More Broadband in Ghana

Chinese company Huawei are to ensure broadband infrastructure in all of our green country within two years. The initiative falls under the government's ICT Backbone Development Programme. Bloggers, lets keep an eye on this!

I read it here.

What a thing!

I present without much further ado:

As of now, Swedish articles I've written (and written about) will be possible to read in English, see for instance the UPDATE at on the Adopted article some days ago!

Confused Blogging

Dear Reader,
I'm back to my first blog name "Rain in Africa" again.

Well, maybe the new name was implemented in a rush. Yeah, without me thinking about consequences of a name change, how it has to be discussed with you. But also its meaning...A new name has to be really good and self explanatory. I guess what I really wanted to do was to finding a name that captures the essence of my blog, something that says "I write about Ghana" (because really, I don't write much about Africa), then buy a domain so that you will have something like - simple and nice.

I have also been contemplating leaving blogger for the more advanced wordpress (org more likely than com), now that I spend so much time blogging and talking about blogging.

So, I am just temporarily going back to "Rain in Africa", soon I will migrate to something all again different. But the content will be, more or less, the same.

Any questions?

Suggestions also much welcomed, of course.

Article about Adopted Exhibit

This week my article (in Swedish only UPDATE: Now also in some sort of English with Google Translate here. ) on the Adopted art recently exhibited at the German Goethe Institute here in Accra was published in the Swedish Traveling Exhibitions Newsletter here.

Below, I translated a brief part illustrating what the thought-provoking exhibit by Gudrun Widlok was all about.
The center of the exhibit is the adoption office where one can apply to be a "adoptive family" or an "adoptee". Here are 100 photos of Europeans who wish for an African family as well as a painting where an African family is holding a picture of their new, European family member.
In the pic a Ghanaian family at the opening of the exhibit describes the experience of adopting a European adult .

UNDP Photo Contest: "Picture This"

Stumbled upon this photo contest "Picture This: Caring for the Earth".

The rules are as follows :
Photos submitted for the contest should also document people in Africa working to mitigate or prevent the effects of climate change or environmental degradation in general. They should be taken from a journalistic sensibility and tell a human story. They could profile a breaking news story, or an on-going project; they could also profile a particular African and her or his work, or a community and its work.

There are two categories: individual photos (up to 5 entries per person) and photo essay (one photo essay, 4-10 photos per essay, per person). You may only enter one category.

You must enter as either a professional or an amateur.

You musthave lived in a country of Africa for 12 months between August 2007 and August 2009.
There is still 6 weeks to go and I think I will enter. It would be really great to own a professional camera, but even greater having Wangari Maathai glance at something I saw through my viewfinder.

In the pic: The supposedly number one prize.

"Revisiting Modernization" Conference Gets Revisited

Today, my article about the conference "Revisiting Modernization" organized two weeks ago by University of California & University of Ghana was published in the University World News/Africa Edition webbased newsletter here.

Just at the opening of the conference, I'm sure you remember I blogged on it here.

Ghanablogging Grande! Report from August Meet-Up

Yesterday, at out monthly meet-up we had visitors from Maker Faire Africa, Maneno and some probloggers like WhiteAfrican. All in all about 20 people joined in at Smoothies in Osu.

We learned about Maker Faire Africa which is an initiative to boost African inventions, upscale them or just spread their usability from country to country. They have set up camp at the Kofi Annan IT Center in Accra for the weekend and I'll be heading over there in a bit.

Also Miquel from the African-inspired blogging platform Maneno (meaning ”words” in Kiswahili) told us about how he came up with the idea after visiting the Kongo where internet is slow and expensive. Maneno is tailored for the subsaharan conditions and seek to invite more Africans to become bloggers. He posed some interesting questions to us.
Internet is quite reliable and not too expensive in Ghana. So would SMS posting be interesting here?
Discussion followed where most ghanablogging members seemed to think mobile solutions could catch on in Ghana. Also Internet - even if available - is largely restricted to the elite in Accra.

Miquel also asked:
What do bloggers in Ghana write about?
We had difficulties summarizing the rich and varied blogosphere in Ghana, but compared to the very different Nigerian blogosphere where blogs serve a more political purpose. IN Ghana we mentioned blogs about lifestyle, current affairs and poetry, but there are many other subjects. Coming up soon on will be listing blogs in "categories", maybe that will help?

Finally, problogger Eric/WhiteAfrican/Afri Gadget talked about blogging as a job. Eric grew up in Kenya and Sudan and studied in the US. He told us how blogging started as a hobby, just like for most of us, and grew, grew and grew. He stressed producing your own content rather than just writing about others work or reposting it. A blog with new content, could be the only place to go for certain type of information! He writes about technology in Africa and when starting the AfriGadget site recently it quickly surpassed his popular personal blog, WhiteAfrican.
Not anybody can be a blogger, he said. You have to be consistent. After 6 months you have to keep posting, your readers will expect it.
Present were Ghanablogging members David Ajao, Samson Ojo, Toke Olagbaju, Nana Kofi Acquah, Nana Yaw Asiedu, Cornelis Rouloph Otoo, Edward Amartey Tagoe , Gameli Adzaho and Emmanuel K. Bensah jr.

and not yet members, but hopefully soon, Nii Ayertey Aryeh and Lora Akati.

Some of the interesting guests were Miquel Hudin of Maneno, Erik Hersman (WhiteAfrican and AfriGadget), Klaas Kuitenbrouwer, William Kamkwamba (lead name at MFA), 'Tosh' Hamilton Juma, Nigerian entertainment blogger Chika Okafor and Brian Shih.

And me.

It was the biggest number of bloggers so far convened in Ghana! Thanks to everybody for coming and maybe we should try to invite guests a bit more often?

In the pic: David Ajao, Eric Hersman and Klaas Kuitenbrouwer being nerdy.

What Do You Do?

I recently got the question:

"What Do You Do?" from a reader. (Thanks, Alison!)

"Good question", I replied.

Because, truth be told, I don't really know myself. This is by far the most common question people ask you in this modern day and age and when not employed, it is a question I've come to dread.

As my goal is getting back into academia, I try to practice writing as much as I only can, sometimes I write for free like here on the blog, sometimes as a freelance writer (most often I link to the Internet version of the publication here on the blog). I have come to really enjoy the journalistic process of pitching an idea, doing research including interviews and then do the write up and admire the result...

But practicing writing will only take you that far, so in March I applied for a PhD position at University of Ghana/Institute of African Studies and I'm hoping to hear from them any day now *crossing fingers*. I want to write about the aspiration to migrate - or not to - among university students in Ghana, an under-researched topic and at the same time a vital part of Ghanaian urban life.

But the lengthy explanations to follow the above stated question might finally be of the past as I recently landed a part time job as a lecturer at Ashesi College University, a liberal arts college with some very interesting goals and values that I earlier posted on here. Appropriately, I will be teaching writing.

Now, what do you do?

Pic: I write.

Don't Confuse Urban Africa, The Blog with...

...The web store Urban Africa

...The book Urban Africa by Simone and Abouhani (2005)

...The Flickr album Urban Africa which has following overlapping raison d'etre with this blog:
Africa has untold vital urban spaces and a rich legacy of a 2.000 years long history of urbanization. However, in the vast majority of flickr groups related to Africa, nature and wildlife photography are predominant. Africa appears as a rural and ‘exotic’ scenery where humans, animals and landscapes build a more ore less harmonious unity.

Pic of a Bead and Wire Ndebele Radio that can be purchased on the Urban Africa store website.

Tropical Contemporary Architecture: How to build a house in Ghana

What is more urban than buildings?

Let me start the born-again blog with posting something on Ghanaian architecture or more precisely things to think about when building your house in the tropics.

Currently, there is a building boom in Ghana and virtually every other person seems to be building a house. Cement prices just hit the roof (see this article) and this coming weekend Ghana's first ever (?) home improvement fair is taking place. Also,this is a topic that just recently has started to interest me, I guess with the opportunity of one day building my own house in Ghana drawing nearer...

First of all, lets think about the property/land you need to acquire. Fortunately, the blog Makola Law has done a checklist on what to think about here.

Second, there are ways to build a house that is environmentally friendly, cost effective and automatically cool. Forget expensive and unhealthy ACs! Check out the inspiring and sometimes surprisingly simple tips for tropical design at Aedhotep Developments. Just to give you an example of something easy to do:
Plant tall trees on the east and west sides of the house to shade walls
Other options include using a new technique to build, such as the one provided by ItalConstruct in Ghana which uses polystyrene sheets and iron mesh to create a house that imitates a cooling box! See a video on the technique here.

Third, when you have a plot and a sustainable structure...what makes a house Ghanaian? Is it Kente style design of the exterior that I wrote on here? Or adinkra symbols like a friend has incorporated in his home exterior? Is it a compound style design like the traditional Ghanaian houses? It is using Ghanaian materials like bamboo and clay bricks? Using African architects? Or is just any house in Ghana a Ghanaian house?

Picture of a, in my view lovely, Ghanaian contemporary designed house courtesy of Aedhotep Developments.

Rain in Africa is now Urban Africa

Today, after more than two years with rich rain falling on this site, I decided to change the name of the blog.

Urban Africa is a more forthright name since anyone immediately can understand what it is about. It is snappier. Also Urban Africa has the advantage of being just two words that do not easily blend and they are easy to spell!

Next step will be moving to, but since they do not allow my tags to move along, I think I need to prepare carefully before I go.

What do you think of the new name?

Ghanaian Names Return: A Trend?

Recently, Ghanaian traditional names seem to have gained popularity. FAF spotted it first here.

He writes:
A trend that I've seen lately though suggests that might be about to change in the next generation. I cant say I've done much research into this so it's based largely of a few friends that I'd lost contact wiht suddenly popping up on Facebook and other places with the English names gone.

It's nothing drastic like coming up with a whole new name, just simply dropping the English one and letting the usually Ghanaian middle names take precedence.

Victoria is now Nana Ama
Isaac is Nene
Franklin changed to Kojo Ohene
Raymond morphed into Paa Kojo
Dorcas likes to be called Nana Konadu
Bright is now Kwame

The phenomenon is jokingly called "Name Dropping", by above mentioned blogger. Remember where you heard it first!

So, Ghanaians like their Ghanaian names - and why shouldn't they?

As a foreigner living in this country I have also adopted one. I'm EwuraAma to some friends, neighbors, business contacts unhidden joy. Sometimes I use it beacuse it is practical. My Swedish name (Tagsa? Aiysha?) is often not heard right and NEVER spelled right - but other times it isn't even about practicality, I just want to show people I care about Ghanaian culture and that I am trying my best to be a part of it.

At the other end, I also find it easier to remember Ghanaian names since they many times can be related to a weekday, which leads to a discussion "oh, so you are also born on a Saturday, then we're twins!" or "I have a good friend who is also a Thursday born!".

The only problem with this trend is that sometimes when I meet with friends half of us, both men and women, are called Nana!

Pic: Painting at the DuBois Center that I snapped some time back and I now feel illustrates this topic very well.

Henning Mankell Talks about Imagination on BBC The Forum

Swedish writer and Africa-lover Henning Mankell was on BBC the other day in a very interesting discussion with Indian economist and Nobel laureate Amartya Sen and Iranian British chilspsychotherapist Camila Batmanghelidj (love the "Batman-ish" name!).

Henning Mankell was making the claim that imagination is more than just an expression of creativity - sometimes imagination is used for raw survival. I was driving when I tuned into the program and it was so fascinating that I never wanted to reach my destination. Hear for yourself here.

Illustration by Emily Kasriel borrowed from the BBC The Forum to visualize the above described discussion.

Conference Season in Ghana: ASWAD

New week, new conference. This time it is the 5th Biennial Conference for the Association for the Study of the World Wide African Diaspora.

The conference, which has the title "Africa, Diaspora, and Pan-African Agendas", has been going on since Sunday, however unfortunately I haven't been able to go to every day. In addition to my spotty attendance, about five workshops and panels happen at once so I have probably just experienced a fraction of this year's conference but what I know for sure, to paraphrase Oprah, is

1. It is the first ASWAD conference on African soil

2. Kwame Nkrumah would have turned 100 years this year

3. We still dont know enough about slavetrade and its consequences

4. Diasporan and African studies need to converge for any Pan-African agenda to progress

And finally and most uplifting:

5. A new generation of Pan-Africanists is emerging!

In the pic, the new generation of Pan-Africanists (including Robtel Neajai Pailey, Carina Ray and myself) listen to one of the old-school activists, Jaqueline Ki-Zerbo.

Nkrumah's Daughter

On Sunday evening, I had the privilege of meeting Honorable Samia Nkrumah, Ghana's first president Kwame Nkrumah's daughter - and herself currently an MP for CPP - at an event. Here's the photographic evidence.

And while I'm shamelessly bragging, the man sandwiched between us is also an MP, Honorable George Blankson more specifically from Mfantsepim Constituency where my Ghanaian family has its roots!

Interestingly the event was hosted by another Ghanaian leader's daughter, Professor Abena Busia who is the daughter of Prime minister Dr. Abrefa Busia. As Dr. Busia was the leader of the opposition against Kwame Nkrumah and his party CPP whose reign ended with a coup d'etat, I thought it was very appropriate - even touching - of Prof. Busia when she publicly acknowledged Samia Nkrumah in the audience and with a few words put history behind us.

I have earlier written about Kwame Nkrumah here and here.

"The Birthplace of Cool" - Bono on Ghana

I had totally missed that U2 singer, cum activist Bono wrote a column on Ghana and Africa in the New York Times just before Obama's visit.

After reading the article I think to myself that something about Bono's efforts is somehow so...arrogant and at the same time wonderfully naive. It talks about important things like the G8 meeting and how Africa is the birthplace of humanity. I guess it can't be summarized, but here is a sneak peak to show you what I mean:
On a visit there (Ghana in May 2006), I met the minister for tourism and pitched the idea of marketing the country as the “birthplace of cool.” Just think, the music of Miles, the conversation of Kofi. He demurred ... too cool, I guess.
Haha, pitched (haha, that word alone!) a marketing idea to a Minister of Tourism after having spent a few days in a country, how arrogant is not that?...but on the other hand, if now Bono says Ghana is cool, then why not take his word for it?! I guess we thought about marketing our chocolate, our gold, but we never really thought of marketing our ability to be cool.

And now three year after Bono's visit, does Ghana even have a tourism marketing strategy?

The column can be found here.

Pic: Bono in Ghana 2006 borrowed from
Blog Widget by LinkWithin