My Blogging Year 2012

In September, my blog was hacked into and all my pics disappeared. Still today, all photos before September 8th, 2012 are missing. That is painful! But there were good times as well. Here is my Blogging Year 2012:

January

We had the first meeting of the year with BloggingGhana, I tried to launch the hashtag #GHhousing (and failed terribly) and BBC inaugurated their new debate program in Accra.

February

I found myself in the middle of a breastfeeding debate, and prepared for a presentation of my research so wrote about it and on using Google forms for research.

March

In this month, I went back to work at Ashesi University after my parental leave. Also the GhanaDecides initiative was launched together with our first campaign, iRegistered!

April

I started a series, Blogs I Read. First out was Holli’s new blog. I took my family to the Chale Wote festival organized by the AccraDotAlt crew and reported about our family addition: poultry!

May

In May, BloggingGhana held our first major event: BlogCamp. I wrote about it before it happened, then a report and then a post with pictures. And then I couldn’t help but compare it to a Swedish blog event! I also discussed the galloping inflation Ghana was experiencing.

June

A plane crash in Ghana was reported in social media before in traditional media channels – this was a tipping point for social media in Ghana! I had my first guest post and met with other people who were covering the elections online. Thanks to Google Ghana for hosting us!

July and August

I needed passport photos to travel and then I was off for vacations!

September

I came back from my vacation, revamped my blog, only to see it hacked as discussed above. I also launched a new career as a TV host!

October

With my new career, my blog readership increased big-time from around 50 on a good day to 1500! I was also chosen as the Blogger of the Week (BOW) by BloggingGhana and posted photos from my first TV interviews with Abu Sakara, Papa Kwesi Ndoum and others. This was a splendid month for my career, but luckily I also had time for some family fufu and for Sister Deborah’s hit video “Uncle Obama“.

November

The Melcom Disaster happened, killing 14, again a news that was carried by social media in Ghana. I also went to a social media and a humanist conference, both in Accra. At work, I was interviewing politicans and doing research…or rather watching the Azonto.

December

The last month of the year was dominated by the Ghanaian elections. I am proud to say that both online and on the TV-screen, I had taken part of informing the citizens of Ghana about their choices. Then the results were declared on Facebook (my post on it was read by 3000 in the first 24 hours) and soon after the opposition vowed to challenge them! On Friday, the opposition filed their complaint against the EC and the president-elect.

In conclusion, it has been a very eventful year, both for me personally and for Ghana. Specifically,  I think this is a year where social media in Ghana has really taken off and more and more people turn to the Internet for their news and communication needs. Next year, BloggingGhana will meet on how to sustain the debate we created with GhanaDecides, I will meet with TV3 to see how I can be involved in future political programming. I will of course teach, have some other projects on my mind and hope to collect data for my thesis. Recently, I met someone who presented herself as an “Academic Entrepreneur” and I humbly aspire to be just that in the next year!

Thanks for reading my blog and happy new year!

For more of this, here is My Blogging Year 2011.

Opposition Files Complaint Against Election Results: Now What?

Just now, the news was released that Ghana’s main opposition party, NPP, has officially filed the petition with the supreme court over this year’s presidential election results. The news was expected, the continuation is not as clear…

Now it will be very exciting to see what the Supreme Court will do.

  • Will it speed up the trial process?
  • Will it make the evidence public?
  • Will it order a recount of the vote? (the Supreme Court cannot change the results, only at most order a recount).

Today was the very last day to file (officially 21 days after election results are declared, but as the 30th falls on a Sunday…) and NPP have been very sparse with information of their case. I was nervous they wouldn’t even make it! Yesterday, journalists were waiting in vain!  Finally, it was the party flag bearer, his vice and the party chairman who signed the petition as a registered voter has to complain, not  a party.

Hopefully, this examination of the election will close what ever loop holes is still out there and strengthen the Ghanaian democracy. However, likely, the investigation will take a bit of time and the president elect, John Dramani Mahama will still be sworn in as planned on Jan 7th.

What then happens if a recount is ordered by the supreme court and it indeed confirms the election results add up to a different result? 

These are indeed interesting times.

See TV3 and Daily Graphic for more details.

 

When I Donated Blood

In collaboration with STACC, my blogging group BloggingGhana led by Daixy has this holiday arranged for blood donations. It all started with Daixy reading about the acute lack of blood at the Korle Bu Hospital blood bank (Ghana’s biggest hospital, located downtown Accra). Being the doer she is, Daixy decided to put her NGO and social media skills together and before we could all say “blood drive”, four dates were set and online we started inviting friends to participate and donate blood.

Today was the third day, and I went to donate blood for the very first time. I was a little nervous. However, failing to convince anyone to join me, I realised many people were either scared of donating (obviously more scared than me!) or misinformed about the process, so when I went I made a deliberate effort of capturing it all.

So here you go, Kajsa gives blood:

Summary: Really, it wasn’t bad at all and took just an hour out of my day and then the actual blood giving was only 10 minutes!

The Gory Details (with pictures):

1:06 PM Arrived at Noguchi Institute where blood donation personnel had set up shop for the day. Daixy greeted me and tweeted to the world, I had arrived. I also said hi to the head and PR person for STACC and weighed in.

Clockwise: Noguchi, STACC personel, scale and Daixy.
Clockwise: Noguchi, STACC personel, scale and Daixy.

1.09 PM Greeted bloggers who had just donated. One of them had fainted after donating, likely because she did not eat well before donating. Also, she just came into the country from the cold north and the heat might have affected her. I had eaten lunch about half-an-hour before coming.

Friends, Form and Bag to fill!
Friends, Form and Bag to fill!

1.15 PM Filled a health declaration form and giggled as I truthfully declared I had NOT undergone circumcision over the last 12 months.

1.19 PM Was pricked in my thumb to check the HB or blood sugar level of my blood. If its under 12, one cannot donate. This pain was I think the worse, but alas, I have done it many times as they test your blood sugar repeatedly when you are pregnant.

 

Blood 2
Testing HB value.

1.25 PM My blood pressure was checked and it was OK.

Having my blood pressure checked.
Having my blood pressure checked.

1.27 PM I laid down on a bed and nurse put a needle in my arm. Yes, it did hurt a little, but for like 1 second. I promise! After that it feels uncomfortable, but not even close to any pain. The needle was first led to some small tubes, for testing my blood, and then to the bag as shown above. Relaxing on a bed was nice!

I was asked to open and close my hand to “pump” blood out. After a few minutes my hand got cold and then a lil’bit numb.

After about 10 minutes the blood did not flow too much and the nurse decided it was enough. I recon I had donated about 400 ml.

The intense bit. That wasn't even very intense.
The intense bit. That wasn’t even very intense.

1.38 PM The nurse pulled the needle out and put a ball of cotton on the sand grain sized wound and folded my arm over it. This did not hurt at all. She put a plaster on and I sat up and after a minute walked out the door.

1.45 PM I was given some Milo and crackers and sat there chatting to Daixy about the continuation of this quickly thrown together project.

1.50 PM I walked out, feeling just fine. Went to the bank and drove home. Left from the blood donation is only a plaster on my arm that I now take off – ouch – and these pictures I shared with you!

Milo, Relaxing, Friends and All in all, THUMBS UP!
Milo, Relaxing, Friends and All in all, THUMBS UP!

We are now thinking of how to get many more of you excited about donating blood! Next up is a Valentine’s Day Blood Drive and then maybe one in June on Blood Donor Day – but we want to make it like a party  or a fun day out with fresh juice, socialising and many more donors!

Let’s fill the blood banks in Ghana. It is a job for you and me, people who cares and who thinks none should have to die because blood banks are empty.

Some facts:

Don’t drink alcohol 24 h before and after donating blood.

A healthy woman can donate blood 3 times per year, a man 4 times.

25% of maternal deaths in Africa are attributed to a lack of blood for transfusion.

Resources: BloodBook, Blood Donation in Sweden and Safe Blood for Africa. Collages made with Pixlr.

Accra the Alphabetic Journey: Video Poetry

Someone who left Ghana just sent me this video on Facebook and reported “feeling blue” after watching the two minutes and forty-two seconds of imagery from Accra and hearing a voice over matter-of-factedly reading out what we see: “Kelewele”, “Osu” and “Woodin” over a faint classical music piece in the background.

I rather felt happy that someone took the time to in video poetry (isn’t that the best description?) chronicle the Accra of today (except for an pre 2007 Cedi bill) and put it together for all of us to realize we are sharing something, maybe at times kind of flawed, dusty and oily, but it is ours!

What did you think of the video?

This is Personal Business: Customer Service Lessons from Ghana

I sometimes struggle with describing what everyday life in Ghana is like to people who live elsewhere (I try though, see my posts on everyday life in Ghana here). This week, however I had several experiences that all describe very well the warmth and cordiality of human interaction and how it seamlessly blends with business. I think the term “personal business” could be used for what I want to discuss in this post and that Ghana could teach the world!

I say this since I believe “personal business” has several positive results, like repeat business, customer satisfaction and lower sensitivity for price hikes and the likes. Here it’s been discovered – tadaa – the we are not the “economic man” when we make purchase decisions, we are “social man”.

I have four examples of “personal business” in Ghana happening to me just in the last week:

 

1. At Hairdresser’s

My hairdresser put the finishing touches to my hair and as I was getting up from my chair, her mother walked in. This is my hairdresser since about a year and I have met her mother some few times there. I said thank you to my hairdresser and turned to her mother and after some chitchat said “Merry Christmas if I do not see you before the holidays” and she reached out to embrace me!

If you live outside of Ghana: When were you last hugged by the mother of your hairdresser?

 

2. At the Gas station

I have been taking a new road to work and there is a newly opened gasstation on my new route. The first time I was there, I chatted with the attendants as my tanked was filled up (a luxury of the Ghanaian everyday life, you do not pump your own gas!). The next time I came, one of the attendants happily greeted me: “Mrs Adu, welcome!”

If you live outside of Ghana: When were you last addressed by name as you went to buy gas?

 

3. Knock, Knock, Seamstress here

Sunday night, there’s a knock on the door, outside is the young woman who used to be my seamstresses’ assistant years ago, but now is a seamstress in her own right. She says she has been thinking of me and want to sow something for me for christmas. Very well, I had meant to get that done, so I invite her in to take my measurements and collect a cloth I was given as a gift and have at home.

If you live outside of Ghana: When was the last time a craftswoman knocked on your door and asked if she could be of help?

 

 4. At the Car Shop

My car has been having problems and Thursday, I went to my mechanic. He puts on a wide smile as he sees me and teasingly addresses me in Twi – to test the limit of my language knowledge. Another customer is there and is surprised by this and we all laugh about it. I leave feeling entertained (and with new break pads)!

If you live outside of Ghana: When was the last time you had a hearty laugh together with your mechanic?

 

I am sure this is not just me who is experiencing “personal business”, rather in Ghana this is commonplace. I love that people know who I am, what I like and try to return to the same place for my clothes/haircut/car service and “my” service person. I shudder when remembering how even at your local supermarket or cafe in Europe you would ofte not be even recognized, let alone receive any type of personalised attention.

In Ghana, although we often complain of slow and at times indifferent customer service is – and sometimes it is both – but maybe they don’t now you just yet? We should also remember that many times customer service in Ghana is fused with friendship – which means it is highly personalized and what seems to be effortlessly cordial to the benefit of the company and the customer!

What great “personal business” have you recently had/provided in Ghana?

Opposition Challenges Election Results in Ghana

Yesterday at 5 PM the main opposition party came out of their closed doors meeting with the message that they will challenge the election results as presented by the Electoral Commission on Sunday. However, this was not exactly news.

The party never conceded defeat and since Sunday afternoon, when a press conference was held by the opposition New Patriotic Party asking the EC to wait with announcing the results until a review of some detected anomalies had been done, we all knew they were not going to accept the results. Later on Sunday, a meeting was held with the EC at the EC premises with the opposition, the party in power, National Democratic Congress, and the National Peace Council. Before the meeting was over, the results were declared (Wayan calls it the Facebook tipping point, by the way) and then a press conference followed. However, that press conference also told us NPP were not going to accept the results as they remarkably were not present.

So, back to last night: 30 minutes after the message from NPP, I get a Google Alert that Swedish media is writing something on Ghana – and there it is “opposition challenges election results in court”. Now the world is discussing this, and still I don’t really know what to think, hence I thought I’d ask some Ghanaian friends on their view of the intended appeal:

Friend 1: Oh, they are just sore losers, we all knew this was going to happen. Don’t worry. The case will take forever and it won’t change a thing. Well, maybe except for Ghana’s reputation of a beacon of hope for African democracy.

Friend 2: It’s great they are going to court, this is a real addition to our democracy. Look at us, no violence on the streets, going through the correct channels, discussing this thing peacefully. I am sure the opposition is doing the right thing, keeping silent would have been wrong.

Friend 3: This is so typical, first its all peace this, peace that, now nobody involved cares about Ghana, only about themselves. I’m sure Ghana in the end has to foot the bill for the court costs!

Friend 4: What? They said they are going to court? I thought they said they were going to think about it? I always thought they’d come out and say “we have discovered some irregularities, but we will not open any case, here is the evidence, we should improve our system for next election year”. They would save face, we would all win. Actually, this is still an option as they haven’t taken it to court yet!

Friend 5: Where is the government in all of this? They should come out and spur the investigations into this on, I mean else they will be seen as trying to hide something or taking power from the people. They have the most to loose, so they should act!

Apparently, election season is not yet over. What do you think of the opposition’s decision to challenge the results of the election in court?

 

 

Why Did Ghana’s Electoral Commission Declare Presidential Results on Facebook?

First a little background from the last couple of days: Ghanaians went to the polls on December 7th and surprisingly also on the 8th, due to malfunctions of biometric (finger print) verification machines in around 18% of polling stations. Results started to trickle in and the media and online resources that I described in an earlier post publicised them as they came in. Late yesterday evening, I went to bed. It was then an excruciatingly even race and I thought my prediction of a second round would come true. However when I woke up this morning, Joy News /Multmedia had projected that incumbent John Dramani Mahama of the NDC would win. Numbers started to tilt over 50 percent for NDC and it still was close, but with only a few constituencies left to count seemed possible to call. Then in the afternoon, the main opposition party called to a press conference and reported irregularities on the collation centre level where they claimed votes had been added in their thousands.

Fast forward to the point when we were all waiting for the electoral commission to come out and say something. As we were waiting for EC:s press conference, TV channels were showing the empty halls of the EC premises and the EC was said to be in an emergency meeting with the National Peace Council (NEC) and the two main opponent parties, the NPP and the NDC. Just before they all came out  a few minutes to 9 PM, this was posted on the EC Facebook wall:

Twitter and Facebook went wild, people were sharing this document like crazy – it appeared to be a summary of election results. Was it genuine? Why was it released on Facebook? As GhanaDecides points out, we cannot know, but here are some guesses that were mentioned on social media:

1. The Electoral Commission’s own Website came down earlier in the day (too many visitors?) and as that channel was not working they chose the next available thing, their Facebook page.

2. The meeting with the parties and the NEC was dragging out and the results were provided to show the meeting delegates that postponing declaration of results was not an option.

3. As the media was waiting in a adjacent room since a couple of hours, the results were released on Facebook to calm nerves of the press corps and the country.

Shortly after the Facebook post, the press conference finally started and the Electoral Commission confirmed the results and declared a president elect – John Dramani Mahama. However for half an hour or so, the results in Ghana’s 2012 presidential election was only available on Facebook. As the above are only guesses, hopefully we will get clarity on the process behind this historic Facebook post – the first ever Facebook post for presidential election results? – in the days to come.

In social media the discussion is ongoing if it was “good” or “bad” for Ghana that Facebook was used for this important message. As someone who works with promoting the use of social media for societal good (I am the chair of BloggingGhana, the mother organization of GhanaDecides), I think we could not have wished for a better showcase of that Ghana and Ghanaian institutions are indeed using social media and finding new and innovative uses for it for societal good. After all, Facebook is a direct and interactive channel to citizens. 

What do you think?

Currently the results have been shared 1390 times on Facebook and ECs page has over 18 000 likes.

UPDATE: Read DK’s worthwhile article on the same issue here. He concludes:

“Part of social media’s appeal to the young African is its ability to enpower individuals and communities to reflect and/or portray our lives and values, both to our peers and to international onlookers. Over the past few months we turned our Facebook feeds into mock parliamentary chambers, debating the issues of the day. We turned our timelines into soapboxes, expounding our 140-character political theories. We hung out in Google+ chatrooms, like old chums in a chop bar talking politics.

Barring the odd incident, the path, though potholed, has been successfully navigated and Ghana has indeed decided. With a turnout rate just shy of 80% (up 10pp on 2008) the real winner has to be democracy. In the light of all this, perhaps it was only fitting that a nation with a dual appetite for social media and politics, has had its appetite for politics fed by a simple post on a feed.”

 

Election Morning on Swedish Radio and at the PreSec Polling Station in Tema

This morning I woke up early to see the sun rise over Ghana’s election day. Before 7 am I had both spoken to Swedish radio and visited my local polling station.

Find the link to the Swedish radio program here. I talked about my role in the elections, the two main contenders, the closeness of the poll and about the 6 additional contenders for the presidency.

At the local polling station about 150 people were already lined up to vote and the voting materials were about to be unpacked. I spoke to two gentlemen who had waited since 2.30 and 5.30 am respectively! The feeling is very calm and the only problems reported so far seems to be voting materials arriving late and polling not starting on time at every polling station, however even so, people are patienly waiting to vote.

Voters waiting to vote, queu in the back.
Voting booth
Local election observer
Street was calm

 

Now, we are off to the polling station where my husband is to vote. Follow my reports on Twitter @kajsaha and the hashtag #GhanaDecides

UPDATE: Now GhanaDecides live stream is up so you can follow election events as they happen.

Online Resources for Ghana’s 2012 Elections

I have some interesting friends who have cooked up some amazing online resources for the Ghanaian elections. If you have not yet made up your mind or if you are someone who wants to know more about Ghana Elections 2012, with just two days to go here is my list of the best online resources:

GhanaDecides – your one stop shop for information on how to vote and the issues at the center of this year’s polls. See also flickr, facebook, and twitter.

VoteKast – For detailed results from the previous elections. VoteKast will also track the results in real time as they are reported to media from the various constituencies.

Google landing page for Ghana Elections – aggregator for news and other websites relating to the Ghanaian elections.

GhanaVoteKompass – take a test and know how you place in relation to the Ghanaian parties. Background questions are asked for researchers to be able to analyse the data.

Daily Graphic’s Webpage – Ghana’s largest newspaper online. Will collaborate with VoteKast for early results.

If you just want to know more about Ghana and our elections, see Washington post and the Economist.

UPDATE: And dont forget to pledge to vote!

 

 

 

 

 

Behind the Scenes of Frontline 2012

My first season as a TV show host is behind me (that is if elections do not go to a second round). Half a year ago, I would have never believed anyone who said I’d be a regular TV host on a big TV station, but alas, I now have 11 one-hour interview programs behind me! Hence I want to share some thoughts, experiences and insights from behind the scenes of TV3. 

 

Thanks

It could not have been done without the support of the three gentlemen in the top left photo above, the former CEO of TV3 Prof. Gordor, my producer Bright Amfo and the news room boss, Robert Kyere. They have been extremely supportive and always helpful. They have listened to my suggestions and at times, my whining. Despite extreme schedules, (Bright produces and/or hosts half of news broadcasts on TV3, Robert directs the newsroom Mon-Sat every week), they have seen me, polished my journalistic skills and believed in me – every week. Thank you.

Also, I want to thank my academic supervisor Dr. Michael Kpessa who recommended me for the job and apparently saw my potential. Apart from helping me in my new capacity in numerous phone meetings, he has taught me about what it is to be a true mentor. Thank you Mike for convincing me I could do it and for forgiving me for missing most my research deadlines of this semester…

 

Celebrity Life

In the pictures above, you see me doing promotion for my show on Citi FM, getting a haircut before the first show, riding in the TV3 company car to my first program and printing my script in a local cyber cafe in Tema before the last picture and the live broadcast. As you see, it is a mix between luxury, fun and very mundane experiences. Hence a very tiny bit of my week is living like a celebrity and much more is simply hard work.

But t is true that in my daily life, people increasingly recognize me from Frontline. At times, someone will say “You know, you look so much like a woman on TV…”, other times “Hallo! Frontline!” or once, “Hi Ewurama!”, to which I responded, “Hi, please do I know you?” and the person smiled widely and said “No, but I know you from the TV screen!”

A highlight of my celebrity life was last week when I was asked to contribute to a panel on media’s responsibilities in the elections on campus. For the first time, I was not a moderator, but a media personality and an expert. That felt great! Another was being interviewed on Swedish radio.

Over all, however, I can’t say I see myself as a celebrity or that my life has changed in any significant way. To illustrate my point, last week, someone wanted to take a photo with me in the supermarket (!), but alas that also happened a few times last year, long before I was anything like a public figure!

 

Studio experience

As I am an academic and not a journalist, I had no camera experience and had to be extensively trained. I did about 6-7 mock interviews on camera and spent hours in the studio the month before the first broadcast. Very nervous at first, I managed to calm down with the help of advice from my mock interviewees, many of which were presenters themselves on TV3.

Anyways, there have been ups and downs. Snafus like the sound not working (1st program), the AC not working (3rd program), the guest arriving only 5 minutes before the show (I wont tell you which program) or me running up and down the TV3 building to try and print out my script before the live broadcast starts… On the other hand, there have also been moments where everything works smoothly, when my producer and I work in seamless tandem and when talking to the camera just comes naturally. After a few programs, I found myself having a lot of fun and enjoying the spotlight!

Let’s see if there will be more TV in my life, but so far, its been an exciting and educative ride. Thanks for following my TV career here on my blog!

 

A New Mall in Accra – Marina Mall

On Thursday, I went to visit the new Marina Mall in the Airport shopping area in Accra. Here is my report:

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Coffee and Pain au Chocolat, outdoor terrace facing the “Ghana Airline” and selection of shops

I was positively surprised when it came to parking – but maybe it was because I wasn’t there during the weekend – and happy to see one of my favorite Ghanaian brands All Pure Nature‘s sleek boutique just close to the entrance. I also had a really good Pain au Chocolat and coffee at the top.

Not yet ready, expensive shops, is parking/infrastructure enough for weekend rush?

Apart from that, the shops are not yet fully functioning or a bit too pricey for my taste.

 

In addition to the great coffee, I can also recommend a visit for those of us who miss Christmas and its inevitable capitalist component! Marina Mall is all dolled up with trees, ornaments and tinsel!

One Week to Election Day – Will We Go for a Second Round?

Today, Friday, we are seven days, one week, away from the presidential and parliamentary elections here in Ghana. There is a slight fatigue in the air and I saw one of the most prominent journalists in Ghana say on Twitter he wishes voting can happen early so “it can all be over”.

But of course that will not happen, more likely is that the presidential elections will go to a second round as polls have failed to give any one party a comfortable 50% plus one vote needed for a “one touch” victory. With eight parties contesting the presidency, only a few percentages of votes directed to other parties than the two major parties currently running neck to neck will lead to that no party can secure the votes needed to win. Therefore, I say we will go for a second round. That second round will then take place on the 28th of December.

What do you think?