Thursday, October 30, 2008

Speaking and writing English.

Very often we hear a lot of hue and cry about the fallen standards of the English language among the youth in today's Ghana. A lot of blame has been attributed to the fact that most young people speak Pidgin English with impunity wherever they find themselves be it in the home or in formal organizations.

Unfortunately our tertiary institutions and high schools provide an enabling environment where Pidgin English is habituated. It seems that nothing could be done to truncate this worrying trend among young people. One cannot begrudge them of the slang which they are so comfortable with, not been oblivious of the fact that Pidgin English provides a platform for the youth to fraternize quickly within the immediate society. By this time am quite sure that readers would be wondering whether I am a pro-pidgin advocate, wrong, I am not. My concern is to find out how that pidgin-speaking weakness can be turned into strength for the larger majority of Ghanaians that are illiterate. Definitely one cannot write good English if he does not make a conscious effort to speak it. Obviously the point I want to emphasize is simply this;

That, it is better to speak some substantial amount of quasi-English than not being able to write and speak good English at all. Indeed statistics show that an overwhelming majority of our country folk are illiterate and this should be of great concern to the privileged minority, most especially our national policy formulators, there should be a painstaking effort be it a national program agenda or machinery to reverse the status quo.

For those who can speak and write at least some good English, yours truly was inspired to pen this article for them. to draw our attention to a lesser known truth that, technological advancements with regards to the internet and mobile phones is gradually corrupting the English we write through the electronic mail and text messages we send .Due to the limited number of characters one can send in a text message, “texters” have resulted to writing abbreviated words leading to bad spellings, weird tenses and poor semantics.

The utmost reason being that the current generation spend more time texting short messages on their mobile phones and the internet through instant electronic mail messaging It is therefore becoming rampant to receive emails and text messages with very bad spelling which cannot make meaningful reading. Regrettably the same can be said of the text messages people send to television networks, which are screened to viewers without any editing. This habit of bad spelling comes to bare in educational institutions, workplaces and other formal organizations where people are subjected to the task of writing assignments, long essays, reports, applications and memos etc. In this regard most people find it tedious and boring organizing their thoughts on paper. Indeed it is quite easier to speak than to write because writing requires the organization of content points and expressions that are mechanically accurate.

Quickly I will mention that it is not good to write with poor spellings and irregular grammatical constructions whiles we speak fluently and eloquently. Writing and speaking good English must be encouraged among the youth. Forming of debating and creative writers clubs as well as reading/book clubs should be promoted in schools and communities, dying ones must be revived and supported with resources. They are much more profitable to an individual's self development and the entire nation than allowing ethnic groupings on our university campuses.

Analogically, good writing comes after reading and speaking good English.

Will the price of "purewater" sachet rise to 10pesewas?

this article was written before the presidential intervention in May.

I ask this question because Ghana's inflation rate seems to be soaring gradually and I can't possibly tell you where it's going to rest from the current 15% rate as our economists have made us aware. I hope it does rest soon because I do not want Ghana's inflation rate to be a replica of Zimbabwe's, 'na lie' my brother!

These days prices of good and services steadily keep rising by 5pesewas.Current transportation fares are a classic example, indeed passengers are really feeling the pinch, this they express by incessantly picking up squabbles with 'trotro mates'(bus conductors as known in Ghanaian street parlance).

Quickly it comes to mind that this is what the economy will encounter when the regime in power 'unwillingly' refuse to mint enough 1p and 2p coins for petty and routine transactions. After the elaborate campaign on the use of the Ghana pesewa, I least expected this outcome.

I keep asking, who really benefits from the unavailable pesewa coins? And who is also at the losing end? Critically speaking, items which should have had an increment by about 2p are increased by 5p with ease; in fact this phenomenon is rapidly pushing up the price mark for petty consumables. We also should not forget that hitherto there was even the old 50cedis coin. To me it’s most unfortunate that this trend is coming at a time when Ghanaians have not been made privy to the budget that accompanied the re denomination process.

So how much money was withdrawn and how much more was pumped into circulation plus how much was used to financing the mint process?

We need and ought to know the answers to all these questions that are cropping up. I'm quite sure that there was a cost-benefit project analysis undertaken before the decision to re-denominate the old cedi for the new Ghana cedi. I shudder to think that the only benefit that is readily enjoyed is the fact that we are no more carrying large sums of cash for transactions as was happening with the old currency. While mute was kept over the shortage of the 1p and 2p coins and its resultant effect on prices.

Definitely, a thin line can be drawn between the shortage of the 1p and 2p coins, and the correlation it has with inflation. Before some of you begin scrutinizing my economics background and think that probably I am postulating my version of economics theories on inflation, I must also state before hand that both my economics tutor in secondary school and lecturer in the university did not like me, bottom line, I was such a bad student whenever it came to economics. But for all I care, am a layman trying very hard to make some sense out of the mess, am I not?

Gradually we are trying to meet the same very dire conditions that brought about the re denomination, and if indeed we do meet those conditions by not acting swiftly, am sorry to state that then the entire re denomination exercise has been flawed. Please don’t be surprised because the writings were on the wall long ago, the value is the same, abi?

Times are hard and one cannot afford to drop a pesewa. In fact how can you, when constantly we are being reminded about O.I.L (Operation Iraqi Liberation) price hikes on the world market, food shortage and climate change, why would you want to take things for granted and muse that it doesn't hurt to lose some pesewas.

In fact I’ll have to be charitable enough to you; a free unsolicited consultancy advice will surely come in handy one of these days. Better welcome it gladly before it’s too late. The next time you go shopping in town when the ever blazing sun is most high. And you feel thirsty and sweaty; please quickly buy a sachet of water to mellow down your biological temperature.

Just pay if the seller updates you on the latest price of 10p!

Morning Palaver!!

I had gone to a nearby internet hub this morning to update our website. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to you at all; in fact we‘ve been able to build newsafrican without a regular internet facility in our “home office” by often perching on unsecured wireless internet technology around town.

Be sure to find me in an uncomfortable position right opposite to Papaye (Ghana’s #1 junk food joint) in front of the well-known drinkables base –The Container, on the Oxford Street at Osu in Accra, a nest for the seemingly almost sometimes elitist class in Ghana.

From the hub, I joined an express rickety trotro (transport-locale mini van) on the 8-lane Winneba-Kaneshie stretch to my workplace, mind you I’m running 2hrs late, where I’m currently about ending my one-year national service obligation after intellectually romanticizing in one of the world’s rare ocean-view universities located at Cape-coast in the central region. The “mate” (the trotro driver’s assistant as we call them in Ghana) offered me the front seat to squeeze my bottom.

Don’t think I would refuse, because to sit at the front and in fact close to the door, you can comfortably rest your right arm, we call this posture, 7, in Ghana. It’s a privilege, but not for those behind you in the main cabin. You have the opportunity to be mistaken for being the “car owner” while you sheepishly smile and wave to familiar pedestrians whom you spot in a spate of milliseconds if you were having laser eyes.

I beckoned to the conductor that I would alight in front of the somewhat-famous cellular network house, MTN (Most Troublesome Network) so I can majestically ply my favorite catwalk route to work thinking of how I was going to balance that financial account I’ve been preparing for the past 2 months, don’t envy anyone who works in an audit firm . This account has given me sleepless nights this whole month; I dared not even to occasion my birthday. The account would simply not balance.

Once, I had to rush out of the bathroom with soap all over me to go post a figure which had eluded me. Apparently I had to jump out of the shower before it evaporates from my mind again.

Charlie (and Nigerians wonder why Ghanaians always use this expression to refer to each other either male or female), what actually gave me my uttermost shock this morning was to find the “mate” busily engrossed with a newspaper, he was so much concentrated in his reading that he didn’t hear me screaming, “I’ll alight here.” It was indeed a spectacle to behold.

A “mate” reading a newspaper on duty! Wow!

They’re usually not known for such an act by Ghanaians and anybody who’s ever lived and joined trotro in this West African country and probably wherever this transport system exists on the African continent. To tell you the truth their personality, character and attitude is nothing to write home about. That can be a discussion on another day.

Perhaps they’re turning a new a leaf, even if its one out of the whole lot, I pray it becomes a craze amongst them. It will surely change the face of transport business in Ghana. Passengers should also stop branding them negatively because of the pesewa. Of course I agree with you, they must also be polite to the people who put bread on their table.

One love to all “trotro mates” in Ghana.

A date with the richest man in Babylon

Last July, I decided to commit myself to a book club that meets once a month either on the first or second Saturday review a selected book. In fact I decided to join this club to take my reading habit a notch higher and to keep me busy at all times while I also explore more interesting books with diverse subjects. Simply put I want to be caught reading at all times when am not working. I’m such person who completely believes in meeting up and interacting with folks of dissimilar orientation. You know, to share ideas on issues, plans, exchange contacts and all that. But largely I’m a part of the Beacon Books Club for the reason that I strongly share in the philosophy that yes indeed “reading maketh a man”.

Basically members acquire the chosen book to read before the next month’s meeting when we review by way of sharing thoughts on the principles discussed by the author. There’s an attention-grabbing format that directs the entire discussion. Just like economists, we agree to disagree. At the end we all leave imbibing wisdom, practicable knowledge and encouragement to spur us on. Isn’t this a worthy cause? One that should be egged on in families, neighbourhoods, communities, schools, work places (only @ lunchtime else we anger the boss…), etc. Can you imagine what successful Nations we will build? To learn the secrets of achievements of higher and improved places we have heard of. They wantonly tell us that the African does not like to read, let alone to discover. That clandestinely hide the furtive knowledge of wealth in a book and for ages, generations upon generations the African may never discover. We can challenge this ignoble assertion if we commit ourselves to study and strive to know all things. Dare call me a materialist! I think I’m being ideal. I’ve always liked to find out the truths of Africa’s untold stories. The hidden truths of our forebears. The exciting tales of how the kermits made on the river Nile to build magnificent pyramids and statutes in ancient Egypt. Same can be told of city of Lalibella in Ethiopia, the study of astrology in Mauritania way before Galileo, the University that was established in Timbuktu centuries ago. With the tools of this age the comp temporary African can build and achieve more.

For the first time last weekend I heard about the book-the richest man in Babylon by George S. Clason. It was the preferred paperback for next month’s review. I’ve just completed reading my copy and boy! there’s so much wisdom in this book that I can help than to share with you the wise sayings that I noted. Indeed it’s a book I’ll recommend to anybody seeking to be wealthy. It’s such a treasure to me now. This is a book full of parables and practicable principles to building an empire of your own. The parables I cannot recount now but here are some thought-provoking wise words for you.

No one lends his entire fortune, not even to his best friend.

A man’s wealth is not in the purse he carries.

A part of all you earn is yours to keep.

Wealth, like a tree, grows from a tiny seed.

Every fool must learn.

Why trust the knowledge of a brick maker about jewels.

If you would know the truth about sheep, go the herdsman.

Advice is one thing that is freely given away, but watch that you take only what is worth having.

He who takes advice about his savings from one who is inexperienced in such matters shall pay with his savings for proving the falsity of their opinions.

Opportunity wastes no time with those who are unprepared.

Will power is the unflinching purpose to carry a task you set for yourself to fulfilment.

Wealth grows wherever men exert energy.

Desires must be simple and definite. They defeat their own purpose should they be too many, too confusing, or beyond a man’s training to accomplish.

The more of wisdom we know, the more we may earn.

The man who seeks to learn more of his craft shall be richly rewarded.

Good luck waits to come to the man who accepts opportunity.

To attract good luck to oneself, it is necessary to take advantage of opportunities.

Good luck can be enticed by accepting opportunity.

Wealth that comes quickly goes the same way.

Wealth that stays to give enjoyment and satisfaction to its owner comes gradually because it is a child born of knowledge and persistent purpose.

Where there is determination, the way can be found.

Work well done, does good to the man who does it.

Think deeply about these wise words, for myself I’ve already started its practice. I can’t wait for the next review date to hear all the fine contributions from other fellows. If you plan visiting Accra (Ghana) one of these days, we will be at Sunny fm at North Ridge on the second Saturday of October, the next hour right after midday. Cheers!

Repatriation is a must !

An African undergraduate student from Chad studying at the HELP University College in Malaysia Abdel Aziz Hassan Abdraman, 22,was brutally murdered just because of his color by local youths of the country has been reported in some other media. The incident started when three Chadian students, walking towards the Wangsa Maju LRT station, were confronted by the locals who abused and assaulted them with weapons. The three sought refuge at the LRT station and called friends living nearby for help.

Seven of the friends, also Chadian students, arrived to confront the group but were chased and assaulted with knives, sticks and metal rods.

During the tussle, Aziz was stabbed by the gang and he died on the way to hospital.
i've just cross checked this issue from Malaysia and the latest development is that some suspects have been arrested and the police believe that this murder case will soon be solved.this story is a sad one indeed, and i cannot fathom why Africans are treated so badly outside. unfortunately the color issue always comes up. we've been abused and refused ever since the missionaries stepped on our shores, and for about 500years things are still the same. but in the words of Marcus Garvey "repatriation is a must now" for Africans abroad.

we've had enough of these inhumane treatments. our resources are stolen and we get abused in addition. if this is all life is worth for us then in fact its not worth living. we've been made to feel so timid towards the light-skinned. this morning on my way to work a brisk walking lady, whom i presumed was a Chinese, shoved one of our ladies aside, unintentionally though. to my utmost surprise the ghanaian lady was the first to apologize sheepishly. when in fact she was shoved from behind by the Chinese girl.

well you can make your judgement on this...? But this is what fellow Africans will suffer in Malaysia when quite recently in South Africa our own kind unleashed their wrath on us in what has now become the infamous xenophobic attacks. so this is where i get confused when the colour card is played. can it be economic reasons or some other theory that has not yet been propounded? i find it so strange that for all this while these dastardly acts are been perpetrated against our kith and kin in Malaysia and elsewhere and yet for us we always trumpet the refrain that we should go the Malaysia way because both countries attained independence the same year.

Fellow 40 ghanaians were also murdered in Gambia with impunity. this whole thing is in fact a paradox and Africans must come home now just like Marcus said. may the souls of the faithfully departed rest in peace.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


As usual, over the weekend last Saturday evening 25th October, I found myself working from home. I was in mine makeshift office-hall preparing a piece for publication on this blog. I was scurrying busily through stacks of papers looking for sacred facts. It’s important to lay facts bare once you decide to have opinions on diverse issues in order not to dangerously misinform readers, who most often depend on those of us who belong to writing fraternity.

Unexpectedly my phone rings, the call was from a much respected experienced senior journalist. He put his pen down just about a year ago after a vibrant thirty years or more practice without a blemish. He happens to be the longest running editor of the Daily Graphic, Ghana’s biggest selling newspaper. I’ve known him virtually all my life. He didn’t mince words at all; he wanted me to represent him at the 13th Ghana Journalists Awards Night at the Banquet Hall of the State House. I told him I was very much interested in attending the august and prestigious awards that features the crème de la crème of Ghana’s journalists.

As a young and upcoming freelancer, I knew this was an opportunity to have a sneak peek at the faces and personalities behind the columns, front page headlines, voices on the radio and the news anchors on prime time television.

Quickly I put everything on hold and headed towards his residence for the invitation. With the invite in hand, the next moment saw me majestically walking into the Banquet Hall. It was my first time at such grand event, usually over the years; I would be watching the Awards live on television, sometimes ended abruptly without any reasons. This time, I was a guest; in fact I was part of the show. I wouldn’t blink an eye.

What started off well as a meticulously planned Awards night had much to be expected at the end. In my opinion the most honest and objective solidarity message came from the Chairman of the National Media Commission (NMC). He pointed out by admonishing the journalists that they had totally forgotten about their main role of reporting on issues that really affected the lives of Ghanaians, other than waging into politics. To think of it, the media front, especially the print medium has become so politically polarised. Front pages have become avenues for launching screaming banner headlines with scathing attacks on political opponents. Allegations and concocted stories reign supreme these days. Allowing people who do not even belong to the profession I ask that, what more can we expect when these same politicians are the ones who bankroll some these media houses? Whether these smear tactics are for scoring political points or for the profit motive, they get me confused, please be the judge.

The NMC boss delivers a more powerful punch when he charges at the media men that on countless occasions that they’ve been called to book by the commission on matters that bothered on their reportage and ethics, they did not show any courtesy to apologise. Clearly, Ghana’s the fourth estate of the realm has sold its soul to the executive. That’s why they’ll openly show disregard when they are cautioned. He offers them a simple advice,

“It’s your duty to allow what is in the greater interest of the public to prevail.”

There was an even silence as he descended the rostrum. He told them the truth in plain language. Interestingly, they’ve reported the import of all the speeches that were made on the night, from the vice president, the lady Chief Justice through to Ghana’s ambassador to Ivory Coast, nobody has dared to report the rebuke vented out by the NMC chief. Why? Maybe they are shying away from the blatant fact.

So it happened that, a lot of journalists did not submit entries for the awards, not even features from radio and TV. The awards committee could not present the top prize for the day. For them nobody qualified for the most enviable honour, with regards to the standards and instructions that were laid out for presentation of entries. There were others too who entered but did not follow the guidelines.

The question then to ask is whether the committee itself did its work well in setting the parameters straight? How come that the entrants sidestepped the rules? Perhaps, it wasn’t clearly spelt out. The next morning after the event, I was amazed to hear one journalist on radio saying that he did not hear about the calling for entries, at the time he heard, entries were being closed. I said “wow”. But whether indeed the standards have fallen is another matter that is debatable. Lets’ not also forget that it was in this same country that a journalist of the soil, Israel Laryea was presented with the CNN/Multichoice African Journalist Award for news reporting. Its’ strange he didn’t put in his bid for the local version. I stand to be corrected.

It’s not so surprising to me that the awards committee could not find a worthy journalist to receive the most prestigious, journalist of the year award. To say it’s an indictment on the work of journalists in the country might be an understatement. It’s a shame. But checking the records I found out that this phenomenon occurred in 1974,82,83,84,85,92,94 and 1997 since the awards was started in 1971. Clearly, this year’s omission has hit everybody so hard. Much is been expected from them next year.

At the end of the event, if it even ended at all, something disgraceful happened. This was after it had been announced that nobody qualified for top prize of the night. The sudden announcement was a shock to most guests present, since that award was the toast of the entire event. In a moment nobody moved, but before one could say “jack” after the instrumentation of the national anthem, everybody was heading out of the doors, by passing the vice-president, the ambassador and the lady chief justice. What? They were not accorded the respect of exiting before anyone else could. I bowed my head in shame. The M.C had to make a quick announcement to call people to order for the sake of protocol. This too they’ve not mentioned in their bulletin so far, not to even apologise to the esteemed guests.

The upcoming December 7, elections offer all journalists a fresh page to right all their wrongs. Sensationalism should be a thing of the past. Objectivity and sound analysis is what many like me will be expecting. In these times, everybody’s hand is needed in holding the Nation together in one piece.

I can only hope that things get better in this country. All the journalists must stand up and be counted. They play an important role in nation building, keeping us informed and making our voices heard.

Without them, many would’ve been voiceless.

All the same, the pen like they say, is mightier than the sword, I salute them.