and the death of mediocrity

e.l

June 2012

www.dustaccra.com

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Contents
7. Editorial 8. Contributors

FREESTYLE
11. You Know You’re in Accra When 12. Health: Love Thy Kidneys 14. Out There: Mimi Plange 15. Out There: Kae Sun 16. Passing Through: Aloe Blacc 19. Playlist 20. Heart: The National Museum 22. Tech: Social Media for Social Change 24. Akasanoma: The Electricity Experiment 27. Feature: Ghana Decides

POLITIK
29.We the People 31. When the Silent Speak 32. Essential Ingredients for the Campaign Trail 36. Surviving the Wrath of the Gods

WORD
38. Blackout

FEATURE
42. EL: On a Long Tin 50. Daniel Jasper

SOUL SEX & RELATIONSHIPS
58. Sexual Authenticity & All That BS
www.dustaccra.com

56. Waking Up

59. Shot

ICON
60. Jerry Hansen

Image taken from the cover of Jerry Hansen & the Ramblers International Band, ‘Dance with the Ramblers’ on DECCA Records.

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DUST MAGAZINE
Advertising +233 277 828 109 Editorial +233 26 888 1111

Cover: EL by Hansen Akatti Editor: Kobby Graham Thanks to... Abena Serwaa, Aloe Blacc, Barcelo’s (Osu), BBnZ, Daniel Akrofi, Daniel Jasper, Edward Adjaye, Elorm Adablah, Ebenezer Gwumah, Elvina Quaison, Ghanyobi, Hansen Akatti, Ivy Prosper, Kae Sun, Kinna Likmani, Jason Nicco-Annan, Kwabena Oppong-Boateng, Maame Aba Daisie, Michael Annor, Mimi Plange, Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah, Paapa H Mensah, Seton Nicholas, Sharifah Issaka, The National Archives, The National Museum, Victoria Okoye Dust Magazine is a publication of Chrysalis Publications, P.O. Box CT2838, Cantonments, Accra Corporate enquiries: enquiries@dustaccra.com Editorial enquiries: editorial@dustaccra.com Subscriptions: subscriptions@dustaccra.com 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. Printed by Buck Press All rights reserved. Copyright © Dust Magazine 2012

NoNstop to

New York
From AccrA

editorial
We have a habit here of holding up mediocrity and mistaking it for excellence. It is not intentional, but we have been doing it for so long that it has stuck. We accept ourselves as second best, incapable of being more than what we are. The words “We can’t,” become a self-fulfilling prophecy. You see it in how we apply lower standards to our own ideas and creations when comparing them to those from elsewhere in the world. You hear it every time we settle and accept the status quo, uttering those infamously Ghanaian words, “fa ma Nyame...” God helps those who help themselves. Our lack of innovation is linked to the creativity that we have so carelessly stripped away from our syllabuses. We dream of a better Ghana, but that dream is vague: we lack the imagination with which to colour it in. In fact, the national imagination has been starved. So let’s feed it. Let’s start dreaming big. Let’s force ourselves to see ourselves doing things we think ourselves currently incapable of. The opposite of being mediocre is to stand out. To be exceptional. To be extraordinary. I like this word a lot, because it contains the word “ordinary”. Ghanaians don’t like ordinary. We like to stand out. Strangely, we often do that by fitting in, buying (mostly imported) things or buying into (mostly imported) ideas. The word ‘extraordinary’ suggests that if we learn to love the things we ignore and consider ordinary, we may emerge with something so ordinary that it is somehow greater than ordinary. Something authentic. Think local, act global. DUST believes in this idea. Instead of holding up society’s shiny objects, we take pride in things others may consider mundane. It is in these things that we - as a people - shine through, in a way no one else can. These things make us who are. They define us, which is why we cannot move away from them in spite of our worst efforts. In these things lies our authenticity. Let us start looking within ourselves, both as individuals and as a nation. Those things you take for granted? Look at them again. Perfect and hone them. Take pride in them. Excel in them. Somewhere in there, you will achieve authenticity and leave mediocrity behind.

Kobby Graham

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contributors
Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah

Crystal Svanikier

Crystal is the publisher of Dust & co-host of our show on YFM 107.9 DUST LYVE!. A freelance writer for over 5 years, she has studied in Cape Town, Oxford & Dundee. She has worked with a number of magazines, newspapers & organisations. She is a former employee of Global Media Alliance.

Seton Nicholas

Eli Tetteh

DUST Editor-at-Large Eli Tetteh has had a lifelong love affair with words. Most recently, the communications consultant, freelance writer & social media enthusiast worked as head of Ashesi Universityís Writing Centre & as Senior Communications Officer with Stratcomm Africa.

Ghanyobi

Nana Darkoa is a modern Ghanaian woman in the business of breaking the mould. With her strong interest in women’s rights & issues, she manages Ghana’s first & most popular blog on African sexuality, Adventures from the Bedrooms of African Women: a safe place for women to express themselves - sexually or otherwise.

If you have ever looked at DUST’s design and found yourself scraping your jaw from the floor, blame Ghanyobi. Breaking out of the confines of graphic design, he uses design, layout, photography & more to create art that is fun, fresh... & - above all - Ghanaian.

DUST’s Photo Editor is a photographer who uses the power of his lens to observe and reflect on all the intricacies of Ghanaian life. Seton is responsible for most of the magazine’s original photography.

Jason Nicco-Annan

Ebenezer Gwumah

A graduate of Ashesi University College, Jason Nicco-Annan is a part-time designer, writer, photographer and all-round creative. As DUST’s new Associate Editor, he brings to the table not just his penchant for good writing but also his nuanced observation of Ghanaian popular culture.

A Dansoman bred Ashesi University alumnus, Ebenezer is an avid creative and unashamed social media enthusiast who hopes to understand how ‘design thinking’ can help make Ghana work better.

Abena Serwaa

Daniel Akrofi

Daniel Akrofi is a 4th year student at Ashesi University College. Though he offers a major in Business Administration, he has a passion for computer graphic design fuelled by 30% talent, 20% luck and 50% the amazing people he says he finds himself surrounded by.

Abena is a biomedical researcher, PhD student, & part-time procrastinator who blogs at Ramblings of Procrastinator in Accra. She’s compiling a book entitled ‘Ghana Politics 101: The Aspiring Politician’s Comprehensive Guide to Navigating the Murky Ghanaian Political Terrain... from a Safe Distance!’ Elvina Quaison is the director of Silk Solutions, a company that assists the Diaspora in their business interests in Ghana. She also writes a blog on her own experiences of moving to Ghana. Check out www.wordpress. amomentinmymind.com and www. wordpress.silksolutions.com Paapa Kwaku hMensa, commonly known as Paapa, is a music artist and producer signed with Skillions Records Ghana and a student at Reed College, USA. He focuses his artistry on spirituality and critical Christian thought, recognizing that his primary mission on earth is to please God in all things.

Sharifah Issaka

Paapa hMensa

Michael Annor

Michael Annor is a 19 year-old student of SOS-HGIC’s graduating class of 2012. An internet junkie, he likes to keep up to date with things going on around the world, & expresses himself through his blog (kobby. tumblr.com) where he posts his thoughts on politics, news, music, religion & more. Most importantly, he says, “I love Africa!”

Elvina Quaison

Sharifah Issaka was born in Ghana, but raised in Canada and Saudi Arabia. Quite random but so is she. A budding filmmaker, Sharifah is obsessed with travel, technology, and social media (follow her on Twitter @WizSharifah). She is also a lover of all things creative, cool, and above all comedic (she tries not to take life too seriously)

PANCAKES, WAFFLES, MOVIE MAGIC, SWIMMING, ICE CREAM & MANY MORE FUN ACTIVITIES

freestyle

You know you are in Accra...
01 02 03
When the national coach is (finally) Ghanaian! When the songs equate love with cheese, strawberry ginger, toffee and various other high-end food products When all the biometric voter’s registration personnel decide to take a lunch break at the same time (regardless of the length of the queue) When drivers blow their horns as though their lives depend on it, yet our accident rate remains ridiculously high When even the craziest drivers stop their cars to let school children cross the road

04

05 06

When you encounter an undergraduate who is interested in the boy who is chasing her... but, for some strange reason, tries to hook him up with her friend When ‘wee’ is not a reference to urination When the price of moving around town is four times what it is in the rest of the country When ‘politics’ is a dirty word (and yet the rest of the continent feel we are obsessed with it) When politicians denounce tribalism, but defend party members who make tribalistic comments (instead of immediately denouncing and disassociating themselves from them)

07 08 09
Photo Credit: theigc.org

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Health

Lkidneys
ove thy
By Elvina Quaison

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I recall sitting on a bus, when the white noise of people bustling, settling and chatting was penetrated by a commanding voice. It started with a prayer - a voice rolling and pitching, expounding with authority - then slipped smoothly from pastor to purveyor of magic! “Wei y3 eduro paaa... all the medicine you need if you have high blood pressure, diabetes, migraine, back pain, HIV, period pain, blood cancer...” and the list goes on. The magic is in the cost of the substance: it is cheap, promises much and, of course, the seller is very believable. Flip subjects for a minute to kidney disease. According to the Ghana Kidney Foundation there are over 5,000 people living with kidney-related problems. Of this number, 2000 need kidney transplants. Due to high costs, such transplants are out of reach for the majority of patients. According to the Head of the Police Hospital Renal Unit, renal cases constitute 9.5% of all medical admissions. In the eighteen years between 1972 and 1990, there were only 200 cases. In the three years between 2005 and 2008, the unit undertook 4000 dialysis sessions: a 2000% increase. The number of kidney disease patients is climbing fast. The majority are aged from 25 to 40. Some are however as young as 12. A great deal of the blame is attributed to drugs BUT not the kind that you would

assume: cocaine, marijuana (weed). No. This time, it’s herbal drugs. While herbal medicines can have healing attributes that surpass western medicine, caution and knowledge still need to be in place. In a recent conversation with my father, I discovered that his older brother (who I never met) died from drinking a herbal medicine tea. My dad was promptly banned from touching any such concoctions. All medicines carry side effects and toxins which put pressure on the kidneys. The problem is when people mix the two, causing themselves huge amounts of damage. Nobody is ensuring that what is inside the bottle is safe for your consumption. Be it traditional, herbal, Western or Chinese, all medicines have their positive and negative aspects. Ghana has a number of associations you can refer to, including the Traditional Medicine Practice Council, which provides assistance, training and information regarding traditional and herbal medicines. I would suggest referring to them before taking anything. Your responsibility is to research and question what you are taking before you take it. After all, you want to be sure you are healing and not hurting yourself!
For more info, visit the National Kidney Foundation (NAKID) website, www. nakidfoundation.gh.org or call them on 030 2673033 or 024 4483995

Out There

MIMI PLANGE
Ghanaian fashion designer Mimi Plange has received international acclaim as an emerging talent in the fashion world. Earlier this year, British newspaper The Guardian named her as one of three African designers “next in line for fashion greatness.” Born in Ghana and raised in California, Mimi studied architecture before affirming her love for fashion, enrolling in San Francisco’s Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising. She later moved to New York to work for designer Rachel Roy before launching Boudoir D’Huitres in 2007. She relaunched the label under her own name and has been turning heads with her collections ever since. One huge fan is André Leon Talley, former American editor-at-large for US Vogue and frequent judge for America’s Next Top Model. “[She] knows precisely what a woman wants to wear,” he said. “Plange is a name to watch: she’s got great promise.” Her stylings are now hugely sought after by the likes of Alicia Keys, Janelle Monae, Estelle and Rihanna. As far as successful Ghana transplants go, we think Mimi Plange is definitely out there. -JNA

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Out There
Photo Credit: hdptcar http://www.flickr.com/photos/8788342@

KAE SUN
Toronto-based Ghanaian singer-songwriter Kae Sun came home last month and tour the roof off of Taverna Tropicana, where he played cuts from his 2011 EP ‘Outside the Barcode’ and more. Culture connoisseurs, Accradotalt, who hosted the session, describe his sound as “a bold blend of opposite angles – Ghana and Canada, folk + funked-up soul, futuristic and organic – that congeal in just the right way... His sound is now grown up and full-bodied – his melodies thick, strong, coffee brown alert...” If you want to hear more about the man and his music, visit his website www.kaesun.com
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Passing Through

Photo Credit: walterpphotography.wordpress.com

ALOE
blacc

Aloe Blacc hit the top of the charts last year with his song, ‘I Need a Dollar’ (a song you might hear if you listen to ‘Ryse & Shyne’ with Ms. Naa or DUST LYVE - both on YFM 107.9) The American/Panamanian singer-songwriter recently visited Ghana at the behest of UK-based charity, Malaria No More, to help raise awareness around malaria. While we often treat it lightly, malaria is still a major killer, especially of children. While we in Accra did not get the chance to hear his music, he did sing for the children he visited in Ejura. Visit dustaccra.com to read what he wrote about his trip.

a snapshot of fresh local music, books & films being consumed at Dust HQ

film / tv
An African Election
Jareth Merz (yes: again...)

music
Memory Lane
Yasmeen

Let Me Love You (Bugz in the Attic Remix)
Bunny Mack

Adjoa (A Rexdale Love Story)
Spek Won feat. Muhsinah

books
My First Coup d’Etat & Other Stories from the Lost Decades of Africa
John Dramani Mahama

The DUST team is looking forward to reading His Excellency Vice President John Mahama’s new autobiographical book. Due in July, the book chronicles the Vice President’s early years when rumours of a coup reached his boarding school and his father (a minister) went missing, imprisoned for over a year. Literary legend, Chinua Achebe reviews the book on Amazon.com saying, “With crisp yet sweeping prose, John Mahamaís memoir... provides insights into Ghanaís, and by extension, Africaís struggle to weather its historical burden and engage with a world much removed from her dilemma... His is a much welcome work of immense relevance to African studies and deserves serious critical attention.” From the other side of the continent, the Kenyan author, Ngugi wa Thiongío writes “... he interacts with history as a living tissue. The characters and the episodes are part of the everyday but one imbued with magic and suggestive power that go beyond the concrete and the palpable to hint at history in motion.” With such heavyweight endorsements, the book looks set to be a very interesting read.

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Heart

The National Museum
Words & Photos by Crystal Svanikier

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There are few things more instrumental to the success of a people than their sense of collective identity. In Ghana, we have been blessed to have an evolving, yet paradoxically entrenched, sense of self, which in many ways is still deeply rooted in the ‘Ghanaian Identity’ formed by our first President, Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah. His belief in Ghanaian and African unity manifested in a number of projects geared to consolidate the Ghanaian sense of self. One of these projects was the National Museum. Long forgotten by some and never heard of by many, the National Museum is a time capsule housing not only archeological, cultural and historical artifacts, but also an intriguing impression of honoured memories of a past when Ghana was undeniably the brightest star in Africa. The museum was opened 5 March 1957 in commemoration of Ghana’s independence. Apart from battalions of school children and the sporadic curious tourist, not many people go to the National Museum anymore. It is true that much okay, most - of the museum hasn’t changed since it opened. However, the part that does change - the space reserved for temporary exhibitions - makes it worth the mere two cedi entrance fee. The last exhibition, entitled ‘Malaria: Blood, Sweat, and Tears’, was a showing of award-winning photographer, Adam Nadal’s work, and - trust me - it was not as boring as it may sound. After spending time in a number of malaria endemic countries in Asia and Africa, Nadal amassed a poignant collection of images, personal stories that document the impact malaria has on individuals and communities. The images were not what one would expect from the lens of an outsider looking in: objectified and stereotyped. They were refreshing, educative and familiar - especially to me, a persistent malaria survivor. I hope every one of you will be inspired and take a trip to the National Museum soon, whether there’s an exhibition on or not. There is something to be said for reminding oneself where one has come from, and if the visit incites a fire to support the custodians of this collective identity, even better. There is no better way to hold on to the things you love about yourself, the things that we all are and the things you never want to lose.
For more information of the Ghana National Museum, visit http://www.ghanamuseums.org For more about how you can support the Ghana National Museum, visit http://www.friendsofnationalmuseum. tumblr.com

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Tech

social media for

There’s this wave of youthful activism moving across the globe and it has all been centred on social media. Several countries are undergoing significant revamps - economic, political, or social - and as one generation fades out for the next to take charge, it’s every citizen’s social obligation to get involved; especially with politics. Politics has got to do with things that affect us as citizens; traffic jams, power cuts, armed robberies, etc. It’s not a contest to show who can play the blame game best. On the African continent, politics has for so long been depicted as the forbidden [dirty] game meant

Photo Credit: causeglobal.blogspot.com

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Take a moment to think about each time a television broadcast has been interrupted for a commercial. It might have felt like a disturbance, but whichever way you look at it, it still captured your attention; at least for a minute or two. More often than not, it creates a lasting impression. There are some ads we just can’t forget, and some others that just aren’t worth remembering. But there’s something both kinds have in common; the airtime, that minute or two in the spotlight. Back when television and radio broadcast were considered mainstream media, this spotlight was a rarity; airtime wasn’t [and still isn’t] cheap. But now, with Facebook, Twitter and the many other social media networks available, the whole system has been rewired. It’s like a deliberate attempt to get us to put our voices out there. It’s free, and practically everyone’s on- the audience is set. Yet we’d rather use it to tell the world what our last meal was, or to show off what we look like in our newest outfit.

socialchange
by Michael Annor

for only fully grown adults, [men to be specific], who have been in the system for decades. These “players” go on to decide what goes on in our lives, whilst the rest of us, either can’t be bothered, or just complain to no effect in our small circles. We don’t realise that our opinions count. As clichéd as it may sound, there’s strength in numbers, and it’s this strength that swept across with the Arab Spring from Tunisia, through Egypt to Libya, and beyond. It is said that the pen is mightier than the sword, but we forget that it is this very same pen which has evolved into the keyboard. We forget, or are simply unaware of what we can, and should be doing with the social media resources accessible on the internet. Facebook and Twitter have already successfully toppled longstanding heads of states in the past year and if appropriate use is continued as an input for ensuring good governance, this could be a positive turnaround for these states. Like the television commercials, not all Facebook status updates, or tweets make any impact at all. A well thought out advertising plan, would remain familiar to people across different generations whereas, a poorly organised one would be forgotten in no time. Should we thoughtfully and constructively use social media sites, with the intention to move our governments in the right direction, there’s no doubt that we’ll succeed. We should “never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has” (Margaret Mead). With this in mind, we’ll not be swayed by sharp-tongued, deceptive, sly, sometimes thoughtless politicians, seeking reelections, with no definite plans for development. When we all get involved, there’ll be pressure on them, and they’ll have to either comply or step out. There’s a Nigerian proverb that says that “until the lions have their own storytellers, tales of the hunt shall always glorify the hunter. As it stands, we are the lions, but when we refuse to speak up. As such we only end up being reduced from being the “king of the jungle” to being “the hunter’s catch”. Aside the popular social networks, there are a myriad of other ways we could use social media to cause social change. In Kenya for example,

there’s Ushahidi; a website which was developed to gather information from the general public to monitor violence during the 2007/2008 Kenyan crisis. It’s based on the concept of using crowdsourcing for social activism and public accountability; a very useful tool for combatting corruption by anonymously reporting malpractices and inefficiencies in public institutions. Since 2008, its use has spread to countries like South Africa, Haiti and Chile to allow crowds to give their input for solving problems that affect the same individuals within the crowds. In Ghana, there’s Ghana Decides, a similar tool established to monitor the 2012 elections, right from the registration stages up until the final vote is cast. How else would problems get fixed if they don’t get reported? I’ve heard more than enough stories of how during the registration process, queues were stagnant, and some others found ways to skip the queue. Normally, we’ll just sit and watch, or complain there and then. But utilising social media would attach some importance to the complaints raised. We can’t continue depending solely on radio and television networks to air our thoughts. Nowadays, they’re hardly ever nonpartisan and are often biased towards one party. It’s up to us [the masses] to equip ourselves with these seemingly ordinary tools to push for change. There’s also Kabissa, a website devoted to making Information and Communication Technology benefit African communities by featuring and publicising shared stories from across the continent. The several blogging services online, are equally potent means of getting our voices out there. Kobby Graham, editor of Dust Magazine, Ghana and Ory Okolloh, Kenyan activist are strong advocates for using social media networks to push for seriousness within governments and social change in our countries. The internet is a powerful tool, and it would be sad if we don’t take advantage of it. We should keep in mind that the pen is mightier than the sword, and so is the keyboard, but more importantly, we should ensure that whatever opinion we share is thoughtful and constructive. That’s ultimate. Oh, one more thing, I had plantain for lunch today.

AKASANOMA

electricity experiment

the

Chale @Akasanoma the #LightOff happen for #Spintex again oo

Hmm! @Korkornsa e be like ebe the whole Accra. #Weija too go off. Oya, make we tweet @DustAccra

Hm! See these new school kids oo. I better go get me a twitter handle or whatever they call it and tweet some.

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Inspired by a conversation with Victoria Okoye (of africanurbanism.blogspot.com), DUST has decided to run the first in a series of ‘little social experiments’ making use of social media. Our first? To see if we can use Twitter to monitor power outtages (ie. ‘Light Off’) across Accra.

To take part, here’s what you have to do: 1) Go online (preferably through your phone) and join Twitter.com 2) Go to www.twitter.com/DUSTAccra and follow @DUSTAccra 3) Anytime your lights go out, go online on your phone (before your battery runs out!) and send a tweet to @DUSTAccra, simply saying #lightoff, along with the name of your area (e.g. @DUSTAccra #LightOff #Kaneshie) 4) When the power comes back, send another tweet to @DUSTAccra with the words #lighton, again with your area name (@DUSTAccra #LightOn #Kaneshie) That’s it.
DUST will compile the tweets over the next quarter and present the results in our next issue. For those of you wondering, we are starting the experiment with Twitter, as the data is easier to compile but expect our next experiment to expand to Facebook and beyond. If you feel inspired to do something similar, feel free to do so and let us know about it so we can help. Let your digitally creative juices flow!

Feature

GHANA DECIDES
‘Ghana Decides’ is a non-partisan project being run by a team of young Ghanaians united in putting Ghana first, whatever their political leanings. It is a lesson in political maturity that many supposedly more adult Ghanaians could stand to learn from. Started by BloggingGhana (www.ghanablogging.com) - the country’s largest collective of bloggers and social media activists - with funding from STAR Ghana, the project aims to help create a better informed electorate as a means of contributing to free, fair and safe elections later this year. To do this, Ghana Decides uses social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and more to educate youth, civil society organizations and institutions on the effective use of social media. Its website is a great one-stop shop for unbiased news and links on political goings on in Ghana. During the recent Biometric Voters Registration Exercise, the group launched ‘iregistered’: a campaign to encourage eligible Ghanaians to share their experiences of registering, using the hashtag ‘#iregistered’. People including celebrities like Kwaw Kese and m.anifest uploaded over 400 images, with the campaign gained ample press coverage both locally and internationally. Extending its message offline, the group has held social media workshops across the country for youth groups, civil society, the disabled and other marginalised groups. These include a Social Media Working Group for Civil Society Organisations in the Brong Ahfo region; BarCamp Sunyani; social media training workshops both in Ho and in Accra, where they also took part in Ghana’s first ever ‘Blog Camp’. To find out more or to keep up-to-date in the run-up to the elections, simply visit www.ghanadecides.com

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WE THE PEOPLE

The idea of Ghana is bigger than any single group within its borders.
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Politik

WHEN THE

SILENT SPEAK
There are always people with progressive ideas that could help propel Ghana forward. Those with such ideas often go against society’s grain. As such, they find their ideas (and their confidence in those ideas) challenged. This is not surprising: change never comes easy. Some set these ideas aside. Even worse, many more do not bother trying to make them into reality for fear of incurring society’s wrath. The progressive minority cowers before the might of the conservative majority. At DUST, we suspect that Ghanaians are more progressive than we give ourselves credit for. We just lack the confidence to say so. When our most regular contributor, Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah, started her blog, ‘Adventures from the Bedrooms of African Women’, she believed that it would not be long before “the people” came after her. Nevertheless, she stuck by her belief that women needed a space within which they could speak more freely about sex and sexuality than society seemed to permit. In the end, the pitchforks never came. In fact, adventuresfrom.com is now one of Ghana’s most popular blogs. Recently, one man took up a microphone and said some controversial things about modern Ghana. His opponents criticized his apparent tribalism. His supporters said that he was simply airing what was really on the mind of “the people”. No? No. Across the country and across ethnic and political divisions, people called in to radio stations, wrote letters, and lit up the internet with messages seemingly unified in their condemnation of this one man’s words. Those words – they claimed – did not represent the popular mindset. For once, a majority of Ghanaians – all too often silent – spoke up on both sides of the political divide to slam down those who all too often peddle old, non-progressive ideas. It is important that we keep doing this. The more you speak out, the more you will find people of like-mind, whatever your political leanings. It is not a crime for people to hold different beliefs, but while we may disagree on how to move forward, we all want to move forward. Real progressives know that there are more things that bring us together than there are things that divide us. The more we are brave enough to speak out and say what is really on our minds, the less of an opportunity we give to those who incorrectly claim (whether well intentioned or not) to speak on our collective behalves. KG

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THE ASPIRING POLITICIAN’S COMPLETE GUIDE TO THE GHANAIAN CAMPAIGN TRAIL
By Abena Serwaa

Politik
Just as one former Black Star coach lamented that Ghana is a nation of over 20 million coaches, one can safely say that it is also a nation of over 20 million political commentators. This phenomenon could not have been more aptly described than in an email circulating back in the late 1990s entitled ‘How To Tell One African From Another’ which stated that “…Ghanaians think they invented politics”. When people in other parts of the world are tuned into morning radio shows filled with tantalizing celebrity gossip or embarrassing prank calls, in Ghana we are attentively listening to newspaper reviews and political panel discussions. In fact, heated political debates can take place anywhere: in trotros, bank queues, hair salons or public toilets... even about public toilets! On December 7th 2012, Ghanaians will go to the polls for the sixth time since “the return to democratic rule” in 1992. Election years in Ghana whip politics up into fever pitch mode. Common features include mammoth-sized political rallies, creative TV ads, catchy songs by well-paid musicians, powerful slogans and, of course, fiery political rhetoric. As an ardent follower of Ghanaian politics and having observed three past elections, I’ve come to realise that there are key essential items that the aspiring politician needs while out on the campaign trail. Let’s say the aspiring politician is running for a seat in the esteemed Ghanaian House of Parliament. I present a few essential items:

THE BOOK “2012 EDITION OF MAPS OF ROAD NETWORKS OF THE REPUBLIC OF GHANA COMPLETE WITH ROAD COMMISSIONING DATES” One could be forgiven for thinking that maps
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are essential for navigating through the twists and turns of your constituency but alas this is not the case. Firstly, we never use maps to get directions to any place in Ghana. Secondly, roads in Ghana are not just open ways for vehicles, persons and animals, but are the pathways on which our nation’s future is built. When in government, it is always essential to highlight and herald all the roads that you are constructing and ensure that road construction projects open with much-publicized sod-cutting ceremonies. When in opposition, you must emphasize that roads cannot be eaten while still taking credit for roads that your government may have started when in power. A book of road networks will help the aspiring politician point out which roads were built under the auspices of their party.

dust

Ghanaian politics revolves around political antecedents and traditions that date back to preindependence times. This makes it almost impossible for a new political philosophy to emerge on Ghanaian political terrain, but makes it completely possible for a politician to accuse their opponent of throwing bombs in the 1960s years before they were born or supporting coup d’états when they were three years old.

THE TEXTBOOK “CONTEMPORARY HISTORY OF GHANA 1945 – PRESENT”

HOLY BOOKS

MACHO-MEN

In Ghana, the appearance of piety always resonates with the electorate. Being perceived as “God-fearing” is sometimes even more important than actually being morally-upright. An ability to quote from The Bible is always a guaranteed crowd-pleaser.

ENTOURAGE

The campaign trail is not unlike a musician’s tour. Therefore, the aspiring politician needs a large entourage of praise-singers and hangerons. The politician must however ensure they have enough funds to cover T & T or run the risk of their posse immediately thinning out.

Before images of the 70s/80s band The Village People come to mind, let’s be clear: machomen in Ghana are the steroidfuelled well-muscled enforcers whose services are in high demand particularly during election times. These services range from private security to plain good ‘ol trouble-making. On the campaign trail machomen in sunglasses are a key accessory for the aspiring politician. In addition, it is always wise to keep a stock of akpeteshie (local gin) at hand since macho-men are known to have a particular penchant for this beverage.

AN OPENING ACT

An Opening Act: a vital member of any politician’s entourage is someone gifted in the type of political rhetoric that gets crowds excited and worked up. So even if the aspiring candidate is as exciting as a lump of charcoal, if the opening act is powerful, the crowd will not be able to tell the difference.

T-SHIRTS

FOUR-WHEEL DRIVE VEHICLE

For the aspiring politician, it is essential that you get t-shirts with your face and party colours. However, it is important to note that the number of your t-shirts you see being worn does NOT translate into votes. Let’s face it: everyone likes a new, fresh superior cotton t-shirt.

a powerful vehicle is essential for not only being able to navigate through the rough roads of any constituency but also to load up with an entourage, macho-men and other hanger-ons, all of whom will literally be hanging from the vehicle.

ANDREWS LIVER SALTS

After mounting the campaign platform, it is important to move from house to house to meet ‘the people on the ground’. While doing this, the aspiring politician may be offered all sorts of lovely delicacies to feast on. It is important to indulge in these dishes to demonstrate that you are down to earth and akin to this ‘ordinary Ghanaian’ you hear so much about. However, be sure to have powerful medication at hand in case the dishes have unexpected consequences later.

HIGH QUALITY TOILET PAPER

One of the unexpected consequences of consuming lovely delicacies is the infamous on-the-road diarrhoeal attack. Anyone who has been on the road in Ghana knows that there is an acute lack of toilets and even if you do happen to find a toilet, there is nothing worse than a diarrhoeal attack without toilet paper.

A RADIO

PHOTOGRAPHER

It is essential for the aspiring politician to have a photographer on hand to capture the large crowds attending one’s rally, to document for a newspaper or perhaps a brochure. The key phrase is “large crowds”: if no one shows up and the rally is a complete flop, the photographer can be dispatched to the nearest drinking spot.

While on the road it is essential to have access to a radio to tune into the plethora of morning political discussion shows being carried by major radio stations and their affiliates across the country. It is also essential because as a politician, it is likely someone may be tarnishing your name in your absence. The good politician will call into a show for a swift and immediate rebuttal.

MOBILE PHONE

These are just a few of the items required for the campaign trail. Please note that... 1. A concrete plan for office, or 2. A point by point vision for the future ... are listed under the section on “Non-Essential Items for the Campaign Trail” Hopefully Election 2012 will be peaceful and Ghana will continue to be a true Beacon of African Democracy.

The aspiring politician should be sure to hand out a mobile number to potential voters with assurances that they can be reached at all times of the day. However, at the end of the election when you have won power, this number should be treated like burner phone from the movies and disposed immediately.

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Politik

Photo Credit: Nana Kofi Acquah

Surviving the wrath of the gods
It’s no secret in Ghana that most people consider the rainy season baby-making season. There’s something to be said for being cooped up indoors with the sound of millions of fat rain drops melodiously falling everywhere. It’s strangely romantic the way nature takes care of us, giving us respite from the often oppressive heat. It’s no wonder many of us find ourselves praying for rainfall. However, these pleasantly soothing rainy seasons have been getting more violent each year. This May, Accra experienced one of the worst flashstorms of the last decade. It arrived (seemingly) out of nowhere, destroying billboards, tearing roofs off brick homes, uprooting trees. I won’t even mention the swimming pool that was created at Obetsebi-Lamptey Circle. What’s going on? Global warming, that’s what. Defined as the increase in the atmosphere’s temperature and its subsequent effect on the environment, this phenomenon translates to mean extremely hot days and very heavy storms. Further research reveals that the increase in rainfall is not from more rainy days, but from heavier, more violent, rain storms. It is easy for us to ignore what is going on with our rapidly changing weather patterns because, let’s be honest; we have other seemingly more pressing issues.

free style

But there are no issues more pressing, really. The energy crisis Ghana faced approximately five years ago (when Akosombo Dam was at a dangerously low water level) was a direct result of the lack of rain in the Upper White Volta (which flows into the Akosombo basin). The shift in rainy and dry seasons is also evidence of climate change. The intensity of our rainy season is constantly increasing, and our Harmattan is ever dustier and more intense. It is even argued that the food crisis the world is currently facing is a result of these changing weather patterns. We must then ask ourselves, ‘What are we doing to protect the investments we are making?’ How can we expand our infrastructure and implement policies to support Ghana’s agricultural sector, when the environment is making it even harder for our farmers to produce the produce in the first place? Unfortunately, I do not have any answers to these questions, but I do believe these are questions we must start asking ourselves. I mean, who can enjoy the romance of a rain storm when you’re worried your roof is going to fly off? Visit DustAccra.com to read the excellent article, ‘The Effects of Global Warming on Human Lives in West Africa’. CS

Word

Blackout!
The pen – they say - is mightier than the sword, but that ethos might change with one artist’s decision to up the ante. New weapon of choice? The permanent marker. Having recently returned to Ghana for good, Sharifah Issaka takes cues from writer, artist and New York Times best-selling author of Newspaper Blackout, Austin Kleon, to create poems with a local spin, blacking out words from The Daily Graphic.

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Newspaper Blackout is a collection of art and poetry made by redacting newspaper articles with a permanent marker. Austin’s creative people to start their own style has inspired several

blackout poems, and it’s a movement

that the writer gladly supports.

“Why come up with your own words

when there are millions in the paper?” he simply asks.

For art so exceptional and personal, it’s quite an easy process: you simply grab a newspaper, grab a marker, and then find an article. Then you cross out words, leaving behind the ones you like. Pretty soon, you’ll have a blackout poem that conveys your own thoughts and sentiments. -JNA

e

Feature

ON A LONG TIN
Being an election year, it is inevitable that a fool or two will focus on the things that set Ghanaians apart. Elorm Adablah’s appeal – however – lies in the idea that Ghana is bigger than any single group within its borders. His stage name ‘EL’ is short for ‘Elorm’, a popular Ewe name. Yet, he lives in Accra and performs songs that use Ga. “I’m modern Ghana,” he jokes. “I’ve lived in Accra all my life. Never lived anywhere else. My mom is Ga. I grew up with my mom’s mom. Dad wasn’t around until I was six or seven. He was studying in Russia so I didn’t get the chance to learn [his] language. I can understand Ewe. But I can’t speak it.” As a singer, MC and producer, EL is possibly the most complete artist of his generation. Last year, you could not turn on the radio without hearing a song that he had produced, rhymed or sang on. No surprise then when he was nominated for several Ghana Music Awards. Widely tipped to win Best Newcomer, he eventually lost to Stay Jay: “I was just happy to be nominated in three categories. What made me happiest was that when they mentioned the nominees, people were screaming, ‘Obuu Mo Na... Obuu Mo Na...’ [the title of one of his biggest tunes]. I know the person who won. He’s okay. It didn’t really pain me at all.”

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Photos by Seton Nicholas

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Avoiding mediocrity has to be the main thing.

u

nderstandably: while his rise may seem sudden to some, EL has been doing this music thing for awhile. His father played a part in that, buying him a small keyboard when he was eight, watching him mimic the church organist and feeding his Michael Jackson addiction: “I was really into Michael. Dad really messed me up. He got me all the tapes. I could sing them front to back. The dance moves? Not so well. But I used to watch the videos and I was fascinated by how this man was loved and revered at his shows. The way people would collapse. It was just fascinating to me.” Nevertheless, it took Elorm awhile before he would commit to music. Like many a creative, his parents advised him to focus elsewhere, so he found himself at the University of Ghana, eventually graduating with a degree in Political Science. Yes: political science. Like many young Ghanaians though, he holds politics – or rather, what it has become - in contempt: “I know it’s not right: but I don’t vote. When I was a child, the government really set my Dad back. From then on, I decided to have nothing to do with politics. It’s very emotional for me. It was a very big problem for us when there was a change of government... These guys on the radio talking about this or that; that’s all I hear on Sunday mornings. I don’t want to have anything to do with [them].” Regardless, EL studied political science. Music stayed with him though: “I hadn’t planned on making it my main gig. It was [just] something I was really into... There came a time when I was really into what my loved ones wanted me to do when I realized this is not really what I want to do: when I was neck deep in it. I had to come out of it and say “let me give this a try” and try to avoid the mediocrity that comes with doing your own thing.” EL – and the BBnZ team that he is a part of – does not believe in mediocrity. When DUST visited their studio on the top floor of Nima’s Airtel Building, we were somewhat blown away by how simultaneously creative and corporate the office felt. DUST favourite Hansen Akatti is part of Team BBnZ and his artwork literally adorns the walls. Not framed: painted on the walls themselves: “The vision is to be ahead of the rest in every way possible; to be as innovative and creative as possible... We are a bonafide record label committed to doing things right: the way they are supposed to be done. It’s all in an effort to avoid mediocrity.

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W

hen I told my Dad I was leaving that job to do the music, he said ‘fine. So long as you avoid mediocrity and pride myself on how to do things the right way.’ It has resonated with me in everything I do – even once or twice I slip and let my boxers show – avoiding mediocrity has to be the main thing.” He’s come a long way from the undergraduate who stored his software on the laptop of another DUST favourite, DJ Juls, who was down the hall from him: “I used to sample like crazy. I’d go to his room, make a beat. [Juls] took it from there. He’s crazy now. He’s really good at it.” EL’s first track was a song he wrote and recorded for a girl he liked on campus. It was called ‘A Song I Wrote’, and never saw the light of day: “I gave it to the girl but she didn’t really like it. She left for London without telling me...” Ouch. Eventually he graduated and spent his year of national service with a software development firm: “It was miserable. I was in traffic for two hours to go to a cold office with a boss who was always nagging... It wasn’t me. When I didn’t have things to do - even when I had piles of things to do - I was making beats with my headphones on. After work, I’d go back to the studio and then I’d feel at home...” That studio was run by Jayso, an old friend of EL’s from Presec who he would cross paths with again at Legon and who eventually became

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the founder of the Skillions, a creative collective that has spawned the likes of the gospel musician, Paapa (who writes in this issue); the singer, Raquel; rhymesmith & Channel O presenter, J Town; ‘Lapaz Toyota’ producer, Ball J, and more. “Initially we rapped in English. We were doing the Jay Z style. Styles P. Jadakiss. Dipset... What we were hearing on those records was what we were trying to do.” Like many Ghanaians, EL was exposed to a lot of American hip-hop in secondary school. “Method Man. Talib Kweli. Camron. Clipse. Pharrell. Kanye. Styles P and Jadakiss, in particular... [but] the artist who opened my eyes to the art of it was Eminem. He was so cocky but at the same time so lyrical. I’d get the CD and be alone in my room listening to it from front to back. Listening to these guys, I didn’t understand 20% of what they were saying. I was trying to grasp the terminology, the art of it; the metaphors and punchlines; how to count bars. It was fascinating to me.” On the Ghanaian side of things, he cites M3nsa’s first album as a heavy influence: “I got the tape. He was really rapping on that and I was like, “Okay, we have these guys in Ghana as well?” That made me know there was a possibility...” As a fan of M3nsa’s it was perhaps inevitable that the Locally Acquired Foreign Language thing would shed itself: “It came to a point, we just decided to add a little bit of local language... a little pidgin. I remember Jayso saying, “sometime, you for just talk some “kweh!” in there.” We didn’t really plan to change that much. I remember the first song I did purely pidgin in was ‘Chale’ (with Jay Foley). I didn’t really plan on doing a pidgin song. It just came to me.” ‘Today, the line he is most known for makes no sense at all: “We didn’t even write it. It was something [where] we just went into the booth and did it line by line. The song rhymes throughout. We needed something that we could finish up with. We wanted to make “Korle Bu” make sense

with “gutter” but we couldn’t get the last line, and I was like “E be too non-fa. E be “sometin sometin Korle Bu gutter...”” What can we say about Korle Bu gutter? You can’t put any sense to it...” The subsequent popularity of that line – taken from ‘Obuu Mo’ - taught EL that people like things that are new. It was a lesson that would be buttressed when - alongside fellow beatmaker, Krinkman - he produced one of Azonto’s biggest hits, Sarkodie’s anthemic ‘U Go Kill Me’: “We didn’t realize the beat was that hot until we finished it, it came out and people hopped onto it.” “Azonto is not really a sound to address public issues. Most listeners we are catering to just want to go to the club, have a good time and forget about their troubles outside of the club. Go to the club, have fun with all the terminology... free their minds. Then they can go home back to their issues... It’s comedy. The rhyme schemes are fun to listen to. It’s creative in that way. It’s not supposed to say, “do things for Mother Ghana.” We can do that in Azonto music but the main core is to have fun.” EL’s debut album, ‘Something ELse’ is exactly that. Recorded over almost two and half years, it is a double CD containing 25 songs: already something different. You can hear his Timbaland influences in the electronic feel of the album, but it is more than just an azonto record: “We’ve arranged it in such a way that the azonto crowd have their CD, and you have the cooler, R&B and real hip hop songs on the other. There’s something on that album for everybody. It’s very eclectic. Takoradi has a country-like bounce to it. I have a song that is very rock and roll with Raquel.” Language-wise, there are flashes of pidgin, Ga, Twi and more. Not bad for someone who taught himself to speak Twi in secondary school by listening to Obrafuor’s album, ‘Pae Mu Ka’. Today’s EL is confident enough in his vocal gifts to rhyme the way he speaks. KG.

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We decided to add a little bit of local language... a little pidgin. Sometime, you for just talk some “kweh!”

Feature

JASPER
Words & Photos by Jason Nicco-Annan

DANIEL

Daniel Jasper is a painter and commercial artist based in Teshie. He has spent the last decade painting artwork known as Cinema Art, a collection of highly graphic paintings influenced by blockbuster action and horror movies.

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In Ghana, childhood memories of movies are fostered firmly by two main archetypes. You have the invincible good guy known as The Blow-Man, and his archenemy The Last Killer, who probably killed our hero’s kung-fu master or wife or something. But there’s a less-celebrated element of Ghanaian film culture. From the local cinemas in Kaneshie and Odorkor, to the home video clubs in Nima or Old-Tafo, the most intriguing thing has always been the promotional art plastered outside the film houses. This accompanying aesthetic, known simply as Cinema Art, is something I have admired, if not obsessed over, since I was seven. We all remember those vivid paintings of Steven Seagal and Van Damme with grossly enlarged atomic biceps poised for battle, with a huge explosion in the background. Then there were the horror movie posters, with eerily gruesome visuals of vampires with foot long fangs and streaks of blood. But this isn’t just about a bunch of paintings. It reflected a local view, a cultural consciousness shaped by art, grotesque imagination and spiritual fantasy. Cinema art is a genre of visual art that is uniquely African, yet so disregarded. One can’t help but notice the slight graphic similarities between Ghanaian Cinema Art and American Blaxpoitation film posters of the 70’s, a more popular aesthetic complement to film with hand painted murals of actions scenes and cast members (think Foxy Brown, Shaft, and even the recent blaxpoitation spoof Black Dynamite).

Politik
In the age of Photoshop and digital printing, it’s a novelty to actually be good with your hands artistically. This rareness makes visual artist Daniel Anum Jasper the last of a dying breed. He’s been in the hand-painting business for more than two decades and is one of a bare handful of painters left in the industry. His concept art draws much of its inspiration from science fiction, horror and action movies. Creating these pieces with acrylic and oil paints on huge plywood boards, Jasper hardly ever uses the plot of these movies as a reference for his paintings. He doesn’t just capture the vibrant and apparent appeal of the characters, but goes further to create his own perspective and lets his imagination run wild.

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dust

I meet up with Daniel on a cloudy Saturday morning at his studio in Teshie which, according to his website, is a 25-minute drive from the Trade Fair site at Labadi. If you’re from Spintex and you’re being driven by a taxi driver with zero sense of direction, it takes about an hour and a half. He’s waiting for me when I arrive. Daniels comes off as unassuming, but I feel that I am in the presence of greatness. His talent is present in his studio, with cinema boards and canvases leaning on every wall. The worn-out brushes and Milo tins half-empty with paint remind of how I wish my room would look sometimes: half-chaotic, half-productive. I’m like a schoolboy at a funfair moving around his studio taking pictures.

A few minutes after composing myself I ask him about his influences and what inspires him to paint. He simply says his talent is “a gift from God.” As a kid in Teshie he started doing chalk drawings on blackboards. He honed his talent as a teenager and studied briefly at the National Arts College, but left after a year and a half and developed his craft under the apprenticeship of the late Emmanuel Okine. Fast forward to today, and Jasper is still painting, but on a larger capacity and with more flourishing results. He also does signboards and other commercial artwork for businesses. That seems like a huge benefit considering how many barbershops and Internet cafes spring up on a daily basis, but Daniel is quick to disregard that assumption. “Digital printing is a big competitor,” he notes. “Even though it’s more expensive, people prefer printing because it’s faster. But printing fades quickly, so they still end up coming. A printed sign will last about 8 to 10 months. But a hand-painted sign, even though it takes long to do, will be there for 4, 5 years – why waste money while the art is there?” Still, Daniel isn’t nerved by the lack of patronage, as he’s earned an unlikely niche market of outsiders. He always has tourists from Europe and the States dropping by his studio. Most of the time they want to buy every single painting he owns; he jokingly informs me that I’m lucky not to be taking pictures of a bare workshop. “I don’t know why they like the art like that!” he says frankly, looking genuinely baffled. “Sometimes I just don’t’ understand. But then our own people don’t appreciate our art, so foreigners are the people I concentrate on. All the things you see me working on right now? They’re all for whites. They respect art. Sometimes they ask for the painting to have a [vintage] feel so once I’m done they won’t come for until it has gathered dust.” He shakes in head in modest disbelief. “Seriously, they love art.” This international appreciation has indeed spawned some of his best collaborations. His work was featured in the Cadbury Dairy Milk “Zingolo” TV campaign in 2009, which celebrated the company becoming Fairtrade Certified and was developed by creative agency Fallon in London. He had no idea lending his creative services

to a mere 60-second TV spot would create bigger opportunities. “Two of the filmmakers from Fallon were based in South Africa,” he notes. They showed my work to some guy and he loved it. I’ve never met him before; we’ve only spoken on the phone. But he trusted me to do what he wanted.” This “guy” happened to be South African musician Spoek Mathambo, a rapper and producer whose electric mash-up of traditional South African music and techno has propelled him to international stardom. Spoek signed a multi-album deal with the legendary Seattle-based imprint, Sub Pop in 2011 and released his second album Father Creeper in March, but not without the help of an artist that would help him turn heads. Daniel first created the art to his lead single “Put Some Red On It”, incorporating his signature style of blood and gore. For the art for Father Creeper, Spoek requested visuals that had more local perspective. “It’s this Xhosa initiation ceremony where people burn their childish belongings.” He said of the artwork in an interview with Okayafrica TV. “So it’s also about me maturing as a musician, and burning all the childish stuff and moving into the future.” Daniel Jasper’s own future is looking good. He’s working on a few things, but admits that things could be better. “It depends on the season. [Tourists] usually arrive around June and July.” Until they do, his popular Obama paintings will be selling like hot cakes. When I ask him if he thinks Obama will win this year’s elections, he responds with a confident laugh and says, “Oh, yeah, he’ll win – just like my guy Mills.” An NDC advocate? Maybe, but after spending a good two hours with Daniel Jasper I doubt he is the typical Teshie guy. Up on his studio wall is a painting from 2005, of Rawlings and Kuffour having hearty laugh over a drink. The painting is blanketed with dust, and he has no intention of selling it. This is the imaginative painter’s beacon of hope. “This will happen one day,” he says, gazing at his work with optimism. “Sooner or later we will all come together.” -JNA

Soul

By Paapa hMensah Photo Credit: Seton Nicholas

UP

WAKING

A church leader, theologian, and apologetic; I’m none of these. All I am is a receiver of God’s grace, who continually seeks the face and heart of God. I’m also a young man who hates nightmares. I usually don’t remember my dreams, but nightmares stay with me for awhile. Here’s one I had a few years ago that will always stay with me.

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I was in one of the many identical churches on my street. The pastor was preaching about God but oddly, the God he described sounded a lot like a vending machine ready to cough up several houses, cars, US visas and millions of cedis to anyone who gave huge money offerings to the church. I trembled throughout the preacher’s sermon on financial prosperity because in real life, genuine preachers look for change within the hearts of people, while the false preachers continually ask the church members for their change. Hundreds of his church members clapped and danced for joy as they dutifully dropped their tithes & savings in the offering basket, hopeful that the vending machine God would honor their selfish desires. I could tell that a few of these people had done this routine week after week, and grown disappointed and doubtful, yet had no choice but to remain hopeful. A single mother muttered under her breath, “After all, the preacher used to be so poor a few months ago but look at him now. The church is growing bigger and has more branches. He’s now driving flashy cars, wearing designer clothes, and selling thousands of books. His messages must be true!” I spotted a few deadened eyes in the crowd as well. These eyes were connected to bodies that were the least lavishly clothed in the room and ran on completely disheartened hearts. They had been here week after week for several months, dropping every scrap of income they earned each week into the offering basket, waiting for the vending machine to produce the returns that the preacher always spoke about… I knew it was just a nightmare but hard as I tried, I couldn’t wake up from it. I wanted so badly to wake up to real life; where preachers extensively and consistently teach Jesus’ selflessness instead of this blatant self-interest and pursuit of material wealth; where the concern was not to make church buildings bigger, while the hearts of the people in the churches remained so tiny. But there I was – stuck in the godforsaken dream. The church service was now over and - looking out - I saw church members scrambling for the exit gate saying very little to each other. I thought it such a shame

that broken people had come hoping for someone to care about their exhausted hearts. Instead, fumes from their cars’ exhaust pipes now filled their lungs – their hearts still empty. I returned my gaze inside the church building. It appeared that some church elders were now busily rebuking a young man for having a tattoo, and repeatedly quoting Leviticus 19:28 “Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the LORD.” The young man boldly interjected with Leviticus 19:27 “Do not cut the hair at the sides of your head or clip off the edges of your beard”, pleading with them to think critically about the context of such verses. The elders raised their voices higher than their tall pride, bristling at the boy’s boldness. He then stood up sharply and left the company of these Pharisees. He stormed out screaming, “You people are so in love with this place, but there is no love in this place!” never to return to the church and forever resentful towards Christianity. At this point, I badly wanted to wake up. I craved to be back in real life where all Christians followed after Jesus without knocking down anyone who was walking differently. But I was stuck in this place where they piously and angrily marginalised anyone losing their way, taking a break or going a different direction. I couldn’t believe I was still stuck in the nightmare. That last scene felt like it should have been the climax that would wake me up abruptly and leave me panting. I needed badly to see real life Christians again; recipients of grace who desperately wanted others to join them – not through force and legalism, but through love (the verb). I needed to see the many who loved me as they loved themselves, while I loved them as I loved myself, because we understood the humility that God’s grace came with. The Christians outside this nightmare understood that our faith didn’t make us better than other men, but made us better than the men we were without it. But see, I never woke up.

Sex & Relationships

A

dventures from the Bedrooms of African Women

By Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah

Sexual authenticity and all that B.S.
The theme for this month’s edition of DUST is ‘authenticity’. Relating that to this section, what does it mean to be sexually authentic? Does it mean staying true to your sexual desires? Admitting to yourself what your sexual orientation is? Ensuring your sexual life matches your values (so if you’re a member of the church choir, for example, no sleeping with the choirmaster or mistress – naughty, naughty...) Being authentic connotes concepts of being true to one’s self, and sticking to one’s values and principles. In my mind, it is a continuous, life-long process. Assuming that seeking sexual authenticity is akin to achieving sexual nirvana, allow me to share my thoughts on getting to that coveted state. Firstly, being sexually authentic means being true to you. Yep! You can’t lie to yourself anymore (when it comes to sex). Have you ever pretended to be having a better time in bed than you were actually having (yes, baby... that’s it... right there... yessss... yessss…)? Being sexually authentic starts with forgetting all those bad habits you may have acquired from watching ‘blue’ films or reading ‘Mills and Boon’. Being sexually authentic starts with listening to your body, understanding what your sexual desires are, and learning what pleases you. Being sexually authentic starts with the self, and then here’s the big step - teaching your partner (or partners) what you have figured about yourself. Now, this is no easy step. It demands confidence, even if it is false bravado to begin with. If it helps, all the recent surveys about sex I have seen in women’s magazines state that men really want to please their partners (and I’m guessing this means that lesbians equally - if not more – want to please their partners too), and absolutely want to hear what turns you on, what gets your juices going, what leads to the big O. So ladies, speak out no matter how hard it may seem in the quest of sexual authenticity. Speaking out doesn’t always mean using your voice. One of my personal favourite ways is through Blackberry Messenger (and yes, I know not everyone has a Crackberry, so substitute BBM for text messages, Whatsapp, emails, or good old fashioned letters). On BBM, you can start semi-flirtatious conversations with your partner, tell them what you enjoyed about your last hook up, and tell them what you really want them to do to you the next time you’re together. This has multiple purposes. You’re giving him or her feedback, and building anticipation/desire. Surely that can only be a good thing? Seeking sexual authenticity doesn’t happen in a day. You might have to evaluate (or even re-evaluate) whether you are being truly sexually authentic at different stages of your relationship, like when you start a new relationship, or when your old relationship has become a tad too comfortable. Are you going along with stuff ‘cos you cannot be bothered? Because you don’t want to hurt your partner’s feelings? Sexual inauthenticity alert! Think of seeking sexual authenticity as a journey. Occasionally you may lose your way or pull off at a rest stop, but listen to your inner GPS and you are bound to arrive at the right destination. Have a safe and happy journey!

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Shot
Kumasi City -1954

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Icon

hansen
It is impossible to have a serious conversation about highlife - classic, jazzy highlife, that is - without Jerry Hansen’s name coming up. With a catalogue of over 200 songs, Ramblers International - the highlife band that Hansen founded in 1962 and subsequently lead - made immense contributions to both live and recorded music in Ghana. As the resident band at Kumasi’s Star Hotel, and as regulars at Accra’s Ambassador Hotel (now Movempick), and numerous State functions, during and subsequent to the Nkrumah Administration, they set a standard that many live bands today struggle to meet. When Hansen passed away in Korle Bu Hospital in April, Ghana lost not only a son, but a hero who truly stood a class apart. Mr. Hansen: DUST salutes you. KG

jerry

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the website
Don’t forget to check out the brand new DUST website for the most compelling content on Accra, Ghana, and Africa!

www.dustaccra.com

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