Friday, December 22, 2006

Kweku Ananse Surfaces In Accra

By Stephen Kwabena Effah
Saturday, 16 December 2006

When was the last time you sat by the fireside to be told stories about Kwaku Ananse?

Well, the mischievous Kwaku Ananse, as he is mostly portrayed in the country’s folklore is wanted and as such he must die!

However, Ananse the trickster, is no more in the village stealing from farms as he used to. He is now in a city called Akwaaba — "A land rich with stories" — and making headlines in the dailies for his mischievous acts.

This is the storyline of "Ananse Must Die!"a new, animated cartoon which seeks to address pertinent socio-cultural issues in an exciting new way.

The one hour movie, which will be released next March, was written by Cecil Jones Abban, a graduate of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology and produced by Parables Productions,a Christian broadcasting organisation.

The movie was unveiled by the Director of the Geothe-Institut, Ms Ellenure Sylla, in Accra on Thursday.

It is aimed at producing an animated story in a modern way as a means of reviving the age-old folktale hero, Kwaku Ananse, who is conspicuously missing in present times.

It opens with a unique African tune which is the theme song.Ananse is brought into the modern world in the movie, accessing the Internet, driving and doing a host of other things.

Living in a land full of stories, the almighty tasks a group headed by Ananse to weave stories in the House of Tales for the people.

Being selfish as usual, Ananse leaves the house to pursue his mischievous acts and is given an ultimatum to find his way back to the house. The heat then starts when ‘Sasa-bronsam’ (the evil one) tries to prevent Ananse from meeting the deadline given him to find his way back to the House of Tales.

But Ananse’s mentor, Suhuroo, tries to help Ananse find his way to the house. But will he be able to assist him. And will Ananse die or not?

Speaking at the unveiling ceremony, Jones Abban noted that animation in Ghana has become more of commercial work than movie, saying "comparing what is happening in the outside world, there is much more to do in animation in the country."

He said that animation can be used in so many ways, especially in addressing the moral decadence which has plagued the country.

The movie will be produced on DVD, VCD and VHF cassettes. There will also be a series for television stations.

Big Hip-Life Extravaganza To End Year

By Stephen Kwbena Effah
Saturday, 16 December 2006(Times Weekend)

THE fun and the excitement that come with the end of the year will undoubtedly begin next Friday, December 22, when some 70 hip-life artists, their producers and fans among other people come under one roof for what is tagged as "The Celebration of Hip-Life".

Popularly known as the official Christmas party, the crème de la crème in the hip-life industry will converge at the Coconut Grove Regency Hotel Pool Side in Accra to interact among themselves and their fans.

Being organised by Citi 97.3FM, over 70 artists are expected to flock the venue night to dine and wine with each other and fans while they strike business deals as well.

Those expected to participate in the annual event include the godfather of hip-life,Reggie Rockstone, Castro the Destroyer, Obour, Mr. All 4 Real, VIP, old Mzbel, Tic Tac, Lord Kenya, Praye and Wutah.

Others are Kwabena Kwabena, Batman, the executioner, Obrafour, Chicago, Barosky, K.K Fosu, 4X4, Slim Buster, Kofi Nti, Shilo, Screw Face, 2Toff, Kokoveli and a host of others.

Although it will not be a night of musical performances by the artists, they will give a line or two of their hit songs at their own will but guess would be treated to good music.

The pre-event atmosphere is getting hotter, and hotter giving an indication of a massive show ever to bring such an array of hip-life artists together in the country for a happy moment. Last year, the party was attended by about 50 hip-lifers but the number is expected to double this year.

Behind the turntable that night will be the "Citi’s" Baby Boy ( E- Double) who will dish out the latest hip-life realease, hip-hop, R&B and hardcore tunes.Expect some of his good remixes as well.

Speaking to Times Weekend, the Programmes Manager of Citi 97.3 Fm,Nii Amah Dagadu, said the event aims at creating a network of the hip-life artists saying "the artists do not meet as friends so we are bringing them together to exchange ideas and criticise their work".

The fans will also get the opportunity to have one-on-one interaction with their favourite artists, wine and dine with them while they make friends.

More importantly, he explained that the platform would more importantly bring about some collaboration in their new albums, which is good for the industry.

They have so far contacted over 70 artists who have expressed their interest and confirmed their participation adding that a lot more will be contacted, he said.

Admission to the party is strictly by invitation, he said, adding that fans and listeners will be invited through a draw. He explained that those who want to participate need to call the station where they will be required to leave their particulars which will be entered into a draw.

The party is being sponsored by One Touch and Accra Brewery Limited.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

McCarthy Hill Residents Stop Church Project

By Stephen Kwabena Effah
Tuesday, 19 December 2006 (Front Page)

McCarthy Hill off the Winneba road, is a suburb of Accra that evokes wealth, prestige and power. The last thing anyone would associate its residents with is demonstrations, so what were they doing carrying placards, on a Saturday morning?

Picketing: The residents’ were picketing the area’s branch of the International Central Gospel Church (ICGCC) which has started constructing a church building at a site described by residents as unauthorised.

They contended that their rights to a tranquil environment would be breached, should the construction of the church building be allowed in the locality.

So, to protect this right, the McCarthy Hill Residents Association last Saturday morning converged at the building site to register their disapproval of the construction of the church’s building.

Placards carried read: ‘Leave us in peace,’ ‘ practise what you preach;’ ‘Stop the congestion,’ and ‘Don’t disturb others’ among others.

The picket, which lasted for about two hours prevented the workers who had gone to the site that Saturday morning from working.

The association is also threatening legal action against the ICGCC.

Briefing the press, on the issue, the secretary of the association, Kamel Noshie, said that apart from the noisy atmosphere the church’s activities would create, it would also affect the security of the community as there would be an influx of all kinds of people in the area at anytime.

The secretary, who is an architect, questioned the church’s adherence to the various building regulations, especially those with regards to the zoning, parking ratio, consent of adjoining neighbours and building to land ratio.

Mr Noshie explained that the residents upon realising a church was being built in the area, contacted the Ga West District Town and Country Planning Department which ordered the builders to stop work and produce the relevant document, by December 12.

He said that the church defied the order and rather placed a permit number on the building which is at a foundation level.

The association consequently wrote to the Town and Country Planning Department national head office in Accra on December 4, to inform it about the situation. "An officer was delegated to evaluate the building location," he added.

Mr Noshie said since nothing was heard thereafter, the only option left to them now is to take a legal action to restrain the church from continuing with the building.

The building has also allegedly blocked an access road to the houses of some residents while its construction had resulted in damaging some pipelines which supply water to some houses in the area thus denying the affected houses of potable water.

An official of the church, who was at the site during the protest, declined to comment when contacted by the Times.

A planning officer with the Ga West and Country Planning, Christine Hammond, when contacted, expressed surprise at the church’s action saying, "we stopped them from working and even collected some of their tools."

She said the church was not able to produce the drawing upon which the permit was given and besides, had not yet satisfied the Environmental Protection Agency’s environmental assessment.

Ms Hammond warned that the church would risk demolition of the building if it did not satisfy all the building regulations and requirements before going on with the constructional work.

Ms Hammond assured the residents that the Town and Country Planning Department would do all within its powers to settle the issue.

Monday, December 18, 2006

GJA Urges PR Officers To Expose Imposters

By Stephen Kwabena Effah
Monday, 18 December 2006 (Page 4)

THE Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) has appealed to the Institute of Public Relations (IPR) Ghana, to help it flush out imposters who have invaded the journalism profession and are engaging in extortions.

The President of the GJA Ransford Tetteh, who made the appeal, said that the situation was causing a lot of embarrassment to the GJA and it was about time "we bring sanity into the journalism profession."

He urged public relations practitioners to check the identity cards of people who parade themselves at events as journalists.

Mr. Tetteh was speaking at the 5th investiture and admission of new members into the IPR Ghana in Accra last Friday. In all, 35 new practitioners were admitted into the IPR, 27 of whom were associate members and eight accredited members.

"We need to sanitise the system so that the profession can continue to play its role in the democratic dispensation and be respected by members of society," Mr. Tetteh said, adding that journalists who are not members of the GJA could still practise their profession provided they conducted themselves professionally.

Mr. Tetteh said event organisers were sometimes to blame for the activities of imposters explaining that in their desire to get their evens publicised, they accepted anyone who came to events claiming to be journalists.

Mr. Tetteh also advised accredited journalists to be bold and point out any imposter they meet at programmes to the organisers saying, "you know your colleagues so you should be bold to tell the people parading as journalists that they are not."

He said the GJA will organise more workshops and seminars for its members under continuing educatin programme to promote standards.

"If we do that we may avoid some of the landmines that face us everyday that we are dragged to court, the national Media Commission or the GJA Ethics and Disciplinary council," he said.

Speaking to the Times, the president of the IPR Ghana, Kojo Yankah, said the institute has agreed with the GJA to hold periodic meetings to dialogue on the issue of imposters and how to address it.

He said earlier moves to weed out charlatans from the profession failed, because the mechanism for monitoring was weak, adding that there was the need to strengthen the monitoring mechanism "so that we will be alert all the time."

Friday, December 15, 2006

Kwanyaku Water Works Extension Completed

From Stephen Effah, Kwanyaku
Friday, 15 December 2006 (Page 4)

Expansion work on the Kwanyaku Water Supply System to produce an additional 4.6 million gallons of water daily to serve five districts in the Central Region will be completed by the end of December, seven months ahead of time.

The 24.136 million Euro project, which will be inaugurated in January, involve the rehabilitation of the old water treatment plant to increase its production capacity from 2.7million to 3.8million gallons per day.

The old and the new plant will together produce a total of 7.7 million gallons a day to meet the demand of 750,000 people.

The Managing Director of the Ghana Water Company, Mr Gerald Samuel Odartey Lamptey, made this known to newsmen when the Minister of Water Resources, Works and Housing, Hackman Owusu Agyemang, inspected the project site on Wednesday.

Funding for the project, which started in January 2005 was provided by the Dutch and Ghana governments and was scheduled to be completed in June 2007. It is being executed by Denys Engineers and contractors.

He said 13 towns and 160 surrounding villages in the Agona, Gomoa, Mfantsiman, Ajumako-Enyan-Essiam and Awutu-Efutu-Senya districts will benefit.

The Director of Denys Engineers and Contractors, Bruno Geltmeyer said the new conventional treatment plant is currently being test-run, and added "we have been doing testing of the water quality at the laboratory in the last week to ensure good quality".

He said the standard of treated water in the country is better than the required standards by the World Health Organisation.

Mr.Owusu Agyemang commended the Netherlands for the support and the contractors for the good work done so far to solve the water problems facing the people.

He said that apart from Assin area all other major towns and cities in the Central Region will now have treated water which is a major step towards solving the water crisis in the region.

He said that government is committed to ensuring that 85 per cent of Ghanaians have access to potable water by 2015, noting that water is one of the Millennium Development Goal that Ghana can achieve "because of the concern government is giving to the sector."

He said that government is sourcing funds from Exim Bank China to construct a major treatment plant at Kpone Number 2 by middle of next year to produce about 4 million gallons of water per day which will also be complemented by the Accra Rural water project to cater for Dodowa and its surroundings.

Mr.Owusu Agyeman said that while water is being produced, it is important that Ghanaians take its management very seriously saying "management of the water we produce is very important and we cannot use treated water for washing cars".

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Ghanaian BBC Juror Talks To Times Weekend

Interview: Stephen Kwabena Effah
Saturday, 09 December 2006

The BBC has selected a 24-year-old computer science and chemistry student of the University of Ghana, Selase Kwawu, to help judge the regional stages of its first ever BBC Africa Radio Awards in February. He was one of three people in Africa selected from over 1,200 people who entered a competition dubbed: “How Radio Changed My world”. Times Weekend spoke to him about his interest in radio. Excerpts:

QUESTION: Since when have you been a BBC listener?

ANSWER: Well, I loved radio. I picked up an interest in listening to the radio quite young. But I think somewhere along the line, when I was taken to school, infact my attention got attracted to something else so I lost that desire to listen to the radio.

But after school, when I got the chance to read, I got back to the habit of wanting to listen to many news items before the day ended. I mean I have been very ardent with BBC for four years.

Q: There are a number of international radio services like Deutche Welle Radio and Voice of America. Why the passion for BBC?

A: Well, as I mentioned earlier on, I have a very keen interest in the quality of things I hear and see around, especially English language. I see English as the only tool I have to communicate. I can’t speak my local language very well, and that is shameful, so I see English as the only means of expressing myself very well.

I always look out for the best when it comes to listening. I don’t know much about DW and other stations though but I think that my eagerness to get to the best led me to the BBC and I must say that I was extremely overwhelmed by the quality of the content that the BBC delivers and so it immediately caught my heart.

Since then, I find it difficult switching to some other network, even though occasionally I listen to some of the documentaries on other radio stations. I must say that BBC programmes are very educative.

Q: So how do you marry your studies with radio listening?

A: You see, if you have passion for something you’d make time for it .We don’t create time ourselves. All we are expected to do is to manage time. Now it’s been found out that the average person can memorize a whole encyclopedia if he decides to do it.

I believe that you can make time to be ‘a jack of all trades’ and master of all. David Livingston (medical doctor, a visionary, a writer and all that) demonstrated that and he succeeded in all of them. So even though my course is very, very demanding, I find time for the radio at least, every morning and every evening before I go to bed. The radio wakes me up from bed and sends me to bed.

Q: What is your favourite programme on BBC and why the preference for that programme?

A: Generally, I am overwhelmed by anything I hear on BBC, even though I don’t have the time to tune in to the BBC in the day. I realise that anytime it’s BBC and I hear the voices of the presenters, something runs through my body.

I think these three programmes distinguish themselves: One is Digital Planet, a programme which focuses on current trend on ICT in the world and there’s Focus on Africa which helps you have a broaden view, perspective on the African continent and Have Your Say which obviously brings together views from all parts of Africa and its more interactive and a discussion.

Q: How have the programmes impacted on your life?

A: The BBC as a whole has had a really tremendous impact on me and it will be very difficult for me to say that just three have done something exceptional in any life because, one it is the culture of broadcasting of the BBC that I appreciate the most, the level of intellectualism and the high standard of professionalism.

Those were the qualities that drove me to the BBC in the first place and those are the qualities that have kept me with the BBC as at now. I think my world view, my philosophy about life and how I think the African continent can be improved.

Q: What informed your decision to enter the competition. “How Radio Has Changed My World”?

A: Well, I heard a couple of the entries. You know people contributed and I heard some of them being read on air. I thought like well, I could do something. I entered the competition because I see radio as a vital tool in shaping what I call the philosophical consensus and general world view of on continent.

If in one small way I can help fine-tune or re-configure the very foundation of this great institution which in my opinion is moving from its implementation to its establishment stages in, that was what I thought, that if I have a personal view that this tool can transform the African continent and there is an opportunity, why not.

Q: How do you feel about being selected as one of the three listeners to join the three regional panel judges?

A: You can just imagine. I was really, really excited but then when I thought about the whole thing later on, it humbled me completely.

Q: Why?

A: I had read other people’s work on the internet which were equally good. So I saw this as God’s intervention

Q: What was the expression on your face when you heard that you have been selected?

A: I find it difficult to express how I felt. And fortunately for me too, that day there was no one in the office. I was alone and so when the news came, I had a brief bout of shouting, and waved my arms in the air, that kind of thing. So at least, I managed to show joy. I was very, very excited.

I did not even tell anybody that day because I didn’t know how to say it. It was the next morning that I informed colleagues.

Q: What are your thought about the BBC Africa Radio Award?

A: This award plays essential role in giving the media in this continent an identity, confidence and recognising their achievements over a period of time. I must say I’m very excited to be among the judges in deciding which of these works comes out as the best.
I must be quick to add that even this award is going to celebrate an achievement, I see the media in Africa in its very, very germinal stage, and I think that this is the time we all need to come together and build it stronger.

Because if we do not lay a very solid foundation for it, and we want to lay a foundation that is weak, a foundation that is based on people’s personal sentiments, it won’t be the best. I also see it as an opportunity to point out the loopholes and help stakeholders to correct it. Then we can boast of proud broadcasting institutions in the future.

Q: So what do you think is the best way to be able to achieve this?

A: Well, one is to tell stories in a clear, concise and balanced, manner.

Q: Do you see the media in Ghana not playing this role effectively?

A: It’s very difficult to slam a verdict on the media in Ghana, to say that the media in Ghana has done well or the media has not done well. I see the media in Ghana as having more than room for improvement. I think the media in Ghana is probably a model for some African countries but then as we believe that there is so much that we need to do in terms of quality of work we present on radio. In terms of the vision of a particular radio station and that is what I find very difficult to crystallize when I listen to radio in Ghana.

I find it very difficult to get what the vision of the radio station is. Is it to educate the youth or the general public of the country or to advertise? If radio has a powerful force in shaping people’s way of thinking, then we need to do more in Ghana.

Idols West Africa Premiere In February

By Stephen Kwabena Effah
Saturday, 09 December 2006
(Times Weekend)

Are you harbouring a dream of becoming a superstar and or can you sing to move hearts?
Then start training your vocal cords, perfecting your lyrics and plan to audition for one of the most successful reality shows in television history in the world-Idols West Africa- to be premiered on M-Net in February.

Throughout January, a three-member panel will begin to scout for 1,500 people between the ages of 18 and 30 from 17 West African countries at four locations in two countries to compete for a prestigious international recording contract.

On January 6, the panel will start the search at the Ibru Victoria Gardens in Lagos, Nigeria, after which the train will move to Sheraton Hotel in Abuja, Nigeria on January15.

It will be Ghana’s turn on January 20 at the Aviation Social Centre in Accra and then end at the Cultural Centre in Calabar,Nigeria on January 26.

All "wanna be stars" who will flock the auditioning centres would be required to perform a song from a wide array of music, including traditional, western, English, African, pop, reggae, R&B, and rock.

However, those who will be selected at the auditioning stage into the theatre group and top ten stages will be required to sing pop as the show is looking for a pop star.

"The contestants must choose their songs wisely," said Joseph Hundah, Operations Director of M-Net Africa at the launch of the show in Accra on Tuesday.

He noted that the auditioning stage would be very "demanding" since the contestants would have to bring out their best in order to be selected for the next stage of the competition, adding "the show embraces Africa’s lasting love-affair with music."

He added "Wherever you go in West Africa, there are songs in the air, voices in harmony, a radio humming, a rhythm being celebrated. That’s what Idols is about."

Mr.Hundah said that the excitement factor of the Idols West Africa would increase in the weeks ahead when the names of the presenters for the show and the judges are announced early next year.

"This rich continent has massive potential. The key to our success will lie in understanding continental diversity and appreciating cultural differences."

He said that M-Net would consider signing a deal with a local television station which will have the right to broadcast the event for non DSTv subscribers.

Like every television reality show, the public will not be left out as they would be the judges to decide who qualifies for which stage through text messaging. The role of the judges would only be in shaping the contestants to bring out their best.

In the United States, "American Idol" has now become one of the biggest shows in television history, and was the number one show in that country last year. In South Africa, the "South African Idol" has reportedly also caught up well with the public.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

DISABLED COMPLAIN ... About Computerised Schools Selection

By Stephen Kwabena Effah
Friday, 01 December 2006 (Front Page)

PERSONS With Disabilities (PWDs) have called for a review of the computer placement system to recognise blind candidates who do not offer Mathematics and Science.

They explained that although the blind do not offer mathematics and science subjects, these subject are being used in grading those who write the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE).

The appeal was contained in a resolution adopted by the PWDs after four regional sensitization workshops held nationwide to increase their access to productive resources and development opportunities in the Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy (GPRS II) to improve their livelihood and welfare.

Presenting the resolution in Accra at a press conference yesterday, Mrs Sefakor Pomeyie, Chairperson of the Ghana Society for the Physically Disadvantaged, also called for the exemption of the deaf from taking part in English and French orals, saying “a lot of the deaf fail English partly because they normally do not have interpreters.

“Even where there are interpreters, the phonetics and semantics are difficult to grasp,” she added.

Mrs Pomeyie said that while the PWDs commended government for the GPRS II Initiative which has a major focus on human resource development, it should expand opportunities such as the provision of incentives and enhancement of training for teachers in special schools, text books and physical infrastructure and modernization of formal education for PWDs in both mainstream and special schools.

She urged the government and development organisations to develop information sharing mechanisms for the visually impaired and deaf by providing brail versions and sign interpretations of important information for them to access.

"Interpreters should be provided at various social service points such as hospitals banks courts etc," she stressed.

She expressed regret about the non-payment of the five per cent of the District Assembly Common Fund to PWDs for their self-development as recommended by government.

In cases where it is paid, the assemblies do not pay the five per cent of the total amount received, she noted and urged the government to operationalise the draft modalities development by the Ghana Federation of the Disadvantaged on how PWDs can access their share of the DACF.

She commended government for facilitating the passage of the disability law and urged it to expedite action on the implementation pf the law by the various agencies, government department and bodies.

The Chief Executive of the SEND Foundation West Africa, Siapha Kamara, observed that none of the infrastructure, especially school buildings built with HIPC funds is friendly to people with disabilities and therefore urged the government to take into consideration those with disabilities whenever putting up any infrastructure.