Plantain at Work

Now you might think I am all about fruits, well, that can't be helped, because here is my fruit story for the day.

Yesterday afternoon, I was in a meeting. After 30 minutes or so everything comes to a stand still, we are waiting for someone to bring us a document. Bored, I glance out the window and see some green leaves. To be a bit funny, I turn to one of the guys in the room and ask:
- Are you the one growing plantain out there?
With a straight face, he answers me:
- No, it is the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation!
Only in Ghana.

Beautiful Fruit

This will be my dessert tonight, fresh paw-paw (papaya) with carambole (star fruit) and lime! Fruit might not be equal to candy, as the popular Swedish childrens' TV star Grynet often empazises, but it can be veryvery good.

"Happy and Hopeful"

I had my 15 seconds of fame yesterday when I ran in to BBC World Service's David Amanor at the event in Accra celebrating the Inauguration of Barack Hussein Obama. Among popcorn, fresh bottled juices, Obama souvenirs and a crowd exceeding 500 people we found a quiet(er) corner.

Just minutes before he was sworn in, my African-American friend Janet talked about how emotional she felt, my Ghanaian friend Mankye analyzed Obama's popularity in Ghana and to finish the Ghanaian segment off, Amanor suggested this is not only an event that had importance for African-Americans and Africans, introduced me and let me say a few words on how I felt. "Happy and Hopeful" I rejoiced.

Unfortunately, I haven't found the program as a podcast, so you just have to trust me on this one, and see the photographic evidence above.

Behind the Obama-Mania

I recommend to anyone living in this time and age to pick up a copy of Barack Obama's "The Audacity of Hope".

Reading this book is like opening the back door to the Obama inauguration frenzy, including colorful pop-art posters, music galas and celebrity worship, and coming out on the other side of the stage and see that the sky is really blue.

Yes, his election really signifies change due to who he is, but there is more.

It becomes clear that this man is a calm, reflecting but determined do-gooder (funny fact: according to wikipedia Michelle and Barack's first date was to see the movie "Do The Right Thing") who has a dream of letting complexity back into politics. The book is about many other things (chapters are called Values, Our constitution, Race, etc.), but to me the message of complex decision-making resonates. Not every issue can be answered with "Aye" or "Nay", there are trade offs in policy-making and most issues need a bit of explanation before we can take a stand. He also comes down on the polarization between Republicans and Democrats, itself a simplification, in the American political system, but adds that the media thrives off of it:
Your quote doesn't run if you say, "I see the other guy's point of view" or "The issue is really complicated".
I can't help but think that the current economic crises might be just what Obama needs to create a less partisan, less simplistic and more constructive political arena. What we can do, wherever we are in the world, is to accept his challenge of complexity and ourselves get more involved in politics, and maybe also give less meaning to abbreviated news clippings.

The book also has a couple of funny incidents from the (senate) campaign trail, like the one about the guy from Obama's opponent's office who followed him everywhere with a hand-held film camera. After he refused to give Obama even the smallest personal space, Obama introduced him to the press during a briefing. Later he got a apology from the opponent, who by then had been hurt by the story of the persistent and rude filmer.

The New York Times called Obama "level-headed" in their review of The Audacity of Hope. To me, that is a excellent attribute for a world leader to possess.

In Ghana, I am going to view the inaguration ceremony at the Du Bois Center in Labone, Accra and in the evening I have been invited to a celebration arranged by the Africa-American Association of Ghana (AAAG) at Sweeties Night Club in Airport Hills.

Post Election Thoughts

As the sun sets on the Ghanaian elections of 2008, here is my post election column for the Swedish newspaper AiP.

Although the brief text unfortunately is in Swedish only, the heading optimistically reads "Ghana visar vägen i Afrika" - in English "Ghana Shows the Way Ahead in Africa".

In the pic, the beautiful sunset over Tema/Sakumono beach yesterday evening.

If She Could Blog: Yaa Asantewaa

Since Prempeh and Ejisuhene, my own son, were sent away I have found some power within me I didn’t know I possessed. I miss them and I fear what the white men might do to our people, now that they are gone. My life has changed.

I have taken my son’s seat in the council and yesterday I had to sit and endure the speech of our white enemies. Hearing the British Governor demand, DEMAND, the Golden Stool made my vision get blurred with emotion. At the secret meeting, just after the ugly, lanky Governor had left, when I saw these old men sit and argue - as if we had all the time in the world - my anger just bubbled over.

When I stood up to deliver my speech, I saw surprise in some of their faces, but also respect. I am Queen Mother of Ejisu Yaa Asantewaa, and the future of our Asante Confederation now rests on me. My voice was strong when I spoke at the meeting:

Now I see that some of you fear to go forward to fight for our king. If it were in the brave days of Osei Tutu, Okomfo Anokye, and Opoku Ware, chiefs would not sit down to see their king to be taken away without firing a shot. No European could have dared speak to chiefs of Asante in the way the governor spoke to you this morning. Is it true that the bravery of Asante is no more? I cannot believe it. It cannot be! I must say this: if you, the men of Asante, will not go forward, then we will. We, the women, will. I shall call upon my fellow women. We will fight the white men. We will fight till the last of us falls in the battlefields.

After I had spoken it was like the quarrels had died down. The room was quiet. Apart from my auntie smiling at me from a corner, everyone else had a very serious expression on their face. The silence continued and wasn’t broken until my carriers had taken me out of the council room and into the family palace. As I heard their angry voices, I thought of that I had meant every word; if I have to I will lead the Asante people to war. As a royal, this is my responsibility.

Let’s see if any of these fearful chiefs will come and visit me, else it will be Yaa Asantewaa’s war.

(In the picture, I am wearing my warrior outfit and carrying my rifle, I hope some of the damn British will see it and realize the Asante Confederation must still be feared!)

This post is a joint effort with bloggers from We decided to this month blog from the perspective of a (famous) historical person who might have been a blogger had he or she lived today. The quote is an authentical quote from Yaa Asantewaa who lived 1860-1921 and led her people to war in 1900. She died in exile in the Seychelles.

Smoothie for Breakfast

The papaya (in Ghana "paw-paw") in my garden, planted about one year ago, has started to give me ripe fruits every other day, and this is what I most often do with them.

I throw them in the blender, maybe with some juice, and here with some passion fruit. Run for a few minutes and voila, the best breakfast ever.

This post is part of my new tag Food and Drink. Hopefully I will follow up with more of these in 2009.

Employment in Ghana

I thought I should share some local job opportunities. Even if I am not looking, I belong to a generation who likes to know the options...

I am on a few mailing lists, and recently a couple of interesting jobs caught my attention. Firstly, African Center for Economic Transformation (ACET) is looking for new staff. They are searching for experienced policy experts, but also HR and some other research staff and interestingly offering “competitive international remuneration packages”. More on the organization and the job openings here.

Some of my information I get through the International Development Jobs Newsletter, which lists all kinds of jobs all over the world in the “development industry”. To subscribe visit their webpage. Other jobs come though the site/newsletter Find A Job in Africa.

Last, but not least, there is also the Ghanaian site Jobs in Ghana which lists all kinds of jobs, currently themselves are also hiring.

Prof Mills Now Prez Mills

So, finally we have a new president. In the run off on the 28th of December, NDC won with the slimmest margin ever in Ghanaian political history, 50.23 %. John Atta Mills, also called Prof since he is a professor, mostly researching taxation law, will be inaugurated tomorrow as Ghana's new president.

Mills is a true academic with some 25 years in teaching at University of Ghana and other universities abroad. His PhD was completed at School of Oriental and African Studies in London. We'll see if he will use his in depth knowledge in taxation issues in the four years to come. And if his nick-name Prof will stay, or if it will be changed for Prez.

Before the elections, I wrote a column on the Ghana elections for the Swedish social democratic newspaper Aktuellt i Politiken here (unfortunately only in Swedish).

In the pic John Atta Mills, pic borrowed from

New Year, New President?

As the new year approached, we have been waiting to hear who will be our new president in Ghana after the second round of elections on the 28th of December. But instead of finding out we have been showered with accusations of election fraud and delays in the Electoral Commission results. I must say I am shocked 2009 has come without a new leader for Ghana. However, I am impressed the court in this stressed conditions keep to following constitutional procedures. Now I can only hope we all keep our calm and when we have a winner, that everybody will accept the results.

That would be a very good start for 2009.

In the pic, election cloth with the ballot box and the thumb print from Ghana Textiles Printing, GTP.
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