Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Accountable Policing in Ghana!

January 4, 2011
Stephen Arthur, a 19 year old orphan walked out of his house and hopped into a commercial vehicle, and that was the last time he ever walked. He is paralysed from the waist down. Has no control over his bowel movements or urine. Has erectile dysfunction and will never father a child.

The vehicle Stephen Arthur got onto that fateful day was stopped by a police officer asking for his Christmas gift. The driver obliged and gave the officer some money, only for another officer standing nearby, Constable Stephen Frimpong to approach the driver asking why his colleague officer was given money. An argument ensued between the constable and the driver, so the first officer (the one who collected the money) asked the driver to park well. In parking well, the driver had to move the vehicle. That was when Constable Frimpong opened fire into the back of the vehicle (I guess thinking the driver was running away). A bullet hit the spine of Stephen Arthur, and to say life has never been the same, would be grossly understating how life has been since.

The Police Intelligence and Professional Standards Bureau (PIPS) in their investigation of this incident came out with the findings that Constable Frimpong's conduct was criminal. The constable was arrested and granted bail, but during a police service enquiry into this incident, he run away and has not been found since. Has he been looked for? If he has and has not been found, how safe are we in Ghana? How safe are we if one man has been able to escape police grips after all these years? How safe are we with all these terror alerts going on around us?

A benevolent law firm sued on behalf of Stephen Arthur and after much wrangling, the Attorney General decided to settle out of court 2 years ago. How is one compensated for all that this young man has lost? It has been 2 years since this decision was reached, and still nothing. How long did it take for Alfred Agbesi Woyome to be given his judgement debt by the Attorney General for doing nothing and for no damage to his person? Imagine how Stephen Arthur's life would have been with 1/10th of the settlement Alfred Woyome received.

Stephen Arthur has no one to take care of him. His brother who was caring for him started abusing him and Stephen has tried to take his own life once. He is 24 years old now, and to say his future looks bleak would be an understatement. He is in critical condition now at the Police Hospital, and has grown so lean he cannot wear adult diapers, but has to wear baby diapers.

March 8, 2014
Corporal Bernard Frimpong walked into a Cal Bank banking hall and opened fire right there in the banking hall because of an argument he had with one of the customers.

What next?
Superintendent Frimpong will walk into a mall and open fire on shoppers because he feels cheated by one shop owner?

One thing I kept repeating after Corporal Frimpong opened fire in the bank is, "it could happen to any one of us". Who in the bank that day thought they would walk into the bank and be fired at? Who on that commercial vehicle thought they would get onto a vehicle and be fired at, by none other than a Ghana Police officer?

It is all well and good fighting for accountable governance and fighting against corruption, but isn't this something worth fighting for? Our civil society organisations, in addition to finding the truth behind the bus branding saga, SADA, Subah and the rest, how about we fight for human rights too?

Friday, April 29, 2016

Oyemam Autoimmune Foundation

When adversity hits, how do you respond?
Cower in a corner waiting for the worse, or do you stand up, chest out, determined to fight against the odds?
How about when you get past it, when you successfully overcome? Do you fold your arms, sit in a corner hoping that is the end, hoping that you never hear about it ever again?

When diagnosed with lupus, though it interrupted her life, though she did not understand why what was happening was happening to her, determined to make it and to live life as normally as she could, Mrs. Emma Wilhelmina Halm Danso, decided to fight it. She decided she would not let lupus determine the pace of her life.

Mrs. Halm Danso, Launch of Oyemam Autoimmune Foundation
I remember in school we took a class trip to FESPACO in Ouagadougou. It was such a fun trip especially since it was a road trip from Accra all the way up north into Burkina Faso. Mrs. Halm Danso couldn't join us on the road because of her condition. She flew in to Ouagadougou to join us. Though she missed out on all the fun we had on the road, she joined in to have fun with us in Ouagadougou.

Mrs. Halm Danso with yours truly and our classmates at FESPACO 2009
I didn't know her condition at the time, but I know most of us did not understand what she was going through just to show up. For the rest of us, all we needed to do involved waking up, taking a shower, getting dressed and just joining in. For Mina, it took so much more than that. Did she let her condition stop her from joining in the fun? No! The class was aware there was something going on with her, but what exactly it was, we did not know.

Mina, now much better, knowing what she has been through, is determined to give hope to others suffering from autoimmune disorders. Mina might not have made it without the support system she has, without the support she has had from others. One of the major problems about autoimmune disorders is lack of awareness. No one should be left to deal with this condition alone, and Mrs. Halm Danso, together with her husband, Mr. Kwasi Danso have resolved to inspire hope for persons suffering from autoimmune disorders to live on.

Autoimmune disorders for some reason affect women more than men. Getting correctly diagnosed is difficult because the symptoms are often misleading. Chances are an affected person might be treated for 100 other conditions before being accurately diagnosed. Medication for the condition are astronomically priced (NHIS does not cover treatment), which is sad (very) because access to treatment improves chances of survival. It is not easy, but there is opportunity in adversity and Mina is using this opportunity to help others.

Dentaa at the launch of Oyemam Autoimmune Foundation
I also, will do my bit to support Oyemam Autoimmune Foundation.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Launch - Oyemam Autoimmune Foundation

Autoimmune disorders.
What is an autoimmune disorder?

Our immune system protects is supposed to protect us. Our immune system is supposed to protect us from disease and infection. When our immune system, rather than protect us from disease and infection, attacks healthy body tissue by mistake, then there is a disorder. An autoimmune disorder.

There are over 80 types of autoimmune disorders. The exact cause is unknown and there is no known cure. Majority of those affected are women of African descent.

Imagine waking up one day and your hair's falling out. Or your joints are swollen. Or you have severe inexplicable headaches. Or a rash on your body for no reason. Or inflammation of your skin. Or skin lesions. Or loss of memory. Or shortness of breath. Or chest pain. Well, you could be suffering from a number of diseases, or your immune system could be the cause. Your immune system could be attacking your healthy tissue. How do you deal with this? What is meant to protect you is now harming you. Unfortunately, that is the reality some have to live with.

How many of us know about autoimmune disorders? For those who know, how much do we know? How are those affected coping?
Creating awareness, advocating, fundraising and education on autoimmune disorders is what Oyemam Autoimmune Foundation has set out to do.

Join us on Tuesday, April 26, 2016, 9:30 am at the British Council, Accra for the official launch of this foundation.
Autoimmunity: Inspiring Hope to Live on.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Betrayal of an African Leader - One Million Pounds!

Ghana my happy home, land of rich resources, land of mighty talents, racial tolerance, justice and freedom...

Why then do we find ourselves where we are now? How can we have so much and still be saddled with economic crisis, power crisis, etc. Should Ghanaians not be living large with the abundance in resources Ghana has been blessed with?

Are our leaders really looking out for us, or do they go out there and sell us out for their personal gain? Are all the decisions our leaders take in our best interest, or do they go out there looking out only for themselves, and how much they can make off us, and try to convince us whatever decision they took is for the best?

What about our international partners? Are we getting honest help from them? Do they honestly want to see us get out of this quagmire we find ourselves in (through no fault of ours), or are they interested only in helping us so far, but not all the way?

One Million Pounds, the latest play by James Ebo Whyte, tells the story of 4 talented Ghanaians who take a shot at the maiden edition of an international competition. Much to everyone's surprise, they make it so far. It would have been novel for an African group to win, but the system was willing to let them get only so far, but definitely not all the way. Much to the exasperation of the system, the African group appears to be going further than the system ever intended for them to go. What to do? How to deal with this situation? Well, the group is from Africa, they have a leader, and African leaders and free money, well, enough said about that.

How these 4 handle their manager selling them out, and almost clipping their wings before they even had a chance to take off, takes a lot of determination and realisation that they may be down, but they were definitely not out.

The tale is told of love, insecurity, greed, corruption, hope, betrayal and foolishness, laced with the humour characteristic of every Uncle Ebo Whyte play.

Can the story of Jama, the talented 4, be likened to the story of Ghana and its leadership? Why not judge for yourselves this weekend, Easter Monday and next weekend at the National Theatre. I should add that there are a myriad of lessons to be picked up from One Million Pounds.

Monday, March 21, 2016


When fame and fortune beckons at your door, you could almost feel it,
Just when you are about to grab it, it is snatched away from you,
The system really was designed only to let you get that far, but not all the way,
What were you thinking trying to go any further?

Meet Jama, whose quest to showcase their talent and make a name for themselves, turned out bringing hope to the African continent. But just when they are ready to soar, their wings were clipped, by none other than one of their own.

Roverman Productions & Airtel in partnership with Joy FM & National Theatre present:

"One Million Pounds"

An Uncle Ebo Whyte Play.

The themes of love, greed, corruption, insecurity, hope and plain foolishness are intertwined bringing out an amazing play loaded with lessons to be learnt, laced with the humour characteristic of every Uncle Ebo play.

Find out how Jama make it in a foreign competition, which wanted them in so long, but not long enough to win the ultimate.
Find out how Jama make it when their manager, sells them out, after they make it so far against all odds.
Venue: National Theatre
Date: 26th, 27th & 28th March, 2nd & 3rd April
Time: 1st show 4pm, 2nd show 8pm

Tickets are available at all Airtel Shops; Shell Shops at Tema Community 11, Sakaman, Mallam, Dansoman, Achimota & East Legon; Joy FM; 37 Goil; Baatsona & Haatso Total Shops; Frankies, Osu; Jane-Anne Supermarket and Motorway Supermarket, Tema.

Alternatively, tickets can be paid for via Airtel Money.
1. Dial *500#
2. Select Buy Goods
3. Select Other
4. Type "ROVERMAN"
5. Enter Amount
6. Enter your name, show date & time as Reference Number (eg. Efua Dentaa, 28th, 4pm)
7. Confirm payment details with your Airtel Money PIN
8. Present the confirmation text that'll be sent to you at the gate for entry

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Terms and Conditions

How many of us go through the hustle of reading that very verbose document detailing conditions for a service before clicking accept?
Well, I know I don't bother. All I want to do is download and use an application or subscribe to a service and I'm expected to read some 100 page (no kidding, those documents are so lengthy) document about the conditions for use of an application or service?

I've always known I should bother, but I never got round to bothering. Now, I know I should really definitely bother.

Last week, I decided to subscribe to an internet bundle on my cellular phone. I enter the short code, and I see there are unlimited bundles. These bundles are valid only at night (middle of the night). So I'm thinking, why not subscribe to the unlimited bundles, use my cellular phone as a hotspot and download all the stuff I want to download on my laptop. All I have to do is not sleep. Great idea, or so I thought. I knew something was wrong when I was asked to confirm, and the message read, "confirm purchase... terms and conditions apply". Warning bells should have been ringing because none of the bundles ever added that clause, "terms and conditions apply". The daily bundles didn't have it, neither did the weekly or monthly bundles. Only the unlimited bundles had that clause.

I subscribe, and I start downloading. Somewhere inside me though, I felt it was too good to be true. I kept checking my account balance, only to realise I wasn't being charged from the internet bundle I had subscribed to, but was being charged from my main account.
I am angry. I disconnect and decide to call customer service in the morning. But then I remember the clause (terms and conditions apply), so I reconnect and go online to read the terms and conditions.

What did the t's and c's say? Well, the unlimited bundle is worth 3GB (how 3GB can be described as unlimited beats me) and it was designed for those living in remote areas with limited (2G mostly) cellular network coverage. To use the unlimited bundle in the city, the network mode selected on the cellular phone should be 2G (Edge). I had been browsing with high speed (3G) all that time. I went back to sleep, and did not bother calling customer service when I woke up (what's the point).

Now, I have resolved to bother to read all terms and conditions before I accept. If it's too lengthy and I feel I can't read, I won't accept or subscribe.

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

International Women's Day - What is Lupus?

This day marks the International Women's Day and I take this opportunity to wish all women all around the world, a Happy #IWD2016

I also wish to use this day to answer a question not many people ask.
What is lupus?

The first time I heard about lupus was on a reality show. One of the contestants had it and curiosity had me reading up on it. I thought I knew so much about it until two weeks ago when I found out a friend of mine had the condition. From what she told me, I realised I did not know as much as I thought I did.

Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease in which the body's immune system attacks normal healthy tissue. Basically, the body attacks itself. This results in symptoms like inflammation, swelling and damage to organs of the body. Any part of the body can be affected by lupus such as the skin, joints, brain, lungs, kidneys, blood vessels and other internal organs. Needless to say quite a number of the known cases result in death.

Why do I choose to talk about lupus today? Because chances of developing lupus are higher in women. Other risk factors include age and ethnicity. Persons of African or Asian descent between the ages of 15 and 45 years are more at risk of developing the condition. Sadly, few people know about this condition. If known cases result in death, what about the unknown cases? What about those who do not know they have it?

Let us spread the word. Let us get the information out there, and hopefully save a life. Let us love our women. Let us create the awareness of this condition. Awareness which is not quite out there yet.

Kudos, to Wilhemina Halm Danso and the Oyemam Autoimmune Foundation.
You are a fighter Mina, and on this day, I celebrate you, your fight against lupus and your fight to create awareness.