Thursday, October 22, 2009

Jahcoustix-German-born reggae musician live in Accra


As the reggae lover that I am, I wouldn’t miss any reggae show in Accra especially when it’s an international artiste visiting Ghana to perform live. Tuesday I was present at the Alliance Francais to unwind to the reggae music of Jahcoustix.

Jahcoustix started it all in East Africa in Nairobi-Kenya in 1992 where he found the music that would give his life a clear musical direction, reggae.
In Kenya, he spent his free time wandering through the downtown streets of Nairobi, where he would get his first contacts to Rastafarians and to reggae music.

With his accompanying band, he’s done about 500 live concerts around the world.
Just like most reggae artistes Jahcoustix sings about societal challenges and love. His music was well received by all who made it to the free live show at the open air theatre within the Alliance Francais premises. Most of the attendants being expatriates working in Ghana, tourists and students.

Performing “invitation”, which I suppose was the hit track of the night, the audience invited themselves onto the dance floor to boogie.
Before Ghana, the band has already been to Dakar (Senegal), Abidjan (Ivory Coast) and will be in Lagos as I publish this post.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Ghariokwu Lemi in Ghana

Album sleeve illustrator, Ghariokwu Lemi made a return to Ghana after 33yrs of his last visit with late Afro beat King Fela Anikulakpo Kuti in 1976. With his deft fingers, he singularly designed 26 cover sleeves out of Fela’s discography of about 70 records that were produced. To him that feat was his call to fame comfortably strapped to Fela’s progress, starting with the “alagbon close” album that was released in December 1974. At the time, he was only 18yrs and the love story between him and the man, whose name “Anikulakpo” means death in my pocket, begun.

"Those works specifically helped to brand Fela as a rebel, a rebel leader, a revolutionary, political activist, a humanitarian and otherwise,” Lemi said in his introductory remarks at the Alliance Francais Arts Exhibition Gallery in Accra to showcase his artworks as part of his world tour programme, the last place before making it to Accra was the in UK where he also exhibited at the Bass Festival 09 in June.

The exhibition in Accra was a prelude to an afrobeat musical concert dubbed “AFROBITTEN” organized under the auspices of the French Embassy in Ghana, which featured Wunmi(a former backup vocalist for Fela), Ayetoro Band (put together by Nigerian composer and also former pianist for Fela, Funsho Ogundipe) and Atongo Zimba(a Ghanaian musician who also spent 4yrs studying music in Fela’s shrine).
At the Arts exhibition gallery, Lemi was poised to share his experiences and interact with Ghanaians and expatriates who had come to admire his works and also to hear stories about Fela; a lecture he said he was ready to give for 5hrs running non-stop for anyone interested.

He also recollected how he became an instant star in Nigeria, “for the first time in Nigeria, after the press reviewed Fela’s music, they also reviewed the album cover and I became an instant star.”
Ghariokwu Lemi has a variegated style of painting; laying out a selection of his portfolio of designs in Accra, one would have easily suggested that those pieces of art works on display were done by different illustrators. Interestingly the 53yr old man started his profession as an album sleeve illustrator in 1973 by self-tuition, researching, asking questions, trying out new techniques and blueprints he encountered. He has been able to develop this eclectic style without attending any arts institution. Since then the humble and self-made man has gone on to design over 2000 album covers both in Nigeria and internationally till date.

Upon invitation by pidgin music rapper, Wanlov the Kobolor, Ghariokwu Lemi reappeared in Ghana with fond memories and feeling at home. Then living in New Jersey, Kobolor sought after Lemi’s services via email on completion of his afro-beat inspired debut album, Green Card, which tells the thoughts of an immigrant in the United States.
Indeed in 2007, after meeting up with Kobolor in New York at “Fela-bration”, the green card album sleeve illustration became the latest addition to his works for a Ghanaian musician after designing for the late King of Highlife E.T Mensah, Bunzu Soundz, and Hedzelo Sounds (in 1976 for the acclaimed Ghanaian music producer, Faisal Helwani, who passed away in 2008). Ghariokwu Lemi told the AficanCourier that he’s currently working on the album cover sleeve for Yabba Funk, another Ghanaian group based in the UK.

Before leaving Accra for lagos, Lemi did not hide his admiration and respect for Ghana and Kwame Nkrumah, whose Centenary celebration is currently underway.
“Kwame Nkrumah laid a strong foundation for Ghana and it can never be completely scattered, I hope all African leaders learn from this great man”, he said giving the assurance to return more often to interact with young people as an effort to exchange knowledge.

In praising the country, he began with an advise and a wish, “Ghana, keep on doing what you’re doing, you’re a beacon light in West Africa”, he said,” you’re a good example to follow, I wish my country Nigeria will follow, because positivity, genuine awareness, integrity and consciousness towards whatever we do is a very vital fibre for human production and development.

Ghariokwu Lemi has upcoming exhibitions that he says will outdoor his new form of art to replace himself after 35yrs of professional work, starting from Lagos-Nigeria on October 3rd and 16th at UK’s Black History Month.

Monday, August 24, 2009

A literary night of words @ Smoothy's


Smoothy's Pub in Osu was the place to be last Friday for people who appreciate poetry and literary works. It was a night dubbed Expressions, bringing together writers,poets,bloggers and media men under one roof to read extracts from their works while they enjoyed different flavours of smoothies.

Expressions attracted an unprecedented appreciable audience for on a night that Ayesha Haruna Atta,the prolific young writer, read an extract from her new book, Hamattan Rain. It was her idea for such garthering and many commended her for putting up the event. Talented rapper and music producer, Mensa, was the MC, sharing light jests to draw laughter from an indulging audience.

Mutombo the poet, gave a good account of himself with a spoken word performance he calls, ''Another Black Boy" making the audience hang on to it till the recital was over.

Esi, another young writer and popular blogger on Ghana's blogosphere who writes under name " Wo Se Ekyir"-what your mama never told you about Ghana, read a short story to everyone's fascination. r

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

From Kobolor comes RED CARD to Ms Naa




Wednesday, the sensational and uniquely witty pidgin rapper, Wanlov the Kobolor gave hints to Yfm's Ryse N Shyne morning show hostess, Ms Naa, of his soon to be released RED CARD album after the success of his debut GREEN CARD with the instant "Kokonsa" hit. Kobolor was in the company of companion Mensa, the talented hiplife/hiphop lyricist based in the UK, currently in Ghana working on a movie project titled 'Coz Ov Moni' starring Kobolor and being directed by Panji Anoff, CEO of Pidgen Music.

The duo who call themselves F.O.K.N Bois were in the studios of the Asylum Down-based radio station together with GH's spoken word performer,Mutombo, who calls himself "the unofficial member" of the group. The Wednesday edition of the Ryse N Shyne show was an exciting and a fun-filled one as the threesome shared wild rib-cracking stories and experiences in an informal chat with the African-American presenter. Oftened she burst out with laughter the whole period, in what seemed to have been an extended version of the show an extra 15minutes after sign off time.

On the spur of the monent, Wanlov mentioned "red card", totally clueless about what it meant,Ms Naa also known as Naa Adjorkor inquired,"what is that? what is it? what's red card?" she asked Kobolor with alacrity, knowing the self styled Afro-beat rapper's capability to coin witty terminologies. According to Kobolor, "red card is an album i'm working on to release soon, one of the four albums i'll be releasing before the end of the year", he said. He also hinted that 'red card' was going to follow in the same direction in terms of rhythm and style like the 'green card',a 20 track record co-produced by Mensa, Kweku Ananse, Seven & Bosco. It deals with visa issues and the musings of an immigrant in America. The red card,Kobolor says," is in connection with the red card in football".

Humbly in his closing acknowlegement, Kobolor revealed, how he owed thanks and gratitude to Eddy Blay Jr. of the defunct rap group, Native Funk Lords(NFL) and current co-host of Overdrive on Yfm, for inspiring his pidgin style of rap music. Mutombo the Poet, who has also been spending studio time recording his debut album of spoken word gave no hints on the date of release. He has been billed together with host Mensa, who he says is his "bestest friend",to perform at a literary night of words labeled Expressions at SMOOTHY's in Osu on Friday 21st August.

Kobolor and Mensa (F.O.K.N Bois) are also set to perform live at Alliance Francaise on Saturday August 22, a show dubbed "AFROBITTEN" which will also feature WUNMI, AYETORO & ATONGO ZIMBA.

Ryse N Shyne airs monday-friday between 6am-10am on Yfm 101.7mhz hosted by Ms Naa,the only female host of a morning show in Ghana at the moment,and CEO of the Afrocenchic clothing line and handmade crafts. Ryse N Shyne is ably produced by "producer extra-ordinaire",Erama, popularly known as E-Boogie.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Maker Faire Africa '09 ends in Accra









Maker Faire Africa '09 ended yesterday at the Kofi Annan Centre of Excellence in ICT. MFA 09, a celebration of ingenuity,innovation and invention was the theme of the faire which was the first of its kind hosted by Ghana. The 3-day novel technology event had been running in Accra from the August 14th-16th bringing together makers and inventors from Kenya, Liberia, USA, Nigeria, India,Tanzania and many other countries.

The aim of the Maker Faire Africa event is to create a space on the continent where innovations, inventions and initiatives can be sought, identified, brought to life, supported, amplified and propagated. According to the organisers, "while the ICT space has developed a head of steam in some parts of Africa, a “maker philosophy” is yet to occur".

Speaking to NewsAfricanGhana, a member of the organising team Emeka Okafor said, "technology goes beyond the computer, we are bringing together people who can create and fabricate things, this is what Africa needs."

Participating in the faire,it is obvious that Africa has talent that is untapped, most creations were targeted at solving basic problems. Amongs the exhibitors was Tei Huagei, an artist who uses waste polythene to manufacture rubber clothes, a project he calls not-a-waste-recycle-art. Tei talks about how his work his a loud statement against waste polythene in Ghana. His works are bought and resold at BlackHat Studios in Mexico.

From the Accra Polytechnic campus, a group of young men put together a radio transmitter of 150watts which they built to broadcast live on fm 101.7mhz to about 3km from the faire grounds. Their station slogan was "the power of NSBE". NSBE they said, meant, National Society of Black Engineers. "if you are a black man or student like me,then you automatically belong to this society" they said.


The next MFA has been penciled to take place in Kenya next year but the date is yet to announced.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

NKRUMAIST DECLARATION


As part of efforts to revive the now lacklustre CONVENTION PEOPLES PARTY(CPP),the left-winged party of the first President of Ghana, DR. KWAME NKRUMAH which led Ghana to independence in 1957 on the 6th of March. Some stalwarts of the party has come together to issue out a document they call the NKRUMAIST DECLARATION. Below is the full text.

--------------------------------------

Ghana is once more at the crossroads and the options are clear. We can take the path to the entrenchment of our neo-colonial status where illiteracy, poverty and underdevelopment flourish or opt for the Nkrumaist path which leads to the building of an egalitarian society in which misery, inequality and poverty will be banished.

Today, more than 53 years after the victory of the forces of nationalism and socialism over harsh British colonial rule, the masses of Ghana continue to suffer unemployment, lack of access to health, education and housing. They are unable to feed and clothe themselves adequately. The old colonial predators now masquerading as the international community and respectable businesses have turned our people into nothing more than drawers of water and hewers of wood.

The dream of the Osagyefo at independence that the people of Ghana would be the ultimate beneficiaries of the exploitation of their natural resources has not been realized yet. The forest resources, gold, diamond, manganese, rivers and human power of Ghana continue to be exploited largely for the benefit of the ruling elite and their surrogates in the Metropolitan countries.

Over the last 30 years the national currency has been devalued by more than 30,000 percent, industries established by the Convention Peoples Party (CPP) have been auctioned off to friends and relatives of the powerful, the peoples’ access to health and education has been substantially reduced, subsidies have been withdrawn from social services and the liberalization of internal and external trade has had dire consequences on local production.

As avowed Nkrumaists we cannot give up hope because we know that our prescription for national economic rejuvenation, raising of political conscieness and full social integration is efficacious. It is possible to build a new Ghana based on the solid foundations of social justice and democracy with the correct application of Nkrumaist principles. We can and must make Ghana a prosperous modern nation leading in the struggle for the full integration of African states into a continental union government.

We note however that the current state of the Convention peoples Party (CPP) does not engender hope amongst the working people and the progressive forces. The CPP has become rusty. It has lost its internal cohesion and can no longer be seen as the vanguard of underprivileged people struggling for an equitable share of the national cake and against the blatant violations of their rights.

The rebirth of the CPP must necessarily involve a deep commitment to the principles of Nkrumaism, the re-affirmation of the politics of inclusion (unity) and the construction and strengthening of party structures at all levels of organization.

We call on all Nkrumaists wherever they may be to rally around the call for the rebirth of the party. This task can only be achieved with a leadership that is truly imbued with a clear understanding of Nkrumaism and is willing and able to make the needed sacrifices. The Trojan horses must not be given space in our midst, lest they spring surprises and destroy our organization from within. If indeed we are all Nkrumaists, then there should be no difficulty in working together to liberate our people from the clutches of poverty and underdevelopment.

The time to build the new CPP is now. We cannot afford to delay any longer. The masses are hungry and the state is decaying. We can and must struggle to end the neo-colonial destruction.

SIGNED BY PARTICIPANTS
1.Comrade K. Sintim Aboagye
2.Professor Francis Nkrumah
3.Comrade Kofi Amponsah
4.Professor K. Ayisi
5.Comrade Kwame Wiafe
6.Madam Lucy Enin
7.Dr. Gamal Nasser Adam
8.Comrade A. Owusu Gyimah
9.Comrade Kwesi Pratt, Jnr.
10.Comrade A. A. Adongo
11.Comrade Michael Nunoo
12.Dr. S. O. Asante



Friday, July 10, 2009

Obama blamed for train stoppage !

This morning a train heading towards the Kantamanto Market partly skidded off its rail tracks onto the streets@circle-Accra. As people gathered to explain the unfortunate situation, a man accused OBAMA,who's visiting Ghana later today, of the incident.



The train halted in the middle of the Obetsebi lamptey roundabout-Circle Road. Transport vehicles had to drop off their passengers to walk. People had to climb through the train to get to the other half of the road on their way to work.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Ghana Fashion Weekend ends, Ricci Osei remembered,Boris speaks Twi.






The 4day Ghana Fashion Weekend came to an end on Saturday at the Accra International Conference Centre. The event featured various designers from Africa and across the world, as well as the German-Ghanaian star of the popular drama, "Soul Food", Boris Kodjoe with his wife Nicole Ari Parker,also a co-star of the popular TV series.

Saturday's final event showcased professional catwalk models from Exopa Modeling Agency in exquisite designs and apparels of Kofi Ansah,Ricci Osei, Aphadi, Jandel, Allan David, Bazem'Se,and Amadou Diop. Other international designers also include Eloi Sessou, Patrick Asso, Dady de maximo,Parfait Behen,Ousmane Doumbia and many more.

Hiplife music genre originator Reggie Rockstone, out-doored the last designer collection of his late father Ricci Osei.

"These were the last collection of my dad that were never released before he passed away,I feel so proud for this honour"
,

says Rockstone, receiving a resounding applause and a standing ovation in tribute to the man who was well-known for "patch jeans" across Europe.

In a rare showing, Ricci Osei's collection hit the run way by famous hiplife musicians and rappers to a rapturous applause and excitement seeing Tinny, Samini, peer pressure duo Kwaku T and D-Black and Kwaw Kese.

Interestingly, soccer stars were not left out of the show, Black Stars and Chelsea FC midfielder Michael Essien, Togolese international and Arsenal striker Emmanuel Adebayor, and Tony Baffour ,former Black stars defender, took turns to grace the catwalk amidst cheers from fans for the final lapse of the show which was well patronized.



In his closing remarks, Boris Kodjoe, was full of praise for the designers and Ghana,

"i want to thank all the designers for such a great job, the talent here is incredible and we want to share it with the world, we've being talking to the vice president and they will continue to support us ".

Unexpectedly Boris Kodjoe delivered an innocuous line in the widely spoken Twi language to the surprise of everybody, sending the ladies to scream.

"On behalf of my wife and myself, i want to thank Ghana, medo mu paa" (i love you so much).



Described as the revolutionary behind Ghana's Fashion Industry, Director of Ghana Fashion Weekend, Ibrahim Sima also expressed his satisfaction and pride over the success of the event which could be compared to international standards in Rome and Italy.

He said," look at it now, we've done it, people never thought this could be so successful, but here we are, it's just like what we have being seeing on t.v from Europe and elsewhere".

Ghana Fashion Weekend is a French Embassy initiative in collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Trade and Industry.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Rocky Dawuni & the revelation project


Rocky Dawuni is one of Africa’s most popular musicians and his legendary performances have brought global fame and acclaim.

Rocky is now set to bring his groovalicious live reggae to the opening of L.A.’s Grand Performances’ season at California Plaza with two free downtown performances at 12 Noon and 8pm - on Friday July 10, 2009 with an outrageous 11 piece band with very special guests sitting in!!

July 10th marks Rocky’s first appearance in the U.S. since his smash visit to the Balispirit Festival and Hard Rock Hotel Bali in Indonesia and he will head to Europe to tour Germany, Austria and France immediately following the Grand Performances’ shows.

Rocky just finished his 5th studio recording titled “Hymns for the Rebel Soul” which is currently set for release in late 2009. The album’s lead track, “Download the Revolution,” has already been licensed by video game giant EA for their FIFA 2010 video game.

Dawuni also has two tracks on the Top 20 “Playing for Change: Songs Around the World” compilation, including a cover of “War” by Bob Marley which also features Bono and an international cast of musicians.



When not playing on some of the world’s largest festival stages, Rocky is involved with UNICEF, Product (RED), The Carter Center and The Global Fund and other pro-active humanitarian, social and environmental organizations- in his belief and commitment to create positive and sustainable change. Converse (RED) just released his custom designed shoe - dubbed “Wheels of Change” - as part of the Converse “1Hundred Series” with proceeds supporting the UN Global Funds effort to provide antiretroviral medication for people suffering from HIV / AIDS in Africa.

Don’t miss this amazing live performance by Ghana’s shining star, Rocky Dawuni!!



Rocky Dawuni & The Revelation Project
Friday, July 10 2009
12pm & 8pm

FREE!! ALL AGES!

Grand Performances
California Plaza
300-350 S. Grand Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90071
213.687.2159
www.grandperformances.org
www.kcrw.com
www.rockydawuni.com
www.myspace.com/rockydawunimusic
www.twitter.com/rockydawuni

*Directions: FROM THE HARBOR FREEWAY (110) NORTH OR SOUTHBOUND Exit Fourth street, staying on the left. Turn left onto Olive Street. The California Plaza parking facility is on the left.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Talents shine @ Bless the Mic- arts and music festival


When Emcees Africa came to town last week to look for a freestyle rapper to represent Ghana in South Africa later this year, many folks who were at the contest went wild against the final choice. Others also thought it was a poor showing by talents who came out to exhibit their on-the-spot skills in stringing rhyming words.


Contrary, there was an exciting show of class last Saturday when Alliance Francais hosted Bless the Mic-Arts and Music festival at their open air theatre to a lively audience of spoken word and music lovers. The event brought together unsigned artistes and performers in attempt to support local talent as well as revive the arts. Interestingly, almost all the artistes who represented at the show performed together with a live band with ease.


“We organised this event this event to give a platform to emerging and established artists to share their talents, hone their skills, and network with industry professionals” said PY Addo-B Annan, co-emcee and main organiser of the event.


Bless the Mic featured performers of spoken word, acoustic music, sax collaboration, traditional music, reggae, hip-hop and hip-life rap. The rap and reggae performers delivered smoothly with the support of the well-known 4-man live band, Sound factory, which without a fault played classic tunes with jazz effects that swept over the audience to also sing along.


The night started off with a six-minute spoken word out-pour by Yasmin with her lamentations of a Diasporan longing to see the Motherland. The Black American and Afro centric student, who is currently studying in Ghana, was accompanied with a faint live sax tune in the background under dim lights for a perfect mood and feel.

Also on the night’s bill was Motombo, another astounding and exciting spoken word artist to listen to, whose popularity seemed to be soaring among poetry enthusiasts after featuring in 20-minute NT1 Poetry series that was aired on TV Africa during the latter part of the previous year.


When it was his turn to perform, he took the audience through a captivating ode to the hip-life music genre that recognised founder, Reggie Rockstone, Nananom, Nana King, Obrafour and a host of other artistes who have contributed to the genre.


“This was my mission to a Chief’s palace to find hip-life because they said hip-life was dead”, he said.

Motombo has also performed as a guest artist on the famous music reality show tagged Mentor, on TV3.

The petite freestyle rapper and first runner up of Emcees Africa, Props, gave a good account of himself to a rapturous audience. PY Addo B Annan, CEO of MI Prime Entertainment, openly asserted Props should have won the Emcees Africa-Ghana contest, before introducing the young rapper to patrons at Alliance Francais.



PY says “only if you were at the Tantra Night club last week, everybody knew he was the one who should have won.”

Reggae and dancehall were also fully appreciated when the talented and budding reggae sensation, Stone boy collaborated with Patan, the Jamaican-speaking and eccentric rastafar-i ragga artist aided by the sound factory live band. The duo entertained everyone to their exceptional music flow amid wild stage antics and dance moves.


Traditional music was not left out of the package as opportunity was given to Gunna Music, formerly Hewale Soundz, an 8-member cultural troupe to also shine with their unique indigenous music and choreography.

some performers who also showed class at the event were, Trig-matic, rapper and YFM “Campus Level” host, Kweku T/D-Black teaming up to perform a live rendition of “move”, their latest release and D.K Osei, another distinctive Ghanaian spoken word act based in the UK.




Others also include fast and witty rapper Kochoko, acoustic poets Ras Bomba/Rhyme Soni, The Matcho Rapper, Dre, RonnyO, Skillionz, and the underground hip-hop character Illa.

Bless the Mic was started 4years ago by MI Prime Entertainment and it takes place every Thursday night at the Baze Lounge and Bar in Osu Re-Accra.

images @ Bless the Mic










Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Culture Caravan


Touring 8cities across the southern belt of Ghana, the CULTURE CARAVAN,sponsored by theFrench Embassy and Vodafone, stopped atJAMES TOWN-MANTSE AGBONAA inACCRA last sunday 3rd May,2009 after performances at Takoradi, Elmina and Kasoa.

The caravan features Hiplife legend Reggie RockstoneKwaw Kesse, King Ayisoba and pidgin rapper Wanlov Koborlor. Others also onthe tour are the traditional master drummerOkyerema Yaw Kontor and Joy Fm's DJ Black.

The Culture Caravan is a novelty which adopts traditional/hiphiplife music and acting on stage with popular songs. It's therefore not surprising that the producer this exciting event, Panji Anoff describes as a "revival of the concert party format".

   

From thursday 8th May, the Culture Caravan will be at Koforidua Jackson Park, saturday 9th-Nkawkaw Ofori Park, sunday 10th May-Obuasi Black Park.


Monday, May 4, 2009

Ghanaba goes home


In the heat of the elections and just six days to the 2nd round election, Ghanaba, who also goes by the honorary title “Odomankoma Kyerema” to wit, The Divine Drummer, silently took in his last breath and passed on into the last next world.

Ghanaba was born Kpakpo Akwei 85years ago but later changed his name to Guy Warren in the United States when he started fusing African drum beats with Western jazz which earned him the credit as the originator of Afro-Jazz.

NewsAfrican-Ghana was at his funeral that was organised at the State House and the cremation ceremony at the Osu Cemetary on Saturday 28th March, 2009 to pay my respect to one of Ghana’s finest musicians and a Pan-Africanist.

People from all shades of persuasions were present, Statesmen, Chiefs and Traditionalists, Buddhists and Hare Krishner followers, entertainers, music researchers and producers, Poets and journalists etc.

Without a doubt, Ghanaba was such a person who significantly identified with the above group of people. Being once a journalist himself, the divine drummer was also a very close friend and father figure to former President of Ghana, J.J Rawlings, who literally stood on at the cremation grounds until he saw the dying embers of his inspirational friend’s pyre. On the following Sunday, the ashes of the jazz great was scattered at his Midie home.

Ghana’s Poetry legend and Secretary-General of the Pan-African Writers Association of Ghana (P.A.W.A), Professor Atukwei Okai recited and dramatized a dirge with intermittent drumming of the “fromtomfrom” drum in praise of Kofi Ghanaba. The dirge, with the title, “An umbilical Totem-Obelisk Concerto for the Divine Drummer” is also dedicated to H.E Maitre Abdoulaye Wade, President of the Republic of Senegal, and the late Setheli Ashong-Katai, a distinguished film director, actor and scriptwriter who also passed away on March 17, 2009.

 

 

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Cash Crisis hit Taylor trial!


This is just a new twist to the Charles Taylor story i published on sunday after his Lawyer met journalists in Accra concerning the former president's trial and status at The Hague.

I never expected to find this, but somehow i have, it confirms the fact that the credit crunch is so close to everyone. If anyone thinks he's absolved from the current global crisis, then he better think again because it's very close than one may even suggest. Especially, after GBS(Gateway Broadcasting Service) filed for bankruptcy in the United Kingdom only to take a major toll on the numerous subscribers in Ghana. Now the only thing the subscribers have is "function-less satellite dishs" attached to their roofs. 

I'm a regular reader of the Graphic Business, being a business student,  its a weekly must read for me. On page 8 of todays issue(17th March,2009), i found this headline "Cash crisis hit Taylor trial".

I've therefore decided to cull a section of the publication.

            ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The prosecutor at the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL), Stephen Rapp told Reuters that lack of court funds due to the global economic downturn may require the release of former Liberian President Charles Taylor.

The SCSL's budget comes entirely from individual donations and it expects a shortfall of almostUS$5million. without sufficient funding, the judges in the case may be forced to release Taylor from custody.

should he be set free, the indictments would stand,leaving open the possibility for further legal action
.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The International Criminal Court and African leaders!



On saturday 14th March 2009, the lead defence counsel, Courtenay Griffith Q.C, for the former Liberian leader, Charles Taylor (standing trial at The Hague), organised a press conference in Accra concerning the current status of the trial.




Charles Taylor is standing trial for allegedwar crimes and crimes against humanity for his support to the rebel group, RUF( Revolutionary United Front) in Sierra Leone from 1991-2001.

alot of questions was raised by his defence counsel at the press conference regarding why the ICC is targeting only african leaders, who are not known to have any support from the West. So Jonas Savimbi is free while Al-Bashir is refusing to be dragged, nontheless a note of caution has be given to Robert Mugabe to watch out!

It appears that the workings of the ICC has not gained much publicity in Africa, even though Africans are being arranged to stand trial.

Is there a need for networks of advocacy groups to agitate across Africa to stop the process of the ICC?

Should the African Union set up its own Justice court for Africans who commit such crimes?

But it's deeper than we may think, Huge oil deposits has been found to lying along the Gulf of West Africa.

 Liberia is yet to explore its own, when Charles Taylor was in power he rejected exploitative proposals by HALLIBURTON(a US-based oilfield services corporation with international corporations in over 70 countries) . to explore the oil reserves. He was more comfortable to work with the Chinese, same way the Chinese are major trade partners to Sudan. Any connections with the AL-Bashir case and why China was opposed to his arrest warrant? Have we also forgotten the interests of HALLIBURTON in Iraq?

Mr. Griffith was emphatic, "Charles Taylor will win if he stood for any election in Liberia today".
In my opinion it will be a very bad example for the West to consider after all their vilification of the Mr. Taylor.

Indeed its more than just war crimes and crimes against Humanity, else Jnr.Bush and his "one time" side-kick and protege, Blair, will also be facing facing charges by now.

Is it a matter of giving a dog bad name to hang it? while you, sarcastically, take his bone!

i reproduce here the full text of the press statement:

PRESS STATEMENT: BY COURTENAY GRIFFITHS, Q.C

DEFENCE LEAD COUNSEL FOR CHARLES TAYLOR

ACCRA, GHANA 14TH MARCH 2009

 I have come to the birthplace of Pan-Africanism in the hope that we can together rekindle that non-negotiable demand that Africans be treated equally on the global stage. Sadly, of the experiences of Charles Taylor and more recently President Al Bashir of Sudan provide a guide, then we must be prepared to re-engage with renewed vigour in that struggle.

 

In both instances the “international community” the code for western interests is promoting the idea that there can be no impunity for those who commit war crimes and crimes against humanity. It is somewhat curious then that no one is calling with equal ferocity for either former President Bush or former British Prime Minister to stand trial for atrocities instigated by them in Iraq. Likewise there is a studied silence from that same “international community” when it comes to the crimes committed so recently by the state of Israel in Gaza. The cruel reality is that impunity only becomes an issue if the perpetrator is a black African who does not enjoy the backing of the West, hence a Jonas Savimbi is safe.

 

This is an opportune time to consider that debate. When Charles Taylor was arrested and dragged in chains to The Hague in Holland to stand trial, he warned, to borrow a phrase, that if they came for him in the morning they would come for others that night. That vision has now come true as the president of Sudan can now testify, and watch out Robert Mugabe!

 

It is time for Africans to take charge of their own destinies. Taylor’s trial has received very little publicity here in Africa, yet it is the continent most affected by the outcome of those proceedings. Why did his trial not take place in Africa? Why has the Africa Union not established its own to deal with issues which affect Africans in Africa? If a corporal in the American Army cannot be tried in the International Criminal Court for war crimes and crimes against humanity, how comes an African president can?

 

One reason that Taylor’s trial and the trials of other Africans were taken to The Hague is because it is easier to destroy the rights of a people when they are kept in the dark. The majority of Africans haven’t got a clue about what is going on n The Hague. It is time for us to shed some light on this misuse of international criminal law. That can only be done if organise to ensure the rights of our African sons and daughters are given proper regard and that international criminal law does not become a 21st century form of neo-colonialism. This is not just about Charles Taylor but it is a useful place to start. We who defend him need your support.


Friday, February 13, 2009

OPINION: An all-inclusive government



The new administration should not focus on it. It’s a marriage of incompatibility-the Zimbabwe model of power-sharing is even not likely to succeed.

There’s a mounting pressure on the current administration to fulfil its campaign promise of an-all inclusive government. This is one type of a political administration that will accommodate people from the other side of the political divide, or better still bring its political opponents on board within a spectrum of fields to run government machinery.

The supposed move can be described as political naivety. It sounds politically correct to call for an all-inclusive government, for the reason that the administration that extends its hand will not be seen as been vindictive or repulsive of qualified technocrats who are known to be associated or worked with other political entities.

In Zimbabwe, it has taken Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Mutambara a whole year to settle and fully agree on a power-sharing deal. They’ve been back and forth reaching a stalemate on countless occasions. What more can happen when government machinery is set in place with its full compliments? One can only envisage the counter struggles to be waged by the different forces now sharing the same wardrobe as they accommodate each other in the same bedroom.

Not even the “Elders” led by Kofi Annan, were able to make an impact. They were embarrassingly refused visas to enter the country.

The current regime seems to be on track to satisfy this demand in its bid to appease the advocates. The question about whether whoever is coming on board shares in the same political ideology or not, is not been asked. During the last election campaign Dr. Paa Kwesi Ndoum was the loudest on this matter. He has expressed support in principle for this idea because of his involvement in the pro right-winged past regime. Clearly, that did not positively affect his image and his leftist-oriented party. There has even been a back-clash between him and his own comrade who also served in the previous administration.

The supposed precedent for an all-inclusive government exposes the fact politicians would always want to satisfy their individual interests whether it’s (their interests) diametrically opposed to that of political party in power or not.

The focus on forming an all-inclusive is not strategic enough. For the reason that, those to be recruited were rejected at the polls.

What is at stake to be delivered to the masses cannot be given away on a silver platter on this inclusiveness premise of setting the cat among the pigeons. The administration is only courting future troubles. It’s biting more than it can chew.

Monday, January 26, 2009

WHAT IS IT?




So what is it that makes

You find one of them more

Appealing than the other?

When they both suffered the

Same end of assassination.

 

What is it that makes you

celebrate one as a national hero?

When they both stood and fought

For the same cause of black rights and freedom.

 

What is it that makes you

Happily glorify and recognise

one more than the other?

Oh! Is it because one is a Christian

And the other a Moslem.

 

I don’t care about your excuses

But when mention Martin Luther King jnr.

Don’t forget to also praise Malcolm X, Kwame Ture

And all those who resisted your shameful violence.

 

What ever it is that makes you put up a statue

Of Nelson Mandela infront of your parliament

Should also make you feel humbly ashamed to put

Up one inside the same parliament.

Because your EU’s ideas are originally his.

Excuse my ignorance! What is it at all?

 

The Bretton Woods Institutions and Africa


African Leaders should ignore them; after all they seem not to be serving our interests; rather confusing us.

To understand the World Bank and IMF (International Monetary Fund) with regards to the roles they play and in whose interests they preserve in world affairs; one must first ask the question; who set them up?

It is best to go back to history. Rewind to 1944, the 2nd World War was coming nearer to an end; the allies were determined not to have the war finished and end up in the mess of the 1930’s. At Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, delegates from 44 allied and associate countries arrive for the opening of the United Nations monetary and financial conference.

The key institution that was set up was the International Monetary Fund and the purpose of the fund was to have a bank they could turn to for short term borrowing, and to serve the short term trading interests of the winners of the war. The United States treasury secretary, Morgan Thaw, was the head of the American delegation, in his submission he discussed the plan of the U.S for a stabilization of world currency.

At the same time, the World Bank was set up to provide capital for the rebuilding of Europe; unfortunately its original name-International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) is rarely used. It is quite instructive to know that at the time, what we now know as the third world did not exist. There were a few major powers, each of which had a large empire. Most African countries, including Ghana, were simply without structures of their own. African countries were just part of the power structures of Britain, France etc.

After independence, African and Caribbean countries found it overwhelmingly daunting and challenging building their own economies. This was made possible by the neo-colonial agenda and arrangements which seem almost impossible to extricate ourselves from.

Clearly, the lines had been long drawn and the seeds of debts had already been sown which we cannot even attribute to the oil shock of 1973-74 as some western propagandists have made us to believe. But that can be a subject for another discussion later.

The debt problems that Africa faces today also arise from the notions that the third world must naturally import capital; and that private capital can, and should handle the major part of capital flows to the third world. These I think the IMF and the World Bank have carefully managed and designed draconian short term policies and programmes for third and developing countries to adopt.

Even in the long term, the negative effects take a multiplying toll on our economies, because we are always ready to heed to conditions opposite of what is practised in the West.

In the 1980’s it was said that it was imperative for Ghana to adopt the Economic Recovery Programme (ERP) and the subsequent Structural Adjustment Programme I & II (SAP I and SAP II) in the early 1990’s rolled out by the IMF as a panacea to economic woes at the time.

After religiously going through the three programmes, the World Bank Representative in Ghana, Seung H. Choi, in an interview to THE POST on 17Feb.1987 said,

“I think these adjustment programmes are really protecting the interest of the producers and farmers and interest of the people at the grassroots level…the whole essence of the recovery programme is to shift the emphasis from people who are not producing but are merely trading and consuming to those who are really producing and creating national wealth, like toiling cocoa farmers and factory workers, etc.”

In 2001, there was a totally different picture of Ghana’s economy; I suppose it was a gloomy one as the economists conjectured to make us believe. We were told by the same Bretton Woods establishment how it was urgent to declare the country HIPC (Highly Indebted Poor Country) to garner some social benefits for the masses. As usual it was another tailored-facility which also came with its strait-jacket conditions.

There was also the need for the government at the time to implement the Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy (GPRS) document, which took the nation through three stages in the attempt to alleviate poverty from the Ghanaian society. Let me spare you the boring details, we made it through HIPC.

So what went wrong after 1987 when we were following the handbook hook-line and sinker? Quickly the next question to ask is whether the HIPC initiative solved our problems?

Here we are in 2009, there’s a shift in power once again. A party is about to hand over to another democratically elected one. On the eve of the hand over and the inauguration of a new president, the World Bank country Director, Ishac Diwan, signs and releases a report to the incoming administration.

The report has been infamously described in the media as “the love letter from the world bank”, in which the Country Director emphasised that the “the macro-economic situation in the country was extremely worrisome.”

What again has gone wrong? Is it a matter of the World Bank and the IMF just finding favour with every new administration when there’s a change of power? Or perhaps I should ask what the real deal is?

This has no doubt triggered debates and counter-debates between the now majority and the out-gone administration, now minority. The question has been who inherited or who left what economy back in 2001 and now. In the confusion, the Graphic Business’ Tuesday 20th Jan. put out boldly on its front page headline asking, “Is Ghana broke?”

This posturing by the World Bank and their agents are clearly unacceptable. They proffer to us policies and programmes that send our economies awry while singing praises to incumbents and looking on as we sign unfair trade agreements with their masters in the west.

The IMF/World Bank set conditions that African governments cannot meet, and when the governments fail to meet them, they are forced to go back to renegotiate new loans with tighter conditions, for instance dictating how much to specifically spend on health and education which will sometimes compel governments to cut certain programmes which were hitherto beneficial to the masses.

They ask governments to devalue their currencies, essentially to make the currency cheaper, by expanding exports and diminishing imports to make foreign currencies expensive.

And since our economies have become hugely dependent on imported food, oil, medicine etc, the cost of all these products and others we import go up again just after devaluation. Therefore the economy becomes controlled by foreigners’ not through direct ownership but through the mechanism debt.

We end up accumulating more debts by this arrangement and as the debts keep rising, the capacity to produce and export also become less.

Maybe HIPC was necessary then, as it was been touted by the just out-gone administration. For the past two years, they consistently drummed home how the economy was robust and resilient, with the cedi also being stable. But I asked some simple questions, those of a lay man perhaps.

“For what reason and purpose do you re-denominate the stable currency of a resilient and robust economy?”

“For what same reason again do you introduce the LEAP (Lively-hood Empowerment Against Poverty) programme when you’ve come out HIPC through the GPRS?”

Obviously, there are even more questions than answers. And the more you raise the questions, the more you wonder about the agenda of the IMF/World Bank and whether their intentions for African and Caribbean countries are genuine.

Its time Africa takes a paradigm shift from the status quo, the old ways of subjecting our economies to the dictates of the west and the Bretton Woods institutions must come to end now. For me, there’s no even one success story on the African continent that can be attributed to IMF/World Bank. Their economic hitmen have always succeeded in helping to dislodge our economies to the advantage of Western economies, read John Perkins-The confessions of an Economic Hitman.