Monday, 27 July 2009

Jubilee 106.9 Fm: Deploying Information as a Transformational Tool

Jubilee radio came into emergence in the Keta district of the Volta region five years ago and has since not looked back on its mantra of "information for transformation." Jubilee radio is the brainchild of Pastor Joseph Adika, a citizen of the area, who in 2004 acted on God's vision to engender rapid socio-economic and spiritual transformation in Keta and its environs. Pastor Adika identified dissemination of information to be key in this transformational process, hence the setting up of the station.

The station, amid pomp and pageantry, stretching from June to July, marked their fifth anniversary under the appropriate theme: "the media as a tool for rapid socio-economic and spiritual transformation." Characteristic of such anniversary celebrations, the programme line-up included clean-up, blood donation and tree planting exercises, a musical concert and a gospel rock show. The anniversary was rounded up by a grand durbar held on 18th July 2009 and a football match between workers of the station and colleague journalists from the republic of Togo. In the football match, the lads of Jubilee, in typical Ghanaian fashion, drilled five goals into the Togolese net without any response. Jubilee Sports host Dzidodo Adzaho (The Big Aarony), who is my brother, told me he scored a 35-yard screamer as the opening goal! The grand durbar was graced by dignitaries such as the Keta Municipal Chief Executive (MCE), Mr. Sylvester Tornyeva, Volta Regional NADMO boss, Mr. Ametefee, the deputy Volta Regional minister, Col. (rtd) Cyril Neku and the deputy minister of information, Mr. Samuel Okudzeto-Ablakwa. The anniversary celebration of Jubilee has presented the opportunity to explore the role that this station has played so far in the Keta community and its environs.

To begin with, the station, as the first and only radio station in Keta district, has been a veritable vehicle for economic, social and religious transformation. Since the station came into being, it has provided employment opportunities for both seasoned journalists and aspiring presenters. The real transformation has been seen in the lives of the younger members of staff, some of whom have been assisted to go through training programmes in broadcast journalism, seminars and workshops organised by institutions such as Radio and Broadcast Development Foundation (RABODEF), the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) and British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). Again, Jubilee radio has been an ardent supporter of social initiatives such as HIV/AIDS-awareness programmes. The station was one of the participants in Radio France International's (RFI) "kicking HIV out of the West African corridor" initiative. It has also been a strong voice in national political and governance matters. Finally, Jubilee has been instrumental in the organisation of prayer sessions in support of noble initiatives such as peace in Anloland, peaceful free and fair elections in Ghana and the call for spiritual renewal in the southern parts of the Volta Region.

Jubilee has also enriched the lives of its target audience through its menu of educational, informational and entertaining programmes. The morning show hosted by Kodzotse Zoranu (Papa radiotor), Israel Abotsivia (Areeba) and Silas Aidam serves listeners with a digest of the latest happenings on the local, national and international scenes. The news is not only presented as is, but is analysed comprehensively so as to help listeners track the repercussions of events as they unfold. The educational side of things is complemented by talk shows on diverse topics ranging from current affairs, through sports, to culture. Agbotadua Kumassah's cultural talk show for example re-orients Anlo youth with elements of their culture in the face of the current wave of extreme westernisation. The dishes that Jubilee serves on its entertainment menu are equally palatable. Programmes such as Jubilee drive (hosted by Edem Nyasorgbor a.k.a DJ Ras Muta), Music stream (hosted by Dzidodo Adzaho), Mid-day breeze and Reggae Myelities readily come to mind. There are a host of others. Similarly, the station has organised numerous musical concerts to entertain the buzzing youth of the Keta area and to promote the work of various musicians across multiple musical genres. Artists who have participated in some of these concerts are Ayigbe Edem, 4x4, Praye, Woezepe from Togo, Agbeko and countless local musical hopefuls. It is quite clear that the station has been influential in almost all spheres of the lives of the people of Keta district.

However, Jubilee radio has had its fair share of challenges in its short history. In the early years of its formation, the station was temporarily shut down by the National Communication Authority (NCA) for using the frequency previously allocated to Obonu Fm in the Greater Accra region. This turned out to be due to a mix up. Secondly, the station is often caught in the middle of conflict and competitive situations such as the Anlo chieftaincy dispute, the 2004 general elections and the 2008 general elections. Again, there seems to be a constant exodus of some of the station's best talents, disrupting some of the gains chalked over the years, and thus preventing the station from building on its great success. Finally, lack of funds has often derailed the station's ambition of acquiring the latest state of the art infrastructure that would enable it to broadcast its programmes seamlessly to its target audience. There have been times when the Jubilee radio could not broadcast during lights off (blackouts) either due to a malfunctioning electricity generation set or escalating fuel costs. This calls from massive financial and logistic support from all stakeholders.

On the whole, in the face of these challenges, the achievements of Jubilee radio, over the course of the years, are quite remarkable. The station has been a good nurturing ground for many broadcast journalists who are now handling bigger responsibilities in various media organisations. Mention can be made of Agbeko Ben Cofie (ABC) of Joy Fm, Mary Ayim of Metro TV and Frank Foli (DJ Fresh) of Lorlornyo Fm in Hohoe. They have also recently launched a web-interface from which listeners from all over the world can follow their programmes live. From my observation, the critical success factors of the station during this journey are spotting and nurturing young talents, close collaboration and engagement with the local community, strategic alliances with media heavyweights such as Joy Fm and BBC and reliance on God for direction in its dealings. Big ups to all members of Team Jubilee especially Pastor Adika and Mr. Emmanuel Evortepe (Keta man)!

Friday, 24 July 2009

PathGhana: Promoting Ghanaian Tourism Through Web 2.0

By Edward-Amartey Tagoe

Ghana recently launched a special campaign dubbed the Tourism Marketing Campaign to help take Ghana Tourism to the next pedestal. Over 300,000 jobs have already been created by the Tourism Industry and more are expected to benefit from this boon come next few months. The Ghanaian youth have been advised to take advantage of the prospects in the tourism industry.

A team of software developers from the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) took it upon themselves to jump on the tourism bandwagon and contribute their quota to the Tourism campaign. They therefore built a very interactive website, on Ghanaian tourism to showcase the treasures that Ghana has within., since its launch in June, has attracted lots of interest from tourism enthusiasts from all over the world. It seeks to be the number one web portal, providing comprehensive information about Ghana and the people therein. delves into the history of Ghana, facts and figures and other important information and details that all lovers of Ghanaian tourism need. Taking full advantage of advancements in web 2.0 and developments on the social media landscape, the team has developed a community around the site to encourage blogging for free.

In line with the Ministry of Tourism's awareness creation campaign, the PathGhana team will commence a very exciting monthly campaign called PathGhana Friday. The campaign encourages all young Ghanaians, and other nationals who love Ghanaian tourism, to display links to a tourism webpage on any social network that one belongs to. These social networks include, Facebook, Twitter, Hi5, MySpace, etc. They are also encouraged to display the banner of the website that started it all; PathGhana Friday is expected to be observed on the last Friday of every month starting from Friday July 31st this year. Many individuals are enthused by PathGhana and are bracing themselves for the commencement of PathGhana Friday. Already, the site has been tagged among the 100 most popular sites in Ghana by Alexa.

The Tourism Industry in Ghana is expected to see a major boost despite the global economic recession. President Obama's first visit to the sub-Saharan country of Ghana is also seen to be a major factor that will push tourism further. This year Ghana will celebrate Emancipation day, Panafest and the World Tourism Day. All these festivities are expected to draw in more traffic than ever before. Why don't you join the PathGhana community?

Gameli's notes: Edward Tagoe is the founder of Path Ghana and blogs regularly at Tagoe blogger and moonlight expressions.

Saturday, 11 July 2009

OBAMA in Ghana: Retracing the steps of history

A large crowd gathers at Accra’s international airport in anticipation of the expected visitors. Music, fanfare and excitement fill the air. Among the expectant crowd are dignitaries from all walks of life, the top echelon of society. The president, his vice, their wives, ministers of state, members of parliament, members of the diplomatic corps and the media all wait in anticipation of what promises to be a turning point in the history of Ghana and Africa. Then, sometime after 21:00 hrs GMT, US airforce 1 touches down on the tarmac, takes a short stride on the runway and makes a graceful stop. Emerging a few minutes later is the man that the whole Africa and the world had been waiting for. He emerges from the aircraft, holding in hand a young girl of about 11, flashing his trademark style. Immediately on his heels, emerges a woman, taller than the man before her, who holds to another girl of about 8 years. They all walk down the flight of stairs to where the dignitaries await them. They exchange pleasantries amidst great fanfare, as if they were friends long lost. Next, the man walks over to a group of drummers and dancers, who are fuelling the evening’s excitement with intricate dancing steps and movements to rhythmic, melodious drum beats. Many watch amused as the man begins to gesticulate as if he was doing their dance himself. That man is Barack Hussein Obama, the first black president of the United States of America.

I’ve already done a blog post about Obama’s emergence as a global icon, but the Ghana blogging group, influenced by his visit to the country, decided to make Obama our common topic for July. Since Obama’s inauguration, all will agree with me that Obama has discharged himself excellently as the president of arguably the most powerful nation on the planet. Today’s blog post centres on the significance of Obama’s visit to Ghana and the new direction of US-African relations.

President Obama’s itinerary in Ghana includes a breakfast meeting with the president and senior statesmen, an address to parliament and a short visit to one of Ghana’s relics of slave trade and colonialism, the Cape Coast castle. According to most commentators, Obama’s visit was to highlight the growing importance of Ghana as a centre of democracy, good governance and rule of law, emphasizing its role as the beacon of hope and “shining star” of Africa. Some cynics tag the visit as a reward for Ghana being a “good boy” and an ardent follower the democratic creed as per America.

Whatever Obama’s visit means for you, the occasion gave him the opportunity to spell out America’s new policy direction for the African continent. It is heartwarming to note that America now identifies Africa as a strategic partner in global affairs, rather than the continent being on the fringes of world history and constantly receiving foreign aid and handouts. In his usual engaging, smooth and charismatic style, Obama proposes a four-prong approach of tackling the development needs of deserving African countries: democracy, creation of opportunity, health and conflict resolution. What Africa needs to take from Obama’s speech is his admonition that African development lies in the hands of Africans and not any other group of people, and certainly not the United States of America. We are again reminded that corruption, tribalism, religious intolerance and tyranny have no place in progressive 21st century societies.

Also, the Obama family’s visit to Ghana and the Cape Coast castle in particular provided moments of reflection on racial interactions through the course of history. The fact that Obama’s father, a respected elder in his tribal community was just a houseboy in a British colonial officer’s house; the fact that the ancestors of Michelle Obama were slaves on America’s farms; the fact that a church was right on top of the male dungeon in the Cape Coast castle; and the fact that the African continent had been the playground post-world war II cold war powers; highlights the indignity that Africans and black people had suffered in the hands of history. When all those sad events are contrasted with the glory that has been achieved by man since then: Kwame Nkrumah’s successful independence struggle, Nelson Mandela’s demolition of apartheid, Kofi Anan’s leadership of the UN and a black family in the white house, one can’t help but be grateful for the fulfillment of the messianic visions of black leaders like Marcus Garvey, M.L. King and Kwame Nkrumah.

From all indications, the relationship between Africa and the United States would further be strengthened in years to come. What the continent’s leaders need to do is to strategically churn out homegrown solutions to the continents problems and take full advantage of programs put forth by the Obama leadership. Young people in Africa need to continually believe in the emergence of the African renaissance, and make patriotism, hard work, vision and imagination their watch words. Even Obama is watching what we are doing in Africa. Did you catch him mention Anas Aremeyaw Anas, that daring investigative journalist in his speech? YES WE CAN! Please don’t forget to keep your comments on Obama’s visit coming.

I hear there are Obama parties going on in Accra, Cape Coast and cities all over Ghana, and the official song is sure to be this cracker from Blakk Rasta: