Really Fine and Interesting

Over the last few days (as well as the last days of the year 2007) I Have made a very pleasant aquaintance - A refined, bilingual friend, knowledgeable about many things, especially recent events in Africa. The radio channel Radio France Internationale now brightens my mornings with its news in French, insights and reportages in English and call-in-shows about topics varying from Kenya's recent election to birth control pills. I discovered, as so often, my new friend by chance and it is really remarkable how this accident now is enriching my life and language skills on a daily basis. For you who like to listen to some French and English news, download a podcast today!

Et non, j'ai pas recu de l'argent pour ce "blogpost" !

Xmas on the beach

Here in tropical Ghana, I am trying my best to get the xmas feel with the help of santa-hats, jingle bells, candles, Swedish gingerbread, a few ornaments and with little help from my friends...

May your days be merry and bright!

First Gear

So today I enrolled with a driving school here in Ghana. My goal is to sometime next year be able to navigate between goats and Mercedes-Benzes, yellow taxicabs and banana sellers. The registration was surprisingly smooth - I payed the fees ($200) and handed over five (5) pass port sized pictures and got a report card for fifteen driving lessons to start with along with the theory course and a textbook, an exercise book and a notebook.

Then the theory class started, with me as the only student! My inspiring teacher Justice talked me through the roadsigns one by one in preparation for the "interview" later this week where I will be orally questioned by the roads authorities about the roadsigns before I get the go ahead to start practice driving.

If only it was this easy to enroll with the University of Ghana...Right now I am experiencing some time consuming shuffling around - "Oh, then you need to go to the registrar's office and buy the forms", "You come back later", "You need to go back and get a go ahead from that department", and "I can't promise anything, just go back to the registrar". It seems like the first test to pass is one of endurance.

I'll keep you posted on both my educations in progress.

Visiting Perspectives

The last few weeks I have entertained my first Swedish guests here in Ghana. It has been wonderful to introduce them to my new world of exotic sights and scenery, Ghanaian friends and family, as well as local dishes and drinks. Along with the joy of sharing come my guests’ impressions and thoughts about life here in West Africa. Fresh insights about the heat, the quality of the roads, the nightlife, and the family systems and other things has made me look at my surroundings in a different light.

My guests have pointed out funny things - like that you can pay five and get 2000 back in change - and by just being here themselves they have provoked interesting situations (many Ghanaians referred to my father as my brother for instance and my friend as my twin). We have discussed how to deal with the ever so deep inequalities between people here, if it would be possible to introduce composts and solarcells here, and which is the best way to plant a pineapple. We have told Ghanaians about our cold country in the north and learned about their lush green nation. Also, my guests have been able to provide me with interesting comparisons between both Ghana and India as well as between Ghana and Sweden in the 1950ies (!) and the (selected) outcome is as follows: There are less wild dogs than in India but a few more goats running about than in Sweden in the 1950ies…

On a more serious note, having people who know me come to share my realities here means a lot to me and their visiting perspectives continue to enrich my everyday life in Ghana. I hope it has become evident for my guests why I love Ghana and I do have the feeling they, with their experiences of other continents and times, have fallen too...

In the picture a Swedish flag on a fishing canoe in the Elmina harbor, western Ghana.

Destination Unknown

Last week I attended the graduation ceremony for University of Ghana where graduates from the student body of 27 000 was awarded their diplomas. The sun was shining over bright smiles as they one by one were called to the podium to be recognized. But after accepting the diploma, what happens to the graduates?

The research project I am about to start will investigate what people do leave Ghana for supposedly greener pastures abroad and what groups stay. For instance if half of the medical doctors trained in Ghana leaves for Europe and US, why do the rest stay? These days I am collecting and reading articles on the subject and spending time thinking about how to narrow my topic down. Will I focus on groups of university graduates and look at how migration patterns differ between the sexes? Or will I look at other groups too since the educated group is relatively small - although influential on the country's development? What sectors should I choose? Will I compare the situation in Ghana to another African country? The destination is unknown both for me and for my fellow students in Ghana.


I blame my poor posting lately on, ehrm, that I am between jobs and have too many fun things to do. Although, over the last two years I have been posting quite a lot, to be precise 100 times!

When I started blogging, the idea was to write about my relocation to France and the inevitable culture shocks. I started off with some inspiration from fellow bloggers and my favorite Piaf song "Non, je ne regrette rien". The blog has since then been about travels, also since I left Paris, but furthermore about similarities and differences between places on this planet and the people I have met. Writing here has allowed me to process and refine some of my thoughts on experiences I have had. Over my 100 posts I have visited four continents and a peninsula, moved to Ghana, discovered the amazing possibilities a blog can offer, and worried about that you people out there can know a lot about me before I know anything about you... Well, that is just a risk I take, and I have plenty of evidence it has been worth it.

To conclude this jubilee post I want to thank all my readers and especially the new ones that I have met through my blog!

Capitalism 2.0

In the world I walk around in this week, change is key. In the markets things that did not exist one year ago are being sold (like digital photo frames that show your pics from a USB memory), old buildings can from one day to the next have been cleared down to make space for brand new, exciting arcitechture - often 10 or 20 times taller. Shops that are not profitable close after a week or two, the club that was in last month is most likely not the place to be tomorrow night. The feel is wonderfully capitalistic-optimistic and today as I walked in to the Shanghai Museum of Urban Planning, the lady at the ticket office proudly told me that the current exhibition would tell me more about the city in 20 years time. The future is here!

The downside to the whole thing is of course the lack of environmental and..ehrm..human concerns. Of course there are many women and men as well as geographical areas that suffer when products are being quickly produced and sold for small change ("Everything 2 yuan Shops" =0.20 cent, are everywhere). Although, it might be changing. It is not easy to get information on these things here, but small signs like that organic foods are available - even if in a small scale and often imported and a well-to-do middle class is emerging, at least here in Shanghai.

Seeing this exploding growth makes me think of the information clash that probably exists since in Europe we can read every week about "The China Bubble". The headlines scream out "Sell your China papers!" and "The end for China is here!" While the concern is almost never about environment or human rights, the economy journalists worry about the "financial fragility" of the Chinese market. Coincidently, a Swedish finance guy I met in a fancy club at The Bund - the Shanghai see shore and business centre since a decade - said that "with the Olympic Games in Beijing next year and the World Expo in Shanghai 2010, people would be crazy to listen to those who predict a soon-to-come downfall of the Chinese market".

Well, if I would trust the vibe I've gotten here in Shanghai over this first week and that handsome financeman, I'd buy into Chinese stocks. Although, my money will more likely be spent on a last minue trip to Beijing tomorrow where I'll look for further capitalism clues.

Snapshots of Shanghai

Pet rabbits for sale, a stop with a private driver at Starbucks, a sweet smell of jasmine, an old lady stretching her leg on the street (almost straight up!), a loud argument in a local restaurant that seemed to be about a dumpling, people at the view point by the famous Shanghai skyline looking at rubber toys being sold on the pavement instead of the amazing architecture, orchids, a policeman telling an old lady to get of her bike, a Turkish business man struggling with his English, five toddlers playing on a balcony overlooking the pretty French Concession area, flowerpots hanging from the sides of the motorway, and me holding a map - something I rarely do, since I hate being obvious about my un-belonging, but in this case its too clear I am new to it all. I'm guessing I can be seen around town with a map tomorrow too!

On Closeness

Sitting in a comfy chair looking out over a grayish blue ocean. The horizon is blurred, the sky is cloudy and there is rain in the air.

Today is my last but one day on the island and it has been a truly delightful experience to reconnect with my previous home, paths I used to walk, friends from the school days and marvellous dinners created by my own parents. I have been telling stories from Ghana and in formulating my new life in the south my Ghanaian relationships and realities seem surprisingly close. Close to this - very different - life in Sweden.

In the picture Sakko is sitting where I am sitting now.

Home Safe Home

Looking at Sweden with African eyes, it looks empty, clean and wholesome, almost too orderly. I am not saying the Ghanaian open gutters, crowded streets and littered beaches are better, but what Sweden strives for, and indeed has come pretty close to, seems to be perfection. If there is such a thing as a too secure society, I think it looks something like Sweden.

In Ghana I get upset with how few people use seatbelts, even though everybody know someone who was involved in a traffic accident. I get sad when I think of all the unwanted and uncatered for children. But Ghana is also a place where it seems to be part of the calculation of life that bad things can happen. There is so to speak a preparedness. An African friend living in Sweden told me about how a collegue's parent died and noone at the work place did anything which shocked my friend. She said, it is like people in Sweden think there's a way to avoid death.

Maybe we Swedes need to invent a better engineered helmet and pass a law that it is to be used at all times, or maybe we should just relax and enjoy the ride though our clean and wholesome kingdom.

Rain in Uppsala

This week, I have moved my physical self to Sweden and am currently experiencing the october drizzle in Uppsala.

But in the pic the sky is blue.

Made in Ghana

The last few days I have been going round picking up gifts for friends and family back home in Sweden. Finding things that are genuinely Ghanaian proved to be more difficult than I first thought.

Truly Ghanaian are chocolate and cocoa products, a few other processed food items like spices, pineapple marmelade, roasted nuts and Ghanaian cloth - both wax prints and batik. Then we also have the jewellery like beads in every colour and shape. At least the big, heavy glass beads I have seen are produced here. The smaller ones a market lady says she buys from a man from Niger, but she wasn't sure of their origin.
Today I also got to know from a reliable source that a lot of the "Made in Ghana" wax print cloth at the market is acctually printed in China. For a country like Ghana with a spiralling turism industry it would of course be good if the country could both gain jobs and profits themselves from selling things "Made in Ghana".

As for me, I am tomorrow going back deep into the community 1 market in Tema to continue my quest.

African Possibilities

...rather than African problems was discussed recently in a meeting in Stockholm organized by the Swedish socialdemocratic aidorganization Palmecentret. Just like I have been writing here on this blog, they concluded that if people just saw Africa through their own eyes and not through the widely spead medias a more positive and truthful picture of the continent would emerge. Unfortunately, the inreresting article is only available in Swedish, but I thought the headline summarized the article well - Africa Needs More Backpackers. Welcome to Africa!

Rains in Ghana

And people write me about the floods in Ghana - note the irony of that I write a comment on it on my blog “Rain in Africa”. Anyways apparently these floods make it to the news in Sweden, Spain and the US.

What has happened is extensive flooding in the north of Ghana, the three regions called Upper East, Upper West and Northern Region, in all an area that is poor and marginalized as it is. The reason for the flooding is heavy rains as of three weeks, but in the shared taxi I took today everybody seemed to be sure it was due to the dam built north of Ghana in Burkina Faso. The dam is a new enterprise and because of recent heavy rains also in Burkina Faso it is currently left open, according to my fellow Maybe the amount of water could also be due to climate change, the rains came late to Ghana and the Ghanaian dam in Akosombo reached a historical low some time ago. Now however, it rains cats and dogs and both casualties and property damage has been reported. About a quarter to half of a million people in Ghana are affected. However, most news reports here are about what has been given as relief support (bags of rice, a helicopter etc.) and not so much information on the actual floods. Today I read in the newspapers about one of the most serious damages destroying the one connection from Ghana to Burkina Faso – a bridge has basically been washed away. Just last week I was in a conference stating that Ghana needs more infrastructure to keep growing as an economy. Now we are going backwards.

As usual, a crisis cannot be seen off the TV-screne unless you acctually are at the scene. For us in the south of Ghana, the only sign of the catastrophe are trucks filled with goods for the north having parked, for indefinite time, close to the harbor in Tema.

Picture borrowed from

Busy Business

So for you who don't know it - I am at present without work. And it seems university has to wait until next year. This Monday was my first day as a work seeker. Employed with only a bit of rage with my previous boss, pen and paper, and a determination to fast find something to do I went to a open conference in Accra. And since then, things have been happening. I have met some wonderful people, all with faith in me and possible projects needing my input ahead. I am now setting up shop as a grant writer - finding and getting funds for non-profit organizations.

Sometimes, life is really sweet.


Having a philosphical day. Everything is moving, floating and life will never again be the same.

Oh, no! Noone died - except for Pavarotti, may he RIP - it is just that this week is my last as an intern with the organization I have been working on now for a few months. I will not come here daily anymore or spend time with the same people. I will not work on the same projects or post my blogposts from this computer.

I acknowledge that there is a sadness to leaving something behind and to remedy it, I have already started to plan my life outside the office gates and I am looking forward to it. It will be a lot of reading, now mainly academic stuff and hopefully some long distance travelling and more time for being creative, business-minded and maybe even sporty (on Monday...).

Of course everyday is a possibility for a fresh start, but it would be exhausting to think about that daily. But today, I am embracing the idea that after tomorrow life will be different.

Sambo Sunshine

So there are also so upsides to the life of being sambo (for you non-Swedes that is the excellent Swedish term for a status more formal than xfriend, more sexy than cohabitant and as almost as common - and legally binding - as married, at least in Sweden. The term can also be used to describe the actual person-you-live-together-with, as in “my sambo made dinner”). Anyway, the sunshine I am talking about is that it turns out my sambo is an excellent driver’s instructor! I never made it to a driver’s license back in Sweden, always had too many other things to do. Since I came to Ghana my sambo has encouraged me to learn how to drive, "look if I can do it you can too!" and gradually I have started to look at Ghanaian traffic not as a honking mess, but as a flow I could take part of.

So, this Sunday after breakfast in bed (love Sundays!) I tell him, let’s go practice driving. We go to this big field, red dirt and some car tires to practice steering through. A few other cars driven by people with highly concentrated faces slowly circle around. I think me and mom once went to a similar place in my hometown, but I can’t remember if I even managed to start the car. I feel nervous as we change seats. Then it happens, a calm voice clearly explains what to do and before I know it I am confidently moving forward. He looks amazingly calm where he sits next to a complete fresh driver, says "concentrate on the gears, I have the mirrors" and "you’re doing fine, you can speed up". And I am giving gas, steering, changing gears, braking and, yes, I am driving.

Decorating Duo

Since I just recently rented a big house with my darling we have now reached the next exciting step in our relationship – buy furniture TOGETHER. Some people would say we are lucky we have no furniture from before to take into consideration. Even if that is true, we still have our preferences from before and I think that is sometimes worse. I mean we can never use the argument “but Darling, if we use my sofa we don’t have to buy a new one…” We have to buy everything, and when you have to pay for something you really want that thing to be a fine thing. So far we have a bed and a fridge. And yeah, this week we finally agreed on a carpet and a sofa.

My style is Scandinavian Simple or now when I live in West Africa – West African Simple. Since most furniture has to be ordered from a carpenter I think we should give it an African touch.

My bf’s style is close to Grandmother’s Sitting Room Style (it’s my blog, therefore I tell it like I see it) with flowery/checkered prints and absolutely NOT any African references.

The African cloth I like to include in my décor, he says is funeral wear and inappropriate for using as curtains or for chairs. A beautiful antique carved drum I found, he calls trash. A glass table at a friend’s house adorned with gold and silver he thought was nice, but I could barely wait until we left our friend before telling him I thought it was absolutely hideous (my grandmom would have liked it, though).

And about the carpet and the sofa, I’m not too sure our compromise (his patterns, my colors) will work, especially not with my wooden masks and the antique drum. But I am tired of sitting on the floor watching films or eating dinner.

Small World 2

The other day, something impossible (yet, it would turn out, very possible) happened to me. I was with a coworker in a meeting at one of the fancy hotels in Accra and after lunch my coworker had to run an errend so I stayed in the restaurant and started talking to a French-speaking couple sitting next to me. It turned out they were from Senegal and when I said I work for IOM the man said,
-Oh, your deputy director general is Senegalese, Ndiaye.
-Yes, she came to Accra earlier this summer during the African summit, I said, but she never showed up at the office. I thought was too bad...
-Really? the man said, picked up his mobile phone and started looking for a number...

My mind was working on a high gear, not only because of that the conversation was carried out in French, but also beacuse.... he was joking, he wasn't calling her up, was he? My newfound friend now seemed to get through and said with a smile,
- I'm sitting here with one of your staff in Accra and she is disappointed you never came by during the summit...

He put me on, cheeks glowing red, and Ndiaye, the second highest person in my organization, apologized to me, an intern in a field office!

It turned out the man I was talking to a sunny afternoon in Accra was a close friend of the deputy and, frankly, I don't know if the morale of this story is to not speak your mind when with strangers, or to do open up. Well, it did give me a good story to tell.


This fall, I will take up studying again. Somehow, I have mixed feelings about it - don't get me wrong - it IS a dream came through to be a cocky PhD-student, to spend my days in a campus setting, to read about topics that interest me, to rub shoulders with cool AND bright people. The other side of it is that it has been quite nice to finish work after 5 pm, maybe not even think about it again after that. I liked not having to prove myself everyday. I enjoyed making money, too.

Tomorrow I have a meeting in this building, the Institute of African Studies at University of Ghana with a professor I hope will accept to be my supervisor. I'll keep you posted. As usual.

Lights On

Since I came back I have not only been named obolo, I have also discovered that the electricity problems have been reduced with fewer and shorter power cuts. Something has changed in the right direction!

In the news it says the Akosombo dam has shown a bit higher water levels again and I heard something about that the power plant the mining industry is building should be up and running by now.

But apparently the news is not as good as I first thought, I realize when I do some digging. The power situation only seems to have changed due to import of electricity from neighboring Ivory Coast, most likely of political reasons due to that the leading party NPP has promised that the situation would be solved within a year (power “sharing” started in august 2006). Since elections are coming up next year, this is not the time to break one’s vows. Although it must hurt to import something from an unstable country to which Ghana used to export.

But still we have scheduled power cuts or “lights off” and they are still disturbing, and sometimes funny. Yesterday, I was at some friends' house and as the TV and all the lights go out, the five year old playing on the floor shouts:
-Where are my eyes?

Picture from a live recording of one Ghana's popular TV-shows "Stars of the Future".


Since I came back from Sweden to Ghana I have gotten to hear, more than once, that I have become obolo. I think you can hear what it means. But if not, this is what I've been told:

My coworker: Kajsa, you have become fat!
Me: Eh, what?
Coworker: You must have eaten a lot when you travelled...(Laughs)
Me: Well...
Coworker: Obolo! (Mimics a person so fat the arms stand out from the body)

Yesterday, at the third reminder of my apparently new body size i couldn't hold it back.

Me: Did you know that saying someone is fat is an insult in Sweden? Coworker2: Oh, really? (looks ashamed) No no, here it is a good thing...
Me: I kind of thought so.
Coworker2: (cheers up) Now we can call you Mama Obolo! (laughs)

Judge for yourselves, in the picture me eating a goat khebab. Photo taken by Isaac Kweku Adu.

What A Night!

Last Wednesday I was in Bastad, Sweden to accept the scholarship I told you about here. It was a three day program with a cocktail, visits in gardens and museums and an evening banquet at which I was given the award and, what the hell let me tell you like it was, I stole the show!

I just wish everybody one time in their life could feel the strong support, keen interest and appreciation I felt around 9 pm that night when I held the microphone and gave my Thank You Speech. I looked up on 200 smiling SWEA members, all women, as well as my (crying) mother and father and the nervousness had felt earlier in the day just melted away. I talked about migration and development, about exchange students flowing in only one direction. I shared my viewpoint on how migration and its effects constitute the most important political questions of our time. I even provided some information on the tailored, red, waxprint, Ghanaian outfit I was wearing complete with African accessories and an afro hairstyle due to the drizzling Bastad rain.

The audience was cheering me all the way and did not get any quieter when I had received my check from the SWEA President and a man in a tuxedo came out and sang a song from The Lion King Movie with new words to suit the occasion. Afterwards, I talked to many - maybe all - my benefactors present at the event and they all had positive things to say. I got hugs. I got roses. And the food was great too. What A Night!

Just updated this post with a pic from that night. Photo by my father, Sture Hallberg.


Tonight I'll be flying out of Kotoka Airport to tomorrow morning see sunlight in Malmo, in southern Sweden. I am going for vacation! I am looking forward to meeting up with my parents, siblings, cousins and friends and of course accepting my SWEA award. I have also plans of going to IKEA and to eat Fjallfil and drink "Swedish" coffe for breakfast. Then it will be interesting to see if it feels like going HOME when I go back to Ghana next Monday.

The amazing moonlit beach in the pic is the beach in my new hometown Tema, Ghana.

Obruni News

Ghanaian TV3 aired this clip on a white ("Obruni") public transport worker or "tro-tro mate".
- An Amazing Thing, the smiling news anchor calls this young anthopologist's new trade.

If not amazing, so at least a peek into Ghanaian everyday life on the road. It is interesting that when Swedish news anchors smiles about the first flower of spring and such for an ending to the reports, this is what makes it to the news here in Ghana.

So with greetings to the Swedish anthopologist who just left Ghana...

Everyday life

The wonderful, however non-exciting, everyday pace has reached me here in Ghana. Everyday, I kiss my bf goodbye in the morning, go to work, eat lunch with the same crowd, work a few more hours and then take a taxi home. At night we might do some visits, maybe go out to eat and then – it has of course already been dark for a while – it is time to go to sleep. I dream my vivid dreams (as always) and am awoken by the sun shining into our bedroom around 6 am.

But I mean, there are also stark differences in this “everyday life” compared to the “everyday lives” I have led before. For instance, before I never before saw the green tail of a gecko disappear into my wardrobe when opening my underwear drawer. I did not use to go for lunch to a "chop bar" where most of the customers order goat or snail soup. Nor for that matter meet a (living) goat family everyday on my way to lunch. I never used to celebrate when a supermarket opened in my town, now I do. (That was yesterday, and it just made my week to be able to have salad, hard bread and goat cheese for dinner). I never before used to come home to my own house. Complete with a man. Also, even if I feel I have gotten used to the way things look around here, I do sometimes remember to marvel that the soil is copper red, the nature deep green and whole trees can be covered in flowers, that people do actually carry suitcases (even backpacks) on their heads with ease, that men dress in big colorful prints and it looks good. And that every plant looks different from the Gotlandic nature I knew in my earlier life…

In the picture my favorite Ghanaian grass. Its every strand looks like a bouquet of Swedish “timotej” grass. And yes, I am aware that in my previous life I probably would not have mentioned "goat" three times in a short text like this one.

Images of Ghana

Prestigious photography price Prix de Rome was this year given to the arty fashion photographer Viviane Sassen who won with a series of beautiful pictures of Ghana. I especially liked the portrait with a woman carrying a leafy branch on her head, but the one you see here with a man carrying a child was also sublime.

I have borrowed the picture from

No light in sight

I have earlier written about our power problems here in Ghana. Since no new power stations have been built since the Akosombo dam (see picture)in the 1960ies the supply is not enough for the demand, and then on top of that the dam is drying up...

At present two out of the six turbines in the dam are running. To make that power last, we have scheduled power sharing. We have power 24 hours then it is turned off for 12 hours (by everybody called "light off"), altering day and night. Yesterday, the Ghanaian radio station Joy FM got their hands on a secret technical report which suggests that if the water inflow does not rise before the end of this month one of the remaining two turbines have to be shut off to not empty the dam, halving the supply of power in Ghana.

On a personal level, I can see how this is very serious. However, it means either never again have anything refrigerated or toasted OR buying a generator and some environmentally unfriendly fuel. Probably the latter. For the nation, it is just devastating. Not only is the fuel running out due to all generators, inflation rising due to that companies have to add the cost of fuel to their products, also the productivity is coming to a halt. It is simply difficult to produce without electricity. When I a few weeks ago paid a visit to one of the government agencies that is to be working on this problem, the person I went to see could not turn on his computer.
"Our generator is not working and today is light off".
The poor power situation is indeed a very vicious circle.

Web humiliation

Currently, I am looking for a job. When that is the case I today thought to myself, what is better than expanding my network?
That is the reasoning behind giving my particulars to the network Linked In. So I filled in my email address, turned down the offer to invite everybody in my address book and happily started exploring the features. Suddenly this message covers my screen.
Invitations: Sent 344 (21 Bounced)
What? Does that indicate the mean application LinkedIn just went ahead and, against my will, invited ALL PEOPLE in my addressbook to join my "professional network"? According to all the replies I have gotten from puzzled people asking what this thing is, unfortunately that seems to be the case. So yes EVERYBODY, including my doctor, my boss, a friend's friend who also got her travel pics and baby updates, an aquaintance from a project last year, the administrator for the union I belong to got invitations and I do not dare tho think about who else. So now, I try to go to my happy place, the Monet gardens outside of paris in May when everything blossoms...

Small world

What are the chances? The current project I am working on is a pilot project for my organization on strengthening Ghana’s government structures to consider migration issues in relation to social and economic development, or as the experts say enhancing policy coherence. My job in all this is to be the assistant of a Ghanaian expert my organization has hired. We plan to bring stakeholders together and design both a short term and long term plan for how different governmental sectors and organizations could work together on migration and development.

Today our expert is in Brussels attending a round table session at the Global Forum on Migration and Development, a forum that is one of the outputs of the UN High Level Dialogue on International Migration and Development back in 2005. He is presenting a paper on the Ghanaian situation as a case study for the discussion.

Anyhow, so I go to the website to check out the arrangements for the round table and I find that the SWEDISH GOVERNMENT is organizing this very discussion and that the SPEAKER is the migration and development expert from OECD’s Development Centre, Jeff Dayton Johnson, whom I have met on a number of occasions in Paris when I was interning with the OECD last year. So, right now some Swedes in suits and Jeff are sitting next to our Ghanaian expert discussing ways forward! How I wish I could be there, but at this point I guess I should be happy for coming so close on three angles...

You are who you befriend

If that is true, I am a loud voice in the blogosphere, a many times published journalist and writer, a reseacher, a traveller and a radio host. Let's start with Nadja, she is a lawyer and a writer, mostly commenting on foreign issues from a Swedish perspective or issues a pluralistic Sweden has to deal with immediately like religious schools.

My fair trade heroine Emilie is constructing Bombay as we write during an summer course at the univerity there. Peter I believe is writing a book on pension reforms in Sweden. Mattias is writing about the process of learning ICT at university level when he is not busy writing articles and media strategies as the head of PhD students in Sweden. Laila is in Paris writing her dissertation on the organizational culture of the OECD concerning development and gender.

My sister Freja is a radio host with the national radio channel P3. My friend Matthew is writing excellent stuff all the time, sometimes it gets published in the Dothan Cronicle.Katrine works with newspaper expressen , but also publish her sharp comments in other publications and on the web, Marta works, except for the Almighty also with magazine Efter Arbetet, Joel with Folkbladet in Norrkoping and Ida, last time I checked worked for Jamtlandstidningen.

Today, Anna a freelance writer together with Petra a poet and academic writer, are launching the first ever queer club in our hometown, Visby as "entertainment, business idea and political statement".

I am so proud of you all and this is not even an exhaustive list!

In the picture me with some of the above mentioned friends.

What about the summit?

The plan was to compose a beautiful, yet sharp piece of writing summarizing the AU-summit, combined with the stack contrasts of the leaders' potbellies to the Ghanaian street life. But then, I thought if my readers want to read a trashing of Mugabe they will go to the Economist's website. So to please you, loyal friends, here's instead a picture with me and my (bf's siblings') children. Enjoy your weekend!

Home Sweet Home

I give you: our house!

It is just wonedrful to have A Room of One's Own! Especially when it has a heart ornamented gate, a sunny verandah, a spacious living room and a tiny pool. And room for visitors! Welcome!

IKEA fluttering south?

Just when I was starting to feel a bit sad I do not have access to IKEA when starting my home here in Ghana, I found this ad. Quality furniture!
Somehow, I however doubt that Swedish furniture magnat Mr Ingvar Kamprad would sidestep his successful concept of selling packaged products in big warehouses of his own. It just doesn't seem like the Ingvar I know liaising with "Yellow Butterfly" when expanding his business into Africa.

On Pan-Africaism

The African Union is meeting this weekend in Accra. The way I know for sure it is happening right here is:
1. There is a huge billboard at road from the airport with President Kufuor welcoming the delegates.
2. All hotel rooms in Accra are booked, I am very aware of this because I have today tried to squeeze one more in…
3. Cars with police escorts with their sirens on are everywhere, and rumor says that Khadaffi is coming from Libya with a caravan of 150 cars through the desert…

Today and tomorrow the executive council is convening and the summit itself takes place on the 1st to 3rd July. All African states, except for Marocco who opposes the membership of West Sahara, meet to discuss. The meeting will for sure have symbolic meaning, since the initiative for an African union came from Ghana's first President, Kwame Nkrumah and because Ghana, as the first sub-Saharan country to gain its independence, this year celebrates 50 years. I hope to get back to you also with substance on the united Africa's future.

In the photo, Kufuor is shaking hands at a different meeting.
Photo:K. Hallberg

No place like home

Last week we signed the contract. So now I have my wonderful, quirky, spacious and private HOME! Over the upcoming three-day weekend, (Monday is a holiday since the Republic day falls on Sunday..and Ghanaians want their day off!) we will be moving in and I am starting to make plans that include paint, furniture, a fridge and a stove. In Ghana, you rent a house for an in advance decided period, often two or three years. And you pay all before you move in. Lighting is included, but no kitchen appliances or anything else therefore I see some hefty spending ahead.

Since I was brought up in a family with a constant “project” going on around the house involving a quality stapler, wallpaper and building blocks, I think I could do wonders with this place we have rented. It is a big house with a small garden, painted all white on the inside. With some cloth there and paint here, some tile covers in the kitchen and some pots for herbs at the verandah… Then again, while surfing the web and seeing way too many theme-styled living rooms, smart storage solutions, bright kitchens with fresh flowers I wonder if this decorating-frenzy really is what I want to get myself into.

Finding the right balance when nesting isn’t easy. I’ll keep you posted. And I'll get one of those staplers.

In the photo a view of my new home, the verandah and an African pinetree.


After having posted a very long text yesterday, today I have just a picture to share with you. In the picture you see the wonder-cream FUNBACT-A that at the same time is antifungal, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory (how fun it really is to have fungus in one's scalp after having braided away air-circulation, is still an open question for the manufacturers). Also, this picture serves as a tribute to my dad, who taught me the song about Lazarol, the medication for all illnesses, who is today NOT celebrating his birthday.

My last week as a millionaire

The value of the Ghanaian currency the Cedi (pronounced like “CD”) is as of now about USD 1 to 10 000 cedis. This means that if I go to change 100 dollar, I will get about 1 000 000 cedis, and voila, I’m a millionaire! That’s the nice part. However, when the biggest note is the yellowish 20 000 cedi note, it means that even if it is nice to be a millionaire is is extremely impractical. Buying groceries for 200 000, means counting (at least) ten notes. Or when changing money I cannot double check I have the right amount, because I don’t have time to count hundreds of notes! Since the coins in use are only worth a pittance, even the smallest purchase involve notes, which has made the notes wear out. Buying things becomes a hassle, since you have to carry big stacks of money. I couldn’t imagine buying a car, for instance!

Due to an instable economy, the cedi has been inflated over the years. I estimate the value of it to have almost halved since I last was in Ghana 2,5 years ago (based on a beer-taxi homemade index :-) and today everything you buy, more or less is ‘thousend something.

Therefore it is welcomed that on Sunday, 1st of July the currency in Ghana will undergo a redomination. 10 000 cedis will next week be 1 Ghana cedi, or 100 pesewas. A huge campaign attached to it is aired on radio and TV with a really happy high-life tune in which they sing “the value is the same”. In a country where still a big chunk of the population do not know how to read or write, explaining that is not easy. Probably the reason for knocking 4 zeros off, and not what seems easier to me - take out three, is that it is nice to have a currency that is equal to or even worth more than the US dollar. Regardless, the campaign has been well received, and “the value is the same” is a slogan that is now used jokingly in almost every situation (“But that is not your lunchbox!”, “Nah, but the value is the same”.)

Bank of Ghana launched the new currency at a press conference some time ago which show similarities to the old one, for instance “the big six” or the Ghanaian freedom-fighters from independence in 1957 are portrayed on all the bills. On the other sides there are famous buildings like the University of Ghana and the Bank of Ghana. Only the 50 Ghana pesewas coin shows a woman. Then it is not a named historic person, but an unknown trades-woman.

Because of the depreciation of the cedi, I have come to see “money burning in the pocket” with my own eyes… it is a common thing to have a heat rash on the thigh/butt from carrying a heap of money in your pocket not allowing air to pass through...But, after this week, and the 6 month period in which both currencies can be used, my time as a millionaire, with rashes, is over.

Midsummer update

Since today is an ordinary office day in Ghana, I will have to wait until tomorrow to meet up with the Swedish community (of four) here in Ghana and celebrate midsummer. You don't know midsummer? It is a tradition when Swedish people gather to celebrate the ferility of the soil by making a giant fallos from flowers and dance like frogs while drink hard liquor and watery beer. This is how we'll do it tomorrow, Ghana-style.
farsk potatis(day fresh potato)=potato
sill (herring)= Salmon from Koala supermarket
graddfil(sour cream)= yoghurt?
graslok (leek)=garlic sprouts
jordgubbar (strawberries)= mango?
pripps bla (Swedish beer)= Ghanaian Star beer
knackebrod (hard bread)= German hard bread
Snaps (traditional shots taken with song)= Absolut Vodka

Also, this weekend, I will inspect the house my bf and I have rented, already next week we'll be moving in! I will post pics soon.

In the photo me and my bf's mother celebrating something else.

Gold coast

It is all over the news, OIL FOUND IN GHANA! The “black gold” was found just off shore Ghana by UK-based firm Tullow Oil and according to the bbc the finding is one of Africa’s biggest with 600m barrels (which tells me nothing, but news papers also state it is “of commercial value” so it is quite a lot, I guess). Even though it will take years before the oil can be accessed, everybody is discussing the news, many with the critical question “will this commodity really come to benefit the Ghanaian people?” However, the Ghanaian politicians are already celebrating. President Kufuor has stated:
"My joy is that I'll go down in history as the president under whose watch oil was found to turn the economy of Ghana around for the better"

The politicians sure need some good news. Yesterday, I went to the donor partners Consultative Group meeting in Accra where development partners come together with the Ghanaian government discussing how the aid available can give best value for money. President Kufuor came to the meeting for the closing ceremony. We all rose to the occasion, a respectful silence spread, and the president marched into the conference room with his entourage. He stopped at the podium and Ghana’s national anthem came on. About half way into the anthem, all lights went off, the AC stopped, the anthem was interrupted and we were all, president and ministers included, standing in the dark. It was a not so subtle reminder of the energy crisis here in Ghana.


After a few days in the bed feeling less then well, I woke up, rested and fresh to one of globalization’s mysteries: How has a page from the Spanish newspaper Heraldo de Aragon from 4th of March last year ended up as a wrapper to my morning bread? The paper is distributed in Zaragoza, some 4000 kilometres from here. I mean, I understand if the lady who bakes bread around the corner uses the Ghanaian paper Daily Graphic from last week as a cheap package for the items she sells, but the fact that she uses a square of the Heraldo de Aragon seems to indicate that old newspapers from Europe are shipped to Africa. And sold here?

Well, it isn’t impossible - on the Ghanaian roads I everyday see used cars with foreign stickers, and people wearing used clothes from Europe they bought here. I even heard someone saying that used tires are shipped to Africa to be used until they burst, as an explanation to the many accidents.

I shouldn’t be surprised that Europe ships its garbage to Africa, but I find myself, just that, surprised. And wonder, who is making money out of this?

Distance calculated with mapcrow.


If I was a rich girl, I sometimes say, I'd buy...I'd have...I'd go to...Today I found a site that lets me know how rich I already am. It sure offers a perspective.

The Goat Approach

Here's a brief report from my workshop outside Accra which involved power point presentations, networking, hotel breakfasts and discussions with NGO's working with trafficked children. Sometimes, the talks would be so outright practical that it made my eyes tear.

For instance, when we discussed how to make sure the returned formally trafficked children did not starve. Do we give their families money? No, by experience the NGO people knew it will be spent on other things than food for the kids. Do we give the families foodstuffs like bags of rice? No, then food will be given away to others or run out before the kids will get it. Do we give money to the teachers so they can give to the malnourished kids to buy school lunch? No, then the teachers will steal the money!

To really understand what poverty does to people, how vast the problem is, that children really starve and will most likely do so tomorrow understand I guess the discussion was a useful exercise, however, it wasn't only me around the conference table who felt both discouraged and sad.

Suddenly one man raised his hand and introduced an idea - why don't we provide each child with a she-goat? The goat can live with the family and is to be return to the project as soon as her baby goats are big enough, and then the she-goat can be lent out again.

Smiles started to show around the room, yes, this could work. Or maybe some chicken, guinea fowls, or sheep? The child could maybe choose their animal of preference? We cheerily named the idea "The Goat Approach", and I believe that even if it doesn't materialize it reminded us all that where there is a will, there is a way.

Business pleasures

Tonight, I will join my co-workers for a workshop in Koforidua so I will not be posting again until next week. Koforidua or “Ko-Town” is situated about 2 hours drive from Accra into the “Eastern region” which really lies north of Accra and in the middle of the country. Koforidua is the home of the bead market, which takes place every Thursday morning and maybe, just maybe I can sneak away to see it…
Beads have been manufactured in Ghana for more than 500 years and apparently it is big business, when I made a search for “beads” and “Ghana” I got 609 000 hits.

Once in a blue moon... hears about something very interesting. Yesterday I wrote about my lack of access to tampons, a few hours later I receive an email from a friend suggesting I should try something else- the Mooncup. Women friends, there's an alternative to the tampon that is cheaper and friendlier both to our bodies and to the nature. Spread the word!
I have already ordered one. Thanks for the tip, Em.


After 1,5 months away from my native Sweden, some embarrassing needs have popped up. When in Sweden, I never thought I even have any special needs. Also with globalization, I figured almost anything could be found anywhere (unfortunately also at any price).

However, there are some things I just have to have that cannot be found here. I shrug at the memory of an earlier long absence from Sweden when I almost cried of happiness when somebody gave me some gingerbread (pepparkakor). Why cry for a cookie you normally anyway only eat at christmas?

Without further excuses, here's the list:

Books, please any fiction will do! I have not come across any book in a Ghanaian bookstore to this date I would like to read.

Moskito repellent, strangely in one of the most malaria infected areas in the world finding the kind of repellent you put on your skin is impossible.

Tampons. Cannot be found. If any exporter reads this, do the Ghanaian women a favor and start sending them in bulk!

Mint seeds, so that I can grow green mint and make proper Mojitos. Very important. I have the sugar, the rhum and the ice, now I just need the mint.

Fibers. A bag of kruska-kli, will do. Bread in Ghana is good, but as white as snow.

Send to Kajsa Hallberg, c/o Adu, P.O. Box CS 8884, Tema GHANA and you will be rewarded promptly in Ghanaian chocolates.

Looking for a house

The last week, I have been happliy exploring a new world - the real estate business. My bf and I would like to rent a house in our town, preferrably on the northern side close both to his job and to the motorway to Accra and my job. We would like to have at least three bedrooms (this is how you measure house size in Ghana, number of bedrooms)to accomodate 1. ourselves, 2. a couple of visitors, and 3.a relative that is to live with us and help out in the house alongside his studies which we would be paying for (Ghanaian CSN...). I would like a garden in which I'd grow papaya, banana(!) and maybe mint for Mojitos and he would like a safe spot to park. He would like a kitchen that is clean and a walk-in storeroom, I would like to be close to a main road so that I can catch a taxi and go to town myself.

When shopping for a house one is sadly apt to follow one's feelings instead of one's reason. I have seen all kinds of houses: small, huge, dirty, pink, non-completed, attatched, cute, dull, and even one with a tiny indoor pool! We have talked about preferences and budget. Still, what one remembers when trying to make an informed descision is how the light fell into that one livingroom, how that next-neighbor seemed so friendly, the idea of that I could do morning yoga on that rooftop (ok, lets for now disregard from that I am a late sleeper), the nice floor tiles in the master bedroom, and how a table on that verandah could be the perfect place to eat dinner.

Today, we have an appointment to see a house in community 11 (perfect location) with four bedrooms. I'll keep you posted.

When? Why? Where?

One of the most difficult things to get used to here in far away Ghana is the apparently different approach to time.

It is not as simple as many Europeans think, “that Africans are always late”, instead it is something closer to “Africans are always flexible”. They deal with non-complete or vague information, waiting, delays, contingency and the likes a hell of a lot better than the average Swede…
I have three examples from work.
1. The most common thing people tell you is “I am coming, eh!” meaning that they came to your office to tell you that sooner or later they will be returning (When? Why? Where?).
2. Like when I ask my co-worker about when people will be getting days off for going on a weekend retreat next Saturday and he cheerfully(!) replies: “we’ll come back Sunday evening and then we go to work on Monday again, no days off!” (What? I work on a weekend and there’s no compensation?)
3. When I got to work today around 8.30 am three people are sitting in the lunch room enjoying a meal that to me looks like lunch (damn, what time is it? You break after 30 minutes of work? And it’s not even time for coffee break!)

And, sadly, when I get to the lunch room around 10 (coffee) and later at 12.30 (lunch), I now expect to sit there alone.

Update: Just came back from a two hour lunch with a hilarious and nice, here's a work example of that flexible is also nice, it does allow for two hour breaks when the moment is right.

Photo: Isaac Kweku Adu

Confident Conference Crashing

Why do people want to crash parties, when it is CONFERENCES that have it all? Useful information, coffe and cake, beautiful people, drinks and give-aways, fun power-point presentations given by Americans, as well as those contacts you need to move forward in life?
Next time a cool conference is in town, here's what you do:
• Go to the venue on day 2 of the conference, or after lunch on day 1, then security and staff is more relaxed.
• Be dressed up, but conservatively, don’t wear anything that attracts special attention.
• Wear a big scarf around your neck. It could be hiding the conference badge you..ehrm.. do not have. If someone still should ask for your non-existing badge, maybe in order to let you in to the lunch buffet, you have accidentally left your badge in your office. So typical. Sigh.
• If possible, follow the crowd. If crowd is unavailable, walk confidently to the information desk; ask of the room for the 'morning/afternoon plenary session'.
• Network as much as you can, but don’t give business cards - take cards and promise to email or call (then you can do the screening).
• Ask a question when the floor is being opened for Q&A, no one will think an intruder does that.
• Always use your real name and organization, otherwise future contacts will be difficult.
• If an important person, like say the Vice President of Ghana, comes by, be sure to shake hands. Maybe even smile.
For more daring people:

• Thank the organizers for a wonderful event using their first name (look at their badge). “Dear Margret, I’m Kajsa Hallberg, thank you for a great couple of days!”

For less daring people or people who plan ahead:

• Call or email the organizers in advance explaining that you are interested in the conference, but you/your organization cannot afford it. Do they let NGO’s in for free? Do they need help preparing the venue/the conference folders/the coffe breaks?

And remember, it is easier to be forgiven than allowed.

When will power crisis be solved?

In Ghana, as I have reported earlier, there is a power crisis. It is very appearant in the everyday lives of Ghanaians because of the power sharing exercise in place - every third day the power is turned off for 12 hours. Yesterday however, a governmnet representative had some reassuring news to the Ghanaian public:
The deadline for complete stoppage of the load shedding is September 31. Now what we are hoping, and there are no guarantees yet, is that as indicators put in place come up, we will be able to review the load shedding and change the schedule before the complete end of the load shedding.

The opposition was not late to note that there is only 30 days in the month of September…

Poetry and rain

I am reading the wonderful vivid stories compiled in the book by the Danish baroness Karen Blixen who came to live in Kenya in 1913 and stayed for almost 20 years. In the book, beautiful insights of life at a coffee plantation, masai people and the politics of first world war are interspersed with shockingly racist accounts by a baroness who was not only a writer, artist and safari hunter, but also a slave owner.
In this section she tell her kikuyu slaves about rhymes and poetry and they ask her to continue. The chapter is very typically named "Negros and verse".

One night out on the corn fields, when we had harvested the corn...I started for my own amusement to speak to my workers, most of them very young, in verse in Swahili. There was no meaning to the verses, they were made up for the sake of the rhyme:
Na penda chumbe (The bulls like salt)

It soon attracted the interest of my workers, they gathered around me...

-Speak again, speak about rain.
Why they thought that poetry sounded like rain, I do not know. It must have been an expression for approval, because rain is in Africa always longed for and welcomed.

-Karen Blixen in Out of Africa

Steven Kofi Ferguson


I thought I’d introduce you to some of my new friends. First out is Steven Kofi Ferguson – a handsome guy of 27 years who drive me to and from work every day in his taxi. He is related to my boyfriend in a complicated way that makes my boyfriend Steven’s “son” (don’t ask). He has a good sense of humor, order and time. He is a religious man with patience that is as vast as the desert. Every morning he picks me up at my house around 8. We greet in Fante
- “EwuraAma – wo ho te sen den?”
- “ Boko, wo ntso Steven, wo e?”
And he asks me (still in Fante) what I have eaten the day before and chuckles at my attempts to reply. Then off we go. The ride to my workplace takes about 25 minutes, a little more on the way back due to traffic, and most of the time is spent on the motorway that connects the harbor town of Tema in which I and Steven live and Accra, Ghana’s capital where I work.

The ride on the motorway is smooth, I have gotten used to both that running people cross almost everywhere on the two-laned motorway and that some cars leave behind smoke that could kill you if you inhaled at that moment. So, it’s a smooth ride, perfect for conversations. We talk about music, Steven likes country, international gospel, reggae and hip-life, which is a development of Ghanaian high-life music that bloomed in the 60ies mixed with hip-hop and electronical instruments. We talk about religion, Steven goes to church twice a week and like many other Ghanaians express his religion through banners, idioms and invitations to his church. Today, he asked me “So EwuraAma, what do you do on Sundays?”

In Ghana, taxis are highly personalized by the driver since he (never a woman) often owns the car. Many of the cars have a message, more often religious than not, written across the back window. We discuss what would be a good choice for Steven to write across his window. He is torn between “By His grace” and “Time is money”. Steven drives his car 6 days a week, from around 7 am until the sun sets at 6pm.

We also talk about family, we both have three siblings and we live with large families. And we talk a lot about relationships and try to find answers to the eternal questions. Are men or women more jealous, why do many white women like rastafari men, how to best ask someone out, why girls in all countries sometimes give out fake numbers, why men in all countries should respect women. Yesterday we together explored the fine art of writing love letters (you there, write one today!)

I feel very fortunate to have a private driver - I feel like a princess! Or ambassador! But it is an even greater joy to have made a new friend.
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