Category Archives: GH2013

Pastor Chris, Plagiarism and the Pride of Life

Happy Friday, MOM Squad! Under normal circumstances, we’d be chatting about frivolous topics in recognition of Frivolous Friday; but there’s a disturbance in the Force that has to be addressed. I do hate it when folks won’t let the Force remain in balance. Someone is always throwing a monkey wrench into the Force!

I deliberately waited a few days before talking about Reverend Chris Oyakhilome’s (popularly referred to as Pastor Chris) arrival in Accra this weekend – or more specifically, the social media buzz heralding his arrival. I waited because for me, the issues of concern extend far beyond a man, a jet, a presidential delegation to greet said man at the airport, or even the plagiarized images that were used to conjure excitement about his arrival. My issues with watching this Pastor Chris Circus roll into town are centered on my worry for the body of Christ…or specifically, the Black/African branch of that body.

Last week, after I took on the role of the Poka Plagiarism Police, several people sent me a mashup announcing the reverend’s arrival that had been floating around on Twitter and Facebook, ostensibly with the hope/expectation that I would go berserk with indignation as I had before. But I am not indignant about the way the church that is hosting Pastor Chris (or specifically, the folks running their social media campaign) has used other people’s intellectual property for their own selfish purposes. Nor am I indignant about the manner in which the government of the land has diverted resources to accommodate one man and his team and held the rest of the city hostage. Far from it. Instead am grieved….and grieved down to the depths of my soul.

When political party stalwarts stole Poka’s work, I considered it a slap in the face of every artist who would eventually suffer the same fate. After all, should this party come to power, they would expect that all illustrators, musicians, etc. pay taxes on whatever profits they made from the sale of their work in order to support the agenda of the state. Yet on the back-end, they had the audacity to use that same intellectual property without the artist’s consent or knowledge, effectively robbing the artist(s) and then potentially taxing him/her on goods they had stolen once they came to power. This is robbery of the highest order…twice in broad daylight. It was important to speak up, so I did. Yet at the end of the day, we instinctively know that Ghanaian politicians and their cronies are uninventive autobots who pander to pedestrian sensibilities and recycle old ideas, enriching themselves in the process. Intuitively, we know we can’t expect much out of that batch. But when you’re a believer – a true believer – in the power and presence of God and all His mysteries, this sort of theft and behavior only produces consternation in those who call themselves faithful…unless you’re a religious zombie. And right now, West Africa is ripe for the Religious Cult Zombie Apocalypse.

There is a wave of anti-intellectualism that has swept through the Black and African church that is crippled us mentally. On a cerebral level, we are damaged that it WOULD take the power of God, dressed as Aristotle perhaps, to heal us of this plague. It is widely known that the average human uses less than or about 10% of their brain. That’s a lot of wasted potential. And if that doesn’t bother you, scientist have just recently discovered that the human brain has far more potential and power (about 10 times more!) than we previously thought, and can store information roughly equivalent with the entire internet. Yet somehow, when a “Man of God” becomes the topic of discussion, many cannot engage our brains at all.

So this becomes my question: If you call yourself a Child of God – daughter or son of the most High King – what in His holy name are you doing plagiarizing someone else’s work? Could you not tap into that same spirit that spoke the heavens and the earth into existence to create a phenomenal work for your church’s crusade? Did you spend any time in prayer, seeking revelation or inspiration for that cause…or did do exactly what your superiors kick against Sunday after Sunday? Did you imitate the world, instead of imitating Christ? Your actions and fruit say “yes”. Their silence on the matter says they approve of your inferior mentality. As the old adage goes: You know a tree by its fruit.

I don’t know anything about Chris Oyakhilome and the Chris-tians that follow him after apart from what I’ve seen in the news. I know he allegedly subjected his wife to physical abuse over a period of years. I know he has bleached skin and curly, processed hair. I know his marketing team knows their stuff. There are white people all over his website; which I have to add, looks like a virtual shopping mall for all things religious and not necessarily holy. In that regard, it’s really impressive. It appeals to the materialistic nature of desperate men. But did I get a sense of honoring God and pointing web visitors to either Him, His Son or the Holy Spirit? Not so much. But that was just my user experience on Pastor Chris’ e-real estate. Yours may be different.

Religion is a funny thing. Despite the fact that there are millions of people around the world who simply consider themselves “Christians”, there is little uniformity of belief or unity in the body of Christ. There is little consistency in terms of what is expected from a Christian. I know that my pastor would be horrified if he discovered that his social media team had stolen someone else’s work to promote his event and then ignored pleas to take it down and/or credit the work. (And before any of you ask or cast aspersions: Yes, I did ask Poka for his feedback and he informed me that this is precisely what happened: the guys at the Accra church have ignored his requests… I say motivated by an ungodly spirit of privilege and pride.) My pastor has always preached that the body of Christ must be an example to the world, that we must be more innovative, more hardworking, more loving, out-serving, seeking to “imitate Christ as dear children.” In short, we must strive for excellence.

I do not see this in the average Ghanaian who professes to love Jesus, many of who have abandoned their work posts, contractual obligations unfulfilled and diminished productivity because they are “expecting something from God tonight”. What about what God is expecting from YOU? Indeed, there are more “sinners” who are better Christians than the average Ghanaian Christian. ‘Christian’ means ‘like Christ’. Does a quick scan through scripture show a Jesus who stole other people’s intellectual property, or enriched himself through offerings and tithes? Was He a taker? No. Jesus was a multiplier. He was a provider. He was a good steward. He was an intelligent man who spoke in parables and reasoned in the temple. The average Christian and their pastors are incapable of reasoning – because of that spirit of anti-intellectualism that’s sweeping through the church! It’s all superstition and voodoo, quite frankly.

For example, what’s the first thing Kobina Church-Goer says if you criticize his Man of God?

“Touch not my anointed ooo, and do my prophets no harm!!”

In other words, the Man of God is never to be called to account for his sins; and if you dare, God will get you for pointing out Kobina Church-Goer’s idol’s faults. And make no mistake, men like Duncan Williams and Chris Oyakhilome are idols for people all over this region of the world.

Matthew 23

Matthew 23

There are so many things that are awry with the way Christianity is practiced in West Africa that it’s hard to see how we’re going to straighten the crooked paths without demolishing the whole thoroughfare. Pastor Chris’ arrival in Accra and the fiascoes that are bound to ensue are just a symptom of a larger issue.

It was announced this week that the municipal government has actually authorized that several of the busiest roads in the city be shut down in order to accommodate traffic to the Pastor Chris-tian event. Why? Because they have bought into the cult of personality and are pandering to the people’s superstition: A superstition that says that if we “honor the Man of God”, we will get jobs and running water and healing from cancer. It’s no accident that the government has made these accommodations for this “miracle worker”. In doing so, they can further absolve themselves from their responsibilities and mandate as the leaders of that corner of the world. After all, if GOD couldn’t heal your child of malaria, what can we (with our development budget allocated for sewer management and hospital equipment – ooops, now squandered on trips to Dubai and V8s – my bad!) do?

Selah.

We are headed for dark days if we continue on this path. We’ve seen this in history before, where British men of the cloth used their God-given authority to rape newlywed brides on the night of their honeymoon in order to “bless” the marriage; where the Vatican enriched itself from the sale of Black flesh and the amassing of African gold; where Protestant preachers in the American colonies burned women at the stake for being too mouthy. If Accra can shut down the city so one man can do a crusade, leaving the residents vulnerable to any number of calamities due to impassible roads, the government can authorize just about anything for the sake of these Men of God. What happens tonight to the child who gets knocked by a car and can’t get to the hospital in time because the fastest routes have been blocked? What is his mother’s consolation? Why was there no consideration for the citizenry– or intelligent thought – applied to this visit? Could Pastor Chris not have held his event outside of Accra? Could the organizers not have partnered with other churches in the area to have shuttles take attendees from designated parking lots to and from the event? What would Jesus’ PA do?!

Speaking of Jesus and roads: Did Jesus stop traffic on Palm Sunday? Absolutely. But the following week, He was crucified as the ultimate sacrifice for our sins. What is Pastor Chris’ sacrifice when all this is said and done? If there is none, then the jets, the escorts, the road blockages are just vanity.

I hope that people will take the time to evaluate their relationship with these silk suit wearing master manipulators and ask themselves the hard questions. But they probably won’t. They will justify these self-serving acts and declare that God approves of them because these men are His “chosen and anointed”; And also because one day, they also hope to recipients of the low-hanging fruit…and they certainly don’t want the rest of us criticizing or making them feel bad about it when they do.

Over to you.

The African Seductress: Wiyaala Invites Us to Explore “This Place”

source: Instagram/Wiyaala

source: Instagram/Wiyaala

“Are you sure you want to do a video chat? I’m only wearing my bra.”

“Girl. That’s okay. I’m about to take my bra off.

The tone for our conversation has been set: Hilarious, honest and real. After a whirlwind month of shooting, sneak peaks and promotion, Noella Wiyaala still made time to give us – the MOM Squad – the scoop on her latest project, Leno.

You know M.O.M. interests differ sharply from the rest of the flock’s, so go ahead and prepare yourself as we slip into…

****MOM Mode With the Young Lioness of Africa, Wiyaala!!!****

 

MOM: I saw in the video that you were standing in a swamp. Was it cold?

Wiyaala: It was freezing! At some point it got to 1°C. Just when we were done shooting it started snowing. I was outside in a sleeveless dress with my face like this. (She imitates a mannequin with bug eyes and chattering teeth.) And then the director would shout, “Here we go! Action!” So I had to relax my face and loosen up my body like everything was just fine! I had on Wellington boots, two pairs of long johns, trousers…so many layers. But my toes were like ice… they were freezing so much that I couldn’t feel them by the end of the shoot. And at the last shot, the water got into my boots! (She shudders.)

Oh! And the make up artist didn’t turn up, so I had to do my own make up myself.

MOM: Are you serious? The thing with the eye…you did that?

source: Wiyaala's Instagram

source: Wiyaala’s Instagram

Wiyaala: Well, I’m an artist. So I just drew an outline and painted it. Sometimes you have to improvise. And for me, I’m always ready to do whatever it takes, at any point, at any time.

MOM: Ei. This is very serious!

Wiyaala: Very serious! The cameraman and director were surprised I was able to do this myself. They said, “Are you sure you can repeat this for two days?” And I said “Yeah!”

For me, make up is always easy. Once my eyebrows are done and I have lipstick and powder, I’m good to go.

MOM: Was that your first winter?

Wiyaala: Yes! And we were in the north, and they told me it was going to be colder than the rest of the country. I met a little girl (the director’s sister’s child) that had never seen a Black girl in her entire life before. She was shy of me at first but I charmed her with “magic” and we became good friends. I don’t know what it is when I’m among children. Just give me 20 or 30 minutes and they want to show me all their toys!

MOM: Where was the video shot?

Wiyaala: It was shot on a farm in Yorkshire. The director’s sister and her husband owned the property and we shot there and also a few other places in the area, including St. Mary’s Abbey.

MOM: When I watched the trailer for the video, I thought the plot was reminiscent of the Camelot era, with King Arthur and Guinevere. Earlier you mentioned that your love interest was a “Viking.” What’s the story behind that?

Wiyaala: There were Vikings that had settled in the north of England long ago, so we were going for a medieval look. The story is he’s traveling through the forest and hears singing and eventually encounters this beautiful woman. He follows her around the forest…

MOM: Eiiii! So are you a witch???…or you are some spirit?

Wiyaala: (She laughs.) Well…all women are witches. Good witches! (She becomes serious.) No, I’m more like an enchantress or a seductress (with my voice). The last verse says “let’s go to this place where nobody knows us – just the two of us.” Then we go and have fun. (She makes loud, smacking, kissing noises.)

MOM: Eiiii Wiyaaaaala!

Wiyaala: …and people were surprised at how cool I was in this video. Normally, I’m known for jumping around the stage – but this time it’s a love song. ‘Leno’ is performed in Wale, Sisaala and Dagaare

MOM: Yes, it’s true! All of your performances – like Tinambaynyi, for example – are known for being very strong, high-energy spectacles with lots of muscles and theatrics. This is probably the coolest I’ve ever seen you. It’s very different.

Wiyaala: I’ve also realized that sometimes when I’m writing some of my (newer) songs, some of them come out sounding different from the ‘normal Wiyaala’ afro-pop…sometimes they come out sounding like ragga/reggae. So I said, “I’m not going to limit myself. If it sounds good, I’ll perform it and perform it to the best of my ability.” I won’t force myself to recreate the typical ‘Wiyaala sound’.

I want to add more lyrics in English to my music with the aim of drawing a wider audience towards my traditional music in my local dialect. Music is music! If I can sing any genre of music, I will sing it.

MOM: So if you hear a song in Chinese, will you perform it?

She laughs and asks why not!

Wiyaala: Even if it’s “Gangnam style”, I’ll still sing it!

MOM: I’m glad we got to this point, because we’re talking about singing in other people’s languages and using visuals from their cultures in your music. Are people usually open to that?

Wiyaala: I am an entertainer! Sometimes you have to sacrifice to please your fans. When you’re visiting a foreign country – even if it’s just two lines in their local language – you saying “Good evening” or “My name is…” – it means a lot. And I know the power in that. If I learn a new language and manage to include one or two lines in my song….wow. People love it!

(She pauses to think.) I wouldn’t mind doing a song in French.

MOM: You know, Beyonce recently came under fire for her portrayal of a Bollywood performer in ‘Hymn for the Weekend’? What would be your response to someone who says that you are appropriating English culture/history in this video?

Wiyaala: For me as a musician, I’m just trying to tell a story. In this video, the plot was very close to those medieval or King Arthur days. And they even used to have Black people living in England in that era, so I personally don’t see anything wrong with it. And in a way, I realized that in the north of England where we were shooting, there were a lot of similarities between them and the north of Ghana where I’m from.

They are both isolated from the main cities. They both have only one shop that everybody goes to and when it’s closed, that’s it! At the end of the day, we are all branches of the same tree. I don’t find anything wrong with that. There’s nothing wrong with learning. There’s nothing wrong with appreciating each others culture. It’s supposed to promote togetherness. If we understood each other, we’d have less conflict and war.

Screen Shot 2016-02-01 at 5.44.19 AM

I was in Yorkshire on holiday as Wiyaala; but I had to opportunity to shoot this video and I wanted to do it to pay homage to the environment. I could have worn my African print, but I always do that. This was just something different to excite people.

MOM: Oh yeah. People LOVE your costuming for the video. The white hood, the headdress, the make up…

Wiyaala: But I do understand people’s concerns about appropriation…I think this happens when people go beyond. You can always tell when people are taking it too far.

MOM: Will you be shooting in other parts of the world?

Wiyaala: Oh yes – God willing. I’m full of vim this year. We have some locations we’re looking at. I’m just going to be shooting. *pew pew pew!!*

MOM: I could talk to you all night, but I have one last question. It’s about your upcoming film, ‘No Man’s Land’. How did you land that role? Did they approach you, did you approach them…

Wiyaala: Yes! The film comes out on February 13th at Silverbird Cinemas. It’s a Salma Mumin production about conflict in the Northern Region between two ethnic groups. I play an angry, vengeful girl named Dumuni who is trying to avenge her father’s death. In the midst of this conflict she wants peace, but at the some time she also wants to avenge her father.

MOM: So she’s torn…

Wiyaala: Yeah. And you know, I haven’t even seen the movie! I can watch myself on my videos because I’m singing…but talking? Oh no! It’s just different. I have butterflies in my stomach just thinking about it.

And some to find out that Salma Mumin and I are sisters…real sisters! Her mother and my mother are first cousins.

In the movie, there is a scene where I carry Adjetey Annan on my shoulder. Everyone told me I couldn’t do it, and that I should put him in wheelbarrow.

MOM: They didn’t know, eh?

Wiyaala: They couldn’t believe it! I had to do that take about five times. And when you look at my legs in that shot, you can really tell I used all my muscles. My ego wouldn’t let me put him in a wheelbarrow. He asked me, “Are you sure you can carry me?” And I told him, “Look, when I lift you, just relax. I’ll carry you!”

Scene from the film 'No Man's Land'. (Instagram)

Scene from the film ‘No Man’s Land’. (Instagram)

 

Noella, John (her manager) and I chatted for another 40 minutes afterwards. Our conversation concluded with them sharing a link to the full length feature of ‘Leno’ with me and listening to me loose my mind over the visuals and the story line. We talked a little more about beauty and race and of course – hair.

She made this humorous remark with regards to her tresses: “The day I see Brazilians wearing my hair is the day I will also buy their own!”

Somehow, I don’t see that happening.

 

Leno (This Place) is on Wiyaala’s self titled album, available on iTunes. Watch the official video here and share your reactions in the comments!

Who Sent Stan? The Curious Case of a Vulture Attempting to Protect the Integrity of the Garbage Heap.

It is only in a country like John D. Mahama’s Ghana that two former Gitmo detainees will find themselves better housed, fed and with greater access to healthcare than the average Ghanaian citizen. After all, should some calamity befall these two, the government will have to answer and give an account to the international community. The millions of hardworking tomato, cocoa and yam farmers/sellers, street hawkers and part time prostitutes that dot the country’s landscape enjoy no such protections. Mahama’s government takes risks with their lives every day; there is no fear of repercussion, no oversight. It is therefore no surprise that a man such as Stanislav Dogbe thrives in such an environment. The corrupt and morally bankrupt are the greatest beneficiaries of President MaHaHa’s brand of “compassion”, and few people have found themselves better protected by the president than this unscrupulous cave dwelling mammal.

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I want to make it crystal clear that I detest Stan Dogbe. Let no confusion about my feelings for the man take root in your mind. He is a cancer…a cancer that represents the degenerative state of the NDC in general. A few years ago I ran a series on the M.O.M. called ‘Meet the Man Who is Ruining Ghana’, where I would feature religious leaders, politicians and merchants of industry who were bringing the country to its knees through their depravity. The only reason I never got to Herr Dogbe is because the Black Lives Matter movement drew my attention away.

I’m ecstatic that Stanislav has given me the opportunity to display my disdain for his presence on the Ghanaian political landscape.

When I penned my post about Poka Arts’ subjection to plagiarism in connection with the NPP and those individuals physically responsible for carrying out the two instances, I made mention that I was fairly certain that Nana Addo and members in the upper echelons of the party were mostly likely unaware of these acts. It’s not reasonable to expect that they would be, despite the fact that the act of plagiarism reflects poorly on the NPP’s brand. Several people contacted me privately with some concerns. “The Other Side,” they said, “might try to use this to attack Mr. Addo personally to score political points.” Some asked if I might consider taking the post down, which I declined to do, of course.I said we would cross that bridge IF we ever got there.

“NDC is not a party that is above reproach or blameless for the many livelihoods and lives lost over the past seven years. They are primed for a clapback.”

It’s only natural that one’s political opponent would see and seize the opportunity to use any object that they felt could be used as ammunition to damage the other. And  if my blog was to be used to score political points or empathy, I already had a ready reply for any NDC troll who would be foolish enough to do so. My contempt for the NDC in general is well documented, and as I’ve said numerous times before, they are a group that have earned their reputation as confused, witless, uncouth, thoughtless thugs. The fecal spattered laundry list of their offenses against the country is a mile long and racks up debts into the billions. In my mind, they’d be foolish to try to use my post to their advantage, given the corporate guilt of this political party and its members. I doubted anyone would be foolish enough to try it. Well, apparently, Stan Dogbe is a very foolish man.

That Stan Dogbe felt comfortable enough to publish the following tweet – without irony – is something right out of a stoner’s tripped out dream. Who sent Stan to do this? Whose bright idea was this? Assigning Stan Dogbe the job of standing up on behalf of “Integrity & Responsibility” is like sending King Leopold the murderer of millions of Africans to admonish Hitler on his treatment of the Jews.

Screen Shot 2016-01-26 at 10.05.02 AM

Stan Dogbe is a man whose existence is characterized and governed by controversy, which is why I suspect he is so valuable to Ghana’s sitting president. In matters of the state and public affairs, he reacts to everything viscerally. He is unprincipled, immoral, bestial and unrepentant about any of it. It is not useful to John Mahama for Stan Dogbe to develop or have a conscience, which is likely why this currish man remains in the president’s employ, despite the numerous grievances he’s caused both the state and individuals in the public. I believe the president lives vicariously through him. Stan Dogbe is Mahama’s Dick Cheney; his Josef Goebbels; his Stephen the House Negro from Django…and Stan has a long history of taking whatever he wants from whomever he wants. Suspicion abounds that he has been on many an impious errand on the president’s behalf, the latter who has decided that it’s safer keep him close and on his side than rogue and on the fringes with all the information that he has stored in that little brain.

For those who are unfamiliar with him, Herr Dogbe currently serves as the Director of Communications cum presidential staffer at the Flagstaff House and has been the originator of the some most asinine utterances that this government has had to bear responsibility for to date. Despite being a journalist himself, he has shown an incredible lack of respect for the profession…or anyone employed in the industry. He recently took to Twitter to castigate the BBC for its reportage of his government’s mismanagement of public funds to brand buses with his buddy Mahama’s face, calling the organization and the reporter who published the story “useless”. In mid 2015, he viciously assaulted Mr. Yahyah Kwamoah, a journalist with the GBC, snatching his recording device and dashing it to pieces while the journalist was reporting on his colleagues involvement in a vehicular accident that year. While a journalist for Joy FM himself, Stand Dogbe was accused of rape and was forced to part ways with the organization. His “alleged” victim was a KNUST student. He has been universally deemed unfit for the position he holds, and the responsibilities and professionalism requisite therein.

So for Stan Dogbe – a visibly violent man, an alleged rapist, and frequent demonstrator of a lack of decorum or home training – to hop in the driver’s seat of this crusade and begin to question anybody’s integrity or responsibility where media ethics are concerned isn’t just laughable…it’s mind bending. Like, this dude must be out of his God-given mind!

Is there an opportunity for NDC to use the plagiarism incident to their advantage? Sure. All is fair in love, war and on the campaign trail. Likewise, the NPP certainly have more than enough evidence to demonstrate that this current government is setting Ghanaians on the path to the Dark Ages or colonial rule. One expects there to be opportunistic mudslinging at this stage in the game.

But Stan Dogbe isn’t allowed to play.

Stan Dogbe is the mud itself.

His function is to remain filthy and silent, save for the squish-squish noises mud makes when pedestrians trod through it. He has nothing to say that carries any merit here. No one can put Stan Dogbe and integrity in the same sentence unless it’s for the purposes of satire.

But back to the point about Mahama’s Ghana: The news today is all abuzz concerning the shut down of two cocoa processing plants due to “operational challenges”. All this even after the President and his wife spent thousands of (some say state-funded) dollars to brand bars of MaHaHa chocolate as political party favors. The shut down has shocked the nation. More than the 1000 direct jobs have been lost (and 4,000 household members left adrift), and an estimated 10,000 independent street hawkers – and the families that depend on their sales – have been left with yet another question mark about how to survive hanging over their heads. All this from a president whose response last year to operational struggles that middle class entrepreneurs and large businesses found themselves grappling with was “smart businesses are not laying off workers”. Look what has happened to our national brand under his watch.

Stan Dogbe needs to go find a seat and figure out how he’s going to spin that and leave the talk of “integrity and responsibility” to those better qualified. *Hint: Ain’t nobody in the NDC qualified.

 

 

NPP’s Unofficial-Official Response to Theft: We Will Take Whatever We Want!

There’s something about politics and political allegiances that turns otherwise rational people into absurd versions of themselves. Something in the brain just switches off and confusion sets in. Fealty coupled with credulity renders these individuals like the proverbial bull seeing red: It robs them of their intellect and reduces them to an undignified spectacle. I was reminded of this yesterday.

On my most recent post, I talked about plagiarism in Ghana citing Poka’s work as just one example of the trend. His work had been altered by a “rogue NPP supporter” and industrially distributed on the ‘I am for Nana’ Facebook page… a social media effort that one Kow Essuman takes credit for creating. (More about Mr. Essuman, Esq. to come later.)

The majority of people who read yesterday’s post agree with the sentiments and understand the gravity of what’s taken place. A handful of others have claimed that my pointing out this infraction is much ado about nothing, and certainly shouldn’t be charged to the NPP flag-bearer’s account. I find that sentiment rather interesting, particularly since it is this same set of people that has dubbed our sitting president as “incompetent” for his party’s many failures. It doesn’t matter whether JDM personally set fire to the trader’s homes at Arts Center or not; whether he’s personally responsible for directing the mess at our harbors or not; whether he has failed to use his body generate the megawatts needed to end dumsor or not! Somehow, he is personally to blame. Yet instinctively, we know John Mahama’s incompetence does not exist in a vacuum. He has surrounded himself with and is being advised by incompetent, semi-literate people. He made the choice to entrust each of these people with particular aspects of his presidential agenda. Likewise, Nana Addo, his running mate and all the bottom feeders looking for a reward in return for their support have entrusted a cadre of individuals to represent the party on social media.

A number of those individuals are failing him, and giving Ghanaians a glimpse of grim things to come if these are the sort of crass bullying tactics they intend to use to sway public opinion, regardless of who they trample on in the process.

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Yesterday, I shared 2 images of Poka’s plagiarized work on twitter, juxtaposing the original work with the politicized alteration. In the course of conversation, Kofi Asenso recommended that an invoice be sent to Kow Essuman, a man who describes himself on twitter as an aide to Nana Addo, among other things. For someone who is supposed to be a lawyer and an aide to a presidential candidate on the campaign trail during an election year, he displayed the sort of sickening arrogance that one expects only after the coveted seat in power has been won. I suppose Essuman should be commended for showing his true colors as one of the NPP’s many mouthpieces responsible for public engagement. It will spare us all future disappointment. Here is a sample of the condescension he exhibited to the horror of his friends and colleagues.

Screen Shot 2016-01-22 at 4.18.40 PMClick the image to witness the splendor of Essuman’s pompousness

 

Saa? You don’t pay people by heart, but your teams steal property by heart? Ahh, ok. Honestly, it would be possible for me to concede that the theft of Poka’s intellectual property (and potentially several other artists we may discover in days to come) was a one-off incident committed by a rogue party zealot if not for the existence of this second image that came filtering into my private messages.

The image on the left was created by Poka to celebrate the coming New Year. The one on the right is the hijacked NPP version.

The image on the left was created by Poka to celebrate the coming New Year. The one on the right is the hijacked NPP version.

This is just beyond the pale! In this instance, the culprit was Nana Boakye, who is incidentally a member of the NPP’s social media strategy team and a trained lawyer to boot. It is his team’s appropriation that I find most ironic. Depicting NPP as a ship to bear Ghanaians to better fortunes promising development, prosperity, quality education and JOBS, it cannot escape anyone that this cabal would rob a man of a job opportunity and simultaneously steal his intellectual property in the process! This can’t have eluded Mr. Boakye’s consciousness…not unless he willfully parted with civility and his sworn duty to uphold the law. And make no mistake: what his team did here was unlawful. Furthermore, if Poka’s art was good enough to steal, it was good enough to pay for. (Or he could have simply asked Poka to use his work and accepted a potential refusal with grace.)

As I generally do, I reached out to Nana Boakye for his reaction and provided him with an opportunity to give a justification for his actions. In part, my query to him read:

 

“I would like to be fair to you and give you an opportunity to explain why you felt that you had the right to appropriate the work without the artist’s consent, and what your feelings would be if he should decide to sue. Also, do you believe the flag-bearer of your party would approve of your tactics? Are there other artists you plan to/have appropriated work from?”

 

Mr. Boakye has yet to respond.

Several people have intimated that Poka ought to sue and be done with the whole affair. But this is bigger than just one artist. This is about an elitist group who thinks it has the right to rob people of their work for the benefit of their political agenda. For Poka to have his work politicized without his knowledge and/or consent is unconscionable, especially given the vindictive political atmosphere that Ghanaians live under today. The “wrong” allegiance can rob you of opportunities until the “right” party gets into power. That’s our sad reality. And it’s precisely why so many professional people remain closeted ‘party-of-choice’ supporters until they decide it’s safe enough to come out.

But here is the bigger question: Is this how NPP wants to set the tone for its campaign in 2016? If it’s discovered that other artists have had their work appropriated, do they really want to mar their campaign with a class action lawsuit? Why do that when such an incident is avoidable in the first place?

Back to the guardians of Nana’s image: Do they understand that he is not Nana Addo running for the position of head boy of some primary school in Atebubu? He is running for the highest office of the land! And if this is the caliber of person he is surrounding himself with – men who have NO regard for the Ghanaian creative/entrepreneur and whose propensity is to mock, rather than reflect when a real infraction has been pointed out – then he’s doing the rest of us no favors. We might as well make John D. MaHaHa president for life. If this behavior is considered acceptable on this level, can you imagine the level of imperiousness the higher up the political food chain?

Why is this important? We live in the digital age and for many people, virtual reality is more “real” than our lived experience. Our thoughts, opinions and convictions are often formed or influenced by something we’ve seen on the internet. That’s why social media teams have such a great responsibility to uphold. They are the first/only link to a candidate that a certain segment of the voting population will ever have. And let’s be honest – to the impoverished villager who had to feed his kids scummy pond water this morning, copyright infringement means nothing. That doesn’t mean we must ignore this plight. Because the end goal is to lift that villager from poverty so that they too can develop modern, patented ideas and express themselves creatively and/or scientifically. Shouldn’t that person at least be able to expect that a whole political machine wouldn’t devour their intellectual property to suit its own purposes?

It’s unlikely that Nana Addo and his management team are aware of this (repeating) issue, even though it affects them personally. It’s Mr. Addo’s face and his promises emblazoned on these stolen images. He ought to be concerned. His overzealous (and at times, overbearing) supporters ought to be concerned about the manner in which they represent their party to the public. As it stands, the NPP social media team is proving itself to be a group devoid of original thought, save a few points of light. We’re seeing evidence of this with increasing regularity. One cannot easily forget how they have shamelessly ripped off the CPP’s “Ghana Must Work Again!” slogan, coined by its current General Secretary Akomfrah. This type of knavery constitute the many ugly seeds of corruption.

And yes, indignant NPP foot soldier about to swan dive into my comments; I know NDC is guilty of the same. We’ve already had a good laugh at them on Facebook. It’s your turn now.

 

 

*Copyrights are automatic under Ghanaian law, meaning the day the work was originated it had copyrights; however, the originator of the work would need to register it in the copyright office of Ghana. The registration is what protects against plagiarism or gets the originator compensation through the licensing of the work. If you have intellectual property and are wondering how to further protect yourself from plagiarism, you can seek legal counsel. One place to start is Globetrotters Legal Africa, where teams specialize in copyright and trademark law.  A ballpark estimation to have your work trademarked will run between GHC15,000 – 45,000.

Robbing the Artist Blind: A Case Study in Plagiarism in a West African Nation

Ask any artist or person who makes a living from creative endeavors what their greatest fear is. Seven times out of ten, they will say it’s the terror they feel knowing that some faceless entity or individual will and can steal their work. It’s a personal violation that guts an artist to their core. The other portion of that fear is attributed to  a dread that they will not be able to make a living from their craft. The moniker “starving artist” doesn’t exist for nothing.

Last night, I witnessed a breathtaking theft of an artist’s original work. It literally stopped my heart. If it upset ME, I shudder to think what emotions the content creator – in this instance Peter “Poka” Asamoah – must’ve been experiencing. Have a look at these two images and see if you are not left speechless.

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The culprit responsible for this a man named Kobina Gyekye Hooper, ardent Nana Addo supporter and CEO at Hoops Link Media HRLM Fashion Week who hails from Takoradi. In a gesture of fairness, I sent Mr. Hooper a message asking him to explain why he felt he had the right to steal, alter and pass off Mr. Asamoah’s work as his own. He has declined to respond. It’s bad enough that he stole what is really a brilliant and heartwarming piece of work…it’s worse that he memed it with garish colors and wretched grammar. Both the grammarian and design critic in me are vexed!

For the sake of transparency, allow me to inform you that Poka has illustrated both of my children’s books (Yaa Traps Death in a Basket and Sally and the Butterfly), so I take this slight against him personally. He’s a good and humble guy. He is a much sought after artist who has worked with Sarkodie, John Dumelo, the Ministry of Health and as I mentioned, me. You can’t beat the combination of his reasonable rates and the quality of work that you get. There is absolutely NO REASON that this NPP minion – Mr. Hooper – had to steal his work with the sole aim of advancing his chosen party’s agenda. To make matters worse, the image is now plastered all over the ‘I Am For Nana’ Facebook page with 256 shares and close to 1500 likes. That’s all advertising and exposure that has been taken AWAY from the original artist, Poka Asamoah.

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This is not the first time Poka has had his intellectual property appropriated. Just last month, an unnamed manager for the Instagram page of popular Nigerian musical duo, P-Square, also altered and posted Poka’s work, failing to acknowledge him as the originator. Notice the hearts where his trademark watermark used to be.

Again, neither P-Square nor their rep took responsibility for the theft or apologized to Poka for malicious act.

Here’s the rub: When African nationals complain of having an unfair reputation for corruption (unless a government official or police officer is in question) I find it amusing and disingenuous. As expected, two people so far have challenged me on Twitter about why this act of plagiarism is a “party issue”, and wonder if I am not deflecting from the many sins of the ruling NDC party. Please. I am capable are far more nuance and objectivity than that, and those making these wild assertions should be too. This is about more than absolving the opposition from wrong doing or turning a blind eye to the way NDC has – and is – ruining the country. This is about integrity and about what Ghanaians ought to expect from Nana Addo and all who fly his party’s colors. It’s about the future. Just as the NDC are branded as brainless thugs by most of the populace for their propensity for violence, does the NPP want itself recognized as the marauder of the talents of the middle class and common man?

When you steal an independent, struggling artist’s work and pass it off as your own in order to further your party’s agenda, you are saying two things: That you have no respect and that you are untrustworthy. For instance, our Girl Scout Association has a set of rules that ALL Scouts are bound to. Paramount of these is an expectation that all Scouts will act with fairness, treat others with kindness and respect for others. When you meet a Scout, you expect them to be helpful and mindful of the feelings of others. This is their brand. What brand – what impression and legacy – are the supporters of Nana Addo creating when they refuse to acknowledge their wrong doing? Like it or not, this is a reflection on HIM, and he would do well to nip this in the bud now, advise his followers to be circumspect and honest, and if he’s that hard up for content, PAY Poka to do some original work for him!

This is the ripple effect of Kobina Gyekye Hooper’s blatant theft:

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  • He has robbed Poka of potential clientele  – and revenue, by extension – since he has passed this work off as his own.
  • He has given a growing number of people pause and reason to call into question his (Hooper) OWN brand’s integrity and trustworthiness.
  • He has provided yet another infuriating example for why the African cannot be trusted to govern himself, even in the small things.
  • He has given other artists a reason to hold back from sharing their art in the public domain for fear of getting jacked. (This potentially works out in their favor, but the rest of us are poorer for it.)
  • It creates an atmosphere of fear and distrust in the art community.

 

IMG_2569For his part, Poka has reached out to Kobina Hooper and asked him to address the theft as well. Again, Hooper has refused to respond. In a proper society, Poka could sue Mr. Hooper for plagiarism and seek redress, however there is no reason to have faith in Ghana’s judicial system, given the corruption that is rife within the system. And because Kobina Gyekye Hooper is utterly lacking in integrity, he has chosen to hide behind his private Facebook account, rather than acknowledge his wrong doing. Poka is just ONE of such artists to suffer this fate. How many others are there?

I plan to report the image to Facebook with a full explanation for why it’s offensive, since I cannot trust this NPP-supporting Ghanaian to do the right thing. I advise all party members, on BOTH sides of the aisle to hold themselves accountable so that these smaller incidents do not morph into SADA and GYEEDA level scandals. There must be a cohesiveness of thought and deed in any movement. MLK told us so. The SCLC was built on non-violence. Mandela told us so. The ANC was built on perseverance. What will Nana Addo or his handlers say to the sycophants who will use any means necessary, no matter how nefarious, no matter how injurious to an entrepreneurial artist scrapping for every cedi he can get in this failing economy? Who will be the next victim?

 

Have you ever had your idea stolen? Has anyone ever taken credit for your work? How did you address that violation?

What Incentives Were Offered to Ghana to Host Two Gitmo Terrorists

Source: Al Jazeera

Source: Al Jazeera

 Ever since news broke last night that two detainees of Yemeni origin have been resettled in Ghana after spending years in Guantanamo Bay prison, tongues have been wagging about what the Ghanaian government might have taken in return for harboring the two men. Why Ghana? Why not Oregon? After all, Mahmud Umar Muhammad bin Atef and Khalid Muhammad Salih al-Dhuby were beneficiaries of America’s “hospitality” at Gitmo, weren’t they? Why then should they not continue to enjoy that hospitality on mainland American soil? Why is America outsourcing its problems and ‘mistakes’ to Africa? Because Americans don’t folks tainted by claims of terrorism – proven or otherwise – living in their “backyard”. Do Ghanaians?

Ghana’s foreign ministry – headed by Hanna Tetteh – released a statement saying that the two detainees had been cleared of any charges involving terrorism and that although absolved, the pair are unable to return to their home country. In two years, they will be free to leave Ghana, (to where, I wonder) and in the interim they will have their movements “monitored”. This claim that Ghana has the capacity to monitor anything has elicited ridicule from the population at large. We can’t get our voter’s register in order, nor do our computer systems have the capacity to enroll the correct number of students in secondary schools around the country (see Wesley Girls), but we can monitor the movement of two highly trained, hardened Gitmo detainees? The only way this works is if America provides the manpower, training and equipment to make that possible. And perhaps that’s what it all comes down to: incentives and gifts.

The move is being hailed as a partnership between Ghana and the USA, with the former given kudos for “its humanitarian gesture and willingness to support ongoing US efforts to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility,” However, we all know what this Mahama-led government is capable of…and none of that includes goodwill without greased palms.

According to this chart, Ghana is only one of several African countries that has pledged to accept and transition prisoners from Guantanamo Bay. Others include Somalia, Cape Verde and Egypt. Only God knows what negotiations took place to facilitate prison transfers into each of these needy countries. So far, the only inducement that has been made clear is that there is a sense quid pro quo in operation here ; that it behooves these current (and future) host nations to be on America’s good side and be seen as an ally from which “favors” can be potentially drawn later.

It’s never as simple as a response to a humanitarian need or goodwill. Accra and its environs are a constant humanitarian crisis waiting to erupt with the next rainfall.

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Ghana’s willingness to accept the two former detainees could have something to do with furthering AFRICOM operations for the US. Again, to what benefit we probably will never know. These things cannot be found out in something as simple as a quick Google search. When I asked a friend who worked in defense what possible motivation a country like Ghana (or Sweden, for that matter) would have in partaking in such a “goodwill venture”, he was very cryptic on the call.

Locations of all US military operations in Africa. Source: Nick Turse

Locations of all US military operations in Africa. Source: Nick Turse

“There are some words that are very innocent when they are spoken or written separately. Individually, 5 or 6 reports can be labeled ‘unclassified’. But put them together in a stack, and suddenly it becomes a ‘classified’ document that only Top Secret clearance holders have access to.”

“Uh huh…”

“Now, you’re on the phone with me stringing words together like Gitmo, Pentagon and prisoner. On their own, those are just fine. But together…it’s Operation Crosswalk. You gonna have SWAT swinging through your bedroom window if you keep tying certain phrases together.”

“What? Wait. Did you hear that?”

Y’all. I SWEAR I heard a third party click on the other end of our call!

I have no answers to what motivation the government of Ghana would have for accepting two potentially dangerous men, but given the rate at which the Chinese are building school blocks and Malaysians are taking over the telephony industry and Brazilians taking over our major building projects and, and, and, it’s not difficult to cut through the mud and see what’s going to bubble to the surface. In time, these motives will become clear – and specifically when no one in government thinks it is “important”. But by then, it will be too late to draw any real lessons before the same mistake is repeated again.

I’m terribly disappointed (as usual) in Ghana’s ruling government for allowing this to pass without public debate or awareness. I’m disappointed in the opposition who surely knew that this was coming down the pike and failed in their duty to alert the citizenry. Yet again, Ghanaians are being treated like children, robbed of their basic rights on a daily basis. We all had a right to this knowledge, forehand. The only clear beneficiary in this equation is America, President Obama, specifically, as this affords him the opportunity to make good on his early promise to close Guantanamo Bay prison before he left office. Him, and perhaps a few nameless middle men who have received their cut of whatever was being offered to sell out the country, once again. When does it stop?

 

*SWAT, if you’re reading this, I just have questions ooo. I don’t know ANYTHING! I don’t want any wahala.

 

 

What Would our World Look Like If We All Got as Excited as Wisa Greid During Special Moments?

*Warning: This post contains gratuitous (and crude) references to the male reproductive organ. If you take offense to the words “penis”, “dangle” and “cock”, you should probably stop reading right abooouuuut…NOW.

 

It would appear that we’re all going to have get comfortable with seeing penises in places we are not traditionally accustomed to encountering them. Whereas environments like bathrooms and bedrooms are normal grounds for penile exposure, we are now discovering that loin beasts are encroaching on nontraditional territory. It would be behoove us all to be ever vigilant, because you don’t know when someone’s cock is going to strike and/or make an unexpected appearance.

For instance, earlier this year, Lenny Kravitz’s penis shot through his leather pants like a little brown missile while he was performing on stage. Wanlov the Kubolor had his nudes from a video shoot industrially distributed on social media by a TV anchor/radio personality (whose name escapes me now). That was not his choice. But prior to that, he glibly lifted his skirt on the Delay show to demonstrate that he doesn’t wear underwear, an act for which her was soundly admonished for by the more prudish members of society. He has since claimed that he would expose himself again, given the opportunity.We were shocked, shocked I say by his brazenness! And just 48 hours ago, an up and coming artist named Wisa Greid eclipsed all these moments when he whipped out his dick during what he describes as a moment of euphoria on stage.

Yes. You heard me right. Dude, freed his little Willie and left it stranded on his elastic band like a chubby baby penguin. (He has since apologized.)

His management team said he just “got caught up in the moment”.

On December 24th, 2015, Citi FM hosted its annual ‘Decemba 2 Rememba’ celebration of music and the arts in Ghana. It was a packed house, with the audience uniformly clad in white t-shirts and blue jeans. All of Ghana’s Twitteratti was in attendance. Reviews of the show were mixed, with many people claiming the performances were just a’ight with the exception of Reggie Rockstone, Eazzy and Stonebwoy who rocked the crowd’s entire face off. But as exceptional as these artists may have been in delivering their talent, there is only ONE moment that has dominated the chatter on social media for the past two days: And that is the introduction of Wisa Greid’s cock to the whole of Accra…and to the rest of the world, thanks to the magic of YouTube.

I had never heard of Wisa Greid – an artist who has one hit under his belt – until this weekend. I know this may sound “controversial”, but I think Wisa did himself a favor by exposing his genitalia and attempting to dry hump his backup dancer during a live performance. I’m sure it was unpleasant for the dancer, (and we’ll have to talk about her feelings about being publicly violated and the liberties men take with Ghanaian women’s bodies in general in depth another time) but if you look at this faux pas and compare it to say, a certain Ms. Universe event, it was brilliant. Let’s be honest: had Steve Harvey not crowned the wrong winner last week, very few of us would have known that Ms. Universe had even been televised. Why? Because no one really cares about Ms. Universe, or the contestants, or their platform. Likewise, if Wisa Greid had not jiggled ‘little Wisa’ to the crowd, no one would really be focusing on him past Thursday night.

Ei! But we’re all talking now. It wouldn’t surprise me if ‘Wisa’ is about to become an adjective/adverb/verb relating to poor decision making somewhere in the very near future.

“Chale, I Wisa the whole exam!”

“Mehn…this MP wan’ Wisa me, eh?”

“You be Wisa guy!”

It’s just the Ghanaian way of doing things.

dryhump

I have to admit: I saw the video and I was shocked. When people were tweeting that Wisa had pulled out his penis on stage, I thought perhaps he had just dropped his trousers and was showing more Fruit of the Loom than we’re all accustomed to. I didn’t realize he had his actual twig and berries in his hand and was chasing his backup dancer around the stage, vainly attempting to penetrate her shorts. I mean…dag!

A few people have come to Wisa’s defense, the most vocal being Ameyaw Debrah and Jayso, both of whom I have great respect for professionally.

In accordance with the Bro Code, they have also defended him against those who have ridiculed the size of this man bits.

I had to pause on Jayso’s assertion though. Bruh. If part of your creative process is to stroke yourself while you’re singing, there’s a time and place for that. Like maybe in the studio…or in the bathroom while you’re dreaming up new bars. But you just CAN’T just do a shlong song – and brandish said shlong – on stage in front of thousands (and now millions, because YouTube) of people because you’re school-girl giddy about performing for such a large crowd for the first time. What if we did that in other areas of our lives?

I have spent some time thinking about this.

Wisa gets a visa

Immigration officer: Well Mr. Greid! It looks like all your papers are in order. You’ve been approved for travel to London.

Wisa: Really? This is fantastic!

Immigration officer: Yes. This is one of the few times I’ve seen the paperwork go through so quickly. You’re a very lucky man.

Wisa: I’m so excited. I’m going to pull out my penis.

Immigration officer: What?

Wisa: Shhhh…*pulls out cock and tries to poke immigration officer with it through the window*

Immigration officer: Mr. Greid! I never!

Wisa: I’m so sorry. I just got caught up in the moment. This is the first time my visa has been approved for travel. Can I offer you some groundnuts by way of apology? I keep a pack next to my other nuts…

 

Wisa proposes to his girlfriend

Wisa: Baby. I think it’s time we took our relationship to the next level.

Girlfriend: What do you mean, Wisa? I thought this was as far as we could go. I mean, with your career and these groupies and all…

Wisa: Baby, you know these thots don’t mean a damn thing to me. I’ll prove it to you. *Pulls out a diamond ring*

Girlfriend (gasping): Wisa! It’s beautiful! I’m so excited! Of course I’ll marry you!

Wisa (pulls out dick and chases fiancé around the restaurant): I’m excited too, baby!

Girlfriend: ….

Wisa: ….

People in the restaurant: ….

 

Wisa buries his grandfather

Wisa (weeping): Mehn…This nigga right here? He was my world mehnnn. He was my rock! I’m going to miss him so much.

Priest: Yes. Your grandfather was a very good man. Very devout. He will be missed by the community.

Lawyer: You know, Mr. Greid, the old man left you a sizeable inheritance. You will be a very wealthy man, once these papers have been signed. Your wealth could rival the Jonah’s easily! You may be sad about your grandfather’s passing, but your life is about to change drastically and for the better. How does that make you feel?

Wisa (smiling): Heh heh heh….

twig-and-berries

 

You see how whipping your dick out because you’re excited might NOT be the best (or wisest) reaction during pivotal moments in our lives? Nevertheless, congratulations, Wisa Greid. You have succeeded in doing something that no other Ghanaian man has done before, and will probably never do hence: Your name has become synonymous with the public exposure of your genitals. You have become a Kardashian. Things can ONLY get better from here!