Monday, October 31, 2005

...And It's Off!

culled from Ghana International Airways makes its maiden flight Posted by Picasa

With characteristic pomp and pageantry, Ghana's new "national carrier", as designated by one of our ministries, called GIA, or Ghana International Airways, made its maiden flight Saturday, ending 3 full months of speculation that it could never take off.

I guess everyone would have preferred "Ghana Airways", but, hey, this reality should serve to remind Ghanaians that things can only get better.

Of course, things getting "better" is always ever-so-relative;-)

headerfrom GIA website Posted by Picasa

Monday, October 24, 2005

We are All Nigerians Today

117 lives lost from Nigerian plane crash Posted by Picasa

The contemporraneous passing of Nigeria's first lady, Stella Obasanjo, and the perishing of the 117 people on board the Boeing 737 flying under Nigeria's privately-owned Bellview respectively, has brought into sharp relief how indiscriminate death is.

Whether you are the wife of the highest official in the land, or bank officials from Ghana's National Investment Bank attending a seminar in Abuja, or a German or Briton, or even the second top official in the regional grouping of ECOWAS, when your time is up, it's up.

That might sound crude and uncalled for at this very sober time, but what can explain the fact that the highest ECOWAS official (Executive Secretary), Mohammed Ibn Chambas, credited for bringing resolution to a number of crises in the ECOWAS region, is reputed to have MISSED this particular plane?

Reminisces of people who called in sick on that fateful September 11, 2001 comes to mind.

I spoke to my very good friend today who was equally shocked. She suggested that maybe God should just tell us when we are born that you have x number of years on this earth to perform x, y, z. After that time, he will come to take us back.

My question, though, is at what point does He tell us this? And who is to say that we do not forget what He has told us?

Plus, what do you do about such plane crashes where people completely perish like that,where, according to the report on The Star,

A wig, human intestines, clothes, foam seats and a hand were visible wedged in the sodden earth.

And what about this?

A cheque for 948,000 naira ($7,300) from the evangelical Deeper Life church was one of a number of personal papers found in the smouldering wreckage

How do you explain the fact that the person to whom the cheque was destined will NEVER see that money.

The questions go on and on. But what remains is that we will have to thank God for small mercies, and one of that is that the instantaneous death meant that there was no suffering.

Regrettably, suffering for the families of those who perished will remain for some time to come.

May they ALL rest in peace.

Incidentally, I was rather distraught in June this year when, at the airport, waiting to board the plane for Bamako, Mali for a work-related project, we were informed through the tannoy that due to a crash at the airport in Nigeria, the plane had been cancelled.

It wasn't my time to go.

ECOWAS Airline
Speculation was rife in the media last week that ECOBANK is moving towards establishing a regional airline.

Imagine the European Union with its OWN airline, something like EUROAIR? Feasible? Why not? That is if Lufthansa, Alitalia, and BA had anything to say about that?

In the region, they are contemplating ECOAIR. ANd this is no lame idea. A serious amount of capital has been disbursed by no less than ECOBANK, as the private sector arm of the regional grouping ECOWAS, and other ECOWAS-related institutions towards the realisation of something that had been mooted in 1999/2000.

This will not necessarily mean that other operators cannot operate in the region, but it will definitely create the competition that is so needed in this region of circa sixteen countries.

ECOBANK moves towards establishing a regional airline

A regional airline to give the needed impetus to free and easy movement of people and trade development across West Africa, a key protocol of the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS), is soon to be established.

The Board of Directors of the airline's promotion company has already tasked a four-member steering committee it has put in place to identify an international strategic partner as well as private investors for the project's development by the middle of next month.

Mr Gervais K. Djondo, Chairman of the ECOBANK Group, the principal sponsor, made this disclosure when he led a delegation of the committee to pay a courtesy call on President John Agyekum Kufuor at the Castle, Osu on Monday.

from: ECOBANK moves towards establishing a regional airline

SOBERING STATS for the day


22 October: A Bellview airlines Boeing 737 carrying 117 people on board crashes soon after take-off from the Nigerian city of Lagos,
killing everyone on board.

5 September: A Mandala Airlines plane with 112 passengers and five crew on board crashes after take-off in the Indonesian city of Medan, killing almost all on board and dozens on the ground.

23 August: A Tans airline Boeing 737-200 crashes on an internal flight in Peru, near the city of Pucallpa, with at least 40 people reported dead.

16 August: A Colombian plane operated by West Caribbean Airways crashes in a remote region of Venezuela, killing all 160 people on board. The airliner, heading from Panama to Martinique, was packed with residents of the Caribbean island.

14 August: A Helios Airways flight from Cyprus to Prague with 121 people on board crashes north of the Greek capital Athens, apparently after a drop in cabin pressure.

16 July: An Equatair plane crashes soon after take-off from Equatorial Guinea's island capital, Malabo, west of the mainland, killing all 60 people on board.

3 February: The wreckage of Kam Air Boeing 737 flight is located in high mountains near the Afghan capital Kabul, two days after the plane vanished from radar screens in heavy snowstorms. All 104 people on board are feared dead.




Customer Service at its Best

ECOBANK Headquarters, near Ridge. British Council is on the immediate right of this picture, just after the signboard, where you can see the turquoise bus Posted by Picasa

SO there I was on a Saturday morning, when around 10.15am, just when I was listening intently to a Saturday programme on the radio, my cellphone rings, with an unknown number ringing.

My mind would process the number quickly--021.680431--only to remember that the "680" looked like one of the prefixes that accompany ECOBANK's H/Q.

I was right.


A young man answered.

"Is that Mr.Emmanuel Bensah?"

"Yes, who is this, please?"

"My name is...I'm calling about the problem you had with your card yesterday"

So, I explain that I tried getting some money from the ATM at A&C Shopping Mall, East Legon only for my money to be debited on the receipt, but no cash from the ATM. I called my accounts officer who informed me that it sometimes happens that way, but assured me that the bank can tell when the money is taken.
What a relief it was to hear that!

In any event, the man assures me that he has my details. He asked me to read out my card number for verification. He even saw on the system that I had shopped earlier, which meant I had been able to get my money.

"We'll credit your account on Monday", he added after some minor checks.

Now that is what I call customer service

I might just go to their cocktail invite next time!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

An Afternoon with CITI-FM Staff Makes me Remember the first President, Dr.Kwame Nkrumah.

At CITI-FM HQ. The station's news bus @ no.11, Tetteh Loop Posted by Picasa

Merchant Bank, Adabraka. Taken: Tuesday, 18 October 2005 (c)E.K.Bensah II. Just to the right of this picture is the police station. Just opposite that is where CITI-FM is located Posted by Picasa

So there we were--near CITI-FM headquarters yesterday, at an eaterie--2 broadcast journalists, and one journalist of a web-kind. All products of inter-marriage by our respective parents (Brong Ahafo-Ashanti region; Eastern-Central region; Volta-Central region).

Thanks to our first president Dr.Kwame Nkrumah who, through a deliberate policy of "ethnic decentralisation", scattered people from all of Ghana's ten regions into the many different schools he built.

People subsequently found themselves attending schools in regions they knew nothing about. What mattered was that you were Ghanaian. That still matters today. My Dad, for example, was born near the Volta region, but spent most of his schooling in the Central region, whilst my Mum schooled in the Ashanti and Greater Accra, when she was born in the Central.

Once again, thank you, Kwame Nkrumah, for banning ID cards as far back as my grandparent's time--unlike the colonisers who visited it on the Rwandans of Central Africa, as well as many other parts of Africa.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Controversial Song Puts Tuobodom {BRONG AHAFO region} On World Map (BBC)

Controversial Song Puts Tuobodom On World Map

Nkasei Hiplife Artist

Ghanaians defend 'backward 'song

BBC -- A Ghanaian band has defended a hit song and video that poke fun at a rural town, portraying locals as backward.

Angry elders in the small western Ghanaian town of Tuobodom campaigned to get the song banned, saying it was making all their lives a misery.

But controversy over the song, which showed Tuobodom residents mesmerised by a tarred road, made it a bigger hit.

The male duo, Nkasse, told the BBC the song referred to events some 80 years ago and was not about inhabitants now.

"We don't find anything in the song which should make them mad," Naa K and Shy told the BBC's Network Africa.

"The video had to show how the town might have looked back then," he said.

"We can't sing a song about a town 80 years back, and go and shoot the modern place," they said.

However, students who come from the town are said to be keeping their birthplace to themselves at campuses across the country for fear of ridicule.

And teachers from the village who are working in other parts of the country are reported to have asked to be sent home because students have been making fun of them.

Other Ghanaians, though, have expressed a desire to visit the previously little-known place.

Source: BBC




Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Playing Receptionist...


Black Stars of Ghana off to Germany's World Cup in 2006! Posted by Picasa

From time to time, I get to play receptionist at the office. And given that free opportunity, I use it to the maximum by calling friends and acquaintances;-) In any event, I called a friend, whom I haven't spoken to in a long time. She failed an exam twice, but by hook or by crook has managed to get a permanent job in the same industry she was doing the exams for.

Don't get me wrong; this is someone I genuinely like, even though she could do better in getting in touch with me, but I genuinely abhor such things, especially when I know of many people perhaps brighter than she is, who have not yet secured a job...

Ofcourse, I would understand if my comments resonate with a degree of naiveite, after all, some would say, isn't this the way of the world? Old boy networks and all that? Hardly makes it right, but there you go. Maybe she prayed, and God listened--and she secured this permanent job. Good on her anyway...

As for the other friends, I'm trying to take my mind off the break-up with my girlfriend--the most gorgeous woman I know with whom I have the most genuine and heartfelt feelings for (I think it's called love last time I looked) -- who wants to remain friends. I am hoping "for now". As you know, these things are pliable, and they can change with time once we get to know each other properely as friends...

But, yes, you guessed it: I AM digressing.

To the point is this: I am contacting other friends, including a former CITI-FM presenter who is now in law school, for lunch next week. It's good to have friends in high places!!;-)

Seriously though, a re-examining of where I fit in to the whole Scheme of Things is critical in these doubtful days where I ruminate over my reliability in the bilateral formula they call a "relationship".

I love Gee. And it's not going to stop any time soon. If you're interested in how I got here, might I suggest, with many apologies to Elsa, my "international" blog here.

Monday, October 10, 2005

When Sports becomes a "Continuation of Politics by Other Means"

Yaw Osafo-Maafo, incumbent Education and Sports Minister Posted by Picasa

Ghana is a funny country.

In so many ways, its major passions are not dissimilar to that of its British colonial masters. Like the Brits, we Ghanaians are equally obsessed with politics as we are with sports. The difference between us and them is that whilst the Brit's apparent obsession with politics is micr-managed in the context of their national development, we Ghanaians prefer to obsess over politics...for the sake of it! Also, it appears our journalists prefer to do that as it is positively easier than talking about fundamental issues, such as sanitation and health.

Okay, so now we have a National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS)in place--yet to be fully operative, but campaign for registration has gone nation-wide, and even CANADA's reported on it in June, which you can read here.

As regards sanitation, we have numerous debates in the papers--both print and electronic--that basically go off-tangent. When Accra mayor Stanley Blankson cleared the busy busy Accra business streets a few months ago, in a manner akin to peace enforcement soldiers, his resolve would soon break when the hawkers decided, with characteristic obduracy, to come back down to ply their informal trade.

Equally praised and criticised, the mayor's popularity has yo-yoed in a manner akin to Ghanaian's attention towards stories that involve corruption of a ministerial kind.

But I digress.

Sports, without intentionally forcing a pun, is a whole different ballgame.

I was sitting with my parents watching a live feed -- from Cape Verde on one of Ghana's premier TV stations, Metro TV -- of Ghana's football team -- the Black Stars -- playing against Cape Verde. Ghana would win 4-0. Michael Essien, Chelsea player and player of international repute, was in mid-field. Speculation on the private radio stations here in the capital were rife that he may have been frustrated by not being able to score in a manner characteristic of his reputation. Small wonder he offered no comment after the game was over!

Someone who did comment was the Honorable Minister of Education and Sports,Yaw Osafo-Maafo, former Minister of Finance in the previous NPP administration (2001-2004). This was the same be-spectacled man who some would say blazed the trail for Ghana's now-hailed macro-economic stability, earning Ghana a B+ rating with Fitch. Ghana also paved the way for the low inflation of around fifteen percent that Ghana, despite the third petrol hike introduced last week. The minister is equally responsible for introducing the so-called F-CUBE, which I referred to in September.

I cannot begin to think that the irony was lost over CITI-FM listeners when discussion of sports, as well as a possible qualification of Black Stars to Germany was discussed on the "Inside Politics" segment of the CITI Breakfast Show on Thursday.

Carl von Klausewitz might just be turning in his grave.

Conversely, Osafo-Maafo, now an interesting element in the equation that took Ghana's football team for qualification to Germany's World Cup in 2006, might just be turning towards the presidency in 2008.


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