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7. Editorial 8. Contributors
10. ‘You Know You’re in Accra When...’ 11. Health: Squash the Beef 13. Playlist 16. Over Here: Heel the World 18. Passing Through 22. Visual: Anokye 24. Soul 28. Blog: The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born
48. What Would Fela Think of Today’s Africa?
31. We the People 32. Can Do / Should Do 36. After Konadu 40. Menage a Trois 42. Elephants & Umbrellas 44. When DUST Didn’t Interview the Vice President
52. Music is the Weapon
SEX & RELATIONSHIPS
57. No Homo
60. Professor Adu-Boahene 62. GO!
Editorial +233 26 888 1111 Advertising +233 277 828 109
Photography: Seton Nicholas & Ghanyobi Subjects: (from left) Gloria Aryittey, Adoley Pappoe, Deborah Appiah, Afia Boatemaa, Diana Boateng Editor: Kobby Graham Thanks to... Jemila Adbulai, Maame Nyarko Adjei-Sika, Ernestina Adu, Jemima Agyare, Deborah Ahenkorah, Judith Aidoo, Radelle Allotey, Mantse Aryeequaye, Roberto Bezzicheri, Ernest Boateng, Fred Deegbe, Fred Frimpong, Sefakor Lassey, Fiona Leonard, Jeffrey Manu, Sionne Neely, Jason Nicco-Annan, Julian Nicco-Annan, Nyani Quarmyne, Akua Ofosuhene, Nana Kwame Osei Sarpong, Twi Teacher, The Estate of Willis Bell. Dust Magazine is a publication of Chrysalis Publications, P.O. Box CT2838, Cantonments, Accra
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Printed by Type. The views expressed in this magazine are the views of the individual contributors and not necessarily those of the publisher. Reproduction in whole or part without written permission from the publisher is strictly prohibited.
All rights reserved. Copyright © Dust Magazine 2011
This issue’s cover shot is based on an original by the seminal American/Ghanaian photographer, Willis Bell (printed on our Contents page by kind permission of the Mmofra Foundation) of nurses marching past Independence Arch. A placard carried by one of the nurses reads, “We Will Build Osagyefo’s Ghana.” In our new version, we change those words to a question, and ask “When will we build Osagyefo’s Ghana?” Welcome to DUST’s politics issue. Too many of us don’t do politics. This is understandable in a place where politicians bicker like children, distracting us from their sheer inability to address the real issues we face from day to day. Politics is however about a lot more than politicians and political parties. Real politics is in fact about solving those real issues we face from day to day: why your electricity supply is erratic. Why food and other basic necessities are so expensive. Why you sit in traffic when you could be at home or at work. Why our education system is a joke that nobody is laughing at… Politics is the process by which we as a group make collective decisions. Simply put, you are being political when you contribute to a decision that could lead to a solution. So - if anything - we should all try to be more political; not less. Do not leave the destiny of Ghana in the hands of career politicians who are so easily distracted by populism, party lines and paper. We are the next generation of changemakers. We have to be the change today that we wish the country to change into in future. If you don’t engage with the political process, then you lose the right to complain when the wrong people do. Editor
PS: Apologies to everyone who picked up the print version of DUST’s June issue. We were colossally let down by our printers. Your relationship is not with them though: it’s with us. DUST holds itself to very high standards in our quest to provide Accra with the quality it deserves. As such, we apologize for letting you down, and we are deeply grateful that you have not given up on us just yet.
Cr ystal Svanikier
Cr ystal is th e publisher of Dust Magazine an d co-host of our new show on YF M 107.9 FM DUST LY VE! She has been a freelance writer for ov er 5 years and st udied in Cape Town, Oxford and Dundee . She has worked with a number mag azines, newspaper s and organisation s. She is a former em ployee of Global M edia Alliance (C NN Africa Journalist of Year Awards, Ha ppy FM, YFM, an d ET V Ghana).
Nana Darkoa is a modern Gh anaian woman. W ith a strong interest in womenís rights and issues, Nana has broken the mould for Ghanai an women. She manag es Ghana’s first and m ost popula r blog on Afric an sexuality, Ad ventures from the Be drooms of African Women. Posts are ba sed on the personal ex periences of the cont ributors an d fall in line with Nana’s desire to pr ovide a safe place for women to express themselves - whether sexually or otherwise . She contributes ‘Menage a Trois’, re flecting on the rela tionship between se x, gender & politics.
r Ghanyobi does not lim it himself to the confi nes of graphic desig n but rather attem pts to create ar t out of design, la yout, photograph y and more. He is respon sible for how Dust lo oks. Fun, fresh... and Ghanaian.
Ghanyobi Eli Tetteh
Sometimes Nana Fredua controvers Agyeman is ial, always an outspoken, Agricultura Nii l Ayertey Ar Economist yeh has by day honed a re and a literar putation y activist not only as by night. Hi one of s blog, the most co Imagenatio nsistent ns (w w w. commenta freduagyem tors on an. Ghanaian po blogspot.com litics ) but as an ac began as a tivist place with a pres to post his ence both poems online (as a but has be popular come an blogger) an exhaustive d offline library (through su of book revi ch shows ews as BBC Afri interviews, ca Have events, Your Say). and profile Here s. This he contribu issue, he ex tes his plains thoughts on why Ayi Kw the ei Armah’s ruling part ‘The Beauty y ‘After ful Ones Konadu’. Are Not Ye t Born’ is Ghana’s most politically relevant book.
Nii Ayertey-Aryeh Nana Fredua Nana Darkoa Seky Bill Bedzrah iamah
DUST Edito r-atLarge Eli Te tteh has had a lifelon g love affair with words. Most recent ly, the communicat ions consultant , freelance writer and social media enth usiast worked as head of Ashesi Univ ersity’s Writing Ce ntre and as Seni or Communic ations Officer with Stratcomm Africa. Here he pe ns ‘Music is the Weapo n’, looking at how our politics is reflected in music.
The writer of our very popula r, “You Know You’re in Accra Whe n...”, Bill Bedzrah is a man who typifies the best of what Accra has to offer. A soci ally adept business co nsultant, Bill apprec iates Accra in a way th at most of us don’t kn ow or just take for gr anted.
DUST’s new Photo Editor is a self-profes sed social commenta tor and photograph er who uses the po wer of his lens to observe and reflect on all the intricacies of Ghanaian life. He pens here ‘Angels & De mons’, revisiting th e shrine he first intr oduced DUST read ers to and shares with us his observatio ns on traditional relig ion and
Aba Ayensu is a career stud ent on hiatus, moo nlighting on radio as the producer of the Atlantis Mor ning Drive. She loves to hang out with ar tists and creatives in Accra, especially when she can call it research. Her favour ite thinker is Frantz Fa non and she loves a good debate on any social issue in Gh ana. This issue, she ex plores the growing di fference between Gh ana’s two bigges t political
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...committees of enquiry are more than the street lights
you know restaurant is called chop bar you are in Accra the phrase; “i’m coming” means the favourite fish is TILAPIA. ...the only boom you hear is from an ex military pilot when...
...a forest is actually a park
...a drain is called gorta
you see organized tour/excursion to a shopping mall.
SEVEN REASONS TO STOP EATING MEAT
Heart disease, hypertension and diabetes are among the most common diseases affecting Ghanaians today. Urban health statistics from the World Health Organization show that women are four times more likely to be obese than women from rural areas. The statistics are slightly better for men, who tend to be about three times more obese than their counterparts in rural areas. This is surprising, since many living in the urban areas in Ghana are separated by no more than two generations from their hometown (or village). When asked what could be causing these alarming statistics aside from lack of exercise, a number of researchers identified bad diet as the culprit. Medical practitioners say the amount of meat you consume is directly related to your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity, regardless of your genetic disposition. The more meat you eat, the more at risk you are. As a result, Dust looked into the benefits of vegetarianism. Below are five reasons to stop eating meat:
...beauty pageants are the number one employers of young girls
almost everyone you talk to is aiming to travel
By Bill Bedzrah
When pastors storm local radio stations to beat up presenters. When local boxers robbed of their international titles by poor refereeing still come home to a heroes’ welcome. When foreign performers pull out of performances at the last minute... When Terrific Tuesday means cheap pizza galore.
When the hottest dance is ‘the Azonto’. When kids sport with pride the same haircut as their favourite Black Stars players.
When the natives can’t pronounce the letter “H”. When following Twitter comments on an event is often more entertaining than the event itself.
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08 11 14 17
... or arrive and immediately start tweeting about the size of local women’s behinds. When ‘Bus Stop’ is a restaurant, rather than what it says it is. When Ministers of State & MPs seem to spend more time on radio & TV talk shows than in their offices. When the Registrar General’s department is full of fat white women marrying young, fit Ghanaian men or old white men marrying young, pretty Ghanaian ladies... all because of “nkrataa”. When the opening of a fast food chicken joint is a very big deal.
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When Movenpick Hotel is described as Accra’s latest tourist attraction. When you find people crowded around computers watching the latest university sex scandal on YouTube. When the pipe water from the western parts of the city actually tastes like sodium chloride. When the recent run of rain and cold weather is the main water cooler topic in offices.
A HEALTHY HEART – Cholesterol and saturated fats are the major causes of heart disease and are found abundantly in meat (especially red meat). By not eating meat, you greatly increase your chances of maintaining a healthy heart. Research shows that diets consisting mainly of fruits, grains and vegetables can reverse heart disease because they are rich in folic acid, potassium, and other polyphenolic antioxidants.
3 BLOOD PRESSURE – Vegetarians have significantly lower blood pressure than people who eat meat, because vegetarian diets tend to be low in salt. Combined with lowered cholesterol, this reduced salt intake provides an effective means of reducing your cholesterol. 4 OBESITY – The European Prospective Investigation has found that vegetarians have a much lower BMI (Body Mass Index) than meat eaters (i.e. vegetarians tend to have healthy weight indexes). Vegetarian food choices tend to contain fewer calories: essential in maintaining a healthy weight.
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When you see Wanlov walking as barefoot as ever on the street. When you see fresh-looking Bedford trucks on the road although the company stopped manufacturing them all the way back in 1986. When people enjoy other religion’s holidays but do not bother getting to know more about that religion for fear of ‘shaking their faith’.
DIABETES – Diabetes is very prevalent in Ghana and many doctors advise their patients to help curb it through their diets. Eating fruits and vegetables that are high in fiber and complex carbohydrates (e.g. potatoes, beans, brown rice, cassava, nkontomire, oatmeal, etc) can help considerably in keeping your blood sugar down.
5 GENERAL HEALTH – Vegetarians are less likely to have skin problems, bad body odor, and allergies because of the reduced ingestion of toxins and preservatives in most packaged and processed foods.
I’ve tried to be vegetarian, and I lasted almost a year. But like every other self respecting urban Ghanaian, I love meat. If, like me, you don’t think you can do it all the time, why not try being vegetarian two or three days a week (the more days you don’t eat meat, the better), allowing yourself meat on the other days.
By Crystal Svanikier
a snapshot of fresh local music, books & films being consumed at Dust HQ
The Chicken Thief by Fiona Leonard Powder Necklace by Nana Ekua BrewHammond Africa’s Greatest Entrepeneurs by Moky Makura Kaya’s Story by Mamle Kabu (nominated for the Burt Award for African Literature)
Push by Becca feat. King Ayisoba & Trigmatic One Ghana by EL FOKN With Ewe (upcoming album) by The FOKN Bois Good Morning (song & video) by Yaa Pono (feat. EFYA) X-Ray by Mutombo the Poet
film / tv
Akua Ofosuhene’s ‘Anokye: Shaman Prince’ The Spirited Actor (Viasat 1) Meet the Girls (eTV) Wanuri Kahiu’s ‘Pumzi’ (Kenya) Issa Rae’s ‘The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl’ (US) Deron Albright/Yao B. Nunoo’s ‘The Destiny of Lesser Animals’ (GH/US)
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DUST is constantly trying to improve and as part of that, we think it is important that we get to know you a little better To that end, we ran a competition in our last issue, inviting you to answer a few questions in exchange for the opportunity to win one of five pairs of tickets to the Silverbird Cinema at the Accra Mall. Last month’s winners were: Afua S Biney, Graham Knight, Edward Aboagye, Maureen Biney & Marilyn Osei. Congratulations, guys! Below is a glimpse at what last month’s results say about you. If you feel you have not been represented, you know what to do: go to www.surveymonkey.com/dustaccra and take part in the survey! Who knows: maybe this month YOU could win those tickets...
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Bespoke, hand-made shoes from Ghana
In spite of the stigma attached to them by the ignorant, I wear black beads around my wrist with a great deal of pride. Recently, I have been stopped three times by strangers who have admired them. Each time, I have been asked whether my beads were ‘HtWs’. Each time, I have scratched my head and said no... and subsequently watched what had been admiration moments before diminish. Or evaporate completely. Whoever these HTW people are, I remember thinking, their branding must be on point. In fact, it is. Heel the World considers itself more than just a cleverly-named company. Its two young Ghanaian founders - Fred Deegbe Jr. & Vijay Manu (alongside the latter’s brother: HTW Foundation Head, Jeffrey Manu) – think of the company more as a concept: “to counter perceptions on the quality and capabilities of Ghanaian craftsmanship”. HTW wants to prove that local Ghanaian artisan can and should compete in the global marketplace. They demonstrate this through a genuinely beautiful range of bespoke, luxury shoes made right here in Ghana, as well as through their (admittedly cool) glass beads, the colours of which they say represent hard work (black) and ultimate reward (gold). Like DUST, HtW believes in empowering the next generation of change makers (or as HtW calls them, ‘world changers’). So they use part of the proceeds raised from the sale of every pair of HtW shoes to train and empower other talented local African artisans; to run entrepreneur workshops and help entrepreneurs in Ghana, whether financially, with resources or in any other way they can. Why? To spread the model, inspire others and show that good business is not incompatible with helping people. In a better world, Ghana’s companies would copy such socially responsible entrepreneurship, instead of each other’s blind capitalism. Mahatma Gandhi famously said that we must each ‘be the change’ we wish to see in the world. DUST looks forward to living in the world that HTW is trying to change our present reality into. For more information, visit http://heeltheworld.tumblr.com/
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233connect followed their successful Fabolous concert by flying in R&B crooner Mario, who Ameyaw Debrah reports was on Twitter soon after arrival tweeting about the size of the Ghanaian female behind. Hm.
Actor and comedian Anthony Anderson flew in as grand co-host of Viasat 1’s impressive show, ‘The Spirited Actor’, after which he did the Ghanaian thing and spent his birthday club-hopping across nightclubs Boomerang, Aphrodisiac, Exel, and Rockstone’s Office. Happy belated birthday, Anthony.
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US jazz trumpeter Abram Wilson flew in for New Musical Express’ celebration of the music of the greatest jazzman of all time. No, people: not Kenny G. Miles Davis. In case you haven’t heard his music, DUST recommends his album, ‘Kind of Blue’: a great introduction to REAL jazz.
Angola’s Cabo Snoop was also down to perform what is arguably the catchiest hit across the continent right now, ‘Windeck’. Apparently, his legendary waist and leg movements were in full effect. Ghanaian musicians take note: your music doesn’t have to be in English to catch on elsewhere.
Barbadian singer, Shontelle was a last minute replacement for J Holiday (who had to stay in the States to deal with the consequences of having put his lady to ‘Bed, Bed, Bed...’ nine months earlier. Congratulations, Sir). Though some complained, she soon won over the crowd, who knew her hits, ‘T-Shirt’ and ‘Impossible’. They were surprised to hear that she co-wrote old friend Rihanna’s current hit, ‘Man Down’.
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Afua Ofosuhene’s ‘Anokye’ - based (naturally) on the tale of legendary Ashanti priest, Okomfo Anokye - is set to take several forms. Starting out as a full length 3D animated feature film, it will now also be launched as a 2D animated series for TV, a documentary about the man himself (entitled ‘A Prophet in Africa’), and as a limited edition comic strip. To find out more about the project, visit www.anokye.com.
Words and Pictures by Seton Nicholas
Back in June 2010, photographer Seton Nicholas gave us a glimpse into the world of the Atia Yaw Shrine in Mampong Akwapim with his piece, ‘In the Presence of the Gods’. He recently returned there and (in DUST’s first piece on spirituality) he shares with us an excerpt from his journal.
“Went up to Mampong yesterday with
the gang. Jay shot some interviews with Obosomfo Yaw Ansah. I’m really glad he chose to do the interview through Nana B in Akan. Obosomfo Yaw Ansah is incredibly articulate and engaging and English would have done
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it an injustice. A mockery, even. On this (my fourth) trip I seem to have just as many questions. I understand more, that’s for sure, and count myself blessed to have been brought up in a manner that has given me the skills to do just that: Understand. Sure: to some degree the fetid smells of blood, animal remains and alcohol in different stages of decomposition on altars scattered across the shrine turn my stomach. I’m also a dog lover, so - delicacy up north or not - the slaughtering of dogs will never sit well with me. That said, this is more than a group of barbarians living in the mountains with aspirations to magic trickery. There are aspects of the rites that seem theatrical. However one simply needs to witness the slow boil of an impending possession spurred on by the pulsating rhythm of the drum, or note the clear change in speech, mannerism and personality each time a different deity possesses the same okomfo (host) to realize, as we say in Akan, that “biibi w) bebi”. I found myself thinking at some point that it would probably be easier to “sell” traditional Ghanaian religious practices if they weren’t so “crude”. I quickly realized that they only appear so to me though, looking through my lens of Western education. Most certainly not to Obosomfo Yaw Ansah or to the newly sworn-in shrine authorities whose feet felt the warm gush of blood from a freshly slit lamb throat seal their respective oaths. Perhaps African religion needs to evolve somehow; to take a fresh look at some of its customary practices and do away with what it can. Irresponsibly done, this would do little more than water things down. Strip traditional religion of age old customs and visual symbols that have been its guide to life and the divinations required to live it. I cannot suggest one such change. I am, after all, little more than a stranger,
privileged to be granted time and access. Looking from without. Somewhat romantically at that. Such reassessment is possible though. Legend has it that it took intercessions on behalf of mankind to get (the god) Tigare to settle for canine - instead of human - blood to quench his thirst for sacrifice. Apparently, they are “similar” in constitution. I do not aim to make a convert of you. I’m not sure that mine are even the words of the converted. But I will not sit back and have the traditional customary practices of a people - in a sense, their spiritual genesis - demonized without cause. And they have been. And still are. Broad “incorrectitudes” like ‘fetish’, ‘voodoo’ and ‘juju’ are used to describe and simplify something complex beyond the grasp of the English language. We repeat arguments that others have made in their ignorant descriptions of people they sought to de-humanize and exploit (in that order). We have internalized these arguments so much that we seem unable to listen, let alone digest and make informed decisions for ourselves. We have become a people afraid of taking the briefest of glimpses at ourselves. We live “aspirational” lives. Not the worst thing if the aspirations are your very own and not what you are TOLD should be yours. Even (or rather, especially) in traditional religion, duality exists. Yet most people couldn’t tell you the difference between “sumann” and “beyie”: angels and demons. For most critics (mostly Christian), there is a clear demarcation: we are of Christ and they, of the Devil. That’s their duality, I guess... Mine, through my search for my own reasons, is to shine a light somewhat on what I find. Not to pompously dictate what I feel, but to observe, document and share through text and imagery my observations. If you choose to look, “na ur own.”
THE BEAUTYFUL ONES
Nana Fredua Agyeman started ImageNations in 2008 as a place to post his poems. It has since grown into veritable library of African book reviews, and literary-inclined interviews, profiles, events and more. Here he reviews Ayi Kwei Armah’s classic novel, ‘The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born’ and explains why he thinks it is still relevant to modern Ghana. ‘The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born’ is set in the latter stages of Nkrumah’s reign. It tells the tale of ‘the Man’ who, pure in heart and spirit, sees no reason to amass wealth through bribery. It describes his personal and emotional struggle to convince his wife and mother-inlaw that though wealth is not in itself evil, the means to its attainment makes it evil. The two women denigrate and insult him, loving instead his classmate, Koomson: a Party man who uses his position to enrich himself and proudly displays opulence wherever he goes. The novel documents a period in Ghanaian history when corruption became institutionalised; when people started despising knowledge and revering wealth; when spiritual and environmental decadence reached their peaks. This situation still prevails today. In the story, a character called the Teacher advises the Man to endure. The Teacher explains to him how the path is hard and how things won’t soon change. Another character, a lady called Maanan, is affected by the coming of an eloquent man who shows glimpses not just of learning but of knowledge of the path; a man whose power is not bestowed upon him by the white man. When this man (a reference to Nkrumah) fails her, she goes insane. “It is not true at all that when men are desperate they will raise their arms and welcome just
ARE NOT YET BORN
anybody who comes talking of their salvation. If it had been so, we would have been following the first men who came offering words and hidden plans to heal our souls. But we did not run out eager to follow anyone. In our boredom we went out to the open public places to see what it was people were talking about, whether it was a thing we could go to with our hopes, or just another passing show like so many we had seen and so many we are seeing now.” The title of the novel was inspired by an inscription Armah saw at the back of a taxi stopped by a policeman. In an industry populated mostly by semi-literates, such petty spelling mistakes as ‘Beautyful’ abound. Yet, even in its misspelt state, the author found the message spiritual. In its unwholesomeness, it became wholesome, beautiful, intellectual, symbolic and meaningful. For in that period, one’s only solace was to know that ‘The Beautyful Ones’ of Africa - those who would stand up to corruption and fight it at the expense of their lives; leaders with the vision to take the country farther into development and not to ‘see the true end of politics as wealth (Busia)’; those who are spiritually in tune with the path... have not yet been born. This makes room that they will be. Someday. The Man is symbolic. His attitude against corruption can be taken up by anyone. At the same time though, the author does not delude himself into thinking that there will be many.
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we the people
Ask not what Ghana can do for you, but what you can do for Ghana.
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Looking at the news of late, watching youth around the world riot or spark revolutions their parents thought impossible just days before; I cannot help but notice how aged government seems. The Arab Spring was one thing, but watching a British government caught completely off-guard; slow-footed while its youth (with or without a cause) ran circles around their forces, rioted and looted was interesting viewing from a country that was once her colonial servant, taught to think Britain was somehow perfect. From London to Libya, governments have universally been caught off-guard, failing to see signs of youth malaise; making the mistake of thinking, “Nothing has happened before so nothing will ever happen. Not here. Not possible.” Yet happen it has and, in each case, it was on account of a complete loss of faith in the ability (or desire) of government to make their lives better. A loss of hope. Maybe the reason why this sort of thing hasn’t happened here yet is because Ghanaians lost that hope a long time ago. Yes: we still complain about how slow government is, but we have learned not to look to the authorities for all the solutions. In the increasingly conspicuous absence of traffic lights, Tunnel Boys step in to regulate the flow of traffic, taking tips from the public. Elsewhere, when cars collide, drivers would rather settle the matter between themselves than involve the police. We buy generators to make up for government’s inability to give us continuous power and tankers to make up for water shortages. Of necessity, we have had to develop the ingenuity to solve our own problems.
As Ghana grows, our government is slowly being forced to be more accountable. There is still a long way to go, but this trend will continue. As government gets better, our expectations of government too will grow. In our march towards progress though, we risk becoming complacent and losing the creativity that has thus far defined us when we should actually be harnessing all the new tools now at our disposal. The Egyptian revolution was sometimes (mistakenly) called the Facebook Revolution. In London, government toyed with whether to block Blackberry Messenger as rioters harnessed it to stay several steps ahead of the authorities in organizing chaos. In a digital age in which government no longer has control over what we see, what we know and how we communicate information, our potential to push ourselves forward has never been greater. Our grandparent’s generation speaks of a ‘Can Do’ attitude that existed in those heady days of when independence was still fresh off our lips. Whether we can is no longer in doubt. Yes: we can. Now, it’s about whether we ‘Should Do’... and we should. I’m not telling anyone to break the law, but let us not lose the ability, creativity and ingenuity we have shown since independence to look within for answers to the problems our authorities seem unable to solve. Tired as it may sound, the question is not what Ghana can do for you. It must be about what you should do for Ghana. Ultimately, you will be doing it for yourself. KG
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By Nii Ayertey-Aryeh
“I have the intention to contest the presidential primaries but I am yet to declare it,”–Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings on 29th March, 2011
On 4th May, Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings officially launched her bid to contest for the NDC’s 2012 presidential slot, instantly resurrecting the perennial question; “is Ghana ready for a woman president?” No narrative about the role of women in a socio-cultural and political environment was spared on a woman thought to have had enormous influence in the corridors of her husband’s two decade-long regime. Mrs Rawlings had to ‘Be Bold’ to challenge President Mills. Her husband had introduced the good professor to the political playground in 1996 to replace then-Vice President, Kow Arkaah. At his party’s congress two years later, Rawlings (somewhat undemocratically) announced Mills as the party’s next leader and Presidential candidate. Rumours had been rife that he was planning to transfer power to his wife after stepping down. The Mills endorsement confounded his critics, but it also created the first cracks within the party, with Goosie Tannoh breaking away to set up the Reform Party. The NDC would subsequently fail to win a third term.
Photo courtesy of http://nkrawlings.wordpress.com/
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Fast-forward to 2011 and public opinion was split about the timing of Agyemang Rawlings presidential attempt. Some expressed disdain at the prospect of a perceived Rawlings dynasty. Others disliked the fact that her challenge had come just two and a half years into Mills four-year mandate. Many considered the contest one for the soul of the party. By NDC rules, the flag-bearer automatically becomes the next leader of the party. President Mills had stated on several occasions his intention to run for a secondterm.Infact,intheFourthRepublic both Jerry John Rawlings and John Agyekum Kufour had two successful terms, so by convention, Mills ought to have been given the luxury of running unchallengedin2012.NanaKonaduand her friends [FONKAR: Friends of Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings] however mounted a challenge, questioning what this would do for intra-party democracy. Before Sunyani, Mr. Rawlings had effectively become Mills’ ‘Tormentor-inChief’. Not long after the latter’s January 2009 inauguration, Rawlings launched heavy criticisms against his former protégé’s administration, emphasizing at every opportunity how Mills was weak in failing to bring to book corrupt public officials of the previous regime. The Founder’s tag for the president’s men was ‘greedy bastards’. Perhaps it had to do with Mills’ choice of running mate: current Vice President John Dramani Mahama. Nana Konadu was said to be pushing for a woman to partner Mills - preferably Betty Mould Iddrisu(whoisnowMinisterofEducation).
ItwashowevertheMills-Mahamapairing that brought the NDC back from eight years in the political wilderness. That success manifested yet again during the July 9th Sunyani Congress: when Atta Mills beat Agyemang Rawlings. In fact, Mills won with a landslide victory, polling 97% against a disastrous 3% for Nana Konadu. It was a heavy loss for a woman who was an exemplary and an influential figure, especially as the head of the 31st December Women’s Movement years ago. No doubt, had Nana Konadu succeeded in wresting power away from Mills, it would have meant a lot for Ghana, with women hopefully taking the cue to break through our male-dominated political class and any other field in which women currently play second fiddle. There is speculation that Nana Konadu will register as an independent candidate in 2012, a claim she has been quick to refute. She may have also introduced herself as a formidable contender for 2016. But she’ll have to go at it with John Dramani Mahama, an emerging power broker who uses anecdotes to buttress his speeches and writings. JDM is the kind of man who commands respect across the political spectrum. Nonetheless political watchers are keen to know what remains for Nana Konadu. Is this the twilight of her political ambition? Or will she go the full hog with Mahama in 2016? Whatever she does, don’t count her out just yet.
by Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah
If ours was an equitable society, about 51% of the people in politics would be female, and women would be well represented in political offices including the Presidency, Parliament, and local levels of government. Clearly, this is not the case in most countries around the world. In Ghana, we still have raging debates about whether a woman could ever be President. We question the sexuality of single women who hold political aspirations. Women are mainly ‘followers’ of political parties, never leaders. How do notions of sex, gender and sexuality affect Ghanaian women in politics? The answer is complex, and yet, absurdly simple. Sex. The biological assignation ‘female’ is often the main reason people discount women as leaders. It is incomprehensible to some that a woman could run the country, simply because she is a woman (read: weak, emotionally unstable, and impractical).
How Sex, Gender & Sexuality Affect Women in Politics
when womanhood was denigrated. You will [sic] see the boys in the street with a stick [uses a pen to demonstrate] and they will [sic] put red colouring on the tip of the stick. They will [sic] say, ‘This is what the mansion will look like’... ” The purport of this insult needs no explanation. The fact of her womanhood, to them, invalidated whatever other qualities or qualifications she had. This same perverted logic affects women’s political aspirations in Ghana. How many times have you heard people say “We are not ready to have a woman President in Ghana…”? I say “Why not?” Gender is the other thing. Oft confused with sex, gender refers to our socially constructed norms of femininity and masculinity – what a community deems acceptable behaviour for women and men. Speaking about the feminist political icon Hawa Yakubu, the gender consultant Roselynn B Obeng-Ofori, stated, “…she was not a bedroom woman…she was not one for marriage. She was a social woman, a public woman…” This statement indicates how Yakubu broke with gender norms in her role as a politician. She neither saw the ‘kitchen’ or ‘bedroom’ as her domain, nor conformed to the idea that marriage is a necessary or desirable institution for every woman.
On the 16th of June 2010, I wrote a blog post entitled “Women, Sex and Politics: The Dynamics of Being Labelled a Whore”. This was my response to the Ursula Owusu/John Jinapor saga in which the latter allegedly implied that Ursula had engaged in sex work to build her house. I stated in that post that ‘labelling’ is one of the strategies used to control a woman’s sexuality, especially in the political arena. I shared my own political ambitions and expressed my concern that by writing a blog on African women and sexuality, I had effectively curtailed my political career before it could even begin. Here is a sample of the 23 responses people made to that post: “You’re not even going to contest because of what your opponent will say? Please rethink that. I am sure you will not need to look very far to find ashawo men. So, you could go in armed with facts about them. If they play dirty, you play dirtier. Please don’t cower into the corner because that would be letting them win. We’ve been doing that for too damn long.” “Nana you can vie for Minister of Women Affairs [sic]…I shall vote for you…that aside, this blog is akin to political suicide in our African context shaa. A woman talking about sex in public?? Abomination. “ “The issue is too deep and ingrained in our culture for it to change in the next decade. Traditional patriarchal mindsets will always dominate and define how women behave. A few will rebel, but I don’t see a revolution coming anytime soon.” In most cases, people were encouraging. They advised me to run for political office in spite of the name-calling and character assassination that women in politics face. Women seeking to enter political office in Ghana need to recognize that their sex, gender and sexuality will all be used as weapons against them. Our political institutions and society at large need to ensure that the Ghanaian political climate is open and fair to all citizens, including and especially women.
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Liberia was the first African country to democratically elect a female Head of State, and unsurprisingly, her sex was the topic of much discussion during the campaign. In an interview I held with Varbah Gayflor, Liberia’s Minister for Gender and Development in March 2009 , she stated: “…there were times [during the campaign]
more) that it assembles from scratch. Besides an after-sales service that includes twelve months warranty on all of its products, RLG is the first Ghanaian company to offer you the opportunity to upgrade your old devices at a depreciated rate, with a simple top-up for any new device on display. RLG is already establishing itself as a market leader – not just in Ghana, but in West Africa; with a dream of training over 75,000 Ghanaians, employing 30,000 youth and plans to float on the Stock Exchange, build a first-class assembly plant, as well as to give potable water to 60 rural communities across Ghana by 2017. RLG: a brand that is proudly Ghanaian... and Proudly Yours.
A quiet revolution has been taking place right here in Ghana, with one company consistently demonstrating for over a decade that ‘Ghanaian’ can be synonymous with ‘innovation’. More than just a business, RLG is a dream of a digital future; one in which the youth are empowered. To make this dream a reality, RLG already provides quality applied ICT education and skill development for 24,000 Ghanaian youth and counting. RLG opened Ghana’s first mobile phone repair school and later expanded this through the National Youth Empowerment Programme. These schools have evolved over the period into ultra modern Institutes of Technology which are currently undergoing the accreditation process to award higher certificates in IT. The project has since gone international, inspiring similar programmes in countries like Gambia, Nigeria and partnerships in countries as far afield as China. RLG trainees pour their newfound skills into developing innovative ICT products and services that are proudly sold all over the world through the company’s offices in Africa and Asia. RLG offers excellent service and support for the world-class products (including mobile phones, televisions, laptops, internet routers and
By Aba Ayensu
While it may not seem immediately obvious, I am beginning to see the emergence of a clear(er) distinction between the political platforms of the major two parties. It appears that one party focuses heavily on public administration, continually reforming it as a way to address many of the problems encountered in the development process. For instance, in the 90’s there were many local government reforms in a bid to decentralize power. The other party seems to zero in on macro-economic management as the key mode of development. It seems the one party actively tries to create a favourable context for bottom-up development, while the other looks to the potential of private business in development. These are gross generalisations. Mind you, neither party has been outstandingly successful with either approach. These two fundamentally different approaches to development, point to different values and ideological differences that are often not clearly expressed. When voters do not interrogate the parties about their ideological approaches with respect to the broad issues that affect our development and progress as a democracy, they are left off the hook. They are not forced to defend their positions, or forced to prove the efficacy of their plans. Debates and conversations degenerate to what we now call the “politics of insults” that we are so often bombarded with in the media. When is the public going to demand a minimal level of competence in political parties declaring their principles and intentions? It’s the only way we can begin to hold them accountable for their actions. Until we hold them to their political platforms, we’re just going to have accept the contemporary adage: same $#!%, different party.
In Ghana, most people will be hard-pressed to tell the difference between our political parties. Aside from party symbols and personalities identifying their different ‘styles’, it can be pretty hard to tell them apart. In the 1990s, the predominant debates between the two major parties were over which one could steer Ghana out of its economic doldrums; which party would not be corrupt; which would bring ‘development’; which party would put more money in the hands of the people. That kind of thing. Over the last decade, the debates haven’t changed much. For instance, you may prefer one political party over another because you believe it has more capable leadership and better human resources; it can be because you believed it is a more fiscally responsible party; or, it can be for more obviously subjective reasons such as ethnic and family affiliation, or personal history with the party. But... what about the parties’ political platforms? Do we know, really, what each party stands for? Do we know where they stand on the issues? Are we clear on what ideals and values each party represents? In today’s Ghana it’s pretty hard to even identify what the issues are by listening to local media. While we are maturing as a multi-party democratic state, we do not yet have a critical mass of politically sophisticated voters with a highly developed level of political and civil engagement. There is little focus on the issues – education, campaign finance, healthcare, the environment or minority rights.
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DUST very much hoped to interview His Excellency the Vice President, John Dramani Mahama, this issue. We have noticed how much of a talking point he is amongst DUST readers online: championing youth issues, making use of new technology and media, and showing an interest in the arts, as demonstrated in his thoughtful piece, ‘What Fela Would Think of Today’s Africa’ (originally published on the popular African-American website, The Root). We were on standby for an interview with His Excellency and subsequently asked DUST readers to send in their questions. He is however (as you would expect) a very busy man and unfortunately, our editorial deadline passed before the interview could happen. We respect our readers a lot here at DUST and we were so impressed with the range, variety and depth of questions you so kindly sent in that we thought we would print your questions here regardless. They are questions which demand answers, so we promise to keep pushing.
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… and when we get them, we will put them up on our website, www.dustaccra.com.
Will Ghana being the world’s fastest growing economy really have any reflection in my life or in my pocket? And how?
What happened to giving women 40% of all cabinet seats?
You can’t grow an economy when it takes two hours to make a fifteen minute trip. Are there any plans to improve the traffic situation in the city?
How would you react if the type of rioting being seen in London happened here in Ghana?
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Why hasn’t there been any support from government for Ghana’s creative economy (especially given its potential for youth employment)?
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How do you respond to those who describe you as a bit of a sex symbol? Anonymous
Having personally led on STX housing deal, do you still believe in it and what will be the implications for you if it fails?
Is the decision on the current length of secondary education and the education structure final? How long will my little cousins have to stay in school? Jayenayy When is the government going to clean up Labadi beach?
Which one main issue do you believe will settle the next election (besides the economy)?
Knowing that this is something that government can do to immediately improve the lives of many Ghanaians, why hasn’t government done anything to enforce the six-month limit on how much rent advance landlords collect? (Editor) What – if any – are your regrets about the last three years of NDC rule? Kotibotor What is happening to the supply of LPG? Gh_Geek
Whatever anyone’s position is on homosexuality, even a few churches have come out against the recent hounding of gays in the press and in public. Does the government plan to do anything against all the hate speech against homosexuals by government officials and churches?
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Given how demanding your job is, how do you find the time to do all the writing you have been doing recently? Delalorm
It takes at least 18 months to build gas pipelines and so – realistically - we won’t have the gas needed to power our industries until 2013. Why has government waited so long to take a decision on how to administer gas resources from the Jubilee Field given what we’ve always known about its potential to be a game changer?
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Government has talked about the need for aircraft with one Minister suggesting one can be used for rescue. Do you personally believe any of the aircraft can be used for rescue and if so, which one? Also, why buy five aircraft at once when you could buy three and use the rest of the money on improving living and working conditions of military personnel (an argument similar to one made just three years ago by the NDC)?
With the fast development of new technology and the net, does the government have plans to modernise the education system?
In late April of this year, the award-winning Broadway musical Fela! was staged in Lagos, Nigeria. I traveled there, at the invitation of the organizers, to watch the show. From the moment Sahr Ngaujah, the actor who portrays Fela Anikulapo Kuti, took to the stage, he channeled the late musician, and I was immediately transported back to the 1970s. What made the experience all the more poignant was the fact that the performance was set against the backdrop of what was being labeled the freest and fairest elections Nigeria has ever had, with the victory of Mr. Goodluck Jonathan ushering in a much needed belief in the possibility of change -- not only for Nigeria but for the entire West African subregion. As I sat spellbound in the audience, I couldn’t help wondering what Fela would think of his country, and of our continent, if he were alive to see it now. During the 1970s, I was in my teenage and early-adult years. It was a time when my political consciousness and sense of cultural identity were just forming, and as with so many of the people who came of age back then, the music of Fela Kuti played an instrumental role in that process. Because of the rise of television and FM radio, and the increasing accessibility of air travel, the influence of Western culture was strong in both Ghana and Nigeria. Though we wore bell-bottoms and platform shoes, listened to James Brown and used American slang, Fela and his Afrobeat rooted us firmly in the pride of our African selves. The lyrics “I no be gentleman at all, I be Africa man original,” from “Gentleman,” were practically an anthem. Although we felt that we knew who we were, nobody could say for sure anymore what Africa was. The fervor of the postcolonial independence period had died down, and Africa’s future, which everyone had assumed would be bright, was now hanging in the balance. Fledgling democracies gave way to dictatorships as country after country experienced military coup after military coup. Fela’s music addressed issues of corruption, military brutality, and social as well as economic justice and gave us an outlet for our outrage and frustrations. He sang about what so many people felt but were not able to express for fear of the consequences. His music turned him into an enemy of the state in Nigeria. He was harassed by the government and even jailed. For a period, Fela fled the country and sought refuge in Ghana, until the government here, which was growing increasingly uneasy with the rebellious nature of his music, ordered him to return to Nigeria. That stretch of time from the early 1970s to the late 1990s, which the entire body of Fela’s music documents and critiques, is often referred to as Africa’s “lost decades.” During those years, the continent experienced absolutely no discernible growth in any arena. Whereas once blacks in the Diaspora were clamoring to come to Africa, there was now a mass exodus, one that crippled the continent by claiming many of its most promising minds. And then came the HIV/AIDS epidemic that further ravaged its people and, with the fear and stigma that accompanied the illness, cast a shadow on Africa’s image and reputation. An unfathomable number of lives were lost to AIDS and AIDS-related complications, including the life of the man we affectionately referred to as the Black President, Fela Kuti. Throughout history, Africa’s strength has always been its ability to recover and prove to the rest of the international community that it cannot be counted out. That’s precisely what is happening now. A number of the situations against which Fela raged no longer exist. Coups and military dictatorships anchored by the sort of henchmen whom Fela famously called zombies are becoming a thing of the past. Democracy and the rule of law have taken hold. In the past year alone, at least a dozen African countries have held elections. Ghana held its last presidential election in 2008. Our economies are becoming more stable. As a result of all of these improvements, large numbers of Africans who had fled to seek political and economic shelter in foreign lands are repatriating. This influx of educated professionals and skilled laborers is hastening the pace of development on the continent.
what would FELA think of today’s Africa?
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By His Excellency the Vice President John Dramani Mahama
Nigeria, in particular, appears to be in the midst of a significant rebound. With approximately 154,729,000 residents, Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country and, therefore, one of its most important. It is also one of the top 10 oil-producing nations in the world and one of Africa’s largest economic hubs. Because of corruption, poor governance and ethnic and religious tensions, Nigeria has also been one of Africa’s most troubled nations. However, for a little over a decade, Nigeria’s political progress was steady. When Gen. Sani Abacha, its last military ruler, died suddenly in 1998, the country slowly found its way back to democracy. An interim government was put in place, elections were held and power was handed over to the winner, Mr. Olusegun Obasanjo. A former soldier, Obasanjo had previously been head of state. This time, however, he served not as a military ruler but as a popularly elected president. He served two terms and then handed over power to Mr. Umaru Yar’Adua, who won in an election that was widely criticized by independent observers and political opponents, who alleged voter irregularities. In 2010, when health problems led to Yar’Adua’s death, with a year of his term in office remaining, his vice president, Goodluck Jonathan, had to step into the role of president. It was an unforeseen occurrence, and there was speculation as to what might happen next. There was a lot of uncertainty. Everybody wondered what the next election might bring and whether Jonathan could truly stand -- and win -- on the weight of his own strength and leadership. The fact that he did, with nearly 60 percent of the vote, was a sign of hope. Nigeria was indeed moving forward. One of the biggest challenges to recovery that Nigeria and most other African nations have had to face has been the battle with HIV/AIDS. But even there, statistics show that Africans are winning. Jonathan and I are both in the United States this week, as are more than a dozen other African heads of state, to attend sessions at the United Nations High Level Meeting on HIV/AIDS to figure out what additional steps we can take to further reduce the prevalence of the disease in our respective countries. The incidence of the disease and its related illnesses is relatively low in both Ghana and Nigeria, at less than 4 percent of their populations. But we can do better, and I believe that we will. As I watched the immense talent that Sahr Ngaujah and the other cast members of Fela! displayed that evening in Lagos and was reminded of Fela’s outspokenness, I had to concede that if he were alive, he would still find plenty to sing about. One of my favorite songs in Fela’s repertoire is “No Agreement.” It is about the importance of speaking up in the face of injustice, something that all Africans have been doing of late, without the fear of consequence, by raising our voices and by casting our votes. And this, I am sure, would surely have made the Black President proud! “No agreement today, no agreement tomorrow/I no go agree make my brother hungry/Make I no talk.”
iShare Hospitality Project is aimed at creating awareness to children about hospitality so that they can grow up knowing what it means and practicing it in the right way. The word hospitality alone means cordial reception, welcoming someone with kindness and courtesy. Hospitality has existed since the beginning of the human race; it has played an essential role in our social life. Today, hospitality is present everywhere, it’s like a spirit towards people. We however want to fuse this with creating awareness about hospitality as well as the hospitality industry in general. We will be organising various fun activities geared towards educating the child to understand, know and practice hospitality everywhere they go.
Please support this worthy cause for a better & hospitable new generation
For more information on ways to partner and contribute, please contact Antonia on (+233) 302 765 180-2 / 289 115 922 firstname.lastname@example.org www.african-regent-hotel.com africanregent.hotel 221A6151 http://gh.linkedin.com/pub/african-regent-hotel facebook/afropolitan
This essay was originally written for the (highly-recommended) AfricanAmerican online magazine, The Root (http://www.theroot.com).
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DUST editor-at-large, Eli Tetteh, puts together the perfect playlist to demonstrate that politics is about more than politicians and their parties: it’s about the things that affect us all.
TUMI (OF TUMI AND THE VOLUME): “POWA”
This scathing remix almost makes me forget Kanye ever did a song of the same name: so powerful is Tumi’s militant feminist sentiment. The vulnerability of the opening bars alone is a Molotov cocktail to misogyny: “To every girl I cheated on, disrespected, beat on / Called a whore, peed on, had sex with illegal,” he confesses, framing the tirade as a collective apology letter. Using hip-hop, traditionally a vehicle for male aggression, Tumi skewers men for their poor stewardship of the young girls in our societies, laying culpability for generations of chauvinism at the feet of his counterparts. “Lady, that’s not your shame / That there is ours…” Could there possibly be a more powerful use for privilege?
* Quote from Fela Kiuti
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Music is the weaPon
LAURYN HILL: “I FIND IT HARD TO SAY (REBEL)”
L. Boogie’s Unplugged is viewed by many fans the same way some perceive the World Trade Centre: a memorial to madness, the spot where it all went wrong. Dig deep enough, however, and you’ll uncover gems like this soft-spoken call to arms. “You think our lives are cheap and easy to be wasted / As history repeats, so foul you can taste it,” Lauryn sings, indicting the elite for their callous disregard for the underclass. After witnessing the UK’s recent riots, it’s hard not to be chilled by Ms. Hill’s hoarse voice singing: “My own eyes can see through all your false pretenses / But what you fail to see is all the consequences...”
STEPHEN MARLEY FT. WALE: “MADE IN AFRICA”
The disembodied vocal sample that this track opens with drops more than a few jewels: “Africans were the first builders of civilization; they discovered mathematics, invented writing, developed science, engineering, medicine, religion, fine art & built the great pyramids.” With those words, the Marley son lays the foundation for this soulful ode to our luminous continent. By the time the Nigerian-bred rapper Wale drops by to discourse on Mama Africa’s dignity, the cipher is complete: “I can never be ashamed of her / I got my features and my name from her.” What inferiority complex, I hear you ask? Exactly.
With so many things to separate us, it’s easy to forget the many motivations we have for uniting. In that patented laid-back baritone, M-Dot-ti-Dot steps into the next man’s chalewote and jogs our memory. “Junkfood manics, economics is a bluffer / Need to go organic or my health might suffer,” he says, skipping between health hindrances and lamentations about love. No matter what’s eating you, M.anifest has a slice of commiseration to make you feel less alone. “There’s something unusual and beautifully strange about pain / Tell me, what’s sun without rain?” Thanks for the reminder, M-Dot.
JAY-Z/KANYE WEST: “MURDER TO EXCELLENCE”
In their latest video, Ye and Jay carve up a Maybach with a chainsaw and do “atswitswi” in the parking lot whilst pearlytoothed models hang onto the car frame for dear life. Out of touch, right? Perhaps. But here messieurs Carter and West show that they haven’t lost touch with the calamities of the common man. “Is it genocide? Cause I can still hear his Momma cry / Know the family traumatized, shots left holes in his face about piranha size,” Kanye eulogizes. Whilst the two may have risen to lofty upper class heights, they locate their success within the larger black struggle. Nkrumah told us that “the greatest wrong which the departing colonialists inflicted on us… was to leave us divided.” Without knowing it, Jay echoes the same unifying truth: “Power to the people / When you see me, see you.”
COMMON: “BETWEEN ME, YOU & LIBERATION”
I grew up listening to the Common, the battle-rapper who dropped punchlines like “in a circle of f*ggots, your name is mentioned”. To see him mature to a point of critiquing his own homophobia is nothing short of breath-taking. “My whole life it was instilled / This ain’t the way that men feel” he admits, offering up the inner monologue of a “coming out” conversation he had with a longtime friend. As our own society answers questions of tolerance and human rights, Common reminds us that religious or cultural beliefs need never blot out our compassion. “How could I judge him? / Had to accept him if I truly loved him.” Indeed, Rashid.
FEMI KUTI: “OYIMBO”
Scholars and laymen alike have, for decades, ruminated on who’s to the blame for the laundry list of problems many African countries have wrestled with since their independence. Femi’s answer is two-fold: the Western world and its exploitive tendencies, combined with our own willingness to sell ourselves short. “Salvation comes from within,” he says, subtly suggesting that the way out of our troubles lies not in the benevolent hand of the IMF, World Bank or even foreign NGOs, but rather in our own clutched fists. “Oyimbo done kill Africa finish.” Yes, but if you look closely, you can see the hint of a resurrection on the horizon…
ASA: “PREACHER MAN”
Asa lays bare the fragility of the human soul in this modern-day psalm. Whilst Africans have long possessed a dignified appreciation for the divine, it is often obscured today by proselytizing zeal or puritanical arrogance. “Oh, Lord, I’ve been very greedy / I worshipped money, I wouldn’t help the needy,” Asa sings, reminding us that there is more to spirituality than judgmental finger wagging. Few things are more delicate than matters of faith and belief. However, rarely are other subjects discussed with such a paucity of nuance. The picture Asa paints – of spirituality as vulnerability – does just that.
M3NSA/WANLOV: “TENK U”
Amongst an endless roll call of black revolutionaries – Patrice Lumumba, Imhotep, Yaa Asentewaa and more – the FOKN Bois evoke the ancestral spirits of the past and empower us in the present. “I still be very inspired, even though oppressors screw up / We all fi do something if one person fi do am,” Wanlov spits. In an age when day-old tweets are stale and our most concrete connection to yesterday seems to be the browser history we just erased, “Tenk U” confirms that the past is not only relevant, but sacred.
In May, several media outlets carried a story claiming that an NGO had registered 8,000 HIV-positive homosexuals in the Western and Central regions (including junior and senior school students). Unsurprisingly, there was a national outcry. Muslim and Christian groups; Protestants and evangelicals, suddenly coalesced under one umbrella, each calling on government to take urgent action against the spread of homosexuality. Politicians and government institutions (otherwise notable for their silence on - or inability to deal with - other issues affecting our daily lives) jumped on the bandwagon. It is tempting to suggest that the latter were opportunists, but their concerns echo the sentiments of many Ghanaians. Not all Ghanaians. Others argued against what they felt was misplaced hatred and priorities. One group pointed to the apparent illegality of homosexuality under Ghanaian law. Another argued that, although ‘unnatural sex’ is indeed illegal in Ghana, science has yet to definitively prove that homosexuality is, in fact, unnatural. Maybe – they said – it is nature’s response to our rampant overpopulation of a planet we are supposed to peacefully share with other species. The first group responded with the clear denouncement in both the Bible and the Koran of any sexual activity not involving both a man and a
sex & relationships
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woman. They pointed out that homosexuality does not exist amongst animals (although a little research shows that it actually does…) This group views homosexuality as yet another imperial imposition on countries like ours by a powerful Western gay lobby. The second group however says that the first ignores terms and concepts like ‘Kojo Basia’, which existed long before the arrival of any foreigner on our shores. Where the first group points out that that part of the human body was not designed for penetration, the second group suggests that few complain when the owner of that penetrated part is female. This same group wonders how an act behind (very) closed doors between two consenting adults can be compared to murder and theft. The first group however sees no difference (“all sin is sin”) and worries what else legalizing homosexuality will lead to. They worry about the threat gays pose to the Nation’s sexual health. The first group however feels there are far more people in Ghana who cheat and expose their partners to other people’s sexual diseases than there are gays. Yet such heterosexual cheats rarely grab headlines as a sexual-and-moral-healththreatening entity. Both groups can agree that if everyone became gay, humanity would die. The question is whether being allowed to do something previously prohibited means that everybody will automatically (or eventually) do it. Some think of homosexuality as something that weak-minded or broken people gravitate towards because they are poor, emotionally or mentally damaged, or because it is forbidden and therefore cool. Others wonder how anyone would choose a lifestyle that would expose them to ridicule, social exclusion, persecution and even death. They say that if Ghanaians were honest with themselves, they would each remember their sexual experimentation in boarding school and wonder why some seem so incapable of moving past that embarrassing phase, mistaking it instead for something permanent. The arguments go on and on… There are many things that divide Ghanaians. DUST however tries as much as possible to focus on the things that bring us together. One such thing must always be Truth and in the ongoing monologue on homosexuality, there are two such truths we should all agree on.
Jesus Didn’t Judge Not everyone in Ghana is Christian or Muslim. If you are part of the majority that is though, then you must know that Jesus/Issa was not interested in the converted. He came to save sinners: pure and simple. He did not do this with judgment. He did not call for witch-hunts. He did so with compassion. He did not move with people big on religious knowledge at the time: he rolled with the poor, the simpleminded; with lepers, prostitutes and other people shunned by society. Who in Ghanaian society is currently more shunned than the homosexual? Yet the only religious group who seemed to understand this was Ghana’s Seven Day Adventists who (while strongly denouncing homosexuality as sin) issued a public statement questioning the condemning, vilifying and judging of gays. They quite rightly realized that a big part of what attracted people to Jesus’ was compassion… and attracting people was (and should be) the whole point of any Christian institution. Judgement – they say – is for God alone. We Have Our Media – and Ourselves – to Blame It is hard to imagine that someone engaging in something that is either criminal or socially unacceptable would actually sign their name to a document proudly pronouncing their involvement in such behavior. Yet our media suggested that this is exactly what happened… and we believed them. The real story is that Men who have Sex with Men (MSMs) are unable to access HIV prevention programs, due to stigmatization and the apparent illegality of their activities. Since many gays are (forced by social convention to be) married, not enabling them access to treatment is like using a mosquito net with a big hole in it and wondering why you are still getting malaria: you may have your reasons for not patching up the hole, but - whatever they are - you are still going to catch malaria. USAID organized a workshop encouraging health workers to put prejudice and preaching aside (two things that stop both gays and heterosexuals from participating in such programs) and try professionalism, giving everyone equal access to testing and treatment. When one out of the thirty or so doctors in attendance speculated that there were 8000 MSMs in the Western and Central regions, a few journalists leapt into action. Others quickly followed their cue. Note how few of them however reported when the Ministry of Employment and Social Welfare made a public statement that no NGO is – in fact - registering homosexuals in Ghana. If anything, this controversy has – yet again – exposed the disappointing incompetence and mediocrity of Ghanaian journalism. More so (and not unlike the earthquake that sent an SMS announcing its impending arrival) it has yet again exposed our collective gullibility. KG
“Perhaps in the future, there will be some African history to teach. But at present there is none: there is only the history of Europeans in Africa. The rest is darkness.” Hugh Trevor-Roper In today’s political climate, one too easily finds oneself labelled pro-this or anti-that for pointing too questioning a finger or for giving praise where it is due. We wanted to show that it is possible to put together a publication on politics without the overt bias that sadly stains much (if not most) Ghanaian political writing. At first, we thought ‘Nkrumah’ but we like to resurrect people who are in danger of slipping out of the popular consciousness and Dr. Nkrumah is anything but forgotten. Professor Albert Adu Boahene however often is. I read of his passing in the perfectly-named British newspaper, The Independent, in which he was eulogized as a “historian who shone new light on Africa’s past and campaigned for democracy in Ghana.” I noted with pride that, besides both attending the School of Oriental & African Studies (SOAS) in London, we both went to the same secondary school. My first memory of the Professor was in fact from Mfansipim, where I was taught from a textbook he wrote that there is more to African history than the “barbarity and backwardness” suggested by colonial historians like Hugh Trevor-Roper. The Professor was one of several students who went
on strike when the Gold Coast riots erupted in 1948, to protest the imprisonment of the Big Six without trial by the British authorities. Thereafter he would obtain a BA (Hons) in History from the University of Ghana (where, years later, he would become Emeritus Professor of History) and then a PhD from SOAS in 1959. He was one of Africa’s greatest historians, publishing nine books and penning innumerable articles. He served as President of the UNESCO Committee responsible for writing the eight-volume, ‘General History of Africa’. Beyond teaching about history though, the Professor lived it. Once imprisoned for opposing General Acheampong’s military rule, he would ironically preside a decade later over a commission of inquiry into the death of Dr. JB Danquah in Nsawam prison under his old hero, Nkrumah. In 1988, he bravely delivered a series of public lectures on “The Culture of Silence” said to have descended on Ghana under the man who would soon become his political nemesis: Jerry John Rawlings. He famously failed to beat Rawlings at the polls as the NPP’s first ever flagbearer. Nevertheless, it is a testament to both men that the latter was amongst the mourners who visited the Professor’s family when he died in May 2006 at the age of 74. Professor Adu Boahene: DUST salutes you. KG
60 . www.dustaccra.com
The Talk Parti
Increasingly less of a Talk Party than an Action Party, these events - organized by filmmaker Mantse Aryeequaye & cultural commentator, Dr. Sionne Neeley - have already resulted in the Accra[Dot]Alt (now called IndieFuse) Festival and the Chalewote Street Art Festival. When? First Friday of every month Where? Passions Cafe (behind Pippa’s Gym), Osu How Much? Free Info: www.facebook.com/accradotalt
The Ehalakasa Talk Party
Poetry, performance and the power of the spoken word from and in the company of some of Accra’s most creative writers, artists, and musicians. When? Second & Fourth Sunday of every month, 5.309.00 pm Where? The Nubuke Foundation (near Mensvic Hotel), East Legon How Much? Free Info: 0246419861, 0271556786
Like any metropolis, Accra always has a number of cool events and goings-on. You just have to know where to look. Caporeira
For GHc5 per session (or GHc10 for the month), you can partake in this martial art or listen to the live berimbau music. When? Sundays Where? University of Legon Basketball Court Info: 024 394 4499 / 026 915 3265
This interestingly-titled play will be performed at the National Theatre as part of celebrations marking Osagyefo’s birthday. When? 21st September Where? National Theatre Info: (0302) 663449
Nkrumah in Love (play)
The Adventurers in the Diaspora (AiD) Series
Blitz will be bringing down his Embassy Ensemble Band to perform his critically acclaimed (& DUST endorsed) album, Native Sun for the first time in Ghana, alongside Grammy Award nominated Les Nubians. Could well be the gig of the year. When? October 15th Where: Alliance Francaise Entry: TBC Info: +233 302 77 31 34, email@example.com
Blitz the Ambassador + Les Nubians
W b le Kutu W Kpe: Cultures in Confluence
62 . www.dustaccra.com
The Foundation of Contemporary Art will be hosting this art exhibition exploring what brings us together and exactly what it means to be Ghanaian. When? October (tbc) Where?Alliance Francais / The Goethe Institut How Much? Free Info: 0302 78 24 78, 0244 52 74 32, 0244 77 11 9, firstname.lastname@example.org
A forum for critical discussion on the role of creativity and design in Ghana’s development, hosted by a team lead by one of Ghanaís foremost creative minds: Joe Addo. Also check out the AiD film series on the first Saturday of every month. When? First Thursday of every month, 7.00 pm Where? The Branche Lounge at the Golden Tulip Hotel How Much? Free Info: http://adventurersinthediaspora.visualsociety.com
Della Hayes & the Dzesi Band
The Queens of Wednesday night at +233 Jazz Bar & Grill will embark on a tour this September, taking them all across Ghana as well as to Benin, Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast. Catch them wherever you can. When? Throughout September/October Where: Nationwide Info: +233 24 432 7076
The Open Air Stock Exchange
Accra’s very first monthly flea market has quickly established itself as a fine place to find (or flog) home or handmade items, clothes, crafts and more. When? First Saturday of every month, 9.00 am-6.00 pm Where: Nyaniba Park Entry: Free Info: 0244 799 134
High Vibes Festival
Details about this year’s event are very hushhush but High Vibes has always launched Ghana’s festival season and is yet to disappoint for fantastic live music over several days. Last year’s festival was headlined by Afrobeat originator, Tony Allen so expect the bar to be raised even higher as the event goes from strength to strength. When? Mid November (tbc)
Enjoy a movie date courtesy of DUST! We have five pairs of tickets to the Silverbird Cinema to give away. For a chance to win, just visit http://www.surveymonkey.com/dustaccra and answer our short survey. Winners will be announced in the next issue of DUST
We look forward to hearing from you!
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