Posted by: Isaac Bruce | August 9, 2012

Is an MBA Worth It?

Like most sportsmen, maybe it is true when the cruelest of fashions could turn out to be a very well-disguised blessing. The hall was quite for some time when the host responded to my question, stating “the average work experience for students admitted into our graduate program is four to nine years”. I have often viewed graduate school with a peculiar spectacle. Apart from the fact that, I don’t see myself getting into graduate school soon, it is an interesting dilemma for me. Usually there are times that I think I need to get an MBA, where as there are times I don’t even seeing myself getting one. Despite these mixed feelings about graduate school, it has almost been cool or almost a fad to say to someone, I want to do an MBA after 2 years and get a job or most likely start my own company. I definitely think is worthwhile for some people and whilst a big no no for some folks.

I have found myself faced with such a dilemma way before I got out of university for that matter. Therefore I am also in this state of ‘limbo’ in making a decision on graduate school. Whatever your position though, these statistics will be worth looking at. However, the info-graphics  is skewed to mostly getting an MBA from the United States.

The MBA is an ever increasingly popular degree program – having people think thoughts of big bucks and running their own corporations. While it is true that an MBA can give you a chance at being the CEO of a company, chances are greater that you won’t be. And if you’re not going to be making millions, you’ll be stuck with a $100,000 school loan. Many graduates who don’t get the job they want after getting their MBA have a hard time paying back that loan.

You should probably weigh the risks and rewards, analyze your field, and think about your financial situation before committing to such a huge debt. And if you feel like an MBA is not for you but you’re still dreaming about making big paychecks, don’t worry – it’s a proven fact that an MBA won’t guarantee success. This infographic will show you how you don’t necessarily need an MBA to be successful.

Worth of an MBA
Created by: MBAOnline.com

Posted by: Isaac Bruce | July 27, 2012

My Brothers and Sisters!

My Brothers and Sisters! I am sitting with the rest of the nation in an uncertain position right now due to the death of our president. I am saddened, discouraged, angry and worried but above all I am confused about this whole spectacle. I feel I could have done something but everything points to the fact that is just the way of life. We all live and die. There is a time for everything.

I remember the accounts my parents and grandmother told me about this country the way it treated its first president, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah about 50 years ago. To them it just feels like those days and they cannot believe the people are acting the same way to their leaders after many years have passed. It reminds me of a comic carton book from my father’s closet depicting Nkrumah as the living villain, like you see in most movies and books. In life, the people turned its backs on Nkrumah, but in death Nkrumah was nostalgically reminded as a freedom fighter and a champion of African freedom.

I don’t actually know what happened in history that made Ghanaians started seeing Nkrumah as a good leader, at least the majority. Again my parents, grandmother and other acquaintances have told me how Nkrumah was mistreated as a president. However, after his death we became immortalized and gained the love and support of all Ghanaians. History has been kind to Nkrumah. I heard those days; people attributed the way events turned out to external influences.

Comments thread on Facebook (Picture has been taken off, because it is disturbing)

Today we witness history repeat itself in Ghana. I must say my countrymen are not courageous, they are cowards and hypocrites! In Prof. Mills’s case, a few hours separated the people’s view of him as a villain to him as a great leader. It seems that it is actually only in death that we respect our leaders. We seem to cherish the dead more than the living. Interesting! All of a sudden the few words that describe this man are real statesman, sportsman, honest and peaceful. Yes I know death makes everyone look peaceful but I am not sure about the other characteristics Ghanaians have attached to the president in the days following his death.

On the lighter side, I have very good fond memories of “My President”. I remember he said in one of his speeches that “every country who does not honour its heroes, is not worth dying for!” The real irony here is that, Prof. Mills saw Ghana and the people as his hero till his last breath. Therefore, was ready to die for his country. However, Ghanaians did not recognize him as a hero until he passed on. Such pain, we could have prevented if we only appreciated him in his life as much as we have in his death!

I remember once, he even swept the castle with a group of people on a public holiday. I also remember him making the statement that “Ghanaians like borrowing words they don’t understand” to a group of journalists. Maybe it was a joke but I think it was really truthful that Ghanaians like borrowing words they don’t understand.  I hope this tragedy will help us learn to use the right words for ourselves and leaders because, most of the time it just discouraging to be a hero for such a nation.

My heartfelt condolences go out to his wife, Dr. Naadu Mills, son and the people of Ghana. Papa Yaa Wo Ojogbaa! Damirifa Due!

Posted by: Isaac Bruce | January 27, 2012

Re-envisioning Diaspora I

I would have brushed my friends and colleagues off (Yeah right!) if they try to talk to me about 15th Century or 18th Century history on the black race. Definitely, they are too young and inexperienced to tell me about what happened. It is my last semester in Ashesi and I am excited about it. On a deeper level, I am more excited about taking a course in ‘Africa in the International Setting’.  It is a collaborative class with synchronous activities (Skype, video chat,etc) in real-time between Ashesi University and Swarthmore College in the U.S.  My basis for choosing the class was to learn how African can be better positioned internationally. Close to what the title of the course suggests. The class will also use visual and literary productions to deal with questions of race and ethnicity, gender and sexuality, nationality and globalization.

 The class relooks at diaspora (cross-boundaries) and re-envisions its heritage and memory especially, the African diaspora.  To those who know me, you might just conclude I am interested in such subjects. Do not get me wrong, I just have a story to share. This time, I can support them with references. I have written an earlier post which proves and encourages people especially Black and White to continue talking about these issues when they meet.

So far, the class has focused on defining diaspora from historical, cultural, representational, and theoretical specificities of different Diasporas. Just like all the courses I have taken in college for the past four years, Africa’s perspective on the subject is not captured in the definition of diaspora. Stephan Dufoix and Patrick Manning are the major writers on diaspora, yet  the text illustrates dissimilar representation of diaspora. Dufoix rather narrowly looks at the history of diaspora from the Jewish, Armenian experience. Patrick Manning connects other experiences including the Trans-Atlantic slave trade in the 15th century to offer a general definition on diaspora.

In the coming weeks I will keep you all posted on the class. More importantly, in today’s world, where almost everyone is interconnected, it is simply essential that we work for each other’s success. Importantly, as a class it will be rewarding to find a way to engage everyone (people living in the diaspora) and get them to speak up on increasing African contribution to literature on diaspora. Like Manning puts it, “The heritage of slavery will count for less in the future but the memory of slavery will not pass”.

Posted by: Isaac Bruce | December 1, 2011

From History Who Cares?

This weekend has already been different moving to a new home. Perhaps what will be more different is how one of the oldest research libraries (1961), George Padmore Research Library on African Affairs at Ridge in Accra which I used to visit has transformed a lot over the years. People say old books are still the best but it has not gained popularity with this institution. It was an unplanned visit to the library to see the place again after about five years. In their quest to offer a world-class library service to the Ghanaian society, I was welcomed by a deafening sound from a radio set. At same time a man responsible at the front desk strolls in from a back door to serve me.  Finally, I took my laptop with me into the library because I was surely in doubt of the security.

This reemphasized the need for a revamp of libraries in most Ghanaian communities. This experience made me think more of a campus initiative we started about a year ago; Readworm. I used to visit community libraries when I was young. I remember one of them, Osu Children’s library which is now struggling to survive. Osu is a cosmopolitan city in the middle of Accra with a lot of cultural influences with great spots and hangouts. Hence I conclude, if children at Osu cannot have the same excitement I had about 10 years ago picking up Shakespeare’s book over the weekend, then the situation must be bad.

At the George Padmore Library, the picture of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah looked down at us. The library was set up by a group of writers, cultural and social activists to be an educational resource and research centre that will allow the materials in its care to be available for use by interested individuals and groups, both in person and through the use of modern storage, retrieval and communication methods. The materials at the library are in critical condition and as a nation we are in a critical condition of losing valuable historical documents belonging Kwame Nkrumah and other prominent figures from the African community. Most of these documents cannot be found anywhere else in the world.

From my interaction with the librarian, the library is managed by the Ghana library board as its parent institution. The problem, of course, is that fixing the library system is not like adding a book shelf here or there. The solution is engaging and demanding accountability from political leaders in a community redevelopment. The answer is political engagement. But first we have to care to create and sustain a society full of libraries.

 

Posted by: Isaac Bruce | July 19, 2011

CHALE WOTE ARTS FESTIVAL

Last weekend in Accra, was quite exclusive after ACCRA [dot] ALT hosted one of the biggest arts festivals on the streets of Jamestown. Events like these do not happen that often in the city or even Ghana. The arts festival brought together many people from just arts and music lovers to artists, filmmakers, writers, musicians and students, young and old together in one of Accra’s oldest districts, Jamestown. The festival was hosted by ACCRA [dot] ALT, the French embassy and Institut Francais with sponsorships from the Ga Mashie Development Agency, the Fund for Contemporary Artists (FCA), JustGhana, Pidgin Music, Attukwei Art Foundation, The WEB, Ehalakasa Poetry Slum and DUST Magazine.  The group is a multimedia platform that encourages the exploration and experimentation of art–photography, film, performance, music, writing and design.

The arts festival included street painting, roller blade/skate stunting party, stencil work, sidewalk painting and chalk art, graffiti friezes, drumfunk bass, live music performances, sketches, fashion, art workshops and exhibitions.  The festival had a lot going for it, just like the diverse arts being displayed; there were was a huge diversity of people from different cultures, race, social backgrounds and interest groups.  The people of Jamestown were not left out of the euphoria in their land. Accordingly, it was great to see the locals fully engaged in the activities, whilst in my view they entertained us the most. The name of the festival – CHALE WOTE means “Man, let’s go!” or is a reference to flip-flops worn in the heat in Ghana. The word Chale Wote resonates the significance that, each of us comes from different walks of life but we all have something valuable to give.

It was interesting that, just as anyone will be convinced the arts festival was foreign, this is one of the few shows that obrunis and expats did not outnumber the locals. Chale Wote was really for everyone; the locals loved it, the obruni’s were thrilled, the art lovers were inspired and the Jamestown kids were not left out either. Even the recent road expansion will not prevent a traffic jam, as motorists try to catch a glimpse. You had to have some kind of abilities to concurrently experience all the arts going on in almost a single place.

For my friends and I it was also a great opportunity for us to learn more about Jamestown (Accra’s oldest distirict) and its great architecture and landmarks like the James Fort, Jamestown Lighthouse, Ussher Fort among others. The heat and the crowd throughout the day did not deter us from joining in the fun. Personally, I have always admired Jamestown for their great architecture, traditions and above all the people. I will like to say thank you to the people of Jamestown for allowing us into their beautiful community last weekend. On the note, I hope the government and other private entrepreneurs will consider in investing in this area for its enormous tourism potential. I must say, I am inspired and encouraged by the shared energy and passion of ACCRA [dot] ALT. Next time you visit Accra do pass by Jamestown to see the paintings and artworks which will always be in the memory of these people.

Posted by: Isaac Bruce | July 13, 2011

FLYING WITH A STARTUP

It is interesting; I mean it is always interesting working with startups. If you have been following my earlier posts and discussions, I have now moved down here in Koforidua for a month and some weeks now. Against all odds, it is refreshing to move out of Accra for a while. Though I am still caught up sometimes in my ‘Accra/Ga life’. However, I love it so much and if you can’t find me in the office, I am jogging on the streets of Koforidua.

Let’s not digress, my past work experience has been with huge multinationals and large companies where it is quite different. Apart from the challenges and situations you face as an individual one thing that does not really draw me to large organizations anymore (at least for now) is there is really not much room for improvisation or making any meaningful change or even just testing and tweaking things around. I must admit, I am no guru or anything like that but I am still just talking from my experience.

I have been biased to think small companies with an annual turnover less than a million dollars with about 8 member team will be able to take decisions with the same risk and even returns that large companies will be able to take. I have learnt this in a hard way than anyone. So the fact is, startups or smaller companies are always testing and tweaking a lot of things for the first time to find a practical balance between what will work and what will not. Gosh, I just felt like I have not achieved anything some few hours ago when our whole strategy had to change. Another thing with smaller firms is that your gut feeling is also as important as the high cost of research you will be doing. This, they can’t afford half of the time.

The primary focus of this post is for a moment act like as a career counselor, to offer this advice especially those fresh out of college or still in college to consider working with a startup or even starting with a startup yourself. Again I have to reiterate that I am no expert or anything but I feel I can boldly advise anyone on this. In Ghana or developing countries, chances are high that you will find yourself in smaller organizations than large multinationals that have been around for many years and too good at what they do.  Notwithstanding, startups and smaller firms have not had much confidence and even the resources to engage the fresh grads and the explorers they will usually need.

Let’s not drag on about this but my advice to myself and others is to start small and move fast in learning about whatever they are interested in. Almost, the only way that seems possible to me now is a startup, don’t get me wrong. I might just be out of this world to think this way, but I can’t wait to hear from your experiences and what you think about this whole situation.

Posted by: Isaac Bruce | July 10, 2011

POEM: As We Know It

This whole week I have been thinking about you my avid readers, on how to entertain you differently. I just thought of sharing a poem I wrote last two years in June out of a feeling of warmth, suspense, loved and above all free. This poem is dedicated to anyone who believes in free thought.

AS WE KNOW IT

I don’t know what is happening to love

Love is now telling lies to save love.

Let me say this in a way I have not said before

Before I open my eyes,

The love has taken over my spirit,

It talks to me

Without my ear and mind listening.

You are the man and woman I have to save

Only if I know how to live life to the full.

Thank you for holding my eyelid,

To stay awake

Today is the virgin time in my life

I love to make it clear that you are part

Same here as I look with pity on you

They are expressed in same shape as yourself

You know that is true but can easily be false

Now that I live like a love

To say love like ignorant.

 

What should I be feeling tomorrow?

Though tomorrow does not know,

Whether is coming tomorrow.

Say you know for a minute

See how you deceived yourself.

Today is here, now is here now

Today is tomorrow

So love it,

Like the way you love tomorrow

To do something new.

Posted by: Isaac Bruce | June 30, 2011

Ghana: Bagged Water

[The original post has been edited to suit the time and audience. You can read the original piece at  www.moxon.net ]       

So finally, I give up holding on to this wonderful blog post by a friend on sachet bags in Ghana. I will probably not get more than 100 words analyzing sachet water bags and whatever ecstasy surrounding it. Mark Moxon’s travel writing has seen Mark develop a weird theory on sachet water in Ghana. The reason why I love this post is the unusual use of words to paint a strong picture and evoking experiences on sachet water. If you have drunk water from a sachet bag in Ghana, I bet you might have a better theory to Mark’s.

In Ghana the bag drink takes on a whole new significance, as even the water is sold in bags. In Senegal and Mali bagged water is also very much available. This means you’re stuck with buying bottles of mineral water (or, in bigger cities, cheaper bags of mineral water) which pushes up the daily cost a lot; a bottle of water in the desert will set you back around CFA 1000, or just under £1, which is fair enough when you consider it’s mineral water and this is the desert, but given the amount of water you have to drink in the heat, it’s a significant cost. In Ghana, though, it’s a different story.

Sure, you can still buy bottles of mineral water (though at half the price of Mali) and sachet bags of chilled water (known as ‘iced water’), but absolutely everywhere on every street you will find either someone with an ice box, or a child with a basket stuffed with chilled bags of purified water. ‘Ice water, pure water, and you too can be the proud owner of a 500ml bag of pure, water. It’s not mineral water – it’s just normal water that’s been filtered and treated with ultraviolet light or ozone – but it’s cheap, it’s safe, and it’s wonderfully refreshing necking a bag of cold water in the tropical heat.

The bags themselves are interesting too. Printed with the brand name, the chemical composition of the water and some marketing blurb about how wonderful it is to drink purified water, these square sachets of see-through plastic are full to the brim with water, making the bags feel like chilled silicone breast implants. Indeed, there’s something decidedly symbolic about the whole thing; everywhere you look there are people suckling on corners of these little bags, and once you’ve tried it, you can see that there’s something deep-seated in the comfort that it brings. I’m no psychologist, but I’m sure Freud would have had something to say about the bag drinkers of West Africa.

Indeed, I have a theory and my theory is that bagged water is somewhat Ghana’s addiction. In the Sahel, cigarettes are everywhere, and when the bus stops you see plenty of people with cigarette packets stacked on their heads; in Ghana, bags of water appear on every street corner, and my theory is that because bags of water are so cheap, and because everyone uses them all the time for drinking, they’ve replaced cigarettes as a way of getting comfort. And that’s where Freud comes in; there’s something curiously relaxing about suckling on bagged water, and where in Mali you’d see people dragging on a Dunhill, in Ghana you’re more likely to see people necking purified water.

It’s a nice theory, but I doubt it holds much aieece-wata-peeya-wata..

Posted by: Isaac Bruce | June 29, 2011

90 days out of Coverage Area

You will attest to the fact that we will all be better off if policy makers, business leaders and industry regulators had clearly predicted the global meltdown some three years ago. Perhaps, the difference between that meltdown and the looming meltdown in Ghana is that, this can be clearly predicted by both individuals and groups. If you have been in Ghana or been following  news in Ghana for about a year now, the National Communication Authority have been sounding an uncompromising warning to the general public to have their SIM cards registered before June 30, which has now been extended by 90 days. Over the past month, this development has caused a lot of controversies amongst Ghanaians and pushed almost all telecommunication networks (Tigo, Expresso, MTN,…) to go out of their way to innovatively get their customers to register their SIM cards to prevent making calls and losing their numbers permanently after the said date. Currently the process of registration requires either an identification card, passport, national health insurance ID cards.

However, how well are Ghanaians aware of government objectives in carrying out this exercise? As it stands now, most Ghanaians are not much aware of the objectives of this exercise. The least people who are aware have been convinced the exercise is to help combat crime and enable the number portability in the future. I stand to be corrected, but I feel something is a little out of place concerning the nationwide SIM card registration. Perhaps it is just a mere coincidence that the Government of Ghana is currently building a data centre which will be ready in July funded by the Chinese government. It is rather interesting to note the Chinese government is funding the data centre in Ghana after its war with Google on the development of data in China. In effect, the government of China and other key players in that economy has been somewhat conservative on data development, thus why will they even think of funding a data centre for Ghana.

I feel another vital area which is worth looking at is the protection of data we will be providing to government. Thus, it calls for a data protection bill. From the research I have done there seem to be no bill to protect and make sure the information is not used by certain few people to their self-interests. Ninety days is enough time for the NCA and other related bodies to think of this area and its implications. I don’t think anyone will have an excuse for not registering after the ninety days; concurrently the National Communication Authority will not have any excuse for not protecting our information in the future.

Posted by: Isaac Bruce | June 22, 2011

Face 2 Face with Poverty

In Africa or even Ghana, where so many social and economic forms exist, it is quite difficult to generalize on each of these patterns. The main factors which tags a nation as developing still remains in some place who have seen little or no change in their lives. So, my visits to the farmers are coming up more frequently than I initially anticipated. Yesterday 21st June, is about the fifth time of visiting and interviewing farmers on general issues affecting the agricultural market in Ghana.

My visit today started with talking with organizations in these communities who have been serving farmers over the past years. Every discussion and interview with these ‘rural players’ presents a unique knowledge and experience on what exactly the market is about and its prospects in the future. Most importantly, my visit to one of the villages called Agodzo near kom in the Eastern region lead me to a young man named Frederick Otoo who is a brother of a reseller to the company I am working with. From the way he was answering questions, I became curious to engage him with other personal questions. He gladly gave me his name as mentioned and told me he is a farmer as well.

By the way, Frederick is a seventeen year old boy and a junior high school dropout due to financial support. He now farms about a 2 acre land (given to him by his grandfather), rears snails and weaves baskets alongside. Frederick was lead to start these business ventures because despite the poor financial background of the parents, he did not perform well during his final junior high school examination (Basic Education Certificate Examination B.E.C.E) in 2009. As determined and focused (something you rarely find some people with the means) as he is, he has decided to do a remedial of the exams by raising money on his own. But the question is how far can he go considering the current situation he finds himself? He enlisted the problems as lack of textbooks for his study, his community is still cut off from the electricity grid, sometimes gets tired from the day’s making him unable to revise.

Apart from what I will be able to help Frederick with in the coming weeks, I ultimately thought of you, my avid readers of the enormous support you will be able to contribute in Frederick’s life. You are my sole motivation for this blog post. In the coming weeks, I will be getting books (used & unused books) from Accra for him. The main objective is to give him the requisite tools to pass his examination that he wants to retake early next year. He also pointed out he wants to be a business entrepreneur, which in my view he has managed to prove its worth. I am counting on your response to see Frederick join his friends at least at another level back in school.

Frederick lamented the problem as a vicious cycle in the community; nevertheless as far we know it might be for a lot more communities still not having access to quality education and the absence of a meaningful economic activity. However, I believe his situation is a classic case of persistence and hope. I believe Frederick deserves an opportunity to end his family’s vicious cycle of poverty by putting him back to school. Frederick feeds Ghana with his cassava and snails but perhaps he needs a different kind of food from the few people reading this blog- education.

Please give him a try by replying, calling (+233274139818) or emailing (isaac.bruce5@gmail.com) to the address below to get more information and access to Frederick. Thank You

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