Funeral Culture in Ghana

This years BBC World Service radio play competition had one Ghanaian in the top. Benjamin Kent wrote the play "Funeral Bells" which evolves around the oh-so-common Ghanaian funeral. Loads of people, food and drinks, but often you don't even know the deceased...

Listen to the play here.

In the pic, my mother-in-law and me at a funeral for someone I'd never met, in a village in Central region, Ghana .

Ghana Elections Update

So, now the elections are off to a second round, taking place on December 28th and with results probably not until just before next year starts, as Maya predicts.

When the total results were in, the "high turnout" (that I wrote about here) was also adjusted, into something much lower than last time. The Economist also questioned the high turnout from last presidential elections citing a bloated voters registry to cause the extraorinary turnout. They concluded wryly:
This time fewer votes were cast by the under-age, the multiply-registered and the dead.

This first round of elections where the opposition party NDC overtook a number of parliament seats from the ruling NPP, but left NPP on top -if just slightly - in the presidential elections, shows that people in Ghana do consider split ballots. Also, the campaign funds that probably were several times greater for the incumbents, much caused by their strong support by the middle class and Ghanaian Diaspora overseas, does not seem to have had any greater impact.

The elections were deemed free and fair by international observers and from my point of view, everybody has remained very calm, even when the two leading parties only were divided by little over 1%.

Maybe it is too soon to draw big conclusions on the quality of Ghana's democracy, but it surely looks promising.

High Turnout in Ghana Elections

Still there is no proclaimed winner of Sunday's elections here in Ghana. According to Al Jazeera the incumbent NPP holds a slight lead, but according to local radio channel Joy FM the race is still a complete tie, with more than half of the constituencies counted.

However, judging from international press it is clear is that the turnout was high, but no estimates have been given here either. According to the African Elections database the turnout was 60 % for the 2000 presidential elections and a impressing 85 % last time around in 2004. Can this year's turnout really exceed that?

In the pic a friend with a purple pinkie indicating that he had voted.

A Close Call

Election results from yesterdays elections start trickling in. We are many who think there will be a second round of elections since a full majority or 50% of the votes are needed to win the presidential seat.

It seems elections went fine, my parents in law didnt even have to queu, but could move ahead straight to the polls because of their (high) age. My friend who voted in the afternoon also came out in 5 minutes with a purple stained pinkie.

Now we just have to wait and see.

Cinema Celebrations

This weekend, I had the pleasure of visiting the newly opened Silverbird Cinemas in Accra. I am not the biggest fan of watching films in company of strangers, so bloggers Abena, Maya and Que beat me to it. However, not even having the option to go, makes the cinema love grow...For the longest time - probably since early 1990s when TV-sets and videotapes came to Ghana in bulk - Ghana's capital Accra has been without a cinema. Ok, there are the dubious "video houses" where you rent a film that comes with a private room for you and your company. The one I went to last year had a sofa bed with a rubber cover, hm, wonder what goes on in there...

However, that is now in the past and Accra has now its own five screen cinema, located in the Accra Mall, a shopping complex put together by Broll Management of South Africa, according to afridigital.net. There is popcorn scent all around, red cosy chairs, people to sell tickets (GHC 10 each) and others to rip them apart and say, "welcome, there is free seating". There is Bond and College-films, Indian Golmaal and the occasional comedy.

So now, when the sun is just too much, there is an opportunity to go into the dark, heavily air-conditioned cinema hall and be swept away. My tip is, bring a blanket and someone you can wrap your arm around. It was really very cold in there.

Pic borrowed from Abena.

Tribal Vote in Ghana?

This is the Electoral Map of the 2004 elections, blue for NPP, green for NDC. As you can see distinct areas of the country support different parties, eg. the central part of Ghana was predominately NPP and the north and the east mostly voted for NDC. As it happens, these geographical areas broadly converts into ethnic groups or tribes.

This year there has been a concern that the ethnic vote will create violence and confusion and this possibility has been met with not less than three campaigns: (1), (2), (3), to stem eventual violence. However, when I have talked to people, this is not a big concern. Some say, former presidents have been from different tribes; Ashanti, Ewe, and the main contestants this time around are from yet other tribes; Akyem and Fanti, so we have nothing to worry about. Others talk about an Electoral commission that is competent and independent, so who can then meddle with election results?

Even so, the majoritarian, winner-takes-all political system Ghana shares with USA has the disadvantage of leaving minorities unrepresented. Maybe Ghana, as a country with many ethnic groups would be better served with a multiparty, consensual political system? Read Eric Kwesi Bottah's insightful article for more arguments for a multiparty system in Ghana.

On Sunday the Ghanaian general elections are on, and the question is how Ghanaians will vote this time?

Map from excellent elections' site thinkghana.com/elections/

The Academic Future of Africa

I have spent a few days at The University Leaders’ Forum 08, organized by Partnership for Higher Education in Africa (PHEA) in collaboration with University of Ghana. It was a conference around the topic of the New Generation of Academics.

Because of the emergence of a global knowledge society, enrollment rates world wide are increasing, in Africa even more so, putting pressure on the aging group of university lecturers and highlighting the need for new blood. At the same time, young well educated people move abroad in search of better opportunities, hence increasing the pressure on those remaining.

Even if the enrollment rates are increasing, its not enough. Many drop out, many more do not have access to tertiary education and finally very few become university lecturers in Africa. The consequences are two; there will not be enough teachers to educate the new generation, even at lower levels. Additionally, with a low output of tertiary graduates, Africa will be left behind in the knowledge economy.

My research looking at why Ghanaian students migrate (or don't) was a perfect fit for the conference. I was the most junior participant and enjoyed the discussions and academic input. It was highly rewarding to meet with Vice-Chancellors from the whole continent, researchers whose works I've read and foreign founders who work relentlessly to change the academic environment in Africa, but will the change come from them?

The map from Worldmapper.org shows the territory size by world wide proportion of people enrolled in tertiary education, who live there. Thanks to the VC of University of Western Cape, Brian O'Connell for pointing me to this effective visualizing aid.

Ghanaian Food Surprise

I woke up on Monday to find a kiosk outside our wall, just next to the carport. A blue stall, common for selling Ghanaian fast foods had just appeared over night. Instantly, I felt a bit pissed off: this unauthorized tiny building had been erected right in my reverse turn radius, making getting out in the morning with my car much more difficult.

-Good morning! You must try my waakye!

The lady preparing and selling the fast food looks at me with a bright smile offering me some Ghanaian brown rice cooked with beans, waakye. I smile back. Maybe it is not all that bad having fast food available 10 meters from my front door.

Recipy for waakye here.

In the pic, people in line at another food stand.

View out of Ghana: Fotball

Ghana is the golden country of football. On every small patch of land there is a game coming on in the early mornings and weekends. The European leagues and African derby’s are followed closely on TV. African Cup of Nations hosted by Ghana earlier this year let to even more fotball fever. Fotball is fun. Fotball is entertainment. Fotball is also a possible way out of poverty.

He is a compact, well-built 22 year old I met in front of the Danish embassy earlier this year. Since a young age, growing up in poor circumstances, this young man just knew he was going to be a professional footballer. He was good, he trained a lot and really enjoyed his play. However, his father would not hear of it, but instead wanted his son to work long hours to make money for the family. He moved away from home in his early teens, forced to support himself to be able to continue developing as a footballer.

His talent shone through and soon a prominent Ghanaian football club signed him on for their junior team. They made sure he was put though football academy to further develop his skills with the leather ball. Then last summer, a Swedish coach came to Ghana to look for young talents. His eye fell on my friend and in September he was flown to Sweden to do try outs. Back in Ghana, he was approached by an agent and currently also teams in other parts of the world is showing an interest for the young footballer, a striker who can shoot with either foot. Now he is up in the air, will any of these teams sign him on?

Smiling, he tells me this story over a chilled bottle of Soda water in a nice bar in central Accra. I laugh admiringly and can’t help but ask, but how could you possibly know you would make it?

His eyes grow dark, his jaw tightens.
-I just knew it, I know I am good.

The Ghanaian Dream has been lived by my friend Daniel. His amazing story has all the ingredients of a good tale, except for that the happy ending is - how can I put it - pending.

In the pic, Daniel is showing me pictures and newspaper clippings from his fotball career so far.

Ghana, Corruption and the Afrobarometer

I got my hands on a recent Afrobarometer report gracefully put together by Ghanaian think-tank Center for Democratic Development (CDD). The report prepared in June, assesses the Ghanaian’s assessment of the current NPP government. A face-to-face survey was carried out in March this year with 1200 respondents and was the forth round of surveys carried out in Ghana by Afrobarometer.

This being an election year, which I have posted on earlier here, the reading is quite interesting. Basically, large majorities approve of president Kufuor’s performance and the NPP’s policies, especially related to healthcare and education. The trust ratings for the current president are high (88% answered just a little/somewhat/a lot to if they trust the prez) has significantly increased since 2002 (64%) and 2005 (75%).

Surprisingly with this background, a large majority or 70% of Ghanaians also perceive there is corruption in the presidency (the figure above has from my understanding derived from again adding up the answers just a little/somewhat/a lot). Back in 2005, little over half or 56% of the Ghanians perceived corruption in the presidency suggesting a considerable change in people’s view about what goes on in the castle.

I am glad to come across such a important and interesting report underpinned by current and sufficient data, however I find this results very puzzling. Do these results mean Ghanaians trust politicians they believe to be corrupt?

The report can be found here.

Pic: A painting of some murky, corrupt men? Or is it enraged citizens? Or a politician accompanied by her life guards? I recently fell in love with this artwork in an exhibit, unfortunately without recording the artist.

Learn Twi Today!

Since I came to Ghana, I have been trying to learn the language most often spoken around me, Twi. It is an Akan language spoken as a first language by about 40% of the Ghanaians and as a secondary language my many more.

Ever since I was given a pajama with the mysterious world fleur on it, learning a language is something that has been intriguing to me. My mother told me the word meant "flower" in French, which was somewhat confirmed by a white flower blossoming below the puzzling word. When i said "fleuuur", I was speaking French! That thought always made me smile.

Language opens doors and can make you become a part of something new, which I touched on earlier here. A newly discovered fellow "obruni" (foreigner) Maame J, descibes her and her half-Ghanaian son's journey to learn Twi here. It is highly interesting reading for me, and what hits me it how difficult it is to find the tools for learning, so I'd thought I'd describe my process of learning Twi here on my blog.

1, I learned numbers and the Ghanaian weekday-names (find out your name here). A good investment.

2, During my first visit to Ghana, I picked up common phrases like
(Thank you) Me da wo ase (Reply) - Me nda wo ase
(Greeting) - Agoo (reply) Amee
(Wishing someone happy holidays) Afe hya pa (reply) - Afe nkommo tu ye
(How are you?)Ete sen? (reply) - Eye (NOTE spelling is indicative)
It was really difficult just to remember the simplest of phrases.

3, I bought a book in preparation for my move to Ghana, "Let's Learn Twi: Ma Yensua Twi". It was ok, for a schooled person it is always good to get the spelling and "look" of foreign words. However, some phrases were a bit old-fashioned. For example few Twi speaking people today say Mema wo akye (I give you daylight), but rather uses the English "Good morning".

4, I lived with my mother in law for three months and really got the melody of the beautiful language, she speaks the Fanti dialect, as well as all possible greetings (nkyea) under my skin. This is probably the best way to learn a language.

5, Bought Florence Abena Dolphyne's text book, "A Comprehensive Course in Twi (Asante) for the Non-Twi Learner" a smallish red text book from the University of Ghana bookstore for GHC 4 (same in USD) which is a very useful manual for learning the language. It also has extremely useful phrases like Me ye osuani (I'm a student).

6, Lately, I have been lazy and just lived in the language. Interestingly, it seems like I cant help but learning just from existing in a Ghanaian context. I speak to guards, professors, relatives and coworkers and listen (ok, eavesdrop) a lot too.

7, The future hopefully holds a course of some kind. Maybe at the University of Ghana or some other institution. I need to get into the next gear.

The best resource for learning a language is probably a life partner speaking that language. However, my husband has not been very helpful after step one, but that proves that even without that type of support it is possible to learn a language. Apart from books there are resources on the web such as the Twi-English Dictionary (seems to focus on biblical phrases). Kotey's dictionary can also in part be accessed online. Google Twi Kasa, I have written about here. Wikipedia in Twi can be found here. A video on kids learning Twi here. I have also come across a Twi Pimsleur audio course on the net, as well as the US Foreign Service course has anyone tried them?

Most interestingly I found this 43things-list of 27 people who want to learn Twi. Well, 28 with me!

In the pic, a beautiful silent sculpture I came across in North Legon last week.

Swedish Moment

Just imagine my surprise as I drive to work and see a buss with a typically Swedish name printed accross it - Haglunds buss. Still with the Swedish phone number on it, this bus today serves the citizens of Accra rather than of Ljusdal, not far from where my father was born. It is just amazing how globalized trading is.

I have written earlier about European newspapers ending up in Ghana here.
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Obama in Africa

Sorry for my absence here on the blog. It's been a busy week. Anyways, no one (hopefully) hold any grudges today, not towards a lazy blogger nor towards a fellow human with a different opinion, today, the feeling is united.

America has elected a person bigger than a national politician for their next president. Barack Obama is the first African-American to be elected president of the United States, but he is so much more. A politician who speaks about hope in a way that tears people's eyes and about change that people can believe in. It's been a long time since politicians were met with such massive cheer, almost religious devotion anywhere in the world.

For me personally, I am of course happy a man with Caucasian and African parents (just like my future children) can become president of the world's super power. However, I believe the aspect of bringing politics "back on track", suggesting a politician is a role model and an inspiration is even more important.

In Africa as a whole the hopes for Obama's presidency is high. South Africa's President Kgalema Motlanthe said in a statement:
"Your election to this high office of the American people carries with it hope for millions of your country men and women as much as it is for millions of people of particularly of the African descent both in the continent of Africa as well as those in the diaspora."
Kenya's president declared tomorrow a public holiday.

Here in Ghana, the election has been the big topic for discussion of the week and several "Obama parties" were organized yesterday night (I sadly fell asleep on my couch). One more is due tonight at the Accra night club The Office. Most my Facebook friends had written something on the election as their "status". In the office this morning we talked about the election with smiling faces.

I believe my husband summarized the joyous feeling well as he was getting ready to go to work this morning:
"Today, I'm wearing white!"


Pic from Chicago Sun and Obama's trip to Kenya in 2006.

Lunch with Bush and Bin Laden

We go to a restaurant close to work to have some lunch. I order a salad. And then look around the big open space. And see following mural.

Saddam, Blair, Bin Laden and W. Bush are enjoying a meal together! Interestingly they are all eating Ghanaian dishes. Saddam eats banku and dried fish, Blair fried rice, Bin Laden dips his hand into fufu with goat soup and Bush plantain with kontomire stew. Maybe a top-level meeting like this could have solved some issues? At least it would've spread the word about the delicious Ghanaian cuisine.

Moringa Miracles

A friend here in Ghana told me about the many healthy effects of the moringa tree ("benzolive" in French, "drumstick tree" in English) some time ago. I had never heard of it, but through a little research online I now know my friend was right to sprinkle dried moringa leaves on her kids' food.

It contains vitamins (A, B1, B2, B3 and C) as well as calcium and potassium. But the miracle is it also contains complete proteins, which few plants do. Another example is the soy bean, but moringa is much richer in protein! According to Trees for Life an organization promoting the use of Moringa to combat hunger, the leaves also prevent various diseases. Download Trees for Life's interesing PDF on possible uses of Moringa here.

You simply eat the fresh or dried leaves with your food or brew tea out of it.

The Moringa tree grows in tropical areas and the fast growing tree requires little water and no particular soil. It's leaves can be fed to animals, a meal made from the seeds can purify water and be used to produce bio fuels!

On my way home from work I always pass a little shed with a "Moringa is sold here" sign (opposite the Shell station at the end of the Tema motorway leading towards Achimota). I always used to wonder, what IS Moringa anyway? Now I know.

Pic of the moringa leaf from Trees for Life

African Wax Print Fiesta!

My love relationship with African wax print, the widely used cloth in bright colors, has just reached another level. I think I have always associated Africa with bright colors of clothing and from my very first moment in Ghana (Dec 2004), I have been on the hunt for colorful material of this kind.

I like that its most often sold in "half piece" or 6 yards at a time, I adore the colors and the wild combinations of patterns. Speaking of patterns, I love certain ones, most notably the "water well" pattern, which looks like big kind of dotted circles. I have it in several (5?) different colors.

So of course the next step was to make clothes out of it. I have two seamstresses I frequent. It is so much fun to be able to decide the style myself and most of the days here in Ghana you will see me in some kind of African garment, be it a top, a skirt or the traditional top and bottom kaba and slit.

Recently the ready wear has enetered the Ghanaian market. So recently, I have also bought a wonderful dress (and probably will add another one to it soon) at the Ghanaian designer house Kiki's Clothing. Their designer introduced me to the wax prints deluxe that on top of an elaborate and colorful print has another pattern in gold over it!

But now Boxing Kitten has arrived. Just like Kiki's clothing she is mixing patterns and colors without fear. Less is not more, more is more. And my love for African wax print has suddenly reached a whole different level.

Pic from Boxing Kittens fall collection, isn't it just beautiful?

Credit Crunch in Africa?

The last weeks as the “global” financial crisis has rolled out, I have been thinking about the impact for Ghana. What will the implication be for African countries such as the one I live in when US and Europe are experiencing a sharp decline that can only be partially slowed down by tens or even hundreds of BILLION dollars.

Will Africa’s already weak economies get hit by the financial splatter of the West?

No, I don’t think so. At least not that much. Less aid? Yeah maybe. But when it comes to dealing with a bubble...Hey, there's no bubble to deal with. Actually, there is barely any credit in the Ghanaian economy - everything is cash.

You buy a house in a cash (or more like it buy some bricks today and some pipes tomorrow), car in cash, you get paid in cash (or a check that you immediately cash after a long wait in a bank queue) and interest rates for loans read about a hefty 27-33 percent, making them a no go option for most people. Also, Ghana and bigger part of Africa south of the Sahara (with the exception for maybe South Africa) is not really a part of the so called global financial markets.

Hence, the advice is to now invest in Africa. Our strong and solvent markets are now, finally, hyped by financial advisers see for instance here and here and here.

Even the World Bank and their economist Shanta Devarajan who runs the Afropositive blog Africa Can, seems to agree with me. In Ghana, the whole crisis is rarely discussed, maybe because of the upcoming elections or maybe because people just have an instinctive feel it wont affect Ghana.

Maybe it is Africa’s turn now!

Pic: The sky is blue but not cloud free in Accra, Ghana.

View out of Ghana: Poverty

They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

The meaning of that concept is that we all have different glasses though which we see the world. In this post, as in all others I have ever written, I intend to write about the world I see. Here are my thoughts on poverty (spurred on by Blog Action Day).

With my sheltered and sometimes outright naive Swedish background, coming to live in Ghana has in many ways been being confronted with stories about poverty. I have come to understand the depressing effects of poverty: that there are people who are so poor they buy food and spices for today's meal only, hoping that tomorrow they will afford rice and pepper again. There are men so poor they can't afford the transport fare to go look for a job, women so poor they cannot afford to go to church (offerings and sunday clothing requires money) and families so poor they cannot afford contraceptives or an abortion even when their resources are not enough to feed the kids already at their feet.

Then again, Ghana is a relatively well off country in the region, see for instance gapminder for figures. And the person buying pepper for today, at least is buying something. The man not able to find a new job will be fed by his wife who is a successful trader in the local market. And interestingly, the poorest families rarely see children as anything else than a resource and a joy.

Poverty is in the eye of the beholder. I argue, so is glamour.

Pic taken in the Makola Market area, downtown Accra, Ghana.

Desperate Housewives in Accra

Just to make it very clear from the outset, this post does not allude to the fact that I have recently purchased season 3 of the California TV series "Desperate Housewives" from a guy outside Koala Supermarket, but rather it is pointing to difficulties of relationships.

As a newlywed twentysomething expat, I have started to see disturbing trends among my friends in similar life situations here in Accra. Wasn't this time - after long years in the University library, impossible loves and zero money, but before kids and a daily routines so boring and wellknown we could also do them backwards - wasn't it supposed to be the time of our lives?

Obviously not. When two minds come to live under the same roof there seems to be more than a little adjustment to be done.

Some replay the same fights over and over again with their spouses (money, you-said-I-said, cleaning and laundry etc.). Some like to spend at least one night a week by themselves while I at times recent my husband for often coming home late from work. Others again can't seem to unite about how to furnish their home or if to watch Champions' League or Strictly Come Dancing (or instead make an early night).

Then we have all the cultural shocks: husbands who want their clothes ironed, you to attend funerals of people you have never met, or eat a bowl of fufu for dinner - every day! They are matched with wives who want to pay half the bill, feel odd about having to instruct a housegirl instead of starting a laundry cycle in the machine or spend a average Ghanaian monthly wage on foreign groceries each week!

Additionally, it can be noted that Ghanaian men seem to have little interest in taking out any parental leave (ok, there is no parental leave for men in Ghana, but at least my Swedish side feels that this somehow should be at the very least a priority for timing of the yearly leave). They also seem to be weary about parttaking in the birthing of a child with half their genes.

Some of us young spouses talk vividly about how important it is to work, not predominantly to make money, but to aviod becoming just a housewife - implying that our identities could be gone in no time. However, I don't think that is the problem. Our personalities, I think, are going nowhere. The problem is rather to be able to hold your tounge the hundredeth time you make a small sacrifice for the person you love knowing he is doing the same.

Obama Mania in Ghana

"Have you seen the debate?"

In Ghana, the campaign is on. I heard from a friend you can't buy billboard space in this country until after elections. But what election are we talking about again?

The debate in question was not between Akufo-Addo and Mills but instead between McCain and Obama. Discussions on the upcoming American presidential election is as vibrant here as the domestic. Of course the American election affects the entire world and I am positive that Obama with his Kenyan heritage is creating a buzz in all of Africa, therefore also in Ghana. Another explanation is that Ghana has it's eye to the world to a much larger extent than other nation states, say France or the US. We learn about all news from the outside world. And debate it too.

But back to the elections. I have seen street vendors selling a (pirated?) copy of Obama's biography, at a function last week a young man was sporting a T-shirt with this text "Obama is my homeboy" and yesterday when going to work, this driver showed her support for Obama (see pic).

What election are we talking about again?

Pop'Africana is Pan'Africana?

Stumbled upon (whilst out walking on facebook) the new initiative Pop'Africana, an art/style mag created by some creative minds, amongst others the Editor Oroma who's blog you can read here.

It seems like this is the time for patriotic initiatives and pan-africaism. Here in Ghana we see a lot of similar initiatives that I have written about before with magazine Canoe, T-shirt companies quoting Africans, websites with African names and content as well as flags everywhere, Ghanaian, Nigerian...Is this a trend or am I imagining it?

The interesting pic stolen from above mentioned mag.

Kajsa at Work

So these days, I do go to work. My friends have asked me what it is I really do. Well, mostly I sit in front of a computer screen, but when I don't it looks like this.  
 
 
 

Pictures from this past weekend's WAPI festival in Accra.

Photo: Razak Mardorgyz Abubakar
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Fetish Priest Online


I met someone the other day who said that it seemed Ghanaians don't really use the Internet. Of course a lot of people don't have access to the net, but at the same time a surprisingly large body of people regularly frequent Internet cafes, was my feeling. However, I think I have found the perfect example of that Internet IS being used by Ghanaians. So proudly presenting a very exciting and well made website for the Fetish Priest Kwaku Bonsam.

The site has pictures, contact information and writings about Kwaku himself. In the long list of services Kwaku offers you can find treatment against proverty, barrenness and to obtain Visas to go abroad (!).

In an interview for a newspaper he was asked how he received his powers. Kwaku tells the story of how he helps a sick man he found lying on the street to the hospital. As a thank you the man gave Kwaku his address and asked him to come visit.

I followed the address and it took me to the North, way after Navrongo.

I finally got to him at a village and after a brief stay, he gave me something and said what he was giving me would send my name very far and no one can bring me to shame in my entire lifetime and that my children would inherit the blessings of what he was giving me.

At that time I did not know what it was and I was a little disappointed because I thought he was going to give me some money for the help I gave him; rather he gave me a deity.

The next day I threw it away but it came back to me and that made me a little scared. I then threw it in a manhole but the manhole exploded and it came back to me again.

Then there was this time I went to witness a fetish dance and I got possessed and started to perform wonders for the first time.

Every week here in Ghana, I hear references to this spiritual world with its spiritual solutions to real problems. I find it really interesting that this traditional world has here taken the leap into the World Wide Web.

Some might say it is just business as usual, a healer who "perform wonders" for money, just with a new type of marketing. Yeah, maybe. Still, I couldn't resist the temptation of signing up for the traditional fetish mailing list. Can you?

Blogs in Ghana THE FULL LIST

Since some time back I have had a mission to draw together bloggers in Ghana. Reasons for this being a mix of sheer curiosity of the people behind the words and a vague feel of that we could maybe work together in some way.

So far my accomplice and myself have found 13 bloggers blogging out of Ghana. We have set up two fruitful meetings and the next one is planned for beginning of October. At the first bloggers meet-up, we decided to make it easier for you readers to find us, hence we now present the feeds collection Ghanablogging.com. Here you can find the most recent posts from all our blogs thanks to David.

Are you a Ghana blogger not included? Please send me an email!

Election Fever in Ghana

They are all the same!

The esteem for politicians is not all that high in Ghana. Some of the sentiments, I can relate to, maybe it is the universal gossip about the boss, but what is different here is the accusation of everyday corruption. My fellow Ghanaians blame their politicians for “chopping money” – meaning eating it as in buying big cars and offices for themselves, or giving contracts to relatives who know little about building roads/hospitals/etc. or simply spending more time outside Ghana talking than in Ghana making change.

The elections are coming up in December and the frontrunners are Nana Akufo-Addo and Professor John Atta Mills. Akufo-Addu is the flag bearer of the ruling NPP and Mills is currently in opposition with NDC.

I am planning to write one post each week about the election fever until we know who is the new president of Ghana.

Thankful in Traffic

In the quite chaotic Ghanaian traffic there are a number of things that brighten my day. These days we tend to mostly complain about the many car crashes, the traffic jams, people failing to adhere to traffic rules and regulations or the regulators of the traffic flows being outright silly.

As a counter balancing act I here will list my favorite elements of the Ghanaian traffic, you are welcome to add to it!

1. People are friendly and will let you in to any queue, no matter how slowly it moves, if you give a sign like twitching your headlights or raising your eyebrows.
2. Funny vehicles like the pearly white Mercedes with the Registration "JESUS 1" (Oh Lord, won't you buy me...), the itsy-bitsy small truck that is loaded with chocolate (Think Ompa-Lompas) or the hot pink pick-up (Barbie's car!).
3. If you make a mistake, there is room for it, because mistakes happen all the time...
4. When reversing out from a tight spot there is always someone there to direct you.
3. FAVORITE The random messages displayed in the back windows of the public transport Tro-tro's, like the one in the picture above, "THEY ACT AS LOVERS".

What do you make of that?

Im clueless. Is it an accusation? A biblical message? A warning to the public? A general statement being true in different situations?

Thinking about this I have a happier and even a bit thankful drive to work.

Important Vacation

In three short weeks I had time to meet up with a bunch of friends and family members, eat "sill" and "kräftor", take walks on the beach and talk, talk, talk in Swedish. It is extremely important to reconnect with your base as an expatriate. This I've learned from among other aliens Agneta Nilsson, founder of the SWEA. She is able to live in two worlds (LA and Sweden) by sustaining her contacts in Sweden even though she lives in the US since many years.

I feel better grounded now somehow, I know my friends still care for me even though I moved away and a further reassurance was the gut feeling that came to me already when I walked to the gate for the Accra flight last Sunday - it is clear that Ghana is my home now.

My lovely vacation is hereby over and there are a lot of things to sink my teeth into back in Ghana. Among others a slow launch of the website aponkye.com, a new go at my migration research proposal and a Ghana bloggers meet up on Thursday.

Swedish Silence

I am leaving Ghana for my native Sweden for a few weeks on Saturday. I so much need the chilly wind of Sweden, refueling of Swedish foods, singing in Swedish, sleeping in silent Swedish nights and spending time with family and friends over there.

The past week and the current is busy with work and even though I started some ambitious posts they now lay dormant awaiting an end/a crucial link/a perfect picture (the Ghana bloggers will know what I mean).

So, I think I will chose to stay silent until I return from my trip. Hopefully I will be back relaxed, slightly less tanned with many stories and a renewed ability to finish posts.

Friendly Faces

Stumbled across the blog The Face of Afrika (FA) and liked their approach, to "report various constructive initiatives by African people". The blog does that, and much more like linking to a bunch of interesting African websites. However, who is behind this initiative? Are you writing from Africa or elsewhere? The faces of the four writers of the blog remain invisible. On the right hand bar of the blog the writers names mysteriously link to other African web pages without explanation.

Still, whoever you are I especially liked the FA vision, a webpage that is almost like a collage, filled with inspirational quotes and friendly, highly visible, African faces. Ayekoo! (Well done!)

Just as Toke, I also ran into Chioma who has the blog Celebrate Africa. I acctually read about her blog one day on Toke's blog and was introduced to her by a friend the same evening! A small world, to say the least. From an 'on the ground' perspective Chioma explores a very similar topic by traveling around this fascinating continent. Right now, she should be in Burkina Faso is she still on schedule. Loved what she wrote on Accra, "Africa's melting pot?" and the link she gave to the intresting essential oil producer here in Ghana.

I get really happy when I get to know about things like these as I am myself trying to write about the positive aspects of life in Africa and Ghana. But maybe one should ask oneself - is there inflation in the subject?

I'd say no, we are not there yet. To balance out all the singlehandedly negative reports from this lush and vivid continent, even a lot more accounts written here and now are needed.

What do you think?

In the pic some friendly faces from an unrelated event.

Ghana in London

I just returned from a fantastic long weekend in London, or shall I say Little Ghana? I knew London has a big Ghanaian population, but I was unprepared for the massive scale. Many Ghanaians have settled in the southern suburb of Croyden where I my first night in UK had rice balls and groundnut soup. And it tasted just like it should! And two days later I was offered fufu!

Apart from the food, I continued the weekend with speaking Twi about as much as I do when I am here in Ghana (me ho ye paa!), swinging by the Ghanaian Restaurant Accra Nima, discussing Ghanaian politics and best beaches, listening to hip life and then also of course doing the city. Westminster, Big Ben, Tate Modern, London Eye, Tower Bridge and Covent Garden were all the backdrop to my Ghanaian weekend in London.

The lovely colorful pic borrowed from yourbestlocal.com

Inspiring People II

Earlier, I have posted about people in motion, people who want something and who are in themselves an inspiration to others.

For the Swedish speaking crowd, I proudly recommend the radio program with my friend Emilie Persson. She is a truly inspiring person and uses her "hour of fame" on Swedish local radio to discuss political engagement and explore how she went from being a tired student who saw herself as a make-up artist, to someone who is an expert on fair trade, CSR and organic agricultural production and uses her knowledge to lead and engage people. She also talks about her trip to Ghana and says her three months here were exclusively positive. "If you don't think you don't dare to go to Africa, take a chance! Ghana is a fantastic, wonderful country!"

For the English speakers, Emilie plays some good music like Ghanaian hip-life (Ofori Amponsah), South African reggae (Lucky Dube) and American hip-hop (Erykah Badu).

In the picture, Emilie is smelling the flowers in Aburi Gardens in Ghana on a visit last year.

Bloggers in Ghana

Here are some pics from the Bloggers Meet Up in Accra earlier this evening.


Six bloggers and a bonus showed up and we talked about how we became bloggers, what we post and never ever post, why and how one should care for readers and a whole lot of other blog - and life - related issues...

We also had some ideas on how to work together. We decided on meeting again by the end of next month, so if you are a Ghana Blogger who missed this Meet Up, come to the next! (email me and we go from there)

Evidently, this won't be the last post about Bloggers in Ghana. More likely, its a whole new chapter.

Thanks to all who came!

Offline Excitement

I am officially getting excited about the Ghanaian bloggers meet up Maya and I are organizing later this week (inspired by the meet up Petite Anglaise organized in April 2006 in Paris). There are so many creative and interesting storytellers out there, some which I read daily, all of them live and work not far from me - and soon I will get to see them face to face. Lately I have made several good friends out of my blog, so my expectations are rocket high!

Report will follow after the meet up!

Are you a blogger in Ghana who wants to attend? Drop me an email!

Inspiring People

An inspiring person, just one, can change your whole outlook on life. When you see someone talk with that sparkle in their eye, work hard and deliver the most amazing outcomes and move around life as if the situation was custom made for him or her - then I want to do the same. My interest in my surroundings, work morale and heck - even joy of being alive - gets a boost.

Some inspiring people that has crossed my lucky path recently here in Ghana are June Arunga, a young Kenyan woman who works in the IT industry here in Ghana, gives globalization speeches and have traveled the continent in the TV program The Devil's Footpath. She is fast and fun and a person I am just getting to know (including her inspiring book shelf, thanks June!).

Michael Baompong is youth activist and founder of the NGO Young People We Care and one of the 40 most active in Taking IT Global, an online community which seeks to inspire, involve and inform young people. I have not had the opportunity to meet with him yet, but through Internet I know of him and maybe he soon knows of me as well! (all this also inspiring, isn't it?)

I sat down with Nii Mantse just last week who is the editor of Jive, a magazine covering entertainment in Ghana. He has also worked in TV production, for instance with Studio 53 which covers Africas 53 nations, but also with Ghanaian television. We spoke about what matters at work, what young people like to do in Accra and an hour flew by.

All these three people have that energy/drive/sparkle in their eye that inspires me.

Migration Research Update: June has also done a documentary on why the educated youth leaves the continent called "Africa's Ultimate Resource" and Michel wants to be a "migration expert" in the future. I think I need to talk to both of them in preparation for my upcoming migration studies.

In the pic the Ghanaian fertility symbol Akuaba to illustrate the mind fertilization and inspiration in this post.

Medal? Yes, Please But First A Good Pension!

Recent debates over the costs for the National Awards that took place on July 3rd in Accra make me think of the campaign in my birth country long before I was born where social democrats fought for social benefits before medals to the affluent. It seems like that is still a battle that needs to be fought.

Apparently only the medals for this big gala with the theme "Branding Ghana for a Prosperous Future" cost more than 1,4 million USD. Of course that annoys people in a country with many, many problems that could be helped significantly by that same amount.

Not surprisingly, the sitting president defends the the gala and claims all the medals were "legitimate" and "constitutional".

Its been a whole circus, starting when the opposition leader was nominated for a big medal and later turned down the honor. Others were happier saying that this exercise proved that Ghana was a real democracy. Then there were information that there had been no bidding for the medals, then that the contract, and thus cost, was given to provide medals not just for this year, but for the following two. However, the biggest discussion has been around the most expensive piece of gold, the "Grand Order of the Star and Eagles of Ghana" or the medal President Kufuor created for himself - as the newspapers write, he himself suggests it is an insignia which each new President will be given as he or she is sworn into office, to be worn on all formal national occasions and be given a replica when stepping down only if desired.

The president's spokesman's addition to the same discussion was not convincing:
"We hope no one is suggesting that the State Chain to compliment this sword should come in brass."

- Ehrm, yes! Brass would have been wise and done more for the "Branding of Ghana" than the dusty ol'image now provided of an Africa with leaders in gold chains and big palaces oblivious to the strife outside the castle walls.

Pic of the discussed piece of gold, borrowed and slightly cropped from ghanaweb.com

The Birth of A Good Health Policy

Since July 1st of this year, maternal health care in Ghana is free. I have seen this fantastic policy being carried out in front of my own eyes since my husband's niece gave birth to a beautiful baby boy on July 5th. She did not know about the new health care initiative and a few weeks before the birth she asked me for the 90 GHC (as much in USD) to be able to go to the hospital for the arrival of her baby. The alternative for her, as for so many other Ghanaian mothers-to-be, was giving birth at home.

Then the policy came into effect and in stead of providing the money, I was there to help out with acquiring the free care. Together we filled out numerous papers and forms, searched for a photographer take four (!) passport photos (the day of the checking out was a Sunday so the photographer had gone to church). The mother had to sign up in advance (she did so on the 3rd, two days prior to the birth). I believe that together all these things possibly can serve as red tape, making it too difficult to obtain the free policy. But if you do succeed, and this is very good news, all care and medicine related to the pregnancy is free. South Africa has the same policy since 1994 with very promising results.

According to one of Ghana's main newspapers, this initative has already become a success in Ghana. Over the last two and a half weeks, over 50 000 expecting mothers have registered with the scheme which is funded in collaboration with the British Government (42 million pounds over 4 years).

Maternal mortality rate is a big problem in Ghana and with the spotlight given to it by the UN Millenium Development Goals ("Improve Maternal Health" is Goal No 5) finally, a big step has been taken to improve the situation for mothers in Ghana.

Update: I found a BBC web-discussion on how to stop the maternal deaths in Africa with some interesting insights from fellow Africans.

Swedish Summer in Ghana

But you always have summer in Ghana? Temperature wise, maybe. But real summer in Ghana is totally correlated with summer in Sweden. I have some examples:

Today, I am listening to the Swedish Radio program series "Sommar" as pod radio. Every summer famous people, it can be astronauts, politicians, entertainers or an interesting entrepreneur get the chance to talk about anything they want (often themselves) and play their favorite music for 1,5 hours on national radio. Here in Ghana, I have downloaded my favorites - mostly authors - and plan to listen to them just as I did when living in Sweden.

Also, Swedish Midsummer celebrations have passed in company with Swedish friends here in Ghana. It was a wonderful event, pickled herring (sill) has never tasted so good.

This week is the annual "Politicians' Week" in my hometown Visby, an event I love because of its wonderful meet-and-greet opportunities. Everybody in Swedish politics, media and lobbying are there. Probably right now drinking rosé wine in the sunset. All of it I can follow though news and blogs. With a glass of wine, its almost as if I am there (although over here the wine isn't free).

Personally, I have probably never been happier. Ghana is such an interesting society. Everyday I learn new things. I have an exciting job, good prospects of starting my PhD in the fall, a happy marriage, beautiful home (and plans of moving to a better one). I have cool friends and I speak to a family member almost every day on phone.

Still, I just long for the day when I can book my ticket to go to Sweden for vacation. It will definitely be during summer.

Longing for home is a demon.

Picture from the Swedish Midsummer in Ghana. Absolut Vodka and hibiscus.

Fashion Update


What you see here is my favorite outfits on the Accra Fashion Week catwalk presented by Nanna Nilson (walking with one of the models in one of the pics). The last photo is from sneaking in backstage after the show. Some of the models had changed and the model in the coolest dress made from dried grass is posing in our midst.

Extravagant Event

Tonight I will be attending my first Fashion Show ever. It is the final event for Accra Fashion Week and I am invited by one of the designers, Nanna Nilson, an amazing lady who also is a dancer and choreograph with roots in Sweden and Denmark.

Since one of my big interests after moving here is collecting the "good news" of Ghana, this display of fashion has to be one of them. It will be so interesting to see the cutting edge of Ghanaian fashion, the wax prints and batiks molded in new shapes and most likely some modern, urban, arty fashion that is not specifically "traditional/African".

But then comes the problem: WHAT TO WEAR TO A FASHION SHOW. I don't think I have ever felt this self-conscious about clothing. Do I sport a colorful dress or casually come in the pants I wore to work? What in my wardrobe is really new and fresh? How should I keep my hair? What jewelery goes with the outfit? What bag is appropriate? In the end I have chosen to dress in black with Ghanaian accessories and a drop of perfume behind my ears. I've heard you can't go wrong with black.

In the pic some lovely Ghanaian wax prints in braver colors than the author behind this blog. At least tonight.

Travelling News

Today the "NEWS" about our wedding reached my hometown Visby on the island Gotland in Sweden. See it here.

Meet and Greet

- Aren't you a blogger...?

Recently I have been running into other bloggers here in Ghana. The first one is a Swedish journalist who is curious about Ghana, etanol production, gold and diamonds and life in West Africa. Emanuel Sidea is spending some weeks in our lush country and posting (in Swedish) about it here.

Two other bloggers I met at the interesting British Council event WAPi on Saturday. Toke who is the mother of two weblogs, I heart Accra and In My Eyes and Kwabena who together with some friends write Ghana Hype.

Panafricaism in Ghana

Check out my article (only in Swedish) in the latest edition of the Swedish Travelling Exhibition/ Riksutställningars Newsletter Spana!.

After visiting the cool national museum in Accra, I wrote about its history, organization and visitors and in do doing managed to combine my two top interests art and politics in one project! Additionally, when interviewing the management of the museum I found that migration/brain-drain is a problem also in the museum sector. As a result this post has the most "tags" I have ever given to a text on the blog.

Enjoy!

Picture taken by me of two young museum visitors, and beutifully reddened by Spana!'s editor Mårten Jansson.

Happiness Is Also...

...finding a site with interesting and entertaining materials, wonderful photos and just a layout that talks to you.





I fully and wholeheartedly recommend this daily source of inspiration.

It is an online magazine for "women of culture" (probably meaning black, but hey I'm an African now) and according to the founder of the site Ericka Taylor the name stands for You Make It Beautiful. And it is beautiful! (and a bit Martha Steward-y, but thats fine).

Pic taken from abovementioned America-produced website. Can we do stuff like this in Africa?

Happiness Is...

...a yellow sunflower swaying in the breeze.

In March I planted some sunflower sticklings about one inch high. I have almost forgotten about them since, but it seems the raining season has saved most of my flowers.

It is just so amazing that something can grow a meter and a half in two months. Seing it makes me happy.

Pic taken just outside my doorstep yesterday.

How To Carry A Child On Your Back - Ghana Style

Since my last post I have tried to find a site that explains how to tie a child with a cloth on your back the way EVERYONE does it here. I (and others with me) have searched, but found very little on the simplest of baby carrying systems. The answer was of course YouTube. This is what I've found!

This lady does the tying just like they would here in Ghana. Just a pointer, the tying up top is more a fold, like you would to hold up a towel. Below, it crosses twice and then gets folded in, this way, the baby's weight secures the arrangement. Sometimes the baby's arms are tied into the cloth, that way he or she can't move much and will go to sleep in a jiffy.

I dedicate this post to Clara and Leja in Sweden, now I think you can do it!

Back and Front: How to Carry Your Baby

Yesterday, I share a taxi with a mother my own age. Her chubby three months old is strapped to her in a Baby Bjorn carrier, something becoming increasingly common here in carry-your-baby-with-a-cloth Ghana (more info on that here and here).

I turn to ask her who she is choosing the (western) front-carrying alternative instead of the (African) wrap with the baby on the back. She tells me she uses both types, but when traveling it is more practical to have the baby in front. Here in Ghana it is probably also more "fashionable" to wear a Baby Bjorn to town and the traditional style is reserved for around the house, that is for those who can afford both.

Interestingly, it seems to be almost the opposite in Sweden. Different scarves for carrying babies have become very popular and the Swedish invention Baby Bjorn is not as common anymore.

- Oh, I see, I say to the mother in the taxi, he does look comfortable. With a smile I wave at the adorable little man strapped to her front.

- You love babies, eh? His mother asks with the big question mark.

I do. But that’s a different story.

Picture borrowed from mscoaching.com

Ghanaian Internet Community

I have since some time back collected Ghanaian blogs. They are not easy to find, but every now and then I stumble over one. Last week it was Holli's Ramblings with insightful comments on life in Ghana and hilarious comic oneliners. Today I found KOB, Fred and Nana-Kofi's attempt to hype Ghana and Kofi's/Annansi's blog like mine trying to influence the image of Africa and Ghana (only that he in his business lingo calls it "branding").

I have already discussed with another Ghanaian blogger bringing all of these bloggers together IRL. Until I do, if you're blogging in Ghana and is not on my list, contact me!

The pic stolen from Holli.

Out of the Wardrobe

It is like it’s a personal hobby, a favorite pastime, no really, it’s a full-scaled lifestyle. The reinvention of myself and my life. New places, new people, new tasks, new topics. I can’t help myself!

This time it’s a new job involving, not surprisingly, an array of concepts and tasks completely new to me. It is frightening to dive into a world of marketing, revenue, search engine optimization, programming and managerial duties.

But the thing is I love it and I simply thrive. I devour books about my new field (right now fittingly The Search – How Google and Its Rivals Rewrote the Rules of Business and Transformed Our Culture by John Battelle), schedule meetings with people who know marketing/programming/sales and use my people and meeting skills from my past to glue it all together.

I seem to specialize not in Political Science or any other topic, but in change and along with it adaptation. Judging from recent years’ talks about a globalizing and everchanging world, I guess I am very lucky to swing this way.

Now back to my book.

Me Tiri Ye


The heading means "I feel lucky" in Ghana's biggest local language Twi. And that is just how I felt stumbling across Google Twi Kasa - Google in Twi!

I mean, it isn't strange, its the first language of 40 percent of Ghanaians, which translates into some 10 million people. For some perspective that's more people than the whole Swedish population!

In the official statistics Internet users in Ghana are still few, but on the street in Accra and other bigger cities there are many Internet cafes (most successful is this one), information technology courses are popular and social networking sites for Ghanaians keep springing up. Some hope Ghana will follow in India's footsteps and become an IT-economy. Well, then this is a definite first step.

Pic generated with this site.

Swedish Midsummer in Ghana

Date: 21st of June
Time: 3 PM onwards
Place: My Place in Tema


We meet and cook and drink together while the sun sets. I have a grill and a lot of glasses and plates. The rest is up to you. It will be a "knytis" to create a Swedish feel to the event... Everyone with a Swedish connection is most welcome!

Just drop me an email if you want to come.

Women in Politics

Having followed the American primaries, like everybody else on this planet, I must confess I was disappointed when Senator Rodham Clinton did not make to the democratic nomination. As she pointed out in her speech, held the same night Senator Obama was partying with his followers, not long ago women were not even entitled to vote. Now, that seems distant, but why is it still so difficult for women to reach the top positions?

Just as the United States, my two home countries Sweden and Ghana have yet to hope for a woman prime minister/president. As the elections are coming up in Ghana later this year, some groups have started to advocate for a female vice-president (chance for female head of state already bypassed).

At the same time the world press is arguing about if Senator Obama will ask Senator Rodham Clinton to be his running mate. Will this be the year of women historically breaking in the political inner circle or another term of suits only?

In the pic African heads of state in Accra for last year's AU summit.

Ghana Graduation

Yesterday I met with my sister-in-law. She is a wonderful, easygoing person and very easy to talk to. We sat down and discussed all different kinds of things; Ghanaian versus Swedish food, what to do in the weekend, how our careers are moving along etc. We laughed together and she vowed to soon come visit me. As I was leaving I wanted to give her some of the fresh corn (in Ghana maize) I was carrying in a big, black shopping bag.

- I got too much, all of this I bought for 1 GHC, so please help me out!

And then it happens. As my sister-in-law picks out a couple of corn cobs she, having lived in this town all her life, asks me, the obroni-new-kid-on-the-block, where I've gone to buy so much for so little. Bursting with pride I tell her what corner of the market I went to, feeling like I just graduated with a degree in Ghana Street Smartness.

Blog Song

And your words cling to me like rain in Africa

Today I found this song Rain in Africa. Since I really like the feel to it, the jazzy saxophone, the melancholic tones and the duet vocies singing I have decided to post it here as my "blog song". The group looks like an eighties one and is called 4 to the bar which kind of tells you they are music nerds ( or drunkards?) Anyways, I'd never heard of them before and am happy my blog led me to their song.

Now I have shared it with you!

Unfortunately I cant figure out how to embed the last.fm player here so you have to click above to hear the first 30 sek of it.

On Rain

Today, it is raining so no morning walk today. It is now the end of May which should be the end of the raining season. Maybe the heavy rain yesterday evening and the steady drizzling of this moment will be the last in a while?

Morning Walk

I leave the house around seven thirty after having waved goodbye to my husband ( he leaves for work around 6.45 ).

I lock my gate with a heart on it and criss-cross through my neighborhood, saying my "goodmornings" to the people I meet. I turn onto Hospital Road and follow it for about 15 minutes. There is a lot of traffic, lotto kiosks, chicks, kids going to school, food being sold, craftsmen lining up their produce like sofas or baskets, and taxis that don't mind me walking briskly in jogging shoes and stop to ask where I am going. Sometimes, a friend will drive by, like this morning the neighbor in the black pick-up. His window is already down so he just slows down, stopping traffic, and shouts to me across the road

So, you have started your exercise again?

I have. Interestingly, it seems like it is as much an exercise for the mind as for the legs. Walking is really the best way to think. I think about the car I am going to buy, what I will do this weekend and why dragonflies are not considered scary, but beautiful.

My legs move almost automatically.

I stop and become standing for a while trying to cross the busy Hospital Road to get to my destination, a pool. There I will emerge in the water to chill myself, because even though it is just eight in the morning I am sweating. Before I enter the pool premises I pass by the Christian Vertical(!) School. Kids are sweeping the schoolyard, attending to a fire of scraps and rubbish when they suddenly get interrupted by the bell. They line up as I watch them from the dirt road and start to sing.

God bless our homeland Ghana.

In the pic the jogging shoe that does not impress taxi drivers.

Crab News

For your information, Da Vinci has been released. Apparantly, he was "bush crab" (according to my know-it-all husband) and consequently let loose in the bush not far from our house. Good luck to you, dear Da Vinci!

Goat News

Today, I have a bunch of fun errands to run in Accra. I have to look at some cars (will be buying one soon!) with a mechanic friend, do some journalistic digging (for an article I will link to here if it gets published), have fika with some Swedish friends I have reconnected with through SVIV and then finish off with dinner and "Varieté" at Alliance Francaise (8PM, probably a few cedis entrance fee). Maya informed me there is now a page that vows to collect all events in Ghana. The initiative which Ghana's Ministry for Communication and UNDP stands behind is called Aponkye - goat! I thought that was hilarious!

This type of webpage is exactly what I was talking about. However, after a quick browse I wonder - why are many events taking place in the US?

In the pic the abovementioned goat.

I Am Not Alone

Sometimes when I think of what to write here on my blog I feel like my overall topic -"Africa can be nice"- is off the chart. What am I trying to do here? Convince all of you that there acctually is good news (aka "rain") in Africa?

How can I think of doing this when there are very serious problems out there. When we all read about draught and floods, rebel leaders and dictators impressively cold to their subjects, continous cases of malaria and HIV/AIDS, diamond and oil findings making no change for people close to them, corruption being so widespread that it appears ironic and international aid hitting historical highs, people dying on the poor roads or in bloody rituals and yet again other Africans fleeing for their lives or to be able to use their degree to make some more money.

What can the other perspective (a crab running around in the backyard, a concert, a fellow blogger) really do? According to Ugandan journalist Andrew Mwenda it makes all the difference. See his TED speech here. Of course I agree with him to some extent, otherwise I'd stopped blogging long time ago - or blogged about something else, more likely. Now I am rather thinking about how to expand my writing on this topic I have become so passionate about.

Because - and this is what I am trying to blog about - there is also just enough sun and just enough rain to grow wonderful vegetables and fruits grow, good leaders and cooperation between people who have a lot to contest, there are nurses who work even though their workload is heavy and the pay isn't much. There are small steps being taken to minimize traffic accidents an an example, there are rituals that are important and healing and many of those who emigrate send money home especially in support of education.

And I am not alone. Blog portals like Global Voices Online are out there trying to broaden the picture and maybe most importantly highlight that all media is being written/edited by individuals with an agenda. At the African Loft where, according to the site itself "the people and friends of Africa mingle" the Positive Africa is being debated.

The blog Africa Works basically does the same thing and also have a bunch if interesting links, among others to African newspapers. Also I found some more Ghanaian bloggers adding their perspective. I especially liked this one. See Blogs in Ghana on the right.

If we don't talk about the good things that is going on in Africa we might be too tired and sad to critically look into the pitfalls of foreign aid, for instance. Or how to really combat corruption.

Isn't this how the web ultimately should be used? Adding the news that doesn't make it to print.

In the pic: A scared, hungry child hiding - or a content, joyful child playing hide-and-seek?
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