What Other Festivals Can Learn From Chale Wote

So last weekend was the Chale Wote Festival and as usual High Street saw floods of people parading through James Town to take selfies, express themselves, enjoy the art and entertainment artists had to offer and have a jolly good time. If there is anything that the Chale Wote festival teaches us, it is that Art is powerful social magnet. 
I remember when the Chale Wote in 2011 started. I didn’t attend that year but the streets weren’t packed with people like I saw last weekend. It was the beginning of something great and like a baby, Chale Wote festival was just getting used to its feet.
Year after year the scale of the festival has just grown to become in my opinion the biggest festival in Ghana. Strangely enough other festivals and events, paid or free that have a track record still can’t attract the audience that Chale Wote attracts (well unless its a sports event or shata wake lol).
The Chale Wote festival and its organizers are not perfect but on the whole understand people better than most. So I ask myself this question, why can’t other festivals especially the cultural ones, fuse art into their events?
There is a lot to benefit from such fusion. First off you get people who aren’t attracted by culture to be interested in coming to the event. 
Art within cultural festivals is a win win because it presents audiences with an opportunity to experience the beauty of Ghanaian culture that they may have been unaware of. They get to take their pictures with art and also see a side of Ghanaian culture that they never knew.
Tourism also has an opportunity here. Restaurants, bars, guest houses, hotels and the likes can make use of such festivals to increase business. The ministry of Tourism in my opinion should champion the cause to get something started. A lot of people travel to see the Chale Wote festival. What are the stats on this? How can we use it to improve festivals and tourism?
We are sitting on a lot of opportunity here that people are dying to see. All we have to do is infuse art with it and “kpakpakpa” you got success.
Keep it One Hondred!

Don't Use Your Left Hand

“Don’t point with your left.”
“Don’t give stuff to people with your left”

Should I stop taking left turns as well? What’s the big deal with the left hand? Did someone do something that bad that Ghana is stuck with this practice?
On my birthday in 2014 I decided to do stand up comedy. My wife thought I was crazy. I thought it was an interesting challenge.
The material I had focused on bathroom behaviour, of which I will discuss in another post. I however want to focus on the part that dealt with the use of the left hand in the bathroom and the cultural practice that forbids us from using it to do a number of things.
I am hoping this post will shed light on the issue and get me to comprehend what the fuss is all about.
What’s The Problem With The Left Hand?
Rumor has it that this all had to do with bathroom etiquette. Apparently we don’t give things to people or point with our left hand because when we use the bathroom, we are to use our left hand in wiping our business.
Let that sink in for a minute.
I pray this is not the only reason. I have been looking for a better reason yet the same story keeps coming up.
Why Don’t I Buy Into The Left Hand Culture?
I don’t know which authority came up with this narrative but I have a couple of concerns that make it difficult to accept the practice.

  1. Is there an empirical study showing the benefits of using the left hand in the bathroom?
  2. Even if a study existed showing that there are benefits (which I doubt), who checks as to which hand people use each time they use the bathroom?
  3. Isn’t the advent of soap supposed to eliminate the danger of wiping as a problem?
  4. The ring finger is on the left hand. So should we change that to the right?

Should I use my left or right to wipe?
Should I use my left or right to wipe?
NEWS FLASH: I am not sure which hand I personally use to handle my business in the bathroom. I think I am ambidextrous in that respect. I mean even if I said I use my left would you believe me?
Even I wouldn't believe you dad
Even I wouldn’t believe you dad
Politics alone should tell you that people say one thing and do another in the polling booth. How much more when they are in the toilet.
Left Discrimination
When growing up I realized all around me that the left hand was frowned upon. People were forced to learn how to write with their right hand when they were left handed.
(And it wasn’t to make them ambidextrous)
How can such a practice be accepted?
God created a child and blessed them with the ability to do things with their left hand. Culture then bars that from being developed?
In sports left handed people are a gem. I am sure in other respects they are treasured. So why do we discriminate against treasured individuals all because of a bathroom issue?
I don’t agree with the left hand culture. However, I adhere to it in the company of elders. I do it for the peace and also because I believe that there is a stronger cultural reason than which I keep hearing.
Even if the reason stays the same I will respect culture and use my right amongst my elders. In such scenarios that’s not the time for such a discussion.
That’s why I am blogging about it. So help me out in understanding this Ghanaian practice.
Is it good or bad?
Keep your responses One Hondred!

I Got My Period!

Girl: I got my period!
Guy: (thinking) THANK GOD!
The above is a perfect example describing the term, “breathe a sigh of relief”.
If you slept with a girl unprotected and she complains about a late period and later tells you that it came, you will understand the relief being described.
If a picture says a thousand words then the feature image by artist Ray Styles, says five thousand for sure. 
Unfortunately it’s something that is rarely discussed. Our culture is partly to blame for it. Parents and family rarely discuss sex with their children and it sometimes leads to them getting into situations that could have been avoided.
Today I want to take a brief look at what guys go through in this situation when at university and encourage all to discuss this more in order for the youth not to repeat the mistakes of our past.
Majority of what I am going to share is from a Whatsapp discussion about the feature image. Guys behavior in this situation is funny when viewed from the perspective that the girl’s period eventually came.
Instead of you studying in school, you are chopping girls.
When your sex partner speaks of period lateness and you had unprotected sex, boys can’t think straight.  
Stress be what! ????
You lose appetite, can’t focus on studies, travel back in time to perform analytics on whether your little yous suddenly became faster than Usain Bolt. 
Some go forward in time and ask thought provoking questions such as:

  1. How much are diapers?
  2. Am I ready to be a father?
  3. What will I do if she is actually pregnant?

Some become religious and are looking for a miracle so bad that the “we’re not interested” attitude when student evangelists came over evolves into reception and a new born again status.
And they PRAY!
So if a university male student tells you he is stressed and it’s evident and he keeps praying, chances are he is in period camp.
(Period camp….that’s a nice way to describe what guys feel)
Most guys enter a “God save me and I will never have sex again” contract. The lies God hears, I wonder whether He laughs or views it as a lesson in disguise.
The icing on the cake is that the girl in question often doesn’t freak out the way the guy freaks out. This apparently depends on how you look at it. Internally girls freak out. They also freak out in the physical to their besties. In the presence of guys however they often play it cool and this drives guys NUTS!
So why can’t students just use protection and save themselves from this wahala (stress)? 

Condoms and a quote to emphasize what is precious
Condoms and a quote
That is a million dollar question. Is the education on contraceptives enough? Are youth these days pressured into being stupid?
The best thing is to abstain. I however would not put myself in a pot calling the kettle black situation and pretend that is the only solution. I repeat, it’s the best thing to do, not from a Christian standpoint but from EVERY standpoint.
If however you decide to delve into promiscuity, use protection. Yes, love without glove feels good and blah blah blah but let’s play a little game I learned in economics called opportunity cost. 
What’s the opportunity cost of you having unprotected sex?

  1. You could produce a baby ( don’t act you ain’t fertile)
  2. You can contract an STD (Sexualy Transmitted Disease).
  3. You can contract AIDS (I know it’s an STD but it deserves its own bullet point)
  4. The stress – I can’t quantify it but it’s a LOT.
  5. Cultural and societal embarrassment if you are a student and a baby is on the way.

The benefit of unprotected sex is the feeling and that as most ladies will tell you is not always guaranteed. So why risk it for some guy or girl you just met or your partner.
NEWS FLASH: a good portion of university relationships seldom make it to marriage so why fight against statistics. 
We need to discuss this more with others. Not only our peers but the younger ones as well. Society today is bombarded with enticement from all angles. 
The internet, social media and instant messaging escalates the importance we as adults need to place on educating the youth.
The problem is young people think they know. However letting them know of the close calls you had can be a turn around for them. A line after all needs to be drawn somewhere.
What has been your experience with late periods or period camp?
Will you discuss this with youth you know?
Let’s be real about this issue and keep it One Hondred!
A big thank you to Ray Styles for allowing me to use his image in this article and using his art to start a conversation.

God Loves A Cheerful Giver

How many Ghanaian Christians would like to deposit their tithes and offering one time in church via mobile money?
I have been asking people this very question for a couple of weeks now and have received mixed responses. 
I have not conducted a wide enough survey to have conclusive results but my findings so far have revealed that Christians are more comfortable with tithes being transferred via mobile money than offering.
What is it about offering that makes people uncomfortable about transferring it digitally?
People feel something is missing when offering is transffered via a transaction. (Maybe a blessing is not received when money is sent over the phone.) 
Maybe there is a fear that people wouldn’t give money in church and lean on the “I sent it via mobile money” excuse.
In my opinion, the advent of mobile money provides churches with an opportunity to both make their congregation more generous and raise more funds.
I for one last month reserved a fixed amount of cash for offering and found that I gave more than the past months because I had planned for it. Previous months found me playing wheel of fortune with my offering amount. 
“Is it too small?” 
“I need to buy something after church so I can’t give that much”
“My money is finished so I can only give this amount”
This and many more are excuses I have made in the past due to my failure to plan for the month. As a result I end up not being a cheerful giver.

2nd Corinthians 9:6-7 MSG
2nd Corinthians 9:6-7 MSG

In 2nd Corinthians we are told about God’s view on giving. Whilst this is not specifically in an offering context it still applies. For the many blessings I received knowingly and unknowingly, I believe I owe the Lord a respectable token of appreciation in the form of an offering. In order for me not to disrespect that token I set it aside each month. 
Last month I was able to go through without needing to borrow from the offering account. I would like to however just set the money aside by transferring it into the churches account. Mobile money is preferred because it is more convenient.
So if my suggestion is implemented, will I stop giving offering at church?
I however will view such offerings as top ups and will probably want to do it via the mobile money platform.
I must caution myself however that people may not view my not giving offering on Sunday kindly. Ghanaians in my view are very traditional in nature. (Even the idea of Bibles on smart devices do not appeal to some.)
Matthew 6:1
Matthew 6:1

The anonymity of mobile money is what appeals to me. Matthew 6 does a good job of giving us an idea of how God prefers we conduct our giving. Mobile money helps in this regard. Grace however is needed to carry one through a service amidst eyes that look to guilt trip or force you into throwing air into the offering basket to put your conscience and minds of onlookers at ease. 
(The hypocrisy that sometimes surrounds churches is staggering.)
Other benefits of conducting offerings via mobile moneyinclude:

  1. Security: offering sent via mobile money is not handled by ushers and there is a paper trail of transactions.
  2. Anytime Offering: Offerings can be given anytime and not restricted to Sunday.
  3. Environmental: Envelopes used for tithes and other offerings will be reduced thus saving envelopes expenditure and as a result reducing paper wastage.

So how many offerings should a church collect on Sunday? I for one believe in taking one offering at church and also not a fan of funds being raised during Sunday service. I will however speak on that tomorrow.
So as you keep it ONE HONDRED! What do you think about mobile money and church offering?

You Are Invited

“You Are Invited”
A half baked trick question that requires the recipient to respond in the negative but never provides guidelines on the procedure.
It’s Ghanaian in nature and sometimes very irritating. Author Alba K Sunprim addresses this very issue in her book “The Imported Ghanaian” but unlike Alba however, I am not imported.
I have never understood why you invite someone to eat with you when you don’t mean it. (If you use this term and are generous with your food I apologize. This post is for the hypocrites that do)
I recall an incident in my younger years at a friends house. They had some friends over about my age and as was the tradition in the home, my friends mother made pancakes (my kryptonite). 
I had gobbled my share and was hoping for an opportunity to “chop” some more. (chop is the pidgin word for eat) 
As my mind  reminisced on the last bite, an invitation was made to me. 
“You are invited”, said the young lad who had just received two pancakes straight from the frying pan.
My hopes had transformed into prayers and the Almighty Lord has answered. My lips widened for a smile and uttered a sly thank you. Which saw me proceed to take a seat by my new friend in the kitchen and help him devour his pancake. 
I helped my self to one piece which hit the spot just right.
My new friend was in complete silence and disbelief at my actions but couldn’t utter a word of resistance. Scolding by my friends mother followed but the damage was already done. In my defense, I was invited. My friends mom just shook her head and gave the boy another pancake.
As he received the dish he looked at me and this time offered no invitation. I let out a smile and thought to myself, “That lesson tasted good!”
As you keep it One HONDRED! should you always invite people when eating?

It's a Boy!

“So is it a boy or a girl?”, I asked my wife. “A girl”, she said. “The doctor can’t see a penis down there and he has tried saaaaa, so I believe we have a girl”.
(saaaa: a word in Twi which describes how long something has occurred usually emphasized by the number of “a” used)
I had always wanted a girl as my first child before a boy. (Look at me acting like I was in control of that decision) I had my reasons, which I will explain later as this isn’t the purpose of my post. 
I was pleased with the results after numerous scans pointed in my favor. I was however hesitant in accepting the gender verdict as I heard of surprises from other parents.
Thus baby shopping was always in neutral  colours. Except for the Manchester United onesie I bought earlier in the year. (What a proud purchase)

Manchester United Onesie
Manchester United Onesie
Unfortunately when the baby was delivered I wasn’t around. It was in the early hours of the morning and I was asked by the hospital staff to go home and rest assured. It was my mother-in-law who called to deliver the news. 
It’s a Boy! 
(that emoji was my face when I heard the news)
I was surprised but not disappointed. Laughed my head off at God’s way of playing pranks with me and started thinking of what to call my new born son.
Fast forward into the future, I get surprised at people’s reactions when they are told of the baby’s gender.
“Chale you force oooo!”
“You have done well!”
I may sound unappreciative but I found those comments at times disappointing. Especially when I mention that I was looking forward to a girl and receive an opposite reaction.
In 2016 I thought Ghana’s views on children will have changed but it seems the old ways are still present. 
A girl and a boy are different and each bring something different to a family. However it is God who provides these blessings and knows what is best for us. 
Hondred Percent and son yawning
Hondred Percent and son yawning

As much as I was looking forward to having a daughter, I am ecstatic about my son. Never did I know the feeling of pride and happiness he will bring into my life. I just don’t like the idea that boys are still perceived as major achievement and girls as a minor one. Maybe it’s just because it’s my first child.
I liken this to a football match. You always prefer your team to score first and win as opposed to being scored first and then winning from behind.
I just worry about the social and cultural pressure placed on women who had daughters first and how they must feel. I mean, that could have easily been us. Makes me wonder the reaction to the gender some would have given if my child was a girl.
Maybe I am viewing this all wrong. I however feel these perceptions should change. So as you keep it One HONDRED! What’s your take on this?