#DUMSORMUSTSTOP: The Day Ghana Marched

Edits-3Saturday May 16, 2015.

A day etched in the history books of Ghana forever.

Why?

Simple. Ghanaians stood up, walked and spoke out.

After three years of living with a power crisis which has seen the Ghana Tourism Authority announce the potential shutdown of some 20 hotels within the country. Telecoms operator, MTN; UK charity for education, culture and development services, British Council; textile manufacturer, Juapong textiles have all either laid off workers or preparing to lay off workers due to the power crisis.

The government’s response has been varied, albeit dreadful.

Here are a few headlines to illustrate my point:

NPP demo has encouraged me to end ‘Dumsor’ – Mahama

I will ‘banish dumsor forever’ – Mahama

My ‘dumsor banishment’ promise was just a prayer- Mahama

Gov’t resolute to end ‘Dumsor’ – Mahama

‘Dumsor’ will erode government’s good initiatives – Mahama 

Edits-6The commentary and public outcry has been immense across social media with dozens of memes and every trolling effort in the book being tried out. Government officials also weighed into the conversation from time to time and did what all employees do; defend their employer.

Then Yvonne Nelson, award winning actress, philanthropist and all-round nice person spoke out on the power crisis with a simple tweet: #dumsormuststop.

The aftermath of that tweet has been a complex mix of support, insults, emotional outbursts and career defining decisions. It has gotten politicians such as Alhaji Halidu Haruna to learn the grave effects of taking social media for granted and shot others such as Yvonne Nelson into legendary status.

Edits-1The #dumsormuststop vigil which took place on Saturday showed just how much can be done when citizens of a country decide on their own free will and with the guidance of one purpose, to speak out about something.

I am terribly proud of my country men and women who showed up and to them i dedicate this video below.

#MarchAgainstMisogyny: Introduction

I woke up in Sunday morning feeling very good about myself.

Mayweather had won his fight.

Manchester United had been humbled (i saw that coming so i dealt with it emotionally).

There was just one thing that was wrong about it.

A political figure in the ruling National Democratic Congress in Ghana in his attempt to defend his party had tagged all women who were above 30, successful and unmarried as ‘prostitutes’.

I read some posts of friends on social media and decided that i should say something. Do something. Anything.

So i did. I started this little campaign: #MarchAgainstMisogyny.

I think women should speak more about it and i think the men should also get with the programme.

As i explained to a friend, misogyny seeps beyond political bounds. It permeates the very essence of our society. It is almost engrained. But women deserve better. They do far too much not to.

So, women out there. Please speak, preach, sing, write, dance or do anything to #MarchAgainstMisogyny. If we eventually get to march soon, i will be most excited. But for now, let us keep the conversation going.

Two of my work colleagues have started… you can too.

#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.

Time to hide your money: John Mahama is desperate

Straight from the heart of a friend. No Gimmicks. Thanks Nana Ama Agyemang Asante

Cash Mahama

Immediately they imposed taxes on condoms I knew government’s desperation for money had resulted in a sudden loss of common sense. The withdrawal of that tax left me believing the madness had been cured. But the Ghana Revenue Authority’s list of non-core banking services to be charged 17.5 percent Value Added Tax (VAT) shows that the Mahama government is tone deaf. They never learnt from that condom tax fiasco.

Click here to see the full list of financial services that would attract the 17.5% tax.

In what universe is issuing of cheques, loans, letters of credit considered non-core banking services? This list covers almost all the core things banks do for their clients. I have a savings and a current.  Mostly I withdraw money using my ATM cards or a cheque. The bank alerts me via text message and email anytime there is an activity on any of the accounts…

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Apple lays claim on the future of computing

 

Photo Credit: theverge.com

Apple CEO Tim Cook Photo Credit: theverge.com

When Tim Cook, CEO of technology company Apple Inc, took to the stage to open the 25th anniversary of its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), technology enthusiasts and industry watchers all over the world were aware that a slew of software enhancements were going to be announced.

They were not disappointed.

The unveiling of iOS 8, the next phase of the iPhone and iPad operating system, and OS 10.10 or OS X Yosemite, the new Mac operating system named after the California park (known for its incredible natural views) drew a series of applause and shouts of approval from more than 6000 developers who had gathered at the Moscone Centre in San Francisco. Drawn from some 69 countries (with the youngest developer aged 13), the section of the over 9 million worldwide developer community who were gathered in the hall, received a note of thanks from Apple Inc. CEO Tim Cook.

“From all of Apple, thank you very much.”

The CEO of the 5th placed Fortune 500 company was right to do so. It is the commitment and mental acumen from those individuals that has given the company the gravitas to make make the sort of bold statements it made on Monday. It is this same commitment that the company will be banking on as it takes a bold step into laying a hand on the future of computing. The company’s current operating system for their Mac computers, OS Mavericks, has been installed 40 million times and currently makes for 50% of the installation base since November. This is in comparison to that of rival technology company Microsoft, whose Windows 8 operating system accounts for only 14% of its installation base. The mobile operating system iOS 7 currently accounts for 89% of its installation base which is comparable to 9% of its closest rival Android from Google.

Several of the enhancements announced, however, are mere reflections of already existing softwares and show Apple as a company playing catch up. The several ‘improvements’ to iMessages including renaming group message threads, ability to add and remove recipients, self destructing photos and audio messages, ‘tap to talk’ function and the muting of messages from groups, are currently available in messaging applications such as Whatsapp and Snapchat. The displeasure and sarcasm of Whatsapp CEO Jan Koum were expressed in a tweet, “very flattering to see Apple “borrow” numerous WhatsApp features into iMessage in iOS 8 #innovation”.

The Apple OS X Yosemite, with its translucent panes that take on different colours as they move around, has also been tagged as mimicking the Aero function in Windows Vista, Microsoft’s operating system released for personal computers in 2007. The redesigned version of Spotlight, Apple’s search function, has been criticised for its close resemblance to Google Instant, a search enhancement tool from search company Google Inc, that shows results as you type. The newly announced Apple Drive, a file system for iCloud, the cloud storage and cloud computing service from Apple Inc, comes two years after the launch of Google Drive and 7 years after the launch of Windows Live SkyDrive (now known as One Drive) and file hosting service, Dropbox.

The list goes on.

However, throughout the presentation by Apple’s head of software engineering, Craig Federighi and the brief appearances by other members of the Apple team, it was clear that the company had its eyes set on conquering the future of computing. A move that will make founder Steve Jobs smile (Investors too).

 

Photo Credit: theverge.com

Federighi outlines some of the enhancements to the Mac and iOS experience for developers.
Photo Credit: theverge.com

Courting the Developers 

The gratitude showed by Tim Cook and the subtly humorous video that opened the Keynote address were clear signs of the push the company was making to court the growing worldwide community of programmers and developers responsible for shaping the success of several companies today. The technology company announced, among others, a new programming language for IOS and OS X called Swift. It is intended to make it easier for programmers to develop applications.The iOS 8 Software Development Kit (SDK) with more than 4000 new Application Programming Interfaces (API) – the system which instructs software components on how they should interact with each other – and  Metal, a new graphics technology were also unveiled. As Himanshu Sareen, Founder and CEO of Icreon Tech put it in a post last year, “software developers will be the future masons of the smart city.” He argues that by year 2020, the role of developers and programmers will be most crucial. The claim was based on the projections made by US networking equipment company Cisco Systems Inc, on the growth of the ‘internet of things’ (over 50 billion things will possibly be connected to the internet). CEO of social networking service provider Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, in an address  in April at the company’s F8 Developer Conference, made several commitments to the programming community in what industry watchers consider to be a move to woo them to use his company’s platform. New CEO of Microsoft, Satya Nadella is also quoted as saying at a recent gathering: “It’s exciting times for us and exciting times for developers in terms of the opportunity to be able to take your creativity, your applications, your systems, and then bring them forth to Windows as it evolves.” It should not be surprising therefore, that Apple will also want to get a bite of the ‘developer’ cherry.

 

Photo Credit: techcrunch.com

A new operating system Photo Credit: techcrunch.com

The Apple Ecosystem

The consumer electronics and computing worlds have craved a software ecosystem that allows for seamless interaction across various devices – phones, tablets and computers. Google has for years pushed its Android ecosystem as the “open approach” which application vendors will favour, as noted by the company’s executive chairman Eric Schmidt in 2012. Microsoft’s Windows operating system which has for years dominated the personal computer market has struggled in recent years to maintain the stronghold it had several decades ago. The latest iteration of the operating system, Windows 8 and 8.1, have failed to revive the declining fortunes of the company, according to statistics website, Statistica. The announcements made on Monday by Apple’s Craig Federighi showed the company’s desire to “engineer (our) platforms, services and devices together… to create a seamless experience for our users across all our products that is unparalleled in the industry”. The introduction of Continuity, a software platform which allows the Mac and iOS devices to communicate seamlessly is an indication of the company’s commitment to ecosystem future. Handoff, a platform developed by the company, allows users to start an activity on one device and pass it to another and also make and receive phone calls directly using the Mac computer as a speakerphone. The unveiling of HomeKit, a platform that allows users to connect devices seamlessly for better management of homes, should win over some skeptics. HomeKit, according to Apple, offers the ability to easily control individual or groups of devices throughout the house, including integration with Siri – the company’s voice assistance service – thereby transforming the way people interact with their homes. This streamlining of the functions between the various Apple devices will likely improve not only the share performance of the company’s stock – currently at $630 a share – but also its chances of winning over the next generation of users.

 

Photo Credit: theverge.com

Developers were there in their numbers Photo Credit: theverge.com

Banking on your health

Though the announcement of the iWatch – Apple’s rumoured and soon-to-be-announced entrant into the wearable technology arena – was not made, the introduction of the Health app and HealthKit APIs will see various fitness applications communicating with each other to manage people’s health. John Noseworthy, M.D., Mayo Clinic President and CEO noted: “We believe Apple’s HealthKit will revolutionise how the health industry interacts with people.” The debate can be made about several fitness and activity trackers available on the market, including those on Samsung’s Gear 2 (which also serves as a watch), Moves (purchased by Facebook for an undisclosed fee in April) and Endomondo. Despite the drive for investment into fitness tracking devices and software by so many other companies, Apple’s Health application and HealthKit offer the added advantage of medical professionals being able to track, in real time, the performance of their patients, for example. The prospects of this are limitless. The launch of hardware that supports this software such as the iWatch, will go a long way to boost investor confidence and drive up sales.

The Cupertino based company has made its intentions clear to the world as it kicks off its conference in San Francisco. It is declaring a stand in the future of the internet of things. The interest of the technology industry, consumers and investors is on high alert. The ball now lies in the court of companies such as Google, who are planning their I/O event slated for June 25, to make their move.