Ghana’s Most Beautiful, Miss Malaika, Talented Kids, et al – Why Big Businesses do not Sponsor “Serious” Shows and Projects in Ghana

national essay competition Ghana

To set the record straight and in doing so forestall any misunderstanding on the part of the reader, I hereby categorically state that I do not have anything against the aforementioned shows and nor do I think them as “not serious.”

But I sure do have a thing against this trend we have here in Ghana; companies and/or big businesses are more apt to sponsor entertainment shows rather than educative ones when it comes to discharging their corporate special responsibility, and I wonder why.

Is it because we as a nation –the citizens of Ghana, the public in general—are more attracted to entertainment shows than educative ones? Of course, companies in discharging their corporate social responsibilities still benefit in advertising terms, so it makes sense to only back projects that will highlight them in the minds and eyes of the widest possible audience?

Why sponsor an essay writing contest for Senior High School students or a literary award for young, upcoming writers when a rap/dance/beauty-pageant show will get you more public attention and hence an increased advertising advantage? Sponsoring a non-educative show, thus, makes more financial sense and is more appealing to most corporate entities in Ghana. All the same, the desire to clinch an advertising advantage while carrying out a company’s corporate social responsibility is not the only thing to blame for the lack of huge sponsorship for educative shows/programs/projects.

The main reason is that we live in a country in which a majority of the population—most people are more interested in getting themselves entertained than educated. Trust me, if you go down to any Senior High School and survey the students on who they will like to see come to talk to them between say a Sarkodie or a Manasseh Azure, you don’t need me to tell you who the majority will plunge for. In the same vein, if there was a music show (with top artistes in attendance) going concurrently with a literary show somewhere else, you know where to find the majority.

Of course, I do not have anything against music, and honestly think that listening to music is good and admiring and being enthusiastic about top musicians isn’t a crime, but I do think that there must be a balance. We as a nation and individuals must become as interested in getting educated, at least, as much as we are in getting ourselves entertained, then our children, the youth, and students will, hopefully, follow suit.

So, there you have it; my presumptuous take on why businesses are more apt to back entertainment shows than educative ones.

Now, here’s to hoping that things will change in the near-future. May the time come when Ghanaian businesses or companies will also be interested in sponsoring essay writing contests or launching literary awards for upcoming writers as is often the case in some other African countries (Nigeria for instance).

And speaking of essay writing contests, the United Bank of Africa (UBA) recently launched one for Senior High School students in Ghana. Kudos to them for blazing the trail, and starting in Ghana something they already had going in Nigeria for the past three years.

Looks like Nigerians, as a nation, are more interested in getting themselves educated than we are. Of course, they are, and the companies operating therein know.

Who/What to Blame for the Pitiful Performance of Our Children at WASSSCE 2014?

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It must have been five or six weeks ago, and I was on a car traveling from Accra to Keta. The driver tuned into an Accra-based radio station on which the evening show presenter was interviewing some WAEC hotshot (don’t know exactly who) about the performance of students in the 2014 WASSSCE.

The woman gave diverse reasons (including excessive social media use which was evident in some students using social media language in answering questions—think “nah” for “no!”)

After the interview the presenter gave his own opinion which irked me endlessly. He said and I quote and paraphrase: “the presence of policemen at exam centers is chiefly responsible for the woeful performance of some students.”

According to him, their presence can have psychological effects on students, make them fearful, and hence render them incapable of answering questions appropriately.

And I have to admit that it was the most stupid thing I’ve ever heard, considering the fact that it’s not the policemen who invigilate. They just sit under trees on campus, or hang around—and not anywhere near the students!

Now, here are the actual reasons (my take, of course).

Indiscipline

Forget the teachers (whether they teach well or not), the biggest blame must go to the students; the boys and girls who make more time to whatsapp, twitter, facebook, and “chat-chaw” instead of studying their lesson-notes and preparing for the next day’s lessons.

While a lot of factors do influence the performance of students during exams, the biggest and most important is how self-prepared they themselves are.

NOV/DEC

Wondering what Nov/Dec’s got to do with students failing the main WASSSCE exams? A lot.

The mere availability of it makes some students less serious in their studies. After all, if I fail the WASSSCE proper, I can register for and write NOV/DEC?

And there’s no denying the fact that Nov/Dec questions are “easier” to handle than the main WASSSCE (according to students I’ve talked to).

A Poorly Structured Educational System

When you have an educational sector that’s not autonomous, and is subject to the whims and caprices of the Government in power, why won’t students fail their exams?

Changes in years to be spent in school, changes in subjects to be studied, and books recommended for students to read are things that are often subject to manipulation in this country of ours; so much so that one’s tempted into wondering whether the big men and women up there are really serious about education in this country. Of course, they aren’t.

Why should they be anyway? A sizeable chunk of them have their own children enrolled in schools abroad or schools at home that operate under foreign curricula (so heard I sometime ago).

Not Enough Reading

Considering the large number of students who failed the English paper, one can assume that our children don’t read enough.

Watching movies, telenovellas, and countless other shows are activities that most young people in Ghana find more exciting than reading a novel or a short story. And why should they read when our Governments and the bodies responsible for education don’t do all that much to publicise the habit? And what about the parent who don’t care whether their children read regularly or not (parents who just don’t have the time to advise, supervise, and monitor them doing it)?

In our part of the world, governments and big companies are more likely to sponsor/support talent shows and beauty contests rather than literary awards or anything that has to do with inculcating a reading culture in our children.

We are a nation that don’t read much (forget the percentage that reads; it’s a very slim minority).

Zig Ziglar: A Life Well Lived?

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Zig Ziglar wasn’t the first motivational/inspirational speaker I stumbled on, but he was the one who got me going. Prior to listening to his exceptional audio ‘How to Stay Motivated,” I had read “Goals” by Brain Tracy and listened to a few Jim Rohn tapes. None of them, however, resonated with me or influenced me into consistent action. And it probably was because of my greenness to the motivational classroom not any incapability on the part of Brain and Jim.

They sure inspired some self-belief and hope in me, but Ziglar it was who changed me.

I had been, before listening to Ziglar’s tape, a dreamer and an inactive one at that. I haboured ambitions of becoming a great writer one day, and a social entrepreneur who’ll matter to my society and be of significance in other people’s lives, but I wasn’t doing anything to make my dreams realities. I wasn’t honing my creative talent, and I wasn’t saving money to start my own business sometime to come. I was totally inactive and stagnating, not indulging in the consistent actions necessary for any form of success in life.

Added to that, I was also battling depression and a sense of worthlessness after losing a girl I loved passionately and was building my world around.

But Ziglar came by and gave me hope. He lighted a fire under my ass that got me jumping up and down and screaming my head off at the possibilities that are open to me once I leave the past behind, become grateful for the present, and prepare for tomorrow by developing my abilities and working my socks off now. He inspired me into consistent action.

Below are some of the hardest-hitting quotes from that exceptional audio of his (with a few paraphrased):

“Motivation doesn’t last? Neither does bathing! That’s why we recommend it daily.”

“Failure is an event not a person. Night really ends today. Tomorrow is a chance to make a new beginning.”

“When you are tough on yourself, life is going to be infinitely easier on you.”

“Regardless of how good or bad my past had been, regardless of how good or bad my present is, there’s something I can specifically do now that will make my tomorrow/future either better or worse, and the choice is mine.”

“If there’s hope in the future, there’s power in the present.”

“Money isn’t everything, but it rates reasonably close to oxygen/air on the “got to have it scale.”

“You’re at the top when you clearly understand that failure is an event, not a person. That yesterday ended last night, and today is your brand new day. You make friends with your past, but focus on the present and become optimistic about the future. You’re at the top when you know that a success doesn’t make you and failure doesn’t break you. You’re at the top when you’re at peace with God and in fellowship with man. You’re at the top when you recognize and use your God-given talents to the benefit of mankind. You’re at the top when you stand before God and He tells you: “Well done, you faithful and productive servant.”

Zig Ziglar’s life was, indeed, one well lived. He inspired millions upon millions to discover their true potentials, and I’m chief among them.Hats off to the departed. His was a life well lived.

I see him now. He stands before God, and the Old Man tells him: “Well done, you faithful and good servant.”

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Stanley Courage Dugah is a writer and poet based in Ghana. He regularly blogs at scdugah.wordpress.com. Besides writing online, he’s also working on a number of novels, novellas, short stories, and a poetry collection. You can connect with him on facebook or follow @StanleyCDugah.

Significance of JDM’s Emergence as President of Ghana

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He isn’t an Akan or Ewe but a citizen of Gonja origins in the Northern part of Ghana, and without shame, hails from one of a number of ethnic groups that some foul-mouthed and ignorant politicians consider as being incapable of doing nothing other than rearing cattle and delighting in internal conflicts. I speak of John Dramani Mahama; Ex-Vice President, President interim, President-elect, and now Chief Commander of Ghana.

When then President John Evans Fiifi Atta Mills dropped dead on the 24th of July, 2012, a new chapter got opened in Ghanaian politics. Yet the party he led was on familiar territory.

Since the adoption of democracy in 1992, the National Democratic Congress seemed to have stipulated a succession rule, which may not be written in stone but apparent. Ideally, a leader who have exhausted his/her term of leadership or becomes incapacitated or dies should be succeeded by a deputy,  who had understudied him and boasts enough experience to step into the shoes of the former boss. Ex-President Rawlings, in 2000, passed on the NDC baton to his Vice President at the time, Prof. John E.A. Mills, and some may have suspected that the Professor’s selection of Mahama as his running mate for the 2008 elections made him an automatic and future successor to the leadership post. But others thought otherwise.

Save Dr. Hilla Limann’s brief stint as President from 1979 to 1981, no other person or candidate of Northern origins ever became head of state, and such a thing happening seemed, for the foreseeable future, unlikely. Northerners might be anointed as presidential running mates of the two major parties (the NPP and NDC), but be put forward as ultimate candidates? That was a no-go area. It was definite and decided for the wooing of Northern voters.

A few NDC folks may play the Ostrich and hide their heads in the sand to argue that JDM succeeding President Mills in 2016 was to be the case, but I beg to differ. Bigwig NDC members wouldn’t have seen it that way and would have contested the post with him in the same way Ex-Vice President John Aliu Mahama of the New Patriotic Party was denied the chance to succeed Ex-President Kuffour in 2008.

Mills’ demise, however, enabled Mahama to become interim President and de facto leader of the National Democratic Congress (a case of fortune favouring the prepared or lady luck smiling on a Vice-President who would have lost a 2016 flagbearership if he dared put himself forward to be chosen?) Whatever.

Finding itself in such a position, the NDC was not prepared to allow a flabearership contest that could have brought up a new face as party leader after John Dramani Mahama serves as President interim before the public eye for more than four months. That would have been political naivety; a move without political forethought and fineness, surely?

The man was already well known, easy to market, and looked poised to continue the so called “Better Ghana Agenda” initiated by the late President John Evans Atta Mills. Strategy then recommended that he be maintained as party leader and candidate for the December Elections.

And with an exuberance of character, which no one can take away form him, a communicative edge, a positive personality brand, “normal abuse of incumbency,” and a flat-footed stance from the opposition, he was enabled and clinched an NDC victory in Election 2012 to become President-elect.

Foul-mouthed politicians, eat your hearts out! Nay-sayers, begone! John Dramani Mahama (after being sworn in) is now President of State and Commander in Chief of the Ghana Armed Forces.

Pop goes the bubble. A myth is busted.  Anybody (whether Ga, Ewe, Akan, Hausa etc. ; whether coming from a cattle rearing community, a fishing enclave, a farming culture, a gold mining environment or anywhere else in Ghana) can now aspire to the highest post of the land. That’s a plus for Ghanaian democracy. That’s the significance of John Dramani Mahama’s emergence and election and enthronement as President on this 7th day of January, 2013.

Hail the Chief! Hearken unto the Commander! Congrats Sir. Ghana is now yours to steer.   

A Blue Monday in Blue Manchester (Written yesterday, immediately after Man. City’s 1-0 victory over United.)

A glance at the team list amused me.

We’re gonna mimic Mourhino!

Why bench Silva’s twin?

Why bench virtuoso Valencia?

Ah, Fergie knows best.

A few first passes pleased me.

We’re gonna have a real United go!

But? Why not mark Kompany, Ferdinard?

But? Why not goal out and grab, Gea?

Ah, the blue boys have the answers.

Soon, it staled.

We’re in for a boring, boring non-goal fest.

Alas, a player with a Company like head

Came along, piloted up and painted Manchester blue.

Now, our noisy neighbors have a pain-thing to noise about.

There–a revolution real in Manchester.

There reigns Mancini in Manchester.

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End of season, end of story; banter starts.

A Meal Out at Hotel Classico

Sergio was on song, serene;
Ever serenading into midfield
To mop up Messi.Image
 
The little Martian was great
But a tad below Mars level.
 
The translator turned tactician
Had me fooled, but not fooled alone;
I was a pundit plunging for a draw
Only to be wowed with a worthy win
 
CR7, like AVB, gave a slap in the face
To that tedious “big match stat.”
 
Marcelo was mercilessly left out;
Too hot-headed to mark Messi
Pepe left his head hot at home
But brought along his boots.
 
Casillas was “Valdes-better”
And with the deftest of touches,
Denied Xavi, Messi, Iniesta and co.
La Liga is done and dusted.
NB: I wrote this poem immediately after Real Madrid’s 2-1 victory over Barcelona at the Camp Nou.