Blog Archives

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.

Advertisements

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.

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!

Desmond Tutu: Our Glorious Diversity: Why We Should Celebrate Difference!

When life throws certain situations in your path, you just have to learn from them. I keep learning and I will never stop learning. The past few weeks have opened my eyes on certain things. I feel Desmond Tutu’s speech years ago summarizes it all. We are born different and we must learn to appreciate one another. That’s the only way forward.


As the world’s memory of apartheid receded, Desmond Tutu responded to a stream of invitations to speak around the world on the practical implications of ubuntu. An excerpt from a speech to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in Geneva in 2001 follows.

“We inhabit a universe that is characterized by diversity. There is not just one planet or one star; there are galaxies of all different sorts, a plethora of animal species, different kinds of plants, and different races and ethnic groups. God shows us, even with a human body, that it is made up of different organs performing different functions and that it is precisely that diversity that makes it an organism. If it were only one organ, it would not be a human body. We are constantly being made aware of the glorious diversity that is written into the structure of the universe we inhabit, and we are helped to see that if it were otherwise, things would go awry. How could you have a soccer team if all were goalkeepers? How would it be an orchestra if all were French horns?

For Christians, who believe they are created in the image of God, it is the Godhead, diversity in unity and the three-in-oneness of God, which we and all creation reflect. It is this imago Dei too that invests each single one of us — whatever our race, gender, education, and social or economic status — with infinite worth, making us precious in God’s sight. That worth is intrinsic to who we are, not dependent on anything external, extrinsic. Thus there can be no superior or inferior race. We are all of equal worth, born equal in dignity and born free, and for this reason deserving of respect whatever our external circumstances. We are created freely for freedom as those who are decision-making animals and so as of right entitled to respect, to be given personal space to be autonomous. We belong in a world whose very structure, whose essence, is diversity, almost bewildering in extent. It is to live in a fool’s paradise to ignore this basic fact.

We live in a universe marked by diversity as the law of its being and our being. We are made to exist in a life that should be marked by cooperation, interdependence, sharing, caring, compassion and complementarity. We should celebrate our diversity; we should exult in our differences as making not for separation and alienation and hostility but for their glorious opposites. The law of our being is to live in solidarity, friendship, helpfulness, unselfishness, interdependence and complementarity as sisters and brothers in one family — the human family, God’s family. Anything else, as we have experienced, is disaster.

Racism, xenophobia and unfair discrimination have spawned slavery, when human beings have bought and sold and owned and branded fellow human beings as if they were so many beasts of burden. They have spawned the Ku Klux Klan and the lynchings of the segregated South of the United States. They have given birth to the Holocaust of Germany and the other holocausts of Armenians and in Rwanda; the ethnic cleansing in the Balkans and the awfulness of apartheid; and what we have seen in Sri Lanka, in Northern Ireland, in the Middle East, in the Sudan, where there has been a spiral of reprisals leading to counter-reprisals, and these in turn to other reprisals. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Where the law of an eye for an eye obtains, in the end all will be blind. If we don’t learn to live as brothers, we will die together as fools.”

Religion, which should foster sisterhood and brotherhood, which should encourage tolerance, respect, compassion, peace, reconciliation, caring and sharing, has far too frequently — perversely — done the opposite. Religion has fueled alienation and conflict and has exacerbated intolerance and injustice and oppression. Some of the ghastliest atrocities have happened and are happening in the name of religion. It need not be so if we can learn the obvious: that no religion can hope to have a monopoly on God, on goodness and virtue and truth.

Our survival as a species will depend not on unbridled power lacking moral direction, or on eliminating those who are different and seeking only those who think and speak and behave and look like ourselves. That way is stagnation and ultimately death and disintegration. That is the way of people in times especially of transition, of instability and insecurity, when there is turmoil and social upheaval, poverty and unemployment. Then people seek refuge in fundamentalisms of all kinds. They look for scapegoats, who are provided by those who are different in appearance, in behavior, in race and in thought. People become impatient of ambivalence. Differences of opinion are not tolerated and simplistic answers are the vogue, whereas the reality is that the issues are complex.

We need so much to work for coexistence, for tolerance, and to say, “I disagree with you, but I will defend to the death your right to your opinion.” It is only when we respect even our adversaries and see them not as ogres, dehumanized, demonized, but as fellow human beings deserving respect for their personhood and dignity, that we will conduct a discourse that just might prevent conflict. There is room for everyone; there is room for every culture, race, language and point of view.”

Renewable Energy: Kenya shows the way for Africa!

Kenya Wind Farm

There are some 700 million people in Africa without access to electricity. As the continent modernizes, those people will need power. But could African power be a perfect place for leapfrog technology–when a developing society goes straight to the most modern technology without going through the iterations seen in the developed world? A new windfarm in Kenya might indicate yes.

The $870 million Lake Turkana Wind Power (LTWP) project, set to begin construction in December, will be the largest wind farm in Africa when it is completed. The project, which will be built in a remote area near the Lake Turkana basin, will use 360 wind turbines to pump out 300 megawatts of power–enough to power tens of thousands of homes and add 30% more energy capacity to Kenya’s grid. LWTP, a consortium of Kenyan and Dutch organizations including Anset Africa and KP&P, also plans to install a 266-mile-long transmission line to bring energy from the turbine project to the main grid.

This is a big step for Africa’s renewable energy capacity, but there is still a long way to go. There is only one grid-linked solar power project currently operating on the continent (in Rwanda), though there are several under construction. And at least one country in the region–South Africa–relies almost entirely on coal for energy.

But if LTWP is completed on schedule (by 2014) and without any future financing issues, investors may soon come around to the idea that large-scale renewable projects in Africa make sense.

FRIENDS OF GLO GHANA!


This association was born in January 2010 and incorporated in January 2011. The main objective for forming it is to help build a stronger African brand for Africans by Africans.

It must be put on record that this association is not a supporters union but to turn abstract subscription of Glo into community helping hands through physical friendship. The association currently has around 5,600 members on facebook and other social networking sites. Some of the activities of the association include;

  1. Glo Green Ghana– which will function as a tree planting arm for the association to help turn deforested lands into green forest. This activity is in line with the world climate agenda against green house immersions. The slogan for this arm of association is “whiles we talk we turn Africa green.”
  2. Glo Rural Aid – This will be into rural community development by providing basic social amenities like boreholes, direct supply of second hand clothes etc. The slogan for this arm of the association is “ Glo together with you will bright the corner you are”
  3. Glo tertiary debates– will help to put to test the minds of our intellectuals in our various tertiary institutions on national issues in non-partisan topics to bring the best out of them. The slogan for this arm is “Glo- helping tertiary minds to flourish.”
  4. Glo cultural platform– will bring together all community cultural troops into a battle on a national stage to show our rich culture. The slogan for Glo cultural platform is “our culture, our identity”
  5. Glo health awareness – will sample some diseases and create awareness and screening in our various communities. We will also organize and allow the various fitness associations into our association. “Our health is our wealth”
  6. Glo empowerment summit– shall help young graduates prepare for the job market by providing training. Those who want to be entrepreneurs will also be trained for the corporate world.
  7. Glo community games – will bring fun into our various communities by bringing face to face local football and basketball groups into battle. Lesser known sports like snooker will also be encouraged.
  8. Glo teaching Aid – will seek to help young members by organizing free vacation classes for them. Senior members will be encouraged to volunteer to teach in various communities. But there shall be rewards at the end of the exercise. The slogan is “Education is the preserve of all”

All these activities are geared towards strengthening the bond between Glo and its customers and to portray GLO as a real partner for development.

A membership ID card will open a world of opportunities for you.  Join and let’s move Ghana forward!

OFFICE OF FRIENDS OF GLO GHANA

Solar Power Brings Night-Time Football to Kenya Slum

  • A football stadium in Kenya becomes the first of its kind to be lit by solar power.
  • The light entices local youths to practice out of the heat of the equatorial sun.
Mathare street football

It is eight in the evening and amateur teams of youngsters drawn from one of Nairobi’s toughest slums are locked in a five-a-side football match.

Normally they would have gone home long before dark to avoid the unsafe night-time streets of Mathare. But that was before the stadium became the first in Kenya to get solar-powered floodlighting, an incentive to stay on.

“We have already begun to see the changes. There is a big turn-out of teams who want to use the pitch for training in the evenings,” said Stephen Muchoki, manager of the Mathare Football for Hope Center.

The development is a direct legacy of the first football World Cup in Africa held in South Africa last year: governing body FIFA afterward chose 20 African groups to house a Football for Hope Center to promote the sport, as well as health and education.

One was the Mathare Youth Sports Association (MYSA) to which the new solar lighting system was donated by China’s Yingli Green Energy Holding Company, quoted on the New York Stock Exchange.

On top of the extra four hours of light a night provided by the new system, football players welcome the chance to practice away from the glare of the powerful equatorial sun.

“During the day, the sun is too direct but at night it is (now) easy to see the ball without straining,” said 16-year-old Edwin Ivusa, a Kenya under-17 international who aims to enter the national team in five years.

“Training at night is good for our fitness,” added striker Kevin Irungu, a former ball boy. “We run a lot — always on the ball — and we don’t get tired.”

“I didn’t think I would ever have a chance to play in a field like this. But the center has made us believe in ourselves and think we can do even better and that good things will come,” he said.

Muchoki expects the newly flood-lit pitch to attract more players, and also to be rented out for events to raise funds for the association.

“We are targeting kids between the ages of eight to 18 and also the retired former players who are too busy in the offices during the day and want to train at night,” he said.

MYSA was founded in 1987 and prides itself on having transformed the lives of more than 20,000 Kenyan youths living in the slums through training drills and courses ranging from football coaching to life-saving.

“These drills are very educative because they touch on every aspect of the daily life in the slum areas. They require a lot of concentration and skills from the participants,” said games coordinator Robert Chege.

Programs are based on those of Streetfootballworld, a non-profit Berlin-based organization which uses the sport to promote development and gender and social equality in disadvantaged areas.

The Mathare association has a strong showing in ranks of street football — a low-budget version of the game that can be played barefoot in the street without referees — and dominated the previous two street football World Cup competitions in Germany in 2006 and South Africa in 2010.

Alongside its sport training, it runs programs on HIV/AIDS education and organizes clean-up groups to help prevent the spread of disease in Mathare, which is a collection of mud and corrugated iron shacks without sanitation or infrastructure.

Its pick as one of FIFA’s “20 Centers for 2010” was a boost for its years of work. This center as well as ones in South Africa, Mali and Namibia have progressed well and are already hosting young sportspeople.

The Mathare stadium is the only sports facility in Kenya with a floodlighting system outside the two stadia in Nairobi — Nyayo National Stadium and the Moi International Sports Center, Kasarani — which are powered by the national grid.

%d bloggers like this: