Archive for social media

Autoimmune Diseases: Lupus Awareness

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on May 22, 2015 by kola

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When we talk of social media as being a very essential tool for communication and disseminating information, some cynics tend to doubt its importance. This article is wholly culled from a discussion on my friend Kobby Blay’s Facebook wall when he made a simple post about his own immune system attacking itself and wondered if that was even possible.

Dr Dzifa Kuwornu, a health advocate for communicable diseases stepped in to educate his readers about such diseases. Truth be told, yours truly had no idea this condition existed and that is why I’m sharing this.

 

The dialogue will be between Kobby and Dr Dzifa with several people chipping in but I assure you it’s worth the read.

So Kobby (KB) asks “this is scary, but why should my own immune system be attacking itself?”

Dr Dzifa Kuwornu (DK): we are talking about autoimmune diseases.

KB: oh, so doc your body’s immune system could fight itself? How is that?

DK: yes in autoimmune diseases the bodies disease fighting cells start attacking each other, the cells they are programmed to protect.

KB: how come?

DK: well, the exact cause is not known but we believe it is a combination of genetic and environmental factors. People with autoimmune conditions have the genes that make it susceptible to having the immune system go awry and it usually starts when an environmental trigger sets it off for example an infection, extreme stress, etc

Once triggered it starts overworking and when previously it would have done the its job and gone to ‘sleep’, now it does not get the signal to stop and continues to destroy itself.

KB: meaning your immune system under this situation wil be overworking right?

DK: your immune system is what helps you to fight foreign substances that enter the body. It is programmed in such a way that once it recognizes something as foreign it would attack it until it destroys it.

So if it identifies itself as foreign by some miscommunication it would attack that part of the body until it destroys it.

(This part sounded pretty grave to me)

Anna Abaitey (AA) interjects here with further explanation:

Exactly, whereas a normal person wakes up every morning feeling refreshed, people with autoimmune disorders wake up in the morning feeling tired and exhausted.

Every day comes with problems but people with autoimmune disorders wake up every morning with boxing gloves on, ready to kick this disease.

KB: wow Anna you don’t say. That should be very painful.

So is there a particular group of people that this affects and is it relative to age?

DK: true Anna, fatigue is one of the most troublesome problems people with autoimmune conditions face.

Kobby it can affect anyone though a lot tend to be women depending on the disease type.

KB: what are some of these autoimmune diseases?

DK: age; again that depends on the disease type. Lupus tends to affect young women or men in their reproductive ages. Rheumatoid arthritis may affect slightly older group though young people may be affected too.

Some examples: rheumatoid arthritis, systematic lupus erythematosus or lupus, multiple sclerosis, juvenile idiopathic arthritis, type 1 diabetes, thyroid disorders, there are a lot. (now that’s scary)

AA: the common ones are Lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, moisitis, fibromyalgia, etc.

KB: so how do I know if it’s an autoimmune disease?

DK: well it depends on the type and where it affects. We have those that are localized and then those that are systematic.

Localized one affect only one cell type eg the pancreas causing diabetes.

Systematic ones can affect any organ of the body. Thus depending on the part of the body affected, that would determine the tests to be done.

There is a screening test called the ANA that can be used to start the process but these tests cannot be done by just anyone. You need to see a specialist in that field or physician specialist.

Dorcas: there are 2 types of Lupus, discoid – affects skin and systemic affects organs.

Akua Ofosu chips in that one will have to see a specialist for an investigation and not a drug store attendant.

KB: Dzifa, can I prevent it?

DK: that’s a difficult question to answer because we are not yet sure exactly what is causing it, especially in our part of the world where it was thought not to be common. We need more research to tell us why the increase.

We advocate living healthy, avoiding processed food as much as possible, more fruits and vegetables, diets rich in the omega 3 and 6 fatty acids.

If we knew the cause then we will know how to prevent it.

Suzie Quartey asks a question: what are the chances of a sufferer going into remission?

Nii Otoo Ankrah: Suzie used remission which means it’s something that you get to live with the rest of your life. How difficult is it to manage financially?

AA: there is no cure for autoimmune disorders but the disease can be managed. If well managed, one can go on remission (a state when the disease gets less active)

DK: some people have had the condition starting after a stressful life event, some after certain procedures or medications.

They are expensive diseases to have. The tests for diagnosis can be expensive and so are the treatments and these are as said conditions that can be lifelong.

Unfortunately if not well managed, people can lose their jobs, etc

KB: Anna you seem to have some experience too, what can you share with me?

AA: financially, lemme take a deep breath, it’s not easy. It is very costly.

I was diagnosed with sensory motor neuropathy 11years ago and it’s been a long and interesting journey. I have learnt so much sometimes I even sound like a doctor.

It hasn’t been easy though but you learn to smile through the pain and be happy.

Suzie: autoimmune diseases are invisible to see making sufferers difficult to explain when they have a flare.

AA: it is very difficult to explain how you feel to others. People always think you are exaggerating or overreacting.

Nii Otoo: how many doctors do we have who have specialized in treating this type of condition and how much do people really know about these autoimmune diseases?

DK: true. There is very little awareness about autoimmune diseases, though they are more common than HIV/AIDS, sickle cell disease, muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, and cystic fibrosis all put together.

In terms of rheumatologists we have only 2 in the whole of Ghana. For the autoimmune diseases that affect other parts of the body like multiple sclerosis, the neurologists deal with that.

KB: Doc, now to home management. How can anyone with any of these autoimmune diseases manage him or herself well at home?

DK: for people with lupus, proper treatment can minimize symptoms, reduce inflammation and pain, and stop the development of serious organ damage.

With the current methods of therapy, 80 to 90% of people with non-organ threatening lupus can look forward to a normal lifespan.

These are not conditions to leave untreated.

DIET

It is hard to prove any connection between specific foods and disease activity. Obviously if you have food allergies you should avoid such foods. Otherwise a well balanced diet is generally best.

Diets in high fish and fish oil are relatively immunosuppressive and can help reduce inflammation.

To keep inflammation down the best studied are diets high in fatty fishes – salmon, mackerel, tuna and menhaden. They are known to reduce inflammation and so can fish containing omega3 fatty acids called EPA and DHA, as well as evening primrose oil.

Also green tea and green tea extracts can help reduce oxidative stress caused by inflammation and maybe tissue damage.

LIFESTYLE

Life with autoimmune diseases can be difficult and it’s natural for the physical effects of the disease and the prescribed medications to get patients down. You have to bolster self esteem and combat negative thoughts and really focus on the positive.

As many as 80% of people will experience fatigue and it’s unclear whey extreme fatigue occurs in so many people with autoimmune condition.

With your doctor’s approval, exercise can be a great tool for dealing with symptoms. Sometimes however, traditional exercises – such as aerobics class or weight training can be difficult whilst dealing with swollen joints and fatigue.

Yoga, Tai chi, Pilates, swimming on the other hand can be very useful for those with these conditions.

I can’t overemphasize the need to take your medications, though we know it can be challenging and comes with its own attendant problems.

AA: medications are very important. For people with these disorders, you cant possibly live a normal and pain free life without medications.

Nii Otoo: are these medications that are so important for patient’s survival covered by health insurance since they are very expensive?

If not, why?

Are there any efforts to get the drugs on health insurance?

DK: unfortunately no, they are not covered by health insurance. We used to get prednisolone which is not the definitive treatment but even that sometimes is hard to get.

Why? I guess because they are so expensive and the health system also is not aware about the increasing prevalence of these conditions.

We also hope that with the new standard treatment guidelines and the NHIS being involved in the drugs listed, we hope that it would mean drugs also get on the scheme.

We have to lobby the authorities by making our voices heard that these conditions exist and are causing a major challenge.

KB: hold on Doc, are autoimmune diseases inherited?

DK: the disease seems to have a hereditary component but it may not be directly inherited like say sickle cell disease. You may find different autoimmune conditions in one family, not direct mother to child usually.

People are more susceptible to developing an autoimmune condition if they have immediate relatives with the disease, but that doesn’t mean they will. In fact, most wont.

Even if a person with lupus has an identical twin, there’s only a 50% chance the undiagnosed twin will develop it.

(whew! That’s a relief to hear)

KB: what does every person diagnosed with an autoimmune disease like lupus need from friends and family, and the society?

DK: what do they need? Support and understanding.

That they are not pretending, they are not lazy.

Just the chance to live a normal life, have a family, an employer who understands the challenges.

AA: support and understanding. We feel a lot better when we know we’ve got people who understand us and will always be there for us. Makes life a whole lot easier. We don’t need sympathy. Not at all.

KB: is there a platform to know more? What does the organization do?

DK: please like the page on Facebook The Rheumatology Initiative, TRI Ghana, to learn more and support people with autoimmune conditions.

The Rheumatology Initiative is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing education, advocacy and research into autoimmune conditions in Ghana and Africa.  https://www.facebook.com/autoimmune.trighana?fref=nf

Come join us the first Sunday of every month as we share experiences and also learn how to manage our conditions at the Christ the King Church hall near the flagstaff house @2pm.

Watch out for our autoimmune awareness raising event in August.

KB: it may have to end here doc and thank you. Your years of practice and support for people with autoimmune diseases are worth unending praise.

 

For yours truly, I didn’t even know such a condition existed and now that I know, I am sharing. Hope it was an interesting read for you as it was interesting and educative for me reporting and sharing it with you.

Support people with autoimmune diseases, they are not lazy. Make it a point to find out what is wrong with people before you judge or brand them.

Like I always say it begins with YOU!!

 

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The BlogCamp2015 (2)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on May 15, 2015 by kola

blogcamp

so yes the blogcamp was on.

when we were on the blogwalk there was one interesting thing that caught my attention pretty much. it is that kumasi is a very neat town especially in adum where the #adumGang chose to traipse around. the irony is that at the waste management department compound, the waste was rather mismanaged and the yard proper was in disarray with weeds and unkempt dumpsters. well! why am i surprised. ghana for you!

after taking so many pictures the gang headed out to vodafone cafe, also in adum to upload the pictures since there was a time deadline of midday and OMG! that day of all days the internet was very very slow or not functional at all. bloggers had to rush out and get credits for other networks and load so they could upload pictures for the competition. it was a pretty shame but the most important lesson learnt was that in every situation have a contingency.

hey! it was so much fun mingling with other bloggers on the quest to who got the most profound pictures and interesting to know the perspectives with which some people took some photos.

all in all it was fun.

then came the having to rush back to the venue of the blogcamp itself on the knust campus and at first it was how we all got into one trotro with only one guy not part of us and when we had convinced the driver to take us directly to the venue, he had to open his mouth to complain that we were taking him off his route. oh! how i had wished then that it was a social media page. but everybody kept their thoughts in their heads even when the security said that they will not allow the troski to go beyond the barriers so we had to get down.

and then the whole group got lost!

yes we went to the wrong venue and had to retrace our steps but not before yours truly had gone mango hunting with a guy seling flash disks and micro chips.

upon all that we got to the hall and the #AsafoGang had not even arrived yet but the workshop was going on.

lunch time and folk made light of the meal in quick gulps showing how tired they were and deservedly too after all that walking for almost 2hours.

they say you can tell a lot from a person by how they eat and from what i observed i dare not delve into that.

in this era of dumsor, it was a welcome relief to get into the hall and find that electrictiy was intact and there was a standby generator. kudos to the organizers for that foresight although we didnt need it. being social media freaks it was time to see how gadgets had to be charged and yours truly had to charge my 2 phones, a tablet, a laptop and a power bank. plugs

oh! that is just me. and i am even not too tech savvy. lol

let me leave the rest to your imagination so you can figure out why upon all the extension boards placed in the hall even sockets outside the hall saw some action.

the panel discussion was educative on how to use social media in various aspects whether you were an individual or an organization and the moderator, Ato Ulzen did a good job asking the questions that were on the mind of blogcamp participants although there was a chance for the audience to ask questions which were very few.

then we went into the breakout session and Kajsa was ‘in her zone’ with Blogging 101. i have always loved how she breaks down her teaching to the very basic requrirements so that anybody could understand it and she was just the right person to take that ‘class’ introducing blogging to neophytes and even people who were already blogging but wanted to still get some basics.kajsa

Edward Tagoe in the other breakout session was also in his elements brimming with confidence in taking bloggers through using social media to achieve goals and to what extent social media could help influence society. from the discussions that ensued, it was obvious that even those who didn’t really understand how social media could be used to campaign to influence society realized that they have been missing out on the excitement involved.

the last action of the day was the final presentations of the various gangs from the blog walk. wow! Kumasi had really been documented and it was time for the gang leaders to let their pictures tell a story. there were so many photos and i’m sure members spent a pretty long time selecting photos and even on an angle to present a story.

in the end the #suameGang had the best story and presentation according to the judges but then it had all been a fun event. suame

oh yes! yours truly went on a photo bombing spree after the event and i laughed so hard i ended on the floor so literally rolling on the floor laughting (rotfl) when Nehemiah tried to hold his tummy in. i know i have saved the photo of the Tummy Gang as i call them and those guys are some of the smartest and most affable guys i know. just keep being you Tummy Gang especially Selikem.tummy

time to leave and another bus ride and this time it was unlike the morning ride. this time if you didnt partake in the fun then you did not come to blog camp2015. it was pretty sad that very soon we had to get off the bus and head home as the rest of the participants headed back to accra.

to everybody who was at the blogcamp2015, thank you for coming and i hope in all that fun you learnt a thing or two about blogging. we had a chance to put the faces to the twitter handles, to the facebook posts we saw the owners of the profiles we didnt know and i’m still trying to sift through it all.

if you missed blogcamp2015 and you are reading this, please don’t miss the next one.

kudos to the organizers and thank you to all the sponsors. we appreciate what you do for blogging ghana.

thank you kobby blay for the photos, they are amazing photos.

let’s go ahead and document ghana for the rest of the world.

like i always say, it begins with YOU!

all

BlogCamp2015

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on May 12, 2015 by kola

blogMe It’s another year and Blogging Ghana, the umbrella organization for all bloggers in Ghana organized their annual BlogCamp,  a forum for bloggers to learn the rudiments of blogging and also other aspects and everything more or less related to blogging.

This year’s theme was Social Media for Good.

Hitherto blog camps had been held in Accra but constant reminders and persistent poking by some members especially yours truly have made the organizers aware that even though the capital might shelter the biggest number of bloggers, the other regions also counted.

To this effect, gratefully, this year’s blog camp was held in Kumasi and to ensure that it didn’t pose any problem for any bloggers who wanted to attend, buses were provided to take participants to and from the venue.

Furthermore there were several changes to the conducting of blog camps. This year the awards ceremony was separated from the main event and held earlier apart from the seminars and workshops held in Kumasi whilst the former was held in Accra a fortnight before.

In addition to this, participant bloggers were divided into teams to organize a blog walk to partly document parts of the host city in pictures.

To effect 3 gangs were formed with gang leaders to select different areas of Kumasi in a photo walk competition.

The Suame Gang, the Adum Gang and the Asafo Gangs went head to head in a photo walk for Which there was a final presentation to determine who won the photo walk with prizes given out to the winners.

This, albeit being hectic was pretty exciting and documented kumasi like never before within the spate of the four or five hours the competition went on.

For updates follow the hashtags with the gang names or blogcamp2015 on twitter or Facebook.

However comparatively there was a low turn out due to several factors I can only speculate but I won’t get into. I can only wonder what kind of reports the organizers are going to write for the records.
For yours truly, the build up to the blog camp was exciting. Several days earlier I’d already planned not to miss it even though I’ve been travelling quite a bit and needed to rest for a while. When I heard buses will be provided tried to assemble bloggers in Tamale for the event. In the end the region was aptly represented by three bloggers including the most prolific blogger I know, Cecelia Amoafowaahttp://amoafowa.com

With the blog comp to start in the morning it was imperative to get into town early so did so with my twin http://gracelarbi.wordpress.com on Thursday to the Saturday when the event will be held to relax, having the blog walk slated for Saturday morning in mind too.

Friday night preceding the morning of the blog camp the excitement had mounted so much that I couldn’t sleep.  I was sleeping in spurts and bursts in anticipation of the event and since there was nothing much to do it was a night to break my twitter hiatus.

For a Long time I hadn’t tweeted anything and I was tweeting late Friday night into early Saturday morning so much so that it was like I was even monitoring the buses via twitter and using whatsapp to direct friends on how to get on the buses since I had a tweet on the pulse of the event, literally.

Then the light bulb moment popped up at the crack of dawn. This was going to be a bus full of social media people and bloggers, a good opportunity for networking and loads of fun, why not start the fun even before the main event.

Why not get on the bus and get driven with the others to the venue?

Cecelia wondered if I could pull it off and truly we did. We hopped on the bus right in front of our host residence and after hugging the amazing Kajsa and saying a few hellos, headed for the back of the bus where I knew I’d find the usual suspects.

And Boy! Didn’t I find them.

The mood in the bus was sombre and I was almost disappointed because I knew there were some fun folk on the bus and just maybe they had left too early and were still groggy with Sleep.

Alas they were all awake but pissed at the choice of music the driver had chosen to play in the bus.  The playlist was akin to what a deejay would play on the morning of a burial. That’s how one blogger described it and I thought to myself Thank God this bus is not a social media page else the driver will drive into a ditch(of course killing all the passengers) after reading all the comments and criticisms regarding his choice of music and driving.

However for the next half hour till the bloggers were dropped off to go participate in the blog walk it was fun just picking on each other and other people to tease even though it always ended back to the driver.

Gang members gathered together to pick trotros to their chosen locations and almost immediately the pictures started flowing in on twitter and instagram especially.

Blogcamp 2015 was on!

Social Persons

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on March 8, 2015 by kola

With the advent of social media we have met so many people who hitherto we wouldn’t have met or even could’ve have had any interaction with.

I know many of my readers will share my sentiments that they have met many people on social media websites and platforms  that exist on the world wide web.

Recently one of the youngest and most innovative  entrepreneurs of our time, the CEO of Horseman Shoes and “the president’s shoemaker” (as he’s come to be known as)made a touching remark of the powerful and far reaching effects of social media when he said that without it he wouldn’t have been in contact with some people whom have been inspirations and he’s known from afar. 

Businesses have been launched via social media platforms and here a classic case is the WearGhana brand that always does a social blitz for most of it’s events.

Mention can also be made of design houses like MSimps and Harmattan by Mabel Simpson and Immaculata Larbi. These businesses have made use of social media to a great effect and seen results.

So when it comes to the whatsapp application people join groups for various causes and yours truly is participant of almost 30such groups – both local and international.

It was in one of such groups that she was added. When I was told that there was a Kenyan group put together by an interesting independent woman and that I will find it fascinating I didn’t hesitate to be added. It was upon entering that I realized that the group was of young free thinkers who were upfront about almost anything.  That’s quite refreshing considering that Africans generally are uptight about some issues when it comes to our common problems. Here was a no holds barred platform where no subject was off limits. From belly button piercings to bisexual relationships and through social studies and politics, religion and sex no subject was off limits.

There is only one rule.
NO SPECTATORS!!

So one day a fun chick is added to the group and my first thought is Damn! This gal has the figure of an oboe.  What the heck!

The first picture she posted we all thought was Photoshopped and usually people not comfortable about doubting their photos so I had to find a way to get her to post more of her lovely photos. To this effect I confronted her to prove that the photo wasn’t and she finally had a photo where she stood on a stage right behind a huge guitar and I’m Sure most of the men given the choice will stroke the guitar in clothes and not the bare wood she had in her hands. 

There was no doubt both would produce the most delicious sound. 

In the next few weeks it became obvious that this was no bimbo. I’ve always been intimidated by beauty and brains and maybe it’s because I find such women so attractive it has a profound effect on me.  This was one chica who knew exactly what she was about.

Not only was she selfish she was also a philanthropist with a focus on young women and trying to get them through the rough patches they got in life through various methods available such as mentoring and just looking out for them.
Over the weeks folk in the group have become like family and there has been sharing of emotions and general stuff, Happy times mostly and sad times when the group has been used as a therapeutic platform to help members cope with the various adversities in life. Deaths have been mourned, relationships have taken either a dive or spiralled depending on the needs of the participants, job opportunities have been shared as well as research on various topics.

Lately births have been celebrated most. 

But focus on the support system provided as this heavenly guitar sprung it on us that she had gone for a checkup and there was bad news that she was sick.  The ability to own up to it and recognize this group that she has come to know like family for a few months is even unique in itself. The Passion family also didn’t disappoint and rallied in to support one of their own.

What intrigues yours truly most is that this young motivator didn’t see herself as an island when in crisis but then jumped into her social media family to open up and share not only her life but her fears and aspirations. Most of us will consider ourselves as individuals and be in our own corner and suffer in silence and that’s exemplified in the recent death of one of Nollywood’s young budding superstars who had a terminal illness and kept it to himself to his grave. Sad!

VAL! We’re here for you as a family and will always be. Passions got your back and this write up is dedicated to you. In you we see a friend and a sister, a colleague and a peer and Precious sees you as a mother and a mentor.

For all the young ladies they see you as a motivator and we pray you just live Long to achieve your purpose for which God put you on this planet. 

Be a shining light to your friends, family and country and through social media this Ghana man is privileged to know you. We will meet one day soon.

Social media causes change and though it you can not only cement friendships and meet cool people like VAL but you can spark a change process one person at a time t affect your community and your country.

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!!

Prep School Mental

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on July 26, 2014 by kola

When we were growing up we woke up at 4am, did our chores, tuned in to GBC Radio to listen to Everyday English and take notes. Then you headed off to school to answer questions from your English teacher on what you learnt from the program and you know some whipping was guaranteed. If you passed that then you moved on to the next class which was the mental. You closed from school and then went straight home.

Fast forward to kids of today. They’re on whatsapp/BBM at 11pm, wake up at 4am to continue IM chats and mostly communicate in shorthand, shoot sex tape videos, congregate at the mall at weekends with chums and groping gal friends whilst smoking cigarettes openly. They understand street English more than official English.

These two paragraphs with a little emphasis from me was the reflective post of one of the most witty social commentators I know Kofi Obirinkorang and had his friends commenting on the post.

One comment in particular caught my attention and inspired this article:
“I went the mall on one holiday and saw about 2,000 high school kids – all of them sporting skinny jeans, checkered shirts, ankle high trainers, ray ban-ish specs, and fitted hats…shocked I didn’t know it was the current trend….I was like “Damn I’m old”.

With regards to what went wrong a commentator made this point:
“When we were growing up, training us right was the focus of our parents’ lives since we were supposed to be a reflection of who they were as people. Nowadays our wealth and academic laurels plus societal standing have become a reflection of who we are as people instead of our kids so we strive for all these forgetting to train up our kids right hence the decay in their morals.”

This was also in support of the above statement:
“True we got naughty and lazy along the way when growing up but because we had a strong foundation. ..certain values stayed with some of us and once we went past the naughty and lazy stage. .. we excel in so many areas it’s amazing. ..
It made first and second degrees become like a stroll in the park”

There two comments epitomize the responsibility of parents in bringing up their children instead of passing the puck to teachers and we can attest first hand to the calibre and dedication of some teachers of today.

Technology It’s said is partly to blame for this anomaly. As posited in his post the mobile craze has hit the current generation hard.

“..Technology came with all these things we see. The best you watch then was Bop TV and akan drama et al. Now they are watching all these series laced with so much sexual stuff and an open invitation to learn about gay stuff. It is pretty sad. The dynamics changed.”

Okay so picture how I was brought up against the backdrop of all you’ve been reading so far.

Every other day after assembly we marched into class and teacher waited for us to be seated. “Take out your mental exercise books. Start work!”

This is even before he starts writing the 20 questions on the board.
When he was done, he walked back to his desk, picked up his cane and shouted STOP WORK!

We passed the books forward and exchanged it among the rows for marking. You took your book back and then the action began.

With “Class Stand!!” The whole class stood up and teacher started from the top 20/20 sit down. Everybody standing got 2 lashes each.
Then 19/20, 2 more lashes
Then 18/20, 2 more lashes
Then 17/20,2 more lashes
  – All the way to 0/20.
Now imagine if you got low marks every time.

After this the day proper started.

With all this you went home thinking of what was going to happen the next day. How would you not grow up with the ability to think on your feet when it matters most.

In this day, parents will call that child abuse.  Capital punishment doesn’t exist in schools anymore and there were some calls for it to be reinstated in the education system at the recent Tamale Forum. It has gradually become almost impossible to control growing children.

What do we expect with regards to morality in our society when the children of the high profile in the society are the ones having open air sex and recording it (beats my mind why they do that) and then leaking these videos all over social media.

It’s petty high time our generation took it upon ourselves to mentor these young ones, at least those willing to learn, to be better future leaders because the rate at which we’re going is fast going beyond alarming.

Various non governmental organizations (got my own problems with those) and foundations are doing their best such as Ghana Think with its BarCamp, JuniorCamp and other social media forums that delve into such issues and topics. But it’s never enough if we all don’t put our hands on the till.

One person can make a change one person at a time and like I always say,  it begins with YOU!! 

#BringBackOurYouth