Thursday, April 30, 2009

As the Week Draws to a Close in Accra: Of Job-hunting Tips in Accra; the African Youth; and Climate Change

When I posted the entry last week about job hunting in Accra, I could hardly believe the number of hits I got. I couldn't believe it, partly because I had no clue how many! Seriously, all I saw in that bar to the right of the screen were entries from all over the world--some that had been referred through FACEBOOK and whatnot--that had gone straight to that post.

Let me be clear: this list is far from exhaustive as I indicated. I am encouraged, though, to regularly post more of these. I got a thumbs-up from quintessential blogger Esi Cleland, which blog I highly recommend visiting, even if I am jealous of the number of visitors she gets and the number of comments her entries elicit! I'm talking green-eyed monster city baby!;-)

On the more serious point of some of the other tips for looking for a job in Accra, I got some other tips from someone else who commented, but would like to offer some of my other ones: "Be Humble"; "Create a Blog"; "Practise Dressing Neatly--Always"; "Carry a Pen-Drive Wherever You Go".

Be Humble

This is a lesson straight from the Good Book. Humility pays. If you don't have it, better learn it fast! My parents have often accused me of lack of humility when I don't ask questions. At first I thought they were off-tangent, but the older I get, the more I kind of see the light on that one. It realy is true; if you do have a problem or a challenge, what stops you simply asking for help? Apart from shyness or an excessive introspection, when stuck, ask for help--and that includes tips on getting to the job market!

Create a Blog

You might have guessed I would bring this one in. I cannot tell you the immense benefits have been "bequeathed" me owning a blog. Let me be straight for a second, though. I Started a blog when I landed a job, but I did have a website before then, which I started in 1999. I learnt HTML language on my own (with plenty encouragements from the folks, especially my Dad who would print many, many self-help stuff on it, expecting me to learn it the following day!).

To the point: despite holding down a job, I'm in the unique situation of owning and maintaining five major blogs. The one you're readinig has been around since 2005, and is one of the more popular ones, followed by Accra Daily Photo. The third is more sector-specific, and more geeky, with me pontificating on my knowledge of an emerging disclipine of international affairs, known as regional integration. That's been around since 2006. I have two others, which include writings on technology, etc.

This glorification of my good self has less to do about me, and everything to do with my interests. As I advanced in blogging, I decided to categorize my interests through blogs. It has little to do with me being intelligent and everything to do with trying to be smart. By segregating my interests, I've developed a kind of esoteric, cult followings on my other blogs, which is pretty cool. You might want to do that when you set up a blog on[no, no pay for this ad!!], or wherever else you might want.

Blogging gives you exposure; and exposure means you're likely to be noticed by someone out there. Somewhere. Believe me when I tell you that there's always someone watching and reading--and not just the CIA!;-)

Practise Dressing Neatly--Always

A picture paints a thousand words, so if you're dressed neatly even when you're unbase, you're half-way there. Why should you dress down just because you're out of work? Practise being the person you want to be, so that you attract what you think about. It doesn't mean wearing your best every time you go out, but dressing even if conservatively (blue,black,white colours) when you need to go into town. Remember that the law of the universe is so powerful that you attract what you think about most. Dressing gives confidence, and with confidence, you never know who might notice you for some networking...!

Carry a Pen-Drive Wherever You Go

Make sure that a relative or a friend, or you yourself procure a pen-drive. They're one of the most useful communication tools--bar the mobile phone--in town. Why? That's where you put your CV on, and carry it around--always. Perhaps, if you can get a scanned copy of your certificates/transcripts, that would be great too. This means wherever you are, as long as you can get to an internet cafe, you can pop out your necessary documents for consideration.

Lecture Over!

the African Youth

I turned 32 on 26 April. According to the African Youth Charter that was adopted in Banjul, Gambia in 2006, I am still a member of the youth, for the youth ranges between 18 and 35 years old. I guess in between the the three years I have left before I leave that age bracket, I can think of what I can do not just for myself, but my country, my sub-region of ECOWAS; my continent;-) Thinking about it just gives me a headache, but it's one I'm prepared to endure.

If you never heard of the AU Youth Charter, kindly allow me to fill you in on some of the main parts:

Every young person shall have responsibilities towards his family and society,
the State, and the international community.
Youth shall have the duty to:
􀀾 Become the custodians of their own development;
􀀾 Protect and work for family life and cohesion;
􀀾 Have full respect for parents and elders and assist them anytime in cases
of need in the context of positive African values;
􀀾 Partake fully in citizenship duties including voting, decision making and
􀀾 Engage in peer-to-peer education to promote youth development in areas
such as literacy, use of information and communication technology, HIV/
AIDS prevention, violence prevention and peace building;
􀀾 Contribute to the promotion of the economic development of States Parties
and Africa by placing their physical and intellectual abilities at its service;
􀀾 Espouse an honest work ethic and reject and expose corruption;
􀀾 Work towards a society free from substance abuse, violence, coercion,
crime, degradation, exploitation and intimidation;
􀀾 Promote tolerance, understanding, dialogue, consultation and respect for
others regardless of age, race, ethnicity, colour, gender, ability, religion,
status or political affiliation;
􀀾 Defend democracy, the rule of law and all human rights and fundamental
􀀾 Encourage a culture of voluntarism and human rights protection as well as
participation in civil society activities;
􀀾 Promote patriotism towards and unity and cohesion of Africa;
􀀾 Promote, preserve and respect African traditions and cultural heritage and
pass on this legacy to future generations;
􀀾 Become the vanguard of re-presenting cultural heritage in languages and in
forms to which youth are able to relate;
􀀾 Protect the environment and conserve nature.

In short, there is a lot the African Youth--strike that: the Ghanaian youth--is capable of doing, but is not, instead allowing themselves to be the tools of politicians who use them to further polarize society! We have a climate in peril, yet we are forever talking about forming groups left, right, centre to support politicians. If that is not folly, I don't know what is!

The Unbearable Lightness of Being a Tree

I've never been a tree before, so I wouldn't know how light it feels being a tree! What I do know is that it's no fun these days being a tree in Africa, as you're most likely to be chopped down? Yesterday, the BBC World Service had an Africa Have Your Say programme on Trees.

Coincidentally, my colleague and I had just attended a two-day workshop, discussing climate change, and the international instruments--such as REDD and FLEGT--and how they help complement the fight to have a greener world.

Let me be clear--and not for the last time!--I am so spooked by climate change. To think that if the Earth warms up by less than 2m degrees, civilization as we know it will no longer be around is just downright scary. To also think that more trees are being cut down by the day is even scarier. We need to think about planting more trees to absorb the carbon that the absence of them creates. I am beginning to understand that our carbon footprints are what we leave behind as excessive levels that all contribute to climate change.

Trees are a good start, and maintaining the greenery also counts.

It begins with YOU...and me.

Have a great weekend/May Day!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

So You Want a Job in Accra? Here are Some Tips!

There's nothing as humbling as getting a call from someone younger than you, who happens to be in their final year of Legon, and is also a good friend-acquaintance.

So you can imagine how humbled I was when two days ago, I got a call just from a young lady whom I've known since 2005 (and which sister is a good friend of the organisation) to ask me these some questions on entering the job market.

Let me be clear: anyone who has a job in these uncertain times is this side short of lucky. No matter how drab or dull it is, count yourself lucky you're not with the bunch in the West that were laid off in the factories and whatnot. It's great to be alive and with a job!

While we are patting ourselves on the back that we've been able to hold down a job, we forget so easily how difficult it was when we were looking for employment, don't we? Speaking to my friend gave me an insight into some of the challenges out there in the Ghanaian job market, but I think I can impart a few tips.

1. Learn French
2. Build your IT/communication skills
3. Be passionate about your career
4. Think Big!
5. Get a Masters

Learn French

So you want a job in an English-speaking country that's surrounded by francophone countries? Come on now, learn that French language. We have Alliance Francaise among many other organisations that can offer the language. If you think you cannot cope with how much they charge, find a private tutor. It also pays as failing to get a job in Ghana doesn't mean you cannot get it anywhere else! With French, you're most likely to get a position in the sub-region of ECOWAS, the AU, or who knows, the UN?

Build your IT/communication skills

So you know how to type, but can you touch-type? Working through Microsoft Office is average, but can you do desktop publishing in Word? How about Excel? and Microsoft Access? Try and master a package that will pit you above the others. You might want to do a Marketing/public relations course at the Ghana Institute of Journalism, or the African University College of Communications. It pays to communicate/articulate well wherever you go!

Be passionate about your career

Whether it's the public or private sector--in this country or outside--it's important to be passionate about what your career. No-one can miss passion. Live, breathe, speak human resource management; communication; administration; marketing; banking; law.

Make sure you reek it, so that it's without doubt that YOU are the one to come to on the latest trends.

Let me just say that though I have my bosses who have been working on regional integration, for a longer period than I have, my focus has been more than looking at African integration initiatives; I look at world-wide trends, plus keep up to date on the latest literature. Whenever anyone mentions regional integration, people know they'll get a word or two from me--despite my apparent/relative lack of years spent imbibing it (as compared to my other colleagues).

Think Big!

Why should you only settle for the Ghanaian market? If you've come this far, why not consider working for an international public organisation like the United Nations/African Union/ECOWAS? Sure, it's competitive, but on the African market, the possibilities of going higher than the national are greater. Think big!

Get a Masters

If you haven't gotten one already, it pays to get one. There are people with first degrees and plenty experience -- with sound working experiences, but possessing a Masters means you've taken a step to improve yourself, and therefore are capable of any challenge that comes your way. I will always remember my Dad who pushed me to do one. Now, the deepening of my knowledge on regional integration is more than I could ever imagined, because I'm more than confident of pushing the envelope on my abilities.

This list is far from exhaustive, but I'd like to end that yesterday I coincidentally heard a programme on Joy FM about job-hunting which suggested these short tips:

1. be friendly to the receptionist of any prospective workplace
2. never tell any employee to whom you are passing your CV that you're looking for a job; insist that it's "an important document" that needs to go to the director, or HRO!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Unbearable Lightness of Being...Spiritually Light

I discovered the Joyful Way's Nyame Ohene in 2005, listening to CITi 97.3FM's religious Sunday programme "Gospel Unlimited". At the time I was going through a relationship wherein I didn't know where it was going.

Fast forward to yesterday, when I started listening to it again. I'm not quite sure why I was drawn to it. I must say though that I obtained a bit of an epiphany today, when...
...I realised that the man who goes by "Kojo Anan" on Facebook, was the one who wrote and produced it! I've asked him for t he lyrics; let's see what I get.

Seriously, though, I've been feeling rather spiritually light for the past couple of days. Easter wasn't this side of exciting--somehow as I grow "older", the excitement of it reduces--but I honestly want it to be more than a four day holiday!

I'm in a birthday month; I turn 32 on 26th. It's not quite a milestone, but a grand step forward in all senses of the word.

I've been praying. Perhaps not enough, or not the right way?

Maybe, God directed me to this piece to get some perspective.

Sometimes you have to come full circle to find the truth.

And not just only in fiction like The X-Files.

Monday, April 13, 2009

RE: from Over To You on World Service

Dear Mr.Morris,

Many thanks for getting back to me so quickly--and here's wishing you a belated Happy Easter!

Now, I am based in Accra, GHANA. You can reach me on +233-204-311.789. I resume work on Tuesday, but you can kindly reach me around 12.30pm GMT.

Hope to hear from you soon.
Best wishes,

-Original Message-----
From: Andrie Morris <>
Date: 12/04/09 21:56
Subject: from Over To You on World Service

Hello Mr Bensah,

Many thanks for your note to Over To You and the voicemail message you left us.

I'd very like to phone you, to record your comments on what you thought about Saturday's edition of NewsHour, when it tackled the issue of human rights.

I'd be grateful if you could tell me where you're based, the best number to reach you on and time to call.

This is is something I'm keen to do on Tuesday pm in order to make my deadline.

Looking forward to hearing from you very soon.

With best wishes,

Andrie Morris
Reporter / Producer
BBC World Service: Over To You programme made by City Broadcasting
43-51 Great Titchfield Street, London W1W 7DA
mobile: +44 7545 214 355

These words brought to you by Ogo.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Comment re: BBC News Hour programme

Dear Sir/Madam,

I thoroughly enjoyed the second part of Saturday 11 April edition of News Hour. However just to clarify on my call to OVER TO YOU, I want to state that the panel could have included a member of the Arusha-based African Commission on Human & People's Rights, which plans to be subsumed under the African Court of Justice this year.

To boot, a March 2009 report by Chatham House entitled "Africa's New Human Rights Court: Whistling in the Wind" serves to address some of the issues about what African Union is already doing on human rights.

To ask whether the Peru case is a precedent for Africa is, in my view, myopic on the part of a veteran service like the BBC that has great researchers who could have found this report right under their noses, and thus helped inform the programme with a better perspective on Africa.


___sent: e.k.bensah (OGO device)+233.208.891.841/ekbensah AT

These words brought to you by Ogo.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

In Praise of the Trotsky (Tro-Tro)

When you're confronted with news like that of Joy Fm online (

Road accidents consume 1.6% of GDP

) that road indiscipline is killing Ghanaians (and it is!), and you also hear and witness the execrable driving of tro-tro drivers, you're inevitably going to feel that they remain the bane of traffic woes.

Trust me, though, that there are as many bad private drivers as there are commercial ones.

Before I set off for work this morning, I needed to run an errand in town (Osu), and decided in order to save money and all that, I'd take the trotsky. It cost me almost three-quarters less of the price. To get into town--specifically 37--I paid GHp0.40 (forty pesewas, or almost thirty US cents). A taxi "dropping" would have cost me a cool GHC4.5-GHC5.00 maximum!

On the way, I saw a young, personable and well-dressed lady, with a cute haircut who was holding a lovely Nokia n900 series phone! I am serious! I wondered what someone like her was doing a trotsky like this. Someone might have asked the same thing about me, too! Except to say I'm neither cute nor particularly well-dressed, nor personable!:-) Oh, and though I have a Nokia phone, too, it's profoundly exclipsed by this lady's!

On a more serious note, I kept on observing and wondering about the utility of the trotsky. If only they got the drivers to go back to school and know the road signs; plus get some uniforms for good measure, a great number of Ghanaians would probably patronise it?

There are so many trotsky's in town, and I guess it's a reflection of the supply-and-demand associated with the choice of commuters to shun expensive "dropping" (chartered) of taxis, and opt for a mode of transport that would compromise their safety, and/but get them from A to B in the cheapest manner possible.

For that reason, I foresee that they'll be around for a while!

some site has compiled all of my transport stories here:


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