Category Archives: Uncategorized

Ato the VIM Giver

487224_4317883026030_1556409983_n

Look at this picture carefully for a minute. What element of interest strikes you about it. Ok. Let me tell you a brief story with this photo as its fulcrum. The gentleman in the middle is Courage Ahiati, writer of this story.  On my left is my classmate from Opoku Ware School, Dr. Kofi Ulzen Appiah. To my right is his elder brother, Ato.  This picture was taken at the entrance of the legendary Larabanga mosque.  First time hearing about this mosque?  Then you need to take a trip to both Laranbanga and the Mole National park.  Thank me later.

Dr. Ulzen Appiah is a very cool dude but he is not my focus today.  Laranbaga and the interesting stories of its existence are things you must see and hear. However those captivating stories are also not my point of interest.

One calm morning during my national service days, I took a cursory virtual stroll in the Streets of Twitter (those streets were less vicious back then). The word BARCAMP captured my attention. My initial thought – a group of 21st century drunkards trying to promote their stupor agenda on Twitter? I saw a  tweet from Donald Ward, got in touch with him and he explained to me all that BARCAMP was and is still about.  We exchanged contacts and that is how I became part of the GhanaThink Foundation and its baby – BARCAMP GHANA.

That brings me back to the gentle on my right side in the picture, Ato. I might have not said it to his face before. I might have come across as a bit difficult or mischievous in my dealings with him, but I admire a lot of things that he stands for and does.

more_vim_ato
Photo Credit: amoafowaa.com

Perhaps you have never heard about him or met him anywhere before.  Let me attempt and squeeze why I have such a tremendous admiration for him into a few words. Ato Ulzen Appiah and his colleagues through GhanaThink Foundation and BARCAMP have and continue to positively touch and transform the lives of a lot of young folks in Ghana. He enthusiastically carries a torch of hope and illuminates the path of so many young people. I am sure the gentleman could have locked himself somewhere in another part of this world and perhaps in a more comfortable and better paying job, but Ato chose to serve his motherland in a rather unique and awe-inspiring manner.

As to how he gets the motivation to do this on a daily basis, I have no iota of idea. His sense of volunteerism is uncommon and worth emulating.  I am unable to go into details on how a lot of young folks have been positively impacted through his works.  I might risk elongating this short story. Maybe I will leave that to any reader who has come in touch with Ato Ulzen Appiah in any way to share their own experiences.

Ato, if you are reading this, know that your efforts are not going down the drain; you are causing positive change in incredible ways that I am sure you have not even imagined.  Keep the torch burning.

Advertisements

Book Review – Chronicles of Katanga

Title: Chronicles of Katanga: A Momentous Orientation

Author: Courage Ahiati

Pages: 152

Reviewer: Festival Godwin Boateng

While his colleague senior high school graduates were pining over their preferred universities and programs of choice, he was worried by something else. Growing up, he had been sensitized to many valiant stories about one of the halls of residence on the campus of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Kumasi –Ghana. Therefore, when the time was due for him to buy university forms, he bought KNUST forms with just one hall in mind. But destiny would eventually honour his wish. On the 17th day of August 2007, he finally was admitted into the famous University Hall (Katanga), where he spent three of his four-year university life, since that good day.

On the day he walked out of the Hall for the very last time as a resident, he identified a need. He had recognized an information gap and a gradual distortion of events that have happened in the Hall over the years. He was convinced that the stories and events that have shaped Katanga into the most preferred hall in KNUST must not be left just in the minds and on the lips of those who witnessed them anymore. More so, to avoid further distortions and corruption of these historical events, it was necessary for them to be documented.

This amazing book, Chronicles of Katanga: A Momentous Orientation, written in simple words and structured into eighteen breezy chapters, is his response to the need he identified. Courage takes the reader down memory lane and tells the stories of his famous Hall over the years. He recounts fondly his experiences, the events he witnessed both as a floor member and later as an Executive of the Hall from August 2007 to June 2011. However, the story backtracks sometimes to talk about happenings on the bigger KNUST campus itself and other past events in which Katanga was involved.

The book is about the history, activities and principles of Katanga. It is about the tenets of the so-called philosophy of ‘Katangeism’ expressed as solidarity and positive dynamism – a subject about which Courage is uniquely and eminently qualified to write. Courage’s experiences as a Katangee or Fellow (how students of Katanga are affectionately called) cut across different angles, levels and times.

In his early days as a young student of the Hall, Courage was close to most of the key personalities in the Hall, whom he understudied. He also actively participated in the activities of the Hall. He learnt his way up into the most visible and agential office in the Hall: the Office of Hall Secretary. He was a member of the Hall Council – the highest decision-making body; he chaired both the 2010 Constitution Review Committee and Vetting Panel of the Hall. He has had extensive engagements with several alumni who have passed through the Hall at different times. Very few students of the Hall could boast of such a vastly rich and across board experience, which unquestionably grants him sufficient competencies to share insights about Katanga – what it stands for and has done over the years.

Katangeism, Courage explains, is coined from Katanga and simply concerns how the rights and welfare of all students of KNUST should be of interest to the members of the Hall; and that in situations where the rights of students are trampled upon or violated, students of Katanga are obliged to speak and act accordingly. Katangeism is also about standing with and for one another; oneness of purpose, where the interest of the Hall overrides that of the individual members. Katanga has always believed that student activism is about social change and transformation. The Hall has therefore placed this as an objective in the preamble of its constitution and remains relentless in this sacrificial duty. Courage touts that the reason Katanga has become a household name not just on the campus of KNUST but also in Ghana is because of its fearless endeavour to spearhead the fight for students’ rights. Most actions to defend student’s rights, either on KNUST campus or nationwide, are planned, influenced or led from Katanga.

While he does not cite enough national examples (perhaps, the only critique that could be raised against the book), Courage lists some key reforms introduced by KNUST authorities because of the agitations, petitions and demonstrations by the students of Katanga. They include inter alia the Students Clinic, the introduction of more taxis and shuttles to address transportation challenges on campus, the construction of speed bumps and the introduction of one-way traffic system to control over speeding and prevent possible accidents. Others include the building of a staircase around the Unity hall roundabout to avert the imminent danger that the steep pathway that used to be there could have caused.

Katanga is also noted for hilarious but educative hall week celebration dress codes and naming facilities and places on the KNUST campus that it SOLELY “colonizes”. “Amazingly”, Courage writes, “most of these names are popular and are used more than their official names”. Katanga named the road leading to the main Faculty area “MECCA Road” and has remained so till date. The Hall named the SSNIT hostel as GAZA and only a few people know it by its original name. Same goes for the GUSSS hostel, which Katanga named “Brunei” and the KNUST Law Faculty, that the Hall named the “HAGUE”. The Law Faculty naming, just like a few others, Courage admits, could not stick. But its reputation as the first and only hall of residence to do a live performance on the biggest entertainment platform in Ghana, TV3 Music Music has stuck (check YOUTUBE). Katanga is also the only Hall to play a football match with any Premiership side in Ghana. In the year 2011, the Hall played host to the best and most supported football club in Ghana, the Porcupine Warriors – Kumasi Asante Kotoko at the Paa Joe Stadium.

However, if the intentions of the students of the Hall are this noble, the tenets of Katangeism and how they are acted out are this honorable, benign and hilarious, why then is the Hall pilloried in some quarters as a home of troublesome students? Courage offers this explanation: While Katanga has been the bastion of student advocacy in KNUST, in the line of duty call–symptomatic of most freedom fighters –the Hall, regrettably, has had and continue to have some excesses. The excesses have rather been engraved on stones, whilst the numerous advantages of their actions have been written on the bank of the River Wewe (a river that passes through the University –KNUST).

Nevertheless, some of the excesses that have earned for the Hall negative recognitions, Courage admits, were self-inflicted and very much avoidable. The infamous case in point is the October 2008 clash between some students of the Hall and “the unverified rivals” of Katanga in KNUST –Unity Hall. The clash led to injuries, destruction of properties, rustications and other draconian sanctions. Courage unequivocally and rightly so deplores that rather barbaric and dastard incident (my words) as “disgraceful”.

After reading the book for the third consecutive time, I held a long pregnant pause as I reflected on the broader conversation that Courage has provoked. The narratives about some halls of residence in Ghanaian universities are framed in heroism; stoicism; valiance and undaunted activism. This has made them the dream halls of high and even junior high school students. Katanga is, no, stands tall, among these halls! Therefore, upon their admission into such halls, determined to keep the flame alive, but without the benefit of the sorely needed orientation, the newly admitted young and boisterous but naïve students usually end up defending and continuing the traditions in a manner that rather earn the halls negative returns. Sometimes, some of them even pay immensely hurtful personal prices – sustain injuries during violent confrontations, suffer rustications etc.

I pray that this invaluable work by Mr Courage Ahiati about Katanga would stimulate other (past) students of halls similarly situated (like the Casley Hayford Hall (Cassford) in UCC, Mensah Sarbah and Commonwealth Halls in Legon) to begin documenting their experiences for the benefit of the new and future generation of students. For as they celebrate and emulate past heroic feats of their forebears, they may guide themselves with the mistakes.

Aside from the present, future, Alumni and the many aficionada of Katanga as well as students and Alumni of KNUST who, for obvious reasons, would be enamored of the historical and memorable events that Courage captures in amazing detail about their beloved Hall and University, I believe also that, the book would immensely benefit other students and people similarly situated.

The school or university is more than a place for memorizing theories and equations for certificates – a very crucial lesson Courage learnt in the early days of his university life. Instead of harnessing the various resources embedded in the school/university environment for their total development, normally, most students focus disproportionately on just academics – only their subjects or programs of study.

As the reader engages with the Chronicles of Katanga, s/he may instantly be able to connect Mr Ahiati’s enviable writing prowess to some of the enterprises in which he engaged himself as a student. He did not just focus on his Political Science notes, the program he read at the University. He also took advantage of extracurricular opportunities to develop himself and, for instance, tremendously hone his passion for writing.

The hilarious, educative and historical events, insights, and his enviable writing skills aside, Courage’s overall account of his life in Katanga and KNUST broadly is of immense mentorship value.

The Chronicles of Katanga is a momentous orientation worth reading. Thanks for writing, Courage.

promo

Festival Godwin Boateng is an alumnus of Katanga, a former Secretary and Choir Master of the Hall. He served the Hall at other formal and informal levels. He, for instance, was the Student Representative on the 2010/2011 Hall Council, a member of the 2010 Constitution Review Committee and the Chairman of the 2011 Vetting Panel. He had some memorable moments in the Hall. He was a member of the Hall’s Debating Team that whipped all the other halls in the 2011 NUGS/VC Inter-Halls Debate Competition and the Katanga ‘Dame’ (Draught) Council (2007-2011) that used to argue all day and night long. Festival was a co-founder of the famous ‘Strong Room’ in the Hall – Room 94M, Zongo Annex (2009-2011).

 

DAKPABLI READATHON OUTDOORS ELIZABETH-IRENE BAITIE

17457669_10155143941846202_383903060021084108_n

Award-winning Ghanaian author Elizabeth-Irene Baitie will this weekend mount the stage to delight book lovers as the latest guest reader of the DAkpabli Public Reading Campaign. The University of Ghana, Legon Campus edition event is dubbed ‘’Tickling Legon with Nsempiisms’’ and takes place on Saturday March 25th at the Alumni Centre, Ecobank Legon.

Baitie is expected to feature along the regular stars Nana Awere Damoah and Kofi Akpabli in their first readathon of this second quarter. A medical laboratory director as well as mother of three children, she lives in Accra with her husband Rami. Awards she has won for her novels includes the Macmillan Writer’s Prize for Africa and the Burt Award for African Literature.

The guest reader is expected to thrill the university audience with readings from her works such as A Saint in Brown Sandals, The Twelfth Heart, The Dorm Challenge and Rattling in the Closet.

Ahead of the event, students and lecturers alike are excited to catch the National Readathon train in their own backyard.

“We are going to be there in our numbers,” said Dr. Mawuli Adjei, a Senior Lecturer at the English department. “A year ago, I was among the participants at their public reading at East Legon and it was an evening of laughter and learning.”

According to Marie-Franz Nyameke Fordjoe, a Level 400 Political Science student and hostess of the literary program Read A Book on Radio Univers, the event on Legon campus has been long overdue. “I cannot believe that the DAkpabli Readathon passed us by and visited KNUST last September. I also cannot wait to see their new guest reader, Elizabeth-Irene”.

The DAkpabli Readathon promotes book reading for pleasure as well as local authorship. Besides holding public reading events within Accra, the team has also gone to Kumasi, Ho and Tema. The Readathon campaign by the two authors has received local and international press coverage with ChinAfrican magazine doing a special feature on them in their January edition for 2017.

Between them, the two Ghanaian authors have published 12 books. Nana Damoah  has recently been voted ‘Author of the Month’ by KWEE, a Liberian Literary magazine, while Kofi Akpabli’s latest work ‘Made In Nima’ has won a place in an African anthology featuring writers from 14 countries which was published by the Commonwealth in London.

In their readings so far, the two have received sponsorship from THREADEX, Aky3de3, MTN, Unicorn Rentals, WearGhana, Norte Sobolo, Lincar, Sasa Clothing, Fali’s Fruit Bay and AJ’s Housekeeping Services.

Elizabeth-Irene Baitie becomes the third guest reader in the row, having taken over from Dr. Ruby Goka, a celebrated author and dentist. The first DAkpabli guest was Alba Sumprim, author and film producer.

During her guest reader tenure, Elizabeth-Irene Baitie is expected to star at all DAkpabli Readathon events. “Getting that phone call to come on board was such a thrill. It’s a fine opportunity, joining a laudable initiative to bring reading and writing closer to our people. I just can’t wait to start working with the team.’’

“Tickling Legon with Nsempisms” kicks off at 5:30 pm prompt.

Finally Out – Chronicles of Katanga

“It was one of those usual summonses to Katanga executives to report at the University Council chambers. The VC was flanked by his able lieutenants. A lot of questions were asked and a lot were answered. We were asked which pastor we were inviting for our Hall Week Church Service. “The nation’s number one prophet, Prophet Ebenezer Adarkwah Yiadom, Prophet 1” was the reply. Silence arrived in the room. You should see the looks on their faces. After a few minutes of silence, someone burst out, “Katanga…why…why…huh…why”

promo

Friends,
I am pleased to announce the publication of my new book; Chronicles of Katanga.
Etched into the annals of Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), is the captivating story of the establishment, existence and activities of its foremost all-male hall of residence; the University Hall, popularly known as Katanga.
Chronicles of Katanga takes you down memory lane and not only tells the stories of this famous hall over the years but also gives an insight into the momentous orientation that served as catalyst for these events in the history of the hall. It is a story of the Katanga way of life.
The Legend Lives On!
The eBook is now available for purchase on Amazon via the link below.
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06XFMTPBD
Paperback (Hard-copy) is in print and will be available soon.

Excerpt 1 – Chronicles of Katanga

 

The courtyard resonated with the rhythmic sound of drums, the kind that you cannot resist dancing to, even if you were not blessed with the gift of dancing. Young energetic men run from all angles towards the courtyard amid the chanting of songs matching with the sounds of the drums. From nowhere, a loud violent rattling sound went off, shaking the very foundation of the buildings around, setting off car alarms and enervating most of the people present. This was how freshmen were welcomed to what will be our residence and our first taste of university life on the brisk evening of 17th August, 2007.The sound from the bombard, and how it resonated across the hall anytime it went off, seemed to welcome us to a unique place, a place of sonority. For many of the onlookers and soon to be residents of KATANGA, this was the very first time of witnessing something like this. — Excerpts from CHRONICLES OF KATANGA.

Note to Self – The Era of the 22s

20150627-IMG_5514Dear Courage,

As you turn imaginary 22 today, I just want to have one of those  weird conversations with you. I promise you, I will not ask plenty silly questions or dive into your private life. I may not jump on your nerves today. I just want to have a leisurely chat with you. You see how back in SSS, those boys who get forgotten, write letters to themselves? That is exactly what I am doing with you write now. Continue reading Note to Self – The Era of the 22s

Nelson Mandela did not spend 27 years in prison for this!

xenophobia
One of the best books I have read is THE LONG WALK TO FREEDOM, autobiography of World Icon Nelson Mandela. Anyone who has read this book will have an idea of the struggle that South Africans went through in their fight against apartheid. Continue reading Nelson Mandela did not spend 27 years in prison for this!