Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Strengthening a foundation of youth taking charge of development via Barcamp Ho #bcho

Over the past weekend, I attended the 2nd Barcamp Ho event. This was also the 6th Barcamp to held in Ghana this year. Yeap, the Barcamp Ghana project has been highly visible and the GhanaThink team has been tres busy. The event happened Friday, 21st September at the Ho Polytechnic SRC Junior Common Room. A major Asogli Yam Festival was happening in Ho on the Saturday, 22nd and luckily the 21st was a holiday in Ghana - Founder's Day. This was the first ever Barcamp on a holiday or Friday and it turned out to be a great decision.

"We are not allowed to talk about the problems and not offer solutions, especially solutions we can implement ourselves". Before the Barcamp started, I walked upon a heated discussion on "Free senior high school education" amongst some guys who had just finished a game of football. I had just one question for them "How are you going to solve the various problems you are talking about?"
As is becoming the nature of Barcamp Ghana events, the first major session was a speed mentoring session where various selected and invited resource personnel served to mentor and share insights with attendees over a 10 minute (or less) period. This speed mentoring initiative was a major hit at Barcamp Ghana and has been made a feature at subsequent events. By doing it early, it ensures that the resource personnel are there early too. Many Ghanaian events don't start on time and/or have the attendees come late. By having a mentoring session early, it takes advantage of the small numbers to give the early birds some quality time and value. Now that's a smart thing to do.

The mentors included Eyram Tawia (Leti Games), Florence Toffa (Mobile Web Ghana), Anne Amuzu (Nandimobile), Maximus Ametorgoh (PopOut), Tsonam Akpeloo (Techcom Visions), Sheila Bartels-Sam (InCharge Global) and myself. Donald Ward Diaba, the emcee, shared their various disciplines and topics we could share insights on and we talked to about 6 attendees each. I loved understanding what the passions for these people were and sharing with them some moves and plans they could make to improve what they are presently doing and what they might want to get up to.

It was refreshing to hear Charles Nyante from Voice Ghana talk about the importance and relevance of supporting the disabled to contribute greatly to national development. What struck me were the stats and info he shared, especially around how 737,000 Ghanaians were persons with disabilties, such a telling stat. He didn't stop at the challenges facing disabled people in Ghana but how Voice Ghana was working to meet and surpass those challenges. This communicated the event's theme well. The theme for the event was "Youth Taking Charge of Development". This was front and center of the panel moderated by Donald which featured panelists as Shirley Bartels-Sam, Maximus Ametorgoh and Anne Amuzu. 

Various sponsors and partners made the event possible. Big brother Google supported with funds with messages about the "Africa, Get Your Business Online" program, Google+ and the Outreach Work. We run a number of Google+ Hangouts On Air to afford various people the opportunity to watch the Barcamp live! It worked pretty well off a mobile internet dongle. Voice Ghana supported with some funds while the Centre for Creative Youth supported with some funds and countless hours of service. Nandimobile managed the SMS registrations, while DonaldWard Initiatives, Leti Games, Fienipa contributed too. A new private station, US FM, gave some publicity while the MyJoyOnline & the Ghana News Agency came aboard the Barcamp Ghana train for the first time, with extra support from Modern
As we waited for lunch to arrive, we got into celebrations and reverence of the Founder's Day Holiday itself. Kwabena Akuamoah-Boateng, 1 of the true Ghanaian patriots, gave a speech about Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, talking about some of his achievements. We then sang the Ghana National Anthem which thankfully most of the attendees could sing. At other Barcamps, we sang "Yen Ara Asaase Ni" which is a popular patriotic song composed by Dr. Ephraim Amu. But at this Barcamp, we tried something different, singing "Miadenyigba lɔlɔla" which is the Ewe (or the original) version of "Yen Ara Asaase Ni". Personally, I have always known of the lyrics of the song as we've had it on but I never knew to sing it. Seeing various attendees of Barcamp Ho sing "Miade Nyigba Lolo La" was a very powerful moment. I am going to take a stab at singing the song in private too. We rounded up the singing with "Arise Ghana Youth (for your country)", a song I hadn't sang in years since my primary school days.

The breakout sessions are always my favorite parts of Barcamps as it offers a voice to everyone who's attending. It's almost an opportunity to notice those who are taking charge and want to address the issues and projects for development. The sessions were about reversing the poor performance in BECE exams;  environmental sanitation; technology entrepreneurs solving problems; risk management in entrepreneurship and drama as an educational tool. When the sessions were ended, reps of each group who weren't those leading the sessions provided brief summaries and action items to the full audience. 

The Barcamp ended with another rendition of Miadenyigba lɔlɔla, this time with the lyrics on the screen which hitherto was showing real-time Twitter updates from the #bcho hashtag. This time I could help sing, though I realized I can't read Ewe as much as I would like. So Ewe language, I am officially coming for you.  with vim. Just the way Volta Is Moving with VIM. A young gentleman showed me a Volta Region focused magazine he had published. A couple of people I met at Barcamp Ho 2011 talked to me about seminars and events they had been working on since. 3 of the Barcamp Ho 2011 attendees volunteered and help with the organization for Barcamp Ho 2012. The Centre for Creative Youth had made progress towards their community centre in Ho. Others offered to make the Volta Crusader blog more active. And we had our various breakout action items. Now, that is the "youth taking charge of development".

#Dzolali! Now or never! More vim to all youth taking charge of development, especially in the Volta Region of Ghana. I have to leave you with a video that should go viral. 3 Patriotic songs renditions. We livestreamed Barcamp Ho via Youtube and Google+ hangouts. Groundbreaking. Taking charge. It's the vim.
Photos from the Volta Crusader blog post.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Not your regular party night #partycrew

What a night I had last night! I have a lot of nights like but this one was good to write home about :-)

After spending the last weekend in Africa's unofficial party capital, Kampala, I was back in Accra and ready to show my sister and a couple of friends who were in Ghana for a short time a good time. Before I proceed to tell you about last night, let me tell about my last night in Kampala, Sunday September 9. I finally found a "popping club" to enter - Ange-Mystique and they (bouncers and all) wanted to charge me to enter. But I don't pay to enter clubs so I made them know it. So I left but on my way out, I saw a couple of ladies who were coming in. I asked them which other club would be lively now (and free) so I could go there. They said Ange-Mystique was the only one. After I told them I was from out of town, one of the ladies gave me a complementary pass to enter the club. The bouncers couldn't believe it. They were like "Where did you get this?" Them "bera-mu-class" people, they don't know I'm "kyaba-too-much" eh? :-)

So for last night. First, I told a friend (guy) we were going to the Farenheit night club (in the Best Western Hotel premises) in #Accra & we might be charged. He replied: "I don't have heels". He seemed to say "this girl here doesn't have heels so they won't let her in so let's not go". She must be wearing sandals so not to bother with Farenheit. But I'm really not paying that money so let's say I don't have heels either. Best ever excuse! :)

They were charging 20 GhC (only for guys) at Farenheit. My #Partycrew collectively agreed it wasn't worth it. So we left for Firefly in Osu. At Firefly, we had to wait outside because it was packed. Of course, folks who probably given the bouncers money in previous times were allowed to go in, but I'm not to indulge in such things. The bouncers almost didn't let me into Firefly because I said I wanted to come azonto & that they thought that meant I only wanted to dance for a bit and I wouldn't buy drinks. Wow! Maybe they decided that's what I meant because I took the liberty to announce to a merry-goer that Firefly is free to enter.

Well, I eventually entered and bought a drink, but not enough. I mean, was the bouncer going to leave his post and come and check if I was buying enough drinks? Lol. There's always a 1st time. At one point while at Firefly, there was no deejay @ the DJ booth. A playlist of old American songs was left to play. I could have easily turned the tables at that moment, in fact I pretended to. The music sucked. I didn't dance once while at Firefly (no azonto) and they didn't play a single African song for the hour I was there. Shame.

And then when we were leaving, I found out that Firefly makes a big deal of buying drinks because some people go to Firefly & get tables and don't pay and leave? How can the bar people allow that to happen? So a number of the VIP people at Firefly actually don't pay for their drinks when they must be doing so? Lwkmd! Fake! Take!

I had decided to never go to Twist cos it's always packed and they 'charge'. We still left for Twist after 2:33am to go see what was happening there. And then I found out that they actually don't charge. Don't get it twisted. They only charge to enter in December when all the Bogas are in town :-). I am twisting my tongue now. Twist might just become my favorite club. I caught them playing "Chop my money". I do care but Twist can chop my money small.

In the other news, Phelele called me from Kenya when I was leaving Twist. I could have gotten down from the car and done some "Twist dances". Just super. In fact, I was thoroughly entertained by Firefly especially tonight. That's what I paid for (in drinks). Thanks everyone :-)

Friday, September 14, 2012

Barcamp Ho implores us to take charge #bcho

The first time I went to Ho was last December for Barcamp Ho. Whadyaknow? Barcamp Ho is here again. I learnt a lot about the tourism potential of the Volta region. In fact, it's passed by the Central region in terms of revenue generated in terms of tourism. That's really a big deal. So last year, it was clear, the tourism potential exists and the strengths and peculiarities of the region are there for all to see. 

Click this link for pictures on Google+ and Facebook.

This year at Barcamp Ho, the theme is “Youth taking charge of development”. We have to take charge of realizing that tourism potential and making many cedis for ourselves and Ghana. And we need to start this by having other Ghanaians visit the region more. Maybe get 233 people within the next year to say they climbed Mount Afadjato?

The press release for Barcamp Ho 2012 is below. The event is next Friday. If you have access to Ho, join us. Let's network, share and learn. Let's visit some tourist attractions right here in Ghana. Your life will never be the same.

The GhanaThink Foundation has successfully organized 16 BarCamps in Ghana. BarCamp Ho 2012 is being organized in conjunction with Centre for Creative Youth. The event will be a showcase of how Ghana’s youth are taking charge of its development and how they can be spurred on to do more. The spotlight will be on demonstrating how youth-led initiatives can bring change in different facets of development.

Some of the confirmed speakers and mentors, based both within and outside the Volta region, are: Francis Asong (VOICE Ghana), Makafui Nyamadi (GCOM Pre-University), Tsonam Akpeloo (Techcom Visions), Florence Toffa (Mobile Web Ghana), Anne Amuzu (Nandimobile), Penelope Sheila Bartels-Sam (inCharge Global), Nehemiah Attigah (Hatua Solutions), Regina Agyare (Soronko Solutions), Alloysius Attah (Farmerline) and Eyram Tawia (Leti Games).

The Barcamp will feature multiple user-generated breakout sessions about business, social entrepreneurship, technology and development, alongside topics relevant to the Volta Region and beyond. There will be a speed mentoring session where mentors will give insights and answers to questions from attendees. We are also organizing a start-up bazaar  where young entrepreneurs and innovators can showcase their products and services.

Register/RSVP at the BarCamp Ho eventbrite website ( or text "Barcamp Ho [name] [email address] to 1945 through any mobile network.. You may also contact the BarCamp Ho team through the eventbrite page for sponsorship opportunities. If you are interested in organizing a breakout session, let us know, especially if you have special needs.

BarCamp Ho 2012 is sponsored by the Ho Polytechnic, GhanaThink Foundation, Google Ghana, CCY Ghana, VOICE Ghana, Nandimobile, Fienipa Group, etc. Our media partners are US FM, Spy Ghana and the Ghana News Agency. Join us to move Ghana and the Volta Region forward.

Press release shared by Teresa Lemaire & Gameli Adzaho.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Follow Barcamp Cape Coast happening September 8 #bccapecoast

I will be missing Barcamp Cape Coast as I am on a work trip to Uganda but I will surely be following proceedings from #bccapecoast. It should be a great second event in the Central region with new learnings, new networks, new stories, and new partnerships. More vim!

Press release below.

BarCamp Cape Coast 2012 is a free networking forum to bring people together for a day of discussion, demos and dialogue on Cape Coast, Ghana and beyond. BarCamp Cape Coast 2012 will take place on September 08, 2012 at the New Lecture Theatre at the University of Cape Coast. It follows last year’s event on November 12 where the theme was “Harnessing IT education for local innovation and tourism development”. The theme for this year is “Revolutionizing Education through Arts & Technology”. This Barcamp hopes to assemble Cape Coast stakeholders to network, build a supportive enterprising community and partner to build together.

The GhanaThink Foundation, an NGO based both in Ghana and the USA, has successfully organized 15 BarCamps in Ghana. Barcamp Cape Coast 2012 will be organized in conjunction with the University of Cape Coast (UCC) Google Developer Group (GDG). The Barcamp build knowledge on how to improve education using the arts and technology. It will also investigate how to incorporate technology into teaching and education.

The Barcamp will feature multiple user-generated breakout sessions about business, fashion, arts, social entrepreneurship, web tools and products, entrepreneurship driven sessions as well as breakout sessions on topics relevant to Cape Coast and beyond. There will also be a speed mentoring session where mentors will give insights and answers to questions from attendees. We are also bringing a start-up bazaar to the Barcamp where young entrepreneurs and innovators can showcase their products. Some of the mentors and invited speakers include Mabel Simpson (mSimps), Regina Agyare (Soronko Solutions), Kwame Boohene, etc.

Register/RSVP today at the BarCamp Cape Coast eventbrite website. You can also register by sending “Barcamp Cape Coast, Name & Email” to 1945 on all networks (via Nandimobile). You may also contact the BarCamp Cape Coast team through this website for sponsorship opportunities. If you are interested in organizing a breakout session, let us know, especially if you have special needs.

BarCamp Cape Coast 2012 is sponsored by the
University of Cape Coast, GhanaDecides (a BloGh project), Google Ghana, UCC-GDG, GhanaThink Foundation, Fienipa Group, Nandimobile, etc. Our media partners are Cranchon, ATL FM (100.5), etc.

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