From my Sebitical Couch: VGMA 2017

From my Sebitical Couch: VGMA 2017

The Vodafone Ghana Music Awards (VGMA) for 2017 (covering the performance year of 2016, I believe) was held on 8 April, 2017 at the Accra International Conference Centre. As an avowed old duade who has over the years drifted away from the path of current music trends and the new school genres, some of which I don’t understand and many of whose artistes I don’t know, I do not have the habit of staying up to watch the usually long program that runs into the early hours of the following day, usually not starting on time.
The best I do, in the past years, have been to ‘watch’ the program on Facebook (mostly) and Twitter, following the posts of dedicated members of CAG – Couch Analysts of Ghana, whose witty commentaries from the red carpet moments to the moment when the top award – Artiste of the Year – is awarded, makes for better entertainment than the program instead. Notable members of CAG are Kwame Gyan, Kofi Obirikorang, Andre Jnr, Francis Doku (he is normally off duty on VGMA days as he attends in person and could be relied upon for inside information), Nuerki Ata-Bedu, Lawrencia Elikem Zigah, Prosper Afuti, Kofi Yankey and Ayimadu theDukeofGH.
I was planning to follow the same path this year. Until I checked a WhatsApp message from my friend Kwabena Poku, which indicated that the show would be telecast live on DSTV, which meant Kapokyikyiwofaase the Old Duade could also watch from Amalaman and show fellow Duades like the MP of Facebook South, Hon. Rodney Nkrumah-Boateng, that duades move by sizes.
Predictably, during the build-up to the show, old duades like Rodney and Prof HKP were asking what VGMA meant. Rodney said it stood for ‘Very Good Men Abound’ and Matthew Ayiku wondered if it was a contraceptive. Well, you now know who influenced the new way of pronouncing VGMA. Vagima, is it? These Old Duades will kill me shy! See, the best pitch you can make to an Old Duade, when helping him to understand what the VGMA stands for, is to tell him that it is the ECRAG Awards. ECRAG stands for the Entertainment Critics and Reviewers Association of Ghana. At one point, it was ACRAG. More on that later.
For the red carpet session, what first hit me was the Red Sea dress. Then I saw a train, actually lots of trains. Frankly, the trains had it. My humble view was the red train of the Red Sea should have on wheels and a barricade put around it for safety purposes. I loved the fact that most of those questioned on whom they were wearing (apart from themselves) mentioned designers (the old duade terms are tailors and seamstresses) in Kumasi et al. A good showcase of our pride in our own. My best red carpet moment was when Nana Ama McBrown appeared. She comes across to me as so real, someone who takes life easy and makes the most of it, enjoying every moment.
As Elikem the Tailor (shouldn’t it be Designer, as in current-speak or is it bespoke-speak?) and Mundi (yeah, forget that it was my first time of seeing her name) rounded up the red carpet session, it occurred to me that I hadn’t actually seen any red carpet. Many of the CAG members put my intrigue to rest: they indicated that this year, it was decided that one of the red carpet hosts would wear the red carpet.
Then we were cued in for the program itself to start. And, I got my first major disappointment. We lost the feed. For a couple of hours. What a missed opportunity to showcase Ghanaian music to the entire continent and to show we have also arrived. I lost a lot of vim due to that, but how for do? As we waited, the CAG members went back to their previous red carpet posts and expanded them. We needed to keep busy.
Fortunately, the feed was restored and I got back onto my sebitical couch. As you would see as you read on, I didn’t attempt to do a critical assessment of songs and genres and awards. It is clear that I am not qualified. There is a limit to which a duade can act as ‘youthe’ (apologies to the Katanga folks). So I will share a few thoughts of the performances and some reflections from the past, as to how we can improve the industry.
First of all, the program ran for too long. Far too long. Did I hear that this year’s was to be quite efficient? It must have run for at least five hours. We should improve that.
The performances are not well-rounded. These are shows and must be choreographed. The big stage was not fully utilized and many of the performers looked isolated on stage. After the first two or three acts, I admitted, reluctantly, to myself that my time had indeed passed. I couldn’t even catch the words of the songs. Then Becca performed. At least I knew her songs. Then Kinaata got me with his Tadi Fanti. There is something just exotic about Tadi Fanti in song. Naadze naadze. Reason why I still miss TH 4 Kwagees. Okay, you got the duadeness vibe, forgive me.
Charles Amoah and Naa Amanua lifted the game for me. It was clear Charles Amoah rehearsed with the band. Even the band came to live! What energy! Performance! You know what they say about old wine and taste, right? But, in there, I wondered how come our highlife stars seem to have “better” longevity compared to our hiplife stars. Many of our hiplife and new stars just come to pass, as it were.
Stonebwoy was good. Even before I started listening to him, just from his appearance, it was evident Stonebwoy had scripted and rehearsed his act. That’s performance. Even though I didn’t get any of the words he didn’t sing in Ga. Sarkodie was great and I was gladdened by the young ones he sang with; more on that later. My revelation of the evening was the young Kwame Eugene.
From many of the performances, it seemed to me that many of these new artistes sing only in the studios and do not do any further voice training and practice. It shows when they sing outside studios. And they felt uncomfortable or out of sorts on the performance stage. Mastery of the stage is not learnt on big stages. It is learnt on the circuit, and even off stage. Many of our young artistes need to work on their craft. Work it!
On the production itself and the telecast, the visuals and sounds were not synchronized. Felt like an 80s Chinese movie. Was the theme for the stage design inspired by some science fiction cum space travel sort of thing?
The moment when the deceased actors and actresses were remembered was touching. May the departed stars rest in peace.
Charterhouse, the event organisers, seemed to have briefed the presenters of the awards to say “…and the nominees are…” and then the video rolls. They should be told that when you use such a leader in a statement, the subsequent sentence must flow and make sense. Well, the video starts with “…the Vodafone…blah blah…” Not kosher. Next time, if using the same style for videos, the presenters should rather be briefed to ask for the video of nominees to roll, for example, “…shall we now get to know the nominees?”
I stayed up paa, I did. But, in the end, the duadeness of a man cannot be hidden under the bushel. I fell asleep two awards from the ultimate. I woke up about 20 minutes later and made a post of congratulations to Joe Mettle, who made history by being named Artiste of the Year, the first one in the gospel genre.
After all, I could always blame my delayed post on the epileptic nature of Amalaman networks and the dry-season-tv-ness of DSTV.
So I said I would not say anything about the classification of awards but just allow an old duade this one. After all, old age must be respected, no? My friend Andre Jnr brought my mind to the classification of Kinaata’s Confession as highlife. I was confused too, but I took it that the definition of highlife has changed when I wasn’t paying attention. If I were thinking the same as the ‘youthe’ Andre, then perhaps I can safely brag to Hon. Rodney that there are duades and then there are High Duades, anaa?
Back to how old duades would relate to the VGMAs and how we used to experience music awards in the days when we were we, my mind again went to ECRAG and I wondered, again, why we are unable to sustain some of the brilliant nurturing and apprenticeship programs we had in the past. For instance, I am attempting a review by this write-up. In the days of yore, one could rely on the reports of professional critics who had gone through mentoring and training. Indeed, the critics and reviewers were the ones who organised the awards. I remember stalwarts like Uncle Nanabanyin Dadson, under whose tutelage Francis Doku developed. What happened to ECRAG? For sure, we have entertainment writers now but do we have critics and reviewers?
On the subject of apprenticeship, and on my disappointment with the quality of performances, I thought again of how the highlife legends we have today were nurtured by those before them. For instance, Akwasi Ampofo Adjei aka Mr. AAA, Dada Thick, the Shining Star, who passed away in 2004 and is acknowledged as one of the biggest names in Ghana’s highlife genre, trained and mentored similarly big names in Ghana’s music industry today such as Abrantie Amakye Dede, the founder and leader of Apollo High Kings International, Ali Baba of Mahu Odo Anya Shock fame, K. K. Kabobo and Cudjoe, popularly called Papa Shee, who was one of his dancers. Just an example. Nana Ampadu had in his stable many young singers who grew up into their own. The young learnt from the old and then detached to develop their own nests. I am gratified to know that Sarkodie has under his wings some young artistes like Strongman, whose punchline “Mi rap ɛgyina Circle sɛ ashawo” got me blinking twice! This morning, my friend Kobby Blay sent me a link for the Trumpet song and I learnt that Sarkodie featured Medikal, Strongman, Koo Ntakra, Donzy and Pappy Kojo. We need more of those. Apprenticeship of the young under the old.
We must build an industry with collaboration and not beefs, whatever that means.
From my sebitical couch in Amalaman, this has been Kapokyikyiwofaase reporting for the Sikaman News Agency.

Nana Awere Damoah
Writer/Author
Co-Founder, DAkpabli & Associates (Publishers)
Tel: +233264339066 (WhatsApp & Voice)
http://nanadamoah.com
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Nana-Awere-Damoah/e/B003NJ3E7Q
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African Piquant: The Lipstick & Entrepreneurship Workshop.

African Piquant: The Lipstick & Entrepreneurship Workshop.

We believe in Gender Equality as an organization working towards the Sustainable Development Goal 5 (SDG 5) and also towards vision 2030. We believe that both gender (male and female) should be given equal opportunities in business and political platforms. We want to see a lot of young women and men rise in the business world. We want to raise BOSS-LADIES for the younger generation coming. We want to create the I-CAN-DO mentality in young girls mostly because they are the ones that go through a lot of pressure with ‘sugar daddies’ and other unpleasant sexual encounters. We want to raise girls to be able to help pay school fees and light bills to assist their husbands. We want to raise virtuous women and men for our nation and continent. We want to raise feminist with the right mind-set. We want to teach both genders that feminism is not Hate for Men but mutual respect for both. We want to culture their minds with the right information. We want Men and Women to support one another by seeing it as a strategy to success.
THE AFRICAN PIQUANT brings you an entrepreneurship workshop themed the LIPSTICK & TUXEDO ENTREPRENEUSRSHIP WORKSHOP to groom young people of both gender for both the business and political world. This workshop targets high school graduates and university graduates who are not working to help them set up a small scale business and also link them to successful start ups in the country for both skill development and internship opportunities.
The workshop will take place at Ahonya Dot Com premises on the Terazzo Road, Odorkor.

The session will start with a movie screen and a discussion session from 8:45am to 10am before the main workshop kicks off with a coffee break at 12noon.
Venue: Ahonya office premises (Odorkor-Terazzo road)
Time: 8:40am for the movie session and 10am -12noon for the main session.
Rate: ghc20
Register at: https://goo.gl/forms/4ergKGg8FAn4EOo82
Outfit: Must be formally dressed.

Our facilitators are young successful business men and women who are rising in the Africa entrepreneurship industry here in Ghana. They are excited to be a part of this workshop to train and inspire the participants to be the best of them.
To mention a few facilitators we have;
– Nkuawu Eyram Aku; Founder of Ampe League
– Kenneth Anku; CEO of Rosefabrics
– Karen Mensah; Co-Founder of Doughman foods
– Mercy Taylor; CEO of Taylor’d by Efua
– Nana Boateng; Bohten Eye Wear
– Nii Ayi Solomon; Village Minds Production
– Nii Odai; BeCrew
Side attraction to the workshop will be a discounted sale of THE AFRICAN PIQUANT concept T-Shirts, A free photo shoot session with Came_Photography and Socializing.
Our Media Partners so far: GhI-nformed and VivaGhana
Sponsors so far: PadiBills Bespoke, Ahonya Dot Com, VivaGhana
Registration is a cool GHC20 and we have limited seats. To register for this workshop kindly fill these forms by clicking https://goo.gl/forms/4ergKGg8FAn4EOo82 or WhatsApp us on 0544064868.
If you want to partner with us in any capacity for this workshop kindly send an email to zoemandy1@gmail.com We will be more than thrilled.
… We want to be a part of many success stories…

HM Young Achievers Summit 2017

HM Young Achievers Summit 2017

Social enterprises continue to grow in Ghana every year. Their impact is mostly  felt based on  the influence they have on the sustainable growth they achieve yearly in their respective industries. Entrepreneurship in Ghana has fueled employment opportunities and there is no doubt about that.

It has encouraged the youth to become creative and innovative not only as a means of tackling youth employment but also as a solution to meeting the pressing needs of society, providing sustainable solutions to business problems whiles also strengthening the oak of GDP growth, Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and highlighting the gross benefits of the use of technology in business.
Every day, new business challenges evolve due to the changing structures in the world of work and its accompanying effects on global businesses.

However, in encouraging the growth of entrepreneurship in Ghana through social enterprise development and business strategy skills, the Twenty Plus Ghana Group of companies (a social enterprise collection of brands focused on the growth of social entrepreneurship in Ghana) is organizing its’s second edition of the Young Achievers Summit on Saturday 17thJune, 2017 at the British Council, Accra Ghana. Time for the event is 2PM to 8PM and the rate is FREE (#HMYoungAchieversSummit2017).
The Young Achievers Summit presents an opportunity for young entrepreneurs, aspiring entrepreneurs, industry leaders, focus groups, students, policy makers, business developers and media to come together under one roof presenting ideas to promote advanced sustainable growth of Ghanaian enterprises while also recognizing the work of outstanding young entrepreneurs through the awards session.

There will also be a workshop session dubbed “Barclays Ready to Work Clinic” which is facilitated by the British Council with support from the Barclays Bank.

The workshop’s intent is to equip participants with the needed soft skills necessary in excelling in their chosen industries.
Keynote speaker for this year’s event is: Paul Payne (Skills Hub and Innovative Centre Manager at the British Council)
Headline Speakers include: Derrick S. Vormawor (Serial entrepreneur and Business Coach); Ekow Mensah (CEO, TANOE & EMI); George Mensah Britton (CEO, GB Interactive Ltd, artiste manager for Keche); Kwame A.A Opoku (Lead Curator, Idea Factory Africa); Emmanuel Leslie Addae (Curator, TEDx Accra); Mauvie Hayford (Radio &TV Host); Caroline Sampson (Radio & TV Host); Trudy Arnold (CEO, Studio 7 Beauty Lounge & Co-Founder for WE Festival Africa); Ama Pratt (CEO, MAP Concepts Gh & Commercial Head Panafrican Television)
Panelists: Boamah Prince Kuleape (CEO, Kuleape Group of Companies, Celebrity Stylist and Designer); Bright Opanin Boakye – Danquah (Producer, INNOVADDB Ghana); Adomako Mensah Felix (Celebrity Blogger), Micheak Owusu – Smith (DJ/Artist and fashion icon) and Akua Konadu Kusi (CEO, Study Abroad West Africa).

This year’s HM Young Achievers Summit is Sponsored by Hero Movement, AM & PM Restaurant , Busy Jump, Hubtel, BF Cab services, The Travel Hub, Top Bright Consultancy, Pan African TV, NMJ Ghana and refreshed by Malta Guinness.

Life Has No Price Tag!

Life Has No Price Tag!

I once read the story of a man who had the habit of misplacing his watches. Times without number, he could not tell his time― he had misplaced his watch. To ‘heal’ this habit, a friend advised him, “Buy a very expensive watch!”
He wondered how that could help. All the same, he paid heed to his friend’s counsel and bought the most expensive watch he could lay his hands on. A year later, his friend asked him how many more watches he had bought after buying the expensive one. He replied, “None!”
“Why?”
“I protect it with all of my life because it is too expensive to be misplaced!”
Some things are too expensive to be misplaced or lost. Some commodities are too expensive to be traded. If we know the value of what we have, we treat them with utmost honor.
If you want to know how invaluable a thing means to someone, just observe how they regard it. No one buys a million dollar Bugatti and treats it like trash. The value we put on the people and things around us tells how far we will go to keep them.
When we have no value for something, we abuse it. If you want to understand value, look at how well users treat an iphone they bought with their hard-earned money. They would go every length to keep it safe. They would rather prefer a broken leg to a broken screen! Haha.
The irony of life is that we treat with little or no regard the most priceless things because we have no idea of their worth. We think air (oxygen) is cheap until we need to buy it from the hospital. Our lives seem to have no value until we beg to have more of it on our death beds.
Life is irreplaceable. Life, when literally broken, is irreparable. Life is so expensive that it can’t be bought. Regardless of all of one’s wealth, they can’t buy an extra life. Only if we understood that life was too expensive to have a price tag, we wouldn’t have treated it as cheaply as rag!
One thing that always beats my imagination is the lynching of people for whatever wrong they presumably committed. I am oftentimes awestruck for the reasons people get mobbed. My recent shock was when a gentleman was lynched over a measly GHC 1.50. Can you imagine!?
When we understand the value of life, we understand how to treat it, regardless of what wrong that life may have supposedly done. We have no idea that one of the commodities that can’t ever be bought is life. If we did, we won’t take it away at the least suspicion.
Our hypocrisy has blinded our minds to understand life’s value. Our false sense of morality has risen to the high heavens that we think others need to die in public for the same (or even greater) sins we commit in our closets!
We may blame lynching on mistrust in the judiciary system but, trust me, no judiciary system can ever be perfect as long as it is manned by men. No matter how effective our judiciary system may be, even criminals caught in the act would always have the chance to prove themselves innocent.
We can’t pronounce instant justice on others when we have all agreed that the judiciary should dispense justice. When others have not had a fair trial, we have no right to pronounce them guilty. Who are you to stone another to death according to your own instant, skewed yardstick of judgment?
Ironically, those who do the stoning have a whole world of sins to hide. Those who are at the forefront of lynching others have volumes of sins which, to them, are lesser than those of their victims. Who weighs [our] sins? We can’t weigh our own sins on our partial, unbalanced scales and present them as lighter than those of others!
Before you think of hurling a stone at an alleged thief, first think about the ills you last did with those same hands of yours. They may just be worse than the thief’s. Reminds me of the adulteress who was brought before Jesus by her accusers.
When we use the same scale to weigh others’ sins and ours, we get to know that we are not in any better position to stone them. When we ponder over the wrongs we do under the shade of darkness and compare them to what others have been caught in the act doing, we would come to the sad realization that we deserve to be lynched, too, if not instead.
Don’t lynch. Have value for life. Don’t take something you can’t give. Don’t brutalize others because you somewhat lost trust in the Police. Tomorrow, you may just be a victim, too, because another may have lost it for the judiciary. We all look like thieves until proven innocent. Let the law have its way. Don’t be the law!
Each of us must be innocent until proven guilty. A fair trial is what separates the innocent from the guilty. A fair trial takes place only in court… not on the streets in the presence of an irate mob whose only intention is to undervalue one of the most expensive commodities on Earth― life.
Justice is like success. There’s no instant version of it. When you mete out justice at the wrong time, you mete it out to the wrong people. When we value life, we value justice. If we can’t buy life, we can’t sell instant justice either. Instant justice only means gross disrespect for life.
The value of life is infinite. If anyone has it today, value it, even if they did wrong. Don’t waste it like some ‘second-hand’ watch because life has no price tag. You can’t get to buy it anywhere!
The writer is a playwright and Chief Scribe of Scribe Communications (www.scribecommltd.com), a writing company based in Accra. His upcoming play is TRIBELESS.

Young Ghanaians launch wedding planning mobile app.

Young Ghanaians launch wedding planning mobile app.

Wedding planning just got easier! The stress couples have to endure to have a successful wedding just got eased up. The Ayefro app is here.

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“Ayefro” in Twi means wedding.

Ayefro Digital Solutions Ltd, developers of the Ayefro Inc mobile app launched their app during a fun, interactive and educative session at the Holiday Inn hotel, in Accra, Ghana.

The Ayefro Inc. Mobile app connects event vendors and their clients on one platform. It provides Fun, Fast and Reliable event planning on the go!

The objective of the launch was to create brand awareness for our mobile app, drive downloads, and to connect event service providers and clients together.

The event was attended by event vendors ranging from photographers, Decor companies, Music and live band companies, Catering companies, Wedding Planners, and Advertising companies.

They demonstrated how the app solves 4 (four) major challenges experienced in real life when it comes to the events industry.

1. Finding the right service providers for your events
2. Finding clients and increasing jobs for vendors
3. High price charged for services during weddings and other events
4. Clients not paying for services after events are over.

A team member said, “We promised to reach 1 million users in the next 3 years. Our app is currently on android only, but an iOS version is in development. The app is currently in use in 5 countries. Ghana, Nigeria, Benin and Ivory Coast.”

What a time to get married!
Source: Scribe News

DAKPABLI READATHON OUTDOORS  ELIZABETH-IRENE BAITIE

DAKPABLI READATHON OUTDOORS ELIZABETH-IRENE BAITIE

Award-winning Ghanaian author Elizabeth-Irene Baitie will this weekend mount the stage to delight book lovers as the latest guest reader of the DAkpabli Public Reading Campaign. The University of Ghana, Legon Campus edition event is dubbed ‘’Tickling Legon with Nsempiisms’’ and takes place on Saturday March 25th at the Alumni Centre, Ecobank Legon.

Baitie is expected to feature along the regular stars Nana Awere Damoah and Kofi Akpabli in their first readathon of this second quarter. A medical laboratory director as well as mother of three children, she lives in Accra with her husband Rami. Awards she has won for her novels includes the Macmillan Writer’s Prize for Africa and the Burt Award for African Literature.

The guest reader is expected to thrill the university audience with readings from her works such as A Saint in Brown Sandals, The Twelfth Heart, The Dorm Challenge and Rattling in the Closet.

Ahead of the event, students and lecturers alike are excited to catch the National Readathon train in their own backyard.

“We are going to be there in our numbers,” said Dr. Mawuli Adjei, a Senior Lecturer at the English department. “A year ago, I was among the participants at their public reading at East Legon and it was an evening of laughter and learning.”

According to Marie-Franz Nyameke Fordjoe, a Level 400 Political Science student and hostess of the literary program Read A Book on Radio Univers, the event on Legon campus has been long overdue. “I cannot believe that the DAkpabli Readathon passed us by and visited KNUST last September. I also cannot wait to see their new guest reader, Elizabeth-Irene”.

The DAkpabli Readathon promotes book reading for pleasure as well as local authorship. Besides holding public reading events within Accra, the team has also gone to Kumasi, Ho and Tema. The Readathon campaign by the two authors has received local and international press coverage with ChinAfrican magazine doing a special feature on them in their January edition for 2017.

Between them, the two Ghanaian authors have published 12 books. Nana Damoah has recently been voted ‘Author of the Month’ by KWEE, a Liberian Literary magazine, while Kofi Akpabli’s latest work ‘Made In Nima’ has won a place in an African anthology featuring writers from 14 countries which was published by the Commonwealth in London.

In their readings so far, the two have received sponsorship from THREADEX, Aky3de3, MTN, Unicorn Rentals, WearGhana, Norte Sobolo, Lincar, Sasa Clothing, Fali’s Fruit Bay and AJ’s Housekeeping Services.

Elizabeth-Irene Baitie becomes the third guest reader in the row, having taken over from Dr. Ruby Goka, a celebrated author and dentist. The first DAkpabli guest was Alba Sumprim, author and film producer.

During her guest reader tenure, Elizabeth-Irene Baitie is expected to star at all DAkpabli Readathon events. “Getting that phone call to come on board was such a thrill. It’s a fine opportunity, joining a laudable initiative to bring reading and writing closer to our people. I just can’t wait to start working with the team.’’

“Tickling Legon with Nsempisms” kicks off at 5:30 pm prompt.