So year 2014 is almost over and what a year it has been! From the sad loss of icons to scandal after scandal, Ghanaians have certainly had a lot to talk about this year whether at home, at work, in the pubs or on social media.
As I look back on the year's biggest news, I feel that Viasat 1's just ended JIGWE awards and the 2014 Google Trends report for Ghana may have given us a clear indication of some the biggest headlines of the year. Nonetheless here is my Top 11 picks of the biggest highlights, and well low points of 2014.
11. AFIA Schwarzenegger touches the anointed!!!
Outspoken radio/TV personality and actress, AFIA Schwarzenegger certainly had an interesting year. Apart from scoring high ratings on prime radio and TV spots ( Happy FM, UTV, ETV), Afia scored heavy talkability in the last quarter of the year when she engaged Bishop Obinim in a public battle of insults. Videos and sound bites from her insults went viral online and even in mainstream media. In December, she again made the headlines with news that her 'husband' was married to another lady in the UK. I have a feeling we have not seen or heard the last of this firebrand of a woman even before the year ends!
10. GYEEDA, a blessing or a curse for the NDC?
The Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Development Agency (GYEEDA) scandal was one of the biggest to hit the NDC government in 2014. GYEEDA was set up to provide funds and support to the youth, especially those with innovative and entrepreneurial abilities. But it was hit with lots of controversial corrupt practices, leading to its collapse. GYEEDA recorded financial malfeasances leading to the loss of more than GHC14.5 million.
9. Kwaw Kese must have offended the gods!!!
Rapper, Kwaw Kese certainly had a tough 2014. After several trips to the USA for the most of the year, Kwaw's rollercoaster of bad luck started when his long time buddy and manager, Fennec Otchere was murdered. Kwaw was later in the news again, when he took to twitter to announce the finalization of his divorce to his American wife - clearly not one of his many problems as he was more than happy to announce his divorce after 6 years marriage. The rapper's biggest woes came much later in the year when he was arrested for using marijuana in Kumasi, after a gig. Kwaw Kese will spend Christmas in jail after being denied bail for the fourth consecutive time and his case was adjourned January 6. I hope 2015 will bring him better news and success with his new campaign against drugs.
8. Who killed Fennec Otchere?
Fennec Otchere, who is best known as the manager of rapper Kwaw Kese, was brutally murdered in his house on March 13, sparking all sorts of speculations. While the police are yet to give any concrete report on the death, the arrest of fellow artist manager, Lawrence Nana Asiamah Hanson (Bulldog) remains the most significant development yet. Bulldog's numerous court appearances and eventual release from jail grabbed many headlines. However, the death of Fennec was not just a mystery; it also opened a can of worms on how he and his wife of a few years had split and how the family of Fennec didn't allow the wife to take part in the funeral rites for Fennec. Hopefully in 2015, we would get to the bottom of the mysterious death.
7. How Nayele Ametefeh's gold turned into cocaine?
In the past we have heard of how cocaine turned into Kokonte powder in Ghana but the case of the biggest and most public drug bust of the year, it was a completely different story. Nayele Ametefeh (or whatever her real name may be) was busted with 12 kilograms of cocaine. Her arrest in Heathrow exposed lapses in Ghana's security as well as loops in the operations of the Narcotics Board. With rumors of deep connections in government, government was forced to clean up its image - sometimes ending in erroneous statements that only posed more questions r than answers. Several accomplices were arrested in connection with the cocaine bust, many of whom are currently on bail. Nayele Ametefeh, herself, has had to change her initial story that she thought she was carrying a bag of gold to pleading guilty in a UK court. In 2015, the story will surely remain on our radars as one of the developments to watch out for.
6. Farewell Komla Dumor
2014 (January 18) opened with the sad news about the death of iconic broadcast journalist, Komla Dumor, who rose from a top Joy FM presenter to a BBC radio presenter and eventual became the star and pride of Africa, representing the continent on mainstream BBC World News. His death came as a shock to many and the cause of death a lesson for many. His funeral rites started in the UK and ended with a state burial which sparked some debate as to whether a state burial was appropriate for him. No matter the results of that debate, it was clear that Komla had set standards for himself in the journalism profession, that many appreciated and would remember him for. Farewell Komla Dumor
5. Naa Ashorkor's Celebrity wedding of the year!
The wedding of radio/TV personality and actress, Naa Ashorkor was certainly the biggest celebrity wedding of the year, and the thousands of views on photos on my blog was a clear indication of the public interest in her wedding. It is therefore not surprising that Google Trends put her on top of the most searched 'Ghallywood' stars for the year. The wedding bliss started with a pre-wedding shoot, followed by a traditional wedding ceremony and then the big white wedding at Cleaver House. After the blissful wedding, there were some rumours in sections of the media that Naa had flunked her exams at the law school. There are even more rumors that she could be already pregnant. Hmm, perhaps we will get all the answers in 2015.
4. Who said Tweaa?
Who said tweaa? Yes, this was the most viral sound bite for most of the year when the power-drunk Gabriel Barimah, the Ahafo Ano South District Chief Executive vented his spleen on a health worker because the health worker was not on his level. His angry response was to a subtle heckling at a public function, when the health worker showed signs of doubting the DCE by exclaiming 'Tweaa'. The expression 'Twea' became an instant sensation and it was used everywhere from Parliament to radio discussions and even in songs. The DCE was later removed from office according to a statement signed by Dr. Raymond Atuguba, Executive Secretary to President John Mahama.
3. Odartey Lamptey's daddy blues
Former Black Stars footballer, Nii Odartey Lamptey certainly had the most active year in the media since his retirement from football. When news broke about a paternity text that proved he wasn't the biological father of his 3 children with wife, Gloria, it sent shocks across the world and that spawned even more scandals. Big Brother Africa star, Elikem Kumodzie, was thrown into the net of infidelity when he was alleged to have also had sexual relations with Odartey's wife for many years. The speculations were recently heightened when a social media feud between Elikem and Pokello saw Elikem confessing to having an affair with Odartey's wife. Elikem came out to say those tweets were not made by him. Elikem himself did have an interesting year, from his proposal of marriage to Pokello at the Ghana Music Awards to another alleged affair with fashion Theresa Onnen.
2. Ghana makes history at Brazil 2014
The FIFA World Cup is always a big event when it happens but Brazil 2014 holds a special case for Ghana although it was not our best performance yet. In South Africa 2010, Ghana missed out on the Semi-Finals narrowly which gave us recognition around the world like never before in the history of the tournament. But this year, we topped it when news about our government busing millions of dollars in a plane to go and pay our footballers in Brazil made the headlines. In fact a Hollywood flick inspired by the incident is said to be in the works. It was followed by news that Sulley Muntari and some GFA officials were engaged in a very physical fight. And who can forget about the brouhaha around the use or selection of celebrity World Cup ambassadors? Wait, there was more! There was news that supporters who had been flown to Brazil didn't have accommodation and were not fed properly. How about when photos of the celebrity ambassadors stranded at the airport, hit the internet? Well, the issues were many so it was not surprising that a committee was set up by the government to look into all the things that went wrong with Brazil. The televised proceedings from the committee certainly made interesting viewing as many more interesting facts were revealed. Oh, and did I mention that the Minister for sports was fired before he could touch down in Ghana? Well, there is more 'brewing from Brazil' as allegation of kickbacks recently hit the media. Hmm, have we seen and heard the last?
1. Dead or Alive? The Castro saga
Is he alive or is he dead? This was the question most Ghanaians asked for the greater part of 2014 after reports came in that multiple award-winning musician, Castro had drowned. The musician was on a weekend rendezvous with footballer, Asamoah Gyan and other friends when the incident happened. Castro reportedly tried to save his female companion, Janet Bandu from drowning which resulted in him falling off a watercraft together with Janet. Both bodies have since not been found. The incident has been followed with all sort of wild news and claims including various spiritualists claiming that Castro was alive and they could bring him back. The family of Janet Bandu also came out several times to accuse Castro and Asamoah Gyan, after initially accusing the media about not reporting or focusing enough on Janet. Castro's wife in the US was also brought into the picture at some point and there were also claims that Castro had been found alive in Togo at some point. Asamoah Gyan was also not spared from the speculations as claims that he had used Castro for a spiritual sacrifice were made. These claims perhaps formed the basis for which Asamoah Gyan's brother, Baffour beat up a journalist for asking at a press conference 'where is Castro'. And indeed, where is Castro?
These are by no means the only highlights of 2014, in fact there were many. From Obinim's miracles, to the magic milk that turned Nana Ama Boahema skin from black to white; Suweiba's missing baby; Charter House suing Shatta Wale; Lilwin advocating for the use of marijuana; Chris Attoh becoming a father; Lydia Forson's letter to Archbishop Duncan Williams; and the death of ace fashion designer Kofi Ansah and more, we will surely look back on 2014 for many reasons. Merry Christmas and I wish you and even more fantastic 2015!!!