calligraphy course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts.” This man did not allow his smaller beginnings to destroy him. He kept on dreaming and dreaming and eventually realized his dreams. “Steve Jobs was put up for adoption at birth, dropped out of college, then changed the world. What’s your excuse?”

 

“I want to put a ding in the universe.” – Steve Jobs, 1955-2011.

               2.       Chase your dreams….. Think Different!

Don’t let small minds convince you that your dreams are too big. Our world is infected with negativity. Dreams are sent to the trash bin each and every day. People who should encourage us to dream are those who rather tell us to quit. “It’s not going to be possible” they say. “How can you do this and that? No one has ever achieved that.” We hear these all the time. When Steve Jobs was launching the iPad 2, he made a statement I will never forget. “I have always dreamed of making a video call and now we have it” he said. We need to chase our dreams. It gets tough sometimes but we should never give up. Jobs had the dream of putting a ding in this universe and he achieved that. Whatever the obstacles that come your way, never give up on your dreams. You could be the person to find the cure for cancer or HIV/AIDS. As soon as you give up, it means geniuses like Jobs will continue to die. The world needs your dreams! Failing a million times doesn’t make you a loser….giving up does. The most valuable people are determined by their character. It takes having a character that reasons with a stubborn faith to make it.

 

“Sometimes when you innovate, you make mistakes. It is best to admit them quickly, and get on with improving your other innovations.” – Steve Jobs, 1955-2011.

                  3.       Connect with the right people

While at HP, Jobs befriended Steve Wozniak, who impressed him with his skill at assembling electronic components. The two later joined a Silicon Valley computer hobbyists club, and when he was 21, Jobs teamed up with Wozniak and two other men to launch Apple Computer Inc. It’s long been Silicon Valley legend: Jobs and Wozniak built their first commercial product, the Apple 1, in Jobs’ parents’ garage in 1976. Jobs sold his Volkswagen van to help finance the venture. The primitive computer, priced at $666.66, had no keyboard or display, and customers had to assemble it themselves.

Connect with people who can bring out your uniqueness and help fulfill your purpose on earth. We should trust and respect our friends’ views of us but also be aware of God’s purpose for our lives.

Some friends may not have your best interest at heart, and they can still be your friends but you’ll need to distance yourself from them. Your gift is your personality, it is who you are. When you get around true friends, they won’t be jealous of who you are. True friends will help polish and bring out the best in you. I believe that Jobs and Wozniak partnered because they saw the best in each other. Your inner circle should be people who celebrate who you are and are willing to make you a better person every day. When you surround yourself with negative people, you will always yield negative results. It is not the quantity of friends; it is the quality of friends.  Iron sharpeneth iron, says the Book of Proverbs. It’s imperative that you surround yourself with people who share your vision and are ready to surmount all obstacles and make them a reality.

Are there people who hold a special position in your life but always speak negative about their life or your dreams? Are they overly concerned about your relationship choices or goals? Do they constantly caution you about the steps you take towards your destiny and towards achieving personal happiness?  It is time to dismiss them from your inner circle because they are preventing you from progressing. The people I am speaking about may be childhood friends and even relatives; I know that sounds cold but we must learn to love some folks from a distance and love ourselves up-close.

 

“Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.” – Steve Jobs, 1955-2011.

               4Always stay ahead of your competition

To succeed in today’s rapidly changing world you have to focus also on competitors and not on executing your old success formula. You have to be part of disrupting and changing markets in order to compete effectively. Too many businesses spend their time thinking about what they did last week/month/year when they should instead be thinking about what they need to do tomorrow. Instead of spending hours analyzing prior results, put that energy into developing future market scenarios, looking for potential shifts, and identifying how you can upend competitors. That was the approach of Steve Jobs. He was always ahead of the competition. If you want to succeed, if you want to be the leader in business, you have to learn to be ahead of the rest.  If you always do what you’ve always done, you won’t ever do anything new. Intentionally disrupt the way you do things so you will try new and different approaches. This will open your organization to new growth opportunities.  Look for how your competitors are locked in, and attack them in ways they cannot respond. Don’t just do what you want to do, take actions intended to hurt your competitor. Never miss an opportunity to ruin your competitor’s day. Jobs always did that. A little harsh? I remember his attack on Google after launching the iPad and called Adobe a “lazy” company. “We did not enter the search business. They entered the phone business. Make no mistake they want to kill the iPhone. We won’t let them” he said. Shares of Apple jumped after that remark. If you are an entrepreneur or a student, learn to stay ahead of your competition. Do things that others won’t do. See into the future and you will forever be a success.

“You can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new.” – Steve Jobs, 1955-2011.

 

 

 

5.       Leave a legacy

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” – Steve Jobs, 1955-2011.

What would you be remembered for when you leave the face of the earth? That man or woman who always fought with the neighbors over nothing or that man or woman who made a great impact in the neighborhood? I trust that the latter is what you desire. We all need to impact the lives of many before we join our ancestors.  He has done something that would take decades or centuries for another to match. For Jobs, how a product looked, felt and responded trumped raw technical specifications. While PC makers chased after faster processor speeds, Jobs pursued clever, minimalist design. Apple’s ads are one of a kind. We can talk about the iPod, iPhone, the Mac OS, the AppStore, the iPad and many more lives that have been changed because of this man.  Ultimately, Jobs’ biggest contribution isn’t just a Smartphone, a tablet or an operating system but Apple itself, a 12,000-strong organization that was once on the brink of irrelevance. Since his return to the company in 1997, Jobs has rebuilt it into the most valuable technology company in the world, surpassing other heavyweights like Microsoft and HP. It may indeed be the greatest turnaround in business history.
Nothing better exemplifies that in design or scale than Apple’s upcoming new headquarters, a 2.8-million square foot campus that will house 300,000 square feet of research facilities, a 1,000-seat auditorium, a power plant and underground parking. “I think we do have a shot at building the best office building in the world,” Jobs said, who arguably wouldn’t settle for anything but the best where any area of his company was concerned.

“Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.” – Steve Jobs, 1955-2011.

Apple's new campus

Can we get a day set aside to celebrate the life of this man and to promote creativity and innovation? I am waiting…….

5 things you can learn from Dr. Kwame Nkrumah


On the nationally observed Founders Day in honor of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah who helped Ghana gain independence, take a second to learn a little bit about the man and his mission. There are bits of wisdom you can take from a quick look at an amazing life.

I would like us to throw away any partisan sentiments and learn from the man whose handwriting is seen on all the state institutions in the country.

5. Sometimes things don’t always go as planned

Dr. Nkrumah was an excellent leader yet he had his shortcomings as a leader. Some people downplay the achievements of this man because of these shortcomings. No man is perfect. We all make mistakes. Dr. Nkrumah saw a broader picture of a United Africa. He went after that dream. He chased the vision but it could not be materialized. Sometimes things don’t go as planned but that doesn’t mean you should give up in life. We hit the wall most times. We fail in certain things that we do but we must still strive. True strength is being able to hold it together when everyone is expecting you to fall apart.

“We face neither East nor West. We face forward” – Dr. Kwame Nkrumah

4. Passion is paramount

Dr. Kwame Nkrumah believed in justice, equality, philanthropy and non-violent protest. He was a scholar and a revolutionary. He was a husband, a father, a friend and a leader. He was a brilliant orator. He had the passion to do whatever he wanted to do. With passion, you can do all that you dream of. One very important thing about life is passion or enthusiasm.  Nelson Mandela once said “there is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” If you have the enthusiasm to do something, you can get that thing done. He had the passion to lead Ghana to independence. He went to jail for that. He was oppressed and yet never gave up. That’s the kind of spirit we need. The never-dying spirit that works in us because we have the passion to succeed regardless of what life throws at us.

“Revolutions are brought about by men, by men who think as men of action and act as men of thought.” – Dr. Kwame Nkrumah

3. You have to be ready to stand by your standards

What are your standards? What do you believe in? “Countrymen, the task ahead is great indeed, and heavy is the responsibility; and yet it is a noble and glorious challenge – a challenge which calls for the courage to dream, the courage to believe, the courage to dare, the courage to do, the courage to envision, the courage to fight, the courage to work, the courage to achieve – to achieve the highest excellencies and the fullest greatness of man. Dare we ask for more in life?” – Dr. Kwame Nkrumah. The founder of Ghana had his ideals. He stood for something. He believed in something. If you don’t have any standards in life, then it’s high time you checked yourself.

“The best way of learning to be an independent sovereign state is to be an independent sovereign state.” 
Dr. Kwame Nkrumah

2.Be yourself

Dr. Kwame Nkrumah believed that each of us is special. Each of us is here for a purpose and that the main purpose for all of us is to make Africa and the world a better place. No matter what color you are, what religion you are, what you look like, what you sound like and no matter where you’re from you belong here. You have an assignment. You have a mission. You weren’t born by accident. There is a reason you are breathing today. There is a reason you are reading this post. Never look down on yourself. Be yourself because you are unique. Don’t try to be like someone else because no one will be you if you discard being yourself.  Make your life on earth count!

It is far better to be free to govern or misgovern yourself than to be governed by anybody else” – Dr. Kwame Nkrumah

1. Believe in yourself

“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase” said Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Do you believe in yourself? Do you believe in your abilities to succeed in life? Just have faith in yourself, in your future and in your family. Dr. Nkrumah just believed. He believed that he could wrestle power for the people of the Gold Coast. He had a dream and he had the faith to propel that dream. He believed Ghana could be a sovereign state. He believed we could manage our own affairs. He cried for self governance because he believed we could govern ourselves. What was the outcome?

The dream became a reality! His belief gave birth to the following:

Bank of Ghana, Bonsa Tyre Manufacturing, Cape Coast University, Cocoa Marketing Board (now Cocobod), Cocoa research Institute, Tafo , Ghana Commercial Bank, Ghana Film Industries, Ghana Housing Corporation, Ghana Law School, Ghana Medical School, Gold Processing Factory, Prestea, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, National Cultural Center, National Investment Bank, National Research Council, Nsawam Prison, Komfo Anokye Hospital, Social Security Bank (SSB, now SG-SSB), State Transport Corporation, Trade Fair Center and the University of Ghana (Legon).

Once again the words of our great leader:

“We have the blessing of the wealth of our vast resources, the power of our talents and the potentialities of our people. Let us grasp now the opportunities before us and meet the challenge to our survival. “– Dr. Kwame Nkrumah

5 reasons to make SUNYANI your home.

Eusbett Hotel, Sunyani

When I was told to be in Sunyani, I was so excited….excited because the city is one that makes me feel at home. I arrived early in the morning.  One of the missions was to talk to some students at the Sunyani Polytechnic. Students who want to soar like the eagle …who want to make an impact in life and who want to make Mother Ghana proud. There is also a funeral I am to attend on Saturday to celebrate the life of a mother who has grown past 100 years. Something that is uncommon in these modern times. It’s so difficult to find the Methuselahs of this generation. Sin, eating habits, accidents to mention but a few make us leave the face of the earth so early lately. Enough of that! Sunyani is the city: the place where Kwabena, my brother from another mother was raised. When I told him I was going to his hometown, he was a little bit jealous. LOL… Anyways, the city has endeared me a lot. I therefore decided to write this post.

          1.       Women of NATURAL beauty!

It is very rare to see “artificial” women in this city. Yeah I have to say it. In Accra and Kumasi, I see women who paint their faces blue, pink, indigo, violet and even magenta all the time. I have visited this city like 7 times and it is so rare to see these colors on the faces of the women. It is all about the natural beauty. Do not be tempted to say that, they are colloquial. They are not…. They are simply beautiful and proud of their skin. I see a lot of people with natural hair and yes I love natural hair. One feature of the human body that is also in abundance and something that most young men love is the bum. You look at some of the ladies and you know why Castro and Asamoah Gyan went with the phrase… “Ghanaian women are sexy as cheese.” Erm…. Let me move on.

        2.       No trotros but taxi fares are super cheap.

There is one tradition in this city. You don’t see any Trotro. In Accra, the rich take Trotro and the super rich board taxis. I say this because the fares are gargantuan. When I am moving from Dansoman to Circle with a taxi, I pay ₵1.50. That’s the price when you take a ‘dropping’ in this city. The taxi drivers are also very friendly. Ok….. Ghanaians are generally hospitable but the people of Sunyani are more than hospitable. They tell you stories upon stories when you board their cars. It’s simply lovely.

           

              3.       The place is neat and not densely populated

As greenghanaian stated when she wrote about the state of the environment in Ghana, the number of people in Accra and Kumasi outnumbers the infrastructure or facilities in place. There is dirt everywhere because “we eat our shit” in this country as Greenghanaian would say. Sunyani is different. This place is just like Takoradi where rubbish is controlled. In Accra, you don’t even find a dustbin when you are walking through the streets of Osu and East Legon; the places that are noted for inhabiting the rich in the society. This place is neat and homely. There is no problem with accommodation as well. If you want a room to rent, you would never suffer like it happens in Accra and Kumasi.

              4.        The city is well segmented…. no floods.

Suburbs are named in an interesting way.  They have Berlin Top, South Ridge, SSNIT Flat and Airport Residential Area. The city is nice and there is no problem when it rains. Accra floods anytime it rains. The Kwame Nkrumah Circle is a swimming pool when it pours. It’s horrible. All the banks you can think of in Ghana have branches in Sunyani. It isn’t a village if someone told you so. It’s a safe haven. A place where you can escape the armed robbery and murder attempts that we experience each day in the capital city.

No traffic!

            5.       There is NO TRAFFIC!

Don’t you just hate traffic? If you don’t, I do. I hate sitting in a car for 2 to 3 hours and the car will just move 1 kilometer. A trip from Dansoman or Korle Bu to Legon will take you close to 3 hours. The same trip can be made in less than 30 minutes on a Sunday when there is no traffic. Just think about it.

I have made an inquiry on a plot of land at Berlin Top. I encourage you to make a trip down here and do likewise if you cherish a place with a low cost of living. I don’t even want to talk about how peaceful and green the city is. There is an airport….awesome hospitals…. What more can you ask for? The city dey be kɛkɛ!

Copy that EAGLE!

As soon as I woke up, I reached for my iPod. It was going to be a fun day and I wasn’t ready to compromise on that. Preparing a message to be delivered in the evening on the theme, the EAGLE in YOU was magnificent because the song I was listening to gave me all the ‘vim’ in the world. The word ‘vim’ will soon be copyrighted by my brother Ato. He can’t live a day without saying it. Hahahaha…. No more digressing…..

The majestic eagle…. with its powerful and graceful wings, can soar through the sky and cause traffic to stop on the side of a road for anything but modest picture. It is a symbol of power, strength, and thievery. Surprised? You’ll be interested to know that there are many things that you might not know about the eagle. I call this part one because I cannot say everything about this bird in one post. Yeah I learn a lot from a bird. I am weird and weird is good because it makes you a limited edition.

In the early twentieth century, it began to be noticed how less often the eagle was being spotted flying high above lakes and rivers. After numerous studies, it was discovered that there were just a few thousand left to cover the entire area of Canada, America and Mexico. That is not leaving much chance of spotting an eagle which does lead to why we are so fascinated when we see one. In 1967 the bald eagle as they are mostly called was placed on the endangered list. Now, it was protected. At that time there were about 500 mating pairs known to researchers. In just a few years in 1995 it was placed at threatened status. Then in 2007 it was removed from the endangered list. It was still protected but researchers could see huge results. From 500 mating pairs to about 5,000 in just a few decades…. That is progress. The eagle has proven itself to be resilient. They can live up to 30 years in the wild and they mate for life. They are dedicated to their mate. But if tragedy should strike, they know that they need to keep on so another mate is chosen without hesitation.

That says a lot about a bird. They are very resilient and hardly give up. You are full of potential but you have to do your part and start tapping into it. There is something placed within you by the Creator. There is something you need to accomplish. Somebody needs your touch. Somebody needs what you have. There is no limit to what you can do but you have to shake off complacency. You have to shake off certain things that put you back. You have to be resilient. Maybe you have tried to succeed in life but have hit a brick wall again and again. Somebody may have told you “no” a thousand times; ask again. Keep asking till you get the “yes” that you seek. Be resilient like the eagle. This bird does not give up. When there is disaster and their mate dies, they keep on. They move on. They don’t settle. They don’t get comfortable. You may have done wonders in the past but you have never seen anything yet. The best is yet to come. Strive on! Push hard! Don’t allow your life to become dull. Keep dreaming, hoping and planning for new projects and adventures. Wonderful things just don’t happen. They are made to happen.

The males and females pretty much look identical but the females get the upper-hand by being about 25% larger than their mates. I guess we don’t have to wonder who does the dishes in that household. When they go out on their own, they choose trees high up in the sky that can support a lot of weight. This is not because they eat a lot of fish, but because they like to make home roomy. They settle for the best. They go for the ultimate. They don’t believe in mediocrity. Every bird could get a room on the lowest of trees but will never be comfortable since human activities abound. Reach for the stars. That is where you are supposed to be. Get a support system. Iron sharpeneth iron. When you are down and have no one, encourage yourself.  Find a role model. Find a mentor. If human activities or nature removes their tree, another one is chosen or they move a little bit higher. The nests can weigh as much as two tons (yes, I said “tons”) and be 9 feet wide. The depths of these nests with years of additions can get as high as 15 feet. Some have been documented to be even deeper.  The higher you go, the higher must be your footing. You must be heavy. Heavy so that you will not be easily moved by circumstances…They never rest on their laurels. People may have tried to push you down.

Circumstances may have soured your outlook on life. You might hate your family, your country, and your friends because of the pains you have been through but do not be discouraged. Let the pains of the past give you the strength to move on. Don’t look back and get focused on your hurt and pains. Don’t look down and live in self-pity. That would make you complain all the time about how unfair the world is. The key to rising higher is to keep looking to where you want to go, who you want to be. Let no man take that zeal from you. Don’t focus on where you are today; keep a positive vision and see yourself accomplishing great things in life.

I will have to talk about the types, mating, feeding, eyes, beak to mention but a few on the eagle in subsequent posts. There are so many things about this bird that will speak to you. The attitude of this bird is worthy of emulation. So many of us get bitter and angry when a door closes but if you will keep the right attitude and press forward, other doors will open. Even if all the doors are closed, a window will surely open.

6 things we learned from the UK riots

I am at it again. I always pick positives from the worst of situations. Here are 6 things I learned from the UK riots.

 

#1 When a neighbor’s beard is burning, fetch water and protect yours

Ok, do you remember what the British press said before the world cup in South Africa? Africa was deemed a jungle… where people eat each other. A place where civilization is nothing to write home about….. a place where no football match could be held. Some people even still think Africa is a country. Hmmm…. South Africa was lambasted for all the wrong reasons. In less than a year, the London Olympic Games start. Need I say more? When your neighbor is down, don’t kick him but rather help lift him up. The UK press should take a cue from this. It’s a lesson. A very important one!

 

#2 Nothing is as it seems

Do you also remember the Royal wedding? It drew the attention of people far and near. The whole world was glued to television sets. Everyone, especially ladies, marveled at the sight of the wedding. My timeline was blazing hot on that very day. You would have thought that everything was perfect in London and in the UK as a whole. A glamorous wedding and one of the most watched in the history of the world. Then there was the phone scandal. That dominated the newspapers and television stations for a while.  As soon as that ended….  BOOOOM….  a riot in Tottenham spread to Manchester and many parts of Britain. The bottom line is, accept who you are. Don’t wish to be like any other because nothing is as it seems. We all have our fair share of skeletons and problems.

#3 Quest for money + web 2.0 = Virtual communities!

Bills + Taxes = Hustling! Parents have a lot of bills to pay. As a result they leave the house very early in the morning and forget about their children. Children do not get the best of upbringing. They don’t learn anything that would benefit the society from their parents. The family system is almost dead. Facebook, twitter and Blackberry messenger are the lecturers of the modern generation. The internet teaches a lot. Time is spent on the web more than with parents or family. Our traditional communities are fading away giving room to the VIRTUAL. I could have 5000 friends on facebook but would really know about 500 of them personally. Attitudes are picked. Most of the people who rioted were children, teenagers and young adults. By 2020, there will be more virtual communities in the world than real ones with the advent of web 2.0 so your guess is as good as mine. Social media is awesome but it is about time parents and governments also joined in. E-government and I think e-parenting will go a long way to help curb certain situations. We must be responsible.

#4 Be prepared always because anything can happen

Life is full of surprises. No one knew this was going to happen. London is regarded as one of the most civilized cities in the world. You don’t expect people to be looting shoes and flat screens. Why on earth would someone loot a TV in London? But it happened. People whose shops have been looted are crying. I heard one man who said he doesn’t know how his family is going to survive because his shop is their only source of income. You never know what will strike so it’s imperative to prepare wherever you find yourself. I have this friend who always carries a toilet roll in his bag. Hope you understand what it means. He is always prepared because he has a very delicate stomach. Diarrhea is his friend.

 

#5 What happens at the North Pole affects those at the South

I was really sad when I read tweets from some people on my timeline. They didn’t care about what was happening in the UK. These people claim they don’t have families over there. You shouldn’t have a family before you know it’s going to affect you. Football fans were “rocked” last week. No EPL matches. I bet some of these unconcerned people on my timeline are football lovers. Ghana vs. Nigeria match was cancelled. Again, we never got to see the greatest rivals on the African continent “slaughter” each other.

Radio presenters, fans and footballers who left Ghana and Nigeria to witness the match lost a great deal. How much is the air fare again? Anyone? Now let me talk about this: Immigration is a political hot potato in British public discourse and always an important and sensitive election issue. These riots, which many allege were carried out mainly by young black men, clearly will feed into this narrative, with dire implications for race relations in the future. There will be extra security in the country now.  Police would be vigilant on the documentation of foreigners. Ghanaians who live in the UK illegally will be in trouble.

 

#6 Rise when you fall

After the riots, some volunteers have come together to clean up. It portrays a sense of togetherness. Life will throw things at you. Some of them could be insipid but your reaction matters more than anything. Don’t just stay on the ground when you fall, rise…. You are a star. Your downfall is not the end of your life. Rise and clean up!

Let’s keep on sharing. Tell us what you learned from the London/UK riots.

₵20 “Kufuor dollar”…… the day daddy made it change my life!

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When my dad called all his children to his room, I was a little bit perturbed. Why? Because I hadn’t finished reading the book he gave me. Once in a while the old man will give his children books to read. When you are done reading, he will ask you questions on what you have read. I thought it was going to be a similar experience. I have been playing FIFA 11 with my younger brothers and a friend all day.

 

We went to his room, made ourselves comfortable and that was when I started making up all the excuses I was going to give should he ask about the book.  My mom was seated on his left. I have three other siblings now (the eldest went into Abraham’s bosom some years ago. May he R.I.P)
My dad started off his speech by holding up a ₵20 note. He asked: “Who would like this ₵20 note. This is a real Kufuor dollar?”

Hands started going up. He said: “I am going to give this ₵20 to one of you but first, let me do this.”

He proceeded to crumple the cedi note up. He then asked:  “Who still wants it?”

Still the hands were up in the air. “Well,” he replied, “what if I do this?”

He dropped it on the ground and started to grind it into the floor with his shoe. He picked it up, now crumpled and dirty.

“Now who still wants it?” Still the hands went into the air. “My children, you have all learned a very valuable lesson. No matter what I did to the money, you still wanted it because it did not decrease in value. It was still worth ₵20.

Many times in our lives, we are dropped, crumpled and ground into the dirt by the decisions we make and the circumstances that come our way. We feel as though we are worthless but no matter what have happened or what will happen, you will never lose your value. To those who love you, you are priceless.

The worth of our lives comes not in what we do or who we know but by who we are. You are somebody. You really are. Do not let anyone make you think otherwise. Yes…. there are times you will feel depressed, repressed and oppressed but stay true to yourself. See yourself as that “Kufuor dollar” that was handled badly by my dad yet all his children craved for it.

 

It was a turning point in my life. Don’t be intimidated. Don’t give up. Press on because victory is assured!

 

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