Category Archives: GH2013

A #FilthCleaningChallenge is Long Overdue

Every culture has to deal with its “thing” – a question or problem that pricks at the conscience of a people – at one point or another. China has Tibet. India has rape. America has racism and hypocrisy. Ghana has filth.

Let’s just face it: Ghana is a pretty nasty country.

We can boast all we want to about our work ethic and that we are “the friendliest country” in Africa. We can even hide behind the hem of Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah’s political suit trousers and thump our collective chests about how we were the first Sub-Saharan nation to gain independence or to build the first motorway in the region. All that is true, but it doesn’t negate the horrific reality that is Agbogbloshie the world’s largest digital dumping ground, or the veritable cesspool that is the Korle Lagoon, or the mucky mess that are now our beaches.

Everywhere you look there is trash all over Ghana. The slopes of my beloved Akuapem mountains are covered white with cellophane, scrap material and paper. You can hardly get to a holiday destination in the country without cruising through a small village or town that has become a dumping ground for metropolitan waste. And good heaven, don’t let it rain! Accra and its suburbs become flash flood zones. An acquaintance of mine drowned when he tried to navigate one of the huge drainage gutters in the city. He was swept away in a rip tide of human waste and sewage.

You wonder where it all this spilth comes from, and before you have a chance to form a theory your father careless tosses a Pure Water sachet out of the driver’s side door or a child drops a Fan Yogo wrapper on a foot path as he scampers off to catch up with his friends. This scenario is repeated all over Ghana millions of times a day. Coupled with the fact that the country does not have the means to dispose of waste responsibly, this mindless and careless attitude toward littering has been a death sentence for our environment. And like anything that makes its way into our earth and water source, trash makes its way up the food chain.

The majority of Ghanaians eat food that is contaminated in some way, every day. I recall the horror I felt when a friend of mine disclosed that the extended silence between us was attributed to her having contracted typhoid fever after eating some locally grown lettuce. As I child, I remember one “farmer” that lived not too far from our neighborhood who would nonchalantly scoop water from a nearby gutter to water his lettuce and cabbages. It was revolting. It is also something small scale farmers do all over the country.

As parts of West Africa deal with an ebola outbreak, Ghanaians have a different plague of our own to contend with: cholera.

Cholera.

Cholera!

“Isn’t cholera something that war torn countries and failed states have to deal with?” someone on Twitter asked.

What’s the appropriate response for that? Do we then have to admit Ghana is a failed state since we have no war to blame this scourge – a calamity of our own doing – on? With the cedi in a free fall and the IMF setting our nation’s agenda, that’s not something I particularly want to contemplate, let alone admit. I’d rather focus on what you and I can change.

As the ALS Ice bucket craze challenge winds down, more people are turning to ways to use the same idea to affect change in their own communities. India’s celebrity core has initiated a Rice Challenge to fight hunger. Potable water is as scarce in India as it is in Ghana. Never mind the fact that our electricity supply is so erratic that it would make little sense to waste your precious cold water by dumping it on your head. It’s hot in Africa. We drink cold water. We don’t waste ice block! The point is, the ice bucket challenge was a gimmick, but it worked… 88.5 million times.

Would something like that work in Ghana? Only you or I could say.

MAksiNow, before I go any further, I want anyone reading who thinks Ghanaians as a collective enjoy living in filth and that there have been no previous efforts to clean up our environment or our attitudes about it to disabuse themselves of that notion right now. In 2011, Joselyn Dumas teamed up with the MAKSI fashion label to launch a campaign aimed at addressing the issue of waste in our environment. Golda Addo and Akua Akyaa Nkrumah have also worked consistently and tirelessly towards promoting a Green Ghana. What these women and other individuals need is our support as a nation. They need us to be educated on the issues that affect our nation’s health and sanitation so that we can help spread the gospel of cleaniless. We don’t need Bono and Bill Gates to save Africa from malaria; we just need to stop creating breeding grounds for mosquitos and harmful bacteria. More importantly, we need to stop accepting the world’s digital trash. What does Bill Gates have to say about the mounds of PC shells and guts cluttering our landscape, I wonder?

Selah.

I’m not certain who coined the hashtag #FilthCleaningChallenge, but it looks like it originated with @Rafurl. And while the challenge is not an official “thing” just yet with official rules and the sort, I have decided to take my own steps to promote a cleaner Ghana. Therefore I have appointed The Green Ghanaian Initiative the “charity” of my choice  and will be donating towards their cause to educate the masses out how waste and filth are making the lives of ALL Ghanaians unnecessarily more difficult. And then I’m going to pick up the beer bottles that my neighbor left on the road and toss it into a nearby dumpster. Should I do a video? Why not!

Do you have a green campaign you support? Share them! Is trash a scourge in your part of the world? To get an idea of just how bad Ghana’s waste management problem is, watch this video presented by Araba Koomson.

 

 

 

 

 

Introducing: Noella Wiyaala. You May Thank Me Now!

The year was 1988. It was a hot day. I know this because we weren’t in the rainy season, and all days outside of the rainy season in Ghana have one temperature: hot.

There we stood; a ragtag mix of children with short-cropped hair, brown and beige uniforms and shoes shined with that wonderful black polish my father kept in his room and that I sniffed in secret pleasure when he was away. He had angrily forbid me from doing this when he walked in on me with my nose buried in the tin. I didn’t understand his ire then, but I do now. How was I to know I was getting high? If he had just told me I was taking myself down the path of becoming a crack head, perhaps I would have stopped. Or perhaps not. That polish DID cause such a calming rush within me…

What was I talking about? Oh yes. The choir.

Perhaps this was only something that was done in my Christ-centered primary school, but there was a fair amount of fakery that took place within its walls. For ages we had a “basketball court” with neither balls nor nets, a “soccer patch” with no grass or goals, and now we had a “school choir” with no real singers. There was an important visitor coming from abroad who was touring our facility, and we were tasked with entertaining them.

I forget the name of my teacher at that time, but by day he was our Technical Drawing teacher and – apparently – a chorus conductor by night. I remember when he selected me to be a part of the small “choir” he’d cobbled together.

“But, sir,” I protested, “I can’t sing.”

“It doesn’t matter,” he said sternly. He then told me I would sing soprano.

Anyone who’s ever heard my speaking voice knows how absurd this notion is. I have always had a deep voice, and it’s only gotten deeper in adulthood. I wanted to sing tenor, but he forbade it. He instructed me and all the other girls (for ALL girls are sopranos in Ghana’s primary school system) to sing like this. “This” was a horrid imitation of the mewing of a sack full of dying kittens. He demonstrated how he expected us to belt out the words to the hymns approved by our school’s Director. Mr. Technical Drawing waved his pencil (he didn’t have a baton) and sang our phrase with the pitch of a man having the juice squeezed from his balls.

It was awful, but come presentation day, the honored guest clapped her hands in delight and it all seemed worth it.

This is the sort of training female singers in Ghana receive. As a result, we have a bunch of “artistes” who do not sing within their natural range and produce really awful music. We pretend we like it, they keep performing, and society suffers. becca-jesusWith the exception of Becca, Efya and Sena Dagadu, I can’t conceive of a single Ghanaian female artist whom I’d pay money to see, let alone buy an album from. That’s why I’m so blood excited to have been introduced to Noella Wiyaala.

 

 

Just look at her. Isn’t she stunning?

Noella-Wiyaala-3

Her voice, her look, her vibe…it’s all so very refreshing. Everything about her is a departure from the cookie-cutter commercial mold that many Ghanaian women in the music industry try to force themselves into. Just like an alto trying to sing soprano, it just doesn’t work.

I only found out about Wiyaala a week ago via Anita Erskine’s Facebook page. Her story is truly intriguing, and I mean that in every 80’s feel good rise-to-the-top-from-nothing reference possible. She comes from the Upper West region of Ghana, a part of the country which is renowned for its natural splendor, but still mired in abject poverty and social amenities circa 1772.

As legend has it, she asked her mother to allow her to sing in front of a local bar in Tamale where she did so well that a crowd began to gather and give her mother money. Add a trip to the big city, a promoter, a little sprinkle of the internet and the rest is history! If this doesn’t have the makings of a Crush Groove: GH edition, I don’t know what does.

Wiyaala’s latest hit single is an anthem for the Black Stars in commemoration for the upcoming World Cup in Brazil. It has all the trappings of the success Shakira enjoyed with Waka Waka: This is Africa. Everything about Wiyaala’s performance of Go Go Black Stars…Goal! is right for the moment. Her look is modern and unique. The track has that thumping quality requisite for an anthem. And that voice! Good heavens.

Have you watched the video? Great. You may thank me now. J

So, What do you think of Wiyaala? Have any stars or causes risen to fame in association with football? (Or soccer for us Yanks) For example, I just learned about the #ProtectTheGoal Campaign that was trending on Twitter recently. It’s a cause to fight HIV/AIDS. Go ahead: Share and Discuss! ↓

Why Camps and Cons Are Oh-So Thrilling

Don’t misread what I’m saying oo! I’m not talking about Concentration Camps and Con men. I feel like I have to clarify this at the onset because I have an (unjust!) reputation for being a cynic. No, Random Readers and MOM Squad, I am referring to something far more pleasant and saccharine than bullets and barbed wire.

In ancient days, there were always feasts and festivals over the course of the year. Have you ever noticed that? The Greeks would get naked and gather for the Olympics, the Jews would have their Feasts of First Fruits and Unleavened Bread, Ghanaians had (and still have) Aboakyer

Why?

blogideasBecause it is important to gather with your tribe – with people with whom you share common interests, goals and passions. Remember in the Bible when Elijah thought he was all alone in his dedication? God quickly checked him and thundered from the heavens:

“Look here, fool! I gots 7,000 prophets who ain’t bowed their knee to Ba’al!”

Yes. Those were the Almighty’s exact words, and if there had been a YahwehCon, perhaps Elijah wouldn’t have felt so alone. That was just poor planning on his part. 7001 and one prophets? Now there’s a party!

When you do something unique and out of the ordinary in the physical space that you occupy, it’s easy to be lulled into the belief that you’re all alone. That’s why camps and cons are so vital, in my view. Space and tech camps for kids, SXSW for geeks who love music, and Comic-Con (and its Southern younger brother, DragonCon) are gatherings and feasts of our modern age. They bring you, the isolated weirdo in your village, to a realm where you can congregate with like spirits. You feed off their energy and they nourish themselves off yours. And you know what? People at Cons and Camps are usually the nicest folks you’ll ever meet, because it’s in that environment that they can take off their masks and be themselves.

That’s why it’s KILLING me that I will not be a BlogCamp14 in Accra this year!

blogalong

Even as I type, the tweets and live feeds from people converging on the city are charged with expectation. One user said he didn’t know why he was so excited to be going. I refrained from pointing out the obvious: That’s it’s going to be freaking AWESOME, that’s why you’re knickers all on in a twist, my brother.

auditFirst of all, the event is at the Kofi Anan Center for Excellence. Second of all, there’s free Wifi – which is pretty much an anomaly in Ghana. And third – just wait for it – there’s free coffee All. Day. Long. Java fuels a blogger’s loins and fingertips. (FYI: Authors drink tea. They are in it the writing process for the long haul. That much caffeine would cause a pulmonary aneurism.)

blogcity

BlogCamp is the brainchild of Kajsa Hallbert Adu who is supported by an excellent cast of executives who have re-injected enthusiasm into the world of the digital arts. All forms of social media and the content produced therein are given equal attention at BlogCamp. Photography, Vine videos, Keek, Twitter content and the Grand Mammy-of-it-all, the traditional 500 – 1000 word blog are discussed, work shopped and honored at the end of the night.

Lawd, I wish I could be there. All those laptops and smartphones and cameras… I can hear it now:

“Chaley, my phone died! Any plug in this place??”

“Herhhh…I left my power chord. Can you believe it? What? I can use yours? Thank you!”

“Of course I’ll take a selfie with you!”

“Yo. Is that Kobby Graham? Oh no, I won’t ask him for a selfie. I’ll just take a stealthie…” *Click!*

blogfriends

I could waffle on, but you get the point. And besides, I have to shut down and prepare for an 8 hour drive to Ohio to pick up the kids.

Oh! Some of you on this end of the pond have asked if Mind Of Malaka won. It is with some angst that I must report that MOM did not make the shortlist for the awards, but that’s okay! It was great to be a finalist. That you Allison, MX5, Sister Deborah, Ms. Davis, Swaykidd and Alex in Wonderland for your votes and to everyone else who voted for MOM secretly. You guys are the best audience I could hope for and make every keystroke worth the while.

What is your tribe? Are you a Trekkie who is fluent in Java as well as Klingon? Or perhaps high fantasy is more of your thing? Perhaps you’re more into Steam Punk? What Cons and Camps have you been to or would most enjoy attending? Discuss! ↓

 

The Trouble With ‘An African City’

an-african-city-cast-620x400There is a new web series online called ‘An African City’, and if you have any device imbued with magical internet powers and any connection to Ghana in any way, chances are you’ve heard of it. Created by Nicole Amarteifio (whom I’ve had the pleasure of meeting once at a bazaar), the show styles itself after ‘Sex and the City’ and seeks to tackle some of the same or similar subjects in an African context; or at least that’s my assumption.

I was going to write this post 2 weeks ago, but I decided against it because I didn’t want to go on a rant about something another woman’s art. It would be better to let it be, I figured. But then the BBC came a-knocking (for my BFFFL. I was second pick) and I said some things and shared some thoughts on air that I should thought I should probably clarify on my own e-space.

By and large, people do like the show…but this is probably going to be the only place where you hear/see that there are people who DON’T. Until the third and latest episode, I was certainly among that number, and it pained me in a way I had never previously experienced.

I heard that the series was coming out two weeks before it aired and when D-Day arrived, I greedily clicked play and watched the first episode. Minute by minute I become more and more disturbed by the subject matter and the interactions between the main characters and the supporting cast, that supporting cast being Accra in total.

There is a very real phenomenon of separatism in Accra society that has existed since the 80’s. Ghanaian society, like many West African nations is separated by class rather than by race, and within each class there exist peculiar subsets. One of these is the Returnee – or Been To – subset. These are small, insular groups who spend half the day, every day, complaining (in part) about how poorly Ghana is wrong, how they have to yell and spit and be cruel to get their way, and cannot abide by the reality that *gasp* water can/does go off on a regular basis. They treat the locals as though they are inept and beneath contempt. These are precisely the type of people I try to avoid whenever I am in Accra…and now they were on my iPhone!

I was crushed. I desperately wanted to love the show, and I didn’t.

What was I to do? I asked for reactions from a few of my closest friends: women who are in the entertainment arena, who have returned to Ghana and/or have strong connections with Ghana via heritage. They shared my disquiet.

“Okay…is this show taking itself seriously, or are they parodying Sex in the City?” asked Ama*.

“It’s taking itself seriously,” I replied. “It’s not a parody.”

“Then I cannot condone it,” she said, her voice getting more and more shrill. “This is exactly the type of behavior that was such blight on our culture in the 80’s and 90’s. I couldn’t get past the first five minutes for all the caricatures and stereotypes of a Returnee.”

She talked for another 35 minutes and came to the conclusion that she would never watch the show again.

I asked Milicent* her thoughts and she was just as critical. She lives and works in Accra and has chosen never to live abroad.

“It was just too much Ghana bashing at the onset. It rubbed me the wrong way from the beginning,” she replied. “You know, I was sharing my thoughts about it to one of my guy friends who is connected to the show, and he dismissively suggested that the only reason I didn’t like it is because I was the type of Ghanaian who only enjoys watching ‘Concert Party’.”

To put it in context, saying one was the type of Ghanaian who only liked ‘Concert Party’ is akin to saying one was the type of Black American who is only sophisticated enough to enjoy watching ‘Good Times’.

I asked another friend whose opinion I value tremendously hoping she would tell me I was overreacting. She told me I was spot on, as far as she was concerned.

“Some of the situations are just not realistic,” she added. She referred to a scene in the restaurant where are the women were dining. “For instance, the entire table would not go silent if you took something with your left hand. Furthermore, if you were raised by proper Ghanaian parents, this is something they would have taught you anyway.”

That scene in particular really bugged me. I suppose it’s because I identify more with the waiter than I did with the 5 women sitting down to eat. Whenever I dine in Accra, my thoughts often turn to how these people make ends meet on tips and poor wages, how they cannot perform their duties because management doesn’t always provide the items listed on the menu and how flustered they often become in the face of abrochi privilege. I feel like the writers could have afforded these people a bit more dignity. I also think they could have tackled the enduring subject of erratic electricity and water with a bit more wit instead of engendering a complete bitch-fest.

Don’t get me wrong: there is plenty to love about the show if you look for it. The fashion is fantastic, it is well produced and a number of the actresses hit it out of the park with their craft. And of course, it gives many women in the Diaspora something to look forward to watching on the weekends. I don’t believe for one moment that the show’s creator meant to condescend to Ghanaian plebian society, but the privilege of those with power and access is that they have permission to condescend and dismiss, even if it’s unconsciously, and will be forgiven for it…usually. This is why those of us with power, privilege and access must use it responsibly.

So what’s the trouble with ‘An African City’? Like any media phenomenon, not everyone can universally agree to love it…which is a good problem to have. It gets people talking, and talk turns into publicity and publicity turns into dollars. I pledged to keep watching the show for three episodes before writing it off, and I’m pleased to say that by the third webisode entitled ‘An African Dump’, it had begun to redeem itself. You all know how much I love toilet humor.

What do you think of the show? Are you in the love it, hate it, or couldn’t care less camp? Do you think I’ve been unfair in my analysis – or am I right as usual? :) Discuss!

What Does ‘Independence’ Mean For You?

Ghana is 57 today. Wow. The gravity of that statement really just struck me. Fifty-seven years old as a sovereign nation…

I wonder if Kwame Nkrumah, Ebo Taylor and my sainted grandmother imagined on that glorious Independence Eve that Ghana would look as she does today fifty-seven years on. Most likely not. I shall never forget my grandmother sitting in her courtyard on a stool, spitting and muttering that Ghanaian life was “much better under colonial rule.”

“You could go to town and get a job just like that!”

Then she finished feeling her cassava and set about pounding her fufu.

Today, African twitter will filled with messages about Ghana’s independence. Most of them will be negative. We will gripe about waste, water shortage, dumsor-dumsor (power outages) and the disobedient cedi that refuses to rise. Other’s still will throw an obligatory ‘Happy Independence Day’ on the status line of their Facebook wall and continue with the day. Between the griping and the compulsory well wishes, would it be possible to spend some time thinking about what our independence means to us?

Sure, Ghana is a mess, but it’s a beautiful mess. It’s OUR mess: Ours to own and ours to clean up. Being independent means that we do not have to look to outside forces to save us from ourselves. The Big 6 and the thousands of unnamed and unsung heroes and heroines in the fight for freedom from colonial rule did their part individually to prove that we are a nation that can conduct its own affairs. We are a sovereign nation. We owe our allegiances to God, our country, each other and no one else!

Would we really trade our freedom for running water and constant electricity? It’s easy for me to ask that question from where I sit in comfort in the Diaspora, isn’t it? To be honest, I don’t struggle with half of the ailments that afflict the ordinary Ghanaian. The currency I deal with is stable. My kids eat 3 meals a day with snacks in between. The roads I drive on are safe and well maintained. Still, I don’t think any of these physical comforts would ever comfort me in the event that I found myself subject to foreign rule. The knowledge that I am allowed to enjoy certain liberties but still be considered a less than free is unfathomable.

We have an incredible opportunity to begin to learn some form of patriotism and pride for our country. My generation was never taught civics, patriotism or any sort of history about Ghana unless it was in relation to someone else’s. Thankfully, these attitudes and trends have changed recently. We are seeing more and more young entrepreneurs turn their focus on Ghana’s problems and try to figure out creative ways to solve them. The generation that were the immediate beneficiaries of our Independence Dream turned reality are partnering with us too. You see these partnerships in several facets, including the arts, science and business. Ambolley, the Simigwahene of 1960’s fame (and beyond) has recently done collaborations with Sway and several other current hip-life artists; Dr. Yaba Blay consistently and doggedly engages young female writers, guiding them on how to hone their thoughts and their craft; and Patrick Awuah built and implemented a university and new way for the young Ghanaian to think about and engage their society. This is what independence is! That we are free to think, believe and choose how to live our best lives under our own terms. Ghana is FREE forever!

(Unless you’re a criminal.)

ghPerhaps we might spend this day being grateful for the gift and opportunity we have been given. It has not escaped any of us that our government is a failed one. We can wait for them to get on board with innovative ideas, or do what every other individual in any progressive independent society has done to date: band together and fix our problems ourselves. And when election time comes, vote on ideas; not on party and tribal lines. This is what a responsible citizen of a free nation does. We have the resources, and Heaven knows we have the education. Let’s spend this 57th year continuing the good work that has been executed, and destroy practices that have failed us thus far.

Long live Ghana!

 

What does independence mean for you? Does it mean greater dependency on the government? Do private citizens have a duty to their nation, or only to their families and themselves? How does the concept of independence play out where YOU live? Discuss!

The ‘Price’ of Panty Theft

They never shoulda gave you Negroes malls OR independence!

They never shoulda gave you Negroes malls OR independence!

Are you all fired up? Good. Then we can begin.

A story that is quickly eclipsing all others in Ghanaian news this week centers around three girls, a few bagful’s of panties, and human rights abuse in Ghana. The “facts” have been hard to decipher, since everyone with a smart device or PC has managed to put their own spin on it, but what is clear is that there was a theft and public humiliation afterward.

When I first got wind of this video, it was accompanied by a message that Ghana police were stretching their powers in making the three young women (allegedly Legon University students) crawl on all fours from Shoprite to the exit doors of the mall. As it turns out, neither Ghana police nor Shoprite had anything to do with the incident: it was the management and security personnel from Mr. Price, the South Africa based retail company that are the orchestrators of this miscarriage of justice.

The incident has truly knocked at the conscience of thinking Ghanaian society, particularly those who identify as ‘middle class’. If this sort of treatment can be meted out at an establishment like the Accra Mall – the symbol of upwardly mobile society and pulse of the city – then one has to wonder if any of us is safe in any establishment.

Thieves are routinely abused in Africa. That’s always been the case. I was seven when I saw my first mob attack. A young boy – he may have been 16 – had stolen a shirt that was hanging on a drying line. I was living with my grandmother in some flats at Asylum Down. In the midst of the caked, black earth, a throng of people came out of nowhere after the boy had been caught. They hurled insults at him, bloodied his face, kicked and beat him until a tall man in blue rescued him and locked him up in a ‘volcanizer’ shop. I don’t know what happened to him afterward, but that vision stuck with me. My cousin said he got off easy.

“In Teshie, we burn thieves with car tires,” she said simply. She was 10 years old. Burning people for theft was normal.

People are deeply polarized when it comes to how these girls were treated. Some say they got exactly what they deserved. Others say they even got off way to easily. Others still are appalled. I say we should all be disconcerted, and for good reason. There is no doubt that what these young women did was wrong. They cannot be excused for stealing. However, because anyone who has ever owned a business or baked a biscuit knows that people DO steal, we set programs and policies in place to cover that vice. That’s why retail store have loss prevention departments.

What Actually Happened

Unaware that there are security cameras all over the store, the girls were captured in the act, marched up to the front registers, and made to pay for their items. There are reports that they were made to kneel on the floor of the store premises before made to crawl out of the store by mall security. They were then jeered at and taunted by the (overwhelmingly male) crowd. The whole affair is sickening, but the worst has to be when a man reaches down to jab his finger between one of girls’ exposed butt crack. Their humiliation and molestation complete, they were eventually let out of the mall into the night.

What Should Have Happened

Every retail chain has a policy on how to handle theft. Some work hand in glove with law enforcement and have police on the premises to arrest perpetrators immediately. Others have loss prevention personnel on site with powers to detain thieves until they are arrested, made to pay a fine, or locked up in lieu of payment. Other retailers literally give thieves a pass, hoping that “good customer service” will encourage thieves to put down their stolen items and either leave the store or pay for them. Are we then to understand that Mr. Price’s policy is to compel thieves to pay – which would then mean they are paying customers, not thieves – and then force their customer to crawl through the floors of the enterprise on all fours? I truly hope they will release a statement clarifying their policy.

What is Our Role as a Society?  

When I saw the video, I saw a horde of Black men abusing three defenseless Black women. That’s what I saw. I sent a tweet, saying that I “hate feeling ashamed of Ghanaian men.” The gender police were quick to jump on pieces of my tweet.

Women were in the crowd too!

Women should have spoken up and intervened for these girls!

Are we now saying it is only men who bear responsibility in these instances?

And my favorite: Malaka should not feel ashamed of Ghanaian men. Judging the whole for the actions of a few is not fair.

Anyone who knows me (or vaguely thinks they know me because they read this blog) knows that I am a big supporter of Black men – on and off the continent – whether they be accomplished or have the potential for accomplishment. I praise them when they’ve earned it, and when they’ve disappointed me, I let them know. It seems to me to be a balanced approach; until the Thought Police insinuated otherwise.  There are some brothers and sisters may deride me for saying this, but I have absolutely no problem with a man leading…but you better freaking well give me something to follow. Ghanaian men in general continuously harangue about their role as “men” (a loaded noun on its own), as the heads of “this or that”, as “God-appointed leaders” because God made man first, and made woman from man (a point that is rehashed at virtually every wedding ceremony), and do this with such consistency that most of society not only accepts this, but believes this. But part of leading is protecting, and even more than that, deeply considering what true leadership is.

So if I as a woman am supposed to abdicate my role as a potential leader in order to make space for your presumed gender-based leadership, does that then require that I sit aside and allow abuse to unfurl in my presence even when its meted out against someone of my own sex? The presence of the women who also did nothing to stop this atrocity says yes.

Let’s face it. Women in Ghana are scared to speak up. We are raised to be silent, and when we do speak, we must choose our words carefully so that we say the “right thing”. Those that do buck the trend (of the Ursula Owusu  order) are called all manner of names. Still, that hasn’t stopped these women from speaking up against gender based violence, nor should it.

There have been some who have asked if the security guards would have been as quick to force a group of high school/university boys to crawl on the floor as they did these women. No one can answer that question definitively. What if it had been an old lady and her husband caught stealing? What if the thieves had been a group of White women? What about if they had been a trio of Lebanese men? Does the treatment you receive in our consumer establishments –whether you are in engaging in dishonest enterprise or not – hang so much on your race, class and gender at the time?  Does one’s privilege protect you from certain types of treatment and furthermore, liberate you to intervene (or not) in the face of another person’s mistreatment?

The bottom line is we all have a duty to protect one another, because we’re human beings, and because it’s right. Our first reaction in grotesque instances like these should not be to whip out a camera and hope that YOUR version of the video goes viral. To do anything else reduces our society to the lowest denominator of barbarism. If we as a Ghanaian society are going to adopt Western comforts, ideals and amenities like malls, independence from colonial rule and camera phones, we’d better be prepared to adopt the rules and norms therein.

 

What are your thoughts? Did Mr. Price’s personnel behave appropriately? Should specific cultural norms take precedent over corporate values in these instances? Discuss!

Open letter to God and His Part Time Servants: No. Really. We Need Fewer “Churches” in Ghana

Saints and the Most High:

We need fewer churches in Ghana. Considering Jesus never once preached in a church (churches differ from synagogues, right?), I don’t think this is a very controversial statement. Jesus preached on mountains, by rivers, in the city square…if you – Mr. Pastor – really want to get the gospel out into the world for the love of the gospel, get out of the four walls of your church. I have a proposal for you: Give up your church real estate and allow the people to use it for something more useful.

You use your church building – what? – twice a week, maybe? That’s five days out of seven with no use! The Lord doesn’t approve of waste, and as soon as I can think of a proverb about waste, I’ll drop it on you. In the meantime, let’s get back to that proposal.

If you take a look back at history, you will find that many of the world’s prominent scientists were also Christians. George Washington Carver, the famous African American botanist, was a devout Christian who refused to accept any glory for his breakthrough work, and Gregor Mendel was a monk. Who is more devout than a monk? There are dozens of other names from antiquity that I could throw at you in order to serve my purpose in persuading you, but we must look ahead, not behind.

What I would like to ask is this: Why not turn your houses of shouting into centers of science? I mean, let’s be honest; it hasn’t done the majority of the country much good, has it? You’re all still praying to God for food, jobs and clothing, but nothing of note has happened, has it? That’s not fair. The pastor and first lady are probably getting fitted for a new suit or a brand new Benz this week…but that doesn’t do the rest of the congregation much good, does it?

If your church is supposed to reflect the glory of God, why doesn’t it have a garden? God feeds the beasts of the ground and the birds of the air…so why haven’t 20% of you dedicated part of your property to feed yourselves from the very ground that you own? Take a Selah on that and join me in a few minutes.

How else might your church be more productive? I don’t know…how about you ask all your barely employed – but very educated – members to offer remedial classes to the kids in the area who can’t/don’t go to school for a number of reasons so that they are not so behind in their classes?

Selah.

Or how about this? How about you just abandon the whole enterprise if that seems too hard (or won’t generate enough money for your pockets) and turn your church into an Imaginarium. There. I said it. Your church, just 100 feet from two other churches in either direction, would be better put to use if you allowed people to come inside and daydream for an hour or four.

Of course, this is nothing more than my own personal pipe dream. Church in the 21st century is a big money making machine. Every month there is a new churchprenuer sprouting on the scene with a “fresh revelation from Gaaad”, and he is not going to let the chance to fleece hapless sheep go by. By Lord, I wish you would make it so!

I beg you: Hear my prayer, oh Lord of hosts, because it’s probably one you don’t get to hear that often.  Open the minds and the hearts of those who claim to be your people. Cause them to give up the ground they covet so deeply. Cause them to suffer the little children to come into the church not to sit, but to THINK, Lord! Compel these your saints to invest in scientific tools so that they can assist in their own deliverance. Did Christ not even have to carry His own cross in order to save the world? Why must these your people, who claim to have the mind of Christ, not also believe they have to put their hand to the wheel or their wit to the test and generate their own vehicle of deliverance?!

Oh, Gaaad!!!

Sorry. I didn’t mean to slang your name like that.

Oh, God!

What?? A pool table made of mud, dung and bamboo. Genius!

What?? A pool table made of mud, dung and bamboo. Genius!

Imagine what our country would be like in just five short years if we had an Imaginarium every 100 feet or so in our midst? Where people – young and old – could come and meet and share ideas…no matter how impractical or ridiculous…and NO ONE would laugh! Imagine if teams of students got together and said “You know what? We can make that happen. Let’s begin to build some prototypes!” After all, the iPhone began with someone’s idea, did it not, Lord? And other people bought into it, did the not, Father? And those with a mind for vision invested in it until it was perfected, did they not Great One?!? But what is a smart phone to You, You who created those creepy, electrified jelly fish things in vast deep of the ocean?

ATV made of tin, wood and flip flips

ATV made of tin, wood and flip flips

Our country is teeming with youth who are full of creativity and ideas, but they have nowhere to make their creations come to life. They need houses of science and thought. Ghana needs her own Renaissance. I see the buds of change beginning to show, but we need your rain to bring the change! The universe screams that you are a God of art as well as science. There’s just too much cool stuff out there in the dirt, the sky and the sea to prove that You are.

So, I beseech you Lord, download into your Ghanaian (and several folks in Atlanta) there is a need to develop the whole human being. I know why You don’t answer many of these prayers, Father, because me sef, I roll my eyes when I hear them. Science will save us, not shouting.

Ummm. Okay. Amen.

Have you ever been to an Imaginarium? Aren’t they amazing? If you hear of any projects in Africa that need funding that will improve lives through science, kindly share the link in the comments section below. There’s always someone on MOM ready to give towards intelligent enterprises!