Saturday, June 29, 2013

Sparring steam room & sauna sessions at Sarova

What the heck does this title mean? Chill, don't get so hot. I wanted to make an alliteration. If you want to get hot, go find some steam room and burn enjoy yasef.

So I arrived at Sarova Stanley in Nairobi at 7am ready to take a nap because I had hardly slept the night before watching a nameless movie on Kenya Airways and generally not having the best flight. I had never heard of this 5-Star Hotel until a room was booked for me there. The 3 previous times I was in Nairobi, I stayed at Hotel Sankara. Best hotel I've been to ever, anywhere. The hotel wouldn't check me in to a room until 12 noon, as per hotel policy. But I wanted an exception to be made for me because (a) I needed to sleep, (b) I needed to use the wi-fi, (c) Sankara has done it before :-) I hadn't booked my room, someone else had, and I was not about to pay extra money to get this. We arrived at a good compromise though.

The receptionist said I could go to the health club and wait there, take a nap there and enjoy a steam bath while I was waiting for 12 noon. I still couldn't get wi-fi access until I had a room number. So I called for the manager to come "do something" and he offered to get me a room at 9am. That warmed my heart and I headed to the 5th floor to get some warmth in my system as I was underdressed for the present cold Nairobi weather. I got to the health club and after realizing the massages weren't free, I headed for the steam bath stuff. This would be my first time. I had no idea what a sauna or a steam bath was. I had to google it and the eHow results were quite helpful that I didn't need to chop my small internet data roaming bundle with YouTube. I also asked some jamaas near me who told me what to do. So I took a nice shower and headed for the steam room.

An hour later, I was tweeting this....
The Sauna & Steam (bath) room experience felt good. It was really hot. Like literally and figuratively. I was enjoying it so much that I kept on cursing. One reason could be I had been spending the earlier part of the week saying that around my house but this "health club experience" was noice! As in nice, but even nicer. I realized I was saying "fuck" way too many times so then I decided to say "fork" instead. That's when I remembered I was extremely hungry. But hey, if a hungry man is an angry man, an enjoying man would also look past his hunger.
It only occurred to me that only guys were around me during these sauna and steam room experiences. Well, duh! Bathrooms and restrooms work that way. But wait a minute. Wouldn't it be cool to indulge in this enjoyable experience with a partner? Oh shucks, I just thought of gay people. Anyway, I'd like to be in a steam room with a lady (I like).
Reminds me of when I was at the Boston Day Spa in Addis Ababa in February of last year. That massage I got was just pleasant. I would stop short of saying phenomenal because I had many unprofessional massages with a lot of tricks and techniques that made me feel good hehe. But the professionals do their thing though. And they use all these oils etc, which are tres hot too.

What I am really looking forward to is the free professional massage I will be getting in Accra the next time I want it. After showing my blog post about male grooming in Ghana to the manager of the Revelations Salon which inspired the blog post in the first place, I was offered a free massage. In my house. Kai kai kai! Ayayai! Sweetness. If you need a haircut, manicure, pedicure, massage or some male or female grooming in Accra, please contact Revelations Salon and Spa at 0244-785941. They rock! When they add steam room & sauna to their services, they will be the complete rockas. Big ups to Phelele for getting me onto this word. She had stayed at the Sarova earlier this week just before me. I was so bummed out that I got to Nairobi after she had left. Like we go.......... :-)

Small observations of Nairobi Kenya

I arrived in Nairobi yesterday morning. It's my 4th time being here. As always when I visit an African country, I try to be observant and learn different things. Here are a few thoughts below and some concluding thoughts.

Kenya does a good job on tourism. But then again, with all the Lion King memories and the safaris, it shouldn't be that difficult. I do love how much Safaricom does to support Kenya too. At the Jomo Kenyatta Airport, there are several boards teaching visitors how to say popular phrases in Swahili. That is such a good move!
Kenya Airways, on the other hand, has to do more. I missed my flight to Nairobi because my ticket was never issued as per a rejected payment. The Kenya Airways offices in Accra don't take debit or credit cards and online booking via third-party is problematic. These are not issues for the customer to worry about and end up missing flights, KQ should take care of this pronto.
I've been realizing that some of cars I've ridden in Nairobi can't have their radio tune past FM stations of frequencies 90 and higher. Turns out it's a Japanese thing. Shifuu!
So then I have to listen to Classic FM mostly, and hear their presenters do their Locally Acquired Foreign Accent thing. That all is forgiven by hearing them say "254! 254!"
After telling my driver that I worked in the IT space and introducing him to what the iHub is, he thought it prudent for me to set up internet on his new Nokia phone. Thank Mungu that Safaricom also uses internet as APN. 
It was a Friday and I could hardly see people wearing African wear. Yeap, this is not Ghana. But this place is cold too o! We need to design African attires for cold weather. They'd be a hit.
I saw so many Nairobi residents walking freely and briskly. Briskly because they were not stopped by people clogging the streets selling everything from mobile phone credits to chewing gums. After seeing the AMA task force come to rid the streets of downtown Accra the Saturday before, it's crazy to see that this 'problem' doesn't seem to exist in Nairobi's CBD. Accra can do it too.
Nairobi is more cosmopolitan than Accra, with less crowded streets, and a little bit more traffic. It has many plazas, malls and centers. I had lunch at an Indian resaturant at Yaya Center. It looked like a mall but it might not be called as such in Nairobi. Cos there are multiple bigger ones. Nairobi looks developed but I feel it might be developing without much of an African touch. Is that important? Maybe not. Is that cool? It's not. African cities should be better African cities and not just Londons in Africa. #thatisall

#VimTechList: 5 top African built Android games on Google Play

It's been a long time since I did regular posts on things related to technology. Thanks to a recent Facebook post and some comments from friends, I am expecting to birth a series. We're calling it the "Vim Tech List". Yup, it has a hashtag too #VimTechList. You know what Vim is already from regularly reading this blog or from here. Tech is tech, list is list. For the first instalment, I want to delve into games. I'd list 5 great games you can get from the Google Play Store which are all built by Africans. Say #morevim to that.

I've always used an Android phone since December 2010. Once I joined Google, I became more interested in using apps that were African. Thankfully, the Android Developer Challenge (ADC) was concluding and many great African Android apps had been built. The Android Africa Challenge (AAC), led by tech community leaders on the continent, also followed. When I got my recent Nexus 4, I wanted to download even more new African Android apps to check them out. I asked around too for some recommendations. I love to play computer games, especially on mobile phones. Let's get into the games :-)

 Ha! Buggy: This game is built by +Dadja BASSOU from Dakar, Senegal. He's one of the best Android developers on the continent and has been very active in the tech community in Dakar. He also interned with Google for a bit. Ha! Buggy is a fast racing game whereby the Android mascot tries to avoid killers while getting to a goal. Ha! Smarty! It's a very addictive game. Sadly, I have not gone past Level 4 yet. Watch a normal playthrough on YouTube.

Rainbow Racer: I discovered this game when it became an honourable mention at the ADC. It's built by +Herko Lategan who is from Cape Town, South Africa. To play, you move a ball on a narrow green field, collecting stars on the way, navigating towards to a goal. It's a 3D game (built of Android 3D architecture) as well which is tres cool. It's a physics based game and you can compete in your region as well.

Matatu: No, this is not a game of urvans racing in Nairobi. It's also the name of a popular card game in Uganda. So the brilliant team of Kola Studios folks have brought Uganda's popular card game to Android phones everywhere. It's consistently been one of the free game apps on Google Play worldwide. That is big! It's played maybe 20,000 times a day. +Terry Karungi is one of the top female Android developers on the continent too, once a Google Student Ambassador from Makerere University, and a one-time Google I/O attendee. I learnt about this game while attending G-Uganda 2011 and folks were having fun playing the game at the +GDG Kampala booth. Matatugame is brilliant though, it's promoting Uganda via this great local game.

Ayo: This game is pretty much an Oware (otherwise known as Mankala) game. See a Youtube demo of the game. This game is developed by Taytronik, Nigerian mobile app developers based in Canada. The objective is to collect groups of 4 marbles from within your section of the board or land on a group of 4 marbles on your opponent's section.

 Sipa: I learnt about this game via Amah Abaglo from Togo when I was asking around for cool African Android apps to download. I knew of +Tiyab Konlambigue already and his strength as a developer, but to know he had built a mobile app for this popular Togolese card game was awesome. He is also quite active in the Lome tech community and is a member of +GDG Lomé. Tiyab is part of Mcom Multicartes which has a number of other Android apps you can download too. His Open Drive application  was a winner at the Google Apps Developer Challenge last year.

If you think Ayo is cool, you should impatiently wait for +kobla nyomi's Oware 3D game. It uses the Android 3D architecture and the play experience is phenomenal. It's not on the Google Play store yet. See some screenshots here on GhanaThink's Facebook page.

PS: Do you know of some other Android game apps built by Africans? I know of some game apps that are on iOs, will do a post on that already. I've already talked about +Eyram Tawia's Leti Games extensively on my blog, they have offerings of iWarrior to the upcoming Ananse. Also, check out Agoro by +Kwesi Buabeng & group.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Recapping my What Do You Know quiz win via Twitter

Since I had to turn my off phone during today's What Do You Know quiz or have it in airplane mode because I am so fly, I couldn't tweet or post updates. Trust my tweeps to do so though. So here's their collective account :-)
The producer of the show Alfred Hughes gave many tips to the audience on audible clapping, etc. I had thought the quiz would start at 1, we started at 1:30. So whichever minutes of watching the Black Stars take on and beat Lesotho's national football team in a World Cup qualifier were gone.
I repped Blogging Ghana - the association of Ghana bloggers in this quiz. I showed up at the quiz venue wearing my BlogCamp T-shirt which had my Twitter name on it. We were told to wear the World Blood Donor Day tee on stage. So I resorted to mentioning my Twitter name as part of my intro. Fair abi? :-) Ebe swag lol!
A lady from the Ghana National Blood Service gave a short speech after which quiz master Dan Afari Yeboah started dishing out the questions. Since I was not well versed in the subject matter of the day, being observant would come in handy in answering questions. Hence, after some ambiguous question was asked about carrying blood and hearing Mr. Yeboah mention blood vessels, I gave "vessels" an answer and got a bonus point. Smart :-)
Turns out after you get a bonus question right, the next question becomes yours. Since I don't watch TV and haven't followed this WDYK contest in years, I had no idea. This and the fact that various questions were being asked for which I had no clue for, made me literally hot. Which is what my Odadee brother Joseph captured in this tweet
Forgive me for forgetting my biology and chastise me for reading about blood earlier this morning and not studying the word platelets. Especially after I pulled up (e)r(y)t(hr)ocytes from 2001 to answer another bonus question on what red blood cells is called. Red letter day indeed.
So round 1 ended, and I was sitting on 2 points. Ekome ekome 2! The Rotaract guy had jumped in front with 7 points. Now that was someone who knew a lot about blood and blood donation. Heck, they organized a blood donation drive the same day I donated blood for the first time and realised you couldn't actually do so if you had had multiple sexual partners in the 6 months prior. :-o
I was slacking. And being a bad rep for bloggers in Ghana, people who should have information at their fingertips since we spend chao time on the internets. But no worries, the vim man would come back with vim. Starting with actually getting some of my own questions correct.
I started getting questions I could answer. And I did so with so much authority the same way Tim Duncan swats shots and Manu Ginobli attacks the rim. Yeah, go, Spurs, go! That 450 number was stuck to my head like that needle was stuck in me on February 23, 2013. Since I was getting questions I could answer, I became more commentative. I was like "I could actually win this thing". Afrakoma realised what I was doing - "having fun".
I co-won the round and now I was only 3 points behind the leader. Closing the gap!
Thankfully, the NBS Ghana lady mentioned that June 14 is celebrated as World Blood Donor Day because some dude who discovered the A, B, O blood groups was born that day. Cos I had googled World Blood Donor Day, I knew who the dude was Karl Landsteiner. I could also tell you he won a Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1930. :-) But seriously, I did some guessing and when I didn't know the answer, I made it clear lol. Couldn't get it from my phone anyway.
So the general knowledge round started and ended with no question about the election petition. Thank heavens! Because if they had asked a question on pink sheets, I would outrightly said "I don't have news much and that pink sheets saga is not doing kowtow for Ghana so I am really not interested". Yes, I was going to say it on live TV. Next time. I was asked about Bakatue though which I answered convincingly and then shouted out my father as it was "Father's Day".
So our hero came back from the death and won at the death penalty shoot-out style. I thought I was gonna chop third but once I heard there was a tie, I knew this would be mine. And then Mr. Yeboah decided to do away with ambiguous blood related questions and pull one general knowledge question out of his hat. "What's someone from Kashmir called?" I dunno if the other guy knew of Kashmir sef. After giving two wrong answers, I delivered the #winning goal. "Kashmiri". I guessed right and the keeper went left, there's nothing left in this quiz contest. Ball game!
So yeah, here's the blog post. You just knew it was coming. A few more tweets to capture the moment for you. #Winning with #vim.

#Winning a What Do You Know quiz contest on #blooddonation

Earlier this month, I was nominated by my buddy +Edward Amartey-Tagoe to represent Blogging Ghana in a special What Do You Know Quiz to celebrate World Blood Donor Day. I donated blood for the first time in my life but biology has always been my least favorite subject since Presec, I don't follow current affairs even a 233rd of what I used to do in KNUST JSS and I knew very little about blood in general. I clutched at straws looking for what material to focus on in this quiz and looked for motivation via prizes available. In fact, it became too late for me to but I would have likely backed out. I had won 2 What Do You Know quizzes while in Presec but this was different. I stayed the course, but still didn't study anything until the wee hours of the night before for like 23.3 minutes. Today, I participated in the quiz and emerged victorious. #Winning!

When I was in KNUST JSS, I represented the school at Kiddie Quiz where we lost in the semi-finals. I got my nickname Clue cos I loved organizing quizzes. While in Presec, I participated in inter-house and inter-class quizzes and won some. I participated in 2 special What Do You Know quizzes for Presec and won both. Funny enough, I was just telling the Presec National Science & Maths quiz team about this just a couple of days ago. After Presec recording the highest NSMQ mark so far and fending off the great girls of Wey Gey Hey, it was my turn to win too. On my way to the quiz grounds, I played all the gospel songs I had on my phone through the car. I needed divine intervention. It was a Sunday anyway. I arrived at the  not cocky because I was not cocksure of my preparation but confident of pulling off a great result. Just because :-). 
+Maame Aba Daixy gave me some great links to check out, the website of the Ghana National Blood Service as well as the STACC website. +Kobby Blay of Ghana Health Nest chipped with this helpful link too. I even read my own blog post for inspiration. I gradually woke up this morning to questions and answers on the quiz preparation word document I had hurriedly put together and read through last night. I asked her to just read the document and throw questions at me. I will answer what I can and listen to answers of what I couldn't. Yea, that was my idea of preparing for a quiz on television. :-) I did quite okay and a few things cropped up so she googled the various subjects and we discussed things like blood types, universal donors and universal recipients. I whatsapped my brother +Kofi Ulzen-Appiah and sister Tracey for some tips (on biology and blood), as well as another doctor friend of mine who lives in Akim Oda. I thought to google and get info on World Blood Donor Day proper as well as hemoglobin cos the word just was all over the place. At one place, I thought a possible question would surely be "How do you spell Haemoglobin?" She laughed :-)

I got to the GTV studios with 2 bags with laptops with open web pages that I would study. I never got the chance to open the laptops. It took me some good minutes to find GTV Studio One, and then I had change from my BlogCamp13 T-shirt (with @Abocco on it) to a World Blood Donor Day one, do makeup, and call my mother. I did so after I found out the quiz would actually be live on GTV and not recorded for later. I never announced my appearance on the show because frankly, I was and was going to be unprepared. Daixy gave me some helpful tips. I would be competing against reps of MTN, Dodowa Keep Fit Club, Rotaract Club of Adentan and Christian Youth Builders. I thought to myself while going to GBC, no matter what, I have to place higher than the MTN guy. After my namesake producer of the show gave us an hour of tips, the quiz master Daniel Afari Yeboah, finally showed up and the quiz was underway.

I hadn't told many people I was going to be on TV because I didn't want to make a mockery of myself. And also, you may find it hard to believe, but because I am "modest", I didn't want to go around saying "I will be on TV, so watch me". Funny enough, some friends of mine who I know for sure don't watch GTV ending seeing me because they were browsing channels looking for the Black Stars game. So all the guys mostly saw me, but the ladies who should have been watching were bizzie biz. Lol. I was going to take my few 23.3 minutes of fame and sow some seeds to get my own reality show later. Don't you think I would do well in a reality show? Isn't my blog material enough evidence? Isn't this retrieved wallet story just the knockout punch? :-)

The actual quiz was great television material. While introducing myself on the quiz show, I mentioned my Twitter name. Yea, why not? You can read a whole blog post about that in particular here. Dan Afari Yeboah spoke his big English as usual and didn't disappoint. He's quite the entertaining quiz master. I found out later, that he was a lawyer. I had decided that I would be as commentative as I could on the quiz show, especially if I was flunking the questions. I can't be out spoken anymore these days, I am the outspoken guy. One hiplife legend once said "I keep my mind open and I keep my mind spoken". So there.
So yeah, after some small drama, I came back strongly like Presec did yesterday and won the contest at the death. Thank You Lord Jesus! Folks came to congratulate me and others said they admired my confidence. I just said "I pulled it off". I was nervous about the whole thing but I just remained positive. I told a couple of the GTV workers I had given a free ride to Shiashie that I always remain positive. Me and positivity sleep together. Try it. It works. We just keep on #winning. We got that tiger blood. In local parlance, you can call it "vim". 

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Watching Presec at the National Science & Maths quiz competition

Earlier today, I attended my first ever National Science & Maths quiz (NSMQ) contest viewing. I was not a part of the Presec team when I was there and when my mates were repping Presby Boys Secondary School - Legon in the Brilla, I was in the US at the time. After vim visiting the Presec NSMQ team on Thursday and encouraging them, I took some time off today to see them in action versus Wesley Girls High School and St. Augustine's College, 2 other great public high schools in Ghana. The competition is ongoing at the Legon N-Block. Presec is being represented by Bernard (front) and Baidoo (behind him). I captured what happened via tweets (as usual) and wanted to share them with you.
I like Wesley Girls much more than I used while in Presec. There was some small friendly banter between the Presec guys and Gey Hey girls in our Barcamp Ghana whatsapp group today. Big ups to Gey Hey girls though! Beauty and brains. Some dude at the contest today agreed in a loud voice.
Because the event is at Legon, many Presecans thronged the venue. Presecans are everywhere, we are plenty in Legon, Tech, USA, Europe, you name it. There were a few old students (Odadee) present too. I joined the Presec contingent in the front rows. :-)
Wey Gey Hey took an early lead. I wasn't the least concerned. It's like watching winners like Manchester United. If the game is not over, the game is definitely not lost. We're never defeated until fat Auntie Julie sings. Ajusco o Ajusco! That's an inside joke for Presecans & Odadee :-)
The girls from the top exam-passing school in Ghana were tying the boys from Presec (5-time winners of this competition) boot for boot, answer for answer. No shaking.
Do not underrate the words "more vim". If you never hear yourself saying it and you are a young Ghanaian, get on it.
Tenace mentioned that girls tend to do better in biology questions for problem of the day. Naturally, Presec supporters were happy to see physics served.
Bernard Agyemang Twum & Frimpong Apenteng Baidoo represented Presec today. Two unassuming boys who are brilliant and sharp. They will be legends in Presec when this is all said and done. Remember their names.
Talking about brilliant, the NSMQ used to be called the Brilliant National Science & Maths quiz. There's no title sponsor now. There should be. Sam Addo and Irene agree. I spoke to the producers of the quiz, Primetime Limited, will see if I can help them get some sponsorship. You think I can't? You haven't met me then :-)
The quiz mistress these days is Dr. Elsie Kaufmann, a Senior Lecturer at Legon in Biomedical Engineering. She was a success mentor at Barcamp Accra 2012 and it was great to get to know her. I sought her out after the quiz with two brilliant young Ghanaians who are joining top universities in California later this year. I love how Dr. Kaufmann championed the idea of problem solving and not just getting correct answers.
The Presec boys and Gey Hey girls understood this and did justice to the question of the day. So after 2 rounds, both schools were still tied. What would separate them?
The next round would. My alma mater's team confidently answered all true & false questions correctly as the Cape Coast based kids had two wrong each. Wake up call. Leave them in you wake!
The final round involved answering questions by responding to riddles and clues. We could smell victory. Gey Hey struck first but Presec struck multiple times. Mr. Peprah - 1-time National Best Teacher - had to cool down the students as they got louder and louder. He is the major trainee for the squad, along with Mr. Afram.
After Presec rang the bell earliest and answered the last question correctly, the Presec contingent got into a loud chorus of "Ole ole ole! Ole! Ole!". Victory was ours.
The school anthem followed. "Happy are we, studious are we". Presec is a very religious school and you could see it in the lyrics. Presecans and Odadees joined in. Presec was victorious. The Christian Gentlemen were moving on to the semis. The boys had been praying while the contest was tight, it was great to see.
Presec moved on to the semi-finals to face Kumasi-based schools - Prempeh College & T. I. AMASS. The contest will likely be at 12 noon on Monday. Join in and support if you can. Trust the boys to do the do.
I was cheering for Presec, that is understandable. But there is a reason why I hadn't been to Presec in a couple of years. I cheer for Ghana and its youth a lot more these days. That's why we had a junior camp in Ketasco and not any in some of these other schools yet. It was great to see Nat Alpha of Skoul Eye, who organized the Ketasco junior camp at the N Block sharing flyers about an event he was organizing to bring Ghanaian schools together via brass band music. Great kid. They are all over the country. They are versatile and want to contribute to the national agenda as much as they can. Let's support, influence, inspire and motivate them.

Turns out one of the Wey Gey Hey teachers is an Odadee - Reginald from Class of 2005. I talked to him about doing something at Wesley Girls. I would have talked to many of the other teachers too but I know we have people like me all over the country who stop at nothing to do what they can to contribute to educating young Ghanaians. It's that GhanaThinking thing. More vim to all of us!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Presec of my day, Presec of today

When I used to have my mailing address in the US and I was in Ghana, I would almost always go to Presec. But my surprise, since I moved to Ghana on August 17, 2011, I had never been to Presec. Tonight, I was there for the first time in a long time, visiting the National Science and Maths quiz (NSMQ) team. The visit had been warranted by some turn of events. Read about that here. As usual, I did some comparisons of Presec of today to that of when I was there, and I had a number of Presecans to discuss that with. Here goes.

I used to shii impre aka sleep in class during prep aka evening study period in Presec a lot. I used to get tired easily. Tonight, there was a student who was wearing a white lacoste tonight. Yea, Presecans wear lacostes in school now. I met the assistant school prefect (1st) and he was wearing a lacoste too. He could, this other student couldn't. The latter's oje was gonna land him on trouble. 
I asked these guys about Aburi Girls. I have grown to like the school more than I was at Presec. In fact, when I was leaving Presec, our relations with our sister school was at an all-time low. Because they had revenged on our fraternizing with St. Mary's girls at Interco by 'doing things' with Accra Aca boys. So after they 'huroed' / 'booed' some of our students at their school on Saturday, we unleashed our venom with vim on some of theirs that Saturday night. Presecans were expecting to do "wooo wooo" at entertainment while watching their favorite nonsensical Chinese movies. When the menu was served with Abugiss Drama Club putting sup-bar play performances, the "away away away" boos rang loudly and the poor girls started crying. We were subsequently banned from mountain climbing but some of the prefects hitch-hiked to patch up differences. The Presec boys of today? They are looking at Cape Coast. Kaish!
I talked to the students about my Presec life. From hearing about Paa Kwesi Imbeah and Arthur Musah when I entered Presec to having to lie under a bed for 23.3 minutes on my very first day at Presec in House 1. To being a top student in Chemistry in Form 1 and not being as a good an academic student in Form 2 and Form 3. I talked about joining the Quiz, Writers and Debaters Club because I was a general knowledge whizzkid and then getting interested in writing and debating. I ended up joining the editorial board because it was the cool thing to do at the end of Form 1. I talked through how the editorial board used to 'cause', and how we were the journalistic mouthpiece of students. I didn't fail to mention that I represented Presec in multiple quizzes and debates and never lost. I'm a boss! :-)
The current guys did not know about Dorm C aka Bronx in House 2. When I entered Presec, House 2 was the bad nut. We decided to do what we could to make it a better house. We succeeded in churning out prefects, doing better in school inspection competition, and placing in quiz competitions. Akro House was always a clean and neat house and that tradition has held true still. Apparently, House 5 (Riis) is doing much better too :-)
In my speech to them, I encouraged to focus on gaining skills and being versatile. I needed them to understand that they needed to be well-rounded and world-class. While at Presec, we knew what our American age mates were studying. We were bent on besting them everywhere and anywhere, from MIT to Stanford.
Mr. Peprah asked me to compare SHS students from my time with today's. From interacting with some more recent SHS grads in Ghana, I can confidently say that today's secondary school in Ghana is on the average for versatile and exposed than those in my day. That is a good thing. It helps that these are fuller packages and are willing to learn, do and achieve more and in various ways.
Mr. Peprah agreed with my assertions and continued to say the current students, while more versatile, are not as 'robust'. They are not as hardened. That's easy to determine. Corporal punishment is disappearing, 'homoing' is not as popular and discipline traditions are fading thin. The dadabees come chao!

I have to go to Presec more often. I pass there a lot when I am going to Madina or Adenta. In 2004, while in Ghana as part of an MIT-AITI team, I run a robotics program there (Lego Mindstorms related). I also spoke to the whole school and up till today, Odadees walk up to me saying they remember when I did that. I have to do it again. But more importantly, I want to have another junior camp there after the successful one at Ketasco. I spoke briefly about Barcamps earlier tonight, and the need to inspire, motivate and get more young Ghanaians into action and achievement.

I left them with a lot of vim, challenging them to be influential and creating the Ghana we want now and not later. I encouraged them to pursue their passions and be as excellent as they could. I also encouraged them as brilliant and top students to help their other mates and folks who were around them to be better. 

Vim visiting the Presec National Science & Maths Quiz team

Last week, we heard news of our alma mater Presby Boys' Secondary School (Legon) Presec losing to Mfantsiman (Mansite) in the National Science and Maths quiz (NSMQ). The 5-time champs had suffered an unexpected loss. But there was a silver lining. Presec could still get the chance to proceed to the next round by being one of the highest losers. Not a good look, but we'll take it. I was told of this mishap and asked to go visit the team and offer some words of encouragement. I didn't get the chance until today. But before that happened, we took that chance! Presec was slotted into a qualifier with St. Roses and HOTCASS and 'destroyed' the chance! The Presec squad did not get a single question wrong on their way to 76 points, a record haul! Earlier tonight, I was at Presec for the first time since I returned to Ghana to the land of vim. I had gone with vim to give some more vim. Anyway.... to the blog post.
It shouldn't have been surprised to see Mr. Peprah at all. He's been a mainstay for the Brilliant squad all through. He's been a major contribution to Presec winning the National Science & Maths quiz 5 times - 1995, 2003, 2006, 2008, and 2009.
Since 3 schools participate these days, each school has 2 contestants. Presec is repped by 2 Form 3 boys (they both did the 3 year system) - sharp brains, don dadas. In their last contest, Bernard Agyemang Twum and Frimpong Apenteng Baidoo got all their questions right. Unprecedented! We should note that this year for the WASSCE, a batch of students who were in SHS for 3 years and some others who were in school for 4 years wrote the exam. It's bye-bye for the 4 year SHS. Here's my take on that whole debate, debate style :-)
Presec classrooms have looked bougy for a while. The study room for the NSMQ team had curtains! When we were in Presec at the turn of the 21st century, we didn't have very nice classrooms. In the main classroom block (now called Block A), when it was raining, we had to move away from the walls into the centre, since there were no louvre blades and the rain came into the classroom. Shyous! We still studied and excelled, everywhere we went.
Presec boys are using Twitter lol! They understand motivation too. It was tres cool to see this -->
The NSMQ team is made up of a number of students, some of which had just graduated. There was only one Clerk House student and one K class student. Many of the students want to study engineering and medicine related courses in university. They are there!
This Saturday, Presec is pitted against Wesley Girls High School (Wey Gey Hey) and St. Augustine's College (Augusco) in the quarter-finals. Odadees, let's throng the Legon N-Block venue on Saturday to support the boys at 12 noon. No Presec, No Trophy! :-)

My South African alter-ego

This has been a long time coming. I have known a lot about South Africa for a while now, but it took 3 separate trips into the Rainbow Nation to finally introduce my South African alter-ego. I have never had many South African friends like other countries, in fact most of people I've hanged out with in Mzansi have not been from South Africa. South Africa is quite diverse for an African country so it also took a while to establish the diversity that the subject of this blog post would carry.  So after Ayooluwaato Eze from Nigeria, Richard Nshuti Mayanja from Uganda, David Ochieng Mwangi from Kenya, Hamis Ambwene Massawe from Tanzania and Girma Goitom Gemechu, I introduce to you all, Siyabonga Andile Mthimkhulu, my South African alter-ego.

"Ika ma lang Siyabonga" translates to "My name is Siyabonga". For short, just call me Siya. Zulu women are the finest in Mzansi. My mother hails from Durban in the Kwa-Zulu Natal Province and was born to a Zulu father and Siswati mother. You must have heard about the famous Shaka Zulu! He's one of the most fearsome warriors ever. I was born to be a warrior too. Siyabonga is a Zulu word which means "Thank You". I was an expectant baby and when I finally entered the world, my family named me accordingly as they thanked Nkosi, which means Lord in Zulu and Xhosa. Did you know eNkosi also means "thanks" in Xhosa? My last name Mthimkhulu is a Xhosa word that means "Big Tree". No, I wasn't conceived under a big tree, neither did the union happen in a shack. I was named as such because it was believed I would be a foundation on which my family would stand, survive and be sustained. I have a very big family. My middle name is Andile which is a Zulu and Xhosa name. It means "to grow, expand, get bigger, and be important". You can tell my parents had very big expectations of me. It's those warrior things. Pressure neh?

My parents were not at the forefront of the apartheid movement so they didn't have to seek exile or stay away from home per say but they did spend many years outside Mzansi. My father always wanted to travel the world, especially African countries, after the stories he had heard of Kwame Nkrumah, Julius Nyerere, Thomas Sankara, Robert Mugabe and Patrice Lumumba. Dada made sure we felt a part of Africa and not look at it as if we weren't. Many South Africans see Africa differently. Can you believe some of my people say things like "They came here from Africa"? Not me. One of the things I love about Jozi is how diverse it is when it comes to African communities. There are many Africans from all walks of life who are in Jozi, whether you are talking of Hillbrow, Soweto, Four Ways, or Sandton. I grew up in Dar Es Salaam, Accra (where I went to high school), the UK and the US. It was always very difficult to find other South African (especially blacks and coloureds) in these places. No wonder my clicking ability is almost non-existent.

Did you just think about Qongqothwane (Click Song)? Then, count yourself as someone who knows South Africa better than many others. Being able to do the clicks gives you extra street cred. We might have to give you a Xhosa name. South Africa
 is the only country with 11 official languages. When I think of many of those languages I can speak fluently, I then regret spending a lot of my childhood and adolescent life outside Mzansi. South Africa is the Rainbow Nation, one of many different types of people and cultures. We have Black, Coloureds, Afrikaaner, Asian, and Indian South Africans. South Africa might be a fragmented but it is a somewhat united and proud nation.

The best singers in the whole world hail from South Africa. It's like we were born singing. Music is simply a part of us. You've seen the likes of the late Miriam Makeba, the late Brenda Fassie, Yvonne Chaka Chaka, Hugh Masekela, and Rebecca Malope and now the likes of the Lira, Loyiso, Thandiswa, Zahara and Donald. I would always sing tenor in any choir setting, it seemed to the default group my voice would allow me to be in. From my South African childhood, I can remember a lot of singing. It was a joyous celebration of melodies when we got together for anything. There are many things South Africa exports but I really believe we should look at exporting singers too. China could use some of them. :-) Do not underestimate what good music can do. It kept the many miners who built the Mzansi mining industry to what it is today going. Can't touch on the singing without touching on the dancing. Gumboot dances are a joy to watch. That's who we are, we are joyous, in spite of anything.
South Africa is arguably the most developed country in Africa. Cape Town is pretty much the nicest place to be in and the Table Mountain is like the eighth wonder of the world. We are part of BRICS - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa - a block of emerging countries. Even places which are poverty stricken have small signs of development. You might see those shacks in the townships, but don't be surprised if you find fridges, microwaves and DSTV in them. DSTV and Supersport is from Mzansi. Terry Pheto and Charlize Theron too. As well as the greatest movie known to man, Tsotsi. Mark Shuttlesworth and Mark Fish and Doctor Khumalo. And how can we forget to mention Nelson Mandela. Arguably one of the greatest men the world has ever seen. The World Cup was held in South Africa in 2010 and the Mzansi Mundial was one of the best tournaments ever.It also gave birth to the idea of BaGhana BaGhana, a pet name given to the Black Stars of Ghana after they flew Africa's flag high after the exit of Bafana Bafana.

We are also serious meat lovers. In fact, I am a carnivore. If you visit South Africa as a vegetarian, you will most likely eat meat during your duration there. Talking about meat? Have you seen our women? They got a lot of meat on them. Beautiful, bodacious and blessed. My mother is a prime example. We have many different types of women. Many top African musicians come to South Africa to shoot music videos so they can have white and Asian women in them. We got many hunks in Mzansi too. Including funny coloured dudes like Trevor Noah. If you wanna learn more about Mzansi, you should watch his stand-up shows like Day Walker and Crazy Normal.

So next time you meet Siyabonga Andile Mthimkhulu, that will be me. I am a businessman who deals in many businesses. I am working hard to reduce my tummy through many types of physical activities while still eating a lot of meat. And I'm not on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+. I normally use some other guy's profile to see what's following all the Mzansi gossip. You can catch always me here on this blog. That will be all from Siya for now. See ya!

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