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

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

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.
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