IT’S SUMMER AGAIN!

On one occasion I asked a boy about his summer plans and he responded that “the last time I checked there was no summer in Africa.” Hilarious, isn’t it? When I say it’s summer again with an exclamation, it signals how the previous summer went. Indeed I can confidently say it was a transformational time in my life. I learnt a lot from the ups and downs.

Being a MasterCard Foundation Scholar (MCF) is one of the best things that has happened to me. It has helped me to gravitate into a world of wild opportunities and privileges. I can’t be any prouder.

Last summer as part of the MCF summer engagement program for freshmen, I among 59 other scholars engaged in activities that were purposed to contribute to our leadership potentials and as well entertain us. It was several weeks of community engagement, parting, fooling and getting to know each other better.  Places we visited were Kokrobite Institute (we stayed there for a week), Cape Coast Castle and Kakum National Park. Within the course of the program we went for swimming at Burma camp weekly. Gordon Martey, founder of Websoft (an IT firm) was among the amazing and inspiring people we met (I wish I had blogged on each of the activities but unfortunately I didn’t).

Last summer also gave me the opportunity to read a lot of books like Africa’s Greatest Entrepreneurs, Purple Hibiscus, Animal farm and While I was gone (my favourite), among others.

Now to this summer. I thought it won’t be as great but so far it has. I volunteered to usher for the launch of the Ghana Climate Innovation Center, Champions for Change and YALI TechCamp. I also participated in AfridesignX, a platform that brings together great minds from Africa in the field of technology and design. I was indeed blown away. For now I’m engaged in a sustainable toilet project. As a team we are being trained by Professor Steve Mecca of Providence College to help implement it in the Berekuso community. It has been amazing so far especially having to meet Nazeli, Claire, Nicole, Nanderson, Gabi and Bridget from Providence Colloge as well as Albert, Honey and Mawuse from the Univerity of Ghana.

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This is just the beginning though. I look forward to seeing a much more exciting summer. I have summer school too and I don’t really know how this will end. But one thing I certain is that I will make the best out of this summer like the previous one.

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The World and You

When cool music sounds like the buzz of a fly and you see beauty from an ugly eye

When fresh air inhaled from under the mahogany tree makes you nauseous and the voice of the greatest vocalist becomes more effective than a bedtime story

When smiles fade into frowns and giggles replace involuntary, yet necessary weeps

When consolations create more desolation and your tongue tastes sweets as herbal concoctions

When friends, acquaintances, people you are comfortable with appear to be sinister and families identifies themselves the vicious people you have always abhorred

Then you know that the world is against you

Then you perceive the world to be a hostile place

Then you’ll appreciate the difference between being solitude and being lonely

Then you’ll admire living in the world of the nonliving

Then you’ll see humans as generally uncompassionate and feel lost on earth

Then you’ll understand that you have no one at your rescue when entangled

Lazy Writer or Student

The last time I posted a blog article (thinking…); I don’t remember. (Let me check) I think it’s more than a month now. Before the start of the spring sem, I set some goals, one of which is to post a new article each week. But unfortunately things are clearly not working as planned. Fine with that. What about school work? It turns out that I’m submitting my assignments late. I’m not admitting that I’m a lazy student yet but I think it is becoming noticeable that I’m becoming a lazy writer.

There is one thing I noticed about the decision I make as a student and a writer. I think there is a trade-off between whatever I do with my time. The more time I spend on becoming a grade-A student, the less time I spend on extracurricular activities. I’m struggling to find a way out my programming course, and the assignment-doped statistic course will not give me a breathing space.

As I write now, I’ve a computer programming assignment I’ve not submitted (it’s overdue some hours now), an online statistics course I have to take (it’s for points of course) and some Leadership II readings. But here I am, my body contorted on my pillow-less bed, with my laptop opened to the maximum angle on my laps, and my eyes in wild concentration like I’ve seen something not to be seen.

Despite all these on my shoulders, I still have time enough time to do other things more important to me. Only that the onus is on me to balance things off. That is what I’m fighting hard to do. So please relax (readers). I’m reorganizing myself to fill my crevices and when I’m done, I’ll be at liberty to bring out my best.

Readaholic

Concerns of a Readaholic

Everyone has an issue with my addiction. I am not addicted to drugs but they make me feel better off to be. They want me to stop this ‘harmful behaviour’. I feel like I’m lost in two worlds. It is an issue of whether I am living my ideal life or I am hurting myself and the people around me. I see satisfaction in what I do.

The accomplishment and fulfilment of my actions are the main things that make life worth living. No one understands the pleasure I derive from taking up a book. I want to know where this desire comes from. The desire that leaves me restless, so restless like a toothless headmistress.

I wore a virgin smile when I foresaw those days. The days I will sit lazily all day and devour each succulent page like I have made it to an absconded delicacy. But I was aghast upon noticing that it was one of the usual take-away moments while reading on bed. My parents shrieked bitterly when I explained to them how intimately attached I am to books. My friends, maybe I should call them my acquaintances, rightfully said I’m obsessed with unsocial activities. My brother never understood why I spend unusually long hours in the washroom so he surreptitiously monitored me. As I speak now, I’m in a serious state of confusion, on the brink of losing my family and friends to books.

I know full well that I have a problem. But here is a case I’m no inches close to acknowledging that I have. Last week, I supplemented the money I got from selling my Mac with my savings to order four books from Amazon. Meanwhile my bed is now accommodating the surplus books from my shelve. This is my problem as a readaholic and I don’t know how far bibliophilism will take me. I want to share this with the world and to verify that there is actually no known therapy for my condition.

Why You Should Start Composting At Home

I did not pay attention to the amount of organic waste my family produces at home until recently. I have done research about home composting for a long time but nothing prompted me to start one. However it was when our waste management company failed to come for our waste for about a month that I thought of preparing one myself. Traditionally, some people find it financially convenient to bury their waste in pits and when it heaps up set it ablaze. This actually pollutes the land and air. If there is one way we can manage our waste which will prove friendly to our pockets and environment, it is composting.
Composting is the practice of storing decomposable materials in the presence of air and moisture to produce organic fertilizer. Composting is very beneficial for every home. It reduces your cost on waste management. And most of all leaves you with organic matter that can be applied to your garden.
You can compost almost every kitchen waste apart from cans and plastics. There should be a mixture of carbohydrate and nitrogen in a ratio of 3:2 respectfully. Although you don’t have stress yourself on accuracy it is advisable to make it an aim at getting the right proportion. The greens, example: lettuce, spinach, kontomire and others are good sources of nitrogen. And the browns, example: coffee grounds, tea bags, egg shells etc., are also good sources of carbohydrate.
That is basically what I do. We have agreed as a family to separate our kitchen waste. So I mix the compostable kitchen waste with brown velvet tamarind (Yoyi) leaves in their right proportions. I have a barrel in which I accommodate them. However it can be done in a pit. I sometimes add some green weeds from my home gardens and sprinkle sufficient water on it. But not to make it too wet.
The temperature in the compost should be regulated by stirring the mixture weekly. It must also be ensured that the water content is moderate. These practices will sustain the living organisms which accelerate the rate of decomposition.
You don’t need to pollute the environment because you want to manage your waste. Neither do you have to spend so much money when you can compost and get free organic fertilizer. Let us all encourage composting in our homes and contribute to a sustainable environment.

The Amazing ‘Other-Side’ of Agbogbloshie.

When you want to know Agbogbloshie via Google you might lose your sense of taste after 20 minutes. For a long time, a single story has been told about this place. Most people are calling for a complete demolition of Agbogbloshie. Like many other ignorant people in Ghana and other parts of the world, I have always perceived Agbogbloshie with disgust because of the single-stories the media portray. It seems that nothing productive comes out of this place. The side of the story that often circulates is usually depressing and humiliating. It is true, and I’ve seen with my naked eyes, that harmful gases are being emitted into the atmosphere by the burning of copper wires. It is also undeniable that the working conditions of the scrap dealers are very unsafe. However, knowing about the other side of the story (which has not been told) will amaze you.
I visited the place recently with a group of Ashesi University students as part of a design program. It was my first time of visit and although I was anxious to see the ‘popular’ Agbogbloshie, I wasn’t too much excited. I did not have to be told we were nearing the place when we took a path leading to a market populated with vegetable sellers who are predominantly females. I had my impressions confirmed, when a sharp unpleasant odour saluted my nostrils and my wandering eyes settled on a choked gutter full of plastic waste. “Hhhm even in an air conditioned car,” someone said derisively expressing a grimace.
We alighted from the bus and entered the market. We were divided into groups of eight and my group met a jovial gentleman who introduced himself as Amiru. He took us on a tour of the place. Far from my first impressions, I was astonished with what I saw. People are making a livelihood in Agbogbloshie. I saw people who are manufacturing coal pots from scrap aluminium. I saw a pile of metals mounted some meters away and when I asked Amiru he told me they were aluminium scraps which had been sorted, waiting to be transported to a nearby steel company for recycle. This guy with very little formal education could easily distinguish the various types of metals and their worth. Steel and Aluminium companies in Ghana are benefiting from the activities of scrap dealers in Agbogbloshie. They would have otherwise imported raw materials at a higher price.

Scraps being hauled to a steel manufacturing company
Scraps being hauled to a steel manufacturing company

Exportation of ferrous metals has been banned in Ghana to protect our local steel industries. These companies acquire most of their raw materials from Agbogbloshie. If the activities of scrap dealers in Agbogbloshie are dissolved as ignorant people are advocating, will we be helping our steel companies then? What will be the fate of recycling in Ghana?
All the scraps, both plastics and metals, would have been left on the streets of Accra. Or even if they are collected, will simply be hauled to landfill sites instead of being recycled.
There was a plastic shredding machine which was being used to shred scrap plastics. (plastic chairs, buckets, plastic crates etc.) This will be followed by a melting stage for the manufacturing of other products.
The people of Agbogbloshie are amazing, talented and skilful. They are creators and innovators. They work tirelessly day and night, earnestly looking for scrap metals and plastics from the streets. They bring them to their ‘hub’ and separate the scraps into their various categories and sell them. I saw a group of people gathered around a scrap. It was when the machine vroomed that I identified it as a car engine. I was told it was supposed to be scrap but was fixed by the boys.
Making of pots with scraps at Agbobloshie
Making of pots with scraps at Agbobloshie

From a distance was a young gentleman who is said to have been building computers from scratch. He has been nicknamed Linux for that reason. I was impressed to have heard that he uses scraps to make functioning computers.
Another group of talent young people identified as Agbogbloshie Makerspace Platform team are working hand-in-hand with the workers in Agbogbloshie to help improvise their method of recycle. They have a space where they brainstorm on how to make things from scraps. They prototyped a laser spectroscope as part of their research in spectroscopy. They also built a mini-kiln for moulding plastic tiles.
When we were told of the plans to visit Agbogbloshie, I felt very unenthusiastic about the whole idea. I thought it would be one of the experiences which will make me regret being a Ghanaian. But contrary to what I expected, I was really inspired by what was being done there.
Rather than see Agbogbloshie as an e-waste dump site, see it as a vital place for the first stages of recycling in Ghana. Rather than call for the demolition of Agbogbloshie, let us petition the government to rehabilitate the place. Agbogbloshie can be transformed into a top-notch recycling centre in Ghana. The government and Ghanaian entrepreneurs should invest in state-of-the-art recycling machines that will process the various scraps in the country. China remains the world’s leading importer of plastic waste because of her investment in the recycling industry. Ghana could likewise invest in this industry as an effective solution to her sanitation problems.
So next time you want to know about Agbobloshie, Google might not give you the full story.” Go there and see things for yourself, “as my design lecturer, D.K. Ossei-Asare will tell you.

I Call on You Because I Can Confide in You

When I’m distressed I call on my mum.( after praying to God) When I’m facing academic challenges the first people I contact are those around me- my friends. We all should have people we can trust. We need such people in our lives. People who when we tell our problems will provide us with answers that are soothing to the heart. People who will make us feel good about ourselves. People who when we speak to, will make us feel like a heavy load has been lifted from our shoulders. Their words heal, and we readily speak to them about our misgivings. If you find me or someone else talking to you about a bad grade, a hurt feeling, despair or any troubling situation, you should be consumed with abundant pride and satisfaction. This is because, among the many people in the world, the person saw no one but you to tell a personal problem. It shows that you’ve won the person’s favour.
Words are powerful. They have the power to break or make.

“The calmness of the tongue is a tree of life, but distortion in it means a breaking down in the spirit”

Proverbs 15:4

“Thoughtless speech is like a stab by the sword. But the tongue of the wise is healing”

Proverbs 12:18
When you find that someone confides in you, let your words be healing to the person. Let the person feel that you care. “When someone comes to you and tells you how depressed he is for losing GHS300. Don’t jump into conclusion and say, “oh, you’ve lost only GHS300 and you can’t even eat? What then will you do when you lose your mum?” This will crush the person’s spirit. It will leave him troubled than before.
Rather speak consolingly to the depressed soul. Example, saying “Oh I’m sorry about that. I know how it feels but don’t let this make you depressed,” will be heart-warming.
So next time you find yourself as a confidant, let someone feel loved and appreciated. Speak to lift a soul and heal an aching heart.

Do All, Master Nothing.

I asked of a friend’s opinion about my intention to start doing spoken word and I believe her response affirms one of my oblivious desires. She said to me, “What in this world don’t you want to do?” For some few seconds I could not reply. I realised she had nailed on something subtle about me. I smiled awkwardly and stuttered as I tried to speak. Initially I thought she was being rude. But after taking second thoughts, I discerned some truism in her words. She continued to say that I always want to do what I see others do.
True, I have a lot of long-term and short term goals. I derive my inspiration from people. People who are good at what they do. Not merely what they do but what they do well with passion and enthusiasm. I’m not necessarily sapiosexual or ecfiosexual (Akotowaa’s coinage) because in my case, I don’t find the intelligence or creativeness in people the most sexually attractive feature. I find it rather appealing to imitate (I should think of coining a new word for this).
Among the many things I would love to learn are computer programming, professional writing (Ei, I have a long way to go oo), languages (French and Swahili for now), effective communication and of course spoken word. You might be thinking; Jack of all trades, master of none. Yes.
However what you didn’t think of is, “Jack of all trades, master of none [is] Better than Jack of one trade, master of none”.
It is not worth sacrificing your time (in fact your life) for one skill when you could have acquired many other skills within the same time frame. It is wise to know that, no matter the time you dedicate on a particular thing, you can never perfect your skill in it. (I’m not wrong. I’m I?) So this is the course I desire to take. And I will try hard not to fail.

“Knowing a little of everything can often be better than having one expert skill set.”

Want to know why? Click here

Ecfiosexual

I love this. Very creative. Ecfiosexual.

Akotowaa Ntontan

I hope many are familiar with the word ‘sapiosexual’ already. It means aroused or attracted by intelligence in others. Well, since I have a great interest in words, I decided to search for a word that had a definition I had in mind: the characteristic of being aroused or attracted by/to creativity in others.
I was unable to find one.
So, I made one: ecfiosexual. (pronunciation: 3k-fee-oh-sexual).
There’s no point in explaining the second part of the word. But the first part: ecfio. it’s a Latin word which means ‘bear’ or ‘bring about’ or ‘construct’ or ‘make’ or ‘create’ etc. You get the picture. So, loosely, the word ecfiosexual literally means creative-sexual. Um. Yeah.
So I’ve created another word to describe me. I’m attracted to creative people. I fall in love with them by heart. I’m ecfiosexual.
-Akotowaa =)

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