On Wednesday I read on a news site that 10 people had been crushed to death after a truck trailer carrying fish fell on a bus and cab filled with passengers in Abeka-Lapaz in Accra. The truck trailer had been hit by another bus which had been speeding from the Kwashieman end of the George Walker Bush Motorway. This took me back to December last year, where I distinctively remember hearing many reports of accidents on roads in Ghana. In that month alone 246 people died and 1,260 were injured in car accidents. I went on to do more research, and the statistics I found were quite worrying.
Upon examination of data collected by the NRSC on traffic accidents in Ghana, one can see that fatalities which numbered in hundreds from 1991 to 1994 has now moved to its thousands from 1995 up until now with no signs of decreasing. Successive government have made a lot of noise about road accidents in Ghana but we have yet to see a significant decrease in the number of accidents and deaths. Why are road accidents steadily increasing in Ghana? Why are roads in Ghana in such poor conditions and more importantly, what is the government doing to address this situation?
The alarming rate which accidents occur in Ghana has made it a priority on governments’ agenda for many years. And so it should be – the Ghana National Road Safety Commission (NRSC) statistics show that between 2002 and 2008, 13,166 people were killed in road accidents. Of that figure, 42% were pedestrians, 23% were passengers in buses, 12% were car occupants, while the remaining 23% consisted of riders and passengers of bicycles, motorcycles, and occupants of heavy goods vehicles and pickups. And just last year, the MTTU (Motor Traffic and Transport Unit), reported that 2,330 Ghanaians died in road accidents alone with 13,572 road accidents being recorded. And is not just human lives that are lost to road accidents – an average of 1.6% of Ghana’s GDP is lost every year to road accidents.
Increasing population numbers in Ghana have has led to increased vehicle ownership, meaning the number of cars on our roads is forever on the rise. Vehicle ownership rose from 511,063 in 2000 to 841,314 in 2006. However majority of road accidents are caused by some drivers’ blatant disregard of road safety regulations. Drunk-driving, over speeding, overloading and fatigue driving are rampant among majority of drivers in Ghana. Some drivers deliberately ignore traffic regulations because they know they can get away with it. Even though there’s a penal system that punishes those who break traffic regulations, culprits are hardly ever brought to justice.
As much as some drivers are to blame for accidents, poor road conditions are also a major cause of accidents in Ghana. The Ministry of Roads and Highways in Ghana must make it their priority that roads are fit for drivers. Negligence and poor or no maintenance at all has led major highways in Ghana to deteriorate, creating hazardous driving conditions. The Accra-Tema Motorway is an example in point – it hasn’t been repaired for more than 10 years, and it is reported that as many as 541 potholes were found on the motorway. This is highly unacceptable in light that the government collects million of cedi in road tolls and vehicle use. Why isn’t this money being used to maintain the roads?
Then there are the actions of some officials. Corruption has become so widespread in Ghana that some drivers know that if they’re stopped for breaking a traffic offence, they can easily bribe their way out of the situation. Corruptible officials in the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) in Ghana have made it possible for unfit drivers with equally unfit vehicles to do as they please on Ghana roads by acquiring them legitimate driver’s licenses and documents that certify their vehicles fit for the road. The fact that they can endanger others is not taken into account – so long as they’re given money to line their pockets, anyone can get a license. It is the same with some traffic police officers. Overloaded trotros and trucks and speeding cars are a common sight in Ghana. Yet majority of these drivers go free because they bribed the officer who stopped them, or the officers simply don’t care.
These are serious problems that need to be addressed. The Ghanaian government has stated that it aims to reach a single digit accident fatality by 2015. This is extremely unlikely in a country where an average of 1800 people die from road accidents. To realise this goal drastic measures are needed. And reducing accidents in Ghana is not a responsibility that lies with the government alone. It will take the combined effort of the DVLA, MTTU, NRSC, the Ghana Highway Authority, the Ministry of Transport, all other transport and road associations as well as the media to achieve the goal mentioned above.
There are many simple but effective strategies that will go a long way if implemented properly. First of all, the government and the NRSC need to create a set of standard road safety policies that all drivers must adhere to as there currently isn’t one in Ghana. Drivers must then be thoroughly educated in these safety policies and the punitive consequences that will be administered if these safety regulations are broken. The DVLA must also implement a system where only competent drivers and safe vehicles are issued drivers’ licenses and documents. Secondly, the government needs to increase the number of stop and checks conducted on our roads. The number of traffic police from the MTTU must also be increased in the different regions in Ghana if unfit drivers are to be caught. Thirdly, the government needs to repair bad roads in Ghana and create a system that can allow the public to report damaged roads to the MTTU. Last year the government secured from China a $13 billion loan for infrastructure, some of which was to go towards the construction of roads. Surely some of that money can be set aside for repair and maintenance as well? Lastly, the government must intensify public education on the dangers of speeding, drunk driving, fatigue driving, overloading and driving unfit vehicles through the various media outlets in Ghana.
Obviously Ghana has a long way to go, but if these steps are followed, then number of lives lost unnecessarily through road accidents will slowly but surely be reduced. There is a time for talking and a time for doing – the government must start taking real action now.
By Yaa Nyarko
I can safely say that for most Ghanaians, Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah occupies a very special place in their hearts. A man who firmly believed in not just the freedom of his countrymen, but the total liberation of African continent, Nkrumah oversaw the independence of Ghana from British colonial rule. The independence speech he made when the clock struck midnight on 6th March 1957 will forever inspire Ghanaians for generations to come.
‘Our independence is meaningless unless it is linked up with the total liberation of Africa’
It is this line in his speech that Mefiri Ghana draws inspiration from. Nkrumah was ardent advocate of pan-Africanism. But though his dream of a United States of Africa has yet to be realised, there are many in this generation who are doing their part to make it a reality. What are you doing to make this dream happen?
Kwame Nkrumah’s actions and deeds will forever inspire us, that’s why this month of March Mefiri Ghana will feature individuals and organisations who are engaged in inspirational work.
Do you know a Ghanaian who has done something inspirational others need to know about?
Do you know a Ghanaian organisation whose work inspires you?
Get in touch with us so we can feature them on the blog! Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Yaa Nyarko
Highlife legend Abrantie Amakye Dede who’s had countless hits with songs such as ‘Akwadaa Wesoa’, ‘Iron Boy’, ‘Bebrebe’, ‘Asem To Me A Kabi Ma Me’, ‘Krokrome’ and many others has been appointed as ambassador and hunger advocate. The Iron Boy musician was awarded the honour by the Alliance Against Hunger and Malnutrition (AAHM) of the United Nations in Ghana, after he was duly noted for his social commentary in many of his songs, such as achieving a hunger-free society in Ghana. Speaking to Hitz Entertainment News, Amakye Dede explained that his experience in farming and encouraging young people to make use of agricultural opportunities had helped him secure the appointment.
Though he never expected an appointment like this, Amakye Dede said he will use the opportunity to reach to the general public to come together to fight against hunger; and this would cover the young, the old or anyone so they can always get something to eat.
By Yaa Nyarko
FOKN Bois made up of duo M3nsa and Wanlov the Kubolor are back again, this time sporting a new look (M3nsa has cut off his locks!!) with their new song Only Your Walkings.
M3nsa further explains, “Hype Life is actually something we created IN the song, not that it’s an existing genre or anything, we were basically trying to understand the producer’s (Richy Pitch) direction when he was creating the beat…”
“And it seemed like a combination of HIGH LIFE in the purest form over some heavy HIP-HOP drums; yet somehow slightly different from the more commonly known hiplife genre. So the term should actually be HIghP Life!!”
The video for the song is a simple one but as usual shot in the FOKN Bois humorous signature style – we are shown a day in M3nsa and Kubolor’s life as they try to come up with content for song, only to be distracted by the generous behind of a passing woman.
The song itself is truly original in its concept – at a time when highlife is fast disappearing in Ghanaian music due to the rise of azonto and GH rap, it’s nice to see M3nsa and Kubolor return to the roots of Ghanaian music, which is highlife.
However the boys make the song their own by adding elements of Hip hop (they rap fully in Pidgin English, except for the random wele, sebe, kontomire in the chorus) and funk (bass guitar is prominent in the background).
Only Your Walkings gets a double thumps up for its originality. FOKN Bois have proved time and time again they are masters when it comes to fusing genres to create something original and artistic, and Only Your Walkings is no exception.
Check out the video below
When I compare the Ghanaian film industry today to what it was like when I was growing up, I can’t help but feel twinges of nostalgia for the good old days. Back then actors and actresses put on their best performances to entertain Ghanaian audiences, and in the process teaching us some pertinent life lessons. But that has long disappeared. The Ghanaian film industry today is a far cry from what is was some ten, fifteen years ago. One can’t help but feel that recently the industry’s been changing for the worst rather than for the best. Don’t get me wrong, the movie industry in Ghana has improved over the years – we have some great actors and actresses, and our sound, editing and cinematography have improved significantly. However, certain practises that have been taking place within the industry the last couple of years that have blighted these improvements.
Let’s have a look at the acting. Back in the day people like Grace Nortey, Sam Adjeteyfio, Nat Banini, Grace Omabo, Pacaline Edwards, Dzifa Glikpoe, Doris Sackitey, Fred Amugi, and David Dontoh to name a few dominated Ghanaian cinemas and for a very good reason – they had unquestionable talent. Acting was their profession and they took their time to learn their craft. But it seems these days anyone with a pretty face can easily get a movie role. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve seen so called actors and actresses try to act and fail miserably in the process. Jackie Appiah, Majid Michel, Yvonne Okoro, Adjetey Anang, Lydia Forson, Chris Attoh and Martha Ankomah are a few of the faces that crops up in mind when one thinks of the Ghana film industry today. But what I have noticed is that some actors in recent films are either to dramatic or too dull. Instances when they get the balance are rare. As an actor, should you not invest time in perfecting your acting skills?
If these actors are serious about breaking into Hollywood then they need to step up their game big time. And why are good actors put with the bad ones in the same film? It ruins it. An actor needs to be good, be his or her role major or minor. There are some great talent emerging in the Ghanaian film industry – directors need to focus on them and nurture those talents rather than just giving a role to someone despite them having questionable acting skills. Now onto the directors: there are some directors in Ghana that are doing great work, especially those like Leila Djansi and Shirley Frimpong Manso. However, there are some who are in a word just plain lazy. They have the potential to make great films, but they don’t check the little but extremely important details that make or break a film, such as sound, editing, camera work and storyline. Lack of funds could be another reason why these aspects of filmmaking are ignored. However, there are too many occasions in Ghanaian films where the soundtrack is too loud therefore one cannot hear the dialogue, there’s noise in the background, there are shadows in the shot, the lighting is either too bright or low or the scene is simply too long. The last point is especially common in many Ghanaian films. If you look at the works of the directors mentioned above, not only do they win awards (in Ghana and Africa) for the acting or story plot in their films but also in art direction, cinematography and editing. A great story line or famous name doesn’t just make a film – directors need to focus on the little but pertinent details that have been touched upon.
Next are the themes and stories plots explored in films. Ghanaian film writers need to be more original. There are many Ghanaian films where the storyline has been taken from a Hollywood film. I don’t condone such practises, but if you’re going to copy, then copy it well – don’t produce an inferior version of the same thing. Also writers need to find stories that their audiences can relate to. There is a plethora of problems that Ghanaians face, problems that were brilliantly depicted and explored in movies and local TV dramas back in the day. But films released nowadays are just about sex, cheating, materialism, violence, blackmail and more sex! The increasing amount of soft porn (in some cases just full on porn) movies produced in Ghana leaves much to be desired. In our attempt to copy western practises, some Ghanaian filmmakers have introduced overt sexual acts in their films, which is really disturbing. In a country where sex is relegated to the privacy of one’s bedroom, this is highly unacceptable. And what makes it worse is that some well-known actors and actresses are taking part in, citing ‘part of their job’ as their reason. But they need to realise when nudity is art and when it’s porn. In most cases, it’s uncomfortable to watch as these sex scenes as they are shot in the least tasteful of ways.
In addition, local movies are now exploring end-of-world themes, where cyborgs and machines and mythical creatures such as dragons and monsters are on the rampage. All accompanied by what can only be described as amateurish and laughable special effects. Attempts to shock audiences have caused some local movie directors to completely abandon and disregard real storylines that they were originally popular for. The film industry has obviously stepped up their game over the years, but there’s so much more room for improvement. Those that are serious about acting should take the appropriate classes to better themselves. Writers need to come up with original stories that resonate with the audiences. And directors need to tone down on the sex in their productions. If we’re going to do better, why not try to be the best?
What’s your opinion? Have YOUR say below…
By Yaa Nyarko
A Moment’s Notice, which featured in Shirley Frimpong Manso’s film Perfect Picture, is slow tempo romantic song guaranteed to capture the mood of upcoming Valentine’s Day. Efya’s soulful voice and her simple heartfelt lyrics accompanied by laid back percussion instruments will simply take your take your breath away.
The video concept centres on the emotions of a young man who falls in love after seeing a picture of Efya when he goes to a pub. The video which is being directed by Nana Asihene and Paa Kwesi David under One Nations Productions and Management was shot at locations such as Taverna Tropicana pub in Accra and Dei Centre in Tesano.
Efya is currently putting some finishing touches to her yet to be released album, which when released will be accompanied by a nationwide tour. She is definitely the artist to watch this year as usual, as soon the video is out Me FiRi GHANA will let you know!
By Yaa Nyarko
Ghanaian actor John Dumelo, who has appeared in films such as The Game, Ties that Bind, Hidden Passion, and Rough Game, to name a few , has launched his own fashion brand in the US to aid development in Ghana. The actor who already launched his label in Ghana in December last year reportedly left for the US on Friday to launch his brand, J Melo, which will consists of a clothing line, jewellery line, accessories and hair pieces. Before his departure, the actor declared, “Hopefully, everything will go well and yield the necessary results that myself and my team wanted. I will update you on whatever happens out there”. An actor that clearly believes in giving back to society, John Dumelo’s decision to expand overseas is for a good cause. The actor who has his own foundation, the John Dumelo Foundation, will use profits from his new business venture to fund the foundation, which recently has embarked on a school building project in the northern parts of Ghana.
I’m sure the fashion label will popular among female fans, as the jewellery line includes necklaces, rings, earrings and bangles. Apparently, the actor got several designers to design his products, which will no doubt be fabulous. We at Mefiri Ghana wish him the best of luck, but my question is, when is J Melo hitting UK shores?
Check out the J Melo launch at the Accra Tulip Hotel below:
By Yaa Nyarko
Passion for the environment – Miss Earth Ghana launched!
Ghana has launched another new beauty pageant, but there’s definitely something about this one that stands out! The newly launched Miss Earth Ghana is a beauty pageant to search for delegates who will represent Ghana on the international stage concerning environmental awareness.
The pageant is set to take place next year with auditions beginning in January and it’s open to participants from colleges and universities across Ghana. Twelve finalists will then be selected to compete for the crown of Miss Earth Ghana.
Miss Earth Ghana comes in the wake of recent environmental disasters that have taken place across the world in countries such as Haiti, Japan, Pakistan, China and more recently Thailand. Climate change has become a hot topic on most governments’ agenda, and if human activities remain unchecked, it will lead to dire consequences for the planet. This is especially for Africa, where increasing drought and limited water supply means millions are faced with water shortages. Water shortages affect farmers, and cereal yields in Africa are expected to continually drop if nothing is done.
The finalists who will be chosen will take part in environmental activities such as tree-planting in the Greater Accra, Ashanti and Northern regions as well as visiting selected schools to give talks on environmental preservation. They will also be educated on various environmental issues concerning Ghana such as flooding, deforestation, bush-burning and beach littering. But most importantly the delegates will focus on afforestation to go with the international and United Nations environmental theme – The International Year of Forests 2011.
This pageant will undoubtedly help educate Ghanaians about the importance of taking care of the environment around them. It great to see a beauty pageant going for such a great cause!
By Yaa Nyarko
When Sarkodie met Chipmunk and Wretch 32…
Ghana’s fastest rapper Sarkodie has proved that his talent knows no bounds as during his UK tour he’s managed to collaborate with not only two of the leading UK artists Chipmunk and Wretch 32 , but also got interviewed by two of the biggest stations in the UK, Choice FM and BBC Radio 1Xtra. Obidiponbidi met Chipmunk in a secret studio where he impressed the UK artist with his trademark fast flow. So amazed was Chipmunk that he requested Sarkodie to do a remix of one of his songs. And we can’t wait to hear it! Not only that but Sarkodie also taught Chipmunk how to azonto, something I’m sure will come in handy for Chipmunk when he headlines the ‘Ghana Rocks’ concert in Ghana on the 27th of December.
Also blown away by Sarkodie was Wretch 32, who was quick to add his magic touch to Sarkodie’s azonto anthem ‘You Go Kill Me’. And again we can’t wait to hear what that sounds like! Sarkodie was interviewed by Choice FM host Eddie Kadi, making him the first ever African guest to achieve that feat.
Not content with that, the rapper also scored an interview with Tim Westwood, whose show on BBC Radio 1 Xtra has helped break artists such as Tinie Tempa and Wretch 32. It was on Westwood’s show that Sarkodie set the record straight on his musical relationship with Akon’s label Konvict Africa, stating that he was not signed to the label.
All this is thanks to AfrobeatsUK, a newly set up company and lifestyle brand in the UK whose main aim is to promote African music on the international stage as well as connecting African artists with the mainstream. With their help Sarkodie is now not only a household in Ghana but has been exposed to UK audiences as well. We’re sure there’s more great things lined up for the rapper in the near future. So all in all it’s been one very successful tour! Well done Sarkodie!
Below is Sarkodie in the studio with London Rappers Chipmunk and Wretch 32 via AfroNews
By Yaa Nyarko