>New Year’s Eve Ghana Style (does not involve goats nor champagne)

> Seriously, Ghanaians!?
Noone is throwing a New Year’s Eve party? Not even a small one?

”Traditionally” (would be interesting to know when and where this practice comes from), New Year’s Eve in Ghana is a day for contemplation, gratitude and prayer – clearly a Christian holiday! Most people dress in white (celebratory clothing) and head for the churches around 8-9 pm. The final hours of the year is spent praying, listening to sermons and singing hymns. Many times, the sermons are held outside the church room, as the crowds cannot fit inside the chapels and churches. The transition to the new year has nothing like the festive ”10-9-8-7…”, rather it is a very serene and gradual change with nothing special to mark midnight. However, around 1 pm, many people start heading home. (And from what I hear, some of these churchgoers then changes into other clothes and head out for a drink, but this is a different story).

So, what is the problem? Well, it is strictly personal, I suppose: I just miss the European way of celebrating New Year’s Eve. I miss having to choose between parties. I miss the anticipation for the New Year. I miss planning ahead for a most luxurious evening with shiny and glittering outfits, chilled champagne and beyond good foods. I miss the obligatory chant of ”10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1-HAPPY-NEW-YEAR!” I miss kissing friends and family in a delirious state and then topping it off with more bubbly and dancing!

However here in Ghana, it seems no parties are planned for tomorrow night and I am still the only one considering Christmas the main Christian holiday in December.

Pic: Party outside of Ghana.

>Christmas Ghana Style (of course it involves goats!)

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The holidays have come to all creatures on this earth. How are you celebrating them? This is how some of my fellow bloggers are honoring the holidays.

Nana Kofi was especially happy with his gift this year, Ato KD sent a message to all who is close to his heart and interact with him on his blog, Holli decorated her unorthodox tree, Afrocentric urged us to think twice about what we are celebrating, Maya Maame has been xmas style busy and Yngvild has some authentic snow on offer!

As for me, I am celebrating with my Ghanaian family. Yesterday we had fun at the local beach. Swimming and enjoying some softdrinks and “biskits”. Today early in the morning two goats were slaughtered and they are being cooked I write this. Soon, I will be going over to my mother-in-law’s for goat light soup, dance and laughter, cousins and uncles, drinks and jokes!

Dear reader, I wish for you a time of year that is not just about filling your belly, but also filling yourself with stories to take you through the next year.

And may I suggest: If you overflow with tales, you might want to start blogging?

Pic: Santa in my friend Vera’s house.

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>Twi Course in 2010

>Here’s a message from the Goethe Institute in Accra:

Since the current TWI courses at the Goethe-Institut Accra are highly appreciated we are proud to announce the ongoing of our TWI courses in 2010!!

The Goethe-Institut is offering Twi Classes for Non-Twi speakers (beginners and advanced).

The course focuses on communication – within a short period you will be able to discuss in Twi with your Ghanaian colleagues, neighbours, friends & people in town.

Join us! Are you ready?
Ey? paa! S? wofro dua pa a, na y?npia wo.
That’s wonderful! The person with good intentions receives support.
(=If you mange to climb a tree we will push you)

Time & Date

Beginner (very basic knowledge):
Mondays, 5:30 pm – 7 pm
January 4th till March 8th, 2010
Price: 90 GHc

Advanced:
Tuesdays: 5:30 pm – 7 pm
January 16th till March 9th, 2010
Price: 90 GHc

Location
Goethe-Institut Accra, Kakramadu Road, Cantonments (next to NAFTI), Accra.

Registration
Please send the registration form to infospr@accra.goethe.org
Payment should be made before the course starts. Just get in touch with our registration officer.Tel: 021-776764

Since I moved to Ghana, I wanted to learn Twi, see my post here for example. I have been taking the beginner’s course this semester and can testify to that these courses are effective. Remember the song?

Enti, seseara meko di bronya!

>BarCamp Ghana Underway: Blogging Session

>I am right now at BarCamp Ghana 09, all details can be found in Oluniyi’s blog here or the official BarCamp Ghana site here.

It came to a slow start, but “everybody” is here, many members of ghanablogging.com, lecturers, industry reps, entrepreneurs and cool students – so networking is great!
Importantly, I will be leading a break-out session on blogging in an hour. What I will talk about is

1. Why should you blog?
2. How can we together create Internet content that is relevant for Ghana?
3. How can online activities be taken in to the “real world”? (with the example of ghanablogging.com)

Hope to see you in my session!

>BarCamp Ghana ’09 is On

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So, now it’s official: I am making my BarCamp debut early next week! The Ghanaian version of this world wide “unmeeting” is taking place at the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) in East Legon, Monday the 21st December the whole day. See more information about the event here.

Although the strange name of this happening suggests something as scary as “camp”, I am still excited about the free meeting format and three more things.

1. It looks like ghanablogging will be holding a session about forming real life groups from online communities.

2. The organizing group this year are much more locally anchored compared to in 2008 when (it seemed like?) all organizers came from abroad.

3. The founder and president of Ashesi University, Patrick Awuah is giving the keynote address, and he is a very good speaker! As he is also my boss, that part of the BarCamp will be like a regular day at work…:-)

Hope to see some of you there!

>Tonight is Eha-Lakasa Poetry Slam 09

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I’m terribly excited, a urban and outright cool event like a poetry slam for the first time in Ghana!

It takes off tonight Wednesday 16th of December 2009 at Alliance Francaise (close to 37 tro-tro station) at 8.30 PM. This is what the poets themselves say about the event.

EHA-LAKASA is the name, POETRY is the movement, SLAM is the battle. “EHA-LAKASA POETRY SLAM 09” is a unique initiative intended to redefine the poetry landscape in Ghana as a medium of communication and exchange of ideas. EHA-LAKASA is a straight talk, street philosophy, poetry and music expressed by the arts. This is the first undisputed lyric-smith battle to storm our nation’s capital; it will be a night of fire works with lyrical vibration. 15 Eha-lakasa poets will enter the ring but only 5 will survive and 1 should stay alive.

So, of course I am looking forward to the competition part which gives this program its special edge, but I am betting the best performance of the evening will be by my talented friend Sir Black. Stay tune for YouTube updates!

Pic: Sir Black, credits to Foundation for Contemporary Art Ghana.

>A Degree in Digital Anthropology, Anyone?

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UNSPECIFIED - OCTOBER 10:  In this photo illus...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Some exciting news was reported by the Culture Matters blog today here and it is just typical. Only four and a half years too late the graduate degree of my dreams come into being.

Just taste the exotic words D-I-G-I-T-A-L A-N-T-H-R-O-P-O-L-O-G-Y ! Then imagine yourself reading exciting blogs and analyzing Facebook for a living.
Here’s some information from the lovely institution University College London (UCL) putting forth this “so 2010!” program:

The new MSc in Digital Anthropology–begun in the Autumn of 2009–is well positioned for becoming a world leader in the training of researchers in the social and cultural dimensions of information technologies and digital media.

Digital technologies have become ubiquitous. From Facebook, Youtube and Flickr to PowerPoint, Google Earth and Second Life. Museum displays migrate to the internet, family communication in the Diaspora is dominated by new media, artists work with digital films and images. Anthropology and ethnographic research is fundamental to understanding the local consequences of these innovations, and to create theories that help us acknowledge, understand and engage with them. Today’s students need to become proficient with digital technologies as research and communication tools. Through combining technical skills with appreciation of social effects, students will be trained for further research and involvement in this emergent world.

More can be found on the UCL Anthropology website here.

Too late for me, but maybe just in time for you?

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>Ghanaian Blogger at COP15

> I can proudly announce that our own Ghanablogging member MacJordan landed in Denmark on Sunday to cover the United Nations Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen (COP 15). See his account of his first day at here.

The climate meeting which has been going on for a week and culminates on Friday has already been given a lot of attention in media. We have heard about African countries wanted to be compensated financially, the west roaring back that it was just the corrupt African leaders that wanted cash, then came a leak in some countries pre-writings and then EU announced money will be given…Earlier today, I even heard accounts of “chaos” in the corridors in Copenhagen and arrests of hundreds of protesters…more drama than the average afternoon soap-opera?

Who in the world can we trust to give us the truth?

I know I will turn to my man MacJordan for updates. He will be reporting on his blog and on Global Voices.

Pic: Climate changes will very likely affect the West African shorelines.

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>Nobel Prize in Ghana

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Front side of an award medal in physiology or ...Image via Wikipedia

The 10th December every year is the day when the Nobel Prize is awarded. In my native Sweden, this is a festive day – “everybody” talks about the prize and follow the gala on TV. The medias are full of information about the laureates, their ground-breaking research – but also about the guests and their fashion, the Nobel menu and flower arrangements and the world class entertainment program. Also, students in Stockholm prepare, as they have a crucial role in the evening gala following the award ceremony.

I am proud to say the Nobel Prize was founded by a Swedish businessman, Alfred Nobel, and has become one of the most well known and respected academic prizes in the world. The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded in Oslo, the other five (Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine, Literature and Economics) in Stockholm as Norway and Sweden were in a union at the time of the establishment of the prize. Although it is a Swedish/Norwegian prize, prominent researchers and personalities all over the world are awarded every year. A prominent example is Kofi Annan who shared the Nobel Peace Price in 2001. Other African and diasporan laureates can be found here.

The full list of this year’s laureates – among them Barack Obama (Peace Prize) and Ellinor Ostrom (Economics) can be found here. The touching lecture by this year’s Literature laureate Herta Muller about the symbolic meaning of handkerchiefs and other things can be read here.

Jusr now, I will cook something very nice and complicated for myself – maybe even open a small bottle of bubbly I have on cooling and enjoy the festivities from behind my computer screen. Geographically far away from the Blue Hall, but in my imagination right, right there.

Skål!

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>Holiday Season in Ghana or Afehyia Pa

>As the Christmas spirit this year is all around, see for instance in the Ghanaian blogosphere Maya Maame telling us about how the elections stole the season last year here, Holli discovering some unorthodox decorations here and Esi working on her Ghanaian wish list here, I thought I’d add to the festivities with a song.

Originally, it was sung at the Goethe Institute Christmas party last week. “Afehyia Pa!” in the chorus means something like “May a Good Year Come to Meet Us!” And hrm, yes, that is yours true blogger second from left.

>Gallup World Poll Supports My Migration Research

>Right now I am extremely excited as comparative evidence supporting my research is available from Gallup.

What I am interested in is why so many of the Ghanaian university students seems to want to leave the shores of Ghana.

What sets my research apart from a lot of other migration research is that I do not study the people who actually migrated, the returnees or the remittances/funds migrants send to their counties of origin. Instead I, along with other researchers such as Jorgen Carling who has written about Cape Verde, am interested in the migration aspiration or potential migration as Gallup names it in recent articles stemming from the Gallup World Poll. Looking at what people think could be looking at the causes for future movements as actions, especially those which requires planning and funding, are preceded by thoughts.

Gallup goes as far as calculating the impact on the population if people who were interested in migrating actually did (or could). Even though I think this particular calculation is suggestive rather than academically helpful as it adds flows together robbing them of their unique causes, it shows some interesting trends. Gallup’s Potential Net Migration Index (PNMI) shows that Ghana would loose and gain inhabitants resulting in a drop of 45% of its population! This while neighboring Cote d’Ivoire and Benin would drawback only 20% and 10% respectively. Why these differences?

Also, this newly presented data suggests – just like I have suggested in my research – that richer individuals are more likely to want to migrate compared to poorer individuals. This seems to be true for all income level countries, contrary to the common belief that people would like to migrate for pressing economic reasons. Similarly, evidence from China suggests that the higher your education, the higher your desire to migrate is. I have the hunch the same is true for Ghana.

Finally, it feels like a tap on the shoulder to read that Gallup’s Chairman and CEO Jim Clifton (read his whole article here) with all the information he has access to calls migration, my field of interest, “the great global dream” and predicts that

The evolution of ‘the great global dream’ is going to be the material of a million Ph.D. dissertations.

I know he is at least right about one such dissertation!

Pic: Dolled up African ladies thinking about migrating?