Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Top 10 questions for Ghanaians - Election 2008

Don’t you think we need to change ourselves for us to move forward or change, etc?

Why do you vote for who you vote for?

Are you happy with the disappearance of the Ghanaian flags on our streets?

When was the last time you consciously bought a made-in-Ghana product over a foreign one?

Which do you think will care more for you? NPP or NDC?

Which government do you think will empower you more? NPP or NDC?

Which government will control the constant migration into Accra which is choking our capital city?

Which government will raise more money in Ghana through taxes for national development?

Which leader is better equipped to get his opponents to listen to him and unite the nation?

Why NPP or NDC? What are they doing right that the other political parties are not doing?

Top 10 questions for the NDC - Election 2008

Many Ghanaians would not vote for the NDC simply because of J J Rawlings. How do you address them and this?

The NDC has been calling for change. What kind of change are you calling for or bringing to Ghana?

Even though Professor Atta Mills is called Asomdwoe hene, a lot of people don’t see the NDC as a peaceful political party. What do you have to say about this?

Is Professor Atta Mills going to move to the Jubilee House if he wins the election or he’ll do what President Kuffour did? Fortify his house, etc

In about how many years do you think we’ll have an Ashanti or Akyem presidential candidate in your party?

Are you going to discontinue some of the contractual agreements the NPP had with some firms because those firms have mostly NPP card-bearing members?

Many Ghanaians abroad were shocked when you pushed the election into a second round with 47% of the vote. Any idea why?

For a long time, I didn’t know what the NDC platform was. Is most of your campaign propaganda?

List some of the achievements of the NPP

Top 10 questions for the NPP - Election 2008

Do you really believe you couldn’t win the first round of the Ghanaian elections because some of your supporters stayed at home?

Is it true some people in the ruling government travel to funerals with 20 Pajeros? Who funds all that petrol? Why do we have to make way for NPP campaign vehicles to navigate through traffic?

Would any of the NPP gurus send their house boy to a syto school? These schools do have free compulsory universal basic education right? Do we want quality education or just an increase in scholl-going children?

When you champion the NHIS as an achievement, do you also tell Ghanaians many times costs over 6 GhC aka 60,000 cedis aka 6 dollars are not covered? What happened to Baah Wiredu and why couldn’t he get medical attention in a Ghanaian hospital?

Why are we talking about closing the Togo border? What about the Burkina Faso and Cote d’Ivoire borders?

How much does one billboard cost? Humour us, how much did you spend on your campaign for the election?

In about how many years will we have an Ewe presidential candidate in your party?

Do you believe there is money in Ghana? How will you get some of that money for national development?

When you say ‘we are moving forward’, who does ‘we’ refer to?

List some of the failures of the NPP government

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

BarCamp Ghana 08 - It's only the beginning

When I first heard about BarCamp from my GhanaThink buddy, I was apprehensive. What is this BarCamp that I have never heard of before? I still don’t know why it’s called BarCamp, even after helping organize BarCamp Ghana. What I do know is is that the concept of a BarCamp is excellent. It has almost everything I want in a gathering of minds, hands and people. BarCamp Ghana 08 came off yesterday, December 22nd at the Kofi Annan Center of Excellence for ICT – AITI. Ever since I arrived in Ghana on Tuesday the 16th, I’ve had many ideas of a blog and subject matters to write about, but the excitement that is BarCamp generated for me trumps all.

My first real experience with BarCamps was BarCamp Africa. It was organized by a group of people, mostly non-African who were passionate about or had some interests in Africa. Google sponsored the BarCamp, giving us a whole building for free – an auditorium, a kitchen/bar with free food all day (yay!) and more than 10 rooms all with internet, power, etc. Attendees were charged $25 which was a bargain fee, considering how much the HBS ABC costs, or even SABF. (Google these). When I first got to the Google premises, the organizers were wearing T-shirts, yes tee-shirts, not suits, smart casual shirts and slacks, but the same attire I slept with the other day. They gave me one and some info, and I proceeded to the auditorium. More people there were wearing these white T’s (you’d have thunk we were going to break to partake in some hip-hop video.

BarCamp Africa had some keynotes, presentations, panels and my favorite – breakout sessions. I am the biggest fan of breakout sessions at the moment. It was the best conference I had been to so far, the jury is not yet out on BarCamp Ghana though. BarCamp is even called an ad-hoc unconference so maybe it’s unfair to compare all the conferences I’ve been to with it. I realise I am talking too much about BarCamp Africa, something I should have done in October after I attended. Let me segue into BarCamp Ghana and share my thoughts, experiences, memories, et al.

To organize the BarCamp, we needed funds aka kawukudi aka dough aka luuchi. We used paypal as a medium for online donations which worked out well but I don’t think we got as much funds as we would have wanted/needed. I want to thank all those who believed in what we were doing and supported us. We drafted some sponsorship letters for a few firms in Ghana, including AITI, who ended up giving us the auditorium for free. A big shout-out to Dorothy Gordon and AITI for the support. Eventually, we got some money from Internet Research, K-Net provided internet for free, WasteCare Ghana gave us some luuchi too, as well as support from Museke, Suuch Solutions and Kasahorow. We couldn’t have done the BarCamp without their support. Most of our budget ended up going into our own sexy BarCamp t-shirts which were mostly funded by GhanaThink. We couldn’t sell them 200 all off, as hard as we tried but they shall find owners. Say amen.

We chose a theme – Fuelling Ghana’s Business and Tech Renaissance. Communicating this theme to others was not entirely difficult but it gave a sense of an ICT conference. Big mistake. The ratio at the BarCamp was abyssmal. The attendance was below my expectations as well, but we found a dynamic manageable group of attendees numbering about 150. We had two panels – social media and mobile technology, three keynotes – Herman Chinery-Hesse, George Ayittey and Estelle Sowah, a Tsooboi! Session where we showed two videos about the awesome African Leadership Academy, an agenda building session for the breakouts and three different timeslots for 12 breakout sessions. We provided water and drinks as well as some small chops at no cost to attendees. Did I say the registration was free too? Ask me how we managed to provide all this satisfectellentness for free. It’s not cocaine money I can assure you. A big round of applause for all our sponsors again, whose logos are adorned spectacularly on our T-shirts.

We had a great mix of Ghanaians abroad and Ghanaians at home. The organizers had the same mix so our tentacles spread almost evenly amongst these two groups. I loved how these two groups were able to dialogue nicely and not point fingers at the other like sometimes happenes. To borrow the words of one of the BarCampers “You guys sit abroad and come and tell us what to do”. “But you guys, we have come here to help you a, this is what you are doing to us”. The synergy and energy amonsgt these people was marvelous. When we had our speed dating (backspace about 7 spots and type networking) sessions, people were so enthused that they didn’t want to end. I envisioned a group of people who will be encouraged by all the work the attendees were doing and it showed. Now, we are praying for more collaborations, more encouragement and even more BarCamping.

The social media panel was great, I think all the panelists were based in Ghana. We touched on selling the Ghanaian brand, broadcasting experiences and getting our stories online. In the wake of all the negative publicity Africa continues to get, social media is our way out. Some people have started it, but this needs to be viral. The mobile technology panel opened our eyes to the mobile solutions that our citizens are drawing up and what is already in place. We are brilliant, people, we are doing great things. Find out and broadcast these to those who don’t know. Be in the know. Let others know. Let’s challenge ourselves to do better. We need a healthy dose of good news to encourage us. If our politics fails us, we must not fail ourselves. We can all make impacts, even outside our communities in our own little ways.

The breakout sessions we had included Data and Common APIs, IT outsourcing, Mobile technologies, Ghanaian NGO’s, Health and technology, Computer Science education, Social Networks in Ghana, Climate Change and Sustainable Development, Globally adaptable software from Africa, Human Computer Interaction, Entrepreneurial collaboration and Ghanaian brands, Python and Women in Technology. We had note-takers for all these sessions and we shall make them available for the public later. We also took a lot of pictures and recorded video that would be public too. Our friend Twitter was not left out of the action, about 50 people follow BarCamp Ghana. The keynotes were excellent too, the speakers generated a fanbase right after. But we gots to keep on moving, since we were trying our very best to stay on schedule, which we very much did. It’s possible people. Ghana Man Time is a myth, you can actually challenge the status quo. Yes, you can. It’s Obamable.

Most attendees told me they loved the BarCamp and that is how I like to judge success. If your attendees are fulfilled, then your work is fulfilling. This same idea should apply to business, NGO projects, welfare projects etc. People didn’t just take BarCamp Ghana T-shirts, but they took away contacts that would prove useful now and forever. One thing many people harped upon was partnerships, we have to band up and achieve together. I established partnerships after BarCamp Africa and wil be working on others after this one. It’s only the beginning. Thanks to all our organizers, sponsors, our volunteers, our attendees and our broadcasters. Tell a friend to tell a friend to tell a friend. It’s only the beginning.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Letta to Osagyefo - Samia Nkrumah the wonder aba!

My alter ago, from GhanaThink, just wrote another letter to Osagyefo. Enjoy!

Greetings Osagyefo,

I hope you are doing well and getting into another gear for the festive season. As for me, I'm following Kaakyire Kwame Appiah's 24 song to the tee, I'll be going to Sikakrom to spend Christmas. Even though there is a credit crunch, I still have some money to purchase a ticket from one continent to the other and buy Christmas gifts. It's called 'saving by being chisel and hustle' . I'll be going to meet a Ghana I haven't seen in awhile, a Ghana that is gearing up for an election. That should be interesting. Ghana's election is going to a second round. The NPP and NDC would be going at it. One person who will not be going against anything is sure to be Samia Nkrumah. She's the new member of parliament for Jomoro.

Osagyefo, your daughter is a wonder o! Many people didn't give her a chance to wrest the parliamentary seat from Hon. Lee Ocran, and besides the NPP did have a candidate in the Jomoro race. Your name does do wonders! Samia's opponents were running against your name, the name that rings synonymous with Ghanaian independence. It could be likened to running a long-distance race against an Ethiopian or Kenyan. Maybe Jomoro voters were enthralled by the beauty of Samia Yaba on that ballot box. Fair-coloured woman with an Nkrumah last-name? Done deal. There was talk of her campaign being funded by the ruling NPP government. That didn't break her down. Her brother and your ‘prodigal son’, Sekou, fired shots at her from the camp of the NDC, but that didn't rattle her. I wish Sekou had run for MP too. Imagine if he run against Ellembelle Mugabe? Samia still trounced Ocran and is now the sole CPP parliamentarian.

Yes Kwame, sole CPP parliamentarian. Freddie Blay, popularly known as Ellembelle Mugabe, lost his seat too. His association with the NPP and the two independent CPP candidates must have 'caused' him. Kojo Armah lost too. Paa Kwesi Nduom stood for the presidency and his replacement could not retain the KEEA seat for the CPP. Nduom got under 2% of Ghanaians' votes. He chew koraa. He couldn't even win the most votes in his own constituency and the fact that the 'cockerel' was marked by his name in Jomoro, didn't help him either. So yes, Samia is the sole bright spot for the CPP in this election. Are you coming back, Osagyefo? Is this whole outcome intentional? Did you decree that Samia would win a seat and the rest of the CPP would get walloped like that? You are selfish, Kwame. That's not what African Showboys do and selfishness is not in the dictionary of a redeemer.

Samia was not even in the country until about 2 years ago. Many Ghanaians didn't know about her. She came and held Nduom's hand, pledging to work the CPP back into national prominence. We hear she speaks English, Arabic and Italian. Notice the absence of Fante, Twi, Ga, Hausa, etc in that sentence. How did she even communicate with her constituents? She claims to have gone to every nook and cranny to spread her message to voters. Did she go with a translator? I will like to see a video of her saying ‘Yeresesamu’ and ‘Edwumawura’. Did the people say, "Hey, this is a 'broni' running for office, we should vote for her". You know our people are in love with the Obroni. Some of us believe in the Obroni to make things happen. A.B. Crentsil did sing ‘Anyen’ and how the white man used his magic to build planes and trains while the black man used his magic to destroy his fellow black man. Why the black man didn’t use his magic to destroy the white man, no one knows. Put two and three and three together, and you have the people of the 233 country code voting for the fairest of them all because they believe she can bring change, progress, and development. Say it ain't so. Kwame, didn’t you say that we should dedicate our efforts to build our country together and that the black man was capable of running his own affairs? Maybe, the people of Jomoro had seen what the black man had done for them over the years. I am just saying.

Don’t you have to have lived in the constituency or born there to run for the parliamentary seat? Samia was born in Aburi, when you and Fathia were getting busy in the Peduase lodge, I suppose? We know your hometown is Nkroful which is in the area of Ellembelle, the mere fact that seemed to keep Freddie Blay in parliament. So what’s up with Jomoro? Samia had not been living in Ghana, she descended or ascended from Italy to come and stake a claim to be part of Ghana’s legislature. She is the very definition of a returnee. She was supposed to be frustrated with the pace of Ghanaians (and Ghana) and face the “mebaayE akyE” treatment. No, not Samia. We didn’t hear her complain, in fact, she didn’t create any news. She went about her business quietly. She had just come to the country, people didn’t say she had to suffer small first before she chopped? We can’t say she had connections, because the people who hand out the connections opposed her. I want to know what Samia did differently. She seems to have enjoyed a very smooth transition back into Ghana for a returnee. If there is ever a “Saga of the Returnee” sequel, it should be about her.

Kwame, Samia gives me hope as a future returnee. She is inspirational and I am sure, she will quickly become a role model for many Ghanaian women. This includes Ghanaian women with poor knowledge and literacy in Ghanaian languages. She has been involved with policy talks and public service before. She was one of the people in Europe leading the Diasporean charge as Africa’s sixth region. Just like you, she is a strong proponent of African unity, in whatever way feasible. She does have the name recognition but she is like many a Ghanaian who wants to return home, just returned home or plans to return home soon. Her story is an interesting one and mostly because she is now the sole CPP MP. Who would have thought?

Some people believe Samia should become the face of the CPP and involved in its leadership. I definitely agree with the latter point. Hey, she could become Ghana’s first female president, following in the footsteps of the Iron Lady of Liberia, Ellen Sirleaf-Johnson. One step at a time. Dubya followed his father, Akufo Addo is following his, Samia can do it. Osagyefo, you can make that decree, can’t you? I don’t mean to jinx anything, I am just thinking out loud like I always do. Your party is looking for answers and prescriptions for its poor electoral performance. Maybe the solution will start with the lone bright spot from December 7. They can latch on Samia and say ‘Yaaba’. Every pun intended.

Kwame, I have to leave . My shopping list is long. Akosua Kwansima wants an i-phone for her reserved Zain number. I have to go and start filling my polythene bag or else I may be repatriated back to ‘aburokyire’ when I get home. I am excited about this trip, and excited to be reunited with my family. With the Sekou-Samia thing going, I pray for a reunion in your own family, Kwame. Blood is thicker than water as family is thicker than politics. We are Ghanaians first. Wait, or are Fantes, Dagombas, Ewes, Gas first? I’ll write about that in another missive later. I don’t want to keep you from your Tuo Zaafi any longer. Did you even cook it yourself? Just thinking about the one served at Asanka local on Sundays is making me hungry. Enjoy your meal, A-chi-ray.

Chop time no friend,
Maximus Ojah.

More letters to the Osagyefo

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The future of the CPP and the change we are looking for

December 7th has come to pass. I was really hoping for the Convention People's Party to make an impact in this election. It was asking much to see Ghanaians give the CPP enough votes to win when they had such a poor showing in Election 2004. Well guess what? The CPP didn't do much better this year. It won just one parliamentary seat and won under 1.5% of the presidential vote. One poll had given the CPP 7% in the run-up to the election. What happened? Let's dissect it and see what the future holds for the CPP. This is only the beginning.

The biggest reason why Ghanaians did not vote for the CPP was that a vote for the CPP was a waste. The ruling New Patriotic Party championed this message as well. Ghanaians want to vote for or support a winner. Ghana is an NPP-NDC nation. You'll have to ask yourselves why we support certain parties. The NDC has its world bank in the Volta region and that hasn't changed with Atta Mills at the helm. The NPP rules the Ashanti region even though people have claimed they still didn't do much to develop those areas during their tenure. If people in the Volta region could still vote massively for the NDC while JJ Rawlings is not on the ballot, it shows that we know what we are doing. Anyway, I think I swayed from my original point. The CPP is a third force and since people believed they couldn't win, they didn't get votes.

Let's say some Ghanaians decided to vote for the CPP anyway, just because they believed in supporting them for a change, as an alternative to the NDC and NPP. News made rounds that the populace did not want a second round run-off. It will be a waste of meagre government resources to hold a run-off election and it would dampen the Christmas mood and festive season. People who may have wanted to vote for the CPP bought this idea and voted for the NPP or NDC. Well, guess what? We are still going to a second round. The national coffers will take another hit. Democracy is expensive. Wasted votes will give way to 'wasted' expenditure. Nana Akufo Addo got 49.5% or so, beating out Atta Mills by about 1%. Funnily enough, we don't have a clear winner. Is it that difficult for we as a people to figure if we should keep on moving forward with the present government or call for a change?

Back to the world bank issue, it was expected that people in the Central region would rally behind their two sons, Atta Mills and Paa Kwesi Nduom. Reports say that the Fantes wanted the older or more popular candidate to win, because a re-run would be expensive and stressful. I must say that the Fantes didn't vote massively for Mills and Nduom, Nana Addo did quite well there. What do the Fantes know that the Asantes or Ewes don't? Nduom lost pretty bad in his own constituency - KEEA. People in Elmina are not very different from those in Cape Coast.

Other reasons for the CPP's poor performance were the internal wranglings and crisis. The NDC saw a breakaway party in the form of the DFP (remember Obed Asamoah?) after its congress. If only Kwesi Bothcwey had run on the DFP's ticket. Alan Cash resigned from the NPP citing "maltreatment of him and his supporters after he lost out to Akufo Addo" and later re-joined the party and we also saw the formation of the RPD after the NPP's congress. The CPP didn't see any breakaways, but we hardly heard anything of Kwesi Pratt, Edmund Delle, Agyeman Badu Akosa, George Aggudey and Bright Akwetey after the CPP congress. Most of the work done to get those 2000 delegates was undone. Later, one of the CPP stalwarts claimed Nduom was looking for a position in the next NPP or NDC government. There was also the Freddie Blay incident. Ghanaians believed the CPP's house was not in order and were not ready to govern the country. The bad press worked.

Someone raised the point of the CPP being outspent heavily. I was concerned with how the NPP and NDC hogged the media spotlight. The Nduom Youtube videos had fewer hits, the Nduom/CPP Facebook groups had fewer members and the Nduom/CPP change clarion call had fewer Google searches. That's a measure of money, fans, sympathizers and 'support'. The CPP has no leaning newspapers or public agents who'll give them a break with billboards, etc. I thought the September 21st rally had allowed the CPP to break the psychological barrier of how popular it was but it turns out it couldn't hold a candle to the NPP. The T-shirts proved not to be enough. The CPP needs to get more funds and stay in the media limelight to produce better results in the future. The grassroots campaign helped but did not deliver.

To borrow the words of Edwumawura, the people of Ghana have spoken loud and clear. We are not ready for this particular change. I was trying to make the Nduom-Obama reference once and a friend of a friend from Senegal mentioned that Obama was in an established party that enjoyed half of the country's support as opposed to Nduom who was in a party (of past glories) with little support. Ghanaians don't want this kind of change. The NPP-NDC thing is what we are used to. We are not ready to invite another major player. Maybe Kofi Annan should have run for president in a non-NPP/NDC party and we'll have seen if we were ready. From the very first day, Paa Kwesi resigned and stood for the CPP candidacy, some people claimed he should have 'stayed' with the NPP and run for the NPP slot. Sorry guys, he has a different ideology and he's always been a CPP member. Some others claim Ghanaians are not matured enough to vote for a third-party person even if he was the best candidate. Key word here is matured. We are celebrating the discerning Ghanaian voter for voting 'skirt and blouse' but we have a lot of work to do.

Paa Kwesi Nduom has already laid out a plan for 2012. There is talk of a shadow adminstration to help push the CPP's agenda, policies, etc. What happened to the 400,000 registered members? Was the number exaggerated? We don't know. Maybe. The CPP couldn't get half of those votes in the end. These 400K must become foot-soldiers to spread the CPP message and try to dissuade Ghanaians off reasons why they can't vote for the CPP. The question here is, which one is more influential? Your friend/colleague or some politician giving you some chop money and T-shirts? This reminds me of Sidney (Barima's) song "Wo kunu ko tebea" where he said, "Ɔyɔnko pa ne deɛ wonya asɛm a, sika a wopɛ biara, ɔdebɛbrɛ wo. Ɛnso ɔnya kwan mmɛ hwɛ wo. Anaa yɔnko pa ne nea daa wonya asɛm a, da biara, ɔte wo nkyɛn daa. Nanso sika a, ɛde sika deɛ, ebia na woanya bi amma wo". Would you take your loved one's word over the person giving you money?

The lone parliamentary seat won is worrying too. I guess the Nkrumah name was unstoppable in Jomoro. Who knows? Maybe Samia Nkrumah would have made a better showing running for president than Paa Kwesi. Ellembelle Mugabe lost out, which saddens me, because it would have been nice to win and stay in parliament as a CPP rep. But with his recent antics, we don't know if he's still with the CPP. Time will tell. The CPP didn't exactly field great candidates in my opinion. When the NPP run in 2000, most of their bigwigs run for MP. They won and they became ministers afterwards. The recognisable members in the CPP should have run for MP. Or were they not interested? The shadow administration should have people willing to run for legislative seats in 2012.

The CPP message is good and has the potential to work four years from now. Unless of course, whichever new government comes and implements that message. The quest now is to build upon the energy that was put into this campaign and develop foot soldiers. Foot soldiers who will spread the message and participate in discussions about how to make our country better and convince as many Ghanaians that we have the best ideas and men to do the job. We must continue the positive campaigning and make it a campaign of issues. Maybe eventually, Ghanaians would read into that as what's important and the tit-for-tats would stop. Also, I pray that the PNC, CPP and GCPP unite for a strong Nkrumahist front sooner than later. I have been trying my best not to mention Kwame Nkrumah in this article. His ideology, ideas and will for Ghana and Africa live on though in the CPP of today.

I am sounding like a politician here, I am not even a card-bearing CPP member. The CPP does have the best leader in Paa Kwesi Nduom and I'd like to see them lead our country in the near future. Four years is a long time from now, and I am hoping the same kind of 'change' I envisioned in a CPP-led Ghana would manifest itself in the next four years. A better country may make it more difficult for the CPP to come to power but isn't that what we all want? Ghana first all day. The CPP is more primed, and it's in its psyche to put Ghana first, that's why I support 'Yeresesamu'.

Concerning the upcoming run-off election, I am not a big fan of either the NPP or NDC. I clamored for change in the name of the CPP, but not the way the NDC wants to do it, has said they want to do it or haven't said how they want to do it. Someone wrote an article on myjoyonline about the NDC being negative change, the NPP being the do-nothing neutral change and the CPP being the active positive change. I do know that Ghana needs change. We have needed change for as long as I can remember. A change of government and leadership will be nice but the onus always falls on the shoulders of Ghanaians. So before you choose who to vote in this run-off, ask yourself what you need to change in what you do, and the changes we have to make in our attitudes, and the policy changes we need in Ghana.

PS: I think B.K. Oduro and the Noko fio party should have run. They are already owning the number of rejected ballots which will place them third. It would have been nice to see them run. They do have a great slogan - "Changing things, To move forward so that we can all chop small, small". Nice.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A few good videos about Africa

More to come. Just a few Youtube videos I saved that I wanted to share. Anyone else interested in joining a project which highlights great achievement from young people, invention, entrepreneurship, social work in Ghana? Get in touch.

The first one is a video about the popular "Africa Open for Business - Ghana" documentary.

Another video is called "Think Big" - Think BIG showcases Ghanaians with big aspirations and big plans.

The third video is not from Ghana, it's from Malawi. It's about the awesome William Kamkwamba. He's now a student at the equally awesome African Leadership Academy in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Here are a few websites to check out for similar features.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Vote Nduom and the CPP for a better Ghana

The D-Day is Sunday and Ghanaians would be going to polls. We will be electing the 3rd president in this 4th Republic after Jerry John Rawlings and John Agyekum Kufuor. I have seen both rule Ghana and they have done their parts in stabilizing and developing our beloved country. I believe Paa Kwesi Nduom should be the next president of Ghana. He is the agent of real active positive change. He is the best candidate and we deserve the best leader. Now, not in 4 years' time. He is ready. I am going to try and discuss why he should be voted for and why is the man for the job. This development is not four or eight years early. We have to change the way we do things now so that we can continue on this forward march to economic prosperity, citizenry satisfaction and national happiness.

I supported the NPP during the 2000 election. I saw John Atta Mills as more of the same of JJ Rawlings and was alos worried that he would be heavily influenced by Rawlings as well. I was in secondary school and John Agyekum Kuffour was the main alternative. I can't remember much about the NPP's campaign, I can't even tell if that was the year they used the 'Asee ho' slogan. Ghanaians were tired of the NDC and they changed the government. I called it a 'second independence'. We were free from the rungs of the brutal NDC government and the years of under-development. I was excited for Ghana.

About 2 or 3 years into the NPP's rule, I stopped supporting the NPP. I was unhappy with how the NPP was dealing with corruption and how President Kuffuor was mismanaging the nation's funds. He was traveling at every opportunity instead of handling business at home. I felt he was selling Ghana's name alright, but Ghanaians were suffering. I wasn't happy with the rate of development even though we had received so much goodwill in the aftermath of the Rawlings government. The 2004 election came around, and I compared the records of the NPP and NDC. The NPP had done better in my view, their tenure had seen a good amount of infrastructural development and the Cedi had stabilized. They won the 2004 election one-touch, in the first-round. I hoped for a better four years.

Four years have come. The Cedi has been stable, inflation has come down, the Tetteh-Quarshie interchange has been built and there are buildings springing up all over. There are many other successes that the NPP has chalked. However, like the last 8 years have gone, Ghanaians have continued to suffer and it's not getting any better. There is a backlog of salaries in most professions. Cost of living is high and the standard of living for the vast majority of people is still low. Ghana is not very safe and the drug trade has become a national nuisance. The government is not doing much to discourage it. How else could MP Amoateng peddle drugs?

The NPP has introduced the National Health Insurance Scheme. Listen to people in Ghana, listen to the radio. Many people are not getting the health benefits they have been promised. If you go to the hospital and you are not supposed to pay but they are asking you for money, what will you do? The National Youth Employment Programme was more of an exercise. Hundreds of thousands of people wrote their names down but they still don't have the jobs. They feel deceived. The Presidential Special Initiatives that were supposed to provide jobs failed. The educational reform is the worst we've seen in a while. Parents can't afford the attendant costs of education and you see it right to increase school by a year?

We can't go one like this or with this. We need a change in government and in the way we do things. Above all, we need a leader. We need a leader who will travel to the source of conflict when it is happening. We need a leader who will believe in the ability of the Ghanaian to spend Ghana's taxes on him/her. We need a leader who would be a doer, an active person in the community. We need a leader who has a track record of getting things done. We need a leader who will run Ghana with a business-like attitude. He wants to fight corruption by strengthening the institutions. He attacks problems from the root.

The leader we need is here. He is called Paa Kwesi Nduom. I like Nduom because he is a doer. When he had to build businesses, he built them all over Ghana. That is what I call believing in Ghana. He built his business in Accra, Elmina, Obuasi and Tamale. We talk about neglecting the North, this one who has not. He knows the conditions of our people everywhere. I want a leader who cares for the masses and just doesn't show it when there is an election. PKN built a grassroots campaign to win the CPP candidacy and he has seen Ghana in and out. I also support Nduom because of his background. The man is a business consultant. We need a sense of urgency in the way we do things. Nduom's experience and expertise will drive our development in a way the other candidates cannot. The man has created jobs, that's what he does for a living so we can trust him to create jobs as a president.

I support Nduom because of his message. The very first time I heard him, I knew he was the one I would throw my weight behind. Why? He wants to empower Ghanaians, and put Ghanaians at the center of opportunity. This land is our land. Kuffour's NPP has brought a lot of investment but ask yourself, who is benefiting? We need to empower our people with the opportunities, resources and tools. Arguably, the most important things Ghana needs now are "jobs". You can check the unemployment rate. How many Ghanaians have jobs that they are trained for? How many Ghanaians have jobs that pay them enough? How many people have jobs that enjoy doing? Edwumawura means 'creator/owner of jobs'. Nduom is going to lead the charge in creating jobs by establishing factories or enabling their creation. We need a concerted effort to do so and Nduom is ready to do it.

Jobs have been created in Ghana alright, but they have mostly been in the service industry. We need to produce 'stuff'. We need to eat what we grow and grow we eat. We won't move forward at an acceptable pace unless we revitalize and enable a production industry. Ghanaians are talented, we have ideas, we have entrepreneurial skills, but we still import too many things. Nduom and the CPP wants to empower Ghanaians to create value in what we mine, grow and plant.

People talk about the CPP being a small party. We don't need a big party. The NPP has a lot of people but that didn't make them much. The CPP has men too, but that is not the point, we need the best people to lead and govern Ghana. That's why Nduom is pushing for the election of district executives and an all-inclusive government. Nduom will appoint the most capable people regardless of political affiliation. We need the CPP to unify the country and put paid to the NPP-NDC wranglings. The CPP may not have a majority in parliament and so the legislature would not pass a lot of his policies if he wins the presidency. If Nduom is pushing for policies in Ghana's best interests, and parliament opposes him because he's not in their party, then parliament would see some 'Wahala' demonstrations by the people of Ghana.

The CPP wants to create jobs and a climate which would allow Ghanaians to have change in their pockets when the bills are paid. Nduom is the best candidate for Ghana. We must not vote for the candidate who is popular or the one who has been around for the longest time, we must vote for the best. We have to change the way we do things and the agent of that active change is Paa Kwesi Nduom. It's no coincidence he won the debate. He knows what he wants to do and how he will do it. Vote for a doer. Vote for a leader. Vote for a sense of urgency. Vote for the best engine. Vote Edwumawura.


Letta to Osagyefo - Elections 2008 draws to a close

My alter ego, Maximus Ojah (Nwia) of GhanaThink fame, wrote a letter to his buddy Osagyefo concerning the Ghana elections. Here is the letter below.

Dear Osagyefo,

Forgive my insubordinate self for not keeping in touch. I know my letters have become occasional but it's not because you didn't send me that stimulus package. I will change. But as you can guess, there is an occasion. Coming up in two days is the election in Ghana. Ghana will be electing a new president as Traveller John steps down after two-terms. We know for sure there will be a change in who our first citizen is. Would there be a change in what our first citizen does? The world is looking at Ghana wondering if we'll pass another test in our democracy. We'll be praying for peace and a free and fair election.

Kwame, people are saying Ghanaians are too 'chill' for post-election violence in case some group of people feel there is a stolen verdict. Kenya and Zimbabwe cannot happen in Ghana they say. Some credit you for pushing unity amongst Ghanaians, overseeing the development of our education system which encouraged Ghanaians to leave their hometowns and settle in areas where their mother tongue was not spoken and children attending boarding schools all over the country. Kenya has done similar things so what is so different about Ghanaians? It's because we have seen what happened there and various campaigns have been waged to curtail any violence. I think the presidential candidates should have joined Junior Judas and Traveller John in a short video to preach peace as well. We haven't taken this thing too seriously.

Did you hear the Defence Minister saying he'll send his kids outside if there was violence? He's obviously prepared to defend the security and safety of Ghanaians but can't do a good enough job protecting his own children. Reports say the NDC's General Mosquito has already flown his university children out to Canada. Apparently, they have already taken their exams. Osagyefo, you know General Mosquito right? He's in the thick of almost every demonstration against the present government. He looks like a guy who would actually start trouble with that mouth that worries him. What about those of us who spend countless days at the American embassy seeking visas? What are we doing wrong? We have to get adopted by the Defence minister?

Ghanaians are calling for a free and fair election. Rumour has it that if anyone tried to walk to a polling station to whisk a ballot box away, he/she'll be shot by the police. That's a scarier thought than the machoman demanding a ballot box. Osagyefo, are we unable to have free and fair elections? No matter who wins, we'll all be Ghanaians. Since when did politics become our daily bread? Politics doesn't put food on the table but in Ghana, it is increasingly becoming the case. Networking would get you a few friends but politicking would get you contracts. It is becoming a necessary evil. This must change.

Kwame, we had two presidential debates this year. Correct me if I am wrong, but we had the first vice-presidential debate too. Did you also have a Northerner as your running-mate? The PNC, which is led by a Northerner, continued to blaze the trail by choosing a female running mate. Apparently Petra Amegashie is either not as dumb, or charismatic, or beautiful, so she hasn't warranted any crazy media attention. The other three parties with represenation in parliament have Northern running mates. Our political parties have been pleasing the North with every electoral ticket but we are yet to see any serious development in that area. Are we Ghanaians so gullible? If you think post-election violence is foreign to Ghana, look at Gushiegu. Osagyefo, google it. People have already lost their lives in this election year. We have to fix and pay more attention to the North.

The NDC elected their candidate first. John Atta Mills won handily. They believed that if they put Asomdwoe hene's face on the ballot, Ghanaians would wonder, "This guy keeps on showing up here. This time, I should vote for him'. They believe he'll be third time lucky as he also has the third position. They started with a message of Sankofa, going back for the NDC. Now they are using the Change platform, having stole the Yeresesamu slogan from their CPP siblings. The three Johns (Rawlings, Atta Mills, Mahama) have been unleashed on the electorate. Atta Mills says he is a better man for a better Ghana. They have even started using Mills-Obama posters talking about better leadership. Obama nie, Atta Mills nie. They say the US elephant is gone to the bush, the Ghana elephant is going. Obama is running for vice president in Ghana, Kwame. Apparently, he's scared of the US job and its attendant responsibility.

Your party, the CPP elected their candidate next. Paa Kwesi Nduom, who had resigned from the NPP government, won. People said he was an NPP man infiltrating your political tradition to destroy the party. People still call him a crook. Nduom has brought entertainment to the political scene and some people call him a joker. He even sang at one of the debates and drew laughter a couple other times. He's crowned himself Edwumawura and has championed the 'Yeresesamu' phrase from day one. He has called himself Ghana's Obama and he is calling for 'change you can feel in your pockets'. The CPP is not the same party it was in your time, Osagyefo, some of its 'members' are in the NDC, the PNC and some are doing political prostitution with the NPP. While your son Sekou is chilling with the NDC, your daughter Samia is running for the Jomoro parliamentary seat. They are in the sixth position on the ballot.

The PNC came next, choosing Edward Mahama. They must have thought the same way the NDC did when they chose Mills. Mahama would be running for a fourth time. Their message has remained the same since 1996. "Eye kube". "Too-sure, too-direct". They think it's coincidental they are on the ballot's second position because they are two-sure, two-direct. What does that mean anyway? He's bringing real change, real hope, real choice. What does Mahama even do when there is no election? Stay at his hospital? We know for sure he travels to Nigeria because he mentioned it in the debates. He does know his profession well enough to say this about pregnant girls sacked from school- "The Child Is In The Womb Not The Brain". Do you know Hilla Limann's family apparently endorsed Nduom instead of Edward Mahama? The PNC and CPP should have united.

The NPP had their primaries last and chose Nana Akufo Addo. He didn't get the needed votes to win but his main challenger, Alan Cash, conceded defeat thus preventing a second round. Some people called it party unity. Later on, Alan Cash (who was supposedly backed by Traveller John) resigned from the party and was persuaded to join again. Akufo Addo's message has been 'I believe in Ghana'. He believes in living Ghanaians because nothing has been done about those 44 who died in Gambia. Or Osagyefo, has something been done? Akufo Addo has been at the frontline of politics for 30 years, we know him long time. The NPP says we are moving forward so we should keep the same government. To them, changing things would be a mistake at this time. They are going high like the kangaroo.

We also have the independent Kwesi Amoafo Yeboah, the RPD's Kwabena Adjei, the DFP's Emmanuel Ansah Antwi and the good old Thomas Ward-Brew of the DPP. Obed Asamoah's DFP couldn't get Kwesi Botchwey to stand? Sad. Some of their leaders have cross-carpeted to the NPP. Kwabena Adjei doesn't have friends in the press. We hardly heard anything about them. Ward-Brew decided to break free of NDC and is standing on his own. Kwesi is like the first independent candidate ever and he said he had a way to get one million supporters in 3 months. I guess he's content with that number but he's also said he'll accept one vote in the election. Statements that make you go hmmm. Osagyefo, we have 8 presidential candidates. Eight! In 2008. Appropriate. Dan Lartey was late. He couldn't get the money to participate. He threatened to the EC to a court date. Dan is a character, mate. He has good ideas but he is six years short of eighty-eight. We will miss Mr. Domesticate.

Osagyefo, so there, you have the athletes in the eight lanes. They want the mandate to be the first citizen of Ghana. I have always said we have had presidents in Ghana and not leaders. I pray that Ghana elects a leader this time or whoever we elects acts as one. We want a leader for all of Ghana, and not of one political party. A leader all Ghanaians would believe in and rally around. A lot of us have lost faith in the political process, calling all politicians the same. Some have been disenfranchised because they couldn't register in the window of time the EC stipulated and others can't be bothered. Osagyefo, we need leaders we can support and trust. Competent ones. Leaders who can get things done and satisfy our interests. I can claim that you were one before you went crazy. We still remember your good deeds but while you sought a unified state, you alienated your opponents. We want unity beyond ideology, tribe, location, religion, assets and salary. Let's pray for a peaceful election and may our conscience guide us as we vote.

Forward ever,

Check out more Lettas to Osagyefo by clicking here

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

My Zouk Club Experience

Last weekend, I went to a Zouk club for the first time. It was a Haitian event. Africans are not very different from Haitians if you've come across many of the latter. The whole experience was quite interesting. I needed all but 3 minutes of entering the club to decide that I would be blogging about it. The story is as follows, we'll pick it up from the first hint of attending the club.

After we saw the movie, I was in the mood for some more enjoyment. She suggested the Zouk Club down the road. I had never been to a Zouk club before and the prospect of going to a club that would play some African music was too good to turn down. I had attended one the weekend before in New York, but this was Boston. She said she had to sleep early so she couldn't join me.

I proceeded to make some phone calls to figure out which friend of mine will join me to go to this Zouk club. I thought of this girl who loved Kizomba and I had tried to reach all weekend. Perfect opportunity to meet. I couldn't reach her on the phone. My buddy whose place I had been crashing at was not interested. Another buddy who I had promised to hit up when I came to Boston seemed like the last option. I reached him on the phone but apparently, the call had gotten to him too late. No problemo. I decided to descend on Pearl alone. To prepare, I started listening to my Zouk playlist on my iPod while singing along.

This Zouk club was in a nice location in downtown Boston. I hadn't forgotten the incident in New York the weekend before. I had a nicer jacket on, and besides I heard this was a Haitian event, countless black people like me would be representing. I asked the security man if the club was jumping, I needed more encouragement to cough up the 10 or so dollars. His response was encouraging so I moved on into the building and proceeded down the stairs to Pearl. When I got there, I realised a sign saying: "$10 before midnight, $15 after midnight". Instinctively, I checked the time and it was 12:25am. I pleaded with the ticket seller to let me pay $10. "I am from out of town and I just heard about this place today from a friend. I love Zouk music very much. I like the song playing right now, it's Karolina by Awilo Longomba. I will tell all my friends in Boston about this and you will end up making even more money." The guy agreed to let me pay $10.

I finally entered the club and saw that it was poorly attended. I walked to the bar and asked this Cape Verdean looking bar man to keep my bag for me. Yes, I had a bag, with a laptop in it. It was heavy. The bar man took the bag with no questions asked. I sat down on one of the couches because I wasn't familiar with the song that was playing. I spotted a lady (well, I saw a lot of ladies but I spotted this one) sitting at the other end of the couch. I laid my coat down and walked to the edge of the dancefloor swaying side to side.

I looked around hoping I will see at least one person I knew. I couldn't recognise a single person. I know a good number of people and Boston isn't exactly home to a lot of Black people so why was this the case, I didn't know. I had been in the club for 15 minutes and I hadn't danced or said a word to a single soul. I began smiling and laughing. I can't explain why. I picked an unsuspecting male, walked up to him and tried to network. Turns out, he's one of the promoters of the event, it was a weekly Haitian party/event where they rented out the club. There was a similar event somewhere else in Beantown and coupled with the rain, the attendance was low. We talked for awhile till his friend came by.

After our conversation, I decided to go and talk to this lady I had spotted. I summoned all my confidence and took a seat near her. I greeted her, asked her her name, where she was from, what kind of music she liked, etc. "I'm from Boston". Okay, so she's not African or Carribean. Brain lock. What else can I ask her now? Trouble. I managed to continue the conversation for awhile till she said she wanted to go take a walk. Minutes later, she was dancing with some dude and having a jolly good time and I was wondering why I was still sitting there.

After she danced with this dude, she came back and sat right next to me. Hmmm. No, she hadn't left her purse with me or anything. We talked a little longer and she asked to go take another walk. Again? Is this to the restroom too? Is this some fashion event? You can guess what happened. Next time I saw her, some guy was asking her to dance and she obliged. Was I just talking too much? Should I have offered her a drink earlier? Asked for a dance earlier? Because I was probably going to do the latter at some point.

This is when I requested the time from one of the security guys. 1:20am. Still hadn't danced, all the music played so far was some unfamilar Zouk and Kompa. A black lady walked up to this white man in front of me and asked for a dance. Ewo! Where I go bed last night? The white man was hesitant which had me thinking, "Ah, if this guy doesn't want, lemme go and ask this lady eh?" Before I could collect myself, the white man was headed for the dance floor with the lady. I had spotted a couple of ladies chatting. I had chosen one but I wanted a wing-man. Was it because I was wearing an African shirt? How did I get bypassed like that? The white man was even busy talking to someone.

I spotted a couple of ladies chatting. I chose one to ask for a dance but I wanted a wing-man to entertain her friend. Eventually, someone started talking to the lady I hadn't chosen so I swooped at the opportunity. The lady said 'no', saying the club was about to close. "I am from out of town and I haven't danced all night and it is my first time here". She agreed and my heart sank right back toward my stomach. We danced for a while mostly to Zouk music. Dancing to Zouk music is quite routine, it's not very difficult, it's just not what you use at hip hop, r&b and reggae clubs.

After we parted, I looked around for the Black American lady (Biology teacher) but couldn't find her. She must have left early. I spotted a guy who I was convinced was African, probably Nigerian. Turned out he was Haitian and was based in New York. He asked me to join his friend to go dance with some two girls. I was like 'cool'. His friend: 'not cool', obviously worrying about the prospect of rejection. We were rejected anyway and that closed the curtain on any more dancing. This is a Zouk club, you can't really grab a couple of people and do the 'Willie Bounce'. They started playing some hip hop, dancehall and R&B tracks at the tail end, prominent amongst them was Beyonce's Single Ladies.

When the club closed down, I walked up to the deejay to tell him about I met one more of the promoters who was Angolan. Yay! Another African. I collected my bag, left the club and waited for a taxi. I realised the white man and the black lady were walking with the latter's friends to a car. I thought hey, this white man has 'gathered'. It could have been me. Later, I saw the white man walking away from the lady and her friends and I burst out laughing. Playa hating yes. "YEn nyinaa yaboro pEpEEpE". Oboy will go home alone.

I finally secured a taxi and went home. I wasn't disappointed with the experience entirely. I could have had more fun if I had gone with a couple of friends or if the place had been more populated. Boston has a large number of Haitians but I was still disappointed I didn't see anyone I knew there. I suppose I learnt a few lessons on timing, etc. I knew I just wanted to write about this and share my experience with y'all. Now that I am done writing about it, I don't know if this was a good idea. But if you were me, would you delete all this text? No. So here goes. Post published.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Obama fever in Africa

A friend shared one video and I felt I should share with you all. See how people celebrated Obama's victory in some African cities. We were all very happy, but some people were happier than others

This video was made by

A poem called One

I've been wanting to write a poem recently. I have a lot to say but I can't seem to bring myself to write it and write it well. After my 'A call to make a difference' poem, I have written about 3 poems, 1 of which I can't even find. 'A call to make a difference' was so good that every time I write a new poem, if I can't outdo it, I give it up and stop writing. This thanksgiving trip I took was my make or break time for writing a new poem so I tried. I tried so hard. I came up with something.

While on the train to Rhode Island from Massachusetts, I was thinking. I was thinking about how I am just one person. You know how we sometimes wish we have more hours in a day? Imagine if we were 'two or three' people. 'We' could do more in a day for 'ourselves' and have a few more hands to do plenty things. I was thinking about how I was just one person, with just one vote, one voice, and one vociferous message. Because you are not me, you don't even have to listen to me. So I wrote a poem called 'One', freestyling and this is what I came up with.

I am just one person
I understand that I am just one
I have one vote, one voice, one vociferous message
But Barack Obama is also one person
With him, we are we
Without him, I am just one
I see the future
I see the symptoms, the signals, the steps
But I am just one
I am one, you are one, but who is the one?
Who is the one who's won?
Who is the one we all rally around to be one?
I wonder if I am the one because I won there
Or are you the one because you are the one here?
Are you the one because you are wonderful
Or am I the one because
I am one, the fool
Who thinks he is wonderful
Do you have to be told you are the one
Or do you just have to know you are the one?
You are the one? Wonderful
You fool, full of yourself
You are still just one person
With one image, one message, one messenger
You thumb me up today
But will you thumb me in tomorrow?
You face me today
But will you deface me tomorrow?
You listen to me today
But what will you listen about me tomorrow?
I am just one
I can't be there also tomorrow
Because I can only be at one place at one time
That is what being one does for me
But something one can do for me
One can stand in my stead
But which one would understand being that one
Instead of being what that one is
And having to stand in for this one
Because one and two are interchangeable
Doesn't mean one and two are one
I am just one person
That one is just one person
But we are not the same one
And one doubts we can be one
Because persona is for one
And personality belongs to one
One who just happens to be one
Person who has one of everything
That makes that one different from this one
And warns that I am one
So I may not be the one
To have won another one over
In the quest to be one
I may not be the one to get all for one
Because above all
I am, just, one, person

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