Showing posts from July, 2009

This time of the week

The most recent poem I wrote. It's titled 'This time of the week' but am not talking about this time of the week, am talking about THIS time of the week.
Enjoy :-)

(PS: I must be missing someone :-D)

This time of the week does not mourn Monday
This time of the week teases the use of Tuesday
This time of the week takes the words out of Wednesday
This time of the week forgets there’s a Thursday
This time of the week can fry the joy of Friday
This time of the week satisfies Saturday
This time of the week sunbaths Sunday
It is a moment etched in time that the days envy

This time of the week defaces the wall
This time of the week alarms the walls
This time of the week colors the calendar
This time of the week marks the calendars
This time of the week starts the arriving
This time of the week completes the waiting
This time of the week queries the questioning
This time of the week does the answering

This time of the week can sing the chorus
The chorus which refrained from singing the song
The choru…

BarCamp Diaspora '09 interviews

BarCamp Diaspora '09 (Investing our talent where it counts) took place on July 25 at Johns Hopkins' School of Advanced International Studies. The event was a success and drew about 80 participants and had many more following proceedings through Twitter, Ustream and Facebook.

Shara Karasic, who was one of the attendees, interviewed Ashifi Gogo (the keynote speaker), Henry Barnor (one of the organizers) and Freda Obeng-Ampofo (one of the attendees).

Ashifi Gogo is CEO at, PhD Innovation Fellow at Dartmouth College and Co-founder at, and a 2009 World Economic Forum Technology Pioneer. Here he talks about BarCamp Diaspora, mPedigree, and the future of scientific research in Ghana.

Henry Barnor sums up BarCamp Diaspora, a conference at Johns Hopkins SAIS in Washington, DC on July 25, 2009. BarCamp Diaspora's purpose was to gather together the African diaspora for conversation about how to apply their talent towa…

Celebrating the emergence of Ghanaian movies and working towards more excellence

Last September, I wrote an article on the story of the Ghanaian movie industry which talked about its recent history as well. Since then, there have been many Ghanaian movies that have come out, some of which I've seen and the industry continues to grow. I've been in a number of good discussions about Ghanaian movies, the latest of which transpired at BarCamp Diaspora. The conversations haven't changed much but the ideas for improvements have been refined and I will be touching on a few in this entry.

Ghanaian movies are starting to gun for awards. Revele Productions' 'Run Baby Run' has been the most successful movie to date while Agony of the Christ picked up a bunch of nominations at the Africa Movie Academy Awards (AMAAs). The AMAA's is organized in Nollywood but judging from the recent nominees and winners, they are committed to awarding movies from all over Africa as Nollywood movies haven't been dominating. So aside Ghanaian movies enjoying massi…

I'm on TV! MIghTy African Music Video Program - Featuring VIP's 'Manenko'

I have always imagined myself being on some television show talking about Africa, or African music, African development, engineering, etc. After the recent interview with Tracy Pell about BarCamp Diaspora, it seemed I was making headway. On Monday night, KMTP TV (a non-profit public TV station in Palo Alto) aired the first feature of the MIghTy African Music Video Program (MAMVP) thanks to Melanie Reynard, a producer there. The MAMVP will feature me talking about various African music videos, the artistes behind them, discussing the song and music, etc. All these videos are by Phamous People. The first video in the series is Manenko by VIP. You can see the video below

The opening music was by Jonathan Ford and the video was edited by Melanie Reynard. I love this video so much that I have been watching it over and over again. I like how she combined the conversation we had with the video. I loved this interview, it took a while to shoot it, and …

Top 10 African female singers & vocalists

This blog entry is upon request to list the Top 10 African female vocalists. I am going to consider those who've been singing in the last 2 to 3 years, thus eliminating legends like Yvonne Chaka Chaka, Nayanka Bell, Miriam Makeba, etc. In determining this order, I took into consideration, pure singing, artiste popularity, song popularity, demand for shows/concerts, award recognition, amongst others. It's very subjective. I also took out the groups with more than one member. This is not scientific and this list is adjudged by a committee of one. Let's get into the countdown.

10. Amani (Kenya) - Amani is one of the biggest female stars in Africa and was nominated for a few Channel O awards. She's a little bit more pop than rhythm and blues but I love her work on 'Tonight' and 'Missing my baby'. You can see her singing prowess when she collaborates with others, on songs like Ninanoki, Usiwe mbali, etc

9. Siphokazi (South Africa) - Siphokazi is not the most p…

My favorite 10 African gospel songs

Aside the praise and worship that comes from gospel music, this genre uplifts spirits and encourages people to do better. I have not been a regular to church and having music like this keeps me renewed and thoughtful of what is expected of me as a Christian. It helps make sure I don't do the religious thing on Sunday only. When I say I am too blessed to be stressed, these are the kind of songs that provide the soundtrack. Which other genre should come first as I switch from regions to genres in my ongoing lists of African music? In this African gospel song list, I will leave out Ghanaian songs, will list my favorite gospel songs from Ghana later.

Before that, you have to check out my 10 favorite songs from Kenya, 10 favorite songs from South Africa, my 10 favorite Nigerian songs and 10 African songs I think you should know about. Hope you discover your next favorite morning song or find a new jam for your church's next "Kofi and Ama" collection. Click the songs to fi…

BarCamp Diaspora '09 - More work to follow, it's time to move

After the success of BarCamp Ghana '08, I dreamt of a similar event in the US. It took a while to bring the planning and organization together and last weekend, the dream came true in the form of BarCamp Diaspora '09. The event, themed 'Investing our talent where it counts', took place at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins' University in Washington, DC on July 25. BarCamp Diaspora was a free event that brought together people interested in using their skills, talent, and resources to benefit Africa. The event went on smoothly and judging from the feedback of the attendees, I can call it a success as well.

BarCamp Diaspora was a free event which had about 100 registered attendees and about 70 people showed up to the event. It was 'tweeted' through Twitter, you can search #bcdiaspora for related tweets. The event was also streamed live online through ustream which had viewers in Ghana, Burkina Faso, the UK and the US, amongst others…

Ashifi Gogo - investing his talent where it counts through technology

I've known Ashifi Gogo for a long time. He was two years my senior in middle school (KNUST JSS) and was one of the top students. I followed him to Presec and there too, he was making a name for himself. Every junior student needed a guide for academics or school father to protect from bullies, Gogo was one of those to me. (not the bully, silly!) After Presec, he went to Whitman where he balanced an excellent academic record with working on the online home for Odadees (old Presecans) - His work on this site ignited my passion to help my old school and reverse the pronouncement I made at the end of my three years there 'never to help Presec in any way'. Recently, Gogo has been busier with his start-up Sproxil (& Mpedigree), which is a service that fights counterfeit drugs. For his work, he is winning awards and going into high places. This weekend, he'll be a featured speaker at BarCamp Diaspora. I am truly honoured to present Ashifi Gogo as one of the yo…

Top 10 Hiplife artistes today

This blog entry is upon request to list the Top 10 Hiplife artistes currently eliminating those who haven't done anything in a year and half. In determining this order, I took into consideration, artiste popularity, song popularity, demand for shows/concerts, award recognition, number of features with other artistes, amongst others. I also took out the groups with more than one member, and artistes who are more Afro pop or hip-hop. This is not scientific and this list is adjudged by a committee of one. Let's get into the countdown.

10. Barima (Sidney) - This former Nananom member has been in the hiplife game for over 10 years and is still going strong. He's stayed pretty consistent with his style and he may have earned some more fans with his last album 'Barima bi ba', which did really well. Africa Money was a huge hit outside Ghana's borders, as its French lyrics endeared it to Francophone Africans as well.

9. Obour - His last album was around 2007 but he has r…

I watched Inter Milan play at Stanford

Yesterday, I went to see Inter Milan play Mexico's Club America with my brother and some other friends. It's absolutely awesome they played the game right down the road from me on Stanford's campus. Which other universities host international soccer games? Stanford even hosted a game in the USA 94 World Cup. This game was not attended well compared to the time Chelsea came here, but the game was enjoyable with the Mexican drumming and Vuvuzelas blowing. Both teams scored from corners and settled for a 1-1 draw and Inter lost on penalties. I had gone to see Muntari, Balotelli and Ibrahimovic play. Sulley got injured early in the game but I did get to shout his name and have him wave at me when he was exiting the stadium.

I was surprised when I saw the Mexicanos selling these trumpets/Vuvuzelas. I've not been a big fan of those things but I am beginning to accept that it's a part of the game. That thing is not easy to blow, much respect to the South Africans who prov…

Dissecting Barack Obama's speeches in Ghana

On July 11, around 12:40pm GMT, I was rounding off a night of partying in Las Vegas. To me, life was good. What was I missing? Barack Obama's address to the Ghanaian Parliament in Accra. Obama is building a legacy of great speeches and this was also bound to be a historic one. Hussein did not disappoint. He was speaking the capacity as the 'leader of the free world' and president of the great US of A. As I read the speech more carefully today, I felt America's first Black president seemed to be speaking for Africans and Africa, even more than for America. He did show a lot of tough love to Africa in there but his tone was one of - this is what Africa needs and desires, this is the way 'we can do it', and this is the way the rest of the world (America, etc) should help. Obama has some Africa in him and for those of us Africans who wondered how much help he'll be to us, I believe we should sleep well at night because he does mean business.

I wish I could post …

My interview with Jucy about Museke, Kasahorow, GhanaThink

Recently, my South African friend Keitumetse 'Tumi' Diseko approached me about interviewing me for a website called Jucy, a community blog started by one Nzinga Qunta, who works for Channel O as a presenter on their popular O Boma. I met Tumi through my work at and she formerly worked for MTV Base Africa. According to Nzinga's interview with Rage, Jucy is an African celeb news and entertainment site, with a little bit of inspiration to go out there and be fabulous! In her words, "Imagine Afrika and get to know celebs from the African continent who are doing amazing things, and I just thought it would be cool to read about them and not just American or European people." They also take a keen interest in Africans on the continent and in the diaspora doing big things in their respective careers, etc. It's an honour to be interviewed in the 'People You Should Know' category.

Below is the story from the Jucy website
If yo…

My interview with Project Diaspora about BarCamp Diaspora

I recently talked to Tracy Pell of Project Diaspora about my work with BarCamp Diaspora and BarCamp Ghana. I thoroughly enjoyed the chat and appreciated the opportunity to do it. It was my very first video skype chat and I must say I'd love to do more :-D. If you haven't heard of BarCamp Diaspora, it's an 'unconference' bringing together people interested in Africa to discuss and dialogue about Africa, doing business back home, doing business targeted at Africans and Diasporeans in the US and sharing ideas about Africa's development. It is also ad-hoc and informal whereby the business of the day is determined by those present. Power to the people. If you can gain easy access to Washington DC on July 25, come to BarCamp Diaspora. Find out who's coming, the agenda amongst other info here. It's free and it will be worth your while.

Here's the interview
Ato Ulzen-Appiah On BarCamps Ghana and Diaspora from Project Diaspora on Vimeo.

You can read up a story …

Writing African stories, young African writers and the Baobab prize

Deborah Ahenkorah sent some info about Baobab Prize 2009 out recently and it has inspired me to write about African writers and African stories. Growing up, my favorite novels to read were the JAWS (Junior African Writers Series) books as well as those from AWS (African Writers Series). I used to be really intrigued by them and this followed into my love for books like Things Fall Apart (Chinua Achebe), Half of a Yellow Sun (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie) and Our Sister Killjoy (Ama Ata Aidoo). Many of the famous African novelists are still writing but a whole new generation of writers are starting to join the gang and the Baobab Prize is encouraging that. Maybe, I'll also write a novel soon, who knows.

According to the website, "The Baobab Prize is an annual award designed to encourage the writing of African literature for young readers. It has been birthed from a recognition of the dearth of fictional African literature that focuses on the youth and encourages them to explore and…

My 10 favorite American songs

While Barack Obama was visiting a sub-Saharan country for the first time, I was also visiting Vegas for the first time for college reunion. Pi reunion, in fact. I don't know what his expectations were, but Ghana sure did pull out the red carpet for him. I wasn't going to command that welcome in 'Sin City' but Vegas did not live up to expectations. I have few stories to tell and not many interesting things happened. The parties were on point though. I didn't get a single phone number :-) One girl told me Vegas was no place to meet someone. For real? It's not like I'll go to USC and track her down. And that tipsy Indian Australian girl probably gave me a wrong name because I can't find her on Facebook. Bummer. Too many people on the Strip looked like the white Ciara I met on Friday. One of the most interesting things about the weekend was the 'very little African music' I listened to all weekend. This must be the longest stretch of time without a …

Obama in Ghana - A round-up of blog posts by Ghanaian bloggers

This past weekend marked the visit of Barack Obama to Ghana. A lot has been said about the significance of this visit, this being the first trip to a sub-Saharan African nation by the first Black American president. I missed most of the speeches and festivities since I had 'gotten away' for the weekend and have been reading up on some blogs written by various Ghanaians on the Obama trip. I will like to share some thoughts from these awesome people.

GhanaConscious' own Omanbacritiqued Barack's speech. She broke it down into four major parts - democracy, health care, conflict resolution and doing it yourself. I personally think too much mention is made of democracy but Omanba spells it out nicely - "An era of tyranny, gagging, misuse of power and governing with impunity sprinkled with a dash of Elections every so often, does not constitute democracy. Africa must take note!" She stresses the fight against HIV-AIDS and Malaria and also mentions drug counterfeiting…