Posts Tagged Ghana

Facebook Home Ad – Spot Ghanaian moment


I was watching the new Facebook Home ad on YouTube and spotted a Ghanaian moment.

You know, the Ghanaian handshake [and snap].

That snap of fingers that makes the Ghanaian handshake unique….was captured accurately in the ad.

I’m wondering who, in Facebook’s creative department or their Ad agency team, pulled this off?

I bet this shot was taken in Ghana!

Image 1

Finger snap

The break

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Of a mad man – Ken Agyapong, a twitter bully and the invisible hand of 2012 election connecting them


So I am minding my business as a student and thinking of internships and finals and the coming summer break…

..but here I am blogging about Ghana not because I am feeling nostalgic about a Ghanaian Easter/ Christmas and Azonto dance moves and the things that make me proud to be a Ghanaian but contemplating the implications of Ken Agyapong’s ‘declaration of war‘ in response to allegations of minors registering for the upcoming presidential elections in Ghana.

Arrogance, ignorance and money make for a bad combination in a culture where rich people are celebrated and vested with power. To even read that some persons besieged the Ghana Police Headquarters to demand the release of Ken Agyapong beats my wildest imaginations. I wonder if they understood Ken’s call for people to butcher others with machetes? and what misery a war can bring.

Most NPP politicians have decidedly kept quiet or risen to Ken’s defense or try to dampen the severity of his call for war. How can such a graphic call to war involving slashing fellow Ghanaians with machetes be explained away as ‘metaphorical’ and with no bad intentions? Counsel to Ken or no, Atta Akyea just lost all the respect I had for him as an educated gentleman and lawyer.

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing”

I applaud all who have roundly called Ken Agyapong’s outburst for what it is and Ghanaian artistes for their quick response and attempt to use social media to call for peace albeit wrongly targeted. The general populace who listen to Ken’s radio are not your usual twitter/facebook fans. Get your music together and do a peace concert. Throw in some Azonto competition and defuse this Ken Agyapong madness.

In other remotely related happenings on twitter in Ghana:

I will decidedly not mention any twitter handles but I think that some celebs shouldn’t ask some persons to campaign for peace in Ghana. People follow people on twitter for different reasons just as houseflies will settle on pastries and cow dung. Point here is that because someone is popular on twitter for breaking gossip doesn’t mean they have legitimacy to ask people to take socially positive action.

“Adjapong might be right. If only NDC didnt allow Togolese people into the border to register to vote all this wont happen!”

The above is what you get. SMH..

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‘African’ – Usage and Abusage or Kony is not an African Warlord!


I find it very distasteful to read articles like the latest one on an Ugandan called Kony, who until yesterday I didn’t know existed [anymore]. You can wonder how up to date I am on current affairs all you want but an MBA schedule doesn’t allow me the time to read about people like the Konys of this world.

My rant is simply this.

Don’t refer to Kony as an ‘African Warlord’, and yes I am talking about The Christian Science Monitor’s latest headline on Kony.

Kony is an African but not an African Warlord. He probably qualifies as a Ugandan Warlord being the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and all.

To understand what I mean, Christian Science Monitor, go back to the dictionary to find the definition of ‘warlord‘. A warlord only applies in the context of a country and AFRICA IS NOT A COUNTRY.

There!

I did a presentation in class yesterday about Ghana and why investors should come invest there and you use your widely read website to plant another seed about why people shouldn’t invest in Ghana and other Africa just because of Kony 2012?

If you made the editorial decision of not headline “Kony 2012: Campaign against Ugandan Warlord..” because it wouldn’t drive as much traffic as “Kony 2012: Campaign against African Warlord..”  then you have to start examining your ethics as a Christian? media outlet.

In conclusion, I say learn to use [the word] ‘African’ appropriately and in the right context.

Kony 2012 is a campaign I support! Please Pledge!!

PS: Kony 2012: Is a good case study/ lesson in marketing communications and I applaud Invisible Children for pulling it off.

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Ghana @ 55 – Ready for business


I am currently working with a couple of colleagues on a project about the business environment of Ghana to pitch to potential investors, well, classmates.

It is one of the highlights of my semester so far and as the date for presentation approaches I feel extra proud that my colleagues are genuinely sold on the huge opportunities for business in Ghana.

So I put up the draft presentation in celebration of Ghana’s 55th independence.

For students or business persons who do a lot of presentation, you will find that Prezi.com is a great presentation tool.

Please comment if you are not able to access my presentation. http://prezi.com/f0wwgnfza2ej/my-ghana/

Happy Independence Day! Happy Holiday!! I am proud to be a Ghanaian!!!

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Warranty void by location – Why Amazon might not replace my broken Kindle


I am thinking about the current state of my Amazon Kindle and I am broken hearted. Well, I never anticipated that my Kindle would be dead set on /at ‘The Fishes’ e-ink screensaver. My Kindle simply won’t budge; not even to 10 minutes [of holding the power slide] hard reset. So I’ve not been reading much lately, at least not on the bus to work or back.

For some time now however, I was taking solace in the fact that a new Kindle could soon be coming my way thanks to Amazon’s flexible (and international?) replacement program for broken Kindle e-readers.

But after a few weeks of e-mails going back and forth with Amazon representatives, I am totally frustrated and want to reach out to other Kindle users in Africa if they have successfully got replacements for their broken Kindles.

Our vision is to be earth’s most customer centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.” I am beginning to wonder if Amazon plans on rolling out their vision statement to the letter; you know to all the earth?

After discovering my Kindle was broken, I called my friend, who walked me through the hard booting/resetting process, recharging battery fully process and we both agreed my Kindle was broken. Luckily enough my Kindle 3 was within warranty period and it was agreed I was going to explore that option.

After about 20mins of international call to the helpdesk to report my broken Kindle, I finally got an officially confirmation/ acknowledgement that my Kindle was broken and was going to be replaced for free. [Make a call to friend to share the good news]. I was promised $20 online credit for the airtime I spent to report problem. *Good customer service*

Fast track to 2 weeks later, I was getting mails requiring me to ship the broken Kindle to a US address to get a gift [shopping] voucher when all I wanted was my replacement Kindle back.

After many e-mails, I was finally told in plain English that Amazon doesn’t ship to Ghana or most part of Africa for that matter and that I should provide an address in the USA for them to ship the replacement Kindle to it. [Calling favours and friends who might be coming to Ghana for summer]

After getting an address and a friend willing to bring my Kindle home, I was informed I had to insert credit/ debit card details (which no charge will be billed against). A few days later I got a mail that the (Ghana) debit card I provided didn’t work (was refused) for some reason I cannot tell so my Kindle will not be shipped.

I am back to square one now and I am still holding my broken Kindle and my account at Amazon still stands at $0.00.

A few questions remain on my mind;

  1. If I can ship my broken Kindle to the USA, why can’t Amazon ship my replacement Kindle to Ghana?
  2. If Amazon failed to credit me with $20 for calling their helpdesk like they promised, why should I trust them to credit my account with the price of a Kindle 3 and cost of courier-shipping my broken one to their address?
  3. What if I don’t know anyone in the USA, does it mean I don’t get a replacement Kindle? Does that mean my warranty is void?
  4. What if I was never a prospective customer in Amazon’s marketing plan? This reminds me of the statement alleged to have been made by Tommy Hilfiger about not having Africans in mind when making his designer clothing.
  5. What good will it do for me to ship my broken Kindle to Amazon only to get a gift voucher that I can only use to shop on Amazon.com but cannot ship to Ghana? Catch 22

I am now convinced I will not get a new Kindle anytime soon, thanks to an Amazon system which is set up with the average American/European in mind. You know; a credit card wielding person whose home address can be searched on Google Earth and can ‘afford’ a Kindle.

Am I in this rut because I have a taste for things made for people in 1st world countries? Is my warranty void just because I find myself in a 3rd world country?

I am not happy with Amazon but I still will want my Kindle back. Someone please share a success story.

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Running a trotro business as a car-owner


This blog post is in response to a comment posted by a reader who wants to know how the private transportation business is run in Ghana. I hope my research was exhaustive enough and satisfies other readers who might be interested in running their own trotro businesses as car-owners.

The trotro business is a tough game; it tries the owner’s patience, negotiation skills and street-smartness as he tries to get the best financial benefit and road-life out of the bus. The search for a trustworthy and experienced driver is one huge hurdle one has to surmount in this business. Identifying which route to ply one’s trade often lies in the hands of the owner but can also directly impacts the search for a driver, where the bus will ‘sleep’ after a day on the road among other things.

During a good stretch of time, daily sales (the money the trotro driver brings back after every day of work) comes in with no excuses of vehicular breakdowns. Sometimes the driver makes close to half of what they have to pay to their car-owners and is responsible for paying his mate and providing for his lunch.

Typically, when a car-owner is giving a ‘new’ car to a trotro driver, he fills the tank of the bus in order to give the driver a head start. It is normal that the trotro driver fills up the tank when quitting. But to avoid any disputes over how much fuel cost at the time the driver started working with the bus and when he finally quit, some car-owners expect that the trotro driver brings the bus back to their premises with fuel tank filled every evening.

A car-owner can and should institute a time for the bus to be brought back home for parking; 8pm is the usual set time. However, one should be highly tolerant of early morning calls, usually between 5am and 6am to hand over the car keys to the trotro driver to start the day. The early morning trips are good [money making hours] for the trotro drivers because the roads are much freer; please don’t mess with your trotro driver when it comes to releasing the keys.

For trotros in all cases but only in few cases for taxis, they are registered at a bus-station where the bus will be stationed, plying a specific route. It is often at the station that the owner is informed of the fixed market sales that that type of bus makes a day. The factors range from number of seats, whether the bus has air-conditioning, the [distance of the] route it plies and other on-board services like on-bus entertainment. The station is run by a union (under the umbrella of Ghana Private Road Transport Union GPRTU) and as such car-owners meet periodically.

Sundays are often the only days that most trotro drivers take some rest, other than those expect them to work on holidays (except Christmas) and weekends. At the end of the month, the car-owner pays the trotro driver a salary equivalent to 2 days sales and the cycle goes on.

But no, something’s got to give whenever things are going smoothly and that is often the genesis and root of most of the problems that car-owners have with trotro drivers and vice versa.

Out of the blue, the car-owner gets a call that the car is broken down at Kaneshie. Same call could have come from your driver at an accident scene; one he might be responsible for causing or not. And definitely it is normal in this line of business to have to go see one’s driver behind police cells/ counter-back or stand by him in a law court for some violation of traffic rules. It is all in the day of a trotro driver and the car-owner.

For relatively new buses, car-owner hardly anticipate a break in the sales until they get a call one day that the bus is broken down. But for old buses, a typical car-owner prays that whatever breaks down on the bus is nothing [major] that cannot be fixed in a day.

Usually after a rapid succession of break downs followed by massive spending eating into the trotro’s savings accounts, trotros begin to break down often. It is at this point that trotro drivers get the room to swindle their car-owners.

One trick is that the trotro driver works to about noon and then calls the car-owner that the bus is broken down or that since morning the car has been over-floating (an old excuse from back in the carburetor days) or overheating, torn exhaust pipe or some other mechanical fault as such business hasn’t been good so the trotro is undergoing repairs at the shop. What this implies is that the little money the trotro driver made till then will be used to pay for repairs and therefore there will be no sales for the day.

Some car-owners have been known to ask their drivers to repair buses with their own money and often do not pay the money back. Others have been accused of bullying the drivers by accusing them of being the cause of a mechanical problem or used the fact that the trotro driver would soon be poor if the bus is not on the road to coerce them to repair any faults.

What is hard for most car-owners is when they get calls of arrest of their trotro drivers after they are caught overloaded, jumping the red light or not observing some other road/ traffic rule in a zone where they don’t ply and not expected to be.

The trotro driver doesn’t mind overloading the bus to the point where the exhaust pipe scrapes the road. If given the chance to take the bus to their homes, they will [somehow manage to] work late into the night to make money for themselves whiles stressing the trotro’s engine. And don’t think it is beyond a trotro driver to give the bus to a colleague (spare driver) who probably has no valid license when they get tired during the day.

It takes more than money to run this business; it takes a hard-nosed business man with lots of understanding of how trotro drivers think and ever ready to bark instructions or threaten termination to run this business successfully.

But whiles the trotro driver tries to swindle his car-owner, the trotro mate also tries to pilfer from the fares that should go to the driver. There’s some justice in this trotro business after all.

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CNN.com hangs Ghanaian youth on bad reporting by motherboard.tv


CNN.com Editor’s note: The staff at CNN.com has been intrigued by the journalism of Vice, an independent media company and Web site based in Brooklyn, New York. Motherboard.tv is Vice’s site devoted to the overlap between culture and technology. The reports, which are being produced solely by Vice, reflect a very transparent approach to journalism, where viewers are taken along on every step of the reporting process. We believe this unique approach is worthy of sharing with our CNN.com readers.

The Background

On 5th April, 2010, an article hit the internet and got the attention of most Ghanaians. The link to Motherboard.tv website was the first that made the rounds and was soundly trashed by most Ghanaians who saw the untruths in the supposed research article. But things soon came to a head when the article showed up on CNN.com on 6th April, 2010 15.30GMT. Before long the story had been twittered and retweeted, the reports read over and again.
At this point most of us were fuming and crying blue murder and uttering expletives behind close doors at the injustice of it all. Didn’t CNN.com see the comments posted by Ghanaians showing their disgust at the inaccuracies and outright lies they found in the article at the time they decided to give it global prominence by featuring it?
Well, the Editor’s note above the motherboard.tv article (Inside the criminal world of Ghana’s e-mail scam gangs) sheds some light on how this situation has come to be and why most people are questioning the editorial policy and agenda of CNN.com. Did it cross the editor’s mind that use of figures like 99% to 1% point to [fallacy of] generalization which is a sign of questionable research methodology? or no research at all? Did he care to google to see our presidential palace?

CNN.com’s stance

How an editor would make a decision to give an article about the youth of Ghana and Ghanaian society such prominence just because ”the staff at CNN.com has been intrigued by the journalism of Vice…” also intrigues me; beats me that thoroughness and honesty was put aside in this case in favour of curiosity and fascination. Is it a coincidence that another definition of intrigue is: make secret plans to do something illicit or detrimental to someone? Does the proximity between the dates of publishing on the respective sites indicate a planned thing? For the conspiracy theorists and linguistics among us, let us ponder this together.

By featuring this article on CNN.com the editor has endorsed Thomas Morton (aka Baby Balls) and his media company and lent them CNN’s credibility if not in all past and future articles, at least in this particular one. To wit, CNN.com is telling us that ‘we would have come to same conclusion if we undertook a research on Sakawa in Ghana’. But in the same breathe the editor manages to insert a caveat (The reports, which are being solely produced by Vice…) distancing CNN.com from any future questioning of the accuracy of the content of Vice’s Motherboard.tv report. Same device is employed again in the note (We believe this unique approach is worthy of sharing with our CNN.com readers) where the Editor endorses the methodology but not the article explicitly. Now isn’t that interesting? One has to leave a wriggle room when things come to a head. Nice job!

When African culture and social structures are viewed and reported through the lens of a young man (Thomas Morton) whose expertise some years back was reporting on sex, drugs and rock music and not done with honest research but with misrepresentations, you bet some of us will show our displeasure.

The Journalist, Thomas Morton

I did a little research about Thomas Morton but didn’t get much by way of his academic background but got interesting facts like his sobriquet, Baby Balls; because he happens to be a vertically challenged man who lives on the edge and challenges the status quo of investigative journalism. He did a report on pollution of the sea and his video report was noted to be laden with so many expletives that his point couldn’t be carried across to the intended student audience. I’ll only say that he’s an interesting fellow with a background in investigating sex, drugs and rock music. Please check for yourself if you care.

Thomas has used unrelated imagery to make his point.

It is interesting to see Thomas dancing with a fetish priest in a possible sakawa ritual? Is that the evidence he has as proof of an underground economy rife with mysticism and sacrifices and blood rituals? I can offer without being there that what he partook of is a mini-durbar or some other traditional occasion. I can assure him that the priests who work in this cyber-juju industry have a cruel air to them and don’t dance for public viewing and no, they don’t dance with white men because they’re undertaking some research.

It is sad that Thomas will misrepresent a traditional cultural event as a blood ritual for sakawa purposes. This is a betrayal of the trust of the elders who gave him the opportunity to experience first hand the rich cultural practices and heritage in Ghana. You can’t expect better from someone who wanted to get his video out anyhow, with cooked up evidence or not.

I can see an internet cafe from a thousand miles and that picture of a man clicking away at a pc is not one of an internet cafe; it is someone’s office. Internet cafes are crammed places whether in Ghana or in the States. What has a birds-eye view of a sprawling slum, refuse dump and a trotro station somewhere in Accra got to do with anything, if not to create in the minds of his audience a bleak economic situation that in his assertion can and is leading Ghanaian youth to take up Sakawa full-time.

It is very easy for Thomas to attribute his perceived pervasive sakawa practice among Ghanaian youth to corruption among the elite without providing any evidence. As Graham Knight noted,”distortions, exaggerations and untruths come easy when reporting Africa because they build upon a set of common themes [entrenched in western media] in which certain stereotypes are taken for granted”.

On my behalf and on behalf of other bloggers and Ghanaian youth who feel globally humiliated because of CNN.com editor’s gross neglect of journalistic ethics of due diligence and fair and objective reporting, I request that
1. Mr. Thomas Morton’s report be taken off CNN.com if blogposts condemning his report will not be given same prominence or,
2. Blogposts from Ghana or by Ghanaians condemning Mr. Thomas Morton’s report be allowed to run alongside it and,
3. CNN.com (CNN BackStory team) sponsors a project with the soon to be registered Ghanablogging community to undertake a thorough research into the sakawa phenomenon.

In conclusion I will say that there are more aspiring footballers in Ghana than there will ever be sakawa-money hungry boys because our professional footballers plying their trade in Europe are better role models and have more money. Oh Mr. Morton wouldn’t know that because he is not a fan of football, my bad, soccer!

FOOTNOTE:

Preamble to SPJ Code of Ethics: Members of the Society of Professional Journalists believe that public enlightenment is the forerunner of justice and the foundation of democracy. The duty of the journalist is to further those ends by seeking truth and providing a fair and comprehensive account of events and issues. Conscientious journalists from all media and specialties strive to serve the public with thoroughness and honesty. Professional integrity is the cornerstone of a journalist’s credibility. Members of the Society share a dedication to ethical behaviour and adopt this code to declare to Society’s principles and standards of practice.

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