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Paintings by Ghana’s Lynette Yiadom-Boakye sell for 1 MILLION DOLLARS

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The more people willing to buy a work, the more convincing the argument that the work is here to stay. When that artist’s pieces begin to find a new life in the secondary market, the more you can be sure that his or her work is a good investment.

A Consideration like No Other, 2011, by Lynette Yiadom-Boakye.Source: Sotheby’s

After taking stock of last month’s contemporary auctions, anyone could look to the market of London-born Lynette Yiadom-Boakye and reasonably conclude that her work has crossed over, in market terms, from “up and coming” to something more significant.

Blockbuster Results

Over two days, three of the painter’s lush oil paintings depicting fictional black characters came to auction at Sotheby’s. One, The Hours Behind You, 2011, which is more than eight feet wide and depicts a group of dancers dressed in white, was estimated to sell for $250,000 to $350,000. It sold for $1.575 million.

The next day, two more came on the block at Sotheby’s. The first, estimated between $80,000 and $120,00, sold for just under $340,000, while the second, estimated between $100,000 and $150,000, sold for $118,750.

Oral Chapters, 2010, by Lynette Yiadom-Boakye.Source: Sotheby’s

“Only five or six years ago you could still buy one of these canvases for less than 10,000 pounds [$13,476], says Hannah O’Leary, the head of Sotheby’s modern and contemporary African Art department, a division that was created last year. “Certainly, in the last 12 to 24 months, we’ve had a surge of people desperate to acquire her pieces.”

Call it a market trend or call it simply a long-overdue recognition of heretofore overlooked artists, but Yiadom-Boakye, who was born in 1977, joins a select group of peers from the African diaspora, including Njideka Akunyili Crosby and Kerry James Marshall, whose paintings have recently surged past $1 million at auction.

“She’s a great artist, first of all,” says O’Leary. “But the fact that she is a woman, she is black, she is of the African diaspora—these are all things that the [art] market is turning toward.”

Existing Market

It’s not as if Yiadom-Boakye has been hiding or is unknown to many in the art world since she graduated from the Royal Academy in London’s MFA program in 2003.

An installation view of the solo show “Lynette Yiadom-Boakye: Under a Song for a Cipher” at the New Museum in New York, which ran from May 3 through September 3, 2017.Photographer: EPW STUDIO

While her style has evolved over the past 10 years, Yiadom-Boakye has consistently painted large-scale oil portraits of people she paints from her imagination. Drawing on established stylistic precedents—Manet and Goya are often evoked—she developed a distinct aesthetic with deep, saturated colors and dynamic figures.

“She’s an extraordinary painter,” says Tamsen Greene, a senior director at New York’s Jack Shainman gallery, which has represented Yiadom-Boakye since 2009. “She’s made her own, unique style, but she uses this classic, incredibly formal visual language that draws people in.”

By 2007, Yiadom-Boakye had been included in an array of group shows, including the Tate Liverpool Biennial and the Saatchi Gallery’s Triumph of Painting Part 6, and in 2010 the Studio Museum in Harlem gave her a critically acclaimed solo show. She’s since been a subject of solo shows at the Serpentine Gallery in London (2015), the Kunsthalle Basel (2017), and the New Museum in New York (2017).

“Since the day we’ve started working with her, there’s been a great deal of demand,” says Greene. “We’ve always had to manage a wait list.”

That could partially be due to Yiadom-Boakye’s core group of prominent collectors, who have been vocal supporters of her career by lending her work to exhibitions whenever possible.

The Hours Behind You, 2011, by Lynette Yiadom-Boakye.Source: Sotheby’s.

Those collectors include former NBA player Elliot Perry and his wife Kimberly, the German hair-care heir Thomas Olbricht, the Belgian collecting couple Wilfried and Yannicke Cooreman, the Japanese industrialist Hiroshi Taguchi, and the American philanthropist and collector Pamela Joyner.

“The people who live with her work love it,” says Greene. “It’s not rare that someone acquires a work and then immediately wants to acquire another one.”

Breakthrough

For all that, it took nearly a decade for a single painting by Yiadom-Boakye to come up to auction, when her work Politics, which was made in 2005, was put on sale at Sotheby’s in London in 2010 with an estimate of 15,000 to 20,000 pounds. It sold for 52,500 pounds with premium.

The next day at Christie’s London, another one of her paintings sold for 146,000 pounds above a high estimate of 50,000 pounds, and the day after that, also at Christie’s London, another painting sold for 116,553 pounds over a high estimate of 15,000 pounds.

“We, along with her London gallery, do everything we can to place her work in collections that are going to be good stewards,” says Greene. “A lot of the works that go to auction predate her work with either of her galleries.” (The three works that came to Sotheby’s in November were from the estate of the collector Jerome Stern, who died in April.)

An installation view of the show at the New Museum.Photographer: EPW STUDIO

O’Leary credits Yiadom-Boakye’s secondary-market breakthrough to the New Museum show earlier this year. “She was really in the London auctions,” she says. “But we can attribute a lot of her success to her newly raised profile in the U.S.”

The inevitable question—whether her new status in the art market can be sustained—has already been answered, Greene says. “She’s not a new artist. She’s had important solo shows, and I don’t see why that would change,” she says.

“I think all the market frenzy is just a testament to the work.”

 

 bloomberg.com

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‘Akpɛtɛshie seller give me quarter’… For the love of one tot: Alcohol consumption in Ghana

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Under a shade at the Dansoman-Glefe lorry station in the Ghanaian capital, Accra, a group of middle-aged men sit slothfully as they inch closer to settling on an available diversion to validate their week-day nothingness.

It has gone past the morning rush hour and the yells from bus conductors for commuters to join the many destinations being advertised – to other parts of the city – are a small slice of a bigger banquet going on here: brisk trading, station executives pursuing drivers to hand over parking charges, and a nomad trying to navigate his way through what looks like a sweet clutter of human and vehicular convocation.

There is more. A pastor toggles high the volume on his Public Address system; a woman chases a young boy, who is finally caught and blessed with a smack on various parts of his body. The thumping he gets is followed by a basic Ga diatribe he is expected to deliver to his father – Otsɛ Boadi hiɛ okɛɛ La Gata; to wit, “your father Boadi’s face like La Gata” (La Gata is a popular Mexican soap opera that aired on local television).

Appiah, a resident driver, is without a car today and has also pitched camp under the shade which extends to a drinking parlor. All six men are united in their misery: the feeling of not working for their daily survivals. From expired road-worthy certificates to their cars reverting to their ‘masters’ (owners of the cars), they have good reason to sit, idle.

32 year-old Appiah recently moved here after leaving the Neoplan Station, also in the capital, where he was driver of a 207 Benz Bus; his first car, which plied the Accra-Kumasi route.

These days, he makes a living by waiting on other drivers at the station to declare themselves unfit for the day’s job so he can work some hours for a decent amount of money. He’s been at it for the past year.

The parlor serves an ultimate daily idling zone for him and his colleagues – who get by – by feeding off each other’s compassion. “It is tough for me these days,” Appiah says, looking to the direction of Portia Dede, his girlfriend of two years and a half, who is standing by a rickety Marcopolo bus in a stance so askance it gives her away as wanting to come to daddy (Appiah).

She gets approval. Within minutes, the two are hitched to a common Thursday midmorning goal of satisfying their craving for Akpɛtɛshie, a locally-brewed liquor whose potency is legendary.

As both made their way to the parlor, they find that Appiah’s other colleagues he left a while back were already seated in anticipation of a daily dose of drinking Dɔka, as they call Akpɛtɛshie (within their circles), which trades publicly by other names like Shocker and Girl bi Nti. Appiah is mourning a deceased family member; so gatherings such as this are enough to get the tots settling in. Quickly. It is not as if he needed a trigger for the ritual, but it helps his conscience.

As things crept on, there was little doubt about the organizing capabilities of Akpɛtɛshie and how it brings generations together.

The scene. A man salivates at the sight of an array of glasses. In them sit an equal dose of wisdom and folly. He is moved to conclude that they yearn for him because they call him by name. He moves closer. To gulp or not to gulp? To be or not to be…There is an urge so strong if it is ever succumbed to, it would be a response to a calling that has been starved and ignored by weeks of self-mooted abstinence. A man’s street credibility is on the line. It lingers by continuous streams of an attendant’s pouring or outpouring of a brew so defined by its contents and made pure and just by a group of men with different stories of Nipa yɛ forkin, Odɔ bi diɛ saa and Owuo sei fie. There is a point to prove, after all. At this very moment, that is their only currency of self-worth, and ticket to turning on the no-guilt buttons hovering around for attention.

He gulps. He takes it all in. The liquid travels down his bored throat, fast at first, then slowly. So many things happen: a race by forces of ingestion with a quest to beat a man at his own game of acceding to daylight nightmares. A little is always enough; who gets drenched also matters, because Akpɛtɛshie does matter around here, and shows its full force, the unsurprising facial squirms et al.

The mini conference of booze heads is a strong show of support for the jobless Appiah, whose only claim to fame at the station is Dede, 24.

Dede’s appearance at the parlor raises no eyebrows; it is an activity she engages in once a while. In Appiah, she has a soul mate who serves up tots of the more-than-40-percent alcohol content liquor.

Both have found in Akpɛtɛshie an escape to drown their bleakness; Dede is yet to land a decent job after a course at a Secretarial School in Accra. Over the past two years, she’s been Appiah’s burden. Makeup kits and funds for saloon visits top the occasional shopping cart.

She is tall, and amply-built at her thighs and hips. She has a bright future (breasts) in front of her and a fantastic past (bum) behind her, too. Those important stats are what drew her to Appiah who has already spent some substantial sum to see her through the many phases of her late twenties’ blues and fantasies, which included Friday night appearances at the Nso Nyame Yɛ Spot in Dansoman, and a standard weekly allowance. In Dede’s world, Appiah is a doer of many things.

Dede is naughty by nature and lives on an ordered lifestyle that is fast running out of stock thanks to Appiah’s joblessness. But that has done little to stop Appiah from being great, from being an envy of his peers as a penniless man who can still afford a strikingly insane beauty as Dede.

Akpɛtɛshie feeds on caustic motivation: hurt, irritation and sometimes, nothing – just fleeting machoism.

For persons like Appiah, this is valid.

On a calm Sunday evening at about 7:00 pm, a drunk Appiah struggles to maintain his composure as he auto-points fingers at passersby without provocation. There is resolve in the way he decides to move back and forth, but has the overwhelming power of Akpɛtɛshie to deal with.

At the lorry station, he wears a booze credibility badge that is hailed but has given in more than enough times to the leveling might of Akpɛtɛshie.

On this particular Sunday, he rebels: he is taking his taste buds on a trip of some few drinking parlors located in and around Glefe. He has gone past running algorithms and linear equations in his head whether to drink or not. His buds are on a different kind of steroids and he waves at what is in sight and what is far away. As many of the parlors as he saw, he entered. Hard.

At one of them, he exits after ten minutes. He pauses to stare down his palms, and the staring moment morphs into one of those lone ticks of his. He becomes an instant meme for the night. The strolls he undertake are usually to nowhere but the precincts of where he is able to – at least – find some immovability. There are different Appiahs you will find on this day: the superman with robotic instincts who goes off script at will, and the one easily moved to tears.

For most consumers, Akpɛtɛshie is more than food for a thing or two; a needed getaway from their fears. To others, it is panacea for a jilted cohort: a majority whose only way to sobriety is by emptying contents of glasses with questionable trust issues of what they actually do to a man’s gravity.

Akpɛtɛshie is king for various reasons and, has successfully sold itself to a mixed consuming public of men and women, poor and affluent, young and old, rural and urban.

A 2003 US National Library of Health document explained that “Men drink mainly for coping responses, such as increased self-confidence, adult status, and to cope with the various social demands. Women seem to drink for socializing with peers.”

Alcohol consumption in Ghana remains conversation opening scene till fade. There are warnings about abuse while campaigns and research works are put out to bring to the fore the potential damages that are wrought by alcohol abuse.

The World Health Organization, in their 2011 global status report stated thus:

The harmful use of alcohol is one of the world’s leading health risks. It is a causal factor in more than 60 major types of diseases and injuries and results in approximately 2.5 million deaths each year. If we take into consideration the beneficial impact of low risk alcohol use on morbidity and mortality in some diseases and in some population groups, the total number of deaths attributable to alcohol consumption was estimated to be 2.25 million in 2004.

It continued:

This accounts for more deaths than caused by HIV/AIDS or tuberculosis. Thus, 4% of all deaths worldwide are attributable to alcohol. The harmful use of alcohol is especially fatal for younger age groups and alcohol is the world’s leading risk factor for death among males aged 15–59. Approximately 4.5% of the global burden of disease and injury is attributable to alcohol.

Alcohol consumption is estimated to cause from 20% to 50% of cirrhosis of the liver, epilepsy, poisonings, road traffic accidents, violence and several types of cancer. It is the third highest risk for disease and disability, after childhood underweight and unsafe sex. Alcohol contributes to traumatic outcomes that kill or disable people at a relatively young age, resulting in the loss of many years of life to death and disability.

…Alcohol is linked both to the incidence of disease and the course of disease. The impact of alcohol consumption on disease and injury is associated with two separate but related dimensions of drinking by individuals: the volume of alcohol consumed and the pattern of drinking. More than 30 International Classification of Diseases (ICD)-10 codes include alcohol in their name or definition, indicating that alcohol consumption is a necessary cause. Of these, alcohol use disorders (AUDs) are the most significant. In addition, alcohol has been identified as a component cause for over 200 ICD-10 disease codes.

…The volume and pattern of alcohol consumption lead to three mechanisms that directly impact disease and injury. These mechanisms are (1) toxic and other effects of alcohol on organs and tissues; (2) intoxication; and (3) dependence (Rehm et al., 2003). In addition, the quality of alcoholic beverages may have an impact on health and mortality, for instance, when homemade or illegally produced alcoholic beverages are contaminated with methanol or lead.

Research work such as the WHO’s does little to the fortunes of Akpɛtɛshie, which has found many ways to stay winning, squashing debates about its wholesomeness, often reminding accusers of its market value and how it has fought many efforts to cannibalize it.

On national media, and in the streets, advertisements call for controlled usage. But the war as to how much of alcohol consumption can be controlled was lost – many years ago – to a people’s strong appetite for that which exists in bottles: aperitifs, aphrodisiacs or any basic pick-me-upper that allows one to freely express an opinion, and or tell people off. While any argument about alcohol intake in Ghana is yet to go beyond the normal moral and health lines, there are far too many who simply don’t budge, and consume for sheege (corrupted local Hausa/street slang for calling one’s bluff) reasons.

Appiah thinks those who puke at the sight of Akpɛtɛshie, for instance, are only doing so because of many reasons, including, but not entirely squared down to, its strong smell.

He maintains that there is more to the smell it gives off than meets the nose.

“I know people don’t like to even come close to it because of the smell. As for that, I can understand. But that is just one part of the many things it does. Yes, people abuse it; even me, sometimes I take in more than usual. But Akpɛtɛshie is not a bad drink.”

The sneering at Akpɛtɛshie dates back centuries. In colonial Ghana (then called Gold Coast), the locally-brewed gin was given a violent tag; the establishment fought against its production and consumption.

So aggressive was the fight against Akpɛtɛshie that it subsequently caught the attention of Ghanaian President Nkrumah who also found it a useful symbol against white domination.

In Nkrumah, Akpɛtɛshie had a national poster boy and global ambassador who was ready to help it gain some market equity locally and internationally.

But this was after arrests were made and people jailed for selling and consuming the drink. Consumers and producers had to covertly deal in it, hence the local Ga language name ‘Apɛtɛshie’ (in hiding), which has since been corrupted to its current name.

Akpɛtɛshie’s history has always been brewed out of hate and love. It has seen so much heckling to be bothered by latter-day boos. The accrued toughness is the reason for the supremacy it continues to have despite the competition local bitters and foreign-made gins offer.

Its preparation process, for instance, equates to the jaggedness it has gone through over the years. If you decide to use Sugar Cane to produce it, the harvested grass is crushed and drained. The drained liquid is then stored in a container for about three weeks, so it ferments. The extracted liquid is subsequently poured into a drum and distilled until it reaches its required potency.

These days, it has reinvented itself in many, new-normal ways, entering the higher heights of Ghana’s well-to-do, and blurring banters about what makes good waist power alibi. On the list of available options of some of Ghana’s popular and exclusive bars, it is a must-have, served either as a mixture or side-by-side with other cocktails.

Enough Akpɛtɛshie gets around these days to cement its legendary status.

At a Dome (a suburb of Accra) spot in Accra, Moses Ablorh, a bar attendant, struggles to attend to more than a dozen patrons. He runs an all-week busy facility, where things properly shape up from 5 pm daily.

As usual, demand is impressive, he says.

“When people come here, they ask if we are able to create mixtures with Akpɛtɛshie. This is not like the normal ones we know – like using it for bitters. As for this, they ask that you try making mixtures with other less powerful gins. People feel okay requesting for it these days. It is normal,” Ablorh says, in Ga.

A regular patron at Ablorh’s Spot, Desmond Abrefi, a.k.a. Odasani provides an insight into the obsession, using the most famous 1 Timothy 5:23: KJV (Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities) biblical quote as a basis to justify his frequent consumption.

“As for Akpɛtɛshie, it is good for the body. I enjoy drinking it. People speak against it but those who use it know the benefits. I have been drinking for sometime now; I stopped two years ago but I have started again. I don’t think this is what will kill me,” he says, using a brown handkerchief to wipe his sweat-less face, partly disfigured by eczema and little spots of rashes.

Odasani has come to the Spot to be a part of the day’s session, which can go up to 2 am. It is almost recklessness – but he cares less, and hopes that he will be able to worm his way into an accepting companionship; an evening contrivance to fill his rather sordid week of heartache. Akpɛtɛshie is definitely providing that attention.

Akpɛtɛshie creates a vacuum of its own – one that is so imprecise yet gains traction. For Odasani, despite repeated knocks, he is willing to booze, and fill in the blanks. One more time.

Ablorh’s Spot is typically filled with men and – sometimes women – with divided, jaundiced and straight-forward thoughts about Akpɛtɛshie consumption. A scene of great theatre all week, it usually accommodates users whose affinity with alcohol is boldly labelled on their faces, too direct not to invite saints. But there is always a fight-back: it starts from long sermons to melting moments of tirade of too many whys of as to how there is no way out.

Ablorh himself drinks Akpɛtɛshie. His booze journey is four years old, starting as a newbie who got knocked down after a tot, in July, 2013. Years on, he has been made tough, almost a King of the Jungle and now argues piquantly about how, at the mentioning of Akpɛtɛshie, every tongue confesses and many bow to greatness.

He also believes that Akpɛtɛshie is booze anthem Track 1. He is right. The gin has made it into more than one old or new conventional composition over the years: Lee Duodu (Akpɛtɛshie), A.B Crentsil’s 1985 classic I Go Pay You Tomorrow, which has the popular ‘Akpɛtɛshie seller give me quarter’ line and which is off the Toronto by Night album. The same A.B Crentsil’s Atia talks about how the gin took a friend from Northern Ghana by name Atia to his grave; Samini’s Gyae Shi, which openly campaigned for its use while calling for moderation at the same time.

Akpɛtɛshie will always be remembered as that idea that came out of hiding (from Pineapples, Sugar Canes and Palm Wines), fought resistance and oppressor’s rule, and became great. Again.

As confusion grows over whether or not Akpɛtɛshie is fit for servants or kings, the filthy or clean, the high or low; can be used as fuel for cars, or as trisilicate for the stomach, somewhere in Glefe, glasses are up, it is raining one tot, one booze for Appiah and co.

Cheers! To a people’s gin.

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TURNING SOCIAL MEDIA INTO A TRADITIONAL AFRICAN MARKET PLACE: Meet Elsie, PRINCESS of the ‘NEW AGBOGBLOSHIE’

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Elsie Ewudzie-Sampson is a professional female Graphic Designer at one of Ghana’s premier television stations, GHOne TV. She holds Bachelor of Arts Degree in Communication Design from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology -KNUST, Kumasi.

Elsie’s love for colours has not only influenced her profession as a designer and an artist, but also a major inspiration in morphing vibrant traditional African market avenue through the power of social media. “My love for colours drew me close to fruits, vegetables and local food ingredients, though cooking isn’t my hobby, I love to see fruits and vegetables properly packages and presented so they don’t lose their natural colour or look. I am a workaholic, I work almost every day of the week and when I am free I love to sit by my computer or stay indoors all day”

Elsie explains how she transformed her passion to start an online foodstuff delivery service in Ghana: BIG SAMPS MARKET – Y’3nk) Gyaadze

“Going to the market is a headache for me, tight schedule, family to be with and all that. This has been my life for a while, I also realised it’s the same with most of my colleagues and my friends. Noticing that busy schedules keep people of my calibre away from making time to go to the market to get their foodstuff, and even when you want to go, the stress and the traffic involved sometimes. I decided to come up with something that will help people like me while considering convenience, quality and cost.

In Accra, when you mention ‘Agbogbloshie’ cheap or affordable groceries come to mind, so after all the plans and after a simple comment during one of my “Word of Mouth” marketing sessions, I got the “Mall quality” groceries at “Agbogbloshie” prices phrase. Now you can call me Adwoa “Agbogbloshie”.

This Idea actually came up when I was in school in 2013, but I couldn’t implement it immediately due to inadequate funds. But I still decided to start it when I was in my final year in school in 2015. I made deliveries myself on foot just to see it work on campus.

Becoming a professional graphic designer and finding myself in a male dominating industry is one of my success stories and motivation. For new start-ups like Big Samps I wish us all the best. I’ve failed thrice but I never gave up. We can do it.”

 

SUBMITTED!

 

 

 

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‘Cum one, cum all’: One-night stand with Ghana’s human Stress Balls – A FEATURE

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Accra is done for the day – dead and deep into its beauty: woes, glory, good, bad, better, and worse.

Only a handful of the city’s creatures are awake. The night’s precipitation is littered – accurately – on the aluminum glass exteriors of the high rise commercial buildings in the main city center.

The people here at night maintain a pious we-won’t-sleep posture all year, professing to be the gatekeepers with lock and key to the capital’s ins and outs. Even if they desired to, they simply cannot afford to sleep a wink. Even.

Men, women, and destitute young children lie callously on the streets as though that is all there is to their being. More than half of them are products of a thriving rural-urban migration situation – crisis, more like – that is, at the very core, carcinogenic and has eaten into the fibre of a society that is still struggling to wean itself off itching sores, which have become banal. Almost.

It is some minutes after 11:00 pm, midweek. The city is wet and has already showed its struggling self. A heavy cloudburst some hours early on has set her up for a cold night. While it is game over and baptism of many things – sadness, pain and anguish for the homeless – it is work all over again for commercial sex workers.

A four-door hatchback sedan shows up at the Cantonments Roundabout, within reach of the Togolese Embassy and the residence of the British High Commissioner.

The temperately-rickety sedan wears shaded windscreens that sit perfectly with the military-type colour of its exterior. The woolliness with which he goes round the Roundabout for more than five minutes, makes it a curious case of a wannabe so lost in his maiden Formula 1 race he could crash.

There is anxiety and caution written all over its movements until it finally decides to man up. The male driver moves slowly towards one of the Roundabout’s many wonders – Mercy Anobah, a plump-looking young lady in her thirties with a not-so-flattering bulging belly. Wearing thick make-up that portrays her as queen at night, she gladly walks up to this very first client, strutting to showcase her great legs the way they do on the runway. She sits inside the car.

After what looks like a drawn out five minutes’ negotiation, Anobah steps out to fake a phone call, and gently retreats from the car’s passenger front seat door. A concrete hint. A deal isn’t happening.

“He was wasting my time; he wanted to pay 50 cedis,” she says. “That is an insult. 200 cedis is what I charge for a short session.”

There is beauty aplenty and there is wisdom, as well as vice, all over the small Roundabout that links the Cantonment area – a plush community – to important structures like the American Embassy and luxury apartments.

Anobah’s clients range from the fairly-okay to the well-to-do. She calls herself a service provider.

“I am a service provider; I meet the needs and wants of people,” she says, laughing hard to expose the adorable dints on her chin.

A trained teacher, she quit the classroom when it became impossible for her to take care of herself after the death of her late husband.

“He was a good man. I know he wouldn’t be happy wherever he is but I have to survive. I have one child. It wasn’t with him. It was with another man from a previous relationship. I have to take care of her. She is my everything. She is the reason I come here every day.”

For Anobah, beyond her daughter and mother, motivation to join her colleagues at the Roundabout comes down to every thing that has happened to her in the last few years after her husband’s passing.

“The few jobs I thought I could do to take care of myself, my mum in the village (lost the father at age 16) and my daughter, didn’t end up the way I wanted. I have not had very good experiences when it comes to working for others,” she says, failing to explain what challenges she went through.

When asked if sexual harassments were part of those challenges, Anobah shyly covered her face with a white handkerchief, and placed her head on her laps for a few seconds before looking up, offering a gaze that silently, nonverbally, enquired: do you really want an answer?

Like her colleagues, she is also aware of how illegal commercial sex work in Ghana is and the associated health dangers.

“I go to the hospital often to check if I am okay. You know, these days you can’t even trust the condom. When it comes to that aspect, I am very careful because I meet all sorts of people; so it is important I protect myself.”

Despite her caution, she also has appetite for risk.

“I will never do raw sex unless you are paying more. Some of the men who come here want it without condom. But, because the money is good, I have no option than to accept. I also need the money. It is a risk I take sometimes.”

12:17 am. Streets away in East Legon (also in Accra) on a Friday night, there is an urgent sensual thirst that needs to be feted; balls waiting to be pampered.

On the road in front of the residence of three-time African Footballer of the Year, Abedi Pele, a group of commercial sex workers are already at work, applying powders on their faces and pulling up leggings to waist levels in readiness for what is a regular night’s call, to provide paid-for kindness to desperate virile nerves.

They have lined up from one end of the street to the other, preparing to pounce on their usual suspects: aliases (men) with very urgent needs below their waistlines and in search of cures for their neglected libidos. It is a theme so correct it strays and slides into the waiting hands of these sex workers without toil.

There is stiff competition here, so much so that the pitching takes different forms of invitations to treat. On the menu is a simple approach of hitting the right targets: cause a stare and manage to at a least get a paying client.

“Some come here only to make fun of us,” says Peace Amadi, a Nigerian who moved to Ghana for a ‘better life’ three years ago.

Amadi’s choice of East Legon, and not any of the many other spots in the capital, was informed by a briefing she had before jumping onto a Lagos-Accra bus to Ghana in November, 2014.

“I was told by a friend, who left Nigeria years ago to come and do this work, that all the rich men in Accra lived in this community so it’s a good place to make money with this kind of work.”

Amadi has only been doing transactional sex work for a year and eight months; her previous months in Ghana devoted to spa work, west of Accra.

“That is what I used to do in Nigeria. But my madam lost her properties to the bank so life went bad for me afterwards,” says Amadi, 29.

1:13 am. At the Bigot Spot area in Lapaz (Accra), the night is still young for the not-so-young Aisha Tandoh, 40. Playing loudly in the spot’s speakers is Date Your Father by Ghanaian female sensation, Ebony. Tandoh is expecting a good day at the office; a few fathers to work on.

Drunk and blurting a string of incomprehensive twaddle around the lyrics of the song, Tandoh reeks of alcohol but would stay sober as the night fades away. In good company, she and her friends have solid protection from merchants of other vices in the area, notorious for heavy gambling, and drugs.

“They protect us; some of my friends also have boyfriends amongst them so we are like a family.”

She makes a point about why the protection is needed.

“Sometimes, you will get men who will want to intimidate you.”

Tandoh plies her professional trade between Bigot and the Vienna City facility in Nkrumah Circle, Accra. She speaks boldly about how the Nkrumah Circle area is becoming an urban spook of a commercial sex zone.

“People have become used to the area, and these days, too, there is competition from smaller towns so the men don’t come there in their numbers like before.”

2:16 am. On the Oxford Street, Osu, Accra, Mildred Nyarkoa sits all by herself around a tea seller’s structure. She is a beauty with contours to die for. Her loud earrings sag, knocking each other off over a game of who cracks it best. They earn her eyeballs, flashing with both admiration and desire.

As she sat to wait for her slices of bread with fried eggs, she brilliantly sows seeds of lust among four men, who are whiling away time at the tea seller’s kiosk.

“She wouldn’t be bad for the night,” one whispers.

Nyarkoa is aware of her environment and so, in the few minutes before her order is ready, she walks up and down to nowhere, putting her rather impressive derriere, that is sitting in a skimpy jumpsuit, on display for public consumption.

She has skill and malleable charm. Built out of a sophisticated insight into the wants of craving men, she carefully whips her hair back and forth into equilibrium as though they were falling. She gets bawdy by swaggering harder. With her hands in her two pockets, she exposes the rounded firm figure behind her: her warmth so alluring, and soothing. All four men are suddenly engaged in a wayside naughty talk of getting laid and what makes appropriate lullaby for men at night.

“I like what you are doing,” one says, aiming for Nyarkoa’s attention. She pretends not to have heard the compliment and heads straight to her duty post across the street.

Nyarkoa says what she does to men, like the four, is to “prepare their minds for the future”.

“I know them very well; they will come and look for me,” she says with certainty of a professional.

“As for tonight,” she adds “I have an appointment. He should be here soon,” referring to an expat who works in one of the many shops dotted along the Oxford Street.

The sex trade is a vice in good standing in Ghana. It has left officialdom clueless. The actors, too, are somewhat jumbled, wishing for workable alternatives in lifelines.

Of all the things these workers project for themselves, a change in trade is never one because it pays. But they continue to yearn for that evasive better life – as in the case of Amadi – one that is so reassuringly positive, and provides more than nights of sex for cash.

Fatiah, a 20-year-old head porter from the Northern part of Ghana, has been struggling to fit into a bubbly capital that has too many problems to even think of properly accommodating her likes. She makes a living – by day – by carrying goods, and – by night – by offering sex in the Agbogbloshie area, northwest of the Central Business District.

She does not enjoy her current means of survival, she says but, just like Anobah, she has little option.

Fatiah, like the many thousands who make-shift sleeping places for themselves at night in front of stores, dreamt of a bigger life prior to relocating to the city.

As it turned out, there was more to the better Accra story.

One of the most pressing issues the city face is the reoccurring deficit in accommodation. Over 5 million people (and counting) live here. Half of them have come from far and near to look for the good life.

Space is still a luxury here in the capital, which is bursting at its seams.

“It’s an unfortunate politician-to-masses soap opera; it beats the popular Mexican soap on Ghanaian television, Kumkum Bhagya, by many margins,” says Danso Ampem-Darko, a banker.

Fatiah hopes that metropolitan authorities will move away from cutting sods into implementing solutions that make life better for all, and not just a few.

Like fine wine, Accra’s problems, are not dying anytime soon, the work of Anobah, and Amadi being one of many issues authorities contend with.

Prostitution is still illegal in Ghana. Occasionally, there are police raids in the capital and other parts of the country to clamp down on the activities of sex workers. It appears a worrying situation for the police, who have argued strongly that most of these commercial sex workers have been infiltrated by other bearers of vices such as drug dealers and armed robbers.

“You don’t want us to sleep, so you will also not sleep,” said a Police Officer when a number of robbers and prostitutes were paraded in Kumasi in October, 2017. In all, some 245 people including robbers and sex workers were arrested, a number shared between Ghanaians and Nigerians; prompting a meeting between the Regional Police Command and the Nigerian High Commission.

On July 14, 2015, the Western Regional Police Command arrested some 11 women around the Aponkye Nkakra Avenue and Shippers Council Roundabout.

“Sometimes, the Police Patrol cars stop by briefly to talk to us, that what we are doing is against the law,” says Anobah, adding “I have also heard complaints from my other colleagues. I have a friend who stands at the Nkrumah Circle area; the other day she told me the Police came around to arrest some of our people.”

Arrests across the country continue to happen but that has done little to stop the Amadis and Anobahs from having a trade, and from making a living.

So wide has the ecosystem grown that Ghanaian commercial sex workers now have competition from locally-based Chinese counterparts, who have invaded the country in search of moans and orgasms that pay.

“The Chinese invasion is a bother,” says Nyarkoa who has seen some recently around the Oxford Street in Osu, Accra.

“I saw some [Chinese prostitutes] the other day around this place. I knew that was what she was doing because it is the same thing I also do,” said Nyarkoa in the local Ghanaian language Twi. “These days, when you go to the Casinos, they are there.”

But the invasion doesn’t appear peculiar to Ghana.

Across Africa, there is a springing up of local and foreign-run brothels competing for available spots of the trade.

Basile Ndjilo, an Associate Professor of Anthology at the University of Douala, Cameroon, in a March, 2017 paper, showed how disgruntled sex workers in Cameroon dealt with a Chinese invasion by “relocating their business to popular entertainment areas commonly characterized in Cameroon as rue de la joie (street of enjoyment).”

Based on ethnographic research conducted between 2008 and 2012, Ndjilo’s paper also argued that the “local geography of sexualities has become a site for asserting ethnic, racial or national identity, and especially a space of both inclusion of people profiled as autochthon populations and the exclusion of those branded foreigners.”

The Chinese invasion may not be as serious as the trafficking dimensions the trade continues to experience.

Across the Mediterranean, weekly, children and adult females are trafficked into sex slavery to European merchants, waiting to use them as human stress balls and money-making machines.

In June, 2017, an operation by the Anti-Mafia District Directorate (DDA) in Cagliari, Sardina, Italy, led to thirteen Nigerian nationals being arrested for alleged human trafficking.

“The operation resulted from complaints filed by young women from Ghana and Nigeria, who were engaged in prostitution at the outskirts of the regional capital (Cagliari),” said a Police statement released afterwards.

Recruited through various mediums, including social media, the suspects are promised non-existent stable work life in Europe, with threats issued if they turned down the requests. Officials say victims are sometimes made to pay between 28,000 and 33,600 dollars to facilitate their travels, as in the case of Cagliari.

Beyond the arrests, trafficking and the illegality tag commercial sex workers in Ghana and other parts of Africa suffer, there are real issues including, but not limited, to psychology on why the likes of Amadi and Tandoh end up on the streets. Mohammed Salim Sulley Wangabi, Assistant Clinical Psychologist at the Greater Accra Regional Hospital, who holds an M.Phil in Clinical Psychology from the University of Ghana, agrees.

“People who practice prostitution are either having some personality disorders or some bipolar cases and in their manic phases. These are usually due to some abuse in childhood or traumatic occurrences. Their coping mechanisms are usually maladaptive.”

Psychological conclusions – such as Wangabi’s – on the why and how Anobah and her likes end up on the streets, may also be a tiny fraction of a bigger pool of factors responsible for the daily surge in the numbers. The trade remains, for most, a means of survival, an escape from poverty, a need being satisfied, and a want finally getting realized.

The space is fuelled by basic nightlife economics of sought intimacy (demand) and ever-present human stress-handling agents (supply) crushing and feeding unhappy waists into straightened or firm credibility around the many playgrounds of the female body part – the vagina, the ultimate conveyor belt of satisfaction.

Genteel or not, sane or abnormal, there is always going to be an expectant increased life span for a trade that has everything to do with whose flaps need an exposé and/or contents willing to be stroked into submission, than with the oft-drummed speeches around decadence, yet to hit home for regular patron Blessing Ayitey, a Steel Bender.

“That is my choice; some don’t like but as for me I don’t see anything wrong with it. You may have [some]one you can be going to or calling,” he says, adding “sometimes, I just want want to release tension so I call her and she comes to my place. Once I use the condom, I don’t fear say (sic) something will happen.”

Back at the Cantonments Roundabout on a Monday, it is yet another day at the office for Anobah, whose cleavage is being hosted by a 38D cup-size bra. Little is happening here today; the cars are yet to screech at the sight of the beauty that abounds.

The exhibition on Anobah’s chest however says enough: Come (cum) one, come (cum) all.

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Sounds from the City

This Artist Is Wearing His Mother’s Clothing to Promote Social Change in Ghana – VOGUE!

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Ghanaian Independence Day falls on March 6 and last year artist Serge Attukwei Clottey marked the occasion with a boundary-pushing act of self-liberation. He walked through the streets of Accra, the nation’s capital, in his deceased mother’s clothes with members of his art collective—also in their mothers’ clothing—marching by his side in solidarity. Wearing vibrantly printed traditional dress, the mostly male crew drew hundreds of onlookers out of their homes and onto the street, sending shockwaves through Ghanaian society where the conversation around gender fluidity is only just beginning to open up and homosexuality is illegal.

For Clottey, who lost his mother in 2014, the public performance was born out of a personal frustration with the country’s funeral traditions in which a mother’s belongings are distributed among her daughters a year after her passing. As an only son, he was essentially disinherited from his mother’s legacy. He has recuperated much of her textile collection from his family for phase two of his project, entitled My Mother’s Wardrobe. The new photo series is set against the lush landscape of Labadi, a coastal neighborhood on the outskirts of the city where the artist spent his childhood. According to local legend, the Labadi lagoon is home to a river goddess and has been a place of spiritual sanctuary for generations. The 6-foot-1 artist has all the swagger of a modern-day Poseidon as he poses with traditional fabrics wrapped tightly around his muscular body. “In my culture, a woman’s richness lies in her closet. My mom would always say, instead of putting money in the bank, I’m investing in your future in this way,” says Clottey, speaking via Skype from his studio in Accra. “The truth is historically fabric was used in the trade of humans, and because of that we have inherited this idea. When a man is married to a woman, he’s expected to present these fabrics to his wife.”

Photographed by Dennis Akuoku-Frimpong

The most prized of them all is undoubtedly kente, the fabric of the Ashante people. A ghostlike figure draped in the distinctive handwoven cloth hovers ominously in the background of one of his portraits. “That piece of kente is the most valuable. It was used to cover my mother’s coffin,” he explains. Kente has origins that are believed to trace back to the Ashanti Asantehene, or king Nana Osei Tutu, who founded the Ashante empire in the early 1700s. Back then it was made from pure silk, a rare and precious commodity, though these days that level of quality and craftsmanship is much scarcer in Ghana. Unlike traditional kente, the cheaply made African-inspired fabrics imported from China that are piled high in the markets of Accra hardly stand that test of time. In fact in the next stage of his project, Clottey plans to set some of those mass-produced textiles on fire, a telling commentary on the ephemeral nature of fast fashion and the threat it poses to Ghana’s centuries-old artisanal practices.

Photographed by Dennis Akuoku-Frimpong

Though it’s been over a year since Clottey first took to the streets in his mother’s clothes, his performance continues to spark debate around gender equality and the question of LGBTQ rights. He’s since managed to more than triple the size of his GoLokal art collective, galvanizing many of his young creative followers with a rallying call for social change. “It took me a month and a half to convince my collective to join me on My Mother’s Wardrobe. Some of them were against homosexuality and didn’t want to be seen as gay for fear of being physically attacked. But in the end their attitudes changed,” he says. “If can make people think with my work, break down those stereotypes, then perhaps more change will come.”

Serge Attukwei Clottey will be exhibiting with Gallery 1957 at Art X Lagos at The Civic Centre, Lagos in November.

via VOGUE
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Long Reads

MADINA-ATOMIC EXPLOSION: A Loud Bang, A Run For Survival, A People’s Cry

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city’s peace is meddled with while she is wide awake. The intrusion is abrupt and rude. It is unforgiving.

It is Saturday evening and there is heavy activity in and around the Atomic Roundabout located on the Legon-Madina-Adenta stretch in Ghana’s capital, Accra.

A bang occurs. It is potently brash and decisively destructive. At once. An explosion had occurred. The Mansco Gas Filling Station, located some few metres away from the Roundabout, had caught fire.

Soon, the explosion would schlep its way through – rather angrily; devastating anything in sight – a nearby TOTAL Filling Station, another Filling Station Benab, eggs, oranges, jewelry, furniture, cars, billboards, biscuits, fizzy drinks, humans.

It is not a pretty sight. In minutes, the huge eruption that had occurred was as dramatic as the scenes that followed: a residential property’s wall collapses in whole while a man’s entire living room is razed down completely. Everything was gone.

An impact was felt. Ten kilometres south of the scene, a radio station’s Manager is awoken in his sleep by what he says sounded like a bomb. Five miles away from the epicenter, in another direction, a young banker, who sees the skies turn a combination of colours, hurriedly shepherds his family of four out of their residence, heading out to nowhere – for as long as they were safe.

Social media and peer-to-peer platforms came through with enough detail to get a nation’s attention. Local news outlets characteristically switched to operations mode, dispatching teams. The worse had happened. A city’s life had been jolted, a township had been brought to its knees by an explosion which had no mercy, not even for non-living things not interfering with its brutish self.

The explosion announced its intimidating evolution in not so pleasant ways.

“I have just heard a loud bang; I don’t know where it is coming from,” said a Facebook post by a woman who gave her location as Tema Motorway, an appreciable detachment from the precincts of the blast.

Messages of distress poured in. They were ample to paint a perfect picture of pandemonium.

Around the facility, sprints for life were made; humans run over each other, cars and motorcycles (in attempts to escape) hit pedestrians. A different kind of apocalypse was taking place before the very eyes of a city having its standard evening quiet time and preparing to call it a day.

The fire raged on, causing considerable fear and panic. In major schools nearby – the University of Ghana and the University of Professional Studies, as well as the Presbyterian Boys Senior High School – students ran for their lives, clutching on to anything, anywhere, to stay safe. Some were evacuated to nearby facilities. Around the scene of the blast, a lot had been lost in seconds, and wares were deserted in minutes thanks to the ferocious inciter of terrible scale.

For a decent amount of time, little was done to hold back the fire which reared its ugly head so high, so huge that it seared the silence of the night – near and far – just to make a claim about how mighty it was. In its full show of strength, it managed to shape a city’s agenda for the ensuing hours of the night.

New and traditional media went into an overspill. All night. There was enough to feast on – tremble, varied eyewitness’ accounts, tales of misses by a whisker, what is, what should have been, and angst.

Firemen, drawn from within the capital and close to the scene, would later show up to be counted as men of valor and dedication willing to douse a wreck ball that stood to threaten their occupational and structural intelligence, and capacity. For hours into the night, they did what they were called to do, attempting to minimize the magnitude of the rubble.

Sunday, October 9. A fireman at work. PHOTO/OBED BOAFO

Later, the rains would come through with adequate downpour to rip through the shackles. But it did little, too, considering the extent of the blast, and giving the firemen some more work into the next morning.

On Sunday October 8, 2017, an understandable atmosphere of grief and sorrow was the depiction at the scene. The pungent smell from the previous night’s damage was too strong.

Hundreds had come to witness the extent of devastation. For the uninitiated and uniformed, it was good time to catch up. On the edges of the overpass that sits atop the Atomic Roundabout, hundreds stood to feed on the near-apocalypse scenes beneath them. It was an assembly of media, security and political heads, with another gathering of passers-by cordoned off with police barricade tapes.

Vicentia Kporku, a.k.a. Daavi Special, a food vendor who operates some 50 metres from the scene, recounted her experience during the burst. She cuts different looks of okay and trepidation; they are quite mixed for the fairly aged Kporku, who speaks of how she escaped the blast narrowly together with her five workers at the small eatery she maintains along the shoulders of the stretch.

“It could have been worse,” she says, pointing to a tiny scratch she had on her legs, acquired in an attempt to escape the fury of the fire.

“I am yet to hear from my workers. Some went as far as Adenta and others, too, are yet to call,” she says in the local Ghanaian Twi language, spoken by a majority of the people in the national capital.

Kporku’s narration is shared in part by dozens who also fled the scene while the blast continued. Like many others, Gideon Dzreke, a pump attendant at the Benab Filling Station, said all he saw was a bang, followed by shouts of misery and a call to action for survival.

“I had to flee; my colleagues were also nowhere to be found. We were all running for our dear lives. The force behind the fire was so loud. It was like a bomb,” says Dzreke.

“It is by divine grace that I am alive,” continued Kporku, adding to a number of testimonies around divinity on and off site, one being that a larger number of casualties would have been recorded had it happened the night before when some old students of the Presbyterian Boys Senior High School grouped for their annual Bonfire event.

An officer from the Criminal Investigations Department of the Ghana Police Service on duty. PHOTO/OBED BOAFO

At the scene on Sunday morning, protocol officers cued in an important running order. There is an expected visitor –  the Vice President of the Republic of Ghana, Mahamudu Bawumia, who had to cut short a tour of the Northern Region, to ascertain the extent of damage. A deputy Minister of Information, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah announces to a group of media people that Bawumia should be there in minutes.

Bawumia zoomed in. A convoy of saloon cars slided past a make-shift police entry point. He dismounted and headed straight to the scene, where he was briefed by the Deputy Director General of the National Disaster Management Organization (NADMO), Abu Ramadan, whose men had been at the scene all night, all morning.

The Vice President was joined by other Politicians including Attorney-General Gloria Akufo, who later spoke of her experience with the blast.

Vice President Bawumia arrives at the scene. PHOTO/OBED BOAFO

Clad in a traditional all-black Ghanaian cloth of sorrow, she placed her two hands on her head while Bawumia addressed the media. She was in the quintessential traditional posture of deep mourning and grief.

“I traveled for a funeral and came late only to meet the explosion. I thank God for my life and for that of my old lady who was around at that time in my house. The colour of my house has changed to black; some of my sliding doors and ceiling have also broken,” Akuffo later told journalists.

As the Vice President prepared to leave, a man behind the Police Barricade tape screamed “let’s do the right thing.” He would later explain.

“We have always been experiencing these kinds of disasters but little action has been taken to address the root causes and prevent their reoccurrence. The owner of the Gas Filling Station here has, for years, been complaining about the close proximity of some of the shops to his facility but nobody listens; they said he was full of himself. Today, here we are faced with this.”

Another man wearing a protest cum advocacy-like T-Shirt would also add his voice to the call for sanity.

“This is unacceptable. We can’t always behave like this. I am sad but this could have been avoided.”

Devastation. Scene of the blast. PHOTO/OBED BOAFO

The calls were in perfect tune to that of the Vice President who was emphatic in his address to the media while he visited.

“We are going to move to deal with it, and quickly.”

Bawumia’s boss and President of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, later spoke to the issue at hand, calling for “a stop”, a plea embedded in what many say are lapses in the administration of laws that govern the operation of Filling Stations – gas, petrol et al.

“We cannot continue with them,” referring to the obvious disregard for national and community bye-laws by the operators of the stations.“It is one too many. We cannot afford anymore. Everybody involved in the industry to recognize that we all have to make adjustments to be able to guarantee the safety and security of our people, so these things do not happen again. I need your support, and the co-operation of the people of Ghana to make sure that the policies that we will be bringing out succeed, so that such incidents become a thing of the past and not of our future.”A repetitive call some have punched holes into, Conversations about getting things right are visited every now and then when a major blast occurs such as the worst in Ghana’s history – the June 3, 2015 Nkrumah Circle Goil Filling Station accident that claimed over 100 lives, and which led to the establishment of a five-member committee chaired by a retired Justice of the Court of Appeal, Isaac Justice Douse.

The call for stringent measures is high on the agenda for the Ghana Gas Manufacturing Company, whose CEO, Frances Ewurabena Essiam blames past and present regimes for neglecting her outfit. Essiam is hoping action will be expedited on the implementation of the LPG Cylinder Exchange/Recirculation programme (Gas Exchange Programme), mooted by the National Petroleum Authority.

“This must stop,” says ‘Dr Think Twice’. PHOTO/OBED BOAFO

Both organizations and other stakeholders, including the Environmental Protection Agency and the Ghana Standards Authority, hope the programme, which would see cylinder bottling plants making onward delivery to the stations, will curb the high incident of explosions.

Chief Executive Officer of the NPA, Hassan Tampuli, has argued that the programme is ideal if Ghana is to make any headway in limiting these explosions.

A model experimented in other countries such as Kenya, Tanzania and Brazil, it places the responsibility of filling the cylinders in the hands of the bottling companies, who in turn dispatch them to the retail outlets in exchange for empty ones, meaning domestic or individual users only get to use cylinders that change hands from one person to the other, from time to time.

Two cars completely ruined at the scene of the blast. PHOTO/OBED BOAFO

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Civil society is in support of the Gas Exchange Programme.

Part of an August, 2017 publication by Think Tank, IMANI, read:

“Even though Ghana has experienced a number of gas explosions in the past, the thing that draws attention and public outcry concerning the recent explosions is the level of fatality. Gas refill stations have increasingly been brought closer to consumers in order to meet needs and this practice invariably has multiplied the fatality rate of explosions. Any move to reduce fatality will require an effective means that will remove gas refill sites from residential communities without undermining access to LPG.

“The common sense deduction then is that the cylinder exchange model has full potential to reduce the fatality of gas explosions because it eliminates the need for consumers to be exposed to direct dispensing of LPG. However, given Ghana’s unique situation as the only country in the world that still relies solely on gas refill stations located in residential communities, it is the only country that has recorded fatal deaths due to LPG explosions and fires at gas refill stations within residential communities. The direct effect of the cylinder exchange model on reducing gas explosions may only be correctly analyzed perhaps after a couple of years of implementing the policy in Ghana.

“Further, gas explosion may be more a function of adherence to safety measures than of the location of gas stations. A study assessing the impact of fuel filling stations on the environment in Ghana found that most gas filling stations under study violated critical safety requirements exposing the community to several levels of risk.”

IMANI argues that even though there may be structural implementation issues to the programme, it would become useful when it fully hits home. They offered some ways the country could work around the programme if it ever gets to take off. Over nine points, they noted that:


*It will be expedient to fast track the recapitalization of the Ghana Cylinder Manufacturing company to facilitate production of smaller size cylinders (3kg and 6kg) or engage the private sector to provide them. This will facilitate rural access to LPG given the relatively cheaper cost of the smaller size cylinders.

*Position the country to eliminate malpractices (such as unauthorized cylinder filling, unlicensed distribution, under or over filling and cylinder theft by standing ready to enforce regulations through innovative means). For example; the Indian Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources in 2012 created an online portal that provided real time information on the supply chain distribution system including distributor ratings. This reduced diversion of LPG commercial sales and facilitated overall transparency in the distribution business.

*There is the need to correctly identify and separate market segments, that is, domestic, commercial and industrial in order to adequately serve each consumer segment.

*The regulator must stand ready to enforce fool proof safety measures that will curb gas explosion at bottling/filling sites. There is also the need to undertake rigorous public education and sensitization on LPG and handling practices especially in view of the potential for increased access to rural areas

*The Cylinder Exchange implementation plan should have a long term view and should be scalable for example through the establishment of more bottling plants which are appropriately distributed geographically per year so that future demand growth is well catered for.

*Gas Tanker businesses as well as gas refill stations should be worked with and supported to redefine their business models in order to take advantage of the potential business opportunities that are expected to emanate from the implementation of the Cylinder Exchange Policy. This will also help to prevent a situation where existing gas refill stations rush to dispel/sell off stored gas to avoid perceived losses caused by an outright ban and by so doing create an artificial shortage of LPG. Tanker operators may merge and form partnerships with bottling companies so that their services may be employed in transporting LPG from production points to bottling plants.

*Explore and acquire highly efficient distribution management software that would facilitate the running of the cylinder exchange model in order to prevent situations where consumers are not able to access services. For instance; Supergasbras, one of the largest LPG retailers in Brazil which supplies 1.5 million tonnes of LPG per year to over 10 million households via the cylinder exchange model employs the SAP Secondary Distribution Management software which provides efficient administration and automation of the entire process chain from order entry to transport planning and invoicing.


Eyewitnesses to the Saturday October 7 disaster have attempted an official account of what might have caused the outbreak, the legend of all being a mysterious Khebab seller – said to be the source.

A food vendor’s facility is not spared. PHOTO/OBED BOAFO

The story goes. A truck carrying Liquified Petroleum Gas pulls up at the Station to offload its stock. In discharging, a slip occurs through one of its points, the gas evaporates and in full in a manner that caused persons around to run for cover. The leaked substance catches fire from what is believed to be a naked flame from the Khebab seller’s set nearby. The destruction occurs. End of story.

The tale’s credibility and sequencing has been questioned by some citizens while officialdom and the security establishment have gently asked for ‘proper investigations’ to be conducted before any conclusions are arrived at.

President Akufo-Addo, who made his way to the scene on the afternoon of Monday, October 9 (in the company of more politicians, including the Chief of Staff Frema Osei Opare) has maintained the need for a concerted national effort at addressing the rampant blasts; once again hinting of a policy to act as backbone for the sector. He later dashed to some hospitals in the capital hosting victims of the blast, an activity his Number 2, Bawumia, had similarly performed a day earlier.

Later in the afternoon, Akufo-Addo welcomed, to the Presidency, the family of Mohammed Ashiley Yakubu, a reporter of local television station NET 2 and a member of the Presidential Press Corps, who lost his life while he was on duty at the scene on Saturday. Akufo-Addo promised to personally foot the bill of his funeral and burial rites.

Ashiley’s mum in tears when she was hosted by the President. PHOTO/Flagstaff House

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While losses are still being counted, discussions continue to hold in high and low places on just one thing – a lot of damage has been done already but sanity can at least prevail within the downstream sector, to offer, as President Akufo-Addo believes, security to the Ghanaian people.

Saturday’s blast was the eighth in four years according to the Ghana Standards Authority. Official number of deaths recorded as of Monday October 9, 2017, stood at 7 while over a hundred are reportedly injured from wounds of varying degree, mostly burns.

Official investigations are ongoing.

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Events & Places

Accra Food Festival set for Sept. 23, 24!

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AccraPremium in partnership with Greenmile Resources, Polytank, Starr FM, GH One, & Teledata ICT present the 4th Annual Accra Food Festival on Saturday 23rd and Sunday 24th September 2017 at Independence Square from 11-7PM on both days.

The Accra Food Festival celebrates the diversity of international cuisines and cultures present in Ghana. Restaurants, hotels and brands associated to the food and drink sectors will showcase their specialties with the public. With your admission, attendees can sample from the various tasting tents and also buy small portions of the food & drink offerings.

There are fun filled days for the entire family of all ages. There will be fine dining offerings as well as burgers & grills. Taste the best water, fresh juices, beer, wine & spirits. There will be healthy fresh food options, desserts, cooking demonstrations and special children’s arts & crafts workshops. Car lovers will have the opportunity to see some of the finest new models of automobiles on the market.

The Accra Food Festival will be held on Saturday 23rd and Sunday 24th September 2017 at Independence Square from 11am-7pm on both days.

 

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