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.

Fordham to Offer New Course in West African Language, Twi.

Contact: Syd Steinhardt
(212) 636-6534

A course in Twi, the most widely spoken language in the West African nation of Ghana, will be taught at Fordham next summer.

Fordham will be the only New York City university to teach this language of the Akan people, the largest single linguistic group in the country. The official language of Ghana, where hundreds of languages and dialects are spoken, is English.

The Bronx has the highest concentration of African immigrants in the United States, said Mark Naison, Ph.D., chair of the Department of African and African-American Studies at Fordham. There are about 36,000 Africans in the Bronx, as assessed by the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2005-2007 American Community Survey, a large percentage of whom are Ghanaian. There are also significant numbers of Nigerians, Malians, Guineans and Gambians.

That number is likely higher, according to Jane Kani Edward, Ph.D., director of African Immigration Research and a post-doctoral fellow at Fordham. She based that assessment on her team’s interviews with Bronx Africans in places such as mosques and churches, as well as at Fordham.

Ghanaians comprise a major portion of the labor force in health care, particularly nursing homes, Naison said. That fact, and the number of first-generation Ghanaian-American children enrolled in the public school system, contributed to the decision to teach the language at Fordham.

“Twi is for people wanting to teach, and for people working in health care, in the Bronx,” he said. “Teachers will be able to talk to their students’ parents and health care workers will be able to communicate with patients.”

The teaching of the language is one example of a greater prominence to be given to Africa at Fordham in the coming year. The African Cultural Exchange, a two dozen-strong student group led by Kojo Ampah, a junior at Fordham College at Rose Hill, plans to hold an African festival in February as one way to “bring Africa to the fore,” he said. Eventually, Ampah hopes that the cultural exchange will grow to become a resource for African issues.

Naison agreed.

“Fordham is a place where African culture and history is going to be discussed on a regular basis,” he said.

Founded in 1841, Fordham is the Jesuit University of New York, offering exceptional education distinguished by the Jesuit tradition to approximately 14,700 students in its four undergraduate colleges and its six graduate and professional schools. It has residential campuses in the Bronx and Manhattan, a campus in Westchester, and the Louis Calder Center Biological Field Station in Armonk, N.Y.

5 things I learnt from the Royal Wedding

I am going to keep this simple and straight to the point. That is one thing I learnt from the Royal Wedding. Without mincing words, let’s check the following:

  1. Respect for time

Time is the only thing that we equally have on earth. 24 hours for each person. 3 days for each individual. Why did I say 3 days? Three days: yesterday, today and tomorrow. Yesterday is the past and we take lessons from that, today is now and we make choices. Tomorrow is the future and today defines that. We live in a part of the world where time is so neglected. From the president to the ordinary citizen. The Ghana Man Time (GMT) has defined the way we do things. I observed that everyone was at the wedding on time. Even the Queen was 1 minute earlier than the time that she was supposed to show up. Let us learn something from that because I remember a cadet boy collapsing when I was in secondary school during a speech day because the president at that time who was the Guest of Honor was one hour late for the function. The boy couldn’t stand for that long.

2. Ladies have a new yardstick and dreams now.

I love the way some people dream. And yes it is good to dream. Some even went to the extent of fighting over Prince William on twitter. How interesting! Someone who was getting married.  The gentlemen of today have a problem. The ladies saw something and that has been etched on their brains. ‘It is either a wedding like this or nothing else’ someone said. Can the guys do it? I don’t think that is possible so I plead with the ladies to lower their expectations a little bit. We can’t spend millions on the wedding and have nothing to spend afterwards. Investment is very important. There is difference between a wedding and marriage and the latter is not a joke.

3. From a commoner to a princess

That was the headline on CNN. I believe that Kate now Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge never in her life envisaged getting married to someone from the royal family. She was a nobody. Someone from a very humble family. If an angel had descended from heaven and given her that prophecy, she might not have believed and yet she is now living the life. No matter your beginning… no matter where you are coming from… no matter your family, you can be a great, influential and respected person in the society. That is one thing we should not overlook for a second. As you live, there is hope for the future. Never ever quit. When I talk to people who have tried committing suicide, I marvel at how they think. You don’t know what you will get while you are alive. The Book of Proverbs says that, “a live dog is more important than a dead lion.” You will be somebody in future. Stop belittling yourself and never despise smaller beginnings.

4. Simplicity is awesome

Did you see the cars? Bet you did! They were so neat. Neat to the extent that they could make you scream for joy. Someone was asking about the people who waxed the cars. It is all about maintenance especially with the carriage that was built in 1902 (I am told) but was still used for the occasion. The Duke of Cambridge dressed simply.

Dresses and everything used for the occasion were impeccable. I didn’t see any showcase of breasts (the tradition of SOME Ghanaian ladies now.) I didn’t see anyone causing trouble as seen at certain weddings. Lastly, it took less than 45 minutes to end the wedding which is something you don’t see in Ghana. Pastors talk for hours. Services are held for hours just to bless one wedding. That time could be used to do something productive. To the GH pastors, please learn to cut certain things short. Spending a lot of hours at a wedding doesn’t help.

5. Don’t miss Heaven

Ok I know it is very difficult or impossible for someone to have a wedding as grand as this. The whole world came to a standstill. It is one of the most watched events in the history of the world. It was huge and magnificent. If you are unable to enjoy such a thing as this….. If you are unable to experience life as a prince….. If you are unable to see all this grandeur in your life, why do you have to also miss heaven? That is the ultimate. Why suffer on earth and also suffer in hell? Make a choice today. Thank you.