Why Bother with the Local Languages?

  • In the past weeks I have had a lot of discussions on local languages in Ghana. Many times in my youth, I have felt non Ghanaian due to my inability to speak a local dialect fluently.
  • I am not proud of my inability to speak a local language fluently. It however doesn’t justify making others like me feel bad.

    I love the Ghanaian languages. I am however unimpressed by its relevance in the modern world. I see very little advancements in the languages regarding literature or accessibility to help on the internet.

    There is a move to get Ghanaians to speak local languages. I however do not see how being the best Twi or Ga student ranks up with other subjects. What are the career possibilities? Is it something that is desirable?

    Forgive me if my questions or stance offends you. I am just trying to get better answers than “learn it because it’s good for you”.

    The only reason why I wanted to learn both Twi and Ga was to communicate with friends and share in the humor. I was not particularly interested in reading or writing the language and I have never had a reason since leaving Primary School to do so.

    There is a reason why English, French and even Spanish are desirable. I believe our languages are equivalent yet are behind in terms of importance.

    Maybe our population is small. It still doesn’t justify why we are not making room for the language to be useful beyond the marketplace or local scene.

    In the discussions I have been having it dawned on me that there are not even word games for the local languages. Crossword puzzles and scrabble for instance made me want to brush up on vocabulary. Are there crosswords in our local languages? Is there a local languages version of scrabble? If there is, would it help in teaching the language?

    I believe it will. Something has to be done.

    It’s sad that I am making this argument in English and not in a local language but that’s what we are familiar with. If even there was an autocorrect in our local languages to aid us in writing on our phones on applications like WhatsApp it would help.

    I can’t do much but write a poem on the matter. Hopefully this conversation and others will spark a movement that will see the future being better for Ghanaian local languages.

    I’m A Great Scrabble Player

    I am a great scrabble player

    My two word and three word vocabulary is off the charts

    I am a force to be reckoned with and busy myself with keeping abreast with language so as to see hidden words within my tiles

    I am proud of my skill and talent; and like the scrabble board, I look for double and triple letter word opportunities to showcase my abilities

    I am a great scrabble player

    But no one will play with me

    They laugh at my skill and talent

    I play words they don’t understand

    They say I am too local for the game

    A game of words wit and strategy

    Their tiles don’t have some of my letters

    I can’t form some words

    I am handicapped and frustrated

    How am I a great scrabble player if I can’t play in my own language?

    Keep it One Hondred!

    One Love

    One of the reasons why poetry is so powerful is because it’s multi dimensional. People often limit it to books or performance but there is more to poetry than just words.

    I have begun to explore the different dimensions of poetry with social media and art.

    Yesterday being Ghana’s Independence Day, I decided to try sharing my poetry differently. So playing with graphic design applications I posted my poem “One Love” on my Instagram feed.

    27 individual posts made up the poem. Majority of the posts have an individual message but play a role in the big picture which can only truly be embraced by viewing my profile page.

    The poem though short touches on Ghana and her desire to unite its people under the banner of love. The piece touches on how the concept of love is interpreted to mean different things and asks questions as to whether we are truly seeking love as a nation and people.

    Over the month of March and more, (depending on how long it will take) I plan on using my blog to break down the poem and discuss the elements within. I will touch on why I used certain images and why I used certain lines to further expand the details in the poem and show people how powerful poetry is.

    A screenshot of one of the 27 posts of the poem “One Love” on Instagram

    I urge you to search me up on Instagram @hondredpercent to view the poem and share your thoughts. This is quite the experiment I am embarking on so I am unsure as to what will result from this and what both audience and I will learn from this process. I however look forward to it.

    Keep it ONE HONDRED!

    Here is the poem:

    One Love

    Ghana raised Wanlov but we don’t have one love

    Our independence made us free to allow one love

    We fell in love with democracy and not one love

    Corruption came along with that and that’s one love

    to the one bud that got the power

    To him that’s one love

    Selfishness is his curse and that breeds love

    But not the kind we need to make it as he does

    In Ghana the real question is how do we love?

    Cos we love to talk a lot and that breeds doves

    of hope and conflict. The parties know it. Yes we love

    a back and forth but that’s our fault cos we lack enough

    as it is already to stay as we are

    I am tired of this already but that’s not enough

    Cos maybe its only me and that’s not one love

    Maybe you are tired too and maybe that’s two love or true love but time will tell if we are really all for one love

    Africa Sent Me A WhatsApp Message – Word N Sound Performance

    I performed two poems at Word N Sound in Johannesburg on Saturday, September 1st 2018.
    The first poem, “Bitch, Nigga, Shit”, I put out the week after I performed. The second one, “Africa Sent Me A WhatsApp Message” I released on Founders Day.
    Remembering Kwame Nkrumah and this poem I believe go hand in hand. Here it is for you to watch and share

    Bitch Nigga Shit Word N SOund Performance

    What do you get when you toss a Ghanaian Poet Rapper with aladdin pants, black shirt and bow tie into a circle of books on a stage in Johannesburg, Market Theatre Labs with rows of itching ears, smoke or fog (I can’t tell the difference), lights and an amazing background?
    Well you are about to find out.
    I have to say this is to date my favourite performance caught on video due to the angle and effects caught on camera. The look is legendary and gives the respect that the art form of poetry deserves.
    Big ups to the Word N Sound team for creating such an amazing ambience. Enjoy and share the video and remember to keep it One Hondred!

    Hondred Percent at Word N Sound #PoetryLeague 2018

    For those who do not know I spent five years in South Africa pursuing degrees. On that journey I acquired a love for spoken word poetry of which I was eager to pursue seriously once I got back to Ghana.
    It’s been over five years since I left South Africa. Through work I was fortunate to return and extended my stay to explore performance opportunities in Johannesburg.
    A friend blessed mewith the opportunity to perform on one of the biggest poetry platforms in the country, Word n Sound poetry league.

    I have learnt a lot over the years regarding performance. From delivery, eye contact, improv etc every opportunity to be on stage is a lesson. The applause that comes with a good performance is humbling and interaction with members of the audience who were touched by my words always encourages me to do what I love doing.

    I was happy to connect with the organizers and learn from them also. The more you perform the more you understand the statement “no man is an island”. I need all the help I can get to be successful as an artist. Networking is so important.

    The poetry I experienced during the show was beautiful. We have some work to do in Ghana to get to the level of what is happening in South Africa and Kenya.

    I performed two poems of my album WTF? “BNS” and “Africa Sent Me A WhatsApp Message” and it was magical. The crowd reaction was awesome and humbling. Even after the show I got compliments and love from both poets and members of the audience. It’s always inspiring to get such feedback. It serves as a testament to your work.
    I have had a beautiful time in South Africa and will be heading to Kenya for another performance. I look forward to more blessings, experience and connections to aid in my success as an artist.
    Keep it One Hondred!

    Bible vs GOT – Reality or Fiction?

    Last Friday, I posted a clip featuring a conversation between Ria Bossman and me relating to Game of Thrones and its sex scenes. It was based of an interview at Oxford between two of the shows male cast and a student audience. Kit Harington who plays the part of Jon Snow in the series commented on the sex scenes and their necessity in telling the Game of Thrones story.

    I for one do not know how the show will have progressed without the sex scenes depicting the nature of the characters and its impact on the narrative. It is clear that the show though graphic has a greater goal than pornography with its raw images of sex and nudity that are displayed.

    Interestingly enough I read an article on the internet that suggested that the Bible and Game of Thrones share a commonality especially with regards with the raw blunt nature of each script.

    As a Christian, it is difficult to deny that the Bible is a very graphic text containing evidence of sexual immorality from the beginning of time. The sexual immorality and violence is comparable to that of Game of Thrones and begs the question, “is this reality or fiction?”

    I guess the Internet and Social Media have to be given credit for exposing our true nature. We seem hypocritical in our assessment of reality and are unwilling to accept that our morality as a race has been in a constant state of decay. Though the Bible reflects this more accurately, many do not view the Word as a reflection of man but just of his past.

    Its a shame Game of Thrones is not an African story (I can imagine how that will play out with African countries). Nevertheless, it strikes parallels globally because of familiar themes that reflect the true nature of man. The greed, violence, sex, immorality, wisdom, kindness and other colors of the human behavioral spectrum are similar to what we find in the Bible. (With the exception of dragons of course)

    The Bible, however, is more than a story of fiction. For many, it is history and inspiration. Game of Thrones, however, is a fantasy novel. Within it lies no prophecies relating to the real world. Both touch on the nature of man and relationships and should be seriously considered for the reflection on reality both throw at the human race.

    If the content of the Bible is similar to that of the Game of Thrones narrative then why is it not consumed with such fanfare? After all, what difference is there in Meschach, Shadrach, and Abednego surviving the furnace of fire to that of Daenerys Targaryen aka Khaleesi being immune to fire?

    Budget and Hollywood is surely part of the reasons for the fanfare but it also seems to mask the idea that the events told in the story are closer to reality than meets the eye. Winter is coming is about terrifying a term as global warming.

    The Bible and Game of Thrones serve a purpose in the world today. Be sure to take away wisdom and lessons from the words these documents provide than just awe and entertainment.

    Keep it One Hondred!

    Superman Birthdays

    I recently found out that I wore the same red Superman t-shirt on my sons last birthday gathering. I did not plan on giving this item of apparel the “birthday t-shirt” status but considering I chose it twice and literally as I came out of the shower, I guess it deserves that title.

    WhatsApp Image 2018-05-19 at 13.15.35
    Me and my son on his 1st Birthday

    As a father raising a young son, I am learning how to deal with a kids birthday in the current social media, internet crazed world we are in.
    Privileged as I was growing up, I didn’t have the luxury of my dad being around on my birthdays. I thus make an effort to ensure that I am around for my little man and pray that I will not be too busy in the future to being with him to celebrate the day my wife and I were blessed with his presence.
    My son on his first birthday just wanted to run around and was excited to see other kids playing together. He had just figured out how to walk and was graduating to running and seeking the new freedom his limbs gave him. My family, in laws and close friends were around to celebrate the day.
    As they arrived, I begun to realize the disadvantage of having more adults than kids at a toddlers birthday. Don’t get me wrong they are a great crowd however the day was about my son and I realized I had not made plans for entertaining the kids that day.
    Kids also need space to express themselves, run around, play and perform other interesting activities like eat sand, mimic adults and the uncanny art of spoiling things. The space though large enough, didn’t afford the kids that opportunity.
    Making matters worse it rained that day. The rains came down hard and moved the little party inside. Needless to say, the party spirit of the kids was dampened and we had little room for both kids and adults to move around in.
    I thus advised myself to stick to kids around his age range for his upcoming birthdays. Adults and kids together is a bit too complicated for my hosting abilities and takes away from the little man having his fun.
    I think I can handle a day dedicated to kids calling me Uncle Paul and cross crossing between being a judge at a small case court handling toy disputes, a police man shouting “STOP IT!” at 10 minute intervals or less, being a face painter and dj.
    Wow! That’s a lot. That however was me on my son’s 2nd birthday.
    WhatsApp Image 2018-05-19 at 21.27.52
    Me and my son on his 2nd Birthday

    I guess that’s why I wear the Superman shirt. Aside acting like a Superman in this party job that doesn’t pay cash, the real reason for multitasking and providing fun memories and love to kids is because of hope. Funny enough hope is the meaning behind the Superman symbol and not the letter “S” for Superman.
    It’s all about hope. The hope that love will surround our children. The hope that they will remember the love we have for them. Most important is the hope that they focus on what’s important.
    WhatsApp Image 2018-05-24 at 18.24.11
    My son’s tractor

    Important could mean many things. For my son on his 2nd birthday, important was a green tractor with eye balls that after a year suddenly became his favorite toy and was only interested in driving it on the floor and imitating the engine sound “vroooom!”.
     
    He could not be bothered about losing at musical chairs neither was he interested in cutting his cake. That’s why when the wind was against us when lighting the twenty four plus one candle I got him ( I thought blowing candles for the kids will be fun) I just left them in the cake. The birthday boy wasn’t interested in making wishes today.
    As I said earlier being Superman for the day ain’t that bad when you are dealing with a son like mine. As long as it’s less than 20 kids, a few kid loving adults around and a couple of cute babies to play with I am down. Ice cream helps a lot too. Nothing gets children in a logo logo line like ice cream.
    WhatsApp Image 2018-05-24 at 18.24.11 (1)

    My Thoughts on my Rehearsal 

    Preparing for a show is a lot of work that sometimes I even take for granted. From logistics, sound, fashion, marketing and more it is safe to say that experience goes a long way in getting one accustomed to ensuring that an audience gets the best service.
    Of all these elements involved in preparation, what catches me off my game is rehearsals. 
    I do lot of these in my car as I drive. That however just ensures that I have my poetry or lyrics memorized. The other side of rehearsals involves interacting with the crowd and creating a sense of flow which I tend to forget to do due to my day job.
    This time around I am doing rehearsals twice. 
    I started yesterday and ended up turning the rehearsal into a deep conversation about Africa and our selfish attitudes that find us in our deprived state.
    This was due to my “Africa Sent Me A Whatsapp Message” poetry performance. 
    I sometimes forget how powerful words are. A friends brother heard the poem for the first time and was deeply moved by the it. 
    I must admit the poem takes me by surprise sometimes due to the impact that the words have. Its surreal because I find myself in awe and asking how I got around to piecing the words together. 
    The glory goes to none other than God!
    Its inspiring when your art touches people and gets them thinking. It motivates you to keep pushing. I for one now seek to perform to touch people. Impacting one person is enough to making me feel fulfilled.
    I hope however that today’s rehearsals goes as planned without interrupted intellectual debates.
    Keep it One Hondred!

    He Came In 30th So What?

    Pursuing your passion is not a journey for the faint hearted. Your definition of success as a goal and you sticking to it can end that journey or see you through it. There are aspects of spirituality, discipline, life etc that come into play but today I want to focus on the importance on not giving up.
    I was on twitter and saw tweets from different sources on Akwasi Frimpong’s performance at the olympics. Some sources dwelled on the fact that he underperformed because he had the lowest score.
    Akwasi Frimpong is Ghana’s first skeleton Olympic athlete. Wikipedia defines the skeleton sport as:
    a winter sliding sport in which a person rides a small sled, known as a skeleton bobsled, down a frozen track while lying face down. Unlike other sliding sports of bobsleigh and luge, the race always involves single riders. 
    It would be awesome if Akwasi came out first or top three but he didn’t. Are we saying that pursuing your dream and seeing it through regardless of not achieving your goals is not good enough?
    I resent that!
    It is that attitude that dampens our spirit to explore and take risks.
    Akwasi has probably sacrificed time and resources all in an effort to out Ghana on the map. The least we can do is be supportive.
    Ghana needs more people especially the youth and younger to see Akwasi’s effort as a reason to take risks and pursue their passions. Coming out tops is good but more important in my opinion are the lessons learnt on that journey. 
    He came out 30th so what? 
    His name will not have been written in history if he didn’t sacrifice time and resources to pursue his dream. Because of Akwasi a young minority will be empowered to believe that they can make it in winter sports regardless of their environment. 
    I relate a lot to Akwasi because as an artist I feel I am pursuing my passion as well. It is not as rewarding but I have dream to be the greatest Spoken Word Artist and Rapper and I will continue to pursue it.
    Yesterday via twitter I received a tweet from a fan asking to buy my album WTF? that I released last year. We communicated privately and in minutes he had made a purchase. He informed me through conversation that he saw me perform “Gidigidi” at Yoyo Tinz shrine at Chalewote Festival 2017, James Town, Ghana and had been thinking about the track since.
    I was humbled! 
    Last year was stressful for me as an artist. I had challenges in creating and promoting my album. I sold a few copies but after September 2017 things kind of took a down turn. I did not give up but I needed time to find myself and strategize towards making progress. 
    So yesterday’s tweet was a beautiful gift of encouragement that made me feel appreciated. I wish it was always like this but I appreciate the little steps of progress.
    I feel Akwasi needs encouragement like the one I received yesterday. Let him know via social media that he is beacon of hope. It lifts the spirit in a special way. Do it because you understand what it means to have encouragement.
    I urge you all to encourage anyone who is pushing or pursuing their dream. Criticism is all good but all of us need encouragement to make it. So lets be proud of our own and encourage all to reach for the stars.
    Akwasi came in 30th but if he hadn’t participated he would have been last. He did not give up and saw himself all the way through. I believe he has picked up valuable lessons to improve on his performance in the next olympics. In my eyes he is a hero keeping it One Hondred!

    Life After High School Pt.2

    So last week I mentioned I had to go to my high school as a guest to chat about life after high school. The panel was made up of both seniors and juniors including myself who had the rather unconventional route. 
    We all had similar experiences and it was clear that passion fueled our drive to be engaged in what we are doing. 
    It was sad however to hear that morning that Ebony, celebrity artist pegged to win Ghana’s Artist of the Year at the Vodafone Ghana Music Awards (VGMA), was involved in an accident that took her life.
    It was something I reflected on during the talk to the students. Ebony took a decision to walk down a certain path which has made her known all over Ghana. She made a mark on society and will be remembered. Whether the mark is positive or negative that’s another debate for another day. 
    However, it also reminds us that our time here on earth is not forever. We need to live everyday as if it’s our last and also acknowledge there are things greater than us. 
    I am a Christian and know that the future is uncertain. God however on my side I walk daily knowing that his grace and angels protect me and my family. 
    The uncertainty of life calls for you to lean on something. For me it’s God. He ensures that I am safe and is available to all who call on him.
    So keep it One Hondred! Live life to the fullest, trust in God and be the light of the world.