Friday, November 30, 2007

A drop of greatness in every man

A drop of greatness in every man? Photo courtesy

Every once in a while, a television commercial (TVC) grows to achieve cult status among audiences with several people looking forward to watching it. If it happens to be in the form of a musical, one will see several people sing along its tune. One of the most recent TVCs that has achieved that esteemed status and has caught on everyone’s imagination is the Guinness Stout ad, Guinness Greatness.

The advert which says that drinkers of Guinness Stout have greatness inside of them opens with the reverent monologue from an elderly man, “My friend Udeme is a great man…”

The aim of every advert campaign is to grab the attention of its target audience and make them want to take action by purchasing such a product or taking a step in the case of a public service ad. Credit must be given to the creators of the Guinness Greatness concept for succeeding in capturing the attention of TV audiences with this campaign.

Unlike the Michael Power Action campaign that seeks to show the action in the drinker, which I personally believe comes after a drinking binge when you see a drunk’s antics as he makes his way home, the Greatness ad has more than a message for Guinness drinkers. Its pay off line “there is a drop of greatness in every man” is a classic idea.

Truth well told, that is the idea behind the marketing communications industry. They try to tell you, in your face, the qualities of their product. But the creators of Greatness went a step further by bringing out one sentiment that is present in every human, the idea that every human craves for something greater than themselves.

It is a fact that everybody on earth has been created distinct from every other person. Not even identical twins are the same; they possess differences in their anatomy and thought patterns. But as much as possible, every man or woman if prompted would tell you that they perceive they are on this earth to fulfill a destiny which they alone can attain.

This mission if pursued and not aborted is what will lead to greatness. This, Guinness has explored to create a successful campaign that has caught on everyone’s imagination. But then one might ask, must one drink Guinness to achieve greatness?

I don’t think so. There is a drop of greatness in every man means that there is substance in everyone that could lead to the achievement of great things in life. Like one of the parables of Jesus, the one about talents, it is obvious that there is something in you and you only need to look deep within yourself to find that special place you ought to fill in this world.

By finding one’s destiny, one stops being an occupier of space and starts being a giver of life. And like the Udeme the character in the ad, one’s sojourn on earth would be one in which many people will benefit from. Greatness comes from within and only an individual can find that for themselves.

Therefore, one’s task should be about discovering their strengths and applying them in a way that in their absence someone can say, my friend Nana is a great man. That is the mark of greatness.

Of Death and Hope

Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.
William Shakespeare, Macbeth

Nothing in the world really prepares one for the sudden loss of a close friend. It was heart breaking news for us in the office last week when we learnt about the sudden passing of our friend and colleague, Edem Edward Cudjoe. It was a rude shock when the news broke in the office on Wednesday, 8th August. He was just twenty six years old.

Edem was with us in the office on Monday and we all mostly had a great time. He was studying at one of the IT schools in town and was working with us as an intern in our graphics department. He was one very hard working lad who always had the eagerness to learn new things.

Edem’s passing has brought home the sad reality of the fickleness of human life. He had not reported to the office on Tuesday citing stomach trouble. We, well I personally, felt it was just one of those days when a worker reported ill because he needed some extra rest. It was even said that he had been up and doing on Wednesday morning before suddenly giving up the ghost as he prepared to come to the office. It is sad how such an agile young man would just pass away with all the great potentials imbued in him.

I still can’t make sense of it. Words are not enough to describe how I feel at this moment. I remember the last time I saw him on Monday when he was about leaving for the day, he had asked for my pages to lay but I had told him that I was yet to finish. He had enthusiastically replied that he would be expecting them the next day so as to plan the pages. I didn’t know it was going to be the last time we would ever talk to one another. Because he never returned!

Rumuors would filter into the office on Wednesday morning claiming Edem had died. But it was hard to confirm because we called his number and nobody would pick it. I even sent him a text message asking him to drag his behind to the office as we had work to do. It was all jokingly couched thinking that he was playing pranks. But who would play pranks about dying?

We should have known then that there was something amiss. For when someone finally answered his ringing mobile phone, it was confirmed that he had actually passed on. It was said that he had not suffered any pains on the morning of Wednesday. His family said he was as fit as a fiddle and had not complained of the previous day’s pains. It was greater shock to them because they saw him hail and hearty that morning.

The young Edem Cudjoe I knew loved life. He was so much in love with hip hop music that one could instantly feel the vibe around him. He always wore t-shirts and baggie trousers, the epitome of any hip hop aficionado. He was so full of life that anyone who came around him picked up on it.

Well, life is a journey which we make alone. After one is born, we instantly begin our journey over life’s uneven terrain. Sometimes we fall, and then we rise. As long as there is breath in our nostrils we can move on and try again. But all ceases when there is no more breath. By then we face our creator for that final music.

Life is such a beauty even with all its troubles. How many people have tried the dying option just because things are tough? The majority of us always hope for better things at the end of the dark tunnel. It’s because of the way we have been made. Our anatomy is such that hope is the greatest characteristic of the human race. To give up hope is to be a living dead. For we who are still alive have hope of a greater future. But we need to make up our minds to live a life worthy of our stay on earth.

My heart felt condolences go to the Cudjoe family. We share in their great loss. Young men are not meant to die. They are the hope of our nation. But as Edem leaves us to become a part of the Ancestry, I hope he has on his cloth end a coin to pay Kutsiami the benevolent ferryman as he makes his way home.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Sekondi: Where the Super Eagles will Triumph

Last Saturday, I was in Sekondi, in Ghana Western Region, the town which will play host to Nigeria's Super Eagles during the upcoming Nation in Ghana. Nigeria has been seeded in Group B, alongside Cote D'Ivoire, Mali and Benin, in what many call the group of death.

I was in company of my friend Jide Alaka, from The Game in Lagos and we had a splendid time checking out the town and the stadium which I must say is very beautiful, see photos.

I look forward to seeing the Nigerian team triumph over new rivals Cote D'Ivoire in January and to go ahead and lift the trophy later in February.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Long live Hugh Masekela

Recently, I had the opportunity of meeting South African jazz legend Hugh Masekela at an event in Accra. We spoke about an interview but he couldn't adjust his busy schedule to accomodate it before returning to SA.

He had come in to perform at a charity fund raising organised by my friend, ex-beauty queen (Miss Ghana 2002) Shaida Buari. He auctioned off one of his trumpets whch was snapped up by Mike Adenuga for $35,000!

He performed some great hits like Fela's Lady and one other song by Orlndo Julius Ekemode plus one of his own great songs. I had looked forward to hearing my favourite of his, Chileshe but he didn't do that.

Anyway, big ups to a great African. Long live Hugh Masekela