The National Science and Mathematics Quiz 2017: The Best So Far

The National Science and Mathematics Quiz (NSMQ) started in 1993 and several schools have emerged winners of this great competition. Pojoss, Adisadel College, Presec, St. Thomas Aquinas SHS, Prempeh College, St. Augustine’s College, GSTS, Mfantsipim School, Achimota School and Opoku Ware School have all won the competition before, with Presec winning the coveted prize five times, followed closely by Prempeh College with four wins. Achimota School is the only mixed school to have won the competition. Strangely enough, no girl school have won the competition before. The euphoria that heralded the beginning of this noble competition died down after some years.

This year’s edition was the 22nd since Primetime started the production in 1993. The competition started with 135 schools, out of this number, 108 qualified through the Regional Competitions held across the country in January-February 2017. The other 27 were seeded schools that made it to the quarter final stage of the 2016 edition of the competition. The National Science and Mathematics Quiz is also the longest running independent production on television in Ghana. The objectives of the competition has been to promote the study of the sciences and mathematics, help students develop quick thinking and a probing and scientific mindset about the things around them, whiles encouraging and fostering a healthy academic rivalry among the senior high schools. Thus it has become very common to see most of the senior high schools trying to assert their bragging rights during the competition, especially the schools that have won the competition before.

The first NSMQ quiz mistress was the late Professor Marian Ewurama Addy, professor of Biochemistry at the University of Ghana. She was quiz-mistress from 1993-2000. Dr. Eureka Emefa Adomako, a botanist at the University of Ghana also took over as quiz-mistress from 2001-2005. The current quiz-mistress is Dr. Elsie Effah Kaufmann, (2006-) head of the Biomedical Engineering Department, University of Ghana, Legon. The 2017 edition of the NSMQ has so far been the best in terms of popularity and euphoria. This was because, most of the schools had their students and old students supporting their contestants and the venue for the competition was always packed with spillovers outside the main auditorium. This was characterized by several high profile personalities who came to support their former schools. They also came there to provide both moral support and material support. Some donated money and other items just to motivate the contestants to do their best. As it happened during last year’s edition, the Ghana Think Foundation through it’s Junior Camp Ghana team partnered the organizers of the NSMQ by introducing a mentoring session during each of the preliminary rounds of the competition. This helped the students a lot as they got the opportunity to meet and learn about the experiences of the mentors. These mentors were drawn from several  Science and Technology fields such as Engineering, Medicine, Pharmacy, Computer Science, Nursing, Science Education etc etc. The mentoring sessions offered the students the opportunity to ask  pertinent questions about their various chosen career options in the sciences, academia and beyond. Thus, the partnership between Primetime and the GhanaThink Foundation will surely be a long term one and this will impact the lives of many students at the Senior High School level.

This year’s Grand Finale was between three schools, Adisadel College, Prempeh College and St. Thomas Aquinas SHS. At the end of the contest, Prempeh College emerged the winner followed closely by St. Thomas Aquinas SHS and Adisadel College (NSMQ2016 Champions) with the second and third positions respectively. Social media also made this year’s contest very interesting as there were live tweets on Twitter and livestreaming on facebook. The GhanaThink Foundation and the members of the Junior Camp Ghana team are grateful to all the followers who tweeted and retweeted with the hash tag #NSMQ2017 from both the @NSMQ, @JuniorCampGhana twitter accounts and followed their respective Facebook pages. We say “ayeekoo” to Prempeh College for winning the NSMQ2017. To all the schools that could not make it to the grand finale, we wish them better luck next time. The NSMQ has surely come to stay and lets all come on board and join hands and give it the massive support and coverage it deserves.

How Did We Get Here?

How did Ghana get to this level of lawlessness? No one should start the blame game because we the citizens are complicit in this lawless state that we find ourselves in. Why am i saying so? It seems we glorify mediocrity in this country too much. We allow people to cheat the system and get away with it. We heap praises on people with their ill gotten wealth. We dont question their sources of wealth, and we are ready and willing to bask in their so called glory. We call such people names such as “honorable”, “master” etc etc and we are also ready to kowtow to their whims and caprices to the detriment of the individual who is at a disadvantage.

It seems the society has lost so much confidence in the security services to the extent that they will not hesitate to attack police stations and other security installations with the slightest attempt by these agencies to maintain law and order. We shield wrong doers and prevent the laws of the land from working on them. Someone knows some big man who also knows someone in a position of influence who can easily convince the judicial authorities to drop a case against an accused person. What happens afterwards? The people will surely bid their time and wait for the opportunity to exact their pound of flesh if justice is not served. These incidents of wanton indiscipline being experienced in several parts of the country must be curbed with the necessary legal actions that they deserve. The government must come down hard on all these miscreants in the society who want to take Ghana back to the Dark Ages. The courts must apply the laws to the letter. Ghana is not a jungle state.

Several cases of vandalism against police stations, military personnel and innocent citizens are not justified. We must rise up against this serious canker of indiscipline that has reared its ugly head and nip it in the bud. Each one of us has a role to play in this crusade. The security agencies must turn a new leaf and do the right things for the citizens to have confidence in them once again. I will like to ask again, How did we get here? #GhanaMustWorkAgain

Childhood Memories; The Mango Raids

It was a very hot afternoon and the kids were feeling restless. They were on vacation and they were so much bored with staying in the house. School was to reopen in two weeks. They wanted the days to move quickly so that they can go back to school and have more fun. Staying in the house was boring for them. Their parents were also at their work places and they always left early in the morning and came back late in the evening. Before they left they made sure that their breakfast and lunch have been prepared. The lunch was always in the fridge, the children had to rely on Kofi who was the eldest to heat the food for them in the afternoon. The long vacation always coincided with the harvesting of mangoes. Thus, the mango season was here and the children decided to organize a series of raids into people’s farms for mangoes. They therefore sent three of the boys around to survey the area and map out all the mango trees.

It was now left with how to execute these plans. They first had to tackle the mango trees in the Ghana Water Company yard. They picked four gallons and entered the yard under the pretext of going to fetch water. Kwame hid behind the wall with a sack whiles Kwadwo, Kwabena and Kofi entered the yard with the gallons. Kofi climbed the mango tree and started plucking the ripe mangoes. He then threw them to Kwame who was a very good catcher and it went into the sack. In about ten minutes the sack was half full. Two of the gallons filled with water were then taken out of the yard by the two boys leaving Kofi on the tree. Kwadwo and Kwabena went back into the yard and Kofi then climbed down from the tree. Kwame was gone with the sack of mangoes by the time the boys were finally leaving the yard. This raid was successful as it was carefully planned and executed with so much dexterity and precision. The boys could not hide their joy when they got home and started enjoying the mangoes. They could imagine the look on the faces of the security man and some of the workers during their lunch break. They will be amazed as to how the ripe mangoes vanished from the tree. Thus the boys have found an activity to while away the remaining days of this boring vacation. Whose mango tree was next? Agya Owusu’s farm was next.

There were rumors in the neighborhood of Agya Owusu’s extreme wickedness. Thus he meted instant justice to anyone who was caught stealing from his farm. There were three big mango trees on his farm and no one dare climb any of the trees to pluck the mangoes. The boys decided to raid his farm and they were ready to face the consequences. As usual, they sent two of the boys to do some reconnaissance of the farm. They came back with the information that the man was not on the farm. Another boy was posted at the entrance of the man’s house and he was to run towards the farm and shout the moment he saw the man heading towards his farm. The sacks were secured and the boys entered the farm, climbed the trees. One person was left to stand under the tree to fill the sack. The raid was going on well until the sentry posted at Agya Owusu’s house failed to notice that there was a backdoor to the house. The man decided to pass through the backdoor on his way to the farm only for him to get there and see some children harvesting his mangoes. He shouted and the one with the sack picked up the sack and bolted like lightening. The other two on the tree decided to pluck the hard unripe mangoes and pelted Agya Owusu with them. Since he could not defend himself from the mango attack, he also ran back to the house with his face swollen. The boys then got down from the tree and also ran back to their house. When the boys got home, they started laughing and at that same moment the sentry showed up breathing heavily.  He had to run for his dear life when he saw Agya Owusu running towards his house. Meanwhile another person’s mango tree was being targeted. They decided to be extra vigilant this time around and also take every precautionary measure to protect and defend themselves during the raids. They also mapped out several escape routes and always had a plan B in case their plan failed. Thus these are some of the childhood memories. I hope a lot of people can relate. In fact, the mangoes raided from people’s farms were more enjoyable than those sold at the market.

The Rains Are Coming, How Prepared Are We?

It’s March 13, 2017 and we all just heard from the Ghana Meteorological Agency that the rains will be very severe this year. I watched and listened to the news on tv with my mouth wide open, and I asked myself, “how prepared are we for the coming rains as predicted?” Then thoughts of last two years flood and fuel explosion at a fuel station near the Kwame Nkrumah Circle started flooding my mind. Sorry for taking your minds back to that tragedy in which many people lost their lives. Are we really ready and prepared for the coming rains?

Are we ready to clear the choked drains? Will we be able to make sure that all structures on water ways are demolished? Can we find out those who issued the permits for such structures and let them face the full rigors of the law? Do our leaders have the political will to crack the whip on these law breakers to serve as a deterrent to other citizens? It is time for us to get it right and put our acts together and make sure that not a single Ghanaian life is lost during this year’s rainy season.

We can also do our part by not dumping rubbish into the drains, desilting choked drains, disposing off rubbish properly, and reporting people who go contrary to the sanitation laws in our communities. We should not wait for disasters to strike before we call on the government to come to our aid. Anytime I hear that phrase, I become very much annoyed to the core. We also don’t want to see the annual ritual of politicians touring disaster zones and sharing relief items to victims. Those relief items will never be enough for the disaster victims.

In my candid opinion, the name of the National Disaster Management Organization should be changed to National Disaster Prevention Organization. The warning signs are all over the place, the earlier we act, the better for this country. The future generations will like to see a Ghana that is devoid of floods. A Ghana where our city authorities will walk the talk and have the political will to take the right actions to cleanse our cities of filth.

The Beaming Black Star: Our 60th Milestone!

By Eugene-Paul Nti

Before the first ship docked the ever refreshing beach of this land about the 1470s, the black skinned Ghanaian lived in settlements enthusiastically pursuing forms of agricultural expansion: some fished, others cultivated lands with eventual battles of conquest under the watch of their chiefs. The white man in rather a pious manner through evangelisation in a cosmetic decoy absorbed us in toto. The ‘Black Star’ then beamed in the pockets of colonial lords with the future of our society lavishly spent by our fellow countryman and his white god. The Divine maker of the universe really had our lands as his foot stool: natural and mineral resources and we had the human resource too, our men were stout, strong and hardworking; the women were fertile and very supportive.

These children born to these wonderful black men and women were intelligent, tactful, smart and ruthless. One of such traits, Kwame Nkrumah seized our identity from these white oppressors affirming that “At long last, the battle is ended! And thus, Ghana, our beloved country is free forever! “And there we had our freedom. Yes! We actually became free. Hope was restored for the young and old, women and men. We could boldly place our hands on our chest and hail out the composition of Philip Gbeho, another gem of the land “God bless our homeland Ghana…bold to defend forever…with all our will and might for evermore.” Celebrations has always been in our DNA so 6th March, 1957 was marked like never before in pomp and pageantry. So like watching a typical Ghanaian movie, you will notice the famous “Six years later” inscription, thereafter, the characters changing for the better, relatively being same as always or will be worse off. It’s been sixty years of political independence of our beloved motherland and is our Black Star beaming?

The journey in retrospect reveals some horrible scenes of greed, malice, corruption and the like which when entertained will quash the seemingly wavering sense of patriotism of the growing youth and so should court a great sense of viewer discretion from all. For our successes, a typical Fanteman will exclaim “O y’ay3 bi!” We certainly have to be proud of how we have demonstrated our democratic credentials and enjoyed a steadily refreshing breath of peace till date. “Afehyia pa” we shall say to ourselves and pat our backs well-done not to relax and glorify ourselves in mediocrity but to brace ourselves to face the colossal yet realistic task of making Ghana the hub of fulfilled dreams and the beacon of Africa we have always touted ourselves to be. To our leaders, we have not come this far to be left stranded by your inactions and actions.

For you to be faithful and loyal to Ghana our motherland and to pledge to put your service in full strength and in high esteem to protect the legacy of our forebears was the reason our thumbs got you there. You owe us this favour for God and country so you cannot fail not at this time that we are sixty. To the wise this bit is more than enough! For us the ruled, we know our attitudes most often is below belt, but there is always the will to do right and this time with conviction we are aggressively going to ensure that street of Abura is kept clean, show more concern to matters of the state espousing on development and thus bring up our kids to live the sense of patriotic feeling we have always yearned for. As for the nation wreckers, we are 60 years now, get this burden of your chest by retiring this cruelly deficient attitude and allow Ghana to work. With a united front we shall surmount the insurmountable. Peace! Long live Ghana!! God bless our homeland Ghana!!

Ghana “Mbaa”

By Eugene-Paul Nti

” You waste time taking your bath everyday because you are beauty itself”- an elated husband showering praises on the wife. This sparked smiles on my seemingly dull face because I just got up from bed. I then reached for my phone and the social media notifications all suggested today once again marked the International Women’s Day. Oh yes! We have to celebrate our “divine channels” to this beautiful place, earth. So I placed a call to my number one motivation and strength who throughout the night stood on her feet at the Labour ward in Ekumfi Narkwa to usher in newbies, how proud I am to have her.

We love you Ghanaian mothers and all women, hats off! On this remarkable day, it’s worth joining the various voices reminding and in fact cautioning our fathers who are behind giving our future wives to our grannies, relent your ways because your canes are drenched in kerosene. Be an advocate join us fight this is mundane act of society. To our growing damsels, the technological craze in this our world is rife so take insight from the words of Margaret Thatcher “Any woman who understands the problems of running a home will be nearer to understanding the problems of running a country.” so you can make that difference by going beyond being a boss chick on social media. The Oprah Winfreys, Charlotte Oseis Nana Abas and a host of other industrious women will grace occasions to mark this day. It can be you my dear sister, think about it.

Please fathers and husbands spare your wives the bruises and heartaches so they can soundly manage the home impeccably for us. Ghanaian women are the best in world. So like Barack Obama said about the wife in ‘The Audacity of Hope’ we equivocally share in this “Most people who meet my wife quickly conclude that she is remarkable. They are right about this. She is smart, funny and thoroughly charming. Often, after hearing her speak at some function or working with her on a project, people will approach me and say something to the effect of, you know, I think the world of you, Barack, but your wife, wow!” God bless women #International Women’s Day.

The Social “Mediafication” Of The Ghanaian

The advent of social media has made a lot of people technologically savvy. Ghanaians have not been left out of the world of social media.  In fact, social media has spurned a sort of revolution that has churned out creative people from all walks of life. People have nurtured and improved on ideas that have been developed into several applications just to make communication easier. Social media tools such as Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Flickr, Instagram and a host of others have now made communicating by all forms very easy, be it via text, voice, pictures and video. But it seems some Ghanaians have been social “mediaficated” to the extent that sometimes their use of the various social media tools defeats the purposes for which they were created. These are just my observations and also based on snippets of conversations heard from several people. I was not eavesdropping though.

Once, whiles traveling in a commercial vehicle, we got to a police checkpoint and the policemen instead of doing their normal checks, were busily either on whatsapp or on Facebook checking their statuses. They just allowed the vehicle to pass by without even raising their heads since they were so much engrossed in what they were doing on their mobile phones. What if someone was carrying weapons or illegal drugs in the vehicle, how will they know? Other people also complain of health professionals, especially some of the nurses who rather choose to pay attention to their mobile phones than sick patients who urgently need their attention and care. Several instances can be cited in our hospitals where patients have lost their lives due to this unethical behaviour. What happened to their work ethics? Some of these health professionals even go to the extent of sharing pictures of accident victims on social media. I just don’t get it. Why will they do that?

The several government agencies, ministries and departments cannot be left out of this craze. Just enter any of the offices when you need their services, you will surely find some workers facebooking or on whatsapp. They will not even raise their heads to look at your face but will be asking questions. Such people are just wasting the tax payers’ money. They are not even willing to put their mobile phones down and attend to you. Have you also noticed the behavior of some people when they lose their mobile phones to pickpockets and thieves? They just can’t deal with it. This social “mediafication” craze has permeated every facet of the Ghanaian society and the earlier we change this attitude the better. Also some people share all kinds of information on social media without verifying them, thus sharing false information. This can sometimes cause fear and panic in the society. We should learn how to use social media, when to use it and what to do with it. It will shock you to know that when someone is in distress and needs help urgently crowds of people will gather around and use their mobile phones to take pictures of him/her instead of helping such a victim.