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 too...to 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...

..one 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.
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