Category Archives: Features

How Stanley Mathews became a chief in Ghana

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Matthews was installed as a “soccerhene” (soccer chief)

Sir Stanley Matthews remains one of England’s most famous footballers and was known as the Wizard of Dribble. But he was also arguably the first global icon, paving the way for superstars such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. And it all began in Ghana, writes Scott Anthony.

Football is the closest thing the planet has to a global popular culture.

Wherever you go in the world, you’ll find people kicking a ball around, watching matches in cafes, wearing replica shirts, and betting or playing football games on their phones.

Yet the idea of a footballer as a global icon is a relatively recent phenomenon. The idea that a footballer could bring nations, classes and races together had to be invented. And it was an idea that was arguably invented in Africa.

The story begins 60 years ago in Ghana when veteran English footballer Stanley Matthews strode out to play for Accra’s Hearts of Oak against Kumasi Kotoko.

‘A god among us’

Newly crowned as the first European Player of the Year, Matthews came to Ghana to play a series of exhibition matches to celebrate independence.

Some Ghanaian players were star-struck playing alongside Matthews

“Matthews’ visit had a tremendous impact,” says football writer Fiifi Anaman. “When I spoke with some of the players about it, they said they couldn’t believe Matthews came – it felt almost as if a god was walking among them.”

The media had hyped up the visit, speculating how local hero Baba Yara, “Ghana’s King of Wingers”, would measure up against the superstar of European soccer.

Matthews was mobbed on arrival and more than 80,000 spectators turned up to watch his first three matches against Kotoko, Sekondi Hasaacas and Kumasi Cornerstone.

Shortly after his arrival, Matthews was presented with an ivory sword and installed as a “soccerhene” (soccer chief) in front of the press.

Using sport to promote pan-Africansism

Matthews’ tour of the region led people to compare European and African styles of football.

Newspapers emphasised that Matthews rarely ran, played corners short and almost never passed the ball off the ground. He avoided heading the ball.

His visit prompted calls for Ghanaians to prioritise teamwork and alertness over effort and physicality.

Ghana’s first President, Kwame Nkrumah (r), was inspired by Matthews visit to use sport as a national unifier

Even more importantly, Matthews arrived as Ghana’s first President, Kwame Nkrumah, was trying to create an identity for Ghana – a country knitted together from numerous different ethnic groups under colonial rule.

Removing the portrait of Elizabeth II from stamps and coins was easy but it was more difficult to create new symbols capable of bringing the new nation together.

In particular, President Nkrumah stressed the need for real-life examples. He wanted to emphasise the idea that you live your values rather than passively inherit them.

The success of Matthews’ tour helped convince Mr Nkrumah that sport could also play a significant role in the dissemination of African values.

At this defining moment, Matthews was playing alongside the early greats of Ghanaian football such as James Adjaye, Chris Briandt and CK Gyamfi, who would go on to define that greatness.

Ultimately, Ghana’s president believed that sport was the perfect vehicle for the expression of pan-African idealism.

“By meeting together in the field of sport,” Mr Nkrumah said, “the youth of Africa will learn what our elders were prevented from learning – that all Africans are brothers with a common destiny.”

In the years immediately after independence, Ghanaian football would not only serve as a vehicle for the development of what the president termed “the African personality” but be invested with the hope that it could help build a new kind of global solidarity.

‘The saint of soccer’

The England international, aged 42 when he arrived in Ghana, was a compelling if unusual figure.

He had become a celebrity during World War Two when Allied authorities promoted the matches of touring All Star XIs to keep up morale in war zones.

Here Matthews was a propagandist’s dream. In addition to his amazing dribbling ability, he was never booked and lived an ascetic life. The contrast between Matthews’ modesty and the icons of Fascist sport could not be clearer.

After Matthews’ Blackpool beat Bolton in the 1953 FA Cup final, popularly known as “the Matthews final”, his fame was propelled worldwide through newsreels and television.

Affection for “Our Stan” grew as his stringent fitness regime allowed him to play professional football until the age of 50. During his visit, Ghanaian newspapers labelled him “the Saint of Soccer” as he visited schools and hospitals.

Independent Ghana required its own brand of heroic gentlemen.

Approachable but exceptional, the example of the “soccerhene” encouraged Ghana’s government to make sport and sports stars central to their project.

As independence spread throughout the African continent, Mr Nkrumah’s use of sport for nation-building would be widely imitated.

Later in the 1960s, it would become fashionable for icons of global sport, from Pele to Muhammad Ali, to make pilgrimages to newly independent African states.

Immediately after Matthews’ visit, the Englishman George Ainsley was appointed manager of the national team, the “Black Stars”.

Ghana became the first African nation to tour Eastern Europe and the first sub-Saharan African nation to qualify for the Olympic Games.

In 1963 CK Gyamfi would coach Ghana to victory in the African Cup of Nations, a trophy they retained in 1965.

Mr Nkrumah also pushed Fifa to guarantee a spot for an African side at the World Cup, which was introduced after African nations boycotted the 1966 World Cup.

Matthews himself would become a regular visitor to Africa, playing and coaching in countries such as Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa.

In later life he favourably contrasted the collective spirit of African football, especially in Soweto, with the economic bigotry he saw taking over the game in the UK.

“Going into the townships at a time when racial discrimination was at its most intense [was] something that had all kinds of ramifications,” remembered Archbishop Desmond Tutu. “It made a dent in the apartheid armoury.”

In Ghana, President Nkrumah’s politicisation of football would prove a double-edged sword, as the regime’s centralising and authoritarian tendencies eventually brought the league into disrepute and fanned regional factionalism.

Internationally, however, African governmental activism broke the European and South American duopoly over football and in the process the idea that football was an uncontainable and universalising global force was born.

By Scott Anthony is a fellow at the Johannesburg Institute of Advanced Study| BBC

Fistula: The restoration journey of Mma Fulera

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Mma Fulera Yakubu getting ready to go to the market with her vegetables.

After she lost the courage to trade in vegetables – her  source of livelihood at the Aboabo market in Tamale – due to her fistula condition after her fifth birth, 40 years old Mma Fulera is now back to her business with higher aspirations.

Today, Mma fulera has returned to her spot in the market where she does not only trade in vegetables, but also have her friends and happier life.

Following her successful reconstructive surgery,  Mma Fulera reveals she has become an ambassador of fistula and has not relented on her efforts to spreading the news of reconstructive surgery to women living with the condition in the Northern region, something that she never knew of.

“My husband left me six months into the fistula condition little did he know I would receive a reconstruction surgery and have my normal life back”.

Mma Fulera is a mother of four beautiful girls and a resident of Choggu Yapalsi, a suburb of Tamale. Her fifth girl during whose delivery she got the fistula condition has died. All her births have been skilled birth at the Tamale Teaching Hospital where she is usually discharged few hours after delivery.

She was the first wife of her former husband Yakubu. Fulera recounts while in labour carrying her fifth born, she had to writhe in pain throughout the midnight till dawn when she was rushed to the Tamale Teaching Hospital.

After hours of labour, a caesarean section became the only option for Fulera, the caesarean section was successful. This was the second day after her admission at the hospital.

Spending some days on admission after delivery got her worried as that had never happened, she sought for answers and then she was told she had the fistula condition and had to use diapers. Days later, a urine catheter was inserted to contain the urine then she discharges.

“All my children have been skilled birth at the hospital, I have four children, all girls. The fifth one is late and I had her too in the hospital. I never got healthy after that birth… I stayed in the hospital for about 40 days and I was discharged to go home”.

She stayed in the condition for six months, soon her husband Yakubu got fed up with her situation and asked her to leave his house which she did. Fulera returned to her family house from where she made her weekly visit to the hospital for a change of the urine catheter but that had to stop as she could no longer afford.

This was where she started losing her friends because at this point one could smell the stench of the urine from a distance. She had to abandon her trade. Fulera recounts how she wept throughout each day of her existence.

“Tears became my portion, I stayed indoors weeping because even my neighbours would not come close to me especially my market friends”.

Little did Mma Fulera know she could get reconstruction surgery for free under the United Nations Population Fund fistula project. She is among the first batch of women who underwent the reconstruction surgery in Accra when the Mercy Ship arrived at the port.

“Nurses at the Tamale Teaching Hospital never told me my case could get corrected through surgery until one day a brother told me about it but he was not sure of the hospital that does the surgery. So I contacted a medical officer at the teaching hospital who told me of an impending visit of a foreign team.

“I was with some other women, we were sent to Accra for the surgery and back home we received training in tire and dye making as a source of livelihood”.

Today, Mma Fulera is back to the market trading her vegetables and has found joy again. Her smiles tells of a happy soul.

She reveals she has since become an ambassador in her community who tells women in the fistula condition about the possibility of getting reconstruction surgery.

“I have never missed a chance of telling women in this condition about the surgery, many women  are not aware of the surgery and some have died with the condition”.

Just like Mma Fulera, many have been rejected by their kinsmen due to their condition which they encountered while bringing a life to this world.

Between 50,000 and 100,000 new cases are recorded each day whiles about two million women in Africa, Asia, and Latin America are living with the fistula condition.

Join the crusade of spreading the news of reconstruction surgery for our mothers who suffer this humiliating condition due to lack of good healthcare and poverty.

By Zubaida Ismail |TV3|3news.com

 

TALKING DRUM: Update- Girl, 13, battling diabetes gets support!

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Pamela injects herself with insulin

When the Diabetes Youth Care, a non-governmental organisation which caters for children with diabetes, visited little Pamela Wayor at Osu, in the Greater Accra region, she met us wearing a broad infectious smile.

The Diabetes Youth Care had read a feature I wrote about the plight of the 13 year old girl and with the swiftness of a duiker, they contacted to offer an assistance.

“Hello, my name is Dr. Nana Ama Barnes, I came across your article on the news and I wanted to know if I could help out. I have a diabetes support network for young ones living with diabetes. We can help her out,” read an email I received.

That email conversation would later on lead us to the house of the Wayors on that sunny Sunday, May 21, 2017. Pamela, today, wears a straight dress. Her permed hair is carefully combed backwards to tie it behind her. But, her somewhat swollen feet would not allow her dazzle in any‘fashionable’ shoe as she rather wears a bathroom slippers.

Dr. Nana Ama Barnes takes a selfie with Pamela and friend

Pamela sees me entering her compound and like the cassava leaf she stretched her arm with her palmwidely opened for a warm handshake.

“Hey Pamela, how you today?” I asked.

“I’m fine and you, too?” She said.

After a short familiarization between my guests from the Diabetes Youth Care and the Wayors, the President of the NGO, Joseph Kwamena Larsh, would tell the family the reason for the visit.

“Diabetes Youth Care saw the story of our young girl which caught our attention. We decided to do a follow up and trace up so to provide all the necessary support our young girl would need,” said Larsh.

Mr. Larsh who is himself a diabetic assures the family that their ward would be fine in a very short while.

Pamela and her mother being taken through how to use the log book, others

“Pamela in this case is a student and she is very young living with diabetes. We are going to provide her with a lot of education which she might not know as at now. We organise monthly meetings for them [children living with diabetes] educating them on living healthy as diabetic patients.”

He added that “you are going to see a big difference she joining us.”

For Esther Wayor, she counts herself blessed as one of the happiest persons to have enjoyed the benevolence of society.

“I am very happy and I thank Diabetes Youth Care for coming to my aid. A lot of people have assisted me after the story of Pamela was published,” said the mother seeking cure for her daughter.

Indeed, few hours after the article detailing Pamela’s plight was published on 3news.com, on May 18, 2017 and titled “Life on hold! Girl, 13, battles diabetes,”I received a number of emails and messages on Twitter. These all pointed to one thing; how to support the little girl.

Richmond Apore is a Ghanaian based in the United States studying to become a medical doctor. In his email sent to me, he said “I came across your story on the plight of Pamela Wayor. And [I] was wondering how I could be of timely assistance in contributing funds for the purchase of the girl’s basic needs.”

President of Diabetes Youth Care, Joseph Larsh, presents donation to Esther Wayor

The next day Mr. Apore sent via Western Union $200 to be given to Pamela. What impresses me in this assistance is that a student seeing it needful to donate in saving life.

Pamela on the visit of the Diabetes Youth Care was taught how to inject herself with insulin. With guidance from the founder of the NGO, Dr. Nana Ama Barnes, the girl was taken through the self-injection education. Pamela learnt that with ease.

Esther Wayor is poised to see improvement in her daughter and so she pledges not to discard ways to properly feed her.“I will take good care of Pamela’s diet because diabetes is a dangerous disease. I have really suffered seeking medical care for her.”

Dr. Nana Ama Barnes says she has arranged for a dietician to assist Esther Wayor provide the girl with good care.

Renowned author, Mark Twain, was not far from right when he opined that kindness is a language that the deaf can hear and the blind can see.

For those who contributed to Pamela’s well-being but would not want to be named, the family of the little girl says ‘thanks.’ And for those who wished assisting in anyway but could not, may God increase your yields to be of help some other time.

By Solomon Mensah|3FM|3news.com|Ghana

The writer is a broadcast journalist with 3FM 92.7. Views expressed here solely remain his opinion and not that of his organisation.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @Aniwaba

[Opinion] The frustrations of travelling on Ghanaian passport within Africa

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I sent e-mails to two prominent journalists to do a story about the frustrations of the Ghanaian passport holder in travelling within Africa and the world. I thought they would tell my story for me. I have waited for weeks but I have not received even the courtesy of acknowledgement of mail. Remembering the citizen and not spectator call by our strong-willed President, I thought I should write my own story and see if someone may listen and act on it sooner on behalf of the hundreds of Ghanaians who may be going through comparable situation.

I am a citizen of Ghana. I am resident in Ghana. I work as an Information Security Consultant (Auditor) for a cyber security audit firm. I am required to travel to clients of my firm in different African and Middle East (MEA) countries. On the hind sight, my job is supposed to be fun because it involves travelling to different countries and cultures. Unfortunately, I travel on a Ghanaian passport.

Until I started working in my new role, I did not know that the Ghanaian passport is one of the weakest passports in the world. The frustration of obtaining visas on short notice, getting multiple entry visa to countries within Africa, or shuttling between countries without returning home to Ghana is real.  My dear reader, the frustration is so real. Compared to my colleagues from other countries, my passport is holding me back because I am unable to travel to clients as often as my colleagues.

According to The Henley & Partners Visa Restrictions Index 2017 report, Ghana’s passport ranks 77th in the world, same as Zimbabwe. A lot of countries tie in the rankings so our real position is about 125th in the world. I was so surprised when I opened on Wikipedia the Visa Requirements of Ghanaian passport. Ghana’s passport can travel to only 58 out of 199 countries in the world without obtaining visa from the country’s consulate before the travel.

Countries like South Africa, Mauritius, Botswana, Kenya, Namibia, Papua New Guinea, Tanzania, Cape Verde, Tunisia, Zambia and a host of other countries all beat Ghana in world passport rankings according to Henley & Partners Visa Restrictions Index. Germany’s passport can travel to 178 out of 199 countries without Visa, South African passport can travel to 98 countries without Visa, a Ghanaian passport Holder can only travel to 58 countries without Visa.

How can the government make it possible and easier for a Ghanaian passport holder to visit certain countries in Africa without all these restrictions? What does it take to sign Visa-on-Arrival agreements with some of these African countries? Is it not time to raise these issues for public discourse? For example, visiting Botswana with a Ghanaian passport requires a Ghanaian to obtain visa in the Botswana Embassy in Nigeria through a Consulate in Accra. Can Ghana sign a deal with Botswana such that visa on arrival becomes possible for a Ghanaian once all documentation is in order?

Shouldn’t it be possible for Ghanaians to visit countries like Botswana, South Africa, Cameroon, Chad, Congo, Eritrea, Malawi, Namibia, Somalia, South Sudan, Tunisia, Equatorial Guinea, Morocco for say 30 days or 90 days and obtain visa on arrival if evidence is established the person will not become a burden to the host country and shall return shortly? I cannot understand why Ghanaian professionals require visas from Ghana to visit the above-mentioned countries when they can clearly demonstrate that they will return after their short professional/vacation visits.

I was shocked to know it is possible to visit Singapore as a Ghanaian and obtain Visa on arrival if all required documentation such as return ticket, hotel bookings, evidence of event you are attending, etc. are verified to be true. How can I visit a country like Singapore and return within 8 days and I cannot do same for Equatorial Guinea or Botswana within my own continent? Isn’t this shameful to our African Politicians? What is this whole fuss and hullabaloo about African Union? In my opinion, the African Union holiday should be cancelled in Ghana as soon as possible.

We should stop the talk and walk the talk to make the Ghanaian Passport holder feel a bit more respected in the African and global community. The other day, I watched a documentary by Ross Kemp called ‘’Libya’s Migrant Hell’’ and got so sad that I could not eat dinner because of the horror Ghanaians and Nigerians are going through in Libya and the desert journey to Europe.  There is something wrong with Ghana and we should all resolve to help and make things better in our own country.

I pray the NPP government makes it a target and try and increase the number of countries Ghanaians can visit without visa from the current 58 to at least 80 and seek visa on arrival agreements with certain countries to improve the competitiveness of the Ghanaian Passport. This will be welcome news for Ghanaian professionals who may travel a lot within the African continent.

I am appealing to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey and the Tourism Minister to try and improve the credibility of the Ghanaian Passport by leading these negotiations with some of these countries. It should be possible to negotiate with other countries to ensure the Ghanaian Passport Holder can travel to a lot more countries. The aviation and hospitality sectors stand to gain so much if travelling within Africa is eased for the right purposes.

This can be fixed and should be fixed to give more meaning that the NPP government is indeed a more business and entrepreneur friendly one.

By Kwame Ofori-Sarpong

The writer is an information security consultant.

 

[Opinion] Arts: From passion to wealth creation in Egypt

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Do you ever think of the heights arts can reach unhindered? It offers opportunities that have often been unimaginable. Think of the many ways you can express your thoughts through the arts. In drama, music, painting, poetry, pottery, sculpture, sketches. It could be represented in architecture, illustrations, landscaping or weaving. That is the opportunity FRTR offered budding Egyptian artists.

Mashrabia’s Invisible Presence for instance, created the platform to open sensitive discourses about the body through visual arts, without a verbal proposal. Yes, you could have your most erotic thoughts represented pictorially without a word. Be they nudity, shape, colour or form, Invisible Presence made it possible in a conservative society. Though you could not show the outcome of your thoughts on the walls in your home if it was nude, it would have been expressed anyway.

But these thoughts can only come alive when a creative mind puts more thought into it and begins to construct that reality that first exists in proposers’ mind. What sense do you have of these creative minds? What do their designs mean to them? What is the future of the arts?

“A great artist places emphasis on the outcome of his handicraft, he invests his body, heart and mind in the imaginative works that results. An artist who places money ahead of his work isn’t a real artist; real artists work to ensure that their patrons enjoy their products, that’s our satisfaction”.

The above quote sums up Ibrahim Samir’s sense of art. Samir is a famous potter, imparting his creative skills into youth of Egypt’s Fayoum governorate. That view is widely shared among many Egyptian artists, turning natural resources, up-cycled and recycled materials into compelling images for art lovers both home and abroad. For many such creative workers, the joy of transforming waste or any material into objects of stunning beauty overrides any other consideration.

Contemporary and modern Egyptian arts spanning painting, sculpture, architecture, glassblowing, pottery, carving, weaving among others, have become the toast of both locals and foreigners. Arts shops all over Cairo and its immediate environs radiate the sense of the creative acumen in the Middle Eastern country. Artists at various levels of the social strata believe their country is yet to develop and exploit the full potential of the growing interest in the arts as well as its potential for job and wealth creation.

Some artists and curators in Egypt believe the revolution in the country’s arts space is bigger than the Arab Spring. However, there is as yet clear policy to harness the various potentials in the arts for economic transformation.  They expressed these sentiments in interviews to get a sense of the arts industry in Egypt. An arts graduate whose passion to see arts taking its rightful place in the Egyptian Economy, Kamila Bassioni, isn’t giving up, even though she’s yet to derive the full benefits of her creative abilities.

“For me, creating illustrations for books is not just fulfilling, it offers me the opportunity to bring my knowledge skills to bear. It also shapes my projects for exhibitions, as they help me to think more critically about the ideas. Even though my forte isn’t illustrations for books, it has become a means of earning,” she said.

Kamila thinks that in the post Arab Spring era, Egyptian youth and the middle class have found arts as the most eloquent conduit of their thoughts and emotions. She and many budding artists who have benefitted from Mashrabia Arts Gallery’s FRTR initiative believe such creativity could make arts a leading foreign exchange earner for Egypt’s economy.

Hatem Mousa, a sculptor who also specializes in stage arts and recently worked for renowned Egyptian playwrights, Khalid Galal and Hany Affifi, believes he transmits positive energy to generations through arts. He said the emotional connection between him and his works is what drives every step in his sculpting process. Though he’s studied studio design, his touch of sculpture is simply natural.

“I believes art loses its significance once technology infiltrates it. The connection between the art pieces and the creator is replaced by desires for profit. This won’t be quality. I’d rather showcase quality handmade pieces at exhibitions than a wholesale approach to art,” he said.

Despite the emotions in his eyes as he mutters these words, he concedes that it is impossible to track every piece of sculpture from his stables. Thus, it seems the opposition to technological infusion into creative arts may yet crumble.

Another beneficiary of the FRTR enterprise, Monica Zachariah, an architect using recycled materials for rooftop gardens, envisions an Egypt with a circular economy of waste management. She insists that by segregating waste, the growing number of artists committed to recycling waste will have available a pool of raw materials to drawn on for their masterpieces.

“In all artworks under the FRTR programme, I didn’t use any new material. Everything used was recycled. If we continue that way we will keep filth out of Egypt and save money,” she said quite proudly.

Her startup, EIID, specializes in constructing eco-vaults and pergolas using recycled plastic bottles, metals and wood. Her ultimate goal is to protect the environment for future generations.

“Arts can engage. In Egypt, it is getting better, it’s getting renown through exhibitions, and redefining the misconceptions about arts as objects consigned to museums,” were the words of Afrodite Wassam. Her fascination with glass as raw material for her art pieces stems from her believe that glass allows for all kinds of manipulation to achieve her artistic objective.

She is a big dreamer, who wants to introduce glassblowing on an industrial scale to the Egyptian arts community as a contribution to job creation. She believes artists should earn their keep to expand and train others.

“I care about earnings because that’s the only way to grow what I do to achieve my dreams and make them come true. It is important to make money to achieve one’s dreams and live well, however,” the arts graduate said.

The obviously passionate artist further stressed that her dream of owning an Arts Center in Egypt, can only materialize if she gets the required capital and makes the needed returns on her investments.

But the spontaneous growth of arts in Egypt, particularly after the Arab Spring, is not without an effort, Mashrabia Arts Gallery, and others are credited with taking arts to the doorstep of arts lovers. Exhibitions, workshops, arts festivals among others have kept arts alive over the years. Next time you find a piece of art, think of how much work could have gone into it and support arts’ growth.

By Kobby Gomez Mensah|Cairo, Egypt

The writer is a journalist and an event and communications consultant.

Open letter to Akufo-Addo: Sentencing ECG to find evidence for privatization?

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Dear President Akufo Addo, I listened to your Energy Minister speak at the National Policy Summit which was held this month. It reminds me of an American Jester’s oxymoronic quotation: “My mind is made up, and facts confuse me”. It also re-echoes a similar quotation in a novel, Alice in wonderland, which says, “Sentence him and find the evidence”. That is what the Minister did that day: finding faults already without evidence.

Earlier this year, we received assurances, in your maiden State of the Nation’s Address. You spoke well of government’s will to undertake a possible review of the compact II agreement of the Millennium Challenge Account – which contains the Ghana Power Compact of $498.2 million to be used to fight poverty by transforming the country’s energy sector. This five year compact is the largest US government transaction under energy power in Africa. Perhaps, one would ask: is this bounty for free? Absolutely not! Rather, this projects the geostrategic interest of the United States foreign policy in our energy sector with some sense of entitlement.

When I heard the Energy Minister speak about the inefficiencyof ECG, apparently based on a meeting he had had with the United States Ambassador, I was alarmed and saddened. He spoke, without verification, about the Ambassador accusing ECG of inefficiency because they have not sent his Embassy bills for the past two years, in the face of an email from a schedule officer which later confirmed otherwise that the Embassy does not owe the ECG.
The question that comes into mind is: Do we think it is appropriate and necessary for the Minister to disclose the content of the ‘conspiratorial meeting’ he had with the Ambassador? I do not think so; because, the problem of running our country is an internal affair. Our inefficiencies and travails must not be a subject of ridicule on that platform the Minister used.
60 years of Ghana’s independence has not brought us to the desired destination which obviously must be propelled by our energy sector for foremost industrialization. Ghana is poised to become one of the largest energy producers (habour)in Africa despite our current power crisis – as a result of our gas supply connected with FPSOs Kwame Nkrumah, Mills and John Kufuor – whichwould produce electricity in excess of our demand. What this means is that Ghana is at the potential level of lead industrialization in Africa.

Although it is true that ECG could be ‘inefficient’, there are factors contributing to that, especially in the case where government agencies, including schools and hospitals, are not paying for electricity, but are among the largest electricity consumers next to industries. How can we demand efficiency from them in such a problem situation? You don’t solve problem by ignoring the facts. Again the fundamental question is that, would privatization of ECG render payment for electricity by these government’s agencies to make ECG more efficient?

There is no doubt that the United States has keen ‘strategic interest’ in our energy sector – looking at the favorable potentials – with their compact II agreement. Especially when one looks through the autobiography of former US National Security Agent, John Perkins, Confession of Economic Hit Man, he gives account of the role of the US Foreign Policy to convince leaders of underdeveloped countries to accept substantial development loans for large construction and engineering projects that would primarily help the richest families and local elites, rather than the poor, while making sure that the projects were contracted to US companies. Are we not potential victims?

Your Excellency, it is obvious that several forces are at play. Some will be inimical to the long term interest of Ghana, but GHANA MUST WIN in the long run. And the country will win, not by holding our technocrats to ridicule and dampening their initiatives. We must be honest with all the factors that are impeding the progress of the ECG and its employees. If there are problems, let Ghana fix them.

By Michael Sumaila [email protected]|

Giving birth with Obstetric Fistula; the story of Samata

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A total of thirty four cases have been booked for reconstructive surgery at the Ghana Center for Excellence for Fistula in Tamale in the northern region.

The surgery scheduled to coincide with the World Fistula Day Celebration is the first in 2017 and will see the restoration of dignity to the women who have hoped for an end to their woes of womanhood.

Ahead of the World Fistula Day Celebration, TV3’s Northern Regional Correspondent Zubaida Ismail spent time with thirty six year old mother of six Samata Fuseini at her residence in Gaabligbini.

Samata Fuseini is the first wife of Mba Fuseini, an industrious husband who is barely at home. She has lived with the fistula condition for seven years after her sixth birth at the Fulera Maternity Home in Tamale.

Samata opines though her four previous births have been at the hands of a traditional birth attendant, she never suffered complications until she and her husband decided to try skilled birth at the maternity center and that began her woes as a mother.

She recounts, one week after delivery, she noticed she passed stool through her female sex organ instead of her anus, this she says brought her sleepless nights as she feared of the reactions from her husband Mba Fuseini and her family members if she breaks the news.

Her woes compounded when she could not join the family for the Islam prayers as demanded by all, Samata’s fears knew no bounds as she was aware of the consequences of breaking the silence but for how long could she hide her little secret.

The moment of reckoning came, she just had to break the silence, she needed to speak to somebody but to who?

She decided to tell it first to her birth attendant who at the time had the duty of bathing her son, she found solace in her birth attendant who also advised her to speak to her husband.

She finally broke the odd news to the husband. Ironically, he received the news in good faith and rather comforted her that it is an act of God.

Her journey from the Tamale Teaching Hospital began after her husband suggested they seek medical care. Samata for months shuffled between the hospital and other facilities just to put an end to what she says has taken away her dignity.

“I experienced the condition during my fifth birth but I have six children, I was sent to the Fulera Maternity Home after a prolonged labour, I had a successful delivery and was discharged but upon reaching home, I noticed I passed stool through my vagina, I complained to my family who said it could be because I have just put to bed so I should hold on for a week and see if there will be changes but that never happened. I visited the hospital almost every week just seeking for treatment because I could not imagine myself ravaged in this condition, the most painful moment was when I could not join the family to pray because anytime I tried performing ablution, I felt drops of faeces and that is seen as dirt in Islam”.

Seconds passed into minutes, minutes into hours, hours into days, days into weeks and weeks into months, there came that moment of hope when the news of her condition getting corrected came from a friend.

It is clear Samata had no idea that her condition could be corrected thus her hope was far from reach.

She says she could not hid her joy, she told her husband about it but her husband suggested she held on for another child before, that is how come she had her sixth child amidst the pain and anguish.

“I had a child afterwards because my husband advised that we have our last child so I got pregnant again amidst the leakage. The child is now three years one month old and the boy whose birth brought me into this condition is now seven years. My husband has agreed I end childbirth after the surgery because he has also suffered … he cannot bear the sight of me going through those awful moment again, there have been days my husband shed tears watching me go through the pain.”.

and that is what we will do, the six children are enough and all I pray is God’s protection for them”.

Samata reveals:”My husband has been very supportive, he has never said any awful words to me, my challenge is my rival who mocks me, even when it was revealed I can be treated, she didn’t like the idea of having to cook for me during that period, the news of a repair brought joy to me, I am very happy and hoping that I will go through the surgery successfully so I can go back to my normal life”.

The situation has affected her business, she recounts, “I sell sandals but sometimes unable to go out when I am in pains.”

From her home, I followed her to the fistula center where she was beginning her laboratory tests ahead of the surgery.  Samata is among the thirty four women who received the news of correction after the long despair.

Obstetric fistula which is a hole in the birth canal usually caused by prolonged, obstructed labour, remain untreated for their entire lives. The condition can easily reoccur in girls and women who received little or no medical checkups and then become pregnant again.

Poverty, malnutrition, poor health services, early child bearing and gender discrimination are interlinked root causes of obstetric fistula. Early marriage due to poverty as it is seen as the main social risk factor because the case is associated with early marriage and malnutrition, and reduces a woman’s chances of getting timely obstetric care.

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) launched the campaign to end fistula globally in 2003 but Ghana joined the campaign in 2005.

Following the launch of the campaign, a center for excellence for the management of obstetric fistula in the country was commissioned in Tamale on July 27, 2009 as the condition is prevalence in the Northern, Upper East and Upper West regions.

Prior to and since the launch of the campaign, about thousand women have undergone reconstructive surgery and have benefited from supportive social reintegration service, but many are those who are unaware of surgeries to correct their condition and have died without getting surgery.

By Zubaida Ismail |3news.com|Ghana

3FM’s Community Connect brings respite to Kanda Estates Cluster of Schools

By | Education, Features | No Comments

Almost two months after 3FM 92.7’s Community Connect programme took up the issue of the non-existence of a place of convenience for the Kanda Estates Cluster of Schools, the Accra Metropolitan Assembly has woken up to its task and finishing a 12-seater facility that was left idle for over two years.

The lack of the facility left pupils of the Schools and tutors numbering close to 1,000 at the mercy of nature, since they had to go and ease themselves in a nearby open gutter or bush, notwithstanding the dangers involved.

Some of the pupils are as young as three years and are compelled to defaecate in open spaces behind the school, nicknamed “Borma” by the pupils.

3FM 92.7 broke the story on April 7, 2017 on Community Connect, a community advocacy programme that seeks to bring duty bearers to task.

Initial checks by Community Connect proved that the project had stalled due to the maze of bureaucracy within the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) and the Ghana Education Service (GES).

On that occasion, Reverend Jonathan Bettey, PRO of the Ghana Education Service promised to get the situation rectified in seven days but that did not happen.

Asked how soon the situation could be rectified, Rev. Bettey said “the children are already used to defaecating in the open and one more week would not be a problem; so they should bear with us”.

The Community Connect team followed up with the AMA and got the new Mayor to get officers to respond quickly to the needs of the Schools by getting another contractor back on site.

It emerged that the first contractor, a Ghanaian, even though had been paid fully could not execute the project, leaving building materials on site at the mercy of the weather. It was then re-awarded to a Chinese contractor.

Chinese contractors have completed the project

Teachers in the school in a chat earlier with 3FM 92.7 expressed disgust about the situation and urged the authorities to act with speed to avoid an outbreak of cholera.

“The situation is very disturbing. First of all, we do not have a place as teachers to go ease ourselves or visit the washroom and have to make do with make-shift sites or nearby ones,” a teacher said, “or in other cases we are compelled to use the open gutters or bushes around.”

They showed excitement and great relief when Johnnie Hughes, host of the show, visited the Schools with his team to acquaint themselves with the progress of work last Friday.

“We are happy and now know that radio gets results. We really appreciate 3FM’s intervention which got the authorities to act,” the teachers echoed.

Head of Accra Sanitation Improvement Project of the AMA Stephen Ackon promised work would be completed within a week from Friday May 19, 2017.

An old facility constructed during Colonel Kutu Acheampong’s regime was demolished in 2014.

But no provision was made for the over 700 pupils and teachers who usually spend the entire day in and around the school.

Community Connect airs every Friday from 3.00 pm to 4.00 on 3FM 92.7.

By Gideon Sackitey|Producer, Community Connect|Ghana

TALKING DRUM: Life on hold! Girl, 13, battles diabetes

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At her family house at Osu, in the Greater Accra Region, 13-year-old Pamela Wayor sat on a wooden bench.

From a distance, I could count her ribs when she lowered the piece of cloth tied to her chest. Little Pamela looks lanky and terribly emaciated with a pot belly. On her face are blisters and on her thighs are sores.

On Thursday, May 11, 2017, when I paid her a visit, she looked as though she will not survive the next day. But, the pupil of Amasaman MA Primary School who is battling Type 1 diabetes [T1D] looked much lively on my next day’s visit.

“Do not scratch them,” says Esther Wayor, mother of Pamela. The blisters on Pamela’s face and thighs itch and she cannot but scratch them off. That, which her mother disapproves. When she scratches them, they develop into sores compounding her woes.

“She was diagnosed of diabetes at age nine and she is 13 years now. It was when we took her to the Achimota Hospital that we got to know of her ailment,” the worried mother soberly tells me.

Esther Wayor says for the whole of the 2016 Christmas festivities she and her daughter spent it at the Achimota Hospital receiving treatment. The hospital had taught her how to inject Pamela with insulin. And so, she has, since the doctors broke the heart-wrecking news to her, become a home nurse.

“They taught me how to inject her with insulin. I do everything for her; morning and evening. In the last few years, we have been spending days at the Achimota Hospital and Korle Bu Teaching Hospital for treatment. Even last year’s Christmas we were at the hospital,” says Esther Wayor.

On my second day of visiting Pamela I got so sad that I found the life we live meaningless. Here is a little girl who would have to endure pricking of her thumb with syringe in every morning and evening. This, her mother tells me is a way of checking on Pamela’s blood sugar level. As if this is not enough, after the pricking of the thumb comes the injection of insulin. Another hard-to-endure moment for Pamela.

“Oh you can touch her shoulder [Esther Wayor points to where she injects Pamela with insulin]. Since it’s a daily exercise, that point of her shoulder is somewhat swollen.”

Esther Wayor orders for the drugs, syringe and device she uses to check her daughter’s blood sugar level, among others, be brought to me for viewing. The device which has an inscription “True result” written on it uses some strips in checking for the sugar level.

I was, again, shocked to learn that she had ran out of these strips. The absence of the strips could spell doom and it once nearly did.

“Pamela once collapsed [Esther Wayor says as she intermittently paused and sighed]. When we rushed her to the hospital we were told her sugar level was very low.

“Whenever I check and I realise she has low sugar level, I give her a little amount of sugar or a quantity of Coca Cola. But … since we had ran out of the strips used for the testing, that resulted in her collapsing. I could not test to see her sugar level at all.”

Eric is an uncle of Pamela. Like the siblings of Pamela, Eric is equally troubled by the little girl’s situation. He tells me he wonders how Pamela contracted the disease. “She is my niece. Her illness is a big worry to us. One cannot just understand how a little girl like her got diagnosed of diabetes.”

Indeed, diabetes had for long been perceived to be a disease of the affluent in society. With time, the perception narrowed down to adults in general. And now it is heart-throbbing admitting each one of us is prone to the disease. Diabetes is no respecter of persons.

According to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation [JDRF], “millions of people around the world live with type 1 diabetes (T1D), a life-threatening autoimmune disease that strikes both children and adults.”

On the JDRF’s website; “there is no way to prevent it [T1D], and at present, no cure. JDRF works every day to change this by amassing grassroots support, deep scientific knowledge and strong industry and academic partnerships to fund research.”

Nonetheless, Pamela Wayor believes someone could cure her of her sickness despite none existence a scientific cure.

“When you pray what do you tell God?” I asked Pamela.

Silent for a while, she responded while scratching her blisters.

“When I pray I tell God to help me.”

Pamela Wayor like the country musician Byran White is asking God not for anything big but just ‘one small miracle’ of healing.

On Sunday, May 14 2017, a day before I aired this story on 3FM (92.7), I had a call that the little girl had been rushed to the Achimota Hospital. She has had oxygen on her till Wednesday, May 17.

Pamela Wayor is due to be discharged from the hospital but even with that, her mother is worried of the financial burden on her. She has no money for the purchase of strips to test her daughter’s blood sugar level.

Perhaps, you may be like Mr. & Mrs. Pobi, family friends of the Wayors, who are supporting Pamela in prayers. Or rather, that philanthropist who could support the girl whose life is on hold with any little amount you can offer.

By Solomon Mensah

The writer is a broadcast journalist with 3FM 92.7. Views expressed in this piece are solely his and not that of his organisation.

Email: [email protected]

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Pro-Con Analysis on Dr. Spio-Garbrah’s presidential ambitions: “Now or never”

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Dr. Ekwow Spio Garbrah

Prompt: Dr. Spio-Garbrah is no nino to the public terrain. He has run for the presidency before and has been in the public imaginary for the longest time. This may be his last stab at glory or risk being consigned to history as the president who never was.

Pro: the case for Dr. Ekwow Spio-Garbrah

Presidential Bar
He looks like a president; sounds like a president and speaks like a president. To some people he is the ‘enfant terrible’ of the NDC; to others he is the ‘beau ideal’. Ekwow Spio-Grabrah is the kind of guy who looks like he should have been president a long time ago.

This is not surprising. Spio has proven his mettle in various capacities both nationally and internationally. One of the most important criteria anyone needs to clear in order to have any chance at the presidency is what analysts call the presidential bar. It’s a loose way to describe the temperament, maturity, character and general disposition of aspirants.

No matter how substantive you may be, voters need to see in you a person who befits the image and stature of the presidency. If ever there was an ideal candidate, it would be Ekwow Spio-Grabrah. He would clear the presidential bar with the tip of his finger.

Policy Wonk

Ekwow Spio-Grabrah will be a top-notch candidate. His qualification for the job is without doubt. Maybe over qualified.  His national experience is spectacular; his intelligence is paranormal and his gifts are exceptional. He has wide ranging governmental appointments dating back to the Rawlings era.

Students of history would credit Uncle Spio-Garbrah with the creation of the now widely popular GetFUND- never mind the fierce struggles and effigies that came with it in the turbulent politics of the1990s. His international stature is remarkable, clearly out shining his other potential contenders.  Spio-Garbrah would be a competitive president on the global stage.

His managerial undertakings are incredibly wide, his knowledge is profoundly vast and his expertise is extremely high. Spio Garbrah’s academic laurels are the stuff of a legend. In Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, Ghana, will have a smart, bright and sharp brain at the helm of government.

Charisma and personal appeal

Some people are born great, some achieve greatness and others have greatness thrust upon them (William Shakespeare). Spio-Garbrah has achieved some great things in life but he definitely comes off as the ‘born great’ types.

There are some people who easily charm and impress by their demeanour and speech. They don’t have to make the effort. It’s all there: charisma, attractiveness and eloquence. More than once I’ve heard this remark about him: “I don’t know exactly why. I just like him”. Well, if successful politicians are supposed to charm and ‘woo’ then Ekwow sure has a foot in there.

In a business where emotional connection is key, Ambassador Spio-Garbrah seems to have some advantage in terms of magnetism and charisma.  Mr Spio-Garbrah would probably be competing with Haruna Iddrisu in terms of inspiration. Both are deemed major role models. If the National Democratic Congress (NDC) wants someone who can appeal to both hearts and minds, then they need not to look further.

 Cons: the case against Spio-Garbrah

Temperament 

Every human being has their fatal flaw. I am not exactly sure at what point this gained ground but there are many out there who perceive Dr. Spio-Garbrah as arrogant. He may have great quality and depth but there are some who seem to have issues with his persona or his image. You may call it the 2008 Akufo-Addo problem. When Nana first attempted the presidency he was rightly or wrongly perceived as haughty and entitled.

It would not be further from truth, to say that politically, Spio-Garbrah is deemed to have a similar problem. This is not just a minor glitch. It’s deeply ingrained.  One could argue that straight shooters or people who often tend to speak their mind are fairly or unfairly subject to this criticism (arrogance of Spio-Garbrah) but the perception is there. And in politics perception matters.

Unless Uncle embarks on a major image makeover, reframing or rebranding expedition, his chances of occupying the golden seat would be in serious jeopardy.

History: Team ‘A’ vs Team ‘B’

Ambassador Spio-Garbrah does not only have a perception problem. He has a historical blot to contend with. Among the magnificent achievements Spio-Garbrah has attained for this country, he has also managed to gift Ghana with some memorable lexicons. Ask anyone what they remember about Spio in recent times and they would mention ‘Team A, Team B’ or ‘pissing in, pissing out.’

These phrases have become popular in Ghana, thanks to an article written by Ekwow Spio Garbrah in the Daily Graphic during the early days of the late Professor Atta Mills administration. In that article he critiqued the then President for some appointments he deemed subpar.

To be specific, he wrote: “There is a general measurable view around the country that the NDC government can indeed achieve more results faster if it simply ensure that the right NDC people…are in the right positions, a large segments of the public have been asking why the government may have chosen to field some players from.

Team ‘B’ when many team ‘A’ players are available “(Ghanaweb/Daily Graphic). The response, as one might expect, was swift and pointed. Mr Ato Ahwoi in a rebuttal said: ” I am telling Spio Garbrah that he is not the only intelligent man in the world Spio Garbrah is not the only intelligent man in the NDC” (Ghana Web sourcing a JOY FM interview).

Spio has apologised ever since and explained himself again and again. Only time will tell whether the man once deemed persona non grata would be fully embraced by the party.

By Etse Sikanku|3news.com|Ghana
Twitter: @NewsonTV3