Vagina Monologues in Ghana

Just like Nana Darkoa, I went to see the Ghanaian producation of Eve Ensler's play the Vagina Monologues yesterday. It is playing thios week at the Efua Sutherland Theathre at the campus of University of Ghana in the outskirts of Accra.

The famous play is basically iintroducing us to the vagina, beacuse what do we know about it? Many women have not seen their own vagina, much less appriciated it! It being played in Ghana is no coincidence. It is being played all over the world as bringing awareness to violence against women and the V-day movement.

It was a really good performance, we all had most fun when the V-word was said on stage in Twi, Ga, Ewe, Nzema...and I can reccomend it to everybody, especially women of all ages.

It runs Saturday 28 and Sunday 29, both days at 7.30 PM. The theatre is just close to the main entrance of the uni.

I liked it so much I am planning to go back on Sunday, and then I am taking my husband because I think he should see it too!

I'll upload pics on Monday!

Investment Opportunities in Africa

As the financial markets of the world crumble, investment opportunities in Africa are still highly profitable. In the TED talk posted above, Nigerias former finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala suggests there is "a new wave on the continent" in terms of democracy, transparancy and opportunity. Sectors like energy, telecom, housing and retail are in their infancy, meaning they need investment and suitable policy, but are very likely to grow substancially.

One part of it is the new middle-class of educated Africans and their demand for goods. Some of them have lived abroad and aquired new tastes there, all of them are making money that give them room to spend. However, they need things to buy.

I have myself a few things on a list of things that I would like to purchase, but haven't seen anywhere (a bar-height table, a comfortable and affordable sofa, silver earrings) and information about where to find stuff is part of many conversations I have with others here.

With the financial crisis in the North, it is likely the so called development assistance is coming to an end. However, just as Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala says in the video clip, growth in Africa is probably more dependent on solid investments leading to more jobs thus sustainable growth, than it ever was on aid.

Swedish Television in Ghana

Swedish Television is currently broadcasting a documentary series about the life of Diplomats. In the fifth program of the season, which was broadcast on Monday, they follow a diplomat to Ghana. In the clip above we get to take part of the motorcade taking the Swedish diplomat from Hotel La Palm to the Kotoka Airport in Accra.

I never thought of how scary it must be to actually be part of the motorcade.

The program in Swedish also discusses gin and tonic as a cure for malaria and poor documentation of aid projects. Nothing new there...

Interestingly, a clip of the Swedish diplomats being shown a dirty lagoon when asking to see a successful development project is featured on Ghanaweb under the heading "Who chop-chop the aid money?" I wonder how the clip in Swedish got there.

Swedish Princess Wedding

Just reading Swedish news websites here in English about how Swedish Crown Princess Victoria has gotten engaged. The news cam also be viewed on YouTube here. After 7 years of courting the Swedish gym owner, Daniel Westling, I can't say I am surprised.

However, she is the first female to inherit the throne (after a change in the Swedish constitution in 1980) and he is , according to respected historian Herman Lindqvist, one of the very few Swedish born so called "common people" to ever become royal. And the whole thing is...almost medieval in that a 31 year old has to ask her parents and the prime minister for approval. As my journalist friend Katrine Kielos writes
"We live in a modern society...(Duh! a clip was put on YouTube by the Royal court! My comment.) it then not time for the next step? That we become a republic and Victoria runs for Commander in Chief?"
I do agree, but first there is the wedding scheduled for spring 2010 to think about.

Since I got married less than a year ago, I have some tips for the Princess when planning her wedding:
* Choose a comfortable dress and pretty but also comfortable shoes so you can dance and enjoy.
* Visit the bridal site Offbeat Bride for inspiration on a more fun and personal wedding. Don't be too serious!
* Throw a big party, hopefully you just get married once.
* Involve your families in the preparations (that one will be easy for the Princess).
* Marry for love.

Blurry princess - and prince - pic borrowed from

Salsamania in Accra

Tomorrow it is Wednesday and I am going dancing!

A few weeks ago I decided to take a friend to the Coconut Grove Regency Hotel in Ridge in Accra on a Wednesday evening to see if the latin rhythms still was shaking the place. And if they were! I now cant remember why I ever stopped going and quickly made myself a promise to make it every week.

Local radio station CityFM are nice enough to offer this weekly Salsamania program free of charge. I try to arrive a bit early, around 7 PM to get a parking space in the neighborhood. At 7.30 there are classes on beginner and intermediate levels. I have learned some moves in the intermediate group, but it seems the purpose of the class is to get people moving rather than really transmit dance steps. Then after some 20 minutes of class we gather round the pool and start the row dancing (see pic), for instance to Mambo no 5 (which is the only one I have really mastered). This is so much fun!

Ok, people have stepped on my toes and some combinations seem impossible to ever learn. But the feeling when you get a few steps right in the big crowd of like-minded people! If I am lucky I then find some good salsa dancers for the next section of proper salsa music for proper salsa dancing. Most Ghanaians seem to have adopted something close to Cuban style, which is (lucky me!) my preference. Also, quite contrary to salsa dancing in Sweden, there are two guys to every girl, which makes it easy to pick good dance partners.

There is also really good chicken khebabs to eat and drinks to gulp down in the still warm tropical evening (strictly water for us dancers!)

After just an hour of salsa, I can't be upset regardless of how my day has been. Sweaty and happy and sit in my car around 10 PM, driving home.

Listening to salsa, of course.

Saturday Sunrise

Take a deep breath, enjoy this picture and then enjoy your weekend whereever you are, dear reader.

(Will be back next week with more substance).

Hospitals in Accra

Yesterday, I recieved a question from one of my readers about what good hospitals there are in Accra. This is what I answered:

About hospitals, I dont know much more than you do. Korle Bu and 37 Military hospital are the two big government hospitals in Accra and among those with operating theaters and specialized personnel. I have also heard about the private hospital Lister Hospital from some expats working with the UN, but have never been there myself. They have a nice website, see this link. I live in Tema and have been to the simple but nice Caiqo Hospital in Tema's community 10 when my visiting siblings fell ill. They dont have any website or contact online. I also found a complete (?) list of hospitals online, but the four I mentioned above are unfortunately all I know of personally.

Can anyone else fill in? Where do you go when you or your family members are sick?

Ghanaian Beads

Glass, recycled, clay, brass, silver, ceramic
Beads in Ghana is big business. In 2007, I made a web search for "beads" and "Ghana" and got 609 000 hits, today I got 655 000 hits. My love of beads which I have written about here, here and the other week here have recently been upgraded to obsession.

Most importantly, I have joined the Ghana Beads Society which convenes the first Thursday of every month at 4.30 PM at DuBois Centre in Labone, Accra. The meetings are enthused gatherings of bead nerds as myself, mostly other (female) obrunis and some (male) Ghanaian bead traders (where are the Ghanaian women who most often wear beads?). In the beginning of each meeting, wonderful beads are being sold for bargain prices, the peak of the meeting is spent learning about beads, feeling their delicate textures, getting shocked by how difficult they are to make/bring into the country and marveling at their various colors. There is also some networking and meet and greet with the founders of the GBS and other bead experts.

I have gotten to meet with bead enthusiasts and bead entrepreneurs like Kati Torda of Suntrade and Trish Graham of Ahene Pa Nkasa. It is truly inspiring how they have rediscovered Ghanaian beads and though determination and a will to learn have upgraded the traditional bead into modern use. See for instance the lovely bead work Kati Torda did for Miss Ghana 2005 here.

And I have started thinking about setting up my own bead business. If I did, I think I would be focusing on bracelets - which I love - and "over-the-top pieces" which would be overtly elaborate combination of the West African beads I have come to enjoy so much. In a few weeks, I hope to go for a "stringing" class to learn how to successfully create jewelery with the beautifully rustic and colorful beads I have already purchased over my first two years in Ghana. Then we'll see.

I only know, this is not the last time I write about beads.

Pic borrowed (and cropped) from Kati Torda's photostream on Flickr.

Let's Talk About Love

This post has a topic chosen by the members of Ghanablogging for this month. I have decided to do a first attempt of blog poetry, inspired by fellow Ghana blogger Antirhytm. Please let me know what you think of it!


Months had passed
before I noticed you always used my first name

was something you had never called me

I had not noticed
I had been too busy falling in love


I felt sad, I was angry
I resented you like someone who had never loved

you would not hold my hand
you would not come with flowers
you would not make plans for Valentines day
you would not say the words!

DarlingSweetheartBabyCutiepie, let's talk about love.
You listened like you always do.
DarlingSweetheartBabyCutiepie is not talking about love, you suggested,

more precious is your name

Pic: Tulips in the snow, Sweden Jan 09.

I've Been Snapped... Ghanaian photographer and blogger Nana Kofi Acquah. See the pretty result in black and white here.

Kokrobite Beach Vacation

There's a beach just west of Accra called Kokrobite that seems so far from my everyday life of metro-boulot-dodo, but in geographical terms is not. This is where I spent this past weekend.

Kokrobite(some native English-speakers spell it Kokrobitey to underline the correct pronunciation, including the "e") is situated one hour from Tema, 30 minutes from Accra on a good day with little traffic around Mallam junction leading out west from Accra. This backpackers hide-out is complete with cheap accommodation (can wholly recommend Bah'doosh where I stayed this time), Rastafarians, palm trees, cold beer and a beautiful and crowded beach with a glittering and wavy ocean.

Everytime I go, I bring only a pair of flip-flops, a piece of African print that can make a dress or a wrap or a towel or a headgear, a flowy white cotton top to avoid sunburn and my colorful patchwork trousers (bought in Kokrobite last year)- all of which goes with a bikini and some beads around the wrists.

My husband and I also take a long the books we never get to read. In the mornings we have breakfast in the shade reading together, something that is terribly nerdy, I know, but just screams vacation to me. Swedish celebrity blogger Alexandra Pascalidou has made beach life her everyday life in Thailand for a couple of months. It should be possible to do the same in Ghana.

Some people might have ulterior and somewhat more "smokey" reasons to come to Kokrobite, but as for me I just find it relaxing without any additives. It is like I took a plane to vacation land. But I didn't. Did I say this place is an hour away from home?

Pic: This is how happy I feel on the beach.

Hugh Hefner in Ghana

So, lately the debate has been all about Ghana's Ex-President Kuffuor who has been awarded with some huge retirement benefits.
* Lump-sum (thought to be worth $400,000)
* Six fully maintained comprehensively insured, fuelled and chauffeured-driven cars to be replaced every four years. The fleet comprise of three salon cars, two cross country cars and one all-purpose vehicle.
* Two Fully furnished residences that befit a former president at place of his choice
* 65 day overseas travel with 3 assistants each year
* 18 months consolidated salary
* Million-dollar seed money for the setting up a foundation,
* Security - 24 hours security services
* Budget for entertaining each year
Blogger Que has made an interesting comparison to the benefits of the US ex-president Bush here and an expose of possible feelings towards this here.

While parliament has agreed to again "review" the benefits after the public outcry, I have thought about the benefits intruiging me the most. They are the entertainment money and the 65 travelling days a year with three assistants...Isn't that just too similar to Mr Hugh Hefner of the Playboy mansion?

And when the laughter stops, this is real - not just reality-show, is this the image we want to portray of Africa? and should a developing country really pay for this kind of lifestyle?
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