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& the second coming
8. EDITORIAL 9. CONTRIBUTORS
SEX & RELATIONSHIPS
53. Adventures from the
Bedrooms of African Women ICON
11. ‘You Know You’re in
14. Maize Break 15. Blog 16. Playlist 19. Over Here 24. Write 25. Short
54. Hawa Yakubu
55. The Making of Native Sun
34. We The People 35. Politik
37. Witches of Gambaga
41. Ebo Taylor
48. Rhymes & Rip-Offs
51. How Will You Rock Your
Photo Credit: Adisa Abeba
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Photography: Tobias Freytag Fad Subject: Ebo Taylor Editor: Kobby Graham Thanks to...
Adesa Abeba, Jemima Agyare, Deborah Ahenkorah, Mantse Aryeequaye, Yaba Badoe, Ben Abarnabel-Wolff, Bill Bedzrah, Nana Nyarko Boateng, Esi Cleland, Rosie Fynn, Ghanyobi, Abena Gyekye, Kajsa Hallsberg-Adu, Lauri Kubuitsile, Mutombo the Poet, Eric Ofori, Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah, Edward Tagoe, Ebo Taylor, Eli Tetteh & Wanlov the Kubolor
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Dust Magazine is a publication of Chrysalis Publications, P.O. Box 9916, K.I.A., Accra. Corporate enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org
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Photo Credit: Steven Adusei
Happy Anniversary, Ghana ! Besides our beloved country turning 54, Dust has another reason to celebrate this March: it’s our first birthday! Over the past year, we have attempted to fill a void in Accra for a magazine offering good, intelligent content instead of just adverts and pictures of pretty people at parties you were not invited to. Accra is constantly growing and there is too much going on here not to document and dissect. We are deeply appreciative to the thousands who have picked up the magazine (whether in print or online), who have reached out to us to share stories and ideas, and who tell us we are doing a great job. We are even more thankful to those who point out our flaws and show us ways to improve. It’s really your magazine. This issue, our theme is ‘freedom’ and we have some great pieces reflecting this. Our cover star is veteran highlife artist, Ebo Taylor: a man whose new album has topped music charts all over the world and who many may not know has been sampled by the popular recording artist, Usher. Uncle Ebo has silently become Ghana’s most internationally successful artist. We cover some serious topics this issue, from the persecution of so-called witches to how what is happening in the Middle East has significance in Ghana. We also attempt to capture popular sentiment in ‘We the People’, we celebrate the life and times of the late and truly great Hawa Yakubu, and ‘Adventures From...’ explains the importance of sexual freedom. You can always rely on Dust to celebrate the arts. This time around, we highlight the innovative Golden Baobab prize, the incredibly beautiful artwork of Adesa Abeba, and give a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the upcoming Ghanaian film, ‘Native Sun’. We proudly introduce a satirical new section ‘Maize Break’. Esi Cleland also looks at how Ghanaians refuse to be restricted in our sense of style while Eli Tetteh asks whether visiting artists are giving us value for money. Enough with the talk though. There is a party to celebrate and we would like to share our first anniversary with you. May it be the first of many to come. Happy Independence, Dusties.
Cr yst al is t he publis h er o f D u st Maga zine. Sh e h b e en as a free lance write r for t hree years an d s tudie C ap e d in Town , Oxfo an d D rd u nd e e . Sh e has w orked with nu mb a er of maga n ew s zines p ap e r , s an d organ isat a form ions. She is er e m ploye Globa e of l M ed ia Allia (CNN nce Africa J o ur n of the alist Year Award H ap p s, y FM, eT V Ghan a), wo rking marke as a ting e xecut Nana D a an d a ive ssista r k o a S ek nt ed of Sun yiamah itor day W orld n ew s p ap e r (now Week M an t s e end W orld).
Nana Darko a is a mo de r n Gh O ur d anaia esign woma n er n. Wit Ghan yobi d h a st intere oes n rong limit st in w ot himse o men rights lf to t ’s confin and is he es of sues, has b graph Nana roken desig ic n b ut the m for G rathe ould hanaia attem r n wom pts to Sh e m en. creat art ou anage e s Gha t of d first a na’s esign nd m o layou , t, pho st p o p blog o togra ular an d m n Afric phy ore. In an sexua his ow lity, A words n dvent , “H u from m o ur ures the B my Fo is edroo rte, F of Afr ms un is ican W Alter my Ego. If omen Posts . you t are b life T ake ased O O se p er s o o n th riously nal ex We ca e , perie nnot of the nces conne Renow contr ct.” ibuto ne d a fall in r s an d s mu c his ta line w h for lent a ith Na desire s he is na’s his se to pro for ns e o vide a safe p f hu m he is lace f our, respo or wo to ex nsible men press h ow D for them ust lo - w he selve oks. F t h er s fresh.. s un, exuall . an d other y or Ghan wise. aian.
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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.
...beauty pageants are the number one employers of young girls
almost everyone you talk to is aiming to travel
by Bill Bedzrah
01 04 07 10 13 16 19
Poor people and rich people alike will go to the same street spot if the food is good enough. Ladies & gentlemen wear jeans and full-length clothes at the beach (is there a bikini shortage or what?) Buildings and kiosks are painted in bright primary colours to advertise telecom companies. The only time you see Ghanaian flags flying high and proud is when the Black Stars are playing an important game. A flat is somewhere that wealthy expatriates stay, rather than a starter-home for a young family. You are woken up by Muslim prayers and fall asleep to the sounds of all-night church services. A drain is called a ‘gorta’.
02 05 08 11 14 17 20
The honking of a car horn has nothing to do with an emergency but is rather a signal to potential passengers. There is so much sunshine and heat that you actually look forward to heavy rainfall. People stick to names they know like ‘SANKARA’ instead of new ones like ‘AKO ADJEI’. The taxi driver can tell you the tallest tales... but he doesn’t know where Lokko Street is (do you?) You go to ‘Asanka’ Locals. Yet you are served in a plastic bowl. ECG really stands for ‘Electricity Comes & Goes’
03 06 09 12 15 18
Presidential palaces are demoted to mere Ministry status. Newspaper editors use sexual language to sensationalize the most mundane political occurrences. Dogs on the street would rather be hit by cars than move from their spot. The English language is tortured and abused, especially on fitting shop and salon signboards. Oseikrom prophets are on TV, back-to-back
People are presumed guilty in the popular consciousness before proven innocent (rather than the other way around).
Burma Camp has nothing to do with Aung Sang Suu Kyi.
By Malaka Grant There is no question that when it comes to providing customer service to African markets, the airline industry does its very best to keep satisfaction levels as low as possible.
Since Africa has to develop (and hopefully, achieve) certain Millennium Development goals by 2020, going backwards in education in order to get better air passenger service is not going to be an option. Ms. Blah, never short on ideas did offer one stunning alternate solution. “If governments could persuade more Whites, Asians, Portuguese…anybody BUT Africans to fly to and from Africa, service levels would improve immediately,” she said. “Those people have the perception of being savvy, and therefore can make the demand for better service.” Can an African? “Nope! They sure can’t,” she insisted. “Coffee? I’m so sorry. You don’t drink coffee, do you, African? How about some fetid river water instead?” We declined. Governments meantime are taking the advice of Ms. Blah and others in the industry very seriously. Because many of the loans they will be getting rely on achieving their MDGs, education will have to improve, but there are no limitations on beginning to change the national perception. And that begins with changing the populace’s psyche. Plans have already been implemented to place embargos on jeans, silk shirts, high end shoes or any other commodities that might make individuals feel professional or fashionable. As one minister put it: “It is our duty as a nation to rally together and do this. I know it seems like the equivalent of a crippled man cutting off his legs and hoping a new pair will grow back… but that’s the way it is. Surely we cannot be expected to create and maintain our own aircraft carrier or fleets. That would be disastrous. Anyone remember Ghana Airways?”
UNLOCKING NEW IDEAS...
When it comes to Africa, it’s best not to deliver your best. That’s what the world expects. An industry insider explained this business approach, and what governments and passengers can do to turn the tide in their favor. “Westerners are accustomed to seeing Africans running around topless with loin cloths and bones in their noses,” said Melissa Blah, a writer for a premier international travel magazine. “If governments could persuade their people to be more ‘indigenous’, it might help ease air carriers into this new relationship.” We asked her to explain what she meant by ‘indigenous’. “You know…grunt when you want to say ‘hello’. Use a pantomime when you want a ticket. Surely do not use the English that you’ve been taught in school. Maybe throw in images of a roaming, wounded zebra or two carrying little children to school. The American and European carriers are not prepared to treat African customers like savvy consumers, simply because they do not perceive them that way. But if governments could get their populaces as a whole to adopt a more Hollywood version of how the rest of the world views Africa and Africans as, it would improve service. They would have pity on the passengers, and treat them as charity cases… And charity means kindness.” What about the fact that these are paying customers…some of whom pay over $2500 for a single ticket? “No one cares how much an Africans spend on travel, because Africans trade in beads and cowrie shells… everyone knows that.”
M: +233 24. 3473161. M: +233 26. 6788246. e-mail: email@example.com
why ghana’s mps should be grateful for their grades
by kajsa Hallsberg-Adu
a snapshot of fresh local music, books & films being consumed at Dust HQ
Originally from Sweden, Kajsa Hallsberg-Adu moved to Ghana in 2007 where she is currently a lecturer at Ashesi University College. She is also a blogger, freelance writer, communications consultant and co-founder of GhanaBlogging. Concise, informative and diverse, her self-titled blog grew out of its predecessor, ‘Rain in Africa’. Both get two thumbs up from Dust.
I got a tip from [fellow blogger] Graham about Ghana’s Members of Parliament having been assessed in a Political Performance Index performed by Africa Watch Magazine. Out of 230 parliamentarians, 24 received Fs. Others received As and Bs. There were also Cs and Ds. From a teacher’s point of view, I know that grades sometimes create “learning moments” – reflection and insight can come out of a low grade. This seems to not have happened here and this morning, some of the politicians are lashing out on the grading exercise. One upset Member of Parliament was Honourable Abayatei from Sege constituency (rated ‘C’). He said to Citi News: “They sit down and talk rubbish and write rubbish. If they have no work to do, they must shut up…What right has he got to grade us? What assessment has he got the right to do? …Those of you in the Media must call your friends to be sensible. Criteria don’t even come in because he has no right. Worldwide has there been any grading of any Parliament?” It seems the rating has been done by independent professionals looking at several criteria. According to Ghanamma, it was “MP’s Knowledge of Law Making and the Constitution”, “Participation in Legislative Business”, “Contribution to Parliamentary Debates”, “How The Ideas and Suggestions of MPs Reflect Societies Need” and “Interest and Tolerance of Divergent Political Views”. Although this might not be the best and fairest rating system, I applaud this survey. This is why I think MPs should also be grateful for their grades: 1. The parliament is weak in Ghana. If the only way of getting more power is getting more public support, then we need to see you are working. 2. You were probably rated lower in the public eye. Only yesterday, the news of laptop computers with internet connections being given to MPs was shared (following the car loan, etc), and Ghanaians were heard muttering about not having water in their houses. That’s an F grade the Ghanaian people have given to you already (although I personally think the laptops were the best investment the Government of Ghana could make at this point, but that is another post, I guess). 3. Discussion and information sharing should be encouraged by politicians so that you who work hard stand out and get re-elected. Someone has done your work for you! 4. It is a PR opportunity. Maybe you initiated something we haven’t heard of: this is your chance to inform us! 5. A hardworking MP loves accountability. Do you really want to share benches with people who do not do their part? On this note, I have for some time been thinking about how to introduce something similar to Mzalendo: the Eye on the Kenya Parliament. It is a website that publishes information on MPs and their parties. There are also sections for what MPs do; questions, motions and bills they are involved in. Hence “grading” can be done by the Kenyan people using the facts available. Through such an innovative Parliament watch, we could judge for ourselves. With such information available, it would be easier to do a fair assessment. But regardless of that and regardless if a politician feels we have the “right” to do so, we will grade MPs performance. Isn’t it part of the political game?
The Other Crucifix by Benjamin Kwakye Definition of a Miracle by Farida Bedwei Powder Necklace by Nana Ekua BrewHammond Tail of the Blue Bird by Nii Ayikwei Parkes
Dey Suffer – Richy Pitch feat. Yasmeen Helwani (from the album Ye Fre Mi Richy Pitch) Sweet Memories – Mutombo (from the album Photo Sentences) Love & Death - Ebow Taylor (from the album Love & Death) In the Bush – Yaa Pono feat. Wanlov the Kubolor Horogozov
(Anansi’s ‘What Did He Say?!’ remix)
film / tv
Native Sun (teaser trailer) Blitz the Ambassador Circles: The TV show Looking forward to eTV’s adaptation of Boakyewaa
Glover’s popular novel
Untitled Project Alpha Yahya Suberu
Wanlov the Kubolor feat. Illa Shaz Hands Clean – Rhian Benson (The entire album) Wo Ho Bon – The Sankwas Boys No One Knows Tomorrow – M3nsa feat. Asa (from the album, No. 1 Mango Street)
Born Olufemi Sanyaolu, Parisbased Nigerian artist Keziah Jones is quite the renaissance man. Originator of Blufunk - a fusion of the blues & funk with traces of afrobeat - Jones is also a photographer, poet, playwright & a painter. He was recently in Ghana recording his new album.
Adisa Abeba is a pseudonym for Olga Lolo, a native of Russia who moved to Accra three years ago after having spent a year here back in the ‘90s. The soft-spoken, self-taught musican, illustrator and photographer combines the last two of these skills with creativity and otherworldy imagination to create art as powerful and thought-provoking as it is strikingly beautiful.
I’m inspired by mysterious things, paradoxical situations, everything extraordinary... Everything beautiful.
In her second year of university in the US, Deborah Ahenkorah found out about an organisation shipping books back home to Ghana. Remembering how much she loved reading as a child, she thought it was a great idea and started a club on her campus gathering donated books. In the end, she was able to ship over 8000 books and raise a lot of money to help support education initiatives in Africa. “One day, as we were packing books, I came across one with the picture of a little black girl on the cover. It was the first book of its kind I had seen amongst the thousands of the books we had shipped at that point. That was when it hit me. Yes, we were promoting literacy but in a way it was cultural imperialism. I thought it was wrong that children in one part of the world can see themselves in children’s story books while others don’t. We needed to get Africans to write our own stories.” Instead of letting the idea go, Deborah got a grant from her university. A few years later the 23-year old former Wesley Girls High School student finds herself the co-founder and executive director of The Golden Baobab, an award for writing aimed at children between 8 and 11 or 12 and 15 years of age. She never thought the grant for a small project would grow into a full-time job that would take her on trips all over the continent. Last year, the competition received over 150 short stories from all over Africa. “Every year we have a different set of judges who shortlist the very best stories. The top ten are always well written, reflect african sensibilities but more than anything are unique, imaginative and can be related to by young people.” Deborah believes very passionately that the Golden Baobab will make a great difference in Africa’s literary scene. “Other countries do better with children’s writing because they have people or organisations who champion the craft. We don’t have that here in Africa. We think someone else will do it but nobody does and so we churn out poor quality stuff. Research shows that when you are teaching young people to read, it really helps if you give them stories they can relate to. The fact we don’t have that has contributed to the lack of a reading culture on the continent.”
A di sa
No Ghanaian entry has won the top-prize yet. However, Deborah’s most satisfying moment came about when one of the shortlisted authors was a Ghanaian woman who was working in a children’s library. “She was surrounded by these books and stories but she didn’t even know how to use a computer. She had a story though and got someone to type it up. When she heard she was shortlisted, she just cried. She never thought such a thing could happen.” Award Submissions are currently open and are being accepted until the end of June. For more details, visit http:// www.goldenbaobab.org/.
good goalie, but he needed someone to get the ball down to the end of the field as quick as possible. As quick as Lightning. On the day when things took a decidedly wrong turn, Lightning stepped out the school gate on his way home when he heard the coach call his name. “Hey wait up there, Lightning,” the Coach shouted. Lightning stopped when he heard the Coach and shouted to John Nare, a few steps ahead of him, “Wait a minute!” John was Lightning’s best friend. Their mothers’ compounds stood up against each other and they’d been friends since the time they were in nappies. Where Lightning was tall and tightly muscled, John always looked as if his school uniform was swallowing him. John didn’t run fast or throw a ball far, so he worked hard in class and was always number one, where Lightening hovered in the middle and lived as a celebrity because of his quick feet. It didn’t trouble John, though, for he knew everybody was made their own way and that way was the exact right way for them and no one else. John stopped and twisted his nose to push his foreverslipping-down spectacles back into place. “What does the football coach want with you?” John asked. Lightning shrugged and waited. They’d know soon enough. The Coach jogged up to them panting a bit because of the
heavy stomach he toted along with him. He took a few deep breaths before he spoke. “Lightning, I wonder if you’d like to join the football team?” Lightning thought about it for a bit. Most of the team was in standard six and seven and he was only in standard four, what could he add to the team? He asked the Coach and the Coach said, “I’ll be honest Lightning, we need you for your speed.” John looked at his friend and was surprised to hear him agree to the Coach’s proposal. He was surprised because he knew Lightning inside and out and upside down and sideways. He knew Lightning was a fast runner, but he also knew that his athletic abilities ended there. Exactly there. Lightning couldn’t throw a javelin. He couldn’t climb trees. If he aimed at a bird on the tree with his slingshot, even if you were standing behind, you’d better run because that stone was going everywhere except at that bird. And, if there was even anything like that, kicking a ball was worse. Lightning would wind up his leg and anybody watching would think the ball was about to go flying forever when that foot landed on it, but more times than not, even the landing didn’t happen. Lightning’s foot would go whizzing through the air and the ball would be waiting patiently on the grass hoping someone was going to get it rolling. That ball should have known not to have counted on Lightning. Even if his foot connected, the path the ball would take was an altogether different one than the path the ball was supposed to have taken.
Shortlisted for the Golden Baobab Prize 2010 - Junior Category by Lauri Kubutisile from Botswana (two-time winner of the Golden Baobab Prize)
Lightning was the fastest runner in Old Naledi. From standard one, no one could beat him. Short distances, long distances- it didn’t matter- he’d beat you. Always. If you blinked your eyes when he ran the 100 metres, you’d have missed his race completely because he’d be over the finish line before your eyelids were half way back up. Lightning was fast. That was a fact everyone agreed on, and that’s where this story begins. It begins with a bad idea based on the simple fact that Lightning was the best runner around. See, Coach Modise had a dream and maybe that dream is what made him think a little bit wonky. Winning the Chappies’ Football League was a dream Coach Modise had held in his heart for as long as he’d been coaching football, and that year he thought he almost had a chance. He had excellent strikers and he had a very
So that was why John’s eyes became saucer-big behind his thick spectacles when the Coach walked back to school and he and Lightning turned and headed for home. “What are you thinking?” John asked Lightning. Lightning shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t know. He said he needs me to run fast- I can do that.” “Football is not only about the running…. you need to kick too…in the right direction.” Lightning walked quietly for a while thinking. “I know. You don’t think I know that? Maybe the Coach knows how to fix my kicking. He’s a good coach you know.” John rolled his eyes and said quietly, “Not that good.” *** The next day was Lightning’s first football practice. John sat in the cool shade of a syringa tree at the side of the dusty football pitch. He’d brought his maths homework hoping it would keep him occupied so he didn’t have to watch the disaster he was sure would be happening on the pitch. When Lightning walked out to the field, the boys on the team came forward to welcome him. Teko was the team’s star striker. They called him Dipsy after the famous Zebra’s player Dispy Seolwane. “You and me are going to work together. You get the ball down to the end of the pitch and then wait for me. When I get there you pass it and I make the goal. Easy heh?” Dipsy asked. “Ee, go siame,” Lightning said, everything was okay. He hoped he was telling the truth. The team did a few warm-ups and then ran onto the pitch. John watched as they played. For some time everything was fine. They’d run down to one goal and then back to the other and Lightning was always the first to arrive, but they never passed him the ball. John couldn’t help but feel relieved. He knew, though, the situation was going to change and it did. They were down at the far end of the pitch and suddenly Lightning had the ball. He tried to run and kick the ball down the field and after one wild kick he caught up with the ball and immediately tripped over it and fell on his face. The Coach ran to him, picked him up from the dirt, dusted him off and said, “No problem. You’ll get yourself sorted out.”
But that was just wishful thinking on the Coach’s part. The next hour was made up of balls being passed to Lightning who immediately kicked them out of the pitch, or a few centimetres in front of him. Once he even nearly made an own goal. John felt sick watching it. On the pitch, Lightning was not feeling any better. At one point the huge goalie, Goitseone, who in all likelihood should have been in senior secondary by the looks of him,pushedLightninginfrustrationandshouted,“What are you- an idiot? Just kick the stupid ball!” In the second hour, John thought he saw a bit of improvement. Maybe the Coach could fix Lightning. By the end of practice, when Lightning’s foot pulled back to kick the ball, at least it always made contact. Where it went after that was another story. If he aimed toward the right, it would go down the middle, if he aimed in front of him, it would go left. The team walked off the field in a sulky silence. There were only three days to the first Chappies League game with the Theo Primary School Thunderers. The team thought Lightning would be their saviour, but now they could see he’d be the end of them. But the Coach still had hope. He patted Lightning on the back as he passed. “Don’t worry Lightning, you’ll get sorted out.” Lightning flopped down on the sand next to John. “What am I going to do? I’ll never get better by Friday.” John could see his friend was already down; truth was not something he needed to hear just then. “You improved a lot today, by Friday you’ll be fine.” Lightning’s face lit up. “Do you think so?’ “Sure,” John said as convincingly as he could. John was there for the next two practices. There was a bit of improvement, but still the ball was leaving Lightning’s foot and heading off in every direction except the right one. The team had adapted in a way to the situation. Someone would normally kick the ball down the field and Lightning would just need to catch up with it and run along side without touching it. Then, when Dipsy was in range, Lightning would kick it to him, or at least try to kick it to him. Since Dipsy knew the ball would be going anywhere except to him, he was always ready to dive for it. Occasionally it worked out and he got the ball and managed to make a score, but it was a risky business with a lot of chance involved.
In the last hour of the last practice, John started to notice something. The randomness of Lightning’s kicks was not so random after all. John shot to his feet! There was something going on here! He wanted a better look at what exactly his friend was doing. John dug around in his bag for his protractor. He looked down at the protractor and out at the pitch *** The next day was the big match. Both teams and their supporters gathered on the football pitch. Lightning paced back and forth. “Do you really think this is going to work?” “Yes,” John said. “I watched you, I know what your problem is. Just do what I told you and everything will be fine. Do you have it?” Lightning pulled something from his pocket and held it out to John. It was the protractor. “Okay good, then get going and win that game!” Lightning ran out to the pitch where his team-mates were assembled. Goitseone pushed through the crowd to get to him. “Listen Stupido, try and kick the ball straight okay? If you make us lose this game I’ll put your lights out. Get it?” Lightning nodded. He hoped John’s plan worked. He wasn’t sure which lights Goitseone was referring to, but he was pretty sure he didn’t want his put out. The whistle went and the game started. The Thunderers’ supporters were energetic. They shouted together like rolling thunder- “Baaaa….rrraaa….Boom!” and it made Lightning’s heart shake. Suddenly he saw someone kick the ball towards their goal; he took off running down the field along with the ball. When he saw Dipsy out of the corner of his eye, he quickly kicked the ball, forgetting all about John’s advice and the ball went out of bounds. “Baaaa….rrraaa….Boom!” the Thunderers shouted. Lightning looked at the Coach who sat on a bench at the side of the pitch shaking his head as if he had finally lost hope. Lightning didn’t want to let the Coach down or his team. He needed to keep his head together and use John’s plan.
where he really wanted the ball to go, the ball would go straight to Dipsy. Lightning took a deep breath and let lose with all of his might kicking the ball straight ahead. Suddenly everyone was screaming! Dipsy ran to him and lifted him high into the air spinning him around. At first, Lightning was confused. What happened? Then he saw the ball deep in the corner of the net. They’d made a score! He looked at the Coach jumping up and down at the sideline and then at John who gave him two thumbs up. The score line was 3-0 at the end of the game and the Thunderers went home much quieter than they had arrived not happy about losing. Goitseone came up to Lightning as he walked off the field. “Not bad, not bad at all. I don’t know how you did it, but it worked. ” Lightning found John waiting at the school gate. “So, you were right.” “Sure I was right. The problem was thinking everybody kicks the ball the same way. We’re all different. You kick the ball in the way made only for you. Once I figured that out, it was easy.” Lightning put his arm around his friend. “Thanks you really saved me.” Then he tossed the protractor to John and took off running. “There,” he shouted back, “See if that will help you catch me!” John picked the protractor from the ground where it had fallen, smiled, and continued walking slowly home. The End
Lauri Kubuitsile is an award-winning full-time writer from Botswana. Besides twelve published works of fiction, she has also written two television series for Botswana Television and her short stories have been published in anthologies and literary magazines around the world. She was recently chosen to be a writer in residence in El Gouna Egypt.
Just then the ball was heading in his direction again. If John was right, with Dipsy running next to him, if he kicked the ball straight ahead, at a 90 degree angle from
cares for communities
In the past, residents of the communities depended on unwholesome water from a stagnant pond, which they also shared with livestock, significantly exposing them to water-borne infections and lowering their life expectancy. Tigo’s adoption of this project was triggered by the news of the plight of Kweku Tierefa, a helpless six year old boy who suffered a water-borne disease, as a result of drinking unwholesome water in Kokuramoah. His passionate appeal for medical care was published in the media. When United Way (a partner in achieving our CSR goals) approached us, we deemed it fit not only to support Kweku but also to support the community so as to prevent this terrible illness from afflicting the rest of the community. Tigo paid all of Kweku Tierefa’s medical bills and he subsequently recovered from the water-borne disease. Tigo also facilitated the enrollment of all indigenes in the Kokuramoah on the National Health Insurance Scheme. Wherever and whenever possible, Tigo’s CSR programs involve employee engagement, local partnerships and customer interaction. Being a global telecommunications group with a deep comprehension of the needs in our societies, Tigo Ghana is well positioned to be a force for Supporting Communities and improving lives. We believe that telecommunication is a powerful tool for economic development. Thus, we are dedicated to attending promptly to the needs of the communities in which we operate. ENVIRONMENT Tigo recently organized a Tigo Day of Caring at which some staff of the company visited the Mother Theresa School for Girls to organize undertake general cleaning and construction projects. Look overleaf for some pictures of Tigo making a difference.
As part of efforts in providing care and giving back to the society in which it operates in Ghana, Tigo has been building partnerships to deliver high impact, measurable benefits to supporting communities and improving lives. Tigo does this through Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives on education, health and the environment. EDUCATION Tigo’sprogrammespanstheentirecycleofformaleducation. Atfirstandsecondcycleschools,Tigofocusesoncommunity engagement and local partnerships through construction of schools, provision of learning aids, and usage of the network’s infrastructure to connect to remote areas. As the pupils progress through the educational ladder, Tigo draws on the experience of its staff and other professionals to mentor them while also providing them internship opportunities. This is aimed at grooming the students for the job market in various professional disciplines. Recent beneficiaries of Tigo’s CSR programmes on education are the Nima 1, Nima 2 and St. Kizito Catholic Basic Schools in the Nima community of Accra, all of which Tigo embarked on renovation work on including repairing leaking roofs and ceiling, electrical wiring and painting of the school blocks. Prior to this, classes were disrupted by rain, forcing about 500 pupils of the schools to idle about when they should have been studying. There was also a danger of the school’s weak ceilings collapsing while school was in session. Withthecompleterenovationoftheseschools,teachersand pupils of the schools are relieved and happy: environment has an impact on educational development. HEALTH AND WELL-BEING Tigo recently commissioned a borehole project for Kokuramoah, a rural farming community in the Tain district of the Brong Ahafo region, to provide portable drinking water to indigenes of the community and four surrounding villages of Tainso, Yabraso, Abekwan and Hyamakyenase.
tigo staff clearing weeds
tigo staff engaged in construction work
tigo staff mentoring students
Innovation & Creativity
In a world where businesses are facing change like never before, that change is dictated by forces that include but are not limited to a rapidly expanding marketplace, increasing competition, diversity and sophistication among consumers, as well as availability of new forms of technology. A panacea to the success of a business is Innovation and Creativity. Leaving no stone unturned in delighting subscribers, Tigo recently rolled out three innovative products and services to benefit its subscribers: Tigo Family Care Insurance, Tigo Ads and Tigo Facebook phone. Tigo Family Care Insurance This is a life insurance product for prepaid subscribers and a single member of their families aged between 18 and 69 years. In order to benefit from the life insurance cover, a Tigo subscriber must register him/herself and that family member. This means that if the registered subscriber or his/her registered family member are to pass away, their family will receive money in time of need. When the death is reported with the required documentation, Tigo pays claims within 72 hours. The cover levels range from GH¢ 200- 1 000. How much cover they get depends on how much airtime the subscriber uses in a month either for Voice calls or SMS text messaging. In short, the more Tigo a subscriber uses, the better it is for him/her and their family because they get more insurance. At the beginning of every month, Tigo will communicate the cover levels to registered subscribers via SMS text messaging so they know how much cover they have earned based on their Tigo usage the previous month. Tigo Family Care Insurance is underwritten by Vanguard Life, with administrative support from MicroEnsure. Since its rollout, Tigo Family Care Insurance has received positive feedback, and the company believes the product will strengthen an already deepened relationship with the network’ssubscribersgivingthemareasonnotonlytostay on the network, but to recommend it to friends and family. Tigo Ads It is an open secret that mobile phone users in other parts of theworldhaveaccesstoinnovativeinteractiveadvertising tailored to their personal interests. But in Ghana, Tigo is the first mobile operator to unveil advertising that takes the form of SMS interactive messaging, delivered to the subscriber’s mobile phone free of charge based on the subscriber’s stated permission and preferences. Christened Tigo Ads, the service is designed to provide subscribers with targeted, relevant and engaging advertising experiences. Tigo Ads is a Value Added Service that connects subscribers with the brands they love. Subscribers share their interests with Tigo and receive promotions, discounts, content and exclusive opportunities. Since its introduction, many subscribers have joined Tigo Ads by sending key word JOIN to 9000 to receive free targeted advertising, informing them of products and services offered by organizations and companies such as Air Nigeria, the National Malaria Control Programme, FC Beauty Clinic, Nestle Ghana Limited, DStv, Japan Motors, Universal Motors, HFC Bank and Zoomlion. Tigo Facebook Phone Tigo’s avowed passion to provide affordable, available and accessible communications to all who embrace the brand has culminated in the mobile operator’s introduction of the Tigo Facebook phone. This phone is designed to enhance the social media experience of ardent social networking fans. Tigo gathered from consumer research that limited accesstotheinternetistheprimarybarriertoregularusage of online social media platforms. Against this background, the company reckoned that there is no better time than now to channel social media through a mobile cellular platform, hence the roll out of the Tigo facebook phone. Priced at GH¢49.99, the Tigo Facebook phone is user friendly and allows subscribers to access Facebook just by pressing a key on their handset. The phone also comes with one gigabyte (1GB) free data, free GH¢5 call/SMS credit and has an FM radio. It has a wider screen than most handsets in its category, to improve browsing experience and image quality. By introducing the Tigo Facebook Phone at such an affordable price, Tigo was driven by the desire to make online social communications more accessible to the average Ghanaian. Tigo constantly exploresopportunitiesincreativityandtechnologytomake you … express yourself.
we the people
© dust magazine
voting day on February 18th. And the youth who could have made a difference... sells their vote. I always ask, why should I sell my future to men who are the evening of their lives?“
dubious honour, it is worth noting that we have achieved it with relatively fewer computers and little internet access. The number of computers here is only going to increase, especially as computers get smaller, mobile phones (already very popular here) get more powerful and we become more and more connected to the internet. The key thing about the internet is that it makes information more open. As access to it spreads, the influence of our parents, teachers, government and society as our sole sources of knowledge reduces. Go ask an uneducated Sakawa boy his understanding of how money moves in the world: you might be surprised by the depth of his answer. History Can Happen in a Short Amount of Time At the beginning of the year, no one could have predicted
On December 17th last year, a 26 year old Tunisian street vendor by the name of Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire in his native Tunisia to protest his illtreatment by local police after they confiscated his merchandise. Like many youth in Africa, he had just had enough. His protest was the spark to a flame that has since engulfed the whole region. Protests over his treatment (and subsequent death) have escalated into a revolution that has toppled two presidents and may just claim a few more. All without resorting to violence. To a West African like me, this was almost unheard of. Could what is happening up there could ever happen down here? Of course, our situations are different. Ghana has a functioning democracy that has seen power move from one political force to another and back again without any major problems. We are not led by entrenched, quasi-monarchist leaders grooming their children to take over the reins of power (not politically anyway). Moreover, while Egypt has fewer tribal and religious divisions than we do, we have more freedoms here. That said, the Jasmine Revolution is centred around the basics: a lack of jobs to earn money from, poor living conditions, and massive corruption fattening a wealthy few.
(but not over here)
Sadly, this sounds all too familiar. Never underestimate the ability of Ghanaian youth to sell themselves out. Often without knowing it. I suspect that it boils down to our education system, which teaches us knowledge but fails quite woefully to teach us to creatively think and apply our knowledge to our lives. As Ibrahim Sharqieh of the Brookings Center in Doha says, “an impoverished [but] educated people can more effectively organize violent protests and disrupt stability.” Our so-called education here discourages us from rebellion. It teaches us – from childhood – to conform, to accept and never to question. This works very well in keeping the current system that we all complain about in play. Regardless, there are a few lessons that our (very old) leaders could stand to learn from North Africa. Ghana’s Youth are Becoming Smarter and More Technologically Saavy Our access to media (both new and old) is far higher here than in many other African countries. Dr. Amos Anyimadu recently informed me that Ghana ranks in the world’s top ten for cybercrime. While this is a very
Sound familiar? There are two powerful driving forces behind what is happening in the Middle East. Both of them exist here and both of them are worth noting: youth and technology. North Africa has a bulging youth population. Many of these youth come out of an education system (that does not prepare them for the real world) to find that there are no jobs, especially if you do not have contacts (which most people don’t). No job means no money. No money is completely unacceptable. Again, does this sound familiar? Money is however one of the reasons why what happened in Tahir Square is unlikely to happen in Independence Square, or anywhere else in sub-Saharan Africa for that matter. Blogging from Uganda, Rosebell Kagumire (http://rosebellkagumire.com) writes that many “Africans still see funds as either government property or... a token to their government from western countries.” She adds that, “most youth in Uganda are... engulfed in the craze to acquire quick free money just like their fathers in power. They have not seen what effective institutions mean... There’s a lot of money being distributed now across the country as we near the
that Hosni Mubarak would no longer be Egyptian president before the end of February. His destiny was altered completely in a matter of days. Not millenia. Not centuries. Not years or months. Days. That said, as the Gbagbo Show in Ivory Coast demonstrates, African time is a force of its own. One that moves very slowly. KG
By Yaba Badoe
I wasn’t surprised when I read of the shocking death by burning of Amma Hemmah at the end of last year. The 72 year old grandmother was allegedly tortured into confessing that she was a witch, doused in kerosene and then set alight in Tema. At the time a 9 minute version of my documentary, The Witches of Gambaga, was being broadcast on the Guardian newspaper’s website in London. I wasn’t surprised because I’ve spent the last 5 years making the film, based on the testimonies of women condemned to living in poverty at the witches’ camp in Gambaga. What did shock me was that Ghanaians seemed traumatized by what had happened, when, all around us, abuse of women believed to be witches, is commonplace. Take the testimony of Amina Wumbala, a a 68-year-old widow from the village of Suo in northern Ghana who is a former inmate of the Gambaga witches’ camp: ‘I quarreled with my brother and his family. My brother hit me and made me leave the house. That very night he collapsed and died. His family blamed me: his children beat me up and wanted to kill me. Luckily, my eldest son saved my life. When I was able to move, I set off for Gambaga.’ Of the 3,000 women condemned to live as ‘witches’ in northern Ghana, around 80 of them live under the protection of the chief of Gambaga, Gambarrana Yahaya Wuni. Every year hundreds of women endure communal and domestic violence as a result of traditional religious beliefs that make scapegoats out of women. Women are more likely to be condemned for witchcraft because they’re seen as interlopers in the families they’re born into and outsiders in the families they marry into. It’s assumed that it is in women’s nature to harm others. These beliefs, combined with decades of poor health and educational standards, mean women inhabit a world where it’s believed that nothing - not even illness or death - happens by chance. Although it is usually poor, uneducated women who end up being accused of witchcraft, no woman is exempt. Asara Azindow was once a wealthy trader with her own restaurant and a house in Guishegu. In 1997, she was one of three successful women - all running their own businesses and living independently of men - who were accused of starting a meningitis epidemic. A large crowd of men threatened to beat Asara up; her property was looted and her home destroyed. ‘I didn’t realize how much people hated my independence,’ she told me. I first visited the camp at Gambaga in March 1995, when I was working as a stringer with the BBC World Service, filing stories for Network Africa. I soon discovered that when a woman accused of witchcraft is brought to the Gambarrana, she is subjected to a trial by ordeal. The chief kills a chicken. If it dies face down, the woman is believed to be a witch. But if it dies with its wings facing the sky, then the woman is innocent. If she’s found guilty, it is impossible for her to return home, because she would be lynched; so the Gambarrana gives a woman sanctuary in exchange for a swathe of white cloth and her labour. As I listened to the women’s stories, I began to wonder what would happen to me if I was accused of witchcraft and subjected to a trail by ordeal. It seemed incredible that the death throes of a hen could be used to determine the innocence or guilt of a woman, and could lead to years of incarceration. That this was happening not far from where I was born in Tamale was terrifying. The stories refused to let go of me. Ten years after my first visit, I returned to Gambaga to record and analyse the testimonies of women forced to live as ‘witches’, as a first step to making a film about them. Nineteen women told me their stories, many of whom took part in the documentary, which I directed and co-produced with feminist researcher, Amina Mama. The film is the product of a strategic collaboration between members of the community of witches and women’s movement activists in Ghana and abroad, united by their passion to improve women’s lives in Africa. It goes well beyond the usual headlines, putting faces and characters to extraordinarily powerful, personal testimony. Amina Wumbala and Asara Azindow are two of several women who would have been murdered if they hadn’t found refuge at Gambaga. No one knows the number of women – like Amma Hemmah - who never find sanctuary. The Witches of Gambaga was released in February. It forms part of a nationwide campaign to stop the persecution of women and children accused of witchcraft.
The Witches of
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When I go to meet him, Ebo Taylor warns me that he is a little sleepy and may fall asleep during the interview. I cannot blame him. Well into his seventies, Taylor’s new record, ‘Love & Death’ has topped world music charts all over the globe. The BBC’s Giles Peterson recently gushed about it on Twitter, saying it was as though Fela Kuti never left. In fact, Ebo Taylor may just be one of Ghana’s most internationally-successful musicians today. Not bad for someone who dropped out of sixth form to join a band. Uncle Ebo already had a minor reputation for playing guitar when he cut short his first term of Sixth Form to go on a tour of Nigeria, Liberia and Ivory Coast. Unable to make it back in time for the start of the second semester, he threw his lot in with the band full-time and never looked back. “I was initially playing organ and piano but guitar held a special thrill for me. I studied under famous special guitarists from the beginning: Tricky Johnson of the Tempos Band and Frank Kwame Crofie of Black Beats who would later become a guitarist for Jerry Hansen’s Ramblers Band. They did the right thing. They taught me the right way.” Taylor would go on to learn composition and arrangement in London under the sponsorship of the Ghana High Commission. Like many people of the time, Taylor owes a lot to Dr. Kwame Nkrumah who he says actively supported to the arts and regularly travelled with musicians: “my colleagues in the Uhuru Band went to Russia. He took Bob Cole to London. There was never a state function without music.” When he returned to Ghana, Taylor dedicated his life to the development of highlife. He featured prominently on labels like Essiebons and Poly. During this time, he helped many other musicians out, writing and arranging songs on the debut records of the likes of CK Mann, Pat Thomas, and Gyedu Blay Ambolley. His ambition was to put highlife on the global map. He started teaching in the music department of the School of Performing Arts of the University of Ghana in order to research Fante and Akan music. He made a surprise discovery: “Adowa, Adekum and Asafo... the main ingredient is that they are all in minor mood. The chord changes are very similar to American blues. That funk element exposed by James Brown is African and it’s still there.”
Fantes sing songs about life. The Ga picked that up and started to play asafo as well. I draw from both of these strands
Photo Credit: Rapho (georgien.blogspot.com)
“Fante fisherman working in Accra, carrying goods from ships to the shore, used to interact with the Korle Mashie groups. Korle Mashie became a street expression and then a band. It then found its way back to Fante land who now play a form of Korle Mashie. Fantes sing songs about life. The Ga picked that up and started to play asafo as well. I draw from both of these strands.”
aylor began exploiting the strengths of the local sound and hiding its key limitation: the lack of instruments: “We only had vocal choruses and drums. So I introduced horns, guitars and piano into the arrangement to give it a new profile.“ The formula worked and Taylor found himself creating hits, particularly at the seminal Essiebons label: “Whilst I was recording there, we would try other more experimental tracks on the flipside of the records and it worked well. This encouraged me to write more compositions in this vane.” Today, Taylor finds that Western crate diggers are willing to pay a few hundred pounds to purchase his old records. In fact, none other than international music artist Usher paid Ebo Taylor royalties having sampled the latter’s track ‘Heaven’ on his song ‘She Don’t Know’ featuring Ludacris from his last album, Raymond versus Raymond. Taylor shrugs it off like it’s no big deal. His new record, ‘Love & Death’ is a blistering album full of horns, kicks and snares. The linking of love and death may seem strange to some, but Taylor explains it as “a realization of what love can do”. He says it refers to his feelings for his first wife. Listening to the record is like listening to a world in which Fela Kuti never died. Yet Taylor calls his music highlife: “I don’t really call it afrobeat, which is itself is an extraction of highlife. World music people try to call it afrobeat. I don’t mind. If it conforms to what Fela played, why not? We are all africans. We are all dedicated to propagating this music to the rest of the world. So I dont mind... but I think of it as highlife.”
Photo Credit: Tobias Freytag Fad
he album was recorded with the Afrobeat Academy: an all-star ensemble drawn from some of the best members of various afrobeat bands. Based in Berlin, the group includes members of Fela’s Africa 70 band. Taylor first met the Academy when they visited Ghana a few years back. Two Academy members - Jan Weissenfeld and Ben Wolf – join us during the interview. Wolf says he was here in 2007 with some of the rest of the band to play with Nigerian artist, Bantu: “I asked Panji Anoff about some musicians I’d heard about including Ebo Taylor, who he linked me up with. We played at the DuBois Centre. Uncle Ebo joined us on stage and we played some old numbers. We stayed in touch after that and I tried to raise money to finance flights and accomodation for us to record an album together. People helped out and in summer of 2009, we flew him to Berlin to record.” By the time this goes to print, Taylor will be in the middle of a tour of Europe, Canada and the United States. One might think that age would slow Taylor down, but he loves touring: “To get well known , you have to tour.” He finds himself part of a musical movement experiencing a renaissance in the West because of the award-winning musical, Fela! Produced by Will Smith, Jada Pinkett-Smith and Jay-Z, Fela! was one of the major winners at last year’s
Photo Credit: Tobias Freytag Fad
Tony Awards. A film based on the life of Fela is even in the works with Chiwetel Ejiofor (Amistad, Inside Job) set to play the afrobeat originator. While afrobeat and highlife are experiencing new life in the West, Taylor is saddened by the lack of attention to it here, a point echoed by Wolf: “I think there is a big wave of interest in African music. You find references in all sorts of places. There is less appreciation of it here (in Ghana) than there though. The younger guys don’t seem to be so interested. The real musicians are interested but they don’t have access to the recorded history.
We [in the West] have access to all this music and reissues. The people who grew up with the culture don’t value it there as much.” Taylor says the young cannot be condemned though: “It’s a deterioration of our music but we did the same thing. We tried to fuse funk, reggae and more too. The problem is the absence of music education. The administration has created a vacuum by removing music from the curriculum. My daughter is in university and doesn’t know any music at all. It’s creating channels for people to come out with sorts of music which is destroying the heritage of this country. A cultural imbalance. Can you imagine: when I was in Britain, pianos were imported free of tax. Just to support music” With the success of his new album, it seems Uncle Ebo has inadvertently succeeded in achieving his ambition of making highlife internationally relevant. Regardless of whether or not it is fully appreciated by Ghana’s youth. KG
Love & Death is available now on iTunes. For more information, visit www.strut-records.com
Usher paid Ebo Taylor royalties having sampled the latter’s track ‘Heaven’ on his song ‘She Don’t Know’ featuring Ludacris
why the teflon don is not so bulletproof after all
By Eli Tetteh Recently, Ghana was privileged to host one of today’s most celebrated hiphop stars: the rollicking, the rotund… Rick Ross. A complete unknown a mere 5 years ago, the infamous Teflon Don has, with the help of a string of slick collaborations and a savvy knack for plying radio with bass-heavy coke rap anthems, carved a plus-sized niche for himself. Even folks whose sentiments for the bearded boss run decidedly lukewarm would be hard pressed to deny that last year’s Teflon Don album was a sledgehammer to the world of popular music. “B.M.F” rattled speakers from here to Brong Ahafo whilst the soulful warblings of Chrisette Michele on “Aston Martin Music” wafted ironically from the windows of Toyotas all over Accra. Unsurprisingly, then, news of the big boss’ intent to grace the Gold Coast with his big-bellied presence sent ripples through the masses. This concert would send 2010 packing in grand style: we could trust that it would be worth clearing the calendar – and the wallet – for. Right? Wrong. Allow me to sidestep the after-the-fact laments of the brevity of Rozay’s Conference Centre cameo (Less than an hour long?) or the overblown ticket prices (100GHC, really?) to point to a basic truth which many, in their rush, did not consider: that liking an artist’s songs doesn’t mean you’ll love their live show. Any good music appreciator knows that the stage and the studio are two completely different universes. A great catalogue of hits is an important part of a stellar concert, certainly, but it’s far from the only part. Heck, one might argue that it’s not even paramount. A concert is a performance, an event, a spectacle. Rather than let the songs do the work, a live artist must enthrall. For however long they occupy that space – whether for three hours
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or thirty minutes – it’s their job to light up the stage and leave the audience marvelling. It may make you wince to hear it, but when it comes to on-the-spot dynamism, R. Rozay Esquire just isn’t that guy. But if Rocked Out Ricky doesn’t fit the bill, who does? If you’ve ever seen some of Ghana’s most enlivened, you already know the answer to that. Take Samini for example. With over ten years clocked in the game as well as MTV Africa and Music Of Black Origin (MOBO) awards tucked comfortably under his belt, the man has sharpened his chops at hole-in-the-wall venues and in front of jam-packed stadiums. And trust me: when he hits the stage, it shows. Excited, enthusiastic and with energy to spare, the man completely connects with his audience. As he stomps across the stage like a proud king and then, seconds later, slinks from one end to the other in a tiger-like crouch, you’ll wonder whether you’re watching theatre or a musical performance. And Samini isn’t the only one. A consummate entertainer, Wanlov the Kubolor wrote the textbook on authenticity; his performances showcase humour, exuberance and sobering reflection in equal measure. If you’re lucky enough to be in the audience, you have no choice but to accompany him for the ride. I’ve seen Kubolor leap from the unrestrained vim of “More Goals”, his tongue-in-cheek dedication to the Black Stars, to the stripped down beauty of “More”, where he paints a poignant illustration of inner-city poverty. And at every turn, Wanlov serves up something new: a different subject, another language, a musical instrument you’ve never seen used on stage before... if anything, a Kubolor concert keeps you guessing. And that’s what audiences ought to expect from the concerts they attend. When I buy (or, ahem, download) an artists’ music, I’m content to sit, swaying in my living room or nodding my head to the rattling subwoofers in my car. When I come to a show, however, I expect more than bass: I expect bombast. Thankfully, Ghana is blessed to have artists who deliver that. I’ve seen Samini lead a crowd in patois chants and entreat them to swing their handkerchiefs above their heads, all the while hopping from one foot to the other whilst waving his arms like a belligerent conductor. All without missing a beat. And Pidgin Music’s wrap-wearing pedestrian is no less daring. Every performance Wanlov puts on becomes its own unique beast, a blank tapestry across which he slips, mixing musical genres, tempos and points of view without a glitch. So, the next time an internationally adored artist arrives in our fair capital to put on a “show”, I’ll do what I’ve always done: place them on the scales and see whether the product they’re peddling matches the standards of our homegrown heroes. Because no matter how hard your single jammed last year or how tenaciously your auto-tune anthems clung to the Billboard charts... if you can’t ascend that stage and leave it sufficiently scorched, you’re not taking my ticket money. Sorry, Officer Ross.
HOW WILL YOU ROCK YOUR HERITAGE?
I work at a shop called AfroChic. We make compliments. Or rather, the kinds of clothes that get compliments. This compliments shop has four collections every year: one for each quarter. March being the month in which Ghana gained independence, AfroChic celebrates our unique heritage with an annual Heritage Collection. In preparing for this Heritage Collection, we’ve spent the last three months thinking about what the theme would be. Lots of cool ideas came up. What if the collection was inspired by Ghanaian fashions of the 50s, and 60s? Wouldn’t it be cool to bring back some of what Ghanaians were wearing at the time of independence? Or perhaps to make a collection inspired by the film ‘Heritage Africa’? How about a collection inspired by our traditional modes of dress? A collection inspired by some of our fabulous past first-ladies like Fathia Nkrumah or Mrs. Rawlings? All great ideas. But we had to table them because we wanted this first Heritage Collection to be reflective of the views of today’s young Ghanaian. We went back to the drawing board. We looked at ever yone and anywhere for ideas. We talked to anyone who would talk to us. Through these conversations, one of AfroChic’s biggest fans who has dedicated his life to advancing local Ghanaian languages told us that his turning point came when he realized that we were fundamentally unable to alter a language that is not our own. He was struck by how much the pidgin spoken in secondary schools changes so much over a few years - how much people add to and take away from it because they own it - compared to how few our contributions to the English language have been. Naturally, it made us wonder, what do Ghanaians do with our clothing? Once we asked that question, we found the answer was in front of us! All we had to do was look, and look we did. AfroChic fans were ignoring the limited categories in which we’d placed our clothes: Work, Party, Casual. A dress that we designated as a work dress was reinterpreted as an engagement dress! The re-interpreter rocked it with jewelry and matching shoes and got lots of compliments. Another person ripped one tier off a dress that AfroChic intended to be modest and wore it to a beach party to the envy of her friends. She transformed the dress from cute...to sexy! We realized that this wasn’t just the case with AfroChic or even clothing. What we were seeing is how young Ghanaians interact creatively with things that are theirs. Our heritage has always been ours. We’ve defined it. We’ve evolved it. We’ve mixed and matched foreign influences. And just as we’ve done with music, AfroChic saw Ghanaians taking the thing that is their heritage – in this case, clothing - and altering it to suit their tastes. We loved that! The ways AfroChic fans were using the clothes were so unexpected, that we, inspired by them decided to make the overarching theme of our Heritage Collection “UNEXPECTEDNESS”. That means every item in the collection has unexpectedness baked in. We went for fabrics with bright and bold colors, even for work clothes. Not exactly what you would expect. In terms of design, we found ways to add something unexpected to each outfit. Whether through the a sexy opening at the back of a dress that bares the wearer’s back, or the mixing of fabrics like bright yellow with black and white....to get stunning results. We felt freed to combine pink lines with black and white rocks, denim with wax prints...and solid chinos with prints. But all this is only one part of the story. The other par t is all the UNEXPECTED ways that people will rock their Heritage, beyond what we at AfroChic could conjure in our wildest imaginations. AfroChic fans are teaching us that if three different Ghanaian women own the same dress, they will each rock it differently. One might throw on a cardigan, a belt and a pair of Mary Janes and take it to work. Someone else will accessorize with bright, chunky beads, kick on some 4-inch heels and sling on an oversized tote with sunglasses to boot...ready to hit the bar. Another will enjoy it as a sundress... pop on a raffia hat and walk barefoot at the beach. The men roll up the sleeves of their shirts to reveal fascinating designs, or wear it buttoned up to conceal them. So as we await the launch of our Heritage Collection, we wonder... how will you rock your Heritage? By ESI CLELAND After 12th March, you can find out how today’s Ghanaians are rocking their heritage on AfroChic’s facebook page. You can also shop the Heritage Collection by visiting the AfroChic shop at 20 Lower Hill, University of Ghana, Legon or ordering online at www. afrochiconline.com
Afrochic Logo + tagline.pdf 5 8/16/2010 12:44:12 PM
compliments are always in fashion.
Visit our shop at 20 Lower Hill, Univ. of Ghana, Legon or Shop Online: www.afrochiconline.com. Tel (020) 015 8696.
SEX & RELATIONSHIPS
sex & relationships
dventures from the bedrooms of african
by Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah
looking for sexual freedom
What does it take for a woman to be sexually free? What does sexual freedom look and feel like; what does it mean, and most importantly, how does one experience it? In my opinion, the Ghanaian context sets the stage for women’s sexual repression, a phenomenon which often leads to the sexual abuse of children. Based on conversations with a variety of women, I will argue that the recent case of Jesus One Touch is not as rare as one may think. Young girls the breadth of this country are sexually abused by the very people into whose care they are entrusted: uncles, grandfathers, fathers, cousins, domestic helps, etc. Most of these cases go unreported because families like to hush up such issues. You might hear a warning to the child, “Herh, I have told you not to go into uncle’s room when he calls you”. How can children deal with this abuse with no counseling, and often with very little or no recognition of the fact such exploitation has taken place? How does a young girl deal with the guilt she may feel for having participated in a sexual act, the unwarranted feelings of pleasure she may have had, and the sense that she has been a “bad girl”? How does this affect her as an adult? Some Ghanaian women also experience acts of violence designed to control their sexuality. Female genital mutilation (FGM), a practice in which the clitoris and/ or labia are incised, excised or cut off, is a prime example of this. Inherent in this act is the explicit message that a woman’s sexual organs are dispensable, and that her sexuality needs to be controlled until a suitable patriarch can take possession of it. A woman does not, even cannot, own her own body. The fact that these acts of genital mutilation are carried out by women demonstrates how our socially constructed culture sustains itself by using selected women as custodians of its norms. A lack of progressive sexual education also adds to the state of sexual ennui many Ghanaian girls and women find themselves in. Sex education, much less the progressive kind, is completely lacking in Ghana. The HIV & AIDS pandemic has spawned an onslaught of sexual health campaigns on safe sex. Unfortunately, this effort is often unimaginative and limited by its emphasis on ABC (Abstinence, Be Faithful, Use a Condom). To paraphrase one of my older sisters in the women’s movement, ABC leads to D, which is death. Where is the acknowledgement that the vast majority of women cannot negotiate condom use with their partners? How do we reconcile ‘Be Faithful’ with the fact that the highest risk factor for HIV in West Africa is marriage? And where oh where does sexual pleasure fall in the ABC formula? I propose that we take a different approach towards the goal of women’s sexual freedom. We need to protect our children from sexual abuse and the continuation of that abuse which adult women experience as sexual harassment. We need to have open and frank conversations with children about sex and diverse sexualities; tell your daughter it’s called her ‘vagina’ and not her ‘down there’, for example. As adult women, we need to take responsibility for our sexual health, learning, exploration and pleasure. It’s time to redefine ourselves as subjects, not objects, in our own sex lives.
“I seek for political power and win any election I contest but if my winning the 2004 elections in Bawku Central will lead to bloodshed then I prefer to lose to save and salvage humanity and precious lives” The above quote from one of Ghana’s great daughters highlights a lesson in conciliation and putting Ghana first that many a modern politician would do well to remember and emulate. I met Hawa Yakubu in London back in 2003. I had just started an internship at the Foreign Policy Centre, a think-tank established by British Prime Minister Tony Blair to think of new ways of looking at global issues. We were organising a seminar on intervention in West African conflict, and my bosses – tired of the usual line-up of verbose male panelists – asked me to recommend a Ghanaian woman who was intelligent and outspoken enough to represent the continent well on a high-profile panel. Only one name sprang to mind. Yakubu spent six decades on Earth, half of which she dedicated to politics until cancer took her life away four years ago. In her twenties, she was elected unopposed to her local council. At various points in her later life, she would become MP for Bawku Central, the first vice-President of the NPP, a Minister for Tourism in the NPP government and eventually an activist against Female Genital Mutilation, in favour of female empowerment, children’s rights, good governance and conflict resolution. It was a tumultuous life during which she overcame not just gender, cultural and financial impediments, but also political exile and several attempts on her life. Hawa Yakubu was the first real star of the Fourth Republic’s first Parliament. She developed a fierce reputation as the MP most likely to speak the mind of masses and tell pussy-footing politicians what they did not want to hear. I was a mere teenager at the time – relatively uninterested in the news. Yet I still have memories of Yakubu telling things like they were, voicing the thoughts of the voiceless. The public loved her for it. On Independence Day in 1992, she said “I strive for a system where we will have a talented youthful populace whose business is to create an environment of daring thinking, test the boundaries and structures of knowledge and above all celebrate the unity that keeps us free.”
Dust couldn’t agree more.
Blitz the Ambassador recently returned home from Brooklyn, New
the making of
York with a film crew. They were here to shoot scenes for ‘Native Sun’: a conceptual film tied to his upcoming album of the same name. Besides salivating over the lush movie teaser, Dust attended the album preview and can vouch that the album sounds amazing. Mantse Aryeequaye took these behind-the-scenes photos of the movie.
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