December 2015

British Ghanaians: Lost in Translation documentary screening

SparkleLight Productions together with OH TV will be screening the documentary ‘British Ghanaians: Lost in Translation on Saturday 12th December at the Bernie Grant Art in London.

In the documentary, British Ghanaian TV presenter Ortis Deley (The Gadget Show, Channel 5) goes on a quest to discover the root causes of dying Ghanaian languages within the British Ghanaian community, in London.

Inspired by his own lack of fluency in a Ghanaian language, he addresses the harsh impending reality that current second, third and future generations of British Ghanaians face: they are at a high risk of losing touch with their languages, their cultural identity, heritage and history altogether.

The screening will be followed by a Q&A with Ortis Deley, Dentaa Amoateng, Lord Paul Boateng, Noami Fletcher and the writer/director of the documentary Pamela Sakyi.

Tickets to the event can be purchased here

Men On Point!: The X Factor Phenomenon of Reggie N Bollie

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines ‘Phenomenon’ as something that can be observed…that typically is unusual or difficult to understand or explain fully; someone or something that is very impressive or popular especially because of an unusual ability or quality.

Reggie N Bollie are a phenomenon, in every sense of the word.

medium_x_WYim5Nb0LTzcC9r-dNcV8Lzfti4tJiHeaQALf6L4UThey first came to our screens as ‘Menn On Point’. The eagle-eyed among us caught on to the fact that the smaller of the duo was Bollie, the man who brought us the classic tune ‘You May Kiss The Bride’. Others will have known that the taller and more vocal Reggie released three singles in Ghana in 2006: ‘Virgin’, ‘For Sale’ & ‘Adoma’. Their thick Ghanaian accents caught our ears as they entered the stage to stand before the judges. We all didn’t know what to expect. Some of us probably even reached for cushions, pillows, or whatever else we could find to hide behind. Their VT didn’t offer much encouragement. It looked like these guys were set-up to be disasters. I still remember the Twitter timeline was full of people from other African nations calling Ghanaians to watch as we were about to disgrace ourselves and the entire continent on live primetime TV.

Oh how those haters went quiet!

Since then, Reggie N Bollie’s progress through the competition has been relentless. At every stage where one felt they x_factor_7th_november_01h38.jpgwould lose steam, they pulled another strong performance out of the bag, winning over more and more fans along the way. From the entire judging panel, to guest stars like Louis Tomlinson – who is a member of arguably the biggest music group in the world One Direction – the humble duo of Reggie N Bollie have been winning hearts, winning acclaim, and most importantly of all, winning the public vote. Support which has culminated in them winning a place in the X Factor 2015 Live Finals on Sunday 6th December 2015.


While their vocal performances aren’t the best, their sheer exuberance is infectious. Every week, they have been the ones to watch. The Afrobeat feel that they have brought to the competition is fresh, new and unusual for a competition like the X Factor which favours the Mariah’s and Whitney’s of this world. This season he has jigged about the presenters, the format and even at one point the announcer, but Reggie N Bollie’s sound and energy have been the fresh air that Simon Cowell has so desperately sought for his show.

reggie-bollie-maiSocial media snapped, crackled and popped with celebration and exclaim from Ghanaians both in the UK and those following in Ghana itself. Funnily enough, with a place in the final, a different set of dissenters have decided to rear their ugly heads.

‘Jokes over’ some have said. ‘They’re a novelty act’ claim others. To call Reggie N Bollie a ‘novelty act’, as a certain red-top tabloid publication trumpeted in their pages the day after the boys secured their place in the 2015 finals, does them the greatest disservice. Novelty acts include those from ages past such as Wagner, acts with no talent who prance about the stage playing the clown. Reggie N Bollie are simply bringing a brand of music to X Factor platform which it’s never seen before and there are many out there who don’t understand what to make of it! In a season where among the other competitors we have seen the twelve shades of the grey we see year in year out on the X Factor, Reggie N Bollie have splashed vibrant multicolour all over the set on a weekly basis.

And that’s why they’re in the Finals. If you wanted to see a barnstorming wild and energetic performance in this year’s live Cheryl_just_danced_with_Reggie_N_Bollie_on_X_Factorshows, they were the ones who were going to bring it. Every Saturday was Ghana Independence Parade live on ITV1. Who would have thought that we would ever see Cheryl Fernandez-Versini displaying her finest Azonto on the X Factor stage? But they made it happen! It’s no surprise that the performance that was called their worst, the semi-final rendition of ‘Locked Away’ was their most laidback performance of the whole series!

Reggie N Bolie have been the great performers, the show-stoppers – black stars colouring the X Factor landscape with a red, gold and green hue. And much of the British public gets them – they get the flair, they love the flavour, they’re enjoying the ride! Reggie N Bollie have injected adrenaline into a format which had been striving for a new lease of life, and brought a new vibe amongst a cohort which doesn’t really bring anything different to what has been seen before. While the others are fighting for a chance to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the pop acts of today, Reggie N Bollie have been running their own race, in their own lane, with their own inimitable style.

maxresdefaultFor the second year running, after the exploits of Fleur East last year, Ghana stands proud once again at the finals of the X Factor. Reggie N Bollie have taken the baton and continued to run fast with it, right to the summit. Will this be second time lucky? Louisa Johnson may the strong favourite, but you never know. After all, phenomena are unusual and difficult to explain…

By Dr. Jermaine Bamfo (@Dr_Jabz27)

Ghana winner to receive young leadership award from Her Majesty The Queen

It is today announced that a young person from Ghana is one of 60 young people from across the Commonwealth who are being recognised as exceptional leaders in their community. These 60 young people will receive a prestigious Queen’s Young Leaders Award.

The Award, which will be presented in London by Her Majesty The Queen in 2016, and is part of The Queen’s Young Leaders Programme, celebrates the achievements of young people who are taking the lead to transform the lives of others and make a lasting difference in their communities.

This year’s Award winners, aged between 18 and 29 and who come from all over the Commonwealth, are working to support others, raise awareness and inspire change on a variety of different issues including; education, climate change, gender equality, mental health and disability equality.

22 year old

QPaul-Miki Akpablie from Ghana has been selected in recognition of his work in bringing solar energy powered technology to rural communities..

The Award, which will be presented in London by Her Majesty The Queen in 2016, and is part of The Queen’s Young Leaders Programme, celebrates the achievements of young people who are taking the lead to transform the lives of others and make a lasting difference in their communities.

This year’s Award winners, aged between 18 and 29 and who come from all over the Commonwealth, are working to support others, raise awareness and inspire change on a variety of different issues including; education, climate change, gender equality, mental health and disability equality.

22 year old Paul-Miki Akpablie from Ghana has been selected in recognition of his work in bringing solar energy powered technology to rural communities..

Paul-Miki Akpablie said: “I am so honoured to be part of the Queen’s Young Leaders programme. I developed the Kadi Energy, a long-lasting battery that uses solar power to charge after discovering many people spend a large proportion of their income on charging mobile devices. It contains enough power to keep a mobile phone in standby mode for seven days. We have also trained 40 young people as agents to distribute the products. The technology is currently being used by 2,000 people living in rural areas.”

The Queen’s Young Leaders Programme was established in 2014 by The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust in partnership with Comic Relief and the Royal Commonwealth Society in recognition of The Queen’s lifetime of service to the Commonwealth. Over the next three years the Programme will support thousands of young people to achieve their goals.

Dr Astrid Bonfield, Chief Executive of The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust said: “Once again 60 incredible young people from around the Commonwealth have shown strength, leadership, empathy and drive. Some of our winners are just embarking on their leadership journey and others are more established. Either way, we recognise not only what these amazing young people have achieved, but also their potential in changing people’s lives for the better in the countries and communities in which they live.”

To see a full list of Award winners and Highly Commended runners up, and read more about their stories please


Testing boundaries: an interview with Gold Coast film co-producer Kwame Boadi

I recently had the opportunity to speak with Ghanaian TV director Kwame Boadi of inGenius Africa about his move into feature film production. Many of you may know him for such TV series as Sunshine Avenue, Abiba, and Sun City.

Well, he has recently co-produced an arthouse film set in Ghana called Gold Coast that looks at Denmark’s presence in Ghana during the 1830s.

The 2015 arthouse film was written and directed by Daniel Dencik and is a depiction of 19th century life three years after the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade was officially but not totally banned in 1833. Slavery was finally abolished in Danish colonies in 1848, according details from the BBC.

The film arrived in London on 11 October and was screened at local cinemas for a week. Some of you will have read my assessment of the film in my previous blog ‘Gold Coast: A lucid look at Denmark’s colonial past’.

I caught up with Boadi to dig a bit deeper into how and why he got involved in the film; when the film will be coming to the African continent and exploring his views on slavery. Enjoy!


MisBeee: How has the film been received so far?

Kwame Boadi: It has been very well received. Everyone is saying it is very heavy but you cannot treat a slave story lightly. We hope we can find a sales agent so we can release it in the UK.

MB: Can you tell me why it was important for you to be part of this film?

KB: I was drawn mainly to the fact that for lots of Danes in Denmark, their history of the slave trade is not that well known. So for me, that was a good point because it meant the film would help educate them the better.

And then when I saw the script, it had lots of redeeming values. Very interesting characters such as the missionary’s wife, and the central character Wulff as well. And it was my first feature, so I thought it would be a good learning experience for me.

MB: So how did documentary and film director Daniel Dencik and the team find you?

KB: So the Danish guys behind the film had not come to Africa before so they started looking around in Denmark for Ghanaian contacts. Fortunately for us, the Ghanaian connection they found happened to be my business partner’s roommate in Germany.

My business partner – Oliver Safo – is half German and half Ghanaian and lived for a time in Germany. His roommate, when he was in Germany, was a Danish guy who is also in the industry – a sound engineer. So, Gold Coast producer Michael Haslund and the rest of the team came across this guy and thought it would work. They called us and we took it from there.

MB: The film is powerful and the scenery is amazing. I have been to Cape Coast and Elmina castles before but it looks as though this film was shot in different locations.

KB: Elmina was the central location – we spent about three and a half to four weeks over there. We had wanted to use the Osu Castle [the Danish fort also known as Christiansborg] because of course it used to be the centre of government. [Fort Christiansborg was built by the Danes and Norwegians in the 1660s]. But it has been modernised and lost a lot of the historical aspects.


One of the sites for the film ©Michael Haslund

Instead, we used Elmina. Although Elmina is a Dutch castle, we adapted it and the Danes brought us some Danish motifs to decorate it.

We spent a bit of time at the Cape Coast Castle, Fort Amsterdam in Abandze, Central Region and Fort Batenstein in Butri in the Western Region.

All the greenery and the beaches were in the Western region in the Beyin area. We spent two weeks there and we filmed a very small part of the film in Burkina Faso [north of Ghana and neighbouring Cote ‘d’Ivoire, Togo and Benin, Niger and Mali].

MB: So in total, how long did it take to film the entire production?

KB: The shooting time was three and a half months but of course we spent about two years from the moment that Michael and the team got in touch to when we finished shooting.

MB: Did you need background historical knowledge before starting the film or had your Ghanaian education meant you were well-versed in the country’s slave history?

Yes, we needed to do some research but fortunately there is a Wulff family living in Osu on the route to Osu Castle who are descendants of Wulff Frederik Wulff. So, during the research period, we spent some time with the family conducting test shoots and that helped to fill some of the gaps.

The Danes had conducted their own research and so had Jakob Oftebro, who plays Wulff. He also met the family. The rest of the team spoke with the family and even had more information than the family that they were able to share.

MB: There is this voicelessness that pervades the film. What was the decision-making behind that?

KB: That’s Daniel’s style – you know the director calls the shots. He thought that it would be more poignant if lots of parts of the film were voiceless. So what you find is that some parts are sometimes driven by voice-overs or by the score, allowing the pictures to speak for themselves. And I thought it was fine.

MB: So was Lumpa the slave boy -actually mute because I had read articles saying that he was.

KB: No he was not mute but that is an interesting story …….

At all the villages we shot at, it was smart to use locals to create business but also to cut down our own costs, so we went round to do castings. We went to this village Alabokazo – it is off the Beyin area also in the Western region – and were conducting some auditions there. But there were these four young boys playing soccer close by who were making a lot of noise.


John Aggrey aka Lumpa ©Michael Haslund

John Aggrey aka Lumpa ©Michael Haslund

One of them was asking questions and he was kind of interrupting our auditions. So I turned to one of the camera guys and said: ‘Go and tell these boys we will take some shots of them – so they can go away, and assure them we will add them to it.’

We weren’t going to add it to anything because at that time, they were not in frame. You see, earlier in the script Lumpa was supposed to be 18-19 years old and I was actually planning to cast Ghanaian TV star Lil’ Wayne.

For me in terms of the commercial viability of the project in Ghana that would have been splendid.  But Daniel said he wanted a younger boy on set someone who was 10 or 12 years. We had a long argument over that because that was not going to work too well for me. But the director calls the shots and in the creative areas, you have to follow their lead.

So, we had to start looking for 12-year-old boys. We had not captured any because we had not been looking for them but as we were going through our pictures, lo and behold we found these four boys that we had just taken randomly. These pictures were suggested as possible candidates for the part and John Aggrey – one of the four – was picked and became the star in the end.

MB: And he’s never acted before, has he?

KB: Never ever. He did so well so we have actually decided that we are going to fund his education to university. We have put him in a boarding school and he’s in class six now. We will take him through, if he is able to do well, he will go on to university and we will take it from there.

MB: So when can Ghanaians and other Africans on the Continent see the film?

KB: We own the film rights for half of Africa and the whole of Ghana so that is where my concentration is. Earlier we were looking to premiere in Ghana in December 2015, but looking at the schedule I would rather take it to Easter – March/April 2016, there about. I would have finished the second season of Sunshine [Avenue] and would have more time to organise and make a bit more noise. So it will premiere in Ghana, then I am looking to find a distributor for Africa.

MB: Is South Africa among the countries interested?

KB: Nigeria is interested and I know that South Africa would be.

I am looking to shorten the film as well. We in Africa are used to the American-style movies that move very fast. Gold Coast is an arthouse movie that drags a bit and I think that people would get tired of it. So I am thinking of bringing it to 90 minutes. I am still talking to Michael and the rest of the team, that is why I am waiting for them to finish the European tour first otherwise we will have two films coming out in circulation at the same point.

Once it has finished the European rounds (sometime early next year) then we can think about reducing it to 90 minutes. Then it will be pacier, a bit faster and we will indigenise it a bit more for our market by adding some more African pictures and sounds.


MB: I was one of a few black women in the audience on the opening night in London, and it wasn’t comfortable to see that degree and prolonged bouts of female nudity in the film.

KB: No, no you are right. You are dead right. I am sure if I were sitting in the audience, I would have been uncomfortable too. But for me, I believe in the shock and awe tactic too.


Female extra shot in the castle walls  ©Michael Haslund

Female extra shot in the castle walls ©Michael Haslund

In today’s times, we still have slavery everywhere. In Ghana’s Volta region you have these very small boys who are picked up and sold for a pittance in the Western and Central regions to go and work as divers for fishermen. So I have a different view about slavery. We [Africans] tend to say that we have not done anything wrong.

MB: I appreciate that slavery still exists today and I know we played our part but I think that marrying what happened then and what is happening now diminishes the brevity of the Trans-Atlantic trade, which many modern-day countries are built on. And I think it gives racists license to defend what happened then by saying slavery is happening now. 

KB: Not necessarily, I disagree with you a bit on the human trafficking issue. It is not only blacks who are trafficked now. We have eastern Europeans that are being trafficked in containers – right? So I don’t know about it being a race issue. It is white on white, white on black, black on white, black on black. I tend to have a different view on that. If you are racist you are racist, if you are not well read you will pick anything to justify, something that is not justifiable.

And you must look at it in terms of a work of art. At that time, there was that school of thought that blacks were sub-human, and that is what Daniel wanted to show. And that is one of the reasons he made the black characters voiceless because that’s one of the aspects that will shock you.

I used to be a teacher, I taught for five years at Achimota School in Ghana, and one thing I learnt was that you can teach by positive example or by negative example. When this film was premiered in Copenhagen, some of the people were so distraught, especially the older ones. They came up to us and asked: ‘So do you hate us?’

Those with a good heart who didn’t know of Denmark’s participation in the trade and saw the brutality of it were completely traumatised. And I suspect it will make them better people going forward. They will tend to be nicer to black people when they meet them and that is fine by me.

MB: There seemed to be some symbolism attached to the use of white and dark clothing in the film. The Danish were often depicted in white as were the ‘native’ that had been converted to Christianity, while the rest wore darker or black garments. (check out my critique here). Was that intentional?

Jakob Oftebro and Ghanaian extras ©Michael Haslund

Jakob Oftebro and Ghanaian extras ©Michael Haslund

 KB: The blacks you saw and the change in Lumpa’s dressing was towards the end of the film. That was a funeral scene at the village. But apart from that the blacks you saw in the village were wearing calico and those were what they used to wear earlier and those weren’t necessarily black. So, I didn’t see that connection that you are referring to and I don’t think that was conscious. But it gives me food for thought.

By Kirsty Osei-Bempong (@MisBeee)

Kirsty Osei-Bempong is a journalist and blogger. She share news about Ghanaian arts, cultures and history on her blog site MisBeee Writes.

Turkish Airlines, Why?

Turkish Airlines. Many things have been said about the airline. It is commonly known that transit in Istanbul sometimes took about 24 hours and passengers had to spend a night in a hotel. I also felt that Turkey was so close to Iraq, and that the long standing dispute between Iraq and the Turkish Kurds could suddenly spark off terrorism which could affect planes flying from Turkey. All these things frightened me and I always said to myself never to fly Turkish Airlines. This year, at the time I was about to travel to Ghana, Turkish Airlines happened to have the cheapest rates of all the airlines I checked. I was tempted and decided to give them a try.

A bit of facts about Turkey: They have been trying hard to be counted among the developed countries of Europe and want to join the EU. They hype their achievements and one of their prides is Turkish Airlines. They have advertisements

Turkish Airlines ad featuring Kobe Bryant and Lionel Messi

Turkish Airlines ad featuring Kobe Bryant and Lionel Messi

in major international media saying how good the Airline is and the awards they have received. Some major footballers in the world have appeared on some of these ads. One popular and funny one pits Drogba against Messi in an epic food battle featuring many exotic dishes served on the airline which you are not likely to get on the Accra journey. It is evident in my personal opinion that what they say in these ads did not meet up with their services as I experienced when I travelled in their aircraft to Ghana. I get the impression that they have different and better services to the developed world but poorer services to the third world.

Through inefficient management of the Airline or absolute and deliberate corruption, Ghana Airways collapsed never to rise again. Ghanaians have been travelling very much with airlines which are better known to them, and these are: British Airways, KLM and Lufthansa. These companies use huge aircrafts for long distance journeys. These are wide-bodied passenger jet airliners.

The article will mainly be talking about Turkish Airlines and the uncomfortable treatment meted out to passengers travelling to Ghana. In July there was an urgent need for me to travel to Ghana. Since their rates were some thirty percent lower than the next cheapest airline, I chose to travel with them for the first time despite the mixed feelings and suspicions I have for the airline. The plane left very early in the morning and we were to transit in Istanbul. The immigration process was simple and waiting period to board another plane to Accra was just three hours.

Thy_fcb_new_aircraft_borakWhen I entered the plane I realized it was not a Boeing aircraft. This plane had two seats on the left and two on the right with a tiny aisle. It was a long and boring direct flight from Istanbul to Accra since the tiny plane had no facilities for the passengers to listen to music or watch films in a flight that took seven hours. This was a far cry from the service I’m used to on the bigger airlines doing the Accra journey. I was all the time hoping that my regular luggage and the one extra I had paid for, would all arrive with me in the plane. It was a smooth journey. We arrived on schedule at 20:15 at the Kotoka International Airport.

Like all other foreign aircrafts coming to Ghana, the passengers in the plane were predominantly Ghanaians. There were only six white persons. We went through immigration procedure which was very transparent and smooth. I hurried to the luggage belt. My people were waiting outside to take me home. We were all becoming nervous, impatient and angry. All the luggage that came were transported to a special area. What was happening? News came after nearly forty five minutes of waiting that our luggage would arrive the following day and that the luggage we were seeing were for those who had arrived on the same flight the day before. They pleaded with us to leave and come for our luggage the next day.

My anger knew no bounds. It was the first time I was going home without my luggage. The worst thing was that I had my daily medicines in one of the bags. I kept wondering why they could not announce this to us in the plane. This clearly shows a total lack of respect for Africans. As I turned to go, I bumped into a white man who sat right behind me in the plane. I asked him if he knew anyone in Accra. He told me he was visiting a Ghanaian friend in Takoradi. He added that his friend did not know he was coming. He wanted to surprise him. He said that this was not the first time he was coming to Ghana. I asked him if he knew anyone in Accra. He said no, and that since his luggage did not come, he requested a card that would enable him to spend the night in a hotel. Really?

He took me to the officer who gave the card to him. He left to find a taxi to the hotel. I told the officer to also give me a card to stay in a hotel since I didn’t know anyone in Accra. He looked at me and smiled. “You are a Ghanaian and you don’t know anyone in Accra? I don’t believe you,” he said. I told him I was taken to Europe when I was five years. I gave this lie just to check how he would react. He asked for my passport. I gave it to him. “But there is no visa in your passport.” He said. I showed him my dual citizenship card. He took it, took a furtive look at it and pushed both passport and card in my hands. “Sorry I cannot help you.” He was very indifferent. This is pure discrimination, I hollered at him.

The following day when I collected my luggage, I went to the office of Turkish Airlines and complained bitterly about theGhana_Airways_DC-10-30_9G-ANE_JFK_2004-4-10 attitude of their staff member. The man apologized and assured me it will never happen again.

Dear reader, probably what happened to us was not frequent but a single incident. However, if you have had such an experience with Turkish Airlines, do share it with us. You may note that the officer who treated me that way was not a Turk but a Ghanaian.

This article is to indict Turkish Airlines for its poor services and the harsh and unwelcome treatment meted out to Ghanaian travellers by fellow Ghanaian officers at the airport. Don’t you think it is time to resurrect Ghana Airways? I weep for Ghana.

By Stephen Atta Owusu

Article taken from here