On July 11, around 12:40pm GMT, I was rounding off a night of partying in Las Vegas. To me, life was good. What was I missing? Barack Obama's address to the Ghanaian Parliament in Accra. Obama is building a legacy of great speeches and this was also bound to be a historic one. Hussein did not disappoint. He was speaking the capacity as the 'leader of the free world' and president of the great US of A. As I read the speech more carefully today, I felt America's first Black president seemed to be speaking for Africans and Africa, even more than for America. He did show a lot of tough love to Africa in there but his tone was one of - this is what Africa needs and desires, this is the way 'we can do it', and this is the way the rest of the world (America, etc) should help. Obama has some Africa in him and for those of us Africans who wondered how much help he'll be to us, I believe we should sleep well at night because he does mean business.
This past weekend marked the visit of Barack Obama to Ghana. A lot has been said about the significance of this visit, this being the first trip to a sub-Saharan African nation by the first Black American president. I missed most of the speeches and festivities since I had 'gotten away' for the weekend and have been reading up on some blogs written by various Ghanaians on the Obama trip. I will like to share some thoughts from these awesome people.
GhanaConscious' own Omanba critiqued Barack's speech. She broke it down into four major parts - democracy, health care, conflict resolution and doing it yourself. I personally think too much mention is made of democracy but Omanba spells it out nicely - "An era of tyranny, gagging, misuse of power and governing with impunity sprinkled with a dash of Elections every so often, does not constitute democracy. Africa must take note!" She stresses the fight against HIV-AIDS and Malaria and also mentions drug counterfeiting which leads to a shameless plug about the fantastic work of Mpedigree.
I haven't followed Barack Obama much since he became the US president but ever since news broke of his impending visit to Ghana July 10-11, I've become a little more attentive. I hear he will be giving a speech at the Independence Square for which Ghanaians from all walks of lie could go see him speak. Obama is noted for great speeches and I believe we have another one coming up, after his stirring speech at the American University of Cairo earlier this year.
Recently, he sat down with journalists from AllAfrica.com to talk about his visit to Ghana. Ghana is seen as one of the shining stars on the continent and it's easy to see why it would be chosen. It is also a leader in the Pan-African movement, with events like Panafest. President Kuffour also built great ties with Bush's America and the ties will continue with Obama-Mills. Barack Obama is believed to be visiting the Central Region during his short stay in Ghana, probably touring the slave castles there and learning about some more Black history.
Sometime last year, news broke of Obour, a Ghanaian rap artiste, wanting to run for president. It turned out he wasn’t serious about it, but he wondered why ‘young people’ couldn’t run for the highest office in the land. He wanted the minimum age for seeking for the presidency to be reduced from 40. He started a Youth for Presidency campaign saying the constitution was not fair to the youth. Kufuor was more than 60 when he became president and Atta Mills is 64 at the moment. Is the presidency of Ghana for retirees? Maybe it is. We are seeing a youth movement in the present NDC government though, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, an Odadee, is the present deputy minister of information and he is under 30. His age mate, Obour tells us what he would do if he were president in his ‘President Obour’ song. How will the youth handle such responsibility? Do we need more young leaders like Samuel? If we have to pay our dues before we get that type of responsibily, what are those dues?
Bice Osei Kuffour, popularly known as Obour, is one of Ghana’s foremost musicians. He emerged onto the scene with interesting lyrics in his ‘Atenteben’ hit and has continued to remain one of Ghana’s top rappers. He is one of the few hiplife artistes who has a university degree, from the University of Ghana no less. He started his own sports’ bar in the heart of Accra and has other enterprises. He organized one of the best tours ever seen in Ghana, taking his Project Obour.com/Atumpan concert tour to over 35 towns in Ghana. He is also known for his various public campaigns; Road Safety campaign (Okoaba), Peace in Ghana campaign (For Election 2008) and the ABC Ghana Reads campaign. He understands the influence he has as a celebrity and entertainer and is using his fame for socio-economic development and for socially conscious programs.
On December 22, 2008, over a hundred young Ghanaians met in Accra for BarCamp Ghana '08 to exchanged ideas on entrepreneurship, innovation and development for a rising Ghana. This summer, the conversations move to Washington, DC to bring together the African Diaspora to exchange ideas on doing business in Africa.
For a long time now, I have concentrated on writing articles that focus on Ghana's development as a whole, without looking too critically at the various factors and elements that contribute to Ghana's inability to accelerate development. Following my independent study research this past year on Ghana and Malaysia's economic development, I realized that specifics are just as important as generalities, and in the case of Ghana, the lack of development in Northern Ghana is one particular factor that greatly hinders Ghana's development efforts. I am Dagomba, hence from Northern Ghana, so I might be a bit biased when it comes to this topic. However, I'll attempt as much as I can to be objective in this article, and although I will talk about how the disregard for Northerners feeds under development, I'll also take it from a case-study point of view, looking at Malaysia, in order to explain why it is imperative that the Ghanaian government quit paying homage to words, and put actual action into motion.
When my friend sent me an email asking if I wanted to attend a lunch with Patrick Awuah, I was ecstatic. I had met Patrick before, at the Harvard Business School African Business Conference in 2005 but being able to get this face-to-face time over a free meal was too good to pass up. Patrick Awuah is my hero. I tried to tell him when I saw him but I don't know if he understood the gravity of my statement. Patrick is the kind of person most of us must aspire to; an individual whose heart is set on Africa's development, has taken, continues to take steps to realise the African dream. What has Patrick done to deserve my awe? He started the Ashesi University, a model university in Accra which is setting the pace for educating the next generation of African leaders, entrepreneurs, etc.
When a female soldier in a Ghanaian movie (Scorned) was shot in the line of duty and taken to hospital, she wasn't taken to Korle Bu. She was taken to Lister Hospital, a modern healthcare facility in Accra, not very far from the Tetteh Quarshie Interchange. Lister's website says the Lister Hospital and Fertility Centre is the most technologically advanced private hospital in West Africa. From the movie and the susequent scenes in and around the hospital, it looks modern, clean and high-class. Basically, the healthcare costs there will be high. I wonder if the National Health Insurance Scheme would suffice for costs there. In the era, where countless government personalities have to fly abroad to get excellent medical care, it's refreshing to know about institutions like Lister Hospital, however small they are. There should be more Listers and the public health system should catch up with the needed state investment.
How many world-class hospitals are in Ghana? Last time, this issue came up, someone said there was one; the Trust Hospital. I have never been there before, and haven't known of any friends/family who had treatment over there. Nyaho Medical Centre is also highly regarded, as well as the Ridge Hospital to some extent. Is Dr. Edward Mahama's hospital great? What about Dr. Edmund Delle? Does he even have his own private clinic? With the growing middle-class, it should be prudent to operate more and more private clinics where people have the bang to buck. Or a buck for every bang suffered. You get the point.
The last time I wrote to you, your daughter, Samia, had become a Member of Parliament. Now, she is in the news again praising Ghana’s new president, Asomdwoe Hene Atta Mills for proposing a Founder’s Day to honour you. This national holiday would commemorate your 100th birthday, September 21, 2009 and would be a yearly affair just like Martin Luther King Day in the USA. I don’t know why this bit is not surprising, but the folks in the New Patriotic Party (NPP) have opposed this proposal and getting this legislation to pass is going to be a battle in parliament. This opposition is being branded as a feature of the “Mate me ho” folk, which dates back as far as you emerged on the scene as Ghana’s leader. The National Democratic Congress’ majority will probably chalk another democratic victory so felicitations again, Osagyefo, it seems you are about to chalk another feat.
from the MIghTy African
When I first heard about BarCamp from my GhanaThink buddy, I was apprehensive. What is this BarCamp that I have heard of before? I still don’t know why it’s called BarCamp, even after helping organize BarCamp Ghana. What I do know is is that the concept of a BarCamp is excellent. It has almost everything I want in a gathering of minds, hands and people. BarCamp Ghana 08 came off yesterday, December 22nd at the Kofi Annan Center of Excellence for ICT – AITI. Ever since I arrived in Ghana on Tuesday the 16th, I’ve had many ideas of a blog and subject matters to write about, but the excitement that is BarCamp generated for me trumps all.
My first real experience with BarCamps was BarCamp Africa. It was organized by a group of people, mostly non-African who were passionate about or had some interests in Africa. Google sponsored the BarCamp, giving us a whole building for free – an auditorium, a kitchen/bar with free food all day (yay!) and more than 10 rooms all with internet, power, etc. Attendees were charged $25 which was a bargain fee, considering how much the HBS ABC costs, or even SABF. (Google these). When I first got to the Google premises, the organizers were wearing T-shirts, yes tee-shirts, not suits, smart casual shirts and slacks, but the same attire I slept with the other day. They gave me one and some info, and I proceeded to the auditorium. More people there were wearing these white T’s (you’d have thunk we were going to break to partake in some hip-hop video.
I hope you are doing well and getting into another gear for the festive season. As for me, I'm following Kaakyire Kwame Appiah's 24 song to the tee, I'll be going to Sikakrom to spend Christmas. Even though there is a credit crunch, I still have some money to purchase a ticket from one continent to the other and buy Christmas gifts. It's called 'saving by being chisel and hustle' . I'll be going to meet a Ghana I haven't seen in awhile, a Ghana that is gearing up for an election. That should be interesting. Ghana's election is going to a second round. The NPP and NDC would be going at it. One person who will not be going against anything is sure to be Samia Nkrumah. She's the new member of parliament for Jomoro.
Osagyefo, your daughter is a wonder o! Many people didn't give her a chance to wrest the parliamentary seat from Hon. Lee Ocran, and besides the NPP did have a candidate in the Jomoro race. Your name does do wonders! Samia's opponents were running against your name, the name that rings synonymous with Ghanaian independence. It could be likened to running a long-distance race against an Ethiopian or Kenyan. Maybe Jomoro voters were enthralled by the beauty of Samia Yaba in that ballot box. Fair-coloured woman with an Nkrumah last-name? Done deal. There was talk of her campaign being funded by the ruling NPP government. That didn't break her down. Her brother and your ‘prodigal son’, Sekou, fired shots at her from the camp of the NDC, but that didn't rattle her. I wish Sekou had run for MP too. Imagine if he run against Ellembelle Mugabe? Samia still trounced Ocran and is now the sole CPP parliamentarian.
Forgive my insubordinate self for not keeping in touch. I know my letters have become occasional but it's not because you didn't send me that stimulus package. I will change. But as you can guess, there is an occasion. Coming up in two days is the election in Ghana. Ghana will be electing a new president as Traveller John steps down after two-terms. We know for sure there will be a change in who our first citizen is. Would there be a change in what our first citizen does? The world is looking at Ghana wondering if we'll pass another test in our democracy. We'll be praying for peace and a free and fair election.
Kwame, people are saying Ghanaians are too 'chill' for post-election violence in case some group of people feel there is a stolen verdict. Kenya and Zimbabwe cannot happen in Ghana they say. Some credit you for pushing unity amongst Ghanaians, overseeing the development of our education system which encouraged Ghanaians to leave their hometowns and settle in areas where their mother tongue was not spoken and children attending boarding schools all over the country. Kenya has done similar things so what is so different about Ghanaians? It's because we have seen what happened there and various campaigns have been waged to curtail any violence. I think the presidential candidates should have joined Junior Judas and Traveller John in a short video to preach peace as well. We haven't taken this thing too seriously.
It's been two weeks since my last post. I didn't see this silence coming when I started blogging. But what you should know is, I got stories, lots of stories. Last Thursday, I attended a meeting regarding a new NGO set-up to raise funds for students in one district in Kenya. One of the founders has been my Swahili tutor for two quarters. To show that I belonged, I started speaking the little Swahili I knew to whoever would listen. "Why are you studying Kiswahili?" This is the question other people at the meeting asked me. I responded "Marafiki zangu 'plenty' wanatoka Afrika Mashariki" which means 'a lot of my friends are from East Africa'. My Swahili tutor went on to say 'This guy is a Pan-Africanist'. That is a cool thing to hear given my love for Kwame Nkrumah, but is it really a cool description? How are Pan-Africanists seen today? People blamed Nkrumah for concentrating too much on other African countries and he eventually began to alienate his own people. Will being a Pan-Africanist thread me on the same path?
Happy Belated Birthday Osagyefo,
Kwame, some people in this world are old, but as for you, you are grown. What! 99 years! I am struggling with my quarter-life crisis and am dreading the next few years; I can't even imagine a mid-life crisis. Happy belated again sir, and may you find rest and sleep at the same side of the bed you slept on September 20th. Do find that spot again because you smiled at your fans. You must have smiled when you read the news about the national launch of your rejuvenated party's campaign for this year's election. The CPP is back, new, vibrant and attractive.
Nkrumahists like us cherish your birthday like other holidays in the Ghanaian calendar. Were you called the African Showboy due to the flamboyant parties you threw for your birthday? Were you called the African Showboy because of how you lavished cedis (when they were as good as dollars) on your friends and sympathizers? September 21st is remembered as your birthday but the chapter has been re-written, the 2008 version will go down as the day Paa Kwesi Nduom's CPP launched its national campaign with a rally for the ages and introduced the running mate in the race for the FlagStaff house, the site of the new Presidential Palace. Actually, the Presidential Palace is on hold due to a myriad of problems, so let's call this election the race to be the first citizen of Ghana. Shall we?
Blog entry culled from MightyAfrican's Blog
Many years ago, we used to have movie cinemas in Ghana. When movies were being advertised, they will say - showing at Rex Cinema, Roxy Cinema, among others. These days we don't hear that anymore. When that guy with the loud voice is promoting the new Agya Koo movie and the new Van Vicker flick, you are directed to the same stores that distribute Ghanaian music for you to buy the latest movies. There is everything wrong with this trend, but let's go back to see how we got here in the first place.
When I was in Presec around 2001, Ghanaian movies were up and coming. We had movies like Stab in the Dark, Stab in the Dark part 2, Ripples, Diabolo, You can't laugh, Who killed Nancy, among others. Some of our major actors even joined forces with Danny Glover and Omar Epps in 'Deadly Voyage'. We were encouraged by the productions. We had movie houses like Harry Laud Productions, Miracle Films, Venus Films, among others. Ghanaian movies were lauded, they were interesting and people actually wanted to watch and buy them.