How Kennedy’s Years of Lightning, Day of Drums Stole The Heart Of Ghanaians

DePree 1People’s Republic of Mozambique President Samora Machel meeting with U.S. Ambassador Willard DePree in July 1980. Photo: Courtesy of Willard DePree

Years after waiting to get to Africa, WILLARD DE PREE, US Political Officer, finally had his chance. He was initially assigned to Kaduna, in Nigeria, but that appointment was cancelled  Bill Edmondson, who was head of the political section in Accra had to return to the United States for family reasons.

Oliver Troxel, the DCM, asked De Pree, if I would be interested in going out to replace Bill Edmondson. He was very pleased with the assignment, especially in a country under one of Africa’s strongest leaders, Kwame Nkrumah. America played a significant role in Ghana’s politics and which cost Nkrumah at the end, when he was overthrown-ed a coup orchestrated by the CIA.

Ambassador Willard De Pree born in Michigan in 1928 and received his B.A. from Harvard University and an M.A. from the University of Michigan in 1952, was assigned to Ghana from 1964 to 1968. During his tenure of office in Accra, the US embassy received copies of the film that USIA had put out entitled, “Years of Lightning, Day of Drums,” about the Kennedy Administration.

Shortly before that film was produced, the embassy had sent the regional governors of Ghana to the United States for a tour. They had been escorted by Jack Matlock, who was then an officer at the embassy in Ghana. When the film arrived, the embassy decided to show it around Ghana at each of the regional capitals.

De Pree together with Jack Matlock, went to Blogatanga, in the northern region of Ghana and the governor put the screen in the middle of the town square and thousands of people, seated on all sides of the screen, showed up to see it. It was incredible, the reaction and feeling of black Africa toward Kennedy and the Kennedy Administration.

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Link of the film: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PvN5ecqCFk0

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Sanitation in Ghana: A Disaster or a Challenge?

Ghana 3After many years of independence Ghana is one of the countries in Africa facing waste disposal, recycling and poor drainage problems.

Original article published in Huffingtonpost.com by Karen Curley

When one walks down the streets in Makola Market, you are overwhelmed by all of the trash that litters the streets. Trash and waste are everywhere. Accra is the capital of Ghana and is a modern city, yet there is garbage all over. There are many reasons for this:

Lack of Proper Sanitation Only 77.5% of homes have toilets. Only 30% have flush toilets. The average person in Accra has to share toilets with 10 or more persons in public latrines. Lack of plumbing has led to huge amounts of water being dumped on the streets.

Lack of a Working Sanitation System Waste removal is for the wealthy because they can afford it. Only 60% of the population has regular waste collection. As of June 17th, all 3 refuse dump sites were closed down. Because of this open sewers and rains are full of trash. Most of the pipes are in polluted gutters. Broken or vandalized ones are open to germs.

Lack of Public Awareness and Proper Education about Causes and Prevention of Diseases There is a lack of information to the public about how diseases spread because of germs and poor sanitation.

Most people are not aware that Accra’s trash problem is a growing cause of many of its diseases. In 2008 over 700US million dollars was spent on treating malaria in Ghana. That figure has not slowed down. Malaria is the number one health problem all over Ghana, especially in Accra.

Malaria accounted for 53% of Accra’s illnesses last year. According to the National Malaria Control Programme, “During 2009, a person in Ghana died from malaria about every 3 hours. This means about 3,000 people died of malaria in Ghana that year alone, most of them children. Cholera is another big problem in Ghana. As of November 2011, cholera has claimed 101 lives.

There have been 10,002 cases reported in Ghana. The cholera outbreak has been directly linked to a lack of proper refuse dumping sites and improper disposal of waste. Deputy Health Minister Rojo Mettle Nunoo has asked assemblies to implement their sanitation by-laws.

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When will Africa or Ghana rise above this? Ghana needs to embark on underground drainage system. 

He has stated that Accra and other larger cities face a 13% chance of a cholera epidemic. He also stated that frequent occurrences of the outbreak happen because many homes, work places, and public places do not have facilities.

So where does Accra go from here? The biggest problem facing Accra is that of mindset. Accra’s people need to adjust their mindset to the changing times. It is no longer ok to throw trash on the ground and in their gutters.

People must educate themselves on the dangers of inadequate sanitation and begin using garbage containers. Authorities from the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) must implement proper sanitation planning. Without, the above Accra will continue on its course with disease and death.

The Writer

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Karen Curley is an international photographer based out of Los Angeles, CA. Her pictures have been seen in many publications including Spin Magazine, US Weekly, and InStyle Magazine.

Her pictures have also been featured on the Conan O’Brien show. She has worked internationally for The Accra Mail in Ghana Africa. Her passion is urban photography. Her work with the homeless has been shown in galleries all over Los Angeles.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/karen-curley/sanitation-in-ghana-a-dis_b_1197217.html

My Motherland Offers Riches To The Tourist, So Why Are So Many Ghanaians Queuing Up To Come To Britain?

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Ghana Says ‘Awaaba’- Welcome

A tale of two countries

Article by Henry Bonsu: A journalist and broadcaster (Originally published in TheGuardian)

While my primary government, in London, has been struggling to persuade people in Britain it has done enough to keep out the huddled masses from eastern Europe, my secondary government, in Accra, has also been preoccupied with travel. But rather than keeping undesirables out, Ghana’s government is more concerned with bringing people in: to spend their pounds, dollars and euros on business and tourism. And Ghanaians living in Britain are being asked to do their bit to help turn their country into Africa’s number one destination.

The tourism minister, Jake Obestebi-Lamptey, wants us to tell people that the former Gold Coast has become a “bird-watcher’s paradise, eco-tourism haven and an adventurer’s dream”. I’ve been wondering, though, how we can persuade the locals that they are sitting on such a goldmine. Stroll past the British high commission in Accra on any given evening and you’ll see Ghanaians bedding down, hoping to be the first in the visa queue the next morning.

And the 35,000 Ghanaians who were granted short-term entry to Britain this year, and the similar number of rejects, are just a fraction of those who dream of fleeing poverty. With doctors, nurses and teachers in the vanguard, ministers have been insisting on loyalty clauses for ambitious graduates. Not for nothing are we called the “Jews of Africa”, with an estimated 200,000 Ghanaians and their descendants settling in this country alone since independence.

Some people are used to thinking of Ghana as a “beacon” country of stability and inward investment – the symbolic destination for African-Caribbeans and Americans who wish to reclaim their heritage. Didn’t the IMF and World Bank lavish praise on former president Jerry Rawlings and his successor John Kufuor for their growth rates of 5%? Haven’t Japan and the EU given Ghana millions of dollars for skills training and poverty reduction?

Indeed they have. But when I visit my motherland this summer, it will, once again, be a tale of two countries. I’ll marvel at the beach hotels, luxury estates and free press, and revel in the power of the pound, which takes me from bohemian Brixton to the elite of Ghanaian society in six hours.

But this is the Ghana of the expatriate, and the rich business and political classes, who travel in and out of Britain, but have no intention of staying because their standard of living cannot be replicated in any European country.

The other Ghana is that of my cousin, a pastor, who ministers in the densely populated areas of Greater Accra. Maamobi is typical; a district of shanty housing, open sewers, malaria and mass unemployment. If you are lucky enough to have a job, your minimum wage has just gone up to 11,000 cedis (65p) a day.

My aunt is a typical resident, full of incredible hospitality, but she talks about her own future with little ambition, investing all hope in the children she’s managed to send abroad. Swatting away flies under the burning sun, she chats about whether things can change in “Mother Ghana”, with frequent references to gye nyame (“only God can help us”).

Perhaps such fatalism is understandable in a 60-year-old, who has witnessed colonial rule followed by decades of strong-man politics. But it is more distressing to see the fight go out of younger people, who can spend years in limbo, waiting for an overseas relative to pay some middle man a £3,000 “connection fee” to ease their passage. Ironically these are the same Ghanaians who, once here, will hold down two or three jobs, and contribute their share of an annual $1.5bn in remittances to sustain their family.

When cousins ask me how life is in Britain, I warn that although the 60s Nkrumah generation – which includes my parents – have largely succeeded in grooming their children for a middle-class future, things are more unpleasant for recent arrivals; that unless they have key qualifications (medical, educational or social work), they will have few choices – hence around 60% of London’s parking attendants are Ghanaian or Nigerian.

Perhaps naively I offer to help them do business locally alongside the mechanics, seamstresses and shopkeepers, who somehow manage to make ends meet, but then I hear of Ghana’s frighteningly high interest and inflation rates, the soaring price of utilities (a consequence of foreign-inspired privatisation), and the stop-go electricity supply. If, like my uncle in Kumasi, you take up farming, which comprises 36% of Ghana’s GDP, could you compete with cheap subsidised goods from the west, without being given access to European and US markets?

Would you wait for change to be delivered by Blair and Geldof’s African Commission? No, in those circumstances, £6 an hour as a security guard or a cleaner in a faraway country may sound like a better way to make money. Perhaps, like the dozens of others who’ll be bedding down outside the British high commission tonight, you’d rehearse your lines in preparation for an interview, and perhaps a passport to life in London’s underbelly. So, if you’re a British traveller huffing at the occasional delay at Heathrow, spare a thought for the other kind of global traffic heading in your direction with tourism the last thing on its mind.

Great African-Americans Who Were Once In Ghana

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Muhammad Ali (Cassius Clay’s) visit to Ghana in 1964: In photo with Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, first president of Ghana. 

Among all the West African countries, Ghana, the country formally called Gold Coast, is one of the famous countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. Apart from being one of the peaceful countries in West Africa, Ghana has been one of the most visited countries in Africa by Africans in the Diaspora.

There is a reason Ghana is attracted to Africans in the Diaspora. Echoes of sad music in the air can be heard from Cape Coast, attracting thousands of tourists including African-Americans and other Africans in the Diaspora to visit Ghana, where their ancestors were packed like sardine into ships for slavery.

Apart from the fact that many Africans in the Diaspora go to Ghana to trace their roots or find their ancestors, Ghana was once under one of Africa’s most powerful and intelligent leaders, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah. He was the first African statesman to achieve world recognition when he became president of the new Republic of Ghana in 1960, after Ghana attains its independence in 1957.

He campaigned ceaselessly for African solidarity and for the liberation of southern Africa from white settler rule. His greatest achievement was to win the right of black peoples in Africa, to have a vote and to determine their own destiny. Nkrumah’s popularity which was like a bush fire in the dry season, brought him fame and also created a lot of enemies against him.

Many famous African-Americans, including Malcolm X, W.E.B Du Bois, Stevie Wonder, Maya Angelou etc. were all in Ghana. In the summer of 1964, Muhammad Ali took a trip to Ghana, a visit the boxer called “a return to the fatherland.” In the VIP room of the Accra Airport, he was greeted by Ghana’s Foreign Minister Kojo Botsio. According to report,  about 10,000 African Americans visit Ghana yearly, and almost 3,000 of them live in the capital, Accra.

On February 24th, 1966, Nkrumah was overthrown in a coup, master-minded by the CIA, after surviving many assassination attempts. He fled to Republic of Guinea to be with his friend Sekou Touré for a number of years and spent his later years in exile in Bucharest, Romania and  died on 27 April 1972.

Rolf Harris And Bill Cosby: The Shocking Scenarios Behind Television Entertainment

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Television personalities Rolf Harris and Bill Cosby: They have something in common.

I was just a little boy when I started watching the entertainment program of Rolf Harris, on Ghana Broadcasting Corporation television in Accra. He was a genius and had all the charismatic  powers to make entertainment worthy to watch. The fact that he could produce sound and rhythm out of any object that gets into his hands, made Rolf Harris one the best entertainers in the world.

What about Bill Cosby? Believe me, he was one of my favourite entertainers too.  The African-American comedian, actor and producer, born on July 12, 1937, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, played a major role in the development of more positive portrayal of African-Americans on television.

Television builds career and fame, thus; many people use it as a bait to execute their devilish plans. Just as the axiom goes “Not everything glitters is gold,” these two great television personalities used their positions to abused some of the people they invited to participate in the programs they ran.

Rolf Harris

Rolf Harris was jailed for five years and nine months for indecently assaulting young women and girls after the trial judge told the 84-year-old entertainer he had taken advantage of the trust provided by his fame.

“You have shown no remorse for your crimes at all,” Mr Justice Sweeney told an expressionless Harris, who sat in the glass-walled dock at Southwark crown court. “Your reputation now lies in ruins, you have been stripped of your honours, but you have no one to blame but yourself.”

In the case of three of the four victims, Sweeney told Harris, he “took advantage of the trust placed in you because of your celebrity status” to carry out the attacks. With the final victim, the childhood friend of Harris’s daughter Bindi Nicholls, who Harris began grooming aged 13, the star abused a different type of trust; the trust placed in him by the girl’s parents.

“You clearly got a thrill from committing the offences whilst others were present or nearby,” the judge told Harris. “Whilst such others did not realise what you were doing, their presence added to the ordeal of your victims.”

News source: The Guardian- http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/jul/04/rolf-harris-jailed-indecent-assault-young-girls

Sex and abuse scandals seem to have no limit, as many sexual abuse allegations are unearthed against the famous African-American comedian.

Bill Cosby

It’s hard to keep track of the sexual abuse allegations swirling around Bill Cosby, with fresh ones popping up seemingly every day and an unusual mix of decades-old accusations and brand new claims all getting a very public hearing in the news media.

All in all, 16 women have publicly accused Cosby of sexual abuse, 12 of whom have accused him of drugging them to facilitate the abuse. Some of those women may be among 13 anonymous “Jane Doe” accusers who agreed to testify against Cosby in a 2005 lawsuit that was settled out of court. Taken together, the accusations span the length of Cosby’s long career in the public eye as a beloved actor and comedian, from the mid-1960’s to the mid-2000’s. They were given new light last month by a comedian’s standup routine that caught fire on social media, and new accusers coming forward has led to a drip-drip effect of even more coming forward.

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Both TV personalities Rolf Harris and Bill Cosby fall from grace to grass

Cosby and his legal team have at various times issued wide-ranging, categorical denials or refused to discuss individual cases, with Cosby saying last week that “a guy doesn’t have to answer to innuendos.”

News source: Time- http://time.com/3602131/bill-cosby-sexual-assault-allegations-guide/

Do we need to believe in this Biblical quotation? No matter how long it takes, before or after death: “There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known.”- Luke 12:2.

Exploring Slave Dungeons At Cape Coast Castle

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Tourists exploring a slave dungeon at the Cape Coast castle

The mere mention of slavery brings bad memories, as it harboured unimaginable evil act, as thousands of Africans were captured under inhuman circumstances into overcrowded dungeons and transported across the Atlantic to the New World. Even though slavery is long abolished, the African still bears the psychological scars, as he fights to regain his lost identity and respect among mankind on the surface of the earth today.

The slave trade in Ghana mainly took place at coastal towns, but I wish to write about Cape Coast, my country of birth, which was the center of the British slave trade for almost 150 years. Cape Coast is located in the central region of Ghana. It was the capital of Gold Coast between 1700 until 1877 when the capital was shifted to Accra. Ghana replaced Gold Coast when the country achieved its independence in 1957.

Echoes of sad music in the air can be heard from Cape Coast, attracting thousands of tourists including African-Americans and other Africans in the Diaspora to visit the place, where their ancestors were packed like a sardine into ships for slavery. There is a proverb in Ghana which says “Man doesn’t cry.” I’m beginning to question this proverb if it has any elements of truth because any African in the Diaspora who visits Cape Coast castle can’t hold back his tears.

The psychological effect and emotions over Cape Coast Castle, which still has the remnants of the  slave trade, are unbearable. President Obama, wife, Michelle and children can’t forget the experience of touring the preserved sites. One can’t escape the cold waves which go through the spine. Even though many Africans in the Diaspora haven’t been to Ghana to trace their roots or visit Cape Coast, others had. The Pan African Historical Festival, simply called PANAFEST is a cultural event which has brought thousands of African-Americans to visit Cape Coast.

Visiting Cape Coast Castle to understand the pain and suffering endured by the millions of slaves is an important step for African-Americans and other Africans in the Diaspora to be closer to Africa. It is sad to note that many hate to be referred to as Africans, even though history about their origin isn’t a fabricated story. It seems that’s the way to help forget this bitter experience, but there is nothing satisfying than visiting the continent of your origin to discover the reality aspects of a sad journey.

Forts and castles built by Europeans between 1482 and 1786, serving as slave depots are still visible in Ghana. Apart from the Cape Coast Castle, are also Elmina and Christiansburg Castles.  Ghana invites you. Be part of other tourists to visit Cape Coast, to see the male dungeon, female dungeon, remnants and the reality of cruelty of slavery, committed by White Slave Masters.

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