Monday, October 17, 2011

Blog Action Day 2011 - How to prepare "#Waakye"

#BAD11 @blogactionday11

So folks are blogging with respect to Blog Action Day and the theme is food. How perfect! I am such a foodian, I love to eat. I am especially carnivorous too. But above all, I really love my Ghanaian food, especially waakye. I have used three levels of especially to introduce waakye so you can tell how special Waakye is to me. In my estimation, it's the best food in the whole wide world. It doesn't matter that if it's not gotten to Afghanistan or the North Pole yet, it's the best. You know why? Because it sells out faster than any other meal in the world. Ask a Ghanaian or a waakye lover and they will tell you.

So in honour of Blog Action Day about food - I want to help spread waakye all around the globe. Thanks to the great folks at Nududu.com and Fienipa.com, I am giving you three ways in which you can make waakye. Thank me later and say "na gode" while you are at it for introducing you to "waakye and kyinkaafa".


All 3 versions use the same basic ingredients: rice, salt, black-eyed peas, water, oil, onion, baking soda, with a couple of variations.

METHODS
1) Waakye in a rice cooker
For this version put into a rice cooker: a 15.5 oz can of black-eyed peas, drained and lightly rinsed (this is about 1 and 1/2 cups), a cup of white rice (wash first if necessary), 1/2 to 1 of teaspoon baking soda (a full teaspoon will make it a little darker), a half teaspoon of salt (or to taste), a tablespoon of vegetable oil (like peanut or canola), a half cup of chopped onion, and 2 cups of water. Stir, cover, and cook. That's all there is to it! It cooks in about 30 minutes without burning.

2) Every day waakye
Rinse and pick over a cup of black-eyed peas, then soak them for about 4 hours covered with water (or, if you're in a rush like I always seem to be, just bring them to a boil in a saucepan, let them boil for a couple of minutes, sit for an hour, drain off the water and add 2 1/2 fresh cups of water to the sauce pan, along with a teaspoon of baking soda, a cup of rice, the 1/2 cup chopped onion, a tablespoon of vegetable oil, and 1 teaspoon of salt. Bring it to a boil, lower the heat to simmer and let it cook, covered, until the rice and beans are cooked. Watch out that it doesn't burn. It may need a little more water and stirring while it cooks.

3) Special Waakye
Rinse well and pick over a cup of black-eyed peas, then put them into a saucepan with 3 cups of water and 1 teaspoon of baking soda, bring it to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes. Add the cup of rice, teaspoon of salt, 1/2 cup chopped onion, and either another cup of water or a cup of coconut milk. In place of the vegetable oil, use a couple of tablespoons of coconut cream (from the top of a can of unsweetened coconut milk), and a sprinkling of a spice of your choice (e.g., thyme, oregano). Bring to a boil, lower the heat and cook, covered, until the rice and beans are tender, about half an hour. Check a few times to make sure it is not burning, and add more water if necessary.

Notes
3 different versions of waakye (pronounced "waatchy") the classic rice and "beans" dish from Northern Ghana:
1) a quick and easy version to make in an electric rice cooker,
2) an "every day" version, and
3) one that's a little fancier.
Culled from Fienipa.com via Betumi Blog

Saturday, October 15, 2011

My Ugandan alter-ego

Ever since I went to Uganda for the first time, I have been imagining what my Ugandan alter-ego would be like. You might already know about my Nigerian alter-ego, Ayooluwaato Eze. No one has really told me I look like a Ugandan but given the similarities between Ghanaians and Ugandans, I could really pass for one. But then again, all Africans aren't the same so let me introduce you to Richard Nshuti Mayanja.

My father is from the famous Buganda kingdom. We speak Luganda and we are part of the proud Mayanja family. Yes, the same one the famous Ugandan musician Chameleon aka Joseph Mayanja is from. The name 'Mayanja' is as Ugandan as you can get. Unless you have a name that starts with two s's like Sserugo. My middle name is Nshuti because my mother is from Rwanda. Uganda and Rwanda have some really good relations as there are Kinyarwandas living in Uganda.

Now why am I called Richard? Because there are 256 Richards in Kampala alone. I must have met 10 of them while in Kampala. I think I only met 4 Ugandans who didn't have English/Christian first names. That was pretty crazy to me. Then again, Richard signifies riches. You know my friend Chameleon has renamed himself Chamillion or Cha100000? Million, mulitple zeros, riches. Mayanjas don't play and my family blessed me with a rich name like Richard so I could take care of my huge family in the future. Uganda is a very religious and conservative country. Hence, the Richard. If you visited Uganda and moved around a bit, you'll see how much Christianity is part of the Ugandan lifestyle.




I can't speak Luganda that well because my father is a diplomat and I didn't stay in Uganda too long to learn the language. My father is well travelled as per his job and he married a Rwandan too. My Kinyarwanda command is very bad as well but I can say a lot of words in Zulu, Shona, Hausa and I could make you think I was Tanzanian by my Swahili. We spent a lot of time in Kenya like most Ugandans because of the Last King of Scotland, Idi Amin. If all you know about Uganda is Idi Amin, you can stop reading here. Shame on you! So I grew up a bit in Kenya, but don't get it twisted, Uganda is the pearl of Africa and we carry East Africa. We are older than Kenya too.

Now, you must also know that the World Health Organization claims that Ugandans outdrink all other nations. 19.47 liters per year for per capita consumption in liters of pure alcohol. Like Juliana sang, "I am Ugandan", I am really Ugandan. Richard Mayanja loves to drink but he is not drunkard, he's in complete control of his alcohol consumption. I have been away from Uganda too long so I cannot even compete with the Mbabazis, Okellos and Sserugos who live there. But you see, us Ugandans, we channel our beer drinking skills into merrymaking and partying. If you visited Kampala, you would realize we can party with the best of them. Especially in Kabalagala, which our visitors leave without forgetting. Our party nature is reflected in our music, dancehall music reigns. Unlike Kenyans, we don't drink and then sit down, we drink and then dance. "Kyaba too much like that".

Like most Ugandans, I don't play with Matooke or my Kachumbari. I love to eat. For breakfast, I like to have watermelon, pineapple, and orange melon. You guessed right, these colours go well with the Ugandan flag. Matooke is made from plantain and we don't joke with our plantains. As such plantain chips are very popular with us too. When the whole world was infatuated with Barack Obama, we named some chapati after him. We made two worldwide phenonemons - chapati and Barack Obama - our own. Check out "Obama Chapati" Take-away. I am also a huge carnivore. I cannot eat a meal without some kind of meat. Like our elders say, "when the meat is gone, the meal is finished, eating is allowed to stop".

Kampala is built on 7 hills and the landscape is breathtaking. We have nice safaris and parks and all but our people are the best reason to tour Uganda. Ugandans are very friendly and happy people. It's not just a place to visit, it's a place to settle. That's why we are the best people to party with. If you are a social animal like me, you need to make it down to Kampala. And this maps onto the rest of Uganda. You must really visit Uganda because you haven't met a real Richard until you've been there.

So next time you meet Richard Nshuti Mayanja, that will be me. And I'm not on Facebook. I normally check some other guy's facebook to stalk all the pretty Ugandan girls from time to time. Ugandan girls are well endowed. Don't let what you saw in that Jangu music video fool you. You can catch always me here on this blog. Because kyaba too much. Richard Nshuti Mayanja says "I am Ugandan".

Mighty African goes to Uganda! #tugende!

I never imagined that the first ever African country I would spend a night in would be Uganda. Yes, the Mighty African had never even been to Togo or Burkina Faso or found himself in Nigeria. Thanks to my job, I was able to finally show off the few Luganda words I had learnt from Ugandan friends while stationed in the USA. I visited Kampala for four days in September. Before I went to Kampala, I didn't know anyone there that I had met. All the folks I had been in touch with were musicians and a couple of journalists. I left Kampala with 25 new phone numbers! I asked my Ugandan friends et al on Facebook what I should do before I left Uganda (Kampala) and I tried to go through with some of their suggestions. I had every intention of getting stories to tell so let's recount the Mighty African experiences.

I must preface the Ugandan debut by saying I had a little stop over at the Nairobi airport. I arrived at the Entebbe airport September 6th and we were driven to Kampala. The airport looked about Kotoka's size and the road from Entebbe to Kampala looked like quite the busy street. I hadn't imagined Uganda's major airport will be that far from Kampala. I realized quickly that Ugandans drove on the wrong side of the road. Erm, I mean the left side of the road, not the right. British colony. Not that Ghana is an American colony but you get the point. Apart from having the steering wheel on the right hand side, cars in Uganda aren't very different from Ghana. Except you couldn't tell taxicabs as easily. And then they call urvans or trotros 'taxis' and call taxis 'cabs'.

One thing I realised was the heavy presence of soldiers and policemen on the roads idling. Turns out Ugandans had been rioting (against Yoweri Museveni) so the security forces were on alert. You might remember the famous 'Walk to Work' protests. We had to be checked (airport style) before we entered the Sheraton Hotel, as well as other buildings. I didn't enjoy that but I hope Ugandans don't get used to this at all. Mr. Museveni must stop asking if Ugandans want "another rap" and focus on serving the Ugandan people so as to stop the rioting. I was joking Ugandan food is quite light compared to Ghanaian food so after eating, they still have energy to hit the streets and demonstrate. Give Ghanaians fufu, kenkey and tuo zaafi and you are sure to keep them chillaxing after such heavy meals. It's the secret to Ghana's safety and relative peace.

I can count the number of hours I slept in Kampala over those 4 nights. Kampala is apparently the party capital of Africa. As I saw in the September 9 Daily Monitor edition, "Kampalans make up silly reasons to party". There's a strong case there from what I saw. I hit up places like Boda Boda, Rouge, Cayenne, etc. I was invited to Cayenne by Rachel K, a musician. There, I run into Cindy Sanyu (a popular Ugandan singer) who I had been trying to get in touch with. I loved the Centenary Park area which houses multiple bars that churn great music, and fits the beer-drinking and merry-making Kampala public. I was invited to the Heights to a journalists meet-up by a Ugandan blogger I had met on Twitter @RosebellK. Before that I had met up with another young female Ugandan changemaker who I also met on Twitter @mbabazi_AN. She happened to run YoungAchieversUg which I have kept tabs on for a while ever since I accepted its Facebook Friend request.

I was invited by Cindy's former Blu3 mate Lilian Mbabazi to be on a radio show in Kampala - RadioCity 97FM. The show was called 'Celeb of the Day'. But you know I am no celebrity. I don't want the popularity, I want to be as anonymous as they come. What another name can be as anonymous as "Mighty African"? Lilian interviewed me about various things while she played my selection of 10 top songs (all African). I love how Ugandan bars and clubs played music from all over Africa. I didn't hear any Ghanaian music but I heard a lot of Cabo Snoop's Windeck and Prakatatumba. That made Angola's Roberto Saudades very happy (more to come on Roberto). Hey, some Ugandan friends said Windeck was the most popular African song of 2010. Ugandans did seem to know a lot of Ghanaian movie stars. I got asked many times if Jackie Appiah was my wife (humph!) or sister. A couple of people asked me about Stephen Appiah, which is lovely, because the Black Stars of Ghana are beloved.

One person I really wanted to meet in Kampala was Afrotainment Museke Awards winner Maurice Kirya. He's so awesome that he even attended G-Uganda which is Google's flagship event in Uganda. That's how forward thinking he is. One of my biggest regrets from leaving Kampala was not taking a picture with him alongside not eating 'Rolex' aka rolled eggs. I did speak to Maurice at the Google event though. G-Uganda was awesome! It brought together many Ugandan developers, entrepreneurs, business people, etc. More importantly, it networked many young Ugandan entrepreneurs and change makers and I got the chance to meet most of them. I loved how attendees latched onto an Android game app built by these guys called 'Matatu' which is a very popular Ugandan game.

I knew about the motorbike phenomenon in Uganda mostly due to Maurice Kirya's award winning Boda Boda song. These 'motors' are locally called 'Boda Bodas'. One night, some of my new friends and I visited a bar called 'Boda Boda' where an awesome live band was playing. The band sang many African classics and I regretted going there late. Afterwards, we packed ourselves into a cab, it was me, 4 other ladies and the taxi driver. You can guess what happened next. The car broke down about 70% of the way towards our destination and the ladies decided we will not be paying the taxi driver. I didn't say a word and saved my money. That's where we saw some boda bodas close by and then I got onto one. I switched places with the driver and had a Kodak moment.
One another particular night, I rode a Boda Boda past the Boda Boda club while singing a song called Boda Boda. No bother. The motorbiker transported the helmetless me and my friend George to Kabalagala and the whole time I was scared of what might happen when he tried to swerve multiple pot-holes. Kabalagala apparently is a tourist attraction in Kampala for partying but it also has a lot of prostitutes etc. Every friend who had some knowledge of Kampala told me to visit the place. It rained a bit while I was there but it was surely jumping. Word on the street is Ugandans drink more than Kenyans, and though I find that hard to believe, they do love drinking.

Kampala is known to be the pothole capital of Africa (also up for debate). Kampala didn't look more advanced than Accra but it did have some bigger malls or supermarkets. This is apparently due to the influence of Kenya. I did spot a mall that had South Africa's Shoprite and Game Stores too. These developments could also answer why Kampala has a more bustling nightlife than Accra. Accra has worse traffic though. I didn't get to see too much of Kampala, especially the living spaces. I went to a party at Makerere University so didn't see much there and didn't visit any other houses. I wish I had seen more neighbourhoods.

Just like in Ghana, the mobile telecommunication companies rule Uganda. Their billboards are all over. I decided to get an Airtel chip and local phone number to show I was really in Uganda and not just passing by. I did pass by but I tried to act like I was not a guest. I took an active interest in practicing my little Luganda and learning more. Lilian Mbabazi was impressed and told me "Kyaba too much". This is a local term that means "you are too much". I also learnt "tugende" which means "let's go!". This is a time where we are encouraging African youth to take charge everywhere and I needed a Ugandan rallying cry. #Tugende! It's always the "vim" that is speaking. I think within the 4 days I was in Kampala, I said "tugende" 256 times.

Ugandans and Ghanaians have a lot in common. We are all happy and friendly people. When a lady wouldn't give in to my friend's advances at some club we went to, I started a long conversation with the words "I heard Ugandan women are very friendly". We ended up leaving this bar with she and her friend and we have some business plans together. Jolly good news I tell you! Africa is diverse but some things are quite similar amongst us. I felt at home in Kampala. The people there made me feel that way when I allowed them. Akwagala! Bulungi! Mukwano! These terms may not be right but I am just expressing my Ugandan love. Though my time in Uganda was limited in Kampala, I didn't regret that. I didn't go to the Pearl of Africa to see tourist sites, I went there to meet and live with the people. That's the way to African unity. That's the MightyAfrican way.

Afrotainment Museke Online Africa Music Awards Winners ceremony!


One of Museke's proudest moments!

DR Congo crooner Fally Ipupa, Senegal’s Viviane Ndour and Didier Awadi were the top winners at the 2011 Afrotainment Museke Online African Music Awards that took place on September 24 in New York City. The ceremony happened amidst cheers and proud celebrations from fans of African music and African musicians alike. Afrotainment’s studios were given a makeover in preparation for the event that will certainly have left a great impression on all involved. Benin’s very own Angelique Kidjo, gave an impromptu acapella performance following her acceptance of her award. Kidjo was recipient of the Afrotainment MOAMA 2011’s Lifetime Achievement Award - her first ever, which she said she was glad that it was an award bestowed upon her by fellow Africans.


The show was hosted by Afrotainment presenters, Zimbabwe’s Farai Gundan - who was dressed by Nigerian haute couture designer Alphadi - and Zambia’s Tivo Shikapwashya. The red carpet ceremony was hosted by Sophy Aiida where she interviewed various African musicians and other dignitaries. She also interviewed various sponsors and guests during the awards ceremony. All of this was broadcasted live on Afrotainment Channels 667 and 751 on Dish Networrk in North America and also streamed live on awards.afrotainment.us, moamas.com and museke.com.


The evening’s performances were by award winners Viviane Ndour and Fally Ipupa, as well as by Ghana’s Blitz the Ambassador, Rwanda’s Iyadede, Cameroun’s Les Nubians, and the Washington DC-based Les Belles d’Afrique. Performances of the evening were highly collaborative in spirit: Fally Ipupa was joined by Iyadede on stage as he sang his hit song Chaise Electrique and then by Les Belles d’Afrique as he performed his club banger, Sexy Dance. Blitz the Ambassador also joined Les Nubians on stage while they were performing their set.


Senegal dominated the award winners, led by the gorgeous Viviane Ndour, who finished with three awards - Female Artist of the Year, best music video for Sama Champion and Afro- rhythms song of the year for Fima Tollu. Fally Ipupa emerged as Artist of the year, as well as sharing the Best African collaboration award with Nigeria’s J. Martins for the still highly popular remix to the latter’s Jukpa banger, as well as Popular Song of the Year for his dance floor special, Sexy Dance. Nigeria also had a lot of winners, including 2Face Idibia for Male Artist of the year and P-Square as Group of the year. There were winners from every African sub-region, as well as the Diaspora, which fully celebrates African music. The full list of winners can be found at moamas.com.


Ato Ulzen-Appiah, CEO of Museke Inc, enthused; “We are all proud to honour the best of African music from last year and this was a big and monumental day in continuing to promote African music to music fans everywhere. We particularly enjoyed the collaborations and seeing various stakeholders in the African music industry network”.


Afrotainment’s Eric Noue spoke further on the success of the show; “We are excited about the fact that we were able to translate a vision into reality through an unprecedented show that was aired Live on TV nationwide in the US and in streaming worldwide on the internet. We also take this opportunity to thank our key sponsors: Western Union, Arik Air and Dish Network who decided to come along with us on this journey"


All in all, it was an evening enjoyed by all who attended, and it left many believing that the next Afrotainment Museke Online African Music Awards will only get bigger and better.


For more information regarding the MOAMAs, check out moamas.com and email awards at museke.com.

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