Friday, 31 July 2009

Black Star: Finley Quaye

I first spied the gorgeous Finley Quaye many, many moons ago at the MOBOs -when his single 'Sunday Shining' was riding high in the charts. His positive, rooty, poptastic, sexy, skunking, reggae sound, -was a 'breath-of-fresh-air'. Finley was born with music in his blood; -in Edinburgh to an English mother [she died of a drugs overdose when Finlay was ten years old] and Nii Lante Augustus Kwamlah Quaye aka Cab Kaye; [the brother of noted guitarist, Caleb Quaye and jazz musician Terri Quaye]. He reached the UK Top 20 twice with "Sunday Shining", and "Even After All' -and went on to support/tour with soul legend, James Brown and worked with the likes of; Osibisa, Iggy Pop, Buju Banton, his cousin Tricky [yes the trickster is a quarter Ghanaian] and -many more. Currently living and working on a new album in Berlin, -and about to embark on a tour, -our Finley is most definitely back on the radar and I look forward to much, much more from this talented singer. For more information about Finley and his up coming tour dates -please visit: and

Ghana Rising Hearts Yvonne Nelson

Actress Yvonne Nelson is relatively new to my lists of stylistas to watch. In fact, apart from known Ghanaian actors in the West [Freema Agyeman etc] -I can't think of one Ghanaian actor/actress in Ghana -apart from Yvonne 'doing-their-thing' -in terms of style. Hopefully, trendsetter Yvonne and all the fabulous clothes at GFW -will inspire the others to follow suit................................xx

Injustice: Eric Frimpong

Note: I would like to apologise for some of the content found on this film clip -but he is the only person - who has been able to truly condense -what has happened to our brother Eric Frimpong [in this very bad case of 'injustice']. 'To Kill a Mocking Bird' springs to mind. I would like someone based in the States to tell me....what is the response of the Ghanaian community's -concerning this case in the US, -because in the UK -there has been no publicity about it. I believe that the truth will be revealed.....Please read the following about Eric's case:

Title: The story of prisoner F95488 -Eric Frimpong was a rising soccer star. Now he's a convicted rapist serving jail time
Credit: Written by Sam Alipour -ESPN The Magazine)

This story appears in the July 13 issue of ESPN The Magazine.
It's March 3, 2008, a brilliant day in Santa Barbara. But for Eric Frimpong, it feels like hell. He's in Superior Court, encircled by sheriff's deputies, making one more trip to the Department 2 courtroom. This is his last stop on the outside for a while, a painful reminder of how far he has fallen. He left his native Ghana in 2005 to play soccer for UC Santa Barbara; a year later he became a campus hero while leading the Gauchos to their first-ever national championship. If the immigrant experience can have a sound, Frimpong's sound was a raucous stadium. But in 2007, just weeks after being selected by the Kansas City Wizards in the MLS draft, he was accused of raping another student on the beach near his house. Now he's a convicted felon.
Frimpong enters the courtroom, which is packed with students and parents, former teammates and coaches -- row upon row of supporters. They've come for the sentencing that concludes a trial that has rocked this community: People v. Eric Frimpong. Or more accurately, People v. Eric Frimpong and His People.
A victim's advocate reads a statement on behalf of the accuser, referred to in this story and in news coverage throughout the trial as Jane Doe. "I don't care that he's a soccer star…and I'm a nobody," the statement says. "Eric Frimpong ruined my life."
There's a rumble in the gallery. If his supporters could chime in now, they'd say that the kid in the prison garb has never spoken an unkind word or acted aggressively toward anyone. They would remind the court of the points made at trial: that his accuser was a woman with little memory of what happened that night because of a near-toxic blood alcohol level; that Frimpong's DNA wasn't found on the victim; that semen found on her underwear belonged to a jealous boyfriend, a white student who was never a suspect. They would argue that overzealous law enforcement was determined to nail a high-profile athlete, facts be damned, and that this was the Duke lacrosse case all over again -- except that the defendants in the Duke case were white men from affluent families with the means to navigate America's justice system, unlike Frimpong, who is poor and an immigrant.
Judge Brian Hill, citing Frimpong's clean record and "a lot of community support," delivers his sentence: six years in state prison. As Frimpong is led away, many people in the gallery are crying. Out in the hall, Paul and Loni Monahan stand solemnly while the courtroom empties. Their son, Pat, was Frimpong's teammate, and the Monahans -- a white, middle-class family -- had ­embraced "Frimmer" like a son and a brother. Loni distributes copies of a printed statement: "We will continue to fight for Eric. We will not rest until he is exonerated and the ugly truth of his wrongful prosecution and conviction comes out." When the leaflets are gone, she leans against a wall, tears flowing. "Eric believed in our system," she says. "He believed justice would prevail." Then she straightens. "Before I was sad," she says. "Now I'm mad."
Something good happened in Santa Barbara. Even now, as Frimpong sits behind a glass partition in the visitors' room of a California jail, he smiles easily while talking about where he's come from and what he has achieved. The way he sees it, he has always been fortunate.
Back in Ghana, in western Africa, he and his three younger siblings were raised by their mother, Mary, in the poor farming community of Abesin, but her job as a typist with the government forestry department allowed the family to have plumbing and electricity, unlike many of their neighbors. Eric was an engineering major and a midfielder for Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, in Kumasi, when he caught the eye of UCSB assistant Leo Chappel, who attended a 2005 match to scout the son of a Ghanian pro but ended up offering a scholarship to Frimpong instead. The first words out of Frimpong's mouth? Thank God. The next: What's UCSB?
By that August, the Gauchos had a crafty midfielder with intangibles to burn. Frimpong's intelligence, instinct and vision, along with his speed and touch, made him an on-the-ball force. He also had a winning personality. "Frimmer was very humble and considerate, on and off the field," says head coach Tim Vom Steeg.
As a senior the next year, the 5'6" Frimpong developed a reputation as a lockdown defender in leading the unseeded Big West champs to a string of improbable NCAA tournament wins. When the final whistle blew on the 2006 national championship game, the Cinderella Gauchos had defeated four-time king UCLA. Frimpong earned All-Big West honors, a spot in the MLS supplemental draft and the gratitude of his peers. "He was the heart and soul of the team," says Pat Monahan. "Eric won us that championship."
Everyone around Frimpong was buoyed by his success: his mother, friends and classmates, prominent locals who had helped him out along the way with invites to dinner, rides to the store and, when he struggled with homesickness during his junior year, a fund-raiser that yielded $3,000 for a ticket to Ghana. "We all tried to pitch in, because Eric's so darn likable," says Tim Foley, a booster who made Frimpong a regular guest at his family's home. "He was an American success story."
The Monahans were especially proud. Frimpong had met his "American parents" on move-in day in 2005, and they promptly invited him to spend Thanksgiving in San Diego. They gave him his first cell phone and laptop and took him on family vacations. They sat in their kitchen for hours listening to his stories about Ghana. They were also impressed by his knowledge of the Bible, and his quiet spirituality helped bolster their own faith. "He was going to graduate, play professionally, make more money here than he ever could in Ghana and bring it back to support his family," Loni says. "Eric really had it all."
Something bad happened in Santa Barbara. On Feb. 17, 2007, sometime after midnight on a fast-eroding bluff of beach right below 6547 Del Playa Drive, Jane Doe was raped. She said Eric Frimpong did it, and an all-white jury agreed. But the nature of the case, and some of the more slippery details surrounding it, has divided the community, raising questions about the reliability of the victim's memory, the true character of the accused, the motives and tactics of law enforcement, even the fairness of the justice system. Amid all the controversy, though, two simple truths remain: A young woman was victimized, and a young man's dream was shattered.
UCSB is among the nation's top party schools, and oceanfront Del Playa is the belly of the beast. Even a model student-athlete like Frimpong, who maintained a 3.0 GPA while working on a double major in applied mathematics and business economics, found it hard to skip the party entirely. After the Gauchos won it all, they were the toast of the town, especially Frimmer. As Pat Monahan puts it, "You'd walk into apartments and see Ghanian flags hanging over people's beds."

(Eric Frimpong, seen at his trial in 2008)

Frimpong's journey from soccer hero to convicted felon began a little more than halfway through his senior year. (The account that follows is based on police reports, interview transcripts, court proceedings and comments from trial observers.) The night of Feb. 16 began for Frimpong in the same place where he started most Friday nights, on the couch in his house at 6547 Del Playa Drive, watching a movie with housemates. His girlfriend, Yesenia Prieto, was working late, but Eric had reason to celebrate, fresh off an impressive 10-day tryout for the Wizards, so he showered and went to meet friends at a party at 6681 Del Playa Drive. It was outside that home, at about 11:30 p.m., that Frimpong met Jane Doe, a UCSB freshman. They struck up a conversation, then walked back to his house to play beer pong. They arrived just before midnight, and Eric introduced Jane to his roommates before taking her to the patio, where the two of them played beer pong for a few minutes until, according to Frimpong, Doe said she wanted to smoke, so they headed for the park next door. At the park, he says, Doe approached another male, who appeared to have followed them. When she walked back to Frimpong, she started kissing him, but he wasn't interested because she smelled of cigarettes. Doe became aggressive, he says, and stuck her hand down his pants. He pushed her away, then headed to the home of his friend, Krystal Giang, who'd been expecting him. By 4 a.m., he was in bed at Prieto's apartment.
About an hour and a half earlier, Jane Doe, accompanied by her sister and two friends, checked into Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital emergency clinic, claiming she had been raped. She was transferred to the Sexual Assault Response center downtown, where a nurse discovered a laceration to Doe's external genitalia and bruises on her body, findings consistent with sexual assault.
"Yesterday was a really good day," Doe told sheriff's detectives Daniel Kies and Michael Scherbarth when they arrived at her dorm room the next morning, according to a police transcript. The reason for cheer: The 18-year-old Doe had just regained her driver's license following a juvenile DUI conviction. At around 9 p.m. on Feb. 16, she went to a party with her sister, Elizabeth, and friends Mia Wolfson and Lakshmi Krishna. After stopping at a second party, Doe left the group and headed for a fraternity bash on Del Playa. "That's where I saw the guy," she told police.
From there, Doe's story is mostly consistent with Frimpong's, up to and including their game of beer pong. "He was really nice," she said. But their accounts differ sharply after that. According to Doe, the next thing she remembers is being on the beach, where the nice guy turned violent, knocking her to the ground, striking her in the face, holding her throat and raping her before fleeing. Having lost her purse, Doe walked to Del Playa, where she stopped a passerby, student Justin Hannah. Using his cell, she phoned a friend, her father and then Wolfson and Krishna, who picked her up around 1:30 a.m. Doe, who admitted to drinking heavily throughout the evening, couldn't remember anything between stepping into their car and going to the hospital -- a period of one hour -- but her friends would fill in the blanks: At first Doe didn't want to go to the hospital because she was worried about getting in trouble for drinking. But back at the dorm, her friends kept urging, and she relented. Sitting with the detectives that morning, she described her attacker as a black male who spoke with an "island accent" and had "big lips" and short hair. His name? "Eric, I think."
Sometime around noon on Feb. 17, Kies and Scherbarth spotted Frimpong hanging out with friends at the park on Del Playa. When Kies asked if he would accompany them to the station to talk about "what happened last night," Frimpong agreed to go, despite being unsure what the detective meant. Once at the station, Kies reminded Frimpong that he had come voluntarily and asked him to describe what he'd been doing the previous night. According to the police transcript, Frimpong told Kies about watching a movie at home, then going to a party and eventually meeting Doe, whom he described as one of the "random soccer fans," and playing beer pong with her before heading to Giang's house and later to Prieto's. Kies then asked for Frimpong's consent to collect the clothes he'd worn the night before. "Yeah," Frimpong responded, "but I still don't know what's going on." Kies explained that the girl said that they'd "had sex" on the beach.
"Wow," Frimpong responded.
Kies then informed Frimpong that he was being detained and read him his rights. Minutes later, he explained the rape accusation. "I didn't have sex with her," Frimpong insisted. Charged with felony rape, he phoned Paul Monahan, who spread the word. Vom Steeg couldn't believe it: "I'm thinking, Frimpong? Rape? No way." (The coach later asked Frimpong directly. "I said, 'Eric, is there any chance you had sex but you thought maybe it was consensual?' He said, 'Tim, I never pulled my pants down.' I said, 'If you did this, DNA will prove it.' He said, 'Coach, I'm not stupid.' ")
By the next day, Frimpong supporters had mobilized. Vom Steeg arranged for Paul Monahan to meet with Foley, and it was agreed that Monahan would fund a defense while the $100,000 bail would be paid by Foley and Cam Camarena, a former UCSB soccer player who helps finance Right to Dream, a program that brings Ghanian players to America. Based on a referral, they hired attor­ney Robert Sanger, and funds were bolstered by the campus-based Eric Frimpong Freedom Fund, which raised $25,000 within months. When Frimpong was released on bond, teammates were waiting outside the police station. "Nobody knows Eric like we do," says former teammate Alfonso Motagalvan. "And he's just not capable of doing something like this."
When the test results came back in March, Frimpong's DNA hadn't been found on Jane Doe's clothing or body, but Doe's DNA had been found on Frimpong: in two nucleated epithelial cells, found on his scrotum and penis, and in an unspecified trace under his fingernail. (Epithelial cells are found inside the body and in body fluids like mucus, saliva and sweat. These tested negative as vaginal cells, but such tests can be inconclusive. When the case went to trial that November, the defense argued that the findings were consistent with Frimpong's claim that Doe had grabbed his genitals.) Also, semen found on Doe's underwear didn't match Frimpong's -- but it was a match for that of Benjamin Randall, Doe's sexual partner throughout her freshman year. Randall told authorities that he and Doe had engaged in intercourse seven days before the rape; Doe said they'd had sex four days prior but that she thought she was wearing different underwear, and she told a nurse that they'd used a condom. (During the trial, Doe and Randall confirmed they'd been together at parties the night she met Frimpong. Randall testified that, while en route to a friend's house, he spotted Doe and Frimpong walking on Del Playa at about 11:40 p.m. Randall then called Doe, and she told him she was headed to "Eric's house to play beer pong." Under cross-examination by Sanger, Randall admitted, "I might've been a little upset. I guess you can call that jealousy." He also testified that after the call, he returned to his dorm at Santa Barbara City College, where he spent the night alone.)
Despite having DNA evidence matched to him, Randall was never a suspect. Neither was the man who retrieved Doe's purse, which she said she'd lost either on the beach or at Frimpong's home. It was delivered to the sheriff's department the next day, minus $30, by someone described in the police report as a "can recycler." But because of a "language barrier," he wasn't questioned.
Frimpong was the only suspect, even though there was no apparent sign of sexual activity -- no blood, semen, vaginal secretions -- or any scratches or other telltale marks of rape on his body or clothes. The absence of abrasions was odd. Doe told authorities she was wearing a "thicker ring" on her right ring finger and that she hit her attacker so hard, "all my knuckles were screwed up." There was also very little sand found on his clothes. (At the trial, Dianne Burns, a criminologist who examined the physical evidence, testified to the presence of two small vials' worth of sand in the cuffs of Frimpong's jeans and in one pocket.)
Still, the district attorney's office pressed on, in a case reminiscent of one that was unraveling on the East Coast. "There was always a strong parallel to the Duke case," Vom Steeg says. "From the start, the sheriff's department felt like they had their guy. But when the evidence didn't turn out the way it was supposed to, their position became, 'If she's willing to testify, we'll go forward.' "
Using phone records, authorities estimate that the attack took place between 12:15 and 1:15 a.m., a time period for which Frimpong did not have a solid alibi. James Jennings, a bicycle taxi driver, said he gave Frimpong a lift between 12:30 and 2 a.m. and that the player acted like "the happiest guy in the world." Giang told authorities that Frimpong arrived at her home sometime between 11 p.m. and midnight. But a 1:34 a.m. phone call from Frimpong to Giang seemed to place his arrival later than she had estimated. Also thorny was the testimony of Hannah, the student who had lent Doe his phone. He said that while Doe "looked like she had just come out of a traumatic experience," her clothing didn't appear to be dirty or sandy. He also said that she told him that she "didn't know what had happened."
Throughout the investigation and during the trial, Doe admitted to gaps in her memory. In her interview with detectives, she claimed she had consumed "a couple shots of vodka" before leaving her dorm. In an interview that April with assistant district attorney Mary Barron, the lead prosecutor, Doe said she'd consumed more throughout the evening. "I know I had beer," she said. "And I know I had rum." She also acknowledged that her memory after beer pong was hazy. "That's when it starts to, like, cut out," she told Barron. According to the transcript, Doe had little memory of going to the beach, and her recollection of the rape itself was scattered. Asked whether she recalled going outside to smoke, Doe said she "probably" smoked but didn't remember when. "I don't even know, since there's that chunk missing."
So what happened on the beach? Doe said Frimpong may have tried to kiss her, but when pressed by Barron she admitted, "I have no clue. I'm just assuming…" She also said, "I remember him biting me on my face," even though she had told the emergency room doctor she thought she'd been hit, and when questioned by detectives, she said she didn't know about being bitten -- despite Kies' saying, "That's definitely, most definitely, teeth marks, dude," about the bruise on her cheek. When Barron questioned her about it, Doe said, "But later, when they're, like, 'It looks like teeth marks' …I remember that happening."
Doe continued, "I saw him, like, feel around -- take off his belt -- or something on his pants -- I don't know." She said she remembered being penetrated, and "it felt like a penis." Barron asked if the attacker was the same person she'd played beer pong with. Doe said that while she couldn't recall going to the beach, she remembered the attacker's accent, his eyes ("They were white") and his lips ("They're big"). She was also fairly confident that the rape lasted "15 minutes at the most… but then, since there's that huge chunk of time that I don't remember, it could be anything."
Many of Frimpong's supporters believe that race is at the heart of the case. Santa Barbara County has nearly 425,000 residents, but only 2% are black. "I love this town," says Foley, a resident for 30 years, "but there's no question there's racism here."
Thanks to Frimpong's celebrity status, he wasn't flying under the radar. "I'm 100% convinced that they were going to nail this guy before he walked into the station," Foley says. (At the trial, Burns testified that in a Feb. 22 phone call from Kies, the detective asked her to expedite her usual process, reminding her that this was a "high-profile case.")
Back on campus, media coverage led to an unwelcome surprise for the defense: After reading about Frimpong's arrest, another student came forward claiming that she too had been assaulted by him. This new Jane Doe told police that a few weeks before the rape, he had acted aggressively toward her, grabbing her buttocks and tackling her on the beach. The DA used the accusation to charge Frimpong with misdemeanor sexual assault, which made for a second count at trial. (He was found not guilty.) "The DA's office filed a weak claim of sex­ual assault to portray Eric as a serial sexual predator and bolster the flawed rape claim," wrote Kim Seefeld, a local defense attorney and former prosecutor, in a blog post on Jan. 15, 2008. "The allegations severely prejudiced him before the jury."
The second charge also sent Frimpong back to jail, where friends say he was taunted by deputies. When Paul Monahan picked him up later that day, after Foley and Camarena paid the additional $250,000 bail, Frimpong broke down in tears.
There was no trip to the White House with the rest of his teammates. After the second arrest, Frimpong went into seclusion, moving to an apartment with Pat Monahan and relying on friends to run errands and deliver food. He still ventured out for dates with Prieto, and he remained active on the field, playing in an intramural league and with the semipro Ventura Fusion. He also took a part-time job with Foley. "I tried to give him pocket money, but he wouldn't take it," Foley says. "He was a different kid, just as sad as can be."
Meanwhile, a battle raged among the student body. On one side were Frimpong's loyal backers, who attested to his character in TV interviews and who carpooled in large numbers to his hearings. On the other side were victims' rights advocates, who responded with rape awareness presentations on campus and a confrontation with Frimpong supporters at an MLK Day rally. "It was ugly, with a lot of people saying a lot of dumb things," Giang says. "People just forgot that at the heart of this are the facts, not just vague concepts."

(With the support of friends, including girlfriend Prieto (far right), Frimpong stayed in school after the incident and graduated)

None of it kept Frimpong from graduating in June 2007. "Nine out of 10 kids would have dropped out," Vom Steeg says. "It says a lot about his character." Adds Camarena, now the head coach for the University of Hawaii at Hilo: "Eric never blamed corruption, never called anyone a racist, never called the girl a liar. He continued to uphold American values. And he maintained faith that our justice system would see him through."
Frimpong put that faith in an all-white jury of nine women and three men. His trial began on Nov. 26, and for three weeks Department 2 was home base for Team Frimpong. Many supporters came with notebooks, and during recess they would go to the café across the street to discuss the latest unfavorable ruling. They point to the time, for example, when Barron may have implied to the jury that Frimpong had chosen not to testify, even though the prosecution is not allowed to refer to the defendant's right to remain silent. While Judge Hill said that there were "possible inferences," he denied Sanger's motion for a mistrial. Also, during jury deliberations, Hill refused to dismiss juror No. 5 after her arrest for drunken driving. (The defense argued that the juror, whose case was in the hands of the DA, couldn't remain impartial.)
Perhaps the most troubling ruling, as far as the defense was concerned, involved bite mark analysis. The prosecution's forensic expert, Norman Sperber, testified that he couldn't rule out Frimpong for causing the bite on Jane Doe's face. But detectives failed to disclose that they had first approached another expert: Raymond Johansen would later testify, outside the jury's presence, that after preliminary analysis, he told Kies that the bite mark was "vague." Law enforcement is required to turn over evidence that doesn't point to the defendant as the suspect; suppressing such evidence is grounds for a mistrial. But Kies failed to file a report of his conversation with Johansen. When questioned by Sanger, the detective stated that while he had indeed approached Johansen first, the dentist had failed to provide any opinion. Kies and senior DA Ronald Zonen both told the court that they had passed over Johansen because he wanted to charge for his services, and Sperber wasn't charging. But Sperber testified that he always charges for his services, and he did so for this case, too. Judge Hill, who had served 19 years as a Santa Barbara DA prior to sitting on the bench, ruled that Johansen's testimony was not exculpatory and denied that motion as well.
Nonetheless, Frimpong's supporters save much of their scorn for Sanger. The prosecution rested its case on Dec. 12, having called 32 witnesses; Sanger questioned them all on the stand but called only one additional witness, a blood expert who testified that Doe's blood alcohol level at the time the sample was taken, 5:37 a.m., was .20, and that it could have been as high as .29 at the time of the incident -- an almost lethal level. Sanger rested his case the next day. "The final score was 32-1," Vom Steeg says. "I feel guilty, like we didn't do enough." Loni Monahan spoke to Sanger throughout the trial about his strategy. "He told me, 'The best defense was no defense, because it would demonstrate there's nothing to defend,'" she says. "We made a mistake."
The jury began deliberating on Friday, Dec. 14; the next Monday, just after 3:30 p.m., came the guilty verdict.

(Frimpong's (sliding) lockdown defense keyed the UCSB Gauchos' improbable run to the 2006 NCAA soccer championship)

On Jan. 31, 2008, with Frimpong in jail awaiting sentencing, the defense filed a motion for a new trial, citing several factors, including a development with the jury: In a written declaration to the court, juror Ann Diebold stated, "I regret the decision I made in finding Mr. Frimpong guilty." Among her many points was the court's refusal to provide the jury with evidence they had requested for review, including Doe's testimony and Frimpong's interview with Kies -- the latter because some jurors stated that they wanted "the opportunity to hear Mr. Frimpong's side of the story." (They were read only Doe's direct testimony, without cross-examination, because Judge Hill said "it would take some time to gather the additional information," Diebold wrote.) Diebold also claimed that the jurors rushed through deliberations so they could conclude the case by the Christmas holiday. "I felt pressure from the judge and other jurors to reach a verdict by Dec. 18," she wrote.
Sanger's motion was a last-second heave, but it allowed him to put his own forensic dentist on the stand. Defense expert Charles Bowers fell ill during the trial and was unable to testify, but at the hearing on Feb. 28, he delivered his opinion: Frimpong's teeth could not have made the bite, but Randall's teeth could have. As Bowers spoke, there was a buzz in the gallery. But Judge Hill was unmoved. He began the hearing by saying that in his 27-year career, "I've not seen a rape case with so much incriminating, credible and powerful evidence," and ended it by dismissing the motion. Three days later, he sentenced Frimpong to six years.
Today Eric Frimpong is prisoner F95488, a ward of the California Correctional Institution in Tehachapi, about 75 miles northeast of Santa Barbara. Friends and supporters continue to fight for him, but none worries more than his mother. "She's sick to death," says Loni Monahan, who provides Mary with weekly updates. "We understand one of every 10 words, but we're moms, so it's enough." Loni's own son marvels at Eric's almost preternatural calm in the face of adversity. "The kid's in jail, and with all his issues, he's the one keeping us sane," Pat says.
Frimpong is small in size, but he seems to have avoided many of the pitfalls of life behind bars. He even calls many of his fellow inmates his friends. One of them is 45 year-old Terry Carter, who served time with Frimpong at Santa Barbara County Jail. "Eric was a godsend, just an amazingly positive influence," he says. "It's funny, but to guys twice his size, the kid's a leader."

(Frimpong's supporters were a vocal presence throughout the trial, and many continue to fight for his freedom)

Every day, Frimpong led group exercises in the yard, but his primary pastime was Bible study. Before his arrival it was Hispanics-only, so Eric started his own, and some of them joined his.
"It's a terrible thing that happened to me," Frimpong says. "Being in here, I keep asking myself why God put me in that situation. And then it struck me: Maybe I can reach more people, help more people, if they hear my story." His supporters say it's working. "All you have to do is look at Frimmer's camp -- he hasn't lost anyone," Vom Steeg says. "In fact, since the trial, he's actually gaining supporters." In Ghana, Frimpong's plight is well-documented by the media. In Santa Barbara, people continue to proclaim his innocence, even when it's not easy to do so. After writing several opinion pieces in the local papers, Kim Seefeld was inexplicably subpoenaed to appear at the hearings on the motion for a new trial. (She was never called to testify.) "I got harassed by the DA, subpoenaed and threatened, all because I stuck my neck out for someone I believe is innocent," says Seefeld, who plans to continue her writing. "That's what happens to a citizen who dares to question our justice system in Santa Barbara."
And then there are the letters from all over the world, many containing donations. "These are people who don't even know Eric, have never spoken directly to him," Loni Monahan says with awe. "Eric was born to be a pro soccer player, but he's realized he has more impact in the direction he's going. There's a groundswell going on."
The key addition to Team Frimpong is Ronald Turner, a Sacramento-based, court-appointed appellate attorney who has filed the opening brief in an appeal with the Second Appellate ­District of California. The process gives Frimpong hope. So too does his dream of eventually attending seminary and becoming a priest. Not that he has given up on turning pro. "He's very determined," says Andy Iro, Frimpong's friend and former teammate, now with the MLS' Columbus Crew. "His reputation has been tarnished, but if anyone can come out of this a better person, it's Eric."
Many nights, Frimpong says, he dreams the same dream: He is running, but not from anyone or anything. His bare feet punch the shoreline, toes clawing the sand, while the sun sets on the Pacific Ocean. "My body can be in prison," he says. "But my mind and soul are in Santa Barbara." Something bad happened there. Two young lives were suddenly, sadly interrupted. But in the end, something good may still come of it.
(Sam Alipour is based in Los Angeles. His Media Blitz column appears in ESPN The Magazine and regularly on Page 2. You can reach him at
For more about this story please visit:

Lifestyle: Time Out Accra

"The very first edition of Time Out's Accra for Visitors is your essential guide to the best bars, finest restaurants, coolest shops and must-see sights in Ghana's thrilling capital. Time Out's team of local writers has scoured the city to reveal Accra's greatest hits and exciting hidden delights. When the city becomes too sticky, then our correspondents around the country have suggested the best beaches, national parks and trips out of town. Whether visiting for pleasure or business, on a budget or on an expenses account, Accra for Visitors has it covered. Don't visit Ghana without it."

I am loving it. Buy it online at:

Sunday, 26 July 2009

The Spirit: Beauty for Ashes - I am back oOO

The Real Me. I am as free as a bird flying high in the sky.....I am back ooOOO

The real me -right now (with just my blue eyeliner -and errm brushed eyebrows)

Me now (one of the better picture that my son took -yes he is very good)

Me now (made-up at night)

Me B 4 (I was made up by my friend Gifty -way too much make-up)

'The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion -- to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.' Isaiah 61:1-3

I remember being 21, and walking into church [in a big baggy knitted jumper dress, black leggins and ultra high platform black boots, with big buckle details -very Rodarte S/S 09] -many, many moons ago. I also remember walking out of the church -a very different person. I also remember asking Father God -that even though I am now a christian -if he could allow me to always know about /be about/ -fashion -and he definitely answered that prayer. In fact, he went further -and turned me into a forecaster [and has enabled me - to predict -the next couple of seasons -in advance] -amen. And thus begun my spiritual life. There was signs and wonders, visions, real love and much more. Then the big lessons started. I remember walking into church and being told that 'Mama Stella' had shared her vision concerning me and I was not there. She told me much later -and it was a revelation. She talked about how God had told her I was going to go through 'hell' ('hell is my interpretation for what she said) and then everything was going to be alright -amen. I also had a very spiritual dream -where the symbol of marriage was used -to demonstrate what was about to take place in my life and it was shocking. First I was shown a wedding -which went very badly, -and then through shock I woke up [for real] -and got angry. I demanded that as a child of God, -I was worth more than that -and strangely feel back asleep. And I dreamt about a wedding again -and this time it was perfect [and I really mean perfect]. So this dream passed -and life went on its merry way [the usual trails and tribulations, the fun and the craziness etc] -then I meet a Ghanaian man [he was born in Ghana -and I was born here -and the differences was huge. And that's all I am going to say on that subject -you can read into it whatever you want -it was hell.] and we rushed into things and I got pregnant. Well, if the Devil had being sleeping, -he arose and turned my life upside down.

I remember after some time away from church, -going back to a service when I was about seven months pregnant. I had left Star magazine -and was nesting [buying stuff and making things ready for my son -yes, I wanted and knew I was having a boy]. As the praise and worship started; -a brother approached me, -and ask if he could have a quiet word, -and we made to the back of the church. He apologized for interrupting my dancing, and went on to explain what God had revealed to him. You see, his wife was also pregnant -and he kept seeing a vision of a pregnant woman crying, seeing this woman suffer, seeing this woman troubled by her child, afraid and all alone. He thought it was his wife but God kept on saying no. God also told him to pray for this woman, -and promised that he was going to deliver this woman, -and that even though things were going to be tough for her at first, -that he would turn things around, -and that her life -would never be the same again -Amen.Well as you can image -I took this on board -we prayed and I went about my business............................................

Fast forward 5 years -and every fear, want, sadness, etc etc -has befallen me. And thus, I have decided to accept -and live in the 'TRUTH'. But my TRUTH had not included -how I looked. I had kind of errm ...stopped looking at myself in the mirror [if you know what I mean]. The last five years -had been so difficult that -for someone who truly loves, beauty, fashion etc -I had only allowed myself a quick glance in the mirror before popping out [and going about my business]. But that changed a couple of months ago. My handsome and beloved son [soon to be five] took some photographs of me [it was late, I was at home, in my nightdress etc -with only my ubiquitous blue eyeliner and my hair was doing its thing -as it does at home] and it sent me into a tailspin -making me loose my balance. I could not recognise the person in the photograph. She seemed fatter, more tired, not as attractive as I was -and therefore couldn't be me, -but there was more!! This person also looked older -and on closer inspection had a bigger nose, -what the hell was going on? I knew it was time to face the truth.

The truth was simple, -I, Paulina Opoku-Gyimah am -no longer 25 years of age and it shows, -and the realisation of the vast difference between myself and the young gals down the road -is pretty shocking. When did it happen? How did age/ time -creep up on me -like this? Also, I had a big birthday looming -and thus, the photographs and my fast approaching [big] birthday -compounded ...erm -a feeling of loss [or whatever]. Someone once told me that red eyes are a sign of maturity [basically an older person] -and guess what? My eyes are red.!! Turning 30 something on the 29th June -means I have finally 'entered' into the 'truth' -physically, -and even though it's not as I would have wished, -I NOW accept -Amen. And as I sit here at my lovely antique desk, in my small sitting room, in my bijou flat -typing, -I have tears rolling down my face. I feel sooo naked -but I am not going to hide anymore -Amen. And I actually feel free -Amen

The truth is -as prophesied way back, -the journey I have been on since the birth of my son -has not been an easy one, -and it now it shows on my face. I became everything -I feared; 'fat, *black [I love my black skin folks], poor [broke but not down -Amen], single-mother living in a Housing Association flat. But I also believe that this was done, so that Father God -could show me; -that by his grace I could be all the aforementioned -and still live and survive -and not die. That we have to overcome obstacles to be great, to learn compassion etc. Well folks, I have made it BACK in one piece [by Gods grace] -and I no longer have those fears. I am also no longer going to, 'rail against God' -or feel SHAME, sadness, and desperation because I am not where I want to be. So I still dislike/hate poverty - my poverty, the limitations that it ensues, but my focus has now changed, folks. I have spent the last five years running; -trying to kick down doors, yearning etc, and praying also, -that if father God wasn't going to give me my hearts desire -than could he allow me to wake up -with a new desire. A desire to work in a supermarket -say, or as a clerk or whatever. Or that I would wake up -wanting the norm, -or the easy or the mediocre or whatever ,-but it was a waste of TIME. And with hindsight , -I wished I had slept and chilled out more -because I now know that for some of us, -NOTHING will happen -unless God wills it, and that there are many lessons to be learnt -before he will give us our hearts desire.

And so you find me -in a place of real acceptance, folks. I accept that my face shows that I left home at the age of 18 -and never went back. That I come from a broken -fragmented home. That I had to look after myself. That I made some mistakes. That I am somewhat estranged from members of my own family. That I overcame rejection, and journeyed to hell and back. It shows the hurt -and many nights of crying, the loneliness of motherhood, -and having to fight for every little thing that I have. My face also shows that I have had to deal with jealousy [real jealousy. The kind that comes to take from you [that even the little that you have -is coveted]. Yes, my face shows; the exhaustion, the shock, me killing myself to be happy for my son (even though I was sick with postnatal depression), trying to do it all by myself, juggling my baby alone, cleaning, writing to make money, starting a business, fighting to give my precious son the best, -running/kicking [on the empty -until I dropped] all of this and more is there.

But I am a winner and a survivor -by Gods grace, -and this is also there -for all to see. My beautiful face also reveals God's love for me. That I am loved by my son and -that I love me. That a have a few but very good friends -Amen. It also shows a sillier me from the past. The 'life-and-soul-the-party'. That, -at the age of 21, God came into my life. That at the age of 25 -I was having a fabulous time whizzing back and forth between Zurich, Switzerland and London. That I partied with A-Lister's, done NYC, Holland, Spain (several times -and mostly with a bunch of friends -fabulous), the Canary Islands, Tenerife, Belgium, France -and slept in a car [over night] in Paris with my mate Anna-Marie [on a journey that saw us drive from London to Spain -via France -and it was fabulous]. That we walked in a field of Sunflowers and it was beautiful. That I have meet some incredible people. That at the ripe old age of 32 -I had my beautiful son -Alexander Jojo [and fell madly in love for the very first time]. And that for the first time in my life, -I wanted to be the very best - I could be. Also, -it shows that I started a model agency -single handed. That I juggle my baby's needs, -whilst looking for funding to start my own magazine -and my need to win. But mostly -that at the age of just over 35 -I have finally learnt to love myself [inside and very slowly working on the outside] -and it shows, -and I accept -Amen

I, Paulina Nana Aba Opoku-Gyimah have 'OVERCOME' and I am a WINNER -Amen. And I believe that as things get easier, and my son becomes more independent, and my wishes start to comes through [it has already started happening] -I will start to sleep and rest more -and thus, will start to look and feel more rested. I also accept the many lessons God has taught me. And even though they were painful and I felt abandoned by Father God at times, -I now accept his teachings/chastening/ corrections etc. I am also very aware of the bigger picture -folks, -and though it is not always clear -I thank God that his plans and thoughts for me are:

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

I also believe that TODAY is the end of this chapter [for my son and I -amen. And that we are now - under; sweet, merciful, gracious favour -amen.

'My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him. For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Furthermore, we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we be partakers of his holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless, afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; and make straight paths for your feet, lest might that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed. Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord"

So, I would like to wish myself a happy belated Birthday -and clap for myself as -I tell me just how fabulous I am. Yes I am fabulous. I am a child of God. I am a mother, a provider, and a friend. I am a woman -and not child of 18 or 21 or 27. I have suffered and overcome and I am a survivor. I'm ready for the next 70 plus years. And I am going to live them up, eat them up, fab it up -with zeal and wisdom and power. I am also going to take it easy -on myself, -because I love me and I am proud of me and I am BEAUTIFUL [not just on the inside but on the outside] -and I am worth it -Amen. I am a compassionate, loving, happy, chic, neat, sleek woman; -and I thank God for his grace, and know that my son and I -have a great future ahead of us......Watch this space...........................xx

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

An exclusive interview with Anna Reynolds.....

Regular readers of Ghana Rising will be under no illusions about my love for the, 'Life Less Ordinary' [what is the point of anything less than fabulous?]. I truly feel that if you have God in your life then the 'ordinary is not an option' and thus, -gravitate towards the extraordinary, the creative, the beautiful, the talented etc, -and Anna Reynolds is not an ordinary gal or musician. This ubertastic chanteuse is 'blowing -up' big stylee and I am excited for her. Beautiful, talented, down to earth -and a style icon in the making, -Anna Reynolds is going Stellar. Her music is 'hot potatoes', 'relevant' and 'now'. And her, 'Who can I trust' is sizzling hot and 'real'. This catchy, chick flick of a tune is an anthem of our times [because every young lady [and man] has asked themselves this question] -and I love it. In fact its kind of hard to stop playing it. Anna's music is sexy -and even though the majority of her songs are not in English -they all have an electrifying verve about them, -especially, 'Electronic' and 'Cool'. I was lucky enough to catch-up with Anna [via email -during her tour, bless her] and the following is an insight into her world. Enjoy....................xx
GR: Hi Anna, thanks for the interview?
AR: Thank you.

GR: You are touring right now [Hamburg, Berlin, Stockholm etc] how's it going?
AR: It's been a refreshing experience so far. After working on the EP's in the studio and not -having been on the road for quit some time now, it feels really good to finally be playing the songs live in front of an audience. It's also great -finally getting live feedback on the new material.

GR: I can't stop playing, 'Who can I trust' - what's the story behind it?
AR: The story behind "Who can I trust" is about the paranoia and fear of being exploited as an artist. It comes with the territory I guess -once a small buzz starts to exist. In the early stages, you feel kinda woundable around people, sometimes called for, -and sometimes not, but [I] guess it comes with the territory for most upcoming independent artist.

GR: Are your songs - autobiographical?
AR: I draw inspiration from everything around me that evokes an emotion inside. People, movies, music, books - you name it. A big part of my songs are autobiographical. Still, sometimes it's based on situations from the past or future, -the topics are not always about present situations though.

GR: Tell us about your band/ band mates -and how you all met?
AR: Well with my producer, Fabian Schmitt, I've been working for many years now, my drummer, Mathias Uredat, and the other lovely young lady, J.-Ann Wilson, in the band -I met thru fellow musicians.

GR: What inspires you?
AR: Everything around me is inspiring for me. I naturally absorb everything that catches my attention, but mostly music and the vibe of urban scene in cities, especially the cities I live and work in; Berlin, Rotterdam and London.

GR: Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
AR: My mother has always been a great influence in my life. She always let me know as a child that I can achieve anything I want to. And then growing up, -basically everything that provoked my interest. Artists that just do their thing, especially those who write, compose and produce their own material.

GR: Your music has a 'Brit-trippy-hoppy-indie' feel. Are you a fan of British music?
AR: Yeah I guess in a way I am. I do have quit a few British artists on my i-Pod playlist, but basically it's that sound, -that mixture of sounds I love regardless where a band is from.

GR: Do you have any London dates planed?
AR: Sadly not yet, but me and my team are gonna keep at it till we get some real soon. I'm sooo looking forward to finally playing in England.

GR: Are you a Ghanaian born in Germany or a German of Ghanaian origin?
AR: I am born in Ghana, raised in the Netherlands and am now currently living in Berlin and Rotterdam. Actually, I also shared an apartment in London at Haverstock Hill for a while, -where I also picked up some great music, -each time I stayed there.

GR: I love your style -it's fierce. How would you describe your look?
AR: OH I actually wouldn't describe it. I usually just throw on something. I love vintage stuff and I'm happy about the upcoming 80's 90's revival, but [I] guess in a way alot of the things I wear are ANNA-ALPHA-BETIC stuff from my clothing label designed and styled by myself. Also, I wear my sister designs PRICCI by Priscilla Reynolds available:

GR: Do you have a stylist?
AR: For many years my mother and my sister designed and picked the coolest looks for me, but the last years I've strongly developed my own personal sense of style, which I love most, -so at the moment I am my own personal stylist. Which is very practical.

GR: Who is your style icon?
AR: Well I really love many different styles and have grown in and out of many looks growing up. Costumes from movies like Xanadu inspired me. I generally draw from trends that reflect urban and pop culture. I like eccentric individuals who've got there own swag/look like; Chaka Khan, Grace Jones, The Artist Formerly Known As Prince, Sheila E, Michael Jackson, David Bowie or Madonna and the list goes on & on to -Kate Moss, Karen O, Santigold, MIA, Lilli Allen, Kylie Minogue and sooo many more.

GR: Name your favorite designer(s)?
AR: My mother and sister Eliza & Priscilla Reynolds [also that's a bit bias]. They know my shape best and have designed stuff that fits me perfectly. Otherwise I look out for young upcoming designers, because they tend to represent stuff that reflect the present. At the moment Jeremy Scott, Christian Joy, Zakee Shariff, Stussy, FRUITION LV, PRICCI and of course ANNA-ALHA-BETIC are some of my favorites.

GR: You look good girl. Share your beauty secrets with us?
AR: For my face I use products from the local pharmacy like Effaclar and any kinda day cream, make up Black Opal or Mac. I'm not really a brand kinda girl, if I use a product and it works, -I stick with it for a while till I try something else. I do my own hair and I really don't have any other beauty secrets except that I smile and laugh alot -that's good I hear :-)

GR: Anna is it difficult to look after yourself -on the road?
AR: No not really, but I also have a great team including my band and we're all easygoing people so I'm chilled till it's show time.

GR: On to more serious stuff, -what are your hopes and dreams for Ghana?
GR: My hopes for Ghana, is to lead Africa towards becoming more focused on growing it's economy by trading more, -as the world globalizes. I want to see Ghana play a big active role in bringing more business to Africa.

GR: Thanks for the interview Anna, you are fabulous. ....... God Bless you -always............x

For more information about Anna Reynolds visit: and

Some of Anna Reynolds' favourite things..

ANNA-ALPHA-BETIC by Anna Reynolds
PRICCI by Priscilla Reynolds

Anna Reynolds' style is fierce. From her hair to her eye popping 'eclectic-rock-chick-emo-afro-diva-80's-blade-runner-meet-Grace-Jones' vibe, -Anna knows her stuff and -how to work it. La Reynolds has her own fashion label called, ANNA-ALPHA-BETIC [and as you would expect, -it's hot] -just check out the, green 'Triangle' trousers [modelled by her beautiful niece -also called Anna] -it can be purchased from For more information about Anna's collection -please visit: She also loves designs by her mother and sister, Eliza & Priscilla Reynolds. And I'm not surprised [nor do I think she is biased], just check out this, olive green sculptured, -'investment' dress from the, 'PRICCI by Priscilla Reynolds' Collection [her sister Priscilla Reynolds' Label] -it's 'timeless' (EUR 149.00) and can be bought from: or She also has a thing for young up and coming designers like, Christian Joy. Christian Joy's designs are very 'Rock 'n' Roll' -and sooo not for the faint hearted. This cult label -has a fierce following -and is coveted by fashionistas and rock chicks alike, -just check out Karen O [of the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s] in one of Christian Joy's costumes This popping 'Tronic Jump Suit' by Stussy [EUR 48.00] -one of Anna's favourite labels -and is sooo on trend I'm loving Jeremy Scott's collection right now. These two dresses are a must, especially the t-shirt dress

When it comes to beauty, -Anna favours simple and kind products like, 'Effaclar AI' by La Roche Posay. Effaclar AI is fantastic. A breakout corrector [formulated with La Roche Posay patented Thermal Spring Water] -this gentle but effective treatment, resorbe all impurities, accelerate healing and diminish scars [£8.85 from Zest Essentials] Anna loves Black Opal, -and their wide range of foundations [Creme Foundation, Creme To Powder Foundation, True Color Creme Stick Foundation etc]; Powders [Oil Absorbing Pressed Powder, Deluxe Finishing Powder, Invisible Oil Blocking Powder etc] and concealers -all come in skin flattering shades, -for all skin types [from dry to oily]. All are Hypoallergenic, Non-comedogenic -and will not clog your pores or cause breakouts Like all Ghanaian Glitteratis, -Anna loves Mac and their shimmering 'Mineralize Eye Shadow' in Eccentricity (£14.00) and glossy Liquidlast Liner in Electrolady (£13.00) will make her pop on the stage

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Bonsu Thompson: Journalist and Publisher

"Dreamz R Real Entertainment is a multi-media and management company. We provide numerous services such as the marketing of up and coming brands trying to find their way into a certain market, managing artists and songwriters and A&R consultation. What the people can be on the lookout for is an incredible female artist and songwriter named Mela Machinko. She’s from New York but lives in Atlanta now, where most of the best writers reside. She has an amazing female perspective and sense of style. Also, be on the lookout for the re-launch of In fact, as soon as you finish reading this interview, log on." Bonsu Thompson

I am surprised -King magazine has folded!! I remember buying it sometime back, because Eva Marcille (nee Pigford) of ANTM was on the cover -and stumbled across it's editor, -and respected journalist, Bonsu Thompson. I was surprised because, I just don't see Ghanaian names in American publications [and to my knowledge, -Ghanaians in America -just haven't achieved the success that British Ghanaians have in the world of media]. I have since learnt that many successful Ghanaians in the States -anglicize their names [what a shame] -and thus don't appear to be Ghanaian. As you can see [above], Bonsu Thompson [aka Bezo] is one busy brother. The Editor-in-chief of Hip-Hop Soul, Editor-at-Large of XXL, -and the founder of, Dreamz R Real Entertainment -Bonsu is a seasoned pro. If you are interested in music, modelling, being managed, branding or representation etc, -then you can also catch up with him on myspace:

Do you live in Accra or New York? Are you passionate about Ghana [ its people, its Movers & Shakers, its politics, its celebrities etc]? Are you interested in popular culture? Do you have access to successful Ghanaians in your city? Do you know how to research -and work to deadlines? Do you have the motivation to contribute to Ghana Rising, -as and when [yummy news involving the Ghanaian Glitterati -breaks in your city]? I am looking for two contributors; one based in Ghana [preferably Accra] and another based in the States [preferably NYC] - to contribute to Ghana Rising. If you are motivated, passionate about Ghana, can work to deadlines, have a good understanding of the English language, -and love fashion; beauty, lifestyle, popular culture, Ghanaian celebrities, -and are interested in writing for Ghana Rising; -please email me at: or Thanks Paulina xx

Beauty: Akoma at Exclusive Roots

"When sourcing their products Akoma purchase them from fair trade organizations in Africa. What does fair trade mean? Fair Trade means that the women co-operatives and suppliers making the products are paid at a fair rate and are provided with a pension plan, vacation, sick and family leave and overtime." Exclusive Roots

If you are after African Black Soap or real [raw] organic unrefined Shea butter, -take a look at Exclusive Root's website. The above yummy products are both made in Ghana, -by the, 'Akoma Women's Co operative' and are organic, free from dyes and fragrances. The shea butter is processed from nuts gathered from the karite tree grown in the northern region of Ghana. It is wonderful, contains vitamins A and E, leaves the skin feeling soft and smooth, -and makes an excellent moisturiser. It can be used to heal cracked, aged and damaged skin (£6.50).

The Soap is good for sensitive skin [it does not contain any; chemicals, preservatives, colour enhancers or fragrances] -and is coveted for its natural healing properties (£3.50). For more information about Exclusive Roots; to order, -or to enquire about wholesale orders [they have a minimum order of £50 policy -and for orders over £250, they provide free postage and packing] -or to receive a free 10ml sample of organic Shea butter [or coconut oil], please visit:

Why not visit them at their store in Leamington Spa at:
Exclusive Roots
45 Park Street, Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, CV32 4QN Tel: 01926 258505
P.s Exclusive Roots also sells gorgeous dresses by Global Mamas -see the lovely dresses below (please read my past article, entitled -Global Mamas)- I believe the model in the photographs is Mirash Davies.

Cover Star: Idris Elba

I love Idris Elba’s verve on the latest issue of Essence Magazine. Born Idrissa Akuna Elba to a Sierra Leonean father and a Ghanaian mother –this star of Film/Television/stage -is also a DJ.

Monday, 13 July 2009

Doing 'real' charity with 'real' style: Lisa Lovatt Smith

Lisa Lovatt-Smith with Damon Dash and Rachel Roy

Lisa Lovatt Smith and Mr Francis Hurtut [French Ambassador in Ghana]
Lisa Lovatt-Smith and Marcel Desailly
"Our policy, in line with UNICEF guidelines, is to avoid institutional care whenever possible. We believe that the family is the structure most suitable for providing care for children. International research has proven that consigning children to orphanages for long term care can be detrimental to their development and does not respect a child’s basic rights...............Children may be placed in orphanages after loosing a parent, despite having family members who want to care for them but lack the means to do so. Orphanages often represent access to food, clothing, and education, when what really should be done, is make these necessities accessible in the local villages and communities. When an orphanage is treated as the principal solution, it can hinder the incentive for the local population to address the orphan problem and at the same time channel resources into making better orphanages, which encourages parents and families to abandon their children for lack of a better alternative. For all these reasons we channel our resources into supporting families and encouraging family and foster care as opposed to orphanage care for vulnerable children." OrphanAid Africa

A touching piece by uber fashionista, Rachel Roy, -in the May issue of American Vogue,-struck a cord. Moving and inspirational, -Rachel talks about her trip to Ghana -for the United Nations to participate in a fashion show, -benefiting their World Food Program in Accra. She talks about taking her daughter -Ava, who, -like her mother was greatly effected by this humbling trip. Shopping, sleeping off her jet lag on the beach and collecting unique seashell, -Rachel then mentions, an orphanage [that her friend had told her about] called OA (OrphanAid Africa), -run by Lisa Lovatt-Smith. Well, I just had to google her.

Lisa Lovatt-Smith is a 'tour de force'. A mother and author [she wrote 'Paris Interiors' and 'London Living'], -and the hard working founder of, -OrphanAid Africa (OA), this ex Vogue editor -is tireless. Born in 1967 in Barcelona of British parents, Lisa is a well connected, glamorous fashionista, -with a heart of gold. Lisa is passionate about -how to raise orphans [and I totally agree with her philosophy, -'that orphans left in orphanages are not nurtured and that prolong time spent in theses institutions -can be detrimental to their development'] -and thus started, OrphanAid Africa [a NGO that offers support 'to strengthen families and communities so they can care for their own children']. Lisa's OrphanAid Africa works tirelessly to keep families together -enabling extended families to look after orphans -who would otherwise be left in institutions, -sometimes not receiving good care. They also help to send children to school, help mothers and protect children by -transforming their lives. Ghana Rising would like to take this opportunity to thank Lisa Lovatt-Smith, for her tireless work and incredible contribution to Ghana. For more information on OrphanAid Africa or to donate, please visit:

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Get Wooded!!

Round Beaded Mask With Metal ($59.99) from African Art -

Ashanti beaded mask stool ($149.99) from African Art -

Hand carved wooden bench is crafted by artisans in Ghana ($225.00) from Swahili Imports -

Medium Djembe Drum with Adinkra (£65.00) from Goldcoast Drums -

Ashanti Sun God Mask -($40.00) -

Akua'ba Fertility Doll -($29.99) -Africa and Beyond -

Branches Necklace by Pretty Afrika Designs ($115.00) -

Wooden buckle belt from Etnick Collections -