Monday, August 31, 2009

Know where to sow (a poem)

This poem was inspired by the Parable of the Sower - Matthew 13:18-23. Poem's called Know where to sow. Enjoy.

Sown and grown on the wayside
Well, it fell on rocks
Thrown and grown along paths
Trodden under by impact
Shown and grown in good soil
To reap the harvest of toil
Rooted in filth and guilt
Stemming from temptation
Leaving the margin of right
Nothing good for the receptacle
The rains were mad last time
This time, they made one sad
Good fruit was borne however
Through the nurturing of culture
Fruit from good seeds grew
Into yet another flicker of hope
Favourable grounds helped to cope
Into hearers and doers
If oaks from little acorns should grow
Then know where to sow

Sunday, August 30, 2009

KSM dances to Oluman Boogie at Nifty @Fifty show

KSM's Nifty@Fifty concert in December 2007 was superb. I had heard about his exploits dancing to FBS' Oluman Boogie through the internet and TV. So when I was in Ghana, I decided to spend my Christmas Day in Accra (instead of Kumasi) so I could catch his show. It was terrible not spending it with my nuclear family at home but the show was great. I took a bunch of videos so that my family could watch what transpired. Finally, I have some for you to view. If you missed KSM getting jiggy with a girl half her age, you can see those videos here.

Oluman Boogie was released in by the Function Boy Squad. The song quickly made an impression and FBS became one of the most wanted performers due to their dancing prowess. The song talked about Sugar Daddies. If you live in Ghana, you'll know that this is common there. In University of Ghana (Legon), we have what we call 'Inte' and 'Exte'. 'Inte' is the Legon male student who's the boyfriend and 'Exte' is the non Legon male (normally quite old) who splashes kawukudi/luuchi/cash/dough on the Legon girl. So imagine you are an 'Inte', and you are dating this Legon girl, and you have to 'compete' with this 'Exte' bankroller, it's not easy. It's worse when this old man is not old and weak, but is a strong man. If you fought with him, you would lose. That's the Oluman Boogie.

KSM clocked 50 and wanted to prove to the world he was no ordinary old man, but an Oluman Boogie. What better way to prove that than to do a bunch of dances? As you can see from this Youtube video - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5cEcA5QimDM - it's not easy. So he invited FBS to this show to perform the song alongside them. These videos show what happened.

Before they get to the dancing, KSM has to adequately dress up. Hilarious
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YpfA2LEndNw


The actual performance
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RvjAi3ZHPPo


Enjoy these videos for now. I have some more coming.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

My Top 10 Ghanaian songs of 2009 (so far)

Here's another one. Just like the other one. Ghanaian music is at a crisis. People feel we are sounding too much like Western artistes. Okyeame Kwame and Obour recorded a song 'The Game' which addressed this. Me, am loving all of this. It's good we are talking about this. In fact, hiplife & GH Rap are taking over. We can still get down to the old jams, and appreciate the new. So in case VIP's Ahomka womu is still the Gh song you jam to or you stopped paying attention after Obrafour's last album or you are just waiting to hear Kojo Antwi's latest album, you should get up-to-date with the jams of today. I know 2009 hasn't ended yet, but here are 10 of my favorite Ghanaian songs this year. I'll tell you which song didn't make it unfortunately. Kwabena Kwabena's Do ne bi is an all-time favorite, but for me, it made its rounds in 2008.

Before that, you have to check out my 10 songs dedicated to African women, my favorite Ghanaian songs, 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. I hope to hear some of these at your next party. Click the songs to find the lyrics, video, audio, etc.

Simple - Bradez
This is my brother's favorite GH song now and I share his sentiments. Those Prempeh boys can rap! They've had hits before but it seems this is their best yet. This line is just brilliant if you ask me "I dash WI Double L dash WE D dash WI NIFRED full stop. Stone, who is the heck is Winifred? Day gee o! I love the chorus, and Okyeame Kwame's brothers killed it with their rap too. Big ups to Richie on the beat, this guy's the best now. "Babe you dey be me too much; Smile make I see your dimple; Pretty girl I’m loving your touch; Bad girls me I no dey mingle; I’ll never ever say u bye bye; Never ever leave you single; Anytime I dey by your side; You make me feel so simple"

Baby (my wife) - Sarkodie
Sarkodie's the new king of hiplife. People believe he is the true torchbearer taking over from Obrafour. Obrafour should come and take his crown before Sarkodie makes everyone forget he existed. Sarkodie has been freestyling for ages in Tema and releasing mixtapes that went viral. When he combined with Mugeez (of R2Bees) for this track, he had his first radio hit. He deserves it. This guy dey show 'Kasahare level'. You should hear his tracks Boga and Politics.

Where my baby dey - Samini
I was so excited to hear this song. Samini may be my favorite Ghanaian musician these days and I wish him a lot of success. Hope he wins a MAMA this year for best performer too. Go vote for him. How can you not shout at the top of your voice when singing this song? "Where my baby dey; As I am wailing everyday; Hoping say she still go come my way"

Daa ke daa - Becca
I first heard this song while watching Sparrow Productions' Scorned. I fell in love with it there and then. I knew it was Becca singing too. The song made me very happy. A song made for a Ghanaian movie that is super, will become a hit and will have a music video. Isn't this good? You know what they say about Ga and their women, Becca makes Ga sound so 'sexy'. Yes, I said it.

Runaway - Irene
It was inevitable that Irene and Jane would split. Irene hooked up with fellow Akora Richie, and they worked on her solo career. Her first single has been mad successful. It became the most searched Ghanaian song on Google. Asem laid the rap lines well and Irene shone with her singing. We are waiting for the music video. This song should go international.

Anaa (remix) - Okyeame Kwame
This is another song I can't get enough of. Okyeame Kwame's my favorite rapper now and like he said, he's also your favorite rapper's favorite rapper. The original Anaa song featured Wutah but though I am a huge fan of Wutah, the remix is much better. Morris did well too. I had a whole blog post about this song, that's how much I love it.

Kotosa - Wutah
I was thoroughly excited to hear this song played in Sparrow Productions' Perfect Picture. Wutah has been struggling to be in the limelight after the successes of Goosy Gander, Big Dreams and Esikyire. They found the groove with this one. So "Love goes where Love is; I can't deny this; if you feeling this; Come and join us, sing this song"

World Trade Center - 4x4
This song is my present guilty pleasure. I don't know why I love listening to this song. It's everything I don't want in a hit song but still. I mean look at this... "Go, go, go, big booty girl". "Cos the way you dey make I dey wonder, If your booty was given by your mama". "Never underestimate my lover; She have the World Trade Center; The twin towers to match in body, body, in body". Have you seen the video? Worse than Dr. Poh's Na who, the booty can cause traffic. God help me. And then they turn around and sing Shaka Zulu. "The boy them need a girl with a sexy face; The girl them want a guy with a pretty face; They want a fresh face; She no want a man with a face like Shaka Zulu". Ouch.

A moment's notice - Jane
Can we just crown 'The Perfect Picture' the best Ghanaian movie ever? There's too much to say about the movie. Including this song by Jane. After Irene made it big with Runaway, everyone is watching to see what Jane would do. The girl would be fine if she gets a good manager. She's great. This particular song is hot. When Jane posted it on her Facebook fan page, I listened to it continuously. And then, it was the soundtrack for the 'Perfect Picture's "best scene", imagine the excitation. Chei! "We talking about the things we do when we're in love; Midnight calls, lunch in the park, head way up in the sky". Kai!

Nyornuviade - Ayigbe Edem
God bless Ayigbe Edem. We have a legitimate Ewe rapper in Ghana now, to add to Tinny's success as the king of Ga rap. Do y'all realise they are both from Hammer of the Last 2's camp? We must celebrate Hammer, he's a gem. Of course, I don't understand Ewe, but this song is the bomb. And I think Kwabena Kwabena does the singing on this one, so that's a great bonus. Someone please translate the song for us.

These are the first 10 songs that came to mind. If I remember one injustice that I missed, I will comment about it. Just like last time, I want to list a few honorable mentions. The song that just failed to make the cut was Daddy Lumba's Aye Huhuuhu. Other songs are Samson & Delilah by Ofori Amponsah, Zoji zoji by Echo, Ringtone by Tinny, Wodin by 5Five, and Broken by Soulja's Inn.

More props to Mframa for their Disco track. A big shoutout to D-Black & Kwaku T for Move and Breathe. Vote for them and Okyeame Kwame for Channel O awards. Check out Shatta Rako's response to Okyeame Kwame and Obour's The Game with his own song, Da Shame of the game. Sonni Bali's back from exile with When you're gone aka 'hole in my natty'. Asem too does not want to be forgotten, and if you listen to Suuliya with Sway, you'll know he's here to stay.

Long live songs about Ghanaian music.
Long live African music.
Long live Ghana.

KSM dances with random girl at Nifty @Fifty show

Those of you who know me know am all over social media networks. Yes, I am on Twitter too. Follow me @Abocco. Yup, that's me. More on my many web names later. Earlier, I opened a Youtube account too, to share videos. The terrible part is that some dude had already taken the 'MIghTyAfrican' account (which is inactive now) so I had to settle with 'MIghTyAfrican1'. Bummer. I almost made up a new name but I am growing old now, can't keep track of all of my pseudonyms.

I uploaded a bunch of videos I recorded from attending KSM's Nifty @ Fifty concert. I love KSM, he's awesome. I interviewed him once and came away with a lot of respect for him. Other than being an entertainer, he is a great personality, statesman and leader. He mentioned that he may want to go into politics. At his show, which coincided with Ghana's Golden Jubilee celebration, he mentioned that Ghana could use a 'funky president'. Who wouldn't want KSM as his president? I was sold after that show, it was one of the best shows I had attended ever. I've never laughed so much in my life, as you'll discover from the videos. I am the one laughing hysterically all the time. Sorry, it spoils the fun for you.

KSM talked about how 50 year olds had fun at parties and the clubs, etc. He was 50 then, circa December 2007, and wanted to show the audience how he gots down. So he invited a girl from the audience (some claim that it was all planned) to come and dance with him. On stage. They danced to Naa Agyeman's Kwahu Bepo. Watch how it all transpired.

Girl comes in stage and he tells her, 'I can born you'.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RTXvlU3t-n0


Then they gets down
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yB37SoJHm0o


Enjoy these videos for now. I have some more coming.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Two women (a poem)

I remember writing this poem at a bus station somewhere in Upstate New York. I was thinking about a couple of girls and I decided to express those thoughts on paper. So it became a poem. I decided to try my hand at some Twi poetry as well though it didn't turn out too good. I just translated the English lines to Twi so if some of the translations are off, forgive and then correct me. I had titled this poem 'Who is me' but it really should be something like two women. So there, I present to y'all 'two women'. Enjoy.

She is me
She mirrors me
But she is a mirage
And she is just an image of me

She is not me
She shadows me
But she is a window
And her mirror doesn’t know me

I follow the mirror
My shadow follows me
The mirror tells me I am fair
My shadow tells me I am dark
My mirror lets out my secrets
My shadow is my best kept secret
My mirror overshadows me
My shadow mirrors my shade

Sankofa sees my shadow
Nkoso notices my mirror
Do I want me
Or do I want my shadow
Do I want comfort
Or do I want change
Do I do what is due to
Or do I do what is duty
Do I want to see myself in the mirror
Or am I just happy with my shadow

The following is the Twi version

Ɔyɛ me
Mehu me ho wɔ n’ahwehwɛ mu
Nanso menhu no
Woayɛ te sɛ me nfoni

Ɔnyɛ me
Ɔnam m’akyi nti menhu no
Nanso ɔyɛ mpoma ma me
N’ahwehwɛ no nnim me

Mepɛ me ho
Anaa sɛ mepɛ nea menhu
Mepɛ ahoto
Anaa sɛ mepɛ nsesaɛ?
Menyɛ deɛ ɛfiri sɛ
Anaa menyɛ deɛ ɛwo sɛ meyɛ?

:-)

Soundtrack for this poem could be that 'Adwoa yɛ me yere, Yaa yɛ me mpena' song by Okomfo Kwaadee. Or Lord Kenya's 'Menkɔ Adwoa anaa menkɔ Ataa'?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

10 songs dedicated to African women

Happy Women's Month! I promised myself to talk more about women this August and sadly, it's ending already. I only managed to talk about pick-up lines and their use. It's all going to be remedied with this post (I hope). We all love African Queen and how it became a phenomenon in the Diaspora. There are many more songs like that and I'll like to share some with y'all.
Because If I could glow like an African beauty;
I would show the make up of an African beauty;
And not make up make up to show African beauty;
Because before make up, there was African beauty.

This is from a poem I wrote, which I could consider my best to date.

Before that, you have to check out my favorite Ghanaian songs, 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. So these songs are for all the African women out there and for all who love them. Click the songs to find the lyrics, video, audio, etc.

African Queen - 2Face Idibia (Nigeria)
What else can be said about this song? It's the reason there are that many songs praising African women these days anyway. Tuface has been going around leaving his mark all over the place when it comes to African women but this song shall remain timeless. "And you are my African Queen, the girl of my dreams; You take me where I've never been; You make my heart go ting-a-ling-a-ling, oh ahh; You are my African Queen, the girl of my dreams; And you remind me of a thing; And that is the African beauty yeah" Ooh, aah.

African woman - Kokovelli (Ghana)
This was one of the African women related songs that came out shortly after African Queen's success. Kokovelli's jam did well to the extent that some Sierra Leonians stole the beat and tune and made their own version. "African woman, your love don stain my body o; Sweet Ghanaian beauty, I want make you my baby o". What comes after that is for y'all to see.

African girls - 5Five (Ghana)
This jam is also one of my favorite songs period. 5Five gave shoutouts to women from various countries, from Algeria all the way to Botswana with a special mention for half-Fante girls. :-) "Afrikan Gurlz look good like summertime; I'm talking shapes or whatever, they so fine; They all lovable, talks on the low got respect though!; Plus some got their hair cut low!" The remix to this song is even hotter. DoubleFive really did well with this song, it's sad it didn't become a continental anthem.

Nigerian girls - Modenine (Nigeria)
This song has a pretty nice video. Modenine talks about the differences in Nigerian girls, by tribe. It's hilarious. It may not celebrate Nigerian (or African) women but it does talk about the diversity (for lack of a better word). But no matter where you from, no matter who you be, you gotta love Nigerian Girls. Some lyrics - "My Lagos chick said; You are dry, you don't mingle; You don't go clubbing; And you don't buy me pringles". "No cash, no Abuja chicks; Plenty cash; And they'll be on your ha"

Nigerian girl - Obiwon (Nigeria)
The late Michael Jackson had a famous Liberian girl song. Nigeria's Seven sampled it for his Nigerian girl song. But it doesn't beat Obiwon's track. Obiwon is an underrated singer from Naija, y'all should check him out, he's really good. He quit a banking job to do music too. He tells us - "It’s the way you walk, the sound of your voice; Your loving leaves me no choice; My Nigerian girl; Sweetest girl in the world".

Strong woman - Blu3 (Uganda)
All these songs don't have to be from the guys. The ladies have their own anthems too. Africa's Destiny Child composed their own African 'Independent women' jam. It's sad Cindy left the group but she's doing well and Blu3's doing great too. You don't need me to tell you African women are strong, bold and wise women. But in case, you need reminding, you can listen to this song. "My beauty is deep inside of me; Nine months, I carried all humanity; But I am still fighting for my basic pride; I am grateful even when I am hurting; I am grateful for those who came before me"

Sweetest Girls - Samini (Ghana) & Nameless (Kenya)
It's commonplace for African musicians to make songs about African women these days. Everyone is trying to do something unique to market those songs. Samini collaborated with another of my fave musicians, Nameless, for a song dedicated to African women everywhere. This song is crying for a video! They sing - "She make a grown man cry; She make a preacher man lie; She make a rude bwoy shy; She make no superman fly; ... Well, I've been to Joburg where the girls dance to Kwaito; I've been to Lagos where the kokolets them tight o; I've been to the East Africa where them girl them fine so; Samini make the girls move to the left and right o; I've been to Congo, Libya and Morocco; Liberia, Madagascar and Zimbabwe"

South African girl - Steel (Nigeria)
Developments and storylines in Jerusalema and District 9 have left a little bad blood between South Africa and Nigeria. Those things are out the window when it comes to music. Many Nigerian artistes are shooting excellent videos in South Africa and we all know MTN's favorite customers are in Nigeria. So Steel made a song for South African girls to celebrate this particular development. "South African girl, will you be my wifey?; The way you smile, I like it; Wai lai ta lai, I like it" ... "My love for you is strong; That's why I write this song; Baby come along; Let me praise you in tongues"

Black queen - Bebe Cool (Uganda)
The reggae musicians have their grooves too. Bebe Cool decided to sing for black queens everywhere, we all know reggae music is probably the most universal black music out there. The ladies in this video are not as fine as Bebe's Sexy Thing model, but we love the song nonetheless. "Black queen, you are my queen; I love you before; And I'll love you forever"

Liberian girl - Jodi (Liberia)
Now this is my jam. Jodi is probably the least known of all these musicians but the dude can 'sang'. I always have to listen to this song more than once. Ask the Lib4lyfe Liberians about this song. "I've been thinkin 'bout you; So I wrote this song to let you know; You're my Liberian queen; I've been thinkin 'bout you; So I wrote this song for you my Liberian girl"

These are the first 10 songs that came to mind. If I remember one injustice that I missed, I will comment about it. Just like last time, I want to list a few honorable mentions.

Lady by Ofori Amponsah
Lady by Fela Kuti
Ghana ladies by the late Terry Bonchaka
African lady by Samini
Ugandan woman - Mega Dee
Ghana mmaa - VIP
Nigerian girl - Seven
African queen remix - Rukus

I can't write songs but I can write some poems. Watch out for mine.

Long live songs about African women.
Long live African women.
Long live African beauty.

Homicide (a poem)

Wanted to blog today but I don't have time so I will do what do when this happens. Put up an old poem. This poem is called Homicide. Wrote it a while ago. You can try and decipher what it means, that's the beauty of the language abi? Enjoy


Like a masked murderer
Radiant with love
Knifing the apron strings
That bound us to custom
Like a patient poacher
Endangering a life
Leaving an ancestral stump
After draining the sap
Like a settling seed
Seeking to rule the natives
To improve its diversity
Killing softly the inbred society
Like a caring cutthroat
To say a soothing prayer
With a temporary temerity
Enslaving the rich
Like a pestering preacher
To liberate the naïve yet
Who came and taught nothing
And burgled society’s education

Monday, August 24, 2009

The race for the 19th EPL title - Manchester United

It's nice to have ESPN show English Premier League games in the US these days. Just saw Aston Villa pull off an industrious away win and break Liverpool's impenetrable fortress with a 3-1 win. They aren't the only Big 4 team to lose; my own Manchester United lost by a lone goal to the promoted Burnley. It's not going to same MAN U without CR7 and Tevez but there's no reason why we can't be successful. A lot has happened since we lifted our 18th league title to knock Liverpool off their perch, and we can get that 19th to do them one better. Chelsea may prevent that from happening because to me, they are favorites. It's gonna be one long and exciting EPL season.

I was resigned to seeing Cristiano Ronaldo leave. He was our matchwinner but his heart was somewhere else. I was obviously delighted to see him go for 80 million pounds. When Beckham and Van Nistelrooy left, it was because Sir Alex Ferguson wanted them to go. I believe he wanted to hold on to CR7 but that kind of money and the player's attitude was too good to pass up. I wanted Tevez to stay because he was useful and was dedicated to the MAN U cause. We treated him badly with not giving him enough playing time though. Gerard Pique came back to bite us in the Champions League' final and I hope the same doesn't happen with Tevez. Given his recent pronouncements, he'll love to do so. Losing to Burnley hurt and it looks like we may need a creative midfielder, but I think we should stick with this squad. They are capable of winning trophies though we have very few matchwinners.

Ronaldo's absence meant we needed a winger and we made a good buy with Antonio Valencia. He's not going to score as many goals but he'll create chances. So far, so good. I didn't want any expensive buys because I believed the youngsters should be given some more run. Let's 'sacrifice' this year, play the youth (Arsenal style) and grow their confidence for future seasons. Getting Michael Owen was a shrewd buy and I believe he will contribute to the cause. 10 goals is a good target. Rooney has started well and he should definitely get more than 25 goals this year. I don't like Berbatov at all but we are stuck with him so I wish him all the success. Fergie has to be tactical in how he uses him to get the best out of him. Kiko Macheda will get his playing time and along with Welbeck, should prove that they cut it at the highest levels.

We have many good midfielders but we don't have any standouts. We don't have any creative midfielders or guys who can shoot the heck out of the ball. Gibson can, but he won't get the playing time. Why do we have a Brazilian who can't score goals in our team? Anderson frustrates me. I hope this is the last season for Giggs and Scholes, they should give it their best and get into coaching. I love the industry of Fletcher and I pray Hargreaves gets healed, he's our best midfielder on many counts. Carrick should also develop a shot and Fergie must use Park's energy well. If he does a whole lot of useless running with little results, he must be benched. We are all hoping Nani comes good this season and yes, he does have some good shooting prowess. I'd like to see him take on defenders more, shoot if he has space or win freekicks. Seems he can convert them too, so that's good. I'll like to see Gibson play some more. When will Tosic be ready? That kid could be really good.

Our defence is the number one reason we'll challenge for trophies and it's what carried us last season. We may have lost to Burnley but check the pre-season and other stats and see the number of goals we've conceded. Few. We need a full-time right back though the Neville-O'Shea-Silva nucleus is good. It's great to have Vidic and Wes Brown back. They can hold the fort with Evans while Ferdinand is out. Patrice Evra is a great player and I'll like to see him get awarded with some goals this year on his forward runs. As always, we have to defend by committee. It sucks to have Van Der Sar out for so long, but so far, Foster has looked good.

Chelsea didn't lose any major players and to me, are the favorites. They have so many matchwinners. Sometimes, I wonder how they lose games. Arsenal will be in it right to the end if Fabregas and Van Persie stay healthy all year. Liverpool will suffer from Xabi Alonso's loss but they'll also do well. We shouldn't write off Man City. Their coach may be Mark Hughes but their squad is experienced, determined and deep. I can liken them to Chelsea, if Avram Grant could lead them to the Champs League final, Mark Hughes can win a lot of games with this squad. And they just got Lescott too. Citeh is for real. Tottenham always look promising and so far, are top of the league with some impressive results. Aston Villa's form tapered off after mid-season and that may be the same fate that Tottenham has, or maybe not. This season will be tough, the big 4 could drop points against more teams.

I was worried about Manchester United's start but everyone knows our best form is in the second part of the season. It was great to score 5 against Wigan, we must find our scoring boots. As Fergie works out the kinks in the squad, finds the right formations and tactics, VDS and Hargeaves join the fold, we'll be much better come January. There's a lot of load on Rooney's shoulders though because with the parity that exists in today's game, we need stars to win matches. That's where Rooney comes in. We'll see how it goes.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

My 10 favorite Ghanaian gospel songs

Today, I went to church. For the first time in a long time. In fact, I went to a Catholic service in the US for the first time in the longest time. I feel good, still do. I have my favorite African gospel songs iTunes playlist playing. Right now. I already talked about the power of gospel music and you can see my 10 favorite African gospel songs list here. Church services in the US are more mellow and boring compared to those back home and the difference is really in the singing, dancing and 'Kofi & Ama' collections. Ghana is a religious country, the names of various small businesses would confirm that. Our whole religious culture is somewhat superficial but that's for another entry. For now, let's appreciate the beauty of gospel music.

Before that, you have to check out my favorite Ghanaian songs, 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 find the lyrics, video, audio, etc.

Nea yehu hi - Daughters of Glorious Jesus (DOGJ)
This song came out in 2000. I know this for shizzle because when it was released, I was in Form 2 in Presec and on the editorial board. It sounded like a perfect soundtrack for Presec juniors - "Nea yɛhu yi, nea yɛhu yi a, ɛntumi mmu y'abɛn mu da o" - which means 'what we are seeing, it can't break our spirit, ever!'. Now that is a rallying cry every oppressed and bullied person should have. The song was a major hit and DOGJ is like the gospel version of Kojo Antwi, they always churn out hits. This song made such an impression on me, it inspired on my many Filla Board posts. Song talks about having a God who will fight for us so nothing can deter us from what we want to do or break our spirits. What is your problem? With God's backing, no weapon formed against you shall prosper. Amen

Mapem - Anita Obeng
A friend posted the lyrics to this song on Museke and that's how I heard about this one. It has a powerful message. "Mede m’ahoɔden nyina ara ayɛ, anyɛ yie oo" - I have used all my strength to do it, it didn't work. "Anokwa m’ahoɔden nyina ara nso adi me hwambɔ o" - I have used my strength but it didn't work out for me. "Afei deɛ mapem, menhunu deɛ menfa o" - As at now, I have hit a , I don't know what to do". Song talks about how we need guidance and strength from other sources, which you all know already so I don't need to expantiate. Abi? I love the message. Anita Obeng's not one of the heavweights, but this song is heavy, heavy.

Aman mma - Noble Nketsia
This is probably my fave GH gospel song, worship at least. Noble Nketsia is a great singer and he shines on this track. It's actually a slower version of his more popular 'Mommɛtie' song. "Aman mma, mommera mmɛtie anwanwasɛm bi" - Citizens (children of the gov't), come and hear something wonderful. "Makɔ akɔhyia barima anwanwafo bi e" - I have gone to meet a wonderful man. "Barima na yɛfrɛ no Yesu no" - The man who is called Jesus. "Wɔayi m'adesoa nyinaa ara ama me, ama me" - He has removed all my burdens. Just listen to pure bliss. Emotional. Sensational. Fantabulous.

Fefeefe - Ohemaa Mercy
This is actually the calling tone on my sister's phone. I love calling her just to hear it. Ohemaa Mercy has been around the top of the gospel summit ever since she emerged, she's done well. "Fa wo ho to ne so, na ɔbɛyɛ o" - Put yourself on Him and He will do it. "Ɔbɛyɛ ama no ayɛ fɛfɛɛfɛ, fɛfɛɛfɛ" - He will do it so that it is nice. She talks about the people who we put trust in and ultimately fail us and that God will never forsake or fail us. In fact, they sometimes take our money and run. In today's Ghana, such stories are commonplace. A right song for the right times.

Kakra nkakra - Moses OK
Moses OK is one of the most underrated Ghanaian gospel artistes. He always makes great music. "Kakra nkakra, ɛbɛyɛ yie, Ɛnti mɛkɔ so akɔ m'anim" - Little by little, it will be well, so I will keep on going forward. "Mede gyidie ani ahunu sɛ, Me daakye no yɛ kɛsɛ" - I have faith to see that, my future will be big. Little drops of water make a mighty ocean. Have faith as you pursue your dreams my people, because God will fight for you.

Awurade Asem - Cee
Ms. Powerful voice emerged on the gospel scene and took over. She didn't do too well on TV3 Mentor but once she released her gospel music videos, she had stardom written all over her. "Neɛ wode w’ano aka nyinaa ara aba mu" - All you have said has come true. - "W’asɛm yɛ me han ɛne me kanea" - Your words are my lamp and light. "Awurade, w’anum asɛm yɛ me dɛ (Dɛdɛɛdɛ 3x)" - God, your words are sweet to me. It's another song that warmed its way into my heart through my twin sisters. Cee's good and songs like hers are encouraging very danceable gospel music. Besides, gospel songs are routinely played at Ghanaian parties and events back home (but maybe not abroad).

Moko be - Nii Okai
If you have this album, my jam on there is really the worship medley but it can't count as a song here. The foundation of that medley is Moko be. I can't translate the Ga lyrics for you fully but the song loosely means 'none compares' "Na nyomo, tse ofee, na mantse..." Nii Okai is a great singer, one of the very best. The worship medley is one of my favorites for quiet time (when I do do it).

Nipa - Esther Smith
Esther Smith was in the news for sins she committed against her husband but she sure does make some fantastic gospel music. This song is all about the lyrics. I remember one time, I was in a trotro in Accra, going towards Adenta from downtown Accra and right around the 37 roundabout, this song was played on the radio and this little girl sang along 'word for word'. Verbatim. Memorable. "Dawu nyɛ awieyɛ, Nipa, dawu nyɛ awieyɛ e" - Death is not the end, human being, death is not the end. "Hwehwɛ Jesus akwan, Ɔsandɛ ne mu na nkwantene wɔ" - Look for Jesus' way, because it is in Him that there is long life. "Ɔtanfo Abonsam kɔ, Ɔtanfo Abonsam, firi me do e" - Enemy Satan go, Enemy Satan get off off me. "Mma ha mmɛgyegye me, Ɔsandɛ m'afa Jesus abɔ me do o" - Don't come here and worry me, because I have taken Jesus for myself.

Akokofunu - Great Ampong
Some people call this song Heaven and it brings tears to my eyes. The storytelling is buriful. He uses the madman's story to sing his song where the madman who goes around looking for food, when he finds some, he doesn't get a plate and when he gets plate, he doesn't have food. "Saa na wiase teɛ, wiase asetena nyɛ nika ei" - That's how the world is, living in this world is not cool. "Saa na wiase teɛ, ɛnnɛ anigyeɛ na ɔkyena awerɛhoɔ o" - That's how the world is, today, it's happiness, tomorrow, it's sadness. "Mereprepre ara, akɔ heaven" - I am itching to go to heaven. "Sɛ meduru heaven a, m'amanehunu nyinaa to bɛtwa" - When I reach heaven, all my troubles will end. "Sɛ meduru heaven a, m'abrɛbrɛsɛ yi, menkae hunu bio" - When I reach heaven, all my troubles, I won't see them again.

N'asem - Shepherds
Now who remembers this song? This one is old! It's an accapella track. "Agya Nyame n’asɛm yɛ adze a ɔma asomdwoe" - Father God's word is something that gives peace. "Agya Nyame n’asɛm no ma me ho faahodzi" - Father God's word gives me victory. Loose translation. At one of our GhanaThink retreats, one of my friends played it for me, this guy has some old hits. This accapella version is great because I can get a couple of friends and reproduce it in my backyard.

These are the first 10 songs that came to mind. If I remember one injustice that I missed, I will comment about it. Just like last time, I want to list a few honorable mentions.

Secular Ghanaian musicians do gospel tracks too and Obrafour is famous for a couple, 'Enye Nyame a' and Hwan na ene. Two of my faves feature Praye, Tinny's Passion of the Christ, Tete botan with Lady Prempeh. I met Philippa Baafi once and I love her Meyi m'akyea (I go dance o) as well as Go high. I also like DOGJ's Tumi womu, Asomdwoe hene and Wo ntaban. I also like Christiana Love's Mesu afre me Nyame with Kwaku Gyasi , and Adent nti na woresu. A less popular song is Pastor Bezaleel's Jesus. Noble Nketsia's Into your hands and Mete ase yi are great too.

The dancing prophet's Mehuri so is good too, I always picture my aunt's singing that song. "Afe yi yɛ m'afe" - This year is my year. Francis Agyei has a great Mawu Agbo melody that I love too. We can't forget Tagoe Sisters, Watua Maka, Yeadi nkunim and Eto betwa. Cindy Thompson made a big splash with Awurade Kasa which is believed to have helped the NPP win the 200 election and Awanwan do, another hit. Osoro taa w'akyi by Moses Ok is another fave. We have the secular guys doing gospel but how about Pastor Josh Laryea going all Kirk Franklin on us? You gotta watch the Praise da Lord video. Last but not the least, you have Mekae a and M'agyenkwa by Pastor Joe Beecham.

If there are some Ghanaian songs you think should have made my list, let me know too.

Long live Ghanaian gospel music.
Long live Gospel music.
Long live the Gospel.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Reviewing District 9 - South African sci-fi flick

The first time I saw an African-made movie production in American theatres, it was Tsotsi. It was at a random cinema in Cambridge that showed mostly 'indie' movies. Yesterday, I saw my second, but this time in a more popular theatre (Century Cinema) and the movie was District 9. It's African-made alright but it has the influence of American Peter Jackson, so maybe that's why it made it to the giant Hollywood theatre circuit? District 9 has been the most talked about movie all week, and it's been a trending topic on Twitter for a week now. I was excited to see it and after seeing it, I agree it was a good movie. Don't listen to me though, listen to IMDB, they list it as the 31st best movie of all-time and clearly this year's best.

I sent an email to the Stanford Africans encouraging people to go see this African production. Before we could get to rallying the troops, someone had sent an email to Black Diaspora list calling District 9 the 'most abominable racist propaganda in years'. You could read about the movie and easily agree with her, but I think sometimes we take some things too seriously. Or is it just me? Particular mention was made of how Nigerians were portrayed in the movie. I decided to stop reading the many emails sent on the subject lest it spoiled the movie for me. After the way Nigerians were treated in Jerusalema, the last thing I needed was for them to bear the brunt of discrimination in another African-related movie, especially one that would be shown in theatres across the world.

So, :-) District 9 tells the story of some aliens who happen to land their spaceship/alien craft in the skies of Johannesburg which prompts humans to wonder what to do about them. Of all places, why would they land in an African country? Ao, mɔbɔ. Sad. A multi-national agency is formed to handle these visitors (or illegal immigrants if you may) and they enter the spaceship and settle them in Jozi's District 9. I think it's interesting how the aliens have similar features to the homo sapiens species. Now who programmed those 'aliens aka big prawns'? We have really come far with graphics and movie technology, it really blows my mind. These aliens are so like humans, it is mentioned that there was inter-species sex, I mean how? Who would have sex with an alien? Watch the movie to find out. Like I said before, this was an African production, and with the graphics and etc, who's to say Africa has not arrived?

One interesting thing about the movie was how the aliens communicated with the humans. I couldn't figure out what language they were speaking. It surely wasn't English and if it was Hollywood's favorite African language, Swahili, I would have known too. Was it Afrikaans? Nyanja? Xhosa? It took these aliens just two decades to be able to speak a language with humans and even do business with them. Crazy innit? The aliens were given names like Christopher Johnson. Of course I have to ask why they weren't named Dladla Hlophe Nqongwane. Yeah, figured Vikus Wikus wouldn't be able to pronounce that. I was impressed as to how the local authorities gave them addresses, names, etc. We can't even seem to do that properly in Accra. Sigh. What was the deal with the Nigerians speaking Kiswahili Nyanja, etc? IMDB says the movie is in English and Nyanja. Is Nyanja the popular language in District 9? Was Nyanja chosen because it's the closest Southern African language to Swahili? What is this crush movie-makers have on Swahili? I doubt Nigerians would go all the way to South Africa and use Nyanja as their preferred lingua franca.

You can't talk about District 9 without talking about the portrayal of Nigerians. I thought South Africa and Nigeria were cool now? In the movie, Nigerians run a cat food 419 scam in the slums of District 9. As if internet fraud was not enough, they were being portrayed as people who would also deceive aliens. We know about ABC 20/20's special on Nigerian 419, but you got to give it to these guys, they are hustlers and have the entrepreneurial spirit. What I didn't enjoy was the portrayal of the Nigerians as slumlords, criminals and drug dealers. Now, from prior knowledge, Nigerians may be running drug cartels and prostitution rings in South Africa, but in the slums? Why would they travel all the way to Nigeria and live in the slums? Besides, the South African anti-apartheid fighters have a whole bunch of weapons, which is partly the reason for the high incidence of crime in Mzansi, so how could the Nigerians be portrayed as the criminals? I suppose Neill Blomkamp couldn't portray South Africans that way and the easiest targets were the Nigerians. This must stop! I demand someone make a movie that portrays Nigerians in South Africa in a good light. Because such people do exist in real life.

I didn't like the way the movie ended. In fact, I don't like the way most movies end these days. Hollywood is taking a page out of Nollywood's book (Yay!) by planning for sequels while the first movie is being done. I don't get any extra joy when I am left hanging at the end wondering what next. Hollywood makes a lot of money from sequels but they should sign off properly on their movies. It's been done too often, we've begun to just accept it instead of question the morale. At this rate, you'll have to love Nollywood movies, because when one part 1 is done, part 2 is not too far away. We probably have to wait a couple of years for the continuation of District 9 District 10.

African movies are on the up. This was a great sci-fi flick. It featured alien weaponry, ground-breaking science and technology, awesome acting, and an interesting story. Talking about technology, some of those aliens were really smart. The aliens used some hi-tech stuff in their shacks, so did the local South African labs, but what about our Nigerians in the slums? African electronics. Now that's not cool. Hey, maybe it works, what do I know? We'll be talking about District 9 because it was controversial but also because it is ground-breaking for African theater as well. I may just buy this movie when it comes on DVD. The movie is highly recommended, even for Nigerians. :-)

PS: I am still looking to see the White Wedding and will blog about Tsotsi at some point. Local is lekker.

Some related MakerFaire Africa videos

I really wish I could have gone to be a part of MakerFaire Africa. MakerFaire Africa brought together African inventors, makers and other people for a three-day fair last weekend at the Kofi Annan Center of Excellence for ICT in Accra. It featured the showcasing of different products, services, projects and technologies as well as some panels and speakers. It showed the ingenuity of Africans, especially when it came to using local materials to solve local problems.

A couple of friends, Nii Simmonds of Nubian Cheetah, Emeka Okafor of Timbuktu Chronicles and Henry Barnor of the GhanaThink Foundation and the BarCamp Ghana team were amongst the organizer. Much props to them for organizing such a spectacular fair.

Ameyaw Debrah of the Jaded Renegade also attended MakerFaire Africa. He's a great citizen journalist who reports about different events and happenings in Ghana. You can check out his Youtube channel for a wide variety of interviews, and videos, especially about Ghanaian entertainment. Below is a video he has from MakerFaire Africa.

Johannes Thomas Arthur finds an innovative way to put waste plastic bottles to use. He has constructed a set of living room furniture using containers used for bottling water. He recently exhibited his collection at the first ever Maker Faire Africa.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WVHfKrbimgw


Oluniyi David Ajao also posted a video about assembled electronics. We know about the Suame Magazine and the great work they are doing there, but there is a lot more going on in various homes across the continent. I have long complained of Africa being a place where things are repaired, I hope we can get more into creating and making more. Here's the video
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b2a2jYjYNQo


The three friends I mentioned above are also involved in Afrobotics. They organized a robot making workshop with Lego's Mindstorms. An MIT team I was part of once organized a six-week course in my alma-mater Presec (secondary school level) about robots and MindStorms in 2004 and it was fun. Afrobotics will organize a competition to fuel engineering, science, innovation, and entrepreneurship on the African continent, utilizing robotics.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8v1kN7npXfQ


The next MakerFaire Africa will be in Nairobi, maybe I can make that. :-)
Stop talking, start making. Tsooboi!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Translate between some African languagaes & English (Kasahorow)

I've gotten some questions recently about an online Twi resource. What exactly are people looking for in a Twi resource? An online dictionary? Check. Check Kasahorow.com and words.fienipa.com. You can also check websites like africanlanguages.com and kamusi.org. The folks at Kasahorow have this cool feature which allows you to translate words between Akan, English, Hausa, Kinyarwanda and Kiswahili.


While I figure out how to get the embed code to work, you can always go their website or the fienipa site and translate different words.
It's very simple: "enter a word in the search box in the language you want to translate from. Then select the language name in the first drop-down menu. In the second drop-down menu, select the language you want to translate to."








And if you haven't seen the awesome Ghana keyboard that allows you to type in Twi, Ga, Ewe characters, etc, don't miss out anymore.
Get it at this Kasahorow link.

Kasahorow foɔ deɛ, wɔn yɛ ade paa!
They even made a crossword puzzle in Twi. Wobɛtumi ataake? See it here

Monday, August 17, 2009

Before we call it Gollywood, Ghallywood, Sinikrom, etc - let's get our house in order

I can't wait for Shirley Frimpong-Manso's next movie. It's been almost 5 months since Perfect Picture came out. She's not the only one making Ghanaian movies though, some of the other movie houses churn out movies as frequently as once a month. I'll like to touch on a few issues in Ghanaian movies and offer some thoughts and advice. See my previous post about the emergence of Ghanaian movies and some thoughts on working towards more excellence. I know some people don't like the idea of calling Ghana's movie industry Ghallywood or Gollywood and they have a point. Let's do something different. How about we call it Sinikrom? Oh wait, Phamous People has the 'Cinekrom' show. I am a huge fan of Phamous People, will love to see them get involved in the movie industry.

I call the 'Nadia Buari-Van Vicker-Jackie Appiah-Majid Michel' movies the Accra movies. They feature English lines and are set in Accra Takoradi. Owners of magnificent homes in Accra are afraid to release them for shooting of these movies because they feel they'll become susceptible to armed robbers. Who knew there were magnificent houses in Takoradi like that? I hear the house in which Nadia lived in for 'Beyonce' is her own. No, she didn't earn that house through her countless roles in Ghanaian movies, her father is Sidiku Buari, a famous Ghanaian musician. Doing arts and entertainment in Ghana does pay, my people. These 'Accra/Takoradi movies' have used the Nollywood distribution channels to make stars out of their actors. They are enjoying the name recognition that the Nollywood stars have.

I have a bunch of issues with these 'Accra movies'. They are making the same Nollywood mistakes, average sound and video quality, concentrating on making as many movies as possible instead of improving the quality of the production, etc. Do you pay attention to the dialogue in these films? Ridiculous. I made my brother buy 'The Perfect Picture' for me when he came to visit the US, and he also bought 'The King Is Mine'. The differences between the two movies were clear. 'The King Is Mine' tried too hard. These AA (Accra movies) use these big English words that definitely are not used in normal Ghanaian life and the dialogue is fake, to say the least. They sound better in Twi, because we use a lot of idioms there but when you do the same thing in English, it doesn't look real. You don't need to have your viewer sitting by dictionaries to impress them. You need profound lines, good witty conversation and superb acting to make a great movie. These proverbs and big English will make more sense if the lines were in the local languages because that's synonymous with our mother tongues.

If you are making two movies a month, you are not spending enough time on each production. Besides, by using the same actors and actresses all the time, you have the situation where the actors' bargaining power increases and they can command huge sums to be in a movie. It worked for Nollywood around 2003, when Genevieve Nnaji, Omotola, Ramsey Nouah and Nkem Owoh were banned from appearing in movies due to hefty compensation packages and this allowed for new actors to get major roles. We should spend a little more time on the movies, re-take the scenes till they are excellent and edit them properly to get rid of times where the mic is showing on the top of the screen.

I call the 'Agya Koo/Kyeiwaa movies with mostly Twi lines' Kumasi movies. Agya Koo is a gem. He has to receive a national medal soon. As Bradez sang, he helped stop the dominance of Nigerian films in Ghana. He seems to shine in almost any role he's put it in in a Ghanaian movie so far. Agya Koo is one of the most searched names on Youtube and Google and I know that because an unrelated Praye song called Agya Koo on Museke is popular. Recently, he stated that he didn't need script to act in movies. If you talk as much as Agya Koo does in movies, you probably don't want to be memorizing scripts. Many Ghanaians love his movies, etc, but it's about time we found a way to market him internationally so that non-Twi speakers will appreciate his talent.

One of my biggest issues with these Twi movies is the subtitles. It may be tough to subtitle everything the actors are saying but we can be intentional about how we go about it. I feel the dialogue is rich and getting people to appreciate that should be one of the major goals. If we are going to do the subtitling, we must do it right - with zero grammatical errors et al.

I watched a movie called 'Ashanti' the other day. I couldn't finish but it seemed to narrate some Asante history. I liked the idea a lot, the dialogue was super, the acting was great too and the settings were good. There were no subtitles though. I can't say it looked like Akan drama or Concert Party because the latter shows don't tell stories like this movie did. We always caught likening our movies to things like Efie Wura, but it's not our fault, it's what we are used to. I'll like to see more movies talking about our history. It's good for us Ghanaians to learn about it and I think it will have some more international appeal. We need to do this before someone else does and sells back to us anyway.

Where are all the major actors who were around before the movie industry took a nosedive around 2004? Akofa Adjeani-Asiedu, Pascaline Edwards, Brew Riverson, etc? Can someone cast Oscar Provencal in some Inspector Bediako role in a movie? No one mentions NAFTI anymore, is it dead? The idea of doing auditions at hotels for movies is not the way to go. The fact that someone can come and play the part of a lotto doctor brilliantly for 2 minutes doesn't mean he'll play different roles that well in other movies. If we can't afford to teach our actors, let's spend a little more time on our productions. I already discussed the monetizing options, putting out as many movies in a short time is not the only way to make money.

I can only sit here and yob bunch about what I feel must be done. I hope someone somewhere who knows someone who knows someone who is directly involved in the industry would pay heed and get to work. M'ano asi.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

My 10 favorite Ghanaian songs

For one reason or the other, I have become a deejay. I have amassed an impressive collection of African music, especially Ghanaian over the last 7 years. It's been a long while since I attended a Ghanaian party, seen myself at Kenyan, Nigerian, and Senegalese parties this year. Maybe I should organize one? Create an afrodisiac boomerang atmosphere right in the thick of aburokyire. It can be done, I gots the music to back it up. Today, I am going to share my favorite 10 Ghanaian songs which will be first in Ghanaian song series. I'll leave out gospel songs here, will dedicate a post to that.

Before that, you have to check out my 10 favorite African gospel songs, 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 find the lyrics, video, audio, etc.

Nteteɛ Pa - Obrafour
Obrafour is my favorite artiste of all time. When I heard he was launching an anti-indiscipline campaign in 2003, he earned even more respect in my book. He was Ghana's best rapper and it's most conscious musician. I am a sucker for socially conscious music and Nya nteteɛ pa (which means 'be disciplined' in Twi) was the flagship song. It spoke to people of all walks of life, even the parliamentarians. Obrafour gained a lot of fans from this song. "Be at the right place, the right time, c'mon man, do the right thing". And he sings, let's do everything we can to help our nation. That's my anthem right there.

Esikyire - Wutah
I remember vividly where and when I heard this song for the first time. I was in a bus going to Accra from Kumasi and fell in love with the song from the very first lines. I am a huge fan of Wutah and though the song never had a video, it was hugely popular. Strangely enough, it's not on Youtube, but it's on Museke. My favorite love song of all time, it's comforting. It was a joy seeing them perform in person in December 2006. Esikyire means sugar in Twi and in the song they sing, "she has put some sugar in my mouth". Sweet!

Ako - Obrafour
By early 2004, people were complaining that Obrafour had become a highlife artiste who was enamored with singing. On this 2006 hit, he revisited his Last 2 hiplife roots, and delivered another instant rap classic. The lyrics are sick and they are like lines from rap battle verses. Hammer delivered another great beat and we were reminded how good of a rapper Obrafour was. The song has the deep lyrics we are used to from Obraour, the word play, rhyming, etc. It's believed the song 'dissed' Kontihene, and there's an element of truth in there. Ako means "fight or war" in Twi.

Do ne bi - Kwabena Kwabena
Kwabena is my favorite Ghanaian singer of the moment. This song was the follow-up single to his hugely successful debut album (with Aso). Do ne bi ended up being the soundtrack for maybe the best Ghanaian movie of all-time, the Perfect Picture. The song says "If someone loves you, love him/her too, because in this world, love goes where love is". The song is easy to listen to, easy to sing along to and easy to dance to. Like the way the song's tempo is upped as it progresses. It's the most played song on my iTunes now. Song's so good you don't even realise it is ending :-) You should look for Kwabena's unplugged videos. I want this guy to sing at my wedding.

African girls - 5Five
I saw the video on GTV once and thought, here's another group trying to make it big with some song about African women after Tuface's success with African Queen. After I heard the song in an Accra club, it had left African Queen's shadow and was bound to be a massive club jam. Hearing it on the Life N Living It soundtrack also gave it more cred (for me). Killy sounds like Akon on the track but do you think I care? The song signalled the rise of Ghanaian English hit songs. Definitely one of my favorite party jams. "She's pretty like she's half Fante". The remix featuring Iwan, Gyino, 4x4 and Kwaw Kese is fantastic.

Otoolege - Ofori Amponsah
Otoolege is one of the best and most popular Ghanaian songs ever. When the 21st century rolled in, hiplife ruled the Ghanaian music scene, it won all the major awards and had the most airplay. Otoolege changed that. All4Real featured Kofi Nti, K.K.Fosu and Barosky (a raglife musician). I believe his willingness to feature a hiplife artiste gave him that success to upstage the hiplife acts. The song's sang so well and so beautifully written. Otoolege means a stupid person. Song talks about this guy loves this girl so much and he does everything he can to please her but she doesn't appreciate it. So she sees him or makes him feel like a stupid person. This is the one song that deserved every accolade it's won over the years.

Me dofo pa - Kojo Antwi
This is my favorite Kojo Antwi song. I love the video, I think it features some Miss Ghana contestants. Kojo Antwi, aka Mr Music Man, is maybe Ghana's most popular musician. He doesn't need to promote his music, people buy it because it's from him. Is Kojo Antwi a Reggae, R&B, Soul or Highlife musician? He's a step above the rest. Another person I'll like to see perform live. I've never been to his 24th concert before. Sad. Me dofo pa means "my good love" in Twi.

Suudwe remix - K.K. Fosu
When I went to Ghana in the summer of 2004, my relatives told me about a new dance called 'Suudwe'. The hiplife trinity had been born and Batman, K.K.Fosu and Kokovelli ruled the music scene. This song was a party anthem and the collaboration was awesome. Batman (who is now Samini) had a Midas touch, if you featured him on your song, it was going to be a hit. No one really knows what Suudwe is but it has to do with sex (I think). "Edzɔ bɔdɔɔ, payanku, payanku" "Edzɔ bɔdɔɔ, kokroku, kokroku"

Tsi Obenke mi - King David
This is a song in Ga, a language I don't even understand. I think it means 'come near me' as in 'twe bɛn me'. Can someone transcribe the lyrics and do the translations for me? This is a spectacular jama/highlife/traditional song. If you thought Ga was a 'loud' language, think again.

Heavy - Obrafour
Obrafour never really shined at love songs. His strengths were conscious tracks, good head-bumping jams and songs that made you listen over and over. When he combined with Kofi B on 'Heavy', he had scored a real radio hit. Obrafour calls the girl he likes/loves 'Heavy'. Obviously, big women are not the epitome of beauty in the present day, but someone who's 'heavy' is. Obrafour is a great singer, if he wants to sing highlife, leave him be.

These are the first 10 songs that came to mind. If I remember one injustice that I missed, I will comment about it. Just like last time, I want to list a few honorable mentions. I'll do a list of my Ghanaian songs for 2009.

I love Praye a lot too - Jacket Remix, Shordy and Efie ne fie. We know him for Aketesea but I think Kontihene shined on Kro hin kro. Some other great Ofori Amponsah songs are Cinderella, Puduo, Lady, and Odwo. Buk Bak's Klu Brofo was my jam in 2002. I really like Daddy Lumba's Ahenfo Kyinie. Okyeame Kwame has been my fave for a while now and you should listen to Opabeni and Woso (remix).

I also like Atia Donko by Nana Quame, Ahomka womu by VIP, Siesie obaa no by Akatakyie, You lied to me by Becca, Akua Ataa by Kofi B, Mesan aba by Akyeame, Odo nnwom by Kofi Nti, etc. I also like more stuff from Obrafour, Wutah and Kojo Antwi, there are too many songs to list here.

If there are some Ghanaian songs you think should have made my list, let me know too.

Long live Ghanaian music.
Long live African music.
Long live Africa.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

My BarCamp Diaspora '09 interview with Shara Karasic

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.

After the event, Shara Karasic (one of the organizers of the awesome BarCampAfrica at Google in October 2008) asked me a few questions about the BarCamp and how it had gone. This is what I had to say

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h3LrVRB_-OU


I already reviewed the event on my blog at this link. Initiatives are coming out of the BarCamp already and as they became more structured, we'll let you know. It's taking awhile to consolidate the action items but once that is done, more initiatives shall follow. The initiatives that existed before BarCamp are only going to get stronger with new partnerships and support.

It's not easy organizing events at all and once you do it, you have more respect for those who do it and do it well. I had second thoughts about future barcamps while I was helping put this one together and I was leaning towards brushing my hands off it. You know, maybe this kind of thing is not for me, not my calling. Like I even know what my calling is (tsew). Turns out, I am passionate about what I have chosen to do and the shortcomings of this BarCamp only make me want to plan better ones. We need more events like BarCamp Diaspora, especially for Ghanaians. I haven't seen or heard of any similar events in all my time in the US, someone correct me if I'm wrong. Other countries have been doing it and doing it even bigger. I hope we'll get more support for future BarCamps now that we've built some more momentum and are working towards more traction.

With all the goodwill Ghana is enjoying these days, we have to milk this to the max. But the big question always is, who will take the initiative? Someone said he thought I was some old Odadee from the 70's organizing this thing. There's no reason why we should wait till we are 40. Many people have taken various initiatives in their youth and I can name a whole bunch of them who are my age and even younger. Like my friend's favorite signature says - The destiny of any nation is shaped by the opinions of its young men and women. Obama already called on young Africans to take charge, there are no more excuses to wait.

PS: If you are interested in helping out in future events or helping the GhanaThink Foundation implement more ideas, get in touch with me. Tsooboi! It's time to move, less talk, more action.

More 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 Akua Akyaa Nkrumah (an attendant who organized the scientifc research breakout session), Melanie Dickson (another attendee) and Ato Ulzen-Appiah (one of the organizers) - will feature that interview in a longer post. She also took two videos of the CreditSms (Mobile banking & Microfinance) session with Benjamin Lyon.

Akua Nkrumah tells us how BarCamp Diaspora inspires her to contribute to the future of Africa. BarCamp Diaspora took place on July 25, 2009 at Johns Hopkins SAIS in Washington, DC and was organized by GhanaThink.org.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xsiav7BuLbE


Law student Melanie Dickson talks about how she will get involved in Africa's development. At BarCamp Diaspora, Johns Hopkins SAIS, Washington, DC, July 25, 2009. Organized by GhanaThink.org.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NNJ7xDAusU0


CreditSms breakout session interviews
Benjamin Lyon explains Credit SMS, a tool that mashes up mPESA and Frontline SMS and helps facilitate microfinance through managing SMS communication, at BarCamp Diaspora at Johns Hopkins SAIS on July 25, 2009.
Part I.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wDj60-UTjOs


Part II.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cwODIXUXBBQ

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

I'm on TV! MIghTy African Music Video Program - Featuring VIP & TuFace's 'My love'

Most of you loved the first episode of the MIghTy African Music Video Program (MAMVP). Well guess what, thanks to Melanie Reynard, we have a second episode. This time we talked about a Ghana-Nigeria collabo between VIP and TuFace Idibia called 'My love'. This feature is for a TV program on KMTP TV (a non-profit public TV station in Palo Alto) 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 very first feature was on VIP's Manenko. You can see the video for this second webisode/episode below

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9pP4IStiBZg



The opening music was by Jonathan Ford and the video was edited by Melanie Reynard. I think this video is funnier than the last one though it's shorter. Melanie advises that people's attention spans are too short to do longer videos. So if you are reading this and you want to sponsor an awesome promotion of African music, contact the good folks at KMTP.TV through (info at kmtp dot tv) and let's get some more face time. Because you know Melanie and I 'do the best'. As you can see, I was wearing the same shirt as the one I wore for the Manenko episode. It's only because I love the shirt very much, but also because both episodes were short in one day. I am not trying to get all Nollywood up in here, but it didn't take long to film these. After getting these two in, the upcoming shoots should be easier. I am prepping for my Hollywood debut with my 'camera comfortability'.

I love the 'My love' song a bit more than Manenko because it's a great song and it features one of my fave singers, 2Face Idibia. I talked about the Promzy rap verse where he remixed Ghana's national pledge as a pledge to her lover. "I promise on my honour to be faithful and loyal; To my baby girl, the best in the whole world; I pledge myself to her service; With all my heart, and strength and soul (oh oh); I promise to hold in my high esteem; The love she has for me through all this hustling and jostling; And I promise to defend the good girl my wifey wifey; So help me God". How cute is that? I couldn't recite the pledge when I thought of it. I just tried to use Promzy's verse to recite it, and I still couldn't do it. Shame.

The other interesting part about the video was the Pidgin portion. Hearing Melanie say 'I dey go' was madd cute and hilarious. It became her favorite expression afterwards when we were going home. Pidgin English is awesome. The deal with it is to communicate in 'English' but in fewer words. Most people know Pidgin English as a Nigerian thing, but it has its forms in Ghana, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Cameroun, etc. And we spoke Pidgin in high school not because we couldn't speak proper English but because we used it as a buddy (coded) language. More and more Ghanaian musicians are singing in Pidgin now too.

I also talked about the collaboration between Nigerian and Ghanaian musicians, the emergence of 2Face Idibia, etc. The 'My Love' video was shot in Ghana by Phamous People, who so kindly provided a high quality video for this program. If you have access to your favorite African music video producer and you want to publicize their work, leave a comment or get in touch. The MAMVP serves to promote African music and educate viewers about the songs, videos, music, artistes, culture, etc. After taking on the pronunciation of "Twi" and teaching Pidgin, one may ask, what's next? I don't know either and that's why you should watch out for the next episode and find out. "I dey go"

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Not your average Saturday - Picking up and pick-up lines

The more interesting part of my Saturday was bound to come from my experiment with pick-up lines. Yes, I like to have some fun every now and then. I've always wanted to try some lines to see if they work, how they work and who they work on. When my cousin wrote a Facebook note called "official...Pick Up Lines....to all ya brothas without game...", he tagged me first. He tagged me first. Sadness eh? The lines were hilarious and I had decided to entrust my Saturday evening enjoyment in these sentences. What did I have to lose o? Kowtow. So, here we go. This is what happened o!

You already know I went to see FC Barcelona play in San Francisco. After I left the stadium with my friends, they dropped me off around the block where the venue for the picking-up testing would take place. I was starving so I walked around looking for chicken fried rice. Okay, am talking about chicken fried rice, not Asian girls. Besides, I decided not to test out the lines before I went to the club, because if the gods winked, smiled on and blessed me, I would probably have to end up at the End-UP with an uninvited guest who'll make all my costs double. I don't have luuchi (cash) for that. Also, I could only afford chicken fried rice at that time (11pm), though it was pretty late for any nice restaurants. Why would I insist on this type of food? After African food, Asian food comes next. It's just something about the fortune cookies I guess.

After unsuccessfully finding an Asian food place, I resorted to asking random people on the street for places. Many of these people were beggars and homeless. The others were waiting to enter clubs or go to clubs. One girl I asked said she didn't have a phone. What does that have to do with anything? Mmaa paa deɛ, ɛyɛ a, mokyerɛ wanwa o. The guy who offered to help me was some beggar guy who started to lead me toward a hungry man's paradise. I probably shouldn't have chosen or followed him, he's the kind of guy you'll think may be dangerous. I could care less. He asked me where I was from and my favorite answer to that these days is to say, "Guess". He figured I was African and started, "Zimbabwe? Nairobi?" "Nairobi is a city in Kenya, but it's not that country". He mentioned Nigeria too and after two minutes of no or wrong guesses, I finally told him. We still hadn't found an Asian restaurant that was open. This is when I told him I'll go eat some Mexicano food. He finally said the one thing we'd been wanting to say, "Can I get some money?" I had 6 $20 bills in my wallet and some change. I said no. He wasn't too happy and started saying some &%$#^% and this is when I walked in as far away as possible with one eye on my back. I finally settled on one Mexican restaurant after I paid my water bill. I love how they had Mexican drinks there, unlike our Ghanaian restaurants who now don't seem to sell Muscatella, Palm wine or Malta Guinness/Vita Malt anymore. A beggar came in and asked for a quarter, which I gave him. He wanted to pay the waiter for some water but this guy refused to give him some. I should have asked them if they were Chivas or Club America supporters.

Around 11:30, I had ended up at the End-Up. I decided to remain around the block till my friend arrived at the club. I still don't know why I thought this was a good idea. I sat at the bus stop, waiting for no bus. Buses came by as well as some shordies going to the same club. I thought, if these ladies see me sitting at this bus stop, they'll think am broke or something and when they see me later, they won't want to have anything to do with me. Ridiculous thinking? I think not. More time passed, and more ladies passed. Eventually, I decided to enter the club, sticking to the original plan and holding off on my pick-up lines till I was inside. 'Reggae gold', the best night club in town, cost $20 to get in. Pretty regular, and tonight, I will be entertained by various facial experiences and reactions. Good bargain.

Once I was in, I started looking around for my first victim. I was going to use this line first (the tall line) - "I'm not actually this tall. I'm sitting/standing on my wallet.". I had eyed a couple of girls but I figured if I tried that line, they'll say "we saw you when you came in, this is your bloodyforkin height". So, I chose this line, which we shall call the bet line - "My boys over there bet that I wouldn't be able to start a conversation with the most beautiful girl in the room. Want to buy some drinks with their money?". This girl was pretty hot but she was with this other girlfriend of hers. She'd seen me too. I asked this Jamaican dude standing next to me to act like he was my friend for a couple of minutes as I go chat up Miss-I'm-wearing-a-RemyMartin-shirt. I went up to her and said, "Hello, hi... and then the line". The shordy smiled at me (yay) and said she was working for Remy Martin at the club this night. Bummer. She then said she has some coupons to get Remy Martin drinks at discounted prices. Hmm, what was I supposed to do? Buy her some Remy Martin drinks for cheap? Buy her some other drink? Hire some other girl to work in her place? My cheap behind would do none of that with no moneyback/kindback guarantee. I said "okay, nice meeting you" and then after I had almost turned to go back, asked for her name. "Victoria". I said nice to meet you and then I mentioned my name. Bizzounce.

I had decided not to dance with anybody till I had used pick-up lines at least three times. I even avoided some girls I knew because I wanted to stay focused. Genius abi? I was hanging by the dance floor minding my business when some dude asked me to be a wing man as he'd seen some two girls. Since this girl hadn't noticed me, I walked up to her and used the 'tall line'. - "I'm not actually this tall. I'm sitting/standing on my wallet." She smiled/giggled and in the next few moments, we were dancing already. We danced for a while (you wanna know how long?) and then she had to go (use the rest room/get some air/send a text/use lip gloss/ or some other excuse like that). It happens all the time. Or? I called the move a success and sought my next victim. Let's just say that was the last time I said a word to her. I didn't get her name.

For the third installment in this experiment, I chose the 'angel line' - "I must be in heaven cause I've seen an angel". I was going to use it on some particular ladies but I felt they'd seen me already and must have been wondering "why didn't you come talk to me already". So I spotted a bevy of 4 ladies and chose the fairest (ahem, finest) amongst them. One of my friends (upon telling him earlier which pick-up lines I'd be using later) had told me to use this crazy line - "HI" Too common but it could be used in tandem with another. So I walked up to the girl, and after I said hi, I dropped the line and got the same reaction as always. I asked for her name and it was some unusual name which I had trouble making out. Melanie? Melomie? Miyomi? Naomi? Before I could find out if she was Ethiopian (Habesha) to add 'tadias', her friends were moving location and she was tallying along. We shall call it an incomplete experiment. Except I never tried to talk to her again so we shall call it a botched one.

I had spent the first 45 minutes of my club time testing out pick-up lines and decided that was enough and had to get my groove on. Went the old-fashioned common way and had mixed results. Finally, said hi to the friends I knew and more friends came through. I had a jolly good time, the music at Reggae Gold is always good so even if I am not dancing with some fly honey somewhere, "m'akoma tɔ me ya mu", I'm fine. Later on, I decided to use the one line I was advised not to try because I am rebellious like that. I was curious. Here's the sight line, "Do you believe in love at first sight, or should I walk by again?". I picked on my first white shordy victim and after walking by, dropped the line. She wasn't too amused. I forget what we said afterwards but the move flopped. Bizzie biz. I had said it, goodenuff.

The rest of my time at 'Reggae Gold' was regular; did some dancing, some nodding, some standing, some walking, some drinking water, and some talking. I didn't take any new phone numbers, which in hindsight probably should have. If I meet some new girl at ze club, and get a number, I feel like it validates my clubbing lol. But this night, I had completed a task I always wanted to do and I have stories to tell. Truth is, I didn't really want to get with any shordy, the plan was just to see how it'll go. That's not to say I won't use one on some girl I really wanted to get to know. Victoria was hot though, but I kinda lost track of her eventually. I've not decided if I'll use pick-up lines from now on but make no mistake about this - these experiments are not over. I ended up leaving the End-UP around 3am, which is the earliest I've left there because the club closes at 6am. Quite a rarity in these Bay Area parts. I called the day a success and went home with some Habeshas.

PS: This is the song I listened to most on my way to the club
Soundtrack - "She's pretty, like she's half Fante,
African girl with a body like yeah!
She shot a glance at me
Got me pulling over quick right there!
She looking cute and sexy
Cat-walking like she just don't care!
Girl if u really wanna party!
Come sip Henney with ur king in the club tonight!
Tonight is ur night pretty woman!
We'll be chilling at the VIP, aight!
" - lyrics from 5Five's African Girls.

Not your average Saturday - Watching FC Barcelona

I have had a bunch of interesting Saturdays recently but this last one, I knew it was going to be interesting. It's been a while since I filed in a diary entry. What was special about this Saturday? FC Barcelona was in town to play Chivas, a Mexican team. This was going to follow an MLS game involving the San Jose Earthquakes and Columbus Crew. As it was the second Saturday of the month, all roads would end up at the End Up for Reggae Gold which I wasn't going to miss for nothing. True to form, it was a memorable day and though it doesn't make a juicy entry like "Eye candy, free candy, and candy I don't have". I have so much to say I have to do it in two entries.

I've been having a sore throat recently so I woke up Saturday not feeling too well. Too bad the Ovaltine I have is solid block and I don't have the patience to figure out how to make it presentable for consumption. The only food I owned was some dish of spaghetti, corned beef and a little shito with some sauce to spice it up. I also owned a 'Jack in the Box' burger from the day before. I spent about $50 on food this week, which is unbecoming. Sometime during the week, I realised that the microwave in my apartment had disappeared. My roommate owns it, so I'm pretty sure it wasn't stolen but I haven't bothered to ask him. Why? Dude doesn't like me too much because it took me about 5 days to learn and remember his Eastern European name and I don't hang out with him. He's like 40 and a post-doc/assistant professor. From the very first day, I knew this match was not good.

Anyway, back to the food, I took this refrigerated burger out on a journey, looking for a microwave. I went to my some of my Katarific friends' place to use theirs. Katafiric refers to Black American. They were surprised to see me. Of course, they asked me what happened to 'my microwave' and I told them nothing but the truth. Judging by their reactions, they couldn't handle. 5 minutes later, I had my first meal of the day together with the rest of the coke I didn't have yesterday. As in Coca-Cola, as seen on TV about 15 years ago.

I had purchased group tickets to see two games - Columbus Crew & San Jose Earthquakes (MLS) and then FC Barcelona (Spain) & Chivas (Mexico). Tix were discounted from $70 to $60, and that made me feel good. None of these teams feature a Ghanaian player. For all the Ghanaians in Columbus, no one could try out for the Crew and make the team? I know there are players there according to this hilarious Youtube video. Why? MLS no fun to play? No soccer to do it? The Earthquakes have been having tryouts and I don't know why I haven't gone yet. They can use me in defence (because I do the best), they suck brutal. I'd already seen them play the LA Galaxy live and they were atrocious. David Beckham was easily the best player on the field that day (Landon Donovan was absent). I was extremely excited to see Barca - Messi, Henry, Dani Alves, Xavi, Toure - play. Too bad, Eto'o was no more at the Nou Camp and his replacement Ibrahimovic was nursing a injury. Had seen him play at Stanford last month so that was cool.

I set out with my friends from Stanford at the beginning of the MLS game hoping to catch the second half. I was wearing my customized MAN U jersey with my name at the back. You know, great conversation starter abi? Traffic & parking problems did not permit this and by the time I had my tickets, the MLS game was done. By the way, I handed off two Ghanaian movies to friends in traffic, cool huh? No need to meet up anyway, just do it on the road. The Earthquakes lost 3-0. Finally entered the stadium and sat in the lower stands where I could get a better view for the Barca game. I didn't sit where I was supposed to sit, I had to wagadree my way for a better experience. I only had to dodge a couple of security guys, no problemo. I couldn't believe the stadium wasn't packed. This is FC Barcelona for goodness sake! They should fill up a soccer stadium in the US. There's no reason why this shouldn't happen. There aren't enough internationals in the Bay Area? I know the Mexican massive is here though. Chivas is a huge team in Mexico so they probably had more support than the Blaugrana. Rafa Marquez didn't play but Mexico's Jonathan dos Santos played for Barca.

The game was the best soccer game I'd seen in the US, the atmosphere was great. There were chants of Chivas-Barca-Chivas-Barca. I was sitting by two other MIT Africans who were both Barca supporters. Barcelona is the truth. It ended 1-1 though and their first team couldn't register a goal though they played the first half in Chivas' half. Barcelona played some delightful football, you must wonder how they do it. They are almost always never outplayed. Lionel Messi never seemed to lose the ball, it was pretty ridiculous. Thierry Henry played like he was 40, everytime he went to the ground, it took him a while to get back up. Salif Keita and Yahya Toure started the game and they both gave great accounts of themselves. Too bad Eto wasn't here. Actually, he was. Some fans outside the stadium seemed to shout his name everytime I walked on by. :-) I like Gerard Pique a lot, I feel like he plays like me. I love how he charges upfront hoping to make things happen.

Barca played the second half with a new-look team, maintaining Victor Valdes and Dani Alves. Dani Alves is the best right back in the world and has been for the last 3 years. The guy na baller! Barcelona seemed to run everything through him in the second half. Chivas drew first blood with a nicely worked goal, they played much much better in the second half. Barca equalized through Bojan Krkic on a cross from Dani Alves. Both teams came close to getting the winner but to no avail. So Barca were a David Beckham freekick away from winning 2-zip the LA Galaxy, they whitewashed the Seattle Sounders by 4 and couldn't beat the Mexican team. The MLS just isn't there yet, no matter what people like Alexi Lalas want to say. I mean, do you take what people who have 'Lalases' say seriously? For y'all who don't know, a Lalas in Ghanaian lingo is a beard like what Lalas had back in the day.

My MIT African friends had taken a bus to get to the stadium so it was nice to catch a bus out of the stadium due to the crazy traffic. I had no gentleman's bills to pay for the bus. I wasn't going to let the lady driver kick me off the bus, too much embarrassment in front of 50 Mexican mamacitas. Either way, I showed my street smarts and while she was navigating the commotion of people trying to get into the bus, your-slicker-than-average-MIghTy-African slicked through the crowd into the bus. Free bus ride! Super! At least something free for the day to file this entry under free stuff. Will get to the latter parts of the day in the next entry.

Disqus for The Vim Views & Versions - Blogs of a MIghTy African