October 2016


Why Are People from Volta Region Called Number 9?

The Ashantis go by the accolade Kotoko (the porcupine). They gained this accolade due to their military power and effective strategy in fighting wars since 1701. Their assertive claim that if a thousand Ashantis are annihilated in war, a thousand more will come to replace those decapitated (wokum apem a, apem beba), likened the Ashantis to the porcupine which releases its sharp long quills or spines and gets replaced almost immediately. Interestingly the Nzimas also call themselves Kotoko but the reason behind it may probably not be the same as that for the Ashantis.

This article will discuss why Voltarians are called “Number 9”.

At independence, Ghana was divided into seven administrative regions: Ashanti, Central, Eastern, Northern, Upper, Volta and Western. Brong Ahafo was the first region created after independence. It was carved out of the Ashanti Region in 1958. Anyone who went to school in the 60s and 70s will remember that Ghana had only eight regions. Yet Volta Region, which had existed since independence, was called “Number 9”. PNDCL 26 created Greater-Accra as a region on its own on 23rd July 1982. Greater-Accra, became the ninth region of Ghana. Yet the Volta Region retained its nickname of “Number 9”.

The youngest regions in Ghana are the Upper-West and Upper East which were created when the then Upper Region was divided into two by the PNDC government in 1983. Of course, the Volta Region continued to be called “Number 9”.

When Brong-Ahafo Region was created in 1958, it left the Ashanti Region completely “landlocked” within Ghana. The region has no borders with the outside world. Some observers say it was a deliberate ploy by Kwame Nkrumah to make it impossible for the Ashanti State, the heartland of the “matemeho” movement and congenital opponents of the CPP, from ever seceding from Ghana. When Greater-Accra region was created, it left the Eastern Region also “landlocked” within Ghana as it lost its sea border. It is, thus, only the Ashanti and Eastern Regions that share no borders with the outside world.

But how and why did the Volta Region get the nickname by which some people still call it? The well-

Wli Falls in the Volta region

Wli Falls in the Volta region

known fact must again be stated that the nickname “Number 9” is almost always used in a derogatory sense even if it is often said more as a joke than as a serious insult. The people of the region do not call themselves that and it is obvious they do not quite take much delight in being called so.

The derogatory connotation of the Volta nickname may come from it carrying a certain sense of “lateness”. This sense is reinforced by the fact that the region is made largely (but not completely) of the erstwhile Trans-Volta Togoland (TVT) which, until December 1956, was really not an integral part of the Gold Coast. Of the four entities that constituted modern Ghana, the TVT was the last to be formally joined to the Gold Coast (that became Ghana) even though the territory had long been administered by the British from their Accra seat as part of their Gold Coast “possession”.

It wouldn’t matter if the lateness denoted just that – lateness. But “Number 9” carries a sense of backwardness even though the region doesn’t come last on a range of important metrics. It is not the last region to be created, it is not the smallest region, it does not have the smallest population, and it does not have the lowest literacy rate. It does not come last in an alphabetic ordering of the regions of the county. Yet the nickname persists.

A second reason one can hear for the “Number 9” is that, until new codes were introduced in 2010, Volta Region’s code was 09. If you lived outside the region, you dialled 09 to get to the region. But this reason does not seem true. In the 60s, not many people had access to telephones and it is unlikely the region could be identified by its telephone code. Moreover, it is a bit difficult to assign a derogatory connotation to a region because of its telephone code number.

First Miss Ghana Monica Amekoafia

First Miss Ghana Monica Amekoafia

How did the “Number 9” come about? The reason is actually simple and one which, at a time, the people of the region would have been proud of. The first ever Miss Ghana competition was held on 4th March 1957, two days before our independence. It may have been conducted as part of our independence anniversary activities. The candidate representing the TVT (Volta Region), which had by then become an integral part of the new nation, had the identification number 9. Miss Monica Amekoafia, then 22 years old from Alavanyo in the Volta Region, and representing her region carrying lap number 9, went on to win the entire competition and was crowned as the first ever Miss Ghana. Ghana did not have television then (it wouldn’t come until 1964) and only those present at the function or listening to the radio (if it was broadcast live), would have seen or heard the announcers calling the Volta Region candidate by her lap number. The following day, the newspapers may have carried pictures of the candidates and their regions and their lap numbers.

People may have talked about the contest for days even as they still do today for “Ghana’s Most Beautiful”. Volta Region became identified with “Number 9”. If Ghanaians welcomed the TVT as part of Ghana, there might have been a lot of goodwill around. It was a time we all identified ourselves as Ghanaians. The tribalism we see today was virtually non-existent then. Those who then called Volta Region “Number 9” wouldn’t have done so for any diabolical reasons. That would come later on…

Today, there are still a few misconceptions about the Volta Region. The most serious is the one

districts in the Volta region

districts in the Volta region

which identifies the region with the erstwhile TVT. Today’s Volta Region is not identical with the former German colony of Togoland that the British took over in 1916. The CPP government made sure of that. Take a good look at the regional map of Ghana. The coastal areas of the Volta Region consisting of Anloga, Keta, Aflao, Denu and going up to Peki, Tsibu, Awudome, etc. were never part of the German colony of Togoland but are, today, parts of the Volta Region. These areas had been part of the Gold Coast since about the 1850s. Further north, parts of the present day Northern and Upper East regions were part of the erstwhile TVT but are not, today, part of Volta Region. The CPP government simply took the erstwhile TVT and divided it into several regions and added parts of the erstwhile Gold Coast to some of these regions. Just like in the case of the Ashanti and Brong Ahafo regions, there may have been some strategic reasons behind this move. Today, the erstwhile TVT can be found in three different regions. How can they succeed in seceding?

If you look at the map of the erstwhile TVT, you will notice that its southern border is a straight line just below Ho. This is one more evidence of the saying that in the scramble for Africa, the colonial powers used “ruler and pencil” to carve out Africa among themselves. The borders of the erstwhile TVT cut the Ewes in two “by heart”. That was why areas like Peki, Tsibu and even Kpeve, whose Ewe likens that of the “northern Ewes” found themselves in the Gold Coast whereas nearby Ho found itself in German Togoland.

German Togoland included the whole of Togo and the erstwhile TVT. The Germans colonized it for some 25 years until the First World War when the British and the French pushed them out of the area as part of their war effort. They then divided the area between themselves. The British administered their part from the Gold Coast.

After the Second World War, the UN mandated the area as a trust territory for the British to look over.

Akosombo Dam in the Volta region

Akosombo Dam in the Volta region

They called it Trans Volta Togoland and added it to the Gold Coast, though as a separate entity. When Gold Coast independence was imminent, the British informed the UN they would not be able to continue administering the territory after Gold Coast became free. It was then that the controversial plebiscite was held and the people of the TVT voted to become part of the Gold Coast and formally did so in December 1956 in time for independence in March 1957. The French, however, continued to administer the French Togoland until they were forced to grant it independence in 1960.

Number 9 has been repeated by Ghanaians till today to refer to Voltarians in a derisive and derogatory manner. Those who say it, see Voltarians as backward and the 9th and last region of Ghana. It is often said that when a lie is repeated continuously it gains an element of truth. People have either refused or are unwilling to accept or learn the history of “Number 9”. The Bible states that for lack of knowledge my people perish.

Today, there is a poorly maintained statue of Miss Monica Amekoafia (now deceased) in front of the Post Office in Hohoe in the Volta Region. It commemorates her victory in the beauty pageant of 1957. I wonder how many of Hohoe’s citizens who pass by this statue every day know that it is the young lady’s victory in the year of our independence that is the cause of their region being called “Number 9”.

By Stephen Atta Owusu
Author: Dark Faces at Crossroads
Email: stephen.owusu@email.com

Meet Woman Is Helping To Bring Health Care Awareness To Ghana

Nana Eyeson-Akiwowo is a woman on a profound mission. Through her organization African Health Now, the 39-year-old has been crusading for the last 10 years to help bring basic health information, health care and resources to Ghanaians and people across the African continent.

Based in New Jersey but of Ghanaian descent, Eyeson-Akiwowo was working in the publishing world in 2006 when her father fell ill in Ghana. There, she experienced first-hand the lack of primary health care available in the West African country. She also noted the ways in which members of the community were compelled to rally around him in order to make sure he received proper care. It was that sense of community she witnessed for her father that formed the catalyst for the creation of African Health Now.

“I took the first step by producing a health fair to provide general medical health screenings to my father’s community,” Eyeson-Akiwowo told The Huffington Post.

“If my father had known previously the importance of screenings or the signs of a heart attack this could have been prevented. I realized this was a much bigger issue. After each health fair and the interaction with our participants, I felt compelled to come back. Now, I can’t see myself doing anything else.”

A decade later, African Health Now services communities by transforming local spaces into medical clinics and bringing education and primary health care such as breast exams and dental care to the people who need it. According to Eyeson-Akiwowo, the organization’s work has impacted over 20,000 people in urban neighborhoods throughout Ghana.

There have been obstacles, as with any grassroots movement, especially in regards to getting human and financial resources to not only keep the organization going in Ghana but so it can expand it to other parts of Africa. Even so, Eyeson-Akiwowo remains dedicated African Health Now.

On Thursday, AHN will host a special star-studded gala event in New York City to raise funds for a plan to deploy 50 mobile health units throughout Ghana over the next 10 to 15 years. It’s an ambitious plan, and one that Eyeson-Akiwowo says she firmly believes in.

“Seeing the joy in a child’s face after their first dental visit is the most rewarding [experience],” Eyeson-Akiwowo said. “Five years from now, we hope to have increased that kind of access to basic health care for Sub-Saharan Africans.”

For more info on African Health Now, visit www.africanhealthnow.org.

 

AFCON 2017: GHANA DRAWN IN GROUP D AND FACE FAMILIAR FOES

The Blackstars of Ghana have been drawn in Group D of AFCON 2017 alongside Egypt, Mali and Uganda as the draw was made yesterday in Libreville, Gabon.

Egypt, Ghana and Uganda will  be tired of the sight of each other having been drawn together in Group D only four months after they were placed in the same group for 2018 World Cup qualifying.

Seven-time African champions Egypt will be eager to revive their dominance after some years of under-performing, while Ghana are desperate to win their first title since 1982 and go one better than the runners-up spot they achieved last year and in 2012 and 1992.

Uganda’s last appearance at the tournament was in 1978, when they lost in the final to Ghana.

Gabon kick off the tournament on 14 January, with the final on 5 February.

The hosts appear to have been fortunate in the draw, pitched in Group A alongside debutants Guinea-Bissau, Cameroon and Burkina Faso.

This years competition has been described as the most open for years so promises to be an exciting team. Though one notable absentee are the 2013 winners Nigeria who failed to qualify.

The full group draw is as follows;

2017 AFCON – GROUP STAGES

Group A: Gabon (Hosts), Guinea-Bissau, Cameroon, Burkina Faso

Group B: Algeria, Tunisia, Zimbabwe, Senegal

Group C: Ivory Coast, DR Congo, Morocco, Togo

Group D: Ghana, Egypt, Mali, Uganda

Will 2017 be the year Ghana finally end their 34 year wait for glory? Lets hope so!

Me FiRi Ghana (@Me_FiRi_Ghana)

Who do our young people consider their black heroes?

 Following the success of last year’s inaugural Made By History essay-writing competition, The Voice is proud to launch the second series of its Black History Month contest.

Made By History is a month-long competition open to 9-14 year-olds asking for them to share in an essay there thoughts on a theme set by The Voice. Last year, students were asked to share what black history means to them.

The response was overwhelming, with entries coming from a culturally diverse cross-section of students from 11 schools in London. From Rosa Parks’ defiance to Marcus Garvey’s leadership and Mandela’s bravery, pupils displayed a strong and passionate knowledge of black heroes from the past.

The Voice opened up the pool of winners to include the Best Essay from each age category and a special commendation for the most inspirational essay.

“The Voice really wanted to do something to engage with its younger readers and ensure it celebrated Black History Month with something meaningful for children,” The Voice director Paulette Simpson said. “There is so much talent in our community and this was a brilliant way to motivate and encourage them.”

Do you know any young people aged between 9-14 years old that would like to take part?

HOW TO ENTER:

We are asking students to share in 500 words who they see as their black hero.
The winning entry will be published in The Voice with a picture of the author and they will receive a gift voucher to the value of £50. The winner will be selected by an independent panel from the community.

Email your entries to: madebyhistory@gvmedia.co.uk or post them to: The Voice, Made By History Competition, Unit 236 Elephant & Castle Shopping Centre, London, SE1 6TE.

DEADLINE: November 2, 2016 by 12 noon.
Please provide your full name, age and school. Students should also include their parent/s full name and telephone number.

Stonebwoy, E.L and Amakye Dede to Headline Ghana Music Week UK

Ghanaian reggae and dancehall star, and BET award winner Stonebwoy will be headlining the first ever Ghana Music Week UK. Joining Stonebwoy on the bill is Capital Xtra’s veteran broadcaster and Afrobeat tastemaker Abrantee, who has been confirmed as the event’s host and UK ambassador.

The multiple award-winning Stonebwoy returns to the UK for his very first headline performance since being crowned ‘Best International Act’ at the 2015 BET Awards, where he beat the likes of Wizkid, Sarkodie and Yemi Alade to the coveted award. With hits such as ‘Go Higher’, ‘Mightylele’ and ‘Pull Up’, Stonebwoy is one of Africa’s most popular music exports.

Also headlining Ghana Music Week UK at the Indigo at the O2 is veteran Ghanaian musician and king of highlife Amakye Dede. With a vibrant career spanning over four decades, and over 20 albums under his belt, Dede is a legend in world music, with many of his hits including ‘Iron Boy’ and ‘Dabi Dabi’ standing the test of time and still shutting down parties all over the world in 2016.

The 2016 Vodafone Music Awards ‘Artist of the Year’ and prolific Ghanaian rapper and producer E.L wil be joining the pair to headline at Ghana Music Week UK. E.L recently performed alongside Lauren Hill at her sold out concert ‘Diaspora Calling’. E.L’s hits include ‘Shelele’, ‘Mi Naa Bo Po’ and ‘Koko’, and with more acts and a few very special guests to be announced in the coming days, this event is not to be missed.

Already a staple fixture in Ghana’s music calendar, where it is now going into its fifth year, Ghana Music Week UK is one of the biggest music festivals and conferences in Africa, and is fast becoming the biggest platform for music industry leaders, tastemakers and stakeholders of Ghanaian descent, not just in Ghana but also in the diaspora, and across the world.

Having launched Ghana Music Week US in October last year with a sold out concert festival at the legendary BB Kings in New York, the Musicians Union of Ghana, in collaboration with the Ghana Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts, and Fantasy Entertainment, have teamed up with the Ghana High Commission in London, to present the hugely anticipated Ghana Music Week UK.

Tickets for Ghana Music Week are available right now via here or call 0800 177 7721

An invite to the longest food table on UN World Food Day

Food for All Ghana programme in partnership with Go for Hope Foundation under the auspices of the Ghana Tourism Federation and the Food and Beverage Association of Ghana is inviting you for this year’s Food for All Ghana UN world food day advocacy program.

The main objective of the Food4All UN World Food day is to recognize and advocate for the UN declaration on human right to food and ensure that the spotlight is put on the inefficiencies within our food supply chain that creates food wastage and hunger in Ghana.

The 2016 edition is scheduled to take place on the Saturday 15th October, 2016 within  La Dade-Kotopon municipality under the theme: Climate is changing. Food and agriculture must too”. An attempt will be made to break the current Guinness world for longest table while 5,000 vulnerable children and the elderly will be fed, inspired and supported. Through this project the public will be educated on the environmental and economic impact of food wastage in Ghana.

Food for All Ghana is a shared social responsibility. Hope to see you there!