Monday, May 31, 2010

The horror movie phenomenon - a MIghTy African fear

Which is scarier? Playing physical football risking injuries, facing an exam, or watching a scary/horror movie? If you are me, scary/horror movie is your answer. Last Saturday, I was criticizing a fellow Ghanaian because he was fearing the physical, big-looking Nigerian opponents he was about to face on the football field. I told him to man up and not be afraid, because soccer was a physical sport. I called him Fearoo! Little did I know, I would have my own 'fearoo' moments later that night. I am not a fan of horror movies and I stay away from them. In fact, I had sworn never to watch a horror movie after I left Presec. Like they say, never say never. Last Saturday, I saw Nightmare on Elm Street, marking the first time I'd watched a horror film since high school. It would also be the last.

Why do people even watch horror movies? Scientists say people watch it for the thrill, and for the excitement. I don't see how you could get excited by people sawing each other off, and "unexpected surprises" but I guess that's what it is. Another source said people are willing to endure the terror in order to enjoy a euphoric sense of relief at the end. I couldn't understand why people keep on making horror movies in Hollywood. Am like - who watches these films? Why are they popular? Turns out, it doesn't cost much to make the films and they are always sure bankers. Yes, because they can bank on these horror movie fans who just keep on coming for more. Are you one of them? God bless you.

I used to watch some horror movies when I was young. At Presec, where I went to boarding school, Saturday nights were entertainment nights. The most popular nights were those when we had film shows. Presec was a boys' school, so during film shows, you'd have a room of hundreds of young teenage boys watching a movie. It was a lot of fun! They added their own soundtrack to the movie with their shouts, taunts, applause, etc. Watching horror movies with these Presec boys was even more fun. If you got scared, your colleague got scared next to you and screamed along. It's almost as if the collective screaming made you feel safe. You didn't feel alone as if someone was going to grab you. It diluted the fear factor and horror movies became just like other movies we'd be watching.

Watching horror movies alone is a different ballgame. You could watch it with another person, but if they are 'fearoos' like you, it wouldn't do much to help. On the other hand, if that person is not a 'fearoo', or has watched so many horror movies and nothing (I mean nothing) scares him (or her), then you may be in luck. These are the horror movie fans. In fact, I had promised myself that if I watched a horror movie, I'd watch it in a theater and hope that others would be scared enough, and will scream like we did in Presec to reduce the fear factor.

I went to see Nightmare on Elm Street with one of these horror movie fans. My friend was in love with horror movies and insisted we watched this. I gave in. I'd do this just this one time and then forget about it. I dreaded it. My fears were realised during the movie. I couldn't handle 'it'. I am not a fan of surprises. I was twisting and turning in my seat, covering my eyes, moving my legs, etc, etc. At one point, I had a cramp in my right leg! I had to stand up for a minute (in the middle of the movie), and then switch seats with my friend so I could stretch my leg. My friend was having a good laugh. I thought I was cramping because of the soccer I had played earlier. I was like - a cramp? at this time? watching this movie? Agya wadwo! ɛdeɛbɛn asɛm ni? Wey kind matter be this? Later on, my left leg also cramped and that's when I realised, soccer had nothing to do with it. Something happened in the movie, I moved like left leg in fright and voila! Cramp! By this time, I was laughing along with my friend. Fearoo!

The funniest part about all of this was I seemed to be the only person in the whole theater who was so scared. I was the only one moving; I mean, the only one literally moved by the movie. Everyone was quiet, and acting like nothing was happening. WednesdayThursdayFriday? Horror movie fans like my friend don't play. They are not scared by nothing. They've watched so many horror movies, these new ones don't move them. My friend didn't even think Nightmare on Elm Street was scary. Whoa! What! I think my 'movements', 'shouts' and 'antics' added to the movie-going experience for the rest of the people in the theater. Best believe. I was entertaining them. It's not funny folks. It may be funny now, but it ain't. These horror movie fans are something else. They were not moved, at all. What kind of people are they? What are their character traits? Has someone studied them at all? Someone should.

Like I said, that was my first and last time watching a horror movie. I felt watching it in a theater would help, but because I watched the movie with 'horror movie fans', it didn't even help. Maybe if I could watch it with some Presecans, I would consider. Do you watch horror movies? Are you a fan? Better still, are you unmoved by horror movies? How many horror movies do you have to watch before you become immune to the fear and terror? My friend told me, it seems women like horror movies more. Is it true? Why? How? Aren't the women supposed to be ones who'd be afraid and will need to be comforted by men? And they apparently like this stuff. What does that make me? Heck, I even get scared by little gory scenes in movies that ain't horror ones. I just don't like surprises like that in movies. I'm not even sure I want to get over that fear. I just want to stay away from horror movies period.

Experiencing a Ghanaian church in America (Oakland)

I ended up spending most of my Memorial Day weekend in Oakland, which is about an hour away from Stanford. No, it was no weekend get-away with the Mrs. It was no convention or conference. I just wanted to get away. I hadn't traveled anywhere for 5 months, I was going crazy. Going to Oakland is not traveling, but it constitutes spending time in another area. I had heard there were some Ghanaian/African churches in Oakland and had wanted to visit them. Since I was in Oakland for the weekend, I had the opportunity to visit one - the Church of Pentecost - a Ghanaian church, which a couple of my friends also go to regularly. I loved going to the church, it was awesome. So awesome, I had to come report the good news with you all :-)

I've been to a couple of Ghanaian churches in Rhode Island and the North East. They strike serious resemblances to those back home. The congregation is populated by Ghanaian-looking people, Ghanaian gospel songs are sang, the pastor says Amen just like they say it in Ghana, etc. The first thing that struck me when I got to the service was the fact that that my one friend I expected to see there was nowhere to be found. Of course, I didn't feel unwelcome or lost, I was found right in the presence of God. Besides, they were Ghanaians. This is where I'd rather be. I did realise that the congregation was a totally different crowd from the Ghanaians I'd been seeing my whole time in the Bay Area. The Ghanaians I had been seeing at social events were not as this church. :-) The many ladies I saw worshipping and praising, I'd never seen at any social event either. (Turns out I met one of these ladies later that night at a club though - yes, we party and we go to church as well :-D) Does this suffice to say that we have the women who go to church and the women who go to social events? Is it impossible to be in both categories? Do you (they) have to choose one? Am I meeting women in the wrong places? Who knows.

Another striking difference was that the congregation was dominated by women. Church count: Men - 21. Women - 34. Youth - mostly women anyway. So this is where all the women are hiding? ;-) They were the ones singing the most and dancing the most. I'd have gone to dance but I would have been the only guy; Red flag? Yellow card? Green light? Black Star? Your pick. I'm outgoing but not that much. I was one of two new people at the church. As the service continued, more church-goers came and more were men. GhanaManTime (GMT) works for even church and religious purposes. (African Time, Colored People's Time - you know we are in America now). I was late but many other people were later. Even the families! Some people arrived when the sermon was halfway through. Why were they late? Traffic? Getting dressed? Just got off work? I woke up a little late.

The whole ceremony was translated into Twi, which was tres awesome. Like they say in South Africa, "local is lekker". I learnt that the Twi word for purpose was 'botae', and for encounter was 'mpu ni mpu', etc. As the pastor preached in English, his left-hand man translated into Twi. It was beautiful. Major props. Our languages must not die. They must live. The pastor taught us a Twi song - "Nsa da me so, nsa kɛseɛ bi da me so. Manya Yesu a, ne nsa da me so" - it's translated as 'there's a hand on me, a big hand is on me. I've gotten Jesus' hand, that is on me'. They put up the Twi lyrics for the song on the board and the ɛ was written as a 3 backwards. That's where Kasahorow and Museke come in. After the service, I approached the lady who was handling the projections and told her she could get the real characters (conversation starter) and impress the congregation next time (conversation sweetener). I told her to contact me if she needed help, etc (conversation ender).

During the time of testimony, a lady sang an Ewe song as part of hers. She happens to be from Togo, where Ewe is a very popular language. I told her I was interested in her song because it wasn't in Twi and how many local Ghanaian gospel songs are in Twi, and how I wished I'd hear some more non-Twi ones. During praise & worship, we sang many songs we sing a lot in Ghana. "Unto the Lord, be Thy glory, great things He has done. Great things He has done, greater things He will do..." We didn't sing the most popular gospel song ever in Ghana though. Handkerchief, handkerchief, handkerchief..... I was thinking at some point, maybe, just maybe, we'll all sing Igwe or Onyame Aseda yɛ bebree!

The title of the sermon was "Being transformed into the image of Christ; The God of the living is the God for today". It was taken from the passage 2 Corinthians 3:18. The pastor dwelled a lot on the people of Corinth and took us through a little history lesson. He talked about how Corinth was a harbor city, and was host to many sailors and tourists. Prostitution (adwamanmmɔ) was rife and there were a lot of moral issues. Apparently, a Corinthiaso term was coined, that meant a fornicator or prostitute because of the situation. Paul, who wrote the letter to the Corinthians, had a special interest in Corinth. He wanted to preach the gospel to them and he understood it was a strategic place because those who were visiting, if saved, would take the word of God to whichever destinations they'd be going to. Corinth had many problems and vices, but in the end, they were fine. If they could do it, we all could do it.

Other passages which were shared include Leviticus 11:44, 1 Peter 1:15-16, 1 Corinthians 1:1-3, 1 Peter 1:20-21, and 2 Timothy 3:16. The pastor preached - "The word of God can do a lot of things - it can rebuke you, it can correct you, it can advise you, it can encourage you, etc. Follow the word of God and transform your life. In Christ Jesus, we are brothers and sisters. be cheerful, accept and respect one another. Be challenged to do God's will." I wish I could go to the church every Sunday. The church elder challenged me to do so. I told him I lived an hour away. That hasn't stopped me from coming to social events in Oakland but that's not something I do weekly. I attend church at Stanford and also in Mountain View. They don't sing Twi songs but they also praise the God. God can be worshiped and praised in many languages. They are all houses of God. I feel happy and content when I'm in one.

Thanks for reading, God bless you.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Common speaks at Stanford - GOOD music is in the building


Earlier this week, I heard that hip-hop artiste Common was coming to Stanford for a concert. Earlier yesterday, my friend Eli-Jacobs Fantauzzi posted a status on Facebook saying "off to Stanford to show HomeGrown... and then build with COMMON! :)" I was more excited about HomeGrown, the Hiplife.movie (documentary) than I was about Common. I missed the chance to watch the documentary but I could see my friend Eli if I met at the Common event. He wasn't performing, he had come to give a speech in one of Stanford's auditoriums. I decided not to go hear him speak because like I told Eli, I wasn't a big fan of Common, but after seeing the Boston Celtics with no chance of winning against the Orlando Magic, I abandoned the game and headed for Memorial Auditorium. I am thoroughly glad I went to hear Common because GOOD music was in the building.

I was late to the event so couldn't meet Eli to get that free ticket he had for me. I got to the venue and continued calling and texting him, but to no avail. That was when my saviour came by. He was a random dude I had met randomly at a party on Friday (I think so). He looked familiar but I couldn't remember how I met him. I was under the influence that Friday, May 22. I had had the most beers ever in my life, thanks to an end-of-season party for FC Palo Alto and some beer games. Flip Cup anyone? So this acquaintance gave me one of his tickets because it did seem I was in need of one and I entered the auditorium. Turns out the event was free and there were empty seats inside. I wasn't going to pay for nuffin but if I had just asked the ticket folks, I could have stayed outside for much shorter. And come on Stanford! Common spoke at Stanford and the cost was zilch, surely MemAud should have been packed to capacity.

I don't know much about Common's music. In fact, I can't even sing along to any of his songs right now unless I visit Youtube. But I do know he makes GOOD music. I know he is a conscious rapper and sings about social issues. That alone makes me love him. Hip-hop fans know that too and they all appreciate him for that. G.O.O.D stands for Getting Out Our Dreams. It's a music label founded by Kanye West, one of my favorite US rappers. John Legend (one of my favorite US singers) and Common were the first to sign to the label; their albums, Get Lifted and Be, respectively, and they won 3 and 4 Grammy nominations respectively. Common shared a story with us about how he prepared 3 acceptance speeches for the Grammy's and ended up winning none, even losing one to his G.O.O.D buddy, Kanye.

Lonnie Rashied Lynn, Jr. (born March 13, 1972), better known by his stage name Common (previously Common Sense), is an American rapper and actor. He talked a lot about finding his passion and path as a young man. His was rap/hip-hop. He talked about being great at what he did and how he had to work for it. It may sound cliche but a great formula for success is to find your passion, choose it and work hard at it. He mentioned that you must have belief in whatever you are doing as well. Common looks the well-read type, as he quoted Frederick Douglas, amongst others in his speech.

Common seemed to have strong spirituality, mentioning the Bible many times during his speech. At one point, he quoted a passage in James. It's funny how many artistes seem to claim God but are not really serious about their religion or spirituality. Common may even be more of a conscious rapper because of his spirituality. He also mentioned in his speech, how he felt he had a purpose. I loved it when he mentioned the story of Emmett Till. I first heard about Emmett through a Blitz da Ambassador song of the same name. An African American boy from Chicago, Emmett was murdered at the age of 14 in Money, Mississippi, by a white woman and her accomplices after she had been whistled at by Emmett. The murder of Emmett Till was noted as one of the leading events that motivated the American Civil Rights Movement. Common said he felt the story of Emmett called on him to be greater, almost like he had a calling after that.

One thing he said that struck me was when he mentioned that through hip-hop, he'd travelled many places. "Places like Africa and Cuba". It made me wonder, why couldn't he just mention the places in Africa he'd been to or just mention African countries? Africa and Cuba are not both countries, and they are not both continents. Africa and Cuba are two different jurisdictions and it doesn't do Africans justice to put them in a sentence like that. In fact, I was going to blog about how Common said this and how Black America (or African-Americans) romanticize Africa and help propagate the Africa is one country stereotype. It's almost like because most African-Americans can't trace their ancestry to specific places, they just bunch up Africa as one place. It seems Black people in the Diaspora cry Africa Unite more than Africans in Africa. Why is that? Yup, you said it. Time for another blog post.

Common came good though. All he had to do was quote Africa's South Africa's former president, Nelson Madiba Mandela. My friend, Tayo, reminded me that I had posted something about this on Facebook regarding these famous lines once said by Madiba. "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us." Click to read on. Seriously, when Timo Cruz started quoting that speech in that scene in Coach Carter, I started crying. Before then, I hadn't cried for 5 years. That speech is powerful. Turns out Mandela mentioned this during his inaugural speech in 1994. You can't say enough about Nelson Mandela. The man is G.O.O.D. So is Common.

Common also mentioned that sometimes we see obstacles in our lives, and we have to make them possibles. It was also interesting when he seemed to refer to Erykah Badu as someone who dimmed his light. They had a pretty public relationship and did a classic hip hop song together called Love Of My Life (An ode to Hip-Hop). That song is also the soundtrack to Brown Sugar, one of the best movies ever. Talking about movies, Common has been acting lately. He's had roles in many movies. I think he's pretty good. I watched his most recent movie, Just Wright, in which he had his first leading role, alongside Queen Latifah. I think he looked kinda weird in the movie, he looks like someone who does action type movies and not romantic comedy types, but maybe I was just paying too much attention to detail.

I am glad I went to hear Common speak, because, hey, he made me blog. That's 'cos he made me do some thinking. In his words, "Don't let anyone dim your light". Know your passion, follow it and make it your path. Let your path be unto others, let it pave the way and guide others, it is only then, that you will be great. Where there are obstacles, see possibles. Attheendodaday, you can just listen to Mandela say.


"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightening about shrinking so other people won’t feel insecure around you.
We were born to manifest the Glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some; it’s in all, everyone. And as we let our own light shine we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."


Oh, before I go, Common has a book out. Details coming soon. Check out his Facebook page

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Neo African-Americans - changing the African-American narrative

I met Kobina Aidoo at some point during my MIT days. At the time, he was a graduate student at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. Kobina is a man of many interests and as a hobby, he took up making a documentary a few years ago. The result's been 'Neo-African-Americans', a documentary about how rapid immigration from Africa and the Caribbean is transforming the "African American" narrative. I finally got the chance to watch this documentary sometime last week after missing three separate screenings organized at Stanford University.

In the documentary, Kobina interviews different people about their identity. He takes a particular interest in children of African and Carribean immigrants in America as well as immigrants themselves. Most of them seem to have different views on whether they are "African-American" and seem to identify themselves in different ways. Afro-Latino-American. Ghanaian-American. African. True African-American. Haitian-American. Etc. It turns out that most of the people who fall into this category identify themselves differently depending on where they are. In Houston, they are black. In New York, they are Ghanaian. In the UK, they are African-American. In Ghana, they are Ghanaian-American. In China, they are American. It's not easy being in this category. True Ghanaians may claim our friend is not Ghanaian, but American or at best, Ghanaian-American even if the latter wants to identify as Ghanaian.

Some immigrants ensure that their children grow up knowing their culture first before they know the culture in which they live in. As a result, you have a lot of people with Ghanaian names who may have never been to Ghana but are able to speak Twi or watch Ghanaian movies more than the average Ghanaian in Ghana. Obviously, there are cases where some immigrant parents don't see much use if forcing their culture or history into the lives of their children or even when they try, their children are living in places where it's virtually impossible to do so. It's easy to navigate these identities when you compare them to the bi-racial kids and those who have immigrant parents from different countries.

The Neo-African-Americans DVD talks about the economics of how African immigrants are amongst the highest earning groups in America. Apparently, children of immigrant Africans and Carribeans also achieve greater education compared to their Black/African-American counterparts.

Check out the Trailer

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UJKV5roH244



Trailer two
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=euFuOuHd2FE



I'm just trying to lay some of the conversations down. What do you guys think about these Neo-African-Americans? Find out how you can organize a screening on your campus or get to watch the DVD at the Neo-African-Americans website.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

New from the Leti Games stable - LEFA Soccerstar

I've blogged a bunch of times about Eyram Akofa Tawia and Leti Games, the first true African games company.

Living an African success story - Eyram Akofa Tawia
Leti Games unveils iWarrior (iPhone App) & Kijiji (J2Me)
Leti Games - building computer games in Africa

Here is a blog post about LEFA Soccerstar, the latest from the Leti Games stable. More info coming


The Leti Games development team is an African team of game developers... currently, we focus on casual and mobile games - LEFA Soccerstar is one such game, but it's definitely not casual.
The game puts you in the driving seat of 4 characters, we call 'em Avatars. Each avatar represents a role in soccer: Goalie, Defender, Midfielder, Striker

Your task, as a player is to develop each avatar, try and get them into a team... You can play in a Street team, which is unofficial, dog eat dog and chocked full of goodies, or decide to go one step further, and go pro

You can play LEFA Soccerstar on your web Browser or by phone. You have one account so it doesn't matter which platform you decide to log on to.

LEFA Soccerstar is primed to come out to a web browser and J2ME Download site near you...

Release date has been set to June, 2010. Keep watching this space for more.

Leti Games Website
http://www.letigames.com/letigames

Leti Games FB Page - http://www.facebook.com/pages/Leti-Games/183987734386

LEFA Soccerstar FB page - ://www.facebook.com/pages/LEFA-Soccerstar/378623892331

Pre-release blog review by 233Tech.com
http://www.233tech.com/2010/05/news/leti-games-lss-soccer

UN's 8 Goals for Africa music video released, features various African musicians (Museke)

The ‘8 GOALS FOR AFRICA’ song is part of an awareness and advocacy campaign developed by the United Nations System in South Africa on the 8 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

8 Goals for Africa features Yvonne Chaka Chaka from South Africa, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Angelique Kidjo from Benin, Hip Hop Pantsula, Mingas from Mozambique, Oliver Mtukudzi from Zimbabwe, Eric Wainaina from Kenya, Baaba Maal from Senegal, and the Soweto Gospel Choir from South Africa. World renowned jazz musicians Hugh Masekela and Jimmy Dludlu from South Africa are instrumentalists on the track, produced by Arthur Baker from the United States of America.

Helen Clark, the chair of the UN Development Group which brings together all UN agencies working in development, today launched 8 Goals for Africa, a campaign song by eight of Africas best known musicians, calling for commitment to achieve the Millennium Development Goals - a set of eight internationally-agreed goals designed to reduce poverty, hunger, disease, and maternal and child deaths by 2015.

There can be no spectators in the fight against poverty, said Helen Clark at the launch. Everyone has a role to play in scoring the 8 Millennium Development Goals, which if reached would improve the quality of life for many hundreds of millions of people across developing countries.

8 Goals for Africa is also recorded as a music video, which will be screened throughout the World Cup, across all the fan parks and public viewing areas in South Africa.
Music composer Jimmy Dludlu added: I was inspired by this initiative. We want to help promote the Millennium Development Goals and I am optimistic that the song will convey a message of peace, hope and promise of a better future, said Dludlu, who attended the launch along with Masekela and Chaka Chaka.

End poverty by 2015 is the historic promise 189 world leaders made at the UN Millennium Summit in 2000 when they signed up to the Millennium Declaration and agreed to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015. The MDGs are an eight-point road map with measurable targets and clear deadlines for improving the lives of the world´s poorest people. Ten years later our leaders are meeting again on 20 September in New York to review the progress, it is up to us to make sure world leaders keep their promise.

website - 8goalsforafrica.org/

Watch the 8 Goals for Africa video
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qw7BiQJbsV8



Lyrics to the chorus

Time is ticking, it's ticking
Hear the call for a true cause
Yes, aluta continua, no time to delay

The Africa we dream of is only 8 goals away

Kenya's Wanuri Kahui wins Best Short Film at Cannes Film Festival with Pumzi

A while back I heard about From A Whisper, a Kenyan movie by Wanuri Kahui which commemorated the 10th anniversary of August 7th terrorist bombing in Kenya in 1998. The trailer was super and I've wanted to watch the movie so badly. I tell everyone I know who's visiting Kenya to get me the movie but no one has found it for me yet. Well, Wanuri Kahui is in the news again. Her short film, Pumzi, has just won the Best Short Film award at the Cannes Festival, one of the most revered film festivals in the world. The time is arriving, when African movies are challenging others around the world in terms of world-class quality. To Wanuri and her crew, I say Hongera!

Pumzi website: www.pumzimovie.com.


Film synopsis from Pumzi website:
Sc-Fi film about futuristic Africa, 35 years after World War III --The Water War. Nature is extinct. The outside is dead. Asha lives and works as a museum curator in one of the indoor communities set up by the Maitu Council. When she receives a box in the mail containing soil, she plants an old seed in it and the seed starts to germinate instantly. Asha appeals to the Council to grant her permission to investigate the possibility of life on the outside but the Council denies her exit visa. Asha breaks out of the inside community to go into the dead and derelict outside to plant the growing seedling and possibly find life on the outside.

PUMZI is a Short film Produced By Inspired Minority and Writer/Director: Wanuri Kahui and Producers: Simon Hansen, Hannah Slezacek and Amira Quinlan. VFX by Atomic VFX. Vfx Supervisor Simon Hansen. Executive Producer Steven Markowitz. Produced with the support of Focus Features Africa First, Goethe Institute and Changamato Fund

Trailer
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZKfLXcZ_7YE


A little about From A Whisper - 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.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

You know you looking at a winner? Lebron James, are you a winner?

I logged on to Facebook earlier and saw that two Tanzanian celebs who I've never met before had been tagged in a Facebook video. It's called THE OFFICAL NBA PLAYOFFS ANTHEM: WINNER REMIX BY WAKAZI. Some random Chicago-based Tanzanian musician had remixed Jamie Foxx's track and had a video montage of Tanzania's current favorite sportsman, Hasheem Thabeet. Yes, the guy who was a defensive force for UCONN in last college year, went high in the NBA draft and then became infamous for being the highest draft pick to be sent to the NBA's D-Developmental league. Hey, Thabeet may be a tough NBA life but the jury's not yet out on whether he'll be a winner, winner, winner. Lebron James on the other hand, is arguably the best basketball player on the planet and faces the biggest game of his life tomorrow. After 7 ringless years in the league, how that game goes on Thursday, May 13, will go a long way to determine how much of a winner Lebron James is.

I am a huge NBA fan. Though I am tall, at least when compared to many of my friends, I cannot play basketball for the life of me. I used to get a lot of you should play basketball questions when I was in Syracuse. Funny enough, I never received any when I was in Ghana. I can't dribble, I can't shoot, I can't even freakn rebound. All I can do is set screens, block out and pass harrassing defense. I am the anti-Lebron James. Lebron James is the most skilled NBA today. "Just look at me soarin'; Feelin' like Jordan". Some may argue that that is rather Kobe, but held true until about a year ago. Lebron can do all Kobe can do and more. Kobe is still the biggest closer in the game. If you really need a bucket, you give the ball to Kobe. That's to his credit but if you lead your ream in points, rebounds, assists, blocks and steals and your team has the best record in basketball, you're the best basketball player alive. Sorry, Kobe and non-Lebron fans.

May 11. Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland. Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semis. Boston Celtics versus the Cleveland Cavaliers. Coming into the playoffs, most people saw the Celtics as an inconsistent talented bunch who couldn't play 48 minutes of good basketball. For Celtics fans who witnessed their storybook 2008 season, this 2010 regular season was an eyesore. They lost too many home games and even though they had three Hall of Famers in the starting five, they allowed many teams to 'comeback' on them in the 4th quarter. And then they met Dwyane Wade's Miami Heat. It looked like a good bet that Wade would play his superstar game and knock Boston out of the playoffs though he was surrounded by a supporting cast that made look like David when Israel faced Goliath. Maybe Doc Rivers' Ubuntu crew was waiting all season for the playoffs because they have become a different team. Rajon Rondo has been magnificent, Kevin Garnett is not as intense but he's playing much better than he did all year, Ray Allen has become consistent, Paul Pierce is winning games by himself and the other Celtics are stepping up at crucial times.

The Cavs? They had to get by a Chicago Bulls team which just never backs down. You just can't sweep a team led by Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose. Skip Bayless, an ESPN pundit, made a prediction before the Celtics-Cavs series saying, "If Lebron doesn't take a single 3-pointer, the Cavs will win the series easily". Well, whowouldhavethought? Lebron has missed all 13 3-pointers he's taken in this series and the Cavs are done 3-2 and the next game is in Boston. "I feel like I can’t miss; I know they want me to fall; But ain’t nothing bigger than this; So just pass me the ball". For those unaware, if Boston wins this 'home' game, they knock out the Lebrons Cavs. Lebron has not played really well but then again, like Lionel Messi, if you play good defense, you can always slow down the best player. Lebron's teammates haven't picked up the slack. The Big-Aristole-Big-Rental-former-Superman Shaq is too slow and can't rebound no more. Mo'Williams follows big games with small ones. Antwan Jamison seems to flourish when he's playing with teammates worse than he is. The other teammates are role players who do maybe one or two things quite well. "You know you looking at a winner!"

At the centre of it all is Lebron James. His stats alone will make him one of the top 10 NBA players of all time even though he has only played 7 years. But, he has never won a championship. I really feel that this is the year he has to win a championship. Every player goes through some tough times before they break out. Lebron has had enough of those and if it continues this year, he'll become the next Karl Malone or Charles Barkley. This Cavs team is the best he's been with and are the favorites to win it all. They won the big regular season games, and they've addressed all their holes. Mike Brown is still suspect for his capabilities to coach offense, but the Cavs have enough weapons to outscore teams all day.

Lebron shot 3 for 14 in Game 5 in front of his hometown crowd in Cleveland as the Cavs got blown out by 32 points. He, and the team were booed. Lebron was chastized for not playing hard enough. He pointed out after the game that he's had maybe 3 bad games in all his playoff career that people easily remember the bad ones. "I make this look easy; And ya’ll thinking I’m seasoned". We've heard reports that his elbow is bruised but no one wants to hear that as an excuse. Not even Lebron. Lebron is a free agent after this season ends and though it looks likely he may stay with Cleveland, people believe he will bolt for New York, New Jersey, Chicago or Miami. Lebron James has said that he wants to become the first billion dollar athlete. Yes, we've never heard him say he wants to be better than Michael Jordan. So many people believe he's after the money and the fame and not necessarily the championships and the wins. "You know you looking at a winner; I can’t miss, Can’t lose, Can’t miss". That doesn't really sound like a winner to me. Now the talk about him leaving his home-town Cleveland is going to be sent into overdrive if the Cavaliers happen to lose Game 6 today. Bring it on!

The problem with Lebron is, he has to know his strengths. He has the talent, he has the heart, he has the competitive nature as well. People praise him for him being a good teammate (unlike say Kobe or Michael Jordan) but I think he is not as smart a basketball player as we think. I think he should not shoot more than 3 pointers in any game. He is too gifted to be standing around in one corner and jacking up jump shots. Force the refs to blow whistles. Force a double team and get your teammate an open shot. Take the surest option. It's the smart thing to do. The fact that Lebron can explode for 25 straight points doesn't mean that it will happen every night. He's the team's best defender, rebounder and assist man. He should concentrate on doing those things.

It was funny reading the various tweets about Lebron's debacle in Game 5. Here's a selection of tweets. "Someone said, that Boston Celtics victory was the biggest playoff win in Knicks" history" "Charles Barkley just compared LeBron James unfavorably to Patrick Ewing and Karl Malone. In effort and attitude". "LeBron has spoiled me with his zero championships and endless stream of commercials". "". ""LeBron James never has been a factor in this game". #ThingsNoOneSaidAboutJordan". "LeBron should wear a Joe Johnson jersey to the postgame presser". "Forget next year, Michael Jordan wants LeBron to change his number right now".

I will make it known. I am rooting for Lebron James and the Cavaliers to win the NBA championship this year. So, Lebron and the rest of the Cavs, don't let me down tonight. Go out and win. In Boston. Lebron, you can't go out this way. Or you can choose to do so this way and leave for New York if being a billion-dollar athlete is the most important thing to you. "Just like a drink that I’m enjoyin';
And don’t mean bottles you up and rejoice"
Boston is playing well alright, but they lost heavily to these same Cavs in Boston. So it's not entirely impossible. We saw Lebron and his teammates dancing and fooling around last year when the times were good. When Lebron was sent fishing by my cousin Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic, he couldn't stay to shake his opponents' hands. Lebron has to be more mature than that. We know he is a sore loser but is he a winner? Will his legend be remembered as a winner? He can start that legacy the tonight.

By the way, this really is one of the best songs ever. The NBA always has some great campaigns, they change it every year for the playofss and it's still always great. This Jamie Foxx, Justin Timberlake, TI song is the bestest. "Winner"

I feel like I can’t miss
I know they want me to fall
But ain’t nothing bigger than this
So just pass me the ball
You know you looking at a winner
I can’t miss, Can’t lose, Can’t miss
You know you looking at winner
`Cause I’m a winner
Yeah I’m a winner

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FD9Kb5RlsP0


See this blog post I wrote about one of the best known winners in all of sports history, Michael Jordan.

Monday, May 10, 2010

You're Invited to G-Ghana - Google event/conference in Ghana

Got this email today from Jojoo Imbeah of Kasahorow & Suuch Solutions about G-Ghana, a Google-organized event in Accra from June 3-4, 2010. Though am really excited about this, I wouldn't be able to attend the event.

You're Invited to G-Ghana!

Google is very excited to meet with software developers, technology entrepreneurs and marketing professionals in Ghana. G-Ghana will be a two day event to engage with local software developers and tech entrepeneurs and marketers. Please review the details below and register today!

We would like to thank the Ghana-India Kofi Annan Centre of Excellence in ICT (AITI-KACE) for hosting our Google team's specialized training days in Accra.

Day 1: For Software Developers
June 3rd
A day focused on pushing the boundaries of web applications using Google developer technologies. Google engineers and web development leaders will lead you through one full day of in-depth sessions on the latest Google technologies and hands-on codelabs.
* Must have technical programming skills.

Day 2: For Technology Entrepreneurs & Marketing Professionals
June 4th
A day full of Google product demonstrations for small or medium sized businesses to help spur innovation and entrepreneurship in the region. We will discuss how to create content using online tools, how to market them and how to monetize.

Registration:
Please register online for only one of the two days unless both appear very relevant to you.


Date
June 3 and 4th 2010
9:00am - 6:00pm

Location
Ghana-India Kofi Annan Centre of Excellence in ICT (AITI-KACE)
Second Avenue
Accra 233
map



More Info: G-Ghana Site

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