BLACK STAR LIONS

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THE FIHANKRA CONTROVERSY

Posted by blackstarlions on October 24, 2013 at 5:25 AM Comments comments (0)

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Many people have heard about Fihankra over the years and while many have come forward to ‘claim’ their free land, many do not really understand what Fihankra is.

The term Fihankra is a Ghanaian expression which means, “When leaving home no goodbyes were said.” Fihankra, then, refers to all Africans from the Diaspora who are descended from the trans-Atlantic slave trade. That comprises some maybe 300 million people. That’s just a guess cause these figures could never be totally accurate.

The skin and stool of Fihankra are physical symbols which were purified to represent the apology given by several Ghanaian elders and the welcoming home of those of us out in the Diaspora. This was done in December 1994. It was considered an historic event and everyone was optimistic about the possibilities of joining the entire African family once again.

The land that many people refer to as Fihankra is really called Yeafa Ogyamu and is only one of many parcels of land that were offered, but few know this fact. The land was a ‘gift’ of the Akwamu people to represent their own personal atonement (for slavery). The land was given for all Fihankra, in other words, all of us descendants of the slave trade.  The original people who made up the group given the land promised development of many kinds, including, fire station, police station, health facility, schools and various businesses. One family eventually usurped not only the land, but the stool and skin of Fihankra. They call(ed) themselves the royal family. How this happened is not really clear. Some of the key figures are no longer on this plane and cannot answer that question. The man/chief’s name is down on the land's indenture as CUSTODIAN for the skin and stool of Fihankra, not OWNER.

What should have been an opportunity for African descendants to resettle became a personal business enterprise for one man. The fee for land started at $3,500 for one plot (100ft x 100ft), at a time when plots were leasing for approximately $200 with a 50 year lease. I never really understood whether a person who chose to have 5 plots would have to pay $17,500 or the same $3,500. With stool land the general procedure for acquiring land is to negotiate with the family chief, agree on a price, have the land surveyed and have the land registered. Then you are expected to pay a ‘land rent’ every year, half of which goes to the district assembly and half goes to the chief. This process ensures that each succeeding chief benefits a bit from the original land deal. For further clarity and information, the land rent today, after years of increases, on 6 plots of land is just under $100. On a new acquisition, the land rent on the same six plots may be only $30 (this is every year until an increase).

Back to Fihankra……. Around 2003 the tactics changed. The usurper decided that it would be better to charge a yearly fee and started with a fee of $100. By 2004 it was $200/year and recently we were told the fee was $800/year. The original usurper died in 2008 and many thought that the politics would change and become more favourable and just. Well, it seems we were completely wrong. Now the 'royal family' has decided that this land is their private property and that any others who try to do anything on the land are trespassers!!!!!!! The 'royal family' claims that one of the original custodian’s sons is the heir and successor and therefore it is his land. The landlord (an Akwamu chief) is not in accord with any of this and is working to remove that 'royal family' from the land.

We live ½ mile down the road from Yeafa Ogyamu so we have seen quite a bit in the almost 12 years we have lived here. Some of the things that we have witnessed include:

People pay their yearly fee to secure their plot. When they arrive to commence building they are told they have to pay infrastructure fees (which we are told are $800 per room) and until that is paid they cannot build.

People are not being showed where their plots are unless they pay the infrastructure fee.

The security guards are not allowing workers on the site, blocking any building from going on.

One sister sent close to $20,000 to have her home built and when she arrived all she found was a load of sand, and didn’t get her money back.

One sister paid for 3 plots for herself and 3 plots for her son (at the time the yearly rate was $200). When her husband went to clear the land some men came at him with rifles and told him he had no business to build there.

One man paid an astronomical amount for an incomplete building and when he wasn’t paying the agreed monthly payments, one of the 'royals' broke in and took all his legal documents.

Despite collecting yearly fees the land rent was left unpaid for several years until one land ‘owner’ paid all and started to keep decent records.

One family has been taken to court for trespassing, even though they are land owners. They wanted to have a small business and it was opposed by …….  Yes, you guessed it, the 'royal family’.

Many people have been turned away from acquiring land, based on the fact that the ‘royal family’ feels they don’t have “what it takes” to build. Who are they to judge?

After about 18 years of having the land, the only people who are living at Yeafa Ogyamu other than the ‘royal family’ are two families. Another brother has stayed there for a length of 6 months so is basically living there also. After 18 years I would hope that a lot more families would have taken advantage of this gift from the chiefs. From what we know, we have close to or more than 10,000 people living in Ghana from the Caribbean and the United States. 10,000 people and only 8 people are living at Yeafa Ogyamu?

We have tried to stay out of this issue but it’s difficult to watch such injustice occurring and not react. The question is, what to do and how to 'free' the land so that interested parties can come and develop their homes and/or businesses. We are putting this out so that the truth can be known and the correct people come forward to assist in this freeing. Many blessings.

Ghana - closing the Adomi bridge

Posted by blackstarlions on September 21, 2013 at 8:40 PM Comments comments (0)

Getting to us will now be even more of an adventure. Going to market at Akosombo will be by ferry as will any trips into Atimpoku, Accra and any place east of the Volta river. Our travels may take a bit longer but this is all in good fun.

We were first told the bridge would close June of this year, 2013. The date then changed to July, then to August, then to December and then the new year. The last estimated date we have heard is February, 2014. Whenever it closes, we will be ready.

The closure is in order to do some serious maintenance work on this wonderful bridge, which is an inspiration of the late Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, the first president of Ghana, also called Ghana's founder. The hydroelectric dam at Akosombo is another of his visions. We look forward to an easy transition and again, this is all in good fun.

bridge closes

Ghana government speaks


Ghana embraces GMO products

Posted by blackstarlions on September 14, 2013 at 9:10 AM Comments comments (0)

Link to Ghana GMO article

Kofi Annan advocate for GMOs on the African continent

For anyone who is concerned about the effects of genetically modified foods and chemical farming on the land and on our health I would recommend reading the book Organic Manifesto by Maria Rodale.

It is ludicrous and obscene for advocates of GMOs to say that those who do not embrace this technology are backwards, ignorant and would like to see the world's poor stay poor and lacking of foods. We have to remember that quantity does not imply quality. Part of the problem with large scale agriculture is the depletion of the soil's nutrients. People are looking for fast, easy ways to get their produce to the market and so no longer take the time to regenerate the soils as was done by our ancestors. The key to healthy soil is 1. the introduction of organic/live matter every few growing cycles, 2. the rotation of crops and, 3.  growing crops that add nutrients to the soil every few cycles. Mono cropping is one of the worst things for the soil, as are the planting of corn and wheat without removing them from the ground and then replenishing the soil.

Another thing is that if you go to a market here in Ghana, we have no lack of food. Maybe a lack of variety, but food is abundant. What is keeping people from buying or having access to food are the prices. Inflation rates are astronomical. The foods that are of littlest nutritional value are the least expensive while the more nutritious foods are costly. This is not lack of food but political playing around with finances. The cost of petrol continues to rise, which affects the cost of transport, which affects the costs toward the market women, which affects the costs to the consumer. As as matter of fact, the transport costs are going up again by 20%.

People have good reason to be concerned about the introduction of GMO crops into the country. They should also be concerned about the increasing amounts of chemical farming that's going on. Even small crop planters are using chemical pesticides with no awareness of the health detriments. Soon everyone will be sick and mentally depressed. Not to mention the dependency that will grow using GMO seeds. No more saving seeds from year to year. From what I've read, the biotech companies don't allow you to save the seed! I also read that the CEO of Monsanto, one of the major biotech companies, eats organic foods. Now why is that?

For health benefits of organic farming, read the book Organic Manifesto. Following is an excerpt.

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“People who eat organic foods reduce their pesticide intake by as much as 90%, according to a study from the University of Washington. Further, research by University of Colorado neuroscientist Christopher Lowry, PhD, found that certain strains of soil borne bacteria not only stimulate the human immune system, but also boost serotonin levels in mice. Low levels of serotonin are tied to depression and drugs that inhibit its reuptake in the brain are used as antidepressants Perhaps putting your hands in healthy organic soil can prevent depression.” Maria Rodale, Organic Manifesto, p 177

This article tells about the wonderful effects of putting your hands in the soil.

http://healthfreedoms.org/2012/02/24/get-dirty-to-get-joy-bacteria-in-soil-acts-as-antidepressant/

Let's be informed. Don't be intimidated. Learn about improving your soil  if you're having poor crop yield. So many benefits to organic.

 

Life Thoughts

Posted by blackstarlions on August 9, 2013 at 9:25 AM Comments comments (0)

Firstly, have to give thanks for the harvest. We have eaten fresh green beans which are unlike any market bought bean I have ever eaten. Tender and tasty. Harvesting lots of tomatoes too, so getting ready for some sun drying. It's amazing how 'small' the amount of tomatoes is after drying but wow is it worth the effort.

GIVE THANKS ALWAYS

While listening to Joy FM, I am amazed to hear the number of countless adverts encouraging Ghanaians to use products which are not only from foreign lands, but are purely chemical. My motto is: If I can't put it in my mouth I  won't put it on my skin, hair, feet, etc etc. This could be related to the use of soaps - what happened to using good old black soap? We know exactly what it contains. Then there's shea butter for the skin - supposed to be a natural sun screen as well as keep off the effects of aging. Chemical sun screen causes skin burning. There's also lemon for maintaining a beautiful complexion and it is one of the best facial cleansers I know of. (It is also a wonder for cleaning the intestines). The last thing that comes to mind is toothpaste. I listen to the craziest advert about close-up toothpaste and when I look at it, I want to vomit. Has anyone ever read the ingredients of any commercial toothpaste out there? Pure chemical. And then there's the fluoride issue. Where does that fluoride come from? Why not check it out? Many years ago I was listening to a health program and it was mentioned that the fluoride comes from the waste products of generating nuclear energy. YUCK! Is that really something I want to use in my mouth - let alone my drinking water (like they do in the United States). While tooth brushing is a wonderful thing, we also have the chew stick and for freshness and health we can chew the branch of some neem trees. These are equally wonderful for the health of our teeth.

This brings to mind another thing I heard on Joy FM - comments regarding the nature of maternal and newborn health vs. mortality - which is unusually high in Ghana. The recommendations I heard were like putting the cart before the horse. For one, there is a move to outlaw all home birth. This just doesn't make sense. What causes the best outcome in a pregnancy and birth is a well nourished, healthy woman who has adequate prenatal care with a trained midwife or doctor, and a qualified practitioner at the birth. Not only should that person be knowledgable, they should be a caring, concerned individual. If a health practitioner doesn't want to answer your questions, why would you continue to see them? Based on studies done in the United States, women who are healthy, eat well during the pregnancy and have a trained midwife have much better outcomes in a home birth then the same woman would in a hospital. The other recommendation was greater machinery for diagnostics. While this works in many instances, technicians tend to get more wrapped up in the machines then the pregnant woman, or newborn baby. It's like throwing out the baby in favour of the bath water. A machine is only as good as the technician so if the tech is negligent, the results will probably be skewed. Or, they may see one aspect of the whole and forget there's a complete picture they have to be looking at.

Ghana is moving into the future and this is excellent. My concern, as with most things is that we keep focus on what really works, what is healthy and what is realistic. Just because something comes from foreign doesn't mean it's good for Ghana. We have tried and true foods, 'medicines,' and traditions that we shouldn't just toss away because they are 'locally grown.'  Again, give thanks for the harvest.

Ghana's housing problem versus Africa's economic boom

Posted by blackstarlions on July 27, 2013 at 7:45 AM Comments comments (0)

Accra Ghana housing shortage

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Alongside Africa’s economic boom comes this harrowing narrative of the slums of Accra where supposedly 48 people share one room to live in. While this is a horrifying thought, it is minor next to the garbage that people live in, in such neighbourhoods as Nima, Ashaiman, Jamestown and many others. Mounds and mounds of garbage fill the streets, alleyways and gutters, and people walk by it as if it’s nothing. The stench is abominable, not to mention the advent of disease. This garbage attracts all kinds of vermin which also carry disease. Women cook over this stench and sell the food to any who will buy. Although women sweep, sweep, sweep every morning, the rubbish is still there.

Who is responsible for this filth? What would possess people to continue living in such conditions? Is it that they feel they have no choice? What could each individual do to clean up their own environment? Is it possible that the rubbish never be put out there in the first place?

The introduction of plastic into the system has brought on most of the problems we see with the build up of rubbish. In the past with paper bags or fruits and vegetables, if they were thrown out into the environment, eventually would break down and return to the earth. Not so with the plastic. Plastic can remain in the environment for up to one hundred years, depending on the type of plastic (commonly called ‘rubber’ here in Ghana). The black plastic bags which are so common in our markets release toxins into the earth, water or air as they are broken down or burned. Yet we continue to see them on the market and in the heaps of rubbish that surround all too many areas in Accra and the surrounding environs.

Now, contrast those neighbourhoods with the new buildings going up along Liberation road and Independence road. They are not immaculate but they are well kept and give the impression of a completely different city then what is seen in Ushertown, mentioned in this article. One speculation presented in my writings about Africa’s economic boom is that all of the development is by foreigners, and all the hype is to encourage foreigners to continue investing in the continent. The boom is not for the average person who lives amongst garbage and lives 48 to the room. Politicians benefit from the ‘pocket monies’ they receive, while others are left to squalor.

I have no answers as I think all people are capable of keeping their environment clean even if the materials they live in are not up to par but I believe if there is to be a boom it should benefit all people in the country.

 

AFRICA'S ECONOMIC BOOM

Posted by blackstarlions on June 27, 2013 at 11:30 AM Comments comments (0)

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Africa’s Economic Boom

Currently the BBC is running a series about the financial boom that is occurring across the African continent. Yesterday’s forum took place in Lagos, Nigeria and next week they will be in Accra, Ghana. Who attends these forums? The already rich entrepreneur, the student hoping for employment, the foreign investors and many more, but we can be sure it will not include the village person who would hardly have any way of knowing about this forum or what it entails. The question being asked is, “who benefits from this economic boom?” Is there really an economic boom occurring? From where I am sitting, the only people who really benefit are those who already have money to invest, whether they be native to the continent or from another continent. The politicians who allow the foreign investments benefit tremendously in back pocket payments and other perks. Maybe the cry of ‘boom’ is an advertising campaign to attract more foreign investors whose own countries are in financial crisis. Seek greener pastures, once again, as they did how many hundreds of years ago???

I would venture to say that many of the local people are living a similar life style to what they were living way back when/then. How have the local people benefit from the economic boom of Africa? In the ten years since we have moved to the Akosombo area from Accra, Ghana, what I observe is that people’s lifestyles haven’t changed noticeably. They still eat the same foods that nourish little, they still live in the same homes, they still drink lots of Akpeteshie (the local schnapps) and they still beg assistance when they can. What I see is more people with a cell phone. In fact, I would say everyone has a cell phone. More indebtedness. People see the ‘other world’ on television and crave the material things they see – the life style that promises a happier life, healthier children etc, etc, etc.  This economic boom comes with all the fineries of development. Greater prostitution, as we are seeing in Takoradi, greater debt, more desires, more alcoholism.

I am sounding extremely pessimistic. But seriously, what does development mean? What path does development take? Does it mean forfeiting the trees for asphalt and concrete, both of which starve out the soil and the earth? Does it mean people have the ability to buy more things or have access to more things material? Does it mean we all get better quality foods? Can we have development without forfeiting the land? Can we eat healthy, nourishing foods without having to go to a supermarket? Do we have to create another New York City before we feel we have ‘arrived’? Development has to be sustainable. An economic boom has to come with these packages: 1. every person has access to clean, potable water, 2. Each citizen of any nation has access to fresh, nourishing, thus healthy foods, 3. health care is affordable and provided by loving individuals who treat each client with dignity and respect, regardless of their education level, 4. education is free to all and the curriculum is one that encourages critical thinking first and foremost as well as many world views, and those who are educated have adequate employment so they don’t feel they have to leave the country, 5. those that provide our food (i.e. the farmers) are not treated as second class citizens, nor are they paid a pittance, 6. the revenues from resource(s)' sales are used for all areas of the nation, 7. People live in clean, affordable housing and not blocks where they live on top of one another causing another type of insanity, 8. Energy, from renewable sources, goes to the citizens first before it is sold off to another nation. I'm sure there are other things I haven't included so, forgive me.

Investment in solar and other alternative energy sources is smart development, planting trees to stave of desertification is smart development, working on ways to boost the quality of farming soil is way smart development.

In fact, development should be based on needs first, then ‘desires’. We can live without cell phones and cars. Do we want to? Maybe not, but those should not be priorities in a developing, booming nation. After basic needs have been taken care of we can focus on the frivolities of life. The thing is, the needs of all could  be taken care of if we did not live in a fear based society. Terrorism. We live in terror of losing everything we have acquired and so we don’t share. We think we have to have at least a million (dollars or Ghana cedis it makes no difference) per year to be happy. What happens then when we have those things, have that money and we’re still not happy? Is that booming economy serving us or are we serving it?

The New Revolution - Growing Your Own Food

Posted by blackstarlions on April 27, 2013 at 8:40 PM Comments comments (0)

Sometime this week I either read or was told that one of the most revolutionary things you could do was to grow your own food!

Not only is growing food akin to doing hatha yoga but it makes you that much more independent. It is one of the highest recommended activities for menopausal women (and should be men too). It feels sooooo good to be out in the fresh air and feel the sun on our skin (those with sensitive skin can use sun screen - I wouldn't myself). The movements keep us limber and all in all it promotes calcium in the body - good for our teeth and bones.

Today is a glorious day. We have been, like many people around the world, preparing the soil and planting seeds. Harriet in the front garden and Kwaku at the poolside garden. While the conditions are harsh - the sun seems that much hotter every year, watering can be a drag and the creatures sometimes don't allow for the growth of the plants - we enjoy it so much and it may be illusion but the foods we eat from our own yard taste sweeter and richer then anything we could buy in the market. Every little harvest is a gift from the mother and appreciated as such.

What's the revolution? Just think about it. If you can grow your own food, you may not have a job, you may not have a bank account but you can feed your family and be that little bit more independent. You have control over what or what not gets put into your food and you know whether or not your food has been genetically modified. Your food is more nutritious then the average variety sold at the market or supermarket.

Food can be grown in the smallest of places, like a deck, the verandah or your kitchen window. Start with culinary herbs and move on to tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchinis or any other vegetables you like. Your children will love it. :)

Scientifically engineered seeds and African farmers

Posted by blackstarlions on March 29, 2013 at 10:40 AM Comments comments (0)

This week the BBC has been hosting a science fair in Kampala Uganda and the subjects have been quite fascinating. I was eager to listen to the news on the agriculture fair and so was quite amazed Wednesday when Focus on Africa had this to report:

Farmers are complaining about the seeds that they have been saving for generations. They no longer produce the amounts that they have been used to. While my first thought would be to use modalities to improve soil quality, the scientists are eagerly introducing the concept of scientifically engineered seeds! I just googled that word and every entry that came up was GMO - genetically modified organisms. The kind gentleman being interviewed was all so pleasant and said that the seeds would be at a minimal cost since they know that African farmers are not wealthy people. Is this just something that is being pushed on Africa because the rest of the world is rejecting it and the GMO companies don't know where else to get their money? In his book Seeds of Deception, Jeffrey M. Smith says that since the introduction of GMO foods into the US grocery chain, the incidence of disease has doubled. Most notably the rates of diabetes and cancer have skyrocketed, along with obesity. I have also seen several articles regarding Africa and GMOs and the people  - in the past - have not wanted them. Will this now change? Are people desperate enough to go along with this killer seed? They will never be able to save their seeds again.

What I have noticed here in Ghana is that the farmers are using the old technique of slash and burn and while that was fine when the forests were virgin, after years and years of pracitically planing the same crop, the soil is infertile and the food that it yields has no nutritious value. On the one hand this is lazy farming. The soil is never replenished, never composted and not allowed to even rest after farming. Every season, time after time the same crops on the same land, or going further and further into what forest is left to leave the soil to be burned by the sun.

Several thoughts come to mind. Will they ever be implemented? Probably not but I have mentioned them to many a farmer: 1. work together cooperatively, 2. use rotation planting and 3. use animals to 'compost' the soil so that something is going back in. The land could be divided into five equal parts with one area for the animals and the other four for rotation of these crops: 1. tomatoes and peppers, 2. beans, 3. corn and 4. root crops. Each season a different crop is planted in another area. This could be done on a large scale or on a small family size scale. The choice is up to the farmer.

If we lose our ability to grow food we are completely dependent on foreign interests to feed us and determine the quality of the foods we eat - thus, more fast foods, more canned foods, more processed foods resulting in more disease.

Faith and Renewal or Lockheed Martin - from war mongers to water filtration agents

Posted by blackstarlions on March 19, 2013 at 11:55 AM Comments comments (0)

Water is life. There's no doubt about it. We could live for weeks without food but how long would we last without a drop of water. After going for three months without rain and much despair for the life that looked like it was dying, we finally had our treat. The bushes at the front of our site looked brown and dead. We were sure we would have to yank them out and start replanting. Lo and behold, they are sprouting forth with new, light green life. That's amazing! All of our trees are putting forth new growth and flowers are budding everywhere. New flowers mean delightful scents all over the grounds. Renewal! Life is strong. Then now the faith to know that the mother will always take care of us. Sometimes we need to step aside and allow her to just be.

Even after three months without water, our rain catchment tank never emptied and the tanks in the ground are still relatively full. Most people depend on the Ghana Water Company for the on - off supply. That doesn't work for us. But, what's more important then having water is having water that is potable. Yesterday evening looking through a survival handbook the same subject presented itself. Water filtration techniques and what things need to be filtered and how small the filtration holes need to be. The things that are a danger to us are bacteria (cholera, typhoid), parasites (giardia and malaria), viruses (hepatitis A) and many chemicals from toxic waste and pollution.

Miraculously, this morning on the BBC they reported about a company that has developed a new filtration technique that could take salt out of water! If the holes are small enough to remove salt they could definitely remove all the other things that are so dangerous to our health. The initial implications are for example to help in Burkina Faso with irrigation but this could be revolutionary for people chosing to be self sufficient. Read on for more information - War Mongers - Lockheed Martin - to produce water filtration system.

Changes to Mu Shu (Kung Fu) Class Schedule

Posted by blackstarlions on March 14, 2013 at 11:35 AM Comments comments (0)

Adult and Children's Martial Arts Classes

Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays

3pm

Cost: 10 Ghana cedis

Children under 14 FREE

No appointment needed = just show up*

* For a private class please phone for an appointment 024 481 7459

Located at Black Star Lions' Business Court

Akwamufie road - 2+ kilometers from the Adomi bridge

(look for the sign board on the right hand side of the road)

please see previous post for more information



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