June 2011

Ghanaian Celebrity: Pops Mensah-Bonsu

Basketball is traditionally a sport that is not as popular in the UK and Ghana compared to football. However in this month’s profile we celebrate a British born Ghanaian who has achieved worldwide success as a professional player in a short space of time.

Nana Papa Yaw Dwene “Pops” Mensah-Bonsu is the young man I speak of. In the Ghanaian language Twi, Mensah-Bonsu’s name means King (Nana) Father (Papa) Thursday Born (Yaw) Three (Mensah) Whale (Bonsu). Thus he often goes by the nickname “King Killer Whale” and he has certainly embodied that on the basketball court, here’s his story…

He was born in Edmonton, North London and after starting out as a junior at the English Basketball League club Hackney White Heat, Mensah-Bonsu moved to the USA. He spent his sophomore year of high school playing at the Hun School of Princeton in Princeton, New Jersey, and then transferred to St. Augustine College Preparatory School in Richland, New Jersey. He majored in psychology at the George Washington University, where he played power forward and center.

He was second team all-conference in 2004–05 and averaged around 15 points per game.Mensah-Bonsu initially signed a two-year contract with the Dallas Mavericks, and played for the Fort Worth Flyers, the NBA D-League affiliate of the Mavericks. He made the D-League All Star Team and was MVP of the game, with 30 points and 7 rebounds.Mensah-Bonsu was recalled to the Mavericks on 8 February 2007. He scored his first NBA points against the Atlanta Hawks.

He started his professional career in February 2009, when he began playing with the Austin Toros, the San Antonio Spurs NBA D-League affiliate. In his eight games with the Toros, Mensah-Bonsu averaged 26.6 points, 13.0 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks per game. On 25 February, he signed a 10 day contract with the San Antonio Spurs. In March 2009, the Toronto Raptors picked up Mensah-Bonsu, giving him a guaranteed contract until the end of the season. Pops made his debut with the Raptors the same day, against the Miami Heat, posting 4 points and 10 rebounds. He became a fan favorite with the Raptors.

On 21 August 2009, Mensah-Bonsu verbally agreed to a deal to join the Houston Rockets for the 2009-10 season to provide frontcourt depth after the injury to Yao Ming. The signing was made official on 3 September 2009. On 13 November Mensah-Bonsu was released from his Houston Rockets contract, and on 17 November he re-signed with the Toronto Raptors .On January 5, 2010, he was released by the Raptors to make room for their returning injured reserves]and signed with PBC CSKA Moscow.

He returned to the NBA, where he played for the New Orleans Hornets, but was released in January 2011. On February 17, 2011, he signed a contract with the French team ASVEL Villeurbanne until the end of the season.

At the age of only 27 Pops Mensah-Bonsu has gone from the amateur college leagues to scaling the heights of the NBA playing some of its best teams as well as playing in leagues in Italy, Russia and France. After enjoying such a varied career in such a short space of time he should serve as an inspiration for any budding young players both in the UK and Ghana. So this month “King Killer whale” we salute you!

Ben Jk Anim-Antwi

Ghanaian Celebrity: Loick Essien

Essien began his musical career in 2008, when he appeared on rapper Chipmunk’s debut single “Beast”. The single, released on 8 October 2008, debuted at number 181 in the UK Singles Chart and later appeared on the album I Am Chipmunk.

Talented Essien also featured on artist Bashy’s lead single from his upcoming second album,
“When the Sky Falls”- The single was released independently on 12 March 2010, debuted at number 114 in the United Kingdom.

On 12 October 2010, Essien found his independent path, through releasing his debut solo single;
“Love Drunk”- in the UK through Sony Music, where it debuted at number 57 in the UK chart. It was then confirmed in February 2011 that Essien would release his debut album, entitled Identity later that year. The second single to be released from the album, entitled “Stuttering” was released on 6 February 2011 and featured Grime group N-Dubz, the single marked Essien’s top 40 debut, when it charted at number 36 on the UK Singles Chart.

Here is a snippet of Loick caught in the moment, answering a few Questions in an interview with MTV, so we’ll find out fresh stuff!!

Q: What were N-Dubz like to work with? Seeing as they have been doing this for a while, did they offer you any words of advice?
A: Definitely they just said that they think I’m going to do some really big things in 2011 – they’re supporting me all the way, and anything I need help with, they are there so let them know. I think that was just really nice, just to have their support and to know that they’re were on my side, and kind of want me to do well. Other than that, it was laughs and jokes, we had a good time and a good day it was a successful shoot.

Q: Do you think Stuttering and your previous material (e.g. Love Drunk) are good indications of what fans can expect from your album, Identity?
A: I think what fans can expect is a diverse album, because although I’ve done Love Drunk and Stuttering, they’re very different in terms of sound. I just feel like there are a lot more sounds on there as well, like slow jams for the girls.

There is also a party record, when you just want to go out. You might be with your boys or with your girls and getting ready to go out and you just want to get into that mood for that moment, then there’s the ballads, where you’ve got me singing my heart out about love. I think there’ll be features on there that’ll blow minds as well but I can’t really talk about them, but I think it’s going to be crazy.

Q: If you were to describe your album in three words, what three words would you chose?
A: Fresh, Current, Amazing!

Q: Are there any new artists coming up through the ranks that you think we should look out for, apart from yourself?
A: I think you should definitely look out for Encore and another band called Dutchess, they’re crazy as well.

Q: You have been named as one of MTV’s artists that we love, what can we expect from you in 2011?
A: I think more music, more music videos, more shows to see me sing my heart out, hopefully the N-Dubz tour and of course, more of Loick!

Watch out for Loick’s new single currently out now, ‘How we Roll’ ft Tanya Lacey!!!

By Trey’C.

5 Reasons we LOVE Ghana

1 – Independence Under Kwame Nkrumah Ghana became the first African State
to achieve independence from colonial rule in 1957.

2 – Football Watching a match with a fellow Ghanaian I guarantee is one of the most
exciting/loud things you could ever experience.
Watching a match with us is always a vibrant experience and usually includes
expressive noises, insults, chants, shouting, and lots and lots of celebratory dancing
don’t say I didn’t warn you.

3 – Dance We have the best dancer obviously known as Asamoah Gyan the sunderland footballer a.k.a baby jet.

4 – Films Jackie Appiah Is amongst one of the best actresses in Africa, as well as doing
us proud by receiving the awards for Best Actress in a Leading Role at the 2010 African Movie Academy Awards

5 – Transport – It’s great to have your own ride, But what tops, being driven around anywhere in the city for less than a dollar using the Tro-Tro service – where you squeeze into a big van full of people, wailing babies, baskets of food, and sometimes even animals, and hiss at the mate when you want to “alight” and just relax and enjoy the interesting conversation which usually pops up with the driver.

We have certainly progressed as a nation from the Yaa asantwaa war, to the 2010 world cup ( An unforgettable moment), Ghana’s collaboration with cadbury’s chocolate and so many more…


WAM-tastic! – WAM Campaign 2011 launched

Friday 03 June 2011 was the day and the Ghana High Commission in London was the setting for the official launch of MeFiRi GHANA’s WAM Campaign for 2011. For those of you who don’t know by now, the WAM Campaign is a Project designed to provide a gateway which connects young people to Ghana. The aim is to provide an accessible gateway to connect young people with Ghana and to give back and develop opportunities for orphans and less fortunate young people in Ghana through participating in the development programme in December in Ghana and through organizing volunteering/fundraising activities. The word WAM is an acronym which stands for What About Me and the slogan for the WAM Campaign is What About Me? It’s Not about ME”.

The evening started with the arrival of guests from 5pm and the serving of Canapés in the main foyer. I was actually running on “black peoples time” and arrived a little after half 5 but was greeted warmly by Joseph Aninakwa of the MeFiRi GHANA team.

There was such a good vibe in the foyer; everybody was all smiles and full of conversation. As I left my bag at the cloakroom I made a beeline for the drinks table for a glass of juice, there I was greeted by Jacqueline Manu (who I must say was looking on point in her outfit!) of the MeFiRi GHANA team and Project manager for the Wam Campaign 2011. We had a brief chat and by the time I spotted my cousin in the foyer we were being ushered into the main hall for the start of the event.

Whilst inside the hall there was almost an air of anticipation and excitement amongst the audience for what was to follow. I noticed the Ghana High Commissioner to the UK H.E Prof. Kwaku Danso-Boafo enter the room and make his way to the front of the hall which added to the anticipation.

The event was opened by the poet Chaleboy aka Benjamin Bennett who recited a piece of his work which would set the tone for the evening. Then it was the turn of Ras Kwame, sporting a t-shirt that had the words ‘Me Dor Ghana’ (I love Ghana) emblazoned on the front of it to introduce the event.

Arnold Sarfo-Kantanka (Co-Founder of MeFiRi GHANA) was next to take to the stage and as he greeted the audience he quickly introduced the High Commissioner Prof Danso-Boafo to take to the stage and say a few words. The High Commissioner made a point of heaping praise on the Mefiri GHANA team and encouraging everybody to get involved in the forthcoming WAM Campaign. Arnold proceeded to share a few words and then we were invited to watch a clip of the previous Wam campaign that took place in December 2010 in Accra. It was a moving and inspiring clip as it illustrated firsthand the work of MeFiRi GHANA and their volunteers with the children at the orphanage. Though there was also some light entertainment as the clip – produced by the creative Ernest Simons – also showed Arnold’s rendition of the “migraine skank”! which drew smiles and laughter from the audience.

The theme of WAM 2010 continued as Nancy Blake-Sarkodie (a university student who volunteered as part of WAM 2010) took to the stage to relive her experience as a volunteer. She was beaming with pride and it was obvious to everyone that she had got a lot out of the experience. Our attention was then drawn to the TV once more as another clip was played, this time featuring Emmanuel Frimpong a rising star at Arsenal FC and the WAM campaign Ambassador.  He reiterated how proud he was to be Ghanaian and the pride he felt when playing for Arsenal.

Fifi Atta Mills (son of President John Atta Mills & WAM Youth Patron) was next up to say a few words about what inspired him to get involved in the WAM campaign. His words were received warmly by the audience and by the time he had left the stage it was time for a Q&A session which brought the MeFiri GHANA team led by Nana Adu-Sarfo (Co-Founder of MeFiRi GHANA) to answer any questions the audience had.

We were then treated to a rendition of the Destiny Child’s song –‘Stand up for love’ by Akua Busia (who I heard was only 17!). Akua showed maturity beyond her years as she serenaded us with her powerful vocals, she was very impressive and may be a name to look out for the future. She received huge applause as she left the stage and it was then left to the host Ras Kwame to close the event, he did so by thanking everybody for their attendance and inviting everyone to stay behind for more canapés and networking.

I stayed behind afterwards to mingle with the crowd and noticed a few recognisable faces such as Sway, Andy Ansah, Nii Sackey, Melvin Odoom, Eddie Kadi and Vivian “Dentaa” Boateng.  The evening was an overwhelming success and as I left the venue with my cousin we had the feeling that we attended something truly worthwhile and that the event would surely act as catalyst to encourage the Ghanaian community and friends of Ghana to get involved in WAM 2011.

Remember people it’s not about YOU but what YOU can do to help others!

Written by Ben JK Anim-Antwi

If you would like to get involved with the WAM Campaign, please email Jacqueline at: Jacqueline@mefirighana.com

For any press related content or enquiries, please contact Rickie at: rickie@mefirighana.com

African Cup of Nations: Ghana 3 -1 Congo

On the day that the Me FiRi GHANA Team launched the 2011 WAM Campaign at the Ghana High Commission (UK), the Ghana football team were playing an important match back in Ghana. The Black Stars emphatically beat Congo 3 goals to one in a must win game against Congo in an African Cup of Nations qualifier match; which took place in Kumasi.

To see some of the highlights, see the video below guys:

Ghanaian Food: Jollof Rice Light hearted comedy

When the Entsir brothers got in touch with us via our twitter account (@Me_FiRi_GHANA) and after watching the video you can see why we had to post this. An original medley at its finest all about the trials and tribulations of JOLLOF Rice 😉

If you can relate to the words in the song, PLEASE, PLEASE PLEASE, give us a thumbs up loooool