An alumni association, composed of former students of the Methodist Girls High School in Freetown with the name MGHS Global, based in the United States of America, recently had a fundraiser to raise funds to assist the school. MGHS is one of the oldest secondary schools for girls in the country.
The theme of the fundraiser, according to one of the organisers, Mrs. Khadija Jalloh-Burkelo (seen on the right in photo), is Back to Class, with the goal of donating 2000 backpacks and school uniforms to the cuurent students in the school. They also intend to build 36 new classrooms to put an end to the current two-shifts system in the school because of the lack of space for the large number of students.
Khadija says the two-shift system has negative effects on girls. They spend less hours in class and go home late and exhausted, she said.
Natasha Ferguson, owner of Ethelfox Construct Group, is excited to share her inspiring story to thousands of young women as a keynote speaker for Dreamer Day Fest 2022 on Oct. 5.
Organized by Build A Dream, the event is expected to draw more than 5,000 young women from across North America to inspire them to consider jobs in underrepresented fields, such as skilled trades, STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math), emergency response, entrepreneurship, and leadership. The event coincides with the United Nations International Day of the Girl, which is celebrated on Oct. 11.
As one of the only female-owned and operated construction companies in Canada, Natasha's company helps to break down barriers for women and people of colour in the construction industry. Natasha is also the co-founder of a non-profit organization called A Women's Work, which supports the development of women in the trades.
Following her keynote speech, Natasha (pictured) will be accepting applications at her exhibitor booth from women who are interested in learning construction skills, such as how to use power tools, drywalling and tiling. The eight-week course will be offered by A Women's Work and will provide one-on-one mentoring and skills-training in a safe and supportive environment. For more information visit: www.awomenswork.org.
“As a woman of colour I never dreamed I would one day own and operate a construction company, but I am living proof that with hard work, determination and support anything is possible," said Natasha Ferguson, owner of Ethelfox Construction Group, a full-service construction and development company located in Toronto that provides distinctive build and design services for residential homeowners.
“As a tradeswomen in a male dominated industry I have faced a lot of judgement and discrimination because of my gender, however thanks to mentors, a strong support system and a positive mindset I have gained knowledge in seven different trades and now manage more than a dozen other tradesmen and women. I hope other women will follow in my footsteps.”
The two-day conference runs from Oct. 4 and 5 and includes other high-profile women who are leaders in their fields. Natasha will share her inspiring story on Oct. 5 at 2:55 p.m.
By Praise Nutakor, UNDP-Ghana
The field is where our downstream development interventions happen. Last week was phenomenal. I accompanied my boss: the UNDP Resident Representative in Ghana, Dr Angela Lusigi on a field trip to monitor some of our projects. We visited 3 regions – Ashanti, Bono and Savannah regions, where we have some of our initiatives that are transforming lives. It was clear that we must be deliberate and make conscious efforts to ensure no one is left behind in the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (#SDGs). It was heartwarming to see real impacts on the ground with the following key initiatives:
1. Ayorya Women Groundnut Processors in Bono Region- Thanks to support from the Chiefs with land and UNDP with a factory, over 300 women are now adding value to groundnut they produce.
2. Youth in Aquaponic Farming- Over 1200 young people are taking charge and into fish farming & vegetable farming.
3. Traditional Healers Association –Impressive works being done by over 100 traditional healers who are being supported with certification to produce herbal medicines in safer ways. They are also taking the charge to restore the environment by planting medicinal trees.
4. Solar Irrigation Dry Season Farming- So touching to see how dedicated about 250 people living with disabilities are, in growing various vegetables for food and income.
5. Agroforestry- Empowered communities in the Bole Bamboi District are restoring 170ha degraded forest along the Black Volta landscape where we get power from. They also grow food crops.
6. One Tree Planted Agenda- It is often said that, when the last tree dies, the last man also dies. The launch of this $1million agroforestry programme is targeting to plant 5million trees by 2024. The enthusiasm of the people of the Maluwe community at the launch in the Bole Bamboi District was a great joy #ForPeopleforPlanet! I always say leadership is everything, and it was not surprising when the Chiefs, Queens and People installed our Resident Representative, Dr Angela Lusigi, as a Development Queen. Thanks for the continued great leadership Madam Angela!
7. Renewable Energy and Afforestation: Our partners at the Bui Power Authority are doing amazing work to support Ghana achieve her renewable energy targets. It was inspiring to see the huge investment in solar energy including floating solar and how hydro power is generated. Not only was the Authority into power generation but it is also improving livelihoods through afforestation, sugar cane, cashew nut and other livelihood enhancement programs,
8. Time with Nature- Refreshing spending time with some of the 21 hippos in the Bui National Park of the Black Volta.
For Prof. Gbanabom Hallowell
A distinguished Sierra Leonean writer and people person, who has journeyed to the land of our forefathers.
Often when humans pass
Something exits first in them
Sometimes we know what goes
Sometimes we don't
Ah Prof. Gbanabom
Your bridge unbridged
To the undiscovered country idling
Careless of you
In Covid year
That year - the cannibals
And pepper spray
We laughed together
Not knowing that
You'll keep your appointment
You've journeyed to the land
Where your booming voice awaits you
Your laughter still rings in ears
Your hands - a girdle
Your shoulders -a pillar
Though we moan, mourn and mouth
God knows best
He keeps the roster
Rest well my dear teacher
Rest well my dear mentor
Rest well my dear cheerleader
Elizabeth L.A. Kamara
Photo: The late Gbanabom Hallowell
This elegy is written in Temne, one of the major languages of Sierra Leone. It is in honour of the late Gbanabom Hallowell (photo). A translation into English and a Glossary will follow.
By Gibril Gbanabome Koroma, Toronto, Canada
Aye wan, kon ntay kaneh-su kpa nyamema koneh-ah?
Kon ntay kaneh ansoko do Yoni kpa nyama kaleneh-ah, wan?
Aye Orsoko wan, ethah ma yor mbor,
Nfi munfeth, wan. Ko-yorneh-ah?
Pa Kurumassaba gbet kornor tara moryen
Spah kan kan kuru-an ormarr anyeh ntay-ay
Kori-ah su Fola Massa Binbinkorror-an
Kori-ah su Kassi Lolo-an,
Kori-ah su Yamba Wuka-n
Kori-ah su Raka-Faray-an
Kori ah su Pa Hallowell-an
Kori-asu Ansoko ahYoni po koneh-aye beh
Ben-ben-ben, eh-eh-eh. Owa!
Fare thee well, Orsoko!
My brother, why did you not tell us you were about to go away?
Why did you you not tell the Sokos of Yoni that you wanted to return?
Oh Orsoko my brother, this is not good at all,
You died young, my brother. What really happened?
Only God, the Almighty knows now
We now say may God help those you left behind,
All of them
Say hello on our behalf to Fola Mass Binbinkroh
Say hello to Kasi Lolo,
Say hello on our behalf to Yamba Wuka
Say hello on our behalf to Raka Faray-an
Say hello on our behalf to Pa Hallowell
Greet for us all the Yoni Sokos that had gone
Ben-ben-ben, eh-eh-eh. Owa!
1. Orsoko: A member of the Temne Poro Society, a traditional secret society of northern Sierra Leone.
2. Pa Kuru: God, the Almighty
3. Fola Massah Binbinkorroh: A former Paramount Chief of Yoni chiefdom, in the Tonkolili district, north of Sierra Leone. He was a recognised Grand Chief Patron of the Poro society of Yoni and very popular.
4. Kasi Lolo, one of the most revered Poro leaders
5. Yamba Wuka, a former prominent Poro leader.
6. Raka Faray, a Sokobana, or senior Poro member.
6. Pa Hallowell: Father of Gbanabom who died before the writer.
7. Sokos: Members of the Poro society.
8. The last five lines are sacred untranslatable chants of the Poro secret society of the north of Sierra Leone.
Elvis Gbanabom Hallowell: A Tribute
By Lansana Gberie
In the early 1990s, as a civil war raged in parts of the country, a budding group of young writers began to meet, once every week, at the United States Information Agency (USIA) in Freetown to read their (unpublished) poems. Soldiers had seized power with a promise of ending the war quickly but, despite early successes, that war continued grinding on. Frustration over this state of affairs provided, so to speak, a rallying point for the poets.
Elvis Hallowell, as he was then known (he dropped the Elvis and later used only his African name, Gbanabom), was important in bringing this group together. He was at the time a librarian at the USIA; he certainly helped provide a forum for the group. And he was one of the most promising and distinctive voices in the group. He had a deeply melodious voice, and I thought that he was by far the best poetry reader in the group.
We had become friends at about this time; this friendship remained anchored almost entirely on our shared love of literature. Like me, he was a voracious reader. He was the first to recommend that I read the American novelist Saul Bellow, a winner of the Nobel Prize. He had me take a copy of the book from the library, but I found it a disappointment. I couldn't penetrate Bellow: his Chicago Jeeish experiences were alien to me. I tried Bellow again recently with greater success, but his appeal remains very limited for me.
Sometime in 1994, Hallowell (who passed away on Tuesday this week) showed me a manuscript of his first poetry collection. It was resonantly entitled Hills of Temper. I found it to be a wonder of acute observation and passion. The ongoing war and the distemper of praetorian rule were the background; the young poet, wonderfully knowing and unafraid, gave voice to a growing national anxiety. Hills of Temper was published in 1996. It still feels fresh and complete and lyrical, the musings of a deeply sensitive and intelligent young soul.
Hallowell subsequently published several books, including, I believe, a novel or two. Then in 2017, he sent me the manuscript of a collection of poetry entitled The Art of the Lonely Wanderer. The collection contained 40 poems. ‘Elvis' as his first name was missing; it been replaced on the title page by ‘Gbanabom'. The voice had become more mature and reflective, more adventurous and didactic, the music more attenuated. My conclusion, which I shared with him, was that The Art of the Lonely Wanderer was a series of philosophical musings by a poet who, once discussed as promising, was now indisputably a master of the craft.
The poems depict a world of illusions, of the anonymity of ordinary people lost in the maze of global capitalism; the old romantic canard about the boundless freedom or liberty of the poor rendered meaningless in a world dominated by greed and moneyed power:
Despair seems to rot society; and the little man's motion of prayer is overpowered by a mind more
Set on the woman last night he couldn't bed than it is on God.
He contemplates sex in the form of a prayer and curses the woman
Under his stained breath. His mind takes a leap and clutches the beer
He had drunken last night between his teeth.
This poem is entitled “Of Sex, Exile and Longing” – but it is far from being louche, as some might hope. There is indeed little love and really no sex. Instead, like many of the poems in this collection, the poem turns out to be a meditation on what might be called the pathos of betwixt and between, of the crushed aspirations of sensitive people in a world dominated by grosser men with power and money. At least this was how I understand it and the rest of them. The point is that the profundity of Hallowell's thought is expressed in similarly profound ways. When the poet evokes Romeo and Juliet, we expect a meditation on the purity and innocence of love in an extremely adverse situation. There are hints of love alright; but the meditation takes on race, the great Pushkin (Russian but descended from an Ethiopian), the place of Africa in world history, Rome's forays on the continent (though no Roman conqueror, not even the adventurous Emperor Hadrian, ventured beyond Egypt):
Universal Romeo! Two lovers remained perished in affection for each other.
A sword kept the torrent between their bleeding hearts.
In suicidal affection their love shouted against the silent organ of their throats.
The hour of love honored the seconds spent in waking a sleeping Juliet
The body waited in death for love to touch a hand on the cheeks of trust.
Pushkin had the ordinary sorrow of being born black in Russia, brother
To the moor. Serpent of the color of thirst, he was a man with
An enormous love and a big eye for poetry shaped in the blonde
Of his black looks; Romeo gave him a hand for sword and a pen for love,
Then by his own want, he took the heart of Othello and swallowed it whole.
WH Auden, that most profound of modern poets, said that poetry cannot be effective as a political weapon. “The social and political history of Europe would be what it has been if Dante, Shakespeare, Michelangelo, Mozart, et al., had never lived,” he said. A poet, he continued, “qua poet, has only one political duty, namely, in his own writing to set an example of the correct use of [language] which is always being corrupted. When words lose their meaning, physical force takes over. By all means, let a poet, if he wants to, write what is now called an ‘engagé' poem, so long as he realizes that it is mainly himself who will benefit from it. It will enhance his literary reputation among those who feel the same as he does.” By the time he wrote this, Auden had long transitioned from a celebrity left radical to a conservative though deeply humanist grand man of letters. And his world – Europe and America – long arrived at their resolution long before he was born; it was very much a settled world, at ease with itself and one which had inflicted itself on other worlds.
Hallowell wrote for and about the world that Auden's world still dominates. He had to be political; and his voice both gave pleasure and instructed.
Sadly, his life was cut short. But the work lives on. We must celebrate that work.
The national not-for-profit Evergreen is pleased to announce Jen Angel (photo) as its new CEO. Renowned for her ability to develop vibrant and inclusive places, she is celebrated for her collaborative approach to infrastructure development, working closely with community, civic leaders, public agencies, and businesses alike. Jen joins Evergreen on the cusp of its 34th year of shaping cities for the better.
Jen comes to the organization from Halifax, where she was most recently CEO of Develop Nova Scotia. She brings over 13 years of experience developing beloved public spaces. As a leader of Develop Nova Scotia for the last seven years, Jen has guided teams to revitalize unique and important properties across Nova Scotia, creating inclusive, sustainable places that attract people and investment, and contribute to the well-being of all. In 2021, Jen was named as a Top 50 CEO in Atlantic Canada.
“Evergreen is filled with possibility to influence how we build cities and play a leadership role in civic innovation in Canada. This work has never been more urgent and it has never had greater momentum,” said Jen Angel, Evergreen's new CEO. “I am thrilled with the opportunity to work with this very talented team, board members, partners and communities to continue to re-imagine our public spaces across Canada for their possibility to bring us together, shape the way we live and support our communities to thrive.”
“The Board is delighted to appoint Jen Angel as the new CEO of Evergreen to bring excitement to the Brick Works as a showcase of what is possible for sustainable cities and continue to grow our networks across Canada,” said Helen Burstyn, Evergreen Board Chair. “A builder of community, momentum and places people love, Jen's passion for public space and leadership will further establish Evergreen as a world leader in placemaking and sustainability.”
This appointment follows the announcement on March 28, 2022, that CEO & Founder Geoff Cape would be stepping down after 33-plus years. Leaving a legacy of city building across Canada, Geoff will continue to support Evergreen as Founder. Evergreen was founded in 1991 with the ambition to connect people to nature in cities. Since then, it has evolved into a national not-for-profit working across sectors to solve some of the most pressing issues cities face — from climate resilience to public space revitalization and access to nature.
Evergreen is dedicated to making cities livable, green and prosperous. Since 1991, the national not-for-profit has been facilitating change in communities through connection, innovation and sustainable actions. We work with community builders across sectors to solve some of the most pressing issues cities face: climate change, housing affordability, and access to nature and public spaces. The Brick Works, located in Toronto's ravine system, is a year-round destination where the world comes to experience sustainability in action. Once an industrial brick factory, it is an internationally renowned showcase of green design, an award-winning public space and a test site to pilot ideas that can be scaled across the country to shape our cities for the better. www.evergreen.ca
Let us Keep Kwame Nkrumah's Pan-Africanist Torch Burning
By Charles Quist-Adade, PhD, Canada
One Hundred thirteen years ago, in the small village of Nkroful in the Western region of Ghana, a child was born. The event passed, as in the case of many children, as an ordinary event. And like African families, the parents of this child did not even take note of the date on which he was born.
Later in his autobiography he was to state that it was with some difficulty that he could pinpoint his birth date; September 21, 1909. My commentary will shed light on the works, aspirations, achievements, and foibles of Kwame Nkrumah, the visionary Pan-Africanist, who dreamed of a united, prosperous Africa. Nkrumah was a man of foresight. He had a noble vision for Africa and the Black race. He saw the metropolises of Africa becoming the headquarters of science, technology, and medicine. He saw in Africa a giant hypnotized, made dormant by years of foreign tutelage and exploitation. And he sought to awaken this giant. But time and his contemporaries were not on his side. He seemed to have moved ahead of his time and his contemporaries. As the celebrated British historian, Basil Davidson put it: Nkrumah lived far ahead of his time. It is in the year 2060 when people will come to read about his works and wonder to themselves why such a man should live at such a time. But Nkrumah was not a paragon of political virtues. He committed mistakes, including his allowing bootlickers and sycophants in his party to make a tin god out of him and to tear him away from the ordinary people.
Had he lived, he would have hit the ripe old age of 113 years today. But as fate would have it, Kwame Nkrumah, the man his admirers called “Osagyefo,” the redeemer left our shore to join the ancestors when he succumbed to cancer on a cold Romanian hospital bed in 1972.
Born into a humble smith's family in Nkroful in the western region of the then British colony of the Gold Coast, now Ghana, Nkrumah was to become one of the most illustrious makers of modern Africa, and perhaps the most ardent, consistent advocate of the unity of the Black race after Marcus Garvey. His single-minded desire to make Africa the proud home of all people's African descent dispersed around the world brought him to work together with leaders and architects of the Pan-Africanist movement including, W.E.B Du Bois of the United States, George Padmore of Trinidad, Nnamdi Azikiwe of Nigeria. He was one of the organizers of the historic 5th Pan-Africanist Congress in Manchester half a century ago, a congress, which proved decisive in the struggle against foreign rule in Africa and racial oppression in the West and demonstrated a remarkable unity between continental Africans and Africans in the Diaspora.
He did not only bring Pan-Africanism to its natural home when he returned to the Gold Coast after his sojourn in America and England to lead the independence movement, he also established and sustained till the end of his regime, a link between the continent and the Diaspora. He borrowed many brilliant ideas from his inspirer and admirer Marcus Garvey, including the Black Star as a national symbol (in the center of Ghana's flag, the names of the country's shipping line and soccer team). He made Padmore his adviser and invited the grand old man of Pan-Africanism, Du Bois to live his last days in Ghana.
In Africa, Nkrumah attempted to form the kernel of his pet dream—the United States of Africa with Sekou Toure of Guinea and Modibo Keita of Mali, and Patrice Lumumba of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Without doubt, Nkrumah ranks among the greatest political figures of the 20th century. An indefatigable champion of world peace, advocate, and spokesperson of the Non-Aligned Movement, it was only ironic that his government was overthrown in a violent CIA-masterminded coup while he was on his way to Hanoi to negotiate peaceful settlement of the war in Vietnam.
His courageous and tactical (Gandhian passive non-violent resistance or what he termed positive action) leadership led to the wrestling of political independence of his country from Britain, the first in sub-Saharan Africa. Ghana's independence did not only become a power-keg that ignited a continental revolution against European imperialism, but Nkrumah also consciously made his newly liberated country the powerhouse of the African revolution.
Nkrumah's revolutionary and pan-Africanist ideas swept across the entire continent—from Casablanca to Cape Town. Consistent with his independence-day declaration that the independence of Ghana was meaningless unless it was linked with the total liberation of the entire African continent, Nkrumah trained African liberation fighters, financed their movements, and encouraged them to dislodge colonial rule from their territories.
It was no wonder that in less than a decade after Ghana's independence in 1957, over 90 per cent of African countries had attained their own independence.
All of Nkrumah's adult life was devoted to one and only one passion—the liberation and unity of the African race. He lived, dreamed, and died for this ideal. This passion and quest for a continental union government prompted his enemies to brand him dreamer, a megalomaniac, an African Don Quixote. But judging from the parlous state of the continent's desperate, dispirited, non-viable fifty-four countries today, Nkrumah's call for the formation of a United States of Africa government was a wise one, if brazen at the time. The largely ineffective African Union established some 60 years ago is a testimony to Nkrumah's warning that only a continental government of political and economic unity could save the continent from the encircling gloom spawned by enraging internecine wars, famine, and disease.
Nkrumah argued forcefully that it was only a federal state of Africa based on a common market, a common currency, a unified army (a African High Command), and a common foreign policy could provide the launching pad for not only a massive reconstruction and modernization of the continent, but also optimize Africa's efforts to find its rightful place in the international arena and to effectively checkmate internal conflicts, fend off superpower interference, predatory and imperialistic wars.
But Nkrumah's tragedy was probably that he came to power at the wrong time, in the “heat” of the cold war, a period when the bi-polar East-West ideological confrontation made leaders like Nkrumah sacrificial lambs on the altar of superpower chauvinism. Cold War politics broached no homegrown nationalists and patriots; it did not forgive leaders who refused to worship the gods of Soviet communism or American capitalism. Would Nkrumah's ideas have been much more welcome in this post-cold war, uni-polar, “de-ideologized,” globalized world? It is difficult to say.
To many, the idea of a union government of Africa remains a utopia. True, the enormity of the task ahead is quite great; the task of ironing out political and ideological differences, overcoming the vestiges of colonial divisions and neo-colonial machinations are enormous. But this sense of utopia should not push Africans into resignation or inaction. After all, history has amply demonstrated that, all great ventures of human civilisation were conceived, as it were, in the womb of “utopianism.” What is more, Africans should remind themselves that “any programme, no matter how poorly conceived, if imaginatively executed, is better than complete inaction.”
A continental union government may not have been a magic bullet or a panacea for all of the continent's seemingly intractable problems, but one can say without fear of contradiction, that the situation in the continent would been better than it is today. For such a union would have made it possible for the marshaling and pooling of the continent's rich resources for the collective benefit of the citizens of Africa. Advantages of economies of scale, the avoidance of duplicity, presenting a united voice in world affairs, and a collective bargaining power in international trade (instead of Africans competing among ourselves for the lowest commodity prices at the international bargaining table) are, but a few of the fruits to be reaped in a continental union government.
The examples on both sides of the Atlantic where the European Union and the North American Free Trade Agreement have united countries of disparate cultures, languages, and political and even ideological orientations, coupled with the surging globalization of the world economy point to the breadth of Nkrumah's vision.
The ongoing civil wars in various parts of Africa today stem partly from the inability of regimes in Africa to meet the basic needs of the people as leaders compete in cynical popularity contests parading as “saviors, “redeemers,” and “liberators” in countries, some of whose national airlines have no more than one aircraft, whose only source of foreign currency earning is a perishable and dispensable crop. In fact, the only trappings these “nations” can boast of are a rickety national army, a national flag, and a national anthem. How can such “flag and anthem” countries become viable in a lop-sided global economy that is so much skewed against small and weak nations?
Africans have themselves to blame if they continue to plough their narrow furrows instead pooling their efforts, human and material resources in order to stay in the race of globalized 21st century. If Africans fail to take the challenge of continental unity now, the continent will inevitably be gobbled up by the colossus of capitalist globalism this century, just as it was enslaved, balkanized, and exploited of its human and natural resources through the trilogy of slavery, colonialism, and neo-colonialism of the 20th century.
I would like to end with these quotes from Nkrumah's book, The Axioms of Nkrumah
"If we do not formulate plans for unity and take active steps to form a political union, we will be fighting and warring among ourselves with the imperialists and colonialists standing by behind the screen and pulling vicious wires, to make us cut each other's throats for the sake of their diabolical purposes in Africa."
(From speech at Casablanca Conference. 7th January 1961).
"The close links forged between [continental] Africans and the peoples of African descent over half a century of common struggle [must] continue to inspire and strengthen us. For, although the outward forms of our struggle may change, it remains, in essence the same, a fight to death against oppression, racism, and exploitation."
(The Spectre of Black Power, Panaf Books, London, 1968).
AFRICA MUST UNITE! AFRICA MUST UNITE AFRICA MUST UNITE!!!