Diary from Peru— Learning Spanish

“What do you know about Peru?” asks the driver who picked me up from the airport. “Not much apart from the fact that Ghana lifted the Under-17th FIFA World Cup here,” I said.

Before his next question, I told him about the 1996 hostage incident in the Japanese embassy where the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA) seized the compound and locked the many foreign diplomats celebrating Emperor Akihito’s 63rd birthday. After 126 days, the siege came to an end when Peruvian Armed Forces commandos raided the place. The driver looked at the mirror in the car just to take a close look at me, as I continued with my narration of the event.

“How do you know this story?” he asked with a heavy Spanish accent, before adding, “You’ve been to Peru before?
“No, never been anywhere close to Latin America but I read that incident in the news,” I said. Just then the radio in the car was playing “Kiss Me” by the American rock band Sixpence Non The Richer and I began to sing along.
He interrupted my singing, asking was what I did for a living.


I was in deep thought at this time of my life, trying to figure out how to wrap my brains around the words in Spanish

“I am journalist; I work in radio,” I said as I looked through the car window towards the direction of a man and his girlfriend kissing each other.

“Oh, so you are a journalist, I see,” he said as he honked his horn for a car in front of us to drive on.
“Were you thinking I was kinda a revolutionary coming into your country for another drama?” I said with a weary smile.
He smiled before asking the next question; “Do you speak Spanish?” No, I said
The drive from the airport lasted 30 minutes. He dropped me off at the hotel, we hugged each other and said goodbye. I went over to the reception, signed in, took my key and made my way to my room. I was very tired.

The flight from the Brazilian city of Sao Paolo had lasted a little over five hours and though I slept throughout the period, it was not enough. Two little girls sitting next to me decided to play on the flight. Their parents had long gone to bed and yet they will not let me sleep.

“Uncle Anny, can you please look at this cartoon?” ventured one of them who gave her name as Esther. I love children but certainly not at a time when I could barely keep my eyes opened.

It was too late for dinner so I headed into the bathroom for a warm shower. I jumped into bed and after only four hours of sleep, my eyes opened. I could not sleep anymore. Where did the sleep go? I kept asking myself. And to keep myself useful, I logged onto my computer and went straight to Google Translate, to educate myself on some basic Spanish expressions. Afterall, I may need that just for my rounds. I intend going to the arts market to pick up some items and to get that I must be armed with basic language skills so I don’t end up being cheated.

I started with the greetings. And to do that, I typed “Good morning” and then record. I did it for the rest and then other basic ones like ‘where is the bus stop”, “how much is this item”, “why don’t you reduce the price”, “where can I get batteries for my recorder,” etc. Simple basic language expressions to ensure I don’t appear too green in a country thousands of miles away from home.

Ed Sheeran

I saw this billboard of British musician and guitarist Ed Sheeran somewhere in downtown, Lima, Peru. Next to him was another one whose writings I was unable to digust.

I played each of the expressions and recorded them in the order I wanted them. I connected my Ipod to my laptop and then transferred the files onto it. I was ready to go. I quietly rehearsed each line in my head for many hours. The accent is important but at this stage it is not my priority. Mine is just to be in a position to communicate.

After nearly an hour, I decided to try it on an official from the Peruvian Environment Ministry, who I wanted to interview about a campaign to get people to cut back on the use of paper for their work (unsurprisingly, it is something my office or newsroom adopted a little over a year ago).

The first greeting went well. Obviously thinking I speak Spanish, she expected the next question to follow in Spanish but it was in English. “You don’t speak Spanish? “No I don’t,” I said. “I know only the greetings and basic other ones like ‘how are you doing?’, ‘reduce the price because it’s expensive’ etc.”

We both had a good laugh before she handed me a small manual containing Spanish phrases translated into English.
“Call me if you are struggling with anything, I will be here,” she said in Spanish.

I quickly flipped the page and then said in Spanish “Por qué no,” before melting into a waiting crowd of painted faces indigenous Peruvians interacting with guests at one of the many foyers at the conference venue.

Azumah Nelson.

Today I want to write about Azumah Nelson. He doesn’t need introduction. Too bad if you don’t know him but I do. I want to write about him as somebody who represents everything positive about life and what #madeofblack stands for.

Staying up to watch him fight was a blessing. I am not going to go into how he carried the entire nation on his shoulders because that story is well told. There is a book that chronicles his life from the dusty streets of Bukom to becoming immortalized in the US boxing hall of fame. He is a legend. Endless testimonies from both the rich and poor in society are still being told. A photo opportunity with the boxer is a treasured item kept away from even trusted family members.

Despite all the great things he did for this country, the now retired boxer has never allowed fame and money to sway him away from his humble beginnings. I doubt how many people will disagree with this.

The man came over to Joy Fm and he was humble enough to allow me take this shot with him

The man came over to Joy Fm and he was humble enough to allow me take this shot with him

The first time I met Azumah Nelson was at the Alisa Hotel back in 2012. He had agreed that I meet him for an interview for a radio documentary I was doing. It was about the dwindling fortunes of boxing. The interview lasted for 20 minutes. He was concise and straight to the point. He did not shied away from sharing with me some of the intimate moments of his childhood- growing up poor and how he fought his way to riches. “I have not allowed the money or fame to take away from me the person that I am and will always be,” he told me.

Azumah was the boxer’s boxer. He knew his craft very well. He often predicted the exact round he will knock down his opponents. The rematch against Australia’s Jeff Fenech was an example of such. The first fight between the two was docked in controversy but in the return match, the Bukom native made sure his opponent ate a humble pie. He punished him so well that the outcome of the fight became known as “Father and Son.”

Azumah had the chance to meet up with Jeff Fenech for the second time and he punished him pretty well. It was the 'Father and Son' edition.

Azumah had the chance to meet up with Jeff Fenech for the second time and he punished him pretty well. It was the ‘Father and Son’ edition.

Such was his strength that even the biggest opponents could not last the distance with him. He was a class act!!
Ahead of the launch of his book, The Professor, he came to Joy Fm for an interview, which lasted a little over two hours. After the interview I moved to the studio to talk selfie with him. He did not hesitate, he made himself available and for three different times, he obliged for us to take shots of him.

How come that a man who has achieved so much be so much humble? Most of my colleagues at Joy Fm kept asking themselves, as they took their turn to take photographs with him.So how come he was able to keep a world title for that long? He looked at me, smiled and said “discipline, discipline, discipline and the fear of God is what you need.”

Azumah said one can’t be indiscipline and expect to be victorious in his craft. There is always tomorrow but “you must confront the issues of today first before the break of dawn,” he said.

With the era of boxing now behind him, the boxer is now spending time contributing into the lives smart but needy people in the country. his foundation is at the moment building schools for deprived communities in the eastern region. for a man who never went to school but managed to speak English, he believes quality education is the way out of poverty and if he can use his fame and money to ensure that millions out there get what he could not get, he will be willing to put his soul into it.

His exemplary behavior defines what #madeofblack is all about; positive attitude, creativity, selflessness and discipline.

Africa Report

Former Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaore was last Friday forced to resign from office by angry protestors opposed to attempts to amend the constitution in order to allow him seek another five year term in office. With his reign over, JOYNEWS’ Anny Osabutey looks at some African presidents who have overstayed their welcome in office.

Liberian artist talks ebola and stigmatization

West Africans especially Liberians are facing discrimination due to the high rate of the virus spreading in their country. An online campaign with the hashtag I Am a Liberian Not a Virus to stop the ongoing discrimination has gathered more than enough supporters. Here in Ghana, some Liberian nationals are complaining of similar treatment. Joy News Anny Osabutey caught up with Liberian artist Michael Akail and first asked him if he anticipated the virus getting to this stage?

Nana Ohene Ntow, and not the delegates, let Alan Kyerematen down

Dear Nana Ohene Ntow,

I greet you from the back of a public KVIP in my area. Hope all is well. Now that the contest is over, I guess you are having a good rest. You deserve it. Roaming around the entire country trying to convince delegates, whose votes you did not get, in itself is tiring so please get some rest.

Unfortunately, it does not look like you want to rest. You have been back on the radio speaking about the post electoral defeat of your boss, Alan Kyerematen, in the race to elect a flagbearer. There were those who knew he was going to lose but the manner of the defeat is what people are still grappling with. It was a heavy defeat and one that could send your candidate into a phantasmagoric state. But I hear he has accepted the outcome in his belly and is looking forward to the future.

Sadly, you, as his spokesperson, are yet to come to terms with the defeat. You appear to be in a dilemma and are struggling to accept the outcome of the race. I remember your boss said, on the night of the declaration, that he accepts the outcome of the results and will be “bringing his team” to work with Nana Akufo Addo to work for victory in 2016.

But then I heard you on some radio stations on Monday morning trying to question the outcome of the results. You are entitled to your opinion, however; I think that very same ‘opinion’ makes complete crap of your boss’s declaration that he is going to work together with his political opponent to secure victory in 2016.

He did more harm to the campaign than good

He did more harm to the campaign than good

I personally think that YOU, and not the delegates, let Alan Kyerematen down. As his spokesperson, you did not sell the man well enough or convincingly enough. Ahead of the competition, I heard you running riot on several radio stations-talking incessantly about the opponents instead of selling Mr. Kyerematen as the best flag bearer. I don’t have your education or experience in the field of communication but I don’t think you spent enough time selling your boss in a good light.

You spent most of your time talking more about his opponents and whatever negatives or “communist inferior tactics” you thought they had employed to undermine the campaign from your side. Huffing and puffing about allegations and perceived conspiracy theories put in place to frustrate your boss from becoming the leader of the party was no brainer.

As somebody with a strong communication background, most people expected you to have brought your considerable expertise on board and sold the candidate well, for example talking about specific things he told delegates and what his ideas and plans would be should he become the NPP flag bearer, but you did not. Instead you adopted a rather poor strategy which deflated his chances and inflated those of his opponents.

Alan Kyerematen

Mr. Kyerematen responding to cheers from party supporters during his rounds to solicit votes to enable him become the flagbearer of the NPP.

I remember hearing your boss on the radio and he talked about running a “decent” campaign. He was very measured with even responses to comments that sought to question his commitment to the party, including claims that he abandoned the campaign in 2012 in search of lucrative contracts abroad. Then a day after his interview, I heard you on a radio station pouring invectives onto the opposite camp and I thought it was a complete departure from the posture your boss represented. It was crass to say the least. You did not distinguish yourself, Nana. You did not.

Now that the contest is over I expected you to adopt a conciliatory tone, like your boss, move on and put the past behind you. Instead, you are making claims that some people vehemently protested against a decision to deploy Alan Kyerematen to campaign for the party in the Ashanti Region.

I heard you on Joy FM and I thought that was in extremely poor taste. Even some of your own party executives, previously perceived as working against the interest of your flag bearer, now appear to be singing from the same hymn sheet, so why can’t you do the same?

Nana, if you have nothing good to say just don’t say anything at all. Though your boss lost the elections, I have a feeling he may want to stage a comeback in the future. And it is important that you refrain from saying things that might put him in the delegates’ bad books. It will not augur well for him. Maybe you are more interested in your paycheck but please spare a thought and remember that he is nursing a bigger ambition that could inure to your own benefit. Don’t ruin that for him. Don’t cause the delegates to hate him, please.

It is important that you refrain from speaking further. Especially as an experienced communicator who must surely know the right time to speak and when not to. Like the Bible says ‘… we are allowed to do everything but not all is expedient”.
Please adhere to that principle and it shall be well with your political life.
Enjoy your day!

Papa “Osofo” and the Ebola Prophecy

Dear Osofo,
I bring you good tidings from the people of Prampram. They wish you well and pray the Creator gives you strength to see things hidden from us mere mortals. As for us, our nights are disturbed by moving spirits because we spend too much time sleeping. We love to snore as well, Osofo, so we don’t hear from the Lord as much as we ought to … He doesn’t speak to us. But since He does speak to you, it is only fair that we continue to lift up prayers in support of your spiritual work, while we await our turn someday. Oh yeah, by the way I too am looking forward to the Lord speaking to me, Osofo. There will be joyous celebration on that day. I might just drink myself to ecstasy.

But whilst I await that day, I would like to draw your attention to the deadly Ebola virus and why it is extremely important that, most of, your followers should be educated to refrain from making ‘prophetic commentary’ which is counterproductive to the work being done by health officials to stop the virus from entering our space. Those of us here in this country have been very lucky not to see the virus here. Are we doing anything special? Does God love us more than the people in countries where the virus is snatching away lives in the hundreds? Are our faith healers keeping the virus out of reach?

two healthcare workers wheel a suspected patient in a borrow on the streets of Monrovia

two healthcare workers wheel a suspected patient in a borrow on the streets of Monrovia

I honestly doubt if God loves us more than our brothers and sisters in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and even parts of Spain, United States, where the virus has now spread to. God loves all of us equally, there is no discrimination. Those countries love God as well but they have been ravaged by the deadly virus. Did they hurt God? Didn’t their faith healers see the deadly virus coming? Or is God punishing them for the sins of their forebears? These are questions we may NEVER find answers to but still need asking.

A priest in Liberia washes his hands to signify the importance of one of the measures to tackle the  ebola spread

A priest in Liberia washes his hands to signify the importance of one of the measures to tackle the ebola spread

Since the outbreak of the Ebola virus, I have read reports from journalists, healthcare workers and ordinary folk on why religious bodies and their leaders must refrain from making any pronouncements regarding having a cure for the virus. “We are not asking for them to be gagged but we want them to use their pulpit to tell their congregants to follow the necessary procedure to keep them safe and stop the virus spreading,” one blogger from Liberia wrote.
Unfortunately, most faith healers defied the appeal and rather went to town asking people to turn to the Church for their healing – their argument being that the Ebola virus is spread by the devil and that only by ‘laying on of hands’ or ‘anointing oil poured on their heads’ would they be healed. It was a simple message but one that was heeded by hundreds of their followers, and those desperate for salvation from Ebola. And even as the anointing oil dried on their heads, hundreds of these believers were dropping dead; the virus had been spread even further by the laying on of hands! A sad spectacle.

Papa Osofo, please don’t get me wrong. I believe that, as custodians of our spiritual wellbeing, you owe us a duty of care to use the pulpit to educate people about what to do in order not to get infected. But no, some of your colleagues are rather determined to encourage their followers to shun life saving measures. To be honest, it is not a wise choice.

Dr. Kent Brantly and his family are all smiles..his faith in God is unwavering but also believed that without Zmapp he woldn't have made it alive

Dr. Kent Brantly and his family are all smiles..his faith in God is unwavering but also believed that without Zmapp he woldn’t have made it alive

I am a Christian. I speak to God everyday however; the very same God has given me the wisdom to resort to medicines for my medical conditions while seeking his face for a healing. The two can, and should, go together!
Ebola, as we all know, has a very low survival rate. Even the Zmapp vaccine used to treat the American doctor, Dr. Kent Bantly, and other healthcare givers, who contracted the virus, has not worked on everyone suffering from the virus. Healthcare workers are particularly at risk. Doctors in Sierra Leone, Nigeria and even Spain have lost their lives as a result of contracting the virus. Today, American authorities in the state of Texas, where a nurse is suspected to have contracted Ebola from a Liberian national admitted to the hospital with the virus, are searching for close to 40 other people they suspect might be walking around infected with the virus. It is frightening.
I stand to be corrected but America has some of the most powerful men of God who, perhaps, hear His voice on a daily basis. They too hear Him speak to them in their dreams, or during their daily running around, but I am yet to hear any of them say that they ‘saw’ the Ebola virus coming to their country.

And what about the Catholic priest from Spain who died of the virus whilst working in Liberia? Didn’t God reveal to him that he was going to be infected with the virus and therefore should not go to volunteer in an African country miles away from the comfort of his parish in Spain? Rather, risking everything, he left his belongings and loved ones back home, boarded a plane and came to Africa to help save lives while our priests/pastors lounge in the comfort of their office suites, sip champagne and offer prophetic commentary with the propensity to create fear and widespread panic. Sadly, he was consumed by the very virus he was helping to stop from spreading and taking other innocent lives. He died saving people he never knew. He was moved by compassion to offer service to mankind at the most critical time of their lives. He visited the people of Liberia on their sick beds and offered them support. Was he stupid to have done that?

There are more care givers from Europe and Americas arriving daily in the countries worst hit by Ebola. They have left behind families, friends, jobs and community and putting their lives in danger, are here in Africa to offer support. On such trips, as records show, not everyone returns home alive. Some die while saving lives. Those who are lucky enough to get home alive, the weight of care remains a recurring memory. But they are here and are saving our lives. And what do our priests do? They press the alarm bells but to what effect?

Yours in the vineyard,

Anny Osabutey.

Why the ghosts will NEVER bring back our GH₵7. 9 million

Fellow Ghanaians, I greet you in the name of the Creator. I want to believe you are all doing well, despite the recent increment in utility prices.

It is another burden we have to deal with in this country. My brains are bleeding badly from stress and ridicule. I may in the future return to the whole price increase saga. For now let me talk about the missing Seven Million Cedis ‘chopped’ by ghosts at the National Service Secretariat (NSS). Maybe shouting “e dey bee k3k3” could help.
Unsurprisingly, the exposure of the theft happened around the same time that Ghanaian officials were busy twiddling their thumbs before the International Monetary Fund (IMF) begging for financial bailout. Civil servants are already looking over their shoulders and wondering when they will be told to go home and never come back to work.

the hand of a Ghost is capable of 'chopping' more than a million dollars in Ghana

the hand of a Ghost is capable of ‘chopping’ more than a million dollars in Ghana

The reckless spending has led us back to a lover we long ditched. Couldn’t we have avoided a revival of the romance? Perhaps, if those tasked with the responsibility of managing the country’s affairs have been more responsible, we wouldn’t be crawling before the Fund for ‘credibility.’ Unfortunately, the hotheads within government were quick to pull out their hot knives and plunged them right into the throats of those calling for frugality in the way our monies were spent.

But what did we hear? A rather discordant and arrogant posturing of “Yentie Obiaa” anthem was put on full blast. And when the music stopped it was too late, the mess has been created. The ship was missing on the radar.
The often touted “robust economy” is now in desperate need of oxygen. Now back to our Seven Million Cedis plus which has gone missing, thanks to the thieving efforts of ghosts. Like most of you, I was taken aback after newspaper reports emerged that the secretariat has been taken over by ghosts. Ghosts, not human beings, have managed to enter the state coffers and made away with that much money without a trace. They hacked the money away within a year. Those ghosts must be very skilled.

People were and are still livid at the handiwork of ghosts. The revulsion against the corruption sounded extremely loud in my ears. For a second, I thought the heavens were coming down but no, rather, the ghosts were busy dancing their way into the banks with our millions.

The looting of the treasury appears to have angered former national security adviser Brigadier (rtd) Nunoo Mensah, who I hear has voiced concern about it. I am still at a loss as to how human beings will sit and allow ghosts to dribble them. It is almost like being told that a month old baby is chewing bones. It is impossible. But wait a minute. In Ghana, ‘miracles’ happen and, more often than not, when they do happen we huff and puff but nothing ever gets done. To put it in plain language; those who steal from the state often demand evidence be shown against them and because we cannot provide it they happily walk away scot-free while the rest of us helplessly look on. And while we twiddle our thumbs in foolishness, they dance away with the booty. That is the Ghana we find ourselves in.

The National Service Secretariat appears to have specialised in creating ghosts who have big mouths to chop

The National Service Secretariat appears to have specialised in creating ghosts who have big mouths to chop

I had a good laugh when I read that some officials from the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) had stormed the secretariat to arrest the suspected ghosts. I almost fell off my chair in the office. A concert party, if you ask me. How many people really believed the BNI officers were there to arrest anyone? How do you arrest a ghost or ghosts? And, in any case, if the officers were serious about arresting anyone how come the chap – not sure if he is the Director of the National Service Scheme – who offered a bribe to the BNI officers, to forget about the matter, has not been hauled before the law court? Granted that the whole GH₵7.9 million scandal is a hoax, what about the attempted bribery? Shouldn’t the chap who offered the bribe be standing trial? The board chairman has merely been asked to step aside. What does that mean?

Truth be told, it will be naïve on the part of anyone to think that those involved in the scandal will be prosecuted. That will not happen. Even if they are taken to court and the court says otherwise, nothing will be done to them. At best, they will be called into the bosom of the ‘bigman’ for relaxation. It is the sad truth and the earlier we get used to it the better. Our motto in this country is “see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil.” It is simply business as usual.

Chop chop

an artist impression of how our monies are siphoned on daily basis by those who believe they are destined to be rich at all cost.

How many of the corruption scandals from the political elite haven’t we read about and yet nothing has been done about them? What happened to the GYEEDA, SUBAH and SADA matters? What about the Maputo Games findings and the blatant stealing of our money by a cabal at the national football authority? Did anything happen to the man who headed the cabal? He was merely removed and asked to go home and enjoy his booty.

Why do you think those ghosts at the National Service Secretariat will not be inspired to emulate his example? You think they are stupid or foolish people who only suck their own blood? They must eat and so are eating. Political office, to them, is not to serve but to plunder and that is what they have done. There is no longer honour in service, no. Their level of greed is beyond comprehension … it is disheartening.

There are calls for us to ‘name and shame’ those caught stealing state monies. I doubt that will change anything. Those with the responsibility of getting a grip on the mess are themselves getting their ‘lips licked by dogs’ and so how do they hit them with the stick?

Yours unhappy Ghanaian!!

Keminni Amanor on how she swaps the turntables to become onscreen presenter

Keminni Amanor flips through her mobile phone and with her trademark smile, shares content of a video a friend has sent through ‘WhatsApp’. It is about a child who, in a conversation, asked the parents why they have children. It drew laughter from her director who was directing her ahead of a shoot for a promo for her current affairs show, Newsdesk, which airs between 10am to 11am on Multitv on the Joy News Channel.

Keminni Amanor looks at her mobile phone with a broad smile she  delights her viewers with

Keminni Amanor looks at her mobile phone with a broad smile she delights her viewers with

The first time I saw Keminni, a little over two years ago, we were sitting in the same bus provided by the Ministry of Transport after a press conference. This was a programme organized by the Civil Aviation Authority at the Kotoka International Airport over an accident involving a cargo airplane which tore through the wall of the airport after overshooting the runway. She hardly uttered a word to anyone, apart from her cameraman who she will occasionally signal to tape some scenes.

Keminni belongs to a generation of media personalities making their mark on television. A former radio disc jockey, she swapped the turntables for the newsroom and with a recorder and microphone in her hand, dashed through Accra’s dusty streets in search of the news. And the stories ranged from an ordinary kenkey seller and her daily struggles to a ruling political elite cruising in his V8 vehicle. She did all that.

“I am an inspiring and absolutely fantastic speaker,” she tells me in response to a question as to who she was. She says her job is about speaking and finds it interesting that she has to spend time researching into the appropriate words to use at specific times and the issues she often handle on her show.

Before joining her present employers, she worked first with Choice Fm and Pravda Radio and while she flourished, her confidence level grew. And Multimedia came calling. But her love affair with journalism started during her teenage years when her parents, she explained, encouraged her to listen to the BBC while watching her favourite cartoon, Tom and Jerry.

Keminni holds on to her scripts while on set

Keminni holds on to her scripts while on set

On the evening when Multitv decided to launch, most people, even from within multimedia, were wondering which are the main faces and voices to grace the screens. Television does not only require good looks but smart brains with good grasp of issues to hold viewers in a hypnotic position until they have had enough.

There were one or two names that readily came to mind ahead of the launch, but nobody thought about Keminni Amanor. Keminni who? That was the question that lingered in the minds of most people in the newsroom at the time, when she showed up on the screen. Then response to her performance became a discussion. People started muttering as they walk away.

In the middle of our interview, I asked her how she felt on that first day of going on the air. She adjusted herself in the seat, looked back, turned her head before saying she was “nervous and nerve racking.”

“Television was totally different for me – you know gestures are important and was struggling as to how to go about it- I hadn’t done that before.” She said the reading on that day was “abysmal”.

But two years down the line, she has managed to calm her nerves and has taken control over the show and, unsurprisingly, won her skeptics to her side. The journey has just begun. And for the then naïve presenter, who thought her abysmal performance ended her dream of becoming a television personality, she got another chance to rewrite the wrongs and she’s now in the driving seat.

A mother of a 20-month-old son, Keminni says juggling between her demanding job and motherhood has not been easy. Her son, at a point, refused to come to her because she’s been out of her life for so long, chasing her dream. But that also impacting negatively on the bond between mother and son. Thankfully a resolution has been found and they are back together. She has now found the right balance to keep her baby happy.

She mentions the BBC’s ‘Hardtalk’ presenter Stephen Sackur as mentor, and she is confident her thought provoking interview style will be enough to win a lot more followers onto her show. Her determination exemplifies the right attitude of people who are #madeofblack. No mountain is too high for them to climb nor the dream too far to achieve. They fight through the storm to achieve their vision and that’s exactly what Keminni has done with her life.

Keminni hopes to use her present position to inspire other young people never to let go of their dreams, even when the tough times show up. Those who brace through the thick smoke, she explains, win the fight at the end of the day.

Seth Tekper and the IMF Love Affair

Dear Seth Tekper,

I want to believe you are doing well, despite the challenges the economy is facing. By the way, is Allotey Jacobs, NDC Central Region Communications Director, still appearing in your dreams? Remember him? He was the guy who questioned your ability to stir the country out of the economic mess. His argument was that most of the policies implemented by you would cost the party a lot, during the 2016 elections, because most jobless party footsoldiers were (and maybe still are) choking on hardships.

I must however say he was not the only one, though he led the chorus. There were others who believed your handling of the economic situation was nothing short of incompetence. I’m not sure of what they mean by ‘your incompetence’, even though I also believed some of your justifications for the hardships were, at best, deadwood ideas. Empty talk!

I am sure you remember the president’s own revelation that some party bigwigs were jostling for you to be sacked. It was startling. Do you know those bigwigs? And do you know why they wanted you out? Maybe I could hazard a guess, or?

They claimed that you refused to dish money out to them anytime they visited the ministry. According to them, you even got your secretary to walk them out of the office, insisting that “the ministry is not an extension of the party headquarters”. And that you told them to know their limit because you have a reputation to protect and will, therefore, not dabble in silly rakishness of monies from the public purse. You didn’t fall for that stupid culture and I commend you for that. You are a technocrat, right?

Seth Tekper deeply reflecting on the latest love affair with the IMF

Seth Tekper deeply reflecting on the latest love affair with the IMF

But truth be told Seth, things are difficult. The economy is not doing well at all, contrary to your continuous preaching of the “fundamentals are strong.” I must say anytime I hear you say the fundamentals are strong, I get upset. Which “fundamentals” do you say are “strong?” Maybe I’m living in cloud cuckoo land but the fundamentals, most people will agree, are weak. Prices of goods and services are skyrocketing on a daily basis and yet you talk about the fundamentals being strong. What??

How can the fundamentals be strong when you are deeply locked in a romantic affair with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a bailout? Does it make sense? How did you arrive at those fundamentals? I get pissed off anytime I hear you say that. It would be better for you to admit that things are tough and that you need the IMF’s support to get them back on track, instead of living in denial. That attitude sucks, Seth.

There are several struggling state agencies including the ministries, schools, and many more which are failing, begging for funds, and yet you talk about “fundamentals” being “strong.” I think it’s very deceptive for you to say that, Seth. Desist from that talk and be real. The economy is wobbling. Maybe YOUR fat paycheck is telling you something different but those of us in the lower ranks are struggling to feed ourselves and our families. So please end this talk about strong fundamentals. It is not helping.

But Seth, why this love affair with the IMF? Are these not the same guys whose previous policies grounded the economy? Their policies brought untold hardships to us and so, to resurrect a dead love affair with them confirms accusations that you have reached a dead end. Already, we are being told their proposals will hurt us and particularly the poor in the society, whose interests your government say they support, will be overburdened. Most of them are living on a knife edge and so to accept conditions from the IMF means condemning them to death even before the trigger is pulled on them.

these are the rings signifying the love affair between Ghana and the IMF

these are the rings signifying the love affair between Ghana and the IMF

Seth, those who know you say you are an astute chap with a fine brain. That I do not doubt. However, for you to sit with the team from the IMF most of whom you have worked with and performed better than in your earlier career, and permit them to tell you how to run the economy betrays that praise. What specifically are they telling you that you have not already been told by folks in this country? To cut spending or what? That is nothing new. I’m not an economist but I know that the government has overspent and that is one of the reasons why we are where we are.

Then you have corruption raging through the nation like the spread of cholera, which took many lives recently, or like the deadly Ebola virus ravaging the sub-region. You will admit that monies have been thrown into dead rivers without any return. That is something you don’t need the IMF to tell you. Remember the fund is neither Father Christmas nor Santa Claus, they require that you dance to their tune. And their tunes have always been bitter, they have always impoverished us.

It is shocking that you don’t see that, Seth. What advice did you give your boss about the IMF that he suddenly dashes to their door with a ring to renew a love affair that was long dead? Are you that desperate for a romance, Seth?

So far as talks with the IMF are on the card, please don’t tell me about “fundamentals” being “strong.” I’ll not accept that, neither will most Ghanaians. Show us some respect, Seth. Most of us may not be economists but our brains are not screwed out of position; we can think for ourselves, so please please show us some respect.
I personally don’t see anything good coming out of the IMF meeting but all the same, do enjoy it.

Your Pessimistic Countryman

Dumsor and the Great Wall of Burkina Faso

Dear President Mahama,

I do hope you are doing well. I read in the papers that you are in New York for the UN General Assembly and I also saw a photo of you with an official from the Millennium Challenge Account … talking business. That smile of yours was pretty presidential. Sadly, I’m unable to show off such a smile to the public. My face is caked in anger, thanks to the ongoing blackouts or “dumsor” that this country has been plunged into.

Ahead of the 2012 election, you promised to end the erratic power interruptions should you become President. You were clear, “dumsor” would NEVER happen under your watch. I’m sure you have not forgotten that promise. But just in case you have forgotten, here is a transcript of what you said on the campaign platform.

“… In the second NDC administration (the next NDC administration, our second term), which will surely come, tsooo bueii, the issue of load shedding will be a thing of the past. It will NEVER happen again!”

Mr. President, those were your exact words. And you knew exactly what you were promising and were under no illusion as to the potential votes that statement could fetch you. Who wouldn’t like a ‘dumsor’-free state? Even lovers are complaining that the ‘dumsor’ situation has adversely affected their sexual lives … the heat, they complain, has prohibited the different styles and patterns they often explore behind closed doors.

I know, “dumsor” is not your portion. You only read about it in the newspapers. At best you hear about it on your preferred Adom FM radio network. I don’t begrudge you that especially as you deserve to be properly taken care of as the First Gentleman of the land. However, you also owe a duty to your people to ensure that a certain amount of comfort is extended to them. But the opposite is happening!

It has been more than a year and your promise has not been carried through. Are we to believe it will happen? When? And please don’t tell me there was no timeline to the promise. And, is it also safe to say it was a campaign promise meant for party fanatics gullible enough to swallow anything that came their way? Obviously not!

You must redeem that pledge, sir. How do I pay for electricity (in advance) and yet cannot enjoy it? I have lost count of the number of times I have been without electricity, though I have fulfilled my portion of the bargain by recharging the card. So where did I go wrong? It’s annoying, to say the least.

President John Mahama taking a time out from the busy activities a the office to sip some coconut

President John Mahama taking a time out from the busy activities a the office to sip some coconut

Also, businesses are suffocating under the current conditions. Several companies, unable to meet the demand for backup energy, have asked some of their workers to go home. The repercussion for families is enormous. There is the likelihood that children of those retrenched workers could drop out of school, if the situation does not normalize sufficiently for their employers to call them back.

This is not the state Kwame Nkrumah envisaged when he said that the “Blackman (Ghanaian) is capable of managing his own affairs.” The current situation makes nonsense of what I now consider a ‘dead’ prophesy by Osagyefo Dr. Nkrumah. It should now read the “Ghanaian Politician in Power is Incompetent of Fixing the Self-Created Mess” the country finds itself in.

How come we are unable to get a grip on the situation? How come those engineers employed, and paid, to fix the problem are not thinking right? Is it a question of the politicians meddling in their work? And if YES why can’t they come out and say so or even resign to save their credentials? Oh forgive me, I almost forgot that in this country people don’t resign, even when they’ve been caught doing the wrong thing.

Mr. President, there are calls for the Energy Minister, Mr. Amarh Kofi Buah, to be sacked because he’s shown gross incompetence in managing the issue. Critics say he hasn’t got ‘the balls’ to pull us out of the deadwood. I’m not sure dismissing him is the solution to the problem but he must take a long hard look at himself and make the right decision. He should focus on being an MP instead of pretending to be an ‘energy expert.’ He may be good elsewhere but not in his present position.

The energy ship is sinking and it is extremely important that you, as the Captain, begin to redirect the affairs before we hit an iceberg. Remember the Titanic??

These children conduct their studies with lantern

These children conduct their studies with lantern

Also, I would like to know from you whether or not you have been reading the reports about the “GREAT WALL OF BURKINA”, built at the exorbitant cost of US$600,000 and supervised by the man appointed by you as Ambassador to Burkina Faso. That is what an official from the Bank of Ghana told the Public Accounts Committee and I have no reason to doubt him. That story broke before you left town so I assume you are aware.

I think you should put your foot down and crack the whip on this one. The ambassador should be summoned by you and made to fork the money back into the state kitty. This is sheer wickedness and naked robbery. Are you not embarrassed by such brazen acts of thievery by some of your men, Sir?

Doesn’t this reckless thievery betray the proposal to the International Monetary Fund, for them to give us a bailout, because our economy is suffering? The IMF is not Father Christmas to give you their monies for free. Obviously, they will call for certain measures, including job cuts, which will hurt the already depressed worker. And how do you think that sacked worker will feel knowing that a wall to fence a non performing embassy cost that much? If indeed it did.

Look at the revelations at the commission investigating the World Cup fiasco in Brazil? The state resources were freely dissipated by those who, more than four or so years ago, could not even afford to buy recharge cards for their mobile phones but now sit on top of piles of money and can afford to cough out US$20,000 to a faceless nameless Angolan, in Brazil, for giving them directions to a supermarket to buy ‘KOOBI.’ Ah ah!

Where is the sincerity? Where is the pledge to protect the public purse? How do you people feel driving around town and seeing all these jobless youths hawking chewing gum and other items in the middle of the street? Is there no compassion from you people? Are we no longer our brother’s keeper?

Mr. President, most of those that you have entrusted with positions are busy emptying the coffers. It is the truth, sir. They are the ones happily whispering to their own inner circle that you are NAKED and they are secretly rejoicing about it. It helps their cause to feed you with lies, while your butt is out there in the open with everyone taking a dig at it.

They will ask to be shown evidence, for incontrovertible proof, a rather cheap way of getting away with their spoils but please don’t allow them to fool you. Remember that when it comes to the crunch, it is your name that will be mentioned. And how would you want to be remembered when that time comes?

Enjoy your stay in New York.
Sincerely Yours,
An unhappy Ghanaian