Archive for October, 2012

By: Joseph M D Johnson
We say in our LIB slang, ‘ehn you say you fine, day will bray!’
Kwame Nkrumah asserted, “If Africa’s multiple resources were used in her own development, they could put her among the modernized continents of the world. But her resources have been, and are still being used for the greater development of overseas interests.”

This article is not for everyone!I wrote it for a particular group of people being called ‘Liberian youth’-those who have a chance to make a positive change in Liberia. I am not excluded. We were the vast majority of those affected by the war, a large number of those who now feel alienated, frustrated and most considered as vulnerable. If you are not part of this group of people, I share in your emotions to make untamed comments. I understand. I cannot stop you from being provoked! According to Liberia’s NYP 2005, “The youth population aged between 15 and 24 comprises a significant percentage of the population, with those under the age of 15 averaging over 40%.”

At the moment, I am part of this youth population. I was 8 years old when I became a refugee. The hustle started at this tender age yet I was always smiling. I lived with poverty and smelled death. I remembered I was left alone in the bush for almost a year without any family members around. The thing called school was very far from me. I had no sign of hope but I was still smiling. Night tears kept me sad. I was lost in the care of fear. But today, I have a passion to advocate with an aggressive approach to youth issues as a key priority for Liberia and have been conferred the Title: PEACE AMBASSADOR for United Nation Youth Association, recently.  This cause of advocacy is strongly established on patriotisms, discipline, and being pragmatic about developmental issues by being focus and influencing government policies.

I’m not happy! It’s about Liberia. I just read the story: “LAWMAKER CHALLENGES ELLEN TO PUBLISH BUDGET,” being published by Alva M. Wolokolie. It is creating lots of questions in my mind at the moment. Alva wrote that, “The President’s statement came as a result of the lawmakers allotting unto themselves in the just passed National Budget US$30,000 each to purchase utility pick-ups for their operations.” Add to this, “lawmaker disclosed that a total of US$3m is allotted to the President as traveling expenses.”

Do you know what I think? Who cares about what I think? We have more work to do as Liberian youth! Can’t say much about political issues now! But let think about our people at the grass root level of the country. What can we do to help them? What can we contribute individually and collectively to their development? Most of you have read the facts. To help you think for a change in Liberia, here are the facts ( “Liberia has one of the highest illiteracy rates in the world. Illiteracy rate is about 80%. With an estimated population of 4 million, this means that 4 out of 5 persons cannot read or write.”

“The cost of education is still relatively cheap in Liberia. Based on recent research and studies, the cost of full tuition in most high schools is about $100 which averages out to be $9 per month. However due the 85% unemployment rate in Liberia, most parents or families cannot afford to send their children to school as the average Liberian family earns less than $1 US a day.” Think about this: Are you part of the 80% of illiterate Liberians? I know your response. I can see the expression on your face. It is ‘NO.’ You are not among the estimated population who cannot read or write. Do not ask me why. You already know why. You laugh when you hear our LIB slang, “degree holder, you know book your country dirty?” Once you are interested in reading this article, you are considered one of Facebook’s 350 million active users who update their status each day (“Facebook Statistics.” Accessed: December 18, 2009). In fact, you have a good income, have weekend chilling moments with friends and love ones. You recharge your phone with money anytime you want to make a call and food is neither one of your challenge.

At the moment, we can’t criticize but encourage. We cannot depend on the older generation anymore! They have and are failing us! Let us love our country and pursue education. I like how Lord Henry Brougham puts it when he said, “Education makes a people easy to lead but difficult to drive, easy to govern but difficult to enslave.”

As a young Pan-Africanist, I have come to reason that a country progresses when majority of the citizens are educated; the country advances if the people stop talking and start working! The country develop if the people start investing their time, idea and resource in community businesses, programs and projects. They become great if the people of the land respect and put their country first in unity, far above tribal and personal desires.

Recently I wrote this abstract in my diary from the Liberian National Youth Policy (Positioning the Youth in Post-Conflict Recovery and Reconstruction, December 2005):The 19th President of Liberia, William Richard Tolbert, once remarked that the youth are the “precious jewels” of the nation. Perhaps one of the realizations dawning the late president’s mind was that the youths are the indispensable asset of the nation or the index finger pointing to the future progress and continuity of the state. If their growth and development process is obtuse or obscure, it reflects the function of the generic malaise of that nation. Each nation will prioritize the welfare of its youth consistent with its spiritual and moral ethos.”

The first step is to stop depending on government and start identifying educational opportunities. Don’t ask me how. Ask yourself why. Once you know ‘why’ you will act and know ‘how.’ Keep at the back of your mind that ‘Liberia’ is our life, our heart, our love and our world! Follow your dream and be good at what you do. Master your skills and develop your talent. Learn. Keep learning and don’t stop. Run from political issues until your mind have been empowered to effect change. These are the secrets to national development. Listen to Bill Clinton, “Politics is for people who are too ugly to get into showbusiness.”

The Bible insisted in Psalm 19:28: “For thou LORD will light the candle of [Liberia]. The LORD God will enlighten our darkness.” I believe Liberia has now reached to a place where eyes are focused on the youth. We must go the way to a new birth or go the way of death. The choices are up to me and you. Should we continue to let political leaders take advantage of our right to freedom and pursuit of our happiness? According to one of my favorite African poetsI met back in Nigeria during my training with the AU, AkpeziOgbuigwi, in her book ‘Africa Birth Pangs of a New Day, wrote:

“And let the world’s men and women of honor and integrity arise against such and their institutions.

For the oppressed are held ransom by the oppressors

Who have unjustly manipulated international and financial laws

Shackling innocent children and unborn generations to debts they know nothing of

Debts that have found their way back to the countries of origin.”

How To Be An Agent Of Change As A Liberian Youth?

  1. Manage Your Emotions: No one feels comfortable around an angry young man or woman. It is very important to manage your emotions. See things from a more positive view about your country and try to relax. How you feel towards helping to solve a problem matters.
  2. Manage Your Time: You cannot make any change if you are wasting your time every day talking and not impacting lives. Find a way to learn one new thing every day. Develop your talent into skills. Time is valuable. Instead of thinking about what to buy with your money, start thinking about developmental projects and business ideas that will benefit you and the people of Liberia.
  3. Manage Your Priorities: The last time I took a week to ask some young Liberians some simple questions like, “Who do you wanna to be in the future?… What is your plan for Liberia? What do you want from life?” I was shocked! Most of them know a lot about things but know nothing about themselves and has no plan for their future. This included their country. Set your priorities right and focus on them. The old proverb is true,“If you chase two rabbits, both will escape.”
  4. Manage Your Energy: Liberians are disreputably noted to be people who love pleasure. You know this culture is true. We love to focus our energy on pleasure and not purpose. We do things that don’t seem to matter. You can only help change Liberia if you are able to do things that really matter. You need to reduce your ‘free time’ and focus on your ‘work time.’
  5. Manage Your Thinking: I love to develop my mind by reading because it is the treasure of my life. I have developed a habit to think about things that are developmental. I encourage you to think for a change. Find time during the day to think. You will find it valuable and your life will progress.
  6. Manage Your Words: Do you know that every month in Liberia we have a new LIB slang? In fact, if you do not manage your words well, ‘you will stay long inside.’ You have to manage your words as a Liberian youth. When you speak, let people feel the weight of your words. Words can make or mars your life. Words can bring respect. Make your words count. Listen and think before your speak. Be a young man or woman that will speak words that will bring about positive change to your country.

Liberian youth, our days are running, generations are awaiting our success, Don’t sit there. Do something positive everyday!

By Joseph M D Johnson | Marketing 2013’

DAFI Students at GIMPA are always on the outlook in prioritizing academic Excellency. Learning is not only limited to education for DAFI students at GIMPA. Learning transcend acquiring knowledge of diverse subjects of our careers, modifying our behaviors in a new environment, expanding our skills, values and at times involve synthesizing different types of information towards a brighter future.

The intent of these “7 Smart Learning Tips” is to provide our readers with insight into how we as DAFI students at GIMPA significantly strategize towards achieving high academic performance by simply Learning How to Learn.”

‘Today, GIMPA has transformed itself into the leading management development institute in Ghana with a vision of becoming a world class Centre of Excellence for training in Leadership, Management and Administration, Policy Analysis, Consultancy and Research, Distance Learning, Gender and Development programmes.’ DAFI students at GIMPA reflect a significant share of this transformation.  The key to GIMPA’s success over the years has been consistency of purpose, having students to understand and apply what they have been thought.

However, our focus is to help provide our readers with smart tips to excel in their careers, increase academic performance and personal success. The question is: Are you a slow learner? Do you want to improve your learning skills? Are you looking for the best solution to a learning problem?

Strategy One: At GIMPA We Prepare To Learn. The first step to learn is to prepare. To use your memory effectively you have to prepare yourself mentally. In fact, with learning any skill, your intention, attitude, and motivation are fundamental to success. Learning preparation must include your ability to have the right tools, face challenges, have study environment, handle health and stress and time management. They are fundamental and are worth all the time you can put into them!

William A. Ward Quote: “Recipe for success: Study while others are sleeping; work while others are looking; prepare while others are playing; and dream while others are wishing.”

Strategy Two: At GIMPA We Explore How We Learn Best. Always bear in mind that there is no best way to learn. As a person who seeks knowledge, you learn by building on the knowledge you already have. 70% of a lifelong learner’s knowledge is thought by himself/herself. We take into high esteem how our DAFI finance student, Andra Flora Grant always talked about paying attention to her lecturer as teaching goes on. Andra learn by listening. It is important to understand and maximize your learning potential, explore how you learn best, and use this knowledge to your advantage. And the best way out is to discover your learning style. Are you a reader, a Listener, or a Doer? There must be an inventory that can categorize how you learn best.
Mark Victor Hensen Quote: Thought and ideas are the source of all wealth, success, material gain, all great discoveries, inventions and achievement.”

Strategy Three: At GIMPA We Understand How Our Brain Works. Once, Mr. Mike Awuah reflects, “The major tool we need to learn is our mind.” We are convinced that the brain work on principles. So “It is natural to forget then to remember,” and “It takes repeated efforts and exposure to information to learn thoroughly.” Get rid of the habit of studying for a very long time i.e. over 2 – 3 hours without taking a break. Take the advice of Sharon K. ferrtt, “When we perceive information with our senses, important information is processed into short-term memory and eventually into long-term memory. By using memory strategies and techniques, your long-term memory can improve.” In our opinion, the best memory techniques contribute a series of shorter study sessions which is definitely preferable for students or employees who are determine to achieve higher goal.
Abraham Lincoln Quote: “Always remember in mind that our own resolution to succeed is important then any other one thing.”

Strategy Four: At GIMPA We Practice What We Learn. It helps us make good marks in the final exams. As the famous saying goes, “Practice makes perfect.” Good learners are those who constantly practices what they learn. I personally admire the young economist, Emmanuel Zeeco Cisco, how he discipline himself to study, write and help teach others what he learn during lectures. This habit have helped him to retained almost 50% of what he learn in class, from speakers and reading. It works!

The motivation of writing this article was inspire form Mr. Mike Awuah when he thought on the theme: “Principles of Learning,” during an inspiration section of the Hud Group monthly youth meeting at the University of Ghana, Legon. When Mr. Awuah esthetically spoke, I jotted in my notebook, “Learners become better at what they practice. Adult learn best through practice and participation. It is good to learn but wiser to review what you learn at least five times a month.

Aristotle Quote: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act but habit.”

Strategy Five: At GIMPA We Take Control. DAFI students are 100% responsible for our academic performance. We keep at the back of our minds that learner really value knowledge and information so we are fully responsible to focus, think about it and create new ideas. I previously read, “One of the reasons people may not succeed in school or in their careers is a lack of willingness to make the necessary effort.” You are special –Don’t quit. If success does not come quickly, examine the real reasons for not succeeding. Taking control over things you learn is base on your ability to keep handling failure and focus. You are to discuss what you have learned with someone, teach it to someone, ask question, write it (take action-note), visualize it. Test yourself, use multiple sources, make flash card, etc. Most importantly, talk your problem out, eat well, get plenty of exercise and rest (your health says a lot about you), and create a balance of work and play.
Rob Gilbert Quote: “losers visualize the penalties of failure. Winners visualize the rewards of success.”

Strategy Six: At GIMPA We Team Up To Go Up. Being part of a team or study group is a reflection of who we are and how well we work with others. Team work help! You will be able to ask questions, suggest and understand your lesson and duties. The motivation to attend lectures regularly, participate actively in class room, review study materials frequently and practice what we learn has always better our chance to perform better in the final exams. It may be difficult to be controlled, supervised, or given order. Successful learners change their perception and begin to look at instructors, advisors and supervisors, as part of their learning process. They deserve your tolerance and willingness. Establish your team relationship based on respect; it is possible that most team mate will go extra mile to help you if they know who you are and if you show interest and willingness to apply yourself. Spend your time to gain!
Peter Druckek (Management Theorist) Quote “A worker needs one thing only: Learn how to learn.”

Strategy Seven: At GIMPA We Read Widely. Readers are Learners. Are Learners Readers? Excuses are many. For the past years, Joshua E McKay and Henry J. S. Mah Jr, young economist found it challenging to stick to their books. At the moment, they have perfectly adapted a reading habit. We do not find excuses either, as DAFI students. Rather, we are making proper use of our time by sitting in our hostel rooms reading and writing. We are an example of reading because every word you read in this article is written based on our curiosity to read widely. Reading has given us ideas and improved academic performance. Read novels, classic literature, biographies, and newspapers and get on the Internet. Read other students’ papers or employers’ proposal and exchange papers with your study team. Make use of the 21st century’ books! Reading widely enables learners to be certain or positive of their purpose, goals and objectives. Your skill level, vocabulary, ability to concentrate, handle distractions, and your state of mind all improve your learning ability to recall what you must achieve whenever you read. The more you read the better you become. Andrew Gide (a writer) said, “To read a writer is for me not merely to get an idea of what he says, but to go off with him, and travel in his worm company,”
Nathanael A. Laryea Quote: “Poverty is optional, prosperity is a choice, but wisdom is a need to all mankind.”

Empowerment Is Possible

You are born unique yet special

Believe in yourself that all things are possible

Believe in what you love to do

Believe in what makes you happy always

Build your dreams by reading good books

Create your future by believing in your dreams

Expand your life by learning

Focus on your talents and develops your gifts

Take time to identify the realities of life

And feel free to think great thoughts

Because great thoughts will lead you to great ideas

Love what makes you feel good

And motivate yourself to work hard

Life is full of happiness if you are persistent

Try and utilize the abilities you have,

They will prepare you to take opportunities you need to succeed

Develop your mind because it is the treasure of your thoughts

Master your emotions because they will take you far in life

No one knows the future so do not waste time on old ideas

Take a chance if it will make your heart smile

Life is a precious gift from God

Cultivate your abilities everyday

Empowerment is the key to your success

Look for it in all path of life

And help enough people to find their purpose in life

And help others to fulfill their little dreams

Do not criticize anyone dream regardless of its size

It may be the next solution to generations

Do not talk too much but listen more

Do not feel ashamed to love anyone

Because there is nothing impossible to achieve so sweet as love

Always be grateful for each day

Hope for the best

Only fools wish for the worst

Enjoy life and the outcome of your skills to its fullest

Never look down on your personality

Believe in the future

Because you will spend the rest of your life there. . .

~ Joseph M D Johnson ~