Arts

Lordstone picks up an EDUCOM AWARD

To the glory of God, he said, “I can boldly say, my decision to resign from the banking industry to pursue my purposed career as a Purpose Driven Career Coach, Learning Strategist and Temperament Mgt. Counsellor, has indeed paid off by been declared the winner for the EDUCATIONAL BOOK AWARD category at the just ended NATIONAL EDUCOM AWARDS organised by NEOGENICS EDUCATION.”

The ceremony was held at the Holiday Inn hotel at Accra Airport City on the 27th August, 2016. The ceremony was well attended with very important personalities from different backgrounds who have dedicated their time, energy and resources in ensuring the betterment of Ghana’s educational sector and the quality of teaching and learning in our school system in diverse ways.

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Brief background:

During his university education, he had a serious health challenge, which prevented him from consistently attending lectures for two good years; nonetheless, he graduated with Second Class Upper in BSc. Business Administration; Banking and Finance option.

This feat he believed was as a result of non-traditional approaches he adopted in learning lecture notes coupled with prayer. With his passion in encouraging and guiding people with information he knows is of relevance to their progress, he took the courage to write letters to some heads of schools to be given the permission to  empower the learning skills and abilities of Senior High School students within the period he was waiting for the National Service postings. Unfortunately, none of the heads gave him the opportunity.

 

Exploits and Testimonies:

However, during a presentation with the 2010/2011 final year HND Accounting students at Wa Polytechnic; where he did his National Service, the feedback of whether he had a pamphlet they could get access to, motivated him to write his first book titled “LEARNING STRATEGIES: THE ACT OF APPLYING CRITICAL THINKING SKILLS” to benefit students irrespective of their location in Ghana.

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Since the release of this book in August, 2014 the learning experiences of students who have read it has improved and reflected in their exams results. There is this particular student (Gershon Yevunya) who called among many, to testify to that effect, hence nominated him for the National Educom Awards when it was opened. Interestingly, as God may have it planned, he called him just this Tuesday, 29th August, that he had gotten admission to the University of Education, Winneba and had just finished paying his admission fees. This is indeed, a complete testimony of how the book has transformed his learning experience from exams results of F9’s to B2’s.

Aaron continues to say that, he believes one vital missing link among others in our education delivery approach is not teaching students how to learn. Teachers assume the fact that because they have taught them, they should learn to understand. Unfortunately, it does not work that way.  The mind engages in processes to be able to arrive at an understanding of a subject matter. When these processes are not synchronised effectively and efficiently with the brain, there will be a gap which will affect the proper interpretation of the subject matter. The book therefore was written to empower effective use of the mind using Critical Thinking Skills approach in learning and to motivate students not to easily give up irrespective of the challenges they may be confronted with in their educational pursuits.

 

This award is enough encouragement to continue with the National Learning Strategies Seminar tours he has embarked on under the YOUTH ARENA NETWORK organisation, to empower the learning skills and abilities of students’ especially in remote regions, thereby, helping bridge the wide exams failure rates by Senior High School candidates; he said.

 

Thanks go to the award organisers; Neogenics Education for such an important initiative to recognise persons contributing their quote towards quality education delivery in Ghana.

 

Aaron Lordstone Kpogo

Author of two books (Learning Strategies: The Act Of Applying Critical Thinking Skills,  & Purpose Driven Career and The Appropriate Course To Study.

www.youtharenanetwork.wordpress.com

www.facebook.com/aaronlordstone

+233 (0)242548430

“HALF A SONG TO SING” at RODE REEL

The issue of woman abuse is not just a community problem. Neither is it a country problem; it is a worldwide problem. Day in and day out, women are abused by men who by the unwritten rubrics of marriage are supposed to protect, love and encourage them. On KNUST campus one night in my hostel, there was an uproar which forced students out of their beds to find out what was going on. A gentleman who happened to be from another hostel had come to our hostel to beat up his girlfriend. Last year, the news of a taxi driver who stabbed his girlfriend to death shocked the country. A pregnant woman was also assaulted with an electric iron by her husband and was left to rot in a locked room after she had died. There are many more untold stories as many women continue suffer abuse in secrecy.

These women have been beaten by men who had once loved them. Some argue that perhaps women of today provoke such treatment from men because of their own behaviors. The modern woman is far from the submissive, near-timid woman prescribed by culture. But do two wrongs make a right? Is violence the best way out? In making the film; half a song to sing, our aim was to give voice to women who are victims of abusive relationships and propose a simple solution-Run!  Run from the situation ad seek help, run to seek counsel and shelter, run to save their very lives. No body deserves to be mistreated. The woman is the man’s reflection and as he is, so she is. She is an embodiment of his love. If she is treated well, she blossoms.

Half a song is poetry and a fine work of art in one. It is a short metaphorical story of a woman in an abusive relationship. The true status of her relationship is left to silence. In the end however she says: “he is my husband”. She is a representative of the many living with abusive men. Most women believe that men automatically become their husbands once they move in with them. This fallacy of a marriage can become an obstacle to wanting to break free. Many think it could be a “waste of time” trying to come out of such a relationship and hence, continue to suffer in silence.

Half a song to sing is a blend of poetry and moving pictures.  While a joyful challenge for the team, the idea is certainly not new to film making. Telling such an important story in only three minutes forced the team to think outside the proverbial box. We had to come up with a concept which will not only entertain but also inform and stimulate public interest. In the end we believe the film has become the voice of the many who suffer in silence.

We can all be a voice for the voiceless no matter the platform available to us, even if it is a short film. Vote for “Half a Song to Sing” (http://www.rode.com/myrodereel/watch/entry/2607)

Uncle Ebo pens an unusual blockbuster


I will tell you that uncle Ebo just crafted another blockbuster but you will think I am exaggerating again. After all, the whole world knows by now how I feel about Roverman products. I will however, attempt to discourage you from allowing that thought to get in the way of an unbiased critical analysis and sound judgement. In which case I am certain you will come to the same conclusion as I have.


First of all; no syllables, words, phrases or paragraphs can describe the experience enough. So before you read on, stop for a second and make a firm promise to yourself that you will go and see Dear God Comma—the latest play from the Roverman stables. What you will get is a potpourri comprising of vivid imagery of the age old thoughts on matters around atheism, theism and agnosticism. You might think this complex but those sentiments will disappear when you actually see the play.  Dear God Comma is a demonstration of sheer courage and bravery as it treads in waters that invoke nothing short of discomfort in today’s modernist/postmodernist atmosphere. It will take one who is firmly rooted not only in his craft, but also in his world-view and its attendant beliefs and values.


When an angel shows up in the life of a family that has an unbeliever on one end and one who is not sure on the other, there is no telling what will happen. But if you throw in a couple of ampe-playing and somersaulting witches and set it all in an American city, you have a recipe for eternal intrigue—the mark of a masterpiece made possible only through high risk. Where everyone avoids risk, a masterpiece awaits to be born.

Ghana might be deemed a Christian country by some, but we are also conscious of the growing parcels of agnosticism/atheism within the population. Political correctness has also found a place making certain conversations on the universal platform of art a difficulty. We do not all believe the same things and we are all to be considerate of others and their beliefs.



So where did the author find the courage to pen such a controversial piece of art and how did he come by good enough a razor to shear it off its baggage of controversy? The answer came during the press conference after the performance. I attempt a paraphrase;

He has no problems with others and what they believe. He however, is clear about his experiences and what he believes. No one else could have written a play like this because only he has experienced all the things that have made writing a play like this possible. He not just a playwright, he is a Christian playwright.




I stood there is sheer admiration and intrigue. What will he write next… I wondered? Suddenly it came to me; when Real Madrid is four goals up in a match, Christiano Ronaldo can do literally anything he wants with the ball and the crowd will cheer. This new found freedom will allow for the high risks that makes masterpieces like this a possibility.  Here endeth my thoughts as formulated at the premier of the latest uncle Ebo play: Dear God Comma. It is showing at the national theater from the 4th of June 2016 to the end of July.

Energetic Alison is Afia

There is no doubt that uncle Ebo and his Roverman team has changed the game as far as stage plays go. They have set the standards and they are not going back. While everyone agrees that Mr. James Ebo Whyte is a great writer and certainly on his way to the tittle: the greatest playwright in the history of Ghana, not much is known about the people who bring it all to life—the actors. My focus in this article is one of such unsung heroines who played a pivotal character in the ever popular and award winning play; Women on Fire.

I bumped into Alison on our visit to the Roverman offices in Osu here in Accra. I walked past her without noticing her—there were quite a few people around and she sat at a desk doing some paperwork. Nothing about her told me she could act at all let alone play such a pivotal character such as Afia (a very present and loud character who’s role appeared to hold the whole plot together). She was arguable the single most active ingredient in the whole Women on Fire mix. When I learnt she played the character, I was curious to find out what kind of a person she was and what qualified her for such a challenging role. Interesting thing came out:


Alison is actually a trained and practicing architect from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology. She is also married to an architect and have had no formal training in acting. She had however, acted in a few campus and Church productions: nothing too serious as she put it. She explained;

“this is something I love to do on the side. I am passionate about acting and would probably not have been able to choose if I had pursued a career in acting. In the meantime I go with the flow. If I get invited and the timing is right, why not”.

She is a natural. The mother of two boys and a girl is not too keen on movies she said but had played roles in one short film and a full feature film. Most of her acting has been in stage plays like Women on Fire. She has been acting from when she was a child so the stage is not a new place for her. I was curious to find out what kind of people she looks up to. On the Hollywood front Denzel Washington was top of her list but she said she loves RMD too. She also looks up to Uncle Ebo and Prophet and Mrs. Annor as role models in another sense. Her husband also inspires her with his encouragement borne out of his belief in her.


On the Afia character Alison told me;

“At the inception, there was a read through of the script. I read through while chewing on gum. I guess that’s where we started building the character. Some said Afia just happened. I had to think of a typical market woman, not too educated loud type who is in everybody’s business. She was not afraid of anyone. Some say Afia was crazy from day one”.

“I honestly do not know why I was offered the role but I love every opportunity I get to do what I love to do. So naturally I was excited. There is a bit of the character in my personality too. I felt like I was in charge in a way…playing that role. At home I am in charge as I literally run the house telling everyone what should be where”.


The extremely energetic mother of three has also featured in Apartment N1, What’s My Name, Unforgiven and Puppeteers—all Roverman productions. She says she is open to all opportunities in the future and would ultimately like to feature in a Tyler Perry production. At home, she is a mom and a wife; naturally her goal is to raise her children the best way possible and see them grow into model citizens. She is not going to stop practicing architecture either and hopes to set up her own firm.


I have met some actresses in my eventful life. I may have even dated a couple. I am yet to meet anyone with Alison’s level of energy. I could barely keep up with her. That just left me wondering about her husband. But I dared not ask. We have been spending some time at the Roverman offices and we have a few stories to share with you besides our Alison discovery. We are out there looking for ordinary people like Alison doing ordinary things in extraordinary ways. If you know any such person, tell us where they are and what they do, we will make sure they are recognized. Nominate them now into the SPiD-UP® recognition program #Spidup

James Ebo Whyte’s Fellowship


I recently wrote an article about the symbolism of the mighty tree. The expression; a mighty tree has fallen is used often when a great person is deceased. This was the very essence of that article intended to honour the late Dr. Clement Hammond-Aryee who passed away recently. For reasons I now cannot recollect, I never managed to publish that article. I am now of the view that mighty trees must be recognized before they fall. This is not often the case as many of our standing mighty trees are not being recognized.  The great thing about might trees is that they are still extremely useful, serving countless purposes even when they have fallen. If you understand the word legacy, then you know what I mean.


I had an encounter with a standing might tree recently. Our search for high performing personalities led me to the Roverman production offices for a life-changing encounter with Mr. Ebo Whyte the playwright, entrepreneur extraordinaire and motivational speaker of a special class. One can always tell when he is in the presence of a mighty tree. The canopy of it’s leaves is a place of rest and comfort. You experience that phenomenon instantly when you are near uncle Ebo. Perhaps that is why he is called Uncle by everyone—he has the father to all kind of presence.


The roots of a mighty  tree go deeper than most of its neighbors— Uncle Ebo is a trained statistician, self-taught chartered accountant and marketing professional, whose career in management cuts across the Publishing, Financial, Pharmaceutical and Automobile industries. His wealth of knowledge and depth of experience is of great benefit to anyone who encounters him. When the roots are deep enough, they find sources for abundant minerals which manifest in the quantity and quality of the fruits. If you have seen an uncle Ebo play then you have an idea of what I am talking about.

The branches provide a place for the nesting of all kinds of creatures. Mighty trees are not made overnight. Og Mandino puts it in an interesting way in the book; The world’s greatest sales man;

 “To create the Olive, king of all tress, a hundred years is required. An onion plant is old in nine weeks”,

Uncle Ebo is not an overnight mighty tree and his depth and wealth of experience is demonstrated even in the simplest conversations. The impact of a mighty tree on its environment is very far-reaching beyond its majestic presence and this can easily be said of Uncle Ebo. He writes award-winning plays, produces and stages them. He writes for the monthly Roverman report. He writes and presents his daily food for thought on Joy FM’s super morning show and runs the whole Roverman operation all to the highest standard.  He has helped in the team building efforts and rebranding processes for many companies and is known to have helped and mentored numerous people in all walks of life through his hard hitting, inspirational and realistic presentations. He has successfully written and directed over 20 plays which have become reference points in many lives. I will not even begin to attempt a measure of the impact of the very personality and work of Uncle Ebo as it is not possible.


In the hour or so I spent with him, I got to meet some of his team members— very exciting people with high work ethics. I learnt about his abhorrence for corner-cutting while still managing to maintain a fun filled exciting climate. The whole atmosphere radiates with high performance. I asked questions about the production process and was baffled at how much work is injected into it. Uncle Ebo is uncompromising when it comes to quality and it reflects even on his choice of people. He wants to give the best possible and going the extra mile does not appear to cost him much in emotional labor. This will explains why his plays have revived what was almost a dead genre of our arts. He does not strike me as the type who is trying to be different—he is just doing his best and you are different when you are the best because everyone else is in the average bracket.

In the short while I was a there, I learnt a lot that will influence the way I do things. Sometimes you think you know what you are about until you meet some who actually knows. Uncle Ebo has a keen interest in what people think about his work; that’s the mark of a good entrepreneur who has a burning need to make sure that his patrons are happy. Personally my expectation was literally shattered when I went to see his play; Women on fire. If I could summarize his driving philosophy in one sentence, it will be;

think more about the world you live in and the contribution you make to it”.

He clearly does this and as the saying goes, as a man thinketh, so he is. We presented him with the SPiD-UP Performance Recognition Fellowship Status (The highest category in the program) for his work. All around you there are people doing ordinary things in an ordinary way. Writing and producing a play was ordinary until Uncle Ebo wrote his first. 

 

THE 7 LAWS OF SHATTA WALE




Shatta Wale is a household name. No debating that. Before you start a long argument about your position on his brand and influence, pause and read what these thinkers/professional speakers Bernard Kelvin Clive and Jeremiah Buabeng have to say about the phenomenon that is Shatta Wale. 

1. The Law of Controversy: if I can stir a controversy at every unique point in time, I can keep my name on the lips of the Ghanaian on the street and therefore sustain my name recognition and my relevance. That’s it! The Shatta brand thrives on controversy. And he doesn’t fail to deliver one every now and then for our entertainment and for his profit. 

2. The Law of Anti-Establishment: Wale is not unaware of growing public sentiment against institutions such as Charterhouse. He takes advantage of it by calling them out for a duel every now and then and posturing as the victim. Does it work? You bet! 

3.  The Law of Disruptive marketing: he, unlike, other artistes always knows how to start top of mind and get the media to keep talking about him. In that way he thrives. He uses his cunning disrupting ways to break the news about his music and movements. Thinking about the fake Adidas move? Yeah! You have got the drift now! A savvy business man, he is! 

4. The Law of the Rebrand: When the first brand isn’t working, rebrand! Wale strategically and successfully rebranded from the then ‘Bandana’ brand that failed to attract him the needed clout to the much widely revered brand “Shatta Wale”.  His rebranding is arguably the most successful by any contemporary artist. It has worked wonders and still thriving. He didn’t only secure a name rebrand, but also devised a strategy to annex his genre of music – dancehall. 



5.  The Law of the Tribe: he has built an enormous tribe – The Shatta Movement (SM), something most brands, his predecessors and even peers couldn’t build or manage. He has a raving fan base that has become his core tool to push his brand to the masses and consequently to the top. A strategy emerging artistes must learn and adopt but of course one that takes genius to execute. 

6. The Law of Unconventional: it’s the 21st century, folks, and you can’t capture people’s imagination if you are doing what everybody does. So Shatta’s response to this is: be unconventional! Break the rules! Challenge everything the people are used to seeing and hearing. Some will hate you but that hate will still fuel your fame and keep you on top of your game! It’s a formidable Shatta law and it works!!!

7.  The Law of the Ghetto: Shatta is popular for the same PRINCIPLE that made Peace FM worked; he reaches out to the masses, the people on the street, the ghetto. If you a Harvard-schooled prim and proper person, Shatta will likely not be your man. Unfortunately, for you, people like you are in the minority. The majority are on the street. He identifies with hustlers; people who have no strategy to succeed and are counting on their street smarts and aggressiveness to push them to the top. 

So there they are, the 7 laws of Shatta Wale. Now, let the controversy begin. 

Isaac Wallace and Mosquitoes

My conversation with Isaac Wallace was challenging. It turned out to be nothing near what I had expected. But that’s what you get for approaching another person with your preconceived notions. It gets even more complex when he is an authentic musician who approaches his trade with a personal philosophy. One that you may not be familiar with. Given that he reminds me so much of Lee Scratch Perry provides enough grounds for me to label the man eccentric. But that’s another thing I probably should not do. You cannot really box this man, he is his own man. You don’t define him, he tells you what he is and you simply make an attempt to understand.

His history is complex. He has and continues to work with three generations of musicians. His influence is very diverse. His philosophy is original. Put all that together and the result is ntumtum akeka me dwe—the title of his debut album. But if you think a debut album is all there is to this man, think again. In his tracks are many hits produced for and with some of Ghana’s most celebrated artist including the likes of Ofori Amponsah and Kwabena Kwabena.


He has a different view of hi-life. He argues that it is not really a type of music or even a style for that matter. It is just “high” Music and perhaps as you will get with the music of Bob Marley. I shall desist from explaining this view for fear of misrepresenting the man. Like I said, I wasn’t sure if I understood he idea enough.

Currently n tour in Australia, here is a link to the video of our conversation when I met the man recently at the Achimota retail center with . https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uRVBd4AcmVU


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Geid75jkbaw&feature=youtu.be

Maanaa unfolds the Black I journey

For the morally-conscious individual, it is very easy to write off dancehall music because of the disturbing lyrics (often violent and near-pornographic) that have come to characterize the genre. Those who understand the music however, will contend that this is not a true reflection of the original dancehall music that started in Jamaica as a sub-genre of the conscious, liberating and righteousness powered reggae music. Like a normal child, dancehall became more morally decadent with every step it took further away from its mother genre. In the process, love gave way to hardcore pornography and the rant for justice gave way to wanton violent lyrics strong enough to shock the unprepared mind.

The situation is however, not hopeless as the genre also benefits from the work of both young and veteran artiste who are championing what is referred to in reggae-lingo as roots and culture. This breed of musicians, are working hard to bring moral sanity into the music while pursuing the restoration of true African values that are in sharp contrast to the now mainstay. In Jamaica, musicians like Anthony B, Louie Culture, Bushman, Capleton, Buju Banton, Jnr. Gong and many others are senior officers in this Special Forces unit of the Army.





The scenario is not that different in Ghana. Since dancehall music slowly begun to gain mainstream attention, it brought along the violence and the explicit sexual lyrics. Indeed it is this kind of content that has defined Ghanaian dancehall music with the conscious soldiers having to strive harder to project the positive, progressive, youth-conscientizing, love-promoting and nation-building aspect of dancehall music. This is what can be referred to as the “clean-up exercise” now being championed by Atlanta based Black I aka Nii Quarcoo. On the Ghanaian scene, he is the commanding officer in this unit of the Army.



Black I shot onto the scene with the bellwether-ing Tininii Kwano (the right way) that effortlessly forced a fan base into place leaving them yearning for more. His latest offering; Maanaa is a love story like no other. It is a commendable reverence of the African woman through the Rastafarian cultural conduit leading to the much needed heavy dose of consciousness for the neutralization of the debauchery in the music. The lyrics glorify culture in countless ways as much as it upholds the powerful image of the African woman. It promotes the unadulterated version of her character and bares the often not so evident African man’s love for his woman. Maanaa is a masterful work of art not only in lyrics but also in sound and quality. It is a well-crafted crossover born out of a fusion of traditional dancehall and hip-hop that is guaranteed to win the hearts of even non-dancehall enthusiasts. This great piece was produced by the young Golden Kid under the guidance of the indefatigable Atlanta based Kaddafi who has been behind the many hits from the Black I camp. Maanaa is bound to shift the Black I engine into 5thgear leaving many behind as far as Ghanaian reggae and dancehall is concerned.


In Ghana and Africa for that matter, talent abounds. The bane of artist has always been character and discipline. Black is a combination of talent, discipline and sound reasoning and this is demonstrated not only in his lyrical dexterity but also his choice of sound. Maanaa epitomizes all three into one work of art. If you haven’t heard Mannaa yet, get ready to be wowed out of your skin. If you are not a dancehall fan, prepare for your baptism. Maanaa is juts that song and Black I is just that artist. Listen to maanaa here https://soundcloud.com/blackimusik

The Roverman Clockwork works


I have a reputation for being hard to please. I do not feel flattered by it and I can assure you of that—it is not very positive is it? I like to think of myself more as a person with high expectations. I just feel people can always do better no matter how good they are. On a continent where corner-cutting is the standard, I might be more of a blessing in disguise than a necessary evil depending on how you think as a person. Take your pick but at the end of the day; you want the best you can get and I just happen to be the guy who thinks you are entitled to it.  This is the reason we created the SPiD-UP® recognition program—so we can recognize people for their efforts when they do manage to put in the effort. You must like that somehow.

Over the holidays, I was literally blindfolded into the national theater in the name of surprise. Apparently this has become necessary because I spend “too much time” on my laptop and phone. I don’t get out much and consequently, I have not seen any of the famous Ebo White plays. Ordinarily, I would have thought it not a big deal. I didn’t see Luciano perform when he came to Ghana and I am still alive. After all, I have listened to uncle Ebo on radio and as far as I know, his thing is marriage. Not my terrain at all and you can ask the women who have suffered my…never mind. I was in for the surprise of my life and not many things surprise me beyond my continuous painful endurance of the lack of integrity and common sense that is ever present around me.


The first thing that struck me was that; the place was filling up really fast. Really, do people like plays in Ghana like this? Our tickets were reserved and the attendant had no trouble whatsoever producing the tickets as another steward ushered us in with utmost politeness. I became very suspicious; were we being set up for something. So you can imagine the alarm bells going off in my head when we were offered free ice cream from Fan Ice. Ok now I was ready to walk out of the place, I have had enough nice treatment for one evening. Something just wasn’t right. Then I was asked to fill a survey form before I got my Ice Cream—I knew it; there had to be a catch.

 


As we approached the entrance to the main hall, two stewards gestured us to come this way. We found the perfect seats after my usual mucking about what is the perfect seat for me without any interruption at all from the stewards. Really? They let me do what I like? Amazingly the play started exactly when they said it will. Not one second late. Wait! how does anyone get anything to start on time to in Ghana? I was honestly mystified at that point. I was in for a shock. From cast to costume to plot, this play was something out of this world. I never expected to laugh from start to finish and learn very valuable lessons about politics and human conduct and its influence on his environment at the same time. Nobody warned me about the humor especially. I guess I did not know this Uncle Ebo like I thought I did. To say I had the time of my life and regret missing all the previous plays will be an understatement of the worse kind. But not to worry, he has something called the festival of plays where you can see a lot him in a week or so.


Nowadays there is a lot of talk about brands and experiences. I myself am an adherent of the experience idea and I chant it every opportunity I get. The Roverman team has mastered the art of crafting life changing, perception shifting and hope building experiences. If I have seen high performance anywhere, this will be it. The play; women on fire, its writer, its production team, the company behind it and its leader all deserve a standing ovation. This is the reason whey I and the team at SPiD-UP® in our quest to engender high performance consciousness, have recognized Roverman Production as a high performance organization. We insist; If you are looking for great entertainment and an opportunity to learn something about society whiles laughing your lungs out, an Ebo white play is your best option. As for me and my household, we are converts for life. #SPiD-UP.  visit them here http://rovermanproductions.com/global/


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