Academic Conference in Ghana: Revisiting Modernization

Today, I visited the official opening of an academic conference, Revisiting Modernization, which is organized as a collaboration between Institute of African Studies at University of Ghana and University of California. I am covering the conference for University World News, will post the article in this space once it is done.

Not only does the conference have a very interesting program - it is open to the public. I am especially recommending their evening programs, the standard was set tonight with a superb dance performance (again a Ghana-US collaboration), tomorrow we can look forward to an art exhibit and on Wednesday a film screening with films such as Baby Ghana, one of the first films recorded in this country!

The conference is the first in a series of three planned in Africa. After this one comes Senegal in 2011 and South Africa in 2013!

Also mentioned in the blogosphere here and here.

SIDA Jobs: Update

In June, I wrote about a job scam using the name of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, SIDA here.

Today, SIDA's information unit have made a statement (see it in full here) where they officially denounce this so called job opportunity.
Advertisements for recruitment to positions as Project Officer at Swedish International Development Agency (Sub Regional Office) in Ghana, have been published in local newspapers in Ghana. Sida has NOT published these advertisements. There are currently no posts available for Sida in Ghana.

Maker Faire Africa in Accra 14-16 Aug

Maker Faire Africa (MFA) "a celebration of African ingenuity, innovation and invention" according to their website. It is hosted by AfriGadget and will take place August 14-16 at the Ghana-India Kofi Annan Centre of Excellence in ICT in Ghana's capital, Accra.

On their blog, they urge the visitors to Maker Faire Africa to register by sending a text message with their name or email address to:

After you register, you will receive an SMS response containing a 8 digit hexadecimal confirmation number. When you show up at the event and give that number to us, you will be entered into a drawing where you have a chance to win a prize.

Still there's no program for the event, so I don't really know if it'll be like a software development workshop, a conference, a fair, a market filled with African gadgets or a mix of all of the above (or something yet again different).

But maybe it is worth the chance/risk - this event is free to the general public!

Abba World - Please Come to Ghana!

Just read about Abba World here, an interactive exhibit that this year starts touring the world. Finally a permanent museum will be opened in Stockholm, Sweden.

It will be more of a experience center than a traditional exhibit. We let the visitors sing live with "the Abbas" in a hologram setup, they can record songs and videos and even take photos with the group.

Det blir mer av upplevelsecenter än traditionell utställning. Vi låter besökarna sjunga live med Abbor­na i ett hologramsetup, de kan spela in låtar och videor och även låta sig fotograferas med bandet.

I understand they will set off in Australia...If the organizers only knew how popular Abba is in Ghana! Not a week go by without me hearing "Fernando", "Dancing Queen" or probably most often "I believe in Angels"...

I believe Ghanaians would sing Abba songs better than any other people on the planet.

Pic borrowed from the above discussed article.

The New Liberia: Far From Budumburam

Just outside of Ghana's capitol Accra lies Budumburam, the vast refugee camp for Liberians with was founded with the help of the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR in 1990. A volunteer describes the camp like this:
Spatially, the camp is divided into twelve zones, ten of which are in the main camp area and two on the other side of the main road from Accra. Beyond the entrance to the camp is the main square which is surrounded by small stalls. In the middle are the UNHCR notice boards, which are checked regularly in hope of resettlement placement in the U.S.
Around the main square are the principal public amenities such as the camp clinic. The two main streets leading from the square are lined with small shops, stalls, bars, video clubs and Internet cafes. In addition to the official camp zones, there are also four “Gaps”: areas outside of the officially recognized organization of the camp. Mostly young people who came without parents or other relatives inhabit the Gaps. Together they form a sub-culture based heavily on black American youth culture and Rastafariah identity. The Gaps tend to be shunned by most people in the mainstream camp.

Between midnight and 5am there is a self-imposed curfew at camp and there are neighbourhood watch teams who patrol the camp at night. Even if I were allowed to walk around camp at night I for sure would not as there are no electricity which means you can’t see shit and the camp it self is a enormous labyrinth of small streets and allies so the possibility to get lost is as big as it gets.

The water and sanitation facilities at the camp are poor, and together with waste disposal need urgent attention. Due to the poor and expensive sanitation facilities on camp, many residents are resorting to “The Gulf”, a patch of bushy land at the outer perimeter of the camp. This is a problem because the Gulf is where accounts of molestation, rape and murder are taken place.

What is going on in this camp is a real shame, from just driving by it looks like a gigantic slum that has been misplaced. When reading the account above, I realize it is worse. Luckily as of recently many NGOs, researchers and volunteers walk the camp and shed light on what is going on there.

What is going on in Liberia itself, and why you should go there for vacation is discussed in this personable Washington Post article. Reading it I realize I have a lot to learn about the new Liberia.

For instance, did you know they have Star beer in Liberia too?

Pic with the Liberia flag with embedded map borrowed from

Kiss My Teeth or Sounds with Meanings in Africa


I had wanted to write about how as a process of me learning Twi I have now gotten to the non-verbal sounds used commonly here in Ghana. One sound in particular is very useful.

But how do I describe a sound on my blog? Recording it and posting a sound clip is out, 'cos I don't master it quite yet - its really difficult!

But then today, there (facebook) it was: In Writing. Now you might understand what I am talking about:
KMT = kiss my teeth aka tsuos aka tweeeeee(sound) aka the sound African people make when they are angry
It seems the sound I was talking about is called "kiss my teeth": although my Ghanaian husband had not heard that name, but "tsuos" or "tweee" sounds about right. But I think "angry" doesn't really cover it - its more close to extreme disappointment, grave nonsense and deep mistrust. Effectively used, it can even be a potent insult.

Often used about a (useless) person:
- As for that thief, *tsuos*

Or to correct a child:
- Did I not tell you to stop doing that five times already? Hm, *tweeeeee*

Or to stress an (upsetting) occurrence, as the Facebooker in question describes:
- they dont give plastic bags in that shop, nonsense i forced her to give it to me KMT

In the pic, my young friend is attempting the sound. - What? I have to stop playing with my toys and go shower? KMT!

According to comments on this post this is not an African sound per se, but also common in the West Indies, South America etc. I was also informed that Guyana Gyal posted on the same topic years ago here, she also added a useful manual on how to do it!

To suck you teeth, you got to pout you lips in a li’l pout, clench you top and bottom teeth close, close. Push the tip o’ you tongue against you teeth. Suck in air. Stchuuuuu….when you want to finish close you lips…uuup.

Nubuke and New Morning

Since I the day before yesterday challenged my fellow bloggers to take a positive twist to their blog posts, I am here leading by example.

There are a lot of new cultural initiatives in Accra and Ghana, often very ambitious and heartwarming, much needed and deeply interesting. Two of them have taken names that suggests "sunrise", Nubuke means New Dawn in the Ewe language, New morning is the other one - coincidentally they are also my two favorites.

Nubuke Foundation focuses on recording, preserving and promoting Ghanaian culture and history though art. On their website they ask some interesting questions which further defines their purpose:
How best do we preserve the rich Ghanaian legacy in the face of 21st century challenges?
How do we engage with the globally challenged Ghanaian?.
How do we pass down our oral history when families are now split between several continents?
How do we define ourselves indigenously?

They have newly opened their wonderful, spacious premises in East Legon, close to Penta Hotel. About once a month they invite us the general public to an art opening of works that have never been seen before...Like the recent photos of 20th Century Architecture in Ghana.

Tomorrow, Sunday 19th July they invite you and me and everyone we know to the exhibit "Rendez-Vous: Contemporary Ghanaian Art". The opening with music and small chops starts at 3.30 PM.

My other favorite new initiative is:

New Morning Café which is a stage for young musical talents of Accra.

They put up a wonderful show that has so far taken place on Fridays (see review of "Slam Friday" here) and Saturday evenings at exquisite singer Bibie Brew's private home in Tesano, Accra - but I heard rumors that the show will be moved to Tuesdays due to Bibie's engagement as a judge with a talent show in Lagos recording on Saturdays.

A night at New Morning Café is filling for body and soul, wonderfully relaxing and interactive in the most positive sense of the word!

Look out for the next New Morning Café Evening!

In the pics, interactions with the founders of above described establishments.

The Economist's Analysis of Obama's Visit

See weekly news magazine The Economist's levelheaded article on Obama's visit "How Different is His Policy" here.

They are probably right in principal: the American policy on Africa might not see too many changes even under Obama's administration, but clearly no Economist reporter got the on-the-ground energy from Obama's visit to Ghana - "well received" does not start to cover the euforia!

President Obama made a point to visit Africa within his first year as president and by so doing shared the enormous attention he still carries with the continent. In respectfully and boldly delivering some well-known truths like "development depends on good governance" to an African parliament Obama did something to us living in Africa that cannot be measured in monetary policy.

The "tone shifting a bit" makes the whole difference.

Pic borrowed from the above discussed article in The Economist.

Do Something Good on Mandela Day

Music-(that-makes-me-happy)-video from the organization working against HIV and Aids which took its name from Mandela's prison number.

This Saturday, Nelson Mandela turns 91 - you might remember his 90th birthday concert from last year - and urges people to do something good for their communities on this day. Such a nice Mandelaish idea!

Just as Good News South Africa, a website with all the good news from our most southern African country. For a smile every week, subscribe to their newsletter.

So, im going to do something nice too: I CHALLENGE all my blogging friends to write something POSITIVE on Saturday!

Update: I Saw Obama!

To update you on my three places to spot Obama, this is what happened:

1. Kotoka Airport

Airforce One came in about three hours after leaving Rome and the G8 meeting, we never knew Europe was so close! I was hanging out with some friends in a bar and when we heard he had landed with Michelle, their daughters and Michelle’s mother (I believe the fact that the whole Obama Family visited Ghana might change the image of Africa in some small way, i.e. Africa is suitable for family vacation) and we headed to the airport area...which was completely closed down. Rumors said they were staying in newest hotel in town Holiday Inn, which was in complete darkness exept for the penthouse…hm.

2. La Polyclinic

BINGO! At about 11.20 am the entourage with numerous shining cars in its motorcade swooshed by. My friend and I had been standing in front of the clinic since about 9. Although it was hot, crowded and the opportunity to view the American president very limited it was so worth it when he finally came by and we were in the smiling, waving and roaring crowd.

3. Viewing the speech with AAAG

Due to traffic out of the city we never made it. In stead we listened to the speech with the taxidriver on his radio on a channel that filled every breathing pause of president Obama with a deep voice saying “Peace FM”. Kind of killed the rhetorics.

I am so pleased! Finished my Obama weekend by dancing to MUSIGA's "After Party". I hope your Obama-weekend was fine too!

Pic: Obama family at the Cape Coast Castle, borrowed from

Obama's Visit - A View out of Ghana

Why has Obama chosen to come to Ghana as his first stop in Africa? Does it mean he chose not to come to the regional big brother Nigeria and his paternal home country of Kenya? Will he give a policy speech on Africa whilst in Ghana? How are Ghanaians preparing? Are they happy to host the first black American president?

These are questions that have already been debated thoroughly (see's Abena being quoted here for example), hence I’d like to write on an issue much less discussed.

How can we living in Ghana at this time take part of the visit?

It has been made clear that president Obama will not address the general public directly, nor will there will be any parade in which we can see the Obamas, wave or take photos. Weather has been blamed for this decision, and yes, it has been raining extensively lately, but maybe it is more a security issue?

So here I give you the 3 places one will get the Obama fever up close:

1. Airforce One will land at Kotoka Airport at 8 pm tonight, at least one can see his plane there.

2. La Polyclinic is his second stop tomorrow morning after meeting the recent presidents of Ghana for breakfast (Rawlings, Kuffuor and Mills). I’m guessing they will convene at the Osu Castle and then drive (??) to La Polyclinic just 5 minutes away on the beach road.

3. The African-American Association in Ghana (AAAG) will watch Obama’s speech together at the Mensvic Grande Hotel in East Legon Saturday morning (starting 10 am). I think that will be a good place to get the Obama vibe for us who sadly were not invited to the International Conference Centre in Accra where he will give his address.

And on Saturday evening 7 pm at the Dubois Centre in Labone, Accra there will be a concert (Featuring among others wonderful singer Bibie Brew) saluting the popular visitor who at that point will have left beautiful, and rainy, Ghana.

Ill update you on how it all went on Sunday.

This is is a shared blogpost for

Help, House Bats Are My Neighbors!

Their high-pitched screams were a sound I could not place the first time I heard it. But at dawn as I was standing in front of our new house I must have been blind to not see them…the hundreds of bats that came out from under our roof…
As for me I thought it was highly exciting and exotic to share shelter with some tropical insect eater, but I soon was made aware of how much they disturb with their screams and …shit (which can also be a possible source of disease).

Our new neighbors get hungry around six in the evening, just like us, however that is also the time they ”go to the market”. This turned out to be the key to their moving out. Yes, moving.

The exterminator we called made us understand that bats are an endangered species and cannot be fumigated, poisoned, trapped or in any other way killed, however, one can lawfully seal the roof one wishes they do not enter. Hence, a carpenter came to seal the whole roof with metal netting after dark and after they had flown out yesterday.

Later in the evening as they returned, they started circling the house looking for a way in. At one point there was like a cloud of bats trying to get in. But they didn’t get into the house again and last night just one or two of them returned to try again.

However they managed to enter my dreams. I was tossing and turning all night, agonizing over what I'd done. In my dreams however, the bats and I were living in friendly coexistence.

New Neighbors

Tomorrow I'm giving you the FULL STORY about my new, exotic neighbors!

Moving Houses

Today, the time has come to move from buzzling community 8 to the more calm - from the looks of it at least - community 11 here in Tema.

I'm just now going for the key from our landlady and then arranging with my gardener to come move my garden (!).

Today we plan to do the most part of the move - big stuff, books, clothes, TV etc. but then come back here and sleep (and more importantly use the Internet one last time).

Pic: A new door opens...beautiful door of new house.
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