Ghanaian Players “Crying” Over Money? Not Really! Hear The Truth!


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During the wake of Ghana being knocked out of the tournament, lots of posts emerged on various social media platforms claiming that the Ghanaian soccer players were unpatriotic for wanting to get paid. These players have toiled, worked hard and believe it or not, are more dedicated to the team and the country than $100,000 ($3 million total) going to their already deep filled pockets. It is not about the money, but the principle. Let’s dig deep to understand what really happened.

Yes, most of these players make more than $100,000 so why the big fuss? Trust or lack of it. The players do not trust the Ghana Football Association. On multiple occasions, the incompetent association has lied to the the players representing the country. The same reason why the FIFA organization is corrupt is the same reason why the GFA is corrupt: Money. There is money in futbol globally and big people are always trying to capitalize through their corrupt means. The GFA is no different from FIFA with regards to corruption, but FIFA is at least a competent organization – this is by no means in support of their corrupt behavior.

The 3 million dollars ($100,000 for each player) is money owed and promised to the players as a bonus for qualifying to the World Cup from the GFA. With respect to principles, the players did work hard to qualify for the World Cup and should have had this money before the start of the World Cup competitions, but once again, the GFA tried to pull a fast one, just like they’ve been doing for many years. Most of the players don’t really need the money, but standing on the ground of principles, they were willing to put a stop to the corrupt nature of the GFA.

The $100,000 bonus promised to the players is different from the World Cup Prize Money. World Cup prize money — which ranges in Brazil from $8 million for being knocked out in the group stage to $35 million for winning the title — is normally paid after the tournament. According to ABC News.com “Ghana’s cash-strapped football association has asked for an advance on the $8 million prize money it is guaranteed from the World Cup to pay outstanding debts to players ($3 million  they owe the Black Stars). FIFA said Wednesday that Ghana’s request was ‘under evaluation.’” It is not rocket science to understand that the GFA did not want to pay the players the money they have earned but wanted FIFA to pay them money they have not earned. They were trying to borrow $3 million from the already guaranteed $8 million the players were going to earn – this is certainly not fair and definitely cutting into the shares of players. The players were upset because they have already experienced this in a different fashion before (4 and 8 years ago) and were not willing to go through it again. They were willing to put a stop to this cycle once and for all.

The players were not being greedy but were not going to be duped again. They were ready to put up a fight against the corrupt nature of the Ghana Football Association. They have worked hard, earned their spot at the World Cup and deserve the bonus they were promised. They are professional athletes and not charity athletes. To them, this is a career and their wages should not be toyed with. Unfortunately for Ghanaian supporters World Wide, this incident placed Ghana on the map in a very negative light and caused some disagreements at the Black Stars camp in Brazil. Sulley Muntari who is a very vocal leader lost his cool and overreacted and this led to his suspension. Kevin Prince Boateng on the other hand was simply not getting along with the coach and was also suspended – all of this destroyed the morale of the Ghanaian Black Stars who for the past week and a half, have been playing great futbol at the World Cup, but against Portugal, they looked drained, tired and could not concentrate. It’s no surprise that both goals from Portugal came directly from errors by the Ghanaians. They simply could not focus.

This is what happens when you have an incompetent association full of corrupt officials who constantly interfere with the work of young professionals. Say what you want about Akwasi Appiah (The Ghanaian Coach) and his tactics, but in my humble opinion, he is a competent coach who was sabotaged by an extremely greedy and corrupt association in the name of the Ghana National Football Association. They created an environment where the players were not able to focus which led to their failure. The environment was simply not conducive for success. Your environment is critical to your success just as your will and drive is.

In case you did not know, no African team has won the World Cup – yet alone make it to the semi finals. Do not be surprised, because if you can’t manage your affairs in life, you will simply not win in life. Our leaders are too incompetent to manage effectively or successfully.

Let’s not put the blame on the players. They fought a good fight. They gave their all, but they needed major help from our leaders.

Even though I am based here in the United States, I will forever be a proud Ghanaian and will forever support my team, but there has to be some major changes concerning leadership. Africa can do better, but we the people have to stand up, step up and speak against the injustice of our leaders or else the cycle of failure due to poor management will never end.

Thanks,

Joe Darko

joe.darko@homail.com

101 Rules For My Mentees


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 Wheeeew! The graduation season is almost over! To be honest, I love and hate the graduation season. I love it because I get to see my mentees walk across the stage with pride and a sense of accomplishment – I am always humbled by this moment. On the other end of the spectrum, I hate it. I hate it because they are about to set foot into this cruel ad sometime, unforgiving world. I fear for them. I fear that they might forget all of my advice. I fear that they will make wrong decisions. I fear that they will stumble and fall. I fear that they will fail.

Even though my fear places things in perspective, I can’t let my fear overshadow my faith. Yes, they will make mistakes. They will make wrong decisions. They might forget my advice. They will stumble and fall and they will fail at certain things in life but it should not hinder their growth and development. As a matter of fact, their shortcomings will help shape and nurture them. I had my fair share of failures. I did forget some key advice. I made wrong decisions and made costly mistakes, but through grace, I turned out “alright”. I have faith and believe that my mentees will go through their own journey, but when it is all said and done, they will turn out just fine.

Besides the one-day summer camp which will they be attending with me to get them mentally prepared for college, I wanted to casually share some “rules” with them. So after Church yesterday, I sat down and started to think about things I would like for them to know, do and don’t do – these are things I learned during my four years at the Pennsylvania State University. I did not intend to write down 101 rules, but the list kept growing. From 5 to 25, then 50, then 70 and, finally, 101!

These “rules” are guidelines – they are not “if you do not follow these you will fail and die” rules. They are only to help guide their decisions, build character and positively help shape them into men of substance and value. I hope you enjoy these. Feel free to comment. :)

101 Rules For My Mentees

1. Don’t choose “walking” as a major. You don’t require any special skills to be the best walker or a walking specialist. My point is, choose something which will add value to yourself and your future.

2. You don’t have to go out every weekend, you know that right?

3. Make new friends but continue to invest old friendships.

4. Take risks and don’t be afraid to make mistakes

5. Break some rules, but don’t be foolish because some rules will cost you for life

6. Really sick? See the doctor and stay in bed. You won’t learn anything especially if you are not in the right state of mind. Oh, you won’t get a perfect attendance award.

7. Do not be pressed over any girl.

8. Don’t get “married” your first semester in college.

9. Do not form bad habits

10. Treat girls with respect

11. Do not forget your parents – because no matter how they try, they won’t forget you

12. Fear God

13. Find a Church

14. Do not get crazy drunk – legally/illegally. You will regret it the next morning, plus it’s not fun anyways – overrated.

15. Want to have a baby? Get a puppy. Oh, by the way, getting a puppy will attract more females ;)

16. STUDY! STUDY! STUDY! This is the main reason why you are going to school.

17. Get to know more females. They are interesting and they will teach you a lot. Some will definitely annoy you and others will end up hating you – such is life.

18. Say no to drugs. Period.

19. If you are supposed to complete a degree in 4 years, it simply means you should whatever it takes to finish it within four years at all cost. No days off.

20. Priorities, priorities, priorities…. and more priorities. If you do not prioritize, you will simply fail.

21. Be honest with your parents, your professors, your friends, but most importantly, be honest with yourself.

22. Don’t plan to cram. Planning to cram is planning to fail and only a fool plans to fail.

23. Every homework, assignment, or quiz should be your final.

24. “These girls ain’t loyal”

25. Just kidding, some are…Some. Choose wisely.

26. Don’t be pressured to be in a relationship. It is expensive in college plus you will be broke anyways

27. Travel, go on trips

28. Be spontaneous

29. Give. Be a blessing to someone

30. Exercise

31. Volunteer because you want, not because you have to

32. During breaks, be excited to come to see your parents and totally serve them while you are home. They will definitely be surprised and respect you as a young adult

33. Call your mentor at least once a month. Yes, call me.

34. I don’t expect you to be perfect, so don’t expect yourself to be perfect. When you fall, rise.

35. When you make mistakes, learn.

36. But do not fail a class. You can pass any class if you put in the time.

37. Don’t be afraid to make enemies. But love your enemies.

38. Go on dates! Lots of them! Yes, girls still love them

39. You see a cute girl you are interested in, talk to her. Get to know her. You might not see her again

40. If you give her your number and she doesn’t reach out, reach out to her (if you have her number)

41. If she doesn’t respond, she is simply not interested. Don’t stalk her – its classless

42. Read. Not only for class

43. Remember God. Don’t throw away your faith.

44. Make room for your boys and spend time with them even if you have a girlfriend, because you will need them when things go sour with your lady.

45. No girl completes you

46. Stay away from girls who start drama or always in drama – not worth it

47. Invite your boys from other schools to campus events and create moments

48. Be a great host

49. Use your professors as references or point of contacts

50. If you are really into a girl, then avoid the friend zone at all cost

51. Join a club and build your network – make sure it is diverse not just on race, but ideas and personalities. Get involved with campus activities

52. Thinking about joining a frat. Well, weigh the pros and cons and make sure it will give you something no organization/anyone else can give you. Do your research. I did and I did not join one. But that’s me.

53. Hold onto your morals and value

54. Throw a party at least once in your college career – even if it is just a get together

55. Invite your friends to just come hang the day after the party. You will need them to help clean

56. Don’t feel like going to a party? Simply do not go

57. Don’t feel like going to class? Go. Bad habits are usually formed by unstable emotions. Trust me, you will most of the time not feel like going to class

58. Freshman 15 is real. Yes, for the guys too. Internship and work over the summer is a must. Don’t compromise

59. You don’t understand something, question it

60. Question your professors too. After all, they are not ‘all knowing’

61. Do not judge. You don’t know what others are going through

62. Fight for what is just and right

63. People do not have to like you, but they must respect you. Know when, where and how to put your foot down

64. Don’t give up on your dreams, they are always going to be valid until you are dead

65. Don’t want a pregnancy scare, don’t have sex

66. When you ask a girl out on a date, you have to pay for her. The quicker you learn this, the better

67. McDonalds is not a great place for a date either

68. Accept people for who they are but most importantly, for who they are NOT

69. Help other, but remember you are not superman and you simply can’t save the world. Someone has already done that. Lead them to that person

70. Be different, stand out and embrace your uniqueness

71. Practice good hygiene

72. Challenge the status quo, but respect authority

73. Boys talk should remain just that…. Boys Talk!

74. Your girlfriend is just a girlfriend. Not your wife, mother or sister

75. Some people are irreplaceable – mother, father, sisters or brothers. Remember them

76. Build your brand with confidence from Day One!

77. Attend every career/networking event at your school

78. Don’t play with the emotions of females. You might have a daughter some day.

79. Avoid 8 am’s. Just avoid them. You will be half asleep anyways.

80. Syllabus week is NOT “party week”. Look over the syllabus and get a head start with your readings. Whatever you do not understand, ask the professor in class. He/she will like that you take his/her class seriously. It is not “sucking up”, you are only doing what you are supposed to do and you are beating the system.

81. It’s not middle or high school, so your professor is not there to teach you – his job is to guide you. You teach yourself and you learn on your own.

82. Don’t hesitate to schedule office hours with your professors. They actually appreciate them.

83. Pick a fun elective. Something odd and different. You will learn something interesting and valuable

84. Learning is the application of knowledge. You are not learning if you are not applying. Simple.

85. I’m not saying all your friends will be snakes, but be wise. Not all of them will have your best interest at heart

86. Pick a random night, make sure you don’t have class the next day, play video games with the boys and just talk

87. Sleep is medicine. Remember that

88. Build your network

89.” If you do not know what to do, do Business because it underpins everything” – from my co-worker Chris.

90. Arrive early to class, sit in one the first three rows, ask questions, take notes and you will never fail

91. Don’t sit with your friends in class. You won’t learn a thing

92. Don’t throw away your culture

93. Don’t lose yourself while trying to find yourself

94. Set goals, but make sure they are Measurable and Attainable. Hold yourself accountable

95. Don’t squander your refund check. Be wise with it. It is not free money.

96. Have a clean room and ensure that it smells good at all times

97. Invest in a nice pair of dress shoes, a dress shirt, pants, a tie and a watch. It’s a gentleman’s thing

98. Your default response under any sort of pressure should be a NO.

99. Try new things

100. Avoid these four group people: Gossips, Moochers, Drama and Negative people – they will never help you

101. Live a FULL LIFE

Let me honest here. You won’t always get it right and you are never going to be perfect. College is just another journey which will challenge you and build you up. Never stop learning and you will never stop growing.

Bonus and Final Rule: If life gives you lemons and you don’t like lemonade, just know that you really do not have to make lemonade. You have so many options with these lemons. Take your time, be patient and find ways and means they make good use of these lemons.

Amazing Experience With FIFA 14 On The XBoxOne – You Will Love It Too!


On Field Antics in FIFA on the XBOXOne leading to ban and suspension

On Field Antics in FIFA on the XBOXOne leading to ban and suspension

*Disclaimer: My thoughts and opinions and not of my employer*

While I was unwinding from work yesterday, I decided to play some FIFA 14 on the Xbox One. I was playing a game in Career Mode – “To Be A Pro” as Joe Darko – myself  (a young 19 year old from Ghana trying to make his way to the top to join the big names).

After a couple of games, I received various e-mails from the assistant manager about my “antics on the field”  and got suspended a couple of times. This was frustrating, because “Joe Darko” on the field was just scoring goals and not doing anything wrong. Then it hit me: anytime the referee made a bad call, I would yell at my TV and say stuff like “Really referee, you got to be freaking kidding me”, “what in the world”, “what the heck is that call for”, “wasn’t that a freaking offside”, “are you getting paid” and so on (I really did not swear… but apparently, these were fighting words). Come to find out, the Kinect would actually pick up these words and the tone of my voice, report it to the referee and the referee will report it to my authorities (see the picture above). I was really fascinated and decided to test it out. So I played one last game and this time around, for testing purposes decided to swear at the ref. Well, guess was happened.. he was not happy, paused the game at some point to have a word with me, and I got banned! As soccer fanatic and a FIFA game player, this is absolutely AWESOME!

The future of gaming and entertainment is definitely BRIGHT.. especially with the XBoxOne and Kinect. This system is not only changing the living room, but changing the gaming experience for the better!  If you do not have yourself an XBoxOne or XBoxOne with the Kinect, you should definitely plan on getting one – whether you are a hardcore gamer or not, this is a system for everyone – from people who enjoy playing video games and people who enjoy playing it once in a while and just want to have a good time. It is the future and you definitely have the opportunity to live on the cutting edge of it.

P.S: For those of you who like swearing and getting your frustration out during game play, remember that this only works in a certain Game Mode. If you are playing online with a friend or a visiting friends, you won’t be reprimanded for swearing - so you can still swear your life away :). . This was developed for this mode of Game Play in FIFA 14 (Be A Pro) to make things interesting and in a way, realistic – if you are trying to be a pro at any sport in real life, you won’t be allowed to say any everything to the official on the field or on court either.

- Joe Darko

I Don’t Care About God


Too busy to care about God?

Too busy to care about God?

At some point during my college career, I was getting to know this young lady. She was interesting, smart, beautiful and most importantly, God fearing. While we were indulge in the “talking” phase of our friendship, she surprisingly made a huge accusation that I did not care about her. On a side note, the “talking” phase is the phase when two people interested in each other, decide to get to know one another exclusively, with hopes of dating in the near future. 

My friend’s accusation bothered me, so I sat her down to ask her how and why she came to the specific conclusion that I did not care about her. I was startled because even though I was preoccupied with school projects, campus activities, hobbies and personal projects, I did my best to spend some time with her whenever I had the chance; but apparently, it wasn’t enough. She blatantly told me that I did not care simply because I did not spend “quality time” with her. Once again, I was confused, because whenever I was not busy doing what I wanted to do, I did spend time with her. We debated about this for about an hour and came to the conclusion that it would be best for us to stop “talking” and just stay as friends because we were simply not on the same page. I did not understand her and she did not understand me. She felt as though I was not giving her a significant portion of my time and I felt she was just unappreciative and very ungrateful.

5 years later, I realize I was wrong and she was right. 5 years later, I understand what she meant by “quality time”. 5 years later, I realize I did not really care about her. Yes, I did spend time with her, I did talk to her but I was just going through the motions and did not really care.

This is the same reason why I say that I do not care about God. Being brought up in a Christian home, going to Church has become part of me. Whenever I am not in Church on any given Sunday, I feel uncomfortable. I try to influence my generation with the love of God and even though I am born again Christian, I realized I did not really care about God. I came to this conclusion yesterday during Youth Service when we talked about building a personal relationship with God. I realized “I was chasing after the wind” and not chasing after God. I was chasing after my aspirations, my goals and my dreams while leaving God on the back burner. I was going about my business but not my Father’s business. (Luke 2:49)

With regards to quality time, sometimes, my female friend wanted me to sacrifice some of my hobbies for her, but I was not willing to budge. I sometimes canceled already planned and scheduled time with her because something less relevant came up – of course she was definitely not happy whenever I did this. My priorities were out of “whack” and my sense of “priority assessment” was at an all-time low. What she meant by quality time was giving her the best of my time instead of my “leftovers”. I can’t help but think that this is how God feels about me currently. I am not giving Him the best of my time. I am giving him what is leftover and what is less important. I am simply not investing in my personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

During the weekdays, I wake up in the morning, shower, get dressed, sometimes eat breakfast and spend 30 seconds on my knees to pray. I usually spend time volunteering after work, work out by playing soccer or running and by the time I get home, I am tired and ready for bed. Sometimes, I grab my laptop, work on my personal projects and by the time I decide to read my Bible and pray, I would be fast asleep. Over the weekend, I support my community and friends by attending events or clean my apartment. On Sundays, I go to Church in the morning, watch football in the afternoon and go to Youth Service in the evening. I come back home, watch a show or two, work a little more and once again, make an attempt to spend time with God by reading the Bible and praying – it’s always end up in an epic fail.  As you can tell, the constant theme in my schedule is Work, Volunteering, Events, Hobbies, Church and Projects. While all of this is good, they can be meaningless if I do not develop a personal relationship with God. Christ should be my cornerstone, the backbone and the center of my life. No wonder Jesus said “not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord” will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 7:21). I was not only saying “Lord, Lord”, but I was yelling “Lord, Lord”.

As I was thinking about my personal relationship with God this morning, I could not help but think of Cain and Abel. Cain and Able both offered sacrifices to God but Abel’s was accepted and Cain’s was rejected. Abel’s offering was most likely accepted because “he brought to God the fat portions from some of the first born of his flock” (Genesis 4:4). I asked myself, am I giving God the best portion of my time or am I giving him the “leftovers”. Am I spending quality time with Him in prayer and studying the word?

My female friend felt I was not giving her my best of time and she was not happy with the “leftovers”. My words told her that she was important to me, but my actions were the direct opposite. Yes, I was busy and I had a lot do to, but if I was going to include her in my life as a special person, then I had to make sure she was getting the best of my time and not my leftovers. I had to make sure she was being treated like a priority and not an option. She was available but wanted to feel important and it was my responsibility to device a plan to help accomplish this. She was really not asking for much. Even though she knew I was busy, she cared for me enough to be there for me, gave me the best of her time while I gave her the worst of mine. It was not fair to her and it is something I am not proud of.

I’m definitely not trying to compare this girl to God, because God’s loves and care simply can’t be compared. I’m only trying to draw your attention to something that we can all relate to, so at a very high level, you can understand why we can sometimes sing all the right hymns, know all of the right verses, but fail to invest a decent amount of our time in building a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as Christians. God is not asking for much. He wants our best time so we can continue to grow in Him and through Him. God is always going to be available and God is always going to care for us and most importantly, love us unconditionally. He is always going to chase after us but are we going to chase after Him? Do we care enough to put certain things aside in order to build a healthy relationship with him? Do we care enough to make Him the center of our lives? Do we care enough to make him a priority in our lives?

As my Youth Pastor said yesterday, our relationship with God should be personal but it shouldn’t be private. The moment you make the decision to invest in your relationship with God and build upon your personal relationship with Him, you should not make it private, but rather, allow the love, grace and peace of Christ to flow through you at your job, at your Church, at events and whenever you volunteer  - this is when you become the Salt and Light of the world. This is when God can use you to make a positive impact in this generation and beyond.

I don’t care about God based on my actions currently, but I am willing and ready to change that. Even though Christianity is not ALL ABOUT the “works”, it is imperative that we make the conscious effort to juxtapose our deeds, actions and work with our faith. Faith without works might be dead, but faith coupled with works is full of life – a life given to us by Christ through the medium of Grace on the Cross.

 

 

My Message To Africans – “I Am Sick & Tired”


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Africa, the Beautiful

The beautiful Africa! Filled with natural life and resources, yet we are poor. We are not poor because we don’t have enough, we are poor because we are greedy. Now, let’s not blame our leaders but let’s look within ourselves: How many times have we visited our beloved continent after years of staying abroad? We go on expensive vacations to other places, spend money to enrich their economy but we refuse to do the same for our continent. Yes, you are entitled to go anywhere you want to go in this world, but have made an attempt to visit the motherland? Yes, the conditions might not fit your current lifestyle and no one is asking you to pack your bags and go live there (even though that will be great), but it will be great to go back and see the conditions the people are living in and possibly think of a way you can assist.

I am sick and tired of Africans tearing each other apart instead of building each other up. Africans are being exploited in their own continent. The rest of the world is taking advantage of us all because they see that we are more than willing to look out for ourselves at the expense of our neighbors. They see us divided and “a house divided shall not stand”. It is obvious, we are willing to bring each other down instead of supporting each other. It obvious in Africa and oversees. An African will try to harness their talent but will get no support; an African will start a charity, a project or a program but will get no support; but we are more than willing to support foreign ventures (which is not wrong to do), but if we are going to take care of others, we better start taking care of our own for “Charity does begin at home”. The biggest excuse you hear from this issue is “we don’t trust Africans”.

Honestly, I am sick and tired. What do you mean by you don’t trust Africans? Who do you trust? I mean, you shouldn’t trust anyone but God to begin with, but what is the point of not trusting your own? Yes, we might not have the best track record when it comes to trust, but believe that the “devil you know is better than the angel you don’t know”. We are quick to trust others but our own. If you are not going to trust your own, then you might as well not trust any human in general, because the good Book says “the heart of a man is wicked” – the heart of man, yes, the Asian, the Caucasian, the Hispanic and of course the African. 

I am sick and tired of the corruption eating up our continent. Yes, corruption is a product of greed. We might all be greedy to some degree, but should we be greedy to the point that we are willing to kill one another? Should we be greedy to the point that we are willing to watch our neighbors starve and die? Should we be greedy to the point that the same people we lead are the same people we exploit? Should our greed cost the lives of our kids and women? Should our greed destroy? If our greed is going to lead to all this, there we might as well not be greedy anymore. 

I am sick and tired of the lack of accountability. We wonder why our leaders are getting away with a corruption. Our leaders know we are only going to talk and rant and not act – no wonder they are always doing what they promised not to do. When are we going to stand and say to our leaders “Enough Is Enough”? When are we going to hold them accountable to their responsibilities and actions? With accountability comes adherence to responsibilities. Our leaders are only human like you and me and you know for a fact that they are bound to be tempted and not do as they promised. Yes, there are systems in place to help avoid corruption but it is left to the citizens to get up and act and not only speak; these systems need humans to fuel it to run efficiently. If they know we will be quick to act, they will not act up. Let’s not be complacent.

I am indeed sick and tired! Us Africans can be very spiritual, but spirituality without faith is dead and faith without works is dead as well. Meaning, we got to strike a balance, we got to be spiritual, have faith and work towards our faith. We can’t say we want to stop corruption, fast and pray 24/7 and not act about it. In case you didn’t know God is not a magician. No, He is not. He is not going to come down and immediately fix everything, He is going to need people who are willing to stand up and act on their faith. Look through History and you will see that God used men who acted more than proclaiming their faith. These were men and women of action: Yaa Asantewa of Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Nelson Mandela of South Africa and so on and so forth. These men and women acted on their faith, trusting God that their actions will bring about change and it did. They did not curl up in their rooms to fast and pray for 90 days for things to change. Don’t get me wrong, as a believer, I believe in fasting and praying, but do not let any Pastor, Prophet or Preacher lead you astray by telling you not to act out in faith. Even the Prophets in the Bible acted out on faith! 

I am sick and tired of the fighting among ourselves. Why are Christians fighting Muslims? For what reason? To see whose God is powerful? Why are we destroying each other for no good reason? Why is one ethnic group rising up against another ethnic group? We should accept our differences, appreciate the beauty in our differences and out of love, tolerate one another – we should not only stop there but extend that love to other nations and all people. Not every “Akata” is a criminal, not every White person is a racist, not every Muslim is a terrorist, not every Nigerian partake in fraud and not every Ghanaian eats fufu or dances azonto. Let’s get rid of the preconceived notions about our own and other, let us look beyond what separates us and look ahead of what binds us together: we are all humans, living on earth and will one day die irrespective of how much we gather here on earth out of greed or hate. 

Africa is beautiful, Africa is gorgeous. We have our resources, we have our jungles. We are blessed in so many ways, but we are allowing our blessings become a curse.

Yes, I might be sick and tired, but it is only because I want Africa to get well and healthy – In a nutshell, I am Africa, you are Africa. All the concerns/problems stated above is something we all Africans can relate to; as a matter fact, we are the biggest contributing factor. We are sick and tired: we are corrupt, we pull each other down, we tear each other apart, we don’t trust each other, we are not stepping up to act, we over spiritualize and don’t act on faith. We are seriously sick and tired, but we can all get better. The change we want to see in Africa is the change we should see in us first and foremost, because we all contribute to the problems in Africa and we are the only one who can help turn this around. Do not just see the change in you, act and bring about the change you want to see.

 

3 Reasons Why Manchester United Is Struggling & Why Moyes Needs To Go


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Manchester United Players

I have always been a die hard Manchester United fan. I remember the first day I fell in love with them was in the early 90′s when they lost to Arsenal in a Premier League game. I don’t know why, but something about them made me fall in love with them. My love affair with them has been a great one with memories of the “Comeback of ’99″ against Beyern Munich, the emergence of Christiano Ronaldo, the bull like play of Rooney and the memorable 20th PL season. I am in love. I am not in love because of the victories or the players, or the coach. I am in love because this team has given so much to it’s fans and win or less, there is the hope of better things to come! Sadly, this hope seems to vanishing among the fans across the world and it is a sad thing to see.

Manchester United has been struggling ever since the start of the 2013/2014 Season and these are the reasons why:

1. Ferguson’s Wrong Timing Retirement

Ferguson shouldn’t have retired when he did. The team was in a very bad shape from Top to Bottom and he was the only manager who could have won with such a team. You simply do not appoint a mid-level-table manager to oversee a club like this. Our defense needed help: Vidic, Evra and Ferdinand were getting old, and they were not playing as great as they used to. Besides the old age, these center backs were constantly getting injured and players like Smalling, Evans or Jones were not ready to step up to that major role. 

Our midfield has always been a problem since Paul Scholes retired, but Ferguson did not see the need to invest in a young talented midfielder and actually watched Pogba leave. Our center midfielders were Carrick, Fletcher, Cleverly and Anderson. With all due respect, it will be very tough for you to beat teams who come at you with players like Modric, Alonso, Xavi, Iniesta, Toure, etc. While Teams like Man City were willing to spend a lot of money to get 2 star players at each position, we were moving the other direction. Yes, Carrick and Fletcher are decent, but they are not creative Iniesta or Xavi, not as strong as a Michael Essien in his prime, and are simply not feared. We lost most games in the Champions League because our midfield play was not as strong and not as creative. 

Our attack was the most healthy part of our team with the likes of Van Persie and Rooney leading that gang. I mentioned Rooney and Van Persie because these 2 are the only consistent players we have in that phase of our game. Welbeck is extremely inconsistent and seems lost in games, Hernandez’s luck seems to be running out, Valencia is just a winger who likes to just cross the ball (sometimes predictable and to be honest, boring), Nani and Young are another inconsistent players who can be flashy at times and Kagawa is the only player who shines out of this bunch, but he lacks power and flare. 

In my opinion, in soccer, your attack and defense is as good as your midfield is and we did not have consistency or young players in that area of the pitch to help us out. 

Ferguson should have stayed for at least 1 or 2 seasons and used his influence to court more players to the team. His influence and credibility were key in transfer windows and without him what have done so far? Nothing. 

2. The Appointment of David Moyes

People are saying we should stand by David Moyes all because when Ferguson came on board as the coach of United, he had a tougher time. Well, guess what, times have changed! When Ferguson became United’s coach, United was not an entity in the stock market and was not traded openly, so Ferguson definitely got away with a lot but in this dispensation, Manchester United has Share Holders all around the world and all what Share Holders care about is their money – you simply perform to increase their revenue and if someone is not going to do the job, they will find someone else. 

Teams were not spending lots of money to stay on top in the 80s, but teams are doing so now. Teams want to remain competitive and they want to compete with the best of the best in the world, so to be honest, there is only a small room to make mistakes and be allowed to live with them. 

Ferguson is GREAT! Yes, we all know that, but at the end of the day, he is only human and as human being myself, I know for a fact that we are bound to make mistakes. Ferguson made a mistake by appointing Moyes as the Coach because Moyes’ resume was not up to par. Moyes was the coach for Everton, and Everton had never won the Premier League under Moyes. Everton was a mid-table team under Moyes and never posed a threat to finish top 4. What did Ferguson see in Moyes? Nothing. Ferguson probably thought that if Moyes coached a team like United with players like Rooney and Van Persie on board, then he will do well. That is not the case, because if you can’t make good use of the little you are given, you are never going to make good use of the plenty. Mourinho is a perfect example of a coach who did a lot with little: he won the Champions League with Porto and that opened a lot of doors for him, because he had a track record of doing more with what he was given. 

Ferguson is human and he probably regrets his appointment, but the majority of us do. 

3. Moyes is not influential and has bad tactics

Some people enjoy their job because of their employer – they will go above and beyond for their employer. In sports, some players play their best because of a specific coach, but David Moyes is an exception. These same players at United would have performed under Ferguson because Ferguson was a respected man, and very influential. Manchester United has lost some lousy games this season but I personally do not blame the players, because these players have performed under a different coach for so many years. The players are not playing for him and it is obvious because some of the strong leaders are ready to leave and start else where. 

Moyes lack of influence can be seen in both transfer windows. We could not sign any top player because players did not want to play for him. Period. Moyes can make the argument that they wanted money, but we signed Felaini for 27 million pounds. In the January Transfer window, we could only sign a player who was on the bench of our rival team for 37 million pounds. Yes, Juan Mata is good player, but we broke our transfer record for a player who was not even starting. This showed how desperate Moyes was and showed how any team is willing to take advantage of us in future transfer windows if Moyes remains the coach. 

Tactically, Moyes has no clue. I remember at some point in the season, we were losing by 3-1 and Moyes brought in Chris Smalling. Chris Smalling is a defender and not a midfielder or attacker. Moyes obviously was content with losing. Moyes has made some head scratching decisions with his line up and I have already embraced myself for the worse. 

I am a die-hard United fan and I will continue to be, I will support the team and the players but I am not a supporter of David Moyes. I don’t believe he is the right man for this job. I am willing to say this with confidence because I want him to prove me wrong. Yes, Manchester United is struggling because of some bad decisions internally, but at the end of the day, the Manager is the face of the franchise, and he does not have great managerial skills to lead this team forward. I understand he is doing his best to retain Wayne Rooney, but you don’t treat him like an assistant manager when he is only a player. Moyes has lost the locker room and he looks pathetic allowing Wayne Rooney (one of my favorite players) to get involved in off season acquisitions – something Ferguson never did. It is the players job to play and the managers job to manage, but Moyes out of desperation is making certain decisions which only reveals his true identity as a manager: clueless.

Manchester United is sadly not feared anymore. Teams believe they can go toe-to-toe with us and come away with at lest 1 point. We are not respected anymore and as a United fan, this breaks my heart. We have become the laughing stock of the Premier League an we have fallen greatly from grace. I believe in United and I believe in the future under a new manager, but for now, it will be a tougher time for us next year if we do not finish Top 4 this season, because most of the top players who can help us out would like to play in the Champions League and would also like to play under a manager who can allow them to be World Champions and so far, we are not looking like a Top 4 Team and we certainly don’t have that manager player would like to play for. 

Wish the best to all of the United Fans out there. It is only a matter of time. 

Don’t Read Too Deep Into The “Tweeps”


Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook

Twitter, Facebook and Instagram

Don’t read too deep into what people tweet or else you will be depressed because no one tweets their flaws, insecurities and failures.

Let’s Give A Little Backgrounder: The truth is, there is always going to be someone richer, smarter, better looking and more intelligent than us at some point in our lives – but we certainly can’t and shouldn’t focus so much on what we don’t have, but rather appreciate what we do have. News Flash: Tweets, TwitPics, Facebook Statuses, and Instagram Posts can make you depressed and unhappy. How? Let’s find out.

Some Stats Won’t Hurt: Social media is taking over our lives and let’s face it, it is interesting. We are in a dispensation whereby we receive more information and more data more than our minds can consume. There are about 55 million Facebook Statuses every day, 58 million tweets per day, and about 40 million posts on instagram per day – this ladies and gentlemen is crazy especially compared to what we had or did not have about 2–5 year ago. Yes, we are in a technological age, but as you can see, this age is being dominated by big data. On Facebook alone, 30 billion pieces of content are shared each month and this includes web links, new stories, posts, notes, photos  etc.

Now The Real Meat: Through out all the data we receive from our Social Network contacts, how many of them are negative information? Not so much. It is natural for humans to talk about the positive things in their lives rather than speak of the negatives. Of course there are always the “debbie-downers” who will constantly bore you with their issues and problems on social media, but the platform is usually dominated by people sharing their success stories, accomplishments and their wonderful love life. For example, you will see some people post their Grade Point Averages online when its very good, you will never catch anyone tweeting about a 1.2 GPA. During this time of year, a lot of students are going to be receiving acceptance letters to their Master’s Programs or Universities of their choice and best believe about 80% of them will use Social Media to broadcast this good news. Do you think someone who got denied by the college of their choice will post that image on instagram or tweet about it? Definitely not. Finally, Valentine’s Day is around the corner and the lovers will come out and share their “love stories” with the rest of the world. I don’t think anyone will be quickly to come out and say “yaaaay!! My partner cheated on me and broke my heart, so let’s celebrate that”. My point is, we we all yearn to be respected, accepted and appreciated and some way, somehow, we believe that allowing the rest of the world to know of our accomplishments and our successes, we are going to be respected, accepted and appreciated. There is nothing wrong with that, but it becomes a problem if that becomes the only avenue of our sanity. It is simply in human nature to want to share good news and keep the not-so good news to ourselves and social media gives us the platform to be heard and seen. Once again there is nothing wrong with this, but I am afraid for this generation  because our value seems to be limited to ‘Likes’, ‘Retweets’ and ‘Favorites’ – this is a different topic all together.

Let’s Drive This Baby Home:  Only an evil heart will hate on the success and elevation of others, so it is good to be happy for your friends and followers on social media and join in the celebration  - but “do not get caught up”. What do I mean by “do not get caught up”? We naturally tend to lose track of what we are supposed to be doing when we focus so much on what others have done. We  tend to allow their success and triumph be a burden on us forgetting that they are also struggling with something. Sometimes when we look at the success of others, we only see the glory but forget about their struggles and pain; I am not blaming anyone, because most of the time, they forget to mention their struggles, their problems, issues and weaknesses. We sometimes go the extra mile of hating our own existence and lose track of what we can accomplish if only we learn from their success and focus on achieving our goals and writing our own stories.

Now Let’s Park This Baby:  Focusing so much on what your friends and followers say online can make you depressed especially if you are not living up their standard of living – it might make you feel, for lack of a better word , “useless”. You might think everything is perfect in their world, forgetting that we all live in this world and we all face some setbacks, challenges and difficulties. Simply do not read too deep into tweets, facebook statues and instagram posts and continue to live the life you have been blessed  with. Acknowledge their accomplishments but never let them make you feel inadequate – if anything, let it motivate you to accomplish YOUR OWN goals and YOUR OWN dreams.

 

Justin Beiber Arrested? Let’s Take Some Blame & Learn A Lesson


Justin Beiber's Mug Shot

Justin Beiber’s Mug Shot

I know you have all heard of Justin Beiber’s arrest. Some of you are happy, others are sad – especially  some of the girls in middle school. But the old and wise among us are probably not surprised and they are most likely saying “well, its about time.. we knew it was coming“. 

My News Feed in the Social Media world is buzzing with this headline. Almost everyone has something to say about it, and almost everyone is bashing this poor young man. I am not here to defend Justin Beiber or to protect his image, but  I here to shed some light to his situation which we often seem to ignore. Most importantly, I am here to learn a lesson.

Ask yourself this, besides Hilary Duff, how many of these young celebrities actually turn out to be responsible adults? Definitely not a good number. Being young and having a lot of people bowing down to you can do more damage than good. These young stars are exploited by the big corporations, placed on the pedestal by the media, and hailed by the public (us). A young man or woman with that much attention, money and power will only go wayward especially without some guidance. But how many young children will allow themselves to be subject to their parents authority if they make more money than their parents will ever make in their lives combined? I don’t know about you, but my African parents would be strict with the belt regardless of how much money is in my account. I am not trying to justify Justin Beiber’s actions, but trying to understand where these ongoing problems (child celebrities acting up) might stem from.

Let’s face the music: fame and money at a very early age can be extremely detrimental to the growth process and maturity of young adults. Money is powerful! And it has a way of making you think that you are invisible, especially if you are not wise enough handle the pressures, responsibilities, privileges, trials and tribulations which comes with it.

I am not here to defend Justin Beiber, if he has committed a crime and the law finds him guilty, and there is no way around it, then he should serve his time. I am also not going to judge him either, at the end of the day he is only human just like you and me; and as humans, we are all subject to the failures and fall of others. I am only here to learn from where people have fallen and failed. On that note, as I pray for good health, peace, and prosperity, I pray I will not be consumed by what God has or will bless me with. I pray I will mature as God would like me to, and I pray I will allow my blessings be a blessing unto others instead of problem to anyone – with the exception of my enemies of course, my success will always be a problem to them.

Hope you all enjoy the rest of your day.

Feel free to share and debate.

3 Point Turn: Finding Happiness As An Adult From Your Childhood


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“We couldn’t wait to be adults”

Remember when you were a kid? Just take a moment… Take a trip down to memory lane… Remember how happy you were? How free spirited and carefree you felt? I don’t know about you, but anytime I think about my childhood, I smile. As Bryan Adams said in ‘Summer of ’69′, “those were the best days of my life!” 

But wait a minute.. how come the best days of my life can’t be ahead of me? As kids, we thought our best days were ahead, but as we got older, we started to think that our best days were behind us. Ah Ha! I hope you had ‘light bulb’ moment, because I did. Think about it, is this the reason why we seemed so happy as kids? Were we happy because we had hope and were optimistic? Now that I got you think, let’s make a “3 Point Turn” and break down some of the things we used to do as kids which contributed to our overall well being and happiness and let’s see if we can implement them in our lives today. 

1st Point Turn: Enjoying Responsibilities & Family Time

As kids, we enjoyed responsibilities! We felt a sense of pride when given the chance to be ‘responsible’. We enjoyed helping our parents and smiled anytime they said “good job”. We wanted to help mommy with everything and we wanted to help dad with his duties. At the same time, we enjoyed being around our parents. We couldn’t wait to go home and see our moms after school in kindergarten. We enjoyed family re-unions because that’s when our uncles could act the fool, that was when our 40th cousins came around to play board games and football with us. 

Today, we occupy ourselves with so much that we do not have time to spend with friends and family. We run away from our 40th and 50th cousins, and we constantly make excuses to spend quality time with our parents. Yes, our responsibilities have grown as well: we are in school working on various degrees, we have jobs and we have bills, but let me ask you this, are we really enjoying our responsibilities? Our we enjoying going to school? Are we enjoying working? I can read your mind and I agree to the notion that no one likes to take tests or work crazy hours a week only to pay bills; but do we see them as responsibilities we have to enjoy? Whether we like it or not, we will have responsibilities as humans till death, and enjoying these responsibilities can change our attitude and enable us to be more happy.

2nd Point Turn: Saying “No”

Believe it or not, kids know what they want and they know how to communicate that effectively, irrespective of how you feel. Kids don’t care so much about pleasing others. My little niece Oli is barely a year old, and anytime I visit my family in Maryland, I want to see her and play with her. As soon as she sees her mom, she does not know me – yes, she is cold. She will quickly leave my arms and run towards the arms of her mom. My sister will then say “Oli, why are you doing this to Uncle Joe? Let’s got to Uncle Joe”. As I open my arms to receive her again, she will shake her head and crawl back to arms of her mom. She already knows how to say NO! She prefers to be in the arms of her mom, than the arms of her uncle. When Oli gets older, for some strange reason, she will be less comfortable saying no because she will grow to appeal to the desire of others while ignoring hers. I hope she doesn’t change. 

As we get older, we begin to become conscious of how people feel – which is a good thing, but should this growth of consciousness stop us from being honest? The happiest people know how and when to say “No” irrespective how the recipient of the answer will feel. They say “no” not because they want to be rude or evil, but simply because they can’t comply with your request.  Now, I am not saying we should go around saying “No” to our parents, our bosses, authority, for no apparent reason. Being an adult means being able to decipher when to say “No” and “Yes”. We should not be afraid to say “No” just because we are going to offend someone, or else we end up pleasing people and offending ourselves.

Being happy is not about saying “No” – it is actually about saying “Yes”, but knowing when/how to say “No” will make you better at saying “Yes” and when do you say “Yes”, you will say it meaningfully and a value add will be attached to it. In a nutshell, when you learn to say “No”, you learn to honestly learn to say “Yes”.

3rd Point Turn: Hope & Positive Thoughts

As a kid, I thought I was going to be the greatest soccer player ever! Obviously I thought wrong. Kids will are always hoping for the best and thinking that great things will happen to them. Our positive attitude as humans take a major hit when we being to focus on what we see: hiccups, roadblocks, and setbacks – believe it or not, these become more evident the “older” or “wiser” we get.. It seems as though as kids, we had more faith. We walked more on faith and not by sight. Faith does open doors. 

There is nothing wrong with thinking positive and having hope irrespective of your circumstances. Thinking positively and being hopeful forces your overall being to be in a positive atmosphere which promotes a more happy well being. Once you create a positive atmosphere, you begin to feed off of the positive energy around you. 

Being negative and being around negative people will only get you depressed. Kids understand this concept. 

Drive Off: At the end of the day, you control how happy you want to be. You are in the driver’s seat of your own happiness. What are you going to do?

Do Not Stop Lying! If You Haven’t Started, Get To It


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Lies Lies Lies

Do not stop lying and you haven’t started, then get to it – at least that’s what Mark Twain thinks.

If you haven’t read Mark Twain’s essay “On The Decay of The Art of Lying”, then it should definitely be the next thing to read. It is a good read! It is a short essay written by the master of essays. Mark Twain wrote this essay in 1885 for a meeting of the Historical and Antiquarian Club of Hartford, Connecticut. In the essay, Twain focuses on the lost art of lying by discussion why people lie, the different kinds of lies, situations in which people lie and why all lies are not bad. He concludes by insisting that: “the wise thing is for us diligently to train ourselves to lie thoughtfully, judiciously; to lie with a good object, and not an evil one; to lie for others’ advantage, and not our own; to lie healingly, charitably, humanely, not cruelly, hurtfully, maliciously; to lie gracefully and graciously, not awkwardly and clumsily; to lie firmly, frankly, squarely, with head erect, not haltingly, tortuously, with pusillanimous mien, as being ashamed of our high calling.

I have never heard anyone argue for dishonesty – for Politicians and Lawyers for that matter. While it is entertaining to poke fun at Politicians and Lawyers for lying, let’s be honest with ourselves and agree with Mark Twain that we are all liars. We often forget that we sometimes indulge ourselves in something Twain likes to call “silent lie”. Silent lie is simply not speaking when you know that your words (the truth) will not better a specific situation or might cause some kind of harm/damage – Twain likes to label such truth as an injurious truth. Twain makes the argument that an injurious truth is as deadly as an injurious lie. In a nutshell, Mark Twain argues that lying is good, so long as your intentions are good. Sounds so good from such an intelligent man, but wait…. we do not judge a man’s character by his intentions, do we? I don’t know what world you live in, but on earth and with humans, we certainly do not judge people by their intentions, but by their actions. The irony is we judge ourselves by our intentions and judge others by their actions. It makes sense – we judge people by the “knowns” and not the “unknowns”. We judge people by what we can see and examine and not what we hope to see in them. Lying in itself is bad irrespective of intentions. 

Now, I don’t know what was going in the 1880′s to provoke Mark Twain to write an essay on the decay art of lying, but I know what is going on in my generation and I can say that we live in lies and we have lost the art of truth telling – maybe Mark Twain got his point across and it has created another problem. Looking at it closely, the problem here is not lying, but acceptance and unconditional love. People want to be accepted and people want to be loved, but we often reject others’ authenticity in exchange for their “fakery”. When someone tells us of their weakness, struggles, and shortcomings, we hypocritically alienate ourselves from them instead of trying to understand, accept and love them. This forces people to paint a different picture of themselves or their situation in order to be accepted and this leads to lies upon lies. We become people pleasers only to please ourselves. Pleasing people only to please ourselves means that our entire happiness and well being is dependent on others. It does not get more dangerous than this.

When you lie, you need to tell more lies to cover up the first lie and this leads to you being buried in lies and losing your identity as a person. We are relational beings who cherish relationships, but there can never be a solid relationship without trust and what usually negates trust is dishonesty. At the end of the day, we want to build healthy relationships based on trust. 

Telling the truth is not easy and it can prove costly. You stand the chance of being alienated by society when you tell the truth, but it does indeed set you free. It sets you free from guilt and sets you free from the prison of lies. Lies limit you and what you can do or say, because when you are caught up in a lie, your credibility and brand takes a major hit and you might never be able to rebound from that. Tell the truth, but do not go around telling people they are ugly. You might be telling the truth, but you are being disrespectful. When your opinion is not needed, don’t talk – this is self control and wisdom. If you have something to say about somebody, make sure it will encourage and elevate them. If you have nothing good to say about an individual, you can humbly swallow your comments and allow the person to live. Contrary to Twain’s opinion, choosing not to comment is not necessarily lying, but in most cases, wisdom. He calls it silent lie, but I call it wisdom. Wisdom is not only found is words but in silence as well. 

Twain says we should master the art of lying, I say we should master the art of telling the truth by including wisdom. 20 something odd years of living, I have realized that telling the truth does not only free the person telling the truth, but it frees the recipient of the truth. The truth is a tough pill to swallow, but the pill will cure your sickness once it enters your system. The truth might not be received with a glorious heart at first, but with time, it will accomplish it’s task: correct, inform, educate, reveal, and help. What if we went about giving each other false feedbacks? Our planes wouldn’t have been flying and our ships wouldn’t have been floating. Someone has be open and honest with you in order for you in order for you to see your faults. If you can’t see your faults and wrong doing, you might go about your life only to end in disaster. We should not only develop the art of “truth telling”, but we should develop the art of “truth receiving”.

Mark Twain made some valid points about the benefits of lying, but I prefer the truth. Yes, we all tell lies and we can’t escape that. But we should make conscious efforts to speak the truth when necessary and we should do our best to accept and love people for who they truly are. 

As previously mentioned, On the Decay of the Art of Lying was an essay written in 1885 for a $30 prize for the “Historical and Antiquarian Club of Hartford”. Twain notes that he did not win a prize for this essay. Well, I don’t know whether to believe he did or did not win the prize. I don’t know what to believe anymore.