Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The MIghTy African's real identity and his other online names

It's always interesting when I get questions like - Are you Chale of museke.com, or Abocco, or this, or that. Yes, I am those and more. Ever since I got introduced to the world of the internet, I have tried to conceal my identity behind countless pseudonyms and names. In fact, hand in hand with this 'decision', I don't like to see my real name on-line in certain instances. This year, I have been fished out, because I've had to reveal myself in different ways because of some little publicity I got here and there. Why would I want to conceal my identity? Why would I use all these names and where do they even come from? It's time to answer some of these questions and bring y'all up to speed on these names. So just in case, you happen to find these names somewhere, you know who is really behind those.

The fascination with pseudonyms began in high school - Presec. I had joined the the school's media outlet, Editorial Board. We were in charge of publishing the school magazine and maintaining the school's Filla Board. The Filla Board was a notice board at a heavy-human traffic location which featured articles talking about school life, announcements, amongst other things. Each writer chose a pseudonym. Mine was Aristocrates. I had a friend called Aristotle, and came up with Aristocrates as a result. If I wrote an article lambasting somebody, especially someone in a high position, I had the comfort of no one really knowing it was me. It was fun. It was also exciting to listen on conversations of friends praising a certain article I wrote, but they wouldn't know it was me. Eventually, some people figured out who Aristocrates was but the mystery was kinda cool. If you don't believe me, ask some Presecans.

When I came to the US in 2001 and eventually became a major poster on the Odadee (old Presec students) forum, I chose a username - Clue. I could have used my yahoo email username which would easily give me away, but why do that? I followed the Presec-thing. Clue was a nickname I got from junior secondary school (middle school) because I'd organize all these general knowledge quizzes amongst friends and give them clues in case they couldn't answer questions. Most Presecans/Odadees didn't know I was called Clue, because I was never called that as Presec so many people on the Odadee forum didn't know 'Clue' was me. I loved that. The Odadee forum is extinct now but you can find Clue as the pseudonym for my abocco gmail blogger account here.

So what's this Abocco word anyway? Well, I first heard it in middle school (KNUST JSS). It was supposed to mean 'something good or great or super'. For the Ghanaians, it's a synonym to 'JƐ'. I liked the name and used it as 'mine'. So, when I joined the GhanaThink forums in 2003, I used Abocco as my username. It's what I still use today, on the GhanaConscious forums. I'm also @Abocco on Twitter. A lot of people ave their real names in addition to their Twitter name, but not me. Every now and then, I google Abocco to see where it's landing and going and I'm pleasantly surprised with results. Abocco's blog is my blog on GhanaConscious.

Ever come across Maximus Ojah? That will be me too. I am a big fan of the movie, Gladiator and Ojah, well, it means 'fire' in Twi (correct spelling is Ogya). I made up this name when I started to write articles on Ghanaweb and places other than GhanaThink.org. I used this moniker to write the 'Letters to Osagyefo'. Some of you may know that Osagyefo refers to Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana's first president and one of my idols. One letter I wrote to Osagyefo about hiplife called the "Hiplife Story" became really famous. Hiplife's page on Facebook has the story at its Hiplife info section. A comment on GhanaMusic.com said "it was the best hiplife article I've ever read'. Who wrote that? Maximus Ojah. Who the heck is Maximus Ojah? Where can we find him? You can't. I actually had a username Abocco on GhanaMusic too, but the site owners never really put 2 & 2 together to realise Abocco and Maximus Ojah were the same person. I had written a lot of Osagyefo letters and one April day in 2007, I decided to revive the letters after a long hiatus, only this time, I'd publish them on GhanaConscious. This is where I came up with 'Nwia', which is Kwame Nkrumah's middle name. I still signed off with Maximus Ojah and when I sent the articles to be published by other websites, I sent it as the MIghTy African from my MIghTy African gmail address.

Oh, MIghTy African is the guy who writes this blog right? Right. As you can see, MIghTy features MIT and yup, I call myself the MIghTy African. How selfish of me! I am not the only African who's attended MIT and even if I helped coin the name MIghTy Africans for Africans@MIT, what right do I have to name myself the MIghTy African? Twiaaa! Well, guess what. Someone actually called me that and that's why I took the name. I shouldn't make any apologies, if you think I should, chastise me. Yeah, so when I sent articles I'd written on this blog or somewhere else to different websites for publication, I sent it as the MIghTy African. Some of you may have seen the MIghTy African Music Video program clips on Youtube, where I was interviewed by my friend, Melanie Reynard. When she posted the video, she said my real name, where I went to school and the website museke.com. Big crime! She gave my identity away. Now, I am not only trying to battle with my name being out there, but people could see what I actually look like. And find out I am (one of the) guy(s) behind museke.com.

This brings us to Museke.com. Having people not know I am the one being behind this website which is being called the "African music bible" is my best magic trick yet. A while ago, a friend said she felt I only just loved to promote the site. Of course! Isn't it spectacular? Y'all should be doing the same. :-) My name on Museke is Chale, which is pretty easy to figure out if you know me and you know I am part of the Museke crew. How did I come up with Chale? I said Chale a zillion times at my time at MIT, that people ended up calling me by the name. Chale became a filler word for me. Where are you going, chale? What you did wasn't cool, chale. Exasperation was replaced with "chale, chale, chale". If you've hanged around Ghanaians a lot, you'll know what Chale/Chalay/Charlie/Chaley/Charley means. It's basically a name to address a friend with. Comes from the coolest language on earth - Pidgin. I know the Mexicans are stealing my shine because they have some chale word like that, but next time you see something wrote by Chale or a Chale reference on or to Museke.com, remember that yours truly is behind it. Once, someone mentioned my real name on the site, and it got to me so much.

Talking about my real name, I am not really happy to see people address me as such on this blog. My blogger profile doesn't have my name and I haven't (really) mentioned my name yet, have I? Well, people, I am Ato Ulzen-Appiah. There, whew, that was difficult. I may not have mentioned my name but I do I feed my blog entries into my Facebook notes and everyone who reads those knows I am the one writing them. But if someone happened to end up on my blog and read my entries, would they know it is 'me' writing these? Maybe. Maybe not. Truthfully, I don't really want people to know this is me, I don't want to be popular like that. I'll take more pride in people loving some Maximus Ojah guy's articles than associating those pieces with 'me' and having my name all over the place. Obviously, it is kind of contradictory with the kind of things I've been up to over the years and the number of Facebook friends I have. I am not telling you the number, go find out. That's fodder for another blog entry too.

Every now and then, I google myself to see where I am appearing. I also google my 'names'. I can't control people getting know to I am this or that any longer. I am beginning to accept I cannot hide for too long. I will continue to use these pseudonyms and leave the figuring out to everyone. I think it may be good for me to use my real name because it helps build my profile and may open up some opportunities. That said, the thrill of people looking for Museke's Chale and then realising it's me is pretty cool. I am all for cool, I don't like to do things the traditional way. It makes my day for someone to say - "Oh, so you are Abocco? I kind of thought it was you. I liked that article you wrote. Good stuff". Lekker. Abocco. JƐ. Ebe so! Super. Now that's what's up :-D
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