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Gambia:Ex- President Jammeh Ordered us to Killed Deyda Hydra, Jatta Tells TRRC
July 28, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Bakary Ceesay

Photo Credit The Standard

Photo Credit The Standard

Malick Jatta, an ex-member of former President Yahya Jammeh’s hit squad has revealed that Jammeh ordered them to killed Deyda Hydara, co- founder and managing editor of The Point newspaper.

Hydra, co-founder and managing editor of The Point newspaper was shot by security personnel’s on 16 December, 2004.

On Monday, Jatta, a native of Tujereng village in the West Coast Region of The Gambia who was a member of the Junglers, Truth Reconciliation and Reparation Commission (TRRC) they were sent to kill Deyda on December 16 of 2004.

Jatta at the time of Hydara’s killing had already taken part in 2 executions all of which were led by Tumbul Tamba, the head of the patrol team.

He said the Patrol Team was a team of 4 officers who were carrying out the killings he categorized as “abnormal orders”.

“In 2004, we were told were going for the Magic Pen… At that point I did not know who the Magic Pen was. It was Malick Jatta, Tunbul Tamba, Sanna Manjang and Alieu Jeng in this operations… We took a taxi, benz 200… This taxi used to be parked at Yahya Jammeh’s garage in Kanifing. Tumbul who took the taxi sat at the Driver’s seat. I heard him talking to the former President and he was saying “yes sir, your excellency”,” said Jatta, who is a serving army officer of The Gambia Armed Forces.

He said as Deyda’s vehicle approached, Tumbul said “gentlemen the driver is the idiot…”

“I shot, Sanna Manjang fired and Alieu Jeng also fired… I shot one. For my colleagues, I can’t tell how many fire they shot. On route to Kanilai home village of ex- president Jammeh home village, nobody spoke… Tumbul the following day came with some envelope containing some dollars and said gentlemen, this is a token of appreciation from the Big Man (President Jammeh). When I changed mine, it was over D50, 000,” said Jatta.

In his reaction Saikou Jammeh, Secretary General of Gambia Press Union lamented that: “The TRRC is discovering the bitter truth! 15 years on, we’ve today learnt from a Truth Commission witness how a former Gambia Press Union president and prominent journalist, Deyda Hydara, was shot and killed by members of the Gambia military under the directive of exiled ex-president Yaya Jammeh”

“The witness was a participant in the murder. He confessed to shooting ‘the magic pen’ – the name used by the leader of his group, Tumbul Tamba, to describe Deyda. This is an important piece of truth coming out of the TRRC,”

About Deyda Hydra, co-founder and managing editor of The Point newspaper was shot by security personnel’s on 16 December, 2004.

A few minutes before he met his end, Deyda left his office where he and his staff had gathered to celebrate the 13th anniversary of The Point, a private bi-weekly newspaper he co-founded.

He was dropping of two of his employees when he was gunned down. The two staff sustained severe injuries and were flown to Senegal for treatment.

He was killed just days after the Parliament endorsed significantly tighter and more restrictive media laws, an attempt Deyda fought through his popular newspaper column ‘Good Morning Mr. President’. Almost 15 years after Deyda’s murder, the killers have not yet been brought to book.

 

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Gambia:15 years later, killers of Deyda Hydara are revealed
July 28, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Bakary Ceesay

Deyda Hydara

Deyda Hydara

The Gambia Press Union (GPU) has learnt with mixed feelings of shock and relief about the killers of journalist Deyda Hydara, a founder and former president of the GPU.

In a press release signed by Saikou Jammeh, Secretary General of Gambia Press Union explained that on Monday July 22, 2019, Malick Jatta, a military personnel and a member of the hit-squad of then-president, Yahya Jammeh, told the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) that he participated in the killing of Mr. Hydara.

He confirmed that Yahya Jammeh ordered the assassination in an operation meant to get rid of the ‘magic pen’ (a codename referring to Mr. Hydara). Jatta gave details of how the killing was planned and executed. He also told the commission how he and his colleagues who took part in the operation were given envelopes containing cash as a “sign of appreciation from the big man”, a reference to Jammeh.

Mr. Hydara was a prominent Gambian journalist and a strong advocate for press freedom. He was shot and killed in a drive-by shooting on the night of December 16, 2004. It was the 13th anniversary of The Point, a leading national newspaper he co-established.

He was driving home two of his staff Ida Jagne, a typist and Niansarang Jobe, a layout editor, who also sustained gunshot wounds on her leg and was briefly admitted for medical treatment.

The Jammeh administration had repeatedly denied any involvement in the killing of Deyda. Yet, despite overwhelming evidence pointing to their involvement, they have refused to properly investigate. Instead, the government ignored and censored calls – in some instances blocked efforts – to investigate the killing of the veteran journalist.

Mr. Sheriff Bojang Jr., the president of the GPU, said: “The revelations made by Jatta about the circumstances of the killing of Deyda Hydara confirm the long, widely held accusation that the government of Yahya Jammeh perpetrated the heinous crime.

“It is unfortunate that it has taken this long, 15 years, for us to know the killers of Deyda. This is painfully depressing but also a relief as the family and his colleagues deserve to know the truth and to pursue justice.”

Meanwhile, the Gambia Press Union (GPU) is actively engaged with the TRRC process and is closely monitoring developments.

The Union encourages the Commission to leave no stone unturned in establishing the truth and seeking justice for wide of crimes committed against journalists during the 22-year reign of Yahya Jammeh.

The Union reminds The Gambia Government of its obligation to pursue justice and bring to book every perpetrator, including exiled ex-president Yahya Jammeh, for the killing of Deyda and all other crimes against journalists of which his government perpetrated or failed in its duty to investigate.

The Union wishes to express sincere thanks and appreciation to individuals and partner organisations that have supported in particular the family of Mr Hydara and the freedom and development of the media during those difficult times.

The Union also stands by Mr. Hydara’s family and offers its support and solidarity especially during these trying times.

 

 

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Gambia Gov’t Condemns The ‘Murder’ of University Student
July 28, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Bakary Ceesay

Ebrima Sankareh

Ebrima Sankareh

The Ministry of Interior strongly and categorically condemns the tragic murder of 25 year old student Kebba Secka, at University of The Gambia (UTG) in the hands of a police officer on 9th July, 2019 as cowardly, heinous and unacceptable.

In a press release signed by Ebrima G. Sankareh, The Gambia Government Spokesperson said Secka, who was allegedly stabbed by First Class Constable Lamin Trawally during a scuffle with police, subsequently died as his alleged murderer fled the scene leaving behind his murder weapon which turned out to be very crucial during police investigations.

Kebba Secka’s suspected murderer, officer Lamin Trawally, has now been apprehended, charged with murder and is currently remanded at the Mile Two Central Prison awaiting appearance before the Banjul High Court.

Accordingly, and consistent with this  government’s policy of accountability and openness, The Interior Ministry on behalf of The Gambia Government expresses it’s profound sense of grief, total remorse and heartfelt condolences to the deceased student’s family, loved ones and University of The Gambia authorities and students for this great loss of a promising scholar.

The Gambia Government wishes to assure all citizens particularly students that the dark era of politically motivated arrests and murders of students in cold blood is utterly criminal and therefore, unacceptable under the current dispensation. No one should therefore, be of the illusions that this government is complicit or deliberately targeting students to settle scores.

The Gambia Government will zealously prosecute all those implicated in Kebba Secka’s painful and shameful murder.

 

 

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Cameroon Civil Society Organizations receive 263 Million Frs grant from France
July 28, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Amos Fofung

French ambassador to Cameroon Gilles Thibault

French ambassador to Cameroon Gilles Thibault

 

The French Government, has via its Embassy in Yaounde-Cameroon, funded the projects of some seven Cameroonian Civil Society Organisations, CSOs to the tune of cira FCFA 263 million.

Conventions awarding the grants were penned Tuesday July 23 at the French Embassy between the French Ambassador to Cameroon, Gilles Thibault, and representatives of the CSOs.

The projects to be funded by the French government are in the domains of active citizen participation and protection of the environment.

During the signing ceremony the ambassador Thibault disclosed that, between 2005 and 2016, over 30 projects of CSOs have received funding worth over FCFA 1 billion from France, one of Cameroon’s closest allies.

The seven CSO each receiving FCFA 13 million on the average are: ACDDI; ADISI; ARDC; CDA; CERAF Nord; Compagnie Théâtrale and UNAPAC. Thibault remarked that, since 1996, considerable sums have been invested in projects piloted by CSOs in the country, observing that such organisations are a guarantee of social, cultural and even economic benefits beyond the resources pumped in.

“The civil society is a source of inspiration for public authorities and thus constitutes a real incubator of public policies…We recognize the role and value of the civil society in inclusive and sustainable development. Beyond being a beneficiary, we want partnership to be part and parcel of our international cooperation policy,” Gilles Thibault said.

Adding that “Encouraging the efforts of civil society and accompanying them in projects is also preparing for the future Cameroonian society capable of contributing, along with the State; in the conception and follow-up of public policies…”.

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Gambia TRRC: Death Squad Member Confess ‘We Killed 50 West African Migrants’
July 28, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Bakary Ceesay

Malick Jatta

Malick Jatta

Lieutenant Malick Jatta, an army officer with Gambia Armed Forces working for a death squad operating on the orders of former President Yahya Jammeh has admitted to participating in the execution of 50 West African migrants in Gambia in 2005.

On July 22, 2005, Gambian police forces arrested approximately 50-56 foreigners in Barra, a town facing Banjul on the opposite shore of the River Gambia.

Among these migrants were 44 Ghanaians, as many as ten Nigerians, two or three Ivoirians, two Senegalese, and one Togolese.

On Tuesday, Jatta, told the Truth Reconciliation and Reparation Commission (TRRC) that he participated in the killings of the West African migrants.

“We were told they were mercenaries,” he said. “I heard people shouting in the forest saying “safe us Jesus”.” This was after Jatta himself shot and killed one of the migrants. He said after killing one, he felt what they were doing was not right.

“Sadden by it, he went to sit in the vehicle. Shots were still being heard in the forest across the Gambian border into the Senegalese territory,” said Jatta.

Jatta said “Then he saw one of the migrants running to hide at a distance of about 20 meters from him. “I can say I saved this person. If I wanted to kill him, at 20 meters sir, I will not miss my target,” .

Jatta is right that there was one survivor of the incident call Martin Kyere. Jatta’s confession was the public evidence from a participant in the killing tying the former President Jammeh to the death of the migrants. Jammeh has always denied involvement in the killings.

Meanwhile, Jatta has confessed to involvement in 3 executions on Monday including the killing of journalist Deyda Hydara in 2004.

He confessed to participating in the killing of Ghanaians, country’s former intelligence chief Daba Marenah and close to a dozen other people.

 

 

 

 

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Amidst Mass Protest in Gambia, Police Chief Calls Calm
July 28, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Bakary Ceesay

The office of the Inspector General of Police (IGP) received disturbing information about a mob of angry youth marching towards the Anti Crime Unit to protest the demise of Ousman Darboe. The Office of the IGP is calling on the youth to observe calm and restraint.

On Wednesday, dozens of young people  gathered at the Serekunda Police Station to protest against the death of a Sierra Leonean national Ousman Darboe who they claimed was severely beaten by the police anti-crime unit.

Darboe, a shop owner at Serekunda Black Market was reportedly arrested by police anti-crime unit about 13 days ago and released on Friday. He passed away on Tuesday at 9: 30 according to Muhammed. His friends from the Black Market gathered at the police station near the Serekunda market demanding justice for Darboe.

In a press signed by Assistant superintendent, of Police Lamin Njie, Public Relations Officer of Gambia Police Force explained that Ousman Darboe’s name came up during investigations into a Breaking and Stealing incident that occurred at Kerr Serign on 11th July 2019. Suspects in the said case confessed selling items stolen from the Kerr Serign incident to Ousman Darboe.

“Investigators visited his shop at Serekunda market where a Flat Screen television, part of the stolen items was recovered in his possession,” Njie indicated.

Police spokesperson added that on 12th July 2019, he was arrested and charged with receiving of stolen properties contrary to the laws of the Gambia. On Monday the 15th of July 2019, he was granted bail within 72hours as specified by law and was subsequently reporting on bail.

“Ousman Darboe during his detention was said to be an Asthma patient as shown by medical papers tendered by his family which prompted his bail,”

The Inspector General’s Office assures the public that it will continue a probe into the death of Ousman Darboe and the outcome will be duly communicated to ascertain the cause of death.

 

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Sierra Leone: ACC signs over $100,000 grant with OSIWA
July 27, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Ishmael Sallieu Koroma

Francis Ben Kaifala

Francis Ben Kaifala

The Head of Sierra Leone’s Anti -graft body Francis Ben Kaifala Esq on Monday 22nd July 2019, signed a grant agreement for funding with the Open Society for West Africa (OSIWA) worth over One Hundred Thousand United States Dollars (USD 110,000).

According to a press statement released by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC)  on Tuesday, the agreement is an approval for the funding for various departments of the Commission and is in response to a proposal submitted to OSIWA under the heading ‘’Changing the Game plan in the Fight Against Corruption in Sierra Leone’’

‘’ The main objective of the funding is to operationalize and mainstream public and social accountability mechanism in the fight against corruption through enforcement and compliance to systems, procedures and grievances redress systems in Ministries, Department and Agencies,’’ the release stated.

The release further stated that, in addition to its core mandate to supress and eliminate corruption in Sierra Leone, the ACC is also responsible for ensuring accountability and transparency in public institutions, as well as guaranteeing that these entities mainstream anti-corruption measures and policies in their workplaces.

‘’The Commission wishes to thank OSIWA for this support and the confidence reposed in the ACC as we work together to ensure the transparency and accountability in the governance architecture of Sierra Leone, the ACC released ended.

 

 

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ZPBA to facilitate the launch of the African Association of Plant Breeders
July 27, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

The Zimbabwe Plant Breeders Association (ZPBA) is set to facilitate the launch of the African Association of Plant Breeders on 23 to 25 October, 2019 in Ghana, according to Dean Muungani, ZPBA President at the recent ZPBA annual event held in Mazowe, Zimbabwe under  the theme: ‘Unpacking Better Seeds for Sustainable Development.’

However, Muungani lamented over the low uptake after a call was made for abstracts to be submitted for the scheduled launch event. He said that only one applicant had made a submission and encouraged members of the association to make submissions.

The ZPBA is also planning to host its elective congress scheduled for January 2020.According to Muungani, it will also be an opportunity for new office bearers to be elected into office to champion to association to go forward.

The ZPBA is a registered trust, membership based, non-political and not-for-profit professional association of Zimbabweans based locally or abroad active or interested in plant breeding and related fields launched on the 26th of January, 2016 with funding from the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

According to Muungani, the related professionals include biotechnologists, geneticists, molecular biologists, seed technologists, seed agronomists, seed inspectors, genetic conservation specialists and  plant propagators, just to mention a few.

The main objectives of the association include promoting scientific plant breeding  and related research through discussion and communication, influencing  plant breeding training and education and contributing to continuing professional development of members so that they are technically up-to-date and remain relevant for their current and future employers both locally  and in the global village, promoting high standards of professional ethics among its members, representation of members’ interest and promoting interaction with the view to advancing the science and business of plant breeding.

 

 

 

Since its  inception the ZPBA has organised a number of seminars and workshops which include a seminar focussing on Genetically Modified Crops, ZPBA first anniversary event with Climate change themed presentations from various presenters. Facilitators were drawn from the Ministry of Environment, Water & Climate (MoEWC), FAO, CIMMYT, OXFAM, Seed Services, the Prof. Pangirayi Tongoona Symposium themed ‘From Art to Science in the Crop Seed Sector’ with several presentations from CIMMYT, Tobacco Research Board (TRB), and several ex Prof Tongoona students, the Demand-led Plant Breeding approaches training workshop at ACCI-UKZN made possible with external sponsorship, breeders Course on preparing and presenting variety release and supporting documents in Zimbabwe funded from member subscriptions  and the seminar on molecular breeding of soya-bean by Prof Kristin Bilyeu of USDA/ARS at the University of Zimbabwe  department  of Crop Science in  Harare, a seminar titled in search of excellence in agriculture research management in Africa by Professor Paramu Mafongoya of UKZN at the  University of Zimbabwe department  of Crop Science in Harare, breeders’ course on generation, analysis and interpretation of experimental and genetic designs applied to plant breeding, facilitated by Dr. Juan Burgueno and Dr. Fernando Toledo in Harare, seminar presentations by three UK visiting scientists- Professor Liz Baggs of University of Edinburgh, Dr Eric Paterson of the James Hutton Institute and Dr Lumbani Mwafulirwa of University of Edinburgh.

 

 

According to Muugani, the ZPBA is currently planning two events before the end of the year on the promotion of liming of soils, earmarked for some time in August/ September in Mhondoro.

“We are now moving from seminars and workshops to projects in the field. We hope more field projects will be implemented in future,” Muungani said.

 

The other event will involve a training course on variety screening and breeding for resistance to fall armyworm (FAW), which will include a field visit to Muzarabani.

Commenting on the recent meeting, Muungani said;

“The meeting which has largely been oversubscribed, is unique in that it brings a lot of diversity in terms of content, as past events were largely dominated by maize presentations, in terms of the breadth of institutions represented such as research, academia, farmers unions and   seed houses and the diversity of participants. This reflects growth on the part of the association”.

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Sierra Leone: Police put Le10m reward to anyone providing information leading to the arrest of person over Justice Biobele burglary
July 27, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Ishmael Sallieu Koroma

The residence of Commission Of Inquiry Judge Justice Biobele Georgewill, was attacked

The residence of Commission Of Inquiry Judge Justice Biobele Georgewill, was attacked

Police in Sierra Leone have placed a reward of Ten Million Leones (about $1,000) to anyone who provide any useful information that could lead to the arrest of person or persons over the alleged burglary at the Nigerian Judge Justice Biobele Georgewill residence on Monday.

The reward came after the theft incident on Monday 22nd July 2019 in which thief or thieves broke and entered the premises of Justice Biobele Georgewill and carted away with his grey, medium -sized Dell Laptop and few other items.

‘’A handsome reward of Le 10,000,000.00(Ten Million Leones) will be offered to anyone who provides any useful information that could lead to the success of the investigation and subsequent prosecution, ‘’ a Police statement said.

The Nigerian judge is one of three judges in the ongoing Commission of Inquiry (COI) hired by the government of Sierra Leone to look into the activities of former Ernest Bai Koroma administration.

According to a statement from the Head of the Media Mohamed Sulaiman Massaquoi, said the exact circumstances that led to the burglary have not been ascertained adding that the judge himself was not hurt and was not aware  of the incident until he woke up in which his laptops computers and few other items were carted away by the thieves.

‘’Mean while the proceedings of the Commission of inquiry will continue unabated. Justice Biobele Georgewill will continue sittings at commission 64 on Wednesday July 24. The public is assured of the continuation of the commission of Inquiry,’’ said Mohamed Sulaiman Massaquoi, Head of media Commissions of Inquiry.

However, Police have mounted investigations and has assured the public that the outcome of the investigation would be accordingly made public.

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Nigeria: U.S. firms want Nigeria oil and gas sector reforms before investing
July 27, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Teslim Olawore

Brent Omdahl,

Brent Omdahl,

 

 

Brent Omdahl, commercial counselor at the U.S. Department of Commerce has said Nigeria, Africa’s biggest oil producer, could attract more U.S. investment if the oil and gas sector becomes less opaque and a fuel-price peg is removed.

“Nigeria needs to think strategically about what is going to make it a more attractive destination,” the U.S. official said in an interview in Lagos. “Our investors are willing to compete on fair terms for new investments if there’s a transparent process to try to win new oil opportunities. What is difficult or a disincentive to investors is when deals are done and then the contracts are not honoured.”

Controls on energy prices are also constraining investment, according to Omdahl, who is leaving Nigeria this month. The country’s national petroleum company imports most gasoline under a swap program and has capped the pump price at 145 naira ($0.40) per litre – one of the lowest prices worldwide. Yet that system cost the government almost $2 billion in subsidies last year, according to the International Monetary Fund, which has called for the cap to be lifted.

The controls “perpetuate a system where only certain people benefit,” Omdahl said. “Why not open it up and let everybody benefit from it. That is money that can be used in making investments in refineries and all of a sudden you are paying less for imported fuel and your price goes down.”

He further said that an accumulation of “easy” loans from China risks increasing debt-servicing costs, and warned against missing out on financing opportunities from multilateral development banks with more stringent requirements.

Nigeria has increased borrowing from China in recent years to finance railways, airports and power plants. Loans from China stood at $2.55 billion as of March 31, which is about one-tenth of Nigeria’s external debt stock, according to the country’s debt management office. While Nigeria has a relatively low 19% ratio of debt to gross domestic product, debt servicing takes up about 69% of government earnings, IMF data show.

“Nigeria needs to ask, money isn’t free, somebody has to pay,” Omdahl said. “So you might as well do what is necessary to earn transparent money.”

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Ghana’s PANAFEST –gov’t slashes visa fees for Jamaica and Guyana to return home
July 27, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Ahedor Jessica

Akwasi Agyemang, Chief Executive Officer of GTA

Akwasi Agyemang, Chief Executive Officer of GTA

The Chief Executive of the Ghana Tourism Authority, Mr Kwasi Agyeman, has stated that by the end of the year, all hindrances to visa processes to Ghana will be resolved. Addressing the media at a press conference in Accra, as part of activities lined up for this year’s celebration of biennial Pan African Historical Festival (PANAFEST) and the Year of Return, he said the programs secretariat is also working with the Foreign Affairs Ministry to ensure that it left behind an e-visa system as a Year of Return legacy initiative to remove the barriers and hustles diaspora face with visa acquisition.

According to him, the measures include slashing visa fees for people from the Diaspora who are coming from countries whose citizens require visa to gain entry into Ghana from $150 to $ 75. It has also done some reforms to the cumbersome visa application processes and applying visa waivers in selected Caribbean countries such as Jamaica and Guyana. Mr Agyeman, says even though some milestones has been chalked in the countries on visa processes there are still some bureaucratic bottlenecks affecting its implementation.

PANAFEST is an annual home coming celebration birthed by the late Efua Sutherland Addy in the mid-1980s as a cultural vehicle to bring Africans on the continent and in the Diaspora together in Ghana. In the last 25 years, the platform has attracted patrons from across the world, particularly in the Diaspora,. Some of the participants observe it as a mission to rediscover their roots and identity.

Hosting this year’s celebration under the theme PANAFEST and Emancipation Day celebrations as part of the Year of Return. Speaking to the chairperson of PANAFEST Foundation, Professor Esi Sutherland-Addy, she says besides the sense of identity for which diaspora appreciated PANAFEST for, it has also provided them the opportunity to reconnect with their cultural heritage. With widespread castles, forts and other footprints of colonialism and slavery in the Central Region, one of the many achievements PANAFEST has spotlighted the region as a tourism hub.

She said the springing up of hotels, hosting of activities at the Cape Coast Centre for National Culture, including trade in artifacts and organic products, are all tangible benefits of PANAFEST in the area. As part of program line up, the celebration of Year of Return include providing opportunity for the participants to relive the experiences of their ancestors who went through the horrifying ordeal of slavery in Cape Coast through the door of no return and ending up at the Elmina Castle on July 26, 2019.

Buses would be provided to convey people from Accra to Cape Coast, Elmina, Assin Manso and Assin Praso; communities that would play key roles in the celebrations for free. The event which started on Juyl 20, 2019, with the crossing of the Prah, a durbar at Assin Praso and a pre-slave route pilgrimage atonement which ends on August 2, 2019. Other highlights are a wreath-laying ceremony to pay tribute to pioneers of Pan Africanism at the W.E.B Dubois Centre, George Padmore Memorial Library and the Nkrumah Mausoleum, all in Accra on July 24, 2019; the opening of One Africa Walls of Remembrance at One Africa Health Resort in Elmina; international variety night at the Cape Coast Stadium on July 27 and an inter-faith dialogue at the Cape Coast Sports Stadium. There will also be a colloquium for people of Africa descent and reparation at the University of Cape Coast on July 29, which will be followed by a Women’s Day on July 30 and musical performances on August 3, 2019.

 

 

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Abuse of cannabis and alcohol on the rise in Ghana -Yale report.
July 27, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Ahedor Jessica

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Mental Health Authority Dr Akwas Osei

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Mental Health Authority Dr Akwas Osei

 

A research shepherded by a group of scholars from Yale University in the US and the University of Ghana, Legon, has revealed that 41 percent Ghanaians are mentally unstable due to abuse of cannabis and alcohol. The report also says the country is experiencing low level of productivity as a result of the trend and has amounted to seven per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Reacting to the impact of this, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Mental Health Authority Dr Akwas Osei said apart from the loss in GDP, mental health problems are threatening the security of Ghanaians as such situations could even lead to attacks on one another due the frustrations one might be going through. Dr Osei, added the 41 percent figure is largely a mental disorders, caused by psychological distress.

Speaking in an interview in Accra at the sidelines of an international conference on precision in psychiatric medicine, he debunked the belief that the use of cannabis has no effect on one’s mental health and said studies over the years had shown a strong and indisputable correlation between the two.

“Cannabis distorts the ability of one’s brain to grow the way it should so one is not able to reason or judge properly,” he said, adding that many users of cannabis dropped out of school because of their inability to cope with academic work.  He, however, expressed the hope that with the coming into effect of the Mental Health Law and a Legislative Instrument to support it, a mental health levy would be exacted from Ghanaians to provide funding for the sector.

According to the Counseling Center, Faculty of Education, University of Cape Coast, Cape Coast, C/R Ghana, reports from school surveys in countries across Africa show that the use and abuse of alcohol and drugs by adolescents start with alcohol and cigarettes. The average age at first use of substances ranged between 14-19 years, with extremes of 6 and 25 years.

The findings indicate that substances most commonly used by the youth included alcohol, cigarette, cannabis, cocaine, tranquilizer and heroine and more common either at the school or at home.  Some of the reasons given for alcohol and drug use among the youth centered on the perceived benefits, such as enabling them to study, to do hard work, to get rid of shyness, and to forget about their problems; for curiosity, for fun, and due to peer pressure.

Other reasons include the lack of parental control and rebelling against parents.  In previous studies conducted in some other African countries and in Ghana researchers seem to indicate that lifetime prevalence rates of alcohol, cigarette, and cannabis are significantly greater for boys compared to girls.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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