Monday, March 29, 2010

Celibate Yoke: Boys Not Women are welcomed

Current events emanating from the Catholic Church point to a certain fixation their Priests have towards children instead of women. Priests have acquired such a fine taste for molesting young people in their parishes, contrary to their own perceived beliefs as ‘Holy Fathers.’

And in rather bizarre sleeping arrangements, a good numbers of priests have been busy bedding most of their children in the churches who, ironically, see them as spiritual fathers. The recent revelation, though not surprising, is the abuse of deaf children in the 1970s by one Father Lawrence Murphy, a notorious molester of children at Wisconsin.

Now deceased, Father Murphy, according to released documents, took advantage of the children, mostly deaf, who came to him for spiritual guidance and bedded them. He spent his ‘priestly’ times sleeping with the kids against their will and though reports were sent to the Vatican about his behavior, officials who received the documents slept over it.

Fingers are now pointing at Pope Benedict XIV for his role in the purported cover up. His credibility now hangs on a thin thread, as calls for him to resign continue to grow. He has been forced to render apologies to sexual acts committed by his subordinates mostly in Ireland, Netherlands, Germany, Italy and the United States.

The New York Times reported that documents available to them indicate that long before he became Pope, he failed to response to letters about the abuse of children in the United States. Again in 1996, according to the documents in the New York Times’s possession, Cardinal Ratzinger on two occasions failed to act on letters he personally received.

They concerned the Rev. Lawrence Murphy, who worked at a Wisconsin school for deaf children from the 1950s, according to a report carried by the BBC.
The report further said that two archbishops wrote letters to a Vatican office led by then Cardinal Ratzinger for him to act on the reports but he halted the process, giving the sexually notorious Murphy to continue his abuse of children in blissfulness.

Calls for the Pope to resign has been growing however, the Vatican has also expressed its unflinching support for him. The church is not like any corporation, one catholic faithful who spoke to the BBC Focus on Africa programme on Friday. She thinks the pope has done the right thing by apologizing and the matter should rest there.

Rest there, dude?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Voodoo statistics?

Politicians are very funny people. Especially for those in Africa and by stretch Ghana, they make nice characters for a comedy script. Every single word emanating from their mouths is enough to create laughter, making one wonder if they take themselves serious at all.

Just last week I heard a story attributed to Deputy Minister of Information Samuel Okudzeto-Ablakwa to the effect that government has created 1.6 million jobs, since taking over power in 2009. Lots of eyebrows were raised. 1. 6 million jobs in 15 months? That is too much! I did not hear it but heard reactions from other persons.

The opposition New Patriotic Party was the loudest, accusing the government of massaging figures for political reasons. But pro government supporters quickly jumped to the defence of the minister and pointed to the agriculture sector as where majority of those jobs are?

I personally find it interesting, the statement from government especially when one considers the defence often put out that they’ve only being in power for 15 months. If 15 months how then does one reconcile the creation of 1.6 million jobs? I have personally heard some of the harsh comments made against the young minister and it’s not my intention to repeat them on this platform.

The only thing I’ll say is that the comments were extremely harsh, with some hitting at his personality. It was unfortunate, but that’s what happens when politicians decide to talk in the open without watching their backs. I remember in the heat of the campaign and how figures were bundled around with glee.

In their desperate bid to maintain power the NPP used all kinds of figures to show how good the economy was doing. GDP, Inflation rates etc were making the rounds. Almost on daily basis Ghanaians were inundated with figures, contrary to the harsh economic conditions on the ground. ‘We Are Moving Forward’ was the phrase from the NPP at the time.

It was a throat-seated obsession. The reality on the ground however dawned on them when they failed to win the first round of the elections, as predicted by fake polls. They lost after three rounds of elections. The NDC at the time accused the government Ghanaians don’t eat figures. Is it not an irony the same party is today making claims with figures while the opposition shouts the loudest?

The voodoo statistics in Ghanaian politics is becoming way too much and it’s important our politicians learn some lessons. But I doubt if they will.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Switzerland day of shame.

It’s almost becoming a sick joke but the loud silence often shown by African governments over the mistreatment of their citizens abroad is really shocking.

Almost on daily basis, the story of an African abroad especially in the west beaten by racists elements dominate the news media and yet their governments keep mute.
They matter less to their home governments, who prefer to sing the praise of their European masters because of the excesses from the dinner table. Either seeking asylum or doing legitimate business, most Africans have been subjected to such embarrassing moments as if they are worse than dogs.

I remember somewhere in the late 1990s, a Ghanaian resident in Germany who was engaged with a white German woman and had a child by her was thrown out of that country. He was forced on the plane against the protestation of his girlfriend, bundled and chained behind like a shameless dog. The aircraft, unfortunately for the man, did not come to Accra directly. It had to go to Malta, a tiny European country.

The soldiers who accompanied him on the flight even refused to give him water to drink. They got to Accra and just dumped him and left. They were not arrested or anything. The man was rather kept in prison and locked up by the authorities.
It was only when he appeared on a radio programme than government foolishl

y came in, promising to take action. I didn’t hear anything and I wonder where the man currently is. I also remember how some British youths beat and killed a young Nigerian boy Demilola.

The boys behind his death nearly went off the hook until some immigrants decided to protest against the shameful mistreatment they often endure from the hands of the British authorities.I’m just reading another article on the BBC news website about the death of another African asylum seeker in Zurich, Switzerland.

The Swiss authorities, according to the report, are in the process of deporting more immigrants but had to halt the exercise following the death of the 29 year old man believed to be a Nigerian national. The man’s feet were shackled and forced, with 15 others, to a waiting aircraft. He however fell ill on Wednesday but the shackles were left to remain until he was took weak to look into the skies.

"They treated us like animals," said one, called Emmanuel.
"They shackled our feet, knees, hands, hips, arms and torso and made us wear a helmet like those worn by boxers. It was simply impossible to move," he was quoted by the BBC. .

Last year for example, the Swiss authorities made a special case to repatriate 43 persons from Switzerland, deporting some 360 people, mostly to the Balkans or Africa, according to the Swissinfo reports.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Okro stew, Kenkey and the DOLLAR BILL.

I’m wondering if anyone has an idea where I could get some real good Okro-stew spiced with salt peter or ‘kanwey. I have a fight with a Philippino. I’m making some dollars out of the fight. It is a risk I have decided to take. Because the gentleman I’m going to fight is deadly as the python.

He is left handed; he has retired three boxers in our division, some of them equally deadly. But he retired them. One of them a British Ricky Hatton could not go beyond three rounds. He is smallish but a bully in the ring. He had beaten almost everyone else in the division. I know it was a stupid decision to fight him but I can’t let the money at stake evaporate into tin air. That is huge.

I’m from a poor West African country called Ghana. I come from Bukom in the Ghanaian capital Accra. It is a small but poor suburb with lots of unemployment and uneducated people. It is the home of boxing. The legendary Azumah Nelson honed his skills from there. Ike Quartey who also made a huge pay cheque after he was walloped by Oscar De La Hoya also comes from there. His loss against De La Hoya was deliberate.

He is no fool. I’m one of few boxers to get this lifetime opportunity and If my destiny lies here, I should not let the money slip by me. If my destiny is to be beaten by this smallish guy just for the DOLLAR BILL, I’ll certainly not let that pass me by. However I’m not going to allow him to waste my face like he’s done to the others. Hell no. my folks back home expect me to win the fight.

Especially my immediate relatives, but I’m not interested in that. What interests me most is the money, the DOLLAR BILL. Rather than allow him to reduce me to rubbles, I’ll rather eat some Okro-stew with kenkey, get into the ring and cover up my face till I’m able to cover the 12 rounds. That is my strategy. I’m no fool, folks, I’m no fool. Like I said it’s a risk I’m taking but the money involved is too much to be ignored. I’ll go for the dough, folks.

I surely will find some excuse to tell folks back home about why I lost the fight. Growing up one of the things I learnt from my relatives is that eating Okro-stew laced with salt-peter or ‘kanwey’ gives one stomach upset. I had tried one in the past and I think it better suits me to go back to it. So I headed off to Dallas, one of the cities in Texas, the venue of the fight, and requested a friend’s girlfriend to cook me some spicy okro-stew with kenkey. I’m feeling for it.

The fight is only 24 hours away and I guess if I’m able to visit the toilets from time to time, it will be a good excuse for me to tell the trainers something when I lose the fight. The truth is I can’t fight the former sugar worker. He is strong, smart and fast. After all he is the one giving me the opportunity to make some money.

But I’ll try to make sure he doesn’t retire me from the ring. I can’t wait to cash the money right into my bank account. I’m a rich man regardless of what my country men will say about me. They can talk ‘by-heart’ but I’m not bothered. They can say all things about waking up early to see me fight and I disappointed them. But do I care? I didn’t ask them to wake up and watch me fight.

Even if that happened, I had apologise to them so what do they want from me again, money or the title? I’m not going to eat the title, to be frank with you. Even when I was sitting on the toilet my mind was firmly on the money, not the fight. I was simply praying for the fight to just come to an end so I’ll go out there and cash my money. That was what I thought about and nothing else.

I’m I that stupid to allow my face to be destroyed by this tiny man and use part of the DOLLAR BILL to recover from hospital? I’m no fool. I’m in boxing to make money and not to joke. So if I could fight and lose but rake in that much money I’m fine.

The amount is payment for services rendered in barely an hour work. How many educated people back in Ghana could make that much money? All of you should just shut up and allow me enjoy my money. It’s my money and body so keep quiet. I’m not going to eat the belt and I’m sure you guys sure know that. Who cares about the belt when there is money to be made?

For the last time I’ll like to say that should such an opportunity come my way, I’ll go back to Dallas, look for okro-stew and kenkey so I can get enough sittings on the toilet if only I’ll make the money at the end.
Think about it again, folks!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Glory beckons Joshua Clottey

When Ghana’s Joshua Clottey mounts the ring on Saturday March 13th in arguably one of his biggest fights against Manny Pacquiao, it will raise the number of his record to 36, and for most boxing pundits that is really an impressive record.

Especially because he has a decent record with 20 knockouts, so far. However, the question on the lips of most boxing lovers is; does he have the fire power to stop Manny Pacquiao who has been in such a devastating form, reducing British pride Ricky Hatton to rubbles and that of Miguel Cotto, the man who beat the 32 year old Ghanaian for his welterweight belt last June.

Clottey, known by his fans as the hitter, is not alarmed by what Pacquiao can do in the ring. After all he is just a boxer like himself, he told boxing writer Lem Satterfield in a recent interview.
"Manny Pacquiao is a human being, like everyone else. He's just a really good fighter who is out there now who is No. 1 now," said Clottey. "I don't know how he's coming to fight me, but I can tell you that I'm a different fighter altogether than anyone else that he's faced. I'm a really difficult fighter, you see."

Pacquiao, a left handed or southpaw as they say in boxing, is said to have accumulated enough fire power and speed since moving up weight, and had gone 11-0, with eight knockouts since his last loss by unanimous decision to Erik Morales in March 2005 as a super featherweight (130 pounds).

He has since stopped his last four opponents in such devastating circumstance, David Diaz, Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton, and, Miguel Cotto.

Clottey is however refusing to be added to the list and as he mount the ring at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on March 13, he will also be excited about one thing; that, unlike previous fighters such as Cotto and De La Hoya who had fought Pacquiao and lost, he will be allowed to fight the 147-pound weight limit rather than, according to Satterfield, being contracted by Pacquiao to fight at catch weights of 145 pounds like Cotto and De La Hoya.

"It is good for me to be at 147. I'm a very big welterweight, so it's not really easy to make 147. I'm going to be big," said Clottey, beginning to warm up. "But I'm going in there and taking it like, 'I'm just going to go in there and do my thing and make people happy.'"

Ironically Clottey did not enjoy such a move in weight since his last fight against Cotto, whom most boxing experts say appeared dazed almost anytime he received a punch from Clottey but the Ghanaian failed to take advantage and allowed him to take away his belt.

He has since buried that disappointment behind him and against Pacquiao he is certain the past mistakes will not be repeated.

"I don't throw punches that get blocked. I don't respect that. I want to connect good. After the fight, Cotto's face showed who won and who lost. That's the way I'm coming to fight Manny Pacquiao."

For Clottey a win against Pacquiao will not amount to an upset but a victory with one of the most respected boxers in the welterweight division.
"I've never left the ring feeling like I lost. I feel like I'm undefeated. If I win this fight against Manny Pacquiao, I will never feel like I beat the best fighter in the world."

"I will feel like I had a fight with Manny Pacquiao, the best fighter out there, and I won," he said. "So even if I beat Pacquaio, and people talk about it like it's a big upset, I'll say, 'It's not an upset, but a win.'"
Clottey has been training in Florida with a new trainer DeJesus when his Ghanaian trainer could not get the entry visa, and was optimistic his plans are turning out well.

"Today, I sparred 10 rounds with four-minute rounds and a 30-second rest in between. I'm not really even tired after I'm finished," said Clottey. "I'm in shape. I want to prove to the whole world that this is a fight that I can win, and that they should be careful not to write me off."

Clottey has never been stopped. His resiliency and durability are not in dispute, and against Pacquiao on Saturday the question that is still waiting to be answered is when the smoke of battle has been cleared. Will Clottey be the man to call off the bluff of Pacquiao?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Global Voices: The World is Talking, Are You Listening?

Will Bob Geldof end charity campaign because of ‘cash for arms’ revelations?

The news that funds raised by former rock singer and now anti poverty campaigner, Bob Geldof in a charity event called ‘Band Live’ to support starving Ethiopians a little over twenty years ago, has become a bit more of a shocking news. The first time I came across the story was in the British ‘Times’ newspaper, at least the online version.

The story claimed that a BBC documentary had uncovered the extent to which substantial funds raised during the charity programme had gone to aid a rebel movement in the Tigray province in 1985 to buy arms to execute their rebellion.

Though the BBC consistently maintain that it stands by its story, Geldof also maintains that there is “not a shred of evidence" Band Aid or Live Aid money was siphoned off. I listened to programme last Sunday on the BBC ‘Assignment’ programme presented by Martin Plaut. the World Service Africa editor.

The presenter admitted he was young at the time and looking back there were couple of ends he ought to have tightened up. But he did not because he was then a young reporter and pretty much inexperienced. But is that an excuse, Martin?
Mr. Plaut is one hell of an amazing journalist, surfing through some of the most difficult leads to make stories look good.

I want to believe Geldof is as exasperated as admirers especially looking at the amount of work and efforts that went into such an exercise and for news report to emerge that substantial portions of the money ended up with rebels who used it to kill their own citizens facing starvation.

I’m wondering the rationale behind the BBC story; is it to spite Geldof and his works over the years or just alerting him to be more proactive and keep an eye on funds he intend raising for similar projects. He has insisted he’ll sue the Ethiopian government if it turns out the story is true.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Alhaji Muntaka, the albatross around Mill’s presidency?

Does the name Alhaji Mohammed Muntaka ring a bell? That might be a silly question to ask anyone in the public holding the anti-corruption torchlight.

Especially for those who have been following the footprints of the National Democratic Congress and holding them up against their commitment to fighting corruption, the name does ring a bell.

A former Minister for Youth and Sports, Alhaji Muntaka was forced out of government when it emerged he made false representation to the German Embassy in Accra to secure a visa for his ‘girlfriend’ to travel with him.

It also emerged that the same lady also travelled with the minister on a similar trip to Ivory Coast when Ghana played a football with DR. Congo at the maiden edition of a Cup of Nations involving local based players.

The minister’s conduct came to the light following reports made by a former official of his ministry who alleged that the minister had soiled his hands with filth, contrary to promises by government that they were going to ensure corruption, one of the campaign tools, is reduced to the minimum.

The incident happened barely a year when the government had taken power and it was a major embarrassment to the NDC- especially at a time when government officials and their supporters continue to accuse former government officials of the New Patriotic Party regime whom they said virtually left office with the country’s kitty hidden under the belly of former president Kufour and his cronies.

It was the perfect grenade conveniently handed out to the opposition elements or anti-government personalities who impressed upon the president to hand the minister over to the security forces for him to be prosecuted. But was government going to yield to this pressure?
That was a multi-million dollar question which still hangs on the mind of most people in the country.

The minister was one of few other youthful members appointed by the president to serve in hi cabinet. During his vetting in parliament his own colleagues advised him to serve as a role model to most of the youths in the country. He was one of three young ministers who organised a press conference and advised most of the country’s youth to stay off corrupt habits.

But did he follow that path? I am certain the debate on this will be lengthy and unfinished but for a case as sensitive as this to even choke President Mills during an interaction with the media recently, shows how hot the issue hanging around the neck of the president is.

The issue of corruption is very pervasive in the country and young people in the country have a responsibility to ensure it is curtailed. One of the tools most young people hope to use to effectively wage the war against corruption is the passage of the Right to Information Bill-which would compel state officials to voluntarily, without hesitation; hand over information requested for by one from the public.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The perils of blogging elsewhere

Despite my strong reservations for things I consider mundane but which most of our political leaders pursue, I still love Ghana. There is so much poverty, there is so much corruption, there is so much religious bigotry, there is so much pettiness, there is so much self centred people but I still love this country.

I have spent about five minutes reading about the arrest of a 20 year old Egyptian blogger, Ahmed Mustafa, for allegations that he published false information in a blog a year ago, that there is so much nepotism at Egypt's premier military academy.

The article which is published on the BBC news website said Mr. Mustafa is being held under an emergency law that has been in place since 1981. the law allows indefinite detention and trials of civilians in military courts.

Since reading the article and hearing comments from human rights groups, I have been asking myself what the hell will be happening to characters like myself who dare to speak out against the establishment, should I be residing in Egypt. Ghana’s terror days are over, thanks to this so-called democracy.

But there are still laws sitting in our books that make it easy for us to be called before a wig wearing judge in any of our law courts- and this wig thing I have a problem with. It’s colonial and the earlier our judges get their heads off that smelly thing the better for us all. I can’t image subjecting my head under that colonial thing-especially in this heat. Just a bit of digression.

Our constitution has laws that could ensure somebody like me go to prison easily, based on what I write.

And that is not fair. Recently in Ghana, a young man went on a radio station and said something very stupid; that the former president burnt his own house. It was a free speech exercised in the most irresponsible manner. He was however arrested and made to spend a night in police cells.

That really was unfortunate. Just recently, a high court judge sitting on a case involving a former foreign minister who left his job and rather became a rice imported, cited a newspaper journalist for contempt. He was made to apologize and pay a fine in far excess of one thousand American dollars.

That was gross! Just two instances to say that yeah we are in a democratic society but the laws are not friendly at all however, I would prefer to enjoy that to, say, a place like Egypt or even Iran even ‘unseen’ forces are always on the heels of people soon as they get close to the internet.

pix source: BBC

Monday, March 1, 2010

Breaking Neuz!

I’m going to talk about two issues: First will be the fallouts from the congress of the opposition New Patriotic Party and the sour ‘salads’ if I have to use that phrase. The second will be a statement issued by the Ga chief or King Joe Blankson. I’ll however like to deal with the first issue first. I was one of the few who had predicted the flogging of Charles Wereko-Brobbey, one of the contestants for the chairmanship position.

I was hopeful he was not going to get even one hundred votes, despite repeated noises that he had been to everywhere in the country and that delegates had assured him of the necessary votes. He ought to have consulted Arthur Kennedy about what delegates can do even when they had taken your money from you.

So for him to come and tell Ghanaians he had gone through all the regions and it was his right to become chairman smacks of sour ‘salades. On Monday morning when Joy Fm called him to share some few thoughts about why he lost, he said those who had promised to vote for him were induced with cash.

Doesn’t that make for a good laugh? Inducement and how is doing that? I love the word especially when it comes from a character like the man they called Tarzan, who supervised one of the most useless bodies, the Ghana@50, in the history of this country. It was under his watch that this country wasted loads of money to party, when people didn’t have quality drinking water (and they still don’t have) and the quality of education excessively low.

How does a party like the NPP entrust its chairmanship in the hands of a man who said he took up appointment but didn’t have a clue as to what was expected of him. Brobbey or Tarzan is a funny character, to say the least.

This guy is full of him self. He believes he speaks better English or whatever done everyone else and so should be made party chairman. What rubbish! It will be important for him to shut his mouth and moustache and think about how he can strategize to win the presidential slot of the party (that I know he’ll lose as well) instead of hipping accusations at the delegates.

My second issue is with this Ga Chief or King called Joe Blankson. The man is angry President Mills, since assuming power, had failed to invite him to participate in state functions so he could have the opportunity to eat and drink. Is that not a sick joke? Somebody of his calibre should be pushing for developments for his people rather than this idea of wanting to dine with the president and foreign guests.

He has been around for a little over three years and I’m yet to hear him make a single policy statement geared towards improving the lives of his people. There are good number of Ga youths in this country who have no jobs or even decent education and one would be expecting that such issues engage the mind of the Chief. But naaah!

He rather prefers self and personal comfort; a dinner with the president so he can enjoy in alcohol, get drunk and come home to sleep while his people suffer. Even so stupid of his comments was the accusation that he is suffering from the victimisation’ because the government perceives him to hve been forced on his 'own people' by the former NPP government.

This is really interesting especially coming from Joe Blankson himself. He should tell Ghanaians what happened during his so-called installation as the Chief. I hope he has not forgotten that heavy police presence ensured he became a chief.

It’s sickening to hear him rant and rave like a child running after a toffee in shopping mall. It will be important for him to tell Ghanaians or the people of Ga his policy plan to help bring some comfort to them.

This thing of running to the press because he has been ignored from a tall list of those who go to dine and wine with the president is not only petty but amount to foolishness.

We need progressive chiefs not the likes of the Joe Blanksons whose stomachs mean a lot to them!