Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Glad To Be Back

Much needed strength returns after a little spell out with sickness. Glad to be back. Lots of interesting discussions going on that needs to be blogged about. Not least of which is the violence taking place in the Egyptian capital, where nine months after the overthrow of Mubarak things are not turning out as the protesters thought they would. I think they're looking at Libya and thinking it is much more of a revolution than the one that saw the ousting of Mubarak. In my own backyard here in Ghana the youth in Andani are asking for answers to the questions that were begged by the NDC's propagandists approach to the issue of the murder of the king of Dagbon.
Lots to talk about. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Small-minded Politicians

It’s the biggest news this week. The Wikileaks report on Ghana. Apparently what some bored US diplomat has to say about us in a cable, is much more important to some of our politicians than what we say about ourselves. This is a seriously peeved and frustrated writer here, believe me. Not only for the fact that we repeatedly determine to make fools of ourselves in the eyes of the West, especially, but some of our politicians and so called social commentators are so small-minded and so superficial (seriously restraining my use of language here), that they fail to see the consequences of some of they’re actions and how utterly stupid it all is. How ridiculous!

What am I on about? This Wikileaks reports going around, which, on a personal level I find silly and rather childish, seeing as if we knew what we all said about each other in secret, the world would be a totally cynical place if it already isn’t, is staring much hostility and considerable funfair among our politicians, especially between the ruling government and the main opposition, with each trying to score nonexistent political point off the other by stretching these leaked cables to potentially dangerous and divisive levels. As if that is not bad enough, the potential for conflict resulting from an attempt to score political point with what an ex-president was supposed to have said about certain religious groups is completely lost on them.

This is nothing less than embarrassing. It’s easy enough to take that a US ambassador has certain opinions based on rumours about our so-called leaders, especially when such rumours are propagated by conniving, self-seeking traitors looking for approval; trust me, these diplomats have prejudiced opinions about us that they do well to hide behind smiles and gentility. These leaked cables had reports of the president having throat cancer from being addicted to alcohol and the opposition leader being a cocaine addict, among other things. What is it to a foreign diplomat if these are true or not? What is absolutely distasteful and utterly unacceptable is for our own politicians to jump on these rumours (because that’s what they are) in an attempt to smear each other for nothing more than political point.

It saddens my heart to say this but that’s the very reason we are where we are in the world. Our politicians. They’re too small upstairs. Some of them. 

Monday, August 29, 2011

Man Utd 8-2 Arsenal: Two Kinds of Youth

Okay, not intending to rub it in or anything… well, maybe just a little, but I feel like branching off the beaten path and talk about something much less serious. Football. And not just any football but Manchester United’s very gratifying humbling of Arsenal on Sunday. Trust me, the continuous talk of it being a freak result due to Arsenal’s depleted line-up takes nothing away from the joy, especially when you think the majority of United’s starting eleven wouldn’t have been considered regular first-teamers at the start of the season. And yet here they were, with an average age younger than that of Arsenal, pounding turf and grabbing victory like seasoned pros.

There lies the plot of this blog. Suppose Ferdinand and Vidic and Fletcher and Carrick and Giggs etc., hadn’t started on Sunday, would United have had the replacement to step and deliver a job? I guess the answer is pretty clear. Because they didn’t start, and the 8-2 score line revealed there was more than enough in the United tank to step in and do a job. The likes of Welbeck and Cleverly and Jones and Smalling, young men as they are, but with the mentality of winners.

Much has been made of Arsenal’s young talent over the past couple of years, which is all well and good when you watch them play their brand of football. But I’ve never been a big fan of beauty without brain, or, on this occasion beauty without spunk. What Arsenal lack in a winning attitude, they make up for it with a lot of neat passes. Add to that a manager with a mind of his own, literally. A man who sees what every else can’t and is blind to all that is clearly visible.

But, hey, what do I know, right? Am a United fan. So what if Arsenal wallow in mediocrity, leaves us that much space to keep winning.

I say there’s two kinds of youth, the Manchester United kind of youth, and the Arsenal kind of youth. The ones who win, and the ones who keep thinking they will, someday.

I know which kind of youth I am.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Culture Shock Or Homophobia? Ghana’s Reaction to the Gay Thing

I have a feeling this thing is not going to go away, that it’s just going to get bigger and bigger and the stories in the news will keep coming out and people are going to continue discussing and being angry about it wherever they can. And the democracy and the freedoms that we have means that those underground gay groups will continue to gradually come out of their closets and a real Pandora's box is going to be opened. Because you see, this is all so new to us. All so very strange, weird. The idea of two people of the same sex getting together in a canal way is almost anathema to us Africans, more specifically us Ghanaians, religious and spiritual a society as we are. Not to mention the culture.

There’s laws against homosexuality all right, banning the act itself and not the idea, something like that. It’s all very vague. But like every other law known to man it is being broken by people who feel it is against their personal freedom to live by such law. And this people are becoming more prominent in their “defiance”, if I can call it that, now more than ever. It’s like a cat’s been let lose among pigeons with the gay community. They are becoming visible, drawing attention to themselves like they’ve never done before, and it’s scaring a lot of Ghanaians. Be it the lay man on the streets or the politician in the house of parliament.

Religious bodies haven’t been missing in action on the gay issue either. Last week the Muslim community came out with a statement strongly condemning the act, which follows an earlier statement from a moderator of one of the traditional churches condemning the act using all kinds of strong words. The Christian council’s stance is pretty clear too. Politicians have been up in arms also, stating categorically their opposition to homosexuality, which, to their credit is not an attempt to appear to be siding with the opinions of the public for political gain, but a genuine concern about the way things are headed in this country. In one breath this is not surprising, in a country like Ghana on a continent like Africa, issues that deal with morality, especially those that are viewed from the perspective of religion and culture, is often very sensitive and is dealt with as such. Sexual morality therefore, a touchy and all too often taboo subject in our part of this world, stirs up a lot of discomfort when an occasion births its discussion. When what goes on between a man and a woman behind closed doors is not something to talk about in the open, one can imagine what the idea of a man and his fellow man, or a woman and her fellow woman together, being discussed in public is doing to Ghanaians.

The opinions you hear on the radio follow a particular thread. The hatred of homosexuality is palpable. The consensus everywhere is the same: people who engage in such acts should be sought out, condemned and prosecuted. Parents fear for their children going to boarding school, which is where is generally believed to be breeding grounds for the behaviour. Now as long as the law prohibits the act of homosexuality, such calls by the public for the seeking out and prosecution of people who engage in it are justified. It’s like calling for the arrest of an armed robber or serial killer, the law frowns on what they do. If the expedition of one law is hampered for the sake of appearing to be politically correct to the outside world, then the same consideration could be used on other laws that prohibit the undertaking of one illegal action or another.

Here then is my point: As long as that is as far as the concern over homosexuals go, forget culture or religion, it’s okay. Culture is everyday being swept aside like dead leaves and religion is a personal journey, anyway. It’s when this concern and hatred, crosses boundaries and turns into an all out war on homosexuals, where anyone perceived to be engaging in the act is sought out and harmed outside the services of the law, that the danger of targeted persecution begins to turn as into that backward people we’ve always claimed, and rightly so, not to be. Not concluding that that is what is happening now, but it seems to me that as peaceful a people as we are, the levels of concern and sometimes hatred being expressed out there needs to be checked. There’s a thin line between having strong passions and turning a murderer.

Personally, I’m against homosexuality. I couldn’t understand it if my life depended on it. It’s disgusting, distasteful and more importantly, it’s against God’s law. But so is murder and theft and fraud. If it’s against the law, we call for the courts to deal with it, we don’t take it into our employ to go about harming people.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Norway’s Tragedy: Future Leader’s Shaken

It hit me like a boulder as I listened to the radio Saturday morning and heard what had happened in Norway. A gunmen walking through an island shooting and killing young people engaging themselves in the affairs of their country, as though he had no heart. The manner of this man’s cruelty, as described by survivors, was even more harrowing and highlights further the extent of this man’s depraved mind. In the end, he managed to murder over 70 people, mostly teenagers – young men and women leaders of a future generation.

Young people all over the world have often been criticised for not being interested and involved enough in matters of politics and social leadership. Over the past few years however, with the rise of social media, young people all over world are finding it prudent to engage in matters of politics and government because they realise that whatever happens now determines the course of their future. Not unlike us youth in Ghana. Participation in discussions of politics and governmental affairs has been on the rise and rightly so seeing as our future lies in the decisions taken by our leaders today.

To therefore have young people in Norway engaging with their leaders targeted in the way they have been is truly sad. Even more so when you think by a countryman albeit a racially prejudiced and deranged one. Whatever point this man wanted to put across, he’ll certainly get a response. And that is no amount of radical thinking and fundamentalist stand, no amount of racial and religious hate be it from within a nation or from without will dampen the desires and wish of young people to continue to engage in the course of their own future. Now the realisation is even more clearer, that only with solidarity and consensus can we hope to defeat this sad reality of hate and racial and religious prejudice.

My hope for the young people of Norway is that they stay firm and strong in the belief that for their country to not fall in the hands of similar people with the mentality of this man, they must continue to engage with fervour in the direction of their nation.      

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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Somalia Drought: Death Looming on the Horn


The sad truth is it’s happening, like never before, well almost because it seems every other year around this  time there’s news of people in the horn of Africa dying from lack of food and potable drinking water brought about by drought. The difference now is this one seems a whole lot bigger than we’ve seen or heard, if what the Aid agencies and the UN are saying is to be believed, that is.

Last week the UN officially declared famine in two regions in Somalia. That’s right. “Officially” declared? What that does that even mean? That the men and women and children who were fleeing their land because they couldn’t bare to see one more child die of hunger were only now being recognised? If that then the international body needs serious revamping. Sometimes it’s best to take the bull by the horn before it gets out of hand.

Too much talking and deliberating goes on when action is what is needed. Aid agencies in and around the region have been calling on the international community for urgent response to the crisis, but it seems for some reason the world is not as interested in Somalia like it used to be. The violence in the place does nothing to help, but it’s clear the violence isn’t going away any time soon, and as we spend time contemplating whether to work with or ignore the Islamist sect Al Shabab, people are dying, and will continue to die for what is a very preventable situation.

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Friday, July 8, 2011

The Newest Sudan

Finally, finally, our brothers in south Sudan have gotten what they have for so long wished and fought for. After over fifty years of struggling under an oppressive regime, and the loss of lives and property, it is only fair that it comes to an end with a people with their destiny now in their own hands. When the new flag is raised and the anthem sang, many will be the joy of the people of south Sudan, who can now look forward to living in peace and a brighter future for their children and children’s children.

That is the hope, at least. For it may seem the difficult part of all this has been braved, the freedom of the people restored. However, we all know that the joy and excitement over the birth of a new nation is quickly followed by the realisation that with any freedom comes the responsibility of managing it to the satisfaction of all who aspire to it. Teething problems are set to arise, and how the government and people of south Sudan deal with these problems will determine whether this new nation survives or crumbles.

In the struggle for independence, young people were at the forefront of battle, wielding guns and bullets. Now the onus lies on them to transform that same fervour into the building and sustenance of their country. Now not guns but education, not bullets but ideas that propel the country into a place it can be comfortable at. Also a strong determination to ensure that the people who stood at the forefront of the struggle against the oppressor, do not themselves become for one reason or another oppressors of their own people, as can be seen with the case of Eritrea. That seems to be the case of so many African countries who fought off oppressors from afar and found themselves on the brink of destruction by their own hands.

The recent and on-going Arab Spring tells us that with strong will and determination young people can dictate the direction of affairs of their country. Tunisia, Egypt, examples from which the youth of south Sudan will do well to learn from. Lets hope they do.

Long live South Sudan.  

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Monday, March 14, 2011

Our Part In All This

This past few months, beginning with the latter stages of the previous year, has seen the continent in a turmoil not quite seen before. In November last year, after the election in Cote D’Ivoire came to an inconclusive end, with the incumbent Laurent Gbagbo refusing to concede defeat to the man Alhassan Ouattara, who the international community mostly agree was the winner of the election, it had been generally thought and felt that with overwhelming support for the opposition leader it was only a matter of time before Mr. Gbagbo stood down and relinquished power. Five months on and he’s still holding on to power and much worse than that the country is heading towards what looks like a second civil war in a decade.

And then came the new year, 2011, the whole world was caught unawares with ousting of the Tunisian president, brought on by days of demonstration on the streets of the Tunisian capital, Tunis. As shocking and as quick a revolution as that was, it was only the beginning of a wave of unprecedented happenings that was about to sweep the entire region, with the biggest one taking place in Egypt. Now as mature as I’d like to think I am, I’ve only known one Egyptian leader and witnessed him in action, even if only on TV, and that was Mubarak. But he was to follow the trend of the Tunisian leader in an astonishing way.

Unlike Tunisia, Egypt was, is at the forefront of world affairs, playing major roles in the region, including the Israel-Palestine conflict, and well-acclaimed in the halls of the international community, Mubarak the man at helm of all this. So it was forgivable to think that the protests, populate by young people rocking the country was able to be resolved with a few concessions from the government and Mubarak staying on in power, what with the world, especially the US, caught in a dilemma as to whether to allow their trusted ally ejected and possibly replaced by an Islamic even if moderate one, or appear to be unsupportive of the will of the people. In the end however, the protesters did get what they want and the international community appeared to side with them.

And then there was Libya. Colonel Gaddafi has been in power for four decades, haven claimed power at the rather young age of 27. Far, far longer than I’ve been alive. And yet it seems I’ve known him for negative things, at least that which I’ve read and heard. Perceiving himself to be cast in the mould of Kwame Nkrumah, with the unity of this continent at the forefront of his desire, he was, until quite recently that is, viewed by the West as a psychotic, egotistic terrorist/dictator.

Well one thing is clear, as the “rebels” are finding out, Mr. Gaddafi will sink the country of Libya before he relinquishes power, and he’s made that clear and still doing so; churning out a strong, disproportionate response to the protesters turned “rebels”, leaving scores of innocent civilians dead, the international community all the while dilly-dallying on the issue.

In all the above-mentioned cases one thing is clear; young people are at the forefront of all this. In all of the cases mentioned, old people have relied on the strength and vitality of youth in the pursuit of whatever purpose, much more so in the Cote D’Ivoire case. Sitting before the TV each night to watch the news it bleeds my heart to see our young people in the neighbouring country being used as tools to hold on to or gain power by so-called leaders, “old and wise”. It bleeds my heart because unlike their fellows in Egypt and Tunisia, who stood up and demanded what was rightfully theirs, devoid of any political or religious ambition, this young people in Cote D’Ivoire wielding sticks and knives on the streets of Abidjan, are doing so only for the sustenance of a man who refuses to relinquish power after ten years of wielding it, and for another who hopes to step in.

It is not to the fulfilment of a broader socially acceptable goal that they allow themselves to be manipulated. Because it seems to me that beneficiaries of power come the end, would be whatever man is in power and his immediate family, whilst women and children and your everyday man with no passport become the sufferers should a civil war erupt. And yet continuously on this our continent and in some other part of the world, young people allow themselves to be brainwashed and used in ways that in the end bring nothing but hurt to the people in the society who cannot help but stay and suffer it.

To end, the main conclusion is this, young people can be an unstoppable force for good when their in control of their senses and will, but a scary prospect for anyone when they allow themselves to be manipulated by selfish leaders. Seeing that this a year for quite a number of elections on the continent, young people should be aware of what actions they take should something go wrong, and be aware of the wiles of these so-called leaders to manipulate them for personal ambition and gain. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

International Women’s Day

My mother celebrated her 52nd birthday yesterday, which was a day after Ghana turned 54, a fact she likes to go on about. A few of the family gathered to celebrate what we all tacitly understood and felt was among the most important of days for us. Now I like celebrating women’s day and mother’s day and all other days that celebrate women, because it serves as a reminder for me to show the women in my life how appreciative I am of them; and although I may not always say it or show it, I believe every one of them knows how much and how well they’re loved. And so today being women’s day, I gladly stand up to all women around the world and say “Thank You”.

I say “thank you” to women, because it seems to me that it is not said to them enough. Whether by the men who hold them by their sides and acknowledge them as wives, or the sons who’ve grown up under the strong arm of mothers to become leaders in positions of authority, or most of all by the society in which these women quietly under its radar run its affairs with their big hearts and effective hands. Whatever appreciation there is, it is certainly not at a level that can be surmised to be indicative of the high value we place on these our women. For in all facets of life, the success of society, traditionally fronted by the faces of men, is indeed laid in the every day workings of the woman, be it the mother, wife, sister or your average everyday female and the constant toil of her hands.

In my family, mother is the center of attention. Nothing goes on without it being routed through her. Her status as mother, having been appointed to her by divine giving, apportions her a quality and power that permeates the lives of those she calls her own, even those old enough to have families of their own. Unfortunately, I cast a look at the wider berth of society, its politics and its motoring, and I find the presence of women as sparse as the “thank yous” we offer them. Especially in the avenue of politics, where most the decisions that affect the way of society are taken, it is sad to note that the inclusion and impact of women are only but a hand full. And where there is the presence of women it is often common to find their opinions overlooked.

On this day, Women’s Day, it is important that we acknowledge the status of our women and remember them as, first of all mothers nurturing the futures of all societies, and also as a societies bedrock for sustainable development.

Happy Women’s Day to you all!   

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine’s Day Bliss

4380527-heart--symbol-of-love-and-romantic-feelings Typically on this day of love you walk around town and find your eyes saturated with a sea of red and if you’re at all aware of the times you’d know t’was  the season of love sprung up in all it’s sunshine glory. Usually for young people like myself it is the time and occasion, not to mention opportunity, ripe to show the secret love of our lives the depth our admiration, with our little powwows around street corners sweating with a hint of the nerve, even if slightly allayed by the ever reliable red rose gently held in palm. All in an attempt to win fair lady’s heart. Well, at least for the uninitiated in love.

It’s funny how we find it easy, even appropriate, to exploit this very conspicuous day with its attendant opportunity for the giving of gifts of cards wishing love and wellness to friends, family and loved ones, to profess our thoughts and feelings to our secretly admired from a safe distance. One would have thought the fear of rejection on such a day would be all the more an incentive to postpone said action to a more inconspicuous day. For the memory of such rejection if come to bear, one would have thought, would be a thing of much discomfort come every fourteenth day of February. Then again as said before, it seems a good opportunity for the expression of love from a safe distance.

Valentine’s day is the day for the professing of love, genuine and adulterated…or so it was meant to be. The good old saint, whose day we celebrate, back in the long gone days, had a love for a young girl, the kind of love of such that streamed purely from the heart and expressed with the most honest of thoughts. The kind of love uninhibited by circumstance or anything superficial. That is why it is still remembered by an age long removed from his. For the beauty of love is its nature to last beyond the reaches of time.

Could I say same of our celebration of love today? Perhaps yes and perhaps not. What expressions of love and the level of its genuineness between two people lies solely in their own heads. But isn’t it a thing of worry for anyone, especially young people, that the statistics for the sale of condoms on Valentine’s day is one of high sales to the point of shortage in supply? If indeed love’s day is reduced only to the activity of love-making and the breaking of virginities as the thread seems to follow, and the consequent rise in teen pregnancies afterwards, then we’re better off just eating chocolate and calling it a day.

Not to ruin anybody’s Valentine’s day celebration, but in immersing ourselves in this bliss it is expedient that the days afterwards conjures great nostalgic memories rather than regrettable ones. Happy Valentine’s day everybody.