Saturday, February 20, 2010

Kwame Nkrumah-Acheampong – The Snow Leopard

Despite being called the Snow Leopard, Kwame Nkrumah-Acheampong hails from a dry, savannah town in Ghana where the temperature rarely falls below 72F – and until five years ago he had never seen snow. But the Snow Leopard, is on the prowl for a medal in the 2010 Winter Olympic games. He has drawn a lot of interest as an African skiing in the Olympics. Kwame will participate in the Alpine Slalom race which is scheduled to take place on February 27. He will make history as the first Ghanian skiing in the Winter Olympics.

Quite the athlete, he also represented Ghana in the West African Student Games in tennis. Kwame took ski lessons when he got a job as a receptionist at a ski center. Kwame said that the only thing Africans have to overcome is the cold. I hear you brother.

Dedicated to encouraging Ghanian youth to ski, he founded the Ghanian Winter Olympic Association and is working on building an artificial ski slope in Akuapem Hills, Mamfe, Ghana.

As well as being a professional ski racer Kwame has achieved academic success completing a first degree in Geography and Tourism in Cape Coast University, Ghana. He then went on complete a Masters in Westminster University in Tourism Management. Born in Glasgow, Scotland where his father was completing a doctorate, he grew up in a dusty town an hour from Accra, Ghana where children dream of becoming soccer stars, not Olympic skiers. But, after moving to Britain and finding a job as a receptionist in the Xscape snow dome in Milton Keynes, he discovered he had a knack for hurtling down the artificial slope.

His tale of triumph over the odds has echoes of the Jamaican bobsleigh team, whose appearance at the Calgary Games in 1988 inspired the Hollywood film Cool Runnings.
Nkrumah-Acheampong is determined not to embarrass himself or his country in Vancouver. “I don’t just want to get down, but ski well and not come at the bottom of the table,” he said.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Still Large and In Charge

PR Genius...fantastic job. Tiger Woods controlled his message without creating a circus around it. And, going back for more "counseling" some period of time while the pr's take the pulse of public perception. Brilliant. Tiger has a sickness. He is realizing it. He is dealing with it. He is probable cranking up his golf practices right now. In 5 years he will likely be a stronger model than before. And to finish top it off was the long emotional hug with his mother.

Tiger Woods delivered his "apology" before a handpicked audience that included family, close friends and members of the professional golf community, but most importantly, business partners.

Sitting in the front row: his mother Kultida, on her right, Amy Reynolds, of Nike, cried through the speech. Kathy Battaglia, of Tiger Woods Enterprises, sat on his mother's left.
Also in the front row: Rob McNamara (in a cream-colored blazer), PGA commissioner Timothy Finchem (in a red tie) and his close friend, and fellow Stanford University grad, golfer Notah Begay III (far left). And please, no other Black folk present...not "friends" Mike and Chuck.

Just how powerful is Tiger Woods - his 13 and a half minute apology was carried live on every major television network. Name me any other celebrity who can command such. One pro golfer was whining today that Tiger apology overshadowed this week's tournament - exactly - did you even know there was a tournament this week. The PGA can't wait for his return. It will be their largest rating ever.

He's human, he makes mistakes. I wish him AND his family all the best.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Captain America Angers "Tea Party" Folks

The fictional superhero, Captain America, has been one of the most popular comic book heroes since his creation in 1941. But now that the Captain has turned his attention to what appears to be the "Tea Party" movement, he has upset "real Americans". Issue number 602 has Captain America and his Black sidekick The Falcon observe an anti-tax protest from a rooftop, while trying to infiltrate a White supremacists anti-government militia group, "the Watchdogs". It was fine when Captain America fought Nazis during World War II, or took on those who burned the American flag during the Vietnam era, but when he turns his attention toward "patriot Americans", he is "out of line".

The protestors depicted are all White and carry signs adorned with slogans very similar to those seen in "Tea Party" rallies. The Falcon mentions that the gathering appears to be "some kind of anti-tax protest" and notes that "this whole 'hate the government' vibe isn't limited to the Watchdogs." He then tells Captain America that he doesn't think their plan will work because "I don't exactly see a Black man from Harlem fitting in with a bunch of angry White folks." Captain America then explains that his plan to send The Falcon in among the group posing as an IRS agent, thinking that a Black government official will surely set off their anger.

It appears that certain protesters want Captain America to go back to the 60s, "when Captain America was a pro-America figure." Well I see the Captain really becoming a pro-American figure - mixing a little something for everything in the "melting pot" and not just the potatoes alone.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Super Bowl Champions, New Orleans Saints Put On A One of A Kind Parade

A co-worker, the same one who for the whole week leading up to the Super Bowl would stop by my desk three or four times a day and ask me are you getting nervous yet, stopped by Tuesday, (and no I didn’t go to work Monday), and said I still believe the Aints won the Super Bowl. I immediately came back with, they didn’t – the Saints won the Super Bowl – the Aints haven’t existed in a long time. People seem to forget that the Saints were one game away from playing the same Colts in the Super Bowl in 2007. Then they had a half the team hurt and went 7-9, and last year’s 8-8 record could have easily been 13-3 as they lost 5 games by a total of 8 points and closed out the season winning 5 of the last 6. The Aints now play in places like Cleveland, Oakland, and his team Washington, D.C.

Forget Endymion, forget Bachhus, forget Zulu. The Super Bowl champs have set a new standard for superkrewes and their Mardi Gras parades.
Anyway, the Super Bowl Champions (I smile every time I say it) put on a parade that only could happen in New Orleans. Forget the Endymion parade, the Super Bowl champs have set a new standard for superkrewes. New Orleans went all out, deliriously welcoming back the team that brought home the hardware after 43 years. Saints fans were packed 15 deep along the streets of the Central Business District on Tuesday, braving temperatures cold enough that New Orleans officials had to enact the city’s freeze plan. But who really cared? As diehard Saints fans who had endured the ridicule for years partied throughout the night.

As the parade got set to roll, the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve band got the crowd primed with the unofficial Saints anthem, “Halftime (Stand Up and Get Crunk).” The second float featured quarterback and Super Bowl MVP Drew Brees, his backup, Mark Brunell, and the men in charge of protecting them: the offensive line.

The floats were loaned by Krewes of some of the biggest parade organizations. The float with the runningbacks also featured beloved Saints former tailback Deuce McAllister, who led the team onto the field in the NFC championship game and then retired. The crowd responded as if it was third-and-one on an October afternoon in the Dome: “Deuce, Deuce, Deuce.”

Coach Sean Payton, on a float with his family, held the Lombardi Trophy high above the crowd, kissing it over and over and blowing kisses to the crowd. He also showed off some dance skills, rhythmically pumping the trophy in the air while bouncing up and down, as “Halftime” blared yet again. As his float stopped in front of Gallier Hall, where politicians and other dignitaries gathered, Mayor Ray Nagin toasted the coach — and his “gazubas” — and led the crowd in a “Who Dat” chant.

Coach Payton, in turn, promised: “We’ll see you again this time next year,” to thunderous cheers.