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.
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