Archive for January, 2015

black stars

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on January 31, 2015 by kola

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The African Cup of Nations is going on in Equatorial Guinea and as usual the black stars are in the news. However, after the world cup fiasco, Ghanaians have really lost faith in the team and its official handlers and the commission set up didn’t make such sentiments any better.
By the trend of this article if you thought I was going to write a long article about the black stars then I will point out that you notice that I didn’t even use caps on their name, the picture below should sum up my sentiments when it comes to them.
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There you have it. I’m done with them.
This time I don’t know about you but it begins with ME!

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Kind Ghana Police

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on January 31, 2015 by kola

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In recent times the Ghana Police have been in the news for all sorts of incidents ‘in the line of duty’ and some have been good whilst others have been bad. For the bad ones methinks we should follow the example of Kenya which recently did a clamp down on corrupt traffic police people by marking bills and then tracing these bills to these officers. Can Ghana do the same?
I have just come across this story about a policewoman going out of her way to help a stranded person in no less one of the major city towns.
Indeed some people will find fault with what she did especially saying that she left her post or whatever but to those people I say that be observant and notice that at every junction where the police have been posted there is always more than one police person and she could afford to help.
Here is the story as narrated to me by the beneficiary of the police kindness.

“I was stranded in Tema today. I stood at the AFCO juntion and didnt know where to turn. This young police officer stood at their mounted tent and i decided to ask her. She gladly offered to help and asked if i had the number of the person i had to meet. I explained that i did and told her my phones were off because my battery was low. She went to a nearby shell shop and asked the ladies if i could charge my fon. They agreed. She stayed there with me till i got some battery power. I didnt have airtime so she got some. I used her fon to make the calls and i got directions. She escorted to the office to make sure it was the right place. We came back later to pick my fon. I found my way back and had a successful meeting.
I did well to pass by the police checkpoint and she was there. She introduced me to her colleagues. They offered me lunch. 😀
Had to get bck to Accra. She called her taxi driver friend and i got a fair deal back to Accra. I was so so impressed. Gloria is a role model. She understands her job. Being of help to civilians. There are still some good servicemen and women out there.”
(Text edited from whatsapp shorthand. Lol)

Well, you have read the story. Whatever you think of our police force or of even any profession in society, even politicians, there are some good ones out there ready to serve Mother Ghana.
So you too go out there and do what you can for the development of the nation.
Like I always say,
It begins with YOU!!

Visit to Tolon

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on January 31, 2015 by kola

So as part of the Pieces for Piece Project in collaboration with the Northern Regional Library I find myself sitting in a car heading towards a remote community in the Tolon district of the northern region to attend a book donation and reading program for the one junior high school there that serves the surrounding communities – like 5 other communities all attend that one school.
Portia representing the iHav Foundation and her own Africa Youth Writers Organization, her young assistant, myself and one other staff member find ourselves crammed at the back of a Toyota Hilux double cabin whilst the regional director and the metro director take up the front. The regional director is driving.
A week earlier the pupils of the school who had formed a Readers Club had managed to organize a “motorking” that fine Saturday to bring them to the regional library, about 40km away so they could come and spend the day in the library reading. Obviously these were children who were ready to read but where were the books to read.
The Pieces for Piece Project seeks to collect, organize and provide books for pupils in deprived communities so they can have access to reading material to better educate themselves and this coincides with yours truly #iBelieveInReading project of supporting any organization or venture that is taking steps to inculcate, imbibe or improve the reading culture or habits of especially school children in Ghana.
To this effect over a 1000books have been collected and bought and distributed with the support of friends on Facebook and some partner organizations such as Action Child Mobilization – Ghana, based in Bolgatanga. The organization has been a partner for the reading project from the onset because it ties in with their programs too to educate children by inculcating in them a reading culture. Most of the books for this donation came from them.
We were therefore excited to be going to this school in the Tolon district because we already knew that they were going to appreciate the books that we were going to donate. But we were not prepared for what we saw in the school.
After turning off the Nyankpala main highway we just kept driving into the vast arid land which was dry and dusty and the conversation in the car was centred on how much there was such vast land in the north and how it was being under utilized and also how the migration into the city centres was affecting living in these areas.
A photo they say is worth a thousand words and the picture below is the extent to which the junior high school with almost 200pupils lacked reading material, even textbooks.

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The Little Library for which my bedside drawer is even bigger than contained only 18 books and I just stood there in a state of shock. These photos show me trying to put on a happy face to hide my indignation at the travesty of this magnitude. Here was a mini closet which had less books than I had when I was even 5 years old and all I could think of was if these pupils had to write the same exam as pupils in Morning Star or Bishop Bowers (that’s too high), let’s just say Mamprobi Sempe 5&6 Junior High.
The same exam??
Conducted by WAEC???
The team met with the headmaster of the school and the regional director of the northern regional library promised to visit with the mobile library to support their reading and I pledged to do my best to help with designs on to how best to build mobile shelves to put the books in and also build a comfortable external shed like structure outdoors where the pupils could read in their spare time, of course supervised by the teachers. The readers club also promised to be more active and get more members to join in the reading since they had more books now.
But it was the headmaster’s acceptance speech that did it in for me.  The headmaster lamented their plight and stated that even though he understood the importance of reading and wanted to do his best to improve the quantity of books he had in his school, he was at his wit’s end as to how to go about it and that’s why he had instituted, organized and facilitated the pupils sojourn over that long distance to the regional library to spend the day to have a feel of what it was like to be in a library.
I couldn’t take it anymore. It just dawned on me how growing up in the city we had taken so much for granted and even a simple story book, almost 200 pupils had to share ONLY 18 books.
I put the camera down, went out and wept. 
Yes I did!!
I  have goosebumps writing this piece in the dead of the night, standing by the darkened Tamale roadside with the passing motorbikes, trucks and long distance buses for company and the occasional dog or goats. The full moon is up there blessing me with its light and since its shining brightly you know my lights are off.
The excursion today make me realize and reiterated one important thing I have always been harping on. That to move this nation forward it is not always that we’d have to look up to the government to do something about our situation. The government has it’s own priorities and we also got ours plus our needs.  Yes! We can look up to God but God will not come down to do it for us.  He would use human beings like me and you to create that change in humanity and make this world a better place. God will use you only if you avail yourself.
The journey back was in silence and everyone of us seemed to be in a pensive mood each with our own individual thoughts. I know what I have to do to promote reading in Ghana to make this nation a reading nation and I will need your support. You also find your niche and make an impact no matter how small. 
Like I always say
It begins with YOU!!!!

Trends and Travel

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 30, 2015 by kola

It is no new phenomenon in Ghana that when one business comes up and it is successful everybody else jumps on the bandwagon and very soon it becomes ‘donkomi’. Lemme try to do a quick throwback to the most obvious ones that come to mind and I think most Ghanaians can relate to.
The first one is the business of travel and tours. When it became obvious that people wanted to explore the world outside our borders, travel and tour companies became plentiful and with it came what we call the ‘connection men’ the middlemen who could get you travel documents without the usual waiting time and the hassle. These middlemen were everywhere and they had ‘connections’ in the various offices associated with these travel procedures and indeed some came through for their ‘clients’. It was always for a fee way above what one would usually pay for the same documents going through the right channels (only to be bounced at the end). ‘Connection men’ were a sure way of getting the travel papers to go abroad.
But what brought the business into disrepute was that very soon there were too many of them and loads where swindlers and fraudsters. Gradually, it stopped being so lucrative.
Let us not forget the ‘space to space’ telephone calls too. At the turn of the century, mobile and telephone technology was getting advanced and cellphones were being introduced into the system. These were not like the cordless phones with ranges we used at home but cellular radio phones. Service providers like Spacefon and Buzz and Ghana Telecom were there to take of the market. They therefore rolled out their services to attract customers. Yeah! You remember some of the promos?
Stalls came up for those who couldn’t afford to buy one to go to these stalls and place calls to these networks at a cost and even sent text messages to call back. It was a lucrative business because one could call and get a handset holder wherever he was since he carried it with him everywhere he went. It was very easy, quick and efficient and also very lucrative. Very soon everywhere you turned there was an outdoor umbrella that became the advert for these space to space operators and this later transcended into the phone card and recharge credit sellers. Another lucrative business has died to copycat syndrome and everybody jumping on to the wagon.
The next one I can recall is the internet café boom. With the turn of the century, the world became a global village and the internet gained ground as the main form of communication and linking or hooking up businesses and business opportunity. People were therefore eager to get online and do one of several of the things the internet provided such as browsing, checking emails, looking for business opportunity amongst a host of others.
It was in this vein that the internet café boom came about. Every street corner had an internet café. Let me remind you that with the technological advancement phones were also coming up but by then they weren’t connected fully to data services and very few had that available from the service providers and very expensive. Internet cafes were cheaper. Oh yes! We had to queue at Busy Internet for well over an hour before you had you turn behind a computer console and when they were doing midnight to dawn promos, the place was still full.
But before long, the cafes became so many when service providers started giving out routers for the service and furthermore phones too became data compliant and that was the end of that boom.
Inasmuch as the copycat syndrome ruins businesses, the people who start it make a lot of money before the others jump in and for a long time they enjoy the monopoly that comes with it. For some of us who have patronized these places, it is good for us because it brings good competition and competition brings down prices.
Why am I going on about this in this article?
For a long time Linda Dor on the Kumasi highway has been the rest stop of choice where all buses stopped over for passengers to rest, have a meal and stretch their legs after being on the road for several hours. Recently there have been complaints about the prices of food and poor services at the rest stop and nobody has paid heed to lest of all the management of the outfit.
On a recent trip from Accra to Kumasi, the bus bypassed Linda Dor and some of the passengers were pissed because whenever you are travelling long distance, you factor in the rest stops so you don’t get bored or distracted. For a comfortable trouble free journey why do you have to buy food (when you are not hungry) from set off location when you can get such food halfway down the highway. So imagine the indignation when the driver just bypassed Linda Dor.
Unknown to some of us, there is a new rest stop opened just about 20minutes drive from Linda Dor which is more spacious and being new has access to the latest technology in rest stop services and management seems to take the comfort of passengers (clients) pretty seriously.
Paradise Rest Stop, so aptly named is spacious and it is an ultra-modern rest stop with fuel pumps, a mart and a food court where one can get all your favorite dishes including indomie, not forgetting the public places of convenience that is neat too. They have a mosque too for our Muslim brethren who will stop over to pray. There are times when I’ve been traveling and we have to wait for one Muslim or the other to finish his prayers before the bus continued on its way.
Paradise Rest Stop invariably is now in competition with Linda Dor.
Now the question to ask is what are the effects? Recently a friend of mine who stopped at Linda Dor noticed the visible change in prices and also the services provided at Linda Dor. The service providers are now more tolerant and are more smartly dressed than before. The washrooms haven’t been neglected for any amount of time (not that they were neglected at first) and furthermore the general atmosphere has changed. Now there is even music at the rest stop blaring through the loudspeakers to sometimes announce which bus is leaving so you can easily check your ticket to make sure that your bus doesn’t leave you behind or you don’t get on the wrong bus.
Competition is good and that is what usually copycat syndrome can do. Honestly I wish there will be more rest stops on the way so that passengers are spoilt for choice and the drivers on these roads are given incentives to motivate them to bring their passengers to these stops.
To the travelers on the roads, it is also up to us to be of utmost behavior and trust the drivers who handle us on the roads. After all for those few hours on the bus you have already entrusted him with your life and you have to assume that he will not trample on that trust you have given him.
Let us also be tolerant with each other as passengers because for the next few hours we are stuck with each other. If you don’t believe in coincidences, make an acquaintance or two and talk about how best to make Ghana our motherland stand out among the nations in Africa.

Safe Travel.
Like I always say
It begins with YOU!

Ghana Must Read

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 30, 2015 by kola

Whenever I read English written by students in college or university, there are times I really cringe at the sort of English that they write. It is true that spoken English is much better than written English but sometimes you wonder if truly they speak the kinds of English they write.
This trend I’m sure can be blamed on social media and the short message sites that have pervaded our system nowadays. People write as they hear it and even expect you to read as you see it hence it ends in some shorthand that could look like Gaelic and not really English.
Everybody seems to be complaining except those who are writing this atrocious English. In a group on Facebook recently, some guy became an instant celebrity by describing an incident that happened to him in a trotro and honestly for some of us we thought it will only take a cryptographer to decipher the words that were used because they looked like English, sounded like Gaelic and read more like cryptography. However, the simple essay, if only we can call it that, got over a 1000 comments with half those comments just making enquiries as to what exactly the story was. The other half was the mischievous ones just making sure of perpetrating the guy’s celebrity status and I won’t be surprised if he ends up putting it on his CV, as is obvious nowadays, that he’s a very social person who makes a post on Facebook and gets over a 1000 comments. That is the measure of his sociability.
If you think I’m kidding about people using Facebook as a measure of their sociability check out Nana Abynah, the girl in the middle of the one minute premature ejaculation sex scandal on Facebook and she now has a fan page with the status as a ‘Public Figure’. Now go figure!
Now the question I keep asking is what are we doing about all this? Are we just sitting back to laugh at the English, which pretty much tells our state of mind, or we are going to make efforts to deal with it one way or the other. If we are going to choose the latter, how are we going to go about that?
Some of us believe that the reading culture of the nation is at an abysmal low and as such one very important aspect of cultivating vocabulary and experience is being lost. With the pervading influence of the internet and social media sites, more and more people are neglecting the habit of reading, even if they had any, and it is important that this is learnt at a very tender age.
To this effect, the I Believe in Reading Campaign, as I have dubbed it, was set into motion. Yes! It is a personal campaign for which I have pledged myself to support anybody, individual or organization, who is doing anything at all to inculcate a reading habit or bring back reading into Ghanaian culture.
Together with my partners, Bliss Butterfly Network and Africa Youth Writers Organization, November 2014 was declared Book Collection Month and over a thousand books were collected. Over 600 books out of the total collection were children’s books that were donated to the Tamale Regional library Children’s section. Over 200 books were also distributed to individual children chosen at random and even random children who showed interest in reading on the streets. After all it was such a random child that inspired the whole project.
The project also signed a memorandum of understanding with the Regional Library to tag along and provide volunteers during the outreach programs of the library in the dusty hinterlands in the northern region. This is to ensure that even people in the far flung communities also get to read from the mobile library van.
Obviously the focus is now on children and inasmuch as it is cliché we believe in catching them young and believing that a reading child is a leader in future. The children are the future of our nation and it is better we start early and imbibe the reading culture into them to inspire them and boost their confidence so they don’t get to become some of the adults we read from on Facebook and also we read their college essays and cringe.
Throughout the year various organizations have programs slated for reading and writing all over Ghana. Africa Writers Youth Organization in collaboration with iHav Foundation is setting it off with the Pieces for Peace Project which seeks to distribute over 500 books to 500 children in schools in Tamale and Tema. They need all the support they can get.
I know of some projects too by Pastor Francis and his organization in Bolga and I pledge to support them too just as they supported the Book Collection Month and Pieces for Peace.
If you have any project that is to inculcate reading or any aspect to improve reading in this country please let me freely inform you that you already have one volunteer here.
Call me up on 0244526203 or send me a message on Facebook, Kola Nut.
That is me doing something about improving the English of Ghanaians. You can also contribute one way or the other, so find ways of supporting.

Join us let us make Ghana a reading nation.
Like I always say
It begins with YOU!!

Life is a Fart

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on January 17, 2015 by kola

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The story is told of me when I was a little boy who usually went prancing in front of the mirror every time  I took a bath. It is said that I stood in front of the mirror and until my other brothers finished taking their baths and join me, I will just be dancing and doing stunts in front of my mom’s dressing mirror.

The fun part was that this little boy could be anybody he wanted to be in front of the mirror and at times he tried out several role plays – from being a universal soldier, a martial arts grandmaster (maybe from watching too many Chinese movies at midday), a doctor, a lawyer, a teacher, even a painter sometimes.

But now the real story comes in the one episode that had the whole family talking about it at family gathering for years. One day the little boy got too curious and wanted to see what his little ass looked like when he farted.  He knew farts were hot and when he pushed hard enough, the fart sounds changed according to how you let the air out. 

So on this Boxing Day, with his clothes ironed out and having been privy to being the first to use that big bar of yellow Sunlight soap, he paddles barefoot and stark naked into the bedroom to go use the Shea butter on his skin but as usual he had to first do his role plays prancing in front of the dresser.

With the extended family waiting outside he still prances about in his role playing charades as his grandfather the patriarch of the family. Mother hears him and shouts “Kofi! Stop it and get dressed!” He staggers but not before he lets rip one loud open ended fart – no holes barred.

Wow! That felt good!

Tries another one and with a new grimace and a slight shimmy of the hips and the rushing of wind takes the form of a whistle. It is an exciting adventure and very soon he’s lost in the fun of it. He tries several positions and then he goes for the grand finale.

He feels an urge of a big gush of air coming out and he would give anything to see how that comes out full blast.

So he turns his small tush towards the mirror, spreads it out with two hands and looks over his shoulder to see what the air will look coming out and then with one clench of his tummy muscles and one huge breath he lets it rip. 

But instead of the expected air out comes a splash of poop that slashes on most of the items the dresser including mom’s perfumes and make up set, hair brushes and dad’s watches all on the dresser. 

That moment of confusion as to what to do sets in.

And just at that moment mom walks in with his kid brother.

This is a story that was told by the whole family for years on end, even when somebody much as mentioned farting at any family gathering.  Even when the smell of a fart permeated the atmosphere and the culprit couldn’t be found, there was one person who was always the suspect no matter what.

There are lessons to be learnt in this little story though. As children we are free to dream as to what we want in life and what and where we want to be. But it takes pretty hard work to get what you want whether it is as simple as a fart or to be the CEO of a multinational company.

Hard work is the watchword in this case even if it means the end products will be soft and brown all over a lot of important stuff. No matter how gooey it may look it’s up to you to keep trying over and over again to get it right.

The little boy who pooped in front of that mirror became a man who not learnt about the different kinds of farts and even how farts diffuse in the atmosphere depending on what you eat (high school biological science with Mr Maddy) and how farts could be used for friendly competition and also as a weapon.

Well, that little attempted fart became a springboard to what the man will become. Today as you finish reading this, let out a relieving fart and think of it going away with ail your burdens. 

Mind you some are smelly some are just heavy.

Remember! It all begins with YOU!!

Fart away!