November 2013


The Love Triangle: Ghana’s Red-Gold-Green

Past, Present & Future

“Sankofa” the Akan concept is quite simple. One must ‘reach back to the past and retrieve it’. I’ve written about Ghana’s beautiful and exciting present, and the promises of a gorgeously promising future. However, none of this would be possible without taking a look at the past, and retrieving the esscence of what exactly runs through Ghanaian veins to fuel our renaissance in today and tomorrow’s world.

Ghana’s relentess climb to the top should not be surprising for a nation built on the shoulders of one of the greatest Kingdoms in African history, the Akan Kingdom & the Asante nation. We are a royal people, regal, who will fight to claim what we want. Even our name professes this notion (Ghana means ‘Warrior King’). We have been, and always will be, a GOLDEN generation.

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However, our successes and our history has not been without pain. The bright RED blood of our ancestors has left a trail which leads from the Gate of No Return at Cape Coast and various other complexes where our people were traded as cattle, across the Atlantic Ocean, and connecting us to our relatives in the Americas and the Caribbean. Scars remain from in-fighting between tribes, and fierce battles waged physically by renowned warriors such as YAA ASANTEWAA, to ideological conflicts fought by political powerhouses such as THE BIG SIX.

Our present day flourishing in GREEN pastures of success has been because of the hard work of brilliant and innovative men and women dotted around our extensive history. Ghana, the first Sub-Saharan nation to claim independence, is a nation of firsts, a nation of innovators, a nation of leaders. People like TETTEH QUARSHIE, who brought Cocoa to Ghana – how incredible is that? He’s left a legacy which led to Ghana at one point exporting half the world’s cocoa! People like KWAME NKRUMAH, Osagyefo, who created a template which allowed many African nations to break free from the control of others and become independent.  People like ARTHUR WHARTON, the first ever black professional footballer. People like JAMES AGGREY, the founder of Achimota College, a seat of education which has educated many of Africa’s Heads of States, past & present. People like JOYCE BAMFORD-ADDO, the first Speaker of Parliament of a West African nation. People like KOFI ANNAN, who led the United Nations with trademark Ghanaian civility& humility – a quick look at his Wikipedia profile will amaze you at how many medals and awards he has collected so far for his tireless work in improving the world. And I will be bringing to light some of the everyday legends living among us in Ghana and around the world today, who are flying the flag high, and changing the world in the process.

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In my eyes, Ghana is the Lighthouse of Africa. It was the Lighthouse which showed other nations the way forward during one magical March night in 1957. Our BLACK STAR has never fallen. It will never fall. Our rich history has demanded this. And as we see today, our Star is shining brighter than ever!

“Se wo were fi na wosankofa a yenkyi,” translates as “It is not wrong to go back for that which you have forgotten.” To truly understand where we are going, we must take comfort and truly appreciate where we have been.

Jermaine Bamfo (@Dr_Jabz27

Think Outside The Box To Get In…

How to stand out from the crowd

In Greek mythology, Helen of Troy is described as the most beautiful woman in the world. Her stunning beauty caused men to wage war against each other just to win her hand in marriage. And she had as many as 45 suitors! Clearly, you will have to do something remarkable to make yourself stand out from this crowd of 45. Unfortunately for many of our university graduates, this is the kind of challenge facing them. Of course they are not jostling to win Helen’s hand in marriage, but are contesting in a similarly competitive environment. They are in a situation where there is a multitude of university graduates all chasing after limited job opportunities. While the number of graduates soar, the number of jobs have become few and far between. It is no longer a given that a university education will guarantee immediate employment. Recent statistics from the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER) indicates that 28.8% of graduates between the ages of 25 to 35 wait for two years or more before they are employed. And the forecast of the number of new graduates entering the job market versus the number of available jobs is grim to say the least.

Evidently, the government and all other stakeholders need to create more jobs to absorb the numbers, but before then, it is imperative to distinguish yourself from the crowd. The current situation has shifted most of the burden away from the employers to attract the right candidates, conversely placing much of the responsibility on the candidates to show potential employers why they should be selected over their peers. Hence, it is necessary to use all available channels to market yourself.
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Getting ahead of your peers requires something spectacularly different and this process will be a true test of your ingenuity and creativity; attributes that rank high on the must-have list of all employers. Earlier this year, a 24-year-old Brit, Adam Pacitti made the headlines with his billboard. The First Class Media Studies graduate from the University of Winchester unveiled a billboard in the London borough of Camden that read “I spent my last £500 on this billboard. Please give me a job”, complete with a link to his website and a 10 foot self-portrait. In a later interview, he said “I’ve probably sent 200 CVs out, but it’s so difficult to stand out on paper….this is my way of trying to stand out” and because of this innovative move “so many people (potential employers) are contacting me, and I can’t get back quick enough!” One clever move has put this man in the lime light with companies throwing job offers at him faster than he can say yes. This is only one of the many examples of unemployed graduates, who by their own imagination and inventiveness increased their chances of getting hired.

It must be noted that I am not advocating for every unemployed graduate to go make a billboard ad; that will just expose how unoriginal you are anyway. I also acknowledge that the Adam Pacitti sort of stunt is best used when seeking for media related jobs; but it still does not take away the fact that in the current state of affairs where employers have a wide pool of potentials to choose from, the onus is on the graduate to show what they can bring to the party.

This requires you to think outside the box to get in, because the certificate on its own is just not cutting it.

Maclean Arthur (@atoparties)

CHINUA ACHEBE Collected Poems….

The beauty of Creative Writing

‘Creative writing is writing that expresses the writer’s thoughts and feelings in an imaginative, often unique, and poetic way’. (Sil.org – What is Creative Writing?)

Creative writing is also about being free to express ourselves using style, humour and adding our own distinctive touch that makes our writing rightly inimitable.

When we write, we leave small imprints of who we are to the unknown.  There is a vulnerability that comes particularly with creative writing. We are vulnerable because strangers get to see the core of we are. Our walls are breaking down and we are letting people see things we wouldn’t dare to reveal to even those who are closest to us. That is the beauty of creative writing. Behind every word, there is a mystery, because you are writing a story in part, the only person who knows the full story is you!

A poet who does this effortlessly is the very gifted Chinua Achebe. Father of African Literature and undoubtedly one of the most exceptional writers of our time. Achebe is famously known for being cited in the Sunday times as one of the 1,000 makers of the twentieth century, for defining a ‘modern African literature that was truly African’ and thereby making a ‘major contribution to world literature’.

Recently, I have been reading CHINUA ACHEBE Collected Poems. I am astounded by the way he writes. He was a way with words like no other. Reading his poems gives you an insight into his world by subtly informing the reader about Igbo traditions, war and culture. His style of poetry is nonetheless ironic yet humorous, Fascinating and thought provoking.

Achebe engages the reader with politics confronting Africa’s severe realities of violence and exploitation.  There are some Igbo influences in his writing used to depict a picture of what he wants to stress. For example in his poem ‘A Wake for Okigbo’ Achebe does a sound transliteration of an Igbo funeral song into the English language and the poem evokes the feeling of mourning and grief.  Poems like ‘Love Cycle’ and ‘Love Song’ ‘(for Anna), are beautifully written evoking the feeling of romance and the purity of falling in love.

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‘1966’ and ‘Remembrance Day’ are impressive as they are all war poems written to remind us about the Nigerian Civil War.

A personal favourite ‘Beware Soul Brother’ can be called the poem of wisdom as it speaks about being prudent and the reader can easily identify with him. The poem is engaging and the language is tailored to the understanding of the reader.

I would highly recommend CHINUA ACHEBE Collected Poems to all poetry lovers. To all those who would like to be challenged creatively, this is a must have for you, as it broadens your mind to experience another level of poetry and it is indeed a true masterpiece.

Chinua Achebe is able to draw you into his creation showing, there is no shame in using our heritage or roots to influence our writing and use it to portray what we want to portray to the world. Achebe is a genius and uses his unique gift in a profound way with the purpose of having a huge impact in the world of poetry which he has brilliantly accomplished.

Chinua Achebe, on behalf of all writers and aspiring writers, we salute you for being truly outstanding and for being an inspiration to many. May your soul rest in peace.

Adwoa Asiedu (@AdwoaAsiedu777)

Marriage Must Not Be Underrated !

Is Marriage Underrated these days?

Marriage is a union between a Man and a Woman to live together as  Husband and Wife and bring forth Children, thus building a Family. Most Christian Teachings and Islamic Teachings make us well informed  about marriage, and tell us how important this union is and thus should  be encouraged.

Traditionally each individual regardless of where he or she is coming from is made aware of marriage as an institution and its importance in every one’s life.

Gone are the days when marriage was so important to the Youth. In  those days, a young woman stay chaste until her suitor comes to ask for  her Hand from her Parents. As a result, most youth got married  beautifully and thereby creating a suitable and comfortable environment  for their unborn children.

Undoubtedly, there are so many benefits derived from having a family, thus having babies under marriage and giving them a respectable future  full of good home training unlike single parenting. The Security, Care and much Attention which will be given to the  children by both parents unlike when you are a single parent is what  makes marriage so essential.

It is mind-boggling to know that, gone are days when Virgins were  cherished and highly respected. These days things have changed, virgins  are considered morons and inexperience for marriage. It is however not surprising that even the few matured virgins in the  system now are shy to open up or proudly say they are virgins because of the fear that they may be mocked with the branded name ‘KOLO’, yet  these same people who normally make such mockery statements always wish  to be virgins, is it not funny? IF VIRGINITY IS A LACK OF OPPORTUNITY, WHY WOULD YOU WISH TO BE ONE?

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Referring to some instances, I recall one incident on one of the  social networks when in a conversation a girl said ‘she was proud to be a virgin’ and in response a guy sitting beside her laughed and said  “but you paa, whiles others are enjoying themselves by having sex, you are  abstaining and you are not even ashamed.’’  So the question is, since  when did ‘PURITY’ became a shameful thing?  It is such a pity to hear a  young guy boast about fornication. It is very obvious some of these reactions are the reasons why young  girls of today do not seem to see the importance of staying chaste till  marriage. Relationships now in my opinion are indirect marriages. Most young  unmarried men and women even have sex many times in a week, month and  some instances even worst.

Honestly, youth of today do not seem to see the significance of  marriage. Fornicating rate keep rising and it’s getting out of hand.  Abortion rate keep spiraling with most of the females being teenagers.  So many factors contribute to these changes in our society but who can  you blame?

When you watch television commercials, all you see lately is condom  adverts and not even one instance when you will see abstinence advert. But come to think of it, promoting of condom is of great importance  considering the kind of environment we find ourselves in now.

Is it not about time the Media do something to also encourage those  unmarried people who are abstaining from sex until they find suitors?

In order to have a save and sound environment, I suggest that we  rather have adverts that promote the use of condoms and abstinence,  coupled with more education should be made available to the youth not  only on television but on radio, in magazines and even in our homes.

It all bounces back to the questions surrounding marriage being underrated. IS SOCIETY NOT DOING IT BEST?  WHO IS TO BE BLAMED NOW? IS IT THE MASS MEDIA, PARENTS OR THE YOUTH THEMSELVES? Whiles shifting blames, I want you to put at the back of your mind that  each and every one of us has it as a duty to look after our own selves  better.  Learn to make decisions on your own without allowing your  decision to be influence by others. After all, it is your life and your own choices.

Afia English (@AfiaEnglish)

Afia English is Ghana’s youngest female blogger and publicist. Check out more content from her right here on the Me Firi Ghana Blog,  her website –http://www.afiaenglish.com/  and individual blog http://afiaenglish.wordpress.com/afia-english-1-on-1/

Black Stars Rising….

Ghana’s Relevance Beyond The Motherland

Walking in Iceland. In Belfast. Northern Ireland. In the aisle which holds crusty soda bread and soft buttery crumpets. As far away from Ghana as you could get! And yet, in a place where I least expected it, Ghana found me, and made me realise how far we have come as a cultural International force. For it was here, in my first week living in Belfast, that someone’s phone began to ring. And I quickly turned to see a big Caucasian Irishman, in his 50s, with a gleaming bald head and wispy moustache, reach into his pocket and pull out his phone which was blaring the tunes of Azonto by Fuze ODG…

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As a product of Shoreditch, East London, born as the pastel colours of the 80s began to evolve into the harder, sharper and playful 90s, I can still remember how Ghana was a great unknown. No-one knew much about Ghana and nobody was privy to say in school – come on, you didn’t want your mates to know that you ate something called ‘fufu’ regularly.
Ghanaian culture only boomed amidst the throngs of celebratory hall parties, where highlife and Supermalt flowed in equal measure, and African printed cloth flowed across the wooden boards of a community centre. But this was our world. Exclusive to those who had adinkra in their veins.
It’s a different world now. It crystallised when you saw Fuse ODG proclaim of how things used to be while accepting his award at the 2013 MOBOs in Glasgow, before watching him kente’d-out, with a gang of people from all different cultures sporting African dress and azonto-ing on stage in front of a live audience of millions – how many people were being exposed to Ghanaian culture at this point? How many were beginning to move to our beat for the first time?

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It’s gorgeous to see photos of people like Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas, casually walking out into town in a beautiful fitted Kente dress. It never fails to bring a smile when you hear an Afrobeat booming out of someone’s car and have a look in the driver side window to see that the driver is from Asia, or the Americas, or another far-flung part of the world. It’s amazing to see celebrities and people from all walks of life speaking of Ghanaian foods, Ghanaian terms, etc. Our world is out there…and ladies & gentlemen, it is booming! The world is falling in love with Ghana, and it’s a beautiful and proud sight to behold!
How beautiful is it that now we are making our way to the top of the international scene – how amazing is it to know that it is our time in the spotlight now. Let’s make the most of it! And let’s continue to be proud to say Me Firi Ghana!

 

Jermaine Bamfo (@Dr_Jabz27)

Ghana make it through to Brazil 2014

 

Ghana through to next year’s World Cup finals in Brazil despite losing to Egypt

 

The Black Stars booked their place at a third successive finals thanks to a 6-1 victory in the first leg last month which helped them win 7-3 on aggregate.

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Amr Zaki bundled home after 25 minutes to give Egypt faint hope in Cairo and Gedo rifled in a second late on.

But Kevin-Prince Boateng struck on 89 minutes to give Ghana the last word.

Egypt, playing in Cairo for the first time in two years, restored some pride with victory on the night.

But it is another heart-breaking qualification near-miss, having not appeared at the World Cup since Italia ’90 despite winning an unmatched four African Nations Cup titles in the same period.

The home team went in front after 25 minutes when a free kick from Mohamed Aboutrika out on the right was not collected by goalkeeper Fatau Dauda and Zaki appeared to use his elbow to bundle the ball home.

Ghana showed little ambition to go forward in search of an equaliser, while Egypt found it tough to break down their stubborn defence.

The hosts went close when a shot from Gedo was cleared off the line by Jerry Akaminko, with Dauda again failing to deal with an aerial ball.

The game opened up in the final 10 minutes and Gedo was on target in the 86th minute when he collected a pass from Mohamed Salah and blasted low past Dauda.

Ghana then exploited some gaps at the back, with Asamoah Gyan finding space on the right before firing in a low cross that was turned in by Boateng.

Source: BBC Sport website

 

The Puzzle of the Prince…

KPB return good or bad?

 

And so it proved. Just as many had foreseen, it happened. Kevin Prince Boateng, after a number of self-imposed years in the international football wilderness, proclaimed his desire to return to the Black Star fold. The announcement neatly arriving just as Ghana were booking their place in the World Cup qualification play-offs. From a man who after becoming the poster boy of the world’s new 2nd favourite team, made the jump from Championship football mediocrity to Champions League stardom and duly retired from international football to ‘focus on my team and domestic career’.

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The announcement brought a mix of emotion and reaction. Ladies fawned at the prospect of their Adonis once again gracing their screens and their fantasies over World Cup season, while others bristled, crying screams of betrayal and past sins. A large cohort of Ghana supporters are furious at what they envision is a flagrant abuse of the national team as a platform to further one’s own selfish ambitions, and are upset at the GFA for allowing the prestige of the team to be abused in such a way.

However, some are of the opinion that the addition of a man who after retiring from the Black Stars went on to become an integral part of the midfield of one of the biggest clubs in world football, will do no harm to Ghana’s chances of improving on their quarter-final finish at Brazil. And this is a valid point. At WC2010 Kevin-Prince crackled with ingenuity, bringing European class and stability into a midfield which could at times be naive and gung-ho. Now, 4 years wiser and with more top-level experience, surely his return is a cause for joy and increased optimism? Surely a midfield presence of Kevin-Prince and the legendary Michael Essien, with countless top-level experience between them, can only serve Ghana’s ambitions well?

Should we let bygones be bygones? Or should we crucify the man for his past (assumed) indiscretions and potentially self-sabotage our chances at a peaceful and prosperous World Cup campaign? Whatever your opinion, this is one puzzle which doesn’t look like it will be solved anytime soon…

 

Jermaine Bamfo (@Dr_Jabz27)

GUBA Awards 2013

 GUBA’s night of excellence did not disappoint

 

The showpiece event for UK/Ghanaian community took place at the Park Plaza Riverbank Hotel on the Embankment, London on 16 November. The 4th annual GUBA Awards had aura of anticipation about it and as I waited in the lobby of the Park Plaza I could sense the excitement building. Team Me Firi Ghana were out in force to capture the best moments of the event and of course support our very own Creative Director, Samuel Mensah who was up for the Rising Star Award.

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The ceremony started with the national anthem sang by the Trinity Youth Baptist choir in all black ensemble who captured the hearts of the audience and would set the tone for an inspiring evening . As guests We were promptly introduced to our hosts; from ITV news Charlene White and Vox Africa’s Henry Bonsu who would  guide us through the evenings events which included an opening speech from GUBA patron Hugh Quarshie; “GUBA exists to celebrate achievement and promote investment” he said confidently from the stage.

So now we knew why we were all here on to the awards! One of the first to be given out was for the RLG development award which went to Edward Tagoe of Namdi Mobile fame. Edwin Broni Mensah founder of the crtically acclaimed Give Me Tap movement deservedly won the entrepreneur of the year award.

One of the most inspiring awards was the Student achiever gong won by Jason Ochere. The student from South London was a budding actor and footballer had joined the Labour Party aged 15, worked as a researcher and caseworker for the Deputy Prime Minister, was studying for a Masters in Oxford and had achieved this all whilst tragically losing his father. As he went up to recieve his award he spoke words of encouragement to the audience and serenaded us with a brief song. Ten Year old Lewis Appiagyei, a junior motor driver was the winner of the young & talented award and struck a confident pose alongside Mista Silva who presented him with the award.

Arguably the biggest cheer was reserved for the man of the moment, Fuse ODG who unsurprisingly won the music artist of the year. He came up to the stage to rapturous applause and it was clear from the moment his name was announced as a nominee on the big screen he would win. During his acceptance speech he was classy in paying homage to his fellow nominees and reiterating his aim to promote the “TINA” (This is new Africa) mantra.

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There were also special awards and praise for certain individuals. Although not presented with an award British High Commissioner Peter Jones a sponsor and supporter of GUBA for a couple of years was given a signed Everton football Jersey which was a nice touch by the organizers. Kanya King MBE founder of the MOBO’s , Archbishop Kwaku Frimpong Manson & Herman Chinery-Hesse (CEO the SOFTtribe Limited) were also all recipients of special achievement awards on the night.

As GUBA founder Dentaa Amoateng ended the night by paying homage to her family and team of organizers/volunteers (none of whom are paid by the way). It was left to the live house band to play us out and for the audience to reflect on an evening that did not only celebrate outstanding achievement within the Ghanaian community but also inspired all to aim for greater things. Roll on 2014!

The full list of winners can be found on the official GUBA website – http://www.gubaawards.co.uk/the-awards/nominations/2013-nominees-winners/

 

Ben JK Anim-Antwi (@Kwesitheauthor)

A Poem by Adwoa Asiedu..

I SEE

 

Open your eyes!  What do you see?

 

I see a new people who will not be denied.

I see a new face that will not be shaken.

I see a new generation shining their light.

 

Open your eyes!  What do you see now?

 

I now see an army rising up.

I now see mighty Warriors standing up.

Ready to reign, so ready to rule this world.

 

See this land of greatness.

See this land of glory.

You See, This is Ghana!

 

Adwoa Asiedu ( @AdwoaAsiedu777)

 

MFG’s very own resident Blogger Adwoa Asiedu is a recent graduate in English language, communications and sociology with a passion for creative writing and poetry. Check out some of her work on her individual blog–  http://adwoapoems.blogspot.co.uk/ and look out for more posts from her right here on the Me Firi Ghana blog.

GUBA: What is the significance?

The most prestigious event on the British/Ghanaian calendar takes place on the 16th November 2013

 

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The feeling of being recognised for your talent amongst your peers is on which cannot be understated which is just one of the reasons the Ghanaian UK Based Achievement Awards is so important. The one of a kind event founded in 2009 by Entrepreneur Dentaa Amoateng  is the only award ceremony to specifically recognise Ghanaian achievement. Now in its fourth year it is more popular than ever with a stellar list of supporters and sponsors including the British High Commission, Cherie Blair, Namcy Dell’olio, Invest in Africa and MoneyGram to name just a few.

There are 12 award categories this year including; Blavo Young Entrepreneur of the Year, African Fashion Fusion Designer of the Year, Arik Air Young and Talented Award & British High Commission Charity of the Year (which Me Firi Ghana’s charitable arm WAM Campaign won last year).

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Me Firi Ghana’s very own creative Director Samuel Mensah has been nominated for the Rising Star Award for his amazing work with the design industry in the UK. So he is definitely one to look out for in the coming years whether he wins or not.

GUBA is a non-profit organisation which donates proceeds towards charitable schemes operating within the Ghanaian community. What is particular significant about GUBA is it’s charitable arm, the GUBA foundation. Not satisfied with just showcasing and celebrating Ghanaians on a yearly basis Dentaa and her partners went further by creating the foundation alongside the awards realising that there were also various needs in the community that needed addressing. Their present focus is autism. With the aim wanting to change  peoples perception to see autism ‘not as a disability but as a different ability’. They want the community to be open; to be honest; to support one another and want to give them access to all that they need and they truly believe they can achieve this.

Essentially what the GUBA’s have done is create a platform where British Ghanaians can be celebrated. Which in turn has created a culture of aspiration amongst the Ghanaian community in the UK safe in the knowledge that these will be celebrated on a yearly basis creating a  network of achievers. This is bound to create a legacy in our community which will be felt for years to come.

GUBA Awards & Foundation Me Firi Ghana salutes you!

This years event is set to take place on Saturday November 16, 2013 at 6:30 PM – Sunday, November 17, 2013 12:00 AM (GMT) at the Park Plaza Riverbank Hotel, London.

Tickets for the event can be purchased at http://guba2013.eventbrite.com

Ben JK Anim-Antwi (@Kwesitheauthor)