Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Marriage has no spare parts...

Over the weekend, I attended the wedding of my friends in Bolgatanga (Upper East region of Ghana). It was my first time in that town, and I am looking forward to visiting it again.

Usually, I daydream -- a bit -- during the ceremony, but this year I decided to ACTUALLY capture some quotes from the homily (as they would come in handy soon).

Some sights captured by my phone have been shared in this post
This post is just to share some of the quotes.

"Every perfect gift comes from God!" Therefore see your marriage as a gift from God.
"Whatever you will do to enjoy THIS marriage, DO it!" This reminds me of one of my favourite songs by Ne-Yo, Make it Work.
Men, know this: "Women are like eggs. Handle them with care!"
"Right is right even if no one is doing it; wrong is wrong even if everybody is doing it". Be unique in whatever you do in your marriage. If you copy what people did and failed, you will also fail. "Live your lives such that celibates would regret for not marrying".
"Woman, be submissive!"

Marriage runs on two compulsory pillars: Prayer and the Word of God. "A true man is a man of prayer."
"The scripture is like medicine, until you take it, u won't know it's efficacy."
"God won't start anything He can't complete, unless we don't cooperate."
Then a friend also shared this, " When your wife (or husband) gets on your nerves, do not over react. Think twice and remember all the people who made time and spent money to witness your union. If you think you can disrespect those faces, then go ahead and misbehave...
... and eerrrmmm, as a man always make sure there's adult music in the background. That's all!

Some Bible quotations for reflections
Colossians 3:12
1st Corinthians 13
John 15:5
Ecclesiastes 3:14
Matthew 7
James 1

 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Bolgatanga, through my phone's lenses

Church bells at the Bolgatanga Cathedral
Monument marking the 100th anniversary of the diocese
The Bolgatanga Catholic Cathedral from a distance
Ramsey Sports stadium
Some Pajeros parked outside a church

EPL fixtures at the Black Star hotel
Party time, no?

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The ticket that swerved me

If you patronise public transportation in Ghana (especially MMT), you understand the frustrations one can go through.

Buses poorly maintained. Passengers being taken for granted. Blah blah blah.

Yesterday, I had to travel from Kumasi to Sunyani  and decided to pick a MMT bus. The queue I met can only be described as $$##_++@?@&@%@+*!!!

After being in the queue for a long while, a bus arrived. Then I heard my name being shouted after a while. It was a friend who had bought an extra ticket for me! Hmmm, how bad I felt (because I detest folks jumping the queue).

Well I boarded the bus only to realise 'my' ticket had not been bought. Oh charley!
The smart move wasn't so smart after all.

I just got off the bus, and had to move to Kejetia to pick a cosmo jet.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Fuschia -- Clothing & Crafts

In an earlier post, I commented on how Ghanaians have taken to Ghanaian fabrics being used to create crafts such as handbags, wallets, purses, shoes, and of course, great dresses for every occasion.
A number of innovative individuals are really doing a lot in this area.
You can check out Trends and Blends who writes exclusively on fashion.
A lady who is doing a lot in this fashion innovation crusade is Abena Woode of Fuschia Ghana. She is based in Kumasi. As the Innovation Director of Fuschia, she's always on the look out for what steps to take to improve the services and customer satisfaction, Fuschia delivers.

Do check out Fuschia's Facebook page, like it and hold your breath for a surprise this festive season.


Friday, December 6, 2013

Why be ungrateful?

When I tell my friends that I feel -- I know -- I insult God any time I complain about where I wish I was in life, and how 'fucked up' my life is, they seldom get it.
I have been blessed with a lot of opportunities, and have had the pleasure of meeting angels on earth. My sweetest taboo is one of such earth angels.
You see, most folks don't have it 'as easy' as I do. An example is the mother of eight I just met in Adum,  Kumasi. She's been walking through town since morning, begging for alms. Her last two kids are with her -- under the scorching sun.
I asked where her husband is and she says the father of her first four children is dead. The father of the 2nd set of four has refused to look after the children.
I then asked why she is not farming, and if there was a piece of land she could farm on. Apparently, her uncle has sold the land she could have farmed on!
I know there's more I could do to help her, but I couldn't.
One thing for sure though is that, the image of her and her kids would pay in my mind for some weeks to come.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The TWEBA1D hangover

The guys were not very happy about how the exams went. The course was one that they would have loved more, had the lecturer used a 'concept-understanding' approach.
They decided to get over their disappointment and hang out -- joy in brotherhood. They went to a spot by their hostel and communicated with some bottles.
Not satisfied, they decided to go all out and hangout for the remainder of the day, after all, "yɛ bɛ wo nti, yɛ nda?"

All plans to study for the Electronics & Microprocessors paper (due the following day) were cancelled.

Their next stop was another spot. The guys shared stories and discussed issues that were important to them. After about 3 hours, the guys were on the move again.

Their final spot was one that was considered 'family'. The guys did not only drink, but had grasscutter soup as well. They stayed till about 10:30 pm -- just chatting  and sharing future aspirations.

Instead of going home, they passed by a girls' hostel to 'make noise'.  They sang most of their favourite 'jama' songs.

Finally, they went home.

The following morning, most of the guys had hangovers. 'sia!
The paper was at 2pm and so they went to campus, and began to revise their notes. They used approximately 2 hiurs to do that -- 10am to 12: 20pm.

What really is amazing about these guys is that they ALL passed the paper, inspite of their hangover.

Today, they are all working towards their dreams, and are succesful at what they currently do.
The brothers are there for one another, and this extends to all their acquaintances. This brotherhood is for life!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Kofi's dilemma

Kofi has always loved lifelong learning -- education that has no end. After his first degree, he was fortunate to be retained at his alma mater as a faculty intern.
The love for teaching increased and he realised that to really fit this 'penguin' environment, he needed to further his education.
Thus began his frustrations and disappointments.
Just a year into his internship, he had a half scholarship to study at the AIT in Greece. That didn't work out because he didn't have sufficient funds -- someone also commented that he hadn't served for 2 years to qualify for a study leave. Yeah.

The following year, he stumbled upon WrUT by chance -- and got admitted. The requirements for the visa processing saw him go through the offices of the accrediatation board, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Intrgration, and the West Afrca Examinations Council. These were all to legalise his documents!

Then came the pendulum-like convos and movements to the Polish Embassy in Abuja. (This saga would be in a different post).

After his unfortunate encounters with the embassy, Kofi re-examined his 'obssession' with abrokyire education.

'sia.

Why is it that such 'good' chances come his way and do not materialise in the end?
He also felt abandoned by his employers who wanted him to upgrade himself; yet watched on as he 'struggled'.

This year is walaahi year for Kofi. He had wanted -- and still wants -- to leave his current job for a while. Perhaps his kismet is elsewhere, no?
Not putting all your eggs in one basket came in handy too, this year. Kofi is currently at the KNUST, 'upgrading' himself. There's no telling what the future holds, but he's optimistic. He's resorted to live his life as a peacock in the midst of penguins.

I am Kofi. This is my story.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Tadodzinu ka ele asi wo?

Le eƒe akpe deka, alafa asieke, bla asieke vɔ enyi me la, me ditsa yi de nye tɔgbui kpli mama gbɔ le aƒe.
Dzidzɔ yɔ ye ƒe nkeke wo le wo gbɔ. Tɔdi nyewo kpli tasi nyewo fiam lɔlɔ vavã.

Me yi de agble hã - me ƒo dzakpa koraa.
Gake esi me kpɔ agbe si sɔhɛ wo nɔ fafiam la, nye dzi gba.

Sɔhɛ gede wo le edɔ srɔm le egeŋ, vɔ ega vi si kpɔm wo le la, wo va aƒe eye wo'ŋi de ekpemɛ. Tadodzinu deke me le wo si o. Edefu ŋtɔ.
Mlɔeba la, ehia be wo ava ƒo dzakpa afi akpɔ ega akɔyi egeŋ.

ENGLISH:
In 1998, I visited my grandparents.
My visit with them was full of joy. My uncles and aunts showed me real love.

I went to the farm -- and I even cleared a plot of land for planting.
But when I saw the lives the youth lived in the village, my heart was broken. 

Most of the youth were learning a trade in Accra, and visited the village often, but the little earnings they had, they spent on girls, and other 'useless' stuff. They had no purpose. A real worry indeed.

In the end, they had to do menial jobs such as weeding of farms, in order to get some money for their transport back to Accra.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Harnessing (available) resources for development

Barcamp Sunyani 2013 advert
Last year, the very first barcamp was held in Sunyani. It was an event that saw stakeholders in the region, meet to network and discuss issues related to its development.
This year, another barcamp beckons. As an agricultural hub of Ghana, there is the need to find out the resources available to us, to improve the sector.
  • What information is available to farmers and those in agriculture?
  • What role does (or can) ICT play in agriculture?
  • What organisations are doing a lot to better the agricultural sector in Ghana as a whole?
  • What can I do as an individual to help in the development of my community?
For answers to these and other questions, join us at Barcamp Sunyani on the 9th of November, 2013 at the University of Energy and Renewable Resources, at 9am prompt.
Do follow discussions on twitter via the hashtag #bcsyi. You can also register for the event online.
See you when I see you...

Friday, November 1, 2013

Vodafone does listen, no?

In an earlier post, I shared my frustration with the bundling of mobile data on Vodafone Ghana's network.
Last week, after trying to bundle 400MB worth of data -- unsuccessfully (sigh), I realised that my call credit (¢10) had 'disappeared'!
Surprised, I phoned the call center and was assured by the (male) attendant that a report would be made on the incident.
It. Never. Was.
The following day, I phoned again and a female attendant helped me. She also assured me of making a report on the incident -- and she did.



The report was to have my call credit refunded, but it wasn't. I therefore sent a follow-up e-mail.


That worked, because I checked my credit balance later and voila -- full refund had been made!
This rekindles my appreciation of Vodafone's customer service; I pray they continue.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

A case for 'local' user interfaces?

The tweet above got my attention. Most folks in Ghana still enjoy SMS and those with smartphones enjoy text-based apps like Whatsapp. (Do note that Whatsapp now has voice-enabled input functionality).
From the convo on twitter, one realises that my friend is concerned about folks who cannot read English. I am however of the view that, a great majority of such folks can read in their local tongues.

A suggestion for developers who wish to design text-based apps for non-English speakers can be to use an API from Kasahorow. This would afford them the flexibility of using local languages.
However, another cool approach for developers looking forward to implement text-based apps, would be to use voice in place of text.

When it comes to using visuals, a lot of work has to be done to come out with better metaphors. This is because I've been contemplating how User Interface designers (in Ghana -- and Africa) could come up with icons that are 'local' enough to be understood and appreciated by their users.

Is this necessary, though?

What would the icons be like? A basket instead of a shopping cart? An earthenware bowl in place of fork and knife?
Well, as I've stated, more research needs to be done to really get a hang of this. An argument will be that the world is a global village, no? But what of the 'local' folks?

Forgive me if my thoughts are not 'falling in place' now.
I'm an enigma to myself.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Subtle discipline

Mr. X steps into his sitting room and finds his son watching porn.
Without distracting him, he sits by his son in silence -- fir a while.
"K, do you know about heaven and hell?"
"Yes, dad."
"What about them?"
"Good people who love God, and do his will, will inherit heaven. The bad will go to hell."
"What are some of the actions that can lead one to hell?"
"Fornication, killing, stealing, masturbation, pornography, e-er-r-mm-m..."

Akward silence.

Mr. X gets out of the room.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

A great metaphor – HTW Empowerment beads

Since Ghana’s Heel The World Shoes introduced their trademark Empowerment beads, it has become a fashion statement (especially) amongst the youth.
I am no different.

My current HTW bead (with 2 REWARDS!)

But underlying this fashion piece is a world-related metaphor some of you (my readers – and fellow youth) might have missed. No juju (voodoo) issues here o!
The ornament is made up of black beads and a gold bead. The black beads represent the trials, disappointments, failures, and all the ‘negative’ challenges one goes through in life. Then comes the gold bead to remind you not to give up – your REWARD is in sight! It’s just as the Bible puts it in Hebrews 10:35 – 36.

My sketch of the metaphor

So whenever you put on the HTW Empowerment bead, be encouraged and cheerful, because your reward after all the b******t you encounter, is in sight.
Some of you may have personal metaphors you identify with, when you wear the HTW empowerment bead. Kindly share them via comments on this post. Thanks
Be fashionable in your own simple way.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Technical glitch, or ...?

When my best friend, Afrakoma, actually bundled my first-ever mobile internet bundle on the Vodafone Ghana service, I was glad. Being a netizen, it was cost-effective for me. It still is (even though I understand Glo offers better value for money, in that regard).

If you use the Vodafone Ghana mobile internet service, you agree that the service isn't always perfect. There've been times when I've tried for over a week to bundle on the service, without success. Connectivity has also been unreliable at most times.

My latest difficulty with the service was a couple of days ago when I couldn't bundle even though I had the required credit.I wanted to bundle 750MB worth of data, which costs GHS15. I therefore called the help center, and was given a number of reasons and methods to use to subscribe:

  • I was asked to cancel my old subscription, which I had already done.
  • I was told to restart my phone, because my account (with Vodafone Ghana) was to be restarted too.
  • I was told to use *125*5# instead of the usual #700#, for subscription.

All that didn't work as I kept on getting the same response. So I decided to add some extra credit, and was finally subscribed to the data bundle I had requested! So, what was the problem?

Here is a Slideshare of some screenshots of the experience.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Updated phone OS...

I've been in love with Android ever since I won the Huawei IDEOS from Google. It run on version 2.2.
My current phone ran on version 4.1x, until I got a notification earlier this evening to update it!
Here are some visuals:

the update notification
the installation of the update

the upgrade process of the OS
the  success message

the new home screen
the old home screen

Friday, October 4, 2013

RiSE3 event in Ghana -- advancing STEM education

Dr. Trebi-Ollennu introducing the students to the surprise rule
This week, I volunteered again – as an on-site support -- at the Robotics Inspired Science Education (RiSE) event in Kumasi. Two days of inspiration and learning. The RiSE is an initiative of the Ghana Robotics Academy Foundation – the brain child of lead NASA JPL scientist, Dr. Ashitey Trebi-Ollennu. The support of the US Embassy in Ghana -- and other donors -- is what has sustained this event, since its inception.

The ladies from St. Louis SHS watch their robot's progress, anxiously
This year’s events held across Ghana is the third. The event is a platform that introduces Junior and Senior High School students to the basics of programming using the Lego MINDSTORMS NXT robotic kit. It’s also an avenue that enhances the teaching of Science, Technlogy, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM).

The Grain-sorter robot from Prempeh  College
It’s really encouraging to see how these young ones build and programme robots to do their bidding. The highlight for me was the visit by kids from the Institute of Science and Technology in Agogo. Their visit was just to observe the event, but they ended up building an obstruction-detecting robot!

The young chaps from the IST in Agogo
Konongo-Odumase SHS programming their robot
A lot more support is needed to make this event a ‘Christmas’ in our educational system.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Nkrankrom No. 4 -- a village near Sunyani

Nkrankrom No.4 is a village in the Sunyani Municipality of Ghana. A 25-minutes drive from Abesim would get you to the vilage. On foot from the Catholic Secretariat, it would take you about 45 minutes to get to the village.
I actually 'discovered' the village with a couple of friends  when we decided to take a stroll some days ago.
We saw no borehole in Nkrankrom. No school. The kids, we learnt attended school in Nkrankrom No.1. The bridge connecting these two villages is broken, and as such, no vehicle can access that route. The folks in this village are mostly peasant farmers who engage in subsistence farming.
I asked why the name 'Nkrankrom' (loosely translated, Ga town). I was told that four brothers migrated to the area, years ago. They settled close to one another and started their individual communities, hence the numbers 1 through 4 attached to differentiate them.
The folks are welcoming, and would have wished we spent more time with them. My friends and I plan to go there another time, and perhaps get to know their needs better -- and (possibly) some palm wine. (smiles)
From what we saw, Nkrankrom No.4 doesn't suffer from 'food poverty', it is the social amenities that are lacking.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Misplaced priority?

Yesterday, I missed Barcamp Kumasi because I had been invited by AIESEC-CUCG to talk to SHS students about my career. This was a major programme of the group for the academic year; I felt glad to be a mentor for my younger brothers and sisters.

I got to the venue and was hugely disappointed -- after a while. The picture below explains why.
The empty auditorium
I found out the heads of the invited schools had not prioritised the event -- after accepting the invitation in person!
"Oh, is it today? I have forgotten o", was a reply from one of the heads.

Here I was, saddened by the fact that, these young leaders are replicating GhanaThink Foundation's barcamps, which are empowering the youth to shape their future -- for free, and such heads of schools are failing to see their impact and appreciate them.

Misplaced priorities?

The foreign AIESEC interns were hugely surprised and disappointed. And rightly so.
I refuse to support the 'excuse' that this is Ghana, and so such actions should be tolerated. If they are, then where comes the change we are working for?

Sunday, September 22, 2013

From the Vatican: Interactive electronic version of the Catechism

I remember my Catechism classes vividly -- sitting through lectures, answering questions, and doing a lot of homework. These classes are handled by the Catechists (men and women who have been trained to give such teachings).

On the eve of 25th of September, 2013, the Vatican plans to release an app that would enhance access to the Catechism of the Catholic Church. For now, the only language available is Italian.

I am yet to see how different the app is from Laudate (an android app that teaches the Catholic faith), which is available in over 10 languages, has an offline Bible and some prayers and devotionals.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Desert trailers

"This country is really going to face harder times ahead, if care is not taken. Hmm". So says a cosmo jet (tro-tro) driver I encountered earlier today.
He made this comment with respect to the recent increase in fuel prices. He then recountered how he had travelled abroad for greener pastures, but returned with virtually nothing.
He is a Lybia returnee.
I was fascinated and engaged him in a discussion, so he shared his experience with me.
He told me of how they had to pay 'connection' men along the route taken from Ghana, through Niger and Chad, and finally entering Lybia. These 'connection' men helped them withbtransport by finding drivers/vehicles for them. These vehicles were a lot more comfortable than the ones they had to travel on when they got to Chad.
From Chad, they are packed in a Nissan/Toyota patrol (pickup) -- thirty-five people! This gave tgem swollen feet when they reached theur next transit point.
"If you get a good driver, he fills his petrol gallon with water for you to drink. You don't drink much o, just the equivalent of the gallon's cover. You feel a sharp burning sensation in your chest. Massa, it is not easy o", he says.
I asked how come most  people die on the way. I was shocked when he said some (bad) drivers can leave their passengers in the desert. (No comment)
I was so intrigued by the conversation, I passed my stop -- almost did. Hehe
But I am thankful for the opportunity to learn first-hand what our brothers and sisters go through to seek comfort for themselves and their families back home.

I pray I run into a returnee from 'Panya' (Spain). I understand they travel on balloons at sea (from Morocco?).

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The OS relationship...

Most of us treat relationships like the way we install software on our computers.
Once they are installed, we don’t care to update them. We feel/think just having them is enough.
It. Is. Not!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

#AASW6 Social media bootcamp

A couple of months ago, a friend of mine informed me about a conference that is going to be held in Ghana -- the African Agricultural Science Week. I had no idea what it was about. All I knew was that, he wanted to know if I was interested in being considered as a social media reporter for the event. Hell yeah!!!
Following my receipt of an invitation letter, I am in Accra to join other social media reporters cover the event. A pre-requisite (of sorts) is for us to undergo a 2-day bootcamp on how to cover this particular event. Today is the first day. The facilitator is an energetic, enthusiastic fellow (who likes to be called Grandpa).

Peter (Grandpa) coaching his enthusiastic team!

We first looked at what Social media is and some of the characteristics it has:
  • It is on-line
  • It allows sharing and participation
  • It is free and easy to use
  • It is instantaneous (immediate)
  • It promotes networking and personal interactions
  • It allows anybody to publish just about anything

We then looked at the plethora of social media tools available. Peter put them into groups in his 'legendary' bucket:

As an individual/organisation, you need to have a strategy to get your message across to your target audience:
Illustrated 'seduction' strategy
Live/Vapour media vs. Permanent media


You can read more about defining a social media strategy here.
One cool thing I learnt was how to identify whether a celebrity sent a tweet by themselves or their PROs. This also works for an account that is being coordinated by a number of individuals. The trick is to check for a signature at the end of a tweet. An example is shown below. It has the signature, ^JG:
It's been a very insightful and exciting day. The week promises to be great.
You can follow the event's blog for updates, as well as check the organiser's blog.
Don't forget to look out for the #AASW6 hashtag on twitter.