Saturday, December 31, 2011

Recapping Mighty African's 2011! @mightyafrican

Wow, what a year it's been! 2011 has been pretty good to me. I haven't asked for much all my life and I sure did get a lot this year. Let's recap what happened, the highlights and lowlights.

- After loving the word vim during the Mzansi Mundial in which Ghana's Black Stars made a mark, I latched unto the word "more vim" for 2011. I even renamed my blog as a result. I shared the importance of the word vim in this post.

- I attended multiple Ghanaian churches in the Oakland/Bay Area. I wrote about my Lighthouse experience here. In fact, I attended the Ghanaian Church of Pentecost in Oakland more than the Stanford Catholic church or my California church -Abundant Life. I love my people.

- I had malaria again for the first time in 10 years and in the worst place possible, America. I had to break my promise never go to any American emergency room and it run up my medical insurance bill. And then I missed an interview because of it. Sigh.

- I had a spectacular 6th March weekend. I even crashed a Sierra Leonian outdooring party. Tutu pati! But then again, there's never a dull moment in my life. You can read about that weekend here and here. People mistook me for a Liverpool fan after they beat Manchester United and earned me my first top tweet. Yeah, I never walk alone.

- I had my first chance to address a Ghanaian crowd during the Bay Area Ghanaian independence party. I count it as maybe my first real public speaking engagement. Did I talk about me? No, I talked about other awesome Ghanaians to inspire the audience and give it more vim. I want to make sure I have more success stories to talk about in 2012. I didn't even have to talk about Kwame Nkrumah.


- With Museke and Barcamp Ghana earning me a job at Google, I could finally tell my parents all about them. So I dedicated many African songs to them and all inspirational African parents on Mothers' and Fathers' Day.

- After a long drawn out recruitment process, I landed my dream job - to work at Google. I was returning to the source of my vim to work for Google in Africa, based in Ghana. Ever since I heard it's the best company to work for in 2007, I've fancied working there. And it happened in the best way possible. Read it about that here. Before I even joined Google, I said they and Ghana were a match-made in vim-heaven ;-)

- I finally left Stanford. I never imagined spending almost 5 years there when I went to the Bay Area for my Masters in 2006, but the time I spent there helped me figure out which direction I wanted my career to go - entrepreneurship - while gaining valuable experiences.

- After 10 years in the USA, I returned home to Ghana. I abandoned my dream of going home with the US' money, the lure of creating impact in Ghana was too large. And I could make money doing it. The time had come.

- When I wrote this post praising Farida Bedwei, little did I know I will be honoured with her and the awesome Bright Simons on the same stage later in the year. I was honoured as one of 3 Ghanaians under 40 who had contributed greatly to Ghana. This really satisfied me, I felt it was apt recognition of little and big things I'd passionately done. Read about the Legacy & legacy IDEAs awards here.

- I had my heart broken twice. Well, my heart didn't really break, cos I didn't mourn or cry. But two ladies said no to my advances. Because I am extra positive, I keep on believing the time where I find a woman I adore who will say 'yes' to me will come. And I healed my regrets and relationship with my last girlfriend. Now, I have no worries in my life.

- I finally visited another African country for the first time. It was Uganda! It will always hold a special place in my heart. I didn't go there to see tourist sites, I went there to work and meet the people who live there. I left Kampala with 25 new contacts. Richard Nshuti Mayanja was home! I was even on a RadioCity program as the celebrity of the day :-) Thank you Museke.

- Kenya is not quite the home of Swahili (Tanzania is) and I 'safiried' to the Harambe home for a cultural safari. Yes, I went on a safari there too but only because Google paid for it. Better still, I met many friends of mine who were living in Nairobi. I went on two radio shows on Homeboyz Radio. :-). Museke at it again.

- I started building Museke.com right after MIT and launched it in early 2007. I knew I wanted to build the biggest African music website. Many people agree it is. And then we organized anAfrican music awards in New York (the first in North America), partnering with a US-based TV station to broadcast and web-stream it live . Yea, the Afrotainment MOAMAs.

- I visited South Africa for the first time as well, a year after I missed attending the Mzansi Mundial. No, I couldn't enter Soccer City Stadium and exorcise Ghana's demons. But, I did visit Cape Town, Hillbrow, and Soweto and saw Nelson Mandela's house. Next time, I would hopefully get to meet Madiba and sing in Soweto's streets. Yea, I was on radio again - UJ FM for the Museke Minute. I've been working on my radio voice. I attended a stand-up comedy show with various African comedians, including Basketmouth. I met Kabelo, singer of one my fave songs, High I go, after it.

- My alter-ego Ayooluwaato Eze returned to Nigeria. I visited Nigeria for the first time as well. I rode an okada for more than 20 minutes, saw many places I had heard about from Nigerian friends and music, and met many celebrities, including the Naija Boyz, Basketmouth, Genevieve Nnaji, Darey, Don Jazzy and Naeto C. Didn't get onto radio this time but might have my face on Studio 53 Extra somewhere.

- The best part about these visits is that I ate the local food everywhere! Matooke, kachumbari, ugali, nyama choma, pap and stew, borewors, eba, egusi stew, suya; yea, the life of a foodian! Edziban a? Dzidzi! Good belly news.

- I met one of my role models Ory Okolloh, the founder of Ushahidi. It was mostly because she worked for the same company as me, Google. If you watch her TED video and listen to Patrick Awuah, you'll see how they think about Africa. That's why I admire them greatly.



- I visited Tamale and Ho for the first time in my life. Yes, Barcamps took me there. Ghanaians should see Ghana more. Accra is choking. We should do all we can to ensure Ghanaians can be successful everywhere in Ghana.

- I visited Cape Coast again, for the very first Barcamp there, my first in Ghana outside Accra. The passion and interest there inspired me. I visited Takoradi again to see how my blog post about its growth compared with what was happening on the ground.

- We ended up organizing five Barcamps, starting with Kumasi and ending in Accra on December 17. Since we started 2008, we've had 11. Yea, building a movement of Ghanaian change makers, doers and entrepreneurs. Major shoutout to CITI FM for hosting us on radio again. I even read two of my poems on its Writers' Project show.

2011 saw a lot of successes on many fronts. I believe 2012 will be even better. I want to chalk these successes with you. When we do so, Africa will be a much better place and so will the world.

Happy New Year from the MIghTy African!
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