Author Archives: nene marcus katey

Pizza Wars. Eddys or Papas?

The eating of Pizza does not fascinate me as much as the names of Pizza joints. In Ghana like other west African countries, eating pizza is becoming a craze, a somewhat irresistible crave. Bread and stew? Whew! That’s the funny way some people refer to it. 

Trust me, there are people who eat pizza as much as politicians are daily accused of corruption. It’s that frequent, boy! For others, it’s a ‘dream come true’ on Occasions. No wonder, Pizza joints in Ghana hit the jackpot on holidays. Several see people throng them like Mega Church Crusades and or 31st December Nights.
Congregants at a crusade drown the stage, in an attempt to catch the Preacher’s attention. Pizza Wait staff likewise witness all forms of threat from ‘congregants’ if their pizzas did not appear the next minutes.
‘Lady, if you need to get into that kitchen  and fan the oven, you better do so because if I don’t receive my pizza in sixty seconds, I will …’ He doesn’t end his statement before another aggrieved customer jumps in, ‘Hey lady, where is my pizza? You took my money and now you are here doing what …’ the staff is confused now. She does not know whose question she should answer. The customers are screaming now ‘Where is the manager!!!’
In Ghana, there are two names that lead the chart in the hearts of Pizza lovers. Common! Spare me that look, Its Eddys Pizza and Papas Pizza. My focus is to examine what these figure heads are doing to get your attention, as they fight for a larger chunk of the cake called ‘customers’.  This undoubtedly is a microcosm of Performance. ‘Microcosm, are you kidding me?’ Yes, microcosm. Assessing their performance will ultimately be measured by the level of satisfaction their customers enjoy.
Branches
The headquarters of Eddys Pizza sits on No. 66, Ringroad, the same building where Mr. Harry Zakour has run his famous Bus Stop Restaurant for about thirty (30 years). Eddys Pizza, when it began, enjoyed some goodwill’ as a result of its location on the same premises with renowned Mr Zakour.
Interestingly, the Bus Stop restaurant, which has now a pale shadow of its former self now benefits from Eddys Pizza, which is generally viewed as the ‘People’s Darling’. ‘A good turn deserves another’, they say. How? You buy Pizza from Eddys and marry it with beer from Zakour (for those who take alcoholic drinks).
Papas Pizza, on the other hand, minding their own business at East legon, on the American House Road, suddenly heard a rumour about Eddys, bringing the game to their doorstep, right under their nose; their headquarters. Initially, it seemed a joke.
One morning in 2014, Papas woke up to realise that the Eddys Contingent had set up Camp about 200meters away.  ‘What?’ he exclaimed. A closer look revealed that Eddys had forgotten to come along with a generator (laughs). Like seriously? Going to bake pizza without power?
Papas began to hatch a grander plan. ‘An eye for an eye’. ‘A tooth for a tooth’.  By midyear 2015, Papas had set up on the Ring road close to the Police Headquarters, and ironically named the newest shop ‘Papas Pizza Osu’. Clearly, this is a Tyson and Hollyfield affair.   
Papas Pizza has a branch at Spintex, Eddys Pizza have an ‘Opening Soon’ banner at Spintex, mounted on the building they intend to occupy. Yes, a banner. The question is ‘Are they ready for another bout with Papas on the streets of Spintex?’ If yes, the earlier the better. If no, continued stay ‘Opening Soon’ could damage their general reputation. Opening soon? Hey! It’s almost two years right? What kind of ‘Soon’ is this?
Glo Telecommunications Network, prior to entering the Ghanaian market made all the noise. Remember? However, by the time they actually opened for service, they had developed sore throat from the loud singing.   
Pizza flavours
Papas Pizza manages with about twenty (20) varieties of Pizza while Eddys run twenty-two types. See? However, Papas Pizza has managed to attract John Dumelo, Ghanaian movie star and Businessman (of course, including his followers) to the Papas’ Home. The brains behind Papas have gone the next step to honour him with a J.Melo Pizza. That’s Strategic leveraging. Hold on! Before you run off, Caroline Sampson of Yfm (inside the Silverbird Cinemas, Accra Mall) fame is also on their train.
Which Star is on the Eddys’ train? Does it matter? Eddys have managed to transform the ‘Supreme’ and ‘Meat Lovers’ flavours into some kind of tin-gods. If you try these, you could go bankrupt in your attempt to satisfy your appetite. The only turn-off will be ‘delay’ in having your Pizza baked.  Just visit Trip Advisor for further details. Eddys Pizza. Their website puts ready time at 20 minutes though.  

Customer Service
I cannot say anything about this. Do visit any of their branches on separate occasions. Eddys, perhaps on a weekend and Papas, on a holiday. Your personal experience will be the best assessment of their performances in this area of hospitality. Oh blimey! Forgive me. Pizza eaters constantly leave their reviews on Trip Advisor. You can pause and check them out. Those who don’t take customer service seriously in their business lose out by huge margins and risk collapsing the business.
Staff Attire
Papas Pizza Front staffs are often spotted in Jeans trousers with T-shirt and a Cap to match. Shoes? They wear flats. In my mind, I’m thinking, this aids smart movement in serving customers. In developed countries, this is how Pizza front staff dresses. Talk of Dominos Pizza and Papa Johns Pizza in the United States of America.

Eddys Pizza management, on the other hand, have for a greater part of their existence, preferred to have their front staff don attires that could make anyone mistake them for Bank workers. They often don white or black long sleeves shirt over a pair of black trousers, a necktie and black shoes. Ladies wear black heeled shoes.  This may be the Eddys way of standing out from the crowd, but in a pizza joint, where movement and speed rank topmost; their mode of dressing will be counterproductive.

What have I been saying all along? *Sips Apple Juice* Eddys Pizza and Papas Pizza are in a race, One thinks he has arrived and is gradually losing out, while the other, relatively less popular, continues to push the limits in order to win more customers and conquer new territories. The former thinks he has the customers already while the latter is doing everything to win customer loyalty.
Ooosh! I did not comment on the taste of the Pizzas. *I will be right back. Two hours should be enough*
Thank you for staying with me. I took a break to do some consulting with friends who often patronise Eddys and Papas, so that I could juxtapose their experiences with mine.
Conclusion
Many pizza lovers claim and I agree that Papas Pizza does not taste as nice as Eddys but they are great with their time. Also, a good number of my friends think they have been improving the taste of the Pizzas.
Who is who? Eddys Pizza or Papas Pizza; War Of The Pizza Mongers.
Footnotes
1. Eddys and Eddys Pizza are one and the same though used interchangeable to achieve certain effect.
2. Papas and Papas Pizza are one and the same though used interchangeable to achieve certain effect.
Image Credits
1st image: www.asiagopizza.com
2nd image: www.eddyspizza.com
5th image: www.papaspizza.com.gh

In Praise Of Our Ghanaian Foods

To say we’re spoilt for choice when it comes to the wide variety of foods we have in Ghana would be a gross understatement!! Words like blessed, advantaged, favored
( and on and on) come into mind as I ponder over all the various staples we have in the country that can readily be combined into mouth watering  and healthy dishes that tickle one’s culinary fantasy.

As we travel across the length and breathe of the country, across the various regions, we come across root crops, cereals, grains and a variety of vegetables that come together in culinary harmony to give us dishes that not only stimulate our taste buds but also serve as a befitting answer to our hunger pangs. 

Yam, cassava, plantain, maize, millet and many more are metamorphosed into foods such as ‘Fufu’ ‘3tó’ , ‘Banku’, ‘Gari’, porridges and many more. Rice is reinvented into age- old favorites such as ‘Jollof’, ‘Waakye’ and ‘Omo Tuo’. Our unbelievable array of vegetables are changed into various stews, soups and sauces that serve as worthy partners to these various preparations.

Wow! What more can a people ask for? It should be a walk in the park, a done deal when it comes to appreciating and utilizing our wonderful foods right? wrong. I would stick my neck out at this point and try to identify 2 major factors that serve as hindrances to us fully appreciating and benefiting from our enormous array of foods.

First, there’s the issue of looking down on things that are our own. We sometimes tend to downplay what is typically Ghanaian, and our foods are no exception. Would we be willing to serve our dishes at parties, conferences and other special events? How far would we be willing to go in giving our foods the push and promotion they deserve? Some countries are stuck with monotonous and sometimes difficult to eat foods, yet their citizens patronize them. Let’s utilize what we have.

Secondly, there’s that big issue of unflattering myths that surround our foods. Interesting stuff like ‘gari’ giving eye problems, ‘Fufu’ making children unable to walk and my all- time favourite, Okro giving waist pains and leading to impotence amongst many other unbelievable stuff are swallowed hook, line and sinker by many people.
These create unnecessary ‘fear and panic’ which leads to unnecessary avoidance of certain foods. Well, there we have it. Some food for thought (pun intended) and hopefully some praise for our Ghanaian foods. Let’s support our own.

The Writer is Dede Kwadjo, a Dietician/Nutritionist and a member of the Ghana Dietetics Association. She lives in Accra, Ghana. You may reach her directly via Dede.kwadjo@gmail.com
Footnotes
Fufu, Banku, Omo Tuo, 3tó are Ghanaian dishes.
Gari is an African food made from cassava tubers.
Okro is a slimy green podded vegetable grown in the tropics, and which supposedly originated from Ethopia.
Jollof is a popular one-pot rice dish eaten in many West African countries.
Waakye is a Ghanaian dish cooked of rice and beans.
(Source: Wikipedia)
  

Was Maiden Role Model Africa Conference a Success?


I saw the event poster on Facebook and immediately, it caught my attention, perhaps, because I am biased towards the colour red. It was indeed a great design. You see the poster and you know it is the work of someone who understands his craft to details. The relevant information stood out. The theme chosen by Invents Foundation was ‘Doing Business with Integrity’ The event was a Corporate Dialogue. The stage was set.

I arrived at the African Regent Hotel, some few minutes before 3pm, when the program was scheduled to commence. Neatly groomed ushers smiled as they welcomed guests and led you to a seat.

The Keynote Speaker, Michael Ohene Effah was already seated. He had come with his son. The Role Model/Mentor, Dr. Samuel Ofori Onwona was also seated with his daughter occupying the immediate seat to his left. The room was cosy. It smelt good and the interior was inviting. Gosh! We were at the African Regent Hotel. Oh blimey! There was a Live Jazz Band inside the conference room. I feel the goosebumps all over again.

The program commenced at 3:20pm with an opening prayer. Master of Ceremony Samuel Bartels was on point, he exuded an irresistible demeanour. Mr. Bartels seemed to just know what to say, when and how to say it. How he spiced his moderation with doses of his personal accomplishments, without appearing imposing or boastful was masterful, almost impossible to notice actually. Organizers will have a tough time replacing him as MC at their next event. I will love the see Mr. Bartels MC the next season of the Corporate Dialogue. Organizers did well to include a brief session for participants to define who a mentor was and to tell who their mentor was.   

The keynote address by Michael Ohene Effah was enlightening yet sensational, and best part was the delivery. It was so artful and showed that he invested maximum time and resources in preparing it. He made reference to Alcinda Honwana, who argued that ‘most young Africans are living in a period of suspension between childhood and adulthood’. Michael then submitted that ‘mentors inspire us to be better and be our best’. In ending his speech, he had some brilliant workable recommendations for business leaders in Africa. You should contact the organizers for the video clip. He ended with ‘This is how we learn; we learn to do by doing’. What an exciting way to prepare the way for Dr. Onwona.

The Host, William Okyere-Frempong, CEO of the HuD Group had the enviable task of facilitating the discussion with Dr. Onwona. He had two things on as usual, his spectacle and his smile.

William took his seat, 45 degrees to Dr. Onwona and at earshot, allowing himself to be taken around the world as we listened to the compelling story of Dr. Onwona’s early life, career and currently his work in God’s vineyard. Dr. Onwona treated the theme of Integrity with practical examples that stole rounds of applause from the audience. The nurse cum health activist cum husband cum photographer Kobby Blay constantly stole shots. Let me confess, I stole glances at the two ladies who sat by me. It was a night of delightful stealing.



Dr. Onwona seized every opportunity to emphasize the importance of Integrity, defining it as ‘what you do when no one is watching’ and he was quick to add that a strong foundation began from Home. I later realised that both Dr. Onwona and Mr. Okyere-Frempong did not even realise the chilled glasses of juice each that was set before them. Anyway…

The Questions and Answers time was enjoyable. Dr. Onwona answered all the questions put to him genuinely. A participant, whom I believe came in late asked Dr. Onwona to give him an example of a time when he exhibited raw integrity in the face of difficulty. The rest of us knew that Dr. Onwona had done more than enough justice to this question in his earlier presentations. At some other events, the Host, Guest or a wannabe MC will throw you a glaring embarrassment, reminding you that that question had already been addressed. Neither Mr. Okyere-Frempong the Host nor Dr. Onwona took that path. Dr. Onwona still answered the question the best way he could. That, for me was a moment of truth. Come on, that is inspirational.

I have left out the Resume of the Guest in this review because I will surely run out of steam, if i attempt that arduous task. Just google him and you will find more than you need to know. Below are two things he said which I will not forget.

‘If you have a dream that looks like an achievable dream, it is not from God’
‘If God were to open up all the things to you what you should be, you would give up’
The meeting closed with Poetry by Braa Kwaku, the worshipping Poet, which came after the Convener Samuel Agyeman-Prempeh, Head of Invents had briefly introduced his team members. Mr. Agyeman-Prempeh received a standing ovation and that was phenomenal. The Author and Social Entrepreneur is one for the future, but hey; do not be deceived by his tenor voice. He is a leader. He makes things happen.
After the closing prayer came the networking session, a favourite of most participants. I made some new friends and clashed into some old friends as well. Overall, I rate the event an excellent one. And it was free too, but there were envelopes for freewill donation in support of Invents. I gladly donated some green ghana notes.

The next edition I’m told is scheduled for the 24thJanuary, 2016. I cannot wait to be there. Do keep your eye on this space. I might be doing a review of your event also.

How Prince Kofi Amoabeng stays on top


In every generation, there seems to be somebody who rises past the echelons set by society, sends a shocking wave of their arrival by the way they think and act. These individuals stand taller than their contemporaries; defy the odds and take the bull by the horns in the most unimaginable way. The story of Prince Kofi Amoabeng of UT is no different. We can comfortably refer to him as the Messi of this generation’s financial space.


I will not attempt in my mind to digress into the technicalities of his work and success, but my focus rather, is to explore those ‘little acts’, which, having observed over some time stands out as reason his organisation remains the name on most lips. The fruits of his labour are there for all to see.

My position is that, these traits, one or many, if adopted can work ‘miracles’ for all leaders and their organization irrespective of industry or location. Let me add rather quickly, that these traits are easy to forget if you do not hold them tightly, they really want to escape already.

I have wondered in my mind how Prince Kofi Amoabeng has led his team consistently, caused them to think like he does, yet leaving them to keep minds of their own. I decided to probe deeper and look more closely. I loved what i found.

My belief is that Prince Kofi Amoabeng ingested without apologies to his personal feelings, the law as set forth by Napoleon’s Hill in his book ‘The law of success’ that ‘Desire is the starting point of all achievement’. My interest here is to place the binoculars on a man who has applied stratagems akin to those employed by Henry Ford, Andrew Carnegie, Aliko Dangote et al.


These are my findings:

Military Background: Prince Kofi Amoabeng possessed a military background thus he understands discipline and strategy. The most notable trait of any soldier is their desire to die for their country even at the peril of their lives. No doubt Prince carried that mentality onto the making of UT.

Personal work ethic: Do you know that Prince Kofi Amoabeng has consistently maintained a rule in his organization that customers must never be kept waiting unduly as they wait to access a service. His understanding is that the single demonstration that you value anybody is to value their time. He would personally ask a customer if he observed that the person had been sitting in wait for some time.

The Goose and the Gander: Are you aware that Prince Kofi Amoabeng enters his name into the Attendance Book just like any other staff. Mind you, when he arrives late to work, he pays the fine just like any other staff. This may seem a trivial matter but it counts greatly in boosting employee morale.

Just call me: It’s amazing to find the telephone number of Prince Kofi Amoabeng hang boldly at the Reception of all Banks’ branches. Not only that, he does the same at all events he attends so that those who intend to speak with him can reach him. Now, you are wondering how he does that successfully right? I have no idea, but obviously, it’s working out just right.

Awards, So?: Prince Kofi Amoabeng has never let the number of awards he’s received go into his head. He has stated several times that awards are the least of his thoughts, rather, how to serve customers better and help humanity ranks first on his mind. That is a winner’s mentality.

Position? Funny: He believes that role must supersede position. Prince Kofi Amoabeng as a practice does not allow staff carrying his bag as he enters the office. His response to whoever attempts it is ‘I did not employ you to carry bags but to think for the company’ Funny right? That’s classic and true.

These traits are not taught in the limited walls of classrooms but to be harvested from the unlimited learning of highly successful men and women across history. If you ever discourage yourself from applying these secrets or allow anyone to discourage you, well. I think of Prince Kofi Amoabeng and I see a similitude to Richard Branson of the Virgin Group.


Let me end with a quote by John Quincy Adams ‘if your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader’ . Clearly, Prince Kofi Amoabeng is one.

The Great Myth of Balance


The decline of the great religions mean that there are fewer and fewer ‘universal truths’ in our world today, and what few pretenders there are lack the prestige and following of yesteryear’s great maxims.

But if there is a maxim today worthy of the ‘universal truth’ status, it surely must be the widely celebrated notion of ‘work-life balance’.

We are supposed to ‘do what we love’ and to prevent the burdens of the workplace from intruding into our ‘personal lives’. To leave work behind and not to carry it ‘home’. To nurture relationships that are meaningful and deep, which by definition must be external to our daily labours, and uncontaminated by the economic forces that rule our professional lives.

People complain of being ‘burnt out’, and workaholics are looked upon with a mixture of disdain and pity, consigned to statistics of psychiatric health and psychological well-being. Is this some form of modern conceit? After all, in those cultures where written records make it easy to trace the origin of names, we find that ‘what one did for a living’, ‘one’s place in life’ and ‘one’s purpose for living’ were often conflated and deliberately blurred. Hence such names as ‘Hunter’, ‘Baker’, ‘Falconer’, ‘Brewer/Brew’ etc.

And yet, it is curiously in Marxism, that most post-industrially modern of creeds, that we find the most sustained assault on the notion that ‘work’ can be separated from ‘life’. As Erich Fromm extracts from a summary of Marx’s work: “History is….nothing but the self-creation of man through the process of his work and his production.”

The ideals expressed in such maxims as: “dignity in labour”, and “essence through human production” etc. lies within the very bedrock of all the materialist philosophies that accept human centricity in their conception of the world. Labour maketh the man.

There are of course perversions, such as the Nazi taunt that “work makes free”. But the fundamental principle penetrates very deep into any logic that seeks to separate man from the other species.

Which is why even in the supernatural creeds, such as the great Monotheisms, we learn that God worked for six days and on the seventh day, ‘rested’. The proportion is very clear: work is pre-eminent. Man, made in the image of deities, must also respect this proportion, and must mark the Sabbath not in the glorification of ‘rest’, but to give full meaning to WORK. In fact, in the Christian tradition, the Christ appears to condone the extension of labour into the Sabbath itself, strenuously refusing to chastise the Apostles that performed a harvest of grain on the holy day of rest, in defiance of the teachers of the Law.

And when you extend the idea of labour into the broader concepts of ‘vocation’ and ‘duty’, one finds in the Christian eschatology that the Angels and other divine essences ‘worship forever’ before the throne of the Monotheistic Deity. Worship being their vocation, their “life’s work”, they are called upon to do it without ceasing, to work incessantly.

Perhaps, then, a case can be made for ‘fusing work into life’, in much the same way that family law in contemporary times appear to have done for ‘stay at home moms’ and in its reinterpretation of domestic chores. Nowadays, child-rearing, home-tending, and civic duty, have all benefited from such ‘reinterpretation’, notwithstanding the capitalist surge in the production of so-called ‘labour-saving’ devices and advanced democracy’s apathy-inducing side-effects.

Witness therefore not only the transformation of the home into a theater of labour-negotiation, but also, even more intriguingly, the emergence of full-time politicians and civic activists, some of whom now find sufficient means to live off entirely on what were once considered ‘mere passions’.

Which leads to the heart of my concern: the perverse, in my view, morality that the operation of passion works solely in one direction: you must turn into a vocation that which you love already. It seems manifest by the record of contemporary lives that, very often, the key to peace of mind is to COME TO LOVE THAT WHICH YOU MUST DO. That which is your duty and vocation. For your means of livelihood must become your “life’s work”.

To my mind, by no means the sharpest that has contended with this subject, falling in love with your duty is a performance. It requires skill. Skill that must be acquired, through daily practice and perseverance. But, above all, it requires a mind-shift. And that mindshift is the centralisation of work in one’s life. Work must define the being.

The artificial distinctions that have been erected by barefaced gurus have now come to a head in the religious vocations. Some people worry that other people earnestly work themselves into ‘religious ministry’ without a ‘calling’, wrongly construing the labour that attends the organisation of a religious mission as non-labour, and thus suffering unnecessary indignation when they discover that such activity is as much labour as any other form of work, to be harnessed by all who will to work.

That there are pastors and Imams, undercover journalists and spies, who hate their jobs as much as the next janitor or white-collar clerk is a notion unthinkable to those burdened with these delusions. To them, work is burdensome and a calling is sweet. I hate to break it to these timorous souls: here is the truth: all work is work, and there is no such thing as a distinction between vocations that are based on a calling and labour predominantly motivated, via cultural referents, by wage and service.

Understanding the preceding should open one’s eye to the harsh reality of the human condition: we must PRODUCE OUR ENVIRONMENT, and this production is the day to day NATURE OF OUR VERY BEING. From the time we wake up till we drop, we are engaged in a constant pushback to re-orient our environment. The returns we get are calibrated by the success of this endeavour, and where those returns are ‘wages’ it simply means that the struggle we are engaged with has been codified enough to be widely performed, and through the various efficiencies of aggregation to generate wealth, and thus transform the environment at a much greater scale.

One may retreat from this types of aggregation. But one cannot escape the incessant throbbing of work in search of some elusive notion of happiness, unbound from the pressure of the environment, which is one’s unending duty to produce. This is a grand delusion. Work stares into your soul, revealing your true worth.

The escape which you seek is the escape from the *MYTH of Work-Life Balance* into the universal truth of Work-Life Fusion.

Bright Simons is the Ghanaian social innovator, entrepreneur, writer and researcher affiliated with IMANI Centre for Policy and Education. He is the president of mpedigree networkAuthor Permission sought to publish this article which was originally posted on his facebook on 27th September, 2015

A Night changed everything


It all began that night from a simple question a guy asked in a Whatsapp group of which I am a member.  “Supposing your best friend whom you chat with very often, almost every day suddenly stops contacting and chatting with you. You asked him or her and suddenly the response is that big excuse, ‘busy!’ How would you take that?

I read quite a lot of comment that were contributed by other members and finally decided to add mine, something that has sprung out of my own experience.

Sometimes we become sentimental in friendship. We do more and so we expect the other person to do more too. We love more, and so we yell at the other person to do same. None of these cravings are bad in themselves but the truth is, achieving them is close to impossible.  


We can’t force people to reciprocate love to us in the same magnitude we showed to them.  I have come to realize, that, quite often all these begin to happen and if we can be truly honest with ourselves, it all begins when one party cannot seem to draw the line between normal friendship and a state of admiration or let me put it simply “when we begin to fall in love with our friends”

Rule#1.
People need space no matter what and when they ask for it, give it to them. Hand them their space. We must be smart to know when they ask for it indirectly.

Rule#2.
Remember that your friends’ worlds are not revolved around “you” alone. They have a big world of other friends, family, work, happiness, quietness, and so we can’t always have their attention exclusively.

Rule#3.
Feelings are visitors. Let them walk in and walk out. Let them come and go. Quite interestingly, the very start of a friendship is sweet and interesting but when time and space begins to pass through, it becomes rough because, perhaps, we become tired of doing the same things over and over again.

Rather, stop complaining, let the person be, do as much as you are required (welcomed) to and just be you. Honestly, we all can’t be heroes in friendship, thus, we must know and define the limits of every friendship.

Our issue usually is that, sometimes with all our effort we desire to make some people “best friends or close friends” when they were just okay been friends. The fact that you told someone every detail about your life, even your greatest secrets, doesn’t automatically make them your “best friends”.


 I figured out that, sometimes, we are too quick to open up, mind you, not all openness means an outstretched hand of a life time friendship. Some people will like to listen to you but they can’t fix your issues, they can’t protect you and may not be the persons to make you happy, they are not bad people, it only means they cannot walk afar into our hearts.

That’s it, because, as we age, our priorities begin to shift and change and we become just too busy. That saying ‘if people love you they will make time for you’ has proven true over a life time.

Last month I found myself in a disagreement with a friend over the same issue. I sat down to analyze the situation carefully and I realized that i needed to know my limit in people’s life; I needed to understand how much of me they were willing to take and keep.

It was absolutely okay if they didn’t need me too much. It was even okay if they did and yet couldn’t prove it, it never meant there was something wrong with them or me. It is just as it is. As long as I was concerned I needed self-respect too, if they needed rest and space, I should be willing to grant it! If they were okay with us talking every year, so be it! I just had to define the friendship. (I must admit it was a painful process because it changed my perception about others and the fact that we have to be moderate in our expectation of others. And here I was, a sanguine lady, I had began to open up a little, just so little though.

Trust me people come in big surprises. Sometimes, they are quick to welcome you and then you begin to trust them, then, you become vulnerable and that is when they lose sight of your worth and unconsciously, sometimes consciously, they begin to take every bit of it for granted.

Who said change was wrong anyway? Often, we become a lot of different people before we settle into who we finally become. It gets scary to know who we have finally become, so toughened at heart that we can’t feel deeply anymore just because we are scared of being hurt again, that one too was okay.  Gradually, we become tired of being the “sentimental freaks” as we come to accept that, the compass to our emotional landscape does not always have to be directed to some particular persons anymore.

I hated this change but a lot of times I had no option, I wish I knew a better way and I realize I may have to lose a lot more friends because I prefer to enjoy that pure and genuine solace; my own place of quietness away from the world where I can totally transcend to find Love in my own self, where I could only believe my own mantra  ‘I will always love you’

With these experiences translated into words, I can say that mostly, it’s difficult to define the boundaries of friendship between a male and a female at a particular point in time  (not all the time though) and the challenge is when we can’t tell where friendship ended and love began, and as long as we can’t determine where we really want to belong, we will keep searching for love in different places.


The writer, Josephine Amofaah Nketiah lives in Accra, Ghana. She can be reached directly at abenamofaah@yahoo.com. She blogs at josiefin.wordpress.com 

How to rise after every ‘failure’

Thomas Edison’s teachers said he was ‘too stupid to learn anything’. He was fired from his first two jobs for being ‘non-productive’. As an inventor, Edison made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb. When a reporter asked, “How did it feel to fail 1,000 times?” Edison replied, “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps”. wow!
The first thing you must understand about failure is that there is no such thing as failure. Surprised? You do not have to be. Yes, I said it! There is no such thing as failure except that which you call failure. ‘Failure’ as we have come to understand it is a term used to refer to a loss or inability to achieve a goal, however, take a break now and let’s think about it this way.
Everything that exists today was given its name and expression by somebody or a group in the past, based on their perception or feeling about that thing. What I am saying is that, ‘failure’ as we have come to accept was somebody’s definition and therefore, you and I are under no obligation to accept their interpretation. We must resist the trap of defining and measuring ourselves by other people’s standards because they chose to see themselves as failures. You were created uniquely. Yes, no two people in this world are the same, not even identical twins. Unconventional? Yes, unconventional!
Coming, many of our forebears decided to see ‘failure’ as negative because they felt like losers when they experienced a ‘predicament’; meanwhile, history has countless records of men and women who rose from supposed defeat to supernormal success.  Let me emphasize here that we are not failures because we face temporary defeat. Rather, we fail when we refuse to leave the mess behind and move forward to achieve the goals we set for ourselves.
It is important that you realize that you are solely responsible for controlling your daily circumstances and not be controlled by them. For instance, failing to pass a job Interview is not enough reason to declare yourself a failure. Your inability to secure the Contract does not mean you are a failure. Get back to the drawing board, believe that you can succeed, do not waiver in your belief, and take action again.
My friend, I want you to say to yourself right now that you are not a failure. Believe what you just said and know in your heart that you will be able to achieve your vision. Never say ‘never’. Accept the challenges that come your way, continue to look out for opportunities, never call yourself a failure, never see other people as failures. We may experience temporary defeats but it does not in any way certify us as failures.
It is interesting to know that many times people ‘fail’ even before they begin. They question their own dreams and ability to execute a task, thus, a negative message is immediately sent to the subconscious part of the brain to ‘go and sleep as no good will come out of their efforts’.  This mindset keeps him at point zero and despite abounding opportunities and the acres of diamond in his backyard; he would not be able to exert himself fully to a cause.
So, the next time someone tells you ‘This is not possible, it cannot be done’ Look at him or her confidently, eyeball to eyeball and tell him/her to ‘fuck off’. The next time you are tempted to tell yourself it’s not possible, tell that voice to shut up and ‘fuck off’. Get on your feet and get to work.
Remember, Victory may be like a hesitant woman but with persistence, you will woo her to your side. Make it happen! Refuse to die!!!

Refuse to Die

“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan Press On! has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race”
Calvin Coolidge
Helen Keller, at the age of 19 months, became deaf and blind. But that didn’t stop her from pursuing her vision. She was the first deaf and blind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree going on to become an author, political activist and lecturer. 

Think about this for a moment. If someone you loved were trapped in a building, would you stop trying to rescue them if the front door were locked? Wouldn’t you try other ways and means, the windows, the roof, and every opening, right?

The reason why many people fail in their endeavours is because they know more about failure than about success. Bad news sells faster, they say, and people subscribe to it without giving much thought. The media bombards us with stories of wars, deaths, collapsed businesses, high commodity prices, and ailing economies.
We are told of how worse the economy has become, yet there are inspiring stories of individuals and organisations influencing change in significant ways in their communities.
We are made to believe that all is falling apart, and therefore, many people discount the need to invest their best efforts in their endeavours. Afterall, ‘everybody go die’, ‘dollar dey die’, ‘government dey chop chop’, ‘everything is falling apart’ they say. This negativity is poisonous and it travels faster than the venom from a snake’s bite. ‘The losers’ mantra’ is how i call it and how they sink into our deepest thoughts is pathetic, burying our very flickers of hope.
Little, however, is shown and told of the many success stories littered across the landscape of Africa, of the people improving their lives through gainful employment, of young people volunteering in their communities. My grandmother built her houses from the sale of ‘Kenkey’ and fried fish in the sixties. Her diligence and determination accounted chiefly for her success.

Ladies and gentlemen, there are a thousand reasons to fail but a thousand and one reasons to succeed, and you are the constant in that equation. Give yourself no reason to fail because conditions seem to be against you. That is the more reason why you ought to be resilient.

You need not have everything to begin a project but you need to gather much confidence and resoluteness. These virtues are drawn from within. The biggest excuses I hear are “I don’t have enough money”, “I don’t have enough time,” “I’m too busy”, “I don’t want to travel,” Shut the fuck up! Nobody has ever had everything and nobody will ever have everything. All those whose lives you admire did not have everything either yet they took the first step nevertheless.

If you know how to write songs, start serious writing, keep writing and then do everything possible to get your songs out there. Take advantage of Youtube. Youtube? Yes, Youtube, you need not have a professional camera. You can begin with the 4 megapizel camera of your mobile phone. Go to one radio station. If they turn you down, go to the next and the next and tell them about your songs. Rejection is why you should push further. Do it! Do it!! Do it until you succeed. Never give up! Never!!

Young people of today give themselves beautiful reasons to be idle. Many of them are interested in short-cuts without mastering a skill. A lot more are frustrated because they are not realising what they were thought formal education would bestow them; to secure a white collar, green collar, gold collar kind of job after graduation. This conventional mentality has left many in a hole as unemployment figures continue to soar.

Most people prefer the safe haven of blaming all else but themselves for their circumstance. They are yet to realise that their success depended mostly on themselves and their actions or inactions. They do not understand that where there is a will, there is a way. The earlier they realised this, the better.

Meet Esi Owusu, intelligent and charming, a Fine Arts graduate, who intends to run an Arts gallery. The funds in her bank account is only enough to buy porridge for a few days. She sends her works to potential buyers but each gave her sermons on why they couldn’t buy. Those who thought she had a brilliant idea gave her one option; that she agreed to a sexual barter.
Esi is discouraged, doubts her own innate abilities. She contemplates taking up any available job offer just to make ends meet. She is also frustrated, continually judging herself in the light of the temporary setbacks, and measuring her real worth by a piece of certificate. She finds a job as a teller in a rural bank. Should Esi, in the hustle and bustle of work in a bank forget her real passion; she will very likely end up living out a life of regret.  
Esi must come to the realisation of her life’s task. She must give herself no reason to fail in this task. She must not look at others except to draw inspiration from those who are making it happen in their own lives. She must give herself no excuse to fail but to continually ask herself what she can do to better her lot and her society. She must begin to build a career around her ability to paint creative emotional scenes. She must begin today, not tomorrow. Yes, today!
Victory may be like a hesitant woman but with persistence, you will woo her to your side. Make it happen! Refuse to die!!

Stop playing the blame game

“It is the act of an ill-instructed man to blame others for his own bad condition; it is the act of one who has begun to be instructed, to lay the blame on himself; and of one whose instruction is completed, neither to blame another, nor himself” Epictetus, The Enchiridion.
I have this uncle who blames everything on everybody and every living creature. He takes every opportunity to blame his wife, children, siblings and everything in sight for his woes. He has been imprisoned thrice in his lifetime and still less than fifty years old. He has been placed in police counter-backs not less than a one hundred times. If the Guinness World Book of Records recognized such feats, this uncle I’m referring to would be considered a superstar.
He has been embarrassed times without number in the presence of his wife and kids by all kinds of people, young and old, for duping them of huge sums of money under the pretense of providing them accommodation. This man is only fourty-five years of age, with one wife and four children, the oldest being seventeen years of age and the youngest only two.
He is a lover of alcohol, an addict actually. He gives his relatives sleepless nights from raining curses, insults and everything in-between. If you lived six houses away, you could hear his voice, swearing by heaven and earth; by his dead parents and by every single thing in sight. This daily act of his continues till past midnight. He blames everybody and everything including mosquitoes for only God knows why. This is the posture and attitude of many of us.
We are not ready to confront our fears for fear of failure, but are quick to blame everything and everybody. We try very hard to hide our inefficiencies by being loud and blame our shortfalls on others, including unseen spirits. Many ladies today blame their failed relationships on men and vice versa, without spending time to identify the cracks in their virtues leading to the often avoidable separations. You spend to the last dowry the resources of all the men you have dated, yet do not understand why your relationships do not last. An inflated ego clouds one’s perception of his true state.
We are quick to blame others for our woes, an action which is often an attempt to hide our insecurities and silent hidden fears. Fear eats up its victims from the inside and prevents him from pursuing those things that matter most. The good news however is that we can be liberated if we begin to believe that change is first and foremost internal before it reflects externally.
For instance, you can never overcome your fear of meeting people if you think that everybody you meet thinks ill of you. You will never be able to able to succeed in business if you continue to blame the woes of the economy on the rich while holding on to the perception that all successful people attained it through spiritual and or dishonest means (a notion widely held among many people in many parts of Africa). Success is the result of a combination of factors including hard work, identifying and grabbing opportunities, persistence and consistence among others.
Even in the game of sports, some people blame their team’s loss on the referee, the weather, even unseen forces et cetera. How pathetic!
A Chinese proverb says ‘the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago; the second best time is now’. My friend, forget the bullshit and crap excuses lazy people preach all over the place, rather, push your ambitions forward by taking a step today. Leave the naysayers behind, those who complain never amount to nothing. Those who blame everything on everybody are not ready to take on the world, as all they are doing actually is to scamper around nothing.
Stay focused, take the bull by the horn, be honest with yourself and let go all the distractions in your mind, pursue the things that matter most to you with all innermost desire.
Remember, victory may be like a hesitant woman but with persistence, you will woo her to your side. Make it happen! Refuse to die!!!

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