Friday, May 20, 2011


By Felix Schmermer

The former Central Regional Minister Nana Ato Arthur has debunked the notion that the previous government did not sign any contract to construct the stadium in Cape Coast.
cp 268Nana Ato Arthur revealed this at a press conference to clarify the accusation of the Regional Minister Ama Benyiwa Doe that the contract for the new Sports Stadium was not awarded to any contractor.
To disprove those claims, the NPP was showing the contract to the attendant persons and also did name precisely the efforts and steps taken on basis of the contract to build the stadium.
As a matter of facts the project was awarded with the legal basis of a contract to the company POL-MOT Holdings SA of Poland. The contract was signed at a price of USD 25,000,000 for the construction of the new Sports Stadium, excluding external works. One important issue was also already solved, the acquisition of the land as a building ground for the stadium. It will be hard to argue against that hard fact of a written contract and the allegations should fall silent now. So that should stop the political quarrels and the focus will hopefully shift now to the importance of that project and the need to continue it.
 As a result there will be build a suitable place for physical activities. Because a construction side might not be a suitable environment to do any kind of sport, so the building should be progress as soon as possible and the construction side will flourish to a great Sports Stadium for the people of Cape Coast.
Political fights should never get in the way of the wellbeing of the people. So hopefully in not much time the people of Cape Coast can indulge in the joy of football and other sports in a new nice stadium with maybe 15 000 to 20 000 seats.DSCN2635
Football as the most popular sport, with the most fans in Ghana plays not only an important role in the social life; it is also a matter of politics. But to play football one important thing can’t be missing, the pitch. To serve that and other needs and for the possibility to actively do sport, the former government started the project by levelling the site for the construction of the Sports stadium at Akotokyir.
Such projects are always long term projects and over long terms it is likely that problems arise. And it also did happen in the case of the Stadium. In January 2009 the NPP had to exit the government and make space for the new government. So as usually the new government had to carry on the inherited liabilities of the former government and decide what to do with unfinished projects.
The former minister of sport signed a letter requesting for a bill of quantities and copied to kwasi Oware Jr. of Pol-Mot Holdings SA

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

New Frontiers, New Barriers - World Press Freedom Day 2011

By Lisa Bogler
As the digital world is growing, managers of the various media houses have been urged to provide equipment to enhance the productivity of their human resource base.
As the Chairman of the World Press Freedom Day that was observed in Cape Coast, Kobina Antwi Konadu disclosed this to members of Central Regional branch of Ghana Journalists’ Association as the traditional form of media and way of news gathering is questioned.
This year’s theme of World Press Freedom Day celebration, held in Washington D.C., USA on 1-3 May is 21st Century Media: New Frontiers, New Barriers. All over the world, events are organized and journalists gather to commemorate the declaration of World Press Freedom Day by the United Nations General Assembly. This day has been declared in 1993 to raise the awareness of the importance of the freedom of the press and as an extension of the Declaration of Windhoek in 1991, where African newspaper journalists put together a statement of free press principles in Nairobi.
IMG_1973Each year since 1997 UNESCO presents the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize to an individual, organization or institution that has fought for press freedom in an outstanding manner. The laureate of 2011 is Ahmad Zeidabadi, an Iranian journalist who was imprisoned after Iran’s highly disputed presidential elections in 2009. In the Press Freedom Index, an annual ranking of countries collated by Reporters Without Borders, Iran currently ranks fourth lowest, on position 175. Ghana has been located the 26th position and is improving.
The events in Iran during the presidential election 2009 would have been far less discussed and less known of, if not for the new digital technologies. Facebook, Twitter and other social networks enabled news to spread as quickly as never before and through barriers no journalist could cross. It is therefore the principles of media freedom in the digital age that gives the topic for World Press Freedom Day 2011. The ability of citizens to voice their opinions and access diverse and independent information sources has rapidly improved over the last few years.
As some journalists point out, this benefit can pose a risk to their jobs. Anyone can send his or her story to a media house and have it published while the professional journalist takes more time verifying information and finding various sources. Moreover, anyone can gather news very easily on the internet now. Printed newspaper and radio are not needed as they were before as it is cheaper to inform oneself on the net than buying a newspaper every day.
However, the digital age brings many benefits to the journalists as well. Through the new technologies, they are able to stay connected with colleagues and their editors at all times, to mention one. News can be exchanged much faster than formerly. If one means of communication fails, there is always another way to send information.
On a radio program on YES FM, the Regional Chairman of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) Ebo Sackey praises these new means. He points out, that this is something where the older journalists can learn from their young colleagues who grew up with the internet. He asks the media to embrace this opportunity while also facing its challenges. Frances Black from the UK, a guest of the special radio program and volunteer at Central Press, agrees that the new technologies are the way forward for many newspapers today. In the UK, most newspapers publish their articles on websites and have them printed. They can reach more people in doing so and their printed editions seem to be sold nonetheless.
The digital age is changing the media and will continue to do so as society gradually adapts to the rapid developments. Journalists face new challenges but will benefit from this technology by exploring the latest ways and taking advantage of new opportunities, using them for their own good. It is easier now to express one’s opinion and channel them to the word than it was ever before. The freedom of expression is strengthened, one of the important basic human rights.

Lack of Factories major cause of Unemployment in Ghana

By Lisa Bogler and Felix Schmermer
Industries in Central Region are facing a lot of problems but mainly financial problems. These problems are obstacles for the industrial development of the Central Region. The development of Industry would also benefit students and people seeking for employment by creating work places.
The industrial revolution started in 18th century in England, was reinforced in the 19th century and was one of the biggest developments in the history. This development created a lot of changes in production, by increasing the productivity and efficiency. It shifted the production from handcraft enterprise and manufacture to the industrial mass production, through factories. The further development of production was also imported to Sugar factory - 6Ghana and included the establishment of Komenda Sugar factory in the 60’s, Pomadze and Cape Coast Citrus factory and these factories generated employment for the residents.
However in recent years industrial development seemed to have missed out in the Central Region. Big smokestacks the noise of workers and meshing gear wheels are almost absent in Central Region. Nowadays factories are the basis of a lot of workplaces and are associated with a prospering economic. Even though a lot of small scale and middle scale industry is located in the Central Region bigger factories are rarely seen. Exactly these bigger factories would create employment for a lot of people and would move the region forward in becoming richer. Now the question comes up why are bigger factories so rare in central region?
Certain factors are important for setting up a business based on industry. Those factors will influence the attractiveness of regions. If a region does not fulfil important factors, industry will stay absent or will go dormant after a while. Central press spoke to the Central Regional Director of Trade and Industries Simitt Barimah to evaluate if those factors are given in Central Region and which are causing the problems for industry in Central Region.
Land accusation seems to be a gig problem in Ghana, because of the partitioned land. But in the case of factories it is mostly easier. Chiefs and local governments are willing and trying to get land for the location of a factory. They are aware industry will create job opportunities for the people living in the area. So at the regional capitals the acquisition will cause problems but a factory can also be located in more remote areas, where enough land exists. Land acquisition might be a problem in some cases but the support is given
Environmental restrictions are always going hand in hand with the setup of new businesses and the acquisition of land. They are important but also delaying the process to set up a business.IMG_1888 Mr. Simitt Barimah told Central press there are still projects in the pipeline but at first they need to fulfil all the environmental restrictions to set up their business. Though these restrictions are there a committed entrepreneur should be able to overcome that obstacle, because they are important to preserve the nice environment of Ghana and are not established to avoid the setup of factories.
Road Network in Central Region is one advantages of the Region. Even though some roads are not in the best shape, in general the Region has a good road network and is still improving on it. Transport of goods from a factory should not give any problems to an on-going entrepreneur of a factory. A bigger problem is faced in advanced long distance cargo transport over sea or by air. At the moment there is no possibility in Central Region to move goods abroad so the factories are dependent on the domestic market.
Loans and financing are one big problem. To get a loan facility in most cases it is required by the bank that some work is already done. They need to have a proof of commitment. The curiosity is the fact that, to make a beginning it is necessary to have some money so where can the money come from to make the beginning? The private financial resources are mostly not enough. That is already the point where a lot of businesses cannot continue because of lack of money and the inability to apply for a loan without any advance. But on the other hands the trust of loaner is also eroded because the willingness of some entrepreneurs to pay back the loan (a loan is no gift it is supposed to be paid back) is very little. A lot of entrepreneurs in the Central region apply for loans but never pay them back. This will discourage the loaner to give any other entrepreneur the opportunity to apply for a loan.
Taxes in Ghana are not well placed to create an appealing environment for entrepreneur. Tax reliefs are small and only granted for some agricultural product. The financial support by tax reliefs or granted funds for entrepreneurs needs to be increased. It is also necessary to educate the people on such matters, so that they can get support from EDIF or other Funds to set up a business.
Energy is one big issue in Central Region. Factories need energy to produce and in most rural committees they are not connected to the national grid. With light off 5 or 6 times a day a factory cannot work efficiently. It will also result in unusable workforce and the employees need still to be paid even when light is off. This will raise the expenses of the factory and reduce the winnings. A generator might be the best solution but to power a bigger factory a very efficient and big generator is needed. Such generators cost a lot of money.IMG_5040
Utility costs are expensively in Central Region. The operating expenditures, due to the increasing cost of water and electrify are misbalancing the profit and loss account of industries, which are highly dependent on these operating supplies. They will also increase the cost for the product to compensate the expenses and so the competitiveness of the product will be reduced.
Raw materials in Ghana are exposed to a very high competition. Competitors from Ivory Coast or Togo and even other Regions in Ghana come to buy the raw material in Central Region and they compete on a very high level. Competitors from other countries are often able to pay more for the raw material. Due to that the raw material prices are increasing so a lot of companies are forced to buy raw material somewhere else. To meet the production capabilities a lot of Companies in Ghana have to buy raw material from outside that will also increase the price of products and the cost and involved in producing.
Managers of a factory are burdened with responsibility for their business and those people dependent on their business. It requires a lot of commitment and skill. Efficient business plans are needed for running a business. Entrepreneurs in Central Region are mostly not aware of their responsibilities. The attitude of the entrepreneurs is to make fast money and got the easy way even by risking the livelihood of their employees. Winnings are rather spent on prestigious elements like cars or clothes instead of reinvesting it to improve the business. The prevailing opinion is profit should benefit the business men not the business.
Work force is also one advantage. Workforce is cheap compared to other countries. So a good basis to produce competitive products, because in other countries the labour cost are one of the biggest expenses of a business. Research and educational facilities are also nearby to recruit skilled employees. The overall job market also benefits entrepreneurs, with a lot of people looking for jobs the possible basis for recruitments is big.
Domestic market in Central region is available and also quit big. Now only the attitude of consumers incapacitates the selling of goods. Consumers rather buy cheap without considering how the product could be produced so cheap. Bigger factories are bound to a production with standards, like the testing of products in laboratories. The small scale not registered micro factories located in someone’s private house doesn’t have to watch any standards and will produce cheap but also dirty products. Consumers need to be educate to also watch their health by considering what they are buying
Maintenance is one key point for a long term successful business and is also neglected by a lot of entrepreneurs. It is important to upgrade old machines as well as to repair them. It is always necessary to go with the time. IMG_5073There is no point in buying old machines where spare parts are not any longer available. These are also current cost every factory has to deal with. A lot of entrepreneurs try safe on such expenses, a danger for the future of a factory.
Further development is necessary for a competitiveness product. Standards and the needs of the market will change, to fulfil those needs it is important to research and develop the product. Packaging needs a lot of development to make it attractive for buyers. The packaging is also important for the preservation of the product. A lot of businesses miss out on the development of packaging.
Seasonable production causes also problems for factories. Production of a factory will create capital, but some products are only seasonable products like citrus. In these cases a good planning is necessary. If a factory processes a seasonable raw material it needs to find a possibility bypass the off season of the raw material. Shutting the factory down is not a good solution it will create losses. Importing raw material is the only opportunity to keep a factory running, but that will cost money and a lot of factories cannot afford to do so. Such factors will also create pressure on a business and a lot of businesses in Central Region cannot withstand that pressure.
Agglomeration does nearly not exist, only in the citrus business there might be a little bit of a agglomeration area. But due to the missing densification of factories the region lacks on suppliers, service potential and more. On the other hand prices of rents land and workforce are still cheap, an advantage of the region. But the government should try to create settlement stimuli (industrial subsidies) to encourage the location of factories in Central Region. By doing so the numbers of suppliers, cooperation forms and service potential would rise and encourage even more industry to locate in Central Region.
Competition on the international market is also very high. Especially because of the high production cost involved in producing in Ghana the products cannot compete with products from abroad where the production costs are lower and so the product will cost less. Even though over 50% of the produced products having a good quality the competitiveness will be not given because of the high production costs.
One factor to set up a business especially a factory is money. Without the capital there is no way a business can succeed and this is also where the major problem is located financing. Over 90% of the factories need funds to upgrade their machines and to keep them working. The lack of money also causes that 60-70 % of the factories are underperforming, because of lack of modern machines, generators or other things that need to be financed. The fluctuation of power and the attitude of some entrepreneurs are also bearing part of the blame. Some bigger factories are relocating and employing now only 10% of the original employees in the Region. All those factors result in high production cost, reduced winnings and in the unattractiveness of the Region, even though advantages for factories are existing the problems are outweigh them big.
It is now important to promote industry in Central Region. To do so it is also necessary to inject money in that sector, stabilise power supply and to educate the entrepreneurs, so the injected money will benefit the business and not the business men. The natural resources are given like Citrus Pineapple Cassava Lime Salt Wood and more. With the new discovered oil the situation might improve over time. That would also benefit the situation of students in Central Region.
Deeply affected by the lack of industries in Central Region are the graduating students at the University of Cape Coast, University of Education, Cape Coast Polytechnic and the technical Institutions. All of them who were interviewed by Central Press agree that after their graduation, they will have major difficulties to find employment. It is already problematic to find places for internships that are required for their studies, in and around Cape Coast. Places for attachments have been promised but nothing happened.
Some of the students say a reason for the lack of factories is the land. They demand the chiefs to open up and release the land for industrial purposes so that factories can be constructed. Other students hold the view that there is enough land, but the focus should shift from the regional capitals to other parts in the districts. At a distance from the capitals, just along the roads connecting the major towns is sufficient land that can be developed. Sugar factory - 2
However, according to the students, the government focuses on the capitals and mainly Accra. That is where the graduates are heading after finishing their education. Thus, being a good place for higher education, Central Region and especially Cape Coast produces a tremendous human resource base which it then loses to other regions or even other countries. The people are educated in Central Region but the region is not able to retain its graduates due to the lack of employment opportunities and so they have to move although many would prefer to stay.
The students therefore appeal to the government to look at what there is in Central Region and invest in them. The government should set up factories in the region to give the students the opportunity to stay there after their graduation. Being able to find work here, they would cut short on travel costs and rent.
The Dean of School of Engineering Yaw Osei pointed out the hopes that lie on agriculture. He said foreign investors should bring their equipment and start developing the country, thus creating jobs and helping the youth. On the other side, Ghana cannot copy the industry of other countries, but has to find its own way to develop.
The Vice President of the Students’ Representative Council Evans Ababioo, interviewed by Central Press highlights, the required hands and brains do exist in Central Region. The government could work with this and much could be achieved. However, instead of relying on the government to change the situation, these hands and brains could not only be used by the government or foreign investors but start developing their region and country on their own initiative.
This is again where the main problems of factories in Central Region start. To establish new industry, land is required and above all capital. Even if the government listens to the students’ appeals and invests more in this sector, another obstacle is the work attitude of people. Missing business plans show that entrepreneurs often aim for quick money rather than the establishment of a long-lasting industry which provides graduates with employment opportunities. It seems that it will take long for the situation to improve and different parties need to work on it.

Central Press bids farewell to Frances Black

By Lisa Bogler

After the two months Frances Black worked with Central Press, the paper bids farewell to her before she sets off to the Akuapem Hills for three months.
IMG_1546In his role as Board Chairman of Central Press Newspaper, Dasebre Kwebu Ewsie Vll, President of Central Regional House of Chiefs, presents Frances Black with her Certificate of Appreciation “for successfully assisting the paper in the gathering of news items in the Central Region”. This meeting between the Chief and Central Press is prompted by Frances Black’s departure and we are very grateful the chiefs’ president could share this moment with us before continuing his journey to Accra.

During her two months stay, the eighteen-year-old volunteer from the United Kingdom worked hard for the newspaper, gathering news, writing articles and working on the layout. This project with Projects Abroad, the volunteering organization she came to Ghana with, gave her the opportunity to gain experiences she would hardly get in her hometown London. In the UK, she says, it is difficult to find a place in a newspaper to get work experience as a journalist without connections. Working with Central Press, however, she could write a lot of stories and get a deep insight of how life as a journalist is. Her time in Cape Coast encouraged her to pursue her wish to become a journalist as she likes writing, the rather spontaneous work and meeting all these interesting people.
When she is asked about her most challenging moment with Central Press, Frances Black recalls her visit to Moree. Accompanied by only two other volunteer colleagues, she was dropped at the village by their editor, with the assignment to write a story on water and sanitation. Talking to the villagers on their own, in a place they did not know, was testing, but she seems to appreciate these challenges. It is especially these tasks that make the work interesting and exciting.

IMG_1561Her favorite story, for example, was about a community-led total sanitation project. This charity project aimed at informing people in rural areas about the dangers of the lack of sanitation facilities. They informed villagers about diseases they are risking by not using the provided facilities and how to improve the situation. Through her work, Frances says, she could experience things and visit events she would not have the opportunity to witness as a tourist. However, not only did she learn a lot about development issues in Ghana and other topics, but also her writing style improved and her skills in interviewing people, as she states herself. This work experience as a journalist is one of the things she will take home with her from this time in Cape Coast.

Patience is an important thing to bring along for work in the media, is Frances’ advice for future volunteers. Moreover, practitioners should be motivated to bring forward their own ideas and be enthusiastic. Much can be realized if it is worked on.

Before Frances Black heads back to London to start her studies in English literature and philosophy at the University of Leeds, she will spend three months in the Akuapem Hills in the Eastern Region at another placement with Projects Abroad. As she is therefore not leaving Ghana yet, she is eager to come back to Central Press for a story with the President who is expected to visit Central Region soon.

Cape Coast records high cases of divorce

By Lisa Bogler
As the number of marriages per year is approximately constant, the amount of divorces is increasing.
In 2008, 473 marriages were registered, 423 in 2009 and 493 in 2010. In the month of May 2011 139 marriages have been registered. The number of registrations of marriages is therefore approximately constant. Most people get married at the age of twenty to thirty and it is usually the men who are older than the women rather than the other way around, says Edward Steele-Dadzie from the registration office in Cape Coast. However, while there is a minimum age of 18, no age limit exists by law. Ghanaians can get married when they are seventy or older and they do, as the records show. 
For all the light-hearted, festive and glamorous celebrations, a worrying fact to note though is the increase in the number of divorces. It is difficult to determine the exact amount, as divorces are handled at the court, but Mr Steele-Dadzie’s statement is that in 2010 the cases of 113 judicial separations were handled. DSCN2639
As reasons for these cases, the officer names the lack of maturity, preparedness, the understanding of marriage itself, compatibility and respect. It seems that the prospective couples storm into marriage, be it out of love or out of economic reasons, without thinking of the responsibility they are about to take on. Marriage is more than happy marital togetherness, it is full of new challenges and duties. This appears to have been overseen by many who are then getting divorced after a couple of years. Missing maturity and preparedness mean that there is no real understanding of the implications of marriage. After getting married, fresh couples might discover that they are not as compatible as they thought after all. They might realize that what they expected is not reality and the charm is broken. Respect is essential, but as expectations are not met, the former respect which stemmed from love, can cease.
Of course, usually the traditional rites are performed before the marriage is registered by law. The families meet and get to know each other and the dowry is paid. Even with this consideration before the decision to pledge one’s troth and the families’ support, sometimes the bride and broom to be are not ready for this sensitive step yet. At the registration office, the officers therefore have a conversation with the prospective couple to find out whether this decision has been given good consideration. They cannot forbid anyone to get married though. All they can do is ask the man and woman to get professional council first and come back later. SAM_2627
The issue of increasing divorces is worrying. Marriage is a matter that should be taken seriously and only with very good consideration. As people get married easily and divorce after some time, children are left with broken families. This can lead to difficulties in the continuing of education or even to an identity crisis whereas guidance is what children need, especially in this rapidly accelerating and growing world. Perhaps it is exactly this speed of today’s society that causes overhasty and unprepared marriages. Parents should guide their children through their own experience and tradition. Marriage is not only a magnificent celebration where all friends and the whole family gathers to enjoy themselves. It involves responsibilities many young men and women appear to be unaware of.



By Lisa Bogler

Twenty Unit committee members comprising eighteen males and two females were inaugurated at Abura Dunkwa in the Abura-Asebu-Kwamankese district. They have been urged to be concerned on the development of their communities.

In his role as the District Chief Executive, Hon. William Atta Mends holds the inaugural address for the installation of the new Unit Committee in Abura-Asebu-Kwamankese, attended by amongst others the Assembly Members and the chiefs of the district. According to Hon. William Atta Mends the Unit Committee is important to strengthen local governance and involve the people directly and that is what the government is working on.

IMG_1845The function of the Unit Committee is to assist the District Assembly and work at the grassroots level, bringing governance to the doorsteps of the people. It is supposed to take over all the responsibilities that were formerly taken by the Town or Village Committee.

It will therefore keep records of rates on properties and assist the Urban or Town Council in collecting revenues and register births and deaths in the unit. Moreover, the Committees mobilize members of the Unit for the implementation of self-help and development projects and monitor these. The education of the people on their rights, privileges, obligations and responsibilities is another of its functions as well as taking lawful steps to the diminution of nuisances.

Being a strong local structure of governance, the Unit Committee should be a central point for the discussion of any local problems. These problems, when discussed, can then be addressed immediately or issued through the Urban, Zonal or Town Council to the District Assembly for recommendations. Thus the Committees will assist the staff of these Councils and the District Assembly with their work and the Hon. William Atta Mends assures the Committee members that the Assembly will also do what it takes to make their joint work a success.

He declared the Unit Committees duly opened, the Unit Committee members are formally sworn into office and their tenure starts. They are now supposed to elect one Convener amongst themselves to preside at its meetings that are to be held regularly with fixed agendas and time to discuss motions. IMG_1829

The chief of Abura Dunkwa Nana Osam VII pointed out, that the Committee’s work is purely sacrificial. Its members should therefore show commitment and dedication to improve the situation in their communities and beyond.

The local chiefs’ support is important for the Unit Committees as they have to work together. Without agreement, efforts on both sides and work for projects could be unsuccessful. In this district the cooperation seems to be promising as the chiefs show their approval throughout the ceremony. It is now hard work and commitment of everybody that can bring the Abura-Asebu-Kwamankese district forward.



By Lisa Bogler

As the construction of the Fifa Center for Hope in Esikafoambatam is about to be finished, the refuse dam at the main entrance is the one obstacle to be removed. The responsible assembly members are now looking for land for the relocation.

IMG_1773The construction of the Fifa Center of Hope in Esikafoambatam started two months ago and is finished to about fifty per cent, according to the workers there. The hardest part was to level the area what took about two weeks and the construction work now will be more easy. The whole project consists of the football pitch, an office for the Ghana Football Association, an ICT department and dressing rooms including toilet and bathing facilities. The pitch itself will be made of an artificial grass carpet.
By harnessing young people’s passion for football, the project, hosted by Play Soccer, aims to attract young people to come to the center. There they have the chance to be trained in basic football skilled and are provided with study opportunities and health facilities. Hon. James Paapa Buckman, Assembly member of Esikafoambatam/ Antem electoral area, hopes for the project to have an impact on whole Cape Coast, giving unemployed people the chance for improvement. All schools in Central Region will have the opportunity to select a team to play at the new football pitch. It would also be a proper place to host the Regional Athletic Games.

However, a challenge the responsible assembly members are facing is a refuse dam located directly at the entrance. As it is out of question to have this site next to the modern Fifa project, they are now looking for a proper place to relocate the refuse to. Despite the difficulties to find land, the optimism is not disturbed and the building is continued.

IMG_1777Football is what could bring the community forward. Not many children attend the big schools around the area, but in the view of Hon. James Paapa Buckman, the Fifa Center of Hope offers great new opportunities and he expects a positive impact on whole Cape Coast and Central Region.
This project is one of 20 organized by Fifa all over Africa. It is part of the official campaign of the 2010 FIFA World Cup to create 20 Football for Hope Centers to promote public health, education and football in disadvantaged communities across the continent. With the support of local organizations who identify the challenges in their communities and using the positive elements of football, the projects aim to address and fight the respective social problems in the communities.

Drums should sound loud in Ghana

By Felix Schmermer

Traditional dance and music groups in Ghana preserve some of the traditions and are also entertaining. They appear on several events to volunteer their great entertaining shows with music and dance.

Drums resound and a fast rhythm begins, traditional African ropes rustle and whirl through the air. The feet, hands and the whole body are moving in fluent movements and the rhythm of instrument and the body of the dancer merge. Some of the drummers and the dancers seem to be sucked into the world of rhythm and movements. Then suddenly everything is over, the drums fall silent, the dancer returns to his seat, the audience claps, everybody of the African dance and music group seems to be exhausted and satisfied and now they smile happily at the audience. Everybody seems to appreciate the great show they could witness a few moments before. Those and other performances are likely to be seen at a social happening.
Cultural dance and music groups in Ghana are very popular when it comes to social or prestige events. Nearly at every bigger event, like the opening of a new building or the meeting of a group of important people, there will also appear an African dance group to perform one of their dances. These groups are nowadays mostly organised by cultural centres all over the country. The music instruments are made out of wood and are still traditional without the adding of any technology. Among the popular instruments for a traditional performance are the Atsimevu (the lead drum with a narrow shape about four feet tall), Sogo (a very large drum) and the Kidi (a drum about two feet tall). There are also others used for their performance. In most cases the dancers are two, a women and a man, they are dancing separately to the rhythm of the music. They will dance and interact with each other and the audience, constantly accompanied by the drummers. The dancing will involve the whole body: the feet, the arms, hips, everything will be part of the dance. Some people of the audience will get up and throw some banknotes to the dancers to express their appreciation for the great show.

IMG_1292Some of these are now under government payment but a lot of them are looking for sponsors, because the funding by the government is not enough, it has to be shared by all groups under one organisation. These groups are surviving by being booked for parties, events and other occasion where you need a good show for entertainment. They offer a wide variety of shows from singing highlife songs over drum music to a music and dance show. To form and establish a performance group is not easy. A lot of these groups relay on the help from outside to perform. Most of the groups perform all over Ghana to be able to get more appointments. Nevertheless these shows also preserve an interesting and important part of culture in the African country of festival and dance Ghana.

IMG_1315Even though this kind of dance and music still remains prestigious among the people of Ghana it does not celebrate a great success in music awards and other musical events. The youth seems also not to be too interested in that kind of music. They prefer to listen to hip life and foreign music. As proof the foreign artist Lady Gaga and her new song ”Born this Way” placed high in the official Ghanaian Charts even reaching number 1. Lady Gaga as a person and her kind of music are far away from resembling any traditional Ghanaian music. But it is really hard to fight against this foreign and artificial music with drums and tradition. Hopefully there will be soon a musical cultural revival in Ghana to let the drums resound again.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Royal Wedding casues a stir all over the world

By Frances Black

The Royal Wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton took place on Friday 29th April 2011 in Westminster Abbey in London, and is seen by many as an event epitomizing traditional British culture. 

However, the wedding itself has proved to create more interest overseas than in Britain itself, with continents such as Asia, Africa, and America, showing an overwhelming interest in the wedding, which seemed to dwarf the overall enthusiasm generally showed by the British public.

Even in Ghana, newspapers in Accra filled their front pages with articles and features about the wedding, and the wedding was broadcast live by Coastal TV, including documentaries before and afterwards giving details and background on the event. A significant amount of Ghanaians watched the ceremony, showing the surprisingly universal appeal of the Royal Wedding in the most unexpected places.

In Britain, the build-up to the wedding exposed a fair amount of cynicism and lack of interest from the British public, with many questioning the value and purpose of the royal family in modern Britain, and with many also criticizing the amount of money spent of the wedding, of which the security and transport would be paid with Britain’s taxes. Nevertheless, on the day of the wedding, thousands showed up in London to celebrate the union of the couple, with many camping for several nights in order to get the best spot for catching a glimpse of the two. The wedding was watched by thousands in Britain, and the passionate celebrations displayed by many on the day exposed a high level of passionate patriotism thought by many to be absent from modern Britain. The scenes on the streets of London were frequently heart-warming and joyously animated, with people of all ages, races and beliefs coming together to show their support for Britain’s royal couple.

Part of the appeal for many people in Britain and all around the world seems to be Kate Middleton’s background, which is not aristocratic or royal in any sense, but is instead a comfortable middle-class background. This is in stark contrast to the majority of royal weddings in British history, which mainly featured semi-arranged marriages in which brides were always of royal, aristocratic or extremely upper-class background. Many feel that Kate is a figure that they can relate to, and who represents the modern world merging with the ancient tradition of the British Royal Family. This is a credible, real couple that the world can take seriously, rather than a couple just put together for the cameras. For many women as well, Kate’s journey to becoming William’s wife symbolises the realization of a fairytale – as one tweet from an American woman said: ‘this is as close to a real fairytale as it gets’.

Street parties were held all over Britain, and Downing Street was decorated with flags, and held a brass band. Thousands of tourists flooded to the UK to witness the historic event, and British tourism is expected to experience a huge and significant rise in revenue for years to come due to the wedding, estimated 4 million tourists bringing in approximately 2 million pounds. The wedding was declared the sixth biggest event in internet history, with the Royal Wedding website receiving over 9 million hits. The wedding was screened all over the world in large public places, such as Times Square in New York, and in many destinations over Britain.


By Frances Black
Football is everywhere in Ghana - on television screens, in snatches of conversation in taxis and bars, and adorning t-shirts, flyers and stickers across the nation.  

On the night of a big match, cries of celebration or defeat can be heard all over town, and if you are ever stuck for conversation, football is a safe bet, as most Ghanaians passionately a football team, and will be all too happy to update you on their latest triumphs and failures.

Most would assume that the object of this adoration and devotion was Ghanaian football, however surprisingly, it is English football which most catches the imagination of Ghana. Teams such as Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United and Liverpool have huge followings in Ghana, and the Premiership and Champions League are fervently followed by most.

Ghanaian football does possess some popularity, with steady television coverage and a stable fan base; the Dwarfs, the Vipers and many other teams are well-known in Ghana, and receive enthusiast crowds at most of their matches. Nevertheless, despite their efforts, English football still completely dominates the football interest of Ghana. Factors such as the quality of the players in Ghanaian teams and their skills and technique, have been widely cited as some of the reasons for their lack of popularity. Games are often referred to as ‘not exciting’ and ‘not interesting’, as the playing and techniques demonstrated by the teams frequently do not match up to the extremely high standard of skill in Premiership and Champions League football.

Indeed, most Ghanaian footballers who do play to the extremely high level of top English football do not stay, but instead try to further their careers outside of Ghana, where there is generally perceived to be more opportunity. Take Asamoah Gyan, for example, who began his career with Ghanaian team Liberty Professionals in 2003. Clearly possessing extremely promising talent, he subsequently moved to Italian team Udinese until 2008, then moving to French team Rennes until 2010. He then gained considerable fame after the 2010 FIFA World Cup, during which he scored 3 goals for Ghana’s national team, the Black Stars. At this point he was then signed to English Premier League team Sunderland, which he still plays for to this day. Gyan has scored 24 times in 47 appearances for Ghana, and is considered by many to be a national hero, symbolizing the dream of many Ghanaian who wish to leave Ghana in order to pursue a football career in England, which is seen as offering more opportunity and potential for career development.

Other reasons for the noticeable lack of enthusiasm for Ghanaian football are accusations that it is badly organized by those in charge. The quality of the football pitches used has also been brought under scrutiny, and the playing is simply considered to be less interesting to watch than English football. English Premiership and Championship football is popular all over the world, and the standard of the players in the teams are regarded as some of the best in the world, with the most exciting and skillful techniques on display. This therefore makes the matches much more entertaining for fans to watch. In addition to this, the media is also blamed for only endorsing Ghanaian football with sense of half-heartedness and lack of enthusiasm; for example, it is often noted that commentators commenting on a Ghanaian football match will simultaneously be reporting and giving updates on English football news at the same time, showing the priority of interest given to English football.

In addition to this, Premiership and Championship football in England is associated with a sense of glamour, riches and fame, due to the astronomical salaries received by the players. Players for top English teams are renowned for being frequently in the tabloids with tales of their luxurious, decadent lifestyles, characterized by flash cars, lavish mansions and high-class escorts, and an attitude to money so carefree and extravagant when compared to most people in the world.  This image of glamour, lavishness and opulence is hugely appealing to many, and represents the ultimate dream, epitomizing personal success. For many citizens of Ghana who may not earn a great deal of money, the notion of earning so much money is quite unbelievable, and adds to the intrigue and excitement of the image of English football. Ghanaian football simply does not possess this kind of image, mainly due to the fact that the players simply do not earn this amount of money, as Ghanaian football as a whole does not receive as much as English football, which rakes in millions every year.

Many people may be asking themselves, however, why it is English football that is so popular, and not football from any other European teams, such as Italy, Spain or France. One of the possible reasons for this is that most Ghanaians living in towns own, or have access to, a television, be it in their houses or in their nearest bar, and English football is easily available for viewing. To add to this, Ghanaian audiences will be able to understand the commentary and any extra information as it would all be in English.

Football has been declared many times to be the most popular sport in the world, in all aspects the word, with an estimated 3.3-3.5 billion fans worldwide. FIFA, which is football’s world governing body, has 208 member countries, and it has a fervent following all over the world, in Asia, Europe, South America, India and China. Football also has the largest amount of tournaments worldwide, with The World Cup, UEFA Champions League, The South American Cup, The American Cup, The Asian Cup, 70 English league teams, 40 Italian league teams and 40 Spanish League teams. Cricket is ranked as the second most popular sport in the world, with 2-3 billion fans, followed closely by field hockey at 2-2.2 billion.

Football is thought to have originated in China around 2BC, and the first international football match was played in 1872 between England and Scotland. The World Cup is now the biggest sports event in the world and is played between 32 countries.

It appears that the main appeal of football is its ability to be universally played by anyone: the rules are simply and easy to grasp, and the game requires minimal equipment, with just a ball and two goalposts needed to play a game. This is in stark comparison to games such as basketball, tennis and volleyball, for example, which require very specific pitches and equipment to play, which is perhaps a reason for their lack of popularity in Ghana and many countries around the world.

It is clear, therefore, that Ghanaian football must come a long way in order to be viewed as the same standard as English Premiership and Championship football, with improving the general standard of playing being a main target. Players also need to feel more enthusiastic to stay in Ghana rather than look outside for opportunity and development.