#CITITRENDS S04 EP 23: MAde in Kumasi: Skills Development, Innovation and Knowledge Sharing with Yaw Adu-Gyamfi

Show Promos-8There has been a lot of chatter from the Ashanti Regional capital of Kumasi.

Chatter that centres on technology and growth and innovation.

There has also been a lot of chatter regarding the difficulties that technology entrepreneurs face. There has been a lot of conversation about how some of those problems can be solved.

Yaw Adu-Gyamfi is a co-founder of Centre for Social Innovations (CSI) and a man with extensive experience working directly with communities and young people, focusing on skills development, innovation and entrepreneurship.

He also coauthored a research paper titled: SKILLS DEVELOPMENT, KNOWLEDGE AND INNOVATION AT SUAME MAGAZINE, KUMASI. 

He joined me to share insights from the research paper and much more.

Enjoy.

 

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Sexism on the Podium

The two woman who aim to change the face of classical music

The two women who want to change the face of classical music

 

Hundreds of young girls all across the United Kingdom spend hours everyday mastering the art of playing their favourite classical instruments.

They dream of performing on stages all over the world.

These dreams however, could be dashed not for lack of talent, but because of their gender.

Alice French and Katie Ann Lower find themselves in that spot.

How will they overcome sexist gatekeepers who stand in their way of achieving their dreams?

‘Sexism on the Podium’ is an attempt to catch a glimpse of the mood on the issue.

Lessons from ‘Pretty Hurts’ by Beyonce

Beyonce

Beyonce

Music.

Lyrics.

Impact.

The phases that Pretty Hurts by Beyonce Knowles took me through and continues to do so.

After a month of dancing along Colum Road, Cardiff to this tune, i have learnt a few lessons from this amazing song.

Before i get all engrossed in the tingly feeling the song leaves me, allow me a few moments to get my groupie on.

Beyonce is Queen! Arghhhhhhhhhh

Self-titled album. 14 songs. 17 videos. Released in one day!

Who does that?

As she noted in an interview, “I usually plan things and I’m trying to rebel against perfection. It’s fun, because you never know what’s going to happen.”

Despite her efforts, the album pulls you in instantly. The pulsating rhythm, the unique voice and the sense of anticipation that fills your ear drums; its hard to turn away.

Then the beat drops!

 

Lesson One: PREPARE, PERFECT, EXECUTE.

A song is meant to be savoured, enjoyed, flirted with; not sung randomly in some street corner and forgotten just like that. Indeed, as Dr. Dre noted when explaining the rationale behind the production of the Beats range of headphones, a lot of time and attention goes into producing those kicks, snares and base lines that get you rocking.

Pretty Hurts is a a clear manifestation of a song that has been thought through, perfected and delivered for your listening pleasure.

“But Beyonce said she was rebelling against perfection”, you retort.

Yes, she did. rebelling against the order in which music is appreciated and loved and composed. However, in all the imperfection, a superior, perfect sound is born. That was the point of the rebellion. In order for our works to be appreciate, loved, be able to cause change and drive change, we must take our time to prepare, perfect and then execute them.

 

Lesson Two: always see the BIGGER picture

Pharrell Williams, one of the several artists who worked on the album once said to Beyonce, “You set women free… that record is a phenomenon”.

Beyonce knows what she wants in any endeavour and she goes to get it. However, it is not just anything she runs after (bagging Jay Z as a husband should say enough). There is always a larger purpose to it all. In the breathtaking piece of work, that is the album, and indeed on this track, that principles remains the North Star.

In Pretty Hurts, she sings

“Plastic smiles and denial can only take you so far
And you break when the paper sign leaves you in the dark”.

Being a global symbol has its pressures. A look at folks like Lady Gaga should tell you enough. However, how do you harness the power of international influence, spice it with the responsibilities of motherhood, spouse and global citizenship to produce a work of art that not only sounds good, but drives a message?

Pretty Hurts.

Give the words of the track which meaning you please, but one fact shines true; the long term realities of life should direct the short term imaginations.

 

Lesson Three: All of that is not ALL THAT

3 minutes, 11 seconds into the video for the song, there us a very powerful imagery. As the curtains are drawn, the ladies on the podium with the fixed smiles, wave goodbye. My female friends tell me they can’t wait to get home to take off their bras because of the discomfort. How they wish the heels would cause less pain.

There is always a facade; and its fine.

However when the facade is pulled down, are you simply the shiny trophy the world looks at and admires? Are you simply ‘face’? When the curtains are drawn, the audience goes away, the lights are turned off; will the world remember you? Most importantly will you remember yourself?

You must know yourself, understand yourself, trust yourself.

At that point, speaking, walking, dressing, loving, laughing, singing, reading, riding and the very essence of your existence will be all of that.

Expressions Through Radio: Introduction to Xpress Radio 101

This is where i am at right now...

This is where i am at right now…

The time was 12:58.

I was seated in the Xpress Radio Studio in the presenter’s chair.

I knew what I wanted to do; I had spent two hours of an 11 degree morning in Cathays, Cardiff, preparing for it. The first episode of my one-hour radio show on campus radio in the United Kingdom!

What had I gotten myself into!!

Despite all the BBC Radio One and Talk Sport I had paid excessive amounts of minutes listening to, I realized that nothing was enough to prepare you for what was about to come.

Don’t get me wrong. The music I had chosen was great. I mean, how could I go wrong when I had folks like Iyanya, R2Bees, Whiz Kid and 2Face Idibia on my playlist? What could prevent the folks from the Afro Caribbean Society from being my very first guests on the show? I mean, I know I don’t have the best voice on the radio, but then hey, people love my voice… right?

All the same, all the real work was done. So why was I still feeling weak in my knees as a looked at the console in front of me? Why did I forget to update my Facebook Page about the show?

I will tell you.

First of all, I am surrounded by some of the most energetic and creative undergrads in the world. Their shows are really great. Here I am, 28 years old Ghanaian man, who has not completely gotten a full hang of the instruments in front of him.

Secondly, I am a freaking Postgrad! Instead of hitting my books in some gloomy library, I am here playing Azonto music! Who does that!

Thirdly I have no idea how many people like Afro Caribbean music. All I know is that the majority of the people like Fuse ODG. That’s all.

However, as I pressed the button to get the signature tune for the show started, some things happened.

Firstly, the thought hit me. I have been doing radio for the past six years for heaven’s sake. What is it about campus radio can I not do? The systems are different and very well put together but then still… What at all can I not do?

Secondly, my show is unique in so many different ways. Its Azonto music! How can I go wrong with that?

Thirdly, God dey with me! Also people like Assistant Manager, Sam, Head of DJ’s, Pri, Head of News, Sally and the woman who got me more than interested in it all, Alice, simply make it all a delight as well.

The show was good. It was not perfect, but really good. It only gets better with time. I get to relax and do something I really like. Play for the world music I really like.

Take a listen to the show if you have a chance and leave me a comment.

Rhythms Episode 1

 

PS: Connect to Xpress Radio via the following link: http://cardiffstudentmedia.co.uk/listen/

Celebrating life with Xinyi Li

She loves the camera

I had every right to panic. My debit cards, student ID card, my two-month old oyster card and the note from my girlfriend would be gone, forever!

We had called the museum but had received no positive response. The friends we had there also said they could not find the cardholder. I was late for soccer training and had nothing but two pounds left in my wallet.

Xinyi Li repositioned her bike, swung her feet over the top tube of her bicycle and said to me, “I will do you a favour.” She set off for the museum, determined to return triumphantly with my cards. I was stunned.

Two hours prior, I would have never imagined that this 22 year old, Xujing native who possessed an International Economics and Trade degree from East China University of Political Science and law, possessed such a kind spirit and a personality so radiant and refreshing.

As I approached the massive iron gates run of the national museum that Wednesday morning; 30 minutes late for our scheduled meeting, I remembered our previous encounters and the number of times I had complained to my housemate. “She does not smile, Carla! Her answers are short and non-expressive.” How was I going to write a piece about someone I could not hold a conversation with?

Gloria, as she so quickly pointed out to me to address her by, had a demeanour that gave nothing away when she saw me. My moments as an awestruck tourist walking past the security details through one of the finest museums in the world was cut short when she said, “ You are late!”

As we walked through the corridors of the decades-old museum, I came to understand why those words were the first uttered to me. “I like it when things are repetitive and have structure,” she pointed out to me as we stared at the collection of cups from the Alexandria ages.

For an economist, i wondered why she spoke ever so fondly of art and history. Why she took such lovely photos on her Canon (I love Canon too). Why she found Greek mythology so intriguing.

She loves life.

She loves the essence of it all. The expression. The emotion. The connections that existed between expressionist art, contemporary art and modern art. The grace with which she describes The Gift of the Artists by Edith Dowing from 1930 for example showed clearly why she had chosen the course she had.

She comes from Shangai where the population is on average, 23 million. She is the only child of a banker father and housewife mother. She grew up on a farm. She remains till date one of the only Chinese people I have met with such an immense sense of the natural world and loves life.

In the natural history section for example, she tells me she will not stand in the sea because of the level of pollution of the waters in China. She says you will find plastics, boxes, batteries and complains about how pollution is so serious. She loves life.

IMG_0784

We spend over 45 minutes in the natural history section of the museum peering into bottles and through glasses containing organisms long ago forgotten about by mankind. However not once does she show a sign of exhaustion or boredom. She is fascinated.

The animals seem to bring her some level of joy and satisfaction though as she pointed out, she hates dead animals because they are smelly. She loves the birds, the red fox with its eyes so realistic. She loves the animals with four feet – they seem more alive. She truly loves life.

A writer, a believer in fine art, a Tchaikovsky loving Chinese lady, a lover of life.

Not bad.

It’s not everyday i get this lucky.