Wednesday, 1 November 2017

TALKING DRUM: George Ayisi Boateng is not a hypocrite!

Ghana's Commissioner to South Africa, George Ayisi Boateng

On Sunday evening, October 30, 2017, as of 7:36pm, I was roaming with a friend, Maxwell-Obiri Yeboah, and a room agent somewhere in the Greater Accra region in search of a room to rent.

When I called this agent, I told him what exactly I was looking for. I needed a single room self-contained at a neat, flood-free environment. Cunning as he was, however, he took us to a place exactly opposite my expectations. 

“This is the landlord and this is the room,” he said. 

All along, I thought he was only fetching something from the house he took us to… as he had said to us he was meeting a friend there. Noticing that was where he had supposedly searched for us, I told him right away without mincing words that that was not what I asked for. I don’t like the place!

Immediately, I had a notification on WhatsApp. It was my friend, Maxwell. It read: “Solo, you’re too plain oo. I can’t say that to him [the agent] directly.”

I told him I was not an angel but I disliked others who were clothed in pretense. Here was an agent who had told me of a room of my choice at Trade Fair only to attempt swindling me. He, at all cost, wanted to ‘chop’ my GHC50 as an agent fee. Was I not right to have told him the hard truth? Truth remains but one.

This is the reason I find it surprising and ridiculous in the midst of a pool of Facebook posts and radio and television commentaries by some people calling for Ghana’s Commissioner to South Africa, George Ayisi Boateng, to be sacked.

His crime? He had met a group of the New Patriotic Party’s student wing, the Tertiary Students’ Confederacy Network (TESCON), in Kumasi in the Ashanti region, and had told them he prioritizes members of his party ahead of any other Ghanaian.  

“This government is doing its best to create job opportunities and me, for instance, I told my people over there [that], it is because of NPP that I’m here so the NPP man is my priority. I told them when NDC was in power it was Kwesi Ahwoi who was there. Now we are in power so Ayisi-Boateng is here with you. My topmost priority is the problems of an NPP person before any other Ghanaian. Take it or leave it,” Mr. George Ayisi Boateng said.

Indeed, sounding convincing like Qatar Airways which boasts of going places together with its customers, Mr. Ayisi Boateng added that, “I’m not boasting [but] I’ve started meeting the NPP groups. Every weekend, I meet some group members and I tell you if I had my way, every job opportunity that will come will go to a TESCON member before any other person. And I know my colleague appointees also have the same feeling except that because of IMF, we cannot do anything now.”

I must say that I totally condemn these comments by the Commissioner to South Africa. It is obvious that these comments, indeed, do not match his age and the position he holds. 

However, I vehemently disagree with persons condemning him and calling for his dismissal. What at all did Mr. Ayisi Boateng say differently that we do not know about yet— the issues of favouritism and nepotism that exist in our NDC-NPP politics?

I will not equalize the Commissioner’s comments to what the National Democratic Congress has done in the past. However, if you follow politics in this country called Ghana, you do not need to be told that if you are “any other Ghanaian” as Mr. Ayisi puts it, your source of help comes from your object of worship. Ordinary persons must only depend on God as our hope. The political manna always falls at the feet of foot soldiers and cronies whose party is in power. 

I have confidentially been told by both members of the NDC and NPP who secured government scholarships to study abroad at the expense of ‘any other Ghanaian’ who also qualified for the same scholarship. We are not the same Ghanaians! 

What in this country is not given to members of NDC or NPP depending on whose political party is in power? From the toilets to the white collar jobs in the government sector, we see people pulling guns and knives for their political members to take over. 

So, what is the crime of Mr. Ayisi Boateng? For saying the obvious? The critics of the Commissioner say such comments ought not to have come out of the mouth of a person considered a diplomat. As I have already admitted, I agree with such. However, being given a responsible political position does not necessarily make one responsible. 
For most of these appointees and some Ghanaian politicians, their input and output are predetermined by the corrupt system of ‘M’aban na ɛwͻ so’ [My party is in power] syndrome. 

Instead of calling for the head of Mr. Ayisi Boateng, I would rather suggest we, as a people, call for a holistic national debate on how we can completely end this culture of party in power favouring its own. If we are bent on dismissing the Commissioner, however, it would be reasonable dismissing the government in power as well since they have supervised brutality of its members taking over jobs from the ordinary Ghanaian. 

As it stands now, I totally agree with the Commissioner to South Africa that there are others who are more Ghanaian than others. The sad truth.

The writer is a broadcast journalist with Media General (3FM & TV3). Views expressed here solely remain his and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of his organisation.

Twitter: @Aniwaba

Saturday, 7 October 2017

TALKING DRUM: Teaching English on social media, a young man’s quest

Eric Nuamah Korankye (Hamlet)

Farther and further are very similar words both in spelling and meaning. Many times, they are used interchangeably. However, there are some important differences we can make between the two,” so starts his lesson numbered 213.

In an era where people send all kinds of messages on social media, some voluminous enough to be called pamphlets, mainly ordering its receivers to forward to 20 people or face God’s wrath, one man has chosen a different path.

Meet Eric Nuamah Korankye affectionately called Hamlet; the young man teaching English Language on social media, specifically, WhatsApp and Facebook. 

From Mondays to Fridays, Hamlet sends his readers somewhat lengthy but very useful and insightful dosage of write-ups just after the cock had crowed. 

His lessons break down the Queen’s Language to Ghanaians and the world at large. 

“The lessons have been designed to address the often misused expressions, confusing words, misgrasped words, pronunciation difficulty, spelling challenges, misused idioms, problems with grammar and difficulties in distinguishing amongst the various varieties of English especially the British English, American English and educated Ghanaian English,” he tells me.

Feedback from readers and subscribers, he says, show that these lessons are very educative and inspiring to young ones to learn the English language the right way.

So… who is this teacher teaching on social media? Hamlet, 26, is a man passionate about language studies. He pursued a four-year Bachelor’s Degree in English with a minor in Akan at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Kumasi. 

Completing his studies at KNUST, he served as a Teaching Assistant in the university’s Department of English from September 2013 to August 2014. Here, Hamlet assisted in courses such as Communication Skills, Literature in English, Critical Ideas, Research Methods in English, Practical Appreciation among others.

It would interest you to know that before his national service at KNUST, he voluntarily served as a Teacher of English at Manso Adubia Senior High School, Manso, in the Ashanti Region. 

In 2015, he joined the Ideal College branch at Buokrom Estate in Kumasi where he taught English Language and Literature-in-English. He has been a Teacher of English at almost every level, from primary school to the tertiary level, and this exposure has made him much informed about the needs of students in the English language.

Having known him for some time now, Hamlet comes across as a young man who is enthusiastic about inspiring confidence in young people, within and outside Ghana, to be expressive in their native languages as well as the English language which is the official language in many countries. It is this spirit, he says, that birthed the inception of Before Breakfast Lessons which he has broadcast on social media for some months now.

If you have ever read Before Breakfast Lessons on WhatsApp or Facebook and admire its publisher so much as I do, then here you are getting to know him better. 

I must say Hamlet is not any more of a super human than you, my reader, are. He is just an ordinary man doing small things in an extraordinary ways. 

For some time now, English language has been taught by many people outside the everyday classroom. Indeed, on some radio stations across the country especially GBC Radio (Unique FM), in Accra, the Queen’s Language has been taught. What made me first contact Hamlet was the fact that he was not abusing social media.

I have written a whole piece on ‘Why social media is now your CV’ having realised how powerful such platforms are. Nonetheless, many of my contemporaries seem to be adamant of what they do on social media.

I keep advising friends to keep showcasing to the world what they are good at… on their respective social media walls. If you are a footballer, carpenter, painter, teacher, journalist or pastor, give your friends on social media a reason to follow you and your works.

I can say without batting an eyelid that Hamlet has given enough reason for the world to follow him.

Aside teaching English Language, Hamlet takes much interest in being an essayist. Passionate about the discourse of Africa, he brings this passion to bear in his writings and social commentaries on issues concerning Africa. 

“I believe that the narratives about Africa in the aeon of her history have been skewed to negativities by a prejudicial western media landscape. So, through many of my poems, I project the new rising Africa and urge friends of the ink to equally contribute to changing the debased narrative about Africa,” he said.

He, as well, writes about love, communism, equality, streetism, education and, most importantly, on the need to uphold the pillars of moral, cultural and social values. 

In case you would want to have a personal interaction with Hamlet, look for him at the Hansard Department of the Parliamentary Service of Ghana as he is currently a sub-editor there. 

As I wrap up on this piece, I have received a notification on my WhatsApp. It’s Before Breakfast Lessons. What just came in is ‘lesson 233’. Somewhere in the middle of the text is “The use of ‘hyphens’”. Can I excuse you to go have a read?

The writer is a broadcast journalist with 3FM/TV3. Views expressed here solely remain his and do not reflect the editorial policy of his organisation.
Twitter: @Aniwaba

Monday, 7 August 2017

TALKING DRUM: Our NSS has gone mad again!

A logo of the NSS

It was something that one of the world’s renowned scientists tried looking at. Yes, so I think. But he greatly failed finding answers. It’s elusive. In his own words, Isaac Newton opined that, “I can calculate the motion of heavenly bodies but not the madness of people.”

Indeed, at the La Dade-Kotopon Municipal Assembly (LaDMA) Annex, opposite the El-Wak Sports Stadium in the Greater Accra region, was an exhibition of madness by some security personnel― that which Isaac Newton certainly could never have calculated!

Reports had it that on Monday, July 24, 2017, some graduates had queued up for registration into the National Service Scheme’s (NSS) 2017/18 year of placement. Then, when there seemed to be some disorderliness among these prospective national service persons, some police and military officers were brought in to restore calm. 

The “Calm Restoration Brigade”, unfortunately, ended up flexing muscles at these prospective national service personnel who were only poised to serve their nation. 

On both radio and television, in newspapers and on social media, these security personnel and the NSS have been sternly criticized for their nauseatingly unprofessional conduct. Subsequently, the NSS has released a statement apologizing to those who suffered in the hands of the security personnel.

“Management wishes to state that the incidents are regrettable, therefore, wishes to apologize to all such national service personnel and the general public for the recorded incidents of congestion which led to the manhandling,” read portions of the NSS’ statement.

It added that, “Management has put in place measures to ease the congestion, therefore, wishes to appeal to all national service personnel to remain calm and go through the registration process smoothly.” 

Here we are again as a country talking about one particular problem that has been trumpeted an umpteen times. The problem is that the NSS is literally dead in terms of development. The hard truth is that it has been left behind by the world in terms of technology.

During my national service days, 2013/14, one had to go to wherever s/he was posted just to register in order to be considered for placement. This seeming cast-in-stone procedure has had many endure it the hard way. Some are even feared to have lost their lives to road accidents while on their way to register. 

So, why does the National Service Scheme still tell prospective personnel to go queue up at its offices for registration? Is there no way an online platform could be built where, at the comfort of one’s home, s/he by a click of a button registers than bustle and hustle in queues?

I am frankly shocked but not too surprised. In my country, Ghana, we major on minor issues and minor in the major. This is a country where things are done, mostly, upside down. 

In my own former school, the Ghana Institute of Journalism among many others, applying for admissions online means you go to the school’s website, download the form, print and submit it on the campus. The Passport Office’s so called online registration for passports is as well in this boat of shame. 

One is, therefore, not surprised that the National Service Scheme says it does not consider building a platform for its prospective service personnel to register online. There must be a scare crow on the internet appearing to devour the NSS. 

With all due respect, at times, I am tempted to ask “if everything is okay” with some of our institutions considering decisions they take.

In 2015, I wrote a commentary for a segment on Radio Ghana’s news called News Commentary. In that piece, I criticized the West African Examination Council (WAEC) for its decision to destroy certificates in its custody dating over 10 years.

My argument was simple. Though WAEC’s reason for decongesting their storage capacities was somewhat laudable, the situation was likely to repeat itself in the next decade. 

I, thus, suggested that the examination body stopped printing certificates and should only do so on demand by whoever wanted it. I recommended they get an online platform for such on-demand requests. 

Moreover, I saw the policy that compels one to go for his/her certificates in the region in which they wrote their examinations as sickening. Why can’t a person show up at any WAEC office, nationwide, and claim their requested certificates by showing their ID cards?

What happened at the LaDMA Annex on that fateful Monday is something very shameful and must not be repeated. The NSS must by now realize that the uproar by Ghanaians, home and abroad, over its crass incompetence sends a strong warning that a handshake that goes beyond the elbow ceases to be a friendly gesture. 

Sit up NSS… for the sleep that last from one market day to the other becomes death. Enough of your dry jokes!

The writer is a broadcast journalist with 3FM (92.7). Views expressed here solely remain his and do not, in anyway, reflect his organisation’s editorial policy.
Twitter: @Aniwaba