Category: Features


Nuclear science and technology is not new to Ghana

Nuclear technology has a long track record of positively contributing to global social and economic development. For more than 70-years nuclear research reactors have proven to be cornerstones of innovation in the global development of science and technology.

The African continent is no exception, the continent has 10 out of more than 240 research reactors operating globally. In 2009, Africa passed a milestone of half century of involvement with nuclear technology, dating from the initial criticality of the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s first research reactor (RR) at the University of Kinshasa. The construction of Congolese RR ushered in a new era of scientific development in Africa.

Africa’s RRs are a vital component of the evolving role nuclear science and technology play in the development of society. These reactors have significantly contributed to the scientific progress made in a wide range of spheres. Moreover, RRs are an indispensable tool in the education and training of future Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) operators and engineers as well for the production of scientifically and technologically important materials, such as radioisotopes. These reactors are also used for testing new types of nuclear fuel and studying the radiation resistance of new materials and electronic devices.

For instance, South Africa can be considered a true role model for emerging countries on how nuclear science innovations can be employed to improve the quality of human lives. The SAFARI-1 RR, one of Africa’s first 20 MW research reactors, which already marked its 50-year milestone, successfully provides high quality products and services for domestic and international needs. Being the only nuclear research unit in SA the SAFARI-1 reactor is renowned as one of the leading producers of medical isotopes in the world, in particular molybdenum-99, which is a key isotope used in 40-million diagnostic procedures per annum worldwide. It is estimated that medical products, produced by the SAFARI-1, are used in approximately 10 million medical procedures in more than 60 countries per year, saving countless lives.

Nuclear innovations from Africa have made it possible to eliminate a range of harmful pests, which previously destroyed entire crops of fruits such as oranges and grapefruit. Due to nuclear technologies the tsetse fly no longer poses serious risk to famers and cattle in many previously effected regions. Moreover, nuclear techniques have enabled the increased productivity of the agricultural sector in many regions which has reflected positively on farmer’s incomes.

Ghana has successfully been operating its RR since 1994, apart from research purposes, the Ghanaian RR is utilized in support of the oil and aluminum manufacturing industries. The reactor is also used in geochemistry and hydrochemistry, soil fertility studies as well as mineral exploration.

Global experience of using nuclear technologies has shown that the research units are also widely applied for environmental monitoring and pollution assessments (air, water, and soil), food and agriculture, health, medicine and pharmaceuticals.

Nuclear-derived technologies, have for instance, helped the Central African Republic’s researchers to detect rich bodies of water in the deserts of Sahel. This region is a home to roughly 135 million people, whose biggest challenge is access to clear water, which is essential not only for drinking, but also for food production and sanitation.

In recent years, more and more African countries have seen the substantial benefits of modern nuclear technologies and realized that large-scale national nuclear programmes are able to stimulate sustainable and dynamic development in other important spheres, such as industry, agriculture and medicine.

Research reactors have the potential to adjust nuclear technologies for social development. For instance the production of medical isotopes to treat cancer and other diseases would not be possible without research reactors.

According to the World Health Organization, cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide, and the rate of cancer cases is expected to rise. In Sub-Saharan Africa alone, more than half million people die from cancer every year. Such a tragic tendency can be considerably leveled down by the availability of nuclear medicine, through the development specialized local isotope production facilities and medical centres.

The establishment Ghana’s RR made it possible for the country to open a radiotherapy centre in collaboration with the IAEA. With the help of the radioisotope production facility the radiotherapy center has proven to be highly effective not only for Ghanaian citizens, but also for cancer patients from neighboring countries. The center treats nearly 15 000 patients per year.

Prior to the centre, Ghanaian cancer patients had to travel abroad to India, the Americas and Europe to access treatment. A second center in Kumasi was established in 2004 again in collaboration with the IAEA, whilst the Swedish Ghana Medical center in Accra, a private venture was established in 2013. All three facilities in the country have capabilities for 3-Dimensional treatment planning.

Today there are only three radiotherapy centers in the country which do not cope with growing cancer incidence. In order to increase the efficiency rate of cancer treatment, Ghana needs more centers in different regions of the country to treat the growing number of patients.

The National Centre for Radiotherapy in Accra experiences some challenges. On average, 1200 new cancer cases are referred to the facility every year with about 70% requiring radiation treatment, however, less than 50% of these patients complete their treatment.

A shortage of skilled man power in the Centre hampers the full potential of the establishment and limits the delivery of state of the art radiation treatment aimed at improving outcomes and reducing side effects.

The modernization of the research facility and the construction of a Center of Nuclear Science and Technology will certainly have a positive effect for Ghana’s social and economic development.

The Power of Fabrication and Hoax on Social Media

The potency of hoax and fabricated news has been prevalent in WhatsApp and other social media. From India alone, not less than one million messages and video news are sent to WhatsApp and other social media every month. Only about 150 messages and videos are said to be true. The rest are fabrications and hoax. Such news items have a wide reach. Depending on the news, readers and viewers who fail to see them as hoax either get scared, startled or experience a feeling of insecurity. Not many are able to determine very early that the news items are just fabrications. Almost every country, including Ghana, has had its share of such hoax news on social media.

We all woke up one day to read on WhatsApp that former president of Ghana, Jerry John Rawlings had passed away at 69. The news spread quickly on all social media. When the news of the alleged death reached Rawlings he was upset about this fabrication which did not help anyone.

Michael Essien, former midfielder of Chelsea and Black Stars, was reported dead. The news was on WhatsApp, Facebook and other social media that Essien was involved in a fatal accident in Indonesia where he plays for a local club, Persib Bandung. Sadness engulfed Ghanaians and lovers of football worldwide only to find out that the news was a hoax.

Ghanaians were shocked when they heard the news of the disappearance of Ghana’s rap artist, Castro, and another lady. As Ghanaians were trying to come to terms with the mysterious disappearance, news came around that Castro was still alive. The one that took WhatsApp and other social media by storm was the confirmation of a lawyer who was interviewed at Adom FM that Castro was under intensive care in a hospital in Lomé, Togo’s capital city. A funeral that was supposed to be held by Castro’s family was halted. A group was sent to that particular hospital the lawyer was referring to. Castro was not there. The news was a mere fabrication and a hoax.

These days many funny sayings shared on social media have been attributed to Robert Mugabe. In the beginning, people believed that Mugabe actually said those things since the man is used to saying controversial but brilliant things. But when they were becoming too many, people realised they were false news. Zimbabwean government officials formally issued a statement denying that Mugabe said such things. Here are two of my most popular “Mugabe sayings”: 1. Girls who are called Monica like money and cars. 2. Dear ladies, if your boyfriends did not wish you a Happy Mother’s day or sing sweet Mother for you, you should stop breastfeeding them. Of course, Mugabe didn’t say these things. Dear reader, what is your favourite Mugabe saying?

Such social media fabrications are sometimes used by industrialised countries to undermine the progress of other countries’ economy. A devastating news item was carried on WhatsApp claiming that China is now producing and bagging rice made of plastic material. Many were fast to authenticate the claim on videos to demonstrate how the rice looks like when it is cooked. The Chinese contend that if what people are claiming is true why is the World Health Organization (WHO) silent?

The Chinese claim this fabrication was designed by the Americans who, according to the Chinese, are obviously scared by the fast rate of development and progress of the country. The Chinese decided to pay back in the same coin and put the Americans to shame. Soon a video that shocked the world was making rounds on social media. The video showed a truck loaded with human cadavers in front of a McDonald’s outlet. The Chinese claim the dead bodies are mashed in machines and used for the burgers which are distributed to all McDonald’s restaurants. When this horrific video came out, about 25% of visitors who patronized the restaurant, it was reported, stopped eating at McDonalds. The directors denied this claim as a mere fabrication.

There was another video claiming the Chinese were now eating aborted babies and even full babies who are sold by their parents. According to the narrator, foetus and embryos have been made into soup for human consumption. It is believed the Chinese are eating this to increase health, stamina and sexual performance. The media war between America and China is still going on. This fits well in the Ghanaian parlance, “if you do me, I do you”.

Immediately after the 2016 US election, the potency of fabricated and hoax news came into focus. Fake news on the elections began to appear on social media during the run-up to the ballot. The first put Mrs Clinton in a comfortable lead. When the reality of the election dawned on Americans, another news item that was clearly fabricated appeared on social media that Donald Trump had hacked into the electoral commission’s computer system to add more votes. This news drew more attention than any other news in the major news media in the United States. This turned out to be mere fabrication.

Often, people make up their own wisdom words and attribute them to famous persons. One of the most serious ones appeared a few years ago about the last words of Apple founder, Steve Jobs, in which he regretted having spent all his life looking for money but not having time to spend it. The passage was so long and detailed that nobody on his dying bed, in the throes of pain, drifting between life and death, could possibly have said those things as his last words. It was purely fake news.

WhatsApp, Facebook and other social media should be used with much care and circumspection. Not all news published in these media can be taken as true and authentic and therefore such news that smack of fabrication and hoax should not be shared. Some are true but many are not.  There was a humorous message I received some time ago telling me the food items that are dangerous to my health. It was a very long list that contained all the food items that I can possibly think of ever eating in my life. It was when I was going to complain and ask which food items are left for me to eat that I realised it was a joke – no food item is good for your health so the best thing is not to eat anything at all and starve to death! I appreciated the joke. But what about those who don’t see the humour?

Because of advances in picture and video editing programmes, it is easy even for amateurs to create false pictures and videos. We have to be careful about the things shared on social media and how we believe in them. Often, when you read something that is asking you to share it with others, you must be suspicious. You must check and check again to see if it is genuine. Fortunately, there are many websites that are devoted to debunking false social media messages. Anytime you have your doubts, just go online and check if it is not another hoax to make your life terrible. Never share a story you are not sure of.

By Stephen Atta Owusu
Author: Dark Faces at Crossroads

The best books on Ghana: start your summer reading here

A literary tour of Ghana takes in the early disappointments of independence, a woman’s search for personal freedom, and the gradual evolution of democracy.

 

The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born by Ayi Kwei Armah

This morality tale’s unnamed narrator, a railway clerk in Accra, strives to maintain his integrity amid the corruption that surrounds him in newly independent Ghana. His refusal to accept bribes, despite struggling to make ends meet on his meagre salary, angers those around him – especially his acquisitive wife.

The high hopes he had for the country at independence have soured, and he is bitter that things have grown rotten “with such obscene haste”. “The man”, as the narrator is referred to, views the new leaders as trying “to be the dark ghosts of Europeans” – aping the repression and rapacity of the country’s white former colonial masters.

Armah’s acerbic debut novel excoriates President Kwame Nkrumah’s government for the graft and extortion that were rife in 1960s Ghana. A military coup in 1966 overthrows Nkrumah but, rather than heralding better days to come, it merely brings “another group of bellies [that] will be bursting with the country’s riches”.

As the man continues to grapple with providing for his wife and children and resisting “the rot” he sees everywhere, a misspelled inscription on a bus (which provides the book’s title) offers a sliver of hope for an end to the ugly realities of the day.

Armah, born in the Gold Coast (now Ghana), lives as something of a recluse in Dakar, Senegal.

 

Changes: A Love Story by Ama Ata Aidoo

The provocative and engaging tale of a young woman in modern-day Accra who challenges sexism and social mores, Aidoo’s story resonates beyond Ghana.Esi Sekyi, a smart, spiritedcareer woman, feels stifled in her marriage. Finding her ambitions curbed and freedoms constrained by her husband, she decides to divorce him.

No one Esi knows is remotely sympathetic. Her sharp-tongued grandmother chastises her, saying women must do “the serious business of living with our heads and never our hearts”.

And her best friend, Opokuya Dakwa, who wants more freedom in her own marriage, reminds her: “Our people have said that for any marriage to work, one party has to be a fool … And they really mean the woman.”

Esi meets Ali Kondey, a successful businessman, and is charmed by him. They become lovers, and Ali – a Muslim who is married and has children – urges Esi to become his second wife. Curiously, for such a fiercely independent woman, she agrees.

Later, as disillusionment with her polygamous marriage sets in, she reflects on life “stretching ahead like the Yendi-Tamale road when it was first constructed: straight, flat and endless”.

Aidoo wears her feminism on her sleeve, and gets her message across with sly humour rather than being preachy or shouty. The author, also a poet and playwright, served briefly as minister of education in the 1980s.

 

My First Coup Detat by John Dramani Mahama

Mahama’s first coup – which he experienced as a seven-year-old – was the army’s 1966 ousting of Nkrumah, who had led Ghana to independence from Britain nine years earlier. It proved to be a life-changing experience for the author. His father, a government minister, was held by the military for more than a year and came back a changed man.

Reinventing himself as a rice farmer, Mahama Sr became extremely wealthy. He eventually returned to politics, only to be forced to flee the country after yet another coup.

His father plays a big part in Mahama’s endearing memoir, in which he recounts his coming of age – in tandem with his newly independent country – during Africa’s “lost decades”. During that bleak post-colonial period – from the late 60s to the 90s – the continent was bedevilled by economic stagnation and political turbulence.

Mahama delivers an intimate, insider’s account through personal stories, and weaves in some of Ghana’s own progress and pitfalls along the way.

The cycle of coups finally ended in 1992, when the country adopted a new constitution and entered into an era of democracy that brought “the return of hope”.

Like his father, Mahama went into politics. He published this book during his term as vice-president, and went on to serve as president from 2012 to 2017.

Pushpinder Khaneka is the author of Read the World: A Country-by-Country Guide to the Best Books on the Global South

Article via The Guardian

 

Diaspora Ghanaians, A Clear Opportunity to Invest in Ghana

Many diaspora Ghanaians are eager to return home and invest when the economy and political situation are good for settlement and business. In 2001 when former president, J.A Kufuor, wrestled power from the revolutionary turned democrat, J.J Rawlings, he met an economy that was impoverished and highly indebted to donor countries. Kufuor was able to put things in place. He was able to inspire Ghana’s parliament and gave hope to the citizens to cherish the innovations and systematic development of his government which attracted foreign investors and diaspora Ghanaians. What is more, the judiciary at that time inspired confidence and trust among the citizenry and this made the diaspora look at the judiciary as the epitome of fairness.

The NPP regime under Akufo-Addo has begun to create conditions that are suitable and convenient for diaspora Ghanaians to return home to invest. The situation will gradually be like what happened under Kufuor when hundreds of Ghanaians abroad came home with different projects and investments. Banks were going from door to door asking people to come for loans. The condition to invest was perfect. However, when the NDC came to power, the economy sank to its lowest ebb; the value of the cedi went low against the dollar. The last straw that broke the camel’s back was the intermittent cut in electricity which became known as dumsor. The situation was so unbearable that many businesses had to fold up and the diaspora Ghanaians who came down under Kufuor had to return abroad.

The Ghana Diaspora Homecoming Summit 2017 was held at the Accra International Conference Centre (AICC) from the 5th to 8th of July 2017. The aim was to announce the vast investment opportunities that are going to be available under Akufo-Addo’s regime. In pursuance of the agenda of one village one factory, Ghanaians at home and abroad were urged to seize the opportunity to invest since the government was ready to support any Ghanaian who is ready to start a viable project. In this connection the government got a loan of $10 billion from the Chinese government to fulfil the campaign promises of one factory in every district and a million dollars for every constituency and other needs.

The money will be deposited in five strategic banks for anyone, including diaspora Ghanaians, to present projects and apply for funds from those selected banks. Ghana, like most African countries, has for long been classified as a virgin land and a land of opportunities. However, for the last decade, due to misrule, corruption and dumsor, diaspora Ghanaians were hesitant to come down and invest in Ghana. Existing companies were folding up due to dumsor, high cost of living and massive poverty. The political climate, the insightful governance of Nana Addo and effective policy implementation have convinced many diaspora Ghanaians to take advantage of the investment climate in Akufo-Addo’s Ghana. A call has already been made to Ghanaians to be part of the one district one factory agenda.

What are the best and most viable business ideas and investment opportunities in Ghana for investors and Ghanaian entrepreneurs abroad? Ghana has one of the fastest growing economies in Africa. With all the plans this present government has put in place, it is potentially and fundamentally viable and worthy to do business in Ghana. President Akufo-Addo has consistently and repeatedly appealed to Diaspora Ghanaians to take advantage of the strong and vast mineral resource sector, cocoa industry, consistent government policy, oil discoveries, steady power supply, friendly business environment and a free trade zone for foreign companies. With Nana Addo and his effective ministers in place, Ghana will definitely be a country to beat in future.

There are certain types of businesses that can easily be managed profitably by diaspora Ghanaians. The first is waste management. Many have gone into this waste management but the filth and garbage keep on mounting and these have overwhelmed the existing companies. Moreover, there are so many towns and villages whose wastes are still not managed. Diaspora Ghanaians can seize the opportunity to start waste management companies in Ghana. Telecommunications is also another business that can be looked at. There are several branches under telecommunication. One can specialize in the repair of mobile phones and the sale of accessories. Ghana is in need of such services across the entire country especially if one can combine these with effective distribution of internet to homes and offices.

Agriculture and food production is one of the best options for Ghanaians abroad. Everyone is aware that food is an irreplaceable need in our daily lives. The demand for farm products keeps on increasing and anyone who goes into food production is sure of an unending demand. In addition to food, one could also go into teak plantation which also generates money when harvested. The products on the farm can easily spark off a food processing factory. Indeed Ghana is waiting for entrepreneurs and investors. Nana Addo’s arms are open to receive and financially support abroad Ghanaians who present feasible project proposals.

There are several businesses in Ghana and as Ghana continues to enjoy a serene political climate in a true democracy, diaspora Ghanaians who decide to return home will discover to their joy that apart from fund support which will readily be available, they will be exposed to more ideas in the oil sector, estate management, service industry, education and many more. Indeed the progress and the positive achievements that will be made by Nana Addo and his NPP government lie within the womb of time.

By  Stephen Atta Owusu
Author: Dark Faces at Crossroads

Ghanaians Tortured and Killed in Arab Countries

When Gadhafi was president, Libya was one of the preferred and favourite place for Ghanaians, not only because it was easy to get a job but also because Libya was a gateway to Southern Europe. Things have changed a lot after Gadhafi’s overthrow and death. Most Africans now run the risk of being killed in Libya.  These past years, some travel agencies have lured innocent boys and girls to travel to some Arab countries including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Lebanon, with the promise of receiving office jobs, factory jobs, driving top executives etc. With massive unemployment in Ghana, the offers look attractive. But those who travel to those countries realize that the persons who accompany them there have sold them into slavery. They hand them over to agents and receive the total amount in exchange for these innocent Ghanaians. Most of them are girls who are sold further to become maids or house-helps. This is where all their problems and frustrations begin.

Once in the homes of their masters and mistresses they work several hours most often with little or no salaries. The intention is to make them work to make up for the amount they paid to buy them from the agents. They are treated as slaves in the various households in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Lebanon. The hardship and torture these girls go through are very serious and regrettable issues that have flooded the social media. The audios and videos appearing on social media in recent times are heartrending. They are helpless and urgent cries for help. The narration of the hardship and torture these Ghanaian girls are going through are brutal and shocking. Ghanaians are not alone in this. There are other Africans in similar situations. Many have lost their lives.

One particular audio that will send shivers down the spine of anyone, is a calamitous narration from a Ghanaian girl in Saudi Arabia. She looked through the kitchen window and found to her utter dismay, fear and shock, that the maid in a neighbouring house was hanged on a ceiling with her own sponge by the master of the house. Before her unfortunate and untimely death, she had spoken to the narrator on a mobile phone. According to the narrator, both husband and wife were driving out so the maid in the house had to rush out of the kitchen to open the gate for them to go. She went back to the kitchen. Meanwhile the three children in the family, walked towards the gate. The youngest child put her fingers between the gates in an attempt to open it. The older child saw this and quickly banged the gate, smashing her little fingers inadvertently, breaking the little bones in her fingers. This incident precipitated the hanging of the Ghanaian maid.

In another extremely strange, horrifying and sad incident which happened in Kuwait, the maid had forgotten the rice to burn on the stove. The man and his wife were highly infuriated when they saw the burnt rice. They locked the maid in a room for two days without food. The girl managed to escape through the window and reported the issue to the police. The police called the family to report to the police station. Surprisingly, the girl was handed back to the man and his wife to take her home. When they arrived home they beat her severely and hanged her with her own net sponge. When she finally died, they cut her into pieces and packed the remains in a sack and threw it away. How wicked! In another development, a maid who was serving a family in Lebanon, refused to listen to the instructions of her host family because she had not been paid for a year. They tied her hands and legs and poured hot water on her. Does this Ghanaian maid deserve this?

The government is fully aware of the inhuman treatment being meted out to Ghanaians who are lured to seek greener pastures in the Arab countries. Action is being taken to track down the agents who sell these girls into slavery.  Right now as I write, one of these so-called agents has been arrested with five innocent girls in Madina in Accra as he attempted to smuggle them to Saudi Arabia. They all had in their possession Ghanaian passports with Saudi Arabian visa. This has been a very lucrative business for the agents because they charge the girls a certain amount, and they still receive payments from the Arab agents when they hand over the girls to them.

These girls go through sexual abuse and physical mutilation in the very houses where they work and these abuses can become daily occurrences. Very often these girls are locked in the house with no chance of seeing the sun. Such girls have no access to radio and no way to communicate with the outside world. So assuming the government of Ghana brings an aeroplane to take the girls back, many of them may not even be aware of such an opportunity. Such girls die and no one hears about it. A Kenyan girl was lynched by the master and mistress of the house. Quite surprisingly, the master of the house called the Kenyan embassy to report that the girl had hanged herself. The ambassador ordered the body to be flown to Kenya for autopsy and burial.

I want to suggest few solutions to this problem. The first solution is that the Foreign Affairs ministry must send strong directives to the ambassadors of those Arab countries in Ghana not to give visas to agents who come to them with passports belonging to other people. Also travel agents who are involved in this slave trade business must be fished out, arrested and jailed. The ministry of information must launch a campaign towards warning Ghanaians of the dangers in travelling to find non-existent jobs. The ministry must do this aggressively through the mass media (newspapers, radio and television) and social media. Lastly, to the government of Nana Akufo-Addo, please heed to the cries of Ghana’s innocent youths who are suffering and wailing in the Arab lands where hundreds die needlessly.

Is Mecca not in Saudi Arabia? Is it not considered a holy place where Muslims from all walks of life, both black and white, go on a religious pilgrimage? Then why this double standard on part of the Arabs? Why the hatred for African workers? Will help ever come from the Ghana government? Time will tell.

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

Captain Mahama’s murder and the hypocrisy of Ghanaian society

State funerals are events usually reserved for really important figures in Ghanaian society such as heads of state, but on Friday that honour was bestowed upon a murdered young soldier named Captain Maxwell Mahama, with the event broadcasted nationally and watched by Ghanaians worldwide online. So what did the young soldier do to deserve such an honour? Did he give his life protecting others? No. He was given the honour of state burial because he was brutally murdered by a mob who mistook him for an armed robber.

Captain Mahama and his family

Now Captain Mahama is not the first person to have been accused of armed robbery and then subsequently murdered. In Ghana, an accusation like that usually carries a swift death sentence at the hands of a mob if the police are not at hand. And this is also NOT the first time pictures or videos have surfaced on social media depicting what I’ve described above. Mob justice in Ghana has a long history. As a young child I remember people running out with sticks and stones and whatever they could use as weapons when they heard kronfour! (thief). Whether you were guilty or not made scant difference. A painful death is certain if the police do not intervene, and when they do intervene, in most cases it is to recover a dead body.

Like many Ghanaians, I was enraged when I heard and saw what had happened to the captain. That someone had been murdered again by a baying mob in such a brutal manner and wondered how long such atrocities would go on in the country. But I would later feel conflicted by the blatant hypocrisy I was witnessing in the aftermath of Captain Mahama’s murder, and this is why – the media attention that the murder garnered, and Ghanaians’ reaction to it. It seems like Ghanaians couldn’t comprehend that something so terrible should happen to a man who was serving his country. Especially one with a wife and two young kids. In fact, pictures of Mahama’s family were heavily circulated on social media and across national media platforms in Ghana, as if to drive home the horror of what had befallen the captain. Numerous GoFundMe pages were set up to raise money for his young family left behind, and the Ghanaian government not only posthumously promote Mahama to Major but they also set up a GH¢500,000 trust fund to look after his family, with the president of Ghana Nana Akufo Addo publicly donating GH¢50,000 of his own money to the trust fund.

Now don’t get me wrong, this is a fantastic response but what I was conflicted with was the fact

President Akufo-Addo signs Mahama’s book of condolence

that other victims of mob justice in Ghana never received this kind of celebrity attention, generosity and sympathy from the media and the wider Ghanaian public. How many times have we seen pictures and videos on social media of people who were lynched in Ghana because they were suspected of being thieves? Did we care about those people? Did the media give those victims and their family any publicity to highlight their tragedy? Who circulated pictures of the families who were robbed of their loved ones? Where are their GoFundMe pages? Where are the trust funds from the government to help take care of the families they left behind? In fact two days after the murder of Captain Mahama, a man was also set upon and beaten to death by a mob in Krono Odumasi in the Ashanti region. His crime? He was suspected of stealing a mobile phone! Who cried for this man? Where was the media outcry and the public outrage over his death?

It makes one wonder – did Captain Mahama’s death matter more because he was soldier and also a relative to former president Mahama? Is that why there was such a huge public outcry? Then by that reasoning his life was worth more than others who have died at the hands of violent mobs in Ghana. Did those who wept and mourned for him and his family also cry for other victims who had died in the same way previously? Why was he given a state funeral and the countless others weren’t? Were their lives not as important? As he was laid to rest on Friday, his family echoed the publics’ call for a monument to be resurrected in his memory, because in their words, they wanted him to remembered as a hero. But as unpleasant and harsh as the truth might be, Captain Mahama was not a hero. Who did he die protecting? He was an innocent man who was brutally murdered. Yet a monument is be resurrected in his name to remind Ghanaians of that terrible event on May 29th 2017.

If we as Ghanaians are attaching such weight and importance to the death of Captain Mahama, but not to others who have died like him, then what does that say about us as a society? That your death matters only if your someone in society? When have we heard of Ghana police arresting people involved in lynching so quickly? Yet in Captain Mahama’s case those suspected of taking part have been arrested and charged with murder! Why is there justice for Captain Mahama but not for others? Will the proposed monument bear the names of those who have also been violently killed by mobs in Ghana? Had Captain Mahama been an ordinary citizen , would the reaction to his death be the same? The terribly sad answer is probably no.

By Yaa Nyarko  (@yaa_fremah)

My Improbable Graduation: From A Tiny Village In Ghana To Johns Hopkins

When I was about 5 years old, my father passed away and life took a dramatic turn. My uncles from my father’s side took all his properties, per the custom in my village in Ghana, so each of my father’s seven wives had to find ways to provide and take care of their children. My mother struggled to get enough food — mainly beans and vegetables — to make even one daily meal for myself and my six siblings. She would make our food as spicy as possible so that we would have to drink a lot and fill our stomachs with water.

But during these difficult years when I was in primary school and junior high, my mother always made sure I went to school.

Primary and secondary school are not free in Ghana. At the beginning of each school term, my mother asked the headmaster if I could start classes while she tried to get money to pay the fees. I still remember one time, when I was 7 or 8, the school authorities got tired of her excuses and kicked me out of school.

The next day, Mom took her most precious clothing and traditional beads, which she had hidden in a trunk, and sold them for less than half their value. She used the money to pay my school fees. It was only about $10. It doesn’t sound like much, but that was a lot of money in that time.

I was confused. Why hadn’t she sold her belongings months ago to buy food for us? Her unselfish act made me regard education as a necessity.

Mwinnyaa, at 2 or 3 years old, grew up in a village in Ghana. Courtsey of George Mwinnyaa

My mother’s sacrifice has been my anchor and source of strength ever since. My mom knew — and I later recognized — that education is more important than food. As a child, I realized that all the people in the village who could provide good food, school uniforms, books and shoes for their children had some form of education. I knew from that point that I could change my destiny if only I was able to succeed in school.

I completed high school, but it was nothing like high school in the United States. I never saw a computer. My school had no electricity; it had no library, gymnasium or cafeteria. I was picked on and beaten up by the other kids because I could not afford a school uniform.

In my senior year, my classmates and I had to take the final national exams that determine whether we could attend college. We knew even before starting the test that most of us would fail because our schools didn’t have the staff and resources to teach us properly. Out of over 200 classmates, I was one of only seven who passed all seven subjects. But none of us earned scores high enough for admission to the public universities in Ghana. Still, to our classmates, we were heroes just for passing.

What would I do next?

During high school, I had served as a community health volunteer through the Ghana Health Service. I did receive money for my work, but that was not the only reward. As a volunteer, I carried vaccines to rural villages, sometimes walking for miles to deliver them. I felt satisfaction and joy as I administered the oral vaccines to infants and children, knowing that they would be protected from diseases that had killed many children.

But I wanted to be able to administer injectable vaccines. I wanted to help provide checkups and counseling for pregnant women. I wanted to be able to organize better preventive health services in these villages.

Even though I could not get into any university, I was able to qualify for a community health worker certificate program. It took two years to complete and was quite an intensive program.

I hoped that becoming a community health worker would help me achieve what I could not as a

In 2003, Mwinnyaa was a junior high school student. “I didn’t have a school uniform, and the shorts I was wearing had two big holes at the back,” he remembers. “That is why I wore the oversize jacket, even though the weather was hot, to cover the holes.”
Courtesy of George Mwinnyaa

volunteer, but I soon realized that the care I could provide was not enough. I spent some time working with a medical team from Canada that visited remote villages, and I was amazed at the level of interaction with patients. They tried to explain a person’s condition, whether drugs would help or not, and more. I vowed that if I ever got the opportunity to continue my medical education, it would be in Canada.

I asked a Peace Corps volunteer I had met to help me prepare a resume so I could apply for school. Little did I suspect that a year later, we would be married. After her two years of service, we moved to the United States derailing my Canada plans.

Education in America

We moved to Nevada. I got a job as a custodian in an elementary school and tried to enroll in a university, but the school wanted my high school transcripts. They were impossible to get. High schools in Ghana don’t keep transcripts, just final exam results. I finally found one small community college that offered a placement test in lieu of high school transcripts.

This was a turning point. I felt I had another chance to change my destiny.

I was nervous as I started classes in January 2014. I considered myself to be the weakest academically among all the students. In the elementary school where I worked, I saw that all the students had laptops. How could I compete with these American students? I was fully discouraged. I felt that if any of these students studied for two hours, I would have to put in three times that effort to master the same material.

When I got my midterm exams and papers back, I first thought, “Oh, the professor has made a mistake; this cannot be my test score.”

My scores were 95 percent, even 100 percent.

After my first semester, I transferred to a larger community college and continued to perform well. For the first time, I felt as if I was free from the limitations imposed on me by the environment and circumstances in which I grew up.

Mwinnyaa met the woman who would become his wife, Leslie, in Ghana when she was a Peace Corps volunteer.
Family photo courtesy of George Mwinnyaa

My next plan was to transfer to the local university to complete my undergraduate studies. But then I found out about a scholarship from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation for community college students transferring to a four-year university. This scholarship encouraged its applicants to apply to top schools in their field of interest. For me, that was public health — and Johns Hopkins University.

I didn’t believe I had a chance in a million of being accepted into such a school, so I applied to another school known for its public health program: the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. I was accepted by both schools but did not get the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation scholarship. So Hopkins and North Carolina were out. I would instead go to the local university where I would get in-state tuition and a partial scholarship. My plan was to continue working as a custodian to help pay the bills.

But there was an unexpected twist. About a week after I was admitted to Hopkins and the University of North Carolina, both schools offered me a full scholarship. The door of opportunity opened again.

Still, I was afraid. I feared leaving behind my first American friends, my first American home, to go to a new place where nobody knew me.

I began school on Aug. 15, 2015. Last month, I graduated from Johns Hopkins University with a Bachelor of Arts in public health studies.

May 24, 2017, was the end of a long journey yet the beginning of a new chapter full of promises, difficult questions and deliberations. As I heard my name and began to walk across the stage, I wondered: How is this possible? In Ghana, I was not qualified to attend even a two-year college, yet here I am walking across the stage, graduating with honors, shaking the hand of the president of Johns Hopkins University.

I briefly thought: Maybe this is one of those good dreams that I will soon wake up from.

In America, I have learned, dreams can turn into an unexpected reality.

George Mwinnyaa, now 29, lives in Baltimore with his wife and 2-year-old son. He plans to start a master’s program at the Bloomberg School of Public Health this fall.

Article via NPR

Massive Inter-party Applause as Nana Addo relegates Galamsey to History

Governments have come and gone, presidents and heads of state have come and gone, ministers responsible for lands and mineral resources have come and gone but none of these were able to stop galamsey or relegate it to the abyss of forgetfulness. Indeed Nana Addo has done what all the others could not do. The reason why this illegal mining could gain roots, thus becoming untouchable and unstoppable was that, influential people including top executives, politicians, chiefs and even top police and military officers, all had a stake in the galamsey by condoning, and conniving with young boys to do illegal mining for them.

Galamsey which was a crude form of the statement, “gather them and sell,” is an illegal mining activity by both young and old with the full support and connivance of big and influential men in the society. This illegal activity started long before Ghana gained its independence. Ghana happens to be the 10th leading producer of gold in the entire world and 2nd in Africa. This illegal mining activity became a blessing and a curse and this will be explained in detail in the article. The curse far outweighed the blessings due to health hazards, environmental degradation, the destruction of farm lands and the indiscriminate pollution of water bodies.

Mining itself is a major economic activity in many developing countries. In Ghana, small-scale mining was once a respected traditional vocation. In the late 80s, the government officially legalized small-scale mining. This decision brought to the fore some challenges, including the mechanism by which the government granted concession to peasants. The process was very cumbersome and slow, thus compelling many to mine illicitly. Galamsey began in earnest and boomed from regime to regime, only to intensify during Mahama’s regime. Since then galamsey became a source of livelihood for those who live near the legal mining communities. They were motivated to enter the illegal mining due to unemployment, poverty and increase in price of gold in the world market. As a result many people including the jobless have swarmed the mining areas to engage in galamsey. Even those whose cocoa trees could not yield much, have abandoned farming and joined the galamsey business.

Ghana is naturally well endowed with fresh water sources. The abundance of water sources was an envy of most countries that have no such water sources. Sadly enough, these illegal miners are busy polluting and destroying our enviable, fresh and drinkable water sources right under the very noses of governments, local authorities and concerned Ghanaians. Environmentalists and climate scientists have consistently warned the local population that if the destruction and pollution of the water sources persist, within the next 20 to 30 years, water will have to be imported from other countries. These shameless and illegal miners do not think or are even conscious of any precautionary measures to be taken to abate the nuisance. The mighty river Supong which runs in Asiakwa in the Eastern region is a pathetic example of continuous pollution. Supong River which once provided cool, clean and extremely refreshing water to drink has now turned smelly and yellowish. The river is now filled with mud, algae and weeds.

The situation became worse when the Chinese travelled to Ghana in their numbers and directed their journeys towards the gold mining areas in the Ashanti, Western and Eastern regions. Their presence was much felt during the rule of former president Mahama. Majority of them joined the illegal mining. Some of them were fronted and aided by Ghanaians to register small scale mining companies. Since they had a lot of money, they were able to pay the local chiefs for land to be released for their mining activities to begin. Even cocoa farms were sold to them to be destroyed for gold mining purposes. Heavy machines including excavators and tipper trucks were brought from China to help in their search for gold. Soon they began to destroy more farms and water bodies with cyanide and other dangerous products used to fish for the gold.

Concerned Ghanaians protested against the Chinese involvement in galamsey and small scale mining. The Chinese met the anger and protest of Ghanaians with force. So far not less than ten Ghanaians have been shot dead by the Chinese and not even a single Chinese was put before court. The gaping holes created by illegal mining have trapped and killed many children, women and farmers. Yet they are heavily protected by police and retired soldiers in military uniforms.

Small scale mining and not galamsey could have been an important source of livelihood for relatively low-income Ghanaians, as well as highly significant for the economy as a whole. Sadly enough, this area has been taking over by Chinese in contravention of the Mineral and Mining Act 206 and Act 703. These Acts outline clearly that small scale mining is strictly reserved for Ghanaians. If the law says so, why then do we allow Chinese citizens to enter and completely take over small-scale mining? The Chinese are smarter. They put Ghanaians in the fore-front to register the companies on their behalf.

The situation in the mining areas had gotten out of hand. Cocoa trees and other crops were being uprooted and destroyed by the Chinese to give way to galamsey and small-scale mining. The environment was being destroyed, water bodies were being polluted, gaping holes were being abandoned in the forest, abandoned holes have ensnared and killed many and the Chinese are gunning down and hacking people down at random. Several complaints and protests were launched by concerned Ghanaians for an effective leader and government to emerge to save the mining areas from illegal miners.

Happily in January 2017, a courageous leader, a visionary, a disciplined and an incorrupt man, Nana Addo Dankwah Akufo-Addo was sworn in as the fifth president of Ghana. One Friday in

galamsey ‘queen’ Aisha Huang

Kumasi, few months after assuming power as a deputy Minister for lands and mineral resources, Madam Barbara Oteng Gyasi disclosed in Kumasi that the NPP government would soon apply force and technology to fight illegal miners and warned those involved to refrain  from the practice.

Her message fell on deaf ears. Military men and police officers were deployed to the mining areas and with the help of detective devices they were able to drive illegal miners away and all their excavators and other equipment were seized. A die-hard, stubborn Chinese woman named Aisha was arrested three times for illegal mining despite the government’s ban. She was released three times because she blackmailed the powers that be with tapes and videos she commissioned Chinese women to have sexual encounter with Ghanaian power brokers. After her startling revelations, she was arrested for the fourth and this arrest may probably be the last and she may either be imprisoned or repatriated to China.
Already majority of Ghanaians are applauding Nana Addo for his determination to relegate illegal mining into the abyss of forgetfulness and to ensure that small scale miners conform to the laws. The government has a great job on its hand to clean the polluted water bodies and to fill all the gaping holes to prevent further accidents.

By Stephen Atta Owusu

Ghanaian-British Entrepreneur Runs U.K.’s 1st African Fine-Dining Food Brand

While African cuisine may be extremely popular locally, it is yet to be appreciated globally in fine-dining. In addition, lovers of African cuisine often find it difficult to access real African food overseas.

It is this under-representation that motivated Adwoa Hagan-Mensah, a Ghanaian-born British entrepreneur, to incorporate real West African cuisine in to London’s food culture.

For Hagan-Mensah, who now owns East Jollof London (EJL), a highly successful luxury catering company in the U.K., her story is of turning passion into a profitable venture.

Her Beginnings

Samples of cuisines prepared by Eat Jollof London. Photo credit: Eat Jollof London

Speaking to Face2Face Africa in a recent interview, Hagan-Mensah explained that the idea to start a catering company came when she was in college in the U.K.

As a foreign student, Hagan-Mensah had to work hard to make ends meet since she needed money for her school fees and general upkeep.

So she decided to start cooking and delivering food to fellow students as a part-time job. Hagan-Mensah started with British cuisines but would occasionally throw in some West African staples for a change.

Eventually, she realized that students from other countries had a real appetite for West African dishes, and this gave her the courage and inspiration to start the first Ghanaian street food stall, Jollof Pot, in London.

“At university, I paid my rent cooking and delivering pre-packed West African dishes to students,” Hagan-Mensah says. “It was then I realized my passion was in West African food and catering, and [I] have never looked back.”

For Hagan-Mensah, her mother, who taught her how to cook at a tender age and continued to have her cook during school holidays, serves as her chief inspiration for West African dishes.

“To this day, I am unable to cook small for small numbers. She inspired me to be inventive with Ghanaian ingredients and she continues to be a huge inspiration to this day,” Hagan-Mensah adds.

Her Big Break

In 2012, Hagan-Mensah appeared on BBC2’s program “The Restaurant,” a popular British reality TV series where a group of couples compete for a chance to set up a restaurant financially

A waitress at Eat Jollof London. Photo credit: Eat Jollof London

backed and personally supported by French chef Raymond Blanc.

Jollof Pot, which she co-founded with her husband Lloyd Mensah 15 years ago, has since been renamed Spinach & Agushi and has street stands at Portobello Road in Notting Hill, Exmouth Market in Farringdon, and Broadway Market in Hackney.

All these outlets operate under the umbrella company Eat Jollof London, which specializes in corporate events and weddings.

By offering luxury catering and fine-dining services, Hagan-Mensah is paving the way for West African cuisine to be given the Michelin star treatment it deserves.

Unique Cuisine

A chef preparing food at Eat Jollof London. Photo credit: Eat Jollof London

According to Hagan-Mensah, Eat Jollof London serves both the millions of Africans living in the U.K. as well as foreign clients who want to have a taste of real West African cuisine. A lot of her African clients want to enjoy the real food flavors they grew up with — albeit with a look and taste that is different from home cooking.

“Our chef spent a lot of time tweaking traditional dishes and adding the EJL flare to each dish. [The] presentation of each dish is also a very important aspect of what we do,” says Hagan-Mensah.

Among the many unique West African dishes that EJL prepares, jollof rice is the most popular, with Hagan-Mensah revealing that they had to bring in chefs from several West African countries, including Senegal, Ghana, Nigeria, the Gambia, and the Ivory Coast, to help reinvent the dish.

Hagan-Mensah is currently considering opening branches in Ghana and Nigeria. She has also established the Ghana Super Club, a bimonthly dinner, to taste traditional Ghanaian flavors in Kent.

Article via Face2FaceAfrica

A Servant of Rhythm From Ghana, in Texas

On the morning of the 20th annual African Cultural Festival at the University of North Texas here, Torgbui Midawo Gideon Foli Alorwoyie, the festival’s founder, was doing last-minute errands. There were drums to gather, programs to pick up from the printer, costumes to procure. For these annual events, he is his own promoter, his own publicist, his own street team.

“I do everything myself,” he explained from the driver’s seat of his minivan. Deep blue scars on his cheeks — marking him as a Midawo, or high priest, of the Ewe cult of Ghana’s Volta region — bent as he glanced between two different cellphones. A thick chain with a gold medallion in the shape of Africa glinted on his chest.

Mr. Alorwoyie leading a rehearsal at the University of North Texas in April. Credit Allison V. Smith for The New York Times

Mr. Alorwoyie (pronounced al-or-WO-yee), 71, is a rarity in American academia: a master drummer from Africa who is a tenured professor of African drumming and dance, disciplines that are difficult to categorize within Western musical theory. And in his own country, he is one of the few musicians working arduously to pass on traditions in danger of disappearing.

Mr. Alorwoyie also carries the title of Torgbui, or paramount chief, in his region of Ghana, responsible for administrative decisions and rulings on certain judgments; an herbalist (a large bottle of gin at his home, stuffed with long roots, was repeatedly offered to a visitor for its healing properties); and a stern taskmaster to his performers and students.

He has a key link to the evolution of American Minimalism: In 1970, the composer Steve Reich traveled to Ghana and studied with Mr. Alorwoyie for a month. “Drumming,” Mr. Reich’s groundbreaking piece for nine percussionists, was written after his trip.

At several rehearsals on the University of North Texas campus earlier this month, Mr. Alorwoyie guided a student drumming and dance ensemble that, for the festival concert, would be accompanied by five Ghanaian percussionists as well as Mr. Alorwoyie’s wife, Memunatu, 46, a former principal dancer in the Ghana Dance Ensemble in Accra; several former students who regularly return to dance at his events; and their daughter, Gloria, 11, who has been under her mother’s tutelage since birth.

Lither and quicker than many men half his age, Mr. Alorwoyie exuded a fierce calm during rehearsals. For many rhythms, he stood next to the atsimevu, a massive drum played with sticks. Tapping against its hull to establish a beat, Mr. Alorwoyie called drummers and dancers into action, activating changes in the patterns and movements with nods or shifts in expression. When not playing, he paced like a general, hands on his hips.

Some Ewe rhythms have a slippery, collapsing quality, an amorphous relationship to any easily recognizable downbeat. Mr. Alorwoyie’s lead patterns directed the dancers, but when another

Memunatu Gariba Alorwoyie, the former principal dancer of the Ghana Dance Ensemble, during a rehearsal with the University of North Texas student ensemble. Credit Allison V. Smith for The New York Times

drummer took over the atsimevu, Mr. Alorwoyie stepped into a dance with his wife; their playful steps around each other were like marital shadowboxing. As complex as the rhythmic patterns are, they go hand-in-hand with movement and song — the dancers and drummers serve one another.

“African music is not something you just listen to,” Mr. Alorwoyie said in an interview in his office, its walls covered in awards, degrees and newspaper articles about him dating back decades. “The answer is the dance.”

Mr. Alorwoyie left Ghana in 1976 and took a position as a visiting lecturer at SUNY College at Brockport. After stints at the American Conservatory of Music and the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago, he joined the North Texas faculty in 1996. The School of Music there is one of the nation’s largest, with an extensive percussion program. According to John Scott, the chair of the search committee that hired him, Mr. Alorwoyie is the first — and still the only — tenured African drummer at an American university.

“The first year he was here, all of a sudden he says he needs money to buy cloth to make clothes for the ensemble, so they look like an African ensemble,” Mr. Scott said. “‘O.K., where are we going come up in the budget with clothes money for an ensemble?’ But you manage to do it.”

The rhythms Mr. Alorwoyie plays and teaches belong to a language that has been stored in generations of memory, rarely recorded or preserved. Ewe songs are forms of communication; in some cases, phrases like “the lion is coming” are reinterpreted as drum patterns, part of an alarm system that existed among villages. (Some songs, Mr. Alorwoyie says, routinely contained criticism of different families in a community.) Without a written history, traditional Ghanaian drumming (of which there are thousands of tiny variations) is part of a family of African song forms that don’t fit easily into Western pedagogical models.

Mr. Alorwoyie with the atsimevu, a tall drum that is used as a lead instrument in many Ghanaian songs and rhythms. Credit Allison V. Smith for The New York Times

“There was a time when ethnomusicology was in some places not really integrated into music programs,” Mr. Scott said. “It was sort of the bottom of the pecking order; there’s a whole strata of musicians who looked down on ethnomusicology and ethnic music: ‘Oh, we don’t want to deal with this, it’s not art music.’ Just like the people who looked down on jazz and said, ‘This is not real music.’”

Kobla Ladzekpo, who taught for 38 years at the University of California, Los Angeles, and Abraham Adzenyah, who was at Wesleyan University for 46, are both master drummers from Ghana who enjoyed strong support from their academic communities, but neither ever had a title above adjunct professor.

“African traditional performance arts have no conventional place in higher education schools of music or music conservatories,” said David Locke, the chair of the music department at Tufts University, who has known Mr. Alorwoyie for four decades and collaborated with him on a research project on the Ewe drum language that resulted in a 2013 book. “I wouldn’t necessarily think that bias is actually capturing that, it’s more of a historical condition that seems to make natural sense. On the other hand, there is a lot of prejudice and misunderstanding of African arts and performance arts and African ways of life.”

Without a notational system, the rhythms must be passed directly from generation to generation.

“There’s not a classroom that’s going to teach you,” Mr. Alorwoyie said. “In the villages and towns and cottages, you’re not going to see nobody teaching nobody how to drum.”

He and the performers he brought to Denton for the festival are part of the group trying to transmit this fragile knowledge. “It’s here,” said Godwin Abotsi, 37, a Ghanaian drummer and dancer who lives in Fort Collins, Colo., pointing to his head.

In December, Mr. Alorwoyie and several of his students traveled to New York for a performance of “Drumming” with the ensemble Mantra Percussion at National Sawdust, presented by World

Mr. Alorwoyie, center, dancing at National Sawdust in December 2016. Credit Stephen Speranza for The New York Times

Music Institute. The Ghanaian ensemble presented traditional compositions and dances, alternating with Mantra’s performances of works by Mr. Reich. For “Drumming,” the two groups played in tandem, with Mr. Reich’s piece fitting like a skin over a complex rhythmic skeleton led by Mr. Alorwoyie. The staggered bell pattern that anchors many Ghanaian rhythms became a beacon amid the phased bongo cycles of Mr. Reich’s composition — an indigenous form cradling a modern one. (Through a publicist, Mr. Reich declined to comment for this article.)

Even in Africa, the sacred songs and rhythms that Mr. Alorwoyie teaches are struggling, with the drummers and dancers of Ghana’s national ensemble earning salaries that barely sustain them. Hiplife, a form of popular music heavily influenced by reggae, has some strands of traditional drumming, but in general those traditions are not highly valued by younger people.

“It’s associated with the past, it’s associated with rural areas, you don’t make money from it,” Mr. Locke said of the traditional style. “You go to a funeral, and the D.J.s have their sound systems, and they’re blasting the music at very, very high volumes, and the traditional folk are playing their traditional drums right next to where the D.J.s are set up. It’s like the Industrial Revolution versus the preindustrial world.”

Mr. Alorwoyie Credit Allison V. Smith for The New York Times

Mr. Alorwoyie travels to Ghana several times a year to attend to affairs that concern his chieftaincy, but he also is attempting to pass his library of music on to people who can sustain it. Rather than update the old patterns, he said that at this point in his life, he must return to the rhythms he knows; history demands it.

“If I am trying to teach something else creatively,” he said, “I’m going to lose those very important messages.”

With this sense of reverence comes a teaching style in which anything less than what is expected is unacceptable. At a dress rehearsal for a festival performance, Mr. Alorwoyie gave a thorough dressing-down to both undergraduate students and veteran Ghanaian drummers.

“Why are you talking?” he asked sharply, after entering the backstage area and finding his dancers and drummers joking around at a moment when he wanted them to be entering for a procession.

The ensemble fell silent. Mr. Alorwoyie — who is said to have been born with his fists curled tightly, marking him for life as a servant of rhythm — led them onstage, his body bouncing lightly to the beat of the squeeze drum under his arm, his eyes fixed intensely upon his charges.

Article via The New York Times