Archive for September, 2015

VolunteerDay2015

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on September 29, 2015 by kola

Volunteers on Founders Day

Volunteers on Founders Day


The Founders day is a day set aside to honor the first president of Ghana for his role in Ghana’s independence. Thus his birthday is set aside as a national holiday to honor him. However, the GhanaThink Foundation in a bid to ensure that the youth actively participate in productive activities on this particular day set it aside as a National Volunteers Day where young people all over the country engage in volunteer activities in one field or the other.

Volunteerism is the spirit of giving of oneself to engage in an act to another person or doing something that not necessarily benefit the doer but for the general good of others. There is usually no direct reward and none is expected when one volunteers.
This year thousands of youth in Ghana volunteered for several activities all over Ghana.

There were over a 100 registered activities from Accra all the way to Tumu, Wa and Nankpaduri in the northern and upper regions. Volunteers engaged in blood donation drives, clean up exercises, reading clinics, painting public buildings and visiting orphanages and hospitals whilst making donations.

There was no age limit to the beneficiaries of volunteer activities which ranged from newborn babies in orphanages, mothers in maternal centers, children in orphanages and old people in aged canters and one volunteer group is reported to have even helped fetch water for the old ladies in the witches camp in Gambaga.

Yes! You read right. Witches camp in Gambaga.

Volunteerism is giving of oneself devoid of discrimination and it is just to help out and the rewards lie in the sense of fulfillment that you get akin to when you commit an act of kindness.

This year #NVDay15 was marked in a whole weekend because the founders day itself fell on a Monday. Volunteer activities therefore started on the Friday with various activities all over the nation. It is reported that one group constructed a whole building structure in the Omanjor to serve as a training hub for some students. Some volunteers also went to teach basic computer skills in a junior high school in cape coast, others had cleanup activities and others also painted public buildings.

In Tamale, the Read/Write clinic organized by the African Young Writers Organization (AWYO) organized a special clinic for children from the Tamale Metropolis who frequent the library at weekends. This one was a special Founders Day edition where special reading skills and creative writing lessons were taught. The children were given mentorship and motivation moments by several mentors and being in the northern region the focus was more on the girl child education. There was a boost in the program with The League of Young Female Leaders, an NGO focusing on mentoring young women in the north to achieve their potential, joining the clinic and motivating the young girls participating in the clinic.

The clinic climaxed on a high note with a poetry recital where the best poems were taken from the creative writing session and the writers read their poems to the hearing of all present. Suffice it to say being a Founders Day Clinic the focus was on Nkrumah and a young girl of 12 years wowed everyone with her poem which she wrote in less than ten minutes into the exercise.

Let me not cheat you out of enjoying the poem but replicate it here for you to be the judge as to if it is a good poem and enjoy it:

Wonderful Nkrumah
Oh wonderful Nkrumah
Who can be like you
You were a man of peace
A man of justice
You were a hero
When my beloved nation Ghana was in pieces
You brought peace
When our right was being abused
You fought for freedom
How can we ever thank you
Man of peace
Man of justice and
Man of freedom
My right hand will always be on my chest
Just for you Nkrumah
Thank you.

Abubakar Ruhaina, JSS 2, Tamale.
For this she won herself a story book.

There were also trivia questions on Nkrumah for which when the questions were answered right the children won story books from #iBelieveInReading and the children and volunteers alike learnt a lot during the session. Since every volunteering session is in the interest of national development we sang the national youth anthem with the children and the young voices resonating with Arise Ghana Youth for Your Country was a moving moment.

Read/Write Clinic #nvDay Edition

Read/Write Clinic #nvDay Edition

A day of rest and it was the Founders Day proper. Activities lined up included a cleanup of the Tamale Central main taxi rank and then a visit to the orphanage to make a donation and spend time with the children and then a visit to the children’s ward at the Tamale West Hospital to read to the children. What an exciting day it was.
At the orphanage the babies I carried had a profound impact on me. There was this one little boy barely two years old who just sat alone in the corner whilst most people made a fuss about the cute newborns in the orphanage. He just sat there and when I went to sit in front of him without talking but tweeting away on my tablet, we just sat there, two lonely souls oblivious to the world around us.

I could relate to how this little boy was feeling because there have been times when I was surrounded by many people yet felt so lonely than ever before. We just understood each other and sat there. Finally when I reached out to him he just lifted his arms out to be carried and then we joined the others in the little room set aside for spending time with the children. We had all along been sitting outside the room in the middle of the corridor.

When we finally joined the rest he spent his whole time sitting in my lap and whenever somebody tried to take him off me, he would cry to be left alone. We just sat there most of the time and when refreshments were brought he didn’t have to tell me to put the straw in his juice for him, he just offered it for me to do it for him. We just understood each other and I was so taken by this little quiet boy barely two years old.

At the Orphanage

At the Orphanage


Away from the orphanage, a similar incident happened at the children’s ward when I took a sick child from the mother to console whilst health attendants put a drip in his hand and he was crying. The whole time I held him close he kept quiet and allowed the attendants to take care of him wordelessly but when his mother had to take him to give him medicine and later breast milk the little one burst out crying and hanged on tighter to me.

Finally I had to coax him that I will be back and went to another sick child to read a picture book to so he could eat his food. I was overwhelmed when the mother smiled in gratitude to say that it has been difficult for him to eat in his sickness and that the picture book helped and he ate a whole bowl of tuo zaafi which had been his heaviest meal in three days.

The mother’s thank you moved me to tears and I was overwhelmed.

Volunteering is giving oneself to the benefit of others and the various stories from all over the country as was trending on social media really got to me on the long weekend.

One person at a time, one event at a time, one location at a time, one act at a time, we had managed to make an impact on thousands of lives in this nation and beyond. We had contributed our quota as youth in a country that we so love by our selfless acts.

National volunteer day #NVDay15 had been worth it and even though in many aspects there was no monetary or even material gain, the results were tangible and volunteers were left with a sense of fulfillment of doing something worthwhile.

If you missed the national volunteer day, let me remind you that it doesn’t take a special day to go out there and try to make a difference. There are various causes around you to support. Start a cause of support a cause and give off a part of yourself to commit to it. The rewards are overwhelming no matter your status or stature.

The development of this country is not really in the hands of the government, who can only do what they can but in actual fact is in your hands.

Just do it.

Like I always say, it begins with YOU!

Chronicles of a 93 Giant

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on September 28, 2015 by kola

CHRONICLES OF A 93 GIANT

On a recent visit to my Alma mater I decided to do something different apart from what everybody did when they visited their high schools that had shaped who they are in their formative years. I decided to not only visit the school premises but also the surrounding area where we usually hanged out when we were off the school premises.

Being on a hill GSTS had the pride of place of residing on the apex of the hill surrounded by valleys all over and a spectacular view of the surrounding town, a green valley and the Takoradi harbor.  What a view!

Usually students went “off the wall” behind one of the dormitories to get into town. The first point of call was the Type C flats originally built for mine workers in Takoradi but soon became a hangout for hustlers in the town. There are several shops an various hangouts for anything within that block of low cost housing flats. Men could be seen playing draughts or cards and women going about cooking or taking care of children in the community. There was also various quarters for prostitutes who could be seen going about plaiting their hair and going about their daily activities waiting for nightfall.

Just past the flats is the Zenith hotel which area was the centre of activity. Streetlights ensured that the place was always lighted like day time even at night.  Several activities went on in the area and people hang out there for various reasons. it also happened to be the red light district and the hotel served both short time and long term guests. Food vendors display foods of all kinds, shops and supermarket of all kinds were also operating in the area. There is a video centre showing the latest movies from across the globe especially Hollywood and with special days where porn was exclusive and these were the days when Exile was full to capacity.

When one didn’t want to stay in the Zenith-Exile area one could take a walk further to the Princess Cinema area which was equally bustling with activity even more that it was a big screen cinema location and a lorry station that never sleeps. There is also a video centre there as well and the activity means there are shops, pubs, supermarket and food vendors serving the needs of night crawlers.
Against this background I stopped over during my walk through Type C to get a refreshing soda and whilst waiting for my order I thought I saw a young man who looked like one of my classmates and I turn round and see another that looks like another mate of mine.  Knowing how Pobee and Shadada loved coming to Type C my hackles were rising with this discovery. As I stood there one old man called a lad Felix and asked him how work was the previous day and when this lad turned to answer to the old man I could swear he had the Okoto’s cheek. This was the family heirloom but wait, the young man calls a very nice young girl to come sign some documents and it was obvious they were twins. I asked the lady shop owner if  they were twins and she confirmed so and when I enquired about their mother was told she’d gone to work in the market. The realization hit me like a pile of bricks. My mate Felix has twins at Type C. A boy and a girl, Oko and Akweley Okoto. Wow!

With all this activity going on around me I was glad that back in my days  in school I was already walking with Christ with my closest friend who always wears a hat to cover his head trying to contain all the thoughts in one place. I smiled to myself at the thought. Who was I deceiving but myself. I had to look around to check if anybody could hear my absurd thoughts.

But thinking of walking, armed with this realization I was going to walk through these hangouts with an endurance gait trying to recognize the faces of my mates in school who I know frequented these hangouts. I had turned myself into a face recognition device trying to search and match the database of the 93 year group giants who walked this route some two decades ago.

As I stood there with my thoughts and observing the goings and comings in the community, a taxi dropped two young men in front of a shop down the road from where I was and when they were entering the house the saleswoman muttered loudly “these boys are back” which piqued my curiosity. So I went further to ask her what was the story with the boys and if they were trouble. The young men looked the part of the youth Yankee wannabes in their baggy trousers with looney tunes boxer shorts showing, wearing oversized cardigans in the sweltering heat and having studs in their ears.  I had a goofy look on my face when the recognition software in my mind clicked in and the lady noticing it asked me he I knew them or had heard of them. That is Ebow Akita and his friend who just got out of the taxi.

Those boys play the loudest music and have the most rave parties in the area. They will dance their way through anything and there is no music video in town you won’t find them not in. It was the name of the second guy that made me drop my almost empty coke bottle. Ziggy Gyan!

“Eiii abrantie, why?” The lady exploded. Sensing that there might be a juicy story she walked over and stood directly in front of me, her ample bosom showing with a thin film of sweat on her globules and beaded in the cleavage then with the nicest smile she could mutter she asked softly
“ekɔ sec tech aa” (did you attend sec tech) to which I replied in the affirmative and said Yes.  It was then she asked loudly if per any chance I knew a Kofi Kudu. My mistake was to say I did indeed and then she started raining insults on me.  Some of the names she called me are not worth of reprinting but I just stood there dumfounded. This young woman was obviously coming from a place of pain caused by a sec tech giant.

Wow what a day it was turning out to be. I quickly paid her for the soda and started to walk quickly away before people started staring at this irate woman raining insults on me as the insults followed me away. It was later when I called another friend of mine who perfectly described the woman and unfortunately had been meted out the same treatment by this self same woman who explained that it was a dude named Oppong who always practiced coitus interruptus who this woman had had a relationship with and whilst some colleagues had had children for giants, she had never even been satisfied sexually. She was also angry because she had found out there were three Oppong brothers and since it was always night she couldn’t make out which brother it was.

Quickly going past Zenith and Exile I realized that the area hadn’t changed too much and the lorry station now had been paved and the gutters made bigger. Furthermore some of the shops have been replaced by ultra modern buildings mostly housing financial institutions. 

What a nostalgic moment I was having just walking through these very paths me and my mates had trudged on over two decades ago. I couldn’t believe some of us will never walk these paths again due to being deceased, God rest their humble souls. I didn’t let that sad moment get to me but I smiled and said a prayer of Thanksgiving to God for the blessing of life.

Walking round the market circle could be very tiring. I remember when we used to say it was the biggest roundabout market in West Africa when we didn’t even know any others.  That phrase always reminded me of the proverb “you say your farm has the biggest tubers of yam when you haven’t been to another person’s farm”.  Reminded me also of those crazy moments when one dorm mate Kofi Frimpong suggested when we didn’t have food and were hungry on campus that we all wear overalls with nothing under and then storm the market and flash the food sellers and when they run away we collected what food items we wanted. He suggested that the worse they can do is to think we were mad men. There was a lesson in that being that it was not what was perceived about you but then being focused got you your hearts desire.

With these pleasant thoughts I stopped over at a coconut seller who looked more like a consultant in his business suit than a peddler. What actually drew me to that particular seller wasn’t only his suit but how well built and intelligent he looked. He looked like somebody who was born to be a leader and this is a rare genetic trait. Dude asked me if it was my first time in town and I said oh No! I’d attended school here and this was my memory walk. He was so excited hearing I was a giant and exclaimed in excitement he said “oh bleda, skul a na me pɛ dɛ me kɔ n’su mi papa, oh mi papa (That’s a school I wanted to attend but blame my father).

He said his mother said his father was a doctor in the United States who had been a school prefect at the school and it would’ve been easy for him to get admission because being such a product he would have had some sway. His mother only said his father was a funky dude named Zaroo and even though he had never met him he was sure he was a true son of his father hence we only wore business suits to sell his coconuts. To him he was an entrepreneur.

Abeiku, for that was his name, hoped to expand his business and go into other ventures such as selling provisions especially Nestle products and become an agent for them.  Wow! The irony was not lost on me.  I just ate my coconut in silence, wished him well thanked me and I walked on.

I remembered that the irate shop owner had directed me to one chop bar and I could feel my tummy giving me warning signals.  All that walk was taking a toll on me and I needed to refuel to maintain my sanity. The shop lady had me directions to “Awurade bɛ kyerɛ” chop bar and there was a hairdressing salon attached to it and I noticed a chubby pretty girl working there. Her movements and dexterity with her fingers impressed me and I was curious to know her parents. She said he mother was a Kenkey seller and her dad had been a pianist at  “sec tech church” as she put it. When I asked how old she was and if her dad still worked at sectech I almost spit my “pusna” (octopus) with the soup in my mouth all over her. I shouted Joe and she was confused. She said but she never mentioned her dad’s name.  I told her I was sorry and lied to her saying I had said “chow” which was ewe meaning what and we both laughed.

I had lost my appetite but Thank God I had eaten most of the food.  Today I had met too many people who looked like progeny of people I had been in class with over two decades ago and that was scary. I knew I could’ve headed back to the ample bosom shop owner for more information but I was scared she would turn me away. For a moment I thought to myself what if I offered her money for the info would she be offended? Well it was worth a try. 

First I placed an international call to London to tell Lord Bujay of my discovery and he advised that I leave it alone. He confirmed that on his last visit he saw two young boys who looked like him and readily came to walk with him and he gave them some money and walked quickly away before anybody could see any resemblance like he did. 

Wow! These are the deeds of my mates and to think that we were all in school primarily to study. Well,  they say when you don’t want anybody to see your misdeeds you put the spotlight on others. This is my story as I walked through the very streets me and my school mates had walked twenty some years ago as students of Mother Tesco.

Let me leave it alone before gift some more revelations that will knock me over moreover I was tired.

Disclaimer: 

Inasmuch as the names of places and people in this piece are true the story is purely fiction and not intended to malign any of the men in the story who are all happily married now and doing very well in their various spheres of endeavor. I’m proud to know you guys – Class of 93 Giants.

This is dedicated to you guys.

CHASS Conference

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on September 10, 2015 by kola

The 53rd edition of the conference of heads of assisted secondary schools (CHASS) was held in Tamale Senior High School auditorium and I happened to be around since it is in my district and directly on my way to work. Seeing the buses parked everyday like that I even thought that the headmasters had individually driven the various buses from their school and I could picture one headmaster per bus and driving all the way to the venue from their various locations. However I was put right that it wasn’t the case but that some of the headmasters had done car pools and some had even come by public transport.

Our headmasters are responsible for shaping the nation’s youth at the high school level which forms an integral part of growth and development of the youth.

One thing is very obvious too that these headmasters are enjoying by virtue of their positions and roles.  Until I went to the venue it had never occurred to me that an event like that will be such a fanfare with sellers of various products such as smocks, shoes and sandals, technological stuff like copiers and office equipment and even insurance and microfinance people soliciting for clients. Let’s not forget the most obvious group being those into the publishing and the sale of books.

My most profound discovery  was the levels of investment book writers and publishing houses were prepared to make to lobby these headmasters to accept their books. Various writers /authors of books were personally around to present copies of books freely as samples to the headmasters so they could endorse and probably recommend to the Ghana Education Service and the Ministry of Education to be adopted in the curricular or syllabus. Heads of schools could be sighted walking around weighted down by the number of books making it seem like they’d been to a book fair and gotten books when all these were free books for their personal libraries.

Thats where the real money is, I was told by the writers and publishers I spoke to.

The maths really makes sense if you ask me.

Furthermore there were companies sponsoring various aspects of the conference but the most noticeable was the Macmillan Publishing Company that was declared the official sponsor of the whole conference by their generous donations to the organization in lieu of the organization of the conference.

There were various speeches by various speakers on various topics ranging from child psychology through to personal development and covering a wide range of the headmasters role as the head of an institution. Sitting at the back listening to these speeches it looked as if very few of the participants were paying attention and that was not so surprising since even in our national parliament such attitudes are displayed with even some members dozing off.

However it was really a relief for me to hear that the presentations were all written in ‘the yellow book’ (the conference program)that each participant was given so at least there was an assurance that they could get to read it later.

That was really assuring.

One of the speeches that caught my attention was by Dr Agambila, Deputy National President for the Ghana Association of Writers (GAW), when various stakeholders were invited to the podium to give solidarity messages whose speech so tallied with what my #iBelieveInReading project stands for.

Dr Agambila mentioned that GAW has identified the promotion of reading and writing culture as very critical to national development and that it is the interest of every writer to have readers for their works. He went further to stress the role of the headmasters as the molders of tomorrow’s leaders and how some of them could share their inspiring stories by writing their memoirs. Finally, he stressed the need for collaboration between the various stakeholders GAW, GES and CHASS to make Ghana a nation of readers and writers because this will lead to an emergence of a Ghanaian able to manage his own affairs.

Found myself asking doesn’t this reiterate my constant mantra that a reading nation is a leading nation?

Anyways I am glad I sat in this conference to see how these heads of schools take their work seriously and how they are motivated to go out there and push for the development of Ghana through education. We all have our individual roles to play in national development and they are embracing theirs.

It is time we all put our shoulders to the till and put in our bit to develop Ghana our motherland. 

Some are doing our bit but the onus lies on us to draw attention to others to also pitch in and let’s move Ghana forward together.

Like I always say, it begins with YOU!!

Chale wote!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on September 7, 2015 by kola

To the non ga speaking average Joe the word chale wote will just mean nothing but the flipflops that have become so popular as bathroom sandals – sandals people wear to their bathrooms whilst cleaning up.

The etymology of the word is said to be derived from its literal meaning ‘Charlie let’s go ‘ where any close relation or friend will fit the title or name Charlie .

So I believe that when friends had to casually walk away in very informal situations they just needed to put their feet into any form of slippers and these flipflops were very convenient and comfy hence they became known as such .

In recent times though Africans have become more Afropolitan in their lifestyles, thinking and behavioral manners such that there must necessarily be a distinctive African identity to every single action be it naming a child, having a meal or in this case having a street festival.

The chale wote street art festival I think was aptly named because the idea was born out of making and exhibiting art on the streets of Jamestown to showcase indigenous art and blend with the beautiful culture of the Ga people.

Over the years however the festival has evolved into a total showcase with local youth groups especially trick biking, Rollerblade and acrobats amongst others have put up displays to at least get the attention of the visitors to the festival and make some coins.  The whole festival has become a cottage industry for the whole of the Jamestown community.

Daily economic activities shoot up during the festival. Public bars, cafes, pubs, kenkey sellers and general foods sales go up because the festival attendees have to eat and drink etc. Seamstresses and artists around even if not participating in the festival get discovered as well as the fishmongers and fishermen get attention too.

The festival itself attracts artists and people who want to showcase their wares and therefore mount stands at the festival. There are fashion items, art works and even general goods and some services, the latter especially with technology.

Best of all, in a world where connections be the order of the day, the street festival makes a meeting point for people from all walks of life and in various fields and stations in life. The festival proves to be a meeting point for people who want to go into various fields and ventures and also meet people of similar interests probably to form partnerships and alliances for various projects. Others too meet up for the fun of it.

Social media has made it easy for people to connect and the virtual world is so engaging that some people get so close without really getting to know each other physically. With the prevalence of Whatsapp, Hangout, snapchat,  Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms that track movement and information sharing, a festival like the chale wote street art festival provides the avenue for people who hitherto connect only on social media to connect physically.

Chale wote 2015 happened to be the most crowded and most hyped event due to the promos on social media and this year it was bigger because there were more activities and more sponsorship from media houses with more people involved including volunteers for the event. Furthermore the traditional state had a part to play in it because it fell within the period of the Ga Mashie annual homowo festival of which the people of Jamestown are part of. Thus there was a colorful procession of the chief and some of his entourage, with drumming and firing of musketry, through the middle of the festival and the cultural display was evident.

Everybody had a reason to be at this year’s festival and it was kind of overwhelming nor the first timers and for those who have been before, it was as exciting as ever. Technology was evident with the drones taking aerial shots, a tech company provided free Wi-Fi, companies displayed products and services, artists showcased their works exhibiting in the streets, others showcased their talents with their painting of murals on the walls or on the street floors, designers showcased their creations, cyclists and Rollerblade boys exhibiting their talents, Deejaws showing skill, providing beats to freestyle rappers and singers and friends meeting each other both local and international at the festival, all the while the people of Jamestown going about their daily routine like there was nothing going on.

The chale street festival 2015 has come and gone and it was pretty exciting. If you missed it please “chale wote” (friend let’s go!) to  the next one, at least to support the local art(s) which is what the festival is about in the first place.

Take that first step which is a commitment to be at the festival and like I always say it begins with YOU!!