October 2011


Floods in Ghana

The African Spring:
Only a Matter of Time


Ghana_Floods_Me_FiRi_GHANAThe past couple of months have witnessed a sweeping revolution in the Arab world. Ordinary citizens of Tunisia, Yemen, Egypt, Syria and Libya have finally found the voice and the strength to stand up against decades of dictatorship. The results? Tunisia is having its first truly free election in 23 years. The authoritarian government of Hosni Mubarak of Egypt has finally fallen. Gaddafi huffed and puffed for a while but with little help from their “friends”, the NTC and the people of Libya triumphed. For decades the people of these nations had been subjected to the will and whims of their respective rulers and their families but now the people are having the last laugh. Call them rebels or revolutionaries but to them labels and titles mean very little.

For them it has been a struggle to secure a more free and equal society for themselves and their children. Egypt, Libya and Tunisia will not attain a full-fledged democracy in a week or a month or even a year. It’s going to be a long and rough journey but the good news is they have begun the journey. Now they are free to elect their own leaders – leaders who will be accountable to the people and not themselves.

Ghana_Floods_Me_FiRi_GHANAOne would have expected the swift success of the Arab Spring in North Africa to trigger the “African-Spring” in sub-Saharan Africa, but it has not as yet. Now I wonder who is more surprised, me or the numerous dictators across the continent of Africa. I cannot explain why this revolutionary wave has not swept through the whole of the continent, but I can certainly say those tyrants are sleeping uneasily but I am unperturbed.

The definitive message in the success of the Arab spring cannot be overlooked; the will of the people will always triumph. It has shown that the oppressed everywhere have now found their voice and the strength to finally rattle and pull loose the shackles of the oppressor.

Authoritarian governments may put limitations on the freedom of speech but the voice of the people will always come through with a resounding roar. Tyrants may imprison those who stand up against them but the resolve of the people cannot be held down forever. It can only grow stronger. So to the various dictators across the continent and all around the world, I say to you be very nervous! Because the people will always win, it’s only a matter of time!

By Maclean Arthur

Ghanaian Film: Ties That Bind Preview

The Ghanaian director who brought us the award winning Sinking Sands starring Jimmy Jean-Louis, Ama K. Abebrese and Yemi Blaq is back with a new film, Ties That Bind. Leila Djansi again teams up with Hollywood, Nollywood and Ghallywood actors and actress to star in her new film.

Ties That Bind tells the story of 3 women from different backgrounds who share a similar pain and their journey to find redemption, love, life and forgiveness. The film features Kimberly Elise, Ama K. Abebrese, Omotola Ekeinde, Randall Batinkoff and John Dumelo. Check out the trailer below:

By Yaa Nyarko

Weekly Insight: Ola The Poet – Dark

Dark

The mirror reflects me. My shadow resembles me. The outline manifests my overall being an the dark infill is a carbon copy of my mind set.

If the sun was to shine on me. Do you think my shadow will glimmer? Would it twinkle a bit and show the light that’s in me? Or would it highlight my insecurities and fears?

Have you ever tasted cordial without dilution? It feels like an attack
on your taste buds. Similar to acid water shredding down your inner
mouth piece leaving you empty. Water is the best component, It has no enemy. But the sweet taste of something so rife is better than a light that dimmers in the dark. Would I glimmer in the dark?

Have you ever been so overwhelmed that you step out of your self? In a zone where only you communicate feelings of despair and faith, where understanding is clear but the only recipient is you? Where inadequacy becomes your bestie and lies become a favourite past time?

Have you ever been afraid of dreaming? Where your knitted thoughts are weaved into a realm of freedom? Where heartbeats follow the sound of your drums and fear isn’t a language. Have you ever felt empty? Like nothing else matters? Have you ever dreamt?

During the day your shadow is transparent because of the sun yet in
the dark it is a reflection of you when night falls. Did you know that you were the Sun and that your shadow only appears when you believe that darkness is where you reign?

Did you know that a King/Queen reigns during the storm, when the
clouds are dark and thunder hits with lighting bolts, did you know
then, only then you rise above your shadow and become THE LIGHT.

Only in your shadow will the outlines embody greatness, with trickles of anointing your mirror will show a reflection of struggles and pain.

So when you walk in the dark. Your shadow will exhibit your life through its outlines and they will see the light which reigns.

Only in darkness will light reign.

You are THE LIGHT.

By Ola the Poet

Ghanaian Wedding Procedure

STEP 3

The background inquiry is made when the bride’s family knows nothing or knows little of the groom’s family. If they are satisfied and pleased with what they find out, they will send a list of things to the groom and his family to provide before they can marry the bride. This list is commonly made up of, but not limited to, the following:

a) Dowry /or bride price – often an undisclosed sum of money, 2 bottles of whisky or gin

b) Money for the bride’s father, 1 bottle of expensive whisky & a piece of cloth

c) A pair of sandals and money for the bride of the mother

d) Jewelry for the bride

e) At least 6 pieces of traditional wax print cloth for the bride

f) Engagement ring

g) Engagement bible

h) Shoes, headpieces, other gifts for the bride

j) Drinks, money and food for the guests that will be present to witness the ceremony

k) Money for the brothers or male cousins (if bride has no brothers)

STEP 4

Ghanaian_Marriage_CeremonyOn the set date the groom and his family, along with invited guests show up early at the bride’s house. The groom’s family sits on one side, while the bride’s family sits on the other side facing each other. Elders from both families begin the marriage ceremony with a prayer and introductions. The groom’s family begins by presenting the dowry and all the other items on the list one, by one. At each stage, the items are checked to make sure everything asked on the list is being presented. Negotiation is possible if the groom’s family feels too much is being asked of them. The bride is not present in all of these proceedings. The groom, although present, is not required to speak in all of these proceedings as all the speaking and negotiation is done on his behalf by the designated spokes person from his family.

Once everything has been presented to the bride’s family, the bride would then be brought into the gathering (she can usually be found sitting in her room awaiting her cue to come downstairs).
A decoy can be used to “tease” the groom, the groom is then asked to verify if this is indeed his bride.

Once he confirms, she is asked three times by her father if she agrees to marry the groom. She is asked if they should accept the dowry and accompanying gifts from the groom’s family. When she agrees, then the groom will slide the ring onto her fingers and kiss and hug her.

An elder presents a bible to both the groom and bride as a symbol of how important religion should be in their married life.

Ghanaian_Marriage_The_KnockingPrayers are said and blessings are given. The married couple is then congratulated and each elder in the room offers marriage advice to the new couple. Once all of this is done there is a huge celebration/reception where food & drinks are served. Music and dancing feature heavily till nightfall.

N.B. This can be a costly affair for the groom so should not be entered into lightly! The parents of the bride can make heavy demands of the groom to bring as much money as he possibly can to assure the bride’s parents that he is capable of looking after his woman before the father of the bride will even agree to give his beloved daughter away.

This event is steeped in our cultural tradition and such cultural traditions should be observed. However, cultural engagements can easily be turned into a circus, with the emphasis being placed on how little or how much money the groom gave to the bride’s brothers or male cousins. Not forgetting how many items of cloth or lace he brought to be presented to the bride. In some cases a sewing machine will be given as a gift from the groom to his bride.

In the days of old, the traditional engagement was a small affair with the event being witnessed solely by the immediate family only. These days the engagements are more like wedding receptions with just about every member of the family plus friends being invited along to share in the experience of the bride & groom.

Lest we forget that as previously mentioned the happy couple have not even made it to the altar! The idea of wanting to “Keep up with the Jones’” can take things too far in some Ghanaian households. Mum wants to invite everyone from Akosua studying in Ghana to Uncle Ofori living in America.

This is a growing trend in the modern day, one that I have witnessed on more than one occasion. Not just within the Ghanaian community, I have been to lavish Nigerian engagements where the feeling of being at a state dinner would be forgiven! That being said, the notion of love & unity between the man and his sweetheart should not be forgotten as it is the only thing that matters.

As the old adage goes:
Love conquers all

By Caroline N. Mensah

Traditional Ghanaian Names

Traditional Ghanaian Names Broken Down…

Twi_Names_Tradional_Ghanaian_Names

If you ever wondered what YOUR name was according to the day you were born, have a look above.

Ps. Did you know that people from Ivory CoastBenin/Dahomey and Togo also frequently name their children after the day of the week they were born and the order in which they were born

Sway’s still Speedin…



What a BANGER!

@Me_FiRi_GHANA are sooooo pleased that SWAY is back. Undoubtedly one of the most gifted lyricists (Check out from 2min 30 – 2min 57 seconds if you want to try and dispute!)

Look out for versions with Kano & an undisclosed major US feature dropping soon.

**LET’S SPREAD THE WORD**

SWAY (@SwayUK) “STILL SPEEDIN'” (Official Video)

#StillSpeedin

Ghanaian Wedding Procedure

“Da bi meye wo me yere”

Simply put “One day I’ll make you my wife”

STEP 1

So the day finally arrives when a Ghanaian man comes to the realisation that the woman he is dating is the one that he wants to spend the rest of his life with.

He proposes to his sweetheart & the lucky lady says “Yes
Before the happy couple even get to the altar, the elders within the family will advise them that they are required to perform the traditional wedding rites.

The traditional ceremony is a necessary common rite of marriage for all Ghanaian couples. In Ghana today, some couples perform this alone as a marriage ceremony, however, most couples also go on to perform the western wedding in a church in addition to the traditional marriage ceremony.

“Sounds simple enough, but Ghanaian’s will attest to the fact that if the lucky lady in question has said “yes” that this is only the start.”

STEP 2

Traditional_Ghanaian_Engagementing_The_KnockingFirst comes “The knocking” (kokooko) on the door ceremony, this is the process of the groom visits the home of his bride to be (with the purpose of formally announcing their wedding plans) with representatives from his family. This could be anyone from his parents to a senior uncle within the family.

Often times this ceremony is performed a week or two before the actual marriage ceremony. The knocking (“kookooko”) is derived from the Ghanaian tradition of knocking at the entrance of a house before entering as a visitor.

For the knocking ceremony the groom’s family brings along two bottles of Schnapps (alcoholic drinks), some money and cola to the house to present to the bride’s family. In the past, and to date, the drinks are used to pour libation. (Libation is a traditional form of prayer to the ancestral spirits and God).

Bottles_of_SchnappsWhen the drinks are presented, a designated spokesman from the groom’s delegation formally asks the bride’s family for permission to enter the house and announce their intentions. If the drinks are accepted then it means permission has been granted to the visitors to state their intentions. The spokesperson will then explain in the most lyrical language, that the groom, has seen a “beautiful flower” in the house of the bride’s family that he desires and would like to “uproot” that flower, not steal, from its keeper, hence they are here to ask for the brides hand in marriage and inquire about what is required in order to make that flower his own.

Once the intentions are announced, the bride’s family may ask the groom and his family to come back at a later date during which the bride’s family will investigate the grooms family background further to see:

a) If the family has no chronic illness or genetic disabilities in the family
b) If the family has a good reputation, that there are no immediate family members such as a sibling, an aunt or uncle who is known to be a thief, prostitute or murderer
c) If the groom has any illegitimate children or is already married to someone else etc.

d) If the groom is of good character and well matched to the bride

PART 3

Come back Saturday at 09:00am GMT to read PART 3…

By Caroline Mensah

Ghanaian Culture: Me FiRi CAPE COAST…

Church in GhanaI was 14 years, it was a normal Sunday church service but a special preacher man had been invited. Everyone sat in eager anticipation but I was rather angry because my mum had forced me to sit next to her in the front row. My mind was racing double time to come up with a good excuse to move to the back row when the preacher man walked into the Church auditorium.

We all rose to our feet and closed our eyes in silence waiting for the
opening prayer. He let the silence lay for a couple of minutes. I
opened my eyes to see what everyone else was up to – it was the usual, people swaying back and forth as though possessed. As my mind began drifting onto other things, the preacher man spoke out into the microphone. He said a lengthy prayer to which the whole congregation responded to with a loud “Amen!” He then announced he had a revelation whilst he was saying the prayer.

My heart skipped a beat, was God trying to get back at me for looking around whilst everyone else prayed by revealing something naughty I had done earlier in the week? I slumped in my chair, eyes to the floor whilst sweat beads were forming on my forehead but thankfully God had let me off. The revelation was not about me, it was about Cape Coast! A group of British Business men were on their way to invest substantial figures into the local economy.

I was grinning from ear to ear. I did not realise how much I loved Cape Coast until that point. My beloved Cape Coast was on its way up!

Fast forward 14 years down “time lane” and there are no British investors in sight. Maybe this is one of the reasons I have so much distrust for the church system, but we will leave that for another day.

Cape_Coast_CastleAll I want to write about now, is my beloved Cape Coast. Since the preacher man’s British investors never turned up, I have taken it upon myself to sell Cape Coast to the world. Hopefully I can do a better job of attracting investors.

Cape Coast is a town steep in history. The castle and fort are grim reminders of a darker moment in the history of all black people but it is our history nonetheless, so for anyone in the black diaspora trying to find their roots, Cape Coast is a very good place to start the process of healing, reconciliation and building broken relationships.

Cape Coasters will always welcome you with arms wide open. For the sun seekers, Cape Coast is your ideal destination. If you think the beaches of Barbados are the real deal, then hold your breath! The beautiful beaches of the Cape coastline are better than anything you have ever seen in a Thomson’s holiday brochure. The strengths of the sea waves are pretty strong too, so the surfers amongst you can bring your boards to test it out.

Now for the businessmen amongst you, there is a vibrant market. Cape Coast has a university, a polytechnic and several senior secondary schools. If you know anything about business you would know that a uni town always has a healthy spending habit.

Finally I will make an appeal. Cape Coast arguable has five of the
best secondary schools in Ghana.

Many investor’s sons and daughters of Ghana, have been educated in Cape Coast schools. Now you owe Cape Coast a debt of gratitude. Spread the good word about the town which gave you your education. Bring your friends and family back on weekend breaks.

Visit the sights. Go run the sandy beaches. Show the world you are
proud to be associated with Cape Coast.

By Maclean Arthur


Can YOU Ampe?

Ampe, What is it?

Ampe is a jumping/dancing/clapping game originating from Ghana.

The energetic  game helps bring communities together and develop the player’s skills of anticipation.

Ampe_DanceI vividly remember my fantastic holiday visit to Ghana, whenever visiting my maternal grandmother, the children who lived in the area would always have battle competitions of Ampe. The emotions the game would bring was phenomenal, with mainly positive emotions of laughter, joy, happiness. Upon reflection I saw how the game tightened communities together where I witnessed audiences surrounding the Ampe players; it really is a fabulous piece of entertainment to watch.

The Ampe game contributes benefits, its a physical workout (better than Zumba!), therefore its physically healthy, acts as a stimulant to the brain  as every part of the body is used.

To understand concepts about the game, including rules and tricks about the game Ampe, please click on the link below to view:

http://www.globaltimoto.com/pages/movie_ampe.html

Personally I believe that as human beings the freedom of self-expression should be empowered not dis-empowered. According to ‘Right to Play UK’ a UK charity based organisation who aim to improve the lives of children in the most disadvantaged areas of the world by using the power of sport and play for development, health and peace.

Everyone as a child has enjoyed their younger days of playing, however not every child has the opportunity to play. In some parts of the world some children are forced to take part in activities that are not supposed to be carried out by a child or infact a human beings, ie. ‘child soldiers’.

I say ‘Let children play, and enjoy their childhood whilst they are still young, as childhood memories are never forgotten’.

By Trey’C

Tiffany – Rock My Body

Tiffany’s dance anthem: is Ghana ready?

I saw Tiffany’s latest video ‘Rock My Body’ some few days ago and my initial response to the song itself was quite negative. Why? Simply because it was a club tune. With funky and afrobeats reigning in Ghana at the moment, a club tune was the last thing I expected to hear coming from Ghana. And yet there it was.

Tiffany, who burst into the music scene last year with the highly popular ‘Fake London Boy’ song has established herself firmly in Ghana, proving to be one of the few female artists in Ghana who can hold her own on the mike. Her follow-up single ‘Last One’ ft Castro was a hit, and she recently performed at the Hiplife Festival with the likes of Kwabena Kwabena, Ruff & Smooth, Stay Jay, Atumpan and others at the Indigo2 in London.

So I was expecting a lot from this song. After my first listen of ‘Rock My Body’ I immediately dismissed the song and was really disappointed. But then I got thinking, was I listening to the song with my afrobeat/funky/hiplife frame of mind or my club/dance frame of mind? Because let’s be real, it was not what I was expecting to hear. A lot of music coming out of Ghana now has a distinctive sound, and having been bombarded with so many funky tunes in the last couple of months, I wasn’t expecting anything different. But after a few more listens, ‘Rock My Body’ grew on me. If like me you loved Chris Brown’sYeah 3x’ and ‘Check It Out’ by Nicki Minaj ft Will.I.Am, then you’ll like this one, as ‘Rock My Body’ is kind of like a crossover between the two.

I can understand why this song might not go down well with some listeners as it’s not what we’re used to hearing from Ghanaian artists. However it’s a catchy tune, and I rate Tiffany for stepping out of the box and doing something different. I can easily picture a song like this being played in clubs here, and if Ghanaian artists want to tap into the international market, then diversifying their music and not just catering solely Ghanaians is definitely the way forward.

Check out the video and let us know what you think?

By Yaa Nyarko