GhanaDecides, iRegistered and Ghana Biometric Voter’s Registration

Participants at the Ghana Decides and iRegistered Campaign Launch

Over the last couple of years, I have been telling you about the growth of network of bloggers I belong to. The network started with eight bloggers and have over the years grown to include about 150 blogs, a website and many connections and friendships. This year, we are aiming higher!

We had our first meeting in July 2008, sent a blogger to Copenhagen Climate Change Summit in 2009, had our first international guests in August 2009, blogged on Obama’s visit and in 2011 we registered as an association. Earlier this year, the project group that had been working towards finding funding towards a project to create awareness and promote voting in Ghana had some good news, we had received funding from STAR-Ghana. The project is called GhanaDecides and aims at bringing the Ghanaian election 2012 online using social media.

This past Saturday, the same day as the biometric voter’s registration started, the GhanaDecides project had their launch. We also outdoored the iRegistered-campaign to spread information about voter’s registration.

I feel so happy and proud!

Follow the project on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and the GhanaDecides-website. Read also fellow blogger Sena Rick’s post

And do register to vote!

BloggingGhana for Social Media Minds in Ghana

Yesterday, I met with the best social media minds of Ghana. Some 15-20 of us in BloggingGhana  had our monthly meet-up (Are you a blogger in Ghana? Sign up to join us here).

Last year, just before I left Ghana, we registered the network called GhanaBlogging that has been meeting since 2008. We felt it was time to move to the next step. Actually, we were rather forced to do so due to the massive interest in our group. Now, BloggingGhana (BloGh for short)is our registered name, so GhanaBlogging is history as you are not allowed to register bodies that start with the country’s name in Ghana. We have an exiting year ahead that I surely will write more about on this blog over the months to come.

But back to yesterday, I can happily report the year started well for us. We had great turnout, high level of energy in the group ans most importantly we had some extremely fruitful and some hrm… more fun-oriented discussions. 

Ps. After the meeting there was a little discussion on Twitter (seach for #BloGh) and I think Nana Fredua-Ageyman‘s comment captured something vital about the organization:

“one thing about #blogh is the camaraderie. Everyone behaves like he or she knows you before.”

I think that also shows in the photo Edward Tagoe took.

 

 

Meeting a Blogger in Accra: Jemila Abdulai

Today, I ran into Jemila Abdulai, a fellow GhanaBlogger who blogs on the blog Circumspecte.

Now, to all of you that might sound regular, even mundane. Why are you telling us this? Meeting a blogger from your own blogging group, c’mon! Well, just hear me out! We have never met before! Jemila has been living in the states and following our meetings and emails from afar, but just moved back to Ghana.

I liked how the whole meeting happened. I was walking back to work after lunch and a student of mine comes towards me with a woman I have not met before. I say hi to my student (turned out she is Jemila’s sister!) and Jemila says:

– Hi, I’m Jemila!

And it was suddenly so obvious.

I wonder if Internet critics (“our kids only sit in front of screens these days”) would change their mind if a stranger on the street turned into a friend, just because of blogging?

Kajsa HA Listed as a Top Blog with Go Overseas!

My blog has been listed as a top blog by Go Overseas!, a site that promotes teaching, studying and volunteering abroad.

So why is this good news?

  1. I feel good to be present in an environment that promotes learning.
  2. I like that the blogs they promote – actually, “love” is the word they use – are individually reviewed.
  3. Through a very nice email conversation with them, only after I discovered I was getting traffic from their site, not from any pressure to link back to them, I feel I have really earned my badge (see badge to the right).
  4. Also, I judge the quality of the listing by being in such good company.

On the Go Overseas! 10 top blogs from Ghana, GhanaBlogging members Holli and G-lish lead the list, I come in on 7th place. For top blogs from Africa, productive collaborative blog Africa is a Country leads the pack and I discovered some new interesting blogs from other continents from this listing!

Ghana Internet Governance Forum: An Eyewitness Report

This morning, I decided to stop by the Ghana Internet Governance Forum (IGF) at the Kofi Annan Center for Excellence in ICT. It is a local stakeholder forum to discuss issues for Internet governance and it were to start with a session on youth and Internet governance. As one of the panelists was running late, I was called upon to talk. I quickly decided to focus on two issues that I feel are important and inter-related:

  • Access  to Internet in Ghana – currently only 18% of Ghanaians have access to the net, the bulk of this group on their phones. Internet access is expensive and limited to urban areas. For youth to gain access in their numbers this has to change.
  • Production of local content – at the moment, Ghanaians consume the Internet rather than create it. We need to write more articles, upload more photos and videos. Blogging could be one way. How can youth be encouraged to create local content? (here I returned to the issue of affordable access)

With me on the podium was GhanaBlogging members Gameli, Amma and Mac-Jordan along with moderator Godfred Ahuma, coordinator of the Ghana IGF.  The discussion was interesting and involved government agencies and their (non-) usage of social media, Sakawa or Internet fraud, Twitter vs. tv-news, if you have a right to be forgotten online/managing your online presence and what we want from the service providers (Philip Sowah of Airtel Ghana was listening when I listed 1) SMS to Twitter, 2) higher speed Internet and 3) cheaper access for a larger customer base).

I left the program early, party because no Internet access was provided in the venue(!), so missed out on deliberations on Internet governance for development and importantly affordable access and diversity.

You can follow the proceedings on Twitter, #GhIGF. Hopefully pictures will come soon.

Update: Read a report from one of the other panelists at Gameli’s World. Photo credit to the same source!

Global Voices Interview with Kajsa HA

Today, I am interviewed by Linda Annan, editor of American-Ghanaian Obaasema Magazine in the international online blogging/citizen media community Global Voices.

Global Voices is an amazing site that pulls together stories from blogs all over the world, with a focus on the areas we do not hear from every day. The community is largely volunteer-driven and is co-founded by celebrity blogger “My Heart’s in Accra”/Ethan Zuckerman.

Here is an excerpt from my interview:

How and why did you get into blogging? And why Ghanablogging?

In 2006 I was living in Paris and started blogging to keep in  touch with family and friends and write about my impressions of my new life. At the time, some Swedish friends had blogs at home. I have always loved to write and thought it was a brilliant forum, but couldn’t really find my own tone or topic. However, when I knew I was going to move to Paris, I found myself reading blogs, not books, about Parisian life. I think that spurred the decision to start blogging myself.

In Paris, I was invited to a blog meet-up, hosted by blogger Petite Anglais (who later got a book deal out of her blog). It was great to meet with other bloggers and it turned out two of them worked within the same big organization as me at the time!

So in 2007, when I moved to Ghana I continued blogging and was always on the lookout for Ghanaian blogs. When I had found enough of them, I organized the first meet-up with a friend. It was in July 2008, and eight bloggers came. We decided on the name GhanaBlogging as we wanted the action in the name. We are all doers.

What are you referring to when you say you love the shift from online presence to real life meetings?

When people think of blogging, they think about a lonely person in front of a computer, when in reality it really is a network! Blogging comes with belonging somewhere, blogging is an activity that has strengthened my relationship to Ghana. So yes, my blog is online, but many real life meetings have come out of it!

Read the full Global Voices interview here.

Ghana’s Happiness Culture

Ghanaians are often described as a “happy people” and just the other day in a group of Ghanaian young adults I was thinking to myself, somewhat grumpily: “what on earth are they laughing about?”

So it is roaring with laughter that I read my GhanaBlogging colleague  Graham‘s grumpy, but on-point, observation about the “enforced happiness” (Graham’s words) or “happiness culture” (mine) of Ghana. He takes us through everyday life cheer, party fun, church enjoyment and with an eye for detail he notes that Ghana’s most popular radio stations are called Happy FM and Joy FM! Graham continues his rant:

Even the music coming from the radio is happy! Hip-Life, High-Life, Happy, Happy, Happy. The music’s light and fluffy drum beats and the synthesised sounds have far too much sugar in them – give me vinegar any day!

Almost in a reply, Anti-Rhythm argues that the play in learning was taken away by the colonial influences on Ghanaian education.

In these our lands, many years ago, we used to learn by playing. Through song and dance and theatrics, we learnt what was relevant for our circumstances then.
When the colonialists came to inflict their cut of formal education on Africa, we left the fun behind.

Does that mean that Ghanaians were even more happy in ancient times?

GhanaBlogging Progress

The group I co-founded with fellow Swedish-Ghanaian Blogger Maya’s Earth, GhanaBlogging, is in the habit of meeting monthly. Today at 3pm at Café dez Amis (former Afrikiko) it is time again.

Right now we have some interesting and positive developments and thinking about formalizing ourselves into something more than a group of friends, into some kind of organization. This is for two main reasons.

First, we are getting more and more invitations for collaborations from companies and other organizations (Google Ghana, Nokia, British High Commission etc.). This is wonderful, but it is becoming unclear who to contact and how to spread information properly. I am also proud to say we are a very critical group who feel strongly about being independent, so this is another issue when market forces knock on your door.

Second, we are growing like crazy! Before Christmas, more than 70 bloggers wanted to join us! At the last meeting we were more than 15 bloggers present! ( If you also want to join us, fill this GhanaBlogging form and we will get back to you!) This means we need to streamline the application process further – and just welcoming double the amount of members we have is a great task that requires organization.

Despite these changes the group is still very much a group of friends, meeting, discussing and laughing.

See you later!

When I Visited Rijksmuseum at Schiphol Airport

Riksutställningar Ghana Amsterdam SchipholWhen was the last time you went to an art museum at an airport?

For me, it was in August.  I wrote a snapshot article  for Swedish newsletter Spana! from my experience Rijksmuseum at Schiphol Airport in Holland.

With Google Translate (and some translating services on my own) it goes something like this:

AMSTERDAM: Between two flights I haste to Terminal D at Amsterdam International Airport Schiphol. Passing VIP lounges and chocolate disks you can find a branch of the Dutch Rijksmuseum. Here some 20 works are displayed, mostly paintings from the era of Dutch great painting. Three visitors of all ages – and a suitcase – are scattered in the room and below we can see the excitement travelers.

Dutch Lisa is standing viewing a portrait.
– I always take my time to go by here. Anyway now the money is finished!
She laughs and holds up a shopping bag.

Despite a gift shop which is at least as large as the exhibition space, the Rijksmuseum at Schiphol provides a unique opportunity not to consume during the waiting time at the airport. With its very existence the museum site challenges the space – are airports really public places when they most closely resemble shopping palaces?

Lisa with the bag is also critical.
– The selection is too narrow. At the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, there is so much more.

Apparently, the Rijksmuseum thought the same thing, for later this year will open a new, larger museum at Schiphol airport.

Find the article in original in the Spana! September edition (click on Netherlands).

Surprisingly, there was an article on Ghana too in the newsletter, but not by me but by fellow Ghanablogging member Osabutey Anny – translated into Swedish! I must say this network is going places…

View from Ghana: Education

This post is part of Ghanablogging‘s monthly theme post “a view out of Ghana” – this month we write on education.

In school we have other names

School uniform, school bag and white socks in black shoes
Ama and myself
and many others
(but in school we have other names)

Lining up in front of  ‘new block’ (although it doesn’t look new)
On the red dirt football field
Standing still
(Longing for eating a bo’flot during the morning break)
(Thinking in Fante but) answering “yes, sah”
when asked if I swept the headmistress’ office

First period is Social science
(I have memorized the definition of marriage)
Sun is hot
Standing still
(schh Ama)
Keeping quiet

(Is this Education?)