Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Donate to Paa Kwesi Nduom's campaign

It's no secret that I support Paa Kwesi Nduom (PKN) in the upcoming Ghanaian election. I've heard this man speak a couple of times, met him in person, and we have more of the same ideologies for Ghana. His track record is magnificent; he has succeeded in his various ventures and has paid his dues to Ghana. In the aftermath of Ghana's golden jubilee and the relative goodwill we enjoy in the global arena, we need to enlist and rally ourselves in a vision that would bring us national prosperity now and a mission that would get us there. We need to act now while we are enjoying this goodwill and time of patriotism, these times may not be with us for a long time. PKN is the leader we need at this time.

Apparently, someone who didn't know about my support for Paa Kwesi Nduom gave my email addresses to Akufo Addo's campaign and they have been bombarding me with campaign emails. Does that amount to spamming? Maybe, maybe not. I can't fault them for trying but not everyone appreciates that. I was hoping they would send Akufo Addo's manifesto or plan for Ghana while they were at it. If you got that email and I didn't, notify me.

Back to the subject at hand, I donated to Nduom's campaign because I believe in his message. "We are causing change, yEresesam". Nduom wants to put the business of running Ghana back into Ghanaian hands. We hardly run things in our own country. The CPP's dream is to invest in Ghanaian ingenuity and expertise, they pretty much drum home all the points I have been discussing all these years. Finally, there is a group of people willing to take on the challenge and they are led by a person who has a proven track record of being entrepreneurial. A visionary, a business man, a manager, a public servant and a Ghanaian.

I hear people talking about how the CPP is a small party, they have no chance to win the upcoming election, Nduom is being used by the NPP, he has SFO reports hanging on his head, etc, etc. Well folks, is that all we are concerned about? Is the better man for the job than Paa Kwesi Nduom? Are we going mortgaging speeding up our country's progress because the man we need is in the 'wrong' party? Many people like you are thinking they will waste their vote on the CPP. Well, get these many people to vote for Nduom and we will actually be making a statement. Nduom served his country, he didn't serve the NPP. We don't pledge allegiance to a political party, we pledge allegiance to Mother Ghana. SFO reports? Why is he still walking a free man if he is a fraud?

We have no time to wait, we have to get moving. We don't have time for standing still, we must move forward. We, Ghanaians/Ghana, are ready for take-off.

Let us invest in change.
Let us invest in leadership.
Let us invest in performance.
Let us invest in ideology.
Let us invest in ourselves.
Let us invest in the change making process.
Let us invest in the decision making process.
Let us invest in getting the message out there.
Let us invest in getting the message out there to those who need to hear it.

Visit today and donate.

For those of you in Ghana, you can also donate 1 Ghana Cedi to the CPP campaign using your cell phone! Simply text "CPP" to 2771 (OneTouch, Kasapa) or 1962 (Tigo, MTN) - it's that simple!


PS: Listening to Kwame Nkrumah's Independence Speech

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Letta to Osagyefo - Working for Ghana (GhanaThink)

My alter ego, Maximus Ojah, just blogged on GhanaThink about Ghanaian workers. I'll be featuring the Lettas to Osagyefo on this blog. Below is the full post.

Hello Osagyefo,

A lot has happened since I last wrote to you. Chief among them, the Beijing Olympics just ended over the weekend. I share in your disappointment; our beloved country failed to win a single medal. Either our athletes are not good enough to earn our national anthem some airtime on the world stage or we are not investing enough in various sports disciplines so that we can be counted amongst countries with medals. We went there to make up the numbers. But we didn't even have the numbers - our contingent was less than a score (Ha, always wanted to use this expression). In the meantime, our current president handed out a ton of medals recently to about 200 people who have served our nation in various ways. Each 18 carat gold medal cost 33,000 pounds. Here's a good debate Kwame: should we have spent this gold medallion money on our athletes instead to save face at the Olympics? Are the Olympics that important or we should rather cherish celebrating our national heroes?

I will not be dwelling on these 'medals' in this blog, it has gotten enough publicity. The last time I was in DC, I was talking to my cousin and a friend, and the issue of 'working' came up. This was in the context of working for someone you didn't know or your family/relative. Many of us work for someone else. We all can't be Kwabena Darko, Appiah Menkah or Alhaji Asuma Banda or the new school Mark Zuckerberg and the other entrepreneurial gems we can think of. Some of us have to earn our lifetime earnings being 'bossed' over. It's normal and it is what we are used to.

People complain that Ghana as a country doesn't take good care of its sportsmen. Even in football, we always hear of stories where our stars get into conflicts with the authorities over winning bonuses, air travel, amongst other things. Imagine our sportsmen who represent Ghana in the 'lesser' sports. An argument can be made that our sportsmen should take ownership of Ghana's sports and understand the financial trouble we are in, so that they can pay some more sacrifices. If that holds true for our sportsmen, it holds very true for workers all across Ghana as well.

Osagyefo, let's study the different types of workers in Ghana. Which group do you think takes more ownership of their work and firm? A lot of Ghanaians work in family businesses or in the public service. In the public service domain, workers are famous for not being enthused about working hard because "EyE aban adwuma, EnyE me deE" (it is government work, it is not mine). Those who work for themselves or their families work much harder, because they have control of the earnings and returns. But even there, there is a lot of room for complacency. In the private sector, even though it is better than the public domain, attitudes to work are not the best. The idea of "monkey dey work, baboon dey chop" is engrained in our psyche enough to prevent us from giving our all.

Let's compare workers in Ghana to those in America for a moment. Do you think Ghanaians working in America work harder than those in Ghana? Why is that? Maybe it is because for the most part, they don't know their bosses and their bosses have no sympathy for them. So even though they may hate their boss in America more often than they will in Ghana, they work harder for him/her anyway. The same thing happens in cases where you have foreign-owned companies in Ghana. One would argue that the rewards working for these foreign entities are higher, so I would throw the gauntlet down to our Ghanaian employers to produce more incentives for their workers. We must choose wisely here, or we'll face many more Kufuor-50 Cent stories.

One underlying factor though is the issue of discipline. Discipline is the foundation of many Ghanaian problems. Ghanaians are too nice sometimes and tend to tolerate a lot of nonsense. We tolerate mediocrity, we accept small glories, we wish upon stars and leave control of our lives and improvement in the hands of others. We need more discipline in the workplace, we need to discipline our brothers and sisters, our friends, our workers, and our colleagues. Kwame, interestingly, we know how to discipline, we swear on our last breaths that we will not be defeated by the noise about 'abuse and cardinal punishment'. "Me, my kids, I will beat them". And beat them he/she would. Do we not understand the tenets of discipline? We know how to use the rod but can't seem to use it for the right reasons or at the right times.

Kwame, we need better work attitudes in Ghana, across the board, in all industries, in all disciplines, and both in the public and private sector. We are able to do this and we should follow through for the betterment of our nation. We may not be rewarded with 'bling bling' but we'll build a better country which would support the kinds of lives we hope for and the dreams we aspire to.

Let's get to work,

PS: Listening to Nya Ntetee pa by Obrafour -

Guinness invests in Africa's passion - football

Many Africans are in love with Guinness. You can check the records, some of Guinness (Diageo's) best business is done on the continent. I will never forget the day I heard the CEO of Diageo Africa speak at the Harvard Business School African Business Conference (HBS ABC) and talk about how the company is doing brisk business in Africa. Two words I won't forget from that speech: bottles and business. Whatever speech you give, no matter how boring, great, thorough and intellectual it is, follow this guy's lead, give your audience a couple of sentences or words to remember.

Guinness is also a mark of happiness in some places, which includes Ghana. Take this scenario, when Ghana played Namibia in the 2008 African Cup of Nations and won by a lone goal, many Ghanaians were down, disappointed and angry. They expected the Black Stars to annihilate the Brave Warriors. A one-nil victory was as good as a loss, and Guinness felt the losses too. The bars and spots were empty and Diageo must have been ruing the mood of the football mad nation. No wonder Guinness spends thousands of dollars sponsoring the Ghanaian national team. A public outcry followed the Namibia calling for the Black Stars to shine against Morocco (even to the point of threatening the families of Asamoah and Baffour Gyan who threatened to leave camp). The noise-making worked. I saw the Black Stars conduct a soccer clinic on the Atlas Lions of Morocco and emerged victors. Ghanaians celebrated deep into the night (Oxford Street especially) and our good friends from Diageo (Guinness) celebrated all the way to the bank with massive 'bottle' sales.

I don't see how people make do with drinking that much Guinness anyway. It has the worst taste of many beers. To enjoy Guinness, you have 'acquire the taste'. It's the same deal with Malta Guinness (God bless the souls of those who can't stand the taste and are subsequently missing out on feeling good).

There was a really cool Guinness commercial/advert I saw about football as a passion. The advert described how African men share two passions and two things that bring them together - football and Guinness. Will post the video once I find it online.

In the meantime, here's another inspirational video from the Guinness folks. It features a poem about an African country winning the World Cup. South Africa 2010 anyone? I am excited and I plan to be there. Come sun, come rain, come hail, come shine, more money, more health - I go dey represent!

Here's the video

Listening to Feel Good by Lira -

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Pimping the system: Free food and asheka

As long as I can remember, the notion of every person needing three square meals a day has rung from sea to shining sea. The truth is, I don't remember having three square meals consistently ever since I started living in the USA. I can't afford it and even if I could, I probably wouldn't. Thanks to my Mum, I do get 3 excellent meals when I am in Ghana though. I make sure to eat two heavy meals each day, within 8-10 hours for the second. This is the mantra I follow, unless I am really hungry. Well, this morning, I was really hungry. It was about 11am and I began wondering where I'd have lunch, what I'd eat and how I'll get the food. After spending $20 on the two previous days' lunches, and a further $20 more on dinner Thursday night, I voted unanimously not to purchase food. Cuz I'm a hustler, baby!

I made a couple calls to some Stanford students who had meal plans. I finally retrieved an ID number, that's all I needed. I confidently walked up into the dining hall, rattled the ID number like it was mine and my ticket to lunch was 'bought'. The first thought that came into mind when I had gained entry was "I'm going to make a killing". You know how a 'striker' earns the ladle for a Presec dining hall table and impatiently awaits the grace. Folks, I had gathered a ladle. I packed as much as I could eat and the thought of getting free food from a Stanford dining hall truly gladdened my heart. I took sooo much food, the only person I could think of who would challenge me in an eating competition would have been Michael Phelps (that guy is a beast). I am training for the next olympics my people, but before I take my next swimming class, I am 'taking' Phelps out cuz he's about the only thing that would stand in my way of winning that gold medal. Mad props to Jason Dunford for making Kenya and Stanford proud at the Olympics too.

I settled down on a table and started enjoying the major 'asheka' I had pulled off. My Presec brothers would relate. You know when you feel your school or institution has ripped you off? Or treated you bad? Not given you enough money? Followed the prospectus to the 'tee' and showed you no mercy? When you get a chance, to get something for free or pimp the system, you must earn as many gentleman bucks as you can get. Strip the organization off all the rewards you can get. Now, that is 'asheka'. I stayed in the dining hall long enough to make sure I didn't waste any of the food. Like old times, I even sent some food out of the dining hall. The 'blue magicians' (old students of Presec) would bask in this glory. Should I mention that I have like 7 more free meals next week? Yes, I also slept at the Holiday Inn last night.

Grad students live for free food. Departmental meetings, seminars, candy stack in the office, cultural shows, athlete training sessions; we are there to 'raid'. This summer, I decided to spend almost nothing buying food (groceries don't count). I passed the test with flying colours. Other than the odd dinner here and there, I ate mostly food I conjured up myself, or free food I got from friends and other sources. With the help of a friend who perched at my place all summer, we 'raided' places that shall remain anonymous that we didn't need to buy groceries anymore. Call it hustle, call it theft, call it shameful, call it survival; I call it 'pimping the system'. "I no dey shame for food, anything wey I go do, because adefoode I am in love with you, oh oh, oh oh". Adefoode in Twi means getting things for cheap, in many cases that apply to the MIghTy African, it means getting things for free.

I hated it when I was the victim of 'asheka' in Presec. So it must not be fun to be the victim when I am on my 'spree'. But, do you know how much food goes to waste in the dining hall? I do pay fees, don't I? (even if it's not from my pocket). I am the customer, the consumer, the one who the service is dependent on to keep the service running. So if I get something for free or a great break, so be it. Can they add eating as an Olympic sport? I have faith that I can win Ghana a medal in one of those events.

PS: Asheka is a Presec lexicon which means 'cheating'. (I hope you didn't just drop your jaw cuz you ain't getting any food). Examples include; serving a group of people food and taking the lion's share, scrubbing the bath-house but not well enough, a teacher teaching less than what he is supposed to teach, a teacher brushing off a student's question and leaving him more confused, a school asking for fees for a literary supplements and furnishing the students who paid for it with one literary supplement; you get the drift right?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Life and Living it - the best Ghanaian movie out there

So finally, I saw the movie, 'Life and Living it' again. I first saw it while I was in Ghana in the early part of the year. I joined my brother and a lot of KNUST students to experience the Tech premiere. In the days, where the Rex and Roxy Cinemas of Ghana are extinct, any Ghanaian movie that has the guts to have a premiere or cinema showing really means business. Sparrow Productions does. I watched this movie in a movie theater atmosphere, with crowd reaction at its peak and surround sound quality. I thoroughly, I mean, totally, enjoyed the experience. The movie itself was awesome. Flat out the best Ghanaian production I have ever seen until convinced otherwise.

'Life and living it' is a movie about four young men just navigating their daily lives. The movie has a star cast - the foursome are - Brew Riverson Jnr, Adjetey Annan (Pusher of Things We Do For Love fame), Chris Attoh and Nana Kwame Osei Sarpong. Other actors and actresses are Fritz Baffour, Rama Brew, Bibie Brew, Vivienne Achor, Irene Opare and a number of new faces. The fact that the movie has four major characters is a first, it's not focused on a couple of characters which so often bedevils Ghanaian movies into a test of guessing skills. In addition to depth, the movie has a great storyline, and a bold script.

The acting is great and better than what we've been subjected to from Venus and AA Productions, the video quality is better and sound quality is top-notch. Chris Attoh shined in his first major movie role. See him trying to smoke and all. Pusher is supposed to be a comedian but here he was, thrust in a serious role. The 'new' actresses excelled as well and we hope to see more of them.

I watched the movie a second time with a non-Ghanaian friend who couldn't help but point out the boldness of the movie. This movie went places most Ghanaian would not go (literally). There were a lot of 'censored' language, but it was done in the spirit of the film and many people may not even realise it. And should I mention one of the characters bears my first name? How is this movie not one to love?

How about the soundtrack folks? The song at the end of the movie was straight out Americanish - hip hop track with a very nice R&B chorus. If you didn't know Ghanaian music as well as I do (ahem... clears throat), you would have thought the music was by an American. Nope. The track, Together, is by our own Blitz 'The Ambassador' Bazawule, formerly known as Bazaar. Other artistes on the soundtrack include Sena, Hamid Kryz and other Ghanaian acts. You could imagine how my face lit up when 5Five's 'Afrikan Gurlz' was played.

I hope this is not the last of movies from Sparrow Productions. They took their time to make the movie, assembled a great cast, and did the right thing by showing the movie in theaters. The ticket price to watch it at the International Conference Center was about $15. They had two screenings, do the math and see. This is before the DVD/VCD actually comes out and competes with the Pretty Queens, Passion of the Souls, Obra yi, Kyeiwaa Part 12, Kyeiwaa Ba Part 6, among others. Other movie houses should follow Shirley Frimpong Manso's lead. That lady is talented and a gem for Ghanaian entertainment.

Oh, before I go - You can watch the movie online like I did.
Go to this link to check it out and let me know what you think about the movie.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Ghana needs to win something at the Olympics

The Olympics is totally the biggest sporting event. Some may argue for the World Cup, but even though the Mundial is grand and is centered around the passion of the nation (aka football), all other sports have some different fans who pay attention to the Olympics. For instance, I have a couple of friends who could care less about football but will stop work to watch Michael Phelps and the 100 metre sprint.

I didn't catch the opening ceremony, it's always the greatest spectacle of celebration. Ghana's contingent was very small and they were clad in kente. I've heard people complaining about the choice of attire, about how kente has been accepted by the greater Black community and we can't claim it anymore. Nonsense! People should know we are the originators! :-) The Ghanaian contingent held their own, you can't miss us, we are colourful and we stand out.

I was very disappointed the Black Meteors failed to make it to the Olympic soccer tournament. We have a lot of good young players but we fell short to our West African friends from Nigeria. We rejoiced like maniacs when we sent them packing at the African Cup of Nations but this absence at the Olympics was a great return shot from the Naija peoples. I wish the Nigerian Dream Team the best as they go for Olympic glory.

Ghana's bread and butter at the Olympics is amateur boxing. Bukom sure does churn out a ton of boxers, the kenkey is the key. People generalize a lot of Ghanains to be short and stout, go to James Town and see. It seems we'll lose out on a boxing medal too, what happened to the kenkey, folks? Ghana has 4 all-time Olympic medals, silver (2) and bronze (2). We were the first African country to medal in soccer (Barcelona 92) and then in the subsequent editions, Nigeria (Atlanta 96) and Cameroun (Sydney 2000) shut us up with gold medals.

vida anim carrying ghana flag at beijing olympics 2008 As if not having enough representatives at the Olympics wasn't enough bad news, Vida Anim (our flagbearer) boycotted the 200m citing lack of support from the Ghanaian authorities. Apparently, our prayers and support is not enough. We all know we don't have money to fund every sport and there are bigger priorities so this is bound to happen. Sometimes, we have to look at separate cases and support success and progress. Vida Anim could have been great but she feels she is not being rewarded. Does she have a free meal compared to the athletes from Jamaica? Well, the difference is Jamaica actually takes their athletics program seriously. What do we as Ghanaians take seriously? Am not talking sitting around discussing tactics for football games, but putting our money and effort where our mouths are.

Check out the website of Ghana's female really team for the 4x100m. According to them, mismanagement, bad luck, and losing of the team spirit prevented them from fulfilling their potential. We shouldn't lay the blame solely on management and the powers that be, they try - the contingent was promised cash rewards, 20,000 GhC for a gold, 15,000 for a silver and 10,000 cash for a bronze. You could argue that they needed the monetary support to win the medals and not the promise of rewards after they achieved the medal.

The make-up of the contingent is as follows: three athletes — sprint queen, Vida Anim, male sprinters Aziz Zakari and Seth Amoo and their coach; six boxers — Bastie Samir, Issa Samir, Manyo Plange, Ahmed Saraku, Samuel Kotey-Neequaye and Prince Octopus Dzanie and their technical handlers, as well as a team doctor and a physiotherapist.

There is a joke about how Ghana and Nigeria ended up in West Africa and Ethiopia and Kenya ended up in East Africa. A long long time ago, Africans entered into a race for settlement and land from Africa's West Coast. The Ghanaians and Nigerians shot out of the blocks, sprinting and leaving the other countries in their wake. About a quarter of the way into the race, they got tired and settled in what is now West Africa. The Ethiopians and Kenyans were rather slow and lagged behind but with their superior endurance, they made it past Lake Victoria all the way to the East Coast. That is why the West Africans excel in the sprints and the East Africans are excellent in the long distance races. True story.

It seems we are okay in the sprints and boxing sports. We need to invest some more money into these sports because we have to be counted in the Olympics. We've not won a medal in 16 years - I shock, shy, conf extra. Why do we need to win something at the Olympics? Because Togo did. Cameroun did. You know won too. It would be good for our development, our psyche, our well-being, our patriotism.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Why I love Africa (poem)

Just wanted to share a poem I wrote about Africa.
I wrote it sometime in February 2007. I wrote it for MIT's Pulse concert, a celebration of Afro-Diasporean culture. I was exploring some of the ways in which Africa was different from the rest of the world and the various little things we cherish that may not be glorified or celebrated in the media.


Why I love Africa

It takes a village to raise a child
It takes a male child to start a village
It takes a female child to educate them all
In Africa

One man’s inactive car
Is many other men’s community service
Because you will need others
When your own car breaks down in Africa

It doesn’t fall into winter
And then spring into summer
People may be raining away
But life and warmth never run dry in Africa

Tangerine tree, football field, sugarcane seller
Very different but similar
Who needs Mapquest? In directing and navigating
All landmarks are on deck, in Africa

What if the peanut seller is sick with malaria?
There are a hundred and one people
Minding and carrying their own business on the streets
Of Africa who would give you some help

Cock-a-doodle-doo, hold up, kokrokoo…
Meat that has been frozen for three weeks is not my kind
This particular bird has exhausted my piece of mind
And I’ll have fresh cooked chicken at half-past two, in Africa

Tough love smoothens rough edges
Polishing an individual in responsibility
The rod has its place in Africa
And insubordination is not spared

Where the generation gap seems to grow
Day in day out, year in year out
An 84 year old man finds a way
To start school, in Africa

Where else does a song which talks about ‘down there’
First get banned for its profanity
Then helps an opposition party
Win an election, in Africa

Chains were broken with the slave trade
But shackles remain within families
Every brother and sister from another mother
Is my sibling in Africa

Let everything that has breath
Smile for the camera
Because laughter triumphs over pain
Which is no stranger to Africa

The old man left me with something
Food that taught me maturity
Thoughts that fed me wisdom
To survive in Africa

Diverse yet so much the same
Many but this one name
Several ‘blanks’ but still no shame
Boarder is no bother to Africa

Before corn was popped, it was roasted
Before democracy, there was order
Before makeup, there was beauty
Before you, you can still see Africa

Full of life in the midst of death
Full of strife in the midst of despair
Full of giving in the midst of nothing
The beauty of Africa will fill and fool you

Tradition has suffered various additions
Custom has embraced many storms
Culture has welcomed several mixtures
Africa has still lived Africa

Can you trust respect?
Can you judge hospitality?
Can you explain happiness?
Can you understand strength?
Africa lives in me and I can
That’s why I love Africa

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Tigo - Be a true fan campaign

I was in Ghana for the first three months of 2008 and one thing I realised, was the emergence of relatively good relevision adverts/commercials. Ghana was crazy about the African Cup of Nations it was hosting and various companies had tuned their marketing campaigns in line with the football fiesta.

One company whose commercials I really enjoyed was that of the mobile service provider called Tigo. The headline sponsor for the tournament was MTN, which was widely publicizing itself around every visible corner. Tigo and other companies like One Touch, Ricemaster, Coca Cola, had done their own ambush marketing.

Tigo's campaign was called 'Be a true fan'. According to them, no matter what sport anyone played, their first love was football (soccer). You can see it in these commercials.
"It's football time! Tigo, express yourself!

Pool -

Tennis -

Golf -

Karate, Tae kwon do, Judo -

Boxing -

Here is another commercial where the beautiful game is highlighted.

Just before I left Ghana, Tigo had started another campaign - Be real, be inspired, among others. Will post the videos once I get them.

I was impressed by the storylines, sound and video quality of the commercials. I hope the Ghanaian movie industry will take note.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

My Winning Eleven! Best footballers in every position

I am a big sports fan. I remember as far back as 1992, I started following football (soccer) very keenly. I knew the name of many footballers, where they played and where they were from. We had no internet but my friends and I knew the latest news and Sports Highlights (every Monday on GTV) was our favorite program. At some point, we knew so much information, we would organize quizzes for our friends. I've seen a lot of footballers play over the years. Positioning in football has changed, we have people like Ronaldinho wearing jersey #80 and Beckham #23, a marked departure from the days, each person in the starting team had 1 through 11 and a position to play.

I am going to discuss my winning eleven, the top players I've seen play the 11 positions in football. I will be choosing circa 1992 and onward. That removes people like Pele, Maradona, Platini, Roger Milla and everyone who was the gangarea before 1992 from my list. Let's do this.

#1 - Goalkeeper: There are a number of great shot-stoppers to consider but I have to go with Peter Schmeichel. This guy helped Denmark pull one of the biggest coups in football, winning the European Cup in 1992. Remember how he could throw the ball so far? If he was a basketball player, he'll be the best half-court passer and if he played AM football, he'll be Tom Brady. Other nominees are Gianluigi Buffon and Oliver Kahn. Honorable mention: Jose Luis Chilavert, Jorge Campos and Ali Jaraah.

#2 - Right-back: Do you know Cafu was a member of Brazil's World Cup squads in 1994, 1998, 2002 and 2006? He wins the nod here. I also like Javier Zanetti, Christian Panucci, Gary Neville, here.

#3 - Left back: Paolo Maldini is the best defender ever and this is his position. He was the first defender to make a run for the World's best player. Roberto Carlos is a close second, followed by guys like Bixente Lizarazu, Gianluca Zambrotta, Ashley Cole, Sergi (Spain).

#4 - Centre back: Allow me to call this position the stopper. The guy who intimidates all the strikers. Lilian Thuram wins this one in my book. He played right-back earlier in his career and was a great stopper then too. After him are Alessandro Nesta, Fernando Hierro, Roberto Ayala, Fabio Cannovaro, etc.

#5 - Centre back: Here comes the best sweeper I ever saw: Franco Baresi. This guy was the rock of the AC Milan defence that dominated in the early 1990s. Also considered for this non-nonsense position are Marcel Desailly, Ronald Koeman, Carlos Gamarra, Sol Campbell, etc.

#6 - Defensive midfielder: Claude Makelele owns this position. He is the worst candidate for getting you goals but everyone is looking for the next Makelele for his team these days. He left Real Madrid and they were never the same. Other candidates are Mathias Sammer, Didier Deschamps, Edgar Davids, Roy Keane, and Dunga.

#7 - Right-winger: We have a lot of famous number 7's. C Ronaldo is the best right now but remember when David Beckham was transferred to the Bernabeu and Real Madrid already had Luis Figo. That was something. Luis Figo is the best right winger I ever saw and he has a world best player to boot (2001). After him are Becks, C. Ronaldo, etc.

#8 - Attacking midfielder: Zinedine Zidane is my favorite player ever and the best player I ever saw play. Remember how he samba'ed the Brazilians in the Germany world cup? He is the epitome of an attacking midfielder. There is a big drop-off and then you have the likes of Gianfranco Zola, Steven Gerrard, Lothar Matthaus, Michael Ballack, Paul Scholes, etc.

#9 - Striker: This is for the prototypical goal-getter, the guy who finishes the attack and mostly gets the goal-king. We don't need to go into the record books to see who scored the most but I think (fat) Ronaldo (Luís Nazário) is the best. (I remember when I could rattle his many names and Pele's like it was my own, those were the good old days). Runners-up are George Weah, Ruud Van Nistelrooy, Andriy Schevchenko, Samuel Eto'o, Romario, Alan Shearer, Raul, Jurgen Klinsmann, Garbiel Batistuta, Romario, etc.

#10 - Maestro (striker): Pele and Maradona are both number 10s. This is the guy who does the dribbling, showmanship, wins you the set-pieces, creates the chances and the showstopper. Sounds like Ronaldinho is the man here but I will go for someone else - Thierry Henry. I think the biggest crime in modern football is the fact that Henry has never been crowned the world's best player. Ever since he went to Arsenal, he's been the very consistent (except the last couple of seasons) and nothing short of phenomenal. Other candidates are Rivaldo, Hristo Stoichkov, Dennis Bergkamp, Roberto Baggio, Ariel Ortega, Kaka, etc.

#11 - Left winger: Other than George Weah, Ryan Giggs is the best player to have not graced the Mundial in recent memory. Manchester United's Giggsy is one of the symbols of loyalty and is thoroughly respected even outside the annals of the Theatre of Dreams. Other candidates are Marc Overmars, Robert Pires, Arjen Robben, etc.

Coach: Yes, I am really tempted to choose Sir Alex Ferguson but how about that guy coaching the English National team? Yes, Fabio Capello. He's won titles everywhere he's gone - AC Milan, Real Madrid, Roma and Juventus. I hear Jose Mourinho's ego is too big for him to be anyone's assistant coach and Carlos Quieroz is not all that good. I'll have to go with my current favorite coach - the magician called Guus Hiddink. Honorable mention: Claude Le Roy, Giuseppe Dossena, Avram Grant, Paul Jewell, Phillippe Troussier, and Ruud Gullit.

Final list in a 4-4-2 formation - Schmeichel; Cafu, Thuram, Baresi, Maldini; Figo, Makelele, Zidane, Giggs; Ronaldo, Henry

Who do you think deserves a place in my starting eleven? What's yours? Watch out for the African winning eleven.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

How to pick up a Nigerian girl

So through my conversation with that Habesha taxi driver in San Francisco the other day, I have learnt a few more Amharic words. I am making progress towards formulating my lines for picking up Ethiopian women. More on this later, I said I am making progress, I have not made all the progress I need.

In the meantime, if you are looking for ways to pick up some other women, how about you try these lines?
"Sorry for gate crashing girls, I need a cookie from your cookies 4 my pookie in the pouch".
Sounds a lot like chaa, twum, blowing rot or speaking nonsense but like most of us Odadee have learnt; chaa is a very useful tool. We used it in secondary school to write cheesy love letters and the advertisers in the West are some of the best charisters out there. No pun intended, but some companies pun their ways in the yard pon da bank. (I was trying to say some companies use puns, rhymes and chaas on their way to the bank aka payday).

Anyway, if you want living proof of how these lines work in picking up women, here's some evidence.

It happened in a Nigerian movie called Security Risk. It probably only happens in movies, but my hustla self is bound to try it one of these days on an unsuspecting female. And you know I will report back here. Hey, I don't know what happened in the movie after this clip, I'll watch it and let y'all know as well.

If you are offended in any way by the video, why so serious? :-)

Monday, August 4, 2008

Chale, I'm a hustla! I'm a, am a hustla!

It's a weekday in late July. I just have finished playing phenomenal football and I've gotten a text to help a friend move to a new place. I take a quick shower but have no time to eat before I join a ride with some other friends. Maybe the sight of a restaurant near to my friend's old place made me hungrier. I couldn't help but ask the workers at the restaurant (the back of the place was right next door to this apartment) to give me some food. I mean, they are closing down, there is bound to be some good food headed for the dustbin. Okay refuse heap, there is virtually no dust in the Bay Area. But pardon my African upbringing, we are used to dust.

This guy (I think he's a manager of some sorts) tells me they are closing down so I should go to the front of the restaurant and place an order. Would you do that? I wouldn't either. I left him alone and after carrying a couple more things downstairs into the U-haul, I see a sign on the U-haul van. It reads - "You can do it". Yes, I can. So I go and ask another worker for some food and he gives me a cold shoulder. One of my friends is wondering why am doing this in the first place. Anyway, for the third time, after moving almost all my friend's belongings into the truck, I approach the restaurant again. I see one of the workers cleaning up and he has a big burrito next to him. "Can I have the burrito? You can make one for yourself. I am hungry". The dude does not speak that much English. After trying to do some sign language, I end up convincing him to give me half of this big burrito. He goes into another room and I am thinking he's about to add some Mango Peach Snapple. He doesn't but the burrito makes up for the disappointment. My friend who has watched this whole episode transpire calls me a 'hustler'. I agree and am proud of this free food I have hustled for.

Fast forward to Sunday, which is like 8 hours ago. I am attending a Hugh Masekela concert in San Francisco. It's 5:20pm and I have to go and catch a train to the city at 5:31pm. Even if I biked faster than Lance Armstrong, I still wouldn't make it. The next train is at 6:31pm. I have called every friend available who could drop me off at the station but no one is picking up. I am not going to miss the train though because someone is going to give me a ride. I ask one person for a ride and he tells me he's not going in 'my direction'. I stand by the road and wave at passing cars and this girl finally stops. "Can I get a ride to the Caltrain station?" "I don't know the place and I don't give rides to strangers". "I can show you, it's not very far". The girl welcomes me in (into the car) and 5 minutes later and some interesting questions from this girl trying to figure out if am a Stanford student or a serial killer, am at the station. "Thank you very much I would get your number if I had some 30 seconds to spare".

I finally make it to the concert. I attended with a friend who lives right across from the venue. Hugh Masekela is quite funny, and he can still blow the trumpet pretty well. After the concert ends, it occurs to me that I should try and see if I could get a free ride back to Palo Alto. The journey is at least 50 minutes even if you drove as fast as Michael Schumacher. Sadly, the only people I know at this venue where I am trying to find a good Samaritan is my friend and Hugh Masekela who's going to playing the trumpet for another hour. I can catch a bus from the venue but I don't have the actual change. But as for the MIghTy African, he takes risks, chances; it's fun. My friend backs me anyway. The bus comes along and the driver is Habesha, ah, there's another African. He allows me onto the bus for free and we chat for the whole time I am on the bus. I impress him with a couple of Amharic words and learn a few more. The dude even offers to give me money for the train but this form of transport accepts plastic of which I have.

Once I get off the train, I find myself singing "I'm a hustla, am a, am a hustla. Chale, ask, Chale about me..... yea, hustling is cool. I was even called Hustler at some point, when I was in Presec. I had to have been hustling to earn such a title. I don't even know why I liked the song. I was in Rhode Island one day hanging with a cousin and some friends and they were playing some hip hop songs. For whatever reason, they were feeling this Cassidy so much, I also bought into the hype. Before I knew it I was singing - girl, if you wanna come to my hotel..... till six in the morning.

Anyway, in my book, I have hustled three times and have finished the story for my blog. People like us have the ability to hustle because others are good and do good deeds. But like the Dark Knight, there's not always a great ending. However, you can count those people on the ferry boats who did good; we have some good people in this world. I am still mad the Joker did not die. I finally make it to the Millbrae Caltrain station, and am about to begin the last lap of my journey back to my humble abode. I check the time, it's 9:51 pm and the next 'keteke' comes at 9:54pm. Buriful, I say. I wait a couple of minutes and some taxi driver comes off to tell me that the last 'keteke' left 30 minutes ago. Hustlers have time to verify information so I checked the schedule again and this driver is right. I am not going to take his taxi though, it's gonna cost me at least 10 bags of black eyed peas to take it.

I proceed to say the 'F' word repeatedly and as frequently as never before. Maybe I am thinking the 'F' word due to the number of times I have sung "I'm a hustla in the preceding hour". I just bought a $4 Caltrain ticket that I could not use, did not use, can not use but probably will use at some point, just bcuz I'm a hustla. Eventually, I discover that I can take a bus home and I proceed to wait for it. I really want to stand by the highway and stop some unsuspecting car to give me a free ride but I don't. I even pay for someone's bus fare when I see that he doesn't have the actual change. Sometimes hustlers refuse to take chances and just settle for other options, which is fine. The difference may be time. But time and time again, we hustle.

I don't know who your everyday hustla looks like, but appearances can be deceiving. And let's not get into the debate of who is a hustla and who is not. You've got to take some chances and risks, put yourself in a position to achieve something new even though there is the high likelihood of getting disappointed; just remember the good Samaritans of this world. Have a lil fun, why so serious anyway?

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