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e l . and the death of mediocrity June 2012 www.dustaccra.com
e
l
.
and the death
of mediocrity
June 2012
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Cool, conscious and creative.
Contents 7. Editorial 8. Contributors FREESTYLE 11. You Know You’re in Accra When 12. Health:
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
56.
Waking Up
SEX & RELATIONSHIPS
58.
Sexual Authenticity & All That BS
SHOT
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.
dust 3 .
www.dustaccra.com

DUST MAGAZINE

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

Advertising +233 277 828 109 Editorial +233 26 888 1111 Cover: EL by Hansen Akatti Editor:

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
NoNstop to
New York
From AccrA
editorial We have a habit here of holding up mediocrity and mistaking it for excellence.
editorial We have a habit here of holding up mediocrity and mistaking it for excellence.

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
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
dust
.
www.dustaccra.com7

Nana Darkoa SekyiamahMichael

Ebenezer GwumahAbena

SerwaaElvina

Daniel AkrofiSharifah

QuaisonPaapa

contributors

Crystal Svanikier
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.

Nana Darkoa is a modern Ghanaian woman in the business of breaking the mould. With

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.

Ghanyobi
Ghanyobi

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.

Eli Tetteh

Eli Tetteh DUST Editor-at-Large Eli Tetteh has had a lifelong love affair with words. Most recently,

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.

Jason Nicco-Annan

Jason Nicco-Annan A graduate of Ashesi University College, Jason Nicco-Annan is a part-time designer, writer, photographer

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.

Daniel Akrofi is a 4th year student at Ashesi University College. Though he offers a

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.

Issaka

Issaka Sharifah Issaka was born in Ghana, but raised in Canada and Saudi Arabia. Quite random

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)

Seton Nicholas
Seton Nicholas

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

A Dansoman bred Ashesi University alumnus, Ebenezer is an avid creative and unashamed social media

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 is a biomedical researcher, PhD student, & part-time procrastinator who blogs at Ramblings of

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

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

Annor

Annor Michael Annor is a 19 year-old student of SOS-HGIC’s graduating class of 2012. An internet

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!”

hMensa

hMensa Paapa Kwaku hMensa, commonly known as Paapa, is a music artist and producer signed with

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.

PANCAKES, WAFFLES, MOVIE MAGIC, SWIMMING, ICE CREAM & MANY MORE FUN ACTIVITIES
PANCAKES, WAFFLES,
MOVIE MAGIC, SWIMMING,
ICE CREAM & MANY MORE
FUN ACTIVITIES
You know you are in Accra 01 When the national coach is (finally) Ghanaian! 02
You know you
are in Accra
01 When the national coach is (finally) Ghanaian!
02 When the songs equate love with cheese, strawberry
ginger, toffee and various other high-end food products
03 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)
04 When drivers blow their horns as though their lives
depend on it, yet our accident rate remains ridiculously
high
05 When even the craziest drivers stop their cars to let
school children cross the road
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
07 When ‘wee’ is not a reference to urination
08 When the price of moving around town is four times
what it is in the rest of the country
09 When ‘politics’ is a dirty word (and yet the rest of the
continent feel we are obsessed with it)
10 When politicians denounce tribalism, but defend party
members who make tribalistic comments (instead of
immediately denouncing and disassociating themselves
from them)
Photo Credit: theigc.org
freestyle
dust 11 . www.dustaccra.com
L ove thy kidneys By Elvina Quaison dust Health . www.dustaccra.com12
L
ove thy
kidneys
By Elvina Quaison
dust
Health
. www.dustaccra.com12
I recall sitting on a bus, when the white noise of people bustling, settling and
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
assume: cocaine, marijuana (weed). No. This
time, it’s herbal drugs.
magic! “Wei y3 eduro paaa
all the medicine
pain, blood cancer
you need if you have high blood pressure,
diabetes, migraine, back pain, HIV, period
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.
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.
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.
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!
A great deal of the blame is attributed to
drugs BUT not the kind that you would
For more info, visit the National Kidney
Foundation (NAKID) website, www.
nakidfoundation.gh.org or call them on
030 2673033 or 024 4483995
MIMI PLANGE Ghanaian fashion designer Mimi Plange has received international acclaim as an emerging talent
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
andhasbeenturningheadswithhercollectionseversince.
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
14 . www.dustaccra.comdust
Out There
KAE SUN Toronto-based Ghanaian singer-songwriter Kae Sun came home last month and tour the roof
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
strong, coffee brown alert ”
His sound is now grown up and full-bodied – his melodies thick,
If you want to hear more about the man and his music, visit his website www.kaesun.com
Out There
Photo Credit: hdptcar http://www.flickr.com/photos/8788342@
dust 15 . www.dustaccra.com
16 . www.dustaccra.comdust Passing Through Photo Credit: walterpphotography.wordpress.com
16 . www.dustaccra.comdust
Passing Through
Photo Credit: walterpphotography.wordpress.com
ALOE Aloe Blacc hit the top of the charts last year with his song, ‘I
ALOE
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)
blacc
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
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.
dust 19 . www.dustaccra.com
The National Museum Words & Photos by Crystal Svanikier dust Heart . www.dustaccra.com20
The National Museum
Words & Photos by Crystal Svanikier
dust
Heart
. www.dustaccra.com20

. www.dustaccra.com21

dust

w w w . d u s t a c c r a . c o
w w w . d u s t a c c r a . c o
w w w . d u s t a c c r a . c o
w w w . d u s t a c c r a . c o

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

Photo Credit: causeglobal.blogspot.com

. www.dustaccra.com22

dust

social media for social change by Michael Annor Tech
social media for
social
change
by Michael Annor
Tech

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.

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

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 re- elections, 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 non- partisan 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 the electricity experiment Chale @Akasanoma the #LightOff happen for #Spintex again oo Hmm! @Korkornsa
AKASANOMA
the
electricity
experiment
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.
24 . www.dustaccra.comdust

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!

GHANA DECIDES ‘Ghana Decides’ is a non-partisan project being run by a team of young
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.
Feature

. www.dustaccra.com27

dust

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

dust 29 . www.dustaccra.com

WE THE

PEOPLE

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

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dust

WHEN THE SILENT SPEAK There are always people with progressive ideas that could help propel
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.
Politik

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

THE ASPIRING POLITICIAN’S COMPLETE GUIDE TO THE GHANAIAN CAMPAIGN TRAIL By Abena Serwaa Just as
THE ASPIRING
POLITICIAN’S COMPLETE
GUIDE TO THE GHANAIAN CAMPAIGN TRAIL
By Abena Serwaa
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
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
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Politik
THE TEXTBOOK “CONTEMPORARY HISTORY OF GHANA 1945 – PRESENT” Ghanaian politics revolves around political antecedents
THE TEXTBOOK “CONTEMPORARY HISTORY OF GHANA 1945 – PRESENT”
Ghanaian politics revolves around political antecedents and traditions that date back to pre-
independence 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.
MACHO-MEN
HOLY BOOKS
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 hanger-
ons. 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: macho-
men in Ghana are the steroid-
fuelled 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 macho-
men 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.
FOUR-WHEEL DRIVE
VEHICLE
T-SHIRTS
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
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.
36 . www.dustaccra.comdust Politik Photo Credit: Nana Kofi Acquah
36 . www.dustaccra.comdust
Politik
Photo Credit: Nana Kofi Acquah
Surviving the wrath of the gods It’s no secret in Ghana that most people consider
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.
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.
However, these pleasantly soothing rainy seasons
have been getting more violent each year. This
May, Accra experienced one of the worst flash-
storms 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?
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?
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.
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
free style
. w w w . d u s t a c c r a .

. www.dustaccra.com38

dust

. w w w . d u s t a c c r a . c

Word

. d u s t a c c r a . c o m 3 8
. d u s t a c c r a . c o m 3 8
Blackout! The permanent marker.

Blackout!

The permanent marker.
The permanent marker.
Blackout! The permanent marker.
Blackout! The permanent marker.

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?

artist’s decision to up the ante. New weapon of choice? Having recently returned to Ghana for

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.

author of Newspaper Blackout, Austin Kleon, to create poems with a local spin, blacking out words
author of Newspaper Blackout, Austin Kleon, to create poems with a local spin, blacking out words
author of Newspaper Blackout, Austin Kleon, to create poems with a local spin, blacking out words
Newspaper Blackout is a collection of art and poetry made by redacting newspaper articles with
Newspaper Blackout is a collection of art and poetry made by redacting newspaper articles with
Newspaper Blackout is a collection of art and poetry made by redacting newspaper articles with

Newspaper Blackout is a collection of art and poetry made by redacting newspaper

a collection of art and poetry made by redacting newspaper articles with a permanent marker. Austin’s

articles with a permanent marker.

by redacting newspaper articles with a permanent marker. Austin’s creative style has inspired several people to

Austin’s creative

style has inspired several

people to start their own
people to start their own
blackout poems, and it’s a movement
blackout poems, and it’s a movement
that the writer gladly supports.
that the writer gladly supports.
“Why come up with your own words
“Why come up with your own words

when there are millions in the paper?” he

when there are millions in the paper?” he
when there are millions in the paper?” he

simply asks.

gladly supports. “Why come up with your own words when there are millions in the paper?”
For art so exceptional and personal, it’s quite an easy process: you simply poem that

For art so exceptional and personal, it’s quite an easy process: you simply

and personal, it’s quite an easy process: you simply poem that conveys your own thoughts and

poem that conveys your own thoughts and sentiments. -JNA

poem that conveys your own thoughts and sentiments. -JNA grab a newspaper, grab a marker, and

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

then find an article. Then you cross out words, leaving behind the ones you like. Pretty
then find an article. Then you cross out words, leaving behind the ones you like. Pretty

Photos by Seton Nicholas

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dust

Feature

e

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

[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.”

Obuu Mo Na

Avoiding mediocrity has to be the main thing. dust 43 . www.dustaccra.com
Avoiding
mediocrity has to
be the main
thing.
dust 43 . www.dustaccra.com
u nderstandably: while his rise may seem sudden to some, EL has been doing this
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
that; that’s all I hear on Sunday mornings. I don’t want to
have anything to do with [them].”
or
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.
44 . www.dustaccra.comdust
dust 45 . www.dustaccra.com
dust 45 . www.dustaccra.com
W hen I told my Dad I was leaving that job to do the music,
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
46 . www.dustaccra.comdust
the founder of the Skillions, a creative collective that has spawned the likes of the
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.
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 ”
“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
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.”
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.”
“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
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 ”
supposed to say, “do things for Mother Ghana.”
We can do that in Azonto music but the main
core is to have fun.”
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
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.
We decided to add a little bit of local language a little pidgin. Sometime, you
We decided to add
a little bit of local
language
a little
pidgin. Sometime,
you for just talk
some “kweh!”
dust
. www.dustaccra.com48
DANIEL Daniel Jasper is a painter and commercial artist based in Teshie. He has spent
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.
JASPER
Words & Photos by Jason Nicco-Annan
50 . www.dustaccra.comdust
Feature
In Ghana, childhood memories of movies are fostered firmly by two main archetypes. You have
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).
In the age of Photoshop and digital printing, it’s a novelty to actually be good
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.
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.
dust
. www.dustaccra.com52
Politik
A few minutes after composing myself I ask him about his influences and what inspires

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

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

A church leader, theologian, and apologetic; I’m none WAKING of these. All I am is
A
church leader, theologian, and apologetic; I’m none
WAKING
of
these. All I am is a receiver of God’s grace, who
UP
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.
By Paapa hMensah
Photo Credit: Seton Nicholas
56 . www.dustaccra.comdust
Soul

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.

A dventures from the Bedrooms of African Women By Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah Sexual authenticity and
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 )
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.
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
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?
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
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!
dust
. www.dustaccra.com58
Sex & Relationships
Shot Kumasi City -1954 dust 59 . www.dustaccra.com
Shot
Kumasi City -1954
dust 59 . www.dustaccra.com
jerry hansen It is impossible to have a serious conversation about highlife - classic, jazzy
jerry
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
Icon
60 . www.dustaccra.comdust
the website Don’t forget to check out the brand new DUST website for the most

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

to check out the brand new DUST website for the most compelling content on Accra, Ghana,
to check out the brand new DUST website for the most compelling content on Accra, Ghana,
to check out the brand new DUST website for the most compelling content on Accra, Ghana,
to check out the brand new DUST website for the most compelling content on Accra, Ghana,
to check out the brand new DUST website for the most compelling content on Accra, Ghana,
to check out the brand new DUST website for the most compelling content on Accra, Ghana,
to check out the brand new DUST website for the most compelling content on Accra, Ghana,
to check out the brand new DUST website for the most compelling content on Accra, Ghana,
to check out the brand new DUST website for the most compelling content on Accra, Ghana,
to check out the brand new DUST website for the most compelling content on Accra, Ghana,