>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!

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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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>Review of Film About Blogging : Julie & Julia

>Just saw the first major motion picture to be based on a blog, Julie & Julia.

It was interesting to see a film (loosely) based on a blog, but I must say my friends and I much preferred the story about the eccentric cookbook writer Julia Child, whimsically performed by Maryl Streep, compared to the bland “heroine” Julie the Blogger. Ultimately, a blog should provide you with stories you otherwise do not get access to, but this blog seemed to be a rather predictable story on how to become a famous blogger.

Still, the film was an entertaining Nora Ephron construction complete with lovable supporting characters (the Julix husbands), lovely Parisian bistrot milieus and loads of butter-drenched food to love.

Enjoy the official trailer here. Bon Appetit!

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>Adidas Hidden African Inspiration: The "Kenta" Shoe

> Yesterday,Kwabena, a fellow blogger alerted us Ghanablogging members of that Adidas is using Ghanaian Kente cloth on a shoe calling it Kenta and acting as they invented it.

Kente is Ghana’s (and Togo’s) pride, being delicately woven in narrow strips by skilled craftsmen – almost always men. Kente is then sewn and worn at very festive occasions such as weddings or just a few strips over the shoulder as a sign of beauty and wealth.

An interesting debate weather or not one can say Adidas “stole” has arisen on ghanablogging’s mailing list (hopefully soon the other side of the debate can be read here and here). I’m all for intellectual property rights, but can a country or an ethnic group have the right to a weaving technique? Have we even tried to patent it? Sure, it would have been nice had Adidas recognized their (potentially huge) market in Ghana and West Africa and called Kente by its real name…but it is a crime not to do so?

As has rightly been pointed out, African Americans, Caribbeans and also other ethnic groups in Ghana have also claimed kente as of late and I don’t hear them saying it is Ghanaian/Togolese.

Actually, these days a lot of the Kente for British and American markets is made by Asians, see this book Money has No Smell by Paul Stoller for more info on this interesting transnational phenomenon.

So rather than forming a blog-war against Adidas, should we instead sue China?

Let me also offer a bonus conspiracy theory: Adidas call it “Kenta” to avoid any legal issues with people claiming “Kente”. Aha!

In the Pic the famous Kenta shoe. Photo credit to Adidas.

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How To Start A Blog in 5 Steps

>This is the tip I gave to a good friend when she asked me how to get started with blogging:

  1. Think about what you want to say and formulate it in one sentence, maybe something like “A Colombian’s Thoughts about Sweden, Relationships and Jewellery”,
  2. Choose a simple name for your blog (preferably easy to say and spell)
  3. Sign up with a blogging platform, for instance here.
  4. When you blog do it regularly, once every two weeks, once a week, every day, doesn’t matter, but keep the pace.
  5. And you must send me the URL when you are up and running! 🙂

More tips on blogging can be found on fellow Ghanablogging member Oluniyi’s blog, here.

In the pic the blogger mentioned above and another pro-blogger, White African from the meeting described here.

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>Ghana, Women and ICT

> Today, I attended an interesting meeting at the AITI-KACE in Accra on Women and ICT in Ghana.

In a country where general access to computers and Internet is low, women tend to be underrepresented in ICT professions (except when it comes to data entry). However in Nigeria, AITI-KACE’s Director General Dorothy Gordon informed us, many ICT classes are totally made up of women and many women in our neighboring country have their own IT companies. Some have even set up IT companies in Ghana!

How can Ghanaian women catch up?

The young educated women in the crowd shared with us that they mostly use computers, many had them in their homes, for checking email and social networking, like facebook.

I was fortunate to be given the opportunity to on the spot present Ghanablogging.com, the aggregator – or list – of Ghanaian blogs I started with a friend back in 2008. I also mentioned two Ghanaian blogs that could serve as inspiration for women who were interested in creating content on the web, rather than just consuming it:

Esi’s blog Wo Se Ekyir and
Nana Darkoa and Co’s blog Adventures from the Bedrooms of African Women.

The response was great, people wanted to know more about Ghanablogging.com and how to start their own blog, so now I am invited to AITI-KACE’s Inspiration days 7-8 Oct to talk more about blogging.

Anyone out there who wants to join me in spreading the gospel of blogging?

In the pic some of the participants at the meeting and Dorothy Gordon, Director for the AITI-KACE.

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>Kwame Nkrumah: The City of Tema (Part 1)

> Over this week, we have a Kwame Nkrumah theme at Ghanablogging.

I thought I’d write about an important aspect of Nkrumah’s legacy. The industrial harbor town of Tema. My new hometown. (I know its beside the point, but also there is almost nothing about Tema, GH, online!)

Let’s start my exposé on Tema with Nkrumah’s own words. We go back to February 10th, 1962 and the Official Opening of the Tema Harbor. Kwame Nkrumah walks up to a podium and gives his speech.

“By taking advantage of the river systems of West Africa, it should be possible – again, by concerted action – to connect the hinterland, far outside the boarders of Ghana, with this great port of Tema. Thus, in this harbour of Tema, we see a unifying force and an essential requirement in the progress towards African Unity”

Hence, Tema was just one part of the grandiose plan of Africa rising. Tema should be a harbor not just for Ghana, but for Africa. Still today, Burkina Faso, Mali and other landlocked countries are highly dependent on the Tema harbor. What whould they be today without this sea port?

Nkrumah continued his speech with comparing the existing Takoradi harbor “designed by the colonialists to facilitate the exportation of the wealth of the country” to this new sea port. He said:

“Tema is the sign post of the future. It represents the purposeful beginning of the industrialisation of Ghana. It is the signal for industrial expansion, a challenge to our industry and intelligence and a hope for the future.”

Tema and its connection to a bright Pan-African future will be my starting point for future deliberations on Tema.

Pic: My first view of the Tema harbor, Xmas 2004.

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>Next week: Blogs on Kwame Nkrumah

> All of next week, a group of Ghanaian bloggers including myself has decided to dedicate to Ghana’s first president Kwame Nkrumah.

The week leads up to Nkrumah’s 100th Birthday, celebrated on the 21st of September.

As Kwame Nkrumah had enormous impact on Ghana and all of Africa, I hope you will read some of the other Ghanaian blogs this upcoming week. They can be found on or Ghanablogging aggregator here.

Pic: One of the most used photos of Nkrumah, tinted purple by me. Who was the photographer?

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>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 ghanablogging.com 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.

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>Obama’s Visit – A View out of Ghana

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Why has Obama chosen to come to Ghana as his first stop in Africa? Does it mean he chose not to come to the regional big brother Nigeria and his paternal home country of Kenya? Will he give a policy speech on Africa whilst in Ghana? How are Ghanaians preparing? Are they happy to host the first black American president?

These are questions that have already been debated thoroughly (see Ghanablogging.com’s Abena being quoted here for example), hence I’d like to write on an issue much less discussed.

How can we living in Ghana at this time take part of the visit?

It has been made clear that president Obama will not address the general public directly, nor will there will be any parade in which we can see the Obamas, wave or take photos. Weather has been blamed for this decision, and yes, it has been raining extensively lately, but maybe it is more a security issue?

So here I give you the 3 places one will get the Obama fever up close:

1. Airforce One will land at Kotoka Airport at 8 pm tonight, at least one can see his plane there.

2. La Polyclinic is his second stop tomorrow morning after meeting the recent presidents of Ghana for breakfast (Rawlings, Kuffuor and Mills). I’m guessing they will convene at the Osu Castle and then drive (??) to La Polyclinic just 5 minutes away on the beach road.

3. The African-American Association in Ghana (AAAG) will watch Obama’s speech together at the Mensvic Grande Hotel in East Legon Saturday morning (starting 10 am). I think that will be a good place to get the Obama vibe for us who sadly were not invited to the International Conference Centre in Accra where he will give his address.

And on Saturday evening 7 pm at the Dubois Centre in Labone, Accra there will be a concert (Featuring among others wonderful singer Bibie Brew) saluting the popular visitor who at that point will have left beautiful, and rainy, Ghana.

Ill update you on how it all went on Sunday.

This is is a shared blogpost for ghanablogging.com.

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>Are You a Ghanaian Blogger?

> Then tomorrow, you can join us for this month’s ghanablogging meet-up.

We are now about 30+ bloggers and about 8 or so usually show up for the monthly meetings to discuss blogging technology, writing tips, great posts and how to inspire more Ghanaians to blog. Last time we did our meeting on skype as an experiment! Read some highlights on ghanablogging here. It’s an informal and fun gathering through which I have made many friends.

So if you want to attend, just write me an email and I’ll send over the details! kajsahallberg a t gmail.com

Pic: dont hide behind an avocado plant – come out and play!

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