Posts tagged Africa

Extend Kindness

Living in a busy city like Lagos you may have noticed how hard it is for drivers to give way to pedestrians trying to cross the road or other drivers trying to join a major road. It didn’t take long after I moved to Accra to realize that the attitude on the roads was quite different here. In Accra, giving way to pedestrians is such a strong culture that pedestrians consider it a right. Giving way to other drivers when they need your help is considered civil. It is simply all  a way of life that has been cultivated.

Have you ever been on the road in your car and someone gives you way by allowing you come in from an adjoining road to the main road. There is a sense of responsibility that act of kindness gives you. It makes you feel obliged to give way to the next driver who needs such a gesture. This is the same case for most other acts of kindness, the recipient of the act becomes a giver automatically. In societies where such acts of kindness have become the natural course, I believe It has become so because of the ripple effect of such acts of kindness.

The next consideration in view of the above is then how does it all start? How can one change a society that is more inclined to hedonistic behavior than otherwise. I think it can be achived by consistent acts of kindness whether they are reciprocated or not. Kindness can have a ripple effect and it may be even more powerful in environments where such acts of kindess are not considered normal behaviour.

Most acts of kindness take hardly anything away from us. For example letting someone in front of you on the highway cannot stop you from reaching your destination. Letting a disadvantaged person in front of you on an ATM queue will not stop you from getting your money out. Besides, you actually feel better after doing such things! How about starting a ripple of kindness today?

Leaders Listen, Rulers Talk

I recently listened in passing to a commentary about leadership that struck me. While not just referring to those in leadership positions, the speaker stated that real leaders have a habit of listening to those they are leading. Listening is a valuable character trait of natural leaders. Change is inevitable in government whatever the reasons for such changes could be. We should expect changes and often when such changes come from leadership, it is indeed possible that they are necessary considering the fact that leaders see a much bigger picture than followers or at least they are expected to see a much bigger picture.

In recent years there have been a few changes in our beloved Nigeria that people generally question. Late last year there was a whole lot of clamour about the fuel subsidy removal up until the bold announcement on its implementation in early January 2012. The reaction to the announcement was as expected generally not favourable. In Lagos state in particular there was also the long debate about toll gates built along Lekki-Epe express. Interest groups protests were met with counter-protests, alleged arrests and finally, the toll gates now stand declaring victory for the state government on the matter.

Recently there has also been talk of introduction of new naira denominations that could make it easier to handle cash in banks (as well as in drug cartels, armed robbery gangs, smuggling gangs and so on). A lot of people are of the opinion that this could lead to inflation and further devaluation of our currency. The possible introduction of ‘coins of large value’ also brings in a certain degree of complexity to the situation.

While one side or the other may never be completely correct since the full effects of some of these decisions only unfold in the long run, what we want to point out here is the fact that leadership in Nigeria has to show very clearly that the opinions of the people, the masses not just the elite, matter in government’s decisions. Without that, the average citizen’s sense of belonging and commitment to the development of Nigeria will keep tunnelling downwards. Each person needs to know that his opinion matters.

Listening to people who have a different viewpoint, people who are not sitting in the same aloof-from-reality towers as you are often helps you review your thoughts as a leader if you are sincere about sustainable development. We do appreciate the depth of experience and intellectual prowess exhibited by the young, dynamic and adept officials in government but I do think that we still need to move from ruling to leading in our practice of governance. Listening is key to leading.

This post was originally published in September, 2012

Nothing Surprises Me Anymore – Frank Asamoah

I remember one morning when I was young, I observed that almost every child in my area has eaten and I was seriously hungry. So I went straight to my MOTHER and asked,”Why is everybody’s child eating and I am not?”. I recall my MOTHER with her soft voice and the head down, said,”Meni sika oo” ” I am cashless”. So I asked “How?” I went closer to her and slept on her lap. Later in the afternoon she called me and gave me 50 Pesewas for food. She had to sell some stuff to get money. The pain she had been through as an amputee MOTHER is know only God.

One thing I like about my MOTHER is that She’s a strong woman and never gives up on anything. She is a woman I respect so much. And as the world celebrate MOTHERS Day, I use this same opportunity to dedicate today’s best wishes to celebrate my ONE and ONLY celebrity MOTHER, MOTHERS across the globe and all potential MOTHERS for loving-kindness, motherly love and all the hard times they go through for us.

Now, I have grown up to be THE MAN by the grace for the rest of the family. The MOTHER in whom NOTHING surprises me in life anymore. I live to learn from my past. For it is the best classroom ever. I am no more a surviving MAN, I am now a living man. For the grace of God is a living grace and not surviving grace. The children of God should be living not surviving. For we serve a living God, not a surviving God. The future is great but I live to the greatness of it and leave no day unalert. I don’t get to be surprised at all in life.

Life is full of unexpected things. I keep on doing my thing. Anything can happen in life and prepare for it as you journey forth to conquer your fears. All that I say is God bless you Mama, my brothers & sisters and the grandchildren. The greatest of all the blessings goes to current and future generations. God bless You. Bless Me. Ghana and Africa.”

Frank Asamoah
CEO & Founder
GYD Network

Adinkra Symbols – As a Terse Language.

Adinkra is an Akan word which literally means ‘’Goodbye’’ or ‘’Farewell’’. The Adinkra symbols are visuals which represent concept or aphorism. As an aphorism, it tells and expresses general truth, principle or an astute observation that is either spoken or written in a concise and memorable form. E.g.: GYE NYAME symbol

This symbol means ‘’Except God’’, that is the supremacy of God. He is omnipresent and omnipotent. Literally meaning to fear no one except God.

Over the years, Akans have created and developed different and many Adinkra symbols. These symbols as a terse language go to express concisely, sometimes in an unfriendly manner people’s beliefs, values, morals and norms in their culture. Every society has a language of communication to its people. And for Akans , the adinkra symbols does just that. Like every language, it tells a thought, expresses a truth, fact or an observation in life and society at large to its people. The Adinkra symbols as a language seeks and serves that purpose of communication in our society.

All the Adinkra symbols communicate and express a statement of fact or truth. A look at any adinkra symbol would communicate a meaning, idea or a value to you, if you can only interpret the symbol. Hence telling of the people’s beliefs, attitudes, environment or situation in life. Also some of the symbols tell of folktales, philosophies and the cultures of the Akan people. Because of its unique visuals and designs, in modern times now, it is used and incorporated as creative elements in cotton cloth designs, metal work, pottery, and even sculpture or architecture work.

The symbols are used in making varied items and things in modern art work like jewellery, bags etc. It must be noted however that, these Adinkra symbols stand to remind us, as a people of where we come from, why we do the things we do, how we live, how far we have come and also how we will get to our destinations in this life and in the next as we go along. So the next time you see an Adinkra symbol, ask the meaning and see if there is a truth being told or a fact being represented and how you as an individual will carry out that information given by these visual symbols called the ‘’ADINKRA’’- bidding you ‘’Goodbye’’ or ‘’Farewell’’ in your life’s  journeys.

Here are some of the Adinkra symbols and their meanings:

  1.        HWE MU DUA; the measuring rod or stick. This symbol represents superior quality, excellence, perfection, knowledge and critical examination. To us, it stresses the need to strive for excellence, perfection, knowledge in every endeavour we find ourselves in.

Script ref:

  1.    ADINKRAHENE; chief of the Adinkra This symbol represents greatness, charisma and leadership. This teaches us the importance of leadership role in every society. That we must strive to carve out great leaders from amongst ourselves (society) for development.

Script ref:

  1.  NSOROMMA (the star); child of the heavens/child of God. This symbolises guardianship, faith in God and reflection of God. It reminds us that God is the Father and watches over all people and all things.

Script ref:

  1.    AKOKONAN; the leg of the hen. This represents mercy, nurturing, and discipline. It tells us that just as mother hens steps on it chick and does not die, so also does it receive nurturing and discipline under that same leg. So does God nurtures and disciplines us. He shows mercy towards our sins and forgives us and does not cast us out from under his leg/ wing.

Script ref:

  1.   ME WARE WO; I shall marry you. This symbolises commitment and perseverance. This life is filled with human relationships which require commitment and events that make us persevere. After all is said and done, our commitment to God and man is always tested and our resolve to persevere to the end will show.

Script ref: Genesis 39:8, 22, Psalm 37:5

  1.    NKONSOKONSO; chain link. This represents unity and human relations. It tells us that we cannot do without our fellow human beings. And the only way to perpetuate human relations is unity of mind and purpose.

Script ref: psalm 133:1, Judges 20:11, 1 chronicles 12:17

  1.   NYAME DUA; tree of God. This symbolises God’s protection and presence. God’s presence pervades our existence and so we cannot do without it and for all his creation, he protects and keeps.

Script ref: Genesis 2:9. 3:8

Obviously this is not an exhaustive list.  Thanks so much for reading. I sure would appreciate your feedback and contributions on the subject.

* Th article  was contributed by Joycelyn Mambee Igiri *


Joycelyn Mambee Igiri