Sunday, March 31, 2013

Learnt how to say "I Love You" in 23 African languages

If you listen to songs a lot, you will pick out how to say "I love you" quite quickly. Since I have grown to listen to music from all over the continent and used that to build, I am well-versed in saying that "1-4-3" line in many mother tongues. Let me show you ;-)
  1. Akan: Medɔ wo! What you thought I wouldn't add my mother tongue? Some folks can't say what "thank you" is in their lingua francas. Such a fracas. Don't belittle this at all at all.
  2. Ga: Mi sumo bo! I learnt this through songs. Especially, Amandzeba's Dede. That's such a classic highlife track.
  3. Ewe: Mi lɔnwɔ! Would you forgive me if I said I (pretty much) learnt this from a Daddy Lumba song? I don't remember which but the Ghanaian Michael Jackson taught me. 
  4. Hausa: Ina sonki. After loving how D-Flex sang Hausa lines while featuring on K. K. Fosu and Ofori Amponsah songs, I had to learn to this one. From who? I don't remember.
  5. Swahili: Nakupenda! That famous Malaika song should take the credit for this one. And then all my East African friends I befriended during my MIT times.
  6. Zulu: Ngiyakuthanda. Phelele Fakudze taught me this one. 
  7. Siswati: Ngiyakutsandza. Phelele taught me this 1 2. :-).
  8. Xhosa: Ndiyakuthanda. All you have to do is remove one letter from the Zulu phrase. If my name was really Siyabonga Mandela, maybe I too would be able to speak and understand 10 languages. 
  9. Yoruba: Mo ni ife re! Funny enough, I learnt this from a song sang by a South African, KB. And this was around the times South Africa and Nigeria were at a pop culture war with things movies like Jerusalema and District 9 seemed to say.
  10. Igbo: A fum gi nanya. After Ifunanya gave P-Square extra time in the limelight and many million hits on YouTube, I wondered what the word meant. And then I learnt this in Igbo too.
  11. Luganda: Nkwagala! I learnt this and other ways to say "I Love You" via this popular song by Tanzania's Lady Jaydee called "Distance". 
  12. Kinyarwanda: Ndagukunda! Another one from the Distance song. I was sure to get confirmation from my Rwandan bestie Matilda. 
  13. Lingala: Nalingiyo. I learnt this Congolese word from the "Distance" song as well. And then it was reinforced by listening to a healthy dose of Barbara Kanam songs.
  14. Dagbani: Mbora nyorami. Barcamp Tamale things o! Thanks to Ali Bukari Maiga for the reminder too.
  15. Amharic: Afekrishalehou! After hearing say what "beautiful" in Amharic was, I had to learn this one next.
  16. Nyanja: Ni kukonda. Yes, you guessed right. I learnt this from hearing it in Zed music and then I confirmed from some Zambians.
  17. Wolof: Damala nob! I want to be able to say this to Viviane Ndour one day. Thanks to Amen Edem for teaching me this. 
  18. Shona: Ndinokuda. I learnt from my Zimbabwean friends. Never got to learn this via the music.  
  19. Changana: Naku randza. I've made friends with many Mozambicans via Museke. Lizha James also once sang this song. Kanimambo to Hamilton Chambela for teaching me this one.
  20. Setswana: Ke a go rata. Learnt it around the time when I was watching that No 1 Ladies Detective Agency series set in Botswana religiously.
  21. Fang: Ma nzing wa. I learnt this recently from a Gabonese chic I befriended just this year. She had to do her homework after I asked her and texted me later.
  22. Dioula: M'bi fe. I learnt this from a couple of Ivorian ladies just this year. This is after I discovered where I could hear Coupe Decale in a club regularly in Accra :-)
  23. Moore: Maam nonga fom. After getting used to a song called "Fo noga Burkina Faso" and finding its meaning, I learnt this one as well from a Burkinababe.
This follows the "Thank You" post in this series. I have a feeling "Let's go" would be next. Share how to say "I Love You" in other African languages via the comments. I could have said a few more in other languages, but we had to stop at 23. I don't need to tell you why. And if you think it's because Michael Jordan wore the jersey number 23, you lose your way for the wholewideworld inside. But welcome to the MIghTy African blog anyway. :-)

Bissap juice is whatsapp! Obolo joy for Sobolo!

Happy Easter everyone! Today is Easter Sunday 2013 - March 31, 2013. It's been a relaxing Easter weekend. I am in Kumasi just like I was for the last Easter Sunday which was on April 7, 2012. On that day, I met a lady at an event on the KNUST campus. She sold me some Bissap juice. Ever since that sale, I've been sold. Not to her o! But on Bissap juice.

I had attended a Classics 4 Christ show at the Independence Hall JCR. It was night of praise and worship, poetry and various performances. After the show, there was a little stand selling various snacks and drinks. I discovered that Bissap juice was being sold and quickly bought some. Because it is a cool African drink. Because the lady selling the juice was so pleasant and cute. One or all of the two. I found out she was not from Ghana, she was from a Francophone West African country. I took her number and bought some more Bissap.

I never called her for a long time until I whatsapped her one day. She remembered who I was, especially because I had taken her number. We became good friends, I visited her a couple of times when I was back in Kumasi too. She made me some more Bissap later in the year of which I took some home. My mother saw it and she enjoyed having it.

Every other time I had the chance to drink Bissap, I bought that. I bought it 2 different times when I had Auntie Muni Waakye. Ganyobinaa also made some for me once. That violet looking juice had become a favorite. Bissap is a well known drink in Africa, especially in West Africa. From Senegal to Guinea, Bissap is sold on every busy street. It is basically the juice of the hibiscus flower chilled or frozen into a slush.....with lots of sugar. Slushy but yummy :-)

My mother had loved the Bissap juice so much that she investigated how to make some. Today, she gave me some home-made bissap. She had been inspired from the time I brought some home. She had found the ingredients to make it. "With about 6 cedis worth of ingredients, we have more than 4 Coke bottles worth of Bissap juice and more". "And it's healthier than Coke". There.

This made me tweet -
Bissap is popularly known as Sobolo in Ghana. I got sooo obolo joy for Sobolo now. I am going to look for a friend or someone to make me plenty Bissap juice that I will stock my fridge with. Bissap all the way! Here is a good recipe to learn how to make Bissap. Off to go have some 2.33 cups of Sobolo (Bissap).

Learnt how to say "Thank You" in 16 non-African languages

After taking a stab at seeing if I could say "Thank You" in 23 African languages, I decided to try this with non-African languages. Wasn't easy koraa. And let's share some small attendant info. :-)
  1. French: Merci. I learnt this way before Class 4. Pourquoi? I can't add French? Parce que? Let me count it. Je parle Francais en peut. 
  2. German: Danke. I learnt this correctly when I found myself in Amsterdam while traveling to Ghana from America. 
  3. Dutch: Danke je wel. We had just bought some stuff at an Amsterdam bar and we thought it well to say "Thank You". No, I didn't have some of the stuff. Just some tea. We didn't go to the Red Light District but let's just say Amsterdam is quite the liberal city.
  4. (Mexican) Spanish: Gracias. I was forced to learn this when I went to the Dominican Republic for spring break in March 2006 with 5 other African guys. My Spanish was non-existent but I was able to have a 30 minute conversation with a hot mamacita in Spanglish by the 6th day.
    4.5 - (Espana) Spanish: I befriended one gorgeous Spanish lady in Palo Alto once and she told me that this word is different in real Spanish compared to the Hispanic version popularized in the US. In Spain, it is Gratias. Si. 
  5. Portuguese: Obrigado. My Angolan friend, Isabel Correia, hasn't taught me enough Portuguese. I think I learnt this one from listening to and loving Kizomba music. 
  6. Chinese: Xie xie. I learnt this from a Chinese-American friend, Danielle Wen, while I was part of a trip with her visiting Ghana from MIT. D-Lab things. 
  7. Japanese: Arigato. Maybe if I paid more attention during "Oshin", I would have learnt this. But I learnt sometime when I was at MIT. Don't remember details.
  8. Tagalog: Kumusta. I had a Philipino housemate at MIT who taught me this. Nah, she was not Blazian. Do you know how hot half-black, half-Philipino girls are? Mamamia. 
  9. Italian: Grazie. The chances that I learnt this from Mario Balotelli are as slim as Bill Gates coming to Ghana and donating 2.33 billion cedis to forward-thinking initiatives. But I know it anyway. Partly thanks to Farida Alabo.
  10. Russian: Spasibo. Learnt this from a dear friend of mine and partly thanks to an afternoon I spent with a cousin who is half-Russian too in Virginia, USA.
  11. Ukranian: Dyakooyu. Had to follow this one after learning it in Russian. I have a couple of friends who are half-Ukranian though.
  12. Serbian: Hvala. I can't remember if I learnt this to impress a friend who was half-Serbian or I learnt this from herself - Uche Monu. I'm pretty sure I didn't learn it from the countless Black Stars' coaches.  
  13. Arabic: Shukran. Would you remember who taught you this? Too many people speak Arabic. From Ghana to Egypt to Tanzania.
  14. Hindi: Shukriya. I learnt this from my Stanford housemate Sunasir Dutta. He thought me a whole lot more which I can't remember now.
  15. Greek: Efkaristo. I struck a long conversation with a taxi driver who was from Greece one time in the Bay Area. And he thought me how to say this. 
  16. Turkish: Sagolun. There were always so many Turkish guys playing soccer on the fields of MIT and Stanford. Have you watched Turkish football games? They have some passionate fans. I can remember clearly my MIT Turkish friend telling me "Sagolun" for the great work Stephen Appiah aka Tornado gave to Fenerbahce!
Let's see how far we can get this series. But dayum, Africa has way too many languages. I could struggle to get 50 non-African langauges to tell you. I couldn't have said a few more in other languages, so let's stop at 16. Yup, one starting soccer eleven and its reserves. I hope to travel to as many of these countries and speak it to the local folks. :-)

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Kweku Ananse comes to life with a Chest of Stories

Earlier tonight, I was at the Goethe Institut in Accra for the first time in more than 10 years. The last time I was there, I had attended a literary event as a student of Presec. That night, my love for poetry was born. But let's talk about that in another blog post. Tonight, I was there for the premiere of "Kweku Ananse And The Chest of Stories", directed by Johannes Preuß from Germany. I don't remember the last time I watched anything Kweku Ananse related and either I am too old to watch "By the fireside", I don't have a TV or they just don't make "By the fireside" anymore. I love Anansesem though and I wrote this blog post a long time ago on GhanaThink's GhanaConscious Blogs. I do have this animated movie though - "Ananse Must Die". I was excited to see this film and I booked it on my calendar. And on this one too.

The premiere started with a documentary which I missed. But we can all watch it at the end of this blog post. Then Johannes gave some insight into the movie and the choice of the main character Kweku Ananse. We can't belittle the fact that we need to document Kweku Ananse stories in cinema  as the art of storytelling by the fireside is dying and the art of storytelling in the living room is being relegated to not important by Ghanaian parents. Yes, I went there. Anyway, per Johannes' little spiel, I tweeted ...
The movie started out with an everyday scene in a small village which moved into a boy finding a spider and playing with it. Some dadabee kids run away from spiders but not this hard-knock village boy. An elderly man who was sitting nearby told the kid that he was playing with one of the most 'dangerous' animals in the world, called Kweku Ananse. And then our storytelling episode was born. But quickly, there was a telling revelation.

Yup, God is in the story was a 'she'. Not a woman, but a young girl. I asked after the movie why this was so and the explanation was that Johannes and crew wanted to turn the tables a bit. Besides, in traditional customary Ghana, we don't exactly agree that God is a man. The Ga people call God "Naa Nyonmo" where Naa is a title for a woman. It's not the same, but the Akan people also have "Asaase Yaa" (mother of the earth). Johannes said he didn't think God would want to represent himself as an old Santa Claus type person with a beard. Instead, God would choose the most beautiful being it could be - a small beautiful girl.

If you know the folk tale of how stories became named after Ananse, then you know what happens in the movie. Except, the movie is adapted from the story. Kweku did go into the sky. According to the movie, God's habitat is as village like as where Kweku Ananse lives. But what did you expect? :-)
The movie was completely awesome! The twist at the end was really clever as well. I will watch it again and again. The shots and imagery were top-notch, the story flowed, the subtitles were good, and there was even a nice fight scene. We had the various "spirit" effects you see in Ghanaian movies but with a nicer touch. The movie was in Twi but the sound quality was not as irritating as in many local language movies either.

Like many short films, budgets are always a challenge. Johannes found a great way to cut budget which would really be a lesson for many people. He used free music from Creative Commons, worked with actors and actresses who are not 'famous' and still played their roles well, and he shot it with a small Canon camera (but a good one though). The cast were not necessarily experienced but they did quite well. The man who played Kweku Ananse had very little acting experience but plenty of storytelling episodes. The one who played Ntikuma wants to be an actor who is still looking for his big break. The whole movie was shot in about 2 months. You think that's shot? Go to Ashtown in Kumasi and sit on a set of a Miracle films movie. Even shorter.

The movie will be coming to a film festival or screening near you. Stay tuned to this to find it. Or you'd find it elsewhere too. There are more Kweku Ananse movies coming. I met Anthoni Jordi-Owusu who had a little input into this movie and he's working on one, he tweeted this after the movie premiere. There's also the Focus Features backed film called Kweku Ananse by Akosua Adoma Owusu who I blogged about once on her short film "Me Broni Ba".

Edited: Watch a documentary on Youtube of Johannes' work.
Watch the trailer for the short film here.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Learnt how to say "Thank You" in 23 African languages

Today, I learnt how to say "Thank You" in yet another African language. So let me take a stab at seeing if I can say "Merci" in 23 African languages. And let's share some small attendant info. :-)
  1. Akan: Medaase. What you thought I wouldn't add my mother tongue? Some folks can't say what "thank you" is in their lingua francas. Such a fracas. Don't belittle this at all at all.
  2. Ga: Oyiwaladonn. I don't remember when I learnt this but I do know I learnt to say "Nnuu Ga" (I can't speak Ga) during the time I came to Accra to represent KNUST JSS in Kiddie Quiz and me and my Kumasi-living mates were testing our Ga knowledge.
  3. Ewe: Akpe. I love saying "Akpe kakaa" and I am not sure why.
  4. Dagbani: Ti pagi da. Yeap, Jemila Abdulai taught me this one. Thrice.
  5. Hausa: Na gode. I should have known this a long time ago but thanks to Manre Chirtau, I will not forget this one. Ever. Alafia lo!
  6. Swahili: Asante. Yeap, thank you in the most popular language is the same as its most famous kingdom. Or if you spell it Ahsante, then you can forget what I just wrote before.
  7. Zulu (And Siswati): Ngiyabonga. This is one of my favourite words to say. Swazibella aka Phelele Fakudze taught me this and many more. She's the best. Though from Swaziland, she speaks like 11 languages, including many from South Africa.
  8. Yoruba: E se. That's such a short way to say Thank You given how loud Nigerians are. Or are Yoruba people quiet? If you realise they are from the same place as the Gas, you will debunk the last previous statement.
  9. Igbo: Dalu. Or Imela. The words have stuck with me since I got some song from Samsong called on repeat - Bianule.Great gospel from Naija.
  10. Luganda: Weebale. Imagine me going to Uganda and saying this word all over Kampala. They accepted me as their own and Richard Nshuti Mayanja was alive.
  11. Kinyarwanda: Urakoze. Matilda Mutanguha probably deserves a huge chunk of credit for my Swahili prowess, amongst a few other language things. I will love to say this word to Rwanda's Kagame one day.
  12. San: Foo Barka. I learnt this from a Burkinable friend and I just love saying to her "Foo Barka Burkinababe.
  13. Sissala: Nlonlo. I learnt this on Valentine's Day in 2013. Try making me forget that. Ronke taught us that and more. See tweet.
  14. Frafra: Mpuyiha. I could have learnt this from King Ayisoba but he keeps on saying "Kai kai kai". I learnt this via a mix of Ali Maiga's guidance and traveling to Tamale for Barcamp Tamale.
  15. Xhosa: Nkosi. I learnt this from watching Mzansi movies and it was reinforced in me by Phelele.
  16. Setswana: Kea leboga. O kae is a bonus for "how are you?". Okai, one of my best Stanford buddies wouldn't make me forget this. And also that No 1 Ladies Detective Agency series set in Botswana. My buddy from Botswana Tebatso also helped.
  17. Amharic: Amesegnalehu. I used to write this as Amesegnaleho until I discovered 3G for Ethiopia and 3G - Girma Goitom Gemechu for me in Addis Ababa.
  18. Nyanja: Zikhomo. I learnt this after a Zambian artist got a song of the name onto Museke. Too bad, I haven't had the chance to use the word in person in Lusaka though.
  19. Lingala: Melesi. I learnt this Congolese word after having a steady dose of Makoma's gospel music in my playlist. Matilda and Afroziky are to thank for this.
  20. Wolof: Djerdjef. I never made any proper Senegalese friends until I joined Google. Thanks for the likes of Tidjane Deme and Oumoul Sow (who I still haven't met) reinforcing its use in me.
  21. Shona: Tatenda (or Ndatenda). I have Zimbabwean friends called Tatenda and even Tendai (which can also mean thanks). No forgetting this one.
  22. Dioula/Jula: I ni che. I learnt this from some Ivorian ladies I met earlier this year. Turns out the language is popular in Burkina Faso too.It's also the same thing in Bambara which is popular in Mali.
  23. Fang: Abora. I just learnt this tonight from this Gabonese chic I befriended just this year. Funny enough, she couldn't say "How are you" in her own language but she could say "Thank you". Well, abora :-)
This is a series am starting. I have a feeling "Let's go" would be next. Or maybe "I love you". Share how to say "Thank You" in other African languages via the comments. I could have said a few more in other languages, but we had to stop at 23. I don't need to tell you why. And if you think it's because Michael Jordan wore the jersey number 23, you lose your way for the wholewideworld inside. But welcome to the MIghTy African blog anyway. :-)

The bills Bill Gates laid at the gates of Ghana

Yesterday, we heard news that Bill Gates was coming to Ghana today. He had announced it on his blog: The Gates Notes and was oohing and aahin over how Ghana has handled immunization. The Bill Gates of Microsoft. No, the Bill Gates of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Still one of the richest men in the solar system though. He tweeted ...
Bill Gates was coming in without much media fanfare, unlike his fellow American Chris Brown did just before Ghana's 56th birthday. Chris Brown's face was all over billboards, Bill Gates' name was reduced to a number of tweets. Chris Brown was in town to give hope to Hope City and make the evenings of many Ghanaian women. Bill Gates was in town to check on the progress of Ghana's health care system and remain anonymous. Because the best way to really assess how well something is running is to give the something no time to prepare and look all smiling for the camera and show up announced. But maybe Ghanaians are too fast to succumb to that trick, according the @GhMediaGuy.
I got tweeting too. I was really wondering if it would be out of place for folks to throng the Kotoka airport to meet Bill Gates. Either to go give him fans for bringing us Microsoft Office, being a few degrees removed from Patrick Awuah, praise him for coming to Ghana and getting us in CNN & BBC news for good reasons,  ask him to throw some of his $36.2 million dollars into the crowd like Chris Brown throws his wear at concerts, chastise him for supposedly "controlling population", or asking him to leave his contribution at the RLG offices in fundraising for Hope City. So I said...
Eventually, the local media got into the act and started posting stories like these. Bill paid a courtesy call on President Mahama and I would have loved to be a harmless Kweku Ananse in the ceiling of that room. Turns out they discussed Ghana's healthcare and not Hope City or hope for the present and future Bill Gates of Ghana. I know for a fact the Bill Gates of Ghana, Herman Chinery-Hesse, was not in the country today. The Microsoft Founder lauded Ghana for improvement in its public healthcare initiatives in areas of immunization, HIV/AIDS and malaria.

For the better part of the day, we couldn't find any pictures of him being in Ghana. Would he be wearing a Ghanaian shirt or something like what the famous other Bill wore? Hubert satisfied my curiosity and Bill turned out wearing a suit to suit what Johnny Digital Mahama was wearing and in these many pictures, he was casually dressed. Here's hoping someone showed him azonto moves. Rumor has it that he ate waakye.

Are you still looking for the bills Bill Gates laid at the gates of Ghana? They weren't some of the billions the "$150million worth" RLG needs from Microsoft for Hope City. They weren't the tourism dollars he laid as he stepped onto the Kakum canopy walkway. They weren't the Easter donations to the Osu Children's Home. There are the stories of the Bill and Gates Melinda Foundation pushing vaccines that are killing people, birth control pills making women sterile and controlling the population, so if you pay heed to those, he left some expensive bills for Ghanaians in healthcare too. In my opinion, the bills he left were those that said "after all the money and fame, I have gotten, it's time to serve". Giving back to people he's never known. Showing the rich and wealthy people in Ghana that it is honourable to give, especially to people you don't have family ties with.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Preparing a Global Leader in Kofi Yeboah

When Kofi Yeboah approached me about getting accepted into the Preparing Global Leaders Academy and needing money to fund his way there, I thought we could do a lot to help him reach this goal. Mac-Jordan Degadjor (arguably the top blogger in Ghana) and Alloysius Attah (of Farmerline fame) had used crowd-funding to  help sponsor trips abroad around their work and passions, so Kofi should be able to use the same methods to raise the $1200 he needed to fund his way to the April events in Jordan. He had been selected as one of 50 finalists, and as far I know the only one from Ghana and one a few from Africa.So via GhanaThink Foundation, we set up a crowdfunding project for him and the collective network pushed it. Last week, Kofi Yeboah reached his $1200 target. With one week to spare too. It all went down here. I must say GoGetFunding is a good crowdfunding tool and I will recommend it even though it charges small small fees. Kofi recapped the story of how he got the funding in a great blog post. It's especially nice how a couple of people he didn't really know came through with huge amounts to support him.

I had seen Kofi attend all 8 
BarCamp Ghana events in 2012, from Tamale to Tema. He was especially part of the Barcamp Cape Coast team (see blog entry). He did a lot of hard work in making sure the events were being run well and posting a lot on social media to keep tabs of what was happening while bringing people into the Barcamp conversations virtually. One thing he never forgot to champion was the need to get many more women to attend Barcamp events. When we seemed to have achieved a 50-50 split at Barcamp Tema, he was one of the first people to point it out.

His passion for telling our stories rings true. On his blog, he talks about 
Providing interviews with African Entrepreneurs as the focus. He's interviewed entrepreneurs in Ghana and elsewhere while building his African and global network. He's been motivating and inspiring Ghanaian youth, and impacting many lives. I remember clearly his involvement in local events like the Champions Conference. See his annual report

It was great how Kofi Yeboah pursued and persevered for funds instead of watching to see how the crowdfunding would go. The effort he put in was admirable. He first said "Let's make this happen" and then he went out and got it. Kudos to him on achieving this. Ayekoo, Kofi! Enjoy Jordan. Take a picture of River Jordan if you get a chance hehe.

We can do more of these things, Kofi's case is just the beginning. It's also a success story to follow. We made it happen. This is more vim for crowdfunding forward thinking projects. 
To those of you who funded, God bless you and replenish your pockets. Your appreciation is on the way, literally. 

A Francophone (French) weekend in Accra

You might have read about my previous blog post about watching the popular Ivorian movie "Le Mec Ideal".  The Accra Francophone Film Festival ended today and I saw 3 full-length movies and a short film as part of it. Apparently, the last week has also seen the Festival de la Francophonie happen in Accra courtesy of Alliance Francaise. But if I didn't know this particular weekend was going to be a French weekend. It just kinda happened. Allow me to explain :-)

When I showed up to get my social media teacher hat on at the West Legon location, the friend who had invited me told me the students were mostly Francophone. "Be careful of what you say so they might understand you well". After greeting the class with "Bonjour" and going through some Facebook tips, I asked the students if I had spoken too fast. They had followed my speech and teaching well so that would not be a problem. But that made me wonder, do Francophones hear Anglophones speak English a fast pace? Because I feel when I hear Francophone speak French, they speak it faster. Or it might just be the case of "If you don't understand this language as well as you should, you would think it's being spoken faster than it should".

I started making inferences about Francophone friends I had and things I knew about Francophone West Africa. Thanks to Museke, I have Francophone music down pat. The first idea that came to mind in creating A Facebook group was to do one for "Coupe Decale in Ghana". I once went to Kahuna bar near Circle and I discovered where most Francophonies hang in Accra. But then, I am really wondering if there is a Facebook group for Francophonies in Accra, cos I will like to join.

After blogcamp13 happened and I wrote a blog post about it, I heard that my friend was having a house party with "French women". House party sounds great, party with French women sounds greater. When I finally arrived in the AU village (how appropriate a location eh, the only other better location would have been the house of the most connected Francophonie in Accra, do we even know who that is?), I greeted a few people and went straight for a drink. After not finding any juice or minerals, I filled a glass of Baileys. That was when I saw Vimto! I had to have some vimto. Because it has vim in it, literally and figuratively. Not that vim, or that vim, but this vim. That inspired this tweet.

I sat down next to a lady who had to be French. At some point during the conversation, I asked where she was from but because of her tiredness or her I-partied-so-hard-yesterday-so-are-we-doing-the-same-tonight-or-what-why-are-we-talking-plenty wants or her Je-veux-aller-à-la-maison thoughts, she wasn't saying. So I took a guess and said "Are you from Gabon?" "How did you know?" Yeap, the MIghTy African guessed her country on the first try. Well, I met a Gabonese girl in Accra earlier this year who looks like you. "What is her name?" ..... (why you want know lol?) .... After mentioning her full name she said, "Oh, I know her and her sister, they are small girls". Interesting huh? I took her number and whatsapped her later.

On Sunday, I was at the Lords Arm Christian and Foster Care Home to support Nehemiah Attigah's birthday donation. And these happened.
As yesterday was Palm Sunday, I really wanted to eat fufu and palm nut soup and drink palm wine. That didn't happen. As we were making our way from the Foster Home, I received a text from one of the small Gabonese girls like she had promised the night before. She fine brutal! Elle est très belle! At some point during the conversation she wrote, "Tu ecris mieux francais que tu ne le parle". That's so true! I'd save you a trip to Google translate it, but it means "You write French better than you speak it". She does the same for English.

I ended up at Nehemiah's house with those we went to the foster care home with and had a kenkey party. I hope Francophones in Accra love kenkey a lot. Besides, most of them live in Accra where kenkey calls home. After watching the Black Stars almost spell Sudan in Kumasi, I headed for the Accra Francophone Film Festival to catch a documentary on the Ghanaian film industry and a surprise French movie. I was late because of kenkey, so I missed the documentary but I was early enough to watch "Untouchable aka Intouchables". I live-tweeted it a bit with Victoria who tweeted this. :-) The movie featured Francophone Africans too, or well Africans of French descent or erm, French people of African descent, paramount of which was Omar Sy.

Later that night, I got into a conversation with some friends about French women. That reminded me of a lady I saw at the A&C Mall car park on Saturday night. She had "tremendous" shape. Since I love the letter V (V for vim), let's say she was tres voluptuous. Thinking about it, I am confident she was Francophone too. Not because Ghanaian women are not blessed with great backs, behinds or buttocks, but because they don't do tattoos and piercings like Francophone women do. My Togolese friend who lives in Burkina Faso (hehe, yeah) confirmed this while we were discussing the Ivorian movie, "Le Mec Ideal". In fact, Emma Lohoues is the reason this conversation happened. Funny thing is when I was talking to the Francophones in the social media class, there was a point where I thought of Coupe Decale songs and popular words. The first word that came to mind was "Bobaraba". Some of them started giggling. For the benefit of the Ghanaians in that room and you who are reading and everyone else who doesn't know what "Bobaraba" is, I said, "It means behind. As in back. Okay, as in buttocks". I'll leave it here. A bien tot :-)

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Giving to the Lords Arm Christian Home & Foster Care in Teshie, Accra

In December 2006, Ronke Ampiah, Farida Alabo, Felicia Hanson, and co started a project called Smiles For Christmas where they got friends to donate gifts, items, provisions and cash to kids in a Ghanaian orphanage. I joined them to Orphanage Africa in Dodowa. Later in 2008, I remixed their efforts to do Smiles For New Year where I joined others to donate similar items to kids at King Jesus Charity in Boadi. Today, I joined Nehemiah Attigah and a few others to do a similar deed at the Lords Arm Christian Home & Foster Care in Teshie. Today's episode touched me a whole lot more and I have been more driven to act around helping orphanages and foster care homes. I hope to be involved in more efforts like this in 2013.
Nehemiah created a Facebook event inviting us to this. He chose to celebrate his birthday by giving and spending time with others who were not as privileged. This was such a noble cause and a fulfilling one to be a part of. His workmate captured what was happening best in what inspired this tweet below.
The kids welcomed us.
Auntie Evelyn, the caretaker, gave us a tour. She showed us the classrooms for the kids - one for kindergarten & class 1, another for class 2 & 3, another for 4 & 5, another for class 6 & JHS 1, and another for JHS 2 & 3. She also showed new mattresses for the girls' room. The boys' room was nicer but the explanation I got was that there were many older boys. Many of whom had stopped school after class 5 or 6 and were being rejuvenated. Auntie Evelyn revealed their food preferences -->
After the tour, we were treated to various performances by the kids. I wouldn't have asked for it but it turns out it's common practice for orphanages and foster homes to put up a show when they are being supported publicly. A few of the kids performed to a number of songs, gospel, secular and even Francophone music.
Every event like this where I had been with kids like this, I took the opportunity to share a few words to inspire them. After the kids had had their lunch, drinks and biscuits, I felt it was the right time. But...
Auntie Evelyn is such a Sweet Mother though. God really bless her for the work she is doing. The intros flowed later and after speaking in English, it became evident that the kids would love to hear us in Ga. So..... we introduced ourselves and Qwophi Opare and Seyram Ahiabor who understood Ga translated for us.
I left a message with the kids encouraging them to ask if they needed any information. "Ask your teachers, your friends, your mates". We have to spark curiosity and knowledge seeking in Ghanaian kids. We can't emphasize this enough.
I first heard this song amongst friends of mine in MIT. To hear the kids replicate it for their foster home was tres cool. Yet another blog post posted at 23:33pm. I could get used to this. You could say along with Nehemiah, Priddy, Emmanuel, Seyram, Francis, Qwophi, Augusta, Mavis and Kate, we made Ghana better today.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

It's 23:33pm on 23-3! #233moments #blogcamp13

I didn't wake up remembering that today was 23-3. I knew it was 23rd March, the day of Blogcamp Ghana 2013 aka #blogcamp13. But did I remember that the date itself was 23-3-2013? As in, 23rd day of the 3 month? Nah. But do you get it? Today was 23-3. That's like the perfect day to signify the number 233, which is Ghana's number. I guess every 23rd March is gonna occupy a special place in my heart. The #233moments posts at 2:33pm on every 23rd March will be that extra special. But like I said, today was the day many bloggers and social media enthusiasts gathered at Blogcamp. But boy, was it an interesting day!

I had been approached by a Presec mate during the week to do some lessons on how to use social media to some people taking a professional course on this day. I told him I couldn't do it because I would be at Blog Camp and that everyone I knew who could do this would be there too. If you could do this, but weren't gonna be at BlogCamp if you were available ...... insert ... you get the point. My friend insisted and said the regular tutor was not available and they really needed someone. So I thought, cool, I'd do this for about 2 hours, 33 minutes and head to the BlogCamp.

When I got to the location in West Legon, I was told my students would be mainly Francophone Africans. This year, I want to befriend many of such people in Accra. So I entered the room and greeted "Bonjour". Before I could get bombarded with French statements, I followed with "Je parle Francais en peut". Disaster diverted. After going through a few Facebook tips, especially with Pages, I wasn't happy about the irresponsiveness they were giving me. They weren't asking or answering questions and I have a cure for this normally. Give them giveaways based on activity. The students got really excited about the Google (:-o) pens I was holding and I got some more engagment. We continued with Twitter, LinkedIn and some tips on how to do more with Gmail. Less than 10% of the students had Twitter, LinkedIn or GMail accounts. Facebook est le roi!

After my short teaching session, I left West Legon heading to the Kofi Annan Center of Excellence of ICT for Blogcamp. I had seen the tweets asking where I was. I would have done "no curve, no bend 90 degrees style" but the sight of people on the roadside waiting for cars to board changed that. So I stopped near a couple of ladies standing at the Legon ECG bus stop and motioned them to come join my ride. They didn't get the idea but I couldn't park there anyway so I had to move forward. I stopped a few metres ahead and parked. The ladies looked in my direction wondering, "what is this?" "is he dangerous?" "which of us does he want to pick up?" "how much would he charge?" After waiting 2:33 minutes, I opened the passenger seat door. Open invitation. That's when they came by and I said I could drop them off at 37. "Accra kra kra kra kra kra", shouted some trotro mate. "we'll go take the Accra car". No p. I locked the door and moved on.

I moved on till I got to "Spanner" junction where I thought I would not span the next kilometres alone. What I really meant is, those 3 ladies didn't accept my offer, but I shall pick people up - today! The first group of people I asked said they were waiting for someone. Thankfully, there was a second group. They were all going to the 37 bus stop. "I'll drop you there". They got in and after about 7 minutes of no communication. I introduced myself to them and they mentioned their names. "This music is from South Africa. She's called Lira. She's the person Becca should want to reach". So they were subjected to the music of Lira for God-knows-how-long and they alighted at 37. #IMGBT. I Made Ghana Better Today. It was around then that I realised mentions of #233moments were happening at the Blog Camp event and it would be a travesty if I wasn't there before 2:33pm on 23-3.

I arrived to meet lunch at Blog Camp. I greeted most of the people I saw that I knew, fielded and answered some 'late' questions and got into some discussions. It was during this period that @Anneina mentioned the not-so-obvious.
Oh snap! It was a coincidence! Thanks to BloggingGhana's BlogCamp, #233moments saw the most activity of any time today. On 23-3. 2:33pm came and a flood of #233moments tweets happened. Check them all out here & on Google+ too. I posted this tweet.

I spent the rest of the time chatting with friends, catching up and discussing next steps on various fronts. It was a great event, with many digital natives I knew, and many new faces. I attended part of the "tips and tricks" session where I learnt a few things. Yeah, I've been blogging for more than 5 years but I can always learn something new because blogging and social media are like that. I taught in the morning and learnt in the afternoon.

In the evening, the Ghana Social Media awards had arrived.  I didn't end up winning the Best Blog category I had been nominated for, but no shaking koraa. I'd work harder. #WeTryHarder. See all the winners here. Congrats to Blogging Ghana for organizing a great event and awards. A lot of newbie bloggers picked up a lot of valuable information. But most importantly, the main message was "Content Is King". If we don't create and own our own content, someone might create it for us.

PS: In other news, I dey go meet some French women. Tu parle Francais? On dit quoi? Tres bon. :-)

Ghana Social Media Awards 2013 Winners #blogcamp13

Blogcamp 2013 happened today. On 23-3-2013. :-) Over 400 blogging and social media enthusiasts gathered to learn more about digital media, network, share ideas and commune. There was also the small matter of the Ghana Social Media Awards 2013. Here is the list of winners.

Best Original Content
Best Creative, Literary Short Stories, Poetry Blog
Best Organisational Blog
Best Technology Blog
Best Citizen Journalism Blog
Organisation with Best Social Media Presence
  • Vodafone Ghana
Personality with Best Social Media Presence
  • MutomboPercy the Poet (@MutomboDaPoet)
Best Business & Commerce Blog
Best Showbiz and Entertainment Blog
Best Lifestyle Blog
Best Activist Blog
Best Photo Blog
Best Blog
See the prizes they got :-)

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Blogger of the Week memories - Q&A with the MIghTy African #BlogCamp13

#BlogCamp13 is here on Saturday! It's going to be the biggest ever gathering of bloggers and social media users in Ghana. BlogCamp Ghana is organized by the association of Ghanaian bloggers - Blogging Ghana. In late September 2012, I was named as the Blogger of the Week by Blogging Ghana. I was interviewed on Twitter (really close to 2:30pm) where various people asked me relevant questions. I covered the blogging related ones in this post. I'd like to cover some other questions of interest in this blog post. I live-blogged the questions and answers so people could follow the conversation. See the raw live-blogging post here. Naturally, the first question was "how did you come by the name 'MIghTy African?", asked by Courage (@couragedarling). I once wrote a blog post about that and my other online & pseudo-names. When I was in MIT, I started calling all African students there MIghTy Africans because it was a cool name to have given where who we were. They (or we) adopted it and it's used to this day. A friend from Wellesley (actually) started alling me MIghTy African and it became official for me when I started my blog, well, this blog :-)
Courage also wanted to how I came up with my Twitter handle called "Abocco". I learnt about the name #Abocco while at KNUST JSS. Folks said it meant "JE" or something cool. Apparently, the word is more popular in Koforidua. So I shall finally go to Koforidua proper to do full circle on the Abocco name and see a Koforidua flower. I heard the opposite of Abocco was Abotsi. I liked the name Abocco & I called myself "General Abocco Darling".
@BloggingGhana asked if I had any
advice or tips for the youth of Ghana/Africa. My answer was to "be ambitious, don't play small". look for inspiration around and not far away from you. The best way tp predict the future is to create it. I lived my passions & I am creating mine. We can create what we want. Internet/technology is at our disposal. It really puts the power in our hands. Let's not just consume technology, let's create some.

AlessondraSpringmann@springingly asked "
What was the weirdest part of MIT? :)". The weirdest part of MIT for me was seeing how many atheists there were there and how many didn't care about religion. Coming from a heavily-religious school like Presec, I was one of the 'Spiritos' at MIT. I even headed a religious group, something I couldn't have imagined at Presec. My faith was questioned but I knew how important God, my faith & deeds were to me. I was not about to be swayed. #TYLJ Michael Annor@kobbyannor asked "How much of his MIT/Stanford education does he use daily, and what was most difficult about returning?" I use a lot of it daily. Not just the education, but the experiences I have had. Education/schooling is only 30% classroom. My passions have changed as I've grown. I've become more versatile. Nothing I've studied before is a waste because I apply it all.

Gameli Adzaho@gamelmag wanted to know where I derive my "vim" from and whether this source is universal. Quite simply, I derive my vim from my personal ambition. I'm stubborn about making the best things happen. My vim comes from my positivity. Nana Fynn@Nana_fynn asked something similar. "Where does he get his inspiration from? and what's his biggest aspiration in life?" I'm inspired by my cultural neighborhood. Inspired by overcoming odds & being ambitious. Inspired by making "us" the best. @couragedarling asked "That unique love for Africa..... where did you get that from?" I got my unique love for Africa simply cos I wanted to prove to everyone that Africa also is valuable. I didn't like how Africans didn't like Africa as much as Americans loved America. This made me 'passionate'. MIghTy African things.
Asked by 
@BloggingGhanaI had to choose #Africanmusic over Waakye and parties. I absolutely love listening to African music. I learn with music, sing in public, etc. This love for African music gave birth to GhanaThink, Museke and co deserve their own blog posts, so we would leave that till later. @nas009 of @adventurefrom who was the Blogger of the Week just before me, asked "what inspired #233moments? Because I love Ghana so much I started loving the number 233 in 2011. I would use the number at every opportunity. I started loving 2:33pm. So I thought, why not do something special at 2:33pm (& maybe 2:33am) every day? So #233moments would be a time where people tell d world what they're doing or something @ 2:33pm anywhere they're with #Ghana in mind. Via (yea, you should check that site out), Nana Kwabena Owusu @just2izy & I introduced #233moments to the world. Hope this post left you with a couple of things you didn't know about me. This year dier, I am revealing all. I might end up blogging about previous no-go areas like love and sex sef. Did I get your rapt attention? I am coming to release.... more blog posts koraa. The march to 233 posts in 2013 is on!

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