#CitiTrends Episode 10: Farmerline & Grameen Foundation

Source: Oxfam

Source: Oxfam

A great week it has been indeed and feedback on the show has been incredible.

Sub-Saharan Africa has the fastest-growing mobile market in the world, increasing at an average of 44% annually since 2000, according to the worldwide mobile communications industry association GSMA. The continent is also home to a quarter of the world’s fertile land. 80% of this is not being utilised and of the 20% that is, the majority is owned by poor smallholder farmers. I spoke to Senyo Worlali, Business Development Manager for Farmerline, a social enterprise about some technology solutions they offer to farmers.

All across the world, the health sector is being transformed by technology. In Ghana and in most rural areas, actually even in the urban dwellings, a trip to a doctor or for a check up comes with too many complications. If you need to see a specialist, this means a referral, another long journey and probably a lengthy wait. A group is trying to make this situation much better. The group is called the Grameen Foundation and i caught up with the man in charge of the technology and innovation at the foundation, David Hutchful, to get a clear sense of where we are regarding the Ghana’s health care delivery system and its relationship with technology.

Awo Apaloo serves you ‘Moneygraph’ and ‘Swiftkey Clarity’ as the new apps for the week on the Apps segment of the show. She features Mobifliks, an app where users can watch local content for free, in the #CitiTrends 2-minute App Pitch Challenge.

Mawuli Tsikata brings you up to date with the latest happenings in the world of technology on the Trending segment of the show.

Enjoy the show.

#CitiTrends Episode Two: Women, Facebook and Net Neutrality

Credit: Adweek.com

Credit: Adweek.com

Over the last couple of days, so much has happened in the technology space in Ghana and around the world.

In Episode two of #CitiTrends, Linda Ansong of Stembees speaks passionately about getting women into Science, Technology, Engineering and Technology related courses and fields.

Head of Product Partnerships for Facebook in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, Konstantinos Papamiltiadis speaks about the ways in which Facebook is connecting with app developers in the region and what opportunities are available.

Emmanuel Adinkrah, Co-founder of Ghana Internet Safety Foundation (an NGO dedicated to promoting safer internet for the digital citizens in Ghana) speaks about net neutrality and looks at the Ghana experience.

Press Play and enjoy.

Artistic Genius: E.L feat. M.anifest’s Hallelujah video

The man on the beat

El performing at the Chris Brown concert

Truth: The video is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G

Truth: The video will have you wondering where the rest of Ghana’s creative minds have disappeared to!

FACT: Anyone who says creativity and an eye for quality is a dying characteristic among the nation’s youth, needs to watch this video.

It might seem like a lot of praise to shower on one video, but in this case, it is praise well deserved. After establishing himself as a man who settles for nothing but the best, it was only natural that a magnificent song which speaks of the realities of many young men and women walking the streets of Ghana daily, be depicted in such a manner.

It is not entirely clear just how much influence the two artists had on the creative direction of the video, but knowing them, they wouldn’t allow an opportunity like this pass by without exerting their influence.

E.L is at his classic best in this one. The tallest rapper, beat-maker, suave and official swagger-king of the GH rap music scene.

M.anifest and his high flying chains and traditional print, his iconic beard, punchy lyrics and all-round “I sing for Africa” demeanor; give him away as the perfect man for the perfect collaborative effort.

You will be forgiven for concluding that M.anifest had a hand in the theme of the video because right from the beginning, the giant horse hoofs smashing through the calm waters of the beaches of Accra, set the tone for thumping good music video.

You could blame him for his insistence on staying classic, but E.L manages to make a white shirt, black trousers, black shoes and a tie look great on the beach.

From the ‘fearless’ horse rider on the beach to the visionary lady tossing the beans into the sky, the attempt to reach out to memories of days gone by is never lost throughout the video. The occasional ‘akata swagger’ attempts to creep in at certain points with bike riders and the like, but the central theme is never lost.

If the sound of the chorus gets your feet dancing, then be rest assured that your eyes will love its depiction in the video. Everyone is flying everywhere; including E.L

The angles from where some of the shots were taken, the lighting adopted, the balance of art, style and creativity; simply sublime. The locations, of which am not too sure, combine seamlessly with the personalities and the theme of the video to leave you wanting more at every point.

It is not entirely clear why all through M.anifest’s verse, a woman is dancing in the background though. The director can answer that question. He would also be inclined to tell you why on the 2:50 mark in the video, he decided to do what he did. Classic stuff (When you watch the video you will understand).

His name is Ebo Taylor

He sits before me in his black hat, slanted awkwardly in a typical showman fashion to accompany the sunglasses he dons.

The combination of patched blue and white that makes the bulk of the colours on his shirt and the black trousers held up by the black belt with a gold buckle, though modest, screams class.

Nothing, however, beats the air of confidence and achievement that surrounds this man known by the world as composer, guitarist, arranger, bandleader, and producer.

Before collaborations with world renowned musicians such as Fela Kuti and tours in countries such as Malaysia and a dozen countries, he says of his beginnings, “Entering the sixth form, I decided to become a musician so I learnt much more about the guitar instead of the piano; I was originally playing piano.”

Born in Cape Coast in 1936, he tells me he had a teacher for a father and a trader for mother both of whom according to him, “were a great influence on who I am today”. Education stared at Jubilee school and was continued at attended St. Augustine’s College where he immersed himself into the world of music.

“How did you learn how to play the guitar?” I ask.

“There were some students who played guitar and I begged them to teach me”, he says simply. However when born talent meets opportunity, “along the line, I became very conversant with the guitar and I could play it better than those people who taught me and I found myself on the stage every Saturday for school entertainment”.

Surprisingly he tells me, smiling, “I strayed into professional music” when he was invited to Accra to join the Havana Dance Band as a guitarist at the age of 19. Whether it was for the fame or money, he did not say but after tours to Ivory Coast and Monrovia he migrated from both band and location when he joined the Stargazers Band in Kumasi. When I pushed he only said they were “more popular with highlife”.

You might consider it divine intervention because it was with this same band he got his first studio recording experience. “I played some of the outstanding solos that became ‘household whistling’ (gesturing) and I became popular”, he hinted. He was soon on another journey of discovery and joined the Broadway Dance Band where he started out as one of the composers and ending up its music director.

After a year, he was off again but this time because he had been sacked. My raised eyebrows prompted some explanation, “I was sacked from the band for smoking; it’s not legal but they wouldn’t permit me to smoke in the band so they sacked me. I was the only culprit”.

With assistance from his parents and the Ghana government, he enrolled at the Eric Gilder School of Music where he enjoyed the comradeship of schoolmates like Teddy Osei, Saul Amafio and Eddie Quansah for three years. He formed the Black Star Highlife band in 1963 and recorded several great hits with musicians like George Akins whom he described as the “the most outstanding vocalist of his time”.

The lure and love for his home country (plus the fact that he had completed his studies) brought him back where he reformed the Broadway Dance Band with greats like Pat Thomas and the late Tommy King. The band eventually became the genesis of the Uhuru Band. The magnet of the city life pulled him to play for the Blue Monks Band at Tiptoe after which and became a recording artiste for Esi Bons and Polygram.

When he was not recording his own work, he was working as an Artiste and Repertoire Manager for Essiebons which led him to produce “the maiden albums” of artistes like Gyedu Blay Ambulley, CK Mann, Paapa Yankson, Jewel Ackah. “While this went on, the country was hit by continuous military rule and night club life entirely banned by curfew so a lot of musicians went away to England and America.”

What did he do?

He tells me he stayed on and played with Bands like African Revolution. However when contracts in Abidjan and Lagos came calling some years after, he was also forced to leave. He however returned shortly after and dedicated the next nine years of his life to teaching music at the University of Ghana.

A “jam session” with a Berlin based group known as the Afrobeat Academy at the Du Bois Center led to an invitation to into the studio for what was to be a journey of album production, tours and a rejuvenation of what was becoming a forgotten passion.

With a combination of traditional Ghanaian material with Afro-beat, jazz, and funk rhythms to create his own recognizable sound, he released Love and Death on Strut Records in 2010, his first internationally distributed album. Its success prompted the release of Life Stories: Highlife & Afrobeat Classics 1973-1980, in 2011. He is currently promoting his third Strut album, Appia Kwa Bridge at the age of 76.

“I played in Holland, I played in Sicily, I played in Portugal, I played in Spain, I played in Italy, I played in Sweden, I played in Denmark, I played in Norway, I even played in faraway Japan and I also came to play in Brazil and in Morocco”. All this he said he did in two years.

He says he is back home for four months. He represents highlife music in Ghana. He typifies the phrase “the best comes from the West”.

His name is Ebo Taylor.