Archive for August, 2014

Biotech story

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on August 29, 2014 by kola

So a school teacher friend of mine asked me to help her mark her social studies scripts of her high school students. There was a question on the difference between science and technology.

The high school definition of this is that science is a body of knowledge acquired through systematic inquiry and considerable mental efforts.

On the other hand technology is the application of this scientific knowledge to satisfy the human need.

These two definitions set my mind on the workshop I had just come out of a few hours earlier where journalists have been trained on how to report on biotech and biosafety systems with regards to the production of genetically modified food and organisms.

There has been a furore about accepting genetically modified foods in Ghana and as such it has become imperative for the stakeholding organisations and scientists involved to educate the public about the merits and demerits of genetically modified food.

Science and technology need to come together to promote the mainstay of African economies which is agriculture. Various research is ongoing in various parts of Africa over different crops both foods and especially cereals.

At the workshop, material was provided and documents produced to show that currently there were no genetically modified foods on the Ghanaian market and rather the Bill in Parliament is to ensure that farmers rather benefit from genetically modification of crops.

Scientists study the high yield genes and introduce or remove it from the crop to improve the yield at less cost and less harmless for human consumption because of less chemical treatment on the crops. Genetics is used as an enhancement tool and it’s controlled so there’s no chance of the genes spilling into other plants even the soil.

It’s high time we all stopped burying our heads in the sand and critically examine the collaboration between science and technology. Let’s not just condemn biotechnology until we have all the facts.

Africans are gullible and until we put our gullibility aside and start making “informed decisions” I believe our continent will not get out of the doldrums of the poverty, strife and backwardness we’re plagued with.

Like I always say it’s not necessarily a collective thing but then it begins with YOU!

BarCamp Tamale

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on August 24, 2014 by kola

For a pretty longest time this event is been dodging me and by which event I mean the headline event for this article.

I’ve heard of the #GhanaThink initiative to bring people together to brainstorm on issues and churn ideas to make and develop a better African /Ghanaian society.

What I have always liked is that the participants of these camps set the agenda for the program and as such apart from the theme, everything is set in motion on the spur of the moment.

Now let me explain the dodging me aspect with some examples from previous years. In recent years, BarCamps all around Ghana has had a hide and seek relationship with me. One time I was in Cape Coast on holiday and the very day I left and got to Accra was the day of the event. Same thing happened last time I was in Takoradi and I was bored so I had to get back to Accra. The event happened 3 days after I got back to Accra.

The last time the event was held in Tema and later Accra a few short weeks after each other, I was around but then I had important functions that kept me from participation in the events. Ironically, after both events the after party was my party so some of the organizers ended up partying with me at home. 

Recently when I relocated up north, the event last year was at a time when official duties had sent me to Accra and there was no way I could attend the event. 

It is against this background that for this year even though I still had important functions to attend I decided to stay and be a part of the BarCamp Tamale 2014. I won’t elaborate on what I had to give up to be part of the program but what I can say is that it was pretty worth it to stay. All other people and things I know I’d try to make up to and for.

It was so much fun to walk into the event and see m old friend Ruki who told me she’s had a baby since we last met and another #GhanaThink event – The Junior Camp – for high schools. She brought some waakye which we killed first before even tackling the sobolo served as a function of the daily hash tag #soboloSaturday.

We therefore unwittingly blended #waakyeWednesday and #soboloSaturday.

When order of business was set by Ato Ulzen-Appiah (@Abocco) the facilitator, giving a history of the BarCamp event over the years, it was obvious that the event was serious business. Participants set and psyched themselves up to have a good thinking and brainstorming session.

Mentors were introduced and each given just five minutes to tell participants what they do. The very first mentor set the tone for the event when he captured the main theme of all the BarCamps “Less Talk More Action”. He so succinctly put it in these words “let’s stop the talk shops and move into workshops”.

I couldn’t agree more. 

There were various mentors from different fields of endeavor and it was a privilege to meet the CEO of Sirlaf, producers of the TAMAK Shea products range. The man is so affable and down to earth and very confident and accomplished.  He was the only mentor yours truly didn’t needle a bit to cause humor as usual. 

Like in all events that I have missed I had kept up by the tweets, Facebook and social media updates of participants and as such since I was at this event it was imperative that I tweeted about it so people not present will also feel a part of the event. Tweeted at every chance I got using hash tags #bcTamale or tweet @barCampGhana.

It was whilst reading the tweets of one of the participants that I came  across myself described thus:
@jetverhoef: Entrepreneurs in agribusiness and construction, social media geeks like @Nuttykola , UN, photographers and entertainment industry. #bctamale

Me! A social media geek? When did I get there? What do I know?
As my friends will say “I laugh die”.

BarCamp has come to stay and how do I know, it’s the speed mentoring sessions. These sessions are designed to make participants have a feel of al the mentors present not only for the event but also the relationship can be extended to go beyond the event depending on what kind of relationship it is and how the interaction goes. 

For example a mentor could find a particular “mentee” intriguing based on their intelligence and curiosity levels and by the verve or zest in a particular area of expertise or interest. These are very admirable qualities to look out for and once a mentor finds it, (s)he could recruit even from the BarCamp event. This is not an isolated case scenario.

Thanks to the sponsors a healthy mind works in a strong body and BarCamp events have had lunch sessions where participants get to interact on a less formal scale and mingle with each other. Old friends meet end tease each other and yours truly just goes clowning with almost everybody.

The break out sessions are sessions for creating awareness on various issues and the agenda is usually set by the participants. People curious about a particular issue come together to talk about it and map out the way forward to that issue.

In the wake of the recent leaks of sex tapes, putting Tamale in the limelight, yours truly got to chair /moderate the session on the evils of social media. At the session, some of the participants were dumbfounded on what lay behind some of the applications used on their smart phones with regards to social media. Experiences were shared on the simple ways to avoid some of the “perks” of social media which are actually aimed at emasculating users and preventing folk from having any privacy at all both virtually and in real life.

It was also discussed how social media has disrupted our traditional social etiquette and people say hide behind computer screens and keyboards and anything to anybody. There are people who’s internet personality and online presence is not the same in real life.

BarCamp Tamale, my first barCamp event ever, was a total success.  For what it’s worth I missed out on a couple of other events but I’m sure I’d make up for it. Finally the jinx is broken. Me and BarCamps have a relationship now and I’m sure this is going to be a long lasting and fruitfully effective relationship.

Thank you #GhanaThink and other sponsors for BarCamp.
Well done to Nash and the local organisation team.
You guys rock!!

To all who were present, hope the lesson learnt don’t end there but we spread the word one person at a time.

It begins with YOU!!

Genetically Home

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on August 19, 2014 by kola

Dear Nii Kpakpo,

I am back in Tamale after attending a workshop for journalists on how to report on genetically modified foods and organisms.  The workshop was a good one and I won’t bore you with details of it but I can confidently say there is a lot of misconception about these foods until we attended this workshop.

The anti GMOs have put arguments that sound pretty true but they are farce. Going online I realize that images of needles being put in fruit, etc were just false because genetic modification deals with the genes of plants and there hasn’t been animal testing yet in Africa.

Farmers have been practicing cross breeding in plants for years and thus using the theories of natural selection to produce more yields. So I wonder why that is now that science is using it to specifically identify how to go about it now people want to go against it. Well, for me this workshop showed me it is for the benefit of the farmers and more efficient effective yields.

So I’m back in town with my friends who joined me from Kumasi and Accra. Thankfully I’m glad these letters are making an impact and they are curious to see what my town is like.

I love it when I get to act the host.

So let me get back to showing my guests around and I’ll be telling you all about the fun stuff soon.

Keep safe.

Your Cousin in Law,
Savannah Boy