Friday, June 27, 2014

Now here are the reasons why the Black Stars haven't come yet and are still in Brazil

From a very reliable source, I hear the Black Stars haven't left Brazil yet. They are back to their base in Maceió in the north east of Brazil where they are based. However, I have some sound advice for each of our Black Stars as well as Kwasi Appiah.

Since we're not a serious people & we like joking, I am joining just for today. Hashtag is #BlackStarsReasonsForStayingInBrazil. If you have more, join in the fun.

If any of you has better information or better reasons, please share :-) Especially you +GFA TV (Official Channel Of The Black Stars) 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Charting new grounds with a Junior Camp at Armed Forces Senior High School

I'd never heard of Armed Forces Senior High School (SHS) in Kumasi until +Christian Junior Worgbah announced that they had accepted to host a +Junior Camp Ghana event. It's not the school we expected to debut +GhanaThink Foundation's career guidance series for senior high schools at. But that's just how the cookie crumbles sometimes. As I blogged earlier, June is Junior Camp Ghana month. Armesco, as the school, is affectionately called, hosted the first Junior Camp event at an SHS in Ghana this year. Dumasua JHS had the first #jcghana event this year, albeit at a junior high school, following on from what happened at +Barcamp Sunyani last year. Junior Camp Armesco happened last Saturday, June 7.

The first Junior Camp was held on January 30, 2013 at +Keta Senior High Technical School with the support of the +Barcamp Ho team. The second happened on July 13, 2013 at Kalpohin Senior High School with the involvement of the +Barcamp Tamale team. St. Augustine's College which hosts its second #JCAugusco edition this Saturday, hosted the third Junior Camp on July 27, 2013 with the participation of the +Barcamp Cape Coast team. +Ahaspora Ghana's interest in giving back to society resulted in a career mentoring event in partnership with the Junior Camp Ghana team. The December 30, 2013 event saw the attendance of students from multiple senior high school students.

While looking up Armed Forces Senior High School, I realised there was a school with the same name in Accra, and more popular too. I run into Nathaniel Padi, a young programmer who was previously featured in various blogs and spoke at TEDxLabone this year while with his namesake +Nathaniel Alpha, the Junior Camp Ghana lead. Turns out Nathaniel attends Armed Forces Senior High School in Accra. We expect to have a Junior Camp there soon as well.

Nathaniel's teammate +Kofi Kafui Kornu was at Armesco on Thursday to give a prep talk before the D-day. He joined 10 other mentors at Junior Camp Armesco. His teammate, +Eunice Mintah Young, who'd traveled from Takoradi, led a session on marketing and PR. +Prince Boadu mentored on Business and entrepreneurship and taught the students how to set S.M.A.R.T goals - specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely goals. +nana A-D focused on engineering in his session, challenging the students to be the best they can be. Kwaku Adu Acheampong focused on journalism, blogging and social media marketing in his session.

Daniel Ampofo, an entrepreneur, discussed the students' passions and how they could work on it in school. Gideon Amankwa, a university student, advised the SHS students on networking and the role of friends in their education. +George Arthur-Sarpong engaged the students in identifying the power of technology tools and using a lean methodology to creating products. +Kwabena agyare yeboah focused on careers in the literary space, sharing his own stories. +NANA AMMA GYEDUWAH INCOOM, a graduate MBA student shared and learnt something new from this experience like she's done in the past.

You can see some more photos from the event on the Junior Camp Ghana Facebook page. There were a number of tweets posted via the #JCArmesco hashtag as well. Looking to more students becoming skills-oriented and focusing on skills to sustain careers. Kudos to the team of Nathaniel, Christian, Kofi, Eunice, +Pedel Oppong and Esinam Yevu for another event with a helping hand from +Thelma Boamah. The +Barcamp Kumasi also supported. 

There are many customers in Kumasi's culture

There were some submissions from that +Barcamp Kumasi breakout session on September 28, 2013 that lend itself to a culture conversation. Kumasi, as many will tell you, is the cultural capital of Ghana. Before you come argue tribes with me, Twi is the most widely spoken language in Ghana. Go to a place in Ghana which has a non-Akan tribe settled there and the residents are more likely to speak Twi than English. But back to the cultural conversation as I got side tracked for a minute. I'd recount some of the submissions from that #bcksi (Barcamp Kumasi) session in this blog post.

One participant, +Kwabena agyare yeboah suggested we create a Wordpress website on Akan mythology. This is important in documenting the history of Kumasi. Kumasi may be losing its 'Garden city' moniker but its spirit and culture remains authentic. It's the cultural capital of Ghana. As it develops, this authenticity must be maintained to give Kumasi an edge and keep it in the spotlight. We learnt about Accratupia - (I forget the correct name) - a project presenting futuristic images of what areas in Accra could look like. KNUST has a department of planning, it must get to work. Working with KMA would very welcome.

One popular word for people who are from Kumasi in Ghana is Siano. When I first went to Presec, that's a name I was called by. Is it the short form of 'Kwasia no'? Felt like it. That means the stupid person. It was a derogatory term. From the #bcksi session, many said that Sianos are perceived in a backward way. Ignorant Ghanaians who can't speak English. That's why some English words take on meanings of their own in Kumasi - shared by +Life in Kumasi. The story goes that 'Kumasi people' in Legon ate at Bush Canteen. The next question at every +Barcamp Ghana session is - "What are we doing about it?" We should empower ourselves so we don't get offended if people call us Sianos.

Is that why Kumasianos don't patronize shows and concerts? That might have been the story a while ago but not today. Kumasi residents throng Uncle Ebo White's plays just like those in Accra do. My buddy Isaac who works for a Kumasi based financial company goes to almost every one of them. Movie premieres continue to be successful and Ghanaian musicians are selling out shows in Oseikrom as well. Kumawood isn't lending itself to the movie going experience but while some may see a problem, others will see an opportunity. You can see many people gathering around television sets to watch the latest movies starring Liwin. Entrepreneurs have to adapt, be smart, find the customer and moetize. Invalidate the assumptions, persevere after experiments yield expected results or pivot around the clear opportunity. Yeap, learnt a lot from +Lean Accra, Lean Kumasi is also coming :-)
If +Barcamp Ghana didn't come to Kumasi, what would be organizing us? We discussed the issue of many +Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology students not being from Kumasi. I've always been concerned at how Tech is dominated by people not from Accra and how most activity in Kumasi is driven by Tech students. We talked about having a platform, forum or meeting space which would connect people who can do and those who want to have things done. This platform is coming soon, +Barcamp Kumasi will share deets on it real soon.
We need to enhance the current lifestyle in Kumasi, +kojo akoto boateng said. Many revellers go out to Bantama High street and sitting at spots is extremely popular in Oseikrom. We know Kumasi folks also love omotuo and fufu. We can leverage the current culture and what is popular in Kumasi and created enhanced services and businesses. As we give ourselves excuses of why things won't work, culture shouldn't be one. We might see our traditions as backward, but the palace is the most democratic place. Kumasi as it is can serve a lot of people's aspirations and dreams. Leadership is the basic problem. Hence, we must do. We must lead. 

Mall in Kumasi? Let's get more in #Kumasi

I was looking through some papers hiding in different places in my house the other day and came across one with some scribbles I could clearly remember. It was from September 28, 2013 at a +Barcamp Kumasi breakout session on ... yeah, you guessed it, Kumasi. Today, I saw a news story announcing that the Asantehene (15 years on the throne and going strong) had cut the sod for work to commence on West Africa's biggest mall, to be built in Kumasi. We've heard this before. But we hope this one will come through. I'd recount some of the submissions from that #bcksi (Barcamp Kumasi) session in this blog post.

We discussed the Kumasi Children's Park. Lady Julia, Asantehene's queen, had tried to revive it. She's rather forward-thinking, she partnered with a Google led initiative to work on an IT academy. Kumasi needs playground for its children. Those greens have to be maintained. Interestingly, +Kuukuwa Manful, fresh from leading a group of people to build an eco-friendly playground in Accra was in this breakout session. Kuukuwa is a +Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology Architecture graduate too. Efua Apprey was really interested and planned to see the Parks & Gardens folks in Kumasi about the issue. I can see an idea for National Volunteer Day in Kumasi. +Ghana Volunteer Program should take note.

Kumasi has everything a great city needs. In fact, like Kuukuwa pointed out in the +Barcamp Kumasi session, Kumasi has always been a city, unlike Accra which was created as one. Accra has developed a lot because it is the capital and its development is also driven by foreign forces. Kumasi is now home to more than 2 million people. Traffic is rearing its head though the cost of living hasn't caught up to the heights of Accra's. It's beginning to retain human resources as well. There are some tech startups that are setting up around Tech as well, counting the likes of +Farmerline+mNotify, Votomobile and Hapaweb.

It's important to have more Ababio Express stores opening in Kumasi. I visited their store in Asokwa once and was impressed. I invited one of their managers, +Paapa Adjabeng to Barcamp Kumasi but he couldn't make it. I understand they'd have a store in the now opening KNUST 'Commercial Area' plaza. Ababio Express can morph into a Shoprite type store that can anchor a mall or big plaza in the future. It could even sell more made-in-Ghana goods patronized heavily locally unlike +Shoprite. A-Life started out and couldn't survive. Poku Transport is still relevant and could do with some proper competition.

The proposed mall is a good idea. I believe that Kumasi's population can support one to thrive. But it must be localized. At least to get it to pick up. Throw an Abusua restaurant type in there. It will do well better than a Chopstix. It's allowed. It won't matter if Mr. Biggs is aloud either. Show new Kumawood movies on big screens and drive advertising or product sales via the attention grabbed. Let the Oseikrom gangareas do their thing. They have a steady stream of customers. Take a ride into Adum and count the number of small stores. There is a lot of selling. There is a lot of room for buying.

There's a lot happening in Kumasi on a daily basis. It's hard to keep track of it all but I hope you can get a fair share of that via the Kumasi Daily shared by Barcamp Kumasi on Twitter. We started the My Kumasi Facebook & Twitter accounts after Barcamp Kumasi. Also, stay tuned to this awesome +Life in Kumasi blog that was also born at this +Barcamp Ghana event. 

Monday, June 9, 2014

Irregular day and regular say

Today wasn't a regular Monday. I was extra pumped as the work week started. Maybe it was because the +Junior Camp Ghana team had just another event and though I wasn't present, it was successful. I was telling a few respected and famous people in Ghana, how proud I was of the team that executed Junior Camp Armesco.

After my conversation with these respected persons at the +Mövenpick Ambassador Hotel Accra, I waited around the hotel to charge my phone. I thought about a number of things, some of which I tell people a lot. There, I reflected on the conversation we'd had and I took to Twitter to post

These are things I say regularly. But today was a bit of an irregular day, that's why I posted these tweets. There's not much more to say after these tweets. The first tweet? We shall call them the 6 P's people. These are the people I hope the +Barcamp Ghana program contributes to building a critical mass of. I've answered the question in the second tweet many times because people are always asking. The third tweet is about vim. But I've blogged this and that song already. The fourth tweet is the main idea driving +GhanaThink Foundation's Junior Camp events. The subject of the fifth tweet, while borrowed from SHAPE Africa 2013, was discussed at length at +Barcamp Cape Coast 2013. The sixth tweet? The National Volunteer Day initiative is from a place which sought to get people to make Ghana better any day. The +Ghana Volunteer Program's work should make people say "I Made Ghana Better Today" many days. 

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Arik Air bridges Accra and Abuja

Last month, I flew to Abuja for the first time. I'd always wanted to visit Abuja to see what a 'planned city' in Africa looked like. When I knew that the +World Economic Forum event in Africa for 2014 would be held in Abuja, Nigeria, I knew this was my chance to visit the Nigerian capital. As the time for SHAPE Africa drew closer, I was wary that I might not attend because of the attendant flight costs. +Arik Air came to save the day, pretty much. Details about that would come in a later post. Arik Air things :-)
We all have bad customer service days. The same can't be said of May 3, 2014 with the +Arik Air employees at the Kotoka airport. First, I got to use their PC to share my excitement at finally flying to Abuja. I was flying with fellow +Global Shapers Accra members +Donald Ward +Emmanuel A. Gamor and +Yawa Hansen-Quao. We were being sponsored by Arik and only had to pay taxes which amounted to a very manageable amount. Though we had a few issues with our tickets, the Arik Air folks at Kotoka were so calm, collected and helpful and sorted us out. We were #SHAPEAfrica bound!
So we had very happy faces by the time we boarded the Arik flight. Not quite sure we didn't take a selfie here.
Donald wasn't sitting with the three of us but he was equally happy. He was sitting next to a lady who'd recognized my +Harvard University African Business Conference t-shirt from this year. Arik sponsored that conference and gave me a discount on my ticket as I was a panelist at the #HBSABC.
This is pretty major and can't be discounted. The Abuja airport looked really nice too, definitely better than the Murtala Mohammed Airport in Lagos. This was a great image showing all the places Arik flies to around Nigeria and around West Africa. We need a great West African airline and Arik is on its way to that. It comes with growing pains but I believe they and their customers will be better of for it. It needs to happen fast though.
I flew Arik from Accra to New York through Lagos earlier in March for the Africa Business Conference. I paid more than $1000 even after a discount. This was after taxes. But you can get a better deal. The tweet above is evidence.
We surely had a smooth flight returning to Accra as the one we took to Abuja. We didn't get the perks of the previous flight. But that's a story for another day :-)

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Inedible made-in-Ghana goods sold at Shoprite in Osu, Accra

While doing some inventory checking for Shoprite items, I imagined that I'd be recording many less Made-in-Ghana goods that were not edible. We're an agri-based economy and though we produce a relatively small number of value added foods, we produce even less products that don't contribute to our daily diets. Read the following tweets capturing the non-edible things :-)

Made-in-Ghana goods sold at Shoprite in Osu, Accra to feature in your daily diet

This is another one. Just like the other one. :-) Earlier today, I was in Osu on Oxford Street after running a number of errands. I had some time to burn and my phone was off. So I decided to go to the Oxford Street mall. I'd never entered it before. When I got to the Shoprite, I had an idea. I'm going to check for as many times that are made in Ghana and sold here. Revelations. Read the following tweets capturing the some of the edible things :-)

Edible made-in-Ghana goods sold at Shoprite in Osu, Accra

Earlier today, I was in Osu on Oxford Street after running a number of errands. I had some time to burn and my phone was off. So I decided to go to the Oxford Street mall. I'd never entered it before. When I got to the Shoprite, I had an idea. I'm going to check for as many times that are made in Ghana and sold here. Revelations. Read the following tweets capturing the some of the edible things :-)

Contributing to the June Accra Discourse - Adding value for dramatic results

The Global Shapers Accra Hub of which I am part of has been organizing the Accra Discourse since January 2014. For the June edition, the theme was "Adding value for dramatic results." Esi Cleland-Yankson & I shared insights and experiences on adding value to work for dramatic results. The discussion was ably moderated by fellow +Global Shapers Accra member +Yawa Hansen-Quao.

For posterity sake and for those who missed it, below are a few tweets attendees captured as I was speaking etc. 
I shared some stories that I have already blogged about. Leading into Leadership - The Presec YearsLeading into Leadership - The MIT Years
I first heard about MIT when +Arthur Musah got in. I followed him, Ebenezer Woode and George Heming there. That's where I picked up the +Mighty African name :-)
Yeap, way back in 2005. You can see all those blog entries at GhanaConscious. Sounds on da ground and see-ins on the scenes.
This blog led to +Museke. I always used my writing, wherever it found itself to drive an agenda.
Thanks to +Dieu-Donne Gameli for capturing this. The internet brings information to our fingertips and creates a level playing field. If only it was cheaper and faster around here......
Once, +Vanessa Kavi asked me about how she could get more followers on Twitter. I always use the case of a Ghanaian lady I found on Twitter who had over 3000 followers. She'd built this by just tweeting and retweeting about +Manchester United.
You mean, where are the activists? Like we discussed, not every fight is our fight. We can support many things but we can't lead everything. It's important for us to identify who's passionate about what in our network and support them to lead those fights.
I learnt this from +Jemila Abdulai during the time we had had the +Diaspora Camp Africa Day Chat. We need to learn a lot from Rwanda.
Fond memories. Twitter & Barcamp were made for each other. Twitter features heavily in this blog too. And a section for Barcamp as well. :-)
See my Twitter firsts blog post. Been using Twitter religiously since January 2009 after my first post on October 14, 2008.
+Esi Cleland-Yankson asked me about how I managed to go to almost every African students association gathering in the US. Of course, I didn't go to almost every one of them. I did go to many of those around Massachusetts and in New England. Thankfully, MIT was close to many world-class colleges and universities that also had Ghanaian representation. Most of my spending while living in the US went into travel. I love traveling to different parts of the US, seeing places, people, making and meeting new friends.
Networking is extremely important. For me, it's not just about many people knowing me, it's about knowing many people.
I can't imagine starting anything on my own anymore. I believe in the power of numbers and diversity. We talk about how partnerships are hard to build in Ghana, due to trust issues, etc but that's something we must brave and solve.
This tweet made my night. I'm looking forward to Junior Camp Augusco, which would be the second one after last year's edition. It's a career guidance workshop, part of the +Junior Camp Ghana program of the +GhanaThink Foundation. The +Barcamp Cape Coast team is supporting. Stay tuned to +Global Shapers Accra to learn more about what we do and the subsequent Accra Discourse events.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

The MIghTy African becomes a mechanic

I went to drop off a friend at Legon just before #WaakyeWednesday came to a close. When I was leaving for the house, and got to the Okponglo traffic light, something caught my attention. It made me and the vim ride stop. A taxi driver had stopped right at the junction and obviously needed help. Like many good Samaritans, I volunteered to help him and asked what the issue was. He couldn't spark the car to get out. I've had this issue many times and knew exactly what to do to help him. 

I parked the car right in front of his, both rides making up a 90 degree angle. I got my jumper cables out of the trunk, err boot. I opened up the car bonnet and proceeded to ensure that I was identifying the positive and negative terminals for the car battery for the umpteenth time. I connected the positive terminal from mine to his but we couldn't get the other cable to the respective negative terminals. I got back into the driver's seat, reversed and parked closer. This time the positioning was right. The driver tried to spark his car but it didn't respond. I started praying, in French, nonetheless. Hey, it worked once. The car still wouldn't respond. "My petrol is finished". Great.

But wait, this has also happened to me before. As soon as the taxi driver gets some fuel in his car, he'd be good to go. He gave me a gallon and 20 GHC. "Buy 15 cedis". Actually I think he said "tɔ 15 cedis" in Twi. :-) I went over to SEL petrol station in Bawaleshie and bought the fuel. I could see the gallon dripping after the guy at the fuel station was forcing to fill the gallon with 15 GHC worth of fuel. "Clean it well o! Abeg". I got back to the driver with the fuel and he replenished his car's juices with consummate ease. Just as he was about to go spark the car, I realised he had a flat tire. "I mean really?" I thought this to myself.

We connected the terminals again and this time, his car responded. We discussed the flat tyre problem. I gave this some thought and finally said. "You can use my spare tyre". He was shockprised. "I can manage to get to a vulcanizer so he can pump the tyre". He considered my request. But then he checked my tyres and said that my rim (and spare tyre) is bigger than what he uses and mine won't fit. Well, that saves me some time and having handle this problem past this night. I collected his phone (just in case) and flashed him. We exchanged pleasantries and headed out.

As we crossed the main Legon-Madina (Legon East) road, I realised he hadn't really left. I parked by the Freetown Avenue waiting for him. When he caught up, he said that he couldn't find the 5 GHC change from buying the fuel. "Oh, check the seat". It wasn't there. I checked my pockets and felt a note. There, the picture of the Big Six on the note. I handed over to him. Funnily enough, when I posted about this on Google+, +Atitsogbui Patrick Keli talked about how a taxi driver would have charged me money if I was the one who needed help. Yeah, I've paid such Good Samaritan fees before. It didn't cross my mind to ask for anything. Would you? As I finally went home, I thought to myself - "
I Made #Ghana Better Today". #IMGBT

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