Thursday, November 27, 2008

Ghana 2008 Elections

For a great while, Obamamania has managed to zap the the interest in the elections in our own backyard.

Now that Obama has fed our frenzy for this long and most of us are gradually getting back to living our lives, the issues that surround us must begin to occupy our senses once again.
Bless you, Abena for reminding us about the Ghana 2008 elections with humour and grace.
Be as it may, I have to confess my brutally honest feelings about the December 7 elections in Ghana.
My opinion about the on-going campaigns in the Ghana 2008 elections is that we are still a bit tardy in the way we project ourselves. I don't really see the electricity and passion from any of the candidates. Where are the fresh ideas and persuasive arguments able to fire up the whole nation to believe in ourselves? Where is the bold, compelling and exciting new vision to move all of us to congregate around plausible and attainable goals for Ghana?
Where are the plans to make Ghana a brand that majority of Ghanaians will believe in?

None of the candidates, in my opinion, has been able, so far, to articulate an agenda that is discernibly outstanding from the cacophony of partisan soundbites.
I really cannot understand why those on the field campaigning have not been able to authentically demonstrate to me what they are going to do differently, how they are going to get the entire nation to stand together to do so and what it will take to get us where they want to take us.

Rather what I see, read and hear are voices that invoke doubt instead of dogged determination. My sense of those parading themselves as leaders for Ghana is : a group of penalty takers wildly shooting the ball in the direction of the post but almost always not getting close to scoring. Who really embodies a winnable vision for Ghana or are they all hopeless chancers?

I believe, a great deal of what Ghanaians expect is obvious to most of us(read what one of us is proposing), but most of the presidential candidates are not articulating in simple terms what the average Ghanaian must expect from them after December 2008. The candidates, in their campaigns, must demonstrate the attitude of forthrightness, sincerity and pragmatism with the people of Ghana. Evoking tonnes of promises that everybody knows cannot be delivered is indicative of bad leadership.

Ghana has been in the doldrums for far too long. It is time to march out of the miry clay. We want a leader who knows how to inspire, motivate and sketch a path to our prosperity.

Let all the candidates who are unsure of themselves go and sit down!

Intellectual Ineptitude

I am slowly coming to terms with the degree of intellectual ineptitude in parts of the corporate world.

Don't get me wrong, there are many highly qualified people with mind-boggling intellect in the office floor. Most of these guys have backgrounds in mathematics, engineering, physics, accounting and economics. They do their work with squeaky clean professionalism and I hold them in high regard for that.

However the world of literature and the arts, as well as general knowledge, is a gobbledygook- an alien concept- to many of the guys I deal with on a regular basis. Some of them don't even bother to read any materials outside their professional domain. Books that have nothing to do with their work is usually considered a distraction that should be avoided at all cost.

The pursuit for excellence in the art of number crunching, financial modelling, writing sophisticated technical reports and the occasional wild parties seem to be the sum total of their existence.

They live in a parallel universe where the highest form of intellectual satisfaction is sitting in front of the laptop perfecting spreadsheets or tracking the performance of financial markets.

The real joy of intellectual discourse and literary adventures in the real world is neither required nor encouraged in their daily livelihoods.

This lifestyle of self-imposed narrow-mindedness in my view is the worst kind of poverty.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Fifth Time Lucky?

It is interesting how certain straight forward transactions in life can be turned into unattainable feats by the bureaucrats who have been employed to serve Joe public.
I drove my superior half, BOS, to one of the Motor Vehicle Licensing Departments for her to confirm a booking for her driver's test in two weeks time.
It is ridiculous that, this is the fifth attempt to obtain a document which merely proves a competency that she has demonstrated for all who care to see long time ago. If only these tests were objective as they are supposed to be!

Many are the instances where an examiner will ask the driver about to be tested how much dough he/she is willing to dole out in order to smoothen what could be a bumpy drive on the test ground. Those who decide to trust in their own competence are damned then and there to instant failure. Such is the frustration, that many would-be drivers simply go and buy the license without even showing up for the test. Is this, perhaps, why there are so many accidents on our roads?
A persistent woman that she is, she is confident that this time the urge to do what is right will override the pursuit for personal financial gain in the mind of the examiner.
I really want to believe with her that, this time, it will be fifth time lucky!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Taming Duet

He: an elusive hunk with a serious knack for hit-and-run game.
She: a femme fatale with a mission to tie down serious game

On the hunting ground, the bet sounded clear.
Hoppity-jump, jumpity- hop,
terrain prepared to thrill
the best must outwit the rest.

Hippity-swing, boobity-boo, the bait laid about
hooks concealed to trap.
Dippity-bang, hippity- wham, the will to win unleashsed
the brain tossed about.

Today unhunked, he has a burgeoning abs.
And la femme?
A Black widow with a set of three.

Hoodlums in Uniform

The VIP protection Unit of the Police Service is a specialised branch mandated by law to escort and protect the ruling elite of the land.
This week, two or three members of this unit, cruising on their own in a super-charged Golf V escort vehicle on a highway in Pietermaritzburg ( the capital and second largest city of the province of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa) decided that a Mazda 3 car carrying 5 young people did not give way to them on time, which obviously to them was an unpardonable sin, and so they shot at one of the back tyres.
Their uncalled for action sent the Mazda3, spinning out of control, unto on-coming traffic.
8 people- 5 from the Mazda3 and 3 others from the car into which they collided - in total are in critical condition in hospital.
The hoodlums did not even bother to ascertain the outcome of their evil action, cruising off to nowhere in particular.

This is just example of how these misfits have been terrorising innocent drivers on the roads.
The good news is that the retard that fired the shots is behind bars.
I hope he remains there for the rest of his miserable life.
What a jerk of an officer!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Nuances of Mismatched Expectations

X is a beautiful, sweet and intelligent woman: one of the few who are endowed in all departments!
Despite all of her obvious blessings, she is enormously unhappy in relationships.
Like the sumptuous dinner that is left untouched, she is wondering where the fault line lie.
I wish I could tell her that the matter is the high jump expectations.
If only she would lower the bar a little bit sooner!

Failed Education: A Growing Evidence

Even though they have always been there, lately, I have noticed a steady growth in the congregation of abled-bodied young men; many standing, some squatting and other sitting or even laying, by the sides of the arterial roads and streets of the western suburbs, near where I live.
They appear almost always desperate and are always on the rush to the windows of drivers, who in a moment of time, look in their direction. Jostling and pushing, they try to outmanoeuvre each other to get the attention of their potential clients.
Any guesses?
No. These are not sex workers. They are not beggars, neither are they hawkers.

They are unskilled labourers for hire: any piece job one may present to them is probably the only choice they may have for the whole day. A rare opportunity to tidy up somebody's garden, in most cases, may be the only difference between those who go to 'bed' hungry and those who do so with some nourishment.
Unskilled and realistically unemployable, they are left with no choice but to feed on the crumbs that fall from the tables of those who care enough to give them a chance to hope for another attempt tomorrow. Is there hope for them? Are they a lost generation? I wonder. I hope their plight is addressed so that it doesn't become the plight of the entire society.

The world may be a very inhospitable place for many people, but many of the wreckage and misery we see around us are preventable. Many simply need a little help to help themselves!

I firmly believe that the best way to avoid the episode described above is to provide a sound education for ALL our citizens, especially children. When we fail to provide the quality education expected in this day and age, we are inevitably preparing our people, societies and nations for a monumental failure!

A failed education system, without question, is the mother of all failures!

Monday, November 17, 2008

A crude Attempt at Scenario Planning

Scenario planning is a discipline for rediscovering
the original entrepreneurial power of creative
foresight in the contexts of accelerated change,
greater complexity and genuine uncertainty
--- Pierre Wack, Royal/Shell, 1984
Let me start by saying: I am no Futurist. Seriously, I have no time for this prognostication mambo jumbo. It is challenging, time-consuming and engaging enough being a Quant.
That is why the question of scenario planning and those sorts of issues that float in one's mind when in cloud cuckoo-land should not, as a matter of fact, be rumbling through my mind at a time when I am supposed to be busy coding and modeling the structured products on my desk; at least, not at the rate at which it seems to be toing and froing across my cerebral hemispheres.
Bear with me as I can't help but blog about it in order to stop it from encroaching on my personal and professional turf.
Seriously though, there is no doubt that a skillfully executed scenario planning is beneficial to Corporates as well as Nations, especially at times of great uncertainties such as the one we are currently experiencing. For us Ghanaians, it can help us to analyse and scrutinize the assumptions about the way Ghana has worked over the past years so that we could align our socio-economic policies and development paradigms closely with expected realities.
I present 3 plausible scenarios in Ghana for the forthcoming Republic.
Let us name the 3 scenarios: Alpha, Beta and Zeta.


A visionary leader is elected as the president of the Republic after a free and fair elections in December who has the support of the legislature and the goodwill of all Ghanaians. A conducive environment is created for the private sector, public enterprises and FDIs to thrive thus, propelling GDP growth to 8-10%. The oil money is spent judiciously to diversify the economy. Corruption is tackled seriously. Booming tourism and commercial activities propel Ghana to become the de-facto business hub of West Africa. Challenges in education, health, housing and infrastructural development are successfully tackled. These successes lead to greater export earnings, peace and prosperity across the whole nation. MDGs successfully met. Rapid improvements in living standards . Ghana thrives.


A mediocre leader is elected. Less or no improvement in economic growth. Corruption is unchecked. Oil money siphoned abroad. Potential investors move elsewhere,Capital flight, increased armed robbery. Few super rich and massive poverty. Increase divide between the economic development of the North and the South. Foreigners own the large chunk of Ghana's wealth. Reduced remittance, less money in fiscus. Education, health, housing, infrastructural development is half-hearted . Few doctors in hospitals, Professionals agitated,Skilled Ghanaians emigrate elsewhere. Discontented populace. No peace, neighbouring countries surpass Ghana. MDGs totally unmet. Deterioration of living standards. Ghana remains in the woods.


Crisis is sparked by violence after the December election. A coup d'etat brings back the army. The economy shrinks. Skills and expertise move out. Corruption is entrenched. FDIs and private remittances cease. Growth prospects completely curtailed. 'Niger-delta' scenario repeats in Ghana.Ghanaians begin to flock to neighboring countries. Civil war . Ghana on her knees.


This is a crude attempt to design some plausible scenarios. Even though unscientific, any of the three scenarios are capable of occurring if the 'appropriate' conditions are present. The ultimate purpose of scenario planning, of course, is an attempt to streamline our decisions to match a much more probable future.

Let me know what you think, folks!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Football: towards 2010

In exactly 572 days from today, the attention of the whole world will be focused on South Africa.

The South Africa 2010 FIFA World Cup, dubbed the African World Cup, is expected to be the best soccer showpiece thus far. It is projected to push up the tourism and FDI benefits for South Africa and the entire continent

Meanwhile, billions of Rands are being poured into the construction of venues, road networks, airports, hotels and, perhaps, the most exciting of all, the rapid rail system called the Gautrain. The spill-overs, in the form of construction jobs, skills transfer, entrepreneurship, etc; are expected to lead to significant boost of the local economy in the long-term.
So, you, football fans out there, begin to prepare for an unrivalled soccer-fest with a serious afro-chic flavour. The party-- for those of you party animals-- is bound to be huge, like nothing you have ever seen before.
Whilst there have been some concerns expressed about the crime situation in South Africa, the government is putting in place the requisite security measures to ensure the safety of fans and visitors.
Let's hope that the Black Stars qualify to participate in this global festival!
Would love to see the Ghana flag fly high! Ghana commands a bit of respect among South Africans as far as football is concern. Besides, we have a number of Ghanaians playing in the local league.
One thing though, Bafana Bafana need your fervent prayers to wake up from the self-induced slumber else, they are bound to be the weakest link in the fiesta. And that, I believe, is a sure damp squid!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

In the Lap of Illusion

I ran into an acquaintance yesterday.
A young man who had managed to build for himself a successful life that many would consider enviable.
He had everything going for him. A growing number of investments on the Johannesburg Securities Exchange, a couple of properties, a thriving business and a beautiful wife.
But when I met with him yesterday, his countenance was far from the perfect picture I have tried to paint for you. He was no longer as spirited as I knew him to be.
The current financial crisis has dealt a devastating blow to his dreams and accomplishments.
Whilst he talked, there was nothing much I could say to him. I dived deep inside me to bring up any words of encouragement and hope I would have expected to be told if I were in his shoes. And? Nothing except: 'I am so sorry'.
What did I learn from this unfortunate encounter?
There is nothing certain any more in our world.
Some say the only things that are certain are taxes and death.
For many people who have built their lives on the certainty of man-made institutions and philosophies, today's world is quite scary and the future as bleak as it gets.
Most of the ideas and ideologues previously considered infallible are crumbling around us everyday. Millions of people all over the world are literally waking up in a new world that they are not familiar with.
Long gone are the days when communism was considered a certainty.
The fall of the Soviet Union as well as the complete abandonment of the system by China are ample proofs.
Gone are the days when free market capitalism was considered a certainty.
If you don't believe me, read this, and this as well as this
Gone are the days when branded financial institutions were considered certainties.
Lehman Brothers is no more. AIG has been nationalised and billions of dollars and Euros have been set aside by many nations to bail out some of the most branded financial houses. Read further.
Gone are the days when a college degree was a certainty for a well-paying job and a secure future. Read this.
Whilst the world changes around us, I guess we need to master the courage to discover the real certainty of our own humanity and continue to dream of a better world.

Pal, if you are reading this take courage and try again.
We are praying for you.

The Circus Continues

This past weekend, there was an extraordinary meeting of the heads of the states that constitute the Southern African Development Community( SADC ) in Sandton, Johannesburg.
There were only two issues on the table:
(i) the political paralysis in Zimbabwe,
(ii) the deteriorating conditions in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Alas , after 12 hours of evangelistic diplomacy and undoubtedly a good measure of arm-twisting, nothing concrete came out.
Mugabe has once again, as expected, stubbornly clung unto the cabinet posts he had single-handedly allocated to his cronies in his Zanu-PF notwithstanding the agreement he had entered into with the two other parties for a government of national unity.

The MDC had sensibly argued that Mugabe should not be allowed to take all the posts that deal with state security. They had punted for the Home Affairs portfolio which is responsible for the Police Service after Mugabe had reiterated that he was not prepared to entertain any negotiations on the defence and National Intelligence portfolios. Incidentally these were the same state organs that were used by Mugabe to brutalise and silence the opposition before the elections in June.
The SADC leaders however decided to reward Mugabe by resolving that the Zanu-PF and the MDC should co-manage that Ministry. Duh , can you imagine that?
The MDC, as expected, refused to accept that resolution and so the Zimbabwe crisis remains as deadlock as it gets.
Just yesterday, Mugabe was threatening to form a government without the other parties.
Such a scenario will, of course, exacerbate the already dire economic situation in Zimbabwe. The billion dollars promised as aid for Zimbabwe will not be released until the donors are confident that the money will not end up in the hands of Mugabe and his cronies.

As far as the situation in the DRC is concerned, the SADC leaders were as unconvincing as they have always been. Meanwhile, thousands have been displaced. Hungry, thirsty and traumatised, innocent civilians are marching across their own God-given land in anguish and despair without hope for themselves and their children.
What a shame!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Matters of Speed and the Pocket

Yesterday, I had some me-time and decided to go and check out some of the latest cool toys in town at the Johannesburg International Motor Show.
Let me state forthright that I love cars, good cars I mean.

After literally jumping all over the place, I could not make up my mind on what I would buy if I had the money.
Like all forms of window-shopping, visiting a motor show has its own advantages.
First, you don't need to part with any money apart from the entrance fees and whatever you choose to spend on snacks. Second, it is a feast for the eyes. Third, you can stand by some of the cars and dream yourself to mechanical heaven.
The problem, of course, is when you see something that you really want but the pocket is not deep enough to afford it. With the credit crunch pointing to severe financial troubles going forward, I don't want to take anything on credit.

Four New models really caught my attention: The Audi Q5, the Merc C class, the Nissan Murano and the Land RoverLRX. All of these cars are fabulous and wicked but where the heck am I supposed to get the absurd money for something which for all intents and purposes will become an anti-matter in a matter of two years.
My verdict: I am keeping my golden oldie!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The African Dream

In the light of the near-perfect functioning of the American democracy which has just delivered a stunning victory for Sen. Barack Obama and the American people, my restless mind is becoming increasingly preoccupied almost to the point of obsession with the question of major chunks of our beloved continent, Africa, suffering from a state of chronic confusion and self-induced misery in the practice of democracy.
The Continent's unparalleled capacity to fumble in almost all spheres of democratic governance is baffling, to say the least.
Take a look at what has transpired recently in Zimbabwe, Kenya, Sudan, Burundi, Congo D R, Côte d'Ivoire, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Cameroon and many others, and you are immediately confronted by the utter failure of the practice of democracy to thrive in every one of them.

Our societies appear to be rudimentary in the assimilation and accommodation of the noble aspirations, principles and ideals which are fundamental for the practice of democracy. Is democracy an end in itself or a dispensable means to a more lofty end? Do we, as African nations and societies, need to aspire to similar dreams that have served other nations so well or do we continue as we have and hope that somehow "our democracy" will undergo its own evolution ( which I call "Que sera sera") and do the job?

Our excellence has been broadly wasted on adapting to and enduring adversities, calamities and misery and not on overcoming them once and for all. We seem to possess an incredible capacity to survive in the valley and not, as one would expect, in summiting the mountains on our way!

When are we going to realize that we need strong social, democratic and governance institutions to act as the pillars and guideposts for our collective wellbeing and not the myopic adherence to the transient system of subjection( of ourselves) to personalities, tribalism and political partisanship.
Come on Africa we can do better that that!

Let us, as a people, develop a consensus for a new dream that we all can aspire to: The African Dream.
The American Dream like a beacon of hope and inspiration seems to have served them well. Although imperfect, it has enabled them to rise up again and again to achieve the unimaginable. A similar dream stitched together in Africa by Africans for Africans, I believe, will go a long way towards helping us to reach where we have never imagined we could.

Barack Obama has inspired us to think and say " Yes, we can".
So fellow blogger and readers your suggestions in this regard are warmly welcome.
Yes, we can!

Hands on the Arc of History!

The night of 4 November 2008 will forever be remembered not just as a historic night but crucially as one of awe and profound victory!
This victory is not for Obama and America only but for all people that have longed-for a new way of doing things.
Hearing the President-elect of the United States of America, Barack Obama, speak at the Grant Park rally, I could feel my eyes swell with tears of overwhelming joy and I knew in my heart that the world as we know is about to change beyond the wildest dreams that ever existed in the hearts and minds of the most imaginative among us.
Indeed a new dawn of inspired leadership is upon us.
The die has been cast. The verdict has been emphatic and monumental.
The voice of the American people have thundered so utmostly distinctly and forcefully.
The change we all, Americans and non-Americans, have so much longed-for has now chanced upon us in such a spectacular fashion.
Here is the fulfillment of the dream of Dr Martin Luther King, the dream of many millions of people throughout America and beyond.
This victory, to me , is the opportunity for hope and goodwill to thrive throughout the world.
May this spirit of global inspiration lead our generation to create lasting change in every corner of the globe.
Long live Barack Hussein Obama Jnr!
Long live the dream for a better world for all!
Bless you all.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Rising Up to His Cheers!

A couple of friends are planning a vigil on Tuesday night.
I must be a witness of this unprecedented HIStory- making of Barack Obama, the cool brother. With the votes already rolling in since the start of the early voting season, I take the stand to predict that That One is indeed the next occupant of the white House!
I don't know about you but I am getting the shampagnes ready.
A braai will set us in the mode for an all-night gig of negritudinal proportions.
Before you crucify me for celebrating prematurely remember this is the first time an African -American is so close to ascending the American Throne. And we will back him up with our support, prayers and positive vibes on his final stretch home.
The psychological boost of an Obama win to millions of black people under the sun will be far-reaching and perhaps, who knows, it is a prophetic sign of the long-awaited rennaisance of Africa and the emergence of all her beautiful children of colour in glory and stature .

"Yes, we can" is fast becoming "Yes, we did it".