Tag Archives: Kapital Radio

The obruni tries to speak Twi

Recorded clips of Chris and I attempting to learn Twi became a great source of amusement for the staff at Kapital Radio. During our “lessons” trying to learn the language, our colleagues began recording us struggling to repeat the words. Why, you might ask? Well, it was to make fun of us later on Fansu, a comedy program at the station. One of the problems was our poor pronunciation, and the other was our coworkers insistence on having us repeat difficult phrases so they could have a laugh. For some reason, me attempting to say “eight percent” in Twi had everyone in the newsroom falling off their chairs laughing.

Eventually we started to learn more useful things, such as basic introductions and how to barter in the market. While I am far from fluent in Twi, by the end of the summer I was able to greet vendors and purchase things in the market without using English. In case you wanted to travel to Ghana, or just wanted to hear some local phrases, watch Basic Twi for Obrunis, in which my colleague Shadrach teaches me the basic greetings.

Stay Jay and E.Fine visit Kapital Radio

Kapital Radio — The Heart of Music

My coworkers have developed a habit of calling me up to the studio when Ghanaian celebrities come in, whether it’s a Black Star’s player or a musician. Most recently two West-African musicians, one from Ghana and one from Nigeria, came into the studio to talk to NY DJ on the station’s afternoon show, Homestretch. Ghanaian hiplife artist, Stay Jay’s, song “Shashee Wowo,” is currently playing on the Ghanaian airwaves. E.Fine, the Nigerian artist, has a collaboration with Sarkodie entitled “Stamina.”

To listen to some of NY DJ’s interview with the two artists, and to hear some a Capella watch the video below.


jhr interns make their news debut

In celebration of Kapital Radio’s 14th Anniversary on July 1, some of the off-air staff at the station were asked to read hourly news bulletins. For the 1 p.m. news bulletin, Chris and I were invited to read the news. In an attempt to impress our many Twi (the local dialect) teachers, we even learned an intro!  The bulletin we read was much shorter than the ones we help out with during the week, but it was a good chance to showcase the news-reading skills we have learned in journalism school.

For the anniversary the sports team had some fun and built up hype around a married couples vs. bachelors football match. The captains of the two squads were interviewed about their readiness for the match. Unfortunately there is no football pitch (large enough for teams of adults at least!) nearby the station so it is still unknown who would prevail in a battle.

To watch clips from our newscast, watch the video below.


Happy Birthday, Kapital Radio

Friday, July 1, was Canada Day.  It also happened Ghana’s anniversary, known as Republic Day.  But perhaps most importantly, it was Kapital Radio’s 14th anniversary, and we partied like it was 2011 (it is.)  One of the major focuses of the day was putting people on air who generally have no business being on air (for highlights of Leah and I stumbling our way through a newscast, check out her video blog).

Here we have morning show host Kwadwo, along with news editor Erastus and a former Kapital employee whose name I didn’t catch, engaging in some musical mischief while sports editor Ben provides the dancing.  Station manager NBY’s kids wrap things up with their version of a Kapital jingle.   Happy birthday, Kapital Radio.


Farewell Kapital Radio

Last week marked our final days working at Kapital Radio and the end of our stay in Kumasi. It is hard to believe we will be on a plane heading back home by the end of next week- the time has really flown by. We are fortunate to have gained valuable experience in radio broadcasting and radio journalism: listening to and participating in compelling debates, meeting inspiring, intelligent and provoking people, learning about various social and human rights issues in Ghana, engaging and educating the public and spreading awareness on injustices. We have also succeeded in adjusting (not without occasional frustration) to a less structured and laissez-faire working environment. The best advice I could offer to anyone aspiring to work in Ghanaian media is to go with the flow. There have been many instances where things haven’t gone the way we planned or turned out the way we expected them to- sometimes scheduled guests would show up late (at times up to 30 minutes), while others would not show up at all (forcing me to sit in as a far less impressive panel guest than we had originally booked for one of Mufty’s shows), power failures were commonplace, phone lines were unreliable, and scheduled shows were bumped or cancelled with little to no notice because of high profile events like FIFA soccer matches, or the NPP primary elections coverage. It is important to be flexible, quick on your feet and very proactive in order to overcome these minor obstacles and make the best of your experience. We left Kumasi satisfied and we are pleased with what we have achieved. We ran three hour-long workshops for the newsroom interns on basic components of a news story, grammar and sentence structure and how  to write a human rights story, we helped edit and pitch human rights-focused stories and ideas, we helped revive Mercy’s show “Up Front” that hadn’t aired for over a month before our arrival in June, and we helped research, produce, and write questions for Mufty’s show “Know Your Rights” on some critical issues in Ghana, such as homosexual rights, journalism ethics, domestic violence, disabled peoples’ rights, and legalizing abortion to name a few. Our voices will also be forever immortalized on Ghanaian airwaves as our colleagues asked us to record a number of voice clips or “vox pops” promoting Kapital Radio DJs and their shows.

We have had the great privilege of meeting some very influential and inspiring local figures who champion the cause of human rights issues on a daily basis; Dr. Charlotte Abeka, former chairperson for the United Nations; Joe K. Koramteng, Regional Guidance and Counselling Coordinator for Ghana Education Service (GES); Kwesi Kyei, New Patriotic Party (NPP) Research Officer for the Subin constituency; and Asayaw Atakora, Vice President of the Ghana Society of the Physically Disabled. We have also made some truly great friends and networking contacts at Kapital who we will continue to keep in touch with even after going back to Canada.

For our last Saturday at the station, we wanted to go out with a bang- we planned two promising shows both with an impressive panel of guests. We intended on doing a full two hour special on women’s rights for “Know Your Rights,” highlighting issues of maternal health, economic empowerment and equality and girl education. For “Up Front” we intended on discussing the stigmas associated with HIV/AIDS. We were all pumped up and ready to go after two weeks of diligent planning; however, upon arriving at Kapital, we discovered that the transmitter was down and that all the day’s shows had been cancelled. Despite our disappointment and our anti-climactic final day, we went with the flow an did the next best thing- started our farewell party a few hours early and enjoyed a fantastic evening of dinner, dancing and good company.

Finding Faith in Government

Whether you spend two days or two months in Ghana, one thing you quickly realize is the dominance of religion and politics that is present in everyday life.

Nana Akufo-Addo: the New Patriotic Party's re-elected flagbearer in Ghana

For the last two weeks of our internship at Kapital Radio, we have switched out of the newsroom and entered the heated realm of politics on Mufty’s daily show “Straight Talk” to maximize our experience in radio broadcasting. Although his show is always focused on politics, this week was especially politically-fuelled because of the recent elections to vote for a flagbearer for the New Patriotic Party (NPP), the main opposition party in Ghana. Campaign representatives, political journalists and social commentators were some of our featured guests on the show who debated the abilities of the NPP leader candidates. Amid the discussions, the focus remained on who would make a better leader for the party based on their personality traits and life experiences rather than addressing who would improve the country and best represent the people of Ghana and their needs. Although the primary is a closed vote that is not open to the public and the leader of the party is decided by its member delegates, I am not aware of any attempts made by the major media houses or the campaigners to include public clout on the selection of their democratic presidential hopefuls. I have always defined good democratic governance as an obligation for politicians to represent a nation’s people and provide the support in addressing their essential needs. According to G. Shabbir Cheema and Linda Maguire, specialists from the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs and the UN Development Programme, “when governance is democratic—that is, infused with the principles of participation, rule of law, transparency and accountability, among others—it goes a long way toward improving the quality of life and the human development of all citizens.” Although personality does matter, I think it is important to look at actual political experience and capabilities, public opinions and preference when it comes to choosing a potential democratic leader (for a political party and for a nation). So, although the flagbearer of a party is voted ‘privately’, it is still important to assess public opinion on and personal capabilities of candidates in choosing the potential future leader of a nation.

As a result of the media only concentrating on the candidate’s personalitiesrather than their political platforms and action plans, it seems that some people have not aligned themselves with any particular candidate that they feel would best represent them. When I asked several very bright local friends and colleagues who support the NPP who would make the best party leader, I was surprised by their slightly apathetic response. They did not have much to say and expressed their content with whoever would be chosen “by God’s will.” They left the decision up to fate rather than demanding more public participation and sway (even if only by appearance) in the selection of their democratic government figures. Moreover, when I asked a colleague whether he would support Nana Akufo-Addo (his preferred candidate in the NPP Primary and the re-elected leader of the party) in the upcoming 2012 Elections, he responded that making the lengthy trip back to his community in the Volta Region (since Ghanaians are only allowed to vote in the region where they originally registered) just to cast his vote would be “unlikely.”

Presbyterian Church of Ghana, Ramseyer Memorial Congregation in Adum, Kumasi

Christianity is one of the main religions here in Ghana and after attending a few two-hour long services (one Presbytarian, the other Evangelical) and a gospel concert with friends, I realized how seriously many Ghanaians take their religion. Their devotion and faith in God is impressive and inspiring. However, I still think that some things in life should not be simply left up to fate. Considering Ghana is one of the most consolidated democracies on the continent, Ghanaians are given the rare opportunity to freely participate in politics compared to other oppressed or collapsed African countries (such as Somalia or Zambia). It worries me when some people do not fully utilize the right to take part in the government of their country, directly or through freely chosen representatives; this includes Canadians too. If the public puts pressure on political actors and their parties, there is potential to have democratic leaders in power who actually represent citizens’ needs. For example, some Canadians exercised their right to take part in government or party leader selection when their strong opinions helped sway the change from Stephen Dion to Michael Ignatieff as the Liberal Party leader a few years ago, stating that they did not trust Dion to lead the party to victory. As Article 21, Section 3 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights states, “the will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government.”

Hooked on Politics

NPP Logo. http://theghanaianreactor.blogspot.com

This past week in Kumasi has been all about politics. The New Patriotic Party (NPP), the main opposition to Ghana’s current National Democratic Congress (NDC)-led government, held their primary elections on Saturday where Nana Akufo-Addo was reinstated as the party’s leader and presidential candidate for the 2012 elections. Akufo-Addo, the most politically-established candidate at 66-years-old, celebrated a huge win, claiming 78 percent of the delegate’s votes. His opponents were Alan Kyeremateng, former Minister of Trade and Industry;   Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, the CEO of the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra and the director of Ghana’s National Cardiothoracic Center; Isaac Osei, a Member of Parliament for Subin (Ashanti Region), Ghana High Commissioner of the United Kingdom, and CEO of the Ghana Cocoa Board; and Rev. John Kwame Koduah, a reverend and lawyer. These five men have basically dominated all aspects of the Ghanaian media- their names and pictures were plastered on the front page of almost every newspaper, they were talked about compulsively on most radio and television newscasts, their faces were plastered on billboards and posters, and their campaign vehicles blasted their platforms from loud speakers all over town. Although I recognize the significant role politics plays in society, I would never consider myself a politics enthusiast. I find most politicians showy, insincere and decorated, whose campaigns are built on empty rhetoric that rarely ends up benefiting the common person or reaching the grassroots. However, since we started working with Mufty on his daily show “Straight Talk” that deals primarily with political topics, there was no escaping the NPP hoopla. We spent three two-hour programs debating which candidate would make the best party leader and potentially the next president. Our guests included campaign representatives, political journalists and social commentators who focused more on the candidates’ brawn than brain, arguing their favorable physical and personality traits instead of their plans to improve the country, or who would best represent Ghanaian people.

The excessive media coverage of the NPP primaries overshadowed other pressing local issues that occurred this past week and need more public attention. For example, last Wednesday, the Anti-Trafficking Unit and Tema Regional Command rescued 284 children between the ages of 3-15 who were being taken to work illegally in Yenji’s fishing industry.  On the same day, The Ghana Union of Physically Disabled Workers (GUPDW) appealed to government, complaining that the majority of physically challenged workers haven’t received their Disability Allowance. Both stories deal with major human rights violations, but because of the politically-dominant stories occupying most major Ghanaian media houses, such crucial social issues are often cast aside as second-rate-news or page-fillers. Since human rights stories are not typically considered “hard news,” public awareness and concern are often not generated where they are needed most and for the people who could benefit greatly from media exposure. Dr. Charlotte Abeka, former United Nations (UN) chairperson, and serial guest on “Know Your Rights” expresses her discontent with the current state of Ghana’s media, describing it as having an “overemphasis on politics” that prevents human-focused stories from reaching the forefront. She blames media houses and other powerful institutions that have the ability to influence society on a larger scale and increase the coverage of human rights stories, but insists the average person is just as guilty for not demanding it themselves. In her opinion human rights issues “need to be preached loud and clear”- this should be the media’s priority at all times.

Dr. Charlotte Abeka

The Fine Line between Traditional and Modern Worlds

Acrylic Painting of a Woman Headporter on Canvas

One of the many advantages of travelling is the opportunity to experience diverse cultures and, participate in cross cultural exchanges with locals, immigrants and other travelers. These encounters with differences and the unfamiliar are incredibly enriching. It allows people to connect and learn common values, while understanding and accepting each others’ differences.  Beliefs, behaviours and norms can also clash within inter-cultural and cross-cultural environments. As we continue our development research for CIDA and our journalism internship at Kapital Radio, we are observing the role of traditional attitudes and practices in the developing context of modern Ghana first hand. Two events this week revealed the complicated balance between both worlds.

We were fortunate enough to witness some traditional drumming and dancing performances at the National Cultural Centre in Kumasi. Wearing their familial Kente cloth, performers moved fluidly and in synch with the drum beat to honor the tribal Chief and director of the Centre. As customary music and dance was expressed to pay tribute, a less conventional offering was also given-spectators, performers and other elders also paid their respect with donations of cash. They stuck low denominations of Ghana Cedis (the local currency) on the Chief’s forehead as an offering of their respect and support for the Centre, the Chief and the culture, as he continued dancing all the while

Performers honour the Chief/Director of the National Cultural Centre in Kumasi

After the performance, we browsed the stalls of art that were set up for sale in the open space of the compound.  Vibrant colours and images were displayed in paintings, carvings, beadwork and in the traditional Kente cloth representing the many family clans and tribes of the diverse Asante peoples. I chatted with a Ghanaian Asante artist from a small rural village named Bobo, who was selling his paintings and thread art representing traditional village life. As we exchanged personal stories, I asked him his opinion on whether material forms of art and culture lose their intended meaning when they are reproduced.  He explained that his paintings had much more significance than what the symbols and activities represented. His work was the realization of skills and talents of his ancestors, passed down through generations. Bobo’s work symbolized the bonds of his family, their history and their traditional values. Selling his art was also Bobo’s method of earning an income. Living back home in his village, he did have many viable opportunities. He moved to Kumasi in the hopes of succeeding as an artist and to pursue a degree in business at Kumasi Polytechnic College. For Bobo, it is important to support his family and community and maintain his culture, and he can achieve this by selling his art. The reproduction of his art and culture clearly had more meaning than I expected.

Although we come from two different upbringings and have different plans in life, we bonded over our common values for family and honest friendships. By the end of our conversation, I grew appreciative of Bobo, his life and his art. He did not ask me to buy any of his work, but only requested that “[I] return so we could spend more time learning from one another.”

This week we also learned about the gender equalities that can result from traditional patriarchal thinking.

For the past month, we have been helping plan and produce Up Front, a youth talk show on Kapital Radio that airs Saturdays from 8-9 pm. Last week, we discussed whether teenagers need parental consent for dating.  In recent local news, a 16-year-old girl was shot and killed by her own father for disobeying his orders by dating a boy he did not approve of behind his back.

Many people called in to express their thoughts and opinions regarding the issue, but something one of our panel guests said really stuck out. She referred to the incident as “an unfortunate accident.” However, she justified the father’s actions, explaining that the girls’ disobedience in dating without consent had led to his violent reaction due to emotional stress.

This traditional way of thinking is embedded in the minds of many people. Although it is important for one to maintain one’s traditional values and customs, tradition does not override human rights. Ghana, as a state, has committed itself to protecting these rights by signing on to various human rights doctrines, and enacting various rights protection acts. Regardless of traditional rationale, the aforementioned man has his daughter’s blood on his hands.

Next week, Laura and I are heading to the field- the Upper West Region, one of the least developed areas in Ghana, to work on our priority issues.

Aspiring Students in Class 3 at Adum Presby Primary share their hopes, dreams and smiles.

Tangled in the Web of Aid and Development in Ghana

Aspiring Students in Class 3 at Adum Presby Primary share their hopes, dreams and smiles.

On top of our duties at Kapital Radio, our other obligations involved in this overseas university internship is to produce insightful media that creates awareness about complex development issues in Ghana and the efforts in place to address them.

Billions of foreign aid dollars are pumped into the “Gateway to Africa” annually with elaborate plans for growth in mind. The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) is one of the main aid agencies working collectively with the government of Ghana and a variety of partners (the International Monetary Fund, intergovernmental organizations and non-governmental organizations) to fund sustainable development initiatives within the country. CIDA supports national priorities and programs in the areas of governance, health, basic education, private sector development and environmental sustainability that aim to tackle the global challenges set out in the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs): 1) eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, 2) achieving universal primary education, 3) promoting gender equality and empowering woman, 4) reducing child mortality 5) improving maternal health, 6) combating HIV/AIDS and other diseases, 7) ensuring environmental sustainability, and 8 ) developing a global partnership for development. The aim is to achieve these goals by 2015. In the networks of assistance, the actors are numerous, the projects are endless, and the numbers of people that they intend to reach are extensive. Whether it’s education, private sector development or governance, the priorities are all multifaceted and interrelated; their root causes and problems directly or inadvertently affect the others. In order to develop an economy and create new industries, infrastructure, support systems (i.e. social services and finances), regulatory bodies, education, training improvements and collaborations between sectors need to occur simultaneously. Well-orchestrated programs and collaborative efforts are then required for lasting positive societal changes.

53 eager learners in 1 Classroom

When trying to make sense of the realities of development work in Ghana, I am left feeling somewhat overwhelmed. There are no clear-cut ways to deal with the issues and achieving the (somewhat overambitious) MDG goals by their target deadlines — a seemingly daunting task. Local professor and Head of the Economics Department at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Appiah-Nkrumah, offers a practical suggestion, “You can’t look at eradicating poverty, you have to look at reducing [it].” Sustainable change doesn’t just happen easily and instantly. Development plans and efforts need realistic goals and deadlines, and the necessary strategies to achieve step-by-step results.

Since 2003, a pragmatic national growth and poverty reduction support program in Ghana has been put into effect and the government is working within its means (and networks) to improve the standards of life for Ghanaians. More efficient management and collaboration of different institutions, policies and their programs are coming together to provide necessities, capacities and opportunities for people to better their situations, for reducing regional disparities and social divides within the country, and while propelling the economy one step at a time.

I’ve spent the first three weeks examining policies and gaining a better perspective on the background and complexities of development issues and efforts. Now I am beginning to book interviews with the people involved and, more importantly, the people affected. From now on, the issues will hopefully start to make more sense. Just one day of observing the daily activities at a local primary school and interacting with the inspiring teachers and their aspiring students (and future doctors, teachers, nurses and the potential President of Ghana) has given me more cause and motivation for exploring the issues of removing barriers to achieving equal access to quality basic education in Ghana. Stay tuned for more personal connections, more depth into the issues in our upcoming blogs and articles.