My Blogging Year 2015

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Summary of my blogging year:

My blogging year started out with a  resolution: to finish my Phd. How that went, you can see in the blog a created solely for my doctorate: Student Migration Aspirations. In February, dumsor got worse, the following month, I thought about the tech community in Ghana and started a nice convo about what is wrong with it. In April, I shared the top 7 tips on how to sleep during light off, in May I went to BlogCamp, Ghana Blogging and Social Media Awards and the #DumsorMustStop vigil, in June I didn’t write one single post (but thousands of words on my dissertation, in July, I submitted it!). August was spent in Sweden on vacations. In September, I was back with a life-(and blog-)crisis! In October, I decided to write more personal stuff here. Thanks for the positive feedback, especially to the first post on how much one should have in common with a spouse. The world changed with refugees flowing into Europe and Zone9 bloggers being freed in Ethiopia. Towards the end of the year, I introduced the Sunday Reads and increased my posts on politics and personal issues.

While the year started slow, I must say with dumsor and research slowing me down, I am happy the way I managed to find my passion for blogging again.

Did you read these three highlights?

1. Most read post:

The Power of Social Media – the case of Nana Aba Anamoah of TV 3

My view on this is that this is a historical moment for social media in Ghana. This sector has been seen as not “real”, something that happens outside of work. Hence most media personalities in Ghana have their own personal accounts, powered by their appearance on a legacy media channel, but run solely by themselves without any support, training, equipment, as well as away from attention from their employers.”

 

2. Most underestimated post:

Freedom is corruption?

“How does one cope on a personal level with all of this?

I have to say: I don’t know. I think do not cope very well! I get so angry and disturbed I cannot focus on much else on many days. I tweet, blog, and rant. I make plans to leave, I take deep breaths, and I laugh about it all. I try to balance the impressions.”

 

3. Most fun post:

Top 10 #NDCarols

“This Xmas season, Ghanaians have again used humor to deal with life situations. Under the hashtag #NDCcarols where NDC of course stands for the ruling party National Democratic Congress, Ghanaians have written their own renditions of famous christmas carols.”

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Happy new year all readers, please continue to follow me in this space – and if you want a reminder when a new post is out –  follow me on Facebook or Networked Blogs in 2016!

 

 

My Top 10 #NDCCarols

This Xmas season, Ghanaians have again used humor to deal with life situations. Under the hashtag #NDCcarols where NDC of course stands for the ruling party National Democratic Congress, Ghanaians have written their own renditions of famous christmas carols. Here are my top 10.

10.

9.

8.

7.

6.

https://twitter.com/Etornam233/status/676841811671937024

5.

4.

 

3.

2.

1.

Happy holidays!

Life without Engagement

It was a xmas holidays some years back, I was lying in my bed utterly exhausted. Tears crowded in the corners of my eyes from just thinking about emails flowing in, someone sending a WhatsApp message to my phone, or – THE HORROR – social media timelines ticking their constant stream of things I should be aware of. I thought I would never again be engaged in anything outside salaried work.

I stayed out for a while. Focused on my close ones, on the garden and flowers, on issues immediately next to where I live, and then slowly, a project came to mind. An event I’d like to help out with seemed like a good idea, a situation that just needed a few emails…Before long, I was back in my engaged life.

I call it my engaged life, because it is the life where I volunteer my time, effort, and best ideas for the benefit of the community where I live. It goes beyond my little garden, my family, and even my city. It goes beyond donating a pile of money. My engagements are – like they should – built on rather lofty and grand goals like CHANGING THE WAY PEOPLE THINK ABOUT POLITICS, or BRINGING ART TO THE MASSES, or CREATING FUN JOB OPPORTUNITIES FOR YOUNG PEOPLE and so on.

My engaged life is often the last thing I think of before going to sleep and the first thing I think about waking up. I believe my engagement is what gives my life meaning, excuse the pretentious language. On a practical note, it creeps into my to-do-list, has taken over my inbox, and it stresses me out, often on a weekly basis. I then complain, sleep, and start my engaged life over once again.

What engages you?

 

Sunday Reads 6 December

sundayreads

  1. The most in-depth analysis of the Pistorious case I have read by Jacqueline Rose, and I think I have read almost everything on the case. Its a very long article, winding through among other sub-topics a psychological analysis of Pistorius and a biography of his first judge, but the gist of it is: “The killing of Reeva Steenkamp was either a sex crime or a race crime.”
  2. Another article from BBC on returnees to Ghana (I mentioned one recently on my colleague Kobby). I learned a lot, also about the people in the article I know. Why the young and talented are returning to Ghana by Yepoka Yeebo.
  3. A summary from Forbes what is at stake in the 2016 elections: Ghana’s prosperity hinges on next year’s election by Daniel Runde. An interesting point was how the timing of the Ghanaian election – one day ahead of American elections – might affect it.
  4. Nicolas Henin: The man who was held captive by Isis for 10 months says how they can be defeated
    by Adam Withnall. This summary here is that the refugees fleeing was a blow to IS, but bombing IS is not a solution.

Inspired by personal role models, Ory Okolloh Mwangi and Chris Blattman, I want to share articles I read with my followers on a somehow regular basis. I hope to make Sunday Reads a weekly feature to be shared here and on Twitter!

Global Corruption Barometer: Corruption in Ghana

Ghana’s shocking corruption levels were in the news again this morning. Here are some fresh numbers from Transparency International in collaboration with AfroBarometer:
  • An estimated 75 million Africans paid a bribe in the last 12 months.
  • 76% of Ghanaians say corruption has increased over the last 12 months, only South-Africa has a higher figure.  75% of Nigerians say the same.
  • 36% of public service users in Ghana payed a bribe in the last 12 months.
  • 53% of Ghanaian believe ordinary people can make a difference in the fight against corruption.
I wholeheartedly recommend a download of the full 49-page People and Corruption: Africa Survey 2015 report here filled with infographics and analysis!  See especially Anti-Corruption progress in Senegal on p. 11.
Change is possible! 

Sunday Reads Nov 29

sundayreads

  1. Enough of aid – let’s talk reparations by Jason Hickel.
  2. Cucumber Agua Fresca – recopy of the lovely Mexican drink i had in Sand Diego.
  3. Everything about Tanzania’s new president Magufuli, for instance Magufuli scraps Independence day celebrations (BBC) and Bah humbug in Tanzania as president cancels Xmas cards (Aljazeerah).

Inspired by personal role models, Ory Okolloh Mwangi and Chris Blattman, I want to share articles I read with my followers on a somehow regular basis. I hope to make Sunday Reads a weekly feature to be shared here and on Twitter!

Migration, Brain-Drain, and My Colleague Kobby Graham (and Nancy Kacungira)

Screenshot 2015-11-26 21.39.09

 

As readers of this blog will know, my research interest is migration and this week, my colleague Kobby Graham was featured on BBC as an example of the returnee-migration that this currently happening between the Global North and Ghana.

This was my favourite quote: “I felt that London was kind of grim at the time, it wasn’t exactly a land of opportunity”. But Ghana was! And I have a great office mate for it!

Also: Read Kobby’s Blog.

Finally: TV journalist Nancy Kacungira who interviewed my colleague, was also the first recipient of the BBC World News Komla Dumor Award for Africa-based journalists, named after Ghanaian journalist Dumor.

My Reactions to the Swedish Turn-Around in Refugee Crisis

In shock and disbelief, I read that the Swedish governing coalition has more or less closed Sweden’s boarders. From the initial “Refugees Welcome” attitude to closed doors. The reason is taking in 80 000 refugees over the last two months (!) has stretched Sweden’s infrastructure and services.

In addition, the EU neighbours (except for Germany) are not pulling their weight and Sweden’s PM said he hopes this will send a signal to them. In detail, the following was announced:

“Sweden’s new asylum regime will apply for three years. Temporary residence permits will be granted to all refugees apart from those relocated to Sweden under the EU’s quota scheme and families with children and unaccompanied children who have already arrived.

Sweden’s border police also announced a doubling of officers on Sweden’s southern coast, where most refugees arrive. Since the imposition of border controls on 12 November, the average number of asylum seekers has fallen from 1,507 per day to 1,222, according to immigration officials.” (the Guardian)

As a Swedish citizen, I feel disappointed with my politicians (I voted for the current PM) and was hoping for a less reactive and conservative leadership. Especially toward the background of Sweden being extremely stable financially – to the point on negative interest rates(!) and according to Swedish Central Bank Director Ingves, Sweden could even benefit economically from a large scale inflow of migrants/refugees as that would grow the economy, increase jobs and make the ageing population younger. Many solutions to infrastructure and service limitations have not been tested!

After several discussions on social media and at home, I have arrived at the same basic question over and over again:

Where do you draw the line when helping others?

Sadly, its a question with no easy answer. Because how do you make sure your help is sustainable, that you do not sacrifice yourself or your values in the process? But also, Sweden cannot take in all 11 million Syrians fleeing, so no restrictions at all can also not work? However, I feel, and this is based more on feeling than fact, I admit, that Sweden drew this line too soon. One of the richest countries in the world could lead by example – there are already so many great stories in Swedish media on families taking in refugees, schools working collaboratively with Swedish training for newcomers, and citizens contributing with what they can –  I feel there was more to build on there, instead of quickly closing the boarders as soon as the going got tough. As Swedes mobilize to demonstrate the new refugee policy, I know I am not the only one who feels this way.

Summarizing the ASA2015

asa friendsSo, I am back from the intense African Studies Association 58th Annual Meeting in San Diego, California, US 19-21 November, 2015!

It is difficult to summarise such intense days, but I would say my main goals were met:

  1.  getting some feedback on my research. CHECK
  2. meeting with other researchers, both interested in Ghana and in migration and higher eduction. CHECK and some awesome, smart and funny ones that I think will remain friends for life!
  3. tweeting and Periscoping! CHECK, periscoped a convo on Afrobarometer and Prof Adomako Ampofo’s speech. Also used the nice conference app to share info within the conference!
  4. learning more about publishing and post-doc opportunities. CHECK, wrote some follow-up email today!
  5. finding books and initiatives in the exhibit that accompanies the conference. CHECK omg CHECK
  6. experiencing some art and maybe good food in the world-reknowned Balboa Park in San Diego. CHECK
  7. meeting up with other African Studies tweeps. CHECK

What I did not get to do was eating great hotel breakfast (the breakfast buffet was not included, shock of the trip!) or really see the city of San Diego as there was really no time.

What I did do that was not on my list was: challenge my fear of heights, both in Balboa Park and on the 12th floor of the nice hotel, and eat crickets! (Tangy, crunchy, and salty!)

 

Open Doors Report: The Value of International Students

As I am writing this is, I am following the Institute of International Education launch of the Open Doors International Student report via Periscope! The report is a yearly affair that chronicles data on incoming and outgoing students for the United States of America.

Generally, international students have increased, both in- and outbound. And it is expected to double in the next 10 years! Inside Higher Ed has summarised the report.

One of the outstanding facts from this year’s report is the NAFSA tool that takes a stab at calculating the gains of international students (likely significant as the State Department funds the Open Doors reports…) and comes up with the number of $30,5 billion as well as 135000 direct jobs and 238 indirect jobs from the same 975000 international students.

Looking a bit closer at this data, the economic benefit includes tuition and living expenses.

Screenshot 2015-11-16 16.04.50

Jobs are reported from the following sectors: higher education, accommodation, dining, retail, telecommunications, transportation and health insurance, see distribution below.Screenshot 2015-11-16 16.05.44

It is important international students are described as a positive, as most of them are financed by themselves or family, however I think the NAFSA tool could be more generous and include also innovation gains in the financial model, as well as entertainment and state jobs (diplomatic officers etc) for the benefitting job sectors.

I wish the Open Doors report was replicated by Association of African Universities for Africa as the Americans have showed that international students come with wealth, and attracting them is beneficial both in terms of direct finances and jobs. And, do I dare say, innovation and possibly even more? 

Tables from NAFSA.

Read more on my research on Ghanaian student migration aspirations

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday Reads Nov 15

sundayreads

  1. How Ghanaian food changed my life.  “I loved the fresh grilled prawns and fish. Given my familiarity with San Francisco sourdough, I quickly grew fond of the steamed fermented corn dough known as kenkey, eaten with the fiery sambal “shito” (“black pepper”) made from pounded dried shrimp, dried fish, and dried chilis. The mangos were to die for. African yams?—?boiled, mashed or fried?—?easily supplanted potatoes, and don’t even get me started on the versatile plantain. The one-pot soups and stews comforted me, and I discovered the joys of colorful chili peppers hot enough to make my nose run.”
  2. It’s not the religion that creates terrorists, it’s the politics. “We buy into the radicalisation hypothesis because we want evil to be mysterious and other; something that has nothing to do with us.”
  3. On data poverty and New York Big Data. ” The release of open data, to him, is a powerful way to give New York City residents a sense of who they are, what they’re doing and how they’re doing it, as well as the strengths of their neighborhood so that they can work together to address quality of life issues. “Neighborhoods that don’t have data, that don’t understand data about themselves as a neighborhood, then they can’t begin to suggest to their representatives on city council, state and otherwise, the things that they need to make themselves better,” Ra Mashariki said.”
  4. When H&M came to South Africa and insulted every one. “When fashion blogger Tlalane Letlhaku commented on Twitter saying that “most, if not all your posters in store have no black models” and to “please work on that to appeal to everyone,” the response was “H&M’s marketing has a major impact and it is essential for us to convey a positive image”.”
  5. For Slow Scholarship: A Feminist Politics of Resistance through Collective Action in the Neoliberal University. “Our concern involves the ever-increasing demands of academic life: the acceleration of time in which we are expected to do more and more. The “more” includes big tasks, such as teaching larger classes, competing for dwindling publicly funded grants that also bring operating money to our universities, or sitting on innumerable university administrative committees. It also includes the constant stream of smaller requests demanding timely responses, such as quarterly updates to funding agencies, annual institutional review exercises, and pressure on us as knowledge workers to stay on constant alert through the demands of social media.

Inspired by personal role models, Ory Okolloh Mwangi and Chris Blattman, I want to share articles I read with my followers on a somehow regular basis. I hope to make Sunday Reads a weekly feature to be shared here and on Twitter!

Hopes for African Studies Association meeting, ASA 2015, in San Diego

So by this time next week, I’ll be on my way to the big African Studies Association 58th Annual Meeting, ASA2015, in San Diego, California, USA. The conference has the theme: The State and the Study of Africa and will be happening 19-22 November. It is an enormous event which attracts over 2000 scholars! I am terribly excited and have the following hopes:

  1.  getting some feedback on my research. I am presenting a paper in a panel called: Rethinking Decolonialization: Institutions, Archives and Identities (Session VII- D1, Fri 20th, 2-3.45pm). My paper is how university students in Ghana and their narratives can help decolonializing migration studies.
  2. meeting with other researchers, both interested in Ghana (as under the Ghana Studies Association meeting scheduled for Fri 20th at 7.30pm) and in migration and higher eduction.
  3. tweeting (follow me on @kajsaha) and Periscoping!
  4. learning more about publishing and post-doc opportunities.
  5. finding books and initiatives in the exhibit that accompanies the conference.
  6. experiencing some art and maybe good food in the world-reknowned Balboa Park in San Diego.
  7. meeting up with other African Studies tweeps, see my list below.