August 2016


Ineffective and incompetent leadership in Ghana, result in a weak, non-performing institutions

All the leaders who have ruled Ghana, apart from the military dictators, had university degrees. All of them either lived or studied abroad. The current president, John Dramani Mahama, for example, attended Achimota College and Ghana Secondary School in Tamale where he obtained the Ordinary and Advanced level certificates respectively. He continued to the University of Ghana where he got his first degree in History. He further did a post-graduate course in Communications at the School of Communication Studies at the University of Ghana. He travelled to Moscow where he pursued a post-graduate degree in Social Psychology. I have taken time to describe the prestigious education of our president and his travel experience. He is not alone in this. All our former leaders had similar experiences and education abroad. They all returned to Ghana with certificates to commit crime and corruption against the state, while rendering the ordinary Ghanaians poor, unemployed and miserable.

 

galamseyAll the leaders that have come and gone and the present government are guilty for not attending to the problem of illegal mining. This appalling and condemnable practice has gone on for many years. Illegal miners and people around the mining areas dig up holes and search through the sand to gather gold and sell. “Gather them and sell” gradually became known as “Galamsey.” There are serious problems connected with galamsey which call for the government’s attention. Either due to deliberate lack of interest or pure, active and selfish interests and gains in the galamsey business, the government has either chosen to keep quiet or done little to stop the offenders. The reason for my argument is that, any serious government can easily relegate galamsey into the abyss of forgetfulness, by sending the military into all the areas where galamsey is taking place, chasing them out and seizing their machines. This action must continue for only a month and galamsey will die a natural death. What is happening is that this illegal mining is destroying water bodies which the people living in the surrounding villages depend on as a source of drinking water.

The situation has worsened with the influx of Chinese into the country who are getting actively 4249901896446_5495566304152involved in the illegal mining business. Apart from the destruction and contamination of water bodies that serve as sources of drinking water, there are other problems connected with galamsey. The gaping holes have become traps killing children and adults alike. The Chinese brought complex machines to the forest and destroyed cocoa farms in the areas they operated. Many farmlands belonging to the residents were taken away and sold to the Chinese for galamsey purposes. Foodstuffs and cash crops are being destroyed at random. Despite protests and demonstrations, no leadership in government has ever planned and released a permanent solution to the problem. If a solution was found, the farmers would congratulate the government rather than the daily wailing and moaning.

 

Due to lack of control, measures and unwillingness to wipe out galamsey from the system, the illegal mining has moved to another dangerous level. In Konongo in the Ashanti Region, the residents believe that many houses have been built in areas where they assume the ground is rich in gold. You will not believe this: galamsey has now moved to houses. Many halls and bedrooms of houses in Konongo have been dug and dynamited, all because they want to gather gold and sell. Neighbours are horrified by the noise created by these dynamites. The local authority look on helpless and unconcerned with no desire or power to abate the nuisance. The leadership of this country can easily stop galamsey, but will they?

Many commissions and organisations that are supposed to be agents for change, development and industrialisation have all become white elephants. This is all because our governments are not eager to implement the results of research by certain institutions and organisations in order to speed up development and progress. In Finland for example, the use of bicycles during summer is an obsession. One out of five persons you meet has a bicycle. These bicycles are parked in hundreds in the cities especially near underground stations. Very often many of them are stolen. This created a serious problem for the citizens. A Master’s degree student took upon himself and wrote his thesis on how the government and the municipal authorities could provide bicycles near subway stations describing in detail how this system could work. The government and the metropolitan authorities studied the thesis and approved it. Today you don’t need to have your own bicycle. You only slot your travel card and a bicycle is ready for your use. Alarm will sound very hectically if after three hours the bicycle is not returned to the nearest subway station. This is what I call positive and unselfish thought by leadership to the masses. This system can also be found in many cities in Europe who have also researched into the benefits. What are our leaders doing with all the research works that are gathering dust in archives of forgetfulness? The cost of research is expensive and time consuming and therefore due to government’s unwillingness to implement these research findings and results, many research-proven academicians like engineers, medical officers, lawyers, statisticians and pharmacists have given up and many have found their way into parliament where the salary is much better.

 

Council_for_Scientific_and_Industrial_Research_–_Ghana_logoThe Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) is a science and technology research centre which has several institutes operating under its umbrella. The most important of them is Food Research Institute (FRI). The main task of this institute is to provide technical, analytical services, contract research and consultancy services to governmental agencies, micro-medium and multinational agro-food processing industries and international development agencies. Yet we don’t see Ghanaian food products, but West Indian bananas and coconut, Kenyan tea and cashew nuts flood American, Canadian and European supermarkets. Is the institute interested in research that could increase the lifespan of our farm products in order to make them attractive for export and is the government even interested in funding a research like this? FRI intends to engage in research that give rise to increased food products with healthy and long life-span and attractive to international markets. When this is done, it will go a long way to strengthening the institute’s goal for providing income security for farmers. There will also be food security and foreign exchange earnings. The institute has good motives but will support for their various research works come soon? Indeed the institute has very nice and heart-warming strategies and plans but when are CSIR or FRI ever going to put any of their research into action for all Ghanaians to see and applaud?

When Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah assumed power as the first president of Ghana, his main vision was to make sure Ghana is powered by atomic energy because he foresaw the dangers that could be posed by the water level of the Akosombo Dam, thereby causing interruption in electricity supply. At least that was one of the reasons he put forward but it became known later that he had secret nuclear technology agenda too. He created a commission to regulate the Ghanaian Atomic energy programme. With Nkrumah’s vision and drive, Ghana had massive nuclear plant_1confidence of bringing the atomic energy Project to a victorious end. Nkrumah always thought ahead and in one of his addresses in 1964, he revealed his intention of going into nuclear technology. He explained that with the erratic supply of energy from hydro and thermal sources, the country must focus on a more reliable means of power generation. To prove his seriousness he put Robert Sogbadji, an expert in charge of nuclear and alternative energy at Ghana’s Ministry of Energy and Petroleum. This man had high hopes for the Project because he knew that when it was completed, it was going to be so cheap that we wouldn’t need to pay so much for electricity. The Americans became suspicious of Nkrumah’s nuclear technology plan and all these fine ambitions of 1960 were stalled when Nkrumah was overthrown.

 

After Nkrumah’s exit, none of the leaders who came after him even talked about atomic or nuclear energy as an alternative source for the erratic power supply that has hung permanently on our heads like the sword of Damocles. Those leaders who talked about atomic energy could not do anything about their plans. The atomic energy commission is no longer remembered or considered by any Ghanaian leader as a potential source of energy. Sadly enough such an important monumental centre is now used to denote a junction: Atomic Junction. Are our children learning anything? If it is the intention of governments to break every institution including Atomic energy commission, no matter what they do, Ghana will continue to remain in Dumsor.

 

made-in-ghanaPresident Mahama, in one of his addresses, announced that it is both important and necessary for Ghana’s industrial growth, if we patronised “made in Ghana goods.” To show how serious he was with the campaign, he began to wear Ghanaian traditional jumpers and boubou and admonished his ministers to do the same. He revived the shoe factory in Kumasi and promised that made in Ghana boots would be made for soldiers and the police and even school children would get their shoes. It was everyone’s wish that the president will continue this noble agenda. It turned out to be wishful thinking, a nine day wonder and a mere propaganda! Ghanaians woke up one day to find out that the president had bypassed local industries and carpenters and ordered for parliament seats from China, costing more than 1.5 million dollars. Interestingly those seats began to sag in and anyone who sat in could not easily be seen by the Speaker. The seats had to be replaced and despite public outcry and protests, the president had no regrets and ordered new furniture from the same source.

 

As if to add salt to the injury of Ghanaians he gave a contract to a Burkinabe to build a wall 1.8867529around a plot Ghana has purchased in Burkina Faso and got himself entangled in a scandal dating back to 2012. The president is reported to have received a gift which is undeniably a bribe, of a vehicle costing several thousands of dollars from a Burkinabe contractor. In return Mahama offered him the contract valued at more than 600,000 dollars. A job which a Ghanaian mason or building contractor could have taken less than a tenth of the amount? In the case of the bus branding, the contract had to go to a foreign Company. WHY?

Our leaders have made the job of being a  president so cheap, no doubt illiterates like Akua Donkor and Kumchacha are also vying for similar positions in Ghana. God help Ghana! Our institutions will continue to die and research works will continue to gather dust if our leaders continue to show interest in foreign products.

By Stephen Atta Owusu
Author: Dark Faces at Crossroads

Me Firi Ghana presents: The Afrobeats Music Festival Experience

‘The Party Just Never Stops’ Me Firi Ghana Representative Adwoa Asiedu tells us her thoughts on the Afrobeats Festival

Envision a lovely ambiance where people are not afraid to smile at strangers, or loudly sing at their top of their lungs when their favourite tunes come on.

Welcome to my world.

The party began as soon as you entered the 02 building. The anticipation of the event could not be20160730_210740 hidden as I watched how people hurried to get their last minute tickets.  Many dressed to impress, and moreover there was a powerful sense of solidarity amongst the crowd.  The majority that came to the event were of African heritage, but it didn’t matter who we were or who we represented.  It wasn’t about us.  It was about the Arts of Afrobeats and being immersed in the Afrobeats culture.

Credits to the Artists, Dancers, Presenters, DJ’s and the wonderful crowd for making it into delightful night. The show began with superb dancers who brought great energy to the show.   It was the perfect way to launch the festival as it got us into the festival spirit. DJ Abrantee never failed to disappoint with his infectious sense of humour. The crowd were magical.  I stood next to two talented guys whose moves I greatly admired. They didn’t care who was watching and it was beautiful to see. In that moment I thought:  ‘‘That’s what sets Afrobeats music festival apart from other festivals. The party just never stops.’’  There were no boundaries and I have to commend the entertaining crowd for keeping the party going.

20160730_221803My appreciations to DJ Fifi, DJ Sean and DJ Bills who gave us great tunes to dance to throughout the night. The Artists that came to perform were brilliant. Well done to R2bees, The Composers, Moelogo, Mista Silva, May7ven and Jaij Hollands with additional support by rising stars K.Weezy, Ray & Double A. Each act brought their gift to the stage, however there were a few acts that I thoroughly enjoyed watching because I connected to their musical style, rhythm and lyrics. They were R2bees, Moelogo and Miss Banks.

Multi Award Winners & BET Nominated R2bees were so captivating to watch on stage as they sang some of their biggest hits such as ‘Ajei’. When they opened the show with this song, the crowd fell in love and it was as if it was a brand new song all over again. It was evident to see that they have truly connected with the crowd because at one stage, all one could hear was the crowd singing joyfully in unity.

Moelogo had presence. He proved that he is not a regular artist. I enjoyed watching him sing his 20160730_211652iconic Tune ‘Baddest’ and it was nonetheless a breath-taking performance.

Miss Banks was a true dynamite. She performed her songs with swerve, charm and passion. She’s definitely one to look out for in the music scene.

I came to the festival with high expectations but I was not in the slightest disappointed.  If anything I was deeply touched by the gorgeous harmony between the crowd and the moving performances.

Me Firi Ghana would like to stress that The Afrobeats Music Festival was an unforgettable night. Thank you to all the event organisers who turned this glorious vision to reality on the 30th July 2016.

By Adwoa Asiedu @AdwoaAsiedu777

Come chop and party!

How does a day of fun and games, Afrobeat music, great West African cuisine with good company sound? Sounds good? Then read on >>>>

Chop X Beats is a fresh musical and culinary event that aims to create a feel good party atmosphere. They aim to provide a fun way to connect with, share and explore African culture through music, fashion, art, and food.

Chop X Beats draws its inspiration from the current African renaissance which is occurring across London, and the nostalgic feeling of African hall parties from the 90’s and early 00’s.

In light of this they’re holding an event this Sunday 7th August at The Brewhouse, 369-370 Helmsley Pl, Hackney, E8 3SB.

Attractions on the day

*Market stalls* selling African inspired art & fashion.

*West African cuisine*

*Dj Nore* with an exclusive Afrobeats set

*Traditional games*

Starts at 1pm and finishes at 10pm.

Early bird tickets two for £15 have completely sold out. There are still advance tickets, which are £12.50 and Group of 4 tickets (20% group discount), which are £40. Head here to purchase your tickets before they’re all gone!

Future of Ghana (FOG) needs your help

We at Mefiri Ghana have some exciting news to share with you all! The Future of Ghana (FOG) has been selected to use one of the first diaspora crowdfunding platforms.

The Future of Ghana is an initiative created by Mefiri Ghana to positively and proactively connect Ghana to the rest of the world by mobilising and organising a generation of future leaders. Me Firi Ghana has an incredible history of creating opportunities for youth advocacy and engagement, youth skills development and job creation for the many unemployed young people that currently live in the country. Through this initiative, Me Firi Ghana harnesses a network of skilled entrepreneurs, professionals and leaders to train, mentor and provide pathways to employment for the next generation of young people in Ghana.

Following the successful launch of the annual Future of Ghana Youth Leadership Forum held at the renowned Ashesi University last year, which saw the unique gathering of young leaders, solution providers, future leaders and pioneers discuss and understand how to contribute to Ghana’s economic growth and connect, learn and share ideas, we’re fundraising to make upcoming Future of Ghana events even bigger and better!

So please support Me Firi Ghana’s campaign and share it with your family and friends. The Future of Ghana is an incredibly progressive initiative that will lead Ghana’s youth into a strong and prosperous future.

You can donate by clicking here

Thanks for your support!

Watch  2015 highlights below:

Pɛpɛɛni, ntaafuo, eblutor and the prejudices we have of each other

A few weeks ago, there was an interesting discussion on Ghanaweb following Charles Agbenu’s article in which he castigated all Ghanaians who regard themselves as not being northerners for looking down on people of “northern extraction” in Ghana. Agbenu’s article was a politically motivated one but the issues it raised concern us all as Ghanaians and the way we think of each other.

One of the points of contention in Agbenu’s article had to do with the true meaning, or otherwise, of the Twi terms PƐPƐƐNI and NTAAFUO. This follows another ghanaweb columnist, Kofi Ata’s argument that the two terms did not, originally, have any negative connotations. Kofi Ata had written an article in which he said his mother had told him that PƐPƐƐNI came about as a result of Akans who perceived Northerners who had come south in search of employment as people who were truthful and did things “pɛpɛɛpɛ” (exactly or fairly). He added that they were referred to as NTAAFUO because they always moved in pairs like twins”.

regions of Ghana

regions of Ghana

Many commentators saw this explanation as very illuminating. This led to a rejoinder to Agbenu’s article that appeared the day after. Kofi Ata’s explanation of how the two terms came about was, indeed, interesting. But it had a few problems. In the first place, there was no way of establishing the fact that what Kofi Ata’s mother told him (Kofi Ata) constituted the unvarnished truth and was, indeed, how the terms came about. Other commentators said their mothers and grandmothers told them different stories. Some said pɛpɛni came about because these migrants were perceived as miserly (“pɛpɛɛnfuo”) and they were called ntaafuo because they bought similar items in the market as you would buy similar dresses for twins. What this shows is that it is only a properly conducted research work that can establish the correct etymology of the terms. The only thing we can be sure of is what their current usages denote in Ghanaian society.

Another fact is that no matter how the terms originated, they came about as nicknames for a group of people who never called themselves by those names. These people, having lived long in their new areas, came to know the names by which their hosts called them. They either did not like these names or did not care. Then there is this thing about nicknames. Even though they can be given to denote positive traits, they are most often given to denote negative traits.

Agbenu Charles also equated the terms “pɛpɛɛni” and “ntaafuo” with what he termed as their

Ewe dancers

Ewe dancers

equivalents in the other major Ghanaian languages. He said the Ewes call Northerners “dzogbedzitor” and the Gas say “senu”. The Ewe commentators went up in arms against Agbenu arguing that the Ewe term was not equivalent to the Akan terms. They said the Ewe term only denotes people who come from the grasslands or Sahara or a dry place and no abusive connotations are involved.

The Akans have a word for Northerners that can be said to be neutral: ESREMFUO (ESREMNI singular). The literal meaning is the same as the Ewe equivalent: people from the grasslands. Nobody who uses the term “esremfuo” can be accused of trying to look down on people from the North unless the person intentionally gives it a twist that makes it so.

The Ga term for Northerners, “Sanu” is said to be the shortened form of the Hausa greeting: “Sanu kede?” (How are you?) It is not, exactly, neutral.

13616_2014_12_MOESM1_ESMThe thing to be noted here is that any term used to denote some other people as different from us can, very easily, degenerate to a notion of “different and inferior”.  This is often so when it is the dominant and more powerful group that is marking the difference. That is why people have fought segregation (separate development) everywhere. And that also explains why the whites who come to live among us in Ghana do not quite like it when we call them “obroni”, “blofo” or “yevu” until they come to realise that we do not mean anything offensive by those terms. Even so, the supposed original meanings of the terms may not exactly be complimentary to the white man. The Twi term “obroni” begun as two words “(a)bro ni” (wicked man) and the Ewe term “a-yevu” means a cunning dog “the one who feigns niceness and bites you”, as Yaa Gyasi puts it in her much praised debut novel (HOMEGOING). I have not been able to find out how the Ga “blofo” came about. But, as with pɛpɛɛni and ntaafuo, the true origins of all these terms may have been lost.

There are other terms we all use to refer to each other whether for good or for bad. In Kumasi, there is Anwona. This is a corruption of the correct pronunciation of Anlo which is beyond most Twi speakers. The “nw” is a nasal sound as in the Twi “anwanwado” (amazing love). It has no negative connotations…

The Ewes call all Twi speakers “eblutorwo”. I have not been able to find out how this term came about. It seems the Ewes themselves don’t quite know how they came to call all Akans “eblutorwo”. If you ask any Ewe if the term is derogatory, they are quick to say it is not. But, again, from the contention of denoting otherness explained above, any term a people use to denote another people can easily degenerate to the regard of those other people as inferior. But, surely, Ewes do not regard Akans as inferior! Or, do they?

“Eblutorwor” seems to be the counterpart of “ayigbefuo” which many Akans will tell you is not

derogatory. Ga legend has it that when they were migrating to the present day Ghana, the chief

Homowo festival of the Ga people

Homowo festival of the Ga people

who had the royal stool in his keeping lost his way and gradually settled in what is now Anecho in present day Togo. When the Gas realised this, they sent emissaries to the “lost tribe” to retrieve the stool. But the chief of the “lost tribe”, known as Ayi, refused to hand over the stool. The emissaries came back to report this as “Ayi gbe” (“gbe” being the Ewe word for “refuse”). They said Ayi said “megbe” (I refuse). The combination of “Ayi” and “megbe” came to be used to refer to Ewes as “ayigbe”. Since the chief refused to hand over something that did not, technically, belong to him, he was said to have stolen it. This gave rise to “ayigbe dzulor” – a negative epithet that clouds all Ewes in the imagination of some non-Ewes. Whether this story is true or not, today, Akans join Gas to call Ewes “ayigbe”. Indeed, and one is more likely to hear “ayigbeni” or “ayigbefuo” than “ayigbenyo”. Perhaps it may be that the Akans, finding it almost impossible to correctly pronounce the word “Ewe”, took to the relatively easier to pronounce “ayigbe” even though the sound produced by “gb”, common in many West African languages, does not naturally occur in Twi.

Today, it is more politically correct to refer to the people of the Volta Region as “Voltarians” in an

Northerners of Ghana

Northerners of Ghana

effort to prevent the mistake of regarding all citizens of the region as Ewes when only about half the population are Ewes. The term also clouds the myriad differences among the Ewes just like pɛpɛɛni and ntaafuo disregard all the differences among the peoples of the three northern regions of Ghana. The use of the term “Anlo-Ewe” to refer to the coastal Ewes does seem to be of recent origin and employed mainly by non-Ewes. The Anlos call themselves “ANLOS” (nothing more) and their fellow Ewes also call them ANLOS (nothing more). Even so, there are still many Akans who think Ewes are a homogeneous group all of who eat “akple and fetri-detsi”. But many Ewes are aware of the broader differences among the Akans – Asante and Fante in particular but also and Kwahu and Akuapem.

An instance of the majority laying claim to what is normal can be found for the term that Akans have for minority (?) languages they do not understand. The people who speak them are said to “potor” and the languages known as “potorkasa”. Some people say the term is not derogatory and refers to all non-Twi languages including even English. Others say there is a derogatory tinge to it as it originally referred to Northerners who had come to Ashantiland and who spoke poor Twi– “wonmo potor kasa no”.

There is an Ewe equivalent, especially among the mid-Volta Ewes. The speakers of the minority languages there (Likpe, Buem, Akpafu, etc) are called “fiafialawo”. These people do not speak: they “fia”. The Ewe term is somewhat derogatory and is not used for major languages like Twi, Ga or English. There is a historical example in the ancient world. The Roman and Hellenic civilisations regarded non-Greek languages as unintelligible. They sounded “baaa baaa” to “civilized” ears. This is how “non-civilized” tribes became known as –  barbarians!

Ashanti Chief at Akwasidae Kese celebrations

Ashanti Chief at Akwasidae Kese celebrations

There are other prejudices the various ethnic groups hold of each other. Akans think Ewes like juju, they have low self-confidence, and they are envious of Akans. Ewes think Akans (especially Asantes) like money too much and like to boast of it. But the Asantes think it is the Kwahus who worship money and will do anything for it. Ewes frown on the display of wealth and will prefer the rich to keep a low profile. Akans say Ewes hide their wealth because they are afraid of being “jujued” by their fellows. The two prejudices fit each other and give rise to some cyclical reasoning. If Ewes dislike the way Akans boast of, and flaunt, their wealth, it stands to reason that they (Ewes) should keep a low profile with their wealth. And if the Akan prejudice about Ewes is that the latter like juju, then the only reason why the Ewe person will not flaunt his wealth is the fear of being done in. Of course, times have changed. Everyone likes material wealth and wants to boast of it when attained. Who lights a lamp and puts it under a bed?

Prejudices, psychologists tell us, are ready made schemas we employ to meet what we do not know. They are normal to the human race and found in all societies. Since they are often formed prior to any supporting evidence, they can lead us astray. It is when we base our behaviour on them that things can go wrong. And using them for political advantage can be detrimental to the effort of building a strong nation that benefits all of us.
By Stephen Atta Owusu
Author: Dark Faces at Crossroads.

*I want to express my deepest sense of gratitude to my Ewe friend who provided immense information on the Ewes during the writing of this piece.*