Monday, 31 December 2012

Mediocrity is killing Ghanaians

There are two main criminals in Ghana; teachers and nurses. But now I must add the average Ghanaian to that list. The average Ghanaian consists of the pharmacists, taxi drivers, caterers, and builders. These are people who would more likely take decisions to harm another rather than not. Let’s take builders. Builders or those who work on the construction sites take decisions on a daily basis to steal materials from the site that they are paid to develop. But they don’t just steal cement. They steal iron rods. The iron rods are needed to keep the buildings erect, strong and safe. There is no building without the’s only a matter of time until the building collapses.
It is with a heavy heart that I write this blog today. Last night I read that an 11 year old boy has lost his life in the Brong Ahafo Region after his school wall collapsed on him. The title of the article read, “The Price of Education.” This title is fitting. Not only did that boy have to worry about his teachers not showing up, lack of materials, lack of space, but now parents must also worry about walls collapsing on their children while at school.
Who will answer to this boy’s parents? Or the parents of the little girl who was hit by lightning while schooling in an uncompleted building. Or the parents of the children who are waiting for the contractors to complete the school they were paid to build.                                              There will be no answers because the “average” Ghanaian does not respect the ones he is paid to work on behalf of. The parents will get the casual “I beg” and the “authorities” would have called it a day. The school has continued lessons under the tree. It has not closed down for reparations and further construction.
This is not the first time this year that a building collapsed in Ghana. We have all heard of the Melcom Supershop disaster. That mayhem claimed more than 20 lives. Those numbers may be even higher since the initial numbers of possible victims was false.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012


My wonderful Sun, Chiemeka, is 7 years old. Here is a page from his gratitude notebook on what he is most grateful for this year.
"I'm grateful that I'm 7 now. That means I'm going to be a big boy. Mawuvi (his brother) is a boy who is very thankful to God about me. I'm very very thakful that God created me and my family. God made things that we wanted forever like food, shelter, water and of course our greatest star, the sun."
Chi's first book, based on this journal, will be published in January 2013. Look out for it.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Why I love Kwanzaa

I love Kwanzaa. I started celebrating this holiday in 2008 when my eldest son was 3. I wanted to start a tradition and build a family culture that celebrated Africa and community togetherness. I also wanted a tradition that involved activities and doing something to make the community better or reinforce our family’s mission/vision. I wanted my children to learn that those days require that you do something. And most importantly, I wanted to begin the process of establishing roots and tradition building for our family.
I did not want a holiday focusing on gifts and presents. My husband and I are very particular about providing our children our presence as opposed to presents.
But most importantly, I did not want to repeat the mistakes my mother made with holidays. We did not celebrate Christmas. Never had the tree or the hoop la made about presents and that time of the year. We were given presents, but as an afterthought. There was no shopping, no preparation, no lists. My mother thought it was a pagan holiday and not Christian. Sounded great to me even then, but where was our alternative? What do we have if the pagans have Christmas?
I had wished we were given the opportunity to create our own tradition as a family or as non pagans. I would have taken any chance to understand who we were and why we were not pagans. But like many parents, she did not have the time to be that creative or to recognize that building culture compels you to be creative especially to children who just want to perform an activity/event with their parents.
Culture and tradition is founded on performance and repetition. Someone thinks of an idea of what makes us “different” or “better” and acts on it. Instead of just taking their (often his) word for it, he spends some time on constructing and creating this difference. It often includes food and music. And why not, tradition is to be celebrated.
Becoming a parent also turned me into a quasi performance artist. I dance, sing and clap at a drop of a dime. My children expect that from me. I dance and sing to get children to sleep, eat, use potty instead of soiling the floor, and to learn.

My repertoire also included arts and crafts. And because I was performing and doing crafts on a daily basis, I searched for a tradition that would permit me to combine both.
Imagine my excitement when I began researching Kwanzaa. It had everything that I searched for. It centered Africa, based on African culture, about family, community and was flexible to permit me to do it my way. The way my family celebrates Kwanzaa is most likely different from most people.
My interest was further peaked when I found a set of Kwanzaa worksheets online which included various forms of word games, puzzles, and coloring pages. We did about 3 pages a night during the week and learned a great deal about Kwanzaa. This permitted us to know more about the holiday and got my son excited about this activity. I loved this link even more because it merged learning with fun games and activities. Here is the link to my favorite Kwanzaa worksheet activity.
Kwanzaa has been the major holiday in our family ever since. It is an exciting time of the year because we plan community activities that reinforce our commitment to each other and our community. We also celebrate with our community by having activities that bring us all together as opposed to staying at home. Last year the children were given a chance to weave Kente.
Kwanzaa also compliments homeschooling in Ghana. It provides the children a communal reinforcement of what we do daily. We learn about Africa, how to make the world a better place, how to plant trees, grow food and how to keep our bodies fit. Sounds great to me!
Now on to designing this year’s program.