Friday, March 28, 2008

Politrics In Ghana.

I have been thinking about the run-up to next year's general election. Atta Mills already won the NDC candidacy. People are already saying buy Mills, get Rawlings free. Hmmm. “hwe wa asetenam na tu aba pa” meaning, “consider your current situation very well before casting a good vote

Their nemesis the NPP after all their big billboards display and fussing around town went in for Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo-Addo? Akufo-Addo was one of the founding members of the NPP in 1992, and was also the founder and first chairperson of the Ghana Committee on Human and People's Rights. A recent newspaper article described him as a potential future President of Ghana. A recent opinion poll conducted by Research International put him well ahead of all the 17 people aspiring to be nominated as the presidential candidate of the governing NPP in Ghana.

Nana Akufo-Addo was preferred by 40% of his party members and 38% of the general electorate out of the field of 17 candidates. The closest to his popularity was the country's vice president, Aliu Mahama, with a distant 18%. If radio airplay is anything to go by, you have to go with Alan Cash, the man who has promised Ghanaians cash. On December 23, 2007, Akufo-Adda was elected as the NPP's 2008 presidential candidate at a party congress, receiving 47.96% of valid votes (1,096 votes). Although he fell short of the required 50%, the second-place candidate, John Alan Kyeremanten, conceded defeat and backed Akufo-Addo.

Up till today, Ghana politics is still about J A Kuffour and J J Rawlings. Don't let the lack of Boom speeches and Waa waa press conferences deceive you, advises the Ghanaian music monk aka Shasha Marley. Remember Shasha Marley? He's the guy who released the track, See ye good and not evil, one of the biggest reggae hits in Ghana. He also led the Johns Hopkins sponsored AIDS campaign song which proved very successful in educating Ghanaians about the HIV-AIDS pandemic. He disappeared from the music scene for awhile and just resurfaced with his second album, Lost & Found. I don't know if he was ever lost, because listening to his album, he was still very aware of Ghana and 'conscious'.

I am really glad he's found because I love his track 'Buum buum waa waa', the inspiration for this blog. The album also has tracks like Maata family, Shame Politicians, Promised land, Twin city mafia, I am not ashamed of the gospel, etc.

To Shasha Marley, Ghana Politics is all about Kuffuor and Rawlings. Rawlings says Buum! Buum! Buum! and Kuffuor says Waa! Waa! Waa! The two have been going at ever since Kuffour was running for the NPP in 2000. After leaving office, Rawlings has not been able to be a quiet statesman, resorting to 'boom' speeches, criticizing the NPP government and even making some 'threats' that many pundits did not take lightly.

The gentle giant aka Traveller John Agyekum Kuffour has matched Rawling's fire with his own fire, and the relationship between the two has not been cordial. We've had to have people like Kofi Annan, Pastor Mensah Otabil and countless Ghanaian chiefs to reconcile them. They have not been in the news lately as attention has turned to their successors though, but stay tuned."

Cost of living gets so high, Rich and poor dem start to cry". But Ghana Politics is all about Rawlings and Kuffuor, NDC and NPP. Instead of battling ideas and ways to move Ghana forward, we find ourselves discussing political parties, attacking personalities and likening every situation to two people. "It’s a shame". Do you know that there is a Boom boom junction and a Hotel de Waa Waa in Accra? We need to focus on the average Ghanaian who is hungry and hungry for some opportunity.

We need our press to focus on more pressing issues. Focus on constructive criticisms and pushing the agendas of our leaders so that our citizens can be aware of where Ghana is as a nation and where we are going. "Writer man, change your headline news". The media must not use the liberty accorded them to disrupt the political landscape in Ghana. We must move away from sensational journalism to selling the news of development, excellence, ambition, patriotism and service.

According to Shasha Marley, GHANA stands for "God has a nation ahead". I am amongst the few who believe Ghana will take its place on the world map and become a beacon of greatness and prosperity. We have the people to make this happen, we have to encourage them and not discourage them by pitting every 'boom' against 'waa'. Shasha Marley signs off by saying "Asem beba dabi, Asem beba dabi". If we don't change, we shall face the consequences. I believe we can change, it is the only thing that is constant, and Ghana shall prosper.

Nkran Abrabor ( Accra LIfe). Part 1.

Let me tell you what’s been going on in the Nkran (Accra). I must say the African cup of nations was quite a spectacle, the whole world had cameras and satellites of all sorts focused on Ghana. It was all about colors, colors and colors as Sean Kingston sang about colors... The Ghana flag did fly everywhere; it flew on cars, on hats, on faces, on t-shirts, on goats, and on babies who had no clue of what was going on.

With all the noise about Ghana’s chances of lifting the Golden trophy on both local and international TV, radio, print, taxis and bars, the stalwart men, the Black stars could not, but they still brought a cup, it was just of a different color. If you are a Ghanaian reading this, you missed a whole lot of action, passion and crying. There were those proud Ghanaian moments when you just thanked the good lord that your flag indeed was a red, gold, and green with a black star in the middle. Anyway, the Pharaohs of Egypt took the trophy back for the sixth time.

Congrats guys, you put a lot of balls in there but I don’t understand, why the Egyptians had to kill cows and share to our folks in Kumasi in the name free giving after they qualified from their group. People, we need to look into some of these things because, they have spirito’s backing them.. I find it funny anytime head of states try to tell the nation what state it is in. You may disagree with me, but these dudes in power no nothing of the state of the nation currently.

Last Saturday a DJ friend of mine, (would like to stay anonymous on his identity) was robbed at cutlass point and his hard earned iphone taken from him by some motor-bike boys just like that. They are called the “kwashee boys” because; they will forcibly take anything you have on you if they chance on you walking alone. Reporting it to the police did not do anything, as he’s still not got any call from the police to say, ‘Mr. DJ, we have the bandits in our custody, and your phone retrieved’.

Instead the police man looked at us without a care in the world and it was as if we were disturbing him. Talk about the state of the nation. Robbery is on the rise, water and electricity supply is on the decline but we pride ourselves with these words-‘the future is bright’. Let’s all pray and hope that the Ghana we wish for will materialize and be free from all these crime and “gangsterism”.

The construction firm working on the Madina-Legon-Shiashie-Tetteh Quarshie double lane is really doing a great job but I really would be glad if he could at least speed up a bit. These days, the lungu-lungu’s are kind of getting free because, the tro-tro drivers have resorted to using the main roads instead of the lungu-lungu’s.

When I starts my journey from the house to work early in the mornings, the road is usually free till when I get to the Shiashe where our insane-go-let-me-come tro-tro drivers decides to outwit each other in search of commuters thereby causing so much traffic for about 30minutes just at that point. I normal curse my day when I get to this point but I am always assuring myself that, when the second is finished and joined, we shall see less of these.

Folks, these days, we have our sisters and brothers in yellow & black known as the community police helping our able-bodied police force in discharging their traffic duties. You’ll find them at faulty traffic joints, applying their common-sense to helping drivers and pedestrians use the road safely but its becoming a nuisance because, they are at every traffic junction. Whether the traffic is working or not, they are there. Unemployment is making all these and more happen.

I would like to know, if they have also been given the permission to arrest anybody who flaws the law because, a cab driver friend of mine was apprehended by one for making a U-Turn at an unauthorized location. The yellow-and-black dressed gentleman just hopped into the cab and asked the driver to drive to the Cantonment Police Station. My good friend obeyed and started the cab towards the said direction but along the way, he made a turn towards a friend’s house where he knew, he’s going to get support from them.

Reaching the friends house, the cab driver went in to call his friends who came to nicely to interrogate the yellow-and-black dressed community police gentleman. According to one, he said, you’ve sat in this cab all the way from 37 Hospital Area, enjoying the cool air-condition, all for free and you still want to take my friend to the police? Hell No.

Massa, get down and get going before my temper gets to its peak” was what the cab driver’s friend told the yellow-and-black dressed gentleman. The friend saying this is a huge looking stout guy standing at 6’6”. Before we could say jack, the yellow-and-black dressed gentleman was on his way running.

He shall regret ever apprehending the cab driver and even facing his ordeal. Imagine, he never had any notepad or pen on himself to at least jot down the cab’s registration number. Well, folks out there don’t be disturbed about these things happening in GH, Ghana is sure the best to be on earth. You wouldn’t experience the type of hospitality Ghanaians accord to foreigners when we travel to their countries.

It’s Hell! In our neighboring Cote D’Ivoire, at every police post-cum- check point, whether a citizen or a non-citizen, you need to produce your “carte-de-identifique” or you shall end up paying a fine at least a CFA1000.00. Ooopps! People, I have to run, watch out for more news, gossips, rumors and the latest info from Nkran, I-Cry (Accra).

Boy, 12, defiles girl, 9.

A 12 year-old boy was on Thursday, March 27, 2008 arraigned for defiling a nine year-old girl at Tetegu, near Kasoa, in the Central Region. I never wanted to believe my ears when I heard it but my fellow bloggers, this is very true. What on earth would trigger a boy of that age to go defiling a minor???

According to Inspector Irene Oppong, Public Relations Officer of the Domestic Violence and Victims Support Unit (DOVVSU) of the Police Service, both the victim and the accused live in the same area. She said on March 20 this year, the victim went to ease herself near an uncompleted building where she saw the accused passing by and called him by his nickname "Joe Blackie".

Inspector Oppong said the boy gave her a hot chase and she fled into the uncompleted building where he got hold of her, stripped her naked and forcibly had unprotected sexual intercourse with her.

A man passing by heard the victim shouting for help amidst moaning and went to her aid. The PRO said the man reported the case to the victim's mother who lodged a complaint at the DOVVSU Desk at Odorkor in Accra. The case is still with the police and I shall keep you updated on the outcome.

Where is our smooth and peaceful world heading to? We need to educate our youngers on the need to stay away from all troubles and also be at the right place at the right time.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Thinking Outside The Box

For Ghana to achieve middle-income-status by 2015, there is an urgent need to diversify the economy. As a nation, we need to go beyond the restrictive confines of Ghana’s traditional exports namely cocoa, gold and timber by creating new opportunities and markets which will radically diversify and transform the economy. New export opportunities and markets could help grow the economy in the same way as cocoa, timber and gold have done over the last decades as far back as the colonial days. As a proviso, the best way to achieve economic progress within an economy is through diversification.

After 51 years of independence, Ghana has made little progress in economic diversification and there is still heavy dependence on raw materials such as cocoa, timber and gold. For example, cocoa accounts for about 35 percent Ghana’s export value. The dependence of a nation on three commodities gives cause for concern especially, when all three commodities are primary products. It is a well established fact that, the prices of primary commodities are volatile and susceptible to exogenous shocks hence; a downturn in prices can adversely affect Ghana and significantly thwart our development efforts.

Currently, Ghana’s economic growth is being driven by the agricultural sector due to higher prices on the international market for cocoa and gold rather than the manufacturing sector. Last year, cocoa production was down due to lack of adequate rain. Question is, if world prices for our main three export commodities are to fall, will we as a nation be able to insulate the economy from such severe exogenous shocks? Dr. Kwame Nkrumah attempted to use our wealth in raw materials as a springboard for the country’s overall economic development and industrialisation, and when commodity prices fell, accumulation of exorbitant external debt became the order of the day and has continued till today.

For sustained economic development, it is necessary to have multiple sources of export revenue so that a temporary disruption in one product or service does not jeopardize the funding of the country’s development efforts. For the vision of achieving middle-income-status and industrialisation to become a reality, the manufacturing sector which is a more efficient vehicle for rapid and sustained economic progress is the best way forward but, has yet to attain a large scale in Ghana.

For example, in 1958 if my history serves me right, Malaysia’s main export items were rubber, which contributed almost 60 percent to the total export value, and tin, contributed about 12 percent. The government of Malaysia after independence, made a strong effort to diversify not only the agricultural sector but, branched out and made great inroads into manufacturing. Rubber’s dominance at independence has been reduced to about one percent of Malaysia’s total export value.

Manufacturing products have overtaken agricultural products as the main foreign exchange earner. For example, Malaysia has become one of the largest producers of semiconductors devices in the world. I am a fervent believer of the school of thought that says that, only a robust, competitive, innovative, creative and technologically driven manufacturing sector can take Ghana to the promise land to achieve middle-income-status via industrialisation.

However, we need to develop a progressive, dynamic and viable agricultural economy which will form the basis of our industrialisation in order to ensure food self sufficiency, food security, increased foreign exchange earnings through diversification of export crops and production of raw materials to feed our industries.

Presently, China is roaming Africa like a lion with an FDI budget totalling about $200 billion dollars seeking to devour and exploit Africa’s raw materials and natural resources into oblivion and extinction in order to feed its incessant quest and drive towards industrialisation. Adding value to primary commodities forms the basis of industrialisation.

The thrust of my article is to advance a case for the diversification of our export commodities by exploiting our comparative advantage in palm oil, salt and cassava. This article will specifically deal with the issue of palm oil. Elsewhere in the world, palm oil is big business that earns massive foreign exchange for the interested countries. Palm oil which is called “Red Gold” is one of the most widely used industrial raw materials in the world today. It is found in at least 10 percent of supermarket products. It is a well known fact that, palm oil from Ghana has been described as being of the highest quality and allegedly, the Malaysians like the three wise oriental Kings followed the scent of palm oil to Ghana to learn the fine art of palm oil production. As the saying goes “the rest is history”.

Unfortunately, Ghana has failed to exploit the great potentials of palm oil and as a nation, we have thrown away a great chance of earning an enviable place in the great economies of the world. However, it is never to late to make a fresh start. Currently, Malaysia which came to Ghana to learn about palm oil production is the world’s number one producer and exporter of crude palm oil closely followed by Indonesia.

Having discovered the unparalleled productivity and huge benefits of investing in palm oil production, reports indicate that currently almost half of Malaysia’s cultivated land consists of oil palm. Now the basic questions are; why has palm oil become the world’s number one fruit crop? Why the sudden surge in the demand for palm oil? How did something Ghanaians virtually threw away and failed woefully to exploit has become so valued in the world market today? Apart from being a major ingredient for food, palm oil has other myriad uses.

Palm oil is found in products such as ice cream, chocolate, biscuits, shampoos, tooth paste, paint, and detergents etc. Importantly, palm oil is one of the raw materials used in biodiesal production. As per experts, biodiesals are biodegradable and, when burnt, have fewer emissions than petroleum based fuels.

Malaysia currently accounts for 51 percent of world palm oil production and 62 percent of world exports. Last year, Malaysia’s export revenue from palm oil was $12.2 billion dollars, the biggest foreign exchange earner after manufacturing, tourism and petroleum and gas. The revenue earned by Malaysia through palm oil is nearly the entire total GDP of the Republic of Ghana.. Palm oil production can be an important factor in our current strives towards poverty alleviation.

Employment opportunities through palm oil production can offset the pressure on rural to urban migration. As a country, with a humid tropical climate with rich and fertile lands, Ghana has a great comparative advantage for developing an oil palm industry. Currently, palm oil production is characterised by low production. The role of oil palm in the agro-based industries in Ghana has a significant potential. As a nation, we definitely need to achieve agricultural diversification by making oil palm one of the crops for expansion.

Ghana needs to pursue new strategic pillars of growth if we are to transform the economy and palm oil production offers us a golden opportunity.
Potentially, Ghana can use palm oil production to create an alternative economic revenue base and laying a solid foundation for agri-business. We need to seize the opportunity and tap into the world demand for palm oil.

First Pregnant Male! Incredible .....;)

This pic is for real peeps! Disturbing, I know….The first time I saw this photo I thought, how could this be? It’s not physically possible for a man to carry a baby. And then I read that the 22 week pregnant man, Thomas Beatie, is a transgendered male. Now it all makes since. Although the image is still a little startling, I’ve got to say, good for him.

Thomas Beatie recently gave an interview to the Advocate explaining who he is, his situation, and why he wanted to carry his own baby.

“I am transgender, legally male, and legally married to Nancy. Unlike those in same-sex marriages, domestic partnerships, or civil unions, Nancy and I are afforded the more than 1,100 federal rights of marriage. Sterilization is not a requirement for sex reassignment, so I decided to have chest reconstruction and testosterone therapy but kept my reproductive rights. Wanting to have a biological child is neither a male nor female desire, but a human desire.

Our situation sparks legal, political, and social unknowns. We have only begun experiencing opposition from people who are upset by our situation. Doctors have discriminated against us, turning us away due to their religious beliefs. Health care professionals have refused to call me by a male pronoun or recognize Nancy as my wife. Receptionists have laughed at us. Friends and family have been unsupportive; most of Nancy’s family doesn’t even know I’m transgender.”

Why he decided to carry his child:

Ten years ago, when Nancy and I became a couple, the idea of us having a child was more dream than plan. I always wanted to have children. However, due to severe endometriosis 20 years ago, Nancy had to undergo a hysterectomy and is unable to carry a child. But after the success of our custom screen-printing business and a move from Hawaii to the Pacific Northwest two years ago, the timing finally seemed right. I stopped taking my bimonthly testosterone injections. It had been roughly eight years since I had my last menstrual cycle, so this wasn’t a decision that I took lightly. My body regulated itself after about four months, and I didn’t have to take any exogenous estrogen, progesterone, or fertility drugs to aid my pregnancy.”

When Thomas got pregnant for the first time he said:

“I ended up having an ectopic pregnancy with triplets. It was a life-threatening event that required surgical intervention, resulting in the loss of all embryos and my right fallopian tube. When my brother found out about my loss, he said, ‘It’s a good thing that happened. Who knows what kind of monster it would have been.’”

Now he’s five months pregnant and said:

“On successfully getting pregnant a second time, we are proud to announce that this pregnancy is free of complications and our baby girl has a clean bill of health. We are happily awaiting her birth, with an estimated due date of July 3, 2008.”

A lot of sites are reporting that this is the world’s first pregnant male–in some ways this is true and in other ways not–it gets kinda complicated. As a transgender, Beatie is genetically and physiologically female (& male)…but his self-identity is male. The world has actually seen transgender pregnancy before. In California, Matt Rice, bore a child by artificial insemination; however, California refused to recognize Rice as a man. In Beatie’s case, his state of Oregon, is recognizing him as a male–thus, in the technicality of it all, it’s the first recognized male pregnancy, but not necessarily the first pregnant man in the world.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Who Do You Think You Are?!!

This may sound like a rude question, right? It’s not really; if you think it is, you need to think about the answer to it some more. Sometimes I do forget who I think I am. Let me tell me who I feel I am at the moment....

I think I’m a global citizen, a human being first of all. African with ties to 3 continents so far by way of residence; with friends and people that I consider family from all backgrounds, creeds and places. I think I’m an international social chameleon; a quiet giant with a versatile, open mentality on any social issue.

As a 24-year-old man born and bred in Accra, Ghana by Ghanaian parents, the question of who I am is closely associated with who I should be. Ethnic or religious identity has never been my trademark. Although having lived in Ukraine since 2003 - my whole young adult life - I have developed a strong identity of a black man and an African with all it means. I have created my own country, "Humania".

It lies between the heart and the mind with no territorial claim and I feel the whole planet is my home. The complexity of being human and our obsessions with fixed identities and categorizations mesmerizes me more than anything else.

As a psychology and computer science student, I do believe that African union is the only way out of the quagmire. People should be able to move freely and transcend all forms of mental and physical boundaries.

Family and national belongings should not be used to divide us but to better understand each other and bridge our gaps because we have a lot that unites us. I have become a black man in Europe but I try to move beyond that and not to let others impose their will on me.

I am what I am because of circumstances and choices I make in life. I believe I am my own country: the clothes I wear are my national flag; the song I sing in the shower is my national anthem and all my body parts are the different departments and ministries of my government.

The social ministry goes to the eyes, mouth and ears. The home affairs ministry functions through the heart and the brain and my sexual organs have the most important portfolio covering foreign affairs.

To be a human being is to understand oneself by understanding others. This can only be achieved by creating relationships with other fellow humans on the basis of true humanism: one love; one heart and one destiny.

All this is subject to change though. So now I ask you again, who are you? Who do you think you are?!! Express yourself!!! If you don't other people will do it for you; and that is where the stereotypes set in.

Nigeria Airways Joke!

Since I have been moving and travelling I just thought I would make you smile a little before things got back on track again. Traveling is fun and gets more funnier when you encounter these days on your way out..

Nigeria Airways Flight 126 from Lagos to Cairo!

Good morning, Ladies and Gentlemen. This is your captain (Boniface Adenkule) welcoming you on board of Nigeria Airways. We apologize for the four-day delay in taking off, it was due to bad weather and some overtime I had to put in at the bakery. This is flight 126 to Lagos. Landing in Lagos is not guaranteed, but we will end up somewhere in the south. If luck is in our favor, we may even be landing on your village!

Nigeria Airways has an excellent safety-record. In fact our safety standards are so high that even terrorists are afraid to fly with us!

It is with great pleasure; I announce that since starting this year over 50% of our passengers have reached their destination. If our engines are too noisy for you, on passenger request, we can arrange to turn them off!

To make your free fall to earth pleasant and memorable, we serve complimentary Bongo tea and Okin biscuits! For our not-so-religious passengers, we are the only airline who can help you find out if there really is a God!

We regret to inform you, that today’s in-flight movie will not be shown as we forgot to record it from the television. But for our movie buffs, we will be flying right next to Al Barka, where their movie will be visible from the right side of the cabin window.

There is no smoking allowed in this plane. Any smoke you see in the cabin is only the early warning system on the engines telling us to slow down! In order to catch important landmarks, we try to fly as close as possible for the best view. If, however, we go a little too close, do let us know. Our enthusiastic co-pilot sometimes flies right through the landmark!

Kindly be seated, keep your seat in an upright position for take-off and fasten your seatbelt. For those of you who can’t find a seatbelt, kindly fasten your own belt to the arm of your seat …and for those of you who can’t find a seat, do not hesitate to get in touch with a stewardess who will explain how to fasten yourself to your suitcase."

Enjoy Nigeria Airways. Oga, oya. Make we dey go now.. !