Thursday, September 30, 2010

Quotes from South African movie, Tsotsi

I am in love with the South African movie, Tsotsi. People might say the real truth is that I am in love with Terry Pheto rather. Doesn't matter. Tsotsi did win an Oscar, and that tells what kind of movie it is. I fell in love the first time I watched it and all of the 27 times I've seen it. I know the movie so well, I watched a version with Spanish subtitles and was able to explain to my friend everything that the characters were saying. I'd know everything they were saying when I've been taking notes. So, here are some soundbites.

One of the things I love most about South Africa is that they have 11 official languages. Many South Africans I have met routinely speak more than 5 languages. I wish, I wish, I wish. There was a line in the South African crime-drama, Jerusalema: "This is the only country that we have to take shit in 11 languages". Classic. Tsotsi used many languages and it was very interesting to see when different languages were used. Tsotsi won the Oscar for best foreign language film; the movie is not set in English. The directors wanted to set the movie in the local languages to make it authentic. Ghanaian and Nigerian movie producers, take note. Like my Mzansi massive would say "local is lekker".

S' good, s'good - I have become a big fan of Kenneth Nkosi and it started with him (as Aap) using this line in Tsotsi. You know you want to use it from now.

"Decency, do u know that word?" "decency means making a fucking decent living, sonny" - That's your new definition of decency.

Oh, fuck! - The police folks didn't want to deal with the slums. If you are a policeman who has to search for a tsotsi (gangster) in a slum/ghetto, what else would you say? Keeping it real son.

Stop telling me what you can't do - This is for you, Africa. A simple line from a man whose baby is missing to a policeman who has to find his baby. A simple line in a movie many Africans haven't seen holds so much truth for the continent. It's in your hands o!

Stand up and walk? and you, who are you? Jesus Christ? - A cripple to a gangster who doubts his disability and has asked him to get up and walk. Too funny.

Tsotsi never went to school, doesn't understand ...decency
"You know about that, Fela? Decency?"
Can't even spell the word, can you?"
"Decency, let' see. D.E.C.E.N.C.Y. Decency, how's that?
"What's it mean?"
"Decency means making a fucking decent living, sonny"
"Respect, man. for yourself"
"You want respect? man. You'll get respect ... The day you give up the bottle and get a driver's license. Drivers I need, drinkers I don't. So fuck your decency"

- Self explanatory. Great dialogue. Serious business. But wait, why does the biggest gangster in Town have a Nigerian name? Oh Naija! Or, oh South Africa!

Quick n silent, old style - Now, that's a ruthless guy. No decency at all.

I always come around, I've just come around - sometimes, you can't explain friendship. You may go through a lot with someone, but it takes a lot for the friendship to change.

You want to go back to your big, fancy house? you want to go home? I'll show you a home. - Sensing his new found friend wants nothing to do with his shack and longs to be in a fancy house, Tsotsi says he'll show him a 'home'. Sometimes, a fancy house is not as homely as shackled house. A little food for thought.

He wants him to see his old house - The new owners of Tsotsi's old home were teasing Tsotsi. Tsotsi did want the baby to see his old 'house'. He lived on the streets, and now he was in the shacks. It was an upgrade but nothing compared to the gated community the baby was from.

You don't always see who's walking behind you - Mariam made this comment to Tsotsi while describing how her husband died. You never know who's walking behind you. You never know who's scheming to bring you down. You'd want to know but it's not that easy. I guess if you knew, you'd call him or her a 'hater'. Which is such an overused word I won't even deliberate any further until an appropriate time.

"Fifty? for broken glass?" "You see broken glass." "What do you see?" "Colour. Light. On you" - Did Terry Pheto have someone else come up with this line for her? Because it's just brilliant. Sigh. It's always great to see the brighter side of life. That's for you Nigerians on this day of your 50th independence. Back to the crux of the matter, if someone can make use of broken glass, you could also make something useful out of a broken situation. Believe, now let me hear you say VIM! VIM!

"He'll drink all your profit!" "Sick from the beer you sold him" - Be careful of how you help people like drunkards. You may get more than you bargained for and be worse off. There are people like that who can figuratively drink all your profit, hard-earned kawukudi and saved moolah. Your help can also have grave consequences like Boston getting sick from all the beer his helper sold him.

We need to do a job - Pretty strong statement. But even stronger with how it was used in the movie, I want to write a movie, some script writers are just too brilliant.

"We're going. that's all. s' good!" "Why are we sitting here?" "We're sitting. s' good!" - Great exchange between Aap and Butcher. You know, Tsotsi doesn't talk much. S' good :-)

"They say every wine is different." "You get used to the taste." - Same for beer abi? Or maybe not. You can get used to the taste for many things. But at what cost?

"Hey man, what are you doing? they haven't finished" - Aap orders as the man in hostage blows the alarm on his armed robber friends. Aap is eating at the moment, his meal is cut short. An eating men can be an angry man sometimes when his meal is cut short. I just came up with a proverb. Remember to quote me :-)

"I won it on the dice" - It seems playing dice is a very popular gambling activity in South Africa. Tsotsi told Miriam he won the money he was providing for the baby's upkeep on the dice. Where else was a gangster going to make good money?

"You can't give her back her legs, but you must give her back her son" - It seems only Miriam aka Terry Pheto's character says wise things in the movie. An African woman. Ayayai, Miriam. There are women like her in the shantytowns? Zongos, here I come.

"But it won't make you his mother" - Another piece of wisdom from who else? Can someone just let me meet Terry Pheto already? I'll pay.

"If I take him back, can I still come here?" - A good African woman can change a gangster, I tell you. Tsotsi had fallen in love. He was prepared to do every good thing in the book to win the heart of a woman. Wouldn't you? This is freaking Terry Pheto we are talking about :-) It must be noted that Miriam's response to Tsotsi's query was a 'wink'. A wise man said 70% of all communication is not spoken :-).

"It's over!". "It's true man" - I thought it was interesting how the characters spoke English for emphasis, it's normally the other way around - normal dialogue is in English and then people switch to vernacular for emphasis. When you're speaking vernacular normally, the tables turn

"Ngiyabonga!"How many languages are actually in this movie? It won the foreign language film oscar eh? :-) This was said by the security man to the husband. Right after Ngiyabonga, we hear thanks - from wife to hubby. Great writing.

"Your baby, I'll leave it here" - Of course, Tsotsi listened to Miriam. Wouldn't you?

"Don't you touch me! (in vernacular)" - We saw her speak English last time but when it's serious, it's local language baby!

"O grande? All right?" - Wait! What! Spanish?! This was from the hubby to Tsotsi while opening the gate. You don't stop to amaze me, this movie, or South Africa by extension.

"Put your hands above your head" - When you hear this line, it looks like it's for an arrest right? But if you've followed the movie closely, putting your hands above your head can also signify a victory to me! it's the sign of a victory!

Super movie! You have to see Tsotsi if you haven't already. Get someone to buy it for you from South Africa if you don't have access to it. It's a keeper!

McDonalds to enter Ghana? I won't be welcoming them


I love Twitter. That's where I get my news these days, alongside Facebook. Times have changed my people. My friend @Freegeneration tweeted of McDonalds opening up in Ghana and I was like.... in a nutshell. Hell, no! You can stop reading here but that was really the impulsive reaction. Well, here's my reaction to this news and my calculated response.

McDonalds, the world’s largest chain of restaurants serving more than 58 million customers daily is considering opening up branches in Ghana by early 2011. Seth El, a US-based Ghanaian businessman, who disclosed this to the Business Guide newspaper in an interview, stated that McDonalds would open its restaurant initially at some popular places in Accra such as the Kotoka International Airport (KIA), Osu, Spintex road and the Accra Mall.


Of course, where else them go open other than Accra? I bet more people will move to Accra so they can partake in the McDonalds' experience. Can the government redraw its infrastructure improvement to meet the traffic needs? :-) I mean, we already have Mr. Bigs and other type companies. There are also local Ghanaian McDonalds. When McDonalds opens their Accra store, the urge of Ghanaians flying abroad so they can partake in the McDees experience will dissipate a bit. Which is not necessarily a bad thing when you think of it. Ghana must be seen in a very good light for McDonalds to be considering entering the country. That's the bright side, as I just discussed with my Nigerian friend. Ghana got someone's attention? It must be Asamoah Gyan's World Cup goal. #VIM! Just kidding, Ghana has making a lot of good things happen to merit international business.

Am I the only one who realises that McDonalds is cheap food in the US but will be expensive food in Ghana? In fact, the 'places' in Ghana serving their type food are in the expensive food business. It is an event to go to such places in Ghana but in the US, it is not. Of course, the idea of burgers, etc are exotic in Ghana, just how waakye and fufu injera & yebeg tibs are exotic in the US. I am not a fan of McDonalds, I buy from there when there is nothing else to buy. It will be cool to say we have a McDonalds in Ghana but I won't be buying from there. And no one better ask me to take them there either lol.

And now we are going to replace our tantalizing and tatalalicious organic food with processed food eh? Agya wadwo. I've already have about genetically modified foods entering the market. We are not starving in Ghana, and even if you think we are, we don't need processed food to solve that problem. We don't need processed food to ensure everyone eats because like we've seen, these fast-food types are higher priced than my favorite neighbourhood waakye joint.

McDonalds primarily sells hamburgers, cheeseburgers, chicken products, French fries, breakfast items, soft drinks, shakes and desserts. In response to obesity trends in Western nations and in the face of criticism over its products, the company has modified its menu to include alternatives considered healthier such as salads, wraps and fruits.


Now, this is all good but at what to the average Ghanaian? Me, give me Auntie Muni waakye all day. If you call McDonalds entering Ghana globalization, let's revisit that when you have Auntie Muni Waakye in Alaska. Yes, let's push our own. We matter as well. If we have issues with the Auntie Amalia waakye selling kiosk because it's in a bad location, we can start similar ones in better locations and under better conditions. Kumasi's Abusua and Accra's Asanka have shown it can be done. Heck, they don't have Facebook parties at Chicken Inn, they have it at Auntie Muni Waakye. Yes, go find out about "Auntie Muni Waakye", you probably won't be reading about them in your newspapers, but some blogger somewhere like me is praising it left, right, center. They are on facebook. Yes boss! #VIM!

How about the favorite argument - it will be creating jobs. I guess we don't know how to create jobs in Ghana. Actually we do, but not well-paying jobs. McDonalds will pay well, they ain't like the Chinese. No, I didn't just say that. There is demand for McDonalds in Ghana. Surely, the middle-class is growing, the returnees are craving the McDonalds they missed so bad in America. Won't it be interesting to see if our 'bogas' will gladly take the McDonalds jobs they had abroad in Ghana? How about a reality show while we are at it?

I am not a fan of this move, especially with the money going back into the Richard and Maurice McDonald brothers' pockets. Let's support our own. Is Ghana's being counted as a country with a McDonalds restaurant the best we can do? Surely not.

The first African Leadership Network gathering

Earlier this year, my friend Shirley shared some info with me about the African Leadership Network, specifically the ALN Gathering in Addis Ababa, November 3rd-6th, 2010. Turns out the African Leadership Network (ALN) is the premier network of Africa’s next-generation of leaders – those individuals who are poised to assume the most significant roles in African corporations, governments and society at large over the next 10-15 years. The aim of the network is to Power Africa’s Prosperity. This first gathering in Addis Ababa is invitation only. So, yeah, I am not going. Those going are at another level koraa compared to me. If you see some of the names, you'll understand.

African Leadership Network sounds like African Leadership Academy right? Yes, it involves the usual suspects. ALN was founded by Acha Leke (Senior Partner, McKinsey & Co.), and Fred Swaniker (Founder and CEO, African Leadership Academy), both of whom are recognized and established next-generation African leaders in their own right, the Network is founded on the principles of collaboration and leadership.

The website reads:
As the name implies, the African Leadership Network (ALN) is an exclusive, invitation-only network of influential and dynamic leaders who are poised to shape the future of Africa over the next few decades. ALN provides multiple benefits to its members throughout the year, it is not merely a conference that takes place once a year.
I don't know I have an issue with invitation-only events, maybe it sounds elitist to me. But hey, we all can't participate in everything abi? Besides, these folks have worked hard to get the reputation they have to merit being invited to such events. So, I am not going to do anything other than celebrate them. Won't be getting an invitation? All is not lost. You can still register and attend for a cool $3,950. Trust me, it will be worth it. You'll be networking with some of Africa's brightest and you can't really put a value on that.

The website also reads:
A new generation of young, dynamic leaders who have more exciting and forward-thinking ideas for transforming Africa over the next few decades is emerging. This younger, dynamic group of leaders is what we felt compelled to bring together. We call this group the African Leadership Network (ALN). The ALN, in short, is the premier gathering of the most dynamic young leaders shaping Africa’s future. Think ‘Davos’ meets ‘TED’ meets the ‘Young President’s Organisation’ meets Africa.

The ALN gathering will be co-chaired by three leaders that embody the network: Sim Tshabalala, CEO of Standard Bank South Africa, Dr. Eleni Gabre-Madhin, Founder and CEO of the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange and Bill Egbe, President of Coca-Cola South Africa. You can check out the agenda for the event here (PDF). The attendees are all supposed to be under 45 years. Not exactly the 'cheetah' age, when I think young Africans, I think even younger, but you can say that age group is the next generation after the generation ruling Africa now. Nelson Mandela did say "Sometimes it falls upon a generation to be great. You can be that great generation".

Invited and confirmed attendees include Dikembe Mutombo, Tsega Gebreyes, Kassoum Fadika, Monhla Hlahla, Amara Konneh, Hannah Tetteh, Deji Akinyanju, etc. Also attending are Asa (yes, the one who sang 'Jailer and Fire on the mountain) who I've met personally, in fact she is the only one I have met other than the ALN founders, Acha and Fred. No, I am not rubbing shoulders with these folks. I am some small fish like that. One confirmed invitee I wanna meet is the lovely, beautiful, gorgeous Lira. Sigh. What do I have to do to get invited next time?

The event is happening in the historic city of Addis Ababa. Addis has been the site of many great conferences about Africa. Kwame Nkrumah will attest to this. Haile Gebreselassie, the icon of the Rastafarian movement, is from there. Ethiopia is very important in the African Diaspora. I also hear Addis may have the widest selection of working African professionals. I can't see how it is not Johannesburg, but this says something good about Addis. I am not sure why Addis Ababa was chosen, especially when Acha and Fred are both based in South Africa. Is the Addis' choice a nostalgic one? Africa unite!

I am excited about this gathering. I hope those of you who can't attend can watch a live stream (for free). It seems the attendees are a mix of folks from the political arena, business, arts & literature, sports, academia, etc. That's a great mix. A friend once said, the best way to predict the future is to create it. I strongly believe these ALN attendees are amongst those who will be creating Africa's future. Amandla! Twende! Vim!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

BarCamp Kumasi #bcksi was a success!

Barcamp Kumasi came off successfully on September 18 at the College of Engineering auditorium at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST). The theme was Collaboration: the key for opportunity and development. Over 80 people attended, mostly students from KNUST. The program run smoothly and I followed all of it through the many tweets coming from some of the organizing team members and others there. Glad to call the first ever Barcamp in Kumasi a success.

The keynote speaker and moderator for the day's panel was Dr Douglas Adjepong, Founder and President of the Leadership and Mentorship Academy. The other panelists were Mr Stephen Agyepong - Lecturer at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Eugene Oduro Birikorang, Acting Regional Manager, Millicom Gh Ltd (Tigo) and Daisy Baffoe - Meltwater Entrepreneurial School Of Technology (MEST). The sponsors were Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), National Society of Black Engineers (KNUST chapter), GhanaThink Foundation, Google, IPMC Ghana, Fienipa Group, Leadership & Mentorship Academy, Mozilla Firefox, Meltwater Entrepreneurial School Of Technology (MEST) etc. The media partners were Kapital 97.1 FM, Focus 94.5 FM and ModernGhana.com.

See some pictures taken by Mac-Jordan of AccraConscious Forever.



More media from Barcamp Kumasi coming soon. Congrats to the team of Nana Kwabena Owusu of 233Tech, Teresa Lemaire, Kwamena Appiah-Kubi and Kofi Ulzen-Appiah for making this happen.

This Saturday, October 2 is Barcamp Accra 2010 at the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School Of Technology (MEST) campus. Get all information about this event at Barcamp Accra website. BarCamp Takoradi will follow in November with a national event, BarCamp Ghana in December in Accra.

BarCamp Kumasi on Facebook and Twitter
BarCamp Accra on Facebook and Twitter
BarCamp Takoradi on Facebook and Twitter
BarCamp Ghana on Facebook and Twitter

Nigerian Biophysicist, John Dabiri wins prestigious $500,000 MacArthur Fellowship

One of my favourite websites, CP-Africa.com, reported that Nigerian-American Biophysicist, John Dabiri, recently won the prestigious $500,000 MacArthur Fellowship! It's a very prestiguous fellowship awarded to the dons and geniuses of our day. My former MIT lecturer, Amy Smith, won it as well as famous Nigerian writer (and one of my favorites) Chimamanda Adichie won the fellowship as well in 2008. Get inspired!

Watch the video below and read his bio.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x2audOlniaQ



Biophysicist John Dabiri was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2010. The Fellowship is a $500,000, no-strings-attached grant for individuals who have shown exceptional creativity in their work and the promise to do more. Learn more at http://www.macfound.org/fellows.

John Dabiri is presently an Associate Professor of Aeronautics and Bioengineering in the Division of Engineering and Applied Science at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California

He's only 30 :-)

Read more at Celebrating Progress - Cp-africa.com

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Press Release: The kasahorow Fellowship

I love the folks at Kasahorow. They are working to bring African languages onto the web. You can get involved with this by taking on the fellowship below.

27 September 2010
FOR IMMEDIATE DISTRIBUTION

Fellowship Description
The kasahorow Fellowship, now open for the first time to students across Africa, provides a US$500 award for the study, promotion and development of indigenous African languages.

The Fellowship can be applied to any project which uses written (African language) text. Examples include: writing a children’s book, developing localised software, starting an African language newspaper.

Eligibility
Any student in a tertiary institution in Africa. Applicants may be citizens of any country.

Timeframe
Deadline for submissions: 16 January 2011
Announcement of winner: 16 February 2011

Application
For full details and to apply online, visit http://www.kasahorow.org/fellowship.

Sponsoring Organisation: kasahorow Communication Group of Suuch Solutions
The kasahorow Communication Group is a public service arm of Suuch Solutions. kasahorow was formed with the aim of reducing communication inefficiencies between traditional and modern Africa. kasahorow pursues this goal by developing electronic African language processing aids, and publishing emerging technical standards for African language processing.

Questions
For more information, please email fellowship@kasahorow.org.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Run4education (One mile at a time!)

As part of running the 10 kilometre race last Friday, my group was also fundraising for Run4Edcuation. Together, we raised over a $1000. Shout out to Fanuel Muindi and Shantal Marshall (two Stanford students) for this great initiative. Fanuel's quite the runner, having run the San Francisco marathon amongst many other races. His goal is to run the Boston Marathon.

Fanuel got interested a couple of years ago and decided to run for a cause. This idea gave birth to the Run4Education group and he's been running to raise money to support students in East Palo Alto Phoenix Academy. Apparently, 75% of East Palo Alto kids won't graduate from high school. Ghana and Africa, listen, nowhere cool. Small contributions can go very far, even in the expensive United States, to make children stay in school.

Here is some info about Run4Education

Run4Education is a group dedicated to filling the gaps in education so that every student gets the chance to reach his or her potential, regardless of their background. Currently, there are kids in communities that cannot afford to put the basic learning tools in classrooms – books, computers, and even teachers. Charter schools within these communities take on these overwhelming odds and create innovative teaching environments to get their students to graduate and go on to college. It takes a lot of work and a lot of resources. That’s where we come in!

We are so committed to helping these schools that we’re willing to put our feet on the ground, and RUN! We run and walk races ranging from 5K to full marathons (26.2 miles!) and raise funds for schools that are in need of our help. We also recruit their students to run with us so they can practice setting goals and working towards them during training, a skill that is vital for success in school, and in life.

Current School: East Palo Alto Phoenix Academy

East Palo Alto Phoenix Academy (EPAPA) is a charter school situated in a community that has pockets of staggering poverty and serious problems with gang- and drug-related violence. Three-quarters, yes 75%, of East Palo Alto's young people do not make it through high school. EPAPA has done amazingly well reaching their goal – to have a 100% graduation and college acceptance rates even through tremendous budget cuts due to California’s fiscal crisis. Because EPAPA is a charter school, it depends a lot on donations and Run4Education has agreed to help.

Our first event this season, The Palo Alto Moonlight Run & Walk on September 24th is to raise funds for students who would like to run with us in future races. These students normally run in khakis and jeans since many cannot afford training gear. We are also planning dinners to teach them healthy eating habits. Future races will raise funds that will go directly to the school.




A group of Stanford students, empowered by Fanuel Muindi's encouragement, run in the Palo Alto Moonlight 10K run September 24. We all finished the race and are very proud of this accomplishment. I know many friends running for good causes, keep it up. It's got me thinking about running for my own cause too :-) In the mean time, in between time and time and time again, support Run4Education's efforts by donating today.

I run 10 kilometres!

Earlier this summer, a Tanzanian friend asked me to join him in running a local race. It was going to be the 10 kilometre (6 mile) race as part of the 26th Annual Palo Alto Weekly Moonlight Run & Walk. I was hesitant about participating in the 10K race. I never went running on my own or with colleagues. Eventually, I figured I would participate in the race just so I could finally say I'd run one and it was also for a good cause, I'd be supporting run4education. I finished the September 24 race in just over an hour. Thank you to everyone who donated, supported, prayed and urged me. #VIM! It was thrilling, tiring, fantastic and fun. It didn't happen without juicy events and stories though so here goes the narration :-)

I have never taken to running as a pastime because I knew I didn't have good stamina. I never bothered to do so. I almost didn't take part in the 10K race. You could say peer pressure 'barbed' me and spurred me to sign on. I nestled the idea of not going through with the race even two weeks before the run. When I realised I had to pay to join the race, I almost quit. Well, not quit, but decide that the race wasn't my cup of tea. Eventually, I really stuck with running the race just so I could say I've run one.

I do a lot of running on the football field, sometimes running 5 kilometres in an hour. If you think I am talking about American football here, you got it twisted. Running while playing football is not the same as running a marathon or a 10 kilometre race. You run and you stop and there's some standing around. In fact, you could do a whole lot of standing around while playing the sport. I thoroughly enjoy playing soccer (you happy now? :-D) and it does keep me fit. People encouraged me to run saying that if I played soccer, I could do the run. (they said) I looked fit as well.

I began looking into how much time the race would take. Yes, I wasn't concerned about finishing the race, I was pre-occupied with how much of my time it would take. "Yo chale, your paddy here did the race in about an hour". 1 hour didn't sound that bad. I had also promised myself that I would do the race if I had an iPod or mp3 player. I lost my iPod earlier in the year and it turned out that I was as broke as a broken promise to be able to invest in an mp3 player. So I went into the 24th without music.

I also went into the 24th with little training. Our ringleader, Fanuel, had put our Stanford group on a nice training schedule. I only attended one session. I was battling with not running so I stayed away from some of the trainings. A week to the race, my running compatriots had already completed 6 mile runs and were ready. Me? I was wondering at what point in the race I'll have cramps, hamstring injuries or a strong urge to just quit or call my medical school friends to come attend to me. My supportive friends assured me I'd do okay. I wanted to do one run two days before the race itself but that never materialized.

The 24th arrived and for some strange reason, I was beside myself with excitement. I am normally happy and smiling but I couldn't stop smiling from about 4 hours to race time. Maybe I was just ready to be done with the race. Maybe I was truly excited about finding out how fast I could run 10 kilometres. I spent a good minute figuring out what to wear. I ended up wearing my FC Palo Alto jersey (number 4) simply because it had my name at the back. Hey, 10000 reasons to remember the name. :-D I nicknamed our Stanford group the Selassies after Haile Gebreselassie. And then I thought of famous marching songs in Ghana, my Ghanaian folks would recognize this as jama, and how we should probably sing some of them as we run. My Nigerian friend suggested 'when the saints go marching' and I thought, "hey, we should call ourselves 'the Saints'". A few people had dropped out from our team and the Saints now numbered 8.

We got to the race start (and finish) point around 7pm and registered. My number was 2551. I have a thing with numbers, 2+5+5+1 equals 13 which equals 4. So far as, it didn't equal 2, I was fine. We'll revisit this '2' issue later. We were given free t-shirts which was tres awesome. My eyes light up when I get anything free. In fact I would have loved to have multiple t-shirts so I could give some to my family members. We spent the rest of the time, stretching and chatting. The race organizers put us through a nice 'dance workout' which I thought was 'hilarious' but I really appreciate it now. We were stretching to hip hop songs. Good stuff.

When the race began, I had thought our whole group would stay together. The East Africans, bar one, went ahead of us and didn't wait. I heard the trick was not to run really fast at the beginning, so I jogged. I run along two of my Nigerian colleagues, enjoying their company. And then I realised a multitude of white people running past me and that didn't sit well with me. At all! I decided, it's not when I finish but if I finish so turned a blind eye to this 'occurrence'. I kept on joking we all had 2 miles to complete the race when we were barely in. I love commentating. I used to commentate soccer games when I was younger. I quickly realised commenting would slow me down and tire me out. I had planned to sing while running since I didn't have my iPod. I realized singing would tire me out quicker too so I sang some songs in my head. I remember singing Tuface's Ebe like say in my head, amongst others.

After the 3rd mile, there were some folks nearby serving water. I couldn't believe rich old Palo Alto wasn't serving Gatorade as well. Tscheeeew (kisses teeth). It was after this mile and seeing an Ethiopian friend of mine come from nowhere to run past me, that I decided that I would 'abandon' my Nigerian friends and run my own race and pace. I struggled to keep up with my Habesha buddy though and around the start of the 4th mile, I started to get really tired. I stopped for the first time and then many more people passed me. This is where I figured my finish time is not as important. I proceeded to run, stop, walk, run, stop, walk till the end of the race. I used a couple of runners as benchmarks. "No matter, what happens, these people won't finish the race before me", I said to myself. So I'd run really fast, bypass scores of people, stop and walk and see them run past me. One security man observing commented, "let's get going number 4". Those I was running past must be have been wondering, why is this guy sprinting when we are all relatively tired. And then they'll see me walk and say 'haha'.

My finish time was 1:00:44. You can see the full results here. The winner (who apparently was a Stanford student) finished the race in 34 minutes. Our ringleader, Fanuel, finished in just under 57 minutes. I placed 614 out of 1037 people and 395 out of 532 men. Shyous! Now, I am bledyforkin pissed. I should have run faster. Or maybe trained harder. Don't mind me. I am just really happy I participated in the race, without injury. Because I did go partying after the race. In fact, I even wore my running number as part of my attire to the party and no, it wasn't Halloween. The top prizes for winners weren't even that lucrative for me to try hard. ;-)

I have already told anyone who had the chance to hear that I would not be partaking in anymore races. It's one and done. But hey, maybe if another opportunity comes along, for another good cause, with juicy prizes to win, etc, I might just run again. I run4education on Friday and I am never going to say never to running again. After all, if a cute lady was able to get me to finally watch a horror movie after I'd sworn to never do so, who am I to make such promises to myself. :-)

And drumroll........... pictures

Walking the walk (literally)

Completing this 10K run just made me realize how much I kind of like walking. I have walked long distances before though. Especially when I am in Ghana.

Back in the United States, I once participated in an AIDS walk in Boston while at MIT in 2005. The distance was 6 kilometres and we raised some money as well. It was also enjoyable because we were walking in a group and that collective energy drives you. 6 kilometres looked like a pretty long distance to me but it wasn't tiring upon completion.

In fact, recently, I ended up walking to a club because I didn't want to pay for a taxi fare and all my 'rides' were nowhere to be found. I remember praying for someone who knew me or a good samaritan to give me a lift to my destination. It was only a 2 mile walk though. And then the other day, when I was prepared to walk to yet another party, two dudes stopped and offered to give me a ride. I kid you not, I was actually scared that these people might go use me for 'sikaduro' or some sacrifice. Yes, it happened around Stanford and these dudes were white, one was from Kansas and another from Australia. I appreciated the ride though, I hope more of these will happen lol. You can't imagine the number of times I've been at the airport and other places and entertained of asking some random stranger if they could give me a ride to my next destination. You got to have fun like that now :-)

I once walked from Adum in Kumasi all the way to Tech (KNUST) campus. I loved it. I just loved being amongst people and observe things that were going on. I did have my iPod though which made it the walk pleasant. The distance was 8.1 kilometres. Thanks to the good old Google, you can see my route. Don't you just love Google?

View Larger Map

I also once walked from Osu Oxford Street all the way to the 37 Military hospital in Accra. I had my iPod with me but I wasn't listening to it. The walk was the best I ever had though. The reason? I was walking with a friend (who's a girl) whose presence I thoroughly enjoy. I don't think it ever crossed my mind to stop and take a taxi though it was night time and we were aware that dangerous folks do exist in the nation's capital. We were walking in relatively nice parts of town though.

View Larger Map

Yes, so you can go google directions in Accra and Kumasi now. Try it today!

Do you enjoy walking long distances too? Or are you just a romantic long walk on the beach walker? Do you walk to keep fit? Are you part of a keep-fit club? Do you walk because that's all you can afford to do - walking? Do you walk because you want to beat traffic? For whatever reason, walking is good for you. Try it some time.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Ashifi Gogo at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI)

This weekend, a friend of mine who I really respect, Ashifi Gogo, sent me an email saying "President Clinton recently commented on the challenges of counterfeiting in front of several world leaders in business and politics attending the Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting." Ashifi, the famous Kwabeef man, was being introduced by the former US president, Bill Clinton. Level! That was all I needed to see to do this blog entry. I am so proud of Ashifi, he's under 30 and he's doing big things. A revered odadee.org! He is behind the website anyway :-)

Ashifi Gogo has been working on a start-up Sproxil, which is a service that fights counterfeit drugs. For his work, he is winning awards and going into high places. He was also the featured speaker at BarCamp Diaspora. He was also a panelist at BarCamp Ghana 08. I also blogged about his story earlier.

Bill had this to say about Ashifi's work. "This is a genuinely remarkable accomplishment...(it's) empowering...putting people in charge of their own healthcare." See video below
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Outstanding Commitment Award
In 2009, Sproxil made a commitment to action at the Clinton Global Initiative University, to use technology to enhance people's lives, especially in the case of fake drugs. We won an Outstanding Commitment Award in Global Health, leading to the first large-scale crowdsourced anti-counterfeiting text message system deployed in Africa.

Watch the full CGI session

cgi_plenary on livestream.com. Broadcast Live Free


When he was asked by the Clinton Global Initiative "why fake drugs", he said, "I commit to craft technologies specifically for the developing world. My current realization of this lifelong goal is to provide an easy service for any developing world consumer to check their medication against counterfeits using any cell phone. Just like a lottery ticket, consumers scratch off a label on their medication, revealing a number that they could then text and receive instant verification of their drugs at the pharmacy or open air market. This will help prevent disasters such as the death of 84 infants in Nigeria last year due to teething syrup laced with antifreeze."

Ashifi's work has been recognised by the World Summit Awards, World Economic Forum Tech Pioneers, etc and he's given presentations at top institutions. He's been awarded at the IBM SmartCamp, USAID, Nokia, the IEEE, amongst others. Ashifi Gogog is one of the cheetahs, part of a young African generation who are making things happen. Let's begin to celebrate the young upstarts and acknowledge their work. More over, it will give us more inspiration to start investing our talents where they count. Tsooboi!

PS: Photo - President Clinton congratulates Sproxil CEO Dr. Gogo at 2010 Clinton Global Initiative meeting in New York, USA. Photo: CGI

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Diaspora Camp DC 2010 Event recap #diasporadc

Culled from Diasporacamp.org
DiasporaCamp DC 2010, a Barcamp with a focus on the African Diaspora, took place on July 24th, 2010 at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. The ‘unconference’ run from about from 9am to 6pm. The event brought together about 120 entrepreneurs, investors, students and professionals to find out the ways to access capital to start, fund and grow small and medium enterprises as well as other kinds of ventures. Attendees were excited to find out this diverse community of people interested in Africa and the Diaspora existed in the DC, Maryland, Virginia area. The theme was: Financial innovations for African small & medium-scale enterprises.

The event began with some opening remarks by members of the organizing team. Made up of Africans and non-Africans with a passion for the continent, the organizing team was backed by the GhanaThink Foundation which put it together. Ato Ulzen-Appiah, Clare Allenson, Nii Simmonds set the tone for the event after thanking our major sponsors, Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (JHU-SAIS). Kaushal Jhalla then introduced Gebreselassie Tesfamichael, the morning keynote speaker. Gebreselassie Yosief Tesfamichael is the former Finance Minister of Eritrea where prior to leaving the government in 1999, he led Africa’s fastest growing economy. He spoke about how the Kenney Auditorium at SAIS was housing some of “the most adventurous, most talented people from Africa”, and how “they have not been tapped”. Tesfamichael believes Eritrea is one of the most succesful countries in tapping its Diaspora. He also said “failure to tap into diaspora is a failure of leadership in Africa”. He ended by saying, “The negative image of Africa can be changed to the positive by the Diaspora”.

The first panel of the day followed. It was moderated by Nii Simmonds and titled - Access to Capital / Financial Innovations. The panelists were Dr. Philip Auerswald (George Mason Universty), Mr. Joseph Obi (USAID), Okezie Ofoegbu (Emerging Capital Partners) and Claude W. Roxborough (South African Chamber of Commerce in America). The panel spoke about some innovative ways and new of raising capital for doing business in Africa. The panel spoke about some innovative ways of raising capital for doing business in Africa. The discussion also centered around how we can institute financial innovation, current funding sources, and African investment in other African countries. The panel also discussed the challenges of sourcing funding, and return on investment (ROI). One big takeaway from the panel came from Okezie, who said, “Which sector won't make you money in Africa? The list is endless - power transportation, waste, etc". After the first panel, there was a mini-panel featuring representatives of Ashoka Changemakers. They talked about how they worked with G20 and Rockefeller foundation to draw upon public innovation. They spoke about the G-20 SME finance challenge, which would be a public-private partnership that will catalyze finance 4 SMEs.

During the lunch break, Carol Pineau, maker of the award-winning "Africa, Open for Business" documentary showed another of her works - "African Investment Horizons". She ridiculed the misconception of no money in Africa by saying that her film was funded by Africans. She also touched on the need for bed-nets and how people should invest in health-related businesses as well. Carol mentioned her upcoming project - skype interviews with African entrepreneurs. The afternoon keynote was given by Richard Cambridge, head of Diaspora Relations at the World Bank Africa Diaspora Program. World bank has decided that to work with the African Union to get a working definition of the Diaspora. Richard spoke highly of the African Diaspora, saying “Africans are the most educated immigrant group in the US”. He also mentioned the 30-40 Billion dollars a year in remittances to Africa, as well as more Eritrean and Malian doctors in U.S. than Eritrea and Mali. He spoke about Africa Town in Guangzhou, China which houses over 100,000 Africans who help Chinese do business in Africa.

The second panel followed, titled “African Businesses: Financing, Scaling, and Building Partnerships” and moderated by Chinedu Enekwe. The panelists were Amini Akunju (Workshop in Business Opportunities), Caroline Otonglo (Multilateral Investments Guarantee Agency), Kendal Tyre (Nixon & Peabody), Irene Osei, (Lifeline Homecare), and Rahama Wright (Shea Yeleen). The panel talked about hurdles, challenges and what affects the security of women SME entrepreneurs in Africa. The panel discussed the business language and the language of the investor. The panel also talked about how financing is driving social change. The panelists mentioned the importance of travelling home (to Africa) and doing (your) own visibility study while the local governments need to put the right systems in place. It is also important to raise your own capital before getting outside funding. Panelists seemed anti-Foreign aid. “Why would you live off your credit card? Foreign Aid = credit cards for governments”. It was argued that we need two strong institutions, tax-paying cultures, and a strong media.

Time only permitted for one breakout session period. There was a short break to plan the various breakout sessions. The breakouts were Healthcare delivery (case study: Ghana), Marketing Africa as a land of opportunity, Micro-finance, and How to build a successful African-themed website (case study: Museke.com). Notes from the breakout sessions will be on the Diasporacamp.org website. One major takeaway was “If they can't come home, the Diaspora can still contribute”. There had been breaks between all items on the agenda, during which attendees networked, discussed ideas, dissected issues raised in previous sessions, amongst other things. This was in the true spirit of BarCamps, where attendees talked about what was dear to them and were where they wanted to be. The event rounded up around 6pm.

The organizing team hopes to see attendees partner to work on various projects and business as well as start new businesses, and organizations. There will be future DiasporaCamps in various places in the USA and around the world to send the conversations worldwide and continue to bring the idea of congregating, sharing, learning and acting to people interested in African Diaspora everywhere. For more information, go to http://diasporacamp.org

See pictures from the event

See videos from the event

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Do it -soundtrack video for African movie Paparazzi -Eye in the Dark (Museke)


Ghana's Koby Maxwell and Liberia's Chris Deshield have collaborated on the soundtrack song for the upcoming Nollywood movie, Paparazzi - Eye in the Dark. I first heard them perform "Do it" during the Memorial Day weekend when both musicians were in the Bay Area for the first African Spring Bling organized by Deejay Burt and co. The song is very catchy and is bound to be a popular one amongst African music fans everywhere.

Koby Maxwell told me about this Paparazzi - Eye in the Dark movie project when I met him during the Memorial Day weekend. He mentioned that he was acting in the movie, in addition to his burgeoning music career, amongst other things. At a BBQ party at Deejay Burt's house, he and Chris Deshield sang along to their 'Do it' duet. And now, with direction from editor and cinematographer Black Magic Tim, we have the music video.

See the music video
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=55OLlLtTvgw


Lyrics for the song coming here. Asking around, many people seem to like the song and others can't stop playing it. It's a good party jam with some African grooves given Koby Maxwell's previous experience with making coupe decale songs like Abiba. Koby Maxwell is a versatile and gifted musician, who has performed all over America and the globe to diverse audiences. Chris Deshield is the 2009 Winner of the BET 106 and Park Allstar Competition & 2010 Liberian Entertainment Awards 'Best Artist' Winner.

The movie, Paparazzi - Eye in the Dark, is also intriguing. It casts Koby Maxwell as Max, an African musician who makes it big on the American scene. Van Vicker plays a photographer who chronicles his journey and his life. The plot is interesting and should offer a look into the lives and times of African musicians and celebrities who are based in the US. You can see the trailer here
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rewfGxXBKz8


Paparazzi Movie Concert
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O_FjkfUl6_I

Friday, September 3, 2010

Freshlyground sings about Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe in 'Chicken to Change' music video (Museke)

Thought this was a nice way to get Mugabe's attention. C'mon, Uncle Bob.

Afro-pop sensation group FRESHLYGROUND have teamed up with the internet satirical show ZA NEWS to make their second music video for their new album ‘Radio Africa’. The decision to hook up with the puppets from ZA NEWS was taken after His Excellency Comrade RG Mugabe declined a cordial invitation to participate in the video. His doppelganger, however, leapt at the opportunity! And brought along a couple of friends...

Check out the Chicken to change song

Zolani sings about what a noble supernova Mugabe was, a shiny star, but that somewhere along the line he lost his way. However, he still holds the key to the country’s future. Is it still possible to impress following generations? Is there room for change in his heart? There is still time! “An iridescent example of honour for the coming generation... You promised always to open the doors for us... Indeed it is you and only you who sleeps with the key... You are chicken to change!”

ZA NEWS pushes the envelope further by introducing the latex puppet of Bob Mugabe (designed by award-winning cartoonist and show co-creator Zapiro) and by including some of their regular brilliant characters, who dance along with Freshlyground ... and some chickens (real and stuffed!). The band is dressed in superbly awful Zim-style 80’s fashion, and have choreographed a slick and sublime ‘chicken’ dance. Zolani sings in a shebeen with Thabo and JZ, rides in a limo with Bob, and shakes it with Tannie Helen!!

Cape Town based Freshlyground have already achieved GOLD sales status with their latest album ‘Radio Africa’, which has spawned a Top10 radio hit in ‘Fire Is Low’. It’s been a phenomenal year for the band, with back-to-back international tours and sharing the stage with Shakira at the FIFA 2010 World Cup closing ceremony, among other World Cup events. Their single with Shakira “Waka Waka - This Time for Africa” continues to hold the number one spot in many charts across Europe, with all proceeds form the sale of this single going to benefit football related charities.

The music video was directed by ZA NEWS co-creator and Executive Producer Thierry Cassuto, and was produced by Both Worlds Pictures. It was filmed and post-produced in state-of-the-art High-Definition in Cape Town, with the help of Media Film Services, Premiere Post Production, HD Hub, Waterfront Studios and Black Ginger.

Watch the music video
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tdf2lBIe4Ac


PRODUCER AND DIRECTOR THIERRY CASSUTO on 'CHICKEN TO CHANGE'
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ryq2Jp_q5Vc


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