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#Citi Trends Episode One: Meqasa and Leti Arts

The first episode of #CitiTrends, a 30-minute radio show dedicated to technology solutions, looks at the real estate and gaming sectors in Ghana.

Photo credit: Leti Arts

Photo credit: Leti Arts

It features Nana Kwabena Owusu of Leti Arts, a multiple award winning company described as Africa’s first interactive media studios with offices in Ghana and Kenya. The ‘Most Innovative Companies’ issue of Fast Company’s recognised Leti Arts as one of the Top 10 Most Innovative companies in 2015 in Africa. Kelvin Nyame of meQasa, an “online real estate marketplace that makes it easy to rent, buy or even sell residential and commercial property”, also features on the show.

The show aired on Accra based 97.3 Citi FM on Tuesday February 24, 2015.

Of Idiots and Sentimental Fanatics: I am alone

Find an escape

Find an escape

There is a loneliness that is felt beyond the deepest places of your person. A loneliness that plays tricks on your mind and leaves you wondering… guessing… imagining… It is a loneliness i have felt for days.

It refuses to leave me. Let me be. Let me dream. Let me live in peace.

Hi, i am Nigel.

I know it has been a while. I have been busy. I got a new job.

Deal with it.

This loneliness i speak of, maybe you have felt it too. It is the sort you feel when surrounded by dozens yet feel for none. The sort where the sight of your words pouring out onto your keyboard appear more fulfilling than the groaning of lover long lost. It is the sort of loneliness that eats at me.

Everyday.

I feel alone. Weird i should say that. As though there was a marked difference between being lonely and feeling alone. Is there? I believe there is. There should be. I refuse to accept that i alone feel this.

I feel alone. I say it again… for effect.

I feel like too many people to so many people and almost no one to myself. I feel lost within myself and yet find myself come alive upon the prompting of another. I feel like the spoon lying next to the saucer after the stir. I feel like the carrot underneath the snow when snowman comes tumbling. I feel like the illuminated ‘no smoking’ sign when the lights in the plane go off.

Like i said, i feel alone.

It is a feeling long since nurtured within myself. I remember in my undergraduate years as i sat before a lady professing her admiration for my warm heart. She was attempting to counsel me. I felt for her.

I had been forced to speak to someone because of ‘the way i was’.

How was i? I wonder.

Doesn’t matter.

I spoke to her. It felt weird. On one hand, i knew what i was doing to her. She required me to provide commentary on her seeming random questions. Once i obliged, she will light up like the daughter of the morning sun and propose further lines of argument to which i will be expected to provide some more commentary. This, i believed, was to cause an illumination of my true purpose thereby set me on the path of eternal enlightenment.

Or some other rubbish hocus pocus like that.

Being alone sucks... a whole lot

Being alone sucks… a whole lot

On the other hand, i badly needed someone to get to the bottom of my unending desire to be accepted as i was. Every soul knew me differently. Same name though, but just different.  I spoke in measured tones to some and in loud and cheering voice to others. I slapped some on the back and gently caressed the hands of others. I ate like a king around some and yet scrambled for crumbs with others.

How was i going to explain this to her without coming across like a complete loon?

So i did not.

I sought in her questions prompts and studied her with caution for visual cues. I paid closer attention to her mannerisms than the spirit of what she spoke. i gave here the answers she sought and she gave me the all-clear i required.

The thing is from time to time i connect with individuals who get to the heart of me. It did not happen with her. I think i have spent too much time trying to get to know people and being what they want me to be to the point that i have forgotten the joy of being me.

Scratch that. I have forgotten how to be me. Whether there was ever a me, i am not sure.

Yet, i remember how years long gone i will find delight in the thought of waking up alone in a home far away. Removed from the craziness of the day and engulfed by the richness of the now. I dreamt of the day when my silence in the art of the spoken will not be a hindrance to the revelations from my written ones.

Rubbish.

No one gets that bag of tosh. No one wants to be with someone whose dream of a life is that of a wandering hermit. No one wants a life with anyone with that sort of life. So now i dream of my life and live out that of another.

Like i said, I feel alone.

#D2R2014 – Discovering a lost art

Stonebwoy, an international artist in the making who still has his street cred intact

Stonebwoy, an international artiste in the making who still has his street cred intact

“We will kill the show God willing”.

It was, for me, the usual chatter from an artiste manager looking to wriggle his way out of promotional interviews and appearances in the build up to a music concert. I was not happy. As an event organizer, I expected some more discipline from him.

When his artiste took to the stage on December 24 at the Accra International Conference Centre however, i understood the confidence behind the pronouncement.

According to Citi FM’s Bernard Avle, Stonebwoy’s “voice is so rich. Wow”. Renowned blogger Ameyaw Debrah described the performance thus: “another artist and performer who hardly disappoints.” TV3’s Juliet Bawuah was instructive when she hinted, “Shata Wale in trouble.. Stonebwoy just raised the bar ooo…” The smileys that concluded her tweet spoke not just to the delight she felt, but also the sentiment of the hundreds of people in the auditorium who had paid top cedi for a night of music entertainment.

Stonebwoy was a king, and he ruled his subjects at Citi FM’s Decemba 2 Rememba concert with an iron fist of great music, a commanding stage presence and the appeal of an international artiste. He was simply brilliant. From his control of the microphone to his on-stage presence and demeanour, the 26-year old dancehall, reggae and afropop artiste showed glimpses of an international artiste birthed.

Stonebwoy gave patrons the belief that great music was still existent on the shores this West African country. Radio presenter Anny Osabutey described him as not only “talented, but gifted” while entrepreneur Tonyi Senayah preoccupied himself with the disbelief at how the ladies were “screaming after every line”. Tonyi clarified in a Facebook post later that he was speaking from the little knowledge he had as a shoemaker.

The average music fan will however, not be surprised about the reception the artiste received. Stonebwoy has over the years bided his time and developed a fan base that cuts across class and income level. He launched the campaign to be inducted into the choppy waters of ‘high profile celebrity status’ some years ago; on Christmas morning, he ushered himself in without a formal invitation.

Self proclaimed King of the Streets, Shatta Wale

Self proclaimed King of the Streets, Shatta Wale

That exclusive club however, had the status one of its members questioned when Shatta Wale completed his performance. His status was not questioned because he did not have stage presence. It was not questioned because he did not get the crowd on its feet for over 45 minutes. It was not questioned because the crowd stopped singing his songs.

No. It was questioned because for an artiste of his stature to mime for over 30 minutes and have ‘awesome intro’ as the most significant selling point of his entire act, is sad.

Then again, maybe he was performing to a wrong crowd.

However, wrong crowd or not, the self-proclaimed ‘Dancehall King in the whole of Ghana’ must get his act together and move beyond prancing around on the stage and offering the public a chance to have their voice heard through his microphone.

On the subject of microphones, and in the spirit of the microphone rating system instituted by ‘The Source’ magazine, comedian DKB deserves all four and a half of five mics.

What a discovery.

DKB, Ghanaian comedian reborn

DKB, Ghanaian comedian reborn

The Ghanaian stand-up comic, born Derrick Kobina Bonney won over a few more hundred new fans when he combined calm and measured delivery with ruthless and frank punch lines in a performance worth remembering. The former Big Bother Africa housemate slapped his audience to life in a performance that justified his campaign for Ghanaians to appreciate local comedy acts. The fact that he was aware of the need for his material to be relevant to the audience in the auditorium, the fact that he did not overstay his welcome and the fact that he was unperturbed by the baggage of his past ‘sins’, was commendable. It is not every day a man slaps a woman on international television and still manages to survive the negative press it comes with.

However, if anyone deserves the love of the press, it must surely be Kontihene.

His demands before mounting the stage were simple. ‘No lights when I come in. I will perform under dimmed lights’. Yet, there was nothing dimmed about his delivery and appeal to music lovers. A truly refreshing ‘blast from the past’, the ‘aasese’ hit maker showed the way to stay relevant in Ghana music for decades. Music show presenter DJ Armani for example indicated in a conversation, ‘this man means business. He comes in, does what he should and walks away.’ For artistes looking to discover and exploit their shine, Kontihene’s desk is waiting for your application.

Guru did not send the application. He should have.

Guru, an artiste who needs some pointers to send him through the roof into stardom

Guru, an artiste who needs some pointers to send him through the roof into stardom

The hiplife star has dozens of singles. Yet in his choice of songs to perform on the night, he chose wrong. He decided to highlight to his lyrical dexterity over a memorable on-stage performance. His introductory act was captivating. He failed to capitalize on that initial high. He rolled out tune after tune that were lyrics-heavy and unfamiliar to the audience. He lost his crowd. He wanted to run through the entire length of his songs and it was clear the crowd was not having it. Patrons took to twitter to complain; and they were vocal about it. Kwame Gyan of telecommunications company Airtel for example noted, ‘Guru looks lonely on stage ooo.’

If Guru had dancers on stage and was still lonely, then M.anifest should not have made an appearance at all. The multiple award-winning artiste received a lukewarm reception in the opening stages of his performance. This was partly because of the tempo of the music he produces. Yet, he managed to get the audience on his side. He often paused and talked to his audience, he spoke directly to them, felt their pulse, went with the energy in the room and even created some of his own. That is a performer. That is why he has toured over 8 countries in the last 8 months. That is why he will continue to make more money than most of his colleague musicians; because he is a performer.

M.anifest. Enough said

M.anifest. Enough said

#D2R2014 taught us many things.

It taught us about the gemstones in the Ghanaian music industry. It taught us about the need to invest in one’s craft. It taught us to appreciate our own. Most of all, I believe Citi FM’s Decemba 2 Rememba concert helped us discover the value of real entertainment.

Speak, Love

When we dream, we dream of love

When we dream, we dream of love

I speak words,

often of meanings that betray the immediacy of their intent

often of times when my present circumstance cannot conceive

often of days and moments not lived

often of values not formed.

I speak words,

words to inspire and enlighten

words to direct and command

words to coerce and negotiate

words to save and transform

I speak words,

to you as the tips of my fingers carve a path along the curves of your neck

to you as the bumps on your arms rise in anticipation of an unknown duty

to you as your heartbeat evolves in rhythm with mine

to you as your face is filled with mine.

I speak words,

words like i love you.

Of Idiots and Sentimental Fanatics: Introduction

Go home and listen to Nina Simone

Go home and listen to Nina Simone

I am Nigel.

I live a complicated life. It is grouped according to specific classifications and codes to guide my decision making. I will be a very miserable old man if i end up with alzheimer’s. However, i love life and live it fully; often a little over the top. Like the time i decided it was a good idea to have my pictures taken while i sat naked in the tub after a Playstation gaming marathon.

I get worried for my children when i do these things.

I have decided to share my story with you because quite frankly i need to tell someone. I need to spill it all. I have been a terrible person to some and a complete sweetheart to others. However it is the lives of the people in mine that will intrigue you.

They have the most intriguing stories.

Some are complete idiots. Like, IDIOTIC, in the proper and actual sense of the word. Some of absolute sweethearts. Others are bugs that must be squashed for eternity and have their body’s cut up in pieces and spread across the world.

Sorry about that. I hate those people.

I have siblings. I struggle to understand them. Heck i am still trying to understand myself so don’t judge. There is a younger brother by name Kelvin and an older sister called Trisha. I think Kelvin is gay but i have no evidence. My parents will freak out if he comes out. My sister is a terrorist. Not like the suicide ones though. She is hell on earth in the sibling sort of way. You know those ones right.

I am sure you have one of your own.

My parents are truly conservative. They are the church-every-Sunday-morning, midweek-service, no smoking or sex or kissing or anything else before marriage- kind. I have caught them having sex before though but then again, they are married so fair game. We seldom have anything to talk about and yet we seem to find things to say to each other.

It gets weird… a lot.

I have only a few friends. Even they, wonder what the heck is wrong with me a lot of the time. They say i am the life of the party. I don’t see it. I mean, what is the point of going to a party and standing in the shadows with a drink in hand. Are you a shadow? And please don’t give me that different people have different personalities nonsense. That is just rubbish. IT IS A PARTY! If you do not grasp the fundamental concept of what that event is all about, you are not supposed to be there.

Go home, take a shower, and listen to Nina Simone.

I have no idea what i want to do with my life. I initially wanted to be a musician. I could sing. I realised soon enough that what i did was not singing. Then came the lawyer phase. If that is what i wanted to do with my life, everything i did was anti that dream. I soon realised that sticking with computers was my only route. I love the damn things and they seem easy enough to do so why the heck not.

I work in a computer shop with a fatso for a boss. His name is Mike.

I have been in several relationships. When i say several, i mean six (i think). They have all ended the same way.

“Grow up”.

That is what i am doing now.