Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Journalists To Acquire Skills In Culture Reporting

By Stephen K. Effah
Saturday, 24 May 2008

The first in a series of training workshops aimed at polishing the skills and capacity of mid-career and junior level journalists engaged in reporting on culture in the country begins today at Akosombo.

About 20 journalists have been selected from both the private and state-owned print and electronic media to participate in the four-day workshop being organised by the Cultural Initiatives Support Programme (CISP), an E.U sponsored initiative.

The workshop, which will be led by Dr. Audrey Gadzekpo, acting Director of the School of Communication Studies of the University of Ghana, will help orient the journalists towards adopting a broader perspective of culture and more innovative ways of approaching culture coverage.

It will also provide an opportunity to sensitise the participants on common terminologies, key institutions, structures, forms and norms that generally comprises culture
According to the CISP, although most Ghanaians assert great pride in their culture, there is remarkable little systematic reporting on that broad and general area in the country.

"Culture as reflected in media content is often reduced to traditional drumming, dancing and festivals, and reportage in this area is episodic, sporadic and lacking depth and creativity," it stressed.

It said that only a few newspaper articles, radio and television programmes provide comprehensive and regular reportage on culture as manifested variously throughout Ghanaian life.

It also noted that the curricula of journalism training institutions have neglected culture as an important area of reporting and developed its development as is the case in other specialised areas.

That, it explained, has resulted in only a few practising journalists who are interested in covering stories on culture, adding "the Ghanaian media continue to show glaring deficiencies in journalistic skills and capacity to cover culture."

It said it is in the light of this that the workshop is being organised to address these challenges,
which will in effect highlight and promote cultural issues for development in the country.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

AMA Contempt Case Adjourned Again

By Stephen K. Effah
Tuesday, 20 May 2008

An Accra High Court yesterday adjourned to May 28, a contempt suit against the Accra Metropolitan Assembly and its Chief Executive, Stanley Nii Adjiri Blankson, for failing to eject hawkers from the Knustford Avenue in Accra Central Business District.

The adjournment, the third in succession, followed an affidavit in opposition filed by the assembly to contest the case, and is to afford Godfred Yeboah Dame, counsel for the plaintiff, time to respond to the application which he is yet to be served with.

Labib C. Seraphim, owner of Seraphim Department Stores, filed a motion on notice to impose a heavy fine on the assembly and commit its boss to prison for the assembly’s refusal to evict hawkers from the Knustford Avenue.
He is again seeking an order to compel the assembly and its Chief Executive to discharge their obligation by evicting hawkers from Knustford Avenue to enable vehicular access to stores in the area.

The court, presided over by Justice Victor Ofoe, on April 22, adjourned the proceedings to May 5 and subsequently to yesterday, due to the difficulty by the plaintiff’s counsel to effect service on Mr Adjiri-Blankson personally.

Mr Dame had told the court on April 22, that bailiffs had been to the assembly’s office on three occasions but did not meet the Chief Executive, hence their inability to serve him.

But Mrs Selina Fenteng, counsel for the assembly, told the court that Mr Blankson had then been out of the court’s jurisdiction.
On February 28, 2005, the plaintiff commenced action against the assembly, and on April 10, 2006, the Fast Track High Court granted the plaintiff all the relief sought.
This included an order to compel the assembly to provide vehicular access to Knustford Avenue and another order restraining the defendants from converting Knustford Avenue into a market.
The court, in granting the relief in its judgement, declared that the action of the assembly in converting the Knustford Avenue into a market for hawkers was unlawful and asked it to discharge its obligation of evicting the hawkers.
It further asked the assembly to provide vehicular access to Knustford Avenue and restrain the Assembly from ever converting the place into a market for hawkers.
The plaintiff said the AMA had for the past two years refused to carry out the orders and hawkers continued to exercise "absolute dominion" at the place, which he said is gravely hampering the lawful business activities in the area.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Organisers Surprised At Criticism Over MTN Music Awards

By Stephen K. Effah
Saturday, 17 May 2008

The organisers of the annual MTN Ghana Music Awards Festival, Charter House, have expressed surprise at the criticism and allegation by the public that it influenced the results of this year’s awards.

"We were not privy to whatever results that were announced…so we were surprised at what people were saying about who should have won what" on the night of the awards ceremony, Theresa Ayaode, the Executive Director, stated on Tuesday.

Addressing the media at a ceremony to present the cash component of the prize to the award
winners, Mrs. Ayoade noted that her organisation had no hand in the results of the awards which was presented to them on the night of the awards on stage.

A section of the media and the public have after the awards night on April 25, questioned the credibility of some of the awards categories, especially the Best Female Vocal Performance and Record Label of the Year won by Irene and Jane, and Kwaw Kesse’s Mad Time Entertainment respectively.

She pointed out that the results of the awards were collated by KPMG, an independent event statistician, noting that the winners were voted for by the public, the selection committee and the planning committee.

"KPMG has a reputation to protect and will not do anything to tarnish its image," she noted, and urged all, especially the media, to be circumspect in their write ups and utterances regarding the awards.

Mrs.Ayaode said that while her organisation welcomes criticisms, such critiques should be "constructive", adding that persistent condemnation of the awards could have a negative effect on the festival since the main sponsors could pull out.

She commended all the committees, the title sponsor, MTN and the media for their various support that made the awards ceremony a success.

Commenting on the Ghana Association of Phonographic Industries’ boycott, she said that although she received the boycott letter, it came a few hours to the event and there was nothing they could have done.

She said Charter House has written to them to acknowledge receipt of their letter, and requested a meeting with the GAPI to discuss their grievances put forward in the letter with the view to addressing them.

In all, each of the award winners was given GH¢ 1,000. Kwaw Kesse, who won the ultimate award of Artiste of the Year was given an additional GH¢ 3,000.

Friday, May 16, 2008


By Stephen K. Effah
Thursday, 15 May 2008

Emmanuel Ayeh Asare, the prime suspect in the robbery and murder of the 72-year-old pensioner, at Dansoman Estate, Accra, was yesterday arrested by the Dansoman Police at his hideout at Kasoa, in the Central Region.

The breakthrough followed a 12-week intensive manhunt for the 24-year-old, popularly known as ‘KB’ a step grandson of the deceased, Emmanuel Ayeh, who was buried on May 3.

In his statement to the police shortly after his arrest, KB admitted having hatched the idea of robbing Mr Ayeh with his friend, Adjei Kpakpo, a narcotics dealer whom he had known for only a week before the incident, that resulted in the death of Mr Ayeh.

After interrogating KB, a team of police personnel from the Dansoman Police and the Greater Accra Regional Police Command raided a safe haven for drug addicts at Odorkor where Kpakpo was said to be residing but was told he vacated the place two months ago.

However, the police succeeded in arresting a 44-year-old man, Abeiku Thompson, a drinking bar operator who allegedly bought the robbery items.

Narrating events that led to the death of his step grandfather, KB told the police that he had been smoking "wee" for the past four years, and that their motive for the February 29 attack was "to rob the old man of monies."

He said he told Kpakpo about some money he saw in Mr Ayeh’s house which he wanted them to steal. He said that a week later he got to know that his grandmother had travelled, so he went to the house with Kpakpo to steal the money.

When they got to the house, the door was locked and there was nobody inside. "We waited outside for sometime before I saw Mr Ayeh coming. He opened the main gate and went to his room and I followed him inside," KB told the police.

KB said that he had a chat with Mr Ayeh at his living room while Kpakpo waited outside.
He later sneaked into Mr Ayeh’s bedroom. "I was in the bedroom stealing when I heard some noise in the living room so I rushed there and saw Kpakpo struggling with Mr Ayeh."

According to him, he helped Kpakpo to tie Mr.Ayeh’s neck and hands with telephone wires, after which he also tied the old man’s legs, and "we carried him to the bedroom."

Afterwards, he said that he escorted Kpakpo to the main gate with the stolen items which included GH¢230 and he returned to the bedroom only to find blood oozing out of Mr Ayeh’s mouth. "I loosened the wire on his neck and wiped the blood before fleeing," he recalled.

He said that when he came out of the main gate, he met two of his friends whom he had a brief conversation with before leaving for Odorkor to join Kpakpo.

After spending three days at Kpakpo’s place, he said, he went into hiding at Agona Swedru where he spent a month before leaving for Kasoa in the first week of April.

Looking rather remorseful he told the interrogators that he never heard about the death of Mr Ayeh until yesterday when he was arrested by the police, adding "I feel really regretful."

Mrs Joyce Umanta, daughter of the deceased told the Times yesterday that although the family members had not been informed about K.B’s arrest, she was thankful to God that he has been arrested.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Arts In The Garden

By Stephen K. Effah
Saturday, 10 May 2008

THE Swiss Ambassador to Ghana, Nicholas Lang, on Wednesday hosted some art works of four renowned African contemporary artists at his maiden arts exhibition held at his residence in Accra.

Dubbed: "Arts in the Garden," the exhibition, the second of which is to be held next year, forms part of the ambassador’s quest to promote young but less known contemporary Ghanaian artists in order for them to market their works.

The exhibition featured works on the Ghanaian culture, environment and everyday situations and were by Professor Ablade Glover of Artists Alliance Gallery, Kofi Agor-sor and Wiz Kudowor, all from Ghana, and Joseph Ogunsunlade Kolawole, a Nigerian living in Ghana.

The four artists have in their various capacities and specialities, gained remarkable reputation that goes beyond their borders to Europe,Asia and America, and have mounted and participated in various international exhibitions.

Mr Lang, who described himself as an ardent contemporary art fan, told Times Weekend that his bid to support young unknown artists stemmed from the great potential they have.

He explained that although his support will not be monetary, he would create platforms for young contemporary artists in the country to showcase and market their works.

He observed that Ghanaians are not much conversant with contemproary arts, and therefore have not shown much interest in it, as is the case in Europe and elsewhere, noting that this has made it "difficult to make a living out of their works."

The Ambassador said perhaps, most people in the country do not enjoy contemporary arts because they do not understand or get the idea behind those works by the artists.

Mr Lang described Ghanaian artists as "open minded," whose works he sees to be of international standards, saying "their works are of a very high standard and they match what you see elsewhere".

He said that it is important that one feels art work,understands it and becomes part of it, adding that "there is more behind art, thus the ordinary works we see", saying "art works are self-evident".

A. F. Spinnler, a Swiss and admirer of African contemporary art, underscored the high quality standards of art works from Ghana and Africa as a whole, but said the artists have a huge task of marketing their work in the competitive America and Europe markets.

With more than 150 contemporary art collections in his house, Mr.Spinnler outdoored a book focusing on a time window from 1995 to 2005 paintings from five and 32 artists in Ghana and Nigeria respectivly.

He said that he is "fascinated by Ghana, its people, and especially its arts".

Musicians Dream Of One-Stop Music Centre

By Stephen K. Effah
Saturday, 10 May 2008

Ghanaian musicians have appealed to the government to assist the music industry to establish the first-ever one-stop music centre to cater for the entertainment needs of the large number of visitors into the country.

They explained that Ghana has become a tourism destination in Africa, hence the need for a vibrant entertainment industry where one could enjoy live music, have access to a recording studio, a library, theatre and musicians hall of fame among others.

A member of the Musicians Union of Ghana, Amandzeba Nat Brew, made the call when some winners of the ninth Ghana Music Awards Festival called on the Minister of Chieftaincy and Culture, Sampson K. Boafo, at his office in Accra yesterday.

Amandzeba said that such a one-stop music centre would also boost the music industry, which he noted, "is a focal point of our development.We are the voice of the people so it will be proper for government to initiate a one-stop music centre."

He commended President J.A. Kufuor for the establishment of the Ministry of Chieftaincy and Culture which, he said, will among other things, help preserve and market the rich culture of the country.

He urged the minister to arrange a meeting between President Kufuor and the musicians in order for them to table their request before him for consideration.

Mr. Boafo assured the musicians that the government would create the enabling environment and facilitiate their activities to ensure that the industry thrives, and urged them to always take advantage of that to improve their work.

He asked the musicians to portray the unique culture of the country on the international scene, saying, "you must be able to come out with a unique style typical of Ghana."

The minister again took the opportunity to advise the musicians to avoid obscenity in their presentations stressing that they should be ambassadors of the Ghanaian culture.

He urged them to also use their work to further promote the peace being enjoyed in the country, "especially as we prepare towards the upcoming general election in December."

Mr. Boafo asked the musicians to engage professionals like managers, auditors and directors among others to help them in their musical career, noting "that is how you can work well and be managed properly."

Having a management, he stressed, would also help them to make the neccessary investment that would make them profitable.

He commended the award winners for their various works which earned them the awards. He also thanked Charter House Productions, organisers of the awards for the initiative and urged them to improve upon subsequent events.

In a related development, all the ninth MTN Ghana Music Awards Festival award winners will on Tuesday, May 13, be presented with their cash prizes at an event that will be used to address issues raised after the awards festival.

On top of the issues will be the award of the Record Label of the Year, Best Female Vocal Performance of the Year, and whether Cee and Ohemaa Mercy who boycotted the awards night, should be given their money or not.

E.U Week Drawing Competition- Winners Receive Prizes

By Stephen K.Effah
Saturday, 10 May 2008

Ten pupils were on Thursday presented with their prizes for their outstanding performance in a drawing competition with a focus on gender equality which formed part of the European Week celebration in Ghana.

The children, aged between eight and 10, were presented with school bags stocked with stationery.

They include Regina Sai Obodai, Michaela Efua Appiah, Leets Agbado, Maama Akita, Esther Dede and Enamm Ati Woka, all of Morning Star School in Accra.

The rest are Aretha Bamford of Akosombo International School, Sharon Asomani Wiafe of Bishop Bowers School, Eugene Kwajaye Hayford of Believers Hope Preparatory School and Rhoda Naa Akuyea of St. Bernadette Soubirous School.

Their works were selected from 88 entries received from seven out of the 10 regions in the competition, which was launched on March 8, and aimed at raising awareness on the need for a gender balanced society.

The children, through their drawings, depicted the many skills and potentials that men and women have in common, and suggested how equality can be incorporated into households through sharing of household chores equally.

Speaking at an exhibition of the drawings in Accra on Thursday, Filiberto Ceriani Sebregondi, Head of the European Commission Delegation in Ghana, said the children also highlighted some of the special assets nature has given to women "making them even more equal or unique as mothers".

He said that the 10 drawings will represent one of the African countries in the ACP region, noting that two drawings each will be selected from the ACP countries, Asia, Latin America, the Mediterranean and the neighbouring countries of the EU to receive 1,000 euros.

Mr Sebregondi said the works of the global winners would be published into a booklet for worldwide distribution, and also be used for an exhibition in Brussels during this year’s international day for the elimination of violence against women.

He said that all over the world today, girls and women have less opportunities than boys and men, especially in education and their professional lives.

"Therefore, equality between women and men was chosen as the topic of a drawing competition which the European Commission in Brussels launched on International World Women’s Day 2008," he stated.

He indicated that it is not only knowledge and laws, education and justice, brains and stamina, that are needed to ensure gender equality in the world today but also vision and creativity.

He commended all children who participated in the event and demonstrated very creative ideas on gender equality.

Museums Board To Decide On New Use For James Fort

By Stephen K. Effah
Saturday, 10 May 2008

THE Ghana Museums and Monuments Board says it is considering what to use the James Fort Prison for after a successful evacuation of all the 979 inmates to other prisons nationwide.

Although it did not state exactly what it intends to use the facility for, a source at the board told the Times on Wednesday that it would only announce that when the Ghana Prisons Service offically hands over the facility to it.

The fort was built in 1673 for slave trading and was converted into a prison after the infamous trade. But the Ghana Bar Association last year asked the government to immediately relocate the inmates due to the dilapidated state of the fort.

The Times gathered that the handing over was supposed to have been done in March but was postponed indefinately at the last minute following the unavailability of President J.A. Kufuor who was to do it.

When contacted, a source at the Prisons Public Relations Office, told the Times that the service was waiting for the presidency to fix a date for the handing over ceremony.

"Once the date is fixed, we will hand over the facility to the Museums and Monuments Board," the source told the Times.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Police Gather Vital Info On Lost Cocaine

By Stephen K.Effah
Tuesday, 06 May 2008

THE Police Administration says that although it has gathered "some level of sensitive information" linking some personalities and companies to the 67 cartons or 1,970 kilos of cocaine seized on the shores of Prampram, it is not ready to make it public.

DSP Kwasi Ofori, Director of Police Public Affairs, told journalists yesterday that the police have established a link between some individuals and companies to the cocaine but the police is "not prepared" to come out with their names now.

It will be too early and unprofessional to disclose their names while they are being investigated, he said, adding that those involved will later be identeified.

DSP Ofori was briefing newsmen after a tour of the Exhibit Store at the Police CID Headquarters in Accra, where 2.13 per cent of the 1,970 kilogramme of cocaine was substituted. The loss of cocaine was the subject of a committee of enquiry chaired by Mr Kojo Armah, a Member of Parliament.

The tour of the Exhibit Store, he said, forms part of the police’s Open Door policy and was also to afford journalists the opportunity to gain first-hand information on the store to stem speculations in the media.

He said that the police are concerned about the missing cocaine from the exhibit store, and would therefore use both their internal and external arrangements to bring the perpetrators to justice.

DSP Ofori said police administration demonstrated enough commitment to the Kojo Armah Committee set up by the Interior Ministry to investigate the matter, adding that the police made available to the committee, all the necessary documents, the exhibits store and police personnel who were needed in the investigation.

He said the police are bent on clamping down on the drug trade and the recent numerous arrests made attest to that and stressed that the police would not cover up any personnel found culpable.