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Thursday, November 19, 2015

End poverty—did we miss the mark again?

I came very close to calling the World Bank End Poverty Campaign event held at the University of Ghana recently another patronizing charade. But for the fact that there were highly intelligent individuals who have demonstrated great capability in many areas on the panel, I am sure I would have stuck to my conclusion. When you have the likes of Tony Onyemaechi Elumelu   (Heirs holdings, the united bank of Africa, Transcorp, Tony Elumelu foundation); Forbes’ one of the 20 most powerful men in Africa on the panel, you tread cautiously. You might be missing something. We do not have many of such men on the continent and for that reason; we have a responsibility to protect the few we have. And yes, such men and women can be instrumental in our fight against poverty. But should we be fighting poverty in the first place?

I am in all candidness deeply concerned about the notion that agribusiness is the way forward as far as this end poverty thing goes. Apparently the figures for what they are worth, prove that young people are actually interested in agribusiness since 30% of applications to the Tony Elumelu foundation entrepreneurship program actually needed support to grow their agribusinesses (one would have thought that meant that we were already in agribusiness). This might be true but does it really support the idea that agribusiness is the way forward. One cannot help but to wonder what the other 70% of the applications were about but since we do not have the benefit of adequate information a degree of deductive reasoning must be resorted to.

Ghana’s very own Professor Nana Opoku Agyemang who happens to be minister of education on her part insisted that Women and children are the most vulnerable. Groundbreaking information! How about a more detailed analysis of the issue of poverty itself and not the group you think it affects the most? I am leaving the children out of the equation for now but is poverty really a gender issue? Is your country itself by accepted standards not poor and is that because we allowed the women to live in poverty?
Dr. Kim Yong Kim of the World Bank group (is that a Bretton woods institution or is it just me?) thinks it is the poor child living in and around rural areas between the ages of 0-5 that we should be concerned about. He insisted: “It is the height of unfairness to relegate children under the age of 5 to never being able to learn. Children have to be able to learn anything and quickly. We have to dedicate a huge portion of our operations to the achievement of this objective”. (Really? Show me) But the question is this; are we going to simply put the children in school or are we going to empower the parents to make sure they handle their responsibilities?

Dr. Kim adds ; “this is the most important thing I can tell you, the Korea of 1959 is now the Africa of 2015, we talk about Africa rising but in quiet conversations we hear all kinds of talk about impossible, you know what we hear from the prime minister about DRC lots of people were saying that’s impossible. Don’t ever believe and certainly don’t believe it by yourselves”. Erm, Africa is a continent Dr. Kim.
Mr. Akinwumi Adesina’s (President of the African Development Bank) view is not nothing near unorthodox; Agribusiness and technology is Africa’s best bet at reducing poverty. “65% of all the world’s arable lands are not in Asia, Latin America, but right here in Africa, great sunshine, great water, and cheap labour. You throw anything up, it comes down it grows”.  Yeah… thank you very much! We did not know that. Their final words did not add much;
Dr. Adesina: just end it. Well… How?
Dr. Kim: listen to young people and listen to the women.
Oh Thanks but were they represented on your panel?
Opoku Agyemang: focus on quality education delivered in the right medium. Who will do that again? And are you saying these won’t be necessary if we weren’t s poor? Bright Simons has a few words for you on that language thingy.

Tony Elemelu at least gave us five factors on getting out of poverty; “hard work, enabling environment, discipline, culture of saving, long term thinking, aligning with people with similar perspective”. The first two; sound like something from an economic text book. But one can almost be certain that if hardwork made people billionaires, 98% of women in Africa will be billionaires ahead of Tony Elemelu. Nobody pays you for how hard you have worked; they pay you for what you have produced. Enabling environment however, is another matter altogether; it just doesn’t exist but we have to at least continue our search for it. The rest are just the usual you hear from motivational speaking sessions. It will be refreshing to learn that Mr. Elemelu saved his way to billions; that will at least provide some comfort in that direction.

The source of worry is simple; one cannot be so sure what purpose an event like this with all its pomp was supposed to serve. Maybe it is just useful to keep talking but if anyone is really interested in eradicating poverty (and I have reached a disturbing level of skepticism on the matter), they must first stop telling us that agribusiness is the way out. In America, less than 2% of the population is involved in agriculture, in Africa, some 65% is. The difference is that the American farmer is a billion times more productive. Perhaps we do not need to be told we ought to be in agriculture, we are already in it, always have been. For most of Africans, we return to the land when other things don’t work out. We have always been in it and if things don’t change soon, we are seriously considering migration.
But here is the thing though, if the idea that how one thinks about something determines how he deals with it is anything to go by, then we must stop looking at what we do and start thinking about how we do things. Africans always find something to do. Our “vulnerable” women are working hard in the markets and in the streets amidst the threats to their well-being often perpetuated by government and its agents. It is how they do what they do that is the bone of contention.

Walking through one of our many slums recently, I counted 6 traditional drinks; Brukina, lamugii, Asana, Ice-Kenkey, Sobolo, Shitor-daa, Nme-daaa. I am told there are many others. None of these drinks have made it to commercial levels and they have been around for a while. There is clearly a viable market for these products. A small study of Kenkey sellers and how they do their busin6ess (and they DO NOT think of themselves as business people and potential billionaires) revealed some obstacles to wealth creation. They all insist on making their own Kenekey. It turns out most of them are not good at making Kenkey (the process is nowhere near simple) yet they refuse to buy from those who make better Kenkey and resell. Or perhaps it hadn’t occurred to them that they could do that and possibly make more money. On the other hand, those who are good at making it do not even realize their competitive advantage so they do not capitalize on it to expand by making retailers out of their weaker competitors. Because of this, Kenkey making still remains a cottage industry even in the heart of the city whiles still remaining the nation’s number one meal. These are real thought problems that when addressed can unlock the wealth trapped within communities.

It is known that the way out of poverty is a positive motivation not a negative one. Negative is flight (trying to get out of a situation) positive is fight (making your way to an aspiration). Wealth creation mentality might just be the best thought system for ending poverty. Citizens must be led to think about aspirations—what they could be and how they could be it.

One must stress the point that we are not short of things to do; our issues are more to do with how we do it. Those who insist on agribusiness must at least see if they can promote the making small mechanical equipment with the engines and hydraulics that have been developed by Safo Kantanka in the hope of improving the performance of the average farmer.

These are the reasons why we think a project like SPiD-UP extremely important. Each African must be conscious of what we do and how we do it. We must insist on being the best we can be regardless of what we have chosen to do with our lives. We must see the world standards and want to meet or beat it. This is a way of thinking and it has to be said; it was to be the new African that Nkrumah wanted to create.

Those who claim they want to end poverty must therefore, of necessity turn to performance consciousness. Without that, we will put 80% of our people into agribusiness and end up worsening the conditions. This is easy to predict with the benefit of antecedents. A change of pattern is needed and if Dr, Kim is serious about ending poverty, lets see some -more investment towards changing mindsets towards performance consciousness. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Atiemo's 5-in-1 book

I was once informed about a young lady who said she did not read Ghanaian authors. As a writer and Ghanaian myself, this didn’t go down too well with me. But I am also a pragmatist and that means I face facts. This lady is not that different from any typical Ghanaian. For us anything made in Ghana or by Ghanaian is not good enough. She will choose Paulo Coelho over Albert Ocran any day as perhaps she will choose Stacy Adams over Doris Okraku-- nothing unusual there.

I am not a promoter of affirmative action. If you are at a disadvantage it is an opportunity to surprise everyone. If you can’t bring the element of surprise (the only advantage you have under the circumstances) with you, you are normal and that is simply not good enough. But a person who makes such blanket statements is also saying that she has read most Ghanaian authors and has found them not worthy of her precious reading time. I do not believe this is the case with our lady friend and clearly her wrong judgment has done nothing but deny her the life transforming experience possible when you read an author who understands your setting. Whiles I could mention many young Ghanaian authors my focus in this review is Sam Zeph Atiemo’s Embracing You Inner Courage.

I met Sam Zeph Atiemo recently at the Ghana’s premier university where we were both facilitators of a seminar on Agri-prenuership. Nothing prepared me for the surprises that awaited. He spoke extemporously with a firm grip on what was clearly a passion and a life mission. He had an idea; conscious entrepreneurship.   After his presentation, I could not wait to review his book; Embracing Your Inner Courage.

No book I have read in a long time is this packed. It has 5 parts, 31 chapters and 220 pages. As the author himself put it, “this books is five books in one. It inspires me every time I read it so I know it will inspire others”. With countless anecdotes from the author’s own experience as a successful entrepreneur in three countries and two continents, the book can fairly be described as semi-biographic.

The first part treats Passion, Planning, Massive action, Commitment and fulfillment n that order. The book literally captures the whole spectrum of personal development with its 31 chapters establishing it as a natural route to entrepreneurship. Having established the basis for entrepreneurship as a means to eliminate poverty, something he called an indictment on the continent due to her many natural resources, he makes an outstanding case for the establishment of his own Business Factor Initiative For Africa where he provides consultancy among other services for entrepreneurs.

Passion is a highly efficient fuel for performance regardless of your field and this book starts first by igniting it within the reader. This is a useful technique because with passion one can achieve anything. It achieves this through the many probing questions that seem to pop out of nowhere while reading the book. Answer the questions and you begin to see a new you emerge.

The great thing about the author is that he is a practicing entrepreneur with years of experience and several ventures under his belt. He understands the Ghanaian experience and interprets them with astounding accuracy. 

Monday, November 2, 2015

The Spousal Influence on existence

A lot has been said about the spousal influence on the possibility of the maximization of existence. This is a natural course of reasoning if one premises that everything we prefix with the “MY” is either an asset or liability—something that either aids or sabotages the cause. If this is the case, then the choice is of great importance as spouses are to be life partners. Perhaps the single most important decision after purpose is that of the partner with which the mission must be accomplished. As we all know, two heads are better than one and two people pushing the same cart in one direction provides an overall better output than one person. But this is only if they are in agreement of course.

From the man’s perspective, the woman is to be a helper (as far as Christian thought goes). But does that imply that the woman must not have aspirations of her own? Why then will God give the woman dreams too? So lets face it; the questions have not all been answered. People are often more attracted to the things of little value considering their own aspirations. Let me clarify that quickly before I send you on a trajectory of confusion. Some people have said that men are attracted to what they see, so they tend to want the most beautiful woman around and they may not be the best choice. Now if this is the case, then we have a problem. Even the most beautiful flower withers at some point. Women in this sense then become useless when they loose their glamour. Luckily beauty has also been said to lie in the eyes of the beholder. Is this really true that what is beautiful to one person may not be beautiful to another? This is also another problem to solve? Are the proponents saying that you and I can’t booth look at a Rolls Royce Phantom and agree on it’s beauty? Or is there a possibility that we can disagree on Joslyn Dumas’ hips as an outstanding work of God?

There are many more questions that need to be resolved in spite of the many we think we already have answers to. A friend told me recently that his idea of a good woman is one who is capable of taking initiatives. He gave 25% for looks, 25% for character and 50% for intellect. I thought that was interesting given my friend is a minister in training and hence very active in the church. But control my big mouth I did. Minutes later he came back with “well she also has to be spiritual” without stating what percentage that was to be. You may start worrying for his wife to be at this point. The truth is that we don’t always know what we want any more than what is good for us. A lot of the things men accuse women of are really human problems more than women problems. As a man I know from experience that my male friends have deserted me when I was down quicker than my female friends. The case is true the other way around. Perhaps instead of looking at the world through gender-filtered eyes we are better of looking at it through moral-filtered eyes. There are good people and not so good people—simple.

So lets admit it, we haven’t got all figured out. Not even us ministers. One thing is for sure, the person you choose to carry out your quest for maximization of your existence with must help your cause or you can forget it. I don’t know what whether it is beauty or intellect you need and I am willing to wager that you don’t either. Whether you are male or female won’t matter much if you threw in the idea of shared aspirations. Partners at home and partners at work? Well…the term is life partner and life encapsulates all aspects of your existence. I believe this is the working model but what do I know, many times I failed to get it right myself. I can tell you one thing for sure, people change.

A lady friend who was desperately looking for marriage at some point, later described herself as a single mom by choice. Many women are resorting to having children for men they have no intention of marrying. Others think, they are safer sharing another woman’s husband. Hopefully, like me these issues confuse you enough to want to hear what mentor and seasoned counsellor C J Buckman and his team has to say at the WHY AM I STILL SINGLE summit on the 6th and 7th of November 2015/ The event is supported by Joy FM, Hitz FM and SPiD-UP.COM and you my friend, are invited.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Low Sexual Performance and the Okro Myth

''Madam, I can't take Okro'' the man exclaimed in objection to my suggestion that Okro was beneficial to his health.  I made sure to extol the benefits of Okro as a wonderful vegetable he could include in his healthy diet plan. He looked at me perplexed as though I had threatened to harm his mother. The stark reality of how much people had bought into the misconception about Okro stared me in the face.

'Why?' I asked concerned, waiting to hear the usual tale of ‘Okro and low sexual performance.' I wondered how much nutrients people took for granted at what is frankly one of my favourite vegetables. He shifted uncomfortably in his seat and whispered in embarrassment.

''I have heard it gives excessive phlegm, waist pain..and...hmmm affects performance.''

Okro or Okra (aka Lady's Fingers) is the stuff a Dietitian's dreams are made off. To say Okro is nutritious and offers numerous health benefits would be like saying 'the sun is hot' you simply can't do enough justice to the statement. Its health benefits read like something out of a Nutrition book's ‘Hall of Fame’

From its anti-diabetic properties, rich nutrient value ( high vitamin C, foliate, potassium, calcium and other essential vitamins and minerals), excellent weight reducing properties (due to its rich fibre content and low calories) to its cancer preventing properties ( rich in antioxidants), promotion of colon health (prevents constipation) and relief from respiratory problems ( such as asthma). The list is endless. 
Surprised? Just read on.  |

It also boasts of its ability to boost one's mood and prevents depression and is also known to give a smooth and beautiful skin with protection from pimples. Ancient history has it that Cleopatra; the ancient Egyptian queen who was celebrated for her beauty was noted to be a great fan of Okro. (Oh spare us. You like Sources too much, everything Source! *laughs*)

Okro is found in dishes and cuisines all over the world. It is consumed in the US, Western Europe, Caribbean, Greece, Turkey, India, South America.  In Ghana, it is eaten mostly in stew or soup preparations and found to be engrained in the traditional dishes of most Ghanaian tribes. However, in spite of its versatility and benefits, Okro has not entered into the good books of some people, chiefly to blame is the myth surrounding it.

It's slimy nature has served as a turn off for some people and had led to negative speculations about its nature. Interestingly, it's slimy (mucilage) nature lowers cholesterol and serves as a lubricant and laxative for the intestinal tract.

Still in doubt? Then you account for a part of the school of thought that supports the notion that Okro has negative implications on reproductive health and result in impotence.

Below is my last set of facts about Okro. If you still are not convinced, then …

Okra’s high level of vitamins notably vitamin C and folate help prevent birth defects and it's highly beneficial for a pregnant woman and her baby. Okro has also been recommended for years for use as a natural aphrodisiac and researchers have found that the folate in Okro as well as its other numerous minerals and vitamins enhance sperm quality.

Well....let’s just say the jury is out well as hard scientific facts. Let conduct a purely subjective exercise. Shall we?

1.      Make a list of all the Ghanaian tribes who have had Okro as part and parcel of their traditional dishes for centuries.
2.      Have we noticed any desirable traits about the indigenes that we could link to the benefits of their regular intake of Okro? and finally
3.      Do you eat Okro?
4.      What has been your experience?  We will be happy to hear from you

Meanwhile, as you to ponder over these questions, I am off to get a huge bowl of Okro Soup with 'Banku'. You are surely invited.

The Writer is Dede Kwadjo, a Dietician/Nutritionist and a member of the Ghana Dietetics Association. She lives in Accra, Ghana. You may reach her directly via

Are You Walking In Shoes That Don't Fit?

We live in a confused world where our everyday lives seem to be dictated by a bunch of other confused sapiens. The media is their primary means of pushing their ideas on us without giving us the luxury of time to decide whether we love their propositions or not.

You feel lonely? Naa, that's a bad way to feel. Watch Television, have Sex, try all dating sites. You feel depressed? That’s devilish. It’s time to pay attention to antidepressants ads calling. Day in and day out our lives are directed by the masses, who, possibly lost, are also finding themselves. Celebrities teach weird love mantras, a lot fall for it yet they themselves fail in their marriages and soon you gonna do too.

Education won't permit risk, how dare you try to disagree with Newton. No more curiosity. Where is the Magic? No more self passion because it seems the world has an already made manual for you wrapped in religious, cultural and race excuses. You are Christian and that's it, that's how far you can go.

No black folk can do that, No, let me take it again. Black folks aren’t supposed to do that! (and I am talking about success and progress). My ideas are gonna sound weird and like I always say anybody can misquote me or disagree with me.

We are all here on a short visit. Find your voice. Don't let the masses always speak for you. Find your solitude; sometimes you just don't need people. Make mistakes, you are human and you are the author of your own manual. This way, you will know for yourself what works and what does not work for you.

Pursue fulfillment and happiness, make a map, pull out your compass and patiently search for what will make you happy. You are not here for anybody. You are here to represent you as a single individual. Our lives are interconnected with others. Find the link where you fit in. Have regular fellowships with those who motivate you to be better. Forget the rest.

You don't understand something, go find out yourself. Read, Read, and Read. You see a post or article somewhere, sit your ass down and read it. It doesn't hurt to add more information to what you already know. Give way to questions, yes question nature, and question the universe.

Question God! 

Let them feel your roar! Don't settle for just anything. Pick yourself up when you fall. Take a hand when you are given. Someday you gonna look back on every single moment of your life. A lot of things might not be right but your life was changing and that's what living is. It's only the dead who have no chance to try it again. People are going to touch a place in your heart deeper than you thought you possessed.

They gonna leave all sorts of beautiful and nasty things, smiles, tears, grief, happiness, pain. That's just a limited amount of our true selves’ emotions evolving out of our soul. We are made with a bigger capacity to accommodate intense emotions, made with a rocket of self desires that shoot up there, touches the core of the universe and explodes. Bam!

Like the big bang's theory. Shake the universe a little and send waves and signals to every creature on earth announcing your existence. Take it. Take time while you have it and let things work out for themselves. Wait till you see how much more deeply you can love and live it. Don't go too far in your search for God. He's right there inside you and he doesn’t wanna live in there like ‘man’ who comes and goes.

God reside in you as you. Don't spend all your life on Facebook looking for pretty faces to send friend request and start calling them baby and cutie. I am not your baby. I am not your cutie. I am a young fellow going somewhere and I want only like-minded crazy ‘misfits’ to run along with. Men who gonna break the rules and do simple things in an extraordinary manner.

If you are not convinced and still want to call me baby, then man you gonna have to bring some pretty good sense to the table and we gonna solve problems together and make this world a better place. Do you know just what I am gonna do? I am gonna live life like a ‘motherf**ker!’ Screw the laws (ha! Not the good ones though) I'm gonna live like a hustler and you think that's a strong word? Ask google- Intensely energetic and enthusiastic person, I'm gonna live like a dynamo. I mean I'm gonna be that crazy enough to chase my dream, oh no that's mediocrity.

It might run ahead of me. I'm gonna catch up with my dream, get hold of it, swallow into my belly and then take full charge.  I'm gonna run as far as I can go with it. I'm gonna cross rivers, climb mountains, jump over hills. I'm gonna be a genius in my own way.

I'm gonna be the world's greatest.

Live fully.

The writer, Josephine Amofaah Nketiah can be reached directly at She blogs at

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

African billionaire Elumelu, Kim, others meet in Ghana to End Poverty

I am not certain if the World Bank chose the University of Ghana as its venue for the ‘Shared Prosperity Forum’ or it’s the other way round, that the University of Ghana invited the World Bank to host its #EndPoverty Campaign on its soil. Does that really matter? Yes?

I arrived at the Great Hall of the University of Ghana at 2:50pm on Friday 16th October 2015. The Program was billed to begin at 3:45pm and end at 5:45pm, a push ahead of October 17, which is ‘End Poverty Day’ a commemorative day observed by the United Nations.

As i sat, waiting for the program to commence, soulful Jazz rocked, just then, some questions flooded my mental space, one of which recurred over and over:
‘Can we end poverty?’

We were seated inside the Great Hall of Ghana’s Premier Higher Institution of Learning; the University of Ghana, being in the front lines, training people to solve problems. Graphically, poverty resembles that monster with weapons and ammunitions, ravishing homes and causing untold frustrations in alarming proportions. To this end, an army had gathered. A commander from South Korea with Generals from Nigeria, Ghana, Democratic Republic of Congo and Senegal. Let the war begin!!!

Participants filed into the Auditorium. I spotted some high level opinion leaders, Diplomats and Students.  Slowly, it was getting filled but just about thirty minutes to the commencement, more people, especially students galloped in. Media houses kept busy positioning and repositioning equipment. Joy News, Live Fm, FTV et al.

At 3:44, I took another full scan of the Great Hall and it was filled to capacity with overflows outside. Mind you, this was a rare opportunity for anybody to listen to great minds and capture historic photos of Dr. Jim Yong Kim and his crusaders.

The mounted banner stretched from one end of the stage to the other, on it was printed the ‘End Poverty’ logo, interspersed with two globes. The ‘End Poverty’ logo was in different colours, which I believe signifies the fight to end poverty was happening in every continent.  I was at the right place at the right time.

At exactly 4pm, Nhyira Addo alias the ‘rainmaker’; Host of Joy fm Morning show mounted the podium. ‘This aeroplane is air-borne’ I said to myself. ‘Welcome ladies and gentlemen to the World Bank Shared Prosperity Forum.....’  His delivery was impeccable; voice? Lively and musical, even finer than what one often heard on radio. Perhaps, radio waves steals some savoury in one’s voice. Maybe?

Nhyira Addo paused for half a second, took a half breathe, scanned the audience and delivered another powerful introduction. This time, It was to invite 2015 Ghana New Artiste of the Year, MsVee; the Natural Girl Dancehall Queen. MzVee is spotted in one of the ‘End Poverty’ T-shirts.

Opening her performance with Bob Marley’s ‘No wo man No cry’, she switched to her ‘Borkor Borkor’, ‘Natural Girl’, ‘Dancehall Queen’  tracks. Me? Was I dancing? (laughs) I had to restrain myself as the temptation to slalom on stage was high, rather, I nodded as she effortlessly cruised from one song to another. It was like one long song with many parts. While she was at it, the dignitaries filed in.

First, Professor Jane Naane Opoku-Agyemang, the Ghanaian Minister of Education at 4pm. Then, Dr. Jim Yong Kim and his Officials at the World Bank, Mr. Makhtar Diop, Vice President of World Bank Africa Region followed almost immediately. Dr. Kim was all smiles, nodding as MsVee performed. Oh such a bubbly man.

Next to arrive was one of Africa’s wealthiest Entrepreneurs and Philanthropists, Tony Onyemaechi Elumelu. Yes, Chairman of Heirs Holdings, The United Bank of Africa, Transcorp, Founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation and one of 20 Most Powerful People in Africa according to Forbes. He wore a grey Suit with a red necktie and red socks to match. A minute later, the Prime minister of Democratic Republic of Congo was ushered in. Finally came, Mr. Akinwumi Adesina, President of African Development Bank.

Akwaaba (Welcome)
As expected, the Vice Chancellor of the University, Professor Ernest Aryeetey had the honour of giving the first words and rightly so as head of the University. He walked onto the stage with such pride and urgency, offering his appreciation to all for coming. He could have chosen to hijack the stage to talk about himself and the university and what-not from the birth of Adam till the death of Jesus. He chose not to. In fact, His welcome address inspired hope yet did not last more than 120 seconds. Kudos Mr. Vice Chancellor.

Mr. Makhtar Diop was next on the bill. His task was to give an introductory remark. He was quick to express his delights at the strides being made by the University of Ghana in developing leaders for the world stage. The Senegalese Diplomat gave us more than we asked for. How? ‘That the Democratic republic of Congo was a shining example of an African country fighting poverty tooth and nails.

He quickly nailed down the fact that the Democratic Republic of Congo under the leadership of Matata Ponyo Mapon had kept inflation at 1% since 2013, which was at a staggering 53% in 2009, despite the fragility of the country’s economy. Who is this Matata Poyon Mapon?

Enters: His Excellency Matata Ponyo Mapon
Those who did not see the average-height man when he entered the Hall, due largely to the numbers around him (Understandable for the First Gentlemen of every country) waited patiently for this opportunity. Rounds of applause slapped the insides of the Hall as he made his way to the podium. Mr. Matata Ponyo Mapon speaking for almost half an hour explained that his government continues to implement tough economic reforms in fighting poverty and creating wealth. He backed his points with one statistic after the other.
‘Two roads diverged in the wood, and I -
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference’
Robert Frost (The road not taken)

Referring to the above, Mr. Matata Ponyo Mapon shared his motivation in all he did. Hey, Big ups to all lovers of Poetry in Africa!

Enters: Lerato
Lerato Mbele, the South Africa Journalist who works with the British Broadcasting Corporation had been billed to moderate the Panel discussions davos style. She invited the Panellists, Dr. Kim, Mr, Adesina,  Professor Opoku-Agyeman and Mr. Elumelu.

Lerato laid grounds rules. Panellists were encouraged to give short straight-forward answers. Participants were urged to clap in solidarity with opinions from the panellists and to keep a ‘straight face’ when they disagreed with panellists.

Professor Opoku-Agyemang
Lerato punched the Ghanaian minister with the first question ‘What do you understand by poverty and who are the most vulnerable to poverty?’ The Minister in response believed women and children were most vulnerable. She reminded us of Kwegyir –Aggrey in 1923, who said that ‘If you educate a woman, you educate a family’.

Dr. Jim Yong Kim
Dr. Kim who heads the World Bank Group; a Physician and Anthropoligist by training, is such an exceptional brain. His economic insights and ability to speak in a clear understandable manner is enviable. On which groups of people were more vulnerable to poverty, he said:

‘I think it’s the poor child living in and around rural areas between the ages of 0-5’
‘It’s the height of unfairness to relegate children under age five to never being able to learn’
‘Children have to be able to learn anything and quickly we have to dedicate a huge portion of our operations to the achievement of this objective.

Addressing students, Dr. Kim said ‘This is the most important thing i can tell you, the Korea of 1959 is now the Africa of 2015, we talk about Africa Rising but in quiet conversations we hear all kinds of talk about impossible, you know what we hear from the prime minister about DRC lots of people were saying that’s impossible, don’t ever believe and certainly don’t believe it by yourselves’

Mr. Akinwumi Adesina
Mr. Adesina, was more concerned about the essence of agriculture, arguing that, agribusiness and technology is Africa’s best bet at reducing poverty. We were all thrown into laughter when he joked that even doctors advised patients to take their medication after meals, hence the unavoidability of agriculture.
‘65% percent of all the arable lands in the world are not in Asia, Latin America, right here in Africa, great sunshine, great water, cheap labour, you thrown anything up, it comes down, it grows’.

‘Today, Africa, Ghana, Liberia, Cote d’ivoire, Cameroon produce 75% of all the cocoa in the world but we get only 3% of a hundred billion dollar market. I went to Belgium one day and I went to a store and picked up a chocolate, and it was written on it, manufacturers, we’ve been in business since 1863. So I asked the person, do you want to know what i really think, Africa has been doing the wrong thing since 1863’

Mr. Tony Onyemaechi Elumelu
Easy talking Mr. Elumelu agreed that agriculture and agribusiness was the way forward adding. Lerato sought to suggest that young people had less interest in agriculture. Tony disagreed and posited that actual statistics proved otherwise. He then advanced that thirty percent of applicants to the Tony Elumelu Foundation entrepreneurship Program actually needed support to grow their agribusinesses.

‘In recent times, African investments in Africa have now surpassed foreign investments in Africa’

Lerato and Tony
Lerato: How did you get out of poverty to wealth? Five factors?
Tony: Hard work, enabling environment. Discipline, Culture of saving, Long term thinking, Align with people with similar perspectives. And it is the combination of these and more that accounts for my success
Trust me; it’s very difficult, almost impossible to limit the likes of Elumelu.

The night had been largely a mastermind sharing of ideas. Lerato had hinted by her line of questioning that she was drawing the curtains down. The Ghanaian Minister, being the only woman panellist knew how to make her presence felt when the question fell in her area of expertise; education. She took the bull by the horn when Lerato asked her about a child who doesn’t want to study mathematics because he prefers to be an Artist and still make a great contribution, throwing her fellow panellists and audience into rapturous rounds of applause

She argued that the manner in which science and mathematics has been taught has been the challenge, adding that it formed the foundation, adding the language uses to instruct students have been another barrier.

‘It is those who have taught it who have not taught it well and let me tell you that my ministry has since 2013 retrained almost 2000 science and mathematics teachers across the country’ ...
‘let me use a very practical example, of a child whose mum processes palm oil, from the farm to the oil, if this is not science, then I don’t know what science is’

(Audience charge, giving rounds after rounds of applause) She continued:

‘Take the seamstress who sews for example, she uses a scissors. The scissors is a scientific instrument and the way she cuts her materials is mathematics. If this is not mathematics, then I don’t know what it is’.

(The Hall becomes smaller as the cheers intensify. Dr. Kim and his colleagues can’t hide their excitement)

‘Nothing stopped Korea from using their language, by using their language; it didn’t stop them from making the fridges and phones that we import, because Koreans were taught in a language they understood, the equation picked up. Because we are teaching our children in a language they can’t even follow, we are drawing them back’

*Sweat profusely*---*Wipes brow*---*Drinks water*
The Ghanaian Minister better be ready to answer more questions because the local media landscape and social media will gruel her ideas the hardest way they can, pass it through the magnifying glass and test its strength. Is her proposition on local language as medium of instruction of learning feasible? Now or Later?

As for Lerato, she knew she had reached the climax and that there was no better time to end the conversation than now. Lady and gentlemen, your final comments on how we can end poverty?
Dr. Adesina: ‘Just end it’
Mr. Elumelu: ‘create employment and embrace local value industrial activities
Dr. Kim: ‘Listen to young people and listen to the women' Smart Kim. (Audience erupt again)
Honourable Opoku-Agyemang: Focus on quality education delivered in the right medium.

Diplomats are guarded out
Photography and Exchange of pleasantries

I stepped out, hopped on a bus and returned home. Thank you for your time. #spidup

Effective and Efficient —An unclear dichotomy?

It is very easy to confuse efficiency as the same as effectiveness. There is nothing farther from the truth. The two can quite easily be opposites if we take a closer look. In everyday language, we can easily say a person is efficient and actually mean they are effective.  Hopefully your view will be well-formed by the end of this article and you will begin to look for effectiveness and not efficiency.

Efficient actually means you are good at keeping things the way they are—you meet the standard. There is a system and a standard in place, you follow it very well enough not to upset it. So that most people are in fact efficient (normal or average performers) and form the 80% of the population that keep things the way they are. As long as we remain efficient in what we do, we will get good results but nothing will change. There will be no breaking of new grounds. This is detrimental to human progress as by nature, the world itself is in a perpetual state of growth and nothing stays the same. The mobile phone in your hand has not always been the way it is. It has been continuously changed by effective people who consistently sought to improve.  It is normal for people to be born into the world, live and die. That is normal and a person can get very good at living life efficiently without making any real difference. Efficient leadership therefore, actually keeps us where we are— maintaining the status quo.

Effective on the other hand is another matter altogether. There are certain individuals who’s very presence challenges everyone and everything around them. They know not another way to live but to change things for the better. Such persons are responsible for the progress mankind enjoys. As soon as they become a part of something, that thing must change. It is the reason they are referred to as game changers. These are the effective people— the 10% responsible for raising the bar for everyone else to catch up. They are peak performers.

So that we can easily see what can be described as an effective leader and efficient leader. It is the difference between a person who got into a position and a person who actually lead the way with something they did. Effectiveness is what Jesus meant when he said “you are the salt of the earth”. Salt by nature is an effective change agent. You know immediately when the food is missing salt just as you know when Barcelona is missing Messi. When a person is born into the world, he must leave it improved—something about the world must be better or something of great benefit must come into existence because of his presence.

This then is the difference between being efficient and being effective. Most importantly it is imperative for every one of us to evaluate ourselves regarding our effectiveness. And if we are in a leadership position, ensure that we are true leaders and not position occupiers. What is the nature of your influence on the organization you are part of? How has that group changed for the better since you became part of it? May you receive grace to be the salt of any group you are a part of. May things begin to move because of you.
#spidup #hopemanexhortations

An unsual portrait of leadership

Peak Performance makes leaders. Peak performers are people who because of integrity with themselves, always function from strength and are always in possession of a vision that others find difficult to comprehend. Because of this, they are often leaders—they chart a new course that others must follow. There appears to be a huge misunderstanding about what leadership really is. Papa Oyedepo described it in the most interesting way and I paraphrase;

most people think leadership is about being promoted or elected into a position.  The answer is more complex than that. It is about doing something more than others in a particular field so that others don’t have a choice but to follow your example. They must fight to catch up with you. You must lead the way by taking humanity to its next level of evolution.

It is not surprising that the proponent of this idea built the largest Church auditorium in the world in a so-called third world country. He epitomizes leadership and he is certainly a peak performer. In this regard, men like Steve jobs can clearly be described as leaders not because he headed an organization, but more because of the nature of the things that came into existence because of him and how people did not have a choice but to emulate. He led the way with the ipod, the ipad and a host of other products. In effect, he had a leadership/Peak Performance mindset because there was nothing he touched that didn’t become the new standard and this appeared to happen by default. Whiles a lot have been said by experts about his leadership style and how others will fail if they followed his pattern; little has been said about his advantage as performance conscious individual. If you always lead, people do not really have a choice but to follow. Creating leading products made him a magnet of people. Everyone is attracted to success, greatness and the visions that make them possible. So much so, that even “Hitler and Stalin” had followers.

I submit to you that; if you lead the way with everything you do, people will not have a choice but to follow. The biggest thing about Steve Jobs may not be his people management skills. Yet those who worked with him are always inspired by his need to break new grounds. For that they are driven enough to follow him and he never failed to bring them to the promise land as long as they accept the challenge of the journey. If Steve is building something, you know you want to see it. Things are not that different for Papa Oyedepo as he has had his fair share of criticism regarding his people management skills. I had the privilege of sitting in a leadership class handled by the Apostle General of Royal House Chapel Rev. Sam Korankye Ankrah recently. Those traits were clearly present as his very words left all participants in a challenged frame of mind. He demands everyone to be the best—you have to be stupid to not want to be your best.  The crux of the matter is simple, true leaders by their very need to break new grounds will cause a useful discomfort somehow. But those uncomfortable moments are moments of impartation and those who survive it become leaders in their own right.

So that we can easily see what can be described as an effective leader and efficient leader. There is a difference between a person who got into a position and a person who actually lead the way with something they did. When a person is appointed or elected into a position, we are able to tell whether they maintained the status quo or brought us to a new level of development.

In the case of Africa, we cannot afford any more efficient leaders. We need true leaders as we seem to be stuck in one place barely even meeting the standard.  The nature of any group is a reflection of its leadership. Being stuck in one place in a matter of time transmogrifies into retrogression because nature doesn’t have the space for it. It is the reason why you will soon find snakes in your lawn when you abandon it for too long and find spiders and all kinds of co-inhabitants in your house when you leave it unattended for too long. #spidup #hopemanexhortations