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Thursday, May 16, 2013

Excerpt from Ari Loves Salome, the story of historical Jesus, his wife and family

It had been over half a year since King Aristobulus had last visited the Temple in Jeru, as the Lamb of Israel had been away in Arabia and India for several months, and upon his return trusted advisors were beginning to warn him of the deteriorating situation. They were speaking of trouble and abuse in the capitol, alleging that commerce was going on within the sanctified premises, even on Holy Days. The older children of Ari and Salome were now entering their teen years while young Jeshua Justus Aristobulus was six years old. Ari and Salome each received reports from the nearby and faraway locales, and their eldest son Herod Timothy also received his own updates, he being the current official Crown Prince, as the adopted son of Agrippa II.

At a barbecue feast for friends and dignitaries, Salome served lamb, goat, grilled and smoked fish, bananas, chick peas and spelt together with the finest oils, sauces, herbs and spices. A close associate pulled him aside and Ari Jesh was told he should really see it for himself; that words cannot describe how things have changed in the Holy City. The current slide was compared to that day before Jahnathan Maccabee and his brothers reclaimed the City and restored the Temple to the Chosen. Jesh thought this to be an inappropriate exaggeration, but after being told again and again of the dysfunctional and disrespectful matters regarding the Temple, by several different men within a two-hour period, he conferred with Salome and then made plans for a surprise visit. The one thing that bothered him the most was that he had been told that money-changing tables had been set up inside the Temple court and were operating on Friday evenings, with foreigners entering and leaving the Temple without any guidance or supervision. Drunkenness, thievery and fighting were not uncommon, yet things were to get wildly worse only a few years later, but up to this point the news was both precedent setting and disturbing.

Aristobulus had been among the avant-garde in allowing the Temple to be used for worship by the many communities living in and visiting Jeru, but he always believed this had to be done in a way that honoured the Judaic people, the Temple, Jerusalem and even all of Israel and Judea. The Temple was to be opened up as a way of spreading goodwill, respecting Judaism, building peace and fulfilling the Law, not defiling and obliterating it! And on the solemn eve of Sabbath, no less!

After the guests left, Ari Jesh and Salome conferred more on the matter and it was agreed that Jesh would visit Jeru within fourteen days to assess the situation for himself, while Salome and the family would travel part way and she would stay at the summer place in Capernaum with the kids until he returned, and then together all would travel back to the palace in Chalcis.

Two weeks later, Jesh and several guards and scribes left Capernaum for Jeru, stopping along the way to spend an evening and overnight at an elder’s home in Shechem. Here they were treated as Saviours and healers, and Ari Jesh and several disciples each performed laying-on of hands for those hurting, and a communal meal was prepared for everyone, both inside and outside the elder’s home. All kinds of people came to Jeshua with problems, and he did his best to channel them back into the healing path, the pure water and light that restores vitality.

Upon arrival in the Holy City, it was clear as Jesh approached the Temple that he was visibly surprised, even stunned, shocked, at the busy state of affairs, and the loud hustle and bustle of business and trade. He had timed his somewhat covert entrance into the Temple for dusk on a Friday, a time of day and the week when he remembered praying there quietly as a youth.

Accompanied only by two heavily-laden mules, three men in front were followed by four in the rear. As they walked up the street leading to the main gates, Ari Jesh turned to his brothers and said, “Do not do what I do when we are on the Temple grounds. Just watch, listen and learn.”

He was dressed in priestly rather than kingly garb, and as he led the way into the courtyard, holy anger welled up inside him. Ari first knocked one table back toward the trader standing behind it, then crossed the aisle and lifted up another table and flipped it, then crossed back one more time and kicked a third table, scattering its piles of coins.

After overturning the third table he stopped and looked to the dazzled moneychangers, then raised his hands up in the air, slightly above his shoulders. Amid cries of “Who is this man?” and “Stop this crazy person,” Jeshua raised his hands higher and spoke loudly.


The gathering hushed at the sight and sound of Aristobulus, and he lowered his voice correspondingly.

“This is a home of worship; if you need a place to carry on your business then build it! The Sabbath and the Temple are not to be blasphemed in this manner. Pack your things and go.”

Many perplexed faces confronted Ari Jesh, who glanced at his men and then spoke even quieter: “What remains hidden will someday be revealed to you all.”

Ari then turned to two companions and motioned them to follow him inside the inner portion of the Temple, while instructing the others with him to wait out front, essentially blocking the door of entry so nobody could easily follow. They sought out the caretakers and rabbis to discuss who made the decision to allow this activity on the eve of the Sabbath, and when Ari found out that it had been approved by the primary assistant to the High Priest Joseph Cabi, he declared that it may become necessary to have this secretary’s stewardship of the Temple revoked, as a soul unworthy of such lofty responsibility. High Priest Joseph was out of town, having left that afternoon riding a single whisper, and the brothers of Ari Jesh speculated on further moves, thinking perhaps a change would also have to be made at the top.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Wedding of Jesus and Mary Magdalene - FREE eBook for weekend reading!

All day tomorrow, Friday, July 27, and again on Saturday, July 28, I will be giving away a free eBook short story download that has been excerpted from my novel Ari Loves Salome, the tale of the historical Jesus (Aristobulus of Chalcis) and his wife Mary Magdalene (Salome, daughter of Herodias).

This free download for Kindle and other e-Book platforms will be available from midnight (Pacific time, 3am here in Toronto) on  Thursday until midnight on Saturday.

Download free eBook for Kindle: Wedding of Jesus and Mary Magdalene

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Pencils for Kids promotes education in Africa

Back-to-school shopping that actually makes a difference

by FARAH MOHAMED, Globe and Mail

When the beginning of the school year rolls around and parents and kids go shopping for school supplies, most of them would not fathom having to share one pencil with 29 other kids. In Libore, a small village in the Republic of Niger, Africa, children, were doing exactly that – that is, until 2005, when Robin Mednick started to raise funds ($500,000 to date) to send more than 6,000 kilograms of pens, pencils, rulers, geometry sets and notebooks, reaching most of the 6,000 students there.

“In December, 2005, my friend Dan Galbraith [now vice-chairman of P4K] told me he had just returned from the Francophone Games in Niger, and was devastated by the poverty. He said Canadian athletes had visited a school in Libore and noticed that 30 children were sharing a single pencil. My heart broke, and I simply said, ‘Dan, let’s do something.’”

First step

“I called the Canadian consulate in Niger, to ask if they could distribute supplies if we sent them. They connected me with Amadou Madougou, the mayor of Liboré. We spoke that night, he sent a list of necessary supplies [pencils, paper, notebooks, rulers, erasers, chalk, slate boards and textbooks] and the next day I approached Michael Williams, then manager of Business Depot.”


“Roumanatou Moussa Zanguina, 20, lives five kilometres from school. She was not eligible for a scholarship last year so she did everything in her power to get one this year. Every day she walked 20 kilometres to and from school to learn. It worked! She did so well that this year she has received a scholarship and is in her final year.”


“$5 can buy a textbook; $100 can build a desk shared by three children (many are still sitting on the hard ground); $600 can sponsor a scholarship for one girl for one year – this includes her uniforms, books, supplies and tutoring in four subjects for the entire school year; $2,000 can sponsor a kindergarten.”


“We no sooner build a school, and it is overflowing with students. We invest money in teaching girls to sew, and sometimes they must leave school early to assist their families in the field.”

Any doubts?

“The first time I wondered if we would ever get off the ground, was when I placed my first call to DHL Canada to ship over our very first test box with supplies. The cost was extremely high. It was the first stumbling block. So I faxed a letter to the president of DHL requesting assistance, and within 30 minutes he agreed to help. Over the years, DHL has shipped many boxes for us at no expense.”

Describe yourself

“I am unlikely to take “no” for an answer when confronted with obstacles. I not only believe in thinking out of the box, I don’t understand why there is a box.”

Personal hero

“Winnie the Pooh, he builds meaningful relationships and is genuine, loyal and trustworthy. And somehow he manages to negotiate challenges with sweetness and kindness.”

What keeps you going?

“Two girls, Halimatou Tiémogo and Halimatou Soumana, recipients of our scholarships, shared their money and books with a third girl who hadn’t qualified for a scholarship. These are the moments that keep me going.”

What is next?

Our Farmers of the Future pilot program which teaches 200 kids in Grades 4, 5 and 6 to view agriculture as a business. By building mini-farms near primary schools, children irrigate the gardens, tend tree nurseries, tackle environmental issues, and learn to market their produce and invest their earnings.

Celebrity sponsor?

“Jian Ghomeshi: I would be honoured if he brought his compassion for people, insight, wit and wisdom to help further our cause.”

This interview has been condensed and edited.

Farah Mohamed is president & CEO of the G(irls)20 Summit. Send suggestions for Action Figure to livebetter@globeandmail.com.

Robin Mednick, 58, is the co-founder, president and executive director, Pencils for Kids (P4K), pencilsforkids.com.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Ghana Gospel Awards to launch Summer 2012

In view of the enormous contributions of stakeholders to gospel music in Ghana, Ghana Gospel Music Awards (GGMA) deem it appropriate to award gospel musicians, song writers, producers, distributors etc. who have diligently and industriously upheld gospel music in Ghana in July this year.

The much awaited gospel music awards in Ghana was necessitated by the organizers desire and determination to recognize excellence in gospel music that has won the hearts of fans across Africa.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of JAKA EVENTS, Joseph Asare Kwabena Adjei, and organizer of GGMA said: “It become very frustrating for many gospel musicians that the exceptional and diverse talents that abound in gospel music in Ghana in particular have not been accorded the attention needed from the mainstream music gatekeepers”.

New Ghana Gospel Music Awards Slated For July kickoff

Mr. Joseph Asare noted that “these awards are unique in the sense that it’s an all-time and the entries for the categories will span from 1990 to 2012.” He added that “this time period has become necessary because GGMA wants to bring to the fore pioneers who in ‘yester-years’ showcased their classical talent in gospel music and aroused the appetite of the gospel loving public.”Mindful of various kinds of genres in the gospel music industry, GGMA will consider for eligibility gospel music that are:

Substantially based upon historically orthodox Christian truth contained in or derived from the Holy Bible; An expression of worship of God or praise for His works and /or;Testimony of relationship with God through Christ and/or; Obviously prompted and informed by a Christian world view.


The official opening of the first ever GGMA nominations will be announced at a later date, where organizers will take the opportunity to explain in detail the format the awards are going to take.

Source: GhanaWeb.com

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Ghana film and TV to be bolstered by NAFTI

King Ampaw films to be focus of 2012 lectures


The National Film and Television Institute (NAFTI) in collaboration with Goethe Institut have launched the 2nd Annual Lectures on Ghanaian motion pictures in Accra.

Speaking at the launch, Professor Linus Abraham, Rector of NAFTI said the lectures were instituted last year in reaction to public criticism that the institute was to be blame for the poor performance in the film industry in Ghana.

He said the criticism drew attention to the importance of NAFTI as an institution to strengthen the movie industry.

The 2012 lectures he said will celebrate the work of filmmaker King Ampaw, one of Ghana’s premiere filmmakers.

Prof. Abraham commended the CEO of TV Africa Mr. Kwaw and King Ampaw, who have helped the Ghanaian movie industry to attract international attention.

He said King Ampaw for example helped tremendously in promoting German–Ghana collaboration and co-production in film.

Prof. Linus Abraham has said a country’s identity is known through its beliefs and norms - there is the need to tell stories with the use of technology in order to find a place in the global arena.

He said a new awakening and focus for the cinema and film industry is on the threshold with the investment of GH¢ 2million for the creative arts industry as provided by the 2012 national budget.

He said the film and cinema industry can be revived if efforts are made to invest in talents and creativity. He said the industry has the potential to boom up despite the challenges it’s facing.

He said social critics are faulting the industry for its poor quality narratives and its dissemination of negative stereotypes. He mentioned witchcraft, drug dealers, gratuitous sex and violence.

He said there is the need to address the film, television and broadcasting industries in Ghana to attract the global market.

Ghana, he said, needed to create an enhanced image for the Ghana Movie Industry and called on the government, the private sector and the players in the movie industry to support the efforts.

The Board Chairman of NAFTI Professor Kofi Anyidoho said for the past twenty-five years the Ghanaian movie industry “is nothing to write about.”

He said the goal of the lecturers, held annually in February, is to highlight the role film and television play in the economic and social development of the country; they are also to showcase Ghana’s finest film-makers and their contributions to the industry and to research on the industry to provide a platform for students, academics and professionals in the movie industry.

King Ampaw, the 2012 laureate. was born on the 25TH of July 1940 in Kukurantumi in the Eastern Region of Ghana.

He is married with two sons. He has produced, directed and acted in a number of films including “Nana Akoto/ Juju” (1985), “Kukurantumi – Road to Accra” (1983), “No Time to Die” (2007) and “Cobra Verde” (1987) among others.

His works are recognized internationally and have won awards including the Film Critics Award for Kukurantumi at Fespaco in Ouagadougou, Input Film Award for Juju in Czechoslovakia, Talifa Film Festival Award in Spain for No Time to die and The first filmmaker to win an Honorary Award at the Africa Movie Academy Awards (AMAA) in Nigeria and other awards in Germany.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Objectives of Ghana's National Development Planning Commission

OUR MISSION: Functions of the NDPC

The National Development Planning Commission is a body created by articles 86 and 87 of the 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana and established by Acts 479 and 480 (1994) of Parliament with the mandate to advise the President on development planning policy and strategy.

The Commission at the request of the President, Parliament, or on its own initiative, is expected to:

study and make strategic analysis of macro-economic and structural reform options;

make proposals for the development of multi-year rolling plans taking into consideration the resources potential and comparative advantage of the different districts of Ghana;

make proposals for the protection of the natural and physical environment with a view to ensuring that development strategies and programmes are in conformity with sound environmental principles;

make proposals for ensuring the even development of the districts of Ghana by the effective utilisation of available resources;

monitor, evaluate and co-ordinate development policies, programmes and projects;

undertake studies and make recommendations on development and socio-economic issues;

formulate comprehensive national development planning strategies and ensure that the strategies including consequential policies and programmes are effectively carried out;

prepare broad national development plans;

keep under constant review national develop-ment plans in the light of prevailing domestic and international economic, social and political conditions and make recommendations for the revision of existing policies and programmes where necessary; and

perform such other functions relating to development planning as the President may direct.

More information on Ghana's National Planning Development Commission

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