Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Letta to Osagyefo: Being the right man at the right place at the wrong or right time

Maximus Ojah writes ----

Hello Osagyefo,

It's been a week since we celebrated your 100th birthday. It's been ages since I last wrote to you. Coincidentally, my last letter was about your birthday and the debate about the Founder's Day celebration and holiday. No one listened to my suggestion and you were celebrated (alone) on your centenary with good measure. Everyone was talking about you, including the folks at How did you spend the day? Reflect on your regrets and achievements. Kwame, I find myself regretting way too much in my life these days. If it will make me grow old quicker than I want, please warn me. I am already worried about my age, but let's leave that for another day. What I want to know is, were you a little lucky to be born in 1909? In essence, were you a little lucky to be Ghana's first president instead of its 4th? Is there a little luck involved in creating and leaving a legacy? I will like to argue so.

I am really enjoying my infrastructure development class this term. I haven't enjoyed a class this much in a while. We are talking about and discussing issues and things that I care about. Earlier today, we talked about Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt and Barack Obama. They are all American presidents who led America in times of distress, recession, depression and turmoil. Seriously, it feels like they are fondly remembered because they were faced with bad situations and came out successfully out of them. If they had enjoyed easy going presidencies, no one may have revered them in history. Lincoln was an awesome leader but he had the backdrop of the civil war. FDR faced huge challenges and didn't succumb and is seen favorably. Barack Obama is mostly believed to be the beneficiary of the mess Dubya Bush created. If Barack had run for president in 1996, he may not have won. In a sense, he was lucky. True talk no?

And you Kwame, 1909 was a time to be born, wasn't it? By 1957, you were 48, had been in your political prime with years of independence struggle and experienced enough to lead the nation. If you were born 20 years later, you would have just been another member of the Committee for Youth Organisation (CYO). To be fair, other people had fought the same fight you had been fighting and it never really materialized till you were at the forefront but who said it was all you anyway? If those mosquitoes hadn't declared a war the British couldn't win in the 1950's, we'll still be yet to celebrate a golden jubilee. Not to mention the conspiracy theories that really made the British cease control of our dear Gold Coast.

People claim we give you too much credit for what you did. Well, obviously, not many people rate Ghana's subsequent leaders after you because they didn't have to start from zero or gain independence for a colonized people. You were a tough act to follow, Busia couldn't possibly come in and build another Akosombo Kanea, and a couple of universities. Our recent leaders have not been able to match those efforts but that's because they've had a little to work with. Look at Obenfo Asomdwoehene Atta Mills who is unfortunately being remembered for his gbaas (gaffes). How will he remembered? It's been almost 9 months at the helm of Ghana's ship. Why do we celebrate Africa's freedom fighters? It's because they were involved in some serious business that is nostalgic to us. Our presidents may be facing challenges today but nothing like what the first half of the 20th century presented. History shall not be kind to them. Look at JFK, what do we remember him for? The civil rights' times. Hstorical figures ensured that leaders in those times had their names etched in stone, whether for better or worse. If nothing exciting happens in your time, you quickly become forgotten.

Kwame, I am not wishing any bad fortune on Ghana or any nation so they can produce great leaders. I just think it's interesting how times of adversity produce men of character and stature. I hope we can find such candidates in the good and jolly times as well. Pray with us. I salute you though, lucky or not, you shall always be fondly remembered for the work you did for Mother Ghana. On this positive note, I'll go think of my own achievements and little glories to spur me on.

Yours truly,
Culled from Nwia's Letta to Osagyefo

Saturday, September 26, 2009

10 Hiplife songs you should know about

I watched a documentary called "Living the Hiplife" recently and hearing them play Reggie Rockstone's Visa made me feel nostalgic. I was at a Stanford Library borrowing movies and had searched for "the Godfather". This documentary came up in my search because the summary included the Godfather of Hiplife (aka Hiplife Grandpapa aka Ɔboɔba Reggie Rock aka Oseikrom President aka Reggie Rockstone). Anyway, listening to Visa and a couple other songs have made to write this blog post. I'll be sharing 10 hiplife songs I think you should definitely know about. They were either groundbreaking, popular, interesting or inspirational.

Before that, you have to check out my 10 favorite Ghanaian songs of 2009, 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 you feel the songs are worth the trouble. Click the songs to find the lyrics, video, audio, etc.

Will expand on these songs later but they are.

Visa - Reggie Rockstone
Rockstone had wowed us with tracks like Sweetie Sweetie, Nightlife in Accra and Keep your eyes on the road, but Visa was the track that made people wake up and realise hiplife was here to stay. Reggie talked about getting visas to travel abroad, an issue dear to the hearts of many Ghanaians. Writing the song like a letter was pure genius. "Akwantuo yɛ ya, yɛbounce wo visa a, ne ya; USA, I gots to go, yɛbounce wo visa a, ne ya; Akwantuo yɛ ka, yɛbounce wo visa a, ne ya". That Meka album is one of the best ever.

Maba - Ex-doe &
Wobeko - Chicago
Hiplife's history would be incomplete without these two songs. These songs represented the first major beef in hiplife. Ex-Doe & Chicago had collaborated on the classic Daavi medekuku, an Ewe & Twi hit song. They disbanded and the next thing we heard was Ex-Doe dissing Chicago, as well as Reggie Rockstone! It was a crime to diss Rockstone who was highly revered then. Ex-Doe rapped "Wofrɛ wo ho President; Wosɔre a, wonte wo residence". And then I like how he went on to shout-out a whole bunch of deejays. Chicago came back with a strong reply and both songs were major hits. I remember my friend using to sing Maba chorus as "Hey maba, ho maba, ɛnti montwa me quarter ɛ!"

Aketesea - Kontihene
I picked this song over Asesa simply because it was hugely popular and had the jama chorus. Aketesea was groundbreaking, it incorporated a jama song in its chorus and had a strong Ghanaian ring to it. He started the song with an idiom unheard of "Suban, ɛtɛ sɛ nyinsɛn, wontumi mfa nsie;
Wotwe wo mu tan a, ɛbɛpue". He wasn't the first hiplife artiste to emerge the big winner at the Ghana Music Awards, Lord Kenya had beaten him to that the previous year (2001). He made a strong statement with a super debut album.

Makola kwakwe - Tinny
Makola Kwakwe is probably still the biggest hit Ga hiplife song to date. Tinny's debut single signalled the emergence of Ga hiplife. I don't even know what he was saying in the song. Tinny was dubbed the Ga Obrafour which is saying a lot. The guy behind the beats was Hammer of the Last 2. Hammer was also behind the signature debuts of Obrafour and Deeba, who like Tinny, both won best new artiste when they emerged. Does Kwakwe last stop even exist?

Fefe n'efe - Tic Tac
This song was significant because of Tic Tac's collaboration with Nigeria's Tony Tetuila. This song opened the floodgates of Naija-Ghana collabos and music from both countries becoming popular in each other's clubs. The song sampled an old Fela Kuti hit (which is massive in itself) and has some of the most talked about hiplife lyrics ever - "Fɛfɛ n'ɛfɛ, na ɔbaa tu amirika a, amirika; Fɛfɛ n'ɛfɛ, na ɔsɔ ne nofo mu o, ɔbu adeɛ; Fɛfɛ n'ɛfɛ, sɛ ɛnsɛ ɛbɛte atɔ ntia, ɛbɛte atɔ ntia". Translated to English - it's because it is beautiful & stylish that when a woman runs, she holds unto her breasts but it's not because they are going to fall off.

Agyaesa (Hiplife review) - Bradez
This track was on Bradez's debut album and provided a recent history of hiplife. They talked about Tic Tac taking hiplife international, compilations by Obrafour and others, the passing away of Terry Bonchaka, the Tuabodom controversy. They also talked the KK Fosu & Batman beef, Reggie Rockstone 'retiring', to the controversy that Sidney's Obiaa nye obiaa created. It's also a great song. Bradez have become one of the popular hiplife groups, and are very popular these days.

Letter to parliament - A-Plus
This song makes the list because of the euphoria/controversy/popularity that followed it. A-Plus criticized Ghanaian MPs for not delivering on promises. It is rumoured that A-Plus received death threat and MPs wanted to take him to task. As usual, A-Plus criticized various political events of the recent past, especially criticizing the amount of money spent on Ghana's 50th anniversary of independence. The song's chorus used the chorus of Kaakyire's popular 24th song. Some lyrics - "Wontuaa wo ba school fees nwieyɛ; Nso ne birthday, watɔ nantwie ama no". He also teased the infamous transportation minister with this - "Na ɛmom, baako no; Yede wo akɔ aburokyire, kɔ ka AIDS asɛm; Wɔakɔhyɛ tokuro mu". Even President J. A. Kufuor was not spared.

Ako - Obrafour
This song was a throwback to Obrafour's beginnings. He reunited with Hammer (Last 2) on a track that bore resemblance to the famed singles from his 'Pae mu ka' album. The video was also highly rated. The song is believed to be a direct reply to beef between Obrafour's Last 2 Camp (including Hammer & Kwaw Kese) and Kontihene. Obrafour sang - "Wotwi ahenfie kaa a, na ɛnkyerɛ sɛ woyɛ ɔdehyeɛ ei; Ɛsono ɔbarima na ɛsono ɔbarima, ɛna ɛsono ɔkatakyie". He seemed to be addressing some of his hiplife competitors and separating himself from the pack. If Obrafour was engaged in a rap battle, he'd have floored somebody. The song's lyrics are simply super.

Keva (Bougez) - Ayigbe Edem
Daavi medekuku was a hit when it surfaced in the late 90's but we never had an Ewe artiste emerge till Ayigbe Edem. This song also introduced Sarkodie to many hiplife lovers which helped launch his own career. Ayigbe Edem's song was on a Hammer beat which also brought the beatmaker back into the spotlight after other producers had hogged the scene. Ayigbe Edem made Ewe rap cool and has since become a mainstream artiste. He is to Ewe rap what Tinny is to Ga rap. He's got mad swagger and he's not done. Announcing his entry into the hiplife scene backed by the king of the streets, Kwaw Kese, and the king of hiplife at the moment, Sarkodie, makes this song one to remember.

The Game - Obour & Okyeame Kwame & Richie
This song did the things Bradez's Agyaesa failed to do. It had a music video, it criticized all that was wrong with the hiplife industry; from the artists, to producers, to djs, to promoters, to distributors, etc. Interesting, Richie, who's been the top beat maker recently and through his beats is redefining what hiplife is, blessed this track with an instrumental. Okyeame Kwame rapped - "Ɛyɛɛ dɛn na; Yɛ nyinaa wɔ Ghana; Yɛte ha retwɛn manna; Nti obroni bi na ɔmbɛyɛ ne yie ansa; Kyerɛ sɛ yɛnnim nyansa; Obiara pɛ sɛ ɔkɔ international, ɛno ne answer?" Obour followed with "Kwame, yɛfiri one ansaana y'akɔ two; Wonni ntaban Ghana, ɛnso wopɛ sɛ wotu; Ɛbɛyɛ dɛn na wonmbutu"

Honourable mentions
Yaanom by Obrafour
Kwame Nkrumah by Obrafour
Nya ntetee pa by Obrafour
P1 by Okomfour Kwaadee
Tuabodom by Nkasei
Ahomka womu by VIP
Mobile phone by Reggie Rockstone
Manenko by VIP
Klu brofo by Buk Bak
Obia nye obiaa by Sidney (Barima)
Scent no by Sidney (Barima)
You may kiss the bride by Bollie
Odiem by Kwaw Kese

Long live Hiplife.
Long live Ghanaian music.
Long live Ghana.

Monday, September 21, 2009

September 21, 2009 - Kwame Nkrumah's 100th birthday - blog roundup

Today is the 100th birthday of Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah. He's being honoured in Ghana with September 21 instituted as Founder's Day, a national holiday. Many people travelled to Ghana to celebrate his centenary. I wanted to take this opportunity to honour Ghana's founding father and remember him once again. I don't really have much to say about Nkrumah today, but I will talk about him later on. So I'll use this blog to recap a bunch of recent Nkrumah related blog posts.

Concerning the Founder's Day debate, I blogged about it here through one of my pseudonyms, Maximus Ojah. Read about it here. In fact, if you've heard of the Lettas to Osagyefo, I am the one who writes them. Yes. You can see the whole bunch here. has an Nkrumah theme so a lot of Ghanaians have been talking about Osagyefo. My friend, Edward Tagoe has been blogging a bit about Nkrumah recently. He mentions moving Nkrumah's remains from the Mausoleum to Nkroful. It will cost the nation some money but I think it's a good idea. Moving any form of attention from Accra and opening up some other place in Ghana is always a great idea if you ask me.

Jemila of Circumspect talked about Kwame Nkrumah's vision on the Ghana Unite blog. To quote her: "I don't idolize him, but I definitely do admire and applaud him. I strongly believe that the true mark of an individual's success is in how (much) he or she is able to positively impact others. Nkrumah definitely did that. Heck, he is STILL doing it."

Mac-Jordan of AccraConscious Forever offered some quotes by Dr. Kwame Nkrumah. One favourite Nkrumah soundbite is "We face neither East nor West; we face forward" but this one's great too - "We have the blessing of the wealth of our vast resources, the power of our talents and the potentialities of our people. Let us grasp now the opportunities before us and meet the challenge to our survival." There's a controversial quote in there that I will revisit later.

Nana Fredua Agyeman reviews David Rooney's book called "Kwame Nkrumah: Vision and Tragedy" on his blog. He mentions "Most of us born way after the Nkrumah era (1950 to say 1970) know little of this son of Africa who has being both deified and demonised in one breath, whilst being labelled as a "great African and not a great Ghanaian" by academicians such as Professor Ali Mazrui."

Abena of "Chardonas - Ramblings of a Procrastinator in Accra" unleashed a 'new' old photo of Dr. Nkrumah online. She also makes a pledge to find out a lot about this historic man. We must all learn about our history. Read her post here.

One Ghana, One Voice offers a 100th Anniversary Poem - A Child of Saturday by Rob Taylor. Last but not the least, Nana Yaw Asiedu offers a side to Nkrumah we may not have known: He laughed.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Our Black Stars - nicknames, rumours, etc

After my last blog post on Ghana's Black Stars, the issue of nicknames for our national team players came up. With the help of Ghanaweb Soccer forum's Mamamia, we have a bunch of nicknames. We can always make up new ones though. Was thinking I'd add a few more details about the various players. Let's learn a little more about our squad.

Michael Essien - Essien is known as the Bison. I believe this is from his time at Lyon (France) where he was known for his tireless running and work-rate. Essien is one of the best midfielders in the world and it's great to have in our team. Did you know he's dating Nadia Buari, one of Ghana's most premier actresses? She's the lady who played the Beyonce character in Beyonce, the President's Daughter, which is arguably the most popular African movie of all time. That's one celebrity couple.

Richard Kingston - Olele. I am not sure why he is called Olele. Is that a Ga name? Anyone know what that means.

Matthew Amoah - Klinsmann. Okay, Matthew is a goal poacher but does he even play like Klinsmann. Mamamia tells me he adores him.

Prince Tagoe - Prince of Goals. Prince Tagoe has had a good goal rate everywhere he's gone and we all hope he can do the same while he is at Hoffenheim in Germany. Did you know he's the producer behind Praye's Angelina song? Yes, he's started this GOALS Multimedia record label in Ghana and also produced Castro Destroyer's recent single, Fakye. He's scoring goals in entertainment too. I think we need to call him Milo or Nestle or Okada or Cycle though giving his penchant for bicycle/scissor kicks.

Laryea Kingston- Bra Laryea. This would make sense if he had a cameo in Mzbel's 16 years video. Then again, most people identify the name Bra Laryea with the Mzbel's song. We need to find him something better. He can cross the ball well and is a good free-kick taker so maybe some kind of a Beckham reference?

Appiah - Tornado. Not sure why he's named after this natural disaster but it sounds good to me. We all love his hand-turning goal celebrations. The last time, a friend asked me to do the same when I scored a goal in a pickup game (this friend is Turkish, Appiah is highly revered there for his days at Fenerbache).

Samuel Inkoom - Eboue. Samuel is a new kid on the block, playing at FC Basel. He's gonna be great. He is able to play right back and right winger, I guess that's why he's called Eboue. Don't like this nickname. What will he do if he has to play against Eboue? With time, he could even become a better player.

Asamoah Gyan - Baby Jet. Is Gyan known for his pace or his wayward shooting? I like the nickname though.

Anthony Annan - Pablo Aimar/Pokinho. I love the Pokinho bit, I think it stems from his poking Mikel Obi in the eye once? Either way, he's a very pesky player so something to do with peskiness works.

Manuel 'Junior' Agogo - Agogoal. What can we say about this rockstar? During the 2008 African Nations Cup' in Ghana, he was the talk of the town. Grandfathers were giving up their granddaughters to him in marriage. He's also been called Super Agogo. He'll see if he can ride his rockstar status all the way to South Africa.

John Mensah - Rock of Gibraltar. Now, here's a rock in defense. We can't afford to not have him in our defensive set-up, he's a key part to our success. He's always wearing some religious T-shirts too, so he is a spiritual rock too.

Ahmed Barusso - Okpo dade. But how about Tiabs? Have you seen this guy's calves? They are wondrous. If he had a little more skill, he would never ever lose the ball.

Sulley Muntari - Konongo Pele. It's believed he's from that area hence the name Konongo Pele. We can do better though, someone find a nickname for this guy. How about the time he vowed to not play for the Black Stars because someone had assaulted his girlfriend, Menaye Donkor? Do you remember Menaye, she is a former Miss Ghana or Miss Universe Ghana and is now a model? She fine pass. Muntari dey enjoy better.

John Paintsil - ..... how doesn't he have one? I mean, this is the guy who celebrated with an Israeli flag after Ghana scored a World Cup goal and almost strained ties between Ghana and the Arab nations? We've seen do some strange goal celebrations as well. Help us out here, he needs a nickname.

There are more to come. We need to find some for Haminu Dramani, Kwadwo Asamoah, Opoku Agyemang, Harrison Afful, Derek Boateng, Kevin Prince Boateng, etc.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

My top 10 African songs of 2009 (so far)

Last time, I took you through my top 10 Ghanaian songs of 2009. Well, I listen to a whole bunch of stuff from across the continent and want to share my African top 10. These are the songs that should be gunning for the awards and ruling the dancefloors. What do I know huh? :-) I know these jams are lekker and am pretty crazy about them. One song I am not adding to this list but is poised to join the list by the end of this year is P-Square's newest single called Danger. Yes, Do me & Ifunanya are officially old now. The Okoye brothers say wahala dey. These P-Square jams just grow on you. Ladies and gentlemen, I dey see danger; You go see danger; Omo, see danger; We dey see danger; Omo wahala dey!

Before that, you have to check out my 10 favorite Ghanaian songs of 2009, 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.

Go down there - 2Face (Nigeria)
It's only right that I start off with my man 2Baba. Many people have said his Unstoppable album is crap but I don't agree. You have to give 2Face's music listening time and then you see how he shines. This track features Ghana & the UK's Sway. The lyrics are awesome and that sold the song for me. "For making me able to see the light from the darkness, But now the light has been blinded by all these madness I see everywhere; See, I can't believe this is all happening in my own time, someone should have told me in time." No, you don't wanna go down there. Deep. The song is political. Enuff said. Way to go, 2Baba! I also love his Appreciate it, Enter the place and Feeling you songs. But 2Baba, is that song TFlex with R.Kelly fake?

Leo (+ remixes) - A-Y (Tanzania)
This dude is one of the best African rappers and should be in the running for 2009's best. You should hear his tracks, Freeze with P-Square and the Leo remix with Kenya's Avril. He collaborated with Africa's best and came out with some of its top songs. Leo has a great chorus and A-Y's flow is super too.

Presta Atencao - Perola (Angola)
Aish, Angola! I fell in love with Perola years ago with her Break it song. I waited impatiently for her to release new music and she didn't disappoint. Presta is one of my most played songs this year and I love watching the video. Perola is beautiful! Aish, Angola! I don't even understand the song. It has that thing about Zouk & Kizomba songs, it just wows you.

Where you are - Blu3 (Uganda)
Blu3 has been rated the best girl group in Africa but I think this song is their best so far. The rest of Africa agrees as its video has been a mainstay on MTVBase Africa this year. The song was enriched with the presence of Uganda's top group nowadays, Mowzey Radio & Weasel. The vocals on this jam are amazing. "Nakuwaza, nakuwaza, girl, I am looking for you; Natamani (natamani); Unaenda wapi". They are not missing Cindy much but Cinderella Sanyu is doing very very well for herself as a solo artist too. More on her later.

Breadwinners - Proverb (South Africa)
This one features two South African rap heavyweights. In their own words, this song is for the good fathers out there. HHP is one of Africa's best and he blessed this Proverb single. This should be a Father's day anthem. not this song. "A lil something for the Fathers; That know how to be a man and work harder; To give something to the Fam; And would rather make sure the kids are fed dinner; I'm talking to the real bread winners/ yeah you.."

Yori yori - Bracket (Nigeria)
This is another song I can't get enough off. It's arguably the top Nigerian song this year. When non-Nigerians are asking you about it, you know it's legit. Bracket is being called the new P-Square but with a few more songs like Yori Yori, they can get out of their shadow for good. "Ma lovey lovey, with you everything is welli welli; Your love dey make my heart do yori yori; Nobody can love you the way I do;
Am with you ma lovey lovey". Sing it again.

Meme pas fatigue - Khaled (Algeria) & Magic System (Cote d'Ivoire)
No group in the whole of Africa knows how to throw the party like Magic System. If you don't agree, just know that they are the folks that brought us Africa's party anthem - Premier Gaou. Just to give them more props, they are also behind tracks like Un gaou a oran, C'est chaud, ca brule, Ki dit mie, Bouger Bouger, Zouglou Danceetc. This song's video features Frank Ribery. Yes, France's best soccer player. That's how big the group is in France and Europe. Oh, and it features Algerian music legend, Khaled, who sang the famous Aicha, Aicha song.

Safe - M.I. (Nigeria)
We can't talk about 2009 without mentioning M.I. aka Mister Incredible. He's widely regarded as Naija's best rapper. His freestyles and rhymes are sick. "This is Armageddon dog, hear the sirens; And no, I am not retiring; No, I’m never tiring, these lyrics that I’m firing; But don’t be dismayed, ‘cos Zenith Bank is hiring; For instance, there’s no resistance; The flow persistent and so consistent; Other rappers distant, they should have listened; Because I’m the engine room and the gear and the piston; There’s no rest see, at best you’re assisting; I’m what they’re missing, I’m why they listen; I’m the heart police dawg, I’m cardiac-arresting; The best thing and you’re just microphone-testing". Chineke me! This guy na oga! Chei! No wonder, Djinee asks if we're safe right here.

Voodoo - Lizha James (Mozambique)
The Mozambican pandza & South African kwaito collabo is too much. Mandoza is revered highly amongst Kwaito enthusiasts and Lizha picked the right guy. This jam is for the clubs and I really wish I knew what they were saying, especially since it's called Voodoo. I love the video too. Lizha James is blowing up, once she gets some collabos in with East & West African artistes, she may ascend the throne officially as Africa's Beyonce. Yup, I am calling it.

Tonight - Amani (Kenya)
Last but definitely not the least. Ogopa Deejays' first lady came back with this fiery single which has her gunning for a bunch of awards. It's a great song too.
"Tonight, I am letting go oh oh; I say tonight, I am letting go oh oh; Na leo, ni leo oh oh oh; I will give him all of me" Mmhh hmm.

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 Fally Ipupa's Chaise Electrique (DR Congo) featuring the one and only Olivia. You remember her? She was the first lady of G-Unit. Yes, African musicians are doing it big. I love that song. The other African king of party music, DR Congo's Awilo Longomba has a track for y'all too, this time featuring Awa Imani on C'est pas complique. Other songs are Tentacao by Gama (Cape Verde), Wa mpaleha by Lira (South Africa), Bread & Butter by Mowzey Radio & Weasel (Uganda), Pii pii by Marlaw (Tanzania), and Koni koni love by Klever Jay (Nigeria).

I don't like these songs that much but they've made huge impressions this year. From South Africa, Winnie Khumalo for Live my life, and Nutty Nys for Nka mo dira. Redsan has had a good one with Yule Pale. There's also Wande Coal with Bumper to bumper. You could also pick Ralph Anselmo's Assumir Barulho or Big Nelo's Karga if you are talking about Angola.

There's love for Senegal in the form of Adiouza with Maadou and Titi with Music. Uganda's Cindy (formerly of Blu3) is having a thrilling start to her solo career and her Ayokyayokya hit is burning up boomboxes. I am also feeling Yenze by Toniks (Uganda). Hey, how can we forget Burkina Faso? Yeleen's Ca ne connait pas song with Magic System is great too. Kenya's Wyre got conscious with Uprising. Brenda may not be new to Kenyans but that beat for her Good for nothing single will endear her to many Africans. My man Mokobe (Mali) has been busy too, he's on (Algeria) Rim-K's Celebration off his Maghreb United compilation and then DJ Kitoko's Phenomenal (Cote d'Ivoire).

Long live African music.
Long live Africa.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Jama reunites people! A case of two videos

I know the Old Schools Reunion happened a while ago in Accra recently but it's never late to blog about it. I like the idea of bringing old students of many schools together in one place. There is the nostalgia felt like the old times of Interco n Superzo, reuniting with friends and the sheer entertainment provided as well. I attended the 2004 edition at the Aviation Social Center and it was so much fun. I met a number of friends from Presec and KNUST JSS I hadn't seen in ages. I heard the event was extended to Kumasi a few years' back and that is great too. I had so much fun at the sole event I went to and I was singing jama songs all day, In fact I recorded a video.

I recorded a video of Presec colleagues singing 'All my sins shall be taken away'. I had a few other videos that I lost. Bummer. We never said 'Bummer' in Presec. Neither did we say the 'F' word. I say the 'F' word so many times these days, I don't even know how that happened. In fact, I am looking for a way to stop so everytime I have to say it, I will say 'Jollof'. I was gonna use Waakye but that's a bit of a mouthful. Or like a friend suggested, I could just pay someone a gentleman's buck everytime I used this ungentlemanly word. :-) Nah, not gonna use that. If I tried that, in a week, I'll be effed. I mean jollofed. !@₵#@#!&%₵#!

Here is the video I was talking about. Jama is so much fun. It makes the cheerleading we see in the US colleges and schools look like ballet compared with break-dancing. Or something similar.

I've also attended the Ghanaian New York Picnic, which is normally the first Saturday in August. I went for the first time in 2005, and it was a lot of fun. Not as much fun as the Joy 99.7FM Old Skuuls Reunion, but it offered the same things - reuniting with friends, some entertainment, making new friends, meeting Facebook & Hi5 friends for the first time, and some small jama. Some Augusco boys wanted to show they were present so they shiied some jama, which I recorded here

These Augusco boys could draw more Augusco students to their midst. It's like if you are from Augusco, come meet some more Augusco boys. Different schools had their particular jama songs though some jams are the same across the board.

I miss shiing jama. In high school, the specious/respectful/disciplined/neat students didn't want to get involved with singing at the top of their voices. Granted, some of the songs were pretty profane so it was understandable for some people to desist from joining the chorus. The spirit of jama goes all the way to the national level where the Black Stars are urged on by the supporters' unions. Jama must not die. The songs are being passed on from class to class and some have entered the private domain of commercial music. Kontihene used one for his hit Aketesea song. I hear Nkasei's Yefri Tuabodom is from a Jama song as well. Many Ghanaian parties have this Jama song by 4x4 on their playlist as well.

Long live Jama!
Long live reunions!
Long live school spirit!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Do you remember wins or losses the most? Congrats MJ

As I am typing this entry, I am watching the induction of Michael Jordan into the Basketball Hall of Fame. MJ is the greatest basketball player ever and also one of its biggest winners. MJ was a fierce competitor and cared about winning so much. He didn't mind his individual stats much, he always wanted his team to win. I was thinking about winning and losing yesterday and how much I hated to lose. Then I thought to myself, I think I forget my wins and that my losses are more memorable. Is this common? Are our losses more memorable than our wins? We have seen countless highlights of MJ, draining buzzer-beaters, the flu game, the Dream Team, the Shot, etc. MJ didn't lose much in his career but does he vividly remember when he failed?

Michael Jordan never used to win when he first joined the NBA in 1985. When he won his first title in 1991, he had endured years of losing. When he un-retired in 1995, he played and then lost again. This is a quote from a recent ESPN article concerning MJ's competitive nature. "Everyone heard of our famous card games," said former Bulls guard B.J. Armstrong. "Why did they last forever? Because Michael never loses. Whatever he's doing, he's going to win because he's going to keep on playing."

For the last few years, I've been playing a lot of soccer/football. When I play, there's only one thing on my mind. To win. Or do whatever it takes to win. It could be claimed that I'm not a great footballer, and all bad footballers play defence. Last time I checked, unless you were Brazil, defence wins championships in soccer too. Everyone wants to score goals anyway, so why not allow them to do that and pay attention to not conceeding goals? That's dedication to a cause.

When I lose a game, it sticks around for awhile. You want to win the next one so you keep on thinking about the last loss. It doesn't matter if the loss wasn't your fault, you just don't want it to happen again. When you lose, you begin to take little glories. "I scored a goal". "I saved many goals". "We scored the last goal". But at the back of everyone's mind, the result is there. It may be pick-up, it may be a friendly, but it's a loss.

In high school, I seemed to win everything. I never lost a debate in which I represented Presec. The one-time I didn't represent Presec, we lost. No, I didn't curse our team due to my absence on it. I don't even remember why I was left off the team. Rumour has it that 'authorities' called for me to be axed off the team because I may have jeopardized our chances. Losing that inter-regional debate in Koforidua hurt so much, even though I wasn't on the team. We cried foul. I also competed for Presec in some 'What Do You Know' quizzes and won both times. I still remember my failure to make the school's Brillant National Science & Maths quiz. It had been my goal when I enrolled in Presec after the disappointment in how my Kiddie Quiz participation with USTJSS ended. Now that was a memorable loss.

Since high school, I've struggled to win much. We'd always fall short in our intramural game competitions. I didn't partake in any academic competitions at MIT, which is a story for another day. When I came to Stanford, I participated in some Trivia Afriques and only won after my third run. Whew! I felt I had lifted a monkey off my back. And then we finally won a soccer tournament (SASA world cup)!. Double whew! It got to a point when I thought I was 'bad luck'. The few Kotobabi Soccer Stars games I missed, we won. Call it superstition, but I'll rather we won even if I wasn't a contributor.

Back to MJ. We all know him as a winner. I'll argue that if you win most of your life, especially on the big stage, you remember your losses better. Losing is uncommon to you so they become more memorable. If you are not winning all the time, your wins become more memorable. Think about relationships with women. If you have your way with picking up women, getting phone numbers, etc, you will remember quite vividly the times you failed. If you don't have that much luck, charm, whatchumacallit, then you'll probably remember the times you were successful. I remember all the great times I had with women (and people in general) but I can't seem to forget the regrets.

I am off to watch some more Michael Jordan moments while I prepare to go play soccer again. You should watch some too. MJ is phenomenal. Many basketball players all over the world wear #23 in his honour. 23's fame has transcended other sports. When David Beckham realised #7 was taken by Raul when he arrived at Real Madrid, he chose #23. When I bought my first Manchester United jersey, I chose the number #23 as well. What was I going to choose? #10? I am no Abedi Pele. My favorite number is #3 but I am not a left-back. I am unhappy with the way numbers don't mean much when it comes to football positions these days but when I could choose a number, I had to choose a winning one. And that is #23. Given the impressions losses make on my psyche, I had to go with a number like that.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Kenya's Malooned and other African movies

Good morning my neighbours! There was a time when Africa's representation in movies was synonymous with 'Coming to America'. The film was shown on tv in Ghana countless times when I was young and yesterday I had the chance to see it again. As I am older now, I watched the movie with more of a critical eye than back then and saw the stereotypes, etc. I am not about to get worked up about Africa's portrayal because I also watched Kenya's Malooned movie which I believe is one of the better African movies I've ever seen. African cinema is coming off age, especially local movies. There are a lot of African films outside the Nollywood circuit and we should begin to watch them. I'll try to share a few of them with you.

Malooned is a film by Kenya's Cinematic Studios, produced and directed by Bob Nyanja. I first heard about it through my Kenyan buddy here. I borrowed the DVD from Stanford's library and watched it a second time. For those crying for African films to have interesting and different plots, how about this one - Malooned is a movie about a man and a woman stuck in a toilet over a holiday weekend. Genius! You don't need too many characters, don't need too many sets, don't have to worry about how to show special effects with respect to blood. You know how it's done in many African movies? They use knockouts and dye. Sad. Anyway, Malooned was a low-budget film but very very well done in my opinion.

The movie featured Charles Bukeko, who is famous outside Kenya for his role in this Brrr Coca Cola advert. Godffrey Odhiambo plays a Luo man who is malooned in the loo together with Gabriella Mutia plays a Kikuyu woman. I like how their discussions involve Kenyan politics, their different relationships, etc. Turns out Godffrey's character, Luther Vandross Odhiambo, attended Stanford University. Cool huh? It's not too cool when you think of some of the ridiculous ideas he tries out to get the twosome out of the loo. I watched the making of the movie and was impressed with how they went about the production. The movie was done in 10 days (whittled down from 21). 10? Sounds like Nollywood to me. Movie-making is not easy and seeing how the movie was shot was eye-opening for me. You should see Malooned if you get a chance, I highly recommend it.

Here are a few other Eastern African movies of note. Kenya's From a Whisper commemorated the 10th anniversary of August 7th terrorist bombing in Kenya in 1998. It was directed by Wanuri Kahiu. Trailer here. I am hoping to see this movie soon. It features Godffrey Odhiambo as well as Corrine Onyango. The movie won a bunch of awards at the last African Movie Awards. Wanuri's Dada Productions also came out with Ras Star, a short film about a teenage rapper, Amani, who's from a staunch Muslim family. The film is loosely based on Necessary Noize's Nazizi. Watch it here. Another Kenyan movie/documentary of note is "Coming of Age" by Judy Kibinge talking about three political ages - Kenyatta to Arap Moi to Kibaki. Learn about it here.

I am eagerly anticipating the arrival of South Africa's White Wedding movie in my lap. After the success of serious-minded movies like Yesterday, Tsotsi, Jerusalema & District 9, it would be nice to watch a South African comedy. Kenneth Nkosi and Rapulana Seiphemo are two of my favorite actors now. I also watched 'Catch a fire' recently which I loved. Terry Pheto makes me happy. Why isn't she acting anymore? She's h0t! I'll also like to see Gugu & Andile and Izulu Lami, which has been dubbed South Africa's Slumdog Millionaire.

Here's a Nigerian movie from outside the Nollywood circuit that looks great. Relentless. Watch the trailer here. The movie featured Jimmy Jean Louis (who was the hotshot in Phat Girlz) and Nneka, the Nigerian-German singer who's been nominated for Channel O & MTV Africa Music Awards this year. It is set in Lagos. Another Naija movie to check out will be Arugba. Watch the trailer here. It seems to be your typical traditional West African movie (in Yoruba this time) but much better. We'll see.

We all know about Hotel Rwanda but what about another movie about the Rwandan genocide? Featuring some Rwandans. Rwanda, Le Jour Où Dieu est Parti en Voyage (Rwanda, the Day God Went on a Trip) was produced by Artemis and Mugho Productions in 2008 and features Rwanda's R&B/Zouk singer, Shanel. It's in French.

If you are looking for a few more Africans to see, you can start with the AMAA 2009 nominees. I am also looking for suggestions of great African movies that came out recently. So please do tell. Thanks.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Ghana qualifies for South Africa 2010 - the tasks ahead

Last weekend, Ghana became the first African country to qualify for the World Cup other than the host country, South Africa. It's always nice to set the pace and finish the job with two games to spare. We made our first mundial (Germany 2006) and came away as the best placed African country and doing better than many people thought we would. In fact, at one point during the World Cup, Ghana was the most searched item on Google. If Twitter was as big as it is now, Ghana would be a trending topic too. We'll love to be trendy, but we should want to be winners. We won't sneak up on anyone next time and there's no reason we can't go all the way. We just need to do our homework, prepare adequately and give it our best. Go, Ghana, go!

Some critics would say we had an easy qualifying group. We earned whatever favors we got by being one of Africa's 5 best teams. We executed the job well, with four games played, we won all our games and didn't concede any goals. Mali has some world-class players, it's not easy to play in Sudan and Benin would tell you there are no minnows in soccer these days. Africa is too passionate about the sport to expect to walk into someone's home and emerge triumphant. We had some scares in the first round of qualifying, we barely won our group which featured Gabon, Lesotho, and Libya. Our strikers found their scoring boots and or defence was unforgiving. Now that's the hallmark of a great team. Midfields are absolutely key in today's game and it can be argued that we have the best midfield in Africa.

I didn't watch any of Ghana's qualifying games which is sad since I am normally on top of these things. I did get to see our friendly yesterday against Japan where we performed the biggest Black Star choke job, conceding 4 goals in 45 minutes to lose to Japan, a team we had dominated in the first half. I was concerned with our team, we have some stalwarts like Michael Essien and Sulley Muntari, but to be a world-class team, we need world-class players. If our strikers have bad first touches, we can't expect too many goals. If our players can't tackle cleanly, we will be in danger too many times. African teams in general need better discipline, if there's one thing these 'foreign' coaches have added to our game, it's the team discipline and you can argue the same for better tactics.

Our winning eleven can get better but I feel this is the best formation we have as at now - 4:4:2. Richard Kingston in goal; John Paintsil & Harrison Afful as right & left-back, Eric Addo & John Mensah in the heart of defence; Kwadwo Asamoah & Sulley Muntari on the wings, Anthony Annan holding with Michael Essien ahead of him; then we have Asamoah Gyan and Matthew Amoah in attack. The debate of playing 4:5:1 or 4:4:2 in Ghanaian circles is a recent one, 4:4:2 is what we've done for a long time and it still works. Especially when we don't have any standout strikers, with stalwart eye-for-goal midfielders and a possession game. Gyan and Amoah drop deep to play some football, so it's okay to start them both. Even if we miraculously get Super Mario Balotelli (Barwuah), we should stick to this formation. We are watching you Milo. Nestle our ambitions with better tactics, selections and substitutions. :-)

In goal, Richard Kingston is very reliable. Olele is a gem and he's not losing his agility with age. After him, there's a drop-off. William Amamoo showed he was not ready for the big stage. George Owu is #2, and I hope we get Adam Kwarasey to join us too. In defence, John Paintsil may disappoint every now and then but I think he's our best option. His playing at Fulham game-in game-out is no fluke. I don't know Emmanuel Boakye is faring and we all hoped Real Madrid's Daniel Opare would be ready by now, but he's not. Our biggest problem is at left-back which Harrison Afful is staking claim too. Maybe Kevin Boateng can bring his brother Jerome along from Germany and solve that for us? There are no obvious folks there, someone help me out. Isaac Vorsah got a chance to play in defence against Japan, and from what I saw, he disappointed. He committed too many fouls, that's suicidal on the big stage. I like Francis Dickoh better and that Jonathan Quartey kid too will do. Eric Addo may be old and slow but he's a very smart player. The Rock of Gibraltar's pace can suffice for Eric's flaws. John Mensah is our rock, and he has to stay fit for our sake.

Don't we just love our midfield! Anthony Annan should get a better club, he's fantastic! He has many nicknames but can we call him Makelele? Pokinho must start for the Stars. We are not sacrifing attack to play him but we are strengthening our defence. Unless you are Brazil, defence does win championships in football too. Stephen Appiah must find a club. At this rate, we can't afford to play him more than 15 minutes in any of our games unless he does and is fit as a fiddle. I say we take him to South Africa for his leadership abilities to inspire the boys. Michael Essien, Sulley Muntari & Kwadwo Asamoah should complete our midfield. Quincy Owusu Abeyie would have been awesome for us, and he still has time to make the squad. Dede Ayew hasn't improved so he may lose out. I hope Kevin Boateng shines at Portsmouth to make our squad, as well as Moussa Narry. Haminu Dramani, Derek Boateng, Opoku Agyemang, should be counted as well.

I'll keep on praying that we get Mario Balotelli (Muntari, do something). I saw Mario when he came to Palo Alto but I didn't speak Italian. I mean, he doesn't speak Twi, does he? Otherwise, we have Asamoah Gyan & Matthew Amoah to rely on, with Prince Tagoe waiting. We should definitely take Ransford Osei with us, I am pretty sure if we need to call on him, he can deliver. BabyJet has to take shooting lessons, Klinsmann Amoah has to work on his touch and Prince Tagoe needs to develop a go-to move other than the bicycle kick.

Osee, osee, Black Stars ei, forward ever! We are going for gold. Let's sharpen our tools and success shall follow us. Tsooboi!

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