Friday, February 24, 2006

24 February 1966--24 February 2006: Ghana's Day of Shame

On 24 Febraury, 1966, the first President of Ghana would be overthrown in a CIA-inspired coup whilst in Hanoi mediating peace. Today, 40 years later, Ghana remembers him.

I sent this text message to Bernard Avle's CITI FM Breakfast Show on Ghana's 97.3FM band:

ROPAB , a law to compel external ghanaians 2 vote was passed on eve of 40th anniversary of a coup that involved external forces 2 remove Nkrumah. Is the irony lost over you?--emmanuel, spintex

The host, Bernard Avle, regrettably, made a sarcastic comment: where do the{y} get these from?

He did say one thing right: "this text was sent by one of our keen listeners".

2.02pm update: I just gave Avle a call, and he said that the Minister (Apraku--Miinister for Regional Integration and Nepad who was there waiting for the programme INSIDE POLITICS) chuckled at what was perceived to be a discerning comment. Avle admitted to now seeing the jocular side. My point was not that the NPP administration passed the ROPAB deliberately on the eve of the fortieth anniversary of the 66 coup, but that irrespective of whether it was a coincidence or not, the IRONY was there! Good to have clarified things!!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

More of the Same: Ruminations & Reflections of a Constitutional

--{picture shows yours truly taking our first pet dog PHOENIX for a walk just minutes walk from our house in the suburbs in Belgium. It was a summer day way back in 2003, hence the shades. Mum took this picture as I was just about to walk into the path that leads to the front door of our house}

As I proceeded on my habitual constitutional this morning with my pet dog Fenix, I came across the girl of FCUBE, not ICE Cube fame. I asked her whether she was ok; she said yes, thankyou. And as always, she was ever-so-polite. She was carrying something on her head in a big bowl through the dusty area that is just outside these Manetville gates.

In a manner reminiscent of september 2005, when I asked her about her attendance to school now that it is free--thanks to FCUBE--she said that tomorrow, her Mum was going to find out about attendance for her. "That's good!" I added eagerly and walked on. Maybe she said it for my benefit, but whatever the case, it won't be the last time I ask her:-) How can after five months or so since Free Compulsory Universal Basic Education (FCUBE), mooted by Minister of Sports and Education Osafo-Maafo, this girl not been spotted by authorities who ply that route and her asked what she is doing not at school?

In so many ways, one of the reasons for the absence lately has not just been a busier work schedule, but also because of, well, more of the same.

In other words, last year around this time (, petroleum prices had gone up.

They went up a few days ago.

A couple of weeks ago, the so-called National Petroleum Authority (NPA)--established to ostensibly regulate fuel prices--brought the prices down, so there we were not expecting this increase at all. Thankfully, as the cover of today's Daily Graphic reports, the minimum wage has gone up so as to cushion workers from the increases:
The new wage is now ç16,000, "an increase of 18.52 per cent over the previous wage of ç13,500."


Yesterday, there was a demonstration (second) orchestrated on the most-part by the minority-led NDC over ROPAB, over Representation of the People's Amendment Bill, that went rather down south in the sense that there was some scuffle, and, regrettably, some violence, which some observers claim was initiated by young police officers.

The truth is in between somewhere there, I guess:-)

While demonstrations to get your spleen vented are all well and good, predicting that they will always go smoothly is a bad idea, cos given the human condition, someone is always bound to take advantage and do something atypical to the pacific nature of the demo.

All that being said, Accra has been polarized for the past couple of weeks over the passing or not of the ROPAB, which would, in effect, give voting rights to those Ghanaian residents overseas. While most Western countries have applied this voting times for as long as I can remember, it is not something that is of great necessity to Ghana at the moment. It only engenders the idea that the incumbent NPP government want to use it as a way of consolidating at best, at worst rigging, future elections.

A good thing that could come out of it is the decision to issue National ID cards--something that appeaars to be anathema to those in the UK, but not those in Belgium. Belgium, like many other EU and Schengen countries issue ID cards. As far back as 1980, when Dad went over to Belgium to prepare to work there at African, Caribbean, Pacific (ACP) Group of States, and prepare the coming over of my Mum, my elder brother, Samuel, and myself -- a tiny tot of 3.5 years old -- he was faced with having to register my brother and I not just in the commune, but having cards issued for us detailing our nationality, occupation, etc.

SO, in short, it's something we, the Bensah family at least, are conversant with and used to. In so many ways, I think it helps organise society in a far better way that with the use of just passports, driving licenses, or voting cards---which are the three requirements of ID here in Ghana. Whether or not society has to be "organised" at all is another debate for another day!

I understand that at the moment, the UK govt, under Blair, {mmm, when will it be under Gordon Brown I wonder?:-) } will be debating it in parliament. Actually, according to this article: (Defence expert undermines Blair on safety of ID cards) , Blair wants to "introduce compulsory ID cards and give ministers powers to order all motorists to replace their driving licence with a new one requiring a biometric ID card".

This is not sitting very well with campaigners against ID cards, who are claiming that "In light of the numerous inconsistencies and conflicts that have emerged, serious unanswered concerns that remain, project dynamics that are dysfunctional and potential outcomes that may be harmful to the public interest we can now no longer support even the principle of an identity scheme owned and operated by the Home Office."[from:

And I don't blame them. That the use of biometric data is being peddled as one of the ways of reducing terrorism, and by extension the introduction of ID cards are an unwitting way of getting biometric data on ID cards, suggest seriously that something wrong is afoot. The terrorism card is being held up too explicitly for comfort.

I do not quite think that the small, developing democracy that is Ghana has quite got to that level of sophistication, but I would not be surprised in any way that if Ghanaians dug deeper, we would not find something rather rotten at the core, that could involve our so-called "international" (donor) partners.

Right now, I have AKOSOMBO Blues. AFter having experienced views as verdant and breathtaking as the ones here, how can I not??:-)

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Redemption Song: Let's Push for the Black Stars to Win in 2008

emancipate yourself from mental slavery. None but ourselves can free our mind…


So. Bob Marley would have turned 61 this month, and the Egyptians are bringing the cup –er—home. They did do well, winning on penalties of 4-II to Cote d’Ivoire.


Frankly, I was disappointed. I do not consider Egyptians Africans in the TRUEST sense So imbued have they been by the US’s influence and – dare I say it – Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s Western proclivities, coupled with their fairer colour that gives them an air of superiority over Black Africans, I have, for some time now, dismissed them.






It is a shame really, because this is a country whose (historical) leader – Gamal Abdel Nasser – remains one of my heroes for the manner in which 50 years ago this October, he unwittingly exposed the duplicitous and perfidious actions of Britain and France  (and Israel) over the Suez Crisis of 1956. Watch out for more on this as October approaches.


To be fair, the Egyptians played a good game, and their player’s tactics – from a non-pundit perspective – appeared very well-executed. The Ivorians, undoubtedly, played a very strong game, also. To have sustained a score line of nil-nil up until the end, be given 12 minutes of over-time, yet still maintain the same score line (bar a very close goal by Egypt that was apparently disallowed) speaks volumes of the nail-biting intensity – not to mention drama – of this most auspicious game.


Speculation is not rife at all about our performance in 2008, but I am hoping over hope that since the Egyptians – as host of the CAN 2006 – won (let’s face it, the thousands of fans/supporters had some impact on the Egyptian player’s psyche and motivation) so will Ghana, also, as host of CAN 2008 win it for the country for its fifth time, as well.


Of course, the syllogism of this argument is hardly twenty-twenty, but since we are a nation that likes to pray for everything, why don’t we give this whimsical syllogism a run for its money?:-)


While the Black Star’s performance in CAN 2006 was frankly nothing to write home about, (I called it execrable in an earlier entry), I also believe with consistent training, coupled with single-mindedness, we can re-deem ourselves as the eponymous Black Stars of Africa.



Wednesday, February 08, 2006


Scary stuff…


-----Original Message-----
From: [] On Behalf Of
Sent: mercredi 8 février 2006 17:01



New York, Feb  8 2006 12:00PM

An outbreak of the deadly bird flu virus in Nigeria shows that the rest of Africa is in danger from the disease, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (<"">FAO) warned today, calling for urgent action to stop the spread of the virus.


FAO said in a statement that along with the World Organization for Animal Health it would now send veterinary experts to the West African country to assess the situation and examine how the virus got there.


“The outbreak in Kaduna state in Northern Nigeria proves that no country is risk-free and that we are facing a serious international crisis,” said Samuel Jutzi, Director of FAO’s Animal Production and Health Division.


“If the situation in Nigeria gets out of control, it will have a devastating impact on the poultry population in the region, it will seriously damage the livelihoods of millions of people and it will increase the exposure of humans to the virus,” Mr. Jutzi added.


Nigeria has an important commercial poultry sector and millions of backyard poultry farmers. The poultry population is estimated at 140 million.


The origins of the spread are not yet known. “It remains unclear if the outbreak has been triggered by migratory birds or by the trade and movement of poultry or poultry products,” said Joseph Domenech, FAO Chief Veterinary Officer.


The Rome-based agency urged veterinary services in Nigeria to eliminate the outbreaks through immediate humane culling and to strictly control the movement of people and animals to and from places contaminated with bird flu. It said it would also send two local experts to the affected region to advise authorities there on control measures.


Transparency, rapid interventions and close collaboration with the international community are crucial to stop the spread of the virus, FAO added.


“We are aware that veterinary services in Nigeria are in need of international support. The animal health infrastructure in the country is facing a big challenge and will require outside assistance,” Mr. Domenech said. Laboratory materials for diagnosis and protective equipment for veterinarians undertaking investigation are urgently required.

During the last two years, several countries have reported outbreaks of avian influenza caused by the H5N1 virus in people, and close to 100 have died, most of them in Viet Nam. In addition more than 140 million chickens have been slaughtered in an effort to contain the disease.

So far, the virus has only spread from infected animals to humans, but the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that it could change into a form that spreads easily from person to person, triggering an influenza pandemic that could kill tens of millions of people worldwide.

Last month, donors pledged $1.9 billion to fight the spread of the disease, and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan called for a massive, coordinated international response to the virus.

 2006-02-08 00:00:00.000





For more details go to UN News Centre at


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Thursday, February 02, 2006

Ghana in Mourning...Over the Black Stars

I have never been a football pundit, and I do not profess to be one at any time soon.

But, in all honesty, the monumental cock-up displayed by my country’s national team – the Black Stars – donning ominous black attire for the fateful game that saw them being whipped by two goals to one by the Zimbabwean team two days ago, has to be the greatest expression of bad football I have seen in a long time.

At least, that is the general (national) consensus, coming from the pundits.

Another school of thought is saying that the fact that few of the very good players –- an injured Stephen Appiah was there, fine – being there (notably Chelsea’s Michael Essien; Sulley Montarey(sp); Laryea Kingston (who earned a four-match ban during the Senegal-Ghana game last week); to name but three) were present was sufficient to warrant such a failure, sending our boys back home with their tails between their legs.

Having a BMW, and $18,000 spare cash waiting quietly from the qualification to the World Cup a few months back is not bad, though;-)

Whatever the case may be a substantial number of pundits and non-pundits alike are calling for the head of the Serbian coach Djukovic.

Perhaps presaged this when it wrote in the January edition: “Ghana has never won the cup with an expatriate coach”.

Serious mental pabulum!


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