Friday, April 30, 2010

A Terribly Busy Week, But Happy Mayday, anyway!

I suspect you were expecting to see my regular Pick of the GhanaBlogging Week here today. Alas, though I have one in mind, it will have to be for next week Friday (though I might most likely be out of town, I can schedule-post).

Point is: this week I've had my hair turned gray out of frustrations flowing from a lack of organisation on some simple things that could have been better-handled. I'm not in the mood to write a post that would bring out the best that this blog can offer.

So let me just say that though next week will be a short week (tomorrow's Mayday holiday has been commuted to Monday 3 May as a public holiday, leaving a four-day week. A phenomenon I totally abhor!)

If you have not yet checked Golda's blog of Saving Ghana, please do. Even if posts are infrequent, it remains a refreshing insight into constructive ways Ghana can help herself combat environmental problems.

I also owe her a lengthy reply to an email I have already crafted. You'll get it soon, Golda!!;-)

As you wonder off to have a great Mayday, just be thankful that you are healthy--if you are--and that you have a job. If you don't, may you draw on your inner strength to find fortitude to keep looking!

The UN-based International Labour Organisation is reporting that:

the ILO recently adopted a new list of occupational diseases which, for the first time, includes mental, behavioural and post-traumatic stress disorders. The ILO Governing Body also adopted a plan of action to achieve widespread ratification and effective implementation of the occupational safety and health instruments (Convention No. 155, its 2002 Protocol and Convention No. 187).


Stay safe. Keep healthy. Till next week.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Dealing with the (Vague) Vagaries of the Ghanaian Weather...

Off-late, Ghanaians have been complaining about the weather, because for some strange--and some might say "divine"--reason, we have had what I call "centralised precipitation". That is to say rainfall that has begun in the capital of Accra--and not spread towards the nine other regions of the country that equally need rainfall!

This morning, I woke up around 5.45am to see some heavy droplets on cars outside, and a wet ground, to boot. When the cool wind blew in my face, it was sufficient proof of rainfall that had fallen during the hours of 1-4am, as around midnight I was awake, and there was no sign of rain.

Meanwhile, when I got to work, colleagues living some thirty minutes away inside the capital city did not experience any rainfall--neither did they experience it over the weekend when there was a veritable downpour!

We are not yet in the rainy season, which is supposed to start from July, and end around September.

So when the "Ghanaian Times" reported last week that there was going to be drought, and it was rebuffed by a Ghana Meteorological Agency official speaking to CITI97.3fm online (here: , I thought that visiting their website at would offer some resolution.

Instead the website was as dead and "under construction" as some of our roads in the more remote regions of the country!

I don't like relying on the Ghana Meteo figures provided on the evening news; I would have preferred a website--like that of the Nigerian (yes, Nigerian!) -- website that is even functioning, with contact numbers [].

When will Ghanaians ever learn...

Friday, April 23, 2010

Pick of the GhanaBlogging Week: Accra Books & Things

Today is World Book Day! Which means if you have not been reading a book off-late, you ought to feel darn guilty!

I have to confess it has been a while I read a novel cover-to-cover, so when I caught a site of Accra Books and Things, I was both over-joyed and over-the-moon that at least there are bloggers out there who can write passionately about areas they work in.

I was particularly caught by the entry Are We Training for the 21st Century?, which took a critical look at the rather-lackadaisical attitude of the employees at the Department of Information Studies at the University of Ghana, as well as the antiquated methods employed by the Department:

On a more basic level, I got the impression, as we interacted, that a lot of the curriculum and the actual teaching being done at the Diploma level in the Dept of Information Studies is quite “conservative” and dare I say, a little “old-fashioned”? I am not saying that everyone should be using PowerPoint, or talking about blogs, but I do expect that students who are ultimately going to be working in some kind of customer service environment which is likely to be dependent on ICTs should have at least heard of some of the contemporary developments. I was also surprised to hear that there is actually a course in “library automation”, which is exactly the same heading for a course which I did thirty five years ago at the University of Ibadan. Are these students really being prepared to work in a 21st century environment?

It's rare to find, in this country, niche-bloggers who write about subjects and areas they work in. While there are a few around (and I will touch on them over the course of the next few weeks), the subject of books remains, in my view, a very important area that we need more blogging of.

Words are beautiful, and so are books. And we all need to do more reading!

But if you want insights by a librarian who can blog about the industry in Ghana, and equally prompt you to explore some classic books, then check out "Accra Books and Things" here:

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Is There Such a Thing as a "Ghanaian Distraction"?

I found myself the other day inquiring about driving lessons, and finally hitting an epiphany where it was disclosed that given that I had already passed the theory at the driving school I attended, all I had to do was go to the Driver Vehicle Licensing Authority(DVLA) to do my written test one Wednesday. I've given myself one month to cram in all those road signs! In between that, though, I couldn't shake off the "driven to distraction" tag I've been banding around for the past couple of days.

Just seemed so apt.

Then I got my thinking cap on, and wondered whether in Ghana, there is any such thing as a quintessentially Ghanaian distraction?

The immediate ones come to mind:

1. the predominance of almost-the-most-widely-spoken-local language--Twi-speaking--over English-speaking radio by public transport drivers. I cannot for the life of me understand why they think everyone taking public transport can--or is willing to listen--to Twi after a hard day's work!!

2. the politicization and polarization of issues along political lines (usually it's the government vs the largest opposition party, or vice versa)

3. the lack of consistency of the Ghana Police in appearing on busy roads to divert traffic

I'd be happy to hear any distractions you may have!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Pick of the GhanaBlogging Week: Will the "Real Jemi" of "CIRCUMSPECTE" Please Stand Up?

I spoke to my best friend, Juliet, today who told me Jemila Abdulai is a very talented and brilliant individual. That kind of endorsement from someone like Juliet--a trained and experienced publisher and journalist--can only be good, especially if Juliet happened to have been Jemila's "trainer" at a reputable magazine a few years back.

It's also good, especially when I know Jemila as well, and recognise that she is indeed a talented and brilliant individual, who also happens to manage a blog, entitled "CIRCUMSPECTE".

She claims to write about:

"Ghana::Africa::Development::Youth::Global Issues::Life::Anything & Everything"

Though she does do that, she does it very well. She also tweets, and a few weeks ago, when the "trending topic" was "Jemi", she quipped something in her tweets that suggested that someone might have come across a major piece of news which funnily corresponded with her name.

Truth be told, the "Jemi" is a compound name of "Demi Lovato/Joe Jonas", who ostensibly work for Disney! Some clever sod with too much time on his hands decided they would turn it into a trending topic, and given how US-centric twitter can be, it got there!

But back to the "Real Jemi"!

Perhaps one of the central reasons for chosing Jemila's blog was not just because I know her a bit after phone and email conversations and recognise how at 23, she's very smart, but also because I -- shame on me!--very rarely visited her blog! This was not because I did not want to--more about so many other blogs, being updated more regularly, that were (and have been) competing for my attention.

Still, lucky her. Today's her day--and not necessarily because she's "Pick of the GhanaBlogging Week", but because I believe she deserves it.

Her blog is structured in a way that pretty much segments information (in the same way I like to segment some of mine). So she has:

*The Water Chronicles
*The Letter-Writing Project
*The 16' Journal

These are among the highlights of her writings, but the one that does it for me is the "Letter-Writing Project", where she writes about an important and topical subject (sometimes it's newsworthy) in the form of a letter.

I will refer to the latest one, entitled "

The Letter Writing Project: Sex Sells, But At What Cost?"

I had seen this article elsewhere on the web, totally oblivious to the fact that it was she who had penned it. It is a very insightful commentary on the increasing use of salaciousness in movies, and what it means for what the Brits would call "dumbing down" of our nascent-but-rapidly-developing movie industry.

Although the whole piece is good, what I most liked about it is this quote:

"I also think you need to think twice about how you're presenting these issues to the Ghanaian and global public. It's one thing to try to encourage confidence in one's sexuality by talking about the inherent issues, and it's another thing to go the overt sex or soft porn route. One - the actual sex act- belongs in the 'private domain', while the other - sex education -is in the 'public domain'. Education concerning sexual reproductive health and rights is just beginning to take root in many African societies and that's precisely because of the fabric of those societies. You need to keep that in mind the next time you decide on a detailed threesome or office tryst. And for heavens sake, keep the buttocks-showcase to a minimum. This whole soft-porn business might not be too bad for the male actors, but with the double-standard society we live in, I can only imagine the havoc it's wrecking on the females' reputations. That statement might sound sexist, but it's the truth. And the worst of it all, is that with this focus on sex, less attention is going to be paid to talent"

She could not have put it any better!

Go check out her blog on!

labels: ghanablogging, pickoftheghanabloggingweek,

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Why an ex-BBC Journalist-Blogger Was Censured for his Racist Comment

There have always been racists among us, and like crime, I don' think it is ever going to go away.

I can understand how the democratisation of the e-space (read:the Internet) has enabled voices of all slants establish themselves through blogs.

But when we get experienced journalists -- like Rod Liddle, former BBC Radio 4  "Today" programme Editor make racist comments, without even realising it is racist, and thinking that his "pedigree" would sanction his comment, then the blogosphere becomes all that bit more murkier.

Still, we have to thank God organisations like the UK's Press Complaints Commission exist, for they were able to censure Liddle, explaining that his blog entry

"...had not been able to demonstrate that the 'overwhelming majority' of crime in all the stated categories had been carried out by members of the African-Caribbean community".

Now this is the UK, and I am not surprised someone's complaint brought the PCC's attention to bear on the matter. But I cannot help but wonder what would happen if something similar had been done in Ghana, where no agency exists to deal with such issues?

Not that in Ghana, anyone would necessarily write a racist comment (!), but given the degree of our political polarisation, where almost every issue is politicised, who would censure any blogger who might write a highly-biased entry that was written through the filter of (excessive) partisan politics?

Would it be the rather-pusillanimous Ghana Journalist Association? or the ever-more timerous National Media Commission(NMC).

I am encouraged that GJA information can be found under the Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition, and that people can complain to the NMC, but how about a form--like that of the UK's PCC?

The way the NMC site is set up is great, but if it were made easier for citizens to complain--as is done with the better-performing Ghana's Public Utilities Regulatory Commission, then more people would feel, in my view, compelled to complain and make the Commission more meaningful.

Ghana still has a challenge with blogging--not enough of our journalists are blogging, and that cannot augur too well for our fledgling democracy as the guardians of the Fourth Estate seem to linit themselves to the 9-to-5 journalism.

Perhaps, given the state of play of non-blogging journalists, citizen journalists can begin to put sufficient pressure to ensure that the agencies that need to have teeth to make necessary censures can begin to think a bit more about working!

*This entry can also be found on*

labels: ghanablogging, ghana bloggers, ghana purc, ghana gja, ghana journalism, rod liddle, bbc, racist comment, ghana citizen journalism

Friday, April 09, 2010

Pick of the GhanaBlogging Week: Golda's Blog (SAVING GHANA)

Every now and then, you come across a blog that catches your eye, and you wonder why on Earth you had not paid attention to it before. In the first of the occasional Friday series on catching some of the eye-catching blogs on the community, today I introduce :

GOLDA's blog on

For someone who's taken an eye for issues of climate change off-late (and not just because we might pick it up as a key area of advocacy for our work some time in the future), I can pinch myself for missing this blog. This is what I wrote in a post to my fellow ghanabloggers in our list-serv:

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Emmanuel.K. Bensah Jr. <ekbensah@...>
Date: 2010/4/6
Subject: More on Golda's Blog...some insights for GhanaBlogging
To: ghanablogging <>

Morning all. Welcome back to work (if ur here already!;-)) )

I was just browsing the web for work-related stuff, and thought I'd pass by Golda's blog. I am ashamed to say that it's the first time I'm coming across her blog, but loving it!

I love this quote:


Let's form a new rank of Ghanaians with the willpower to change our circumstances for the better. Because better is for all - the hardworking person as well as the hazed druggist or the hardened criminal.

And on that note, if ever a thief comes breaking into your home, or attacks you somewhere; or you see a mad person or a dazed drug addict, ask "Bruv, what happened to make you this way?" "


Now I can appreciate the fact that not all of us are comfortable delving in and out of darkness, but I think the words gave me some food for thought. I don't think none of us could ever save the world by ourselves, but I have personally always believed that every endeavour that we undertake is done so for a reason.

We are united under Ghanablogging members by choice, but if we wanted to take it further to help expose the underbelly of Ghanaian society -- as we did with Jemila's initiative of World Water Day -- then we should try to continue doing so undaunted.

So I thought that with Golda's "support", and her passion and expertise in energy and environment, maybe she could prepare us a bit for June 5th (ENVIRONMENT DAY), already so that we can begin thinking how we can all help contribute to elucidating some of the complexities of living in a healthy environment in a developing country like Ghana.

It is normal some of us will fail to throw sufficient light along the way, but if some of us try, why not?"

I think the eml has spoken volumes about my intention of where one can go with Golda's blog. Although it has not been updated for a while, I highly recommend it for its deep insights on Ghanaian culture and our attitudes to environment, which is something GhanaBloggers don't blog sufficiently about!

Take it easy as you try to have--like myself--as stress-free weekend!

labels: ghanablogging, ghana blogs, ghana environment

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Nightmare at Private Hospital Lister, Redux, & A Cautionary Tale of Private vs. Public Health Care in Ghana?

The shower is a great place to catch early news on radio.

So it was not without reason that it would be there I would catch the news of a harrowing story that involved Lister Hospital and a case of a dead baby that was not attended to by nurses. The station was CITI97.3fm, and although a bit too much time was spent on the story, it was clear that it was important issue to be talked about, especially as it was an interview of the mother in question, Mrs.Vaah.

According to the interview, her baby lay a good five minutes outside her body--without the umbilical chord being cut by either the doctors or the nurses.

This is how CITI97.3fm reports it on its website:

"Mrs. Vaah added that several minutes after the baby came out the nurses kept running back and forth without knowing exactly what to do. She said that noticing that her baby was not crying as usual she inquired from the nurses but no definite answer was given.

when the baby came out, for about 5minutes he was laying in between my thighs and these nurses kept running back and forth without doing anything but I realized the baby was not crying so my husband and I started asking why the baby was not crying but one nurse came in and cut the umbilical cord and wrap the baby and took him away. "


What is noteworthy here is that this is far from the first time I have heard of a horror story from Lister hospital. I have a very
personal story of a very good friend, Nana Amaa, who passed away on Mayday 2006. This is what I wrote on my blog back then:

I am still reeling from the news of the sudden death of one of my very good friends (pictured above), Nana Amma, at a private hospital near the Spintex Road. It is Day Three since I heard the news that she passed away on Mayday, but I wake up every day feeling that I can give her a call. I still have not deleted her phone number, neither have I deleted the last txt msg she sent me. I won't either. I want to preserve them for posterity, and for her memory. I even went to the trouble of saving our online chats on msn messenger. I am still grieving, because I miss her very very much.

Why Nana Amma's passing is critical in this weekly review is because it calls into question the debate of private versus public health care. A lot of people, including myself, appreciate the efforts of public health care, but see it as still insufficient. I have tended to believe that private is better, because of the quality of the time spent with you, and the service provided. Nana Amma's case has proved a rude shock that this is not always the case.

Once my work colleagues heard the news, everyone wondered why she did not go to Korle-Bu, which is one of the biggest hospitals in the sub-region and the continent. It was only this week that the Graphic reported that the President had inaugurated a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and Computer Technology (CT) Centre "to help in the diagnoses of serious diseases" at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital.

The machine, procured at the cost of ç27.5billion "will be used for the early detection of diseases, such as stroke, cancer, and breast diseases which are not easily detected by the normal X-ray machines."

Regrettably, it came too late for Nana Amma.


So when I called into CITI97.3fm a few days after her death, it was normal I would be concerned about the necessity of a debate on private versus public health care. This is what I called in to say to then-host Bernard Avle (as
captured in a blog entry then):

I think it's important that whilst we are talking about Korle-Bu, we also bring in the question of private versus public health care. A lot of people might be tempted to beg or borrow money to go private, because they hear it is faster and more efficient. As I indicated, my good friend passed away at a private institution, and that, for me, speaks volumes. The more we talk about the negative aspects of Korle-Bu, the more we might go to feed the perception that private is better. We should also be talking about public investment in our public health care institutions. A debate needs to be had so that people's relatives don't go dying [in droves] on us…"


While it is true that I was imbued by grief then, it is also true that I have left discussion of the debate for a while now. I don't get sick often, thankfully, and I am still rather young--although at almost 33yrs, I could do far better on my weight management.

Point is: blogging has gone far in this country, and if we are to avoid such unnecessary deaths [which death is necessary, anyway??!!!] then it probably behooves more of us bloggers to make commentaries on these important health issues more than we do--and not just when we are sick.

This is no lecture. Probably more of a "note to self" !

labels: ghana health, private health care, public health care


Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Re: Mid-Week Madness: "Great with the Podcast, CITIfm97.3, but How about a Downloadable file?"

As I write this, I am listening to a very good recording of an interview by CITI Breakfast Show Host Bernard Avle and Minister of Trade and Industry Hannah Tetteh, which was conducted this morning. I missed some of it, so I am very glad to be listening to the whole thing.

That is all well and good, but what is not is the fact that I could simply have downloaded it! What if my internet connection was--alas--not as stable as it is today? Would it mean that I am indefinitely incapacitated? Would a podcast (à la BBC) not simply have done the trick?

Whilst I am the first to commend CITIfm97.3 and what I call its "pseudo-podcast", which it calls "audio on-demand", I will also be the first to criticise it.

It is great that one can re-listen to radio clips, but how about being able to download it -- as exemplified by the inimitable BBC?

Back in 2008, I wrote an article for the erstwhile "Sunday World" newspaper, entitled "(Pod)Casting Aspersions on the Ghanaian Media". You can access the article here:

In it I gave the raison d'être for podcasts, which I quote here:

Let's face it: podcasts are not only supposed to educate us; they are supposed to make our lives easier. Issues with internet connectivity notwithstanding, last time I looked, most internet cafes enabled you download from the 'Net and even from and unto your storage devices. Even without a connection at work or in your home, if you knew you could re-listen to your popular breakfast, or lunchtime show, by way of a podcast, I could imagine you would end up feeling both sated and dedicated to your station of choice—knowing they not only care about the kind of programmes they produce, but want you to be further interested in giving you the opportunity to listen again. To boot, your productivity would inevitably be boosted knowing you would not make too much effort to listen to a programme on the hour, especially when you can catch it again—albeit without contributions by text and email you might want to make.

So, when I get to the very much-improved CITIfm97.3 website, yet it requires me --  in a developing country like Ghana where the internet connectivity through broadband is unpredictable -- I cannot quite figure it out.

Please give me a downloadable radio clip, which I can download from any computer in the country, so I can die happy!

*This post can also be found on*

labels: mid wk madness, mid week madness, citi fm, ghana radio, ghana podcast


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